The Battle of Badr

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The Battle of Badr took place in the blessed month of Ramadan in the second year after the Migration from Makkah to Madinah (Hijrah). In the Gregorian calendar, this corresponded to March 624 CE.

The Battle of Badr has been referred to in the Qur’an as the “Day of Furqan”. Furqan in Arabic means to separate and to distinguish because on that day, Allah clearly distinguished truth from falsehood. On that day, He gave the believers a sound victory and vanquished the hopes and aspirations of the disbelievers who were attempting to bring an end to the growing Islamic Movement.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ marched from Madinah on a Wednesday evening, eight days after the beginning of Ramadan, with a small band of men numbering between 313 and 319. From this number, there were roughly eighty to one hundred Companions who emigrated from Makkah (Muhajirun). And the rest of the men were residents of Madinah (Ansar). The wells of Badr were located roughly 80 miles southwest of Madinah.

The initial purpose for this expedition was to capture the caravan of Abu Sufyan as it was carrying all of the possessions and belongings of the Muhajirun when they had left Makkah for Madinah, to Sham (Greater Syria), where they were now going to be sold by the chiefs of Quraysh for a great profit of money.

Their intention was one thing, but yet Allah planned for them a much greater event as He alone knows where the good lies for the believers. The Muslims were materially unprepared for any large scale battle and they did not even intend to engage in a battle. As a result, they were first unaware of the war preparations made by the Quraysh, who wanted to defend Abu Sufyan’s caravan and inflict a heavy blow to the Muslims. The disbelievers came out of Makkah with 1,000 men, 100 horses, and 700 camels, greatly outnumbering the poorer Muslim army. The Muslims had only two horses, but some say that it was actually three: the horse upon which Az-Zubair sat, Al-Miqdad’s horse, and the horse upon which Abu Murthad Al-Ghinawi sat. In any case, three horses against one hundred was very disproportionate indeed!

As they were marching out of Makkah with these huge numbers and camels and horses, their attitude must have been one of great arrogance, pride, and contempt. This is the exact manner that Allah described them with in the Qur’an, in Surah Al-Anfal, Verse 47:

ولا تكونوا كالذين خرجوا من ديارهم بطرًا ورئآءَ الناسِ ويصُدُّون عن سبيل الله, والله بما يعملون محيط

“(O Muslims!) Don’t ever be like those people who came forth from their homes arrogantly & boastfully, and in order to be seen by men, and to obstruct people from the Path of Allah. Surely, Allah is All-Encompassing of everything they do.”

Al-Hafiz Ibn Katheer said: “Allah commanded the believers to fight sincerely and to always be mindful of Him. In this Ayah, Allah commanded them not to imitate those pagans, who marched out of their homes بَطَرًا “boastfully, looking down upon everyone else” ورِئَاءَ النَّاس “and to be seen of men” (showing off).”

Now, Abu Sufyan’s caravan was able to escape, so it seemed that there may be no armed conflict. However, Allah had destined this great event to occur, and so, when Abu Jahl, the leader of the Quraysh, was told that the caravan escaped safely and that the army should return to Makkah, he commented, “No, by Allah! We will not go back until we proceed to the Wells of Badr, slaughter camels there, drink alcohol, and female singers dance and sing to us. In this way, all the Arabs will always talk about us and what we did on that day.”

Thus, Abu Jahl refused to return to Makkah without first camping three days at Badr in such a way that all the Arabs would hear about their greatness. On the other hand, at this point, the Muslims had to decide what they should do. They could have returned to Madinah and avoided any bloodshed but had they done so, they may have looked cowardly in the eyes of the Arab tribes, who were all closely observing the struggle between the Quraysh and the new Prophet.

They had to make a crucial decision.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ consulted with his followers, telling them that Allah had promised them one of the two parties: either the caravan or the army.

وإذ يعدكم الله إحدى الطآئفتين أنها لكم Allah has promised you one of the two: either the caravan or the army [Surah Al-Anfal: 7].

Al-Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad, one of the Muhajirun, stated:

“O Messenger of Allah! March on as Allah guides you, and we are with you. I swear by Allah! We will not say to you as the Banu Israel (Children of Israel) said to Prophet Musa: ‘Go, you and your Lord, and fight them and we will sit here’ (5:24). Rather, we say to you: ‘Go, you and your Lord, to fight, and we will all fight along with you.’ I swear by the Being Who sent you with the truth, that if you order us, we will follow you to the extremity of the earth and fight with you until your goal is attained.”

A similar narration was recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari; Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“I was a witness to something that Al-Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad did, that I would like more than anything else, to have been the one who did it. Al-Miqdad came to the Prophet while he was supplicating to Allah, and said: ‘We will not say as the people of Musa said (Go, you and your Lord, and fight you two). Rather, we will fight to your right, and to your left, and in front of you, and behind you.’ [Ibn Mas’ood said] I saw the Prophet’s face beaming with pleasure, because of what Al-Miqdad said to him.”

After this, Sa’d Ibn Mu’adh of the Ansar, perceiving that the Prophet wanted to hear explicitly from the Ansar, spoke:

“We have believed in you and regard you as the true Messenger of Allah, and bear witness that what you have been given is the Truth. And on this we have given you our binding promise, to hear and obey.  March on as you desire and we are with you! I swear by Him Who has sent you with the truth, if you ask us to wade through the ocean, we will wade through with you, and not one of us will stay behind! We will be perfectly content with whatever may happen to us tomorrow, at the hands of our enemies for surely, we are patient in war, fierce in battle, and truthful in our company. Perhaps Allah will show you from us what will please you. Therefore, by the grace of Allah, march on with us.” Thus, the stage was set for battle.

The armies began to approach each other; the Prophet, with his army, were nearing Badr, while the Quraysh were making their way out of Makkah. Neither of the armies knew of the exact position of the other army. The Prophet and Abu Bakr began to walk around the army and they walked away in the distance. They ended up meeting an old Bedouin man and the Prophet asked him, “Have you heard anything about the army of Muhammad, and the army of Quraysh?” So the man said, “Tell me who you are and then I will tell you where they are.” The Prophet said, ‘If you tell us, we will tell you.’ So the old man said, “I received information that Muhammad and his army left Madinah on such-and-such a date. If this information is correct, they should now be in such-and-such place.” He then pointed out the right position of the Muslim army, and that indicated his truth. He then said, “And I’ve received information, that the army of Quraysh have left on such-and-such date. If that information is correct, then they would be in such-and-such place.”

The Bedouin then asked the Prophet and Abu Bakr, “Who are you, were are you from?” The Prophet said: نَحْنُ مِنْ مَاء “We are from water.” And he and Abu Bakr walked away.:D The man began flipping his hands, saying: مِنْ مَاء؟ أَمِنْ مَاءِ العِرَاق؟ “What? From water? What do you mean? Are you from the water (rivers) of Iraq?” The Prophet meant that we were created from water as Allah says in Surah Anbiya, Ayah 30: “Allah has made every living being out of water.” (Also if you didn’t understand what the Prophet meant, refer to the Qur’an, 32:8)

On the night before the battle, the Prophet made a very long and intense supplication to Allah. He was praying under a tree, crying until the sun rose. He was standing up, raising his hands, to the point that the cloth on his shoulders fell down:

اللَّهُمَّ أَنشُدُكَ عَهدَكَ وَوَعْدَكَ, اللهُمَّ إِن شِئْتَ لَمْ تُعبَدْ “O Allah! I invoke You for Your promise (of victory). O Allah! If You decide (that we be defeated), You will not be worshipped!”

He was saying this because these 300 people at Badr were the only Muslims on the face of the earth. So Abu Bakr came, picked up the cloth of the Prophet, put it back on his shoulders, and he held his hand and said: كَفَاكَ مُنَاشَدَتَكَ رَبُّكَ “Enough of this. Because Allah will surely fulfill His promise to you!”

The Prophet went back to the tent, and he fell asleep. This was the grace and blessing of Allah, that before the battle, Nu’as overtook many of the Muslims, and this is described beautifully in Surah Al-Anfal, Ayah 11. Therefore, the Scholars have said:

“If a person feels sleepy on the battlefield, that is from Allah. And if a person feels the urge to sleep during Salah, that is from Shaytan.”

After a while, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم woke up smiling, and he declared: “O Abu Bakr! Rejoice with the victory of Allah. This is Jibreel (galloping) on his horse, with dust on his shoulders.” The Prophet left the shade, while reciting the verse: سيهزم الجمع ويولون الدبر “And the multitude will be made to flee, and they will show their backs (while running).” (54:45)

It rained on the eve of Badr. The Quraysh who had arrived earlier, had taken over the the main wells. The Muslims began to worry about how they would get water, so Allah sent down a heavy rain, allowing the Muslims to drink and use it for purity. And when the rain fell, it also made the sand firm. The battle began on Friday morning, the 17th day of Ramadan (according to Imam Malik). In support of the Prophet and the Muslims, Allah sent down 1,000 angels! On one side, 500 angels were under the command of Jibreel, and on the other, 500 angels were under the command of Mika’il.

Iblis, his flag holder, and the soldiers, came to the Armies of Quraysh. Shaytan appeared to them in the form of a human being, Suraqah Ibn Malik, who was actually the Chief of a great and powerful tribe, Banu Mudlij (but in fact, the real Suraqah was not present). And he began to praise them, saying: لا غالبَ لكم اليومَ من الناس “No one can defeat you today, no person from mankind can overcome you.” إني جارٌ لكم “I am with you, I am your neighbor, I will fight with you to the end.”

‘Ali Ibn Abi Talhah reported that  ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“Shaytan as well as his devil army and flag holders came on the Day of Badr. Shaytan appeared in the shape of Suraqah, and he said to the pagans, “None can defeat you today, and I will help you. When the 2 armies stood face to face, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم took a handful of sand and threw it at the faces of the pagans, causing them to retreat. At that point, Jibreel came towards Shaytan. When Shaytan, who was holding the hand of a pagan man, saw Jibreel, he let go of his hand, and ran away with his soldiers. That man asked him, “O Suraqah! You claimed that you would aid us!” And Shaytan said as he was running, إني أرى ما لا ترون إني أخاف الله والله شديد العقاب “Verily, I see what you do not see! Verily, I fear Allah for Allah is severe in punishment!” He said this when he saw the angels coming towards him.”

Among the many miracles at Badr, one of the most notable ones occurred when the two armies drew closer to each others. At that moment, Allah made the Muslims look few in the eyes of the disbelievers, and Allah made the disbelievers look few in the eyes of the Muslims. Thus, when the Quraysh saw the Muslims, and how few they appeared, they laughed and said: غَرَّ هَؤُلاَءِ دِينُهُمْ “These people have been deceived by their religion!” (8:49) Qatadah said, “We were informed that when Abu Jahl saw Muhammad and his Companions, he said: ‘I swear by Allah! After this day, they will never worship Allah.’ He said this in viciousness.” For the Muslims, Allah made the disbelievers’ armies look small in their eyes as well. ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood said: “They were made to seem few in our eyes, so that I said to a man who was next to me, ‘Do you think they are seventy?’ He said, ‘Rather they are one hundred.'”

The greatest support Allah gave the Muslims in this battle was the army of Angels led by Jibreel, the Angel of Revelation, and Mika’il, the Field Commander of the Angels (may Allah be pleased with them both). Ibn ‘Abbas said: “When the disbelievers faced the Muslims, the Muslims attacked their faces with swords. When they fled, the angels smote their rear ends.” ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab said that while a Muslim man was pursuing a disbeliever during the battle, he heard the sound of a whip above him, and a rider saying: أَقْدِمْ حَيزُوم “Come, O Hayzoom!” Then the man turned around and looked at the disbeliever, who had suddenly fallen to the ground. When he investigated, he found that the idolator’s nose had a wound and his face was injured, just as if he received a strike from a whip on it. The man later came to the Prophet ﷺ and told him of this, and the Prophet ﷺ said: “You have said the truth. ذالِكَ مِنْ مَدَدِ السَّمَاءِ الثَّالِثَة That was from the reinforcements from the third heaven.”

In this battle, the greatest chiefs of the idolaters was slain. Abu Jahl, the Fir’awn of this Ummah, was killed by two youth. Umayyah Ibn Khalaf, according to some reports, was killed by his previously owned slave, Bilal Ibn Rabah (may Allah be pleased with him). Abu Lahab, an uncle of the Prophet but a staunch enemy of Islam, who could not attend the battle (but had to stay behind in Makkah due to a disease) soon received the news of Quraysh’s defeat at Badr. Abu Sufyan returned and gathered the people in Makkah and told them, “The fact is that we met our enemy and turned our backs. They made us to flee. And I cannot blame our tribesmen because they faced not only them, but also men wearing white robes riding horses, who were between the skies and earth. They spared nothing, and no one ever had a chance.” Later on, a disease spread through the skull of Abu Lahab. It turned to septic, and its poison soon spread rapidly though his entire body, causing many dark pimples (filled with pus) to appear all over his body. He stayed like that for a week before he died.

When Abu Lahab finally died, his family and sons, fearing that they might be afflicted with his disease, were hesitant to bury him. So they left his decaying body to decompose in his home for 3 nights. It was only when someone rebuked them strongly and said, “It’s disgraceful; you should be ashamed of yourselves to leave your father to rot in his own house, and not bury him from our sight!”  that they decided to do something, but still with great reluctance. So from a safe distance, Abu Lahab’s sons threw water over his body, and removed his corpse with sticks, and left it by a wall on a high piece of ground outside Makkah, and they threw rocks and stones over it, until it was fully covered. {And this was just his share in this world. What about what is in store for him in the Hereafter?! Please see Surah 111 in the Quran. This is a message of warning,to all those who fight Allah, His Messenger and the believers.}

The Prophet ﷺ and the Muslims returned from Badr on a Wednesday that was 8 days before the end of Ramadan. It is noted that there were only a few martyrs from Badr. Only about 14 or so Muslims were martyred on that day while many of the idolaters were killed.

Regarding the prisoners of the Battle of Badr, this was the first ever battle of the Muslims, and so the Prophet ﷺ consulted his Companions over this issue of what to do with these prisoners. Abu Bakr advised the Prophet ﷺ to pardon them and accept ransom on their behalf (in order to free them). ‘Umar expressed that the disbelievers should be killed, and each one by his own relative (among the Muslims).

The Prophet ﷺ went out for a while. The Companions were wondering, whose opinion the Prophet ﷺ would choose, especially as everyone had various views on what to do. ‘Abdullah Ibn Rawahah, for example, expressed his view, saying: “We should dig a trench, fill it with firewood, set it ablaze, and throw them all in.”

In the end, the Prophet ﷺ returned and said: “We will ransom the prisoners.” So they would accept ransom for the prisoners. There are some reports, that state they gave them the choice, to accept Islam and thus win their freedom, or they could be freed if they taught 10 Muslims how to read and write. This would be their ransom. Al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir, a famous commentator of the Qur’an (d. 774 A.H.), mentioned an authentic narration recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan, from Ibn ‘Abbas that he said: The Prophet fixed 400 (Dirhams) in ransom from the disbelievers, in the aftermath of Badr.

How were the prisoners treated? A Scottish Orientalist by the name of Sir William Muir, though a very hostile critic of Islam, wrote:

“In pursuance of Mahomet’s commands, the citizens of Medina and such of the emigrants who possessed houses, received the prisoners and treated them with much consideration. ‘Blessings be on the men of Medina’, said one of these prisoners in the later days, ‘they made us ride while they themselves walked. They gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates.’ “

Ibn Kathir said:

“Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said: On the day of Badr the Prophet commanded them to be kind to their prisoners, so they used to put the prisoners before themselves when it came to food… they would give food to these prisoners even though they themselves desired it and loved it.”

Whereas many of the Romans, the Assyrians, and Persians, used to put out their prisoners’ eyes with hot irons and flay them alive, feeding their skins to dogs, such that the prisoners preferred death to life, Islam taught their followers to treat prisoners with mercy and kindness.

May Allah (سُبحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) fill our hearts with the same mercy and kindness that was shown, and may we have the courage and perseverance to stand up and deal with our problems.

AbdulBasit Khan currently lives in Lanham, MD where he gives weekly lectures at his local Mosque, PGMA. He grew up in the ADAMS Center community in Sterling, VA and moved to College Park, MD to attend Al-Huda School at the age of 11. After graduating from Al-Huda’s middle school and completing his hifzh, he began to volunteer at Prince George’s Muslim Association where he spent the next 8 years studying under the mentorship of many Imams, eventually becoming assistant Imam. His hobbies include reading beneficial works, listening to interesting talks and attending inspiring Islamic events. He feels that MYM is a beautiful medium for him to share some of his thoughts and be inspired by the musings of fellow youth.


  1. A beautiful article but one fact is missing. There is no mentioning of the important and brave role of Imam Ali (AS). Please add. JazakALLAH khair.

  2. Please tell me..
    How many disbelievers wervkilled and were arrested….

  3. Shaikh anwar pasha Reply

    Masha Allah..nice brief explanation….
    Jazak Allah #admin…
    May Allah bless u…Ameen

  4. Sheikh Muhammad Asif Ali Reply

    Alhamdulillah. Battle of badr will be beloved to us till the end of this world

  5. This didn’t tell me what I wanted to know I wanted to know how long did it last

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