The Root of Terrorism a la
20 Nov, 2005
- 'Cruelty is the first of God's attributes-Andre Gide (1869-1951)
The Battle of Badr II Led by Muhammad - March, 624CE
It was mentioned previously (Terror 6, CH. 2) that Muhammad, and his accomplices narrowly missed the booty of a caravan of the Quraysh led by Abu Sufyan. As written before, when Muhammad arrived at al-Ushayra to attack this caravan, he learned to his dismay that this richly laden caravan had already passed two days earlier than his advent at the intended site of pillage. Naturally, his booty-hungry followers were very much dejected at this unexpected loss. Muhammad, however, was astute enough to be aware that the same caravan could be successfully attacked during its return journey from al-Sham (Syria). Only three months of patience and waiting was essential to seize the returning caravan. With this end in view, Muhammad started to recruit Jihadists for his next plundering mission.
In his mosque, he called the Muslims and tempted them to raid the Quraysh caravan for rich booty. He told his congregation, "This is the Quraysh caravan containing their property. Go out to attack it, perhaps God will give it as a prey. " Hitherto, he never mentioned to the local people of Medina about engaging in a war for booty. They always betook him to be altruistic, very pious, noble, peace-loving and non-belligerent Prophet of mercy and compassion. Many Muslims were greatly shocked at what Muhammad had said at the gathering in the mosque, and they could not believe when he invited them to join him in the loot that Muhammad would go to war. They were truly surprised. However, the greed for a rich booty gripped their minds and there was no shortage of volunteers to take a chance to improve their lot with the proceeds of plunder.
On this greed for ill-gotten wealth, Rodinson writes (Rodinson, p.162):
"As the business began to show a profit they were joined by volunteers from the people of Medina, in spite of the fact that their agreement with Muhammad carried with it no obligation to take part in his campaigns."
The response to Muhammad's call was mixed. Many people joined his team willingly, but many were also forced or coerced into the Muslim brigand. Muhammad set up the condition that only the Muslims were eligible to join in this terror campaign. Many non-believers tried their luck, but Muhammad was adamant that no Islam meant no share in the spoils. In this way, his campaign was a great success among the local Medina Muslims (Ansars). Up until now, no Ansar had joined Muhammad in his previous missions of highway robbery. The success of Abdullah ibn Jahsh at Nakhla, however, had raised the desire for booty in the minds of many Ansars. This irresistible lure and greed for the plunder of fine Quraysh merchandise was such a great draw in that many Medinites responded to his call of raiding the Quraysh caravan with raging alacrity. Such was the enthusiasm for this Jihad of plunder that Muhammad quickly recruited a strong force of three hundred and thirteen (313) men consisting of seventy-seven (77) Muhajirs (refugee migrants) and two hundred and thirty-six (236) Ansars. Thus, the Ansars formed the bulk of his new raiding party of Jihadists.
A few weeks before his departure for Badr, and when the Quraysh caravan came in the vicinity of Medina, Muhammad sent two spies, Talhah ibn Ubaydullah and Said ibn Zayd to discover the caravan's whereabouts. These two men arrived at the campsite of Kashd al-Juhany and hid there until the caravan passed. Forty men guarded the Meccan caravan. The two Muslim spies estimated that the goods the caravan carried were around fifty thousand (50,000) Dinars. (Remember: one Dinar = 4.235 grams of gold. At the current price of gold, this booty was worth about US$ 2,725,000, not including the prices of captives, camels and other items). It was absolutely fabulous; these two spies had no hesitation in surmising. They immediately hastened to pass this good news to Muhammad. Muhammad, however, had already left for Badr, just a day before these two spies returned to Medina. He was too impatient for the booty; he could not wait for the spies' return. Thus, Talhah ibn Ubaydullah and Said ibn Zayd had to stay back in Medina, missing the Muslim army. Nevertheless, Muhammad did not disappoint these two faithful spies for their services. Each of them received full share of the plunder when Muhammad returned to Medina. Remaining at Medina was also Muhammad's son-in-law, Uthman b. Affan. Uthman's wife, Ruqayyah (Muhammad's daughter) fell ill during this time and he had to stay back to look after her. Muhammad gave his son-in-law his full share of the booty. Such was the generosity of the Prophet of mercy! Sahih Bukhari records Muhammad's promise of booty to his son-in-law in this way:
Volume 4, Book 53, Number 359:
Narrated Ibn 'Umar:
'Uthman did not join the Badr battle because he was married to one of the daughters of Allah's Apostle and she was ill. So, the Prophet said to him. "You will get a reward and a share (from the war booty) similar to the reward and the share of one who has taken part in the Badr battle."
In the meantime, through spies and reliable sources, the news of Muhammad's preparation to raid the Quraysh caravan reached Abu Sufyan. He was dreadfully alarmed. He was aware of the treaties that Muhammad had entered into with many tribes on the caravan route; there was a great possibility of a surprise attack by them as well. He, forthwith, sent Damdam b. Amr al-Ghifari to Mecca for help. When Damdam arrived at Mecca, he cut the nose of his camel, turned its saddle and announced Muhammad's plan to attack the caravan of Abu Sufyan. Responding to his cry, Abu Jahl called upon all the Meccans to join in the rescue operation. At that time, Banu Kinanah and Banu Bakr tribes were in enmity with the Quraysh. So, they did not pay heed to Abu Jahl's call. Taking full advantage of the Quraysh's bad time, they, at first, decided to attack the Quraysh from behind, but in the end, the chief of the Kinanah tribe, Suraqa b. Malik decided not to betray the Quraysh. The Muslim biographer, like Ibn Ishaq calls this Suraqa an Iblis. When the Quraysh were assured of non-aggression from these two tribes, Abu Jahl and Amir ibn al-Hadrami (Amr ibn Hadrami's brother; remember? Amr was killed by the Muslims at Nakhla) convinced the Meccans in favour of war with Muhammad. So, every able-bodied person from the Quraysh joined in, except for Abu Lahab. He sent, in his place, al-As b. Hisham (the maternal uncle of Umar b. Khattab) who owed him four thousand Dirhams that he could not pay back. Abu Lahab hired him to proxy-fight for him to clear his debt.
While the Quraysh were readying for the war, Muhammad was completely unaware of the preparation of the Meccans to face him militarily. He was very confident that he will prevail and will accumulate the Quraysh booty.
So, with much hope and great confidence, on Sunday, the 10th March, 624 CE (12th Ramadan, AH2), Muhammad, along with the three hundred and thirteen (313) (the number ranges from 307 to 318) Jihadists, marched out from Medina towards Badr. Ahead of the Muslims were two black flags, one carried by Ali ibn Talib and the other carried by an Ansar man. Seventy camels marched with them and the three hundred plus Muslim soldiers took turns to ride on them. They had only two horses with them. Muhammad kept Abu Lubaba in charge of upper Medina. Instead of the direct route to Mecca, to hide detection, he took an unusual route that passed by Irqul Zabya, Saffra and Dhafiran.
On Monday, the 11th of March, Muhammad arrived near Saffra. He sent two spies, Basbas b. Amr al-Juhani and Adi b. Abu Zaghba to Badr for intelligence regarding any preparation being made for the reception of Abu Sufiyan at Badr and to ascertain the whereabouts of the Quraysh caravan. It was there that Muhammad expected to encounter the caravan and to make a sudden attack. While there, the spies overheard the conversation of two women near a well that the Quraysh caravan was expected within a day or two. They hurried to Muhammad to forward this important information.
In the early morning of Tuesday, 12th of March, Abu Sufyan came in advance of the caravan and halted at the wadi (watering well) and got wind of the presence of Muhammad's party by examining the distinct Medina camel droppings of Basbas and Adi. Abu Sufiyan was extremely worried at the sinister plot of Muhammad and he hurriedly went back to his main caravan; diverted it towards the coastal route, thus saving it from the pillage by Muhammad's soldiers. In reality, Muhammad missed the caravan by a few hours only, Abu Sufyan himself went along with the caravan to ensure its safe arrival at Mecca. He sent a second courier, Qays b. Imea al-Qays to inform the advancing Meccan army of his decision to detour the Quraysh caravan and to forward the message that the danger was over. During this time, Muhammad was at Rooha and drank from a well there.
On Wednesday, the 13th of March, this second courier of Abu Sufyan met the Meccan army led by Abu Jahl at Johfa. Abu Jahl, was proceeding to provide the added security for the threatened caravan. The courier told Abu Jahl that Abu Sufyan felt no necessity of bloodshed since the caravan was safe. He asked Abu Jahl and his men to return to Mecca. But Abu Jahl insisted on advancing forward to Badr, wishing to do some trading, as well as to enjoy some wining and dining there. The accompanying singing girls however, were sent back to Mecca. Two tribes of the Quraysh, B. Zohra (Muhammad's mother's tribe) and B. Adi (Umar's tribe) also decided to return to Mecca.
The remaining Meccan army marched forward and reached Badr in the evening of Thursday, 14th of March. They encamped on the far side of the Badr well and behind the mountain.
Meanwhile, Muhammad was proceeding forward. And in the early morning of Thursday, the 14th of March, when he arrived at Dhafiran, not very far from Badr, to his chagrin, he received the news of the Quraysh army advancing to protect their richly laden caravan. He was quite frustrated at the prospect of a bloody war instead of an easy victory for booty. The bad news for the Jihadists was that the prized caravan had already passed.
The news of the advancing Meccan army was completely unexpected to the Muslims. Muhammad himself was not sure if he should proceed further or not now that the booty had eluded them. Facing the dilemma of whether an attack against the Quraysh would constitute a breach of his covenant of protection with the Ansars (a pledge that stipulated that the Ansars protect Muhammad if he was attacked at Medina and its vicinity), Muhammad, in a meeting of his war council, sought the advice of all the Muslims, especially that of the Ansars. He was afraid that the Ansars might not protect him outside Medina. Abu Bakr and Umar called for an immediate rally. The people of Medina also pledged their support for the march. The leader of the Ansars (from Bani al-Aws), Sa'd b. Muadh promised that the Ansars would sink if Muhammad led them to the sea and plunged into it. Then all the Ansars pledged to fight with Muhammad. Deeply pleased, Muhammad asked his men to proceed. He promised a slaughter for the enemy. To please the booty-hungry Jihadists, he disclosed that Allah had promised them either the army or the caravan as per verse 8:7
Trudging further, Muhammad, with his henchmen, arrived at Badr in the early morning of Thursday, ahead of the Meccan army, and camped there. A shelter from palm branches was built for him. He got hold of the water wells first. As per the advice of the war veteran, al-Hubab, Muhammad filled all the water wells except the one nearest to him. The Muslims then made a cistern and filled it with water. This clever strategy put the Muslims at a decisive advantage of complete control of the water supply. Thus, the enemy was now at the mercy of Muhammad's soldiers if they needed water. And Muhammad's army was ready to kill any Meccan who ventured to approach the cistern to drink from there.
Soon after his very early morning arrival at Badr, Muhammad sought to gather accurate intelligence about the Meccan army. First he, along with Abu Bakr went out spying. They met a man on the road and inquired of him about the situation. The man would not tell the truth until Muhammad agreed to disclose his identity. So they (Muhammad and Abu Bakr) tried to gather more information about the Quraysh army through mendacity. The extracted information was not much use to Muhammad. In the evening, he despatched Ali and a few others to further survey the area surrounding a spring. There, they located two Quraysh slave water carriers. Ali and his companions abducted these two slaves and brought them to Muhammad. The slaves told the Muslims that they were the water carriers of the Quraysh army. This was bad news for the Muslims; for, they hoped that the slaves were from Abu Sufyan's camp. After applying apposite torture to these two slaves, the Muslims extracted the information about the position and the probable strength of the Quraysh army. This information, along with the fact that the Quraysh had slaughtered nine camels on the first day and ten camels on the second day, gave Muhammad some idea about the probable size of the Quraysh army. He speculated that the Quraysh army must be between nine hundred (900) to one thousand (1 000) men strong. This guess was quite accurate; for there were nine hundred and fifty (950) Quraysh men. They were mounted on seven hundred (700) camels and one hundred (100) horses. When Muhammad learned about the nobles of the Quraysh present, he said, "Here Mecca has flung its dearest flesh and blood to you."
At nightfall, Muhammad, along with Abu Bakr returned to his lair and started praying to Allah for His succor. Sa'd b. Muadh kept a vigil at the entrance. The Muslims too, were weary due to the lengthy and arduous march they had to undertake for the last few days. Fatigue and exhaustion overcame them and soon they went into a deep and peaceful slumber. Then the rain came. It rained during the night but more heavily towards the Meccan camp. Due to the rain, the Wadi bed became soft but firm which was an advantage to the Muslims. This rain was alluded to in the Qur'an in verse 8:11 as a purification of Allah. At night, as mentioned in 8:45 Muhammad imagined the army of Quraysh to be weak.
Both sides were restless until morning broke. At dawn, while Muhammad was organizing his men into ranks, a few thirsty Quraysh men approached the well for water. Muhammad prayed to Allah for their destruction.
The Muslims hoisted three banners; one for the refugees, in the hands of Musab, one for the Khazarites, by al-Hobab and one for the Bani Aws by Sad ibn Muadh.
The Quraysh also drew up their lines and started moving forward. However, they were divided on the policy of fighting against their kinsmen. Shayba and Utba, the two Quraysh chiefs strongly urged that the attack should be abandoned. It should be remembered that Utba was the father of Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan b. Harb and Shayba was Utba's brother (i.e., Hind's uncle). They provided shelter to Muhammad while he (Muhammad) was driven out from Taif by the stone-pelting street boys. Utba and Shayba simply wanted the reparation (blood money) for the killing of their confederate (Amr b. al-Hadrami). So Utbah sent a message to Abu Jahl to retreat from his (Abu Jahl's) cousin (i.e., Muhammad).
One of Utba's sons, Abu Hudhayfah was a new Jihadist, and he was with Muhammad. That was why Utbah did not want to fight with Muhammad-Abu Jahl propagated this and condemned the cowardice of Utba to fight the Muslim army. Amr b. Hadrami's brother, Amir b. al-Hadrami exhorted his people to take revenge for the killing of his brother. So reluctantly, Utba agreed to proceed with the battle, but expressed his desire not to kill Muhammad notwithstanding the raging bitter enmity and hatred between the two sides. Just then Omayr, a Quraysh arrowman brought the news of the Muslim army's preparation for a war. He proposed a peaceful settlement with the Muslim army but Abu Jahl rejected the proposal. So, the Quraysh army got ready for a fight. They moved slowly over the intervening sand hills that were made difficult from the previous night's rain. However, as mentioned earlier, the rain brought an advantage to Muhammad by rendering the ground in front of Muhammad lighter and firmer to walk upon. Another disadvantage of the Quraysh was that they faced the rising sun before them while Muhammad's army faced towards the west.
As soon as Muhammad had finished organizing his army ranks, he faced the advancing column of the Quraysh appearing over the rising sands in front. While praying to Allah for His assistance so that his little army would not vanquish, he was very concerned and went inside his little hut for a consultation with Abu Bakr. To assure His unflinching aid, Allah revealed 8:46. This verse gave the encouragement to the Muslim soldiers to advance to victory. Another verse 2:42-44 was also revealed. Other important verses related to Badr battle were doubling the army of Medina in 3:18--etc.
The Quraysh army now moved close, but the Muslim army did not move from their position which was at a much higher elevation than the Quraysh army and was, therefore, more advantageous to shoot arrows and spears at the enemy. Observing the strength of Quraysh army, Muhammad became nervous and started praying vigorously. This time, Allah sent him the assurance: like 20 for 200-..etc through verses 8:65, 66. Allah also forbade the Jihadists, in verses 8:15-16, from fleeing from a combat.In fact, ever since then, this provision has become a Sharia Law (Islamic Law) on combat (Reliance of The Traveller, p.659).
While this preparation was going on, Hakim b. Hizam, followed by a few other of the Quraysh, went to drink water from the cistern that Muhammad had dug. Every Quraysh man who came to drink was killed on that day with the exception of Hakim b. Hizam. It is not clear why Muhammad had decided to spare the life Hakim b. Hizam. None of the biographers give a convincing reason for Muhammad's mercy upon him. However, we learn that Hakim b. Hizam later became a Muslim. Being alarmed at the fate of thirsty Quraysh, Abd al-Aswad Makhzami from the Quraysh sought to destroy the trough that the Muslims had just built, and vowed to drink water from the cistern that Muhammad had dug. When he went out, and before he could reach the cistern, Hamzah attacked him and cut off his foot and half of his leg. Abd al-Aswad crawled with his gravely wounded body towards the cistern and flung himself in it and drank the water from the spring reservoir. Hamzah hit him again with a blow that killed him on the spot. The battle now began. It was Friday, the 15th of March, 624CE (17th Ramadan, AH2). Although it was the fasting month, none of the Jihadists, not even the Apostle of Allah, fasted during fighting.
In the beginning, the three Quraysh, Utbah b. Rabiah, his brother Shaybah b. Rabiah and Utba's son al-Walid challenged the Muslims for single combats with them. First, Utbah b. Rabiah, refusing to fight with the Ansars asked the Quraysh in Muhammad's camp to fight him in a single combat. They wanted to fight only with the people from their own tribe, namely their cousins, from the sons of al-Muttalib. So, when three Medina citizens stepped forward Muhammad called them back and asked his kinsmen, the sons of Hashim to arise and fight instead. Following Muhammad's instruction, Hamzah, Ali and Obaydah (the uncle and the cousin respectively of Muhammad) went for the battle. Hamza wore an Ostrich feather in his breast, and Ali wore a white plume (a feather of horse hair) in his helmet.
Then Utba called his son, Walid, to arise and fight. He fought with Ali. It was a short combat. Ali mortally wounded Walid with his sword. When Utba moved forward, Hamza met him and killed him. Shayba now fought with Obaydah. Both of them were quite old. They battled for a while. At last, Shayba dealt a sword-cut on the leg of Obaydah that nearly severed his leg and brought him to the ground. Witnessing this, Hamza and Ali rushed on Shayba and killed him. Obaydah survived for a few days, then he died.
The fighting then became general and a free-for-all. The first Muslim killed was Umar's freed slave, Mihja, slain by Amir ibn al-Hadrami. Then Haritha b. Suraqah was killed. To incite his followers, Muhammad invoked the prospect of paradise to those who were slain. This motivated even a sixteen years-old boy, Umayr b. al-Humam, who was eating dates. He threw the dates away and joined in the fighting. The boy was simply surprised to learn from Muhammad that all he had to do to go to paradise was to join in the Jihad and be killed. Soon, he was killed. Muhammad now exhorted that Allah loves fanatic Jihadists. Hearing this, an extremist, Auf b. Harith, asked Muhammad: 'O apostle of God, what makes the Lord laugh with joy at His servant? He answered, "When he plunges into midst of the enemy without mail." Auf drew off the mail-coat that was on him and threw it away: then he seized his sword and fought the enemy till he was slain." Whenever you watch on TV suicide bombers in action, remember those few words by the Prophet of mercy and you will surely understand what impelling force propels these fanatics to create the mind-boggling terror and to blow them apart.
The battle raged. For further invigoration of the Jihadists, Muhammad stooped down, lifted a handful of pebbles and threw them towards the Quraysh, crying aloud, "May their faces be deformed." Allah, by declaring that it was not the act of Muhammad but that of Allah in verse 8:17, fully approved Muhammad's symbolic action. The Muslim army was now full of enthusiasm and in extreme fighting-vigour that the Quraysh army failed to withstand. As the fighting raged, Muhammad sent an instruction to his soldiers that Abul Bakhtari and al-Abbas, Muhammad's two uncles were not to be killed. It is reported that al-Abbas was a secret agent of Islam at Mecca, but the reason to spare the life of Abul Bakhtari is not clear, although Ibn Ishak states that Abul Bakhtari was sympathetic to Muhammad when some pagans tormented him (Muhammad) at Ka'ba. When many Jihadists protested at this unexpected show of mercy for a few selected enemy combatants, Umar threatened to cut off their heads. Thus, the dissenters had no choice but to comply with their master's request. Ibn Ishaq reports that, besides the general killing in the battle, four apostates were specifically targeted for slaughter. These four Quraysh embraced Islam but did not migrate to Medina with Muhammad because their family members obstructed their departure by confining them in their homes. Later, they left Islam and joined the Quraysh in Badr. Muhammad had no mercy for them. All of them were slain by the Jihadists. Muhammad even invented a verse (4:97) to justify their killing.
004.097: When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: "In what (plight) Were ye?" They reply: "Weak and oppressed Were we in the earth." They say: "Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (From evil)?" Such men will find their abode in Hell,- What an evil refuge!
- While the fighting continued, Muhammad remained at his shelter with Abu Bakr praying to Allah for victory. He implored Allah to send His assistance to the Muslims. So Allah replied in 8:9 to assist Muhammad with thousands of angels! It was a stormy winter day with a ferocious gusty wind blowing around. Three strong blasts of severe storm lashed the battlefield, and Muhammad immediately ascribed them as the angels sent by Allah to help the Jihadists. He told his fighting men that the first blast was one thousand angels led by the archangel Gabriel, the second blast was one thousand angels led by the archangel Michael and the third blast was another one thousand angels led by the archangel Saraphel.. Thus, as confirmed in verse 3:124, Allah initially sent three thousand angel soldiers to help the Muslim fighters. When fighting became tougher Muhammad requested further reinforcement from his Allah and Allah immediately complied by sending another two thousand angels. Thus, as told in verse 3:125, in all, five thousand invisible angels from the almighty Allah, in addition to the three hundred plus Jihadists were required for the Muslim victory. The fanatic Jihadists claimed that the signs of the angels at Badr were white turbans. or were they yellow turbans?
Here is a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari that says that Gabriel came down to help Muhammad:
Volume 5, Book 59, Number 330:
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
The Prophet said on the day (of the battle) of Badr, "This is Gabriel holding the head of his horse and equipped with arms for the battle."
- Thus, with the help of Gabriel the Quraysh started faltering. The heavy sands on which they stood impeded their movements. Some of their ranks gave way. Confusion raged and they started to retreat; began running and the Muslims were pressing after them to capture those of the Quraysh whom they did not kill in the battlefield. The Muslims followed their retreating steps, slaying or taking captive those that fell into their hands. The Quraysh, in their haste to escape, cast away their armour and abandoned their beasts of burden with all their camps and equipment. Seventy (some say forty-nine) Quraysh were killed and around the same number were taken prisoners. The Muslims lost only fourteen of their men, eight were Medina citizens and six were refugees. They also took many Quraysh nobles as captives.
- Muhammad gave orders not to kill his uncle al-Abbas. When Abu Hudhayfah (remember? his father, Utbah bin Rabiah was killed by Ali) protested about Muhammad's double- standard and wanted to kill al-Abbas, while Umar threatened to cut-off the head of Abu Hudhayfah. The Muslim soldiers caught a fleeing Abu al-Bakhtari (another uncle of Muhammad) along with his rider companion. The Jihadists agreed to spare the life of al-Bakhtari (as per Muhammad's instruction) but not the life of his companion. When Bakhtari sought to protect the life of his companion rider the Muslims declined. So Bakhtari fought the Muslim and was killed. This news was brought to Muhammad.In all, the Muslims took seventy (some say forty-four) Quraysh as captives. Sa'd b. Muadh wanted to kill all the prisoners, saying, "This was the first defeat inflicted by Allah on the polytheists, and killing the prisoners would have been more pleasing to me than sparing them." However, the prisoners were distributed to the Muslims for their safe keeping until Muhammad returned to Medina.
- Muhammad's son-in-law, Abu al-Aas was also taken a prisoner. Khadija (Muhammad's first wife) was his aunt. His mother was Hala d. Khuwaylid. Khadija used to regard him as her own son. Abu al-Aas did not embrace Islam and refused to divorce his wife Zaynab, Muhammad's eldest daughter. He joined the Quraysh in the march against Muhammad at Badr.
The other famous Quraysh taken as captive were: Amr, Abu Sufyan's son (not from Hind but from another wife of Abu Sufyan b. Harb) and Amir b. Al-Hadrami, Abu Sufyan's close friend. Another son of Abu Sufyan, Hanzala was killed at Badr.
As soon as the battle was over, there was widespread plundering by the Muslim soldiers. The Jihadists also told the incredible story that the heads of polytheists would fall off before a Muslim's sword touched them. This they ascribed as help from the angels.
Abu Jahl, one of Muhammad's uncles, was an implacable foe of Muhammad. Muhammad had such an unrelenting hatred for him that he gave him the appellation, Abu Jahl ("father of folly") to his original respectable name of Abul Hakam ("father of wisdom"). Not being satisfied with such a sordid act, Muhammad wanted Abu Jahl to be killed. To carry out Muhammad's instruction, Muadh b. Amr, along with two Medina youths, Auf b. Afra and Muwawwidh b. Afra, the two sons of Afra, set out to search and slay Abu Jahl. Muadh found Abu Jahl in a thicket and attacked him. He brought Abu Jahl to the ground by a blow that cut Abu Jahl's leg into two. Abu Jahl's son, Ikrima struck Muadh and severed one of his arms, hanging only by the skin. Muadh then put his foot on the hanging arm, pulled it off, and went on fighting until the extreme pain forced him to quit the fight. At that time Muwawwidh b. Afra and his brother Auf b. Afra arrived at the site and killed the mortally wounded Abu Jahl. After the killing of Abu Jahl, they went back to fight the Quraysh and themselves were killed. When the news of a dying Abu Jahl reached Muhammad, he instructed his servant, Abd Allah b. Masud to search for Abu Jahl's corpse. Abd Allah b. Masud went out and found a dying Abu Jahl in the shrub grasping for his last breath. Abu Jahl was still breathing when Muhammad's servant, Abd Allah ran up and cut off his head and carried it to his master. Gloating from victory, Muhammad said, "The head of the enemy of Allah." Abd Allah then cast the bloody head of Abu Jahl at his pitiless master's feet. Muhammad said, "It is more acceptable to me than the choicest camels in all Arabia." Then Muhammad rewarded Abd Allah b. Masud with the sword of murdered Abu Jahl. Sunaan Abu Dawud records it in this way:
Book 14, Number 2716:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud:
At the battle of Badr the Apostle of Allah gave me Abu Jahl's sword, as I had killed him.
We read in Sahih Bukhari that two boys killed Abu Jahl and Muhammad rewarded them. Here is the Hadith from Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 4, Book 53, Number 369:
Narrated 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf:
While I was standing in the row on the day (of the battle) of Badr, I looked to my right and my left and saw two young Ansari boys, and I wished I had been stronger than they. One of them called my attention saying, "O Uncle! Do you know Abu Jahl?" I said, "Yes, what do you want from him, O my nephew?" He said, "I have been informed that he abuses Allah's Apostle. By Him in Whose Hands my life is, if I should see him, then my body will not leave his body till either of us meet his fate." I was astonished at that talk. Then the other boy called my attention saying the same as the other had said. After a while I saw Abu Jahl walking amongst the people. I said (to the boys), "Look! This is the man you asked me about." So, both of them attacked him with their swords and struck him to death and returned to Allah'S Apostle to inform him of that. Allah's Apostle asked, "Which of you has killed him?" Each of them said, "I Have killed him." Allah's Apostle asked, "Have you cleaned your swords?" They said, "No. " He then looked at their swords and said, "No doubt, you both have killed him and the spoils of the deceased will be given to Muadh bin Amr bin Al-Jamuh." The two boys were Muadh bin 'Afra and Muadh bin Amr bin Al-Jamuh.
My guess is that those two boys referred in the above Hadith were the two sons of Afra. Here is another Hadith from Sahih Bukhari on the last few moments of Abu Jahl:
Volume 5, Book 59, Number 300:
The Prophet said, "Who will go and see what has happened to Abu Jahl?" Ibn Mas'ud went and found that the two sons of 'Afra had struck him fatally (and he was in his last breaths). 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud said, "Are you Abu Jahl?" And took him by the beard. Abu Jahl said, "Can there be a man superior to one you have killed or one whom his own folk have killed?"
The battle over, Muhammad gave orders that all the enemy corpses, including that of Abu Jahl and his severed head, be thrown into a well. Twenty-four dead bodies of the infidels were thrown in this filthy well. (See Sahih Bukhari, vol. 5, book 59, number 314.) When this was duly done, he stood at the well, talked to the corpses of the Quraysh, haranguing them for their folly, disbelief and for rejecting him as the messenger of Allah. When the Muslims asked him if the dead could hear, Muhammad replied that the dead could indeed hear better than the living, except that the deceased could not reply. Umayyah b. Khalaf's body was not thrown into the well. His body started decaying. So they covered it with stones. Sahih Bukhari records:
Volume 2, Book 23, Number 452:
Narrated Ibn 'Umar:
The Prophet looked at the people of the well (the well in which the bodies of the pagans killed in the Battle of Badr were thrown) and said, "Have you found true what your Lord promised you?" Somebody said to him, "You are addressing dead people." He replied, "You do not hear better than they but they cannot reply."
Among the pile of dead bodies was the corpse of Utba b. Rabiah, the father of Abu Hudhayfa, the newly recruited Islamic Jihadist. When Muhammad observed some sadness in Hudhayfa's face he blessed him, thinking that Hudhayfah was probably saddened by his father's death. On this, the Jihadi son of Utba replied that his sadness was due to the unbelief of his father and not for his death! The Muslim son of Utbah, Hudhayfah regretted that his father did not embrace Islam after all!! Such was the blind devotion and resolve of the Jihadists to fanaticism.
These obsequies of the infidels done, the Muslims remained in the battlefield until the end of the day. Then they carried their dead and wounded and retired to a valley, several miles from Badr, and buried their slain comrades there. Now was the time to wrangle over war booty. When the rest of the Quraysh army disappeared, the Muslims engaged themselves in the gathering of spoils. Muhammad promised every Jihadist that he could keep the booty he (the Jihadist) took personally. Thus, every Jihadist was allowed to retain the plunder of those whom he had killed with his own hands. Those who did not fight directly, but protected Muhammad also wanted equal share of the booty. Some people complained that Muhammad had taken a beautiful red vestment (official garment) without the knowledge of others. So, Allah revealed the verse 3:161:"It is not for a Prophet to conceal booty--..," exonerating Muhammad of any embezzlement of war spoils. A dispute arose as to the distribution of spoils regarding who gets more and who gets less. Muhammad had to intervene with a revelation (8:41) from Allah. In this verse, the almighty proclaimed one-fifth booty is to be set-aside for Him and His dearest Prophet. Muhammad also prided himself that booty was made lawful only to him and not to other Prophets, as he was the most favourite of Allah. In accordance with this command of Allah, the rest of the spoils were gathered into a common stock for a fair distribution later, and Abdullah b. Ka'b, an officer, was appointed the guardian of the spoils. The Muslim army then started their return march to Medina.
The next day, the spoils were divided under a tree near Saffra. Everyone got equal share after one-fifth was set-aside for Muhammad. Horsemen received each two extra portions for their horses. Every man got a camel, a leather couch or some other item. Muhammad took as booty the famous camel of Abu Jahl. He later used it for conducting raids and as a stud for breeding camels. Reciting verse 55:45 andascribing this booty as a gift from Allah, he also took the sword, Dhu al-Faqr belonging Munabbih b. al-Hajjaj. As per the spoil distribution rule, he also had the exclusive right to choose his most favourite item before they were duly disbursed. The captives were also re-distributed among Muhammad's companions for their fate to be decided at Medina.
The true blood-thirsty character of Muhammad was unveiled when the Muslim soldiers halted at Saffra. While distributing the captives, Muhammad recognised al-Nadr b. al-Harith, a Quraysh poet whom the Jihadists had captured. While Muhammad was at Mecca, al-Nadr composed verses that were superior to the Qur'an. Muhammad was greatly enraged by al-Nadr's compositions. As alluded to in verse 8:31 (Dashti, p.47), Al-Nadr b. al-Harith also criticized Qur'anic verses by uttering that they (the verses) were only fables of the ancients, that the Meccans had heard similar verses before.Muhammad had no kindness for al-Nadr. To quench his thirst for revenge, the Prophet of mercy gave orders that the hapless al-Nadr be killed. Ali carried out Muhammad's order by beheading al-Nadr at Saffra, right in front of Muhammad. This was the tolerance Allah's best creation had for his opponents who dared to challenge him intellectually. Rodinson writes that Muhammad was extremely sensitive to intellectual attack on him. Having finished his critic, a satisfied Muhammad now gave order to march ahead for Medina.
Two days later, the Muslim army stopped at Irqu'l-Zabya, midway between Badr and Medina. Here Allah's Apostle wanted to extinguish further, his lust for blood and retribution. Uqbah b. Abi Muyat, another prisoner, whose daughter was married to Abu Sufyan b. Harb's son, 'Amr b. Abi Sufyan, was ordered out for execution. The 'offender'pleaded for mercy in the name of his little daughter. But Muhammad had no mercy for him. What did Uqba do to deserve such a terrible punishment from the Prophet of compassion and kindness? Muhammad claimed that Uqba tormented him when he preached his religion of love and compassion (Islam) at Ka'ba. Without showing even an atom of pity or kindness to his fallen foe, Muhammad ordered the killing of Uqba. This is how it is described by Ibn Ishaq: "When the apostle ordered him to be killed 'Uqba said, 'But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?' 'Hell', he said, and 'Asim b. Thabit b. Abul-Aqlah al-Ansari killed him according to what Abu 'Ubayda b. Muhammad b. 'Ammar b. Yasir told me." Some biographers note that it was Ali who killed Uqba.
On the killing of those two prisoners, Rodinson (Rodinson, p.168) writes, "On the other hand he gave free rein to his anger against two men who had attacked him on an intellectual level. They had studied Jewish and Persian sources and had asked him awkward questions. They had scoffed at him and his divine messages. They could look for no mercy."
Two additional prisoners were also killed; they were: Naufal b. Khuweilid whom Ali killed and Mabad b. Wahb whom Umar beheaded. It is reported that the latter refused to accept his defeat and praised al-Lat and al-Uzza (two idols) in the presence of Muhammad. The reason of killing Naufal is not known. So, in all, seven prisoners were slaughtered before the Muslim army, along with the rest of the prisoners arrived at Medina.
To spread the news of Muslim victory at Badr, Muhammad now dispatched Zayd b. Harith to Medina ahead of the arrival of the Muslim army contingent. When Zayd arrived at Medina, he heard the news of the death of Ruqayyah, Muhammad's daughter. People were preparing the burial of her when Zayd arrived at Medina with the sweet news of Muslim's triumph at Badr.
On the next day, Muhammad arrived at Medina with the war booty and received the sad news of the death and burial of his daughter Ruqyyah during his absence. As mentioned before, Ruqayyah's husband, Uthman b. Affan, could not join in the plunder due to his wife's illness. Nevertheless, Muhammad rewarded his mourning son-in-law in the equal share of the spoils. A few months later, Uthman married Muhammad's last unmarried daughter, Umm Kulthum, who was previously married to a son of Abu Lahab, then became separated from him. When the remaining people of Medina congratulated the Jihadists for their good catch, the Jihadists gloated over the slaughtering of the polytheists. Many Jihadists even admitted that slaughtering the infidels was good fun.
In the evening of next day, the rest of the Jihadists, along with the captives arrived at Medina. Watching the crestfallen, haggard, pitiful and depressed captives, many Medinites were sorrowful for them. After all, many of these manacled prisoners were their kith and kin, their own flesh and blood. A glimpse of this flow of compassion is observed from the sympathy that Muhammad's second wife, Sauda showed to a prisoner. Sauda had gone to comfort the lamentation of a family member of Afra, a citizen of Medina who had lost two sons in Badr, as mentioned earlier. On her return, she found Abu Yazid Suhayl b. Amr, the brother of her late husband (i.e., her brother-in law), now a prisoner, standing by her house with his hands tied behind his neck. Sauda preferred that instead of being caught a captive by Muhammad, Abu Yazid should have chosen an honorable death. However, Muhammad admonished her for saying such words. Filled with pity and compassion, she wanted to loosen the captive's bound hands. When she sought Muhammad's approval, a stern Muhammad asked her not to do that. We also learn from her narration that during this period, the women of Arabia did not wear any veil (Hijab) and they were free to move on their own. Her depiction of the fierce nature of Muhammad also exposes the myth that Muhammad's relation with his wives was cordial and loving; for, Sauda clearly said that she was deeply scared of Muhammad. Here is her own words: "Suddenly the Prophet's voice startled me: 'Sauda would you stir up trouble against God and his apostle?' I said, "By God, I could hardly contain myself when I saw Abu Yazid in this state and that is I said what I did."'
Nonetheless, overall, the people of Medina treated the prisoners with some kindness. They were given food and shelter and were not tortured, though it is reported that Hazrat Umar wanted to pull out Suhayl's (another prisoner) teeth by saying to the messenger of Allah: 'Let me pull out Suhayl's two front teeth; his tongue will stick out and he will never be able to speak against you.' But Muhammad objected to any such mutilation of the prisoners. The good treatment of the Meccan prisoners was also in the interest of their Muslim captors if they (the Muslims) wanted good ransoms from the captives' relatives-they knew this truth. The Muslims were quite prudent on this and due to the kindness shown by the Muslims of Medina; a few of the poor prisoners accepted Islam and stayed in Medina, it is claimed. It is reported that when Muhammad ordered that all prisoners be fettered, al-Abbas, Muhammad's uncle, was also chained. Muhammad had a sleepless night till his followers unchained al-Abbas.
Once the euphoria of the victory of Muslim army was over, it was time to settle the affair of prisoners of war. As mentioned previously, right from the beginning the fanatic Jihadist, Sa'd b. Muadah was in favor of slaughtering all the captives that the Muslims had in their hands. Hazrat Umar also wanted to behead all the captives, suggesting that brother kill brother, and Abu Rawaha wanted to burn them alive. Muhammad was quite indecisive on this. At first, he too, wanted to kill the prisoners excepting a few. Abu Bakr suggested taking ransoms from them. Suddenly, Muhammad found some merit in what Abu Bakr had proposed. He found a good opportunity in raising money for his poverty-stricken followers. Immediately, he claimed that Allah (via Gabriel) had sent down verse 8:67, permitting him to take ransom after a wide slaughter, and verse 8:68, permitting him to enjoy booty. These two verses made a compromise between a complete annihilation of the captives and taking ransoms for their release.
Foremost in Muhammad's mind was Abu al-Aas, his son-in-law, who, as written before, became a captive of the Muslims. When Muhammad's eldest daughter Zaynab (i.e., Abu al-Aas' wife who was living in Mecca), heard of her husband's capture, she sent money and Khadijah's (her mother, and Muhammad's first wife) necklace as ransom for the release of her husband. At last, Muhammad's heart was softened (albeit, a little bit) when he saw the necklace of his deceased wife, Khadijah. He was certainly concerned, thinking about Abu al-Aas and his daughter. Next morning, in his mosque, he sought the opinion of his Jihadist followers on this matter. They unanimously agreed that Abu al-Aas be set free without any ransom and be allowed to return to Mecca. Muhammad was greatly relieved and freed Abu al-Aas, but with the condition that upon his arrival at Mecca, Abu al-Aas must divorce Zaynab and send her to Medina to join her father. Abu al-Aas promised that he would let Zaynab return to Muhammad at Medina and, indeed, upon his arrival at Mecca, he did exactly what he promised. He made arrangements for Zaynab to leave Mecca. At that time, Hind (Abu Sufyan's wife) was friendly with Zaynab. Despite the bitter enmity between Muhammad and Abu Sufyan, Hind volunteered to provide any material help that Zaynab needed to escape to her father. But Zaynab thought it was prudent to keep her plan of escape a secret. So, at an opportune time, Zaynab borrowed a camel to leave for Medina. Her brother-in-law accompanied her. Learning the departure of Zaynab, two Quraysh pursued Zaynab's camel and caught up with her at Dhu Tuwa. One Quraysh, Habbar b. al-Aswad threatened her with a spear. Zaynab was pregnant at that time. It is reported that she fell down from the camel and had a miscarriage. Then Habbar tormented Zaynab, but Abu Sufyan intervened to let her escape from the harassment of Habbar. Abu Sufyan did not bear any vengeance whatsoever against Muhammad's daughter Zaynab, and advised her to leave Mecca secretly. So, after a few days, when all the din and bustle of Badr had subsided, Zaynab surreptitiously escaped Mecca at night.
Next, to be decided was the fate of al-Abbas, Muhammad's uncle. The Jihadists brought a naked al-Abbas in front of Muhammad. Muhammad at first, had to find some clothing for his undressed uncle. Here is the Hadith from Sahih Bukhari on this:
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 252:
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
When it was the day (of the battle) of Badr, prisoners of war were brought including Al-Abbas who was undressed. The Prophet looked for a shirt for him. It was found that the shirt of 'Abdullah bin Ubai would do, so the Prophet let him wear it. That was the reason why the Prophet took off and gave his own shirt to 'Abdullah. (The narrator adds, "He had done the Prophet some favor for which the Prophet liked to reward him.")
Because al-Abbas was a wealthy man Muhammad stipulated that al-Abbas should ransom himself as well as his nephews and his confederates. On this, al-Abbas claimed that he was a silent Muslim; that he was forced to fight against the Muslims. Muhammad still wanted ransom from al-Abbas. In fact, Muhammad owed a good amount of money to al-Abbas, but when al-Abbas insisted that that debt should be used as ransom, Muhammad declined. Such was the greed for money by the Prophet of mercy. In the end, Muhammad took 20 ounces of gold (about US$ 8,000 in to-day's money) from al-Abbas for his release.
At first, the Quraysh played it cool in ransoming their captives so that the Muslims did not demand high prices for the release of them. Abu Sufyan refused to pay any ransom for his son 'Amr. When a Muslim, Sa'd b. al-Numan, went to perform Umra, Abu Sufyan held him hostage in exchange for his son, Amr. Muhammad had no choice but to set free 'Amr b. Abi Sufyan for the release of Sa'd. Muhammad insisted on a high ransom for a Meccan because his son was a rich merchant. The son paid a ransom of 4,000 Dirhams (please calculate in US$, using the conversion mentioned below) for his father's release.
Overall, Muhammad received a large sum of money as a ransom for the Quraysh prisoners. The ransom money for a prisoner varied from one thousand Dirhams to as much as four thousand Dirhams. It is reported that the Quraysh paid 250,000 Dirhams [yes, a cool quarter of a million Dirhams; take out your calculator and estimate how much it is in to-day's money; use the conversion of one Dirham = 1/10 Dinar; one Dinar = 4.235 grams of gold; and in case you have forgotten, one ounce = 32.1 grams] as ransom to free their kith and kin who were taken as prisoners at Badr II. The average ransom for a prisoner was four thousand (4,000) Dirhams. Sahih Bukhari states that besides booty and ransom money for the captives, each Jihadi received a pension of five thousand (5,000) Dirhams per year. Here is the Hadith from Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 5, Book 59, Number 357:
The Badr warriors were given five thousand (Dirhams) each, yearly. 'Umar said, "I will surely give them more than what I will give to others."
Some prisoners who did not have the means to pay a ransom volunteered to teach ten Muslim boys the skill of reading and writing for each such prisoner. When their tuition was complete, the prisoner was then released. Zayd ibn Thabit, the poet (later, Muhammad's secretary) is said to have learned writing this way. This tells us that the Meccan people were, in general, literate while the Medina followers of Muhammad were mostly illiterate; still, the Muslims called the Meccans 'ignorant'!
The victory at Badr opened a new chapter in the propagation of the nascent faith of Islam. Realizing the power of the sword, Muhammad was now convinced that for his fascistic doctrine to triumph, he must win militarily. Thus, from now on, sword became the language of Islam (observe the national flag of Saudi Arabia closely) and engaging in warfare for booty and captives became the modus operandi of the new Jihadists for their survival and material enrichment. Commenting on this, Maxine Rodinson writes that the only motive for Badr II was booty. The victory at Badr became a rallying point for Muhammad's religion, and to the disbelievers Islam now became associated with fear, terror, plunder and bloodshed. On the other hand, the Quraysh and the polytheists also recognized the need for a decisive military victory to contain the spread of menacing Islam.
Abul Kasem is an Bengali ex-Muslim and academic. He has contributed in Leaving Islam - Apostates Speak Out and Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside and Why We Left Islam.. He has also written extensively on Islam in various websites and is the author of five e-Books: A Complete Guide to Allah, Root of Terrorism ala Islamic Style, Sex and Sexuality in Islam, Who Authored the Quran? and Women in Islam. Mr. Kasem leaves in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at [email protected].