The Battle of Badr – Part 4
وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ
After the prophet got the confirmation from the Ansar that they were willing to fight, he then began the preparations for war. He first divided up the army into three sections: the right flank composed of all of the Muhajiroon led by Ali (RA), the left flank of all of the Ansar under the command of Sa’ad ibn Muadh (RA), and in some narrations a possible back up group placed somewhere else on the battlefield. And he gave the flag – which was white on this occasion – to Musab ibn Umair (RA).
And we see the wisdom of the prophet in these choices. The Muhaajiroon knew each other better, and the Ansar knew each other better, and so in this moment of stress they would be more comfortable fighting side by side by those they were closest to. And this shows that Islam takes cultural differences into account. And there is also the wisdom in making Musab ibn Umair the flag bearer, as a flag is the symbol of strength and the focal point of an army and thus the flag bearer is a very honoured position, and the prophet chose the one person who both the groups of Muslims respected and were close to. As we know Musab was a Muhaajir, however he was the first person to be sent to Medina by the prophet in order to spread the message of Islam there and teach the Muslims, and many of the Ansar were converted by him. And so he was the closest to the Ansar out of all the Muhaajiroon.
Now the Muslims arrived on the plains of Badr on the 16th of Ramadan – one day before the Quraish – and initially the prophet ordered that the camp be set up on the outskirts of the plain. However then one of the scouts, Al-Hubab ibn Al-Mundhir (RA), came to the prophet and asked him, ‘O Rasulallah, this place that you have decided for us to camp, is this something that Allah has told you to do such that we are not allowed to move one inch forward or backward, or is it your own opinion and it is based on tactics and strategy of war?’
And the prophet replied, ‘No, this is my own opinion.’
‘In that case, O Rasulallah, I suggest we don’t camp at the corner of the plain, rather we should proceed until we are beyond the midpoint. And therefore the wells of Badr are behind us. And in this case, we shall plenty of water and they will have to rely on their jugs that they’ve brought from Mecca.’ And so the prophet listened to this wisdom, and in one version Jibrael (AS) actually came to him and told him to listen to the advice of Hubab, and so the army set up camp in the middle of the plain Badr instead, past all of its wells. And as another precaution, the prophet also ordered that all the water of the smaller wells of Badr be taken out and poured into the main well, before blocking all of the smaller wells so that the Quraish could not get to the water.
Soon night fell, and the Muslims could see the Quraish arriving far off in the horizon. And so it was confirmed that the battle would take place the next morning. And the prophet spent the entire night awake in du’a and prostration, begging and pleading to Allah to help them in the upcoming battle. And Ibn Masud narrates that he had never seen anyone pleading as much as the prophet was pleading that night, and here the prophet made the famous du’a, ‘O Allah, if You destroy this group, You will not be worshipped on Earth.’ And this was referring to the Muslims, and how Muhammad ﷺ was the last prophet and so if this group of believers was destroyed then there would be no one left on Earth on the correct path to worship Allah. And in the middle of the night a light rain began to fall on the Muslim side, while there was a downpour on the Quraish side. And yet while everyone else in the Muslim camp moved into cover in order to avoid this drizzle, the prophet remained where he was making du’a. And he stayed like this until dawn, when he woke up the Muslims for fajr salah. And Allah references this night in the Quran in Surah Al-Anfal:
إِذْ يُغَشِّيكُمُ ٱلنُّعَاسَ أَمَنَةً مِّنْهُ وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءً لِّيُطَهِّرَكُم بِهِۦ وَيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمْ رِجْزَ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ وَلِيَرْبِطَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ ٱلْأَقْدَامَ
When He overpowered you with drowsiness, a calmness and blessing from Himself, and he sent down rain on you from the skies, to clean you therewith, to remove from you the filth of Shaitaan, to strengthen your hearts, and to plant your feet therewith firmly.
So we see that the rain that Allah sent down upon the believers was a specific blessing for them from Him, with the purpose of refreshing them after their journey and before the battle and cleansing them spiritually. And on top of that, the small amount of rain would also make the desert sand on their side firmer so that they could more easily walk, while the downpour on the Quraish’s side made it so that the sand became muddy and actually much harder to walk on than normal. And as well as this, Allah also mentions that the sleep that he bestowed upon the believers that night was another blessing, and Ali even mentions how fast asleep all of the Muslims were. And this was a blessing, as usually before a tense occurrence one would be unable to sleep the night before out of anxiety; however Allah allowed the Muslims to sleep so that they would be well rested for the battle the next day.
After the Muslims had awoken and prayed fajr, the prophet began to align the army for the battle. And he used a tactic that had never been seen before by the Arabs: Normally before this the Arabs used to attack in a circular path, where the soldier would come in from one side and attack, and then go back to the army from the other side to recuperate. So they would go in batches. However the prophet used the more advantageous and actually more widely seen tactic of having rows of soldiers, and those at the front had the spears and pole-arms, while those at the back had the bows and those in the middle had the swords. And the prophet went through these rows and straightened them like he straightened the rows for salah, and while he was doing this he saw a man galloping back and forth on a red camel between the ranks of the Quraish. And the prophet said, ‘If there is any good in the Quraish, it is in that person. And if they have any good in them, they shall listen to him.’ And he called out to Ali to ask Hamza (RA), who was standing at the front of the army, to find out who that man was and what is was that he was saying. And it turned out that this was Utbah ibn Rabiah who was trying to convince the Quraish for the last time to abandon the battle and not fight their own relatives.
One person had still been extremely opposed to the battle, and this was Hakim ibn Hizam. His son, Hizam ibn Hakim (RA) was a sahabi and was fighting on the other side, and so he went to Utbah ibn Rabiah – who as we know had been opposed to the battle from the start – and tried to find a way to stop the battle. And so they came up with a plan that Utbah would pay the huge amount of the blood money for the death of Amr Al-Hadrami. Al-Hadrami was the camel herder who had been killed by the Muslims in the Sareeyat Al-Nakhla, and his death had been used a major cause of war by the Quraish. And Utbah decided that to stop the battle he would pay the money instead, and he went and spoke to the relatives of Al-Hadrami. And here he said the self-sacrificial line, ‘If someone accuses you of cowardice then mention my name. And tell them that Utbah became a coward. Say you wanted to fight and I was the one who became scared, go ahead and say that. Even though you know I am not a coward. For by Allah, what will you gain from fighting this man? If you’re able to defeat him, you will be killing your own father, your own cousin, your own nephew, your own blood. How would you like it that you are amongst the murderers of your own family? So let us return, and let us leave Muhammad and his companions to the rest of the Arabs. If they take care of him, this is what you want. And if it is the other case, then surely in his honour is our honour as well?’ And this was when he was going back and forth on his red camel, and this was what the prophet saw from his army.
And Hakim became so happy that the battle was about to be avoided that he ran to Abu Jahal himself and told him that the blood money was about to be paid and so there was no need for the battle. And Abu Jahal bitterly and cruelly responded, ‘O Hakim, didn’t Utbah find any messenger better than you?’ And he went to the brother of Al-Hadrami and convinced him that this was not a fair payment for the life of his brother, and so this brother then stood up and gave a passionate speech about the injustice of Al-Hadrami’s death. And then Abu Jahal turned to Utbah and said, ‘O Utbah, you have become a coward when you have seen the ranks of the Muslims.’
On hearing this Utbah flew into a rage. Despite declaring that the relatives of Al-Hadrami could blame him for being a coward if anyone asked why the battle was avoided, when Abu Jahal said this to him he could not take it. And this was because he knew Abu Jahal meant it vindictively, and so he stood up and first crudely insulted Abu Jahal, before he right then and there in an impulse of anger and pride called upon his brother Shaybah and his son Walid to engage in the Mubaraza.
Now once again when the prophet saw the Quraish, he began to raise his hands to Allah in du’a: ‘O Allah, this is the Quraish. They have come against You with their pride and their arrogance, challenging You and rejecting Your messenger. O Allah, Your help that has been promised. O Allah, Your help that has been promised. O Allah, Your help that has been promised. O Allah, cause them to be destroyed today.’
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 038