Ramadan is more than a month of ibadah with history showing the first generation of Muslims achieved great victories during this blessed month. All civilisations have seminal events that echo throughout the ages and are celebrated and remembered on anniversaries. The two World wars are remembered regularly in Europe, it is considered a key part of Western history. Meanwhile, the fall of the Berlin Wall is seen as a key victory for Capitalism.
Similarly the Ummah also has many events which all Muslims are taught at a young age and have come to define the ummah. In the month of Ramadan many of these key events took place which shaped the ummah and have played a key role in shaping the psyche of the Ummah.
Whilst many are familiar with the events of the battle of Badr its wider political context and the values that drove the Ummah to achieve this first battle of the Muslims, against all odds, makes the victory of Badr a seminal event.
After 13 years of struggling in Mecca, following numerous meetings with various tribes and after much persecution and boycott, Allah سبحانه وتعالى blessed Prophet Mohammad ﷺ with nasr (victory) with the establishment of the Islamic State in Madina, at the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Quraysh did not give up their pursuit of the Muslims and the establishment of the Islamic state in Madina only infuriated them further. The Prophet ﷺ not content with merely establishing Islam, organised expeditions to strengthen the Islamic state, and thus Islam. These expeditions included sending military expeditions; signing treaties with warring tribes; and securing key trade routes all of which contributed to strengthening Muslims and keeping the Quraysh of Mecca at bay.
The Prophet ﷺ organised 8 expeditions within a year of establishing the Islamic state in medina. The last included a key trade route which was used by the Quraysh to traverse the desserts of Arabia to Al sham in order to transport its largest caravans – essential for the economies at the time. It was the interception of this caravan by the Muslims that turned into the now famous battle of Badr.
This victory led the Ummah to make Ramadan the month of great change. Whilst much literature has been written by Muslims and non-Muslims on Islamic conquests focusing on strategy many victories occurred during Ramadan due to the focus of the Ummah on Allah سبحانه وتعالى and this removed fear from the hearts of the Muslims. This is why some of the Muslims’ greatest victories occurred during Ramadan such as the conquest of Makkah (8 Hijri), the conquest of Rhodes (53 Hijri), the successful landing of Muslims on the coast of Spain (91 Hijri), the victory by Tarik Ibn Zayed against the King of Spain (92 Hijri), the victory of Salahuddin against invading crusaders (584 Hijri), and Mamluk’s victory versus invading Tatars in the battle of Ain jiloot (650 Hijri).
The Battle of Badr
Regarding the battle of Badr Allah سبحانه وتعالى said in the Qur’an:
وَلَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ بِبَدْرٍ وَأَنْتُمْ أَذِلَّةٌ ۖ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
إِذْ تَقُولُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَلَنْ يَكْفِيَكُمْ أَنْ يُمِدَّكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ بِثَلَاثَةِ آلَافٍ مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُنْزَلِين
“Indeed Allah assisted you at Badr when you were weak, so be careful (to your duty) to Allah so that you may be of the thankful ones. When you said to the believers ‘Does it not suffice you that your Lord should assist you with three thousand angels sent down.”
The two armies met at Badr on 17th Ramadhan 2 A.H. In the beginning as per Arab custom, single combat (one to one) took place. The famous Quraysh warriors Utbah, Shayba and Walid came to challenge three ‘Ansars’ from Medina. The Quraysh refused to fight any of the ‘Ansaars’, demanding their ‘equals’ and so the Prophet ﷺ sent Ubayda, Hamza and Imam Ali (ra). The three Kuffar were killed (Ubayda was hurt). The Quraysh got disturbed and began attacking en-masse. In the thick of the battle, the Prophet prayed to Allah. In Surat-ul Anfal Allah سبحانه وتعالى gave the answer:
إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّي مُمِدُّكُمْ بِأَلْفٍ مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُرْدِفِي
“When you asked for help from your Lord, He answered you. Indeed I will aid you with a thousand of the angels in rows behind rows”
The enemies got frightened and began to retreat. The skill of Imam Ali (ra), the other Muslim soldiers and the sight of so many angels struck terror in the enemies’ hearts. 72 Kuffar were killed including their leader Abu Jahl. Imam Ali (ra) killed 36 of them. 14 Muslims were martyred. 70 prisoners were taken by the Muslims.
The prisoners were treated with kindness and some became Muslims. In later days some of the prisoners said: “blessed be the men of Medina, they made us ride whilst they walked, they gave us wheat and bread to eat when there was little of it contenting themselves with plain dates.” The rich prisoners paid ransom and were set free. Others were asked to gain their freedom by teaching 10 Muslims to read and write.
The battle of Badr strengthened the faith of the Muslims.