The Battle of Badr – Part 9
وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ
We mentioned how the issue of the prisoners of war after Badr was dealt with, but how were they actually treated in Medina?
The prophet had given every prisoner who had been captured to the household of those who had captured them, and he had ordered the Muslims to, ‘Treat them with kindness.’
And we know from the characters of the sahaba, all of them were extreme in their generosity and kindness. Abu Aziz (RA) – the brother of Musab ibn Umair (RA) – narrates: ‘I was assigned to a group of the Ansar, and every time that they sat down to eat they would give me the bread and the meat and they would take the dates and the water, because the prophet had told them to treat the prisoners with kindness. Out of embarrassment I would put the bread back in front of them, and they would take it and put it back in front of me.’ Subhanallah, look at the beauty of our religion, which can prescribe strictness in the instances when it is needed to be strict but when it prescribes mercy it is merciful like nothing else. And so the prisoners of war were treated as well or even better than those who looked after them, and because of this many of the prisoners would actually accept Islam, either while they were prisoners or sometime soon afterwards
Now of course, in the end all of these prisoners had to eventually be ransomed off back to the Quraish, but for what price? There are a few varying opinions, however it is generally agreed that every single prisoner was given a price suitable for who he was. And so the richer and more noble prisoners had to pay a greater price than those who were poorer, and in fact, the very poorest prisoners could eventually go back without even having to pay anything. And there are a few notable stories of this ransoming period:
The Ansari who had been assigned the prophet’s uncle, Abbas (RA), went back and offered to gift him to the prophet for free. However the prophet replied, ‘No, rather do not decrease his ransom by even one coin. Take it fully from his ransom.’ And Abbas actually ended up having to pay the highest ransom out of all the prisoners – 4000 dirhams.
On top of this, Abbas had to pay for the ransom of Nawfal ibn Harith and Aqil ibn Abi Talib (RA), who were both his nephews. And this shows that although the prophet had ordered that Abbas not be killed in the battle due to his sympathies for the Muslims, this act had not been one out of nepotism as the prophet took his ransom fully and completely. And it is also narrated that Abbas came to the prophet and said, ‘O Rasulallah, I am a Muslim, so why are you putting a ransom on me? I am a Muslim, and they forced me to fight.’
However the prophet simply responded, ‘Allah knows.’ And this meant that only Allah knew if what Abbas was claiming was completely true. The prophet did not deny or accept what he had said, but essentially declared that he had to judge from Abbas’ actions on the outside, rather than the intentions in his heart.
And so Abbas complained, ‘O Messenger of Allah, you put 4000 dirhams on me – I don’t have any money. How am I going to pay 4000 dirhams?’
‘Where is that money, that you and Umme Fadl (his wife) hid on such and such a day, that you went out and you buried it and you said to Umme Fadl that, “If I ever die then this will go to Al-Fadl, and this will go to Abdullah and this will go to Quthum.” Where is that money that you hid?’
Abbas was shocked, ‘I swear by The One Who Has Sent You With The Truth, that you are the messenger of Allah. No one knew about this other than me and her.’ And some say that here imaan truly entered the heart of Abbas for the first time, whereas before he was only Muslim because his wife was.
And later on Abbas – referencing Surah Al-Anfal ayat 70, which says that if the prisoners of war had good in their hearts then Allah would give them something better than what he took away from them – would say, ‘By Allah, I wish that the prophet had taken more from me, because what he gave me in return is much more than what he took.’ And indeed he went on to become even richer than he was at this point.
In direct contrast to Abbas’ story, there were some prisoners who were extremely poor but were able to read and write, and so the prophet told them that they were free to go if they also taught the children of the Ansar how to read and write. And so we clearly see the prophet putting an importance on education for the future of his society.
Another incident deals with the case of Abu Al-As ibn Ar-Rabi’a (RA), who was the husband of Zainab – the daughter of the prophet. And it also to be noticed that his mother was Hala binti Khuwaylid (RA) – the sister of Khadija (RA) – so he was actually the cousin of Zainab. And this marriage had taken place before Islam, however still Abu Al-As was a loving husband. But he was at this point a prisoner of war in Medina and Zainab was in Mecca, and when the ransom came for him Zainab actually had to give her jewellery as a part of it, and one item of that jewellery was a necklace that her mother Khadija used to wear that had been gifted to her. And when the prophet saw this necklace he began to get emotional, and he requested to the Ansari who held Abu Al-As to forgive his ransom.
But instead of a ransom, the prophet had instead struck another deal; one month after Abu Al-As had been freed and had returned to the Quraish, the prophet ordered two sahaba to go to a certain place outside of Mecca. And he told them, ‘Wait there for a few days and you will get a visitor. Bring that visitor back.’ And visitor ended up being Zainab, as the prophet had struck a deal with Abu Al-As that he would be returned with the condition that he send Zainab to Medina.
However this did not end up being a smooth transition. When Abu Al-As returned back to Mecca, rumours began to spread that Zainab might be going to Medina, as everyone knew that Abu Al-As had been freed without paying any ransom. And so Hind – the wife of Abu Sufyan – came one day to Zainab and said, ‘I have heard that you are about to go back to your father. There is no need for you to leave but if you’re going to do that, then tell me before so that I can prepare you baggage for you because women know what women need more than men know.’ Now here Hind was trying to clearly trap Zainab so that they would be able to stop her leaving, and Zainab was very close to telling her that she was actually about to leave but in the end she stopped herself because something didn’t feel right. And so she prepared her bags herself. On the day, Abu Al-As ordered his brother Kinaanah to go and take her to the meeting point as he felt too humiliated and emotional to take her himself.
But Kinaanah did not deal with this very wisely, and in broad daylight placed Zainab on his camel and began to lead her out of the city. Quickly, the news began to spread that Zainab was leaving and a group gathered in order to prevent this from happening, and they surrounded the camel and Kinaanah. And while Kinaanah was wheeling around trying to protect his sister-in-law, a Quraishi by the name of Habaar ibn Al-Aswad ibn Al-Muttalib thrust a spear at the camel. Unfortunately Zainab was pregnant at the time, and when the spear was thrust at the camel it became scared and reared up, causing Zainab to fall off and – right then and there – she began to bleed and suffered a miscarriage.
At this, Kinaanah jumped in front of her and declared, ‘I swear by Allah, anyone who approaches me will taste my sword and my arrow. Anyone who comes to her, I’m going to kill him before he kills me, and every one of you knows how good of a marksman I am.’ And so a stalemate formed, as no one wanted to approach Kinaanah out of fear of losing their life and yet they remained around him so that he could not leave.
Eventually Abu Sufyan heard of what was happening, and he rushed down to the area and calmed the crowd before telling them to disperse. And then he turned to Kinaanah and said, ‘You acted foolishly. Did you expect us to allow you to take Zainab in broad daylight? You acted foolishly! Did you expect us to let you do this – we will not be humiliated this publicly! Go back to the people and wait some while – when the people stop talking about this issue then quietly hand her over to her father. We have no reason to keep this lady here.’ And so we see some of the pragmatism and nobleness of Abu Sufyan here, and these positive qualities are the reason why in the end Allah would guide him to Islam.
And so a few days later, in the middle of the night this time, once again Kinaanah took her out of the city and left her with the sahaba who were waiting for her. And so Zainab was finally reunited with her father.
There is one final interesting incident to be mentioned about this ransoming period, which is the famous story of Musab ibn Umair. And it is narrated that once he passed by his brother Abu Aziz while he was a prisoner, and Abu Aziz at once became very happy. And he called out to his brother and asked him to help him out of this plight, however Musab did not even speak to him but instead turned to the Ansari who had captured him and said, ‘Make sure that he doesn’t escape, because his mother is a very wealthy woman and she will pay top price for him.’
At this Abu Aziz said, ‘O brother, this is how you treat me?’
And so Musab said, pointing at the Ansari, ‘This is my brother, not you.’
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 041