The spies in Madinah reported that a large trade caravan consisting of two thousand camels and carrying goods worth fifty thousand Dinars was moving towards Madinah. The caravan was destined for Makkah and was being led by Abu Sufyan. This incident occurred six weeks after the Muslim assault on the Makkan caravan at Nakhla was settled.

All the Quraysh families had their share of goods in this caravan. They were impatiently waiting for the safe arrival of the caravan. Before the caravan reached the outskirts of Madinah, a daughter of Abdul Muttalib who was a soothsayer (known for her accurate predictions), began shrieking in the markets of Makkah that a calamity would fall on Makkah within three days. The Makkan merchants started growing anxious about the safety of the caravan.

It was customary that when a caravan was returning from a long journey to Makkah, a bearer would ride a fast camel and reach Makkah three or four days earlier. This arrival was a sign that the caravan was close bye. This person was called Nataf (a hair removing emissary). He was so called because on his announcement, the women of Makkah who had been waiting for their husbands and loved ones, used to remove their facial hair. This was part of their make up. They would clean their houses and sit waiting for them.

This time the bearer was somehow delayed. There also spread rumours that something had happened to the caravan. This information was circulated in Makkah through a number of town-criers called "Moazzan" who would relay the news at cross roads. That day the town-crier while crying out to the people, was observed riding a bare-back camel with the saddle tied upon the belly instead of the hump. He was wearing clothes turned inside out. His hair was dishevelled and both the ears of the camel were bleeding as they had been cut. His face was smeared with mud and he was screaming frightfully, "O the people of Quraysh! Beware! The Makkan caravan is in danger. The Muslims have vowed to revenge it. So the valiant among you must take up swords to face them. O brave Makkans! Intercept the Muslims lest your caravan is lost!".

It was also customary in Makkah that in case of bad news, the town-crier would adopt a disguise clearly pointing to the disaster. He would be followed by other criers who would be naked. Such bearers called "Naked Bearers" symbolised the prediction of a great calamity. Their cries were emotional and provocative. It was done to show that their caravan was being ravaged at that very instant. This provoked a quick and heated response from the people. Within a few hours, nine hundred and fifty warriors aided by seven hundred camels and one hundred horses were decked out for the encounter. Some women also went along to motivate their menfolk for the massacre of Muslims. Besides armed soldiers, camels and fast horses, funds of two hundred and fifty thousand Dirhams were also collected to meet the war expenses.

Such a huge sum had never been paid by Makkan merchants at such a short notice before. The Makkans believed that if the Muslims were not intercepted then the trade caravans of Makkans could never be safe in the future.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was also preparing a group in Madinah to intercept the caravans passing nearby. His army consisted of three hundred and thirteen Muslims who had volunteered themselves for the service. These measures were being adopted by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in response to economic siege lead by the Quraysh against the Muslims.

Ansar (the Medinite Muslims) had two clans named: Aws and Khazraj. Seventy persons from each tribe consented to assist the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Out of three hundred and thirteen soldiers, one hundred and forty were the Ansars and the rest were the Migrant Mohajirs. Only seventy camels and two horses were available for these three hundred and thirteen soldiers. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered every camel would be ridden by two people. One person would mount for some distance and the other would move on foot till after a while they could exchange places.

It was 2nd A.H, on 17th of Ramadan when the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his army encamped twenty kilometres south-west of Madinah in wait of the caravan. The caravan did not show up because Abu Sufyan had taken a detour. He had been forewarned by the Munafeqeen (the hypocrites) and the Jews of Madinah.

The Makkan army of 950 warriors on the other hand was moving at a rapid pace towards Madinah. Muslim spies were able to catch two soldiers of the enemy and bring them to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). It was confirmed from the spies that an army of 950 soldiers was advancing towards Madinah rapidly. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered them to be kept under arrest. He addressed the Muslims, "The Makkan caravan has been intimated to avoid us. The Makkans have been provoked to attack our position. A Makkan army of 950 soldiers led by Abu Jahal is marching towards us, we can return to Madinah, but the army would only invade Madinah and massacre unarmed Muslims. It is better to wait for the Quraysh here as this place is preferable for an encounter than the city and the prospects of success are better".

Some portion of the Badr Valley is earthy, some rocky and the rest is sandy. The valley is situated between two mountains. The mountain towards east is "Aladwat-al-qaswa" while the mountainous range towards south is "Asfal". Towards Asfal there were many water streams that were used by the Makkan caravans passing through this area.

The Muslim contingent had been waiting for the caravan at the northern outskirts of the Badr Valley

. When it was confirmed that the caravan would not arrive, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered the Muslims to change their positions towards the foot of Asfal so that Muslims would have control over the water reservoirs.

Arabs used to fight wars at individual levels. Each one of them strived for individual valour and prominence to deserve the title of "Barz" meaning the brave and valiant. The Muslim Arabs who would fight this battle, were to fight in the cause of Allah and not self. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told them that it is Allah alone who would observe the spirit and valour of the individuals. If they sacrificed their lives, the rewards would rest with Him alone and He would take them to Heaven. The Muslim army was one third in number against the enemies. If the battle was fought collectively, the Muslims could win.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) introduced the Muslims to a battle formation that was exercised in Alexandarian epoch. This was termed as "Fal-algks" in Greek. This term depicts a particular type of military contingent. In the English language this term is substituted by the word "Phalanx". "Fal-algks" was a battle-array in which all the soldiers would form a circular formation. These ranks could change their positions to triangles, squares or circles, according to the requirements. In such formations, all the soldiers faced their enemy thus eliminating any possibility of attack from behind. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) introduced and adopted for the first time such a battle-strategy in the Battle of Badr. Besides the Muslim valour and bravery, this strategy brought victory to the Muslims.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) arranged the Muslim flanks in a triangle, and at each of the three corners he placed three flag bearers. The army was further arranged in triangular batches, which fortified each other. At every attack position the enemy found itself facing a Muslim batch supported by the other two.

Each triangular "Fal-algks" had a flag-bearer. AliR.A held the flag of the first contingent. He was carrying a white flag with an insignia of an eagle on it. The second one was being held by Musa’b bin UmairR.A who was a Mohajir and the third was carried by an Ansar, Sa’ad bin MuazR.A.

After making this division, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) addressed the Muslims again and said; "O Muslims! if you emerge victorious, you will be rewarded with Paradise, and if you sacrifice your lives and earn "Shahadat", Paradise will again be your reward. No one from Paradise wishes to return to this world, but only those who earn Shahadat. They wish to attain Shahadat again, in the way of Allah as they alone know the rewards blessed upon them in Paradise".

When the sun was about to set, the Makkan army arrived. Darkness was prevailing, therefore the Quraysh and the Muslims did not engage in war. At night, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had his army shifted so that at day they would not be blinded by the sun.

This strategy explicitly shows that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was very well versed with battlefield tactics. We do not know from where this great man acquired such skills. That night, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) asked Muslims to take sleep well, except the guards who would take turns patrolling. He also prayed before Allah for the strengthening of their hearts. The Qur’an mentions this in the words;


Remember He covered you
With a sort of drowsiness,
To give you calm as from
Himself, and he caused
Rain to descend on you
From heaven, to clean you Therewith, to remove from you The stain of Satan,
To strengthen your hearts,
And to plant your feet
Firmly therewith.
(Surah Anfal; V-11)

The Muslims were in close quarters to the enemy. They slept so peacefully that even rain shower could not wake them. Allah sent water to clean them and to plant their feet firmly on ground.

Some Islamic historians state Friday, 17th of Ramadan (2 A.H) as the date when the battle started in the morning. If it had been so, then the Muslim army must have camped on Thursday. The Muslim army spent a night in the battle-field. One wonders how the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) could have faced the enemy three times stronger than his own, in the valley of Badr.

The Makkan soldiers were not cowards to let us think that they would have fled at the very first attack. Being Arabs they were by nature valiant and brave. They were adept in sword play and were not afraid of blood or death. In our present times one small army can face the stronger forces by its modern and state-of-the-art weaponry but this was not the case in Badr. Both the opponents possessed the same type of armoury and it was only by physical force or count number by which victory was normally anticipated. Every army general tried to have information about the number of soldiers of his opponents.

If the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had more armoury than the Quraysh, it might have been thought that by dint of their weapon superiority the Muslims faced the Quraysh. In this battle, the Makkan army had landed with seven hundred camels and one hundred horses, whereas the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had only seventy camels and two horses. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had a very clear trust in Allah. He believed that Allah would help him and would not let the un-believers win. The Muslims also had staunch faith in Allah, and they knew they would be rewarded by Paradise if they lost their lives. Besides firm faith and strong determination, the other factor that helped the Muslims was the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) war strategy that stands unmatched in the entire Arab history. On the morning of Friday 17 Ramadan, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of Islam had become aware that if they were defeated, not only would the Muslims be wiped out, but Islam would also come to an end.

It was customary at the time of confrontation, that the commanders of the armies would watch and direct their soldiers from a high place. Generally such a place was selected posterior to the battle-field. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stood on a sand dune to direct his forces. The place from where the military orders are issued is called "Areesh" in Arabic.

The battle began at dawn. As was the custom, retributive verses were recited aloud for self-exaltation and scoffing the enemy. After these recitations, three warriors from the Quraysh stepped out in between the two armies. They were, "Utbah" father-in-law of Abu Sufyan,. "Shau’bah" uncle to Abu Sufyan’s wife Hind and "Walid" brother-in-law of Abu Sufyan.

These three warriors called out aloud, "Is there anyone to face us?"

Three Ansars from the Islamic army stepped forward and said, "We are ready to face you and accept your challenge". The Quraysh warriors inquired, "Who are you and from where do you belong?" They replied, "We are the residents of Madinah".

The Quraysh warriors replied, "We do not know you, therefore will not fight you. We belong to the elite. Only the elite will face us".

UmarR.A responded, "All Muslims are equal and no one is superior to another". The Quraysh answered that they would fight only with residents of Makkah whom they knew.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) at this stage called for his first flag-bearer - AliR.A to fight Al-Walid. Then he sent for his uncle HamzahR.A and Ubayd bin Harith and ordered them to face the other two Quraysh warriors.

The three Muslim Mujahids began reciting "Rijz" before fighting with their opponents. Rijz was a self introduction, after which various militant verses were recited aloud. AliR.A introduced himself as AliR.A bin Talib Abdul Muttalib. Then he recited the last verses of the famous encomium of the well-known poet "Amri-al-Qais-Bin-Hajr-al-Kindi". Amri-al-Qais was among the Arab "Arbab-e-Mualeqat-e-Saba".

"Arbab-e-Mualeqat" were those seven poets whose poetical works had been hanging as the best pieces of poetry on the wall of Holy Ka’bah for the past one hundred and fifty years.

After the recitations, warriors from both sides attacked each other. The Arabs fought with swords in a different way than the Europeans. A European warrior used the tip of the sword but the Arabs used the lower part of the blade of the sword and its tip was unimportant. Some have held the view that the Arabs did not observe any rules regarding swordmanship, but that was not the case. Like the Greek, the Romans and the Europeans, the Arabs also acquired and trained themselves in sword play. In such battles the correct usage of shield was also very important as it was the only security against a sword-wound.

AliR.A was using his sword with great agility against his adversary. The fight did not continue for long as AliR.A with a lethal flick slashed the throat and the jugular vein of Walid.

He wavered and fell down and within few moments his body lay lifeless on the ground.

HamzahR.A also killed his opponent, but the third Muslim warrior, Ubayd bin Harith, who was fighting against the father-in-law of Abu Sufyan, got seriously injured even though he killed him.

In this way the three Mujahids emerged victorious. The three Muslims took this event for good omen and their spirits brightened. When the Quraysh saw their warriors dead, they raised their spears in air symbolising the commencement of collective and physical encounter. Then they moved towards the Muslims to launch a massive attack.

The attackers knew it very well that some of their rivals were their children, their brothers, uncles or other relations, yet they were ready to slay them in the cause of Allah.

Arabian history had not witnessed father pitched against son, brother against brother and uncle against nephew; as close relatives never fought amongst themselves. They often formed groups in their tribes that fought against other tribes. It was for the first time that in the Battle of Badr such alliances were broken.

Soon after the battle started, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) climbed down the "Areesh" and started fighting along the Muslim army reciting the verses of the Holy Qur’an melodiously. These verses announced rewards for the people doing Jihad and gave the tidings of Paradise both for the dead and the alive.

On hearing these verses, the valour of the Muslim soldiers soared. A soldier, Umair called out aloud, "The distance between Paradise and me is nullified". He stepped out of his flank and charged at the idolaters, but engulfed by them, he was martyred quickly.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) raised his voice to warn the Muslims not to forget his instructions in the fervency of Paradise. If they left their ranks and flanks, they would be over-powered by the enemy.

On the other hand, the soldiers of Quraysh were fighting in their customary way. Each of them was trying for individual valour, unthoughtful of his fellowmen.

All three Muslim contingents carried specific insignias to distinguish each other from the enemy. One wore yellow headgear, the second green and the third contingent wore feathers on their heads. HamzahR.A also wore ostrich feathers that waved in the air.

It is stated that when the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw the Quraysh army pressing forward, he asked AliR.A to give him some soil. AliR.A bent down and picked up a handful of soil and gave it to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) hurled this soil at the face of the enemy and said aloud, "Flee away, you infidels". Then the Muslims launched a massive attack observing a complete unison of ranks. The three contingents advanced ahead like three fortresses. At last, the Quraysh were left with no choice but to retreat.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had been informed that his uncle AbbasR.A (who was not a Muslim then) was also among the Quraysh. He ordered that AbbasR.A be arrested alive.

AbbasR.A had reached Badr with the Quraysh army. He had not taken part in the battle against Muslims. He was a merchant and completely uninterested in bloodshed. He also did not want to ensue a fight with his nephew. He had been forbidden to pitch into battle by his wife, who was a Muslim.

A Muslim soldier saw and recognised him during the battle. Though the soldier was frail and AbbasR.A was quite robust, yet he picked him up and brought him to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), quickly returning to his position in the battlefield.

The Muslim army broke the escorting circle of Abu Jahal and reached him. Mua’d bin Umro inflicted a deep wound on the foot of Abu Jahal who sat down groaning. His son Ikrimah, defending his father, attacked Mua’d and with a stroke cut his right hand near the elbow which hung down by the skin. Mua’d’s face did not show any signs of pain and he, with his left hand, tore apart the hanging hand and said, "This also is in the way of Allah". Then he bent down and picked up his sword and resumed fighting. Within moments, a Muslim soldier put Abu Jahal to sword.

Graves of Mushreqeen

According to the Islamic history, it was Mua’d bin Umro who first attacked Abu Jahal, but when he himself got injured by Ikrimah and could not complete the task, another Mujahid "Muawid bin Afra" plunged his sword through Abu Jahal’s chest and taking him for dead, got engaged to other side, whereas Abu Jahal remained lying there injured till the end of battle. Hitherto at the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) orders, Abdullah bin Masood beheaded Abu Jahal and brought his head to the feet of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

It would be of interest to note that Abdullah bin Masood is the same person among the Scribe Takers, "Ka’tiban-e-Wahi" (the people, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) designated to write down the verses of the Qur’an as they were revealed) to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the early period of Islam. Abu Jahal’s real name was "Umro bin Hasham bin Mughirah Makhzumi" and his patronymic was "Abdul Hakm", but due to his malice against Islam, obstinacy and enmity with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), he has been remembered as "Abu Jahal" - father of ignorance.

After Abu Jahal’s death, the Quraysh lost their courage and panicked. In spite of being far greater in number, they took to their feet leaving behind, dead, seventy of their infidels.

In addition to Abu Jahal, the other reputed chiefs of the Quraysh, including Abu Sufyan‘s father-in-law and brother-in-law were also put to sword in this battle. Although the Muslims proportioned one-third in number to their enemy, they bore the loss of only fourteen soldiers. The Battle of Badr that brought victory upon the Muslims proved very helpful and encouraging. It revived confidence in them. In this battle a small army defeated an army three times in strength by dint of their Faith and the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) unparalleled leadership and his novel strategy. At the end of the battle when the Quraysh had fled away, a Muslim soldier went to the battlefield to spot the dead.

This Muslim soldier was Abu Hazeefah bin Utbah. He belonged to Makkah. Those who were dead also belonged to Makkah. He was trying to identify his acquaintances among the dead.

Suddenly he saw a corpse. He bent down and carefully watched the person for a few moments. When he rose up, his face showed signs of grief. Meanwhile the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) passed that way and inquired, "O Abu Hazeefah! Why do you look so aggrieved? Today Allah had blessed us by victory".

Abu Hazeefah pointed to the body before him and said, "I am grieving for this person, O Apostle (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of Allah, as he is my father".

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) consoled him, however, Abu Hazeefah continued, "O Apostle (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of Allah! I felt sorry for I had wanted my father to repent and shun idolatry, but as his dead body lies before me, I grieve that he has left the world without coming into Faith".

The commentary of Battle of Badr, described in detail in the book "Ayam-ul-Arab" is still recognised as the most prominent and important event of the Islamic history.

At Badr, Muslims for the first time met victory in a full fledged battle. In addition, they also learnt that by firm Faith and by employing battle-tactics correctly, a weaker army can claim victory over its far stronger counterpart.

At the end of the battle, the Muslims spent the rest of the day burying their dead, and threw the bodies of the infidels in the well of Badr


Before the battle began, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had advised the Muslims not to do ‘Musla’ with the dead; or to amputate their hands or feet to keep in commemoration (as had been the custom in the dark Ages). It is advisable he said, "To render kindness to the living as well as to the dead".

When the dead were being lowered in their graves, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) told the Muslims to arrange the graves in a row and try to ensure that the graves appear seemly and appropriate.

Someone among the Muslims asked, "O Messenger of Allah! If the graves do not appear seemly and appropriate, would the dead be hurt?" the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) answered, "It is not the dead, but the living who will be hurt, a ruined and deserted grave is one pathetic sight for man".