The War Momentum: The Battle Of Badr is part three of a series of articles about the first war of Islam known “Badr” written by Adil Salahi Researcher and writer in the UK

In Part 2 of the story of the Battle of Badr, Adil Salahi described how Quraysh demonstrated its immense power and its utter preparation for war, whereas the Prophet had only around 300 companions with him and he was still consulting them if they were ready for a fight if it happens to occur……

One notes the Prophet’s masterly tact in carrying his followers with him when he faced a serious situation.


Of course, he could have issued an order and all his companions would have had to comply.
By allowing them to make their free choice, however, he achieved a much better result.

Besides, he wanted to make sure of their own understanding of their pledges. Had they told him they did not covenant with him to march out for a military clash away from Madinah, he would not have asked them to do more than they had pledged.

He never breached a promise or solicited such a breach by others. All this helps to show the nature of the relationship between the Prophet and his companions.

Having made sure through consultation with his companions that they were solidly behind him should a battle with the Quraish prove inevitable, the Prophet (peace be upon him) marched forward until he reached Badr.

There were plenty of wells and the Prophet decided to encamp by the first well he reached. One of the Ansar, Al-Hubab ibn Al-Mundhir, asked him:

“Are we encamping here because God has told you to do so and we are not to move forward or backward from here? Or is it your own judgment that this is the right place to gain an advantage against the enemy?”

When the Prophet answered that it was the latter, Al-Hubab said: “Then this is not the right place at which to encamp.

“We would be better advised to move forward, right to the nearest well to the enemy, where we can encamp and make a basin full of water. We would then close the rest of the wells so that we may have our supply of water and they can have none.”

The Prophet unhesitatingly endorsed this opinion and ordered that it be carried out.

Here, one notes again that the Prophet was always ready to listen to advice and put it into effect. The fact that he himself might have had different ideas was never an obstacle to the implementation of sound advice.

Such incidents were also practical lessons to all future Muslim rulers that no man could always be right. Saad ibn Muadh suggested that a shed should be erected for the Prophet as his headquarters.

He said: “You will have your horse ready. If we win, then that is what we want. If it is the other eventuality, then you will ride your horse to join the rest of our people.

“Those who have been left behind love you as much as we do. Had they thought you were going into war, they would not have stayed behind. They will protect you, give you good counsel and fight your enemies alongside you.”

The Prophet thanked Saad and prayed for him. A shed was built in accordance with Saad’s proposal. Soon afterwards there was a light drizzle which helped make the ground a little firmer to enable the Muslims to move swiftly.

In the Enemy Camp

As for the Quraish, they were still marching on. When the Prophet saw them coming into the valley, he made this supplication:

“My Lord, this is the Quraish demonstrating all its conceit to contend against You and call Your Messenger a liar. My Lord, grant me the victory You have promised me. My Lord, destroy them today.”

When the Quraish encamped, a group of them came up to the basin the Muslims had built. The Prophet told his companions not to oppose them. Every one of them who had a drink was killed in the battle, with the exception of Hakim ibn Hizam, who was later to convert to Islam.

Both sides sent spies to learn about the conditions in the other camp. Ammar and Abdullah ibn Masud, the Prophet’s emissaries, came back with this report:

“There is an air of fear in their camp, so much so that if a horse wants to snort, they hit him in the face. It is also raining heavily over there.”

Umayr ibn Wahb of Jumah was asked to make a good guess at the number of Muslim troops. He went far into the valley to make sure there were no forces held in reserve. His report was as follows:

“They are three hundred, give or take a few. But I can see a catastrophe and much killing. They simply have no protection apart from their swords. I think that we will not kill any one of them without him killing one of us first. Should they be able to kill their number from our side, life would not be worth living. You make your own decision.”

His report caused a stir among the Quraish. One must remember that not all of the Quraish leaders were keen on a confrontation with the Prophet. Many would have preferred not to go out at all after the caravan managed to escape its pursuers.

But it was a situation where the hard-liners held sway. They managed to carry the rest of the Quraish with them when they defined the purpose of their expedition as a demonstration of power which would enable the Quraish to protect its position as the leading tribe in Arabia. Now that war was looming large, some people felt it was totally unnecessary.

To start with, the two clans of Adiy and Zuhrah decided to withdraw. Al-Akhnas ibn Shariq said to the Zuhrah soldiers: “God has saved your property and spared your tribesman Makhramah ibn Nawfal. You have mobilized to save him and his property. Put the blame on me if you are accused of cowardice, and let us go back. There is no need for you to go on a fighting course for nothing. Do not listen to what this man [Abu Jahl] says.”

They accepted his advice and went back home.

The rest of the Quraish clans succumbed to the pressure which was brought to bear on them by Abu Jahl and his clique of hard-liners. Some of them still felt that they were on the wrong course.

The Prophet realized that Quraish were not united in wanting a military confrontation with him. He felt uneasy about going to war against his people. Although he never shrugged off his responsibilities and never hesitated to go to war when the war was inevitable, still he would have preferred that the Quraish did not force him into battle.

For force him they did, by the mere fact that they were marching through Arabia demonstrating their strength and trying to impose their supremacy over all tribes. In an attempt to avoid a clash, the Prophet sent his companion Umar ibn Al-Khattab to tell the Quraish to go back, for he would rather meet some other people in battle.

This message, coupled with what Umayr ibn Wahb said about the number of the Muslim troops and their determination and high morale, caused a considerable stir among the Quraish. After all, they had nothing much to avenge against the Prophet and his companions.

When he was in Makkah they were the aggressors. After his departure the only real grievance they held against him was the killing of one man, Amr ibn Al-Hadrami, and the looting of his trade caravan.

Rejecting Wise Counsel

It was Hakim ibn Hizam who tried to do something to avoid a confrontation. When he heard the Prophet’s message from Umar, he said to his fellow Quraishis: “You have been offered a fair deal. You would do well to accept it.”

He then went to Utbah ibn Rabiah and said to him: “You are the honorable man of the Quraish and its obeyed master. Shall I tell you something which would bring you high praise for the rest of time?”

When Utbah showed his interest, Hakim said:

“Tell the Quraysh to go back and you will pay the indemnity for the death of Ibn Al-Hadrami, for he was your ally. You also bear the loss of his looted caravan.”

Recognizing the great advantages of this course of action Utbah immediately accepted and asked Hakim to act as his witness. He also asked him to go to AbuJahl to try to persuade him not to oppose Utbah’s proposal.

Utbah himself then stood up and addressed the Quraish:

“Take it from me and do not fight this man [meaning the Prophet] and his companions. I will shoulder all the responsibility. You may put all the blame on me for this cowardice. Among these people, many are our kinsfolk. Should we win, many a man among us will look around and see the killer of his father or brother.

This will lead to much enmity and hostility in our ranks. You cannot kill them all before they have killed an equivalent number of you. But then the tide may turn against you. What do you seek to avenge, apart from one killed person and the caravan they have looted? I shall bear all that myself.

Fellow men, if Muhammad is a liar, the wolves among the Arabs will rid you of him. If he is a king, you will benefit from the kingdom of your nephew. If, on the other hand, he is truly a Prophet you will be the happiest of all people for having him. My fellow men, do not reject my counsel or belittle my view.”

Little is reported about the effect of Utbah’s speech among the Quraysh soldiers. When Hakim ibn Hizam went to Abu Jahl with the same message, it did not cut much ice with him.

He said:

“Utbah’s cowardice has surfaced now that he has seen Muhammad and his companions. We shall not go back until God has judged between our two parties. Utbah does not believe what he says. It is simply that having seen that they are few in number and that his son is among them, he fears that his son may be killed.”

Despite the contradiction in Abu Jahl’s argument, he harped a great deal on this theme. He also sent to Amr ibn Al-Hadrami, the brother of the man killed by a Muslim expedition, and incited him to appeal to the Quraish to avenge his brother’s death.

This appeal drowned Utbah’s peaceful counsel, and most Quraishis were now determined to fight. The Prophet’s Companions at Badr were a little worried when they realized that the enemy forces were at least three times as big as their own, let alone that they had far superior equipment.

But, it seems God was on their side. Suddenly they were overtaken momentarily by sleep. When they woke up, their worry had gone altogether. It was replaced by a feeling of reassurance. Their sleep served to transform their morale completely.

Their confidence was sky high after they woke up. This is recorded in the Quran:
{He made slumber fall upon you as a reassurance from Him.} (8:11)

The Muslims were now eagerly awaiting the start of the battle.

To be continued…

Read also Part 1Part 2Part 3

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