Ramadan is more than a month of ibadah with history showing the first generation of Muslims achieved great victories during this blessed month.
All civilizations have seminal events that echo throughout the ages and are celebrated and remembered on anniversaries. The two World Wars are remembered regularly in Europe, it is considered a key part of Western history. Meanwhile, the fall of the Berlin Wall is seen as a key victory for Capitalism.
Similarly the Ummah also has many events which all Muslims are taught at a young age and have come to define the Ummah. In the month of Ramadan many of these key events took place which shaped the Ummah and have played a key role in shaping its psyche.
While many are familiar with the events of the Battle of Badr, its wider political context and the values that drove the Ummah to achieve this first battle of the Muslims, against all odds, makes the victory of Badr a seminal event.
After 13 years of struggling in Makkah, following numerous meetings with various tribes and after much persecution and boycott, Allah blessed Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) with nasr (victory) with the establishment of the Islamic State in Madinah, at the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Quraysh did not give up their pursuit of the Muslims and the establishment of the Islamic state in Madinah only infuriated them further. The Prophet (peace be upon him) not content with merely establishing Islam, organized expeditions to strengthen the Islamic state, and thus Islam.
These expeditions included sending military expeditions; signing treaties with warring tribes; and securing key trade routes all of which contributed to strengthening Muslims and keeping the Quraysh of Makkah at bay.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) organized 8 expeditions within a year of establishing the Islamic state in Madinah. The last included a key trade route which was used by the Quraysh to traverse the desserts of Arabia to Al-Sham (Syria) in order to transport its largest caravans, essential for the economies at the time. It was the interception of this caravan by the Muslims that turned into the now famous battle of Badr.
This victory led the Ummah to make Ramadan the month of great change. While much literature has been written on Islamic conquests focusing on strategy many victories occurred during Ramadan due to the focus of the Ummah on Allah Almighty and this removed fear from the hearts of the Muslims. This is why some of the greatest victories in Islam occurred during Ramadan such as the conquest of Makkah (8 Hijri), the conquest of Rhodes (53 Hijri), the successful landing of Muslims on the coast of Spain (91 Hijri), the victory by Tarik Ibn Zayed against the King of Spain (92 Hijri), the victory of Salahuddin against invading crusaders (584 Hijri), and Mamluk’s victory versus invading Tatars in the battle of Ain jiloot (650 Hijri).
The Battle of Badr
Regarding the Battle of Badr, Allah Almighty said in the Qur’an: “Indeed Allah assisted you at Badr when you were weak, so be careful (to your duty) to Allah so that you may be of the thankful ones. When you said to the believers ‘Does it not suffice you that your Lord should assist you with three thousand angels sent down.” (Qur’an, 3:123)
The two armies met at Badr on 17th Ramadan, 2 AH. In the beginning as per Arab custom, single combat (one to one) took place. The famous Quraysh warriors Utbah, Shayba and Walid came to challenge three ‘Ansars’ from Madinah. The Quraysh refused to fight any of the ‘Ansars’, demanding their ‘equals’ and so the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent Ubayda, Hamza and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them). The three Kuffar were killed (Ubayda was hurt). The Quraysh got disturbed and began attacking en-masse. In the thick of the battle, the Prophet prayed to Allah. In Surat Al-Anfal Allah Almighty gave the answer: “When you asked for help from your Lord, He answered you. Indeed I will aid you with a thousand of the angels in rows behind rows.” (Qur’an, 8:9)
The enemies got frightened and began to retreat. The bravery and skill of Muslim soldiers under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the sight of so many angels struck terror in the enemies’ hearts. Seventy-two Kuffar in total were killed including their leader Abu Jahl. Ali ibn Abi Talib alone killed 36 of them. Fourteen Muslims were martyred. Seventy prisoners were taken by the Muslims.
The prisoners were treated with kindness and some became Muslims. In later days some of the prisoners said: “Blessed be the men of Madinah, they made us ride whilst they walked, they gave us wheat and bread to eat when there was little of it contenting themselves with plain dates.” The rich prisoners paid ransom and were set free. Others were asked to gain their freedom by teaching 10 Muslims to read and write. The Battle of Badr strengthened the faith of the Muslims.