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Author: Ibrahim Machiwala Lodhi
"The first battle fought between the Muslims and the Meccans about 80 miles from Medina was that of Badr, lying on the Arabian Peninsula near the Read Sea coast. The date given for the battle is 17th, 19th or 21st Ramzan, 2 A.H./March 13, 15 or 17, 624 A.D. Badr is mentioned explicitly once in the Koran (3:123), but there are allusions to it in at least 32 other verses.

The Prophet had hardly breathed a sigh of relief in Medina when he was confronted with the series of military expeditions against the fronts of the heathen Meccans. Attack was apprehended every moment from without and treachery from within. Small detachments of the Qoraish of Mecca used to go out on marauding expeditions and scour the country right up to the outskirts of Medina. Once, one such party lifted camels from the very pastures of the town.

From the start of Ramzan, a report reached to Medina that a large trading caravan of Qoraish was returning to Mecca from Syria under the leadership of Abu Sufian. This richly loaded caravan constituted a grave threat to the security of Medina, therefore, the Prophet dispatched Talha bin Ubaidullah and Saeed bin Zaid, to gather intelligence about the caravan and to report back. Abu Sufian, apprehending the blockade by the Muslims, sent a fast rider to Mecca in advance to explain the situation to the Qoraish and bring adequate force for the safeguarding of the caravan.

In the interim, the Prophet dispatched small reconnaissance parties to keep an eye on the movements of the enemy as well as to approach certain tribes to secure their neutrality. It so happened that one such party of eight persons was sent out under Abdullah bin Jahash. They were given sealed instructions by the Prophet, requiring them not to open the cover, until two days had passed. When opened as directed after two days' march, it was found to contain the orders that the party should proceed to Nakhlah, between Mecca and Taif, and there keep track of the movements of the Qoraish. The party arrived at Nakhlah, and after few days, they encountered a small caravan of Qoraish on its way from Taif to Mecca. They attacked the four persons, who were in charge of the caravan, of whom one Amr bin Hadharmi, was killed, two were captured and the fourth escaped. The scouting party took over the merchandise of the caravan and made haste to return to Medina. When news reached the Prophet, he was severely reprimanded Abdullah bin Jahash for transgressing his express commands.

It must be known that the sealed orders of the Prophet to Abdullah bin Jahash contained the word tarassadu, meaning "to keep a watch" and not to lay an ambush. Margoliouth, Dr. Zwemer and other European scholars have gloated over this incident and have made it a handle for attack. But might they know that it was against the expressed orders of the Prophet. The death of Amr bin Hadharmi, however, provoked Qoraish and stimulated their hostile designs against the Muslims. According to Tabari, the murder of Amr bin Hadharmi was the root cause of the battle of Badr.

On the other side, when the emissary of Abu Sufian reported to the Meccans, a preparation was at once made to invade on Medina. Within three days, a well-armed force of over a thousand warriors set out from Mecca under the command of Abu Jahl. When they reached at Jahfah, a little halfway to Badr, an emissary of Abu Sufian brought the news that the caravan had passed through the danger zone safely and that it was not necessary to march towards Medina. On hearing this, some of them counseled that they should go back, but Abu Jahl and his party rejected the suggestion violently and proceeded towards Badr.

The Muslims, who were unprepared for the engagement, numbered only 313 men who had only three horses, seventy camels and a few swords. This small force was marshaled out of Medina, and took suitable position near a stream of fresh water at Badr. The Meccans under the command of Abu Jahl were a thousand with 300 horses and 700 camels. Numerically the Muslim force was hardly one-third of the Meccans.

The two ill-matched armies collided on the morning of Friday, the 17th Ramzan. And when the battle was at its height, the Prophet prostrated himself before his God and prayed, "O'God, if this handful band of men perish, there will be no one left to pronounce Your word to worship You truly and selflessly. Your true faith will be destroyed. Come to the aid of Your devotees, my Lord, and give them victory."

At the taunt of the Meccans, Ali bin Abu Talib dashed out of the Muslim ranks, glittering in breastplate and helmet. He was closely followed by Ubaidah bin Harith and Hamza. They performed outstanding feats of bravery against Shiba, Walid and Atba in a single combat, who were considered the cream of the Qoraishite power. Hamza killed Shiba, while Ali killed Walid. Ubaidah was mortally wounded but, before he fell, Ali and Hamza were able to come to his rescue. Hamza hurled at Atba and, with a sweep of his sword, cut off his head. This single combat was an ominous start for the pagans, as thereby they lost three of their best warriors and commanders in the very first phase of the battle. After a fierceful and dreadful fighting, the Meccans army broke up and fled in a hurly-burly manner before the Muslims. Seventy of the bravest warriors of the Qoraish were slain, and forty-five taken prisoners. Abu Jahl had also fallen in the battle. On the Muslim side, fourteen men were killed.

In particular, the identification of the batte with yaum al-furqan or the Day of the Criterion (8:41) signaled the distinction between right and wrong which the battle of Badr wrought. Badr reflects other motifs as well. God tested his servants (8:17 and 33:11). Human-kind must fear God and be grateful to Him since, in spite of the small size of the Muslim force, he gave them victory (3:123). God also provided clear insight.

Mumtaz Ali Tajddin S. Ali is an popular Ismaili Scholar, He has written many books on Islam, Ismailis and Ismailism, http://www.mostmerciful.net/modules.php?name=Encyclopedia&op=content&tid=84 - Battle of Badr from http://www.nizariismaili.com - Encyclopedia of Ismailism, must read about Other books http://www.ismaili-net.com - 101 Ismaili Heroes etc.

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