Battle of Badr
In the middle of Jamadil Awwal of 2 A.H., a report was received in Madina that a trade caravan was going from Makka to Syria under the leadership of Abu Sufyan.
The Holy Prophet (S) decided to send two men to find out more facts about this caravan. He told them to find out about its route, the number of guards, as well as the nature of the goods they were carrying. The two men gathered the following information:
It was a big caravan and all the Makkans had shares in its goods.
The leader of the caravan was Abu Sufyan and it was guarded by 40 men.
The goods were loaded on 1,000 camels and were valued at about 50,000 Dinars.
The Quraish had confiscated the property of all the Muslims who had migrated from Makka, and therefore the Holy Prophet (S) decided to also seize the property of the Makkans as compensation. Although the Muslims pursued Abu Sufyan, they could not reach him. However, the time of the return of the caravan was almost certain because the Quraish always used to return from Syria to Makka in the early autumn.
The Holy Prophet (S) left Madina and proceeded towards the valley of Badr, 80 miles away, where he awaited the return of the caravan.
Abu Sufyan realised that the Muslims would wait for him at Badr which was a stopping place on the route to Makka, so he sent an urgent message to Makka for help. The Makkans immediately sent out a large army under the command of Abu Jahl to fight the Muslims at Badr. The Holy Prophet (S) was informed of the march of the Makkan army and he asked the Muslims what they thought about engaging in a battle. Although Abu Bakr and Umar wanted to return to Madina, Miqdaad, who was a true Muslim, stood up and declared, "O Prophet of Allah, we are with you and we shall fight."
Meanwhile Abu Sufyan decided to take a longer and different route back home, and avoid Badr. Once he was safely in Makka, he sent a message to Abu Jahl to return, but Abu Jahl was too proud to go back and wanted to crush the Muslims with his large army.
The two armies clashed on 17th of Mahe Ramadhan 2 A.H. The Muslim army consisted of 313 soldiers, having between them only 2 horses and 70 camels. The Makkan army had 900 soldiers, 100 horses and 700 camels. They were much better equipped than the Muslims.
According to Arab custom, there was single combat before the battle began. Three famous warriors, Utbah bin Rabiyyah, Shaybah bin Rabiyyah and Walid bin Utbah challenged the Muslims. Three Muslims, Awf, Ma'uz and Abdullah Rawahah came forward. Because these men were from the Ansar of Madina, Utbah said, "We have no fight with you. Send us our equals."
The Holy Prophet (S) then sent 'Ubaydah, Hamza and Imam Ali (A). Ubaydah faced Utbah, Hamza faced Shaybah and Imam Ali (A) faced Walid. Hamza and Imam Ali (A) soon killed their opponents, but Ubaydah was badly hurt and later died. Imam Ali (A) then killed Utbah. The Quraish were disturbed to see the skill of the Muslim warriors and began to attack together.
The Holy Prophet (S) held back his small army and ordered them to fire arrows at the enemy. This organised attack broke up the ranks of the Makkans and, seeing their confusion, the Holy Prophet (S) ordered a general attack. The Muslims began to fight with conviction and the valley of Badr rang with the sounds of battle. Then Imam Ali (A) tore into the heart of the Makkan army, killing enemy soldiers with terrifying ease. His power and skill with the sword struck terror into the hearts of the Makkans, who began to flee.
Before long, the battle was over and the Muslims had achieved a great victory, despite being outnumbered.
In this battle the Muslims lost 14 men, while 70 Makkans, including their chiefs Abu Jahl, Nawfal, Umayyah and others were killed. Out of these, Imam Ali (A) killed 36 men himself and helped in killing several others.
70 prisoners were taken by the Muslims. The prisoners were treated with much kindness by the citizens of Madina and some became Muslims. "Blessing be on the men of Madina", said one of these prisoners in later days, "they made us ride, while they themselves walked, they gave us wheat and bread to eat when there was little of it; contenting themselves with dates".
The rich prisoners paid ransom and were set free. Others were asked to teach 10 children each to read and write while the rest were released by the Holy Prophet (S), and allowed to return to Makka.
The victory at Badr strengthened the faith of the Muslims and warned the unbelievers of Makka that Islam was now a force to be reckoned with. During the same year Allah sent down the command making fasting compulsory on Muslims. The following verse of the Holy Qur'an was revealed in this respect:
The month of Ramadhan (is) that in which the Qur'an was sent down; a guidance for mankind and clear evidence of guidance and discrimination (between right and wrong). So whoever of you witnesses the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is ill or on a journey, (he shall fast) the same number of other days...
Surah al-Baqarah, 2:185