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Lessons of the Battle of Badr: 17 Ramadan, 2 AH

Yusuf Dhia-Allah

The Battle of Badr was the most decisive battle in the life of the nascent Muslim community in the Arabian Peninsula.

It occurred on the 17th day of Ramadan in the second year of the Hijrah at a place called Badr located about 100 miles southeast of Madinah.

Badr became the defining moment in early Islamic history.

It distinguished those that participated in Badr from those that came after.

Led by the Prophet (pbuh), 313 companions had set out from Madinah to intercept the Makkan trade caravan that was returning from Syria.

The caravan was led by Abu Sufyan, one of the Makkan chiefs and among the staunchest enemies of the Noble Messenger (pbuh).

For 13 years, Muslims were persecuted, terrorized and brutalized in Makkah for no other reason than that they proclaimed the Oneness of Allah.

They were finally driven out of Makkah without their possessions and sought refuge in Madinah.

The Makkan chiefs traded with the Muslims’ goods and properties and enriched themselves.

Thus, Muslims were in their right to retrieve their stolen goods.

Abu Sufyan had sent out his spies to seek information about what the Muslims were doing.

When he learned that the Muslims were coming for the caravan, he changed his route moving further away from Madinah and also sent an emissary to Makkah calling the people to come and save their goods.

Led by Abu Jahl, another enemy of Allah and Islam, set out with more than 1,000 heavily armed men to finish the Muslims once and for all.

The two armies met at the Battle of Badr. It was the 17th day of Ramadan and the first year in which Muslims were commanded by Allah to fast.

The confrontation occurred between 313 lightly armed but highly-motivated Muslims led by the Prophet (pbuh), and the heavily armed 1,000 Makkan mushriks.

Allah had willed that the two groups meet to establish the power of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

Before the battle began, the Prophet (pbuh) prayed to Allah beseeching His help in this critical hour.

With tearful eyes and trembling hands, the Prophet (pbuh) pleaded with Allah for help.

“O Allah, if these servants of Yours are defeated today, there will be nobody left to proclaim Your name.”

Allah was not going to let His beloved Prophet down on this crucial day. The Prophet (pbuh) and his companions had suffered grievously for many years and shown great patience in adversity.

Allah’s promised help was on hand.

The small group of poorly armed Muslims confronted their enemy with courage and determination.

It was the test of Imaan (faith-commitment) against shirk (associating partners with Allah).

Despite their small numbers, the Muslims were able to dispatch more than 70 Makkan mushriks to hell.

Among them were such Makkan stalwarts as Abu Jahl, Umayya ibn Khalaf, Utbah ibn Rabiah, Shaybah ibn Rabiah and Waleed bin Utbah.

It was crushing defeat for the Makkan mushriks and a great victory for Muslims.

The Battle of Badr established an important Islamic principle: weapons alone do not determine the outcome of a battle. It is the Imaan and determination of fighters that ultimately establishes who will be victorious.

The lesson of Badr is witnessed repeatedly in different locales around the world.

Committed Muslims confronting massively armed enemy forces have been able to withstand their ground and come out victorious.

This has been witnessed by the people of Iran in their defensive war against Iraq and allies (1980-1988), by the Afghans against the Soviets (1979-1988) and then against the Americans (2001-2020), the Hizbullah against the Israeli army (July-August 2006) and more recently the Yemeni defenders against the Saudi invaders (2015-2020).

Badr is alive and so are its lessons.

Muslims need to imbibe the lessons of Badr carefully, especially in these troubled times.

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