Jihad and Civilization, Part 1 (Battle of Badr)
19 Dec, 2006
The Battle of Badr is a tiny event by any stretch of the
imagination, yet it has significantly influenced the course of
human history. A deeper study of the episode reveals that this
mole assumed mountainous proportions because it served as the
first practical exposition of the Islamic doctrine known as JEHAD.
'Jehad' is an Arabic word, which literally means 'endeavor', but as an Islamic doctrine, it implies fighting in the way of Allah (the Arabic God) to establish His supremacy over unbelievers until they relinquish their faith to become Muslims or acknowledge their subordination by paying a humiliation-tax called JAZIYA.
Jehad is a perpetual war against infidels which include Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Deists, Skeptics as well as Jews and Christians. According to this doctrine, a person's biggest crime is to deny Allah and Muhammad's exclusive right to be believed in and adored. Therefore, this is a sufficient cause for a Muslim state to raid and subjugate non-Muslim territories. What is amazing is the fact that Allah bribes the Muslims to wage Jehad by declaring murder, arson, rape and enslavement of non-Muslims as the greatest piety whereas even an ordinary human thinks of them as the most heinous atrocities and acts of utter moral degradation.
Can Allah be really a righteous God or is it just a manipulation of the concept of Allah to establish Arab Cultural Imperialism? To answer these questions we want to look into the geographical background of Arabia because physical conditions of a land play a major role in determining its habits and culture:
The economic plight of Arabia created a pastoral society which had developed into two groups: firstly, the majority, known as the Bedouins, who had not only to keep wandering in search of pastures but also supplement their meager livelihood by resorting to brigandage, which meant raiding other tribes and commercial caravans. Though it was sheer looting, it assured them solace, security and survival, and, therefore, it was not looked down upon as sinful but a source of power, pleasure and prestige. This institution of brigandage known as ghazwa (razzia) had existed long before the advent of prophet Muhammad, the greatest Arab national hero. The Umayyad poet al-Qutami has alluded to this custom in his two verses: "Our business is to make raids on the enemy, on our neighbor and on our own brother, in case we find none to raid but a brother."
Obviously, robbing others, was a compulsive trait of the Arab national character and this is the reason that it was not considered an act of impiety but a mark of honor and manliness. Realizing its significance, the Prophet converted this institution into a religious doctrine called 'Jehad' i.e. the Holy War against infidels to build an Arab Empire. However, the Arab Empire, though in essence was exactly like any other empire, in appearance it was to look godly. Therefore, it was named as Empire of Allah, who is said to be the greatest, yet dependent on man for its creation!
The doctrine of Jehad which incorporates the Arab custom of 'razzia' (raiding for booty), is really stunning in its constitution and application. Since it seeks ascendancy of Arabia and annihilation of non-Arabs in the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, it vouched for the great wisdom of its author by making the wolf appear as a lamb, wrong as right and bleak as bright.
Though I have already tried to explain the nature of Jehad, in view of its complexity and emotional appeal, I think, it is necessary to be repetitive for elucidating this blood-thirsty war mechanism, which served not only as the cornerstone of the Arab Empire but also as the pillar of its Spiritual Empire, which sprang from the ashes of the former, and has now emerged as the most formidable challenge to the intellectual and moral dignity of man and his civilization. I, therefore, re-present a short sketch of this divine stratagem:
1. The first principle of Jehad is that a person loses his free will and becomes a slave of Allah when he accepts Islam because it creates certain duties and rewards which do not come within the jurisdiction of morality abnormally understood by cultured people:
"Verily Allah has purchased the believers Their lives and their properties; For theirs (in return) is paradise. They fight in His (Allah's) cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him." (9:III)
Remember that paradise is the place of luxury which abounds in beautiful virgins and boys and where everything is available free of charge; again, toil, sickness, ageing and death are also unknown there.
2. What is Allah's cause? It is simply killing infidels. And what is an infidel? He or she is someone who denies Muhammad; it does not matter a jot if he/she is a lover of God! So fond is Allah of murdering the unbelievers to glorify Himself and Muhammad that He has permanently divided humanity into two perpetually hostile groups:
"Those (unbelievers) are Satan's party; why Satan's party, surely, they are the losers! Surely, those who oppose God and His Messenger, those are among the most abject. God has written 'I shall assuredly be the Victor, I and My Messenger....' Thou shalt not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day who are loving to anyone who opposes God and His Messenger, nor though they were their father, or their sons or their brothers, or their clan....And he shall admit them into gardens underneath which rivers flow. God well pleased with them, and they well pleased with God. They are God's party; why surely God's party - they are the prosperers." (The Disputer 58:20)
In a nutshell, it means that Muslims are God's party because they do not love their closest relations if they happen to be infidels. Owing to their belief, they are destined to be victorious against the unbelievers, who, are Satan's party.
Now comes the specific command to wage a war against non-Muslims.
"Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden - such as men as practice not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book - until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled." (Repentance 9:25)
This verse emphasizes the duty of a Muslim to fight non-Muslims; People of the Book i.e. Jews and Christians are also included in the category of infidels. They must be fought until they surrender and pay tribute as a sign of their humiliation.
Receiving tribute from unbelievers in the name of God, is the true purpose of Islam. One can clearly see here the Arab custom of brigandage, sanctified in the guise of religion. Thus loot, murder and rape are no longer wicked actions, which attract retribution, but made to look the acme of piety to deserve the highest reward that Allah can bestow on His followers. If the crusader survives, he gets loot and also legally becomes entitled to possess women of the vanquished. Along with it goes the enjoyment of imperialism that accrues from receiving perpetual tribute. And if he is killed in the battlefield, he goes straight into paradise where rivers of wine, milk and honey flow and where most beautiful virgins and pretty boys anxiously wait for them with open arms! Thus, a Mujahid (the holy warrior) wins dead or alive!
The Prophet made sure that brigandage no longer remains a low and haphazard affair, but a highly respected and disciplined organization, stamped with divine approval:
"Know that paradise is under the shade of swords." (Sahih Al Bukhari: 4.73)
Thus, the sword became the connecting bridge between pillage and paradise and served as the motivating power for the Arabs to conquer and rule the world. The Battle of Badr though in itself a tiny event, served as the major source of the Spiritual Arab Imperialism, which has been steadily rising in magnitude for the last fourteen centuries.
Muhammad's genius lay not only in sanctifying the sword but also finding the beneficial use for it with a view to magnetizing his own person for gathering crowds of followers around himself. An overwhelming majority of those, who acknowledged him as their spiritual guide, were hungry, haggard and hounded men; they would do anything to improve their economic plight and take revenge from their Meccan oppressors, who had forced them to leave their homes to seek refuge in Medina. This migration from Mecca to Medina had been necessitated by Muhammad's aggressive preaching of his faith, which annoyed unbelievers to the hilt.
Bitterness of the refugees had been further aggravated by the fact that they had to rely on the Ansaars i.e. the local Muslim believers of Medina, for their sustenance. Though these refugees appreciated their brotherly hospitality, they resented their dependence, which the custom held as a sign of disrespect, derision and degradation.
Realizing despondency of his followers, the Prophet turned it into a rage for vengeance, which sought to plunder and persuade those, who had inflicted torture on them. However, these would-be predators did not have to bear the blemish of impiety like other brigands and assassins because they were told that although their acts might look putrid, they had been rendered pure, pious and perfect by the Almighty because He categorized them as Jehad i.e. Holy War against the infidels.
Allah is so intoxicated by the love of absolutism that He does not care for justice or decency! Who else could have the audacity to declare that murdering, looting and raping people for the sheer folly of not believing in Muhammad, ranks as the highest act of piety. One ought to note that a person may believe in God most sincerely yet he remains an infidel, subject to Jehad, unless he/she acknowledges Muhammad as the Prophet. Obviously, the pivot of faith is Muhammad and not Allah!
This commandment of holy loot also served as an effective way of boosting their moral sky-high because they believed that they were doing all this to please Allah and not line their own pockets. Therefore, a soldier of God had to be at least twice as brave, boisterous and bullish as an ordinary fighter. Thus the Prophet revealed Allah's pleasure:
"Assuredly, God will defend those who believe, surely God loves not any traitor. Leave is given to those who fight because they were wronged - surely God is able to help them - who were expelled from their habitations without right.... Assuredly God will help him who helps Him - surely God is All-strong, All-mighty." (The Pilgrimage: XXII:38)
Note Allah's promise to help the Muslims in taking revenge from those who had wronged them. What is surprising is the fact that here vengeance means helping Allah! It smells of divine stratagem, which as we shall see, lays down the principle of looting and murdering non-Muslims as the righteous way of life; the Battle of Badr is the first precedent to this effect. Though small in size, it became a major event, which exerted an important influence in determining the course of history. It is therefore, interesting to know the details:
Muhammad's effort in spreading Islam had not borne much fruit until the summer of 621 A.D. when twelve men from Medina, visiting Mecca to perform the annual Hajj ceremony, embraced the faith that he preached. They undertook to propagate it among the fellow Medinites. Next year, in June, 622, a party of seventy-five pilgrims, including two women, came from Medina; they all had embraced Islam. Driven by the zeal of their new gospel, they invited the Prophet to come and live among them to avoid persecution. Muhammad, who had become safety-conscious, asked them if they would defend him as if he were one of their own. Their answer, though positively enthusiastic, was conditional: "What shall we get in return, if we suffer damage or death in the process?" "Paradise, of course," answered the Prophet.
These private meetings known as the two Pledges of al-Alaqba, encouraged the Prophet to persuade his Meccan followers to emigrate to Medina in small groups. When about seventy of them had done so, Muhammad himself quietly undertook the highly dangerous journey because his Meccan enemies had taken the oath of killing him before he could escape. Making use of the unfrequented paths, Muhammad reached his destination on September 24, 622. This flight is called HIJRAH and ranks as the traditional starting point of Islamic history, though the Islamic era begins on the first day of the Arabic year in which the HIJRAH or the flight took place i.e. July 16, 622. However, the significance of this date is believed to lie not in the act of emigration but "the belief that this day marks severance of kinship ties and announces unity of all Muslims, no matter where they come from."
To understand its background, one must realize that Muhammad belonged to the Quresh of Mecca whereas the people of Medina had their blood ties with other tribes. Thus, accepting common denominator of Islam, they all, including Muhammad, lost their tribal distinctions.
This understanding of the act of HIJRAH, though looks golden at first sight, becomes murky when subjected to investigation because when Muhammad grew strong, he declared emphatically that the right to rule belongs to the Quresh i.e. the people of his own tribe! This is the reason that all Arab caliphs both in the east and the west belonged to Muhammad's clan i.e the Quresh.
It took the Meccan emigrants eighteen months to settle in Medina. Muhammad was given a piece of land to build a house for himself. As he gathered power, he became a polygamist after the death of his first wife, Khadija, who also happened to be his employer. Around this house, eventually, were built several apartments to accommodate his nine wives and concubines.. As his followers met in his home to offer prayers, it came to be known as the Mosque of Medina.
Muhammad's followers, both the emigrants and Medinites expected rewards for embracing Islam, " the only true and exalted faith of Allah." The believers quite rightly expected favors from God at the expense of the Kafirs (unbelievers). The All-knowing Allah, responding to the prayers of the devotees revealed through Muhammad, the doctrine of Jehad i.e. murdering non-Muslims for possessing their wealth, property and women.
In essence, there was nothing new in it because the Arabs were customarily used to plundering the commercial caravans. To exploit this vice, Islam cleverly renamed brigandage and killing as Jehad, which was to be carried out to glorify Allah, the Great. By reshaping common robbery into a Divine pursuit, it inspired the lust for plunder with the spirit of untold devotion, discipline and desire that turned the looters into crusaders, who carried out their atrocities with greatly enhanced enthusiasm; in fact, they became ferocious robots who thought of pillage as piety and equated murder with melody.
The Quresh of Mecca were a trading community. In autumn, their commercial caravans proceeded to the Yemen and Abyssinia, and during spring to Syria. Among their merchandize were frankincense, gems, precious metals and leather. The last item was their major export, which had a high demand in Syria and Persia; it commanded high prices. These Meccan entrepreneurs exchanged them for piece-goods, silk and other items of luxury at Gaza and other marts. By the old standards, these caravans were really huge because they might consist of as many as 2,000 camels whose cargo could excel the value of 50,000 dinars or mithkals; the latter was a golden coin having the worth of a Byzantine Aureus, roughly equal to two-thirds of a pound sterling. Fourteen centuries ago, 50,000 dinars represented the same value which millions of dollars do today.
The special trait of these caravans was that they constituted the economic life of the Meccans because they were financed not only by the rich people of the community but also the small men, who might have saved a dinar or two, and wanted to profit, which usually amounted to 50%. These caravans represented communal investment, and because of their high value, were often the target of highway robbers. Therefore, they had to be accompanied by an 'army of defenders', whose size corresponded with the value of the goods. These commercial caravans had a good deal in common with the seafaring joint stock companies of old England, whose venture capital was contributed by many participants, entitled to profit according to their size of stake.
The successful journey of these caravans was a matter of special delight for the shareholders, but whenever, it succumbed to the attack of the plundering mafia, it created highly heart-rending scenes of women, beating their breasts, pulling hair and singing mournful songs to express their loss, that might also include the death of some defenders.
Enunciation of the doctrine of Jehad struck terror into the hearts of the Meccan traders, who were alarmed about their trade with the north because its route passed between Medina and the sea coast. It is baffling to realize that the Prophet, who prescribed hand-cutting as the punishment for stealing, personally led the Ghazawats i.e. pillage-expeditions (razzias) against the Meccan caravans in 623. Though he failed in all three attempts, in January, 624, he succeeded in robbing a caravan returning from Yemen as it reached Nakhlah near Mecca.
Failure of the Prophet's third razzia is actually a part of the famous battle of Badr. Abu Sufyan led a caravan to Syria in October, 623 A.D. (A.H.II). It carried huge loads of the Arab products demanded in the Syrian market. The Prophet asked for volunteers to join this predatory expedition. About 200 men came forward. They had only 30 camels, which they rode in turn. The plan was to attack the caravan at Osheira on its way to Yenbo, but it had passed this point by the time the holy plunderers reached there.
These rich cargoes were very important to the Muslims, who had hardly any effective equipment to fight the unbelievers for spreading Islam. So, Muhammad tried to enhance his influence in the territory of Osheira to make the caravan trade more hazardous for the Meccans. His efforts did bear fruit and a number of tribes living in the area entered into alliance with them. The initial escape of the caravan seems to have disturbed the apostolic plan and he became determined to waylay Abu Sufyan on his return journey. During the espionage activities, the Prophet found his son-in-law, Ali, asleep "on the dusty ground under the shade of a palm grove". Seeing his face soiled , the Prophet, in a pleasantry, said, "Sit up, O, Abu Turab", and he sprang up immediately, conscious of his neglect. This became his sobriquet during the rest of his life. This is why he is called "Ali, Abu Turab".
So alarming was the Prophet's resolve to rob the caravan that his Medinite opponents warned Abu Sufyan's people at Mecca of the impending danger. Damdam, a swift and efficient courier, was immediately sent to Mecca with the bad news.
As a reconnaissance, Muhammad dispatched two scouts, in early January, to the caravan station at Al-Haura. They were well received by the chief of the Juheina tribe, who took suitable measures to protect their identity. His services were thought so valuable that after the battle of Badr, he was rewarded with the grant of Yenbo.
It was Sunday, the 12th of Ramadan, when realizing the significance of the caravan, the Prophet set out on the predatory exercise without waiting for the return of his two spies, who were to brief him on the situation. It seems that the impatience to possess all that the caravan was carrying, played heavily on the minds of the Muslims. Hearing tales of the expected rich booty, even some non-Muslim citizens of Medina tried to join the expedition. Having noticed a couple of them, the Prophet called them to his camel that he rode and asked them about the nature of their business. They told him that they were heathen but as their city had extended protection to him, he ranked as their kinsman and they wanted to join him for plunder. The Prophet replied that it was meant for the believers only, and the unbelievers were not allowed to participate in such ventures. He emphasized in no uncertain terms: "Believe and fight". Since this was the only way to share the loot, they confessed that Muhammad was the Prophet of God. It is then that they got the permission to join his party.
His army, after necessary adjustments, contained 315 men; amongst them eighty were Refugees i.e. who had emigrated from Mecca with the Prophet, and of the remainder "about one-fourth belonged to the Aus, and the rest to the Khazraj". They had two horses and thirty camels which they rode in turns to overcome tediousness of the long hard journey. In terms of size and equipment, it may not be called an army, but in effectiveness, even the mighty hosts may not be compared with it because it had no equal in fervor, ferocity and fortitude. Their newly acquired faith was a novel specimen of moral justice and piety; being based on Jehad, it did not condemn but commended rapine, rape and ruination of unbelievers and held it as the way to secular success in this life and paradisiac comfort in the next world. The fervor of such a faith, which obliterated all thoughts of loss, defeat and sin, goaded Allah's warriors with an unequal zeal to march, seek and rob the precious cargoes that lawfully belonged to the investors.
For a couple of days, the holy warriors took a direct route to Mecca but reaching As-Safra, they moved in the direction of Badr, a resting station on the road to Syria. Through local gossip, Muhammad's spies came to know that Abu Sufyan's caravan was about to appear there any time. The report was correct but Abu Sufyan was a shrewd fellow. Realizing immediate danger, he at once dispatched a courier to Mecca asking for a strong defending force.
The Meccans having suffered losses at Nakhla were not prepared to see the repetition of similar humiliation. Again, it was the caravan of the year because the cargo it carried was worth more than 50,000 golden pieces. Its loss might render the whole community bankrupt. A mixed current of fear and fervor swept the Meccan society and every household contributed a warrior to the defense of the caravan according to the size of its stake. Soon an army of 800 men was raised, accompanied by a band of women, who specialized in singing war songs, which lent a lion's heart to a bleating lamb. Their battle-melodies accompanied by the sounds of their tabrets and footwork excited the Meccan soldiers to die for the honor of their city and ancestors.
As the army reached Al-Johfa, the envoy of Abu Sufyan appeared. He told Abu Jahl, the head of the army that Abu Sufyan had succeeded escaping Muhammad through stealth and rapid marches, and all was well. They heaved a sigh of relief, but the question arose if they should return without an engagement. A passionate debate took place among the chiefs of the army. One party argued that, since no harm had been done, there was no cause for a deadly contest. Moreover, it was argued that the people on the other side were their close relations: killing them would constantly torture their conscience. It was not only wise but also desirable to return home peacefully.
Abu Jahl, the head of the Makhzum clan, on the other hand, advocated a fight to the bitter end. He advocated that their return would be interpreted as a sign of their cowardice, and it was also politic to nip evil in the bud; otherwise, the specter of Muhammad would grow in potential threat all the time. His persuasion won the argument, and they passed three days making merry by the fountain.
On the other hand, Muhammad had also been advancing toward Badr. When he reached Al-Ruha, he heard that the Quresh, being aware of the danger, were marching on him. This necessitated a council of war. Unlike the Meccans, the Muslims showed contempt for blood ties and expressed a strong desire for an immediate contest.
Here the charisma of Muhammad's personality and political sagacity deserves mention. He had emigrated to Medina on the promise of his Medinite followers that they would defend him with their blood while he would be amongst them. Addressing the war council, and particularly to the men from Medina, he declared that their pledge neither induced his defense in any aggressive action nor had it any connection with the events that took place away from the city (Medina). Therefore, they were at liberty to leave him if they so wished.
Of course, a political mind would interpret this occasion differently but to the faithful this declaration conveyed a message of the Prophet's holiness, greatness and moral dignity hitherto unknown in the Medinite annals. How they were moved by this speech is expressed by their spokesman Sa'd Bin Moadh. He said, "Prophet of the Lord! march where you desire; encamp where you may choose; make war or conclude peace with whom you will. For I swear by Him (Allah) who has sent you with the truth, that if you were to march till our camels fell down dead, we would go forward with you to the world's end. Not one of us will be left behind."
It should also be noted that at the end of the meeting, the Prophet who claimed to be "Mercy of God to All Mankind", invoked Divine curse on the infidels, and prayed, "O lord, let not Abu Jahl, the Pharaoh of his people, escape. Let not Zama'a escape; rather let the eyes of his father run sore for him weeping and become blind".
This curse of the Prophet had a psychological purpose. Being fewer in numbers than the infidels, it made his followers believe that they already possessed the power to inflict death on their enemies. To the sincere believers of Muhammad, who had their own unbelieving parents and brethren as a sign of respect to the Apostle, it was unimaginable that his supplication against the unbelievers could go astray. Reinforced by this belief, they became even more determined to deliver them a dose of violence blended with the worst pillage.
Badr was chosen as the place of battle by the Prophet. It vouched for his martial skill as well as seriousness of purpose i.e. he wanted the battle to be decisive; neither party must escape lightly. He knew that the courage of his followers, which emanated from their religious convictions, was far more forceful than the strength that the superiority of numbers bestowed upon his enemy. A decimating blow to the unbelievers would lay the foundation of the Islamic Empire.
Badr is situated close to Medina, 'the City of the Prophet'. It is a valley which consists of a plain, having steep hills to the north and east; on the southern side is a low rocky range, and the west is closely dotted with sandy hillocks. A small stream also ran through it breaking into springs here and there. The Prophet chose the most useful reservoir for his army and destroyed the rest. This was a wise military maneuver, which assured him mastery of the water sources of the battlefield.
The day before the engagement took place, Muhammad had placed the banner of the refugees (the emigrants) in the hands of Mus'ah; ensign of the Khazrajite was given to al-Hobab and the flag of Aus was handed to Sa'd Bin Moadh.
Here one again sees the tactical wisdom of Muhammad in choosing the fighting spot. As the Quresh army, comprising a thousand men advanced toward Muhammad, the glaring rays of the Arabian sun struck their eyes, making their movements troublesome. Also, the vastly numerical superiority of the enemy was hidden by the fall of the ground behind. Knowing the gravity of the situation, the Prophet again resorted to the device of praying to Allah for harnessing the superstitious energies of his followers' belief into a combating force. Raising his hands upward, he solicited the Maker, "O Allah, accomplish for me what Thou hast promised me. O Allah, bring about what Thou has promised to me. O Allah, if this small band of Muslims is destroyed, Thou wilt not be worshipped on this earth". (Muslim, Vol. 3, 4360)
The historian may find it strange that a man is telling his Creator what will happen if He does not listen to him, and the Almighty agrees to his suggestion for fear of losing worshippers, but his followers intoxicated by the promises of heavenly virgins and boys had no such qualms. They believed that Allah is directed by Muhammad and, therefore, the battle shall end in a resounding victory for them.
It was customary among the Arabs to enter single combats before starting the battle. As Sheiba, his brother Otba and Al-Walid (son of Otba) moved forward to challenge for single duels, three Citizens (the natives of Medina as distinct from the Emigrants) came out from the Muhammadan ranks to encounter them.
Here we notice the tribal tendencies of the Prophet, who did not want the honor of starting the contest go to anyone but his own kith and kin. Calling them back, he turned to the fellow Emigrants and shouted "you sons of Hashim, arise and fight, according to your right."
However, this pro-Quresh leaning of the Prophet is well balanced by the choice of his combatants. Out came three warriors, known for their valor, courage and fighting skills. They were Ali (the Prophet's adopted son and son-in-law), Hamza (the Prophet's uncle) and Obeida. As the infidels saw their heroes become sacrificial lambs at the Muslim altar, their spirits began to sink. Even more daunting was the bravery displayed by the Prophet, who recited verses from the Koran, and brandishing his sword stood by his followers like a lofty granite and assured them that paradise was the reward for martyrdom.
The story of Omeir, a sixteen-year-old Muslim boy, who was allowed to participate in this battle, is worthy of note. He was hungry and eating dates, when he heard the prophet associate paradise with martyrdom. Looking at the dates scornfully, "is it these", he cries ruefully "that hold me back from paradise? Verily, I shall taste no more of them until I meet my Lord".
Motivated by the force of belief, he rushed upon the enemy and tasted the wine of martyrdom loathed by many and loved by a few.
Yet another story worthy of narration is that of Moadh, who slew Abu Jahl, and was attacked by his son Ikrima. In this catastrophic action, Moadh's arm was nearly severed from his shoulder. Martyrdom was also his goal, which he coveted, and believed that a second rate action was not compatible with the dignity of such a heavenly prize. Since his best performance was being checked by his dangling arm, he put his foot on it, and ripping it off with the courage of a divine knight, he attacked the enemy to achieve his most cherished aim.
Was it the valor of his followers that won the day? Of course, it was a great factor in securing the field, but the inspiration that the Prophet provided was the paramount reason of success. Though he is considered 'illiterate' by his followers, he was the master of mob psychology and excelled in operating this mechanism.
The day, i.e. 17 Ramadan, the second year of Hijrah (623 A.D.) when the battle took place, was punctuated with sharp gales. As the first violent blast swept across the valley, the Prophet told his followers that the Angel Gabriel had arrived with one thousand angels to help the Muslim cause. The following two piercing blasts were interpreted by him as the arrival of the angel Michael and the angel Israpheel, each heading a reinforcement of 1,000 angels to fight on the side of the Muslims!
Nobody stopped to think why were they not visible to the crusaders, but to Muhammad only? Again, the angels must be very weak creatures if three thousand of them were required to fight just 1,000 Meccans. The Koran testifies to this event:
"And Allah most surely helped you at Badr, when you were utterly abject. So fear Allah, and happily you will be thankful. When you saidst to the believers: 'Is it not enough for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down upon you, Yea: if you are patient and god fearing, and the foe come against you instantly, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand swooping angels". (The House of Imran: III:120)
By this statement Muhammad secured the entire credit for his Prophethood, which had been honored by Allah with a reinforcement of 3,000 heavenly fighters, and a promise of 5,000 belligerent angels in any future engagement against the infidels.
One ought to know the attitude of the Prophet toward his chief adversary, Abu Jahl, who was presented to him when he was about to breathe his last. As he lay at his feet, the Prophet looked at him and said, "it is more acceptable to me than the choicest camel in Arabia".
Now, we come to booty, the goal of the Islamic warfare, which Allah Himself sanctioned to strike terror in the hearts of those who refuse to bow before the Islamic Imperialism and claim their right to human dignity.
By modern standards the booty acquired from the Battle of Badr may look trivial but by then prevailing economic conditions of Arabia, its psychological effects, and the part it played in building the Arab Empire, it was simply terrific; "the loot consisted of 115 camels, 14 horses, a great store of vestments and carpets, articles of leather, with much equipage and armor".
The famous sword of Abu Jahl, known as 'Dhul-Fikr' fell to the share of the Prophet.
The Battle of Badr was fought on the doctrine of Jehad, which essentially means building an Arab Empire by denying non-Muslims all rights except the right to serve their Arab masters. This servitude is not ephemeral but eternal because Jehad seeks perpetual humiliation of non-Muslims through a system of everlasting subjugation and payment of tribute. When we delve deeper into this doctrine, it transpires that its tentacles equally spread to the non-Arab Muslims, who are converted to Islam with the force of arms; they are, of course, exempted from the payment of Jaziya i.e. poll tax, but are treated as second-class citizens and may be exploited economically as well as psychologically through the hegemony of faith, which favors the Arab Muslims against the non-Arab Muslims. I shall return to this point later but here I may further explain the novelty of Jehad as the Doctrine of Struggle against the infidels.
1. A Muslim nation requires no particular reason to attack a non-Muslim country. It is in itself a heinous crime not to acknowledge Muhammad as the last Prophet of God. According to the Koran all religions are false except Islam. Thus Allah is the enemy of non-Muslims, who are regarded as the worst kind of beasts under the sun.
It is a myth that the Jews and Christians being 'People of the Book' are exempt from this restriction. A hadith of the Prophet says:
The Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) said "...he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which (Koran) I have been sent, and dies in this state (of disbelief) he shall be but one of the denizens of Hellfire". (Sahih Muslim, Vol. One, Hadith: 284)
Having abrogated all other religions, the Prophet prescribes the course of action against them:
"I have been commanded (by Allah) to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no God but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the Messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by Law..." (Sahih Muslim, Vol. One, Hadith: 31)
Here it is quite clear that the biggest crime for any person or nation is the denial of Islam, and the true solution of the problem is a perpetual war against infidels and renegades!
2. Of course, the institution of Imperialism is not an Arabian invention. Murder of other nations for booty by the Romans, the Iranians, the Mughals, the Turks or the British, is equally bad.
All imperial nations as they became civilized and conscious of human dignity, realized that it is morally wrong to maim, mutilate and murder other people for personal or collective gain. In fact, gradually, they upheld human rights through a code of justice and economic improvement and the concept applied to all people irrespective of race and color. Today, we live in a world where murder, rape, robbery, denial of justice and usurpation of rights are considered the greatest moral vices but this standard of morality is an utter nonsense in the world of Islam. Why?
Because denial of Islam is considered a serious crime that is a total justification for stripping a person of his human rights and subjecting him to perpetual grilling until he/she acknowledges the Prophethood of Muhammad. The faith in Islam is considered the only true virtue. This is the reason that a Muslim, no matter how wicked, shall go to paradise, whereas a highly righteous non-Muslim irrespective of his piety, shall be thrown into hell! Practicing this discrimination in this world is also the basis of Islamic culture. Small wonder, Jehad is the fundamental Islamic doctrine, which treats murder, rape and plunder of non-Muslims as the loftiest virtue and sure guarantee of paradise. However, its prominent attraction is booty, which acts as the greatest predatory motive and despite being highly impious, is believed to increase a Muslim's piety. This man- hating philosophy is deeply ingrained in the Battle of Badr and serves as the guiding precedent for all Muslims.
The Arabs have never treated non-Arab Muslims as equals in their countries. For example, no Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi Muslim holds an important ministerial or administrative post in any Arab country. Their practical status is even worse than that of the infidels: when non-Muslim subjects broke chains of the Arab domination, they became free, and even their superior, over a period of time, but the non-Arab Muslims even when they are politically independent, remain spiritual and psychological slaves of Arabia. This is the specialty of the Arab Imperialism, which vouches for the patriotism and wisdom of Muhammad. This is not a fiction but a fact because Islam is essentially the ambassador of Arab national interest, seeking to perpetuate it as Arab Imperialism in the guise of religion. One cannot help applauding the genius of the Prophet, who made his own country the center of Divine reverence and then persuaded his followers all over the world, under the threat of hell, to prostrate toward Mecca to qualify for paradise!
Look at the underlying stratagem for yourself. The Prophet declared:
1. God, the Creator of the world had Kaaba (Mecca, the center of Arabia) built as His own House by Adam, and then rebuilt by Abraham. Thus the land of Arabia, being the Home of Allah, is superior to all other lands.
2. On death, the body of a Muslim must be buried facing Mecca (to show his devotion to Arabia), otherwise, he shall not be admitted into paradise.
3. So sacred is Mecca (the birth-place of Muhammad) that nobody must defecate facing this City. He who does so, is an infidel and shall go to hell.
4. Arabic is not only the language of the Koran but also of Allah. So all Muslims must learn and speak Arabic to be godly.
5. The hadith no. 5751 (Mishkat, Vol. 3) reports the Prophet saying: "Love the Arabs for three reasons because (1) I am an Arab (2) the Holy Koran is in Arabic, and (3) the tongue of the dwellers of paradise shall also be Arabic.
6. Every Muslim, no matter where he lives, must come to Mecca for pilgrimage a least once in a life-time, if he has the means to do so.
This religious duty of the Muslims has been an important economic artery of (Saudi) Arabia for centuries and serves as a substitute for the tribute that the Prophet laid on non-Muslims to glorify the Arab Imperialism.
7. What really makes Islam as the ambassador of Arab Imperialism is the fact that it demands of non-Arab Muslims to follow the Arab cultural and moral lead blindly. How is it done?
This impossible goal has been made possible by the Divine Command that states Allah has made Muhammad for every believer the model of Behavior, which he must follow to avoid the fire of hell and qualify for the luxuries of paradise:
"You (Muslims) have had a good example in God's Messenger (Muhammad) for whosoever hopes for God and the Last Day." (The Confederates, XXXIII:20)
In Islam, the 'Last Day' is the Day of Judgement when a person's fate shall be decided in terms of heaven and hell: the basis of verdict shall be whether or not he or she has followed the Prophet as the Model of Behavior. In simple language, paradise is meant only for those who believe, feel, think, walk, talk, sleep, eat and drink as Muhammad did. We all know that Muhammad was a great Arab patriot and practiced the Arab culture. Therefore, every non-Arab Muslim must adore Arabia like Muhammad and adopt all Arab cultural, moral and spiritual values.
This is not a wishful interpretation, but is actually happening in all countries that lie within the pale of Islam: this principle is the foundation of the Arab Imperialism, and it perpetuates itself through the force of faith irrespective of whether the Arabs are politically ascendant or not!
Again, Islam or the Arab Imperialism is different from the Roman, Iranian, Turkish or British Imperialism because it is not based on political or economic power but exploitation of human weakness, emanating from instinctive fear of uncertainty, which makes man feel that he is drowning and must clutch at a straw to survive, irrespective of how irrational this act might be.
By imposing dictatorship of faith on its followers, Islam has crucified their rational and inventive faculties, leading to the degradation of their national cultures; this has become the major cause of their backwardness, and all the evils that spring from it.
To assess the significance of the Battle of Badr, one must realize that had the Prophet lost it, the doctrine of Islam would have been laid to rest along with the bodies of its crusaders. This little event, in fact, proved to be a vigorous seed, whose branches spread into both the east and west. However, the west checked its growth in the Battle of Tours. Such a great contribution has been made by this event to the survival and advancement of civilization that I am tempted to continue it as part two of this article.