The change of qibla was indeed a significant event. The invalidation of the previous qibla, which the Divine command entailed, was a matter suitable to cause a stir of rumors that could have potentially tricked many away from the truth. The Divine commands regarding the new qibla have therefore been repeated a few times over, addressing the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) in person, then the Believers and finally both, and confirming in no uncertain manner, that they were henceforth obliged to hold fast to their new qibla, both in residence and travel.
The Batn’u Nakhlah Campaign and Others
Undertaken thirteen months subsequent to the Hegira, in Rabiulawwal, the Buwat Campaign, was motivated with the purpose of checking the 2500 camel caravan of Quraysh, traveling under the surveillance of 100 cavalrymen (2 Rabiulawwal / September, 623). Leaving Saad ibn Muadh (r.a) of the Ansar as deputy, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) left Medina with a force of 200 Muslims. They eventually returned, however, without entering any conflict.
The Safawan Campaign, also known as Badr’ul-Ula, or the Badr Minor, also took place around about the same time to bring to justice Qurz ibn Jabir, who seized and escaped with the local owned camels and oxen grazing near Mount Jamma, in the small town of Aqiq, approximately three miles away from Medina. (Rabiulawwal, 2 / September 623). Temporarily assigned as the deputy of Medina, was Zayd ibn Haritha (r.a). Despite reaching Safawan, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) eventually had to return to Medina, for Qurz had long fled. Qurz later became an eminent Muslim.
The month of Jamaziyalakhir saw the Dhu’l-Ushayra Campaign, (Jamaziyalakhir, 2 / November 623) leading to the signing of a peace treaty with the clan of Mudlij and their allies.
In the meantime, a unit commanded by the Prophet’s (pbuh) cousin Abdullah ibn Jahsh (r.a), sent for exploration, struck a Meccan caravan near Batn’u Nakhlah. Rummaging for a while for the faintest excuse to raid Medina, the incident was enough to cause an upsurge of idolater emotion.
Galvanizing anti-Muslim sentiments in Mecca, the idolaters were moreover emphatically underlining the fact that the attack of their caravan had coincided with the month of Rajab, the sacred season of truce (haram), shouting, “Muhammad violated the months of truce…he shed blood, took hostages and seized our possessions!”
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had in fact never ordered an attack against the caravan and admonished Abdullah (r.a), by stating:
“I never ordered you to fight in the sacred months of truce!” What’s more, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) desisted from taking anything of the spoils, which threw the Companions into a state of dejection, fearing that Divine punishment was imminent. But the Meccan use of the incident as material for anti-Muslim propaganda brought about the following Revelation:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ وَكُفْرٌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِخْرَاجُ أَهْلِهِ
مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ عِندَ اللّٰهِ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ وَلاَ يَزَالُونَ
يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّىَ يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَن دِينِكُمْ إِنِ اسْتَطَاعُوا
“They ask you concerning the sacred month about fighting in it. Say: Fighting in it is a grave matter, and hindering men from Allah’s way and denying Him, and hindering men from the Sacred Mosque and turning its people out of it, are still graver with Allah, and persecution is graver than slaughter; and they will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion.” (al-Baqara, 217)
Relieved the most were Abdullah ibn Jahsh and his friends:
“Would we receive the same rewards, Messenger of Allah”, they asked, “as those reserved for fighters in the way of Islam?” This brought about the below Revelation:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَجَاهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ
أُوْلَـئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَ اللّٰهِ وَاللّٰهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Surely those who believed and those who fled (their home) and strove hard in the way of Allah these hope for the mercy of Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (al-Baqara, 218)
Reinforcing the inner resolve of Muslims, such Divine declarations were at the same time infuriating idolaters and increasing their appetites for vengeance; though they really little needed Revelation, for they were already brimming over with hatred against Muslims, who were rapidly increasing by the day, adding further strength to the budding Islamic State. According to a census taken by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the number of male Muslims was reportedly 1500. Considering that the number was only destined to further increase, it was an amount significant enough to give the idolaters plenty to think about. Medina was moreover situated by the Meccan trade route, the heart of Meccan life. Insofar as the idolaters were concerned, the danger needed subduing before it became too great to handle. So they resolved to attack Medina.
Hakam ibn Kaysan was among the prisoners taken in the attack at Batn’u Nakhlah. The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) invited him to Islam, explaining the way of truth many times over in all its detail, to quell any possible doubts that may arise in his mind. Annoyed at Hakam’s tenacity in rejection despite all the trouble the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had gone through, Omar (r.a) could not help himself:
“Why do you even bother with him, Messenger of Allah? By Allah, he will never become a Muslim. You may as well let me break his neck, so I can send him to Hell!” But the Noble Messenger (pbuh) persisted in explaining Islam to Hakam, regardless. And this time, Hakam was all ears.
“What is Islam, again?” he asked.
“To be a servant of Allah, without ascribing any partners to Him, and to bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.”
“Then I accept Islam”, Hakam then abruptly stated.
“Had I listened to you before”, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) commented turning to the Companions, “Hakam would have now been in Hellfire!”
Omar (r.a) later said:
“Seeing Hakam become a Muslim made me feel as if I had been overwhelmed by all past and entire future. I said to myself, ‘What was I thinking suggesting something to the Messenger of Allah, when he knew better?’ I then consoled myself, thinking my only intention all along was to gain the pleasure of Allah and His Messenger. Hakam did become a Muslim and what a perfect Muslim he was. He fought in the way of Allah and was martyred by the Mauna Well.” (Ibn Sad, IV, 137-138; Waqidi, I, 15-16)
Understood from this incident is the need to communicate Islam patiently, in a gentle manner, adorning it with wisdom and good advice.
The Changing of the Direction of Qibla
At the outset, Muslims continued offering their salat facing towards the Masjid’ul-Aqsa, in Jerusalem, something which continued sixteen or seventeen months into the Hegira. The Jews were using the practice as a pretext to verbally assert their supremacy over the Muslims, a cause of much grief for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). All along, he had his heart set on the Kaabah as qibla, which could have provided the first step to the opening of Mecca to Islam. He was yearning to receive a Revelation in regard. And since the Divine permission had not yet come, the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) thought remained a mere wish, the realization of which he began patiently anticipating. Ultimately, on a Monday in mid Rajab, as the Noble Messenger (pbuh) was offering the midday salat of zuhr in the small mosque in the quarters of the Salima clan, the Almighty revealed His tidings:
قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاء فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوِهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللّٰهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
“Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a qibla which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and wherever you are, turn your face towards it, and those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord; and Allah is not at all heedless of what they do.” (al-Baqara, 144)
Meanwhile at the closing stages of the second rakah, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) immediately turned his direction towards Kaabah, and so did the Companions who were following his lead. Together, they all began facing their new qibla, whereby the remaining two rakahs of the salat were completed facing Kaabah. The mosque has since been called Masjid’ul-Qiblatayn, the mosque with two qiblas.
A Companion who was present behind the Prophet (pbuh) dropped in on another masjid after leaving, where he saw a group of people offering their salat together. They had just bowed to ruku’, when he exclaimed:
“By Allah, we just offered our salat with the Messenger of Allah towards Kaabah!” The group thereupon instantly changed their direction towards Kaabah.
As exuberantly welcomed as it was by the Believers, the changing of the qibla towards Kaabah enticed the idolaters, Jews and hypocrites to fabricate certain rumors and entertain themselves with unfounded claims, to which the Revelation below responded:
سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَاء مِنَ النَّاسِ مَا وَلاَّهُمْ عَن قِبْلَتِهِمُ الَّتِي
كَانُواْ عَلَيْهَا قُل لِّلّٰهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ يَهْدِي
مَن يَشَاء إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
“The fools among the people will say: What has turned them from their qiblah which they had? Say: The East and the West belong only to Allah; He guides whom He likes to the right path.” (al-Baqara, 142)
Ibn Abbas (r.a) affords the following:
“Upon changing the qibla to Kaabah compliant with the command of the Quran, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was met with a question by Muslims:
‘What about the salats of our brothers, Messenger of Allah, who offered it to the direction of Masjid’ul-Aqsa and are now deceased?’
Thereupon the Almighty revealed the below ayah:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلاَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللّٰهُ وَمَا كَانَ اللّٰهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the Messenger may be a witness against you. And We appointed the qibla which you formerly observed only that We might know him who followes the messenger, from him who turneth on his heels. In truth it was a hard (test) save for those whom Allah guided. But it was not Allah’s purpose that your faith should be in vain, for Allah is Full of Pity, Merciful toward mankind.’ (al-Baqara, 143)
The change of qibla was indeed a significant event. The invalidation of the previous qibla, which the Divine command entailed, was a matter suitable to cause a stir of rumors that could have potentially tricked many away from the truth. The Divine commands regarding the new qibla have therefore been repeated a few times over, addressing the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) in person, then the Believers and finally both, and confirming in no uncertain manner, that they were henceforth obliged to hold fast to their new qibla, both in residence and travel.
Elucidating to some extent the underlying wisdom of the change, the confirmation is virtually given an independent meaning in the ayah below:
وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ لِئَلاَّ يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مِنْهُمْ فَلاَ تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِي وَلأُتِمَّ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
“And from whatsoever place you come forth, turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque; and wherever you are turn your faces towards it, so that people shall have no accusation against you, except such of them as are unjust; so do not fear them, and fear Me, that I may complete My favor on you and that you may walk on the right course.” (al-Baqara, 150)
From the Divine declaration, we can derive a number of underlying wisdoms:
1. The first wisdom underlying the change of qibla, according to the ayah, was to dispossess the People of the Book and the idolaters from any evidence they may have held against Muslims; for the changing of the qibla towards Kaabah was included among the feats of the Final Prophet mentioned in previous scriptures.
Indeed, the passages of the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament forecasting the future of Mecca make explicit indications. That the Final Prophet (pbuh) was still offering salat towards the direction of al-Aqsa when he was really supposed to turn towards Kaabah could have thus cast doubt on the minds of the People of the Book.
Moreover, defying the qibla of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) would have contradicted the Noble Messenger’s (pbuh) contention of representing the Nation of Ibrahim, an argument which then could have been used as a sound objection by the idolaters. But after the actual change, such an objection could no longer be made, except by the obstinate, who had made a habit of obscuring the truth.
2. The Almighty’s fulfillment of His blessings upon Muslims is another wisdom underlying the change of qibla. Believers were thereby given the new qibla as a contribution towards their ultimate aim of perfection on the path of Truth, the actual blessing, of which the qibla constitutes a part.
3. One of the wisdoms that lay beneath the fact that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) offered his salats in the beginning months towards the Bayt’ul-Maqdis was to allude to the common source of all celestial religions and thus warm Jewish and Christian hearts to Islam. This approach could furthermore be considered to have at least reduced the Jewish and Christian dissent during the budding of the Islamic society and state.
At the same time, the incident serves as a proof, among many others, that the Noble Prophet (pbuh) did not exercise an authority to intervene on the Holy Quran. In spite of nurturing a great desire for Kaabah to be the new direction of worship, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) nevertheless was made to wait a further sixteen months after the Hegira, which saw the relevant Revelation arrive.
Fasting, the Charity of Fitr and Alms
Strengthening its political existence through the minor campaigns, Islam at the same time continued to perfect its unique spiritual life. An important part of this was the requirement upon Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan, proclaimed obligatory just after the change of qibla, eighteen months into the Hegira, in the month of Shaban.
It was through the below ayah that the Almighty declared the fasting, or sawm, of Ramadan obligatory:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا
كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).” (al-Baqara, 183)
In connection are the words of the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) :
“Islam has been founded upon five principles: Standing witness that there is no god other than Allah and that Muhammad is His Prophet, offering salat, giving alms, pilgrimage and fasting in the month of Ramadan.” (Bukhari, Iman, 1, 2; Tafsir, 2/30; Muslim, Iman, 19-22)
Beautifully expressed are the virtues of fasting in the below hadith of the Noble Messenger (pbuh):
“Allah, the Mighty and the Glorious, has said, ‘Apart from fasting, all deeds of man are for himself. But fasting is for Me alone; thus I shall personally give its reward.’ Fasting is a shield. When fasting, one ought not to engage in foul words or quarrel. Should someone speak foul to him or provoke him, he should simply say, ‘I am fasting.’ By Allah, in whose Hand of Might the life of Muhammad resides, in the sight of Allah, the breath of a person fasting is sweeter than the fragrance of musk. Two moments of joy await one who fasts: One in which he breaks his fast, and the other, the moment he unites with his Lord with the rewards reaped from his fasting.” (Bukhari, Sawm, 9; Muslim, Siyam, 163)
“All deeds of man are amply rewarded; a good deed is multiplied from ten to seven-hundred times. Allah, glory unto Him, declares, ‘But fasting is different, and I shall reward it Myself…for one who fasts leaves his lust and appetite for Me.” (Muslim, Siyam, 164)
“One who persistently gives charity in the way of Allah, will be called from the numerous gates of Paradise, ‘Come, beloved servant of Allah; through this gate awaits goodness and abundance!’ Those who persistently offer their salat continue being invited from the gate of salat, strivers from the gate of jihad, fasters from the gate of Rayyan and the generous from the gate of charity.” Abu Bakr (r.a) then asked, ‘May my all be sacrificed in your way, Messenger of Allah. Even though one who is called from either of these gates stands in no need of any other, still, will there be people who will be called from all of these gates?’
“Yes, certainly”, replied the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), “and I am hoping you will be among those fortunate.” (Bukhari, Sawm, 4 Jihad, 37; Muslim, Zakat, 85, 86)
Enabling us to realize the value of the innumerable blessings we have been endowed with, fasting is a deed of worship that awakens feelings of gratitude towards the Almighty; and through ridding the soul of egoistic desires and tendencies, it frees the heart from the shackles of matter and thereby guides one to patience, the highest moral characteristic attainable. Imparting a conscience of relating to the poor and underprivileged, fasting also fills the heart with feelings of compassion. Despite being given command over bountiful chests of treasures, Yusuf (a.s) never ate to his stomach’s content, just so he would not remain ignorant, even for a moment, of the condition of the poor.
With all these underlying wisdoms, fasting is a Divine command that exercises the greatest influence in cleansing ill-feelings like malice and jealousy that suffocate society in their uproar. In fasting lies the key to the mystery of abandoning the temporary for the eternal. It is a shield that protects human dignity and honor against the never-ending desires of the self, in the way of consumption and lust.
Its days already revived through fasting, making the nights of Ramadan further prosper is the tarawih salat, a Sunnah of the Light of Being (pbuh).
“Allah the Mighty has made fasting obligatory in Ramadan; and I have made tarawih a Sunnah,” he has stated. (Ibn Maja, Salat, 173)
To reap the utmost benefit from Ramadan, it is necessary to accompany the day long fasts with deeds of worship in the night and, refraining from all kinds of vain behavior, cleanse the tongue with prayer and dhikr and the heart with tears of repentance. Entering itiqaf in the last ten days of the month is an equally important Sunnah of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“Whoever”, he states “with faith in his heart, revives his Ramadan nights hoping its reward from Allah only, will have his entire past sins forgiven.” (Bukhari, Tarawih, 46)
Aisha (r.ha) a recounts:
“During a Ramadan evening, the Messenger of Allah had offered a voluntary salat at the Masjid. Many people followed his lead behind him. Come morning, some Companions began talking about ‘the Prophet’s salat at the Masjid the night before.’
The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) offered the salat the next night, too. People again spoke about it; the number of those who joined had increased even more. On either the third evening or the fourth, people again flocked together at the Masjid. So great were they in number that the Masjid could not fit them all. But the next evening, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not make an appearance. In the morning, he said:
‘I have seen what you have been doing. What held me back from coming next to you last night was the fear that this salat may be made obligatory.’” (Bukhari, Tarawih, 1; Muslim, Musafirin, 177)
The Noble Messenger (pbuh) did not offer the tarawih salat communally, considering it more appropriate for each person to fulfill the deed according to their capabilities. Tarawih continued being offered individually during the caliphate of Abu Bakr (r.a). Only during the caliphate of Omar (r.a) did it begin to be offered communally.
The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) would enhance his devotion and deeds of worship in the month of Ramadan, entering an insatiable atmosphere of an intimate connection with the Almighty. Testifying this are the words of Ibn Abbas (r.a):
“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was the most generous of all people. The time which his generosity seemed boundless was when he would meet with Jibril (a.s) in the month of Ramadan. They would get together during each night of Ramadan and recite the Quran to one another. After meeting Jibril –upon him peace-, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would hence become more generous than winds of mercy that continually blow.” (Bukhari, Bad’ul-Wahy, 5, 6; Sawm, 7; Muslim, Fadail, 48, 50)
Commanded not long after fasting were the salat of eid and charity of fitr. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) laid down the obligatory amount of fitr for every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free or slave, as a sa’ of dates or an equal measure of barley. And concerning the underprivileged, he said, “Save them today (eid) from walking around on an empty stomach.” (Ibn Saad, I, 248)
If given before the salat of eid, the charity of fitr fulfils its purpose and is accepted. But if given after the salat, then though it is accepted as charity, does not count as fitr.
Anas (r.a) explains:
“At the time when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) arrived in Medina, the locals observed two festivals during which they held celebrations. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) then inquired as to the significance of these two festivals. ‘It was these two days we used to celebrate in the days of ignorance’, they replied.
‘Allah has replaced your two festivals with another two better than them’, then said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). ‘Adha and Ramadan!’” (Abu Dawud, Salat, 239/1134; Nasai, Iydayn, 1)
After leading the eid salat for the first time on the 10th of Dhilhijjah, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) ordered Muslims to slaughter stock for sacrifice. In his ten year stay in Medina, the Noble Messenger observed the sacrifice of eid every year. Each year he would offer two sacrifices; one on behalf of the members of his ummah who lacked the means to do so, and the other for himself and his family.
Hanash (r.a) narrates:
“I saw Ali (r.a) slaughter two rams for sacrifice. When I asked him the reason, he replied, ‘before passing away, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) requested me to offer sacrifice on his behalf, too. So I’m slaughtering another to fulfill his request and will continue to do so each year.’” (Abu Dawud, Adahi, 1-2/2790; Ahmad, I, 107)
From the fajr salat of the eve of the eid of Adha until the asr salat of the fourth day of the eid, a total of twenty-three salats, all Muslims, male or female, residents or travelers, whether offering individually or communally, are required (wajib) to say the takbir’ut-tashriq:
اَللّٰهُُ اَكْبَرُ اَللّٰهُ اَكْبَرُ لاَ اِلهَ اِلاَّ اللّٰهُُ وَاللّٰهُ اَكْبَرُ اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ وَِِللّٰهِ الْحَمْدُ
Shortly after the charity of fitr, there came the command for alms or zakat. The Quran proclaims:
وَفِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ
“And in their wealth the beggar and the outcast had due share.” (adh-Dhariyat, 19)
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ
“…who are active in deeds of charity.” (al-Muminun, 4)
خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا
وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ صَلاَتَكَ سَكَنٌ لَّهُم
“Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them…” (at-Tawba, 103)
Zakat is mentioned twenty-six times in the Quran alongside salat and four times on its own. Among the latter is the ayah in surah al-Muminun, which although is given mention independent of salat, is only a continuing praise of Believers who uphold their salats. The reason for this joint reference is that among all deeds of worship, physical or financial, it is these two that are the most essential and are of equal importance. A hadith in fact declares:
“There is no goodness in the salat of one, who does not give alms despite offering salat.” (Haythami, III, 62)
Alms cannot be accepted by corporate entities such as schools or hospitals, insofar as its receival remains the right of the eight groups of people determined by the Almighty. Given they do receive zakat, such corporations may not spend it for any other cause than for the basic needs of the underprivileged. They may only use it on, say, needy students or those seeking knowledge simply for the pleasure of Allah, glory unto Him, and therefore devoid of the means to work for their living. Among the prerequisites of zakat is to give where it may best cover the basic needs (hawaij-i asliyya) of the underprivileged who cannot make ends meet, and to do adequate research to ascertain people in such conditions. Corporations given the duty of acting as mediums in delivering zakat must therefore approach this issue with utmost sensitivity, lest they are held responsible in the sight of the Almighty.
The Quran classifies the rightful recipients of zakat as follows:
اِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِى الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِى سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِنَ اللّٰهِ وَاللّٰهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
“Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and the officials (appointed) over them, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth) and the (ransoming of) captives and those in debts and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer; an ordinance from Allah; and Allah is knowing, Wise.” (at-Tawba, 60)
Corporate entities like foundations and associations may thus only receive zakat on the condition that they deliver to any one of these eight groups. This is something of tremendous importance.
Upon receiving the Divine proclamation concerning alms, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had a manuscript written, spelling out which commodities came under zakat, of what ratio they were to be given and the minimum amount of wealth needed for obligation, which he then tied to his sword. He had the manuscript by his side till the day he breathed his last and acted in strict accordance with it. Both Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma) followed the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to the letter.
Zakat is interwoven with numerous individual and social reasons of wisdom. Building a barrier against the probable transgressions of the rich who may come under the spell of their wealth, preventing the needy from fostering feelings of dissent against the rich, safeguarding social harmony and bonding its members together with love, are just to cite a few. In the Islamic social order, the deeds of zakat and infaq, or charity, are the keystones in maintaining balance and love between the rich and the poor.
Another wisdom underlying alms and charity is to thwart individual capital from excess growth and thereby protect the poor from exploitation before it ever happens and to eradicate the potential growth of hatred and dissent. Richness, taken as a means for pride and conceit, is only the precursor of a pitiful end awaiting the rich. The truth is that all members of a society, both the helpers and the helped, stand in a physical and spiritual need for each other.
It should be remembered that, in the absolute sense, wealth belongs only to Allah, glory unto Him. The power human beings exercise over wealth is analogous to time-sharing which has become fashionable of late. Simpler put, wealth is a trust handed over only temporarily by the Almighty. The manner of its use is therefore bound by certain Divine measures. It should be put to use appropriate to the way commanded by its True Owner. Used defiantly against Divine commands, wealth becomes the ultimate means of driving one to deviation through conceit and indulgence in injustice. The love of wealth becomes entrenched in the heart of people steered into this tragic path. Among all the blessings on earth, the fact that Allah, glory unto Him, mentions only wealth and children as causes of fitna, or tribulation, is due to the ease with which they enter the heart and become idolized therein. Against those who have fallen in the depths of this misery, the Almighty delivers the below warning:
وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ يَوْمَ يُحْمَى عَلَيْهَا فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ
فَتُكْوَى بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنوبُهُمْ وَظُهُورُهُمْ هَـذَا
مَا كَنَزْتُمْ لأَنفُسِكُمْ فَذُوقُواْ مَا كُنتُمْ تَكْنِزُونَ
“…and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement! On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded.” (at-Tawba, 34-35)
The pitiful plight of those who neglect giving their zakat is also illustrated by the Noble Messenger (pbuh) :
“‘Each piece of gold or silver whose alms were not given on Earth shall be heated in the Hereafter and brought in the form of a panel to their owners, and be used to scald their sides, foreheads and backs. Each time they cool down, they will be reheated to continue the punishment. This will continue for a day equivalent to fifty-thousand years, until the verdicts of mankind are given. In the end, the person will see his path lead either to Paradise or Hell.’
‘What about the camels whose alms are withheld?’ the Companions present then asked.
‘Each camel owner who does not pay their camels’ due –and that includes milking them at waterheads and giving it to the needy- will be made to lie down on a straight, vast field,’ replied the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). ‘With not even a single calf left back, the camels will then come in their fleshiest conditions, and stomp on the person with their hoofs and gnaw away at him with their teeth. Once they are done, the other camels will follow. This will continue for a day equivalent to fifty-thousand years, until the verdicts of mankind are given. In the end, the person will see his path lead either to Paradise or Hell.’
When the Companions posed another question regarding the fate of cattle and sheep owners, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gave similar responses.” (Muslim, Zakat, 24; Bukhari, Jihad, 48)
A polite approach when giving charity and alms, is just as important. One needs to abstain from behavior that could annul these deeds altogether, like insults or offering from low quality goods. The benefactor, especially, needs to be in a grateful state of mind towards the receiver, for providing him with an opportunity to fulfill an obligatory duty he otherwise would not have been able to fulfill. Charities at the same time act as impenetrable shields protecting the benefactor against illness and misfortune. The underprivileged are in fact a great blessing for the rich, for it is their prayers that open the gates of Paradise.
Spelling out the appropriate manners to adopt when giving charity is the ayah below:
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ ثُمَّ لاَ يُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُواُ مَنًّا وَلاَ أَذًى لَّهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُون قَوْلٌ مَّعْرُوفٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ يَتْبَعُهَا أَذًى وَاللّٰهُ غَنِيٌّ حَلِيمٌ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تُبْطِلُواْ صَدَقَاتِكُم بِالْمَنِّ وَالأذَى كَالَّذِي يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَاء النَّاسِ وَلاَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللّٰهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِر
“As for those who spend their property in the way of Allah, then do not follow up what they have spent with reproach or injury, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. Kind speech and forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury; and Allah is Self-sufficient, Forbearing. O you who believe! Do not make your charity worthless by reproach and injury, like him who spends his property to be seen of men and does not believe in Allah and the last day…” (al-Baqara, 262-264)
Itiqaf literally means to detain oneself and wait in a certain place, as well as to hold fast to and stick by a certain thing. Technically, however, itiqaf denotes staying in a masjid for a specific amount of time, with the intention of gaining closeness to the Allah, glory unto Him. Because of the fact that no time limit has specifically been laid down, a stay of the kind, even if it be merely for an hour, counts as itiqaf, albeit a supererogatory one. Yet, the ayah:
وَلاَ تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ
“…but do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat in the mosques…” (al-Baqara, 187), indicates that fasting constitutes a necessary feature of itiqaf, suggesting therefore that the valid period of itiqaf may be no less than a day – and that is the shari itiqaf. Itiqaf has therefore generally been practiced during Ramadan, by virtue of staying inside a mosque in the state of fasting. Itiqaf is hence an immersion in servanthood through fasting during the day and spending the nights in the masjid worshipping and indulging in dhikr.
Itiqaf, as practiced during the final ten days of Ramadan, is a muakkad sunnah, (a strong sunnah that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) very rarely neglected) and at the same time a fard’ul-kifaya (an obligatory deed which, though not compulsory for all, nonetheless requires at least one person in a community to fulfill it, in order for all to become exempt from the responsibility). A vow to enter itiqaf necessitates its fulfillment. Entering itiqaf at times other than the month of Ramadan is recommended (mustahab).
Itiqaf compels one to be careful not to leave the masjid except to see to needs of necessity, like wudu, for instance.
The wives of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) used to enter itiqaf in their own rooms. Tents previously set up inside the Masjid to accommodate them during itiqaf were dismantled with the order of the Prophet (pbuh). Not mosques but their rooms at their homes serve Muslim women as the most appropriate places for itiqaf.
Aisha (r.ha) says:
“In the final ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would spend his nights worshipping; he would awaken his family, and commit himself entirely to worship, severing all relation with his wives.” (Bukhari, Fadlu Laylat’il-Qadr, 5; Muslim, Itiqaf, 7)
Again, according to the report of the Aisha (r.ha), until breathing his last, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) continued to enter itiqaf in the last ten days of Ramadan, completing that to twenty in his final year. The practice lived on with his wives following his passing away.
The following incident gives a superb indication of the importance and value of entering itiqaf, underlining at the same time the need to be mindful with individual and social duties:
“Ibn Abbas (r.a) one day entered the Masjid for itiqaf and greeted another man, assuming a seat on the ground next to him.
‘You look tired and upset, my brother’, said Ibn Abbas.
‘Yes, indeed so, cousin of the Prophet’ he replied. ‘So and so had set me free in return for which I am supposed to pay him a certain amount…but by the right of the man (the Prophet) lying in that grave over there, I cannot pay him back.’
‘Do you want me to have a word to him on your behalf?’ asked Ibn Abbas (r.a).
‘It is up to you’, responded the man. Just as Ibn Abbas (r.a) had grabbed his shoes and was making his way out the Masjid, the man called out to him:
‘Did you forget you are in itiqaf?
‘I certainly did not. But let me tell you one thing I heard from the man lying in that grave’ said Ibn Abbas (r.a), with tears trickling from his eyes:
‘Pursuing and sorting out a brother’s need is better than a ten year itiqaf…and if one enters itiqaf for a day only for the pleasure of Allah, Allah creates between him and Hellfire three ditches…and width of each is as much as that between East and West.” (Bayhaki, Shuab’ul-Iman, III, 424-425)
The Battle of Badr Major (17 Ramadan 2/ 13 March 624)
Quraysh sent an enormous trade caravan in the second year of Hegira made up of a thousand camels strong, with an estimated worth of 50,000 dinars provided by the entire town, men and women alike, bound for the Gaza Fair in Damascus. Thirty to forty prominent idolaters took part in the journey, most notably Abu Sufyan, Muhammad ibn Nawfal and Amr ibn As.
The idolaters had already sensed that in retaliation to denying them entrance into Mecca, the Believers would in all likelihood try to cut off their vital trade route to Syria. Full-blown fear began caving in on their return from Damascus. Abu Sufyan hired Damdam ibn Amr, who was part of the caravan at the time, for 85 grams of gold, and immediately sent him from Tabuk to Mecca to report the urgency of the situation.
Meanwhile, three nights prior to Damdam’s arrival in Mecca, Atiqah, the Noble Prophet’s (pbuh) aunt, saw a frightening dream. She recounted the dream to her brother Abbas.
“The dream I saw rattled me”, she said. “I fear that something terrible might happen to your tribe. Keep what I am about to tell you a secret; do not tell anyone!”
“Go on…what did you see?”
“A man astride a camel came and stood at Abtah (between Muhassab and Mecca) and declared aloud, three times, ‘Listen up, you bunch of insincere people! Report within three days to the field of battle, to the spots where you shall fall!’ People who heard him flocked around. The man then entered the courtyard of Kaabah and the others followed. With everyone swarmed around him, the man, again, repeated aloud the same words before, this time behind Kaabah. He then ascended Mount Abu Qubays and did the same thing there. Afterward, he grabbed hold of a rock and rolled it down. Rolling its way down the mountain, the rock then exploded tremendously near the base and there was neither a house, nor a spot left in Mecca left untouched by its pieces.”
“This sounds like an important dream, I swear”, commented Abbas. “Whatever you do, do not tell anyone about it!”
Later on, after parting ways with Atiqah (r.a), Abbas (r.a) stumbled upon his friend Walid ibn Utbah. Abbas told him of the dream, nonetheless insisting him to keep a closed lid on it. But worried, Walid told his father and soon, the dream became the word on everybody’s lips in Mecca.
Abbas (r.a) recounts the developments thereafter.
“Abu Jahil was furious and asked me, ‘Since when have you also had a female prophet? Wasn’t a male prophet sufficient enough that your women also saw themselves fit for the role? Atiqah apparently heard someone telling Quraysh in her dream to report to where they shall fall within three days. We will wait three days. If what she heard is true, then certainly something will come up. But if three days pass and nothing comes up, then we will have it written down that your women are the greatest liars among the entire Arab women!’
Despite of the excruciating difficulty of denying it, I told him there was no such thing. On the third morning of Atiqah’s dream, infuriated, I headed towards Kaabah hoping to find Abu Jahl there and give vent to my frustration for having held back what he deserved to hear over what he had said three days before. Just as I was entering, he was immediately making his way out, heading out from the Sahm gate of the Sacred House, which had me thinking, ‘the scoundrel avoided me for he knew I wanted to have a go at him’. Little did I know that he had in fact heard the voice of Damdam. But soon I too found out, as I from a distance I saw Damdam, who, to draw attention to the urgency of the situation, had slashed his camel’s nose, shredded his shirt and turned his saddle the other way round. He was in the middle of the valley of Mecca, screaming at the top of his shrill voice:
‘The caravan, Quraysh, the caravan! Muhammad and his men have raided your properties you had left under the surveillance of Abu Sufyan! You have no time to waste in catching up with them…Help, help!’ The shouting of Damdam made us forget about all rest else.” (Ibn Hisham, II, 244-247; Waqidi, I, 29-31)
Quraysh wasted no time in getting prepared. It only took two or three days for them to be armed and ready. Weapons were purchased for those without, and the wealthy took great pains in aiding the weak in their preparation. Notables like Suhayl ibn Amr, Zama bin Aswad were animatedly proclaiming in the streets of Mecca:
“Camels and food are on us, more than you can ever imagine! All of you set out! Let there not be even a single person remaining back! If Muhammad seizes the caravan, he will most certainly use it to sponsor his march into Mecca!”
Almost the entire men of Mecca joined the crew and those who could not, hired and sent others in their place. Come the day when Abu Jahl ordered the troops to mount their rides and march, Umayya ibn Khalaf began dragging his feet, sensing deep inside it would be his final march out of Mecca, for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the Trustworthy, had already foretold of the doom awaiting him a while back.
“I swear, Muhammad never lies when he speaks”, he was saying, overcome with tremendous fear. Eventually, the persistent nagging of Abu Jahl persuaded him to set out.
When Utbah ibn Rabia and his brother Shaybah began grooming their weapons, their slave Addas asked him as to what they were getting ready for.
“Do you remember the man who you offered dates at our vineyard in Taif?” they asked.
‘Certainly, I do!”
“We are going to fight him!”
Addas fell at their feet and began pleading.
“Do not go! He is a prophet! You will only meet your doom!” Tears had trickled down to his cheeks. Utbah and Shaybah remained indifferent to the plea and left regardless.
The idolaters were nine-hundred and fifty to a thousand in number. A hundred or two-hundred of those were on horseback while the other seven-hundred were on camels. Most were armored. All the notables of Quraysh were there, accompanied by slave girls, playing their drums to the beat of anti-Muslim poems they were fervently chanting as they headed out of Mecca.
It was the second year of Hegira, the twelfth of Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) left Abdullah ibn Ummi Maqtum (r.a) in Medina to lead the salats and left Medina with an army of three-hundred and thirteen Believers, sixty-four of them from Muhajirun and the rest from Ansar. Three were on horseback, seventy were on camelback and the rest were on foot.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) halted the army of Believers at Buyut’us-Suqya, a mile out of Medina, and commanded the return of the elderly and the juvenile. Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (r.a) recounts:
“Moments before the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) began ordering the youngsters to return, I saw my brother Umayr trying to hide.
‘What are you trying to do?’ I asked him.
‘I am worried the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) might see me and tell me to go back’, he said, ‘but I so dearly want to come, in hope that I may perhaps be martyred!’
Indeed, upon catching a glimpse of him, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw that he was too young and advised him to go back. But then Umayr began to cry, so much that the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) allowed him to remain. As he had a slender frame, I tied his sword around him. Umayr was around sixteen when he was martyred at Badr.” (Waqidi, I, 21; Ibn Sad, III, 149-150)
Owing to a shortage of camels, three people took turns to ride each camel. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) shared his with Ali and Abu Lubabah (r.huma). When it was the Prophet’s (pbuh) turn to walk, they insisted he remain on the camel and let them walk instead. But the Noble Prophet (pbuh) said, “Neither can you handle the strain of walking more than I, nor do I stand in less need of gaining rewards than you!” (Ibn Sad, II, 21; Ahmad, I, 422)
This attitude crystallizes the profound love for the Almighty the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) nurtured inside and his enthusiasm in gaining an even greater closeness to Allah, glory unto Him, with each deed and moment. No less, he teaches the necessity of abiding by justice, no matter who the person is or what the circumstances may entail.
The Noble Messenger (pbuh) later sent Abu Lubabah (r.a) back to Medina to act as deputy until their return.
Recognizing no other refuge than Allah, glory unto Him, referring to Him all his needs and unable to bear seeing his ummah so weak and underprivileged on their way to Badr, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) uttered the following prayer:
“Allah…Give them their rides for they have none! Clothe them for they are naked! Feed them for they are hungry!”
Indeed, once victory at the field of Badr came, each Believer returned home with one or two camels, clothes and on a full stomach. (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 145/2747)
In these strenuous days which coincided with the month of Ramadan, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) ordered the Believers to break their fasts, for they needed all the physical strength they could garner prior to the battle. All Muslim men who took part in Badr adjourned their fasts until their return.
The first army of Islam was making its way towards Badr. They had arrived at the Valley of Aqiq when two men, Hubayb ibn Yasaf and Qays ibn Muharris, who wanted to join the army solely for the purpose of taking a share of spoils, caught upto them.
“Did you set out with us in the first place?” asked the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) to Hubayb.
“No”, replied he. “But you are our neighbor and cousin from your mother’s side. So we joined to aid our people and lay claim on the spoils!”
“Do you believe in Allah and His Messenger?” this time asked the Noble Prophet (pbuh). When Hubayb answered in the negative, he was met with the following response:
“Then return, for we do not want the help of an idolater!”
Hubayb would not take no for an answer. “Everybody knows how courageous I am on the battlefield and the amount of damage I can exact on the enemy!” he said. “Can’t I simply fight on your side in return for some spoils?”
“No. Become a Muslim first then fight!” replied the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), moments before he continued leading the army on their path.
But not long after, Hubayb caught up once again and restated his offer. The answer remained unchanged, however. Hubayb was confused. He after all had an illustrious reputation among Arabs for his gallant feats on battlefields. Still, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was not allowing him entry, for the sole reason that he was not a Muslim. The Prophet’s (pbuh) dignified attitude, in spite of the glaring difference between the strength of the Believers and the force the idolaters in all likelihood had mobilized, had shaken Hubayb to the core. For a moment, he let himself go in the depths of his inner world and was able to see the lights of a realm of truth he had never before seen. Then, getting up, he ran to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). This time he had something else in mind.
“Yes”, he passionately exclaimed. “I believe in Allah and His Messenger!”
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was visibly happy. “Now, you may join as you wish”, he said. (Muslim, Jihad, 150; Tirmidhi, Siyar 10/1558; Waqidi, I, 47; Ibn Sad, III, 535)
The incident provides a standard of iman, according to which irrespective of how demanding a given circumstance may be, a wrong means or method must never be utilized to achieve a right purpose. What one instead ought to do is take all the necessary precautions and then keep trust in the Almighty. By virtue of denying Hubayb from joining the Muslim army for the reason that he had not yet affirmed iman, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) has provided, for his ummah to come, an exemplary attitude that is motivated by a profound sensitivity of iman. The great Prophet (pbuh) very well knew that all forms of help and grace came only from Allah, glory unto Him, in Whom he sought refuge in all circumstances and to Whom he turned to at all times. The approach is a quintessential example and a living case in point of the tawakkul, reliance in the Almighty only, made mentioned in the ayah:
حَسْبُنَا اللّٰهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
“Allah is sufficient for us; He is the best protector.” (Al’i Imran, 173)
Hudayfah (r.a) narrates:
“We had set out with my father Husayl. The Qurayshi idolaters held us back, accusing us of ‘…wanting to join Muhammad’s ranks’. But we assured them we were going to Medina to settle some other affair. Thereupon they made us swear an oath that we would not join the Messenger of Allah and fight by his side. Once we eventually arrived in Medina, we disclosed the matter to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), he said:
‘Then, return. We will keep the promise you made for you and seek the aid of Allah against them!’ That was the reason I was not present at Badr.” (Muslim, Jihad, 98). This incident is again a brilliant testimony to the magnanimous trustworthiness of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) that extended even to his enemies.
There were also women who wanted to take part in the Battle of Badr. One of them was Umm Waraqa, who had rushed to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), and pleaded:
“Please, Messenger of Allah, allow me to join…I will treat the wounded and the ill, and Allah willing, I might even be given martyrdom!”
“Better you go and recite some Quran at your home”, the Blessed Prophet advised her instead, “and Allah will surely grant you martyrdom.”
Following this conversation, Umm Waraqa came to be called ‘Shaheedah’ (martyr) among the Companions. Bursting with an insatiable thirst for martyrdom, later on, when Omar (r.a) was caliph, she was choked to death with a velvet blanket by her servants. Upon being informed, Omar (r.a) remarked, “Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth”, immediately after which those responsible were caught and punished accordingly. (Abu Dawud, Salat, 61/591; Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, IV, 505)
After being made aware that the Believers were headed towards Badr, Abu Sufyan, without delay, changed the direction of the caravan towards the coast, leaving Badr to his left. Realizing he had saved the caravan, he then sent an envoy to the Quraysh Army, with the message:
“You had set out to protect your caravan, men and properties. But now that the danger has been repelled, you can return!”
Compliant with Abu Sufyan’s message and with the advice of Ahnas ibn Sharik, the clans of Ibn Zuhra and Ibn Kaab returned. But Abu Jahl was adamant.
“We will not return until we make it to Badr”, he bellowed. “We shall stay there for three days. We will slaughter camels and celebrate; the women will dance and sing. The Arabs around will hear us and fear us from here on end. Let’s march!”
When Abu Sufyan heard about the decision of the Meccans to march ahead regardless, he commented, “My sorry tribe…This must be Ibn Hisham’s (Abu Jahl) idea! His unwillingness to return is due his zeal to become the leader of the people…it is transgression! And transgression is a bad omen!” (Waqidi, I, 43-45; Ibn Hisham, II, 258)
Intimately following the turn these developments were taking, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) now realized they were facing an inevitable life or death battle. Gathering the Companions, he asked:
“What do you think is more appropriate: following the caravan or meeting the Qurayhs Army?”
Speaking on behalf of the Muhajirun, Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma) assured that they were ready to face up to the army of idolaters. The Noble Messenger (pbuh) wished to hear the opinions of the Ansar, too; and that was when getting up on his feet, Miqdad ibn Aswad (r.a) made the following speech:
“Rest assured, Messenger of Allah, that we will never say what the Jews said to Musa (a.s), ‘You and Your Lord go and fight!’ (al-Maida, 24). True to the word we gave you at Aqabah, we are ready at all times to fight the enemy on your right and left, in front of you or behind you, until the very end!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 4; Tafsir, 5/4)
Getting up after Miqdad (r.a) was Saad ibn Muadh (r.a):
“Messenger of Allah…We have believed you and borne witness to the truth of the Quran you have delivered. Do as you wish! If you were to dive into the ocean, we would follow from behind you. Not a single Ansari would even hesitate!”
These words of loyalty and submission put a comforting smile on the magnificent expression of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), and after a brief prayer for their wellbeing, he declared:
“Then, let’s march ahead with the blessings of Allah! Congratulations to you from now…for Allah has promised you one of two things, without specifying which one. By Allah, it is as if I am seeing the exact spots where Quraysh will fall to their feet on the battlefield!” (Muslim, Jihad, 83; Waqidi, I, 48-49; Ibn Hisham, II, 253-254)
By the time the Muslim Army had arrived at Badr, Quraysh had already camped in Yalyal Valley, behind a sand hill, in the furthermost distant side to Medina. The wells of Badr, on the other hand, stood on the side of the valley nearest to Medina. When the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) reached the well nearest to Badr, he discussed with the Ansar the most favorable spot for encampment. Hubab ibn Munzir (r.a) made his feelings explicit:
“This is not an appropriate spot to camp, Messenger of Allah. We should instead camp by the well nearest to the Quraysh Army and then shut off the remainder of the wells behind us, except for that one. We could then set up a pool around that well to collect its water.”
The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) concurred. (Ibn Hisham, II, 259-260; Ibn Sad, II, 15)
A group of idolaters including Hakim ibn Hizam came to get some water from the well the Believers had set up camp by. Though the Companions wished to prevent them from doing so, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) intervened, saying, “Leave them alone; let them drink from the well.” Bar Hakim, all the others of the group ended up slain at the battlefield that day; and Hakim, in due course became a Muslim. Thereafter, whenever he wished to make an oath to reinforce the strength of his word, he would utter, “By Allah, who saved me from death at Badr and graced me with the blessings of iman…” (Ibn Hisham, II, 261)
By allowing the enemy to drink from the well, despite knowing that the same enemy would be looking to slaughter them only moments later, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) set a universal standard and a manner of extending guidance. Benevolent behavior of the kind has ended up softening many a heart of stone, subsequently opening a door therein to the guiding light of truth.
Once the Muslim Army encamped, Saad ibn Muadh (r.a) said:
“Messenger of Allah…Let’s put up a shade for you and keep your rides next to you. We will then go into battle with the enemy. If Allah grants us victory, then so be it. But in case He does not, you will then mount your horse and return to our brothers whom we have left behind. Prophet of Allah..! They love you as much as we do. If they knew you would end up fighting, in no way would they have remained behind! They, too, are bound to you from the bottom of their hearts and will fight by your side no matter what it takes!”
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) praised Saad (r.a) and prayed for his wellbeing. Saad (r.a) then drew his sword from his scabbard and stood guard by the shade that was put up. (Ibn Hisham, II, 260; Waqidi, I, 49)
The Noble Messenger (pbuh), for the last time, sent Omar (r.a) to the Meccans, with the message, “Turn back…Fighting others is a lot more preferable to us!”
Hakim ibn Hizam was willing to take heed. “This is a considerate move; we better accept it”, he said. “We will not be given consideration by anybody after this point!”
His words of good intent were stifled by the doggedness of Abu Jahl.
“I swear, we shall not return until we have taken our revenge; especially after Allah has put us on the verge of it. We will teach them such a lesson that they will no longer be able to stalk our caravans and hold them back!” The words galvanized Quraysh to fight. (Waqidi, I, 61-65)
The idolaters sent Umayr ibn Wahb and the prominent cavalryman Abu Usama to inspect the Muslim Army. After circling the stationed Believers once, they returned, commenting, “We saw no sterile and brawny camels or horses…nor were there large number of men, nor a great preparation for that matter. But we saw such a unit, who wish that they would rather be killed than return to their families! They have neither a shelter to take refuge in, nor anything to defend themselves apart from their swords!” (Waqidi, I, 62)
Omar (r.a) recounts:
“On the night prior to the Battle, the Messenger of Allah showed, on by one, the very spots where the idolater notables would fall. By Allah who sent him as the true prophet, none of them were able to flee from the spots they were shown. They were thereafter thrown in a well, piled up on one another.” (Muslim, Jannat, 76, Jihad, 83)
The surface where the Believers had encamped at Badr was sandy, making it difficult to walk. The declining amount of water had also meant they were facing shortage. It was becoming difficult finding enough water even for wudu. These constraints, added by the glaring superiority of the idolaters in terms of strength and number, gave Shaytan sufficient excuses to try and cast fear into Muslim hearts.
But that night it pelted down rain, enough to flood the valley. The Believers stored up the water and used it abundantly to take care of both their own needs and those of their animals. The rain, at the same time, had washed away the dust and settled the surface, making it firmer. It had forced the Meccans, on the other hand, to a standstill; they could not move about from their encampments. Allah, glory unto Him, moreover granted the Believers a soothing state of sleepiness, all of which is recounted in the ayah:
إِذْ يُغَشِّيكُمُ النُّعَاسَ أَمَنَةً مِّنْهُ وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُم مِّن السَّمَاء مَاء لِّيُطَهِّرَكُم بِهِ وَيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَلِيَرْبِطَ
عَلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ الأَقْدَام
“When He made the slumber fall upon you as a reassurance from him and sent down water from the sky upon you, that thereby He might purify you, and remove from you the fear of Satan, and make strong your hearts and firm (your) feet thereby.” (al-Anfal, 11)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) offered salat all throughout the night and prayed Allah, glory unto Him, as confirmed by Ali (r.a):
“I remember all too clearly that on the night of Badr all of us except for the Messenger of Allah slept. Until morning, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) offered salat and wept.” (Ibn Huzayma, II, 52)
At dawn, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) called out, “to salat, servants of Allah”. Leading the fajr salat, he then urged the Believers for jihad. (Ahmad, I, 117)
Prior to the idolaters assuming their positions against the Believers, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), with an arrow in his hand, straightened out the Muslim ranks, making each Believer get in a straight line, subsequent to which he counted them. At that point, he slightly poked the belly of Sawad ibn Ghaziyaa, who had momentarily stepped out of line, telling him to step back in.
“You hurt me, Messenger of Allah”, said Sawad. “Allah has sent you with the Truth. So I want to get even, as is my right!”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), without further ado, lifted his shirt and exposed his abdomen. “But he is the Messenger of Allah, Sawad,” the Companions were saying in an attempt to dissuade him. But Sawad was adamant.
“No person is superior to another when it comes to justice”, he replied. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told him to settle the scores. That was when Sawad stretched out and kissed the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) abdomen.
“Why did you do that, Sawad?” asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
“You see, Messenger of Allah, we are on the brink of going into battle. So I wanted my last moment to be a moment with you!” The Noble Prophet (pbuh) then prayed for his wellbeing. (Ibn Hisham, II, 266-267; Ibn Sad, II, 15-16)
The two forces lined up against one another on the plain of Badr, on 17th of Ramadan. It was a very hot day. Arabs, until then, used to fight out of reasons tribal, motivated by protecting their kindred. Tribalism was now replaced by religion; religious spirit had dispensed with the strong solidarity of kindred of yesterday, such that fathers found themselves raising their swords against their own sons, uncles against nephews and brothers against each other. That day, Abu Bakr (r.a) locked swords with his own son, Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah (r.a) with his father and Hamza (r.a) with his brother. It was an incredible scene.
Allah, glory unto Him, proclaims:
قَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ آيَةٌ فِي فِئَتَيْنِ الْتَقَتَا فِئَةٌ تُقَاتِلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ وَأُخْرَى كَافِرَةٌ يَرَوْنَهُم مِّثْلَيْهِمْ رَأْيَ الْعَيْنِ وَاللّٰهُ يُؤَيِّدُ بِنَصْرِهِ مَن يَشَاء
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَعِبْرَةً لَّأُوْلِي الأَبْصَار
“Indeed there was a sign for you in the two hosts (which) met together in encounter; one party fighting in the way of Allah and the other unbelieving, whom they saw twice as many as themselves with the sight of the eye and Allah strengthens with His aid whom He pleases; most surely there is a lesson in this for those who have sight.” (Al’i Imran, 13)
Having arrived at the battlefield full of arrogance, the idolaters were lost in their own conceit as they considered themselves invincible. Their conditions are depicted in the Quran as follows:
وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ خَرَجُواْ مِن دِيَارِهِم بَطَرًا وَرِئَاء النَّاسِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ وَاللّٰهُ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطٌ وَإِذْ زَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ وَقَالَ لاَ غَالِبَ لَكُمُ الْيَوْمَ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَإِنِّي جَارٌ لَّكُمْ فَلَمَّا تَرَاءتِ الْفِئَتَانِ نَكَصَ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَقَالَ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّنكُمْ إِنِّي أَرَى مَا لاَ تَرَوْنَ إِنِّيَ أَخَافُ اللّٰهَ وَاللّٰهُ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
“Be not as those who came forth from their dwellings boastfully and to be seen of men, and debar (men) from the way of Allah, while Allah is surrounding all they do. And when Shaytan made their deeds seem fair to them and said: No-one of mankind can conquer you this day, for I am your protector. But when the armies came in sight of one another, he took flight, saying: I am guiltless of you; I see that which ye see not; I fear Allah. And Allah is severe in punishment.” (al-Anfal, 47-48)
Their conceit was, however, overturned, dashed against the rock of Divine Pride:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ فَسَيُنفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ
“Those who disbelieve spend their wealth in order that they may debar (men) from the way of Allah. They will spend it, then it will become an anguish for them, then they will be conquered. And those who disbelieve will be gathered unto hell.” (al-Anfal, 36)
The Aid of the Angels
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) threw his glance towards the idolaters; they were around a thousand in number. His Companions, on the other hand, were three-hundred and thirteen. Turning to the direction of Kaabah, he at once lifted his hands aloft and began pleading his Lord in the following:
“Allah…Fulfill the promise You made me! Grant me victory! My Lord…If You annihilate this community of Islam today, none will remain on Earth from now on to worship You!”
So fervently did the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) continue pleading with his hands lifted up towards the skies that his rida (frock) fell off from his shoulders. Seeing this, Abu Bakr (r.a) came next to him and putting his rida back over his shoulders, said:
“Messenger of Allah…You have pleaded your Lord as much as necessary. Allah will surely fulfill His promise to you!”
The hearts of all Believers, too, were in a rapturous state of pleading; and it was not long after that they were complemented with the grace of Rahman:
إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّي مُمِدُّكُم بِأَلْفٍ مِّنَ الْمَلآئِكَةِ مُرْدِفِينَ وَمَا جَعَلَهُ اللّٰهُ إِلاَّ بُشْرَى وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ بِهِ
قُلُوبُكُمْ وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلاَّ مِنْ عِندِ اللّٰهِ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“Remember ye implored the assistance of your Lord, and He answered you: “I will assist you with a thousand of the angels, ranks on ranks. Allah made it but a message of hope, and an assurance to your hearts: (in any case) there is no help except from Allah: and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (al-Anfal, 9-10)
وَلَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ اللّٰهُ بِبَدْرٍ وَأَنتُمْ أَذِلَّةٌ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّٰهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
إِذْ تَقُولُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَلَن يَكْفِيكُمْ أَن يُمِدَّكُمْ رَبُّكُم بِثَلاَثَةِ آلاَفٍ مِّنَ الْمَلآئِكَةِ مُنزَلِين بَلَى إِن تَصْبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ وَيَأْتُوكُم مِّن فَوْرِهِمْ هَـذَا يُمْدِدْكُمْ رَبُّكُم بِخَمْسَةِ آلافٍ مِّنَ الْمَلآئِكَةِ مُسَوِّمِي
“Allah had helped you at Badr, when you were a contemptible little force; then fear Allah; thus May ye show your gratitude. Remember thou saidst to the Faithful: “Is it not enough for you that Allah should help you with three thousand angels (Specially) sent down? Yea, – if ye remain firm, and act aright, even if the enemy should rush here on you in hot haste, your Lord would help you with five thousand angels Making a terrific onslaught.” (Al’i Imran, 123-125)
Allah, glory unto Him, aided the Believers that day with angels; and compliant with their sincerity, increased their number to a thousand, three-thousand and ultimately five-thousand.
Even though the Noble Messenger (pbuh) had foretold the exact spots where each and every idolater would end up being slain and knew from beforehand, through Divine Grace, that he would be granted victory, he still pleaded the Almighty until the break of dawn, ardently praying to the point of almost laying waste to himself. This state is one of the most vital manifestations of servanthood. Allah, glory unto Him, expects nothing from us, apart from servanthood. There is no firmer way of gaining closeness to Allah, glory unto Him, than pleaing Him, humbly and beseechingly.
On the day of Badr, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was heard to have remarked:
“There is Jibril! He has seized his horse’s mane, equipped with his battle gear (and has come to your aid)!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 11)
Huwaytib ibn Abduluzza confesses:
“I was with the idolaters on the day of Badr and I saw many amazing scenes and, above all, the angels. They were killing the men of Quraysh, between the skies and earth, and taking them prisoners. There and then I said to myself, ‘This man must be under the protection of Allah’. But for a long time, I did not tell anyone about what I saw.” (Hakim, III, 562/6084)
Recounting below is Abu Dawud al-Mazini:
“I pursued an idolater on the day of Badr to strike and kill him. Before my sword even made contact with him, I saw his head tumble down on the ground. I realized somebody else, an angel, had struck him!” (Ahmad, V, 450)
According to the report of Anas (r.a), once the idolaters began approaching, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Rise in preparation to enter Paradise whose breadth is as great as the distance between the skies and earth!” Umayr ibn Humam (r.a), from the Ansar, said:
“…Paradise whose breadth is as great as the distance between the skies and earth, Messenger of Allah?”
“Yes”, replied the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh).
“How wonderful”, then remarked Umayr.
“What makes you say that?” then inquired the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
“By Allah”, said Umayr, “I only said it out of my desire to be among the dwellers of Paradise; nothing else!”
“Most definitely, you are one of them”, then assured the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
Briefly after the Prophet’s (pbuh) words, Umayr took a few pieces of dates from out of his bag and began eating them. Almost immediately, however, he remarked:
“If I live long enough to finish these dates, then that would surely be a long life”; and flinging the dates aside, he paced towards the battlefield. He fought gallantly until he was ultimately martyred. (Muslim, Imara, 145; Ahmad, III, 137)
The Battle of Badr began with a mubaraza, a one-on-one showdown. The three warriors nominated from the Muslim ranks, Hamza, Ali and Ubayda (r.huma) made light work of their enemies. Ubayda (r.a), however, returned with a fatal leg wound, becoming a martyr soon after hearing the soothing words of the Prophet (pbuh) :
“You have made it!” (Waqidi, I, 69-70)
Thereafter, the forces moved closer towards one another. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) did not allow the Believers to launch an offensive straight away, for there were many among Quraysh who were tentative to fight, knowing that the caravan was no longer threatened; and since the Muslims were taking their time to strike, their hesitation was increasing all the more, undermining the overall resolve of the Meccans. Besides, the slaying of the three warriors they had sent to meet the three Muslim challengers had sent shivers down their spines. Their silent moments of unease were broken, however, by the vile shriek of Abu Jahl:
“Do not be fooled by the death of a couple of people…March ahead!” (Waqidi, I, 71)
Spurred, the idolaters thereupon launched an all-out offensive. The genuine pleas coming from the Muslim ranks and the thunderous shouts of Allah’u Akbar sending fear into idolater ranks were ceaseless, inciting hearts filled with iman into states of ecstasy.
The moment finally came and the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) commanded the Believers to launch an offensive. The two sides locked swords. It began fiercely; and its ferocity only increased by the moment.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was running to and fro in Muslim ranks, seeking the aid of the Almighty and, to spur on the Companions, was constantly reciting:
“Soon shall the hosts be routed, and they shall turn (their) backs.” (al-Qamar, 45), proclaiming at the same time:
“Whoever patiently keeps his ground against the enemy and falls martyr, he will surely be placed in Paradise by the Almighty. The Paradise of Firdaws is awaiting those who fall martyr today. Make a move and attack!” (Ibn Hisham, II, 267-268)
Then turning to Abu Bakr (r.a), who was by his side, he said:
“Glad tidings…! Jibril and the angels have come to our aid!”
At one stage, he grabbed small pebbles from the ground and threw it towards the idolaters, saying “may their faces blacken”. Right at that moment, a fierce wind began to blow towards the enemy, whirling up so much dust that they could hardly catch sight of each other.
The Lions of Badr
Ali (r.a) has stated:
“On the day of Badr, we were taking refuge in the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). He stood closest to the enemy, and was by far, the bravest and most persistent of all men.” (Ahmad, I, 86)
Regarding the courage of the Noble Messenger (pbuh), Bara (r.a) affords a similar view:
“By Allah, whenever the battle would get fierce, we would seek refuge in the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The next most courageous person in our eyes was him who was brave enough to stand in the same line as him.” (Muslim, Jihad, 79)
The Companions showed great heroism and sacrifice throughout the Battle. The dauntless Hamza (r.a), ‘the Lion of Allah’, in particular, displayed a brilliant example of courage. Umayya ibn Khalaf later on asked Companion Abdurrahman ibn Awf of the identity “…of the man who wore an ostrich wing on his chest as a mark during the battle.”
“He was Hamza”, replied Abdurrahman; “Hamza ibn Abdulmuttalib”.
“Whatever it was that happened to us that day”, then remarked Umayya, “it was because of him.” (Ibn Hisham, II, 272)
In the footsteps of his uncle Hamza (r.a), Ali (r.a), too, showed great valor, knocking out one idolater after another.
Repeating verses of rajazon horseback, Abu Jahl was claiming to be impervious to any attempt of taking revenge from him, in any battle, arrogantly boasting, “I was born for days like this!” (Ibn Hisham, II, 275)
Abdurrahman ibn Awf (r.a) recounts:
“On the day of Badr, I looked to my right, then left, and saw that I was amid two Ansari youngsters, when in fact I would have preferred to be between stronger men. One of them, without making it audible to the other, asked me if I knew Abu Jahl.
‘Yes, I do” I replied. ‘What about him?’
‘From what I heard, he apparently used speak ill of the Messenger of Allah! By Allah, in whose Hand of Might my life resides, if I see him, I will not part ways with him until one of us is killed!’
I was stunned by his words. The other youngster then spoke in a similar manner. I suddenly felt enormous satisfaction to be shoulder to shoulder with these youngsters. After the battle got under way, I spotted Abu Jahl, circling the battlefield on horseback. I turned to the youngsters and said, ‘There he is…The man you are after!’
Hearing me, they drew their swords and ran towards Abu Jahl. After a brief scuffle, Abu Jahl ended up slain. The youngsters, as I later found out, were Muadh ibn Afra and Muadh ibn Amr.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 10; Muslim, Jihad, 42)
Muadh ibn Amr (r.a) retells the incident:
“As I thrusted my sword into Abu Jahl and gave him a fatal blow, his son Iqrimah struck me, all but severing my hand. It was left hanging merely on a skin! For the entire day, I continued fighting with my hand dangling behind me but it made it really difficult for me to fight. Once it got too uncomfortable, I stepped on it with my own foot, and severing completely, threw it aside!” (Ibn Hisham, II, 275-276)
In the aftermath, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) wondered about the whereabouts of Abu Jahl and sent Abdullah ibn Masud (r.a) to look for him. He found Abu Jahl lying on the ground. The conversation that followed is retold by Abdullah ibn Masud (r.a) himself:
‘Enemy of Allah…Allah has surely disgraced you and put you to shame, hasn’t He?’ I asked him as he lay in front of me.
‘Disgraced me and put me to shame…with what? Show me another person superior to me from among all the men your people have killed today!’ he replied, having lost nothing of his arrogance. Then making reference to the fact I had my foot placed on his chest, remarked, ‘You have reached a tough peak to climb, shepherd!’ After a brief pause, he asked, ‘Anyway, tell me…Who won today?’
‘Allah and His Messenger…!’ I said. Then, without further ado, I put him out of his misery with his own sword. Afterward, I made my way back to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and told him I had killed Abu Jahl. He thanked and praised Allah, glory unto Him, and said:
‘He was the Pharaoh of this ummah!’ (Bukhari, Maghazi, 12; Ahmad, I, 444; Ibn Hisham, II, 277; Waqidi, I, 89-90)
Ummu Haritha’s son was martyred at Badr with a random, stray arrow flung from the enemy ranks. She came to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and said:
“If my son Haritha is in Paradise, Messenger of Allah, I will keep patient and anticipate its reward; but if not, I will cry my eyes out for him!”
She was, however, consoled by the wonderful words of the Noble Messenger (pbuh).
“There are many ranks in Paradise, Ummu Haritha; and your son has attained the highest of them, Firdaws’ul-A’la.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 14; Ahmad, III, 272)
As she was returning, Ummu Haritha had a radiant smile on her face, as she was saying to herself:
“Just look at what Haritha has been given!” (Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghaba, I, 426)
Since it was a cut throat battle of do or die for the survival of Islam, the fortunate Companions who took part in the first major battle that was of Badr are, at the same time, privileged with the honor of being the most virtuous of all Muslims. Likewise, the angels mobilized by the Almighty for this battle, who took part in that inimitable wave of iman inspired enthusiasm, have attained an honor superior to other angels, as attested by the conversation between Jibril (a.s) and the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
When asked by Jibril (a.s) how he regarded those who took part in Badr, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) responded by saying, “We regard them as the most virtuous of all Muslims!” To this Jibril (a.s) replied by saying something similar:
“We, too, consider the angels to have taken part in Badr as the best among all angels!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 11)
The battle ended towards noon with a decisive Muslim victory. All up, fourteen Muslims were martyred, in contrast to which seventy idolaters, including Abu Jahl, had met their doom on the field. As courageous as they were in showing face at the field of Badr, the hapless idolaters nonetheless ended up drinking not the wine of victory as they had desperately hoped, but the venom of a miserable death. Instead of singing, their slave-girls mourned their deceased. Far from filling their appetites with the spoils they dreamt of seizing prior to a victory that was never to be, the idolaters instead ended up filling the pits of Hellfire.
Donned in his armor, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) made his way out of the shade, reciting:
سَيُهْزَمُ الْجَمْعُ وَيُوَلُّونَ الدُّبُرَ
“Soon shall the hosts be routed, and they shall turn (their) backs.” (al-Qamar, 45), regarding which Omar (r.a) said:
“When that ayah was revealed –and it was revealed in Mecca-, I wondered which hosts would end up being routed and defeated. But come the day of Badr, when I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) recite it, I realized it was Quraysh who were the group prefigured to suffer a routing. For me, the meaning of the ayah transpired that day.” (Ibn Sad, II, 25; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 312)
In providing commentary for the ayah:
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ بَدَّلُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّٰهِ كُفْرًا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوْمَهُمْ دَارَ الْبَوَارِ
“Have you not seen those who have changed Allah’s favor for ungratefulness and made their people to alight into the abode of ruin?” (Ibrahim, 28), Ibn Abbas (r.a) has stated:
“By Allah, the reference there is to the idolaters of Quraysh. The grace returned with unthankfulness is no other than the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The abode of ruin to which they steered their people is the fire to which they dragged their people at Badr.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 8; Tafsir, 14/3)
The Battle of Badr, culminating in the triumph of Islam and iman, is replete with great instances bearing out how Allah, glory unto Him, aids His genuinely pious and sincere servants.
Following the massive victory, to prevent the Believers from getting carried away in a state of self-importance (ujub), Allah, glory unto Him, revealed the following:
فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّٰهَ قَتَلَهُمْ وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّٰهَ رَمَى وَلِيُبْلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْهُ بَلاء حَسَناً إِنَّ اللّٰهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“So you did not slay them, but it was Allah Who slew them, and you did not smite when you smote (the enemy), but it was Allah Who smote, and that He might confer upon the believers a good gift from Himself; surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.” (al-Anfal, 17)
The power exercised by man is strictly within Divine Power (taqdir), owing to which it has been declared that ‘no-one has power apart from the Glorious and Exalted Allah’. What existent beings possess -beings which although did not exist in past-eternity have come to being solely through the grace and benevolence of Allah, glory unto Him- is from the Almighty. Thus the Universal Will of Allah, glory unto Him, encompasses and comprises all creation and occurrences. This means that the origin of will and power is in the Almighty. Yet because human beings have been sent into this world as part of a test, they have been endowed with a particular will and an aptitude for good and evil. Actualizing this aptitude through practice has been left to their will.
The Return from Badr
Remaining in close vicinity to the battlefield for a further three days after a given victory was something practiced by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Once three days had elapsed, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) ordered for his camel to be brought. The camel was geared up. The Noble Prophet (pbuh) then began walking on foot. The Companions followed, supposing, ‘the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) must have remembered something’. He ultimately stopped by the desiccated well in which the idolaters had been thrown; and called out to each of them by their names:
“Abu Jahl! Umayya ibn Khalaf! Utbah ibn Rabia! Shaybah ibn Rabia!” He then continued:
“Wouldn’t it have been better for you to obey Allah and His Messenger? We have found the promise of our Lord realized…and have you found the promise of your Lord realized?”
“Are you speaking to lifeless corpses, Messenger of Allah?” then asked Omar (r.a). “How will they hear you and respond when they have been reduced to mere carcasses?”
“By Allah, in whose Hand of Might Muhammad’s life resides, they can hear me better than you…only they cannot respond!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 8; Muslim, Jannat, 77)
When the battle came to an end, Jibril (pbuh) came next to the Prophet of Allah, and said, “Allah the Almighty has sent me to you, Muhammad, and commanded me not to leave you until you are fully satisfied of our aid. Are you satisfied?”
“Yes, I am”, assured the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), upon which Jibril (a.s) departed. (Waqidi, I, 113; Ibn Sad, II, 26-27)
Breathing into Medina a breeze of joy, the enormous victory at Badr alternately sent Mecca into mourning; such that Abu Lahab died from unbearable grief. The Divine promise was thus fulfilled.
The joy of the Believers was short-lived, however, due to the passing away of Ruqayya (r.ha), the honorable daughter of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), soon after the battle.
The Treatment of the Captives
Upon his return to Medina following a three day stay at Badr, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) discussed, with the Companions, and above all with Abu Bakr, Omar and Ali (r.huma), what the most appropriate approach of dealing with the captives would be. Abu Bakr (r.a) was the first to share his opinion.
“These are our relatives and our kin, Messenger of Allah. So I suggest we should exact ransom of them and set them free. What we receive from them will be a means of adding strength to us in our struggle against the nonbelievers. And, Allah willing, they too will perhaps be guided and wind up assisting us.”
“What is your opinion, son of Khattab?” the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then asked Omar (r.a).
“No way, Messenger of Allah…I am in no way of the same opinion as Abu Bakr. Allow us to sever their heads. Allow me and I will personally finish off so and so from among my relatives. Allow Ali to finish off his brother Aqil and allow Hamza to finish off his brother Abbas…until Allah brings it entirely into light that there is not a trace of weakness and vulnerability in our hearts for the idolaters! These captives are the leaders of idolatry and oppression!”
As he carried the hope that they would eventually be guided and anticipated the issuing forth, through them, of generations who would worship Allah only, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) inclined towards the opinion of Abu Bakr (r.a). (Muslim, Jihad, 58; Tirmidhi, Siyar, 18/1567; Ahmad, I, 30-31, 383-384; Waqidi, I, 107; Ibn Saad, II, 22)
Consequent upon these discussions, the captives were set free in return for a certain amount of ransom. Those unable to pay were let go regardless, free of charge. But each of those, among them, who could read and write were made to pass on their knowledge to ten kids in Medina. Only then were they to be considered as having imbursed their ransom. Zayd ibn Thabit, the future scribe of the Quran who later was to end up being entrusted with the task of gathering the Quran, was among the children who learnt how to read and write from the captives. (Ahmad, I, 247; Waqidi, I, 129; Ibn Sad, II, 22)
Allah, glory unto Him, declared, with regard to the captives and the ransom exacted from them:
مَا كَانَ لِنَبِيٍّ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ أَسْرَى حَتَّى يُثْخِنَ فِي الأَرْضِ تُرِيدُونَ عَرَضَ الدُّنْيَا وَاللّٰهُ يُرِيدُ الآخِرَةَ وَاللّٰهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ لَّوْلاَ كِتَابٌ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ سَبَقَ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِيمَا أَخَذْتُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا غَنِمْتُمْ حَلاَلاً طَيِّبًا وَاتَّقُواْ اللّٰهَ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“It is not for any prophet to have captives until he has thoroughly subdued (the enemy) in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise. Had it not been for an ordinance of Allah which had gone before, an awful doom had come upon you on account of what you took. Now enjoy what you have won, as lawful and good, and keep your duty to Allah. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (al-Anfal, 67-69)
Omar (r.a) recounts:
“When I went next to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the morning, I found him sitting with Abu Bakr. They were both shedding tears. ‘What makes you and your friend cry, Messenger of Allah?’ I asked him. ‘Tell me, so I can either join you, if I am able to identify with what it is you’re crying over. If not, I can at least try to join you!’
‘What am I to do know over the ransom these friends of yours received from these captives? I was shown that the punishment awaiting them is closer than that tree over there’, said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). (Ahmad, I, 31; Muslim, Jihad, 58)
Allah, glory unto Him, was not pleased with the detaining and releasing of captives in return for ransom, given the enemy had not yet been decisively dealt with, and Islam had not yet attained the might it was destined for and before fitnah (mischief) had entirely been wiped out. He therefore issued a warning against the Believers. Accepting ransom carries the furthermore baggage of worldly desire, whereas the Almighty was willing the Muslims to take into consideration the Hereafter. Taking captives from the enemies of Truth before they had been overwhelmed could have jeopardized the happiness of Muslims.
As there is no accrued liability in an error of legal opinion (ijtihad), coupled with the guarantee that the participants of the Battle Badr would not be subject to Divine punishment, reinforced all the more with the fact that there is no punishment for a deed that has not explicitly been prohibited from beforehand, the Almighty pardoned the Believers and declared permissible the ransom they had seized.
Allah, glory unto Him, has ordered that captives and slaves be treated with honor and kindness. The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) has also many ahadith in regard. Indeed, his last words before his passing away, reportedly, were:
“Be attentive to salat and salat especially…And fear Allah for those under your care.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 123-124/5156; Ibn Maja, Wasaya, 1)
Marur ibn Suwayd explains:
“I once saw Abu Dharr (r.a) wearing precious clothes. His servant was also wearing the same clothes. I asked Abu Dharr of the reason. In reply, he told me that in the time of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) he had once cursed someone regarding the person’s mother and he was in turn admonished by the Prophet of Allah, who said, ‘It seems you still carry traces of the customs of Ignorance. They are your servants and at the same time your brothers. Allah has entrusted them in your care. Given you have a brother under your care, feed him what you feed yourself and clothe him in what you clothe yourself. Do not burden him with more than he can handle; and if you do, help him!” (Bukhari, Itq, 15; Muslim, Ayman, 40)
An evocative testimony is offered by Abu Aziz, brother of Musab ibn Umayr (r.a):
“I too had fallen prisoner in the aftermath of the Battle of Badr and was handed to a group of Ansar. The Prophet’s (pbuh) command to treat the prisoners well was made known to everyone but the pains taken by the Ansar was something out of the ordinary. Day and night, they would give their share of bread to me, making do themselves with mere dates. Embarrassed, I would hand the bread back to one of them, only to have it returned to me, without anyone of them laying a hand on it.” (Haythami, VI, 86; Ibn Hisham, II, 288)
Such magnanimity by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions, at a time when oppression and injustice ran rife, provides an exemplary pattern for entire mankind until the Final Hour. Approaching people with supreme and genuine goodness, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) would simply let his overall conduct (hal) do the talking in calling them to the path of Truth; and only after warming their hearts, would he begin to verbally explain Islam. Moved by a compassionate approach of the kind, many of the Badr captives in fact ended up accepting Islam.
Not only does Islam not advocate the institution of slavery, it also does not promote it. That said, Islam saw the practice as an entrenched social reality; and considering its sudden abolishment would cause mayhem in the social balance, it did not entirely overrule it all at once. But to prevent possible abuse and exploitation, it did regulate slavery, by virtue of binding it to certain principles, thereby perfecting the law of slavery, as best as could be.
Since war is an existing actuality among nations that seemingly will not subside until the Final Hour, the need for laws protecting those who have lost their freedom as a consequence of it will always remain. Therefore, instead of abolishing it, which would have entirely overlooked the aforementioned matter of fact, Islam considered greater benefit in instating protective principles and regulating the law of slavery.
Through the principles it implements, Islam brings the slave and the master closer to each other, seeking, at the same time, the freeing of the former. In a case where a person accidentally kills another, for instance, Islam then necessitates, as compensation, first the freeing of a slave and then the payment of blood-money, valued in silver or camels, of an amount negotiated with the victim’s family. Atoning for an error made during hajj likewise calls for, first of all, the freeing of a slave; and the same goes for failing to keep an oath, committing zihar and even breaking the fast of Ramadan. In praise of the greatness of certain deeds, it is not uncommon to see them compared to ‘freeing such and such amount of slaves’, which places accent on the virtue in paving the way for the freedom of others. On the other side of the coin, unlawful enslavement of another is regarded as one of the greatest sins. It emphatically commands to treat in the nicest manner those who were previously enslaved for one reason or another.
Islam always counsels the master to feed the slave from what he would see fit to feed himself, to clothe him in the same manner, not to burden him with surplus work while he is fasting and see to his needs. Freeing a slave is always considered a better avenue of salvation for a Believer. Islam introduces such rights for slaves that a strict abidance by them suggests that it is much more preferable to stay away from purchasing slaves, for it is no different than becoming enslaved.
Islam hence shut the doors on slavery as much as was allowed by the circumstances, fully opening, in contrast, its doors of exit, promoting at every given opportunity the freeing of the enslaved.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) suggested to his uncle Abbas, among the captives of Badr:
“You are a wealthy man, uncle. Pay ransom for yourself, your nephew Aqil, Nawfal ibn Harith and also for your ally Utbah ibn Amr.”
“I am a Muslim, Messenger of Allah”, replied Abbas. “Quraysh made me come by force!”
“Only Allah knows the insight to that. If what you said is true, then Allah will surely reward you for it. But as far as appearances go, you took up arms against us and therefore you must pay your ransom”, stated the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) after which he seized the 800 dirhams of gold Abbas had with him, as part of the spoils of the battle.
“At least, count that as ransom, Messenger of Allah”, pleaded Abbas.
“No”, replied the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). “Those are the spoils Allah has granted us!”
“It seems you are adamant to force me into begging in my remaining days”, then lamented Abbas.
“What about the gold you left with your wife Ummu’l-Fadl?” commented the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh).
“Which gold are you talking about?”
“I am talking about the gold you handed over to your wife Ummu’l-Fadl as you were leaving Mecca, telling her, at a place where nobody other than Allah could see or hear you, ‘I do not know what will happen to me this time…if something should happen to me, then take this much of the gold for yourself, and give this much to Ubaydullah, this much to Fadl, this much to Qusam and this much to Abdullah’”.
Astounded by these words, Abbas could but say:
“By Allah who has sent you as prophet, no other person apart from Ummu’l-Fadl and I knew about that. There is no doubt that you are the Messenger of Allah!” (Ahmad, I, 353; Ibn Sad, IV, 13-15)
Among the captives of Badr was also Abu’l-As ibn Rabi, the husband of Zaynab (r.ha) and the son-in-law of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Abu’l-As was a highly regarded merchant in Mecca. His mother Hala bint Khuwaylid was the sister of the honorable Khadijah, the Prophet’s (pbuh) wife, for whom Abu’l-As was more like a son than a nephew.
At the height of their enmity, the idolaters of Quraysh were inciting the Noble Messenger’s (pbuh) son-in-laws to, “…divorce Muhammad’s daughters and send them back to him, so he has more to worry about!” Abu’l-As was the subject of similar provocations, with the idolaters promising him that they would have him married to whoever he wished if he did go ahead with the divorce. But Abu’l-As sternly rejected their offer, insisting he was going to remain by the side of his wife no matter what it took.
Once the Meccans began sending the required ransom to free their fellow tribesmen who had fallen captive at Badr, Zaynab (r.a), too, sent her necklace, given to her as present by her mother Khadijah (r.ha) at her wedding. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was overcome with emotion the moment he saw the necklace. He said to the Companions:
“You might consider freeing Zaynab’s captive and sending her ransom back to her, if you wish”.
The Companions agreed unreservedly, freeing Abu’l-As at that instant and arranging for the necklace to be returned to its owner immediately.
Before letting him go, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) made Abu’l-As promise him he would send Zaynab to Medina, a condition of his release that nonetheless was to remain a secret between the two. (Ibn Hisham, II, 296-297; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 121/2692; Ahmad, VI, 276)
Wahb ibn Umayr was also among the captives of Badr. His father Umayr was among the most sharp-witted of all the idolaters of Quraysh and was also among their bravest. Back in the days, he was the man behind many assaults on Muslims. Expressing, in the aftermath, his grief over the fate of their fellow idolaters thrown in the pits of Badr to Safwan ibn Umayr, with whom he was sitting near Hijr, Umayr had Safwan tell him, bemoaningly:
“There is no point on living after hearing what happened to them!”
“You are right at that”, remarked Umayr. “If I had no debt and children for the wellbeing of whom I would fear should something happen to me, I would have surely gone and killed Muhammad. I even have an excuse to get them to allow me near. I will simply tell them that I have come for my captive son. Besides, from what I hear, he even walks the streets without fear!”
Safwan was happy just to hear these words.
“I will pay your debt. As for your children, I will take care of them as my own and tend for their wellbeing as long as I am alive”, he assured Umayr.
A man of his word, Umayr then immediately had his sword sharpened and smeared with poison. Safwan aided his cause further by having a camel and food for the journey prepared for him.
It was not long after that Umayr arrived at Medina. Stopping at the door of the Masjid, he dismounted his camel and girded his sword. His sight made Omar (r.a), who was the first to see him, furious, as he wondered to himself, “that is Umayr, the enemy of Allah…and by Allah, he could have only come with evil on his mind”, before storming inside the Masjid, where he found the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“Umayr has come, Messenger of Allah, with a sword in hand!” he said.
“Send him to me”, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) responded, calmly. So Omar (r.a) went back to Umayr. Seizing him by the strap of his sword, he dragged Umayr inside the Masjid, telling the Ansari Companions around him to “be on your toes to protect the Messenger of Allah from this wicked man, for he is not to be trusted!”
“Let him go, Omar!” the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) called out, noticing the scuffle. “And you Umayr…come closer!” He then asked Umayr the reason why he had come.
“I have come for my captive son. And I expect you to be generous in his release!” Umayr explained.
“Then what is with the sword around your neck?” inquired the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“To hell with swords…! Of what benefit have they been to us until now?” Umayr replied astutely.
“Tell me truth”, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) however insisted. “Why have you come here?”
“For no other reason than for my son, who has fallen prisoner in your hands!”
“What was it that you said to Safwan at Hijr, then?”
“What is it that I could have said to him?” Umayr mumbled, astounded.
The Noble Messenger (pbuh) then retold Umayr, word for word, his conversation with Safwan, adding, “Allah has come in between you and your plans and prevented you from what you had in mind of doing!”
Umayr then remarked, “I bear witness that you are most surely the messenger of Allah. We used to reject you regarding the revelation that came to you from the heavens. Nobody other than Safwan and I knew about that. Only Allah could have informed you of it. Thank Allah who has brought me here and given me guidance!” He then professed his declaration of iman. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then told the Companions to:
“Thoroughly teach your brother Islam. Recite to him and teach him the Quran and release his prisoner!”
The Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) orders were carried out immediately. Umayr had more to say.
“Messenger of Allah…I was a man who used to take no pains in trying to snuff out the light of Allah and not shrink back in exacting the most ruthless torment to the Believers. I can, if you wish, go to Mecca and invite the idolaters to Allah and His Messenger. Allah willing, it could be that they might just be guided!”
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) allowed him to go.
Without a clue as to how the events had unfolded, Safwan ibn Umayya was meanwhile telling the Meccan idolaters, “…you will be sent into ecstasy over the news you shall receive only within a few days; news that will make you forget the pain of Badr!”
Anxious, he was asking each and every caravan arriving at the town, of the news of Umayr’s whereabouts. Someone, on horseback, eventually informed him of Umayr’s acceptance of Islam.
Upon his return to Mecca, Umayr ibn Wahb (r.a) wasted no time in beginning to invite the idolaters to Islam. Idolater attempts of restraining him were without success. Many were guided through his call. Umayr (r.a) one day came across Safwan, near Kaabah, and said to him, “You are one of the most notables of Quraysh. Can’t you still see that it is stones that we worship and dedicate sacrifices for? How could that be religion?” Safwan could not say a word back, reduced to an unbreakable silence. (Ibn Hisham, II, 306-309; Waqidi, I, 125-128; Ibn Sad, IV, 199-201)
The whole incident has since been celebrated as an epitome of the saying, “breathe life into he who has come to kill you.”
The news that all the notables of Quraysh were slain at Badr and the sight of seventy other captives brought to Medina with their hands tied around their necks sent the idolaters, hypocrites and Jews in local Medina into despair. Lamenting that ‘the tide of victory had now turned towards the Prophet’, Abdullah ibn Ubayy and his crew had no other option than to pledge their allegiance to the Blessed Prophet and state their affinities to Islam.
The Verdict Regarding the Spoils
As a regulative principle regarding spoils had not yet been revealed, disagreements emerged over the distribution of the spoils seized at Badr. Amongst others that can be mentioned, Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (r.a), whose brother was martyred at Badr, came to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) holding a sword in his hand he had seized from Said ibn As, who he killed during the battle, suggesting it should be given to him. Like incidents and requests brought about the revealing of the first ayah of al-Anfal, before the Believers had even left Badr and distributed the spoils:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الأَنفَالِ قُلِ الأَنفَالُ لِلّٰهِ وَالرَّسُولِ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّٰهَ وَأَصْلِحُواْ ذَاتَ بِيْنِكُمْ وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
“They ask you (O Muhammad) of the spoils of war. Say: The spoils of war belong to Allah and the messenger, so keep your duty to Allah, and adjust the matter of your difference, and obey Allah and His messenger, if you are (true) believers.” (al-Anfal,1)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) thus accordingly and in a just manner, apportioned the spoils to the fighters near Medina.
Revealed afterward was an ayah which comprised more detailed rulings concerning spoils, the 41st ayah of the same surah:
“And know that whatever you take as spoils of war…A fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the messenger and for the kinsmen (who have need) and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and that which We revealed unto Our slave on the Day of Discrimination, the day when the two armies met. And Allah is Able to do all things.” (al-Anfal, 41)
In accordance with the ayah, a fifth of the spoils of battle are for Allah, His Messenger, his kinsman, orphans, the needy and the wayfarer.
After seeing to the needs of his family members with the portion of spoils that fell to his lot, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) deposited the remainder in the Treasury, to be spent to cover the needs of Muslims and army expenses.
Amr ibn Abasa (r.a) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah led us in salat with a camel, from among the spoils of battle, as sutrah, placed in the direction of qibla. After completing the salat, he plucked a hair from the side of the camel, and holding it up in his hand, said, ‘Not even this much of your spoils, apart from the fifth, is permissible for me to take. Besides, even the fifth is ultimately returned to you (spent for your needs).’” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 149/2755)
Whatever he had, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would give to the needy among the Companions, despite the fact that many a time there would not be anything to cook in his own house, with the hearth remaining unlit for months on end. It is clear, from many similar narrations that he and his family would on most occasions be without a day’s supply of food. His conduct in this regard is vividly displayed in the subsequent incident narrated by Anas (r.a):
“Some goods from Bahrain were brought to the Messenger of Allah, who ordered them be temporarily dropped off inside the Masjid. Bay far, it was the most brought to the Messenger of Allah to date. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) went to offer salat did not turn his eye once towards the pile. After the salat, he came and stood by the pile and began giving it out to whoever he saw; he did not leave, until there was not even a dirham left that had not been given out.” (Bukhari, Salat, 42; Jizya, 4, Jihad, 172)
Surah al-Anfal was revealed in the second year of Hegira. As much of it provides detail on the Battle of Badr, coupled by the fact it was revealed during the few days prior to and after the battle, it has also been called the surah of Badr.
Martyrdom is the most ultimate and sublime rank in the world that a Believer could ever attain to. Even though the lowest rank of Paradise is better than the entire world, a martyr, owing to the sublimity of his rank and greatness of his reward in Paradise, will want to return to the world over and over again to be martyred each time. Allah, glory unto Him, states:
وَلَئِن قُتِلْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ أَوْ مُتُّمْ لَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ
وَرَحْمَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ
“And if you are slain in the way of Allah or you die, certainly forgiveness from Allah and mercy is better than what they amass.” (Al’i Imran, 157)
Recounting the incident below is Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (r.a):
“Once a man came while the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was leading us in salat. Upon taking his place in the row, he prayed, ‘Allah…Give me the best of what you give your righteous servants!’
As soon the Prophet (pbuh) finished his salat, he asked, ‘Who was the man who made that prayer before?’
‘It was me’, said the man.
‘Then your horse will be made to fall’ said the Prophet of Allah, ‘and you will be martyred in the way of Allah.’” (Hakim, I, 325/748)
Together with heralding the future martyrdom of many of his Companions, those on behalf of whom the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) prayed for forgiveness and wellbeing, also ended up being martyred. One such example is Amr ibn Aqwa (r.a), who a short time after the blissful privilege of being on the receiving end of the Prophet’s (pbuh) prayer, was martyred at Khaybar.
That the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) plea for forgiveness manifested itself in the martyring of those on behalf of whom the Prophet (pbuh) prayed, is another proof to the greatness of the rank of martyrdom. Accustomed to witnessing this sequence in many others, in time, the Companions, too, came to conceive these prayers as the fortunate news of their upcoming martyring.
According to a narration by Abu Qatadah (r.a), the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) once stood up amid the Companions, and reminded them that “Believing in Allah and fighting in His way are the most worthy of all deeds!”
Thereupon a man stood and asked, “If I were to die in the way of Allah, Messenger of Allah, would that atone for my sins?”
“Yes. If you persevere on the front, hold out against the enemy, patiently and anticipating the rewards from Allah only and, in the end, are killed in the way of Allah, it will atone for your sins. But your debts are excluded. And that Jibril told me.” (Muslim, Imarah, 117; Tirmidhi, Jihad, 33/1712)
And in another hadith, it is declared:
“All the sins of a martyr, except his violation of the rights of others, are forgiven by Allah.” (Muslim, Imarah, 119)
At another time, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) explained the following to the Companions:
“Last night in my dream I saw two men. They took me up this tree and then to a house, which was of a great beauty and worth I had never witnessed before. The two men then said to me, ‘This exceptional house is the palace of martyrs.’” (Bukhari, Jihad, 4; Janaiz, 93)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would compassionately counsel and support the families of the martyrs and, at the same time, hearten the Companions to attain the rank of martyrdom.
Jabir (r.a) explains:
“My father’s corpse, subjected to muslah, was brought and placed in front of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). I made a move to uncover the shroud from his face but I was prevented by those around who thought the sight would disturb others. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) then said, ‘the angels are ceaselessly shading him under their wings.’” (Bukhari, Janaiz, 3, 35, Jihad, 20; Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 129-130)
Being martyred in the way of Allah is not death. It rather marks the receiving of eternal blessings in a life of whose nature we are unaware. Allah, glory unto Him, therefore prohibits the use of the term ‘dead’ to refer to martyrs. The Quran pronounces:
وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ لِمَنْ يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبيلِ اللّٰهِ أَمْوَاتٌ
بَلْ أَحْيَاء وَلَكِن لاَّ تَشْعُرُون
“And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though you perceive it not.” (al-Baqara, 154)
وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاء عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ فَرِحِينَ بِمَا آتَاهُمُ اللّٰهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ وَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَلْحَقُواْ بِهِم مِّنْ خَلْفِهِمْ أَلاَّ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَفَضْلٍ وَأَنَّ اللّٰهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُؤْمِنِين
“Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord. They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve. They glory in the Grace and the bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffers not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least).” (Al’i Imran, 169-171)
On the Day of Judgment, martyrs will be recognized by the blood flowing freely from their wounds, giving the impression they were seemingly opened just then, and the enchanting musk like fragrance emanating therefrom. Human beings will be made to stand witness to their honor and virtue. It is for that reason that unlike others, the corpse of a martyr is not given a wash before the funeral and the wound is left in tact as it is.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) elaborates the compassion Allah, glory unto Him, shows martyrs during the moment they breathe their last:
“The pain one feels when bitten by an ant is the most pain a martyr feels during death.” (Tirmidhi, Fadail’ul-Jihad, 26/1668; Nasai, Jihad, 35; Ibn Majah, Jihad, 16)
In encouraging Believers to martyrdom, the Allah, glory unto Him, states:
فَلْيُقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ الَّذِينَ يَشْرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالآخِرَةِ وَمَن يُقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ فَيُقْتَلْ أَو يَغْلِبْ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
“Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of Allah, whether he is slain or gets victory, soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).” (an-Nisa, 74)
Expressing his sincere yearning to become martyred is also the Blessed Prophet (pbuh):
“Were it not to be a burden upon my ummah, I would not remain behind from any campaign (sariyya) and would take part in all of them. I would have wanted to be martyred in the way of Allah, then be revived and be martyred once again, and then again.” (Bukhari, Iman, 26; Muslim, Imarah, 103, 107)
The Noble Messenger (pbuh) one day saw Omar (r.a) in a shirt.
“Is the shirt new or has it just been washed?” inquired the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“It is not new, Messenger of Allah; it has just been washed”, Omar (r.a) replied.
“(May you) wear it new, live in gratitude and die a martyr!” (Ahmad, II, 89)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was thus effectively heralding martyrdom for Omar (r.a).
On an other occasion the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) was standing on Mount Uhud, accompanied by Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman (R.HUMA), when suddenly the mountain began to quake. Stomping his feet on the ground, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then said:
“Calm down, Uhud. For standing on you are none other than a prophet, a siddiq and two martyrs.” (Bukhari, Ashab’un-Nabi, 6; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 18/3703; Nasai, Ahbas, 4)
Omar (r.a), too, used to constantly pray, “Allah; grant me martyrdom in your path and the joy of dying in the land of your Messenger!” (Bukhari, Fadail’ul-Medina, 12) Allah, glory unto Him, did indeed grant his burning wish. His daughter Hafsa (r.ha) says:
“When I heard my father’s prayer, I was taken aback and remarked, ‘How will that be; you want to be martyred and in Medina, too?’ But all he said was, ‘If Allah wishes, He will make it happen.’”
The amazement of people, in relation, and their curiosity as to how it would take place remained, up until Omar (r.a) was eventually martyred. (Ibn’ul-Hajar, Fath’ul-Bari, IV, 101)
In pointing to the need for each Muslim to eagerly desire martyrdom, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) states:
“One, who wholeheartedly wishes martyrdom from Allah, will be the granted that rank, even if he dies in his bed.” (Muslim, Imarah, 157; Nasai, Jihad, 36)
“A person who sincerely desires martyrdom will be given its reward, even if he does not end up being martyred.” (Muslim, Imarah, 156)
Additionally, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) considered other types of death under martyrdom. He in fact once asked his Companions, “Who do you consider to be martyrs?”
“Whoever dies in the way of Allah, Messenger of Allah, is a martyr”, they replied.
“In that case, the martyrs of my ummah”, said the Blessed Prophet, “are very few.”
“Then who is a martyr, Messenger of Allah?”
“One, who is killed in the way of Allah, dies in the way of Allah, dies from a contagious disease, from diarrhea and dies from drowning, is a martyr”, explained the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). (Muslim, Imarah, 165; Ibn Majah, Jihad, 17)
In other narrations, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) also designates those who die in self-defense or defending their families and properties as martyrs.
The Arrival of Zaynab (r.ha) in Medina
Now granted release, the first thing Abu’l-As, the Prophet’s son-in-law who had fallen captive at Badr, did as soon as he returned to Mecca was to allow Zaynab (r.ha) to leave to Medina. Around a month after Badr, the Blessed Prophet sent Zayd ibn Haritha and another Companion from the Ansar, towards Mecca, telling them to, “wait at the Valley of Yajij until Zaynab comes there and accompany her until you all arrive in Medina”.
Abu’l-As thus told Zaynab (r.ha) she could go to Medina, to her father. She wasted no time preparing. Kinanah, Abu’l-As’s brother, arranged for a camel with a hawdaj, in which she would travel. Flinging his bow and bag of arrows around his shoulder, Kinanah then grabbed the reins of the camel as they headed out of Mecca during the day.
The news spread fast among the idolaters, however, and a mob set out to turn her back, catching upto them near Zituwa. Out of nowhere, Habbar ibn Aswad struck the hawdaj in which Zaynab (r.ha) was seated, causing her to fall on a rock nearby. Pregnant at the time, Zaynab (r.ha) had a miscarriage there and then, as she lay bloodied and bruised. She was in enormous pain. In defense, Kinanah crouched and placed an arrow in his bow; and pointing it towards the idolaters, shouted:
“Do not take another step or I will shower you in arrows!”
After a moment’s hesitation, the pursuers made tracks. But a while later, accompanied by another group of idolaters, Abu Sufyan arrived, telling Kinanah to put his bow and arrow aside, as they only wanted to have a word. After Kinanah laid down his bow and arrow, Abu Sufyan said:
“You made a wrong move by taking her out of Mecca in broad daylight, knowing all the trouble we have gone through and what we have been made to suffer because of Muhammad! By taking her daughter to him, blatantly, for all to see, you are only giving people reason to believe that it is a sign of our weakness and helplessness that you are able to take her out of town with such ease and that it is a consequence of our shameful defeat that you are doing so! I swear by my own life that we could not care less whether Zaynab is taken to her father or whether she remains here. Nor could such a thing provide us incentive to take revenge! Now listen to me…Take her back to Mecca. Once people quiten down and are convinced we were able to persuade to you to take her back, secretly take her out of Mecca, to her father!”
Kinanah did just that. After spending a few more nights in Mecca, waiting for things to quiten down, he set out once again with Zaynab (r.ha), this time at night. He handed her over to Zayd ibn Haritha and his friend who had been waiting at Yajij Valley, who then accompanied her to Medina, where she was eventually reunited with her father.
In the sixth year of Hegira, heading a caravan of Quraysh, Abu’l-As was to once again fall captive. At dawn, he sent a message to Zaynab (r.ha), pleading her to seek pardon from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) on his behalf. As the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had just completed leading the fajr salat she stuck her head out of her chamber, and said:
“People…I am Zaynab, the Messenger of Allah’s daughter; and I have taken Abu’l-As under my protection!”
“We take under our protection, too, the person you have taken under your protection!” the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) responded.
“He is a relative, and besides, the father of my children; so that is why I took him under my protection”, Zaynab later explained to her father. The Blessed Prophet, addressing the Companions, then said:
“If you deem it appropriate to return his property to him then do so, but if not, you have rights over it anyhow!”
The Companions agreed, with ease, to return the property to Abu’l-As. Having retrieved the goods, Abu’l-As returned to Mecca; and after giving each shareholder of the caravan his due, called out:
“Is there a person left whom I have not given his due?”
“No”, replied those around.
“Have I fulfilled my duties to you?”
“For sure”, they said. “May you be rewarded in plentitude for you are an honorable and loyal man!”
“By Allah”, then Abu’l-As began to confess, “the only thing that held me back from accepting Islam in Medina was the fear that you might have been led to think that I only accepted Islam to seize your properties. But since that is done, I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger!”
Abu’l-As then returned to Medina, where the Blessed Prophet had Zaynab and him remarry. (Waqidi, II, 553-554; Ibn Sad, VII, 32-33)
The Jews and the Battle of Banu Qaynuqa
(Shawwal, 2/ April, 624)
Forming a significant community in and around Medina, the Jews used to constantly tell their Arab neighbors of the coming of a prophet in the offing. Their genuine belief that the prophet would hail from among their community meant they did not shy away from eagerly spreading the news. Once the awaited prophet did in fact arrive, not from their own people, but from among the Arabs, their feelings of enthusiasm gave way to jealousy. Immediately changing their tune, their rejected his prophethood. Allah, glory unto Him, pronounces, in relation:
وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لاَ تَعْبُدُونَ إِلاَّ اللّٰهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً وَذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَقُولُواْ لِلنَّاسِ حُسْناً وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً مِّنكُمْ وَأَنتُم مِّعْرِضُونَ
“And when We made a covenant with the children of Israel: You shall not serve any but Allah and (you shall do) good to (your) parents, and to the near of kin and to the orphans and the needy, and you shall speak to men good words and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate. Then you turned back except a few of you and (now too) you turn aside.” (al-Baqara, 83)
بِئْسَمَا اشْتَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ أَن يَكْفُرُواْ بِمَا أنَزَلَ اللّٰهُ بَغْياً أَن
يُنَزِّلُ اللّٰهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ عَلَى مَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ فَبَآؤُواْ
بِغَضَبٍ عَلَى غَضَبٍ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ
“Evil is that for which they have sold their souls- that they should deny what Allah has revealed, out of envy that Allah should send down of His grace on whomsoever of His servants He pleases; so they have made themselves deserving of wrath upon wrath, and there is a disgraceful punishment for the unbelievers.” (al-Baqara, 90)
Another reason for Jewish bitterness was their love of the world, depicted in the Quran as follows:
وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَى حَيَاةٍ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ
أَشْرَكُواْ يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ
“And you will most certainly find them the greediest of men for life (greedier) than even those who are idolaters; every one of them loves that he should be granted a life of a thousand years…” (al-Baqara, 96)
Moreover, their monopoly of commercial life gave the Jews an air of superiority, aggravated by their seeming power, which led them to believe:
نَحْنُ أَبْنَاءُ اللّٰهِ وَأَحِبَّاؤُهُ
“We are God’s children and His beloveds…” (al-Maida, 18)
When reminded of Divine Retribution for their mischief, they would reply, with confidence:
لَن تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلاَّ أَيَّاماً مَّعْدُودَةً
“Fire shall not touch us but for a few days…” (al-Baqara, 80)
But Allah, glory unto Him, declared otherwise:
بَلَى مَن كَسَبَ سَيِّئَةً وَأَحَاطَتْ بِهِ خَطِيـئَتُهُ
فَأُوْلَـئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
“Nay! Whoever earns evil and his sins beset him on every side, these are the inmates of the fire; in it they shall abide.” (al-Baqara, 81)
Regardless of their pact with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the Jews were fostering inveterate feelings of hostility against him, which lead them to reignite old rivalries between clans and fan the flames of mischief. Allah, glory unto Him, exposed them to His Messenger and the Believers:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ بِطَانَةً مِّن دُونِكُمْ لاَ يَأْلُونَكُمْ خَبَالاً وَدُّواْ مَا عَنِتُّمْ قَدْ بَدَتِ الْبَغْضَاء مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَمَا تُخْفِي صُدُورُهُمْ أَكْبَرُ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الآيَاتِ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْقِلُون. هَاأَنتُمْ أُوْلاء تُحِبُّونَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِبُّونَكُمْ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ كُلِّهِ وَإِذَا لَقُوكُمْ قَالُواْ آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْاْ عَضُّواْ عَلَيْكُمُ الأَنَامِلَ مِنَ الْغَيْظِ قُلْ مُوتُواْ بِغَيْظِكُمْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ. إِن تَمْسَسْكُمْ حَسَنَةٌ تَسُؤْهُمْ وَإِن تُصِبْكُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَفْرَحُواْ بِهَا وَإِن تَصْبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ لاَ يَضُرُّكُمْ كَيْدُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِنَّ اللّٰهَ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطٌ
“O you who believe! Take not for intimates others than your own folk, who would spare no pains to ruin you; they love to hamper you. Hatred is revealed by (the utterance of) their mouths, but that which their breasts hide is greater. We have made plain for you the revelations if you will understand. Lo! You are those who love them though they love you not, and ye believe in all the Scripture. When they fall in with you they say: We believe; but when they go apart they bite their finger-tips at you, for rage. Say: Perish in your rage! Lo! Allah is Aware of what is hidden in (your) breasts. If a lucky chance befalls you, it is evil unto them, and if disaster strikes you they rejoice thereat. But if ye persevere and keep from evil their guile will never harm you. Lo! Allah is surrounding what they do.” (Al-i Imran, 118-120)
The Jews, who, as declared by the ayah, were nursing a covert yet irrepressible grudge against the Believers, were visibly discomfited following the Muslim victory at Badr. The Jews of Banu Qaynuqa, in particular, decided take their feelings of discomfort a step further and take on the Believers in battle. This was a prelude to their violation of the pact they had made with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh).
The Jews, aided by their close ally in Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief hypocrite, had virtually turned the Medinan Market into a witch’s cauldron for devising plots against the Believers. These plots had threatening consequences for Muslims; they even included a plan of assassinating the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
By now, the Jews were recognizing no limits in their mischief and their impudence reached an extreme. One day, a Jew assaulted a Muslim woman doing trade in their market, throwing vile insults at her. Her scream for help did not fall on deaf ears, as another Muslim, who happened to be passing by at the time and had witnessed the whole saga, intervened, and charged at the Jew to fend him off. After a brief but violent scuffle, the Jew wound up dead, upon which other Jews around ambushed the Muslim, martyring him. It was a chaotic scene. This meant that the Jews had violated their pact with the Believers. So the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gathered their leaders immediately and addressed them:
“Jews; fear Allah! Fear Him lest you become overwhelmed by the doom that overwhelmed Quraysh! After all, you know very well that I am a true prophet…it is written in your Scriptures and known through the promise Allah made you!”
The Noble Messenger (pbuh) thus implied that the Jews would be bound to pay the penalty of their transgression, but at the same time, he little wanted the pact broken. He thus offered a renewal of the pact. Yet, the Jewish response oozed with arrogance:
“Do you think we are group like the Quraysh, Muhammad, who know so little of warfare? Once you draw your sword on us, you will know what warfare really means!”
Allah, glory unto Him, thereupon revealed the following:
قُل لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ سَتُغْلَبُونَ وَتُحْشَرُونَ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ
وَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ قَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ آيَةٌ فِي فِئَتَيْنِ الْتَقَتَا
“Say to those who disbelieve: You shall be vanquished, and driven together to hell; and evil is the resting-place. Indeed there was a sign for you in the two hosts (which) met together in encounter.” (Al’i Imran, 12-13)
It was none other than the Jews, who, in the past, had remonstrated against Musa (a.s), exclaiming:
فَاذْهَبْ أَنتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَاتِلا إِنَّا هَاهُنَا قَاعِدُون
“So go; you and your Lord and fight! We will sit here.” (al-Maida, 24) Having previously refused a battle sanctioned by the Almighty, which was sure to reap them unimaginable rewards, they had now assumed a converse position, hiding behind a false bravado to take up arms in a battle that was clearly against their benefit.
Having declared war on the Muslims, the Jews had effectively violated their pact. They had now become open with their malicious intentions. Assigning Ali (r.a) as the flagbearer, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) therefore marched on the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa, who in turn, retreated into their castle. In spite of having made numerous plots with the hypocrites to repel the Believers, the Jews could not even shoot an arrow, let alone take a step out of their castle. Together with having laid an unbreakable siege on their castle, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had at the same time taken all the safety measures possible in preventing a possible hypocrite uprising from behind them.
It was the chief hypocrite Abdullah ibn Ubayy who had advised them to withdraw into their castle, assuring the Jews he would run to their aid. But he never did. Fear held him back from keeping his word.
The siege lasted fifteen days. By now, the fear already running rampant in Jewish hearts had become unbearable. Laying salt to their wound was that the aid they had been anticipating from the hypocrites never came. No other option now remained other than to surrender. So they surrendered, prepared for whatever verdict the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would pass on them.
Banu Qaynuqa had a pact of allegiance with the Khazraj before the Hegira. So Abdullah bin Ubay, the Khazraj leader now turned hypocrite, pleaded for their pardon; for according to custom, they had to be killed.
Consequent upon a series of unrelenting pleas for their pardon, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) did not kill them but instead exiled them towards Syria. The Jews of Banu Qaynuqa, on the way, stopped off at Wadi’il-Qura, where they received some support from local Jews. Though they did proceed forth, the lives of the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa were similarly short-lived there as well.
The Conflict of Sawiq (Dhil-hijjah, 2/ May, 624)
Abu Sufyan assumed leadership of Quraysh following the death of Abu Jahl. Vowing to take the revenge of Badr, he timidly left Mecca with a force of two hundred cavalrymen on horseback. They eventually got within an hour’s distance of Medina; and taking full advantage of the dark, Abu Sufyan was able to reach the quarters of the Jews of Banu Nadir. There, he went to the house of Sallam ibn Mishkam, their leader and treasurer, who hosted his guest in the best way possible, during which he gave Abu Sufyan some inside information on the Muslims.
Leaving the Banu Nadir quarters, Abu Sufyan returned to his friends, martyring meanwhile Saad ibn Amr of the Ansar and setting fire to a few date gardens on the way. With these acts, Abu Sufyan now considered himself as having taken revenge of the Muslims and without delay turned his troops back to Mecca, rapidly, from fear of being followed. Soon becoming aware of the situation, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) headed out in pursuit of the idolaters. They found that in order to make a swifter get away, the idolaters had dropped sacks of fried flour or sawiq, which hence gave its name to the conflict.
The Marriage between Ali and Fatimah (r.huma)
The second year of Hegira also saw the marriage between Fatimah (r.ha), the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) daughter, and Ali (r.a).
Many notables of Quraysh, including Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma)had previously proposed to take her hand in marriage but the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) did not give consent, telling them, ‘he was waiting for a Divine verdict on her.’ For that reason, despite the encouragement of his relatives, neither could Ali (r.a) make a proposal. But a while later, with the insistence of his kin, Ali (r.a) made his presence next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
The rest of what happened is recounted by Ali (r.a):
“At long last, I went to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He, as usual, was there with his entire majestical presence. I sat in front of him and kept silent. I could not say a word.
‘Why have you come; do you need something?’ he asked. ‘It appears you are here to ask for Fatimah!’
‘Yes’, was all I could say.” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 379)
With the blessings of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), Ali (r.a) sold some of his property and prepared a mihr of 480 dirhams. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) advised him to spend two thirds of it on purchasing fragrances and the remaining one third on clothes.
As trousseau, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) presented Fatimah (r.ha) with a linen cover, a water bottle and a cushion stuffed with the grass-like idhir. To Bilal, he then said:
“I want it to become Sunnah for my ummah to serve food during their weddings”, asking him to organize the preparation. Ali (r.a) then pawned his shield to a Jew and bought half a scale of barley, from which a sweet dish called hays was prepared as walimah, or the wedding feast. The Ansar and Muhajirun arrived in groups to attend the meal. (Ibn Sad, VIII, 23; Abdurrazzaq, V, 487; Diyarbakri, I, 411)
Afterward, sending for a jug of water, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) took wudu. He then called Ali (r.a) next to him and sprinkled some of the water on his chest and between his shoulders. Then he also called Fatimah (r.ha) and did the same to her, remarking he had wed her to the best of their kin. Then to their faces and also behind them later on, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) prayed:
“Allah…I seek refuge in you, from the banished Shaytan, on behalf of them and their progeny!” (Ibn Sad, VIII, 24; Diyarbakri, I, 411)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then advised Fatimah (r.ha) to attend to household chores and Ali (r.a) to earn for his family.
Zayd ibn Haritha (r.a) explains:
“I was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) when Ali and Abbas (r.huma) came and asked permission to enter.
‘Do you know why they have come?’ the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) asked.
‘No I don’t’, I replied.
‘But I do’, said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), ‘allow them to enter.’ So I let them in.
‘Messenger of Allah…We have come find out who the dearest to you from your kin is’, they said.
‘Fatimah bint Muhammad’, responded the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
‘We do not mean your immediate family, Messenger of Allah!’
‘Then then my dearest kin is Zayd, whom Allah has favored through guidance and I have cared for.’
‘Ali!’ replied the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
‘You have relegated your uncle to last’, complained Abbas (r.a).
‘But Ali acted before you in Hegira’, he then explained.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 40/3819)
Narrating the below is Ibn Abbas (r.a):
“The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) drew four lines on the ground and asked us why he had done so.
‘Allah and His Messenger know best’, we said. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, ‘The most virtuous of the women of paradise…Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Maryam bint Imran and Asiyah bint Muzahim, the wife of the Pharaoh.’” (Ahmad, I, 293)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was sensitive in attending to the education of his family members, nurturing them spiritually and preparing them for the eternal life. Following the revelation of the following ayah, for instance, from al-Ahzab:
يَا نِسَاء النَّبِيِّ لَسْتُنَّ كَأَحَدٍ مِّنَ النِّسَاء إِنِ اتَّقَيْتُنَّ فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا. وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللّٰهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًاوَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللّٰهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
“O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word. And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore; and keep up prayer, and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying…” (al-Ahzab, 32-33), the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) continued every morning for six months to stopover at the door of Fatimah to call out, “Wake up for salat, People of the House, for Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you and purify you a thorough purifying” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 33/3206)
Similarly, to remind them of tahajjud salat, one of the most important guarantors of a blissful eternal life, the Blessed Prophet would sometimes knock on the door of Ali and Fatimah, and gently say, “Are you going to offer salat?” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 5)
In relation, Ali (r.a) recounts the striking incident below:
“Out of all the members of their family, the dearest to her father was Fatimah. Her hands would develop scars from spinning the grinder and her neck from carrying the waterskin. Sweeping around the house would moreover leave her in dust. Some slaves had been brought at one stage to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
‘You should ask for a slave from your father’, I suggested to her.
So Fatimah went, but seeing her father talking with some other people, she turned back. The next day, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) returned the visit.
‘What was it that you needed?’ he asked. Fatimah kept silent and did not answer.
‘Let me explain, Messenger of Allah…’ I then broke in and began to explain the matter.
‘Fear Allah, Fatimah, and carry out what He has commanded!’, then said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). ‘Attend to your family and before you go to sleep, say Subhanallah thirty-three times, Alhamdulillah thirty-three times and Allah-u Akbar thirty-four times; all of them add upto a hundred. This is better for you than a servant.’
‘I am pleased with Allah and His Messenger’, said Fatimah. Thus the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not give her a servant.” (Abu Dawud, Kharaj, 19-20/2988)
In another narration, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) is also reported to have said, “By Allah, I cannot give you a servant while the people of Suffa tie stones around their bellies to quell their hunger and I cannot find anything to spend on them. I intend on seeking ransom in return for those captives and spend what I receive for the Suffa!” (Ahmad, I, 106)
Sawban (r.a), formerly a slave freed by the Noble Messenger (pbuh), explains:
“Fatimah (r.ha) would be the last person the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would bid farewell with upon embarking on a journey. She would likewise be the first person whom the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would visit upon return. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had again returned from a journey. Fatimah (r.ha) had hung a drape over her door and had made Hasan and Husayn wear two silver bracelets. Though he had come to the threshold, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not enter the house. Fatimah immediately sensed that it was those things that he saw that prevented the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) from entering. So she tore down the drape and removed the silver bracelets from the wrists of her children. Hasan and Husayn, crying, went to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) with the bracelets in their hands. Taking hold of the bracelets, he then said:
‘Take these bracelets to the family of so and so Sawban. Hasan and Husayn are of my own (Ahl’ul-Bayt)…I do not want them to consume in this life the goodness Allah will bless them with in the Hereafter. Then purchase a necklace made of bone for Fatimah and bracelets of a similar kind for Hasan and Husayn.’” (Abu Dawud, Tarajjul, 21/4213)
Ahl’ul-Bayt and the Love of Ahl’ul-Bayt
Ahl’ul-Bayt denotes the members of a family living under the same roof. In the technical sense, it covers the entire members of the Blessed Prophet’s family, as well as his extended family; hence the families of, first and foremost, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), and then of Ali, Jafar, Aqil and Abbas. Just as praying for and sending greetings (salat’u salam) to the Noble Prophet (pbuh) is a duty for all Muslims, so is respecting and adhering to the Ahl’ul-Bayt with love.
It is impermissible for the Ahl’ul-Bayt to receive alms (zakat). Seeing on one occasion the little Hasan (r.a) take a piece of date from the pile reserved for zakat in the Treasury to his mouth, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) quickly made him spit it out and said:
“Don’t you know that Muhammad’s family does not receive zakat?” (Bukhari, Zakat, 57; Ahmad, I, 200)
Recounting the following is Zayd in Arqam (r.a):
“One day, by the Hum Creek between Mecca and Medina, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stood and gave us a talk. After praising and glorifying Allah, he gave us some advice, which he followed up by saying:
‘People…! I, too, am but a man. Soon the messenger of my Lord will come and I will accept his invitation and leave. I leave you two important things. One of them is the light and guide that takes one to the truth, which is the Quran. Stick to it and do not let go!’
He then gave some advice regarding holding fast to the Quran and adhering to it. He then continued with the words:
‘And I leave you my Ahl’ul-Bayt. Fear Allah and show them respect! Fear Allah and show them respect!’”
Zayd ibn Arqam (r.a) was then asked as to who exactly Ahl’ul-Bayt was and whether or not the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives were also included.
“His wives are also included”, replied Zayd. “But his real Ahl’ul-Bayt are those for whom alms are impermissible even after the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).”
“And who are those?”
“They are the families of Ali, Aqil, Jafar and Abbas.” (Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 36)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) has stated:
“Love Allah for having showered you with His blessings. Love me for the love of Allah. And love my Ahl’ul-Bayt for the sake of my love!” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31/3789)
Again, one day holding his dear grandchildren Hasan and Husayn by the hand, the Blessed Prophet declared:
“Whoever loves me, them and their parents shall be in my company on the Day of Judgment.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 20/3733)
The Companions had great love and respect for the family and relatives of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Naturally, one nurtures feelings of affection not only for the beloved but, to the extent of the love felt, also for his or her friends and moreover every little thing that helps remind of the beloved, like the clothes worn, foods eaten, and so forth. The deeper the love grows, the deeper it permeates everything that surrounds the beloved.
The Companions would let their love bursting forth from the depths of their hearts for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) show with various acts, like holding the stirrups of a horse or a camel a relative of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was to mount. Profoundly conscious that on the Day of Judgment all other ties of blood would be severed except for the bond one had with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), they were eager to marry one of his relatives to reinforce their bond of love with a bondship of kin.
The descendants of the Noble Messenger (pbuh) today survive in various parts throughout the Muslim world. The term Sayyid is used in reference to those to have descended through the line of Husayn (r.a), and Sharif for the descendants of Hasan (r.a). The Ottomans referred to sayyids as amir, and the turban they wrapped around their heads as amir turbans. Women of the Noble Prophet’s (pbuh) lineage would also carry a green mark on their hijabs.
Serving the Ahl’ul-Bayt was considered by the Ottomans a duty, to the point where they even found an official institution for the purpose. Officials exclusively entrusted with the duty of seeing to this service were called naqib’ul-ashraf, also chosen from among the members of the Ahl’ul-Bayt. Among the various aspects of their needs the naqib’ul-ashraf dealt with included registering their lineage, births and deaths included, preventing them from entering any old profession, distributing among them their share of taxes and spoils and precluding their women from marrying men not their equal.
Being successors of the children of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and owing to the honor of the duty they carried out, the naqib’ul-ashraf were given the one of the highest official ranks, second behind the Caliph in protocol. The naqib’ul-ashraf would be the first to officially pledge allegiance to the sultan upon his ascension to the throne and pray for his wellbeing, only after which the remainder of the protocol would follow. Priority of congratulation during eids also belonged to the naqib’ul-ashraf, for whom the sultan would rise to greet during the proceedings of both eids.
A sayyid or a sharif found guilty of committing a crime or acting in an unacceptable manner would be dealt with by the naqib’ul-ashraf, if in Istanbul, or by the official head of a district, if elsewhere. Before the actual punishment, the official would remove the green turban from their heads and kiss it; and eventually restoring it once the punishment came to an end.
. Buwat is a mountain among many others in the region formerly inhabited by Juwaynah, standing at a distance of 36 miles from Medina.
. Waqidî, I, 12; Ibn Saad, II, 8-9.
. Safawan is a valley in the vicinity of Badr.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 238; Ibn Saad, II, 9; Ibn Athîr, Usdu’l-Ghaba, IV, 468.
. Ibn Saad, II, 9-10.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 241.
. Bukhari, Jihad, 181.
. Ibn Saad, I, 241-242.
. Bukhari, Iman 30, Salat 31; Muslim, Masajid 11.
. Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 2/2964.
. See, al-Baqara, 148-149.
. See, Elmalılı, I, 537.
. Ibn Saad, I, 248.
. A sa’ is a volumetric scale that can fit approximately 1040 dirhams of wheat or barley. According to the shari dirham, a sa’ weighs 2,917 kgs, and 3,333 kgs according to the customary dirham.
. Bukhari, Zakat, 70-78; Muslim, Zakat, 13.
. Ibn Maja, Zekât, 21.
. Ibn Saad, I, 248-249.
. Abû Dawud, Adahi, 3-4/2792; Ibn Saad, I, 249.
. Muwatta, Hajj, 205.
. See, Tawba, 60.
. Bukhari, Zakat, 38; Ahmad, II, 14.
. Bukhari, Itikaf, 1, 17; Muslim, Itikaf, 5.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 244; Waqidi, I, 27-28.
. Waqidi, I, 31-39; Bukhari, Manaqib, 25; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 294-295.
. Waqidi, I, 23-24; Ibn Hisham, II, 250-251; Ibn Saad, II, 12.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 251.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 57.
. Ibn Masud t says, “I witnessed Miqdad utter words of such conviction that just to have uttered those words myself, I would be willing to forfeit saying all other words of worth…” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 4; Tafsir, 5/4)
. One of the things promised in the 7th ayah of al-Anfal is Quraysh itself, that is, their defeat and ultimate detainment into captivity, while the other is the great caravan of Quraysh coming from Damascus.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 259.
. According to the reports of locals, even though the other sand hills at Badr shift every five or ten years owing to persisting winds, the sand hill on which the Blessed Prophet r set up camp has remained stable to this day.
. Arabs during the Age of Ignorance accepted the existence of Allah, glory unto Him; yet worshipping other deities beside Him, they had deviated from the path of tawhid into shirk. It was thus habitual for them, as seen in this case in point, to mention Allah’s name and articulate His Divineness. Culpable for their falling into shirk were their worshipping of idols, motivated with the desire to attain closeness to Allah by using them as supposed intercessors and the belief that honor was to be gained by doing so. (see, al-AnKaabut, 61; az-Zumar, 3)
. Tabari, Tafsir, IX, 256-261.
. Bara t later said, “We used to tell each other that the number of the Believers at Badr was exactly the same as the number of those in Talut’s army to pass the river; that is three-hundred and thirteen.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 6; Tirmidhi, Siyar, 38/1598)
. Bukhari, Maghazi, 4, 6; Muslim, Jihad, 58.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 267.
. Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, IV, 97.
. Rajaz is a name given to a bahir in Arabic prosody. Literally, it means to ‘quiver’, and its rhythm resembles a rajza, or a she-camel –hence the name-, which, from being overly delicate, quivers when rising. Rajaz also means to ‘roar’, in which the case the name could have been derived from the roar-like singing of battle anthems, for which rajaz has been preferred. (Cehande, A.-Çetin, N. Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı, İslam Ansiklopedisi, “recez” entry, IX, 657) The rhythmic and accented meeting therein of a slow and fast tempo enables it to be performed by a host of different instruments, evoking thereby the rallying of a variety of feelings. Making possible the expression of both joy and sorrow, rajaz is moreover said to contain around fifteen sub branches. (Tahir’ul-Mevlevi, Edebiyat Lügati, p. 120, “recez” article.)
. Ibn Hisham, II, 289.
. See, an-Nisâ, 36.
. Captivity and slavery are here evaluated together, for no other reason, than that the source of slavery is captivity; slaves are those who have fallen prisoner at war.
. Zihar is the then prevalent practice among Arab men of resembling their wives to their mothers and thereby considering it no longer proper to continue marital relations with them. Islam prohibited this practice, holding accountable those who do so with compensation (kaffarah).
. Bukhari, Tafsir, 3/15; Waqidi, I, 121.
. Ahmad, I, 178; V, 323-324; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 144-145/2737-2744.
. Bukhari, Faraid, 3, Khumus, 1, Nafaqat, 3; Muslim, Jihad 49.
. A sutrah is a curtain or anything that could be used as cover. Specifically, it refers to what is placed in front of one performing salat for the purpose of preventing others from passing in front of him.
. Muslim, Jihad, 123, 132; Bukhari, Maghazi, 138.
. Muslah is the act of mutilating the corpse of the deceased at battle in the form of severing the ears, nose and other bodily parts, and carving out the eyes. The Blessed Prophet r was emphatic to prohibit this ruthless practice, even banning its practice on animals. (Bukhari, Mazalim, 30, Dhabaih, 25; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 110)
. See, Bukhari, Mazalim, 33; Muslim, Iman, 226; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 28-29; Tirmidhı, Diyat, 21.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 297-299; Ibn Abdilbar, IV, 1854; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 362-363.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 422-423; Waqidi, I, 181-182; Ibn Saad, II, 30.
. See, Abu Dawud, Kharaj, 21-22/3001.
. Ibn Hisham, II, 426-429; Waqidi, I, 176-180; Ibn Saad, II, 28-30.
. Ibn Saad, VIII, 19.
. Ibn Saad, VIII, 19.
. Nasai, Nikah, 81.
. Hays was a dish made from dates, pure oil and sifted yoghurt. Sometimes sawiq, or fried flour, was also added to it.
. Kasani, IV, 24.
. Ahmad, VI, 323.
. Haythami, IX, 348.
. Haythami, IX, 173.
. Haythami, IX, 173.