The Battle of Badr – Part 2
وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ
Within a day of the crier having reached Mecca, the entirety of the Quraish managed to mobilise the biggest army that the Arabs had ever had. And because of the exaggerated report of the crier, almost unanimously the city agreed that an army was needed to be sent to protect Abu Sufyan’s caravan and so from every household a representative was sent to be a part of the fighting. And we have a few reports from this time.
Abu Lahab decided not to go and instead found someone to go in his place. And this person was Al-As ibn Waail, the father of Amr ibn Al-As (RA), and he was actually in debt to Abu Lahab by about 4000 dirhams. And so Abu Lahab told him that if he went in his place he would forgive the owed money, and so Al-As went instead.
Another of those who didn’t want to go was Utbah ibn Rabiah, who we remember was the one who gifted the grapes to the prophet after he had been expelled from the Ta’if. Initially he did not wish to fight because he would be fighting his own relatives, and his own tribal honour meant that he knew that this was a shameful act. However his brother Shaybah said, ‘If we abandon our people at a time such as this, then for the rest of our lives we will have to suffer mockery and humiliation.’
And thus Utbah was convinced, and so both of them began to prepare for the battle. However still he was the one who despised the battle the most and tried to prevent it to the very last second, and the prophet even said of him, ‘If there is anyone in that gathering that has any wisdom, it is the man on the red camel (as Utbah was galloping through the mushrik ranks on a red camel).’ And yet he would be one of the first to die, as we will find out later.
Now of the two mentioned above, their reasons for not wanting to fight may have been based in some sense of jahili honour, as neither of them wanted to fight their family. However there was one enemy of Islam who was of the worst of the worst, and he was from the most disgusting, vulgar and lowliest of characters. And he did not want to fight simply because of his cowardice, and this was Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt. And we have mentioned him before, as he was the one who tried to strangle the prophet with his garment while he was in salah, and in another incident he dumped filthy camel entrails over the prophet’s head while he was in sujood such that the prophet could not even get up, and Fatimah as a young girl had to come to help her father. And this was even more of a crude, vile and twisted act when you consider that Uqbah was one of the noblemen of the Quraish, and so for him to be holding and carrying the entrails of a slaughtered animal gleefully just so that he could dump them over the head of the prophet shows his lack of dignity and honour that he would stoop to such demeaning acts. And it narrated that once he sarcastically invited the prophet over for a meal, and the prophet rejected it saying, ‘I will never eat with you until you testify the shahada.’ And so Uqbah in his anger spit upon the face of the prophet, and to this the prophet calmly wiped it off and prophesised, ‘O Uqbah, when I meet you outside of the valleys of Mecca, I shall cut your head off while you are tied up.’
And so because of this, when Uqbah heard of the Battle of Badr he was frightened, and he complained, ‘This man has promised to kill me and I cannot go out of Mecca now.’ And look at this arrogance and cowardice, that all along Uqbah knew what the prophet said was true and yet still he spitefully fought the spread of Islam and tortured and persecuted the prophet while he was in a position of power in Mecca, and yet when the Quraish and the Muslims were about to finally clash on somewhat more even grounds (even though the Quraish still outnumbered the Muslims greatly) he shied away from it out of fear for his life and cowardice. That was, until one of his friends offered him his camel, saying, ‘I have the fastest camel; I will give it to you. Even if the army flees don’t worry – your camel will take you far away from the camp. You will come back to Mecca safe.’ And so this promise, added to the taunts of the others, caused Uqbah to go to the battle with the others. But no matter how fast his camel was, he could not escape the will of Allah and as it just so happened his camel was the first animal to desert its owner and so Uqbah was left stranded on the battlefield.
Another ignoble enemy of Islam who tried desperately to get out of the battle was Umayyah ibn Khalaf. Now Umayyah was no fighter – he was a rich, overly fed business man of a far too large stature – and so like a coward he also did not want to go into battle. And so he bought a representative to go in his place, however he was one of the top senior leaders of the Quraish and so when Abu Jahal heard of this he knew he had to do something. And so he went to Umayyah and said, ‘If you do not go this will demoralise many people. You are the leader of this whole valley! And your presence is necessary.’ Now of course Abu Jahal was just trying to flatter him here, but Umayyah still did not want to go. And so Abu Jahal went to the same Uqbah who also did not want to go earlier, and together they collaborated on a way to get Umayyah to go.
So Uqbah came up to Umayyah while he was sitting in the public congregation area, and he brought with him a woman’s perfume burner. And he said to Umayyah, ‘This is your gift, o Umayyah. Perfume yourself as you are worthy of being perfumed.’ Now of course the insinuation was that Ummayah was a woman, and so, insulted, Umayyah stood up and cursed Uqbah and whoever had sent him. And he went home and told his wife to buy the best camel that money would buy so that he would be able to escape if he needed to, and in response to her protestations he also confided in her that he did not really intend to fight but was just going to make a show of it. And so we see that he was a coward to the last.
Before the Quraish left they all gathered around the Ka’bah and held onto its cloth, and they made a du’a to Allah: ‘O Allah, whichever of these two armies is more noble in your eyes, help them. O Allah, whichever of these two groups is more honourable, then give them victory. O Allah, send your aid upon the better of the two tribes.’ And in the epitome of irony all along they were making du’a against themselves, and Allah references this in Surah Al-Anfal verse 19:
إِن تَسْتَفْتِحُواْ فَقَدْ جَآءَكُمُ ٱلْفَتْحُۖ وَإِن تَنتَهُواْ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْۖ وَإِن تَعُودُواْ نَعُدْ وَلَن تُغْنِىَ عَنكُمْ فِئَتُكُمْ شَيْـًٔا وَلَوْ كَثُرَتْ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
If you seek the victory then already the victory has come over you. And if you desist it is better for you; but if you return [to war], We will return, and never will you be availed by your company at all, even if it should increase, and that is because Allah is with the believers.
Now this verse is a reference to the Quraish, and so when Allah tells them that if they were searching for victory then victory has already come, He means the victory has already been given to the believers and not them. And he warns them that their large numbers will never help them because Allah is with the believers, and here it is important to note that the Quraish far outnumbered the Muslims when they initially set off as they were around 1300, with over a 100 horses, over 600 suits of armour and a few hundred camels, while the Muslims were only about 315 with only 2 horses and less than 100 camels. And this emphasises to us even more how much of a miracle the victory of the Muslims was over the Quraish.
However although this was the biggest army that the Arabs had ever made, they still were not completely united. And as they were leaving Mecca, an old rivalry arose and began to worry the people, and a large segment were about to leave. They were worried that the Banu Bakr, with whom there was an old feud with, would attack the city in their absence, although this rivalry had not been acted upon for a long time due to arrival of Islam. And so Shaitaan became desperate, and he took the form of Suraqa ibn Malik (RA) and said to the Quraish, ‘Don’t worry, I have heard of your fear. I will make sure that the Banu Bakr do not attack you… I will accompany you as well so that you know that I am serious.’ Why did Shaitaan choose Suraqa? The Banu Bakr was a sub-tribe of a larger tribe called the Banu Kinaanah, and Suraqa was a chieftain from another sub-tribe of the Banu Kinaanah and he was very well respected, and so his word and presence was suitable to convince the Quraish that the Banu Bakr would not attack Mecca in their absence.
While this was happening, Abu Sufyan realised that the caravan was now safe from the Muslims as he had taken an unknown route. And so he sent a messenger to the army of the Quraish to tell them that they could return back to Mecca. And so the Quraish had a meeting; some of them said that now the army should return as there was no need for war, most notably of them Utbah ibn Rabiah who we remember did not want to go in the first place due to his disgust at the concept of fighting his own relatives. However Abu Jahal declared that they would go to Badr and stay there for three days and drink wine and feast, and have the women dance for them so that the Muslims would know that the Quraish were strong and not to be trifled with. However despite this some tribes decided to return, and so of the original 1300 around 1000 people were left.
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 037