Ramadhan in History: The Battle of Badr, Lessons for Today

JUST a couple of days ago, it was the 17th day of Ramadhan 2013…

…and over 1400 years ago, also on the 17th of Ramadhan 2 A.H. the Great Expedition of Badr – the first battle of the Prophet (saw) – took place. It is so significant that Allah mentioned this battle in the Qur’an and gave it a special name – ‘The Day of Distinguishing.’ Allah says:

‘If you believe in Allah and what We sent down on Our servant on the Day of Distinguishing, the day the two hosts met.’ (8: 41)

We all know its story and how Allah granted victory to Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) on that day. But what lessons can we learn from this battle that are relevant to our lives today?

* Key events of the Battle *

The full account of the Battle of Badr is inspiring and gripping.  There are many places where you can get the full history of what happened on that momentous occasion in history, so we will not go through it in detail here.  Instead we will just list some of the key events and then go in more depth looking at the lessons.

  • The Muslims migrated to Madinah after 10 years of persecution in Makah.
  • In Makah Muslims were not given permission to retaliate or defend themselves when attacked; this changed after they migrated to Madinah, the revelation in the Qur’an (22: 39) gave Muslims permission to defend themselves physically if the Quraysh attacked.
  • The Quraysh took all the property and wealth left behind by the Muslims, for themselves.
  • The Quraysh declared war against the Muslims even after they had left Makkah, and sent death threats to the Ansar (people of Madinah) warning them against supporting the Muslims
  • In year 2 AH the caravan belonging to Abu Sufyan (a leader of the Quraysh and hostile to the Muslims) passed close by Madinah on its way to Sham (Syria).  The caravan was carrying lots of wealth.
  • The Prophet (saw) instructed the companions to ambush the caravan to demand back the property that the Quraysh had stolen from the Muslims.
  • Abu Sufyan sent a message to the Quraysh calling for support – Abu Jahl, the worst enemy of the Muslims, saw this as a chance not just to defend the caravan but to ‘wipe out’ the Muslims forever in a surprise battle.
  • The Prophet (saw) consulted the companions informing them of the situation and the need to go into battle as the Quraysh were on their way.  The Muslims agreed to support the Prophet (saw).
  • There were 313 Muslims and 1300 from the Quraysh; the Quraysh were better trained and better equipped – they had 100 horses compared to the 2 horses the Muslims had.
  • There was rainfall just before the battle.
  • The 2 armies met at the plains of Badr, in the desert outside Madinah – the battle took place on the 17th day of Ramadhan.
  • There was a sandstorm during the battle.
  • Abu Jahl, enemy of the Muslims, was killed; the Quraysh fled.
  • 70 of the Quraysh were killed and 70 captured; among the Muslims, 14 became shuhada (martyrs) – 6 of the Muhajiroun (Muslims who migrated from Makkah) and 8 of the Ansar (Muslims originally from Madinah).  It was a decisive victory for the Muslims.

* LESSONS FROM THE BATTLE OF BADR*

After we had discussed the events of the Battle of Badr in the circle, the sisters all shared the main lessons they took away from the history – these lessons are listed below; jazakumAllahu khair and thanks to all the sisters for their brilliant contributions! 🙂

1. The manners of the Prophet (saw)

When the Messenger of Allah heard that the Quraysh had set out from Makkah to stop the Muslims, he consulted his Companions. The Prophet (saw) immediately called for a meeting and discussed the situation with his companions. He informed them of the gravity of the situation and explained that it was necessary to fight the Quraysh or else they would easily take over Madinah and destroy the Muslims. He asked the Sahabah for their advice.

Firstly, The Prophet (saw) received revelation from Allah. It was not necessary for him to consult with the Sahabah and seek their advice. But this practice of the Prophet (saw) reflects a very important characteristic of a Muslim, i.e. discussing and seeking advice from others who are trustworthy and knowledgeable.

Secondly, the Prophet (saw) was especially concerned about the Ansar because in their original contract, it was stated that they need only defend him in their home territory. Since the battle would take place outside Madinah, he wanted to see where they stood.  He understood this could place them in a difficult position and wanted them to have their say. He respected and upheld the original agreement; he didn’t change it or twist it for his advantage.

2. Loyalty and Courage

When the Prophet (saw) consulted the companions, the Muhajiroun assured him of their support… but he consulted the Sahaba a second time, and then a third time. Three times he asked them for their opinion!  The Ansar then understood the reason why – they understood the Prophet (saw) was concerned about where the Ansar stood. Sa’ad ibn Mu’adh (ra), one of the leaders among the Ansar replied with these beautiful words of loyalty:

‘It seems that you are alluding to us. Perhaps you fear that the Ansar do not think that they have to help you outside their own territory. I speak for the Ansar and answer for them. Go where you wish, join whom you wish and cut off whom you wish. Take what you wish from our property and give us what you wish. What you take from us is dearer than what you leave. Whatever you command, we will follow it. By Allah, if you were to travel until you reached Bark Ghamdan, we would go with you. By Allah, if you were to cross this sea, we would plunge into it with you.’

Al-Miqdad (ra), another sahaba, said, ‘We do not say to you what the people of Musa {bani Israil} said to Musa: “Go forth you and your Lord and do battle. We will be waiting here. “(5: 24) We will do battle on your right and on your left and in front of you and behind you.’

When the Messenger of Allah heard this, his face shone with happiness – look how much joy the loyalty of the companions gave him! Look at how much he valued it, and how much he appreciated the tawakkul the Sahaba had in Allah! We may not be able to physically follow the Prophet (saw) in the same way today but we can certainly do our best to follow his teachings and example.

3. Power of Du’a and Fasting

It was the night of Friday, 17th Ramadan. In the morning, the Quraysh advanced in their squadrons and the two groups took up positions ready for battle.

The Prophet (saw) organised the ranks and then prayed. He said, ‘O Allah, if You let this group of men die, no one after them will worship You on the earth.’ He called out to his Lord, ‘O Allah, give me the help which You promised me.’

Abu Bakr (ra) consoled and comforted him saying, ‘O Messenger of Allah, this prayer of yours to your Lord will suffice you, and He will fulfill for you what He has promised you!’. And He did! the battle was won by the Muslims alhamdulillah.

Fasting was a key part of the preparation too, to strengthen their taqwa and discipline. It was no coincidence that the battle took place in this month -Allah willed it so!  And this didn’t make the Muslims worry about their energy levels!!  The Prophet (saw) and his companions knew that if they sought Allah’s help they would not be let down – their fasting in fact made them stronger, and they never doubted the power of du’a.

4. Unity of the Muslims – present and future

One of the key lessons we can learn from the Ansar is the display of solidarity and true brotherhood (ukhuwa).  The Ansar AND the Muhajiroun worked brilliantly together to help bring about victory at Badr.  Indeed even for us now, Ramadhan is a time of unity and brotherhood for the whole Ummah as we fast together, pray tarawih together, make du’a together, eat together and help one another with charity.

Also, think about the Prophet (saw)’s du’a: he was not just making du’a for victory for his own sake, or even for the companions. He was making du’a for victory for the sake of all future Muslims; so that the message of Islam could continue to be passed on to future generations of humans.  The Prophet (saw) was not just concerned about his own community around him, and his own time, but about future generations from all over the world, whom he would never even meet in this life.  This is true concern and unity!

5. Allah is Al-Lateef – His plans are subtle but brilliant!

Before the battle of Badr, Allah did a few subtle and amazing things for the believers:

(a)    Allah sent rain as a blessing for the believers – it made the sand flat and easier to march on. But for the enemy army, the rain was an obstacle that made things difficult for them. A change in the environment made a valuable difference in the battle, not something any human could plan for.  We need to be aware of the subtle things that Allah has put in place in our lives, which allows us to be grateful to Allah – when we’re grateful, Allah increases us further. Allah mentions this great blessing in the Qur’an:

‘He caused rain to descend on you from the sky to clean you thereby and to remove from you the Rijz (whispering, evil suggestions) of Shaytan, and to strengthen your hearts, and make your feet firm thereby’ (8: 11)

(b)   The blessing of rain strengthened the believers’ hearts and encouraged them to fight the enemies of Allah. They experienced a feeling of security and tranquility. Then Allah sent another blessing on them: sleep! Sleep overcame the Muslims and they slept sound the whole night without fear.

(c)    The Prophet (saw) was shown a dream in which the opposition appeared very few in number, and he then reported this to the fighters of Badr which immediately put their hearts to rest and strengthened them mentally. By simply showing this dream, Allah changed the entire way the believers viewed their enemy and He totally shifted their perspective of things, leading to their success. This is something we can do in our everyday lives.

6. Don’t fear your enemies – Allah is with you!

The Muslim army was 313 people with only 2 horses and 70 camels. Most of the army did not even possess simple weapons to fight; some had swords but no bows and arrows, while others had spears but no swords. The army was not well equipped, nor well prepared for war. Also, amongst the Muslims were the elderly and weak and they were fasting as it was Ramadhan.  The Quraysh had a huge army of 1,300 well-equipped soldiers, including 100 horsemen and a large number of camels to fight the Muslims.

But even though this was the case, Allah put courage in the Muslims’ hearts and made them not fear their enemies.  Abdullah bin Mas`ud (ra) said, ‘They were made to seem few in our eyes during Badr, so I said to a man who was next to me, “Do you think they are seventy?” He said, “Rather, they are a hundred.” However, when we captured one of them and we asked him, he said, “We were a thousand.”(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

Lesson: Whenever you’re faced with an obstacle, or you wish to achieve something big, step back and view that obstacle as being small and minor and remember that Allah’s help is greater than any obstacle. Never let something overwhelm your mind because then it will most likely overcome you and lead to your discouragement and failure. Know that success lies in facing your fears with mental strength, and it is often a case of mind over matter. Have true conviction (yaqeen) in the help of Allah and remember that Allah always opens a pathway for success when we place our full trust and have firm faith in Him.

7.  Seize the Opportunity to do Good

When the battle was about to begin, the Messenger of Allah (saw) encouraged and reminded the sahaba – he called out, ‘Arise for a Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth!’.  Umar Ibn al-Humam al-Ansari (ra) said: “O Messenger of Allah! Is Paradise equal in extent to the Heavens and the Earth?” He said: ‘Yes.’  Umar said: ‘Excellent! Excellent!’ The Prophet (saw) asked him: “What makes you say, ‘Excellent! Excellent!?”  Umar replied: “O Messenger of Allah, nothing but the desire that I may be among its residents.” The Prophet (saw) said: “You are (surely) among its residents.”

Umar al-Ansari took some dates from his bag and began to eat them. Then he said: “If I were to live until I had eaten all these dates of mine, it would be a long life.” He then threw away the dates, because he did not want to delay a good deed, and fought the enemies.” (Saheeh Muslim).  He was the first martyr that day.

The key lesson is that the Sahaba didn’t pass up on an opportunity to serve Allah and the Ummah and they grabbed these moments as soon as they came – their enthusiasm is a wonderful characteristic that we can learn from.  Don’t let an opportunity to do good pass you by – and don’t delay it! Otherwise the opportunity might not return again.

8.  Age is not a Barrier!

When the Muslims went to Badr, a boy called Umayr ibn Abi Waqqas (ra) came out with them. He was sixteen and afraid that the Prophet (saw) would not accept him because he was too young to fight. He tried to avoid being seen but his elder brother, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (ra) asked him what he was up to. He replied: ‘I was afraid that the Messenger of Allah would send me back when I wanted to go out. It might be that Allah will grant me martyrdom’. In fact that was indeed the case – the Messenger of Allah (saw) did want to send him back because he was so young. Umayr wept. His tears affected the heart of the Messenger of Allah (saw) who allowed him to go after all.

This shows how a young person can have courage and commitment to the deen just like an older person or maybe even more – age is not a barrier when it comes to striving for Allah; no one is ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ to serve Allah and to work for Him.

9. Competition in good deeds

The Companions competed with each other – racing to get the rewards. It was a race between friends, between brothers.

Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (ra) said, ‘I was in the ranks on the day of Badr. I turned and there were two young boys one on my right and the other on my left! I was not too happy about their position. One of them said to me, in a quiet voice that His companion could not hear, “Uncle, show me Abu Jahl.” I said, “Nephew, what will you do to him?” He replied, “I have made a covenant with Allah that if I see him, I will kill him or die before him.”  The other boy then said the same thing to me, also keeping it from his companion.’ He added,’ I was so happy to be between two men like them. I pointed Abu Jahl out to them and they attacked him like two falcons until they struck him down.’

The lesson here is that these youth identified what one of the biggest problems were in the Ummah at that time and how best they could help the Muslims.  Then they competed to do it! Not leaving it for someone else to do or feeling they were too young or ill-equipped. Plus this competition was not of a jealous type, it was a type that motivated them both to do good.  Their achievement was huge: when Abu Jahl was killed, the Prophet (saw) said, ‘This Abu Jahl was the Pharaoh of this community’; he commended both of the friends.

10. Miracles can happen!

‘(Remember) when you sought help of your Lord and He answered you saying, “I will help you with a thousand Angels each behind the other in succession” (8: 9)

The Messenger of Allah (saw) raised his head and said happily: ‘O Abu Bakr, glad tidings are there for you; Allah’s victory has approached, by Allah I can see Jibreel on his mount in the thick of a sandstorm.’ Then he recited the verse:

‘Their multitude will be put to flight and they will show their backs’ (54: 45)

Many narrations speak about the appearance of Angels in the battle of Badr.  If the Muslims had lost heart and hope before the battle, and had given up because they had fewer numbers than the Quraysh, they would not have had this miracle sent to them! Better than an army of humans, they were sent an army of angels!

Angel Jibreel (as) also asked the Prophet (saw) to take a handful of dust and throw it at the enemies. He did so and a violent sandstorm then blew into the eyes of the enemies and the handful of sand entered their eyes, each one of them was struck by some of it. Allah says regarding it:

‘And it was not you (O Muhammad) who threw when you did throw, but Allah threw’ (8: 17)

Just like Musa (as) when he was commanded to touch the Red Sea with his staff – the Prophet (saw) took the first step here.  Allah put barakah (blessing) in his efforts and helped him to overcome the disbelievers through this simple act. The same applies to us – when we take the initiative to get closer to Allah and trust in Him – He will help us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

11. Remember Allah in Victory

When the victory of the Muslims and the defeat of the Quraysh became clear, the Prophet (saw) said, ‘Allah is greatest! Praise belongs to Allah Who was true to His promise, helped His slave and defeated the parties alone.’

Seventy leaders of the Quraysh were killed and another seventy captured on the Day of Badr. Only six Muslims of the Muhajiroun and eight of the Ansar were martyred.  The Muslims then returned to Madinah with victory. All their enemies both in the city and outside of it now knew they could not trouble the Muslims so easily. Many more people of Madinah were encouraged to become Muslims – the victory gave the Muslim community a new level of respect and honour.

After the battle was won, Allah revealed the following verse:

‘And Allah has already made you victorious at Badr, when you were a weak little force. So fear Allah much that you may be grateful’ (3:123)

This was a reminder to the Muslims even at a time of celebration that any success or victory is from Allah and Allah alone. They shouldn’t be arrogant and forget the source of their success. Sometimes when you achieve a great deal in a day, it’s easy to assume that your success comes from your skills or knowledge, but that’s not how a Muslim should think.  Everything comes from Allah!

12. Trust in Allah! Never Lose Hope in Allah’s Help!!!

‘How often has a small group overcome a mighty host by Allah’s leave. And Allah is with the patient’ (2: 249)

One of the biggest lessons of Badr is that that we shouldn’t feel defeated in whatever deeds we want to achieve this Ramadan. We shouldn’t feel defeated internally; by giving up to laziness, or making excuses, or failing to perform our utmost to serve Allah. And we shouldn’t feel defeated collectively, as an Ummah, regardless of our circumstances – for whatever test you face, truly the victory of Allah is near.

Allah says:

‘Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to(the present rulers) in the earth, as He granted it to those who were before them, and He will grant them the authority to practice their religion that which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely give them in exchange security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me’. (24: 55)

Whenever you feel deflated or sad, remember that Allah’s Help is always near.  Many other times in history Muslims have succeeded in great tasks in Ramadhan just like with the Battle of Badr.  For example: The Conquest of Makkah; The Conquest of Andalus (Spain) in 92 A.H; the defeat of the Crusaders and the liberation of Palestine in 582 A.H, under Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (raa).  And we can also see that fasting should not be an excuse to do less but rather to increase in our efforts!  Don’t feel there is no time to change things and get things done – the last 10 nights are almost here, but remember that the Battle of Badr was fought and won in such a time.  Let’s grab every opportunity, especially in Ramadhan! 🙂

* Parts of the account of Badr was taken from several web sources: may Allah reward the editors of those sites for their efforts, ameen.

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Aside | This entry was posted in Circle Topics and Knowledge, Islamic Events and Celebrations, Seerah, and stories of the Companions (ra), Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Ramadhan in History: The Battle of Badr, Lessons for Today

  1. Mohammed says:

    It is very nice and informative. Jazakum Allah Kheiran

  2. Reblogged this on Tooting Sunday Circle and commented:

    A timely reblog for the 17th day of Ramadhan 🙂

  3. Fatimah says:

    ‘It seems that you are alluding to us. Perhaps you fear that the Ansar do not think that they have to help you outside their own territory. I speak for the Ansar and answer for them. Go where you wish, join whom you wish and cut off whom you wish. Take what you wish from our property and give us what you wish. What you take from us is dearer than what you leave. Whatever you command, we will follow it. By Allah, if you were to travel until you reached Bark Ghamdan, we would go with you. By Allah, if you were to cross this sea, we would plunge into it with you.’

    SubhaanAllah.

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