On the 17th of Ramadan of every year, Muslims celebrate Islam’s most blessed and most important day – the battle of Badr, which took place two years after Hijra. From the Muslims’ point of view, the battle symbolized the victory of what is the right (Haq) against what is wrong (Batel), the oppressed against the oppressors, the Muslims against the Kuffar; in short it symbolized the victory of Islam against the enemies of Allah. The Muslim army won the battle and Mohammed emerged as a rising leader in Arabia that every tribe should fear and respect- or else.
In Badr, the Muslims demonstrated their best. They have never been that good before or after that ‘glorious’ day. Since then, Badr has been a medal that honored those Muslims who were lucky enough to join Mohammed and fight the battle. There is nothing more prestigious to any of the Sahaba (Mohammed’s companions) than to refer to him as a Muslim who had witnessed Badr ‘shahida badr‘ – meaning fought in Badr.
Being such a blessed name, the Muslims of today often use the name Badr in military exercises /operations or prestigious organizations.
Our knowledge about that battle comes only from the Islamic sources because there are no others. There are no accounts from the defeated party, the Kuffar, who were completely annihilated and no accounts from other neutral parties. This is a typical example of the adage “history is written by the victorious”. It is logical to assume that the Muslim historians did their best to paint a picture that is biased towards Islam.
Mohammed’s immigration to Medina went well, but soon the inevitable happened and he ran out of money. Normal people who find themselves in similar circumstances would look for work or learn new skills to support themselves, but I don’t think the idea crossed Mohammed’s mind. It was, simply put, not his nature. Mohammed opted for the easy money that comes through raiding other tribes and stealing their properties.
That was the beginning of that form of jihad known as ‘gazwat’, which is a polished word for raids. Mohammed and his followers carried out a number of those raids before the battle of Badr, which was a continuation of those raids, only on a larger scale.
A Prelude to Badr
The Quraish was a tribe of trade. Their richest caravan was coming home from Syria heading to Mecca under the leadership of Abu Sufyan. The rich caravan was protected by some thirty men. The news of the arrival of the caravan reached Mohammed, who couldn’t resist the temptation. He called for the Muslims and said: “These are the camels of Quraish with their money, go for it may Allah make it yours”(1). What a nice preaching!. He then organized a force of over three hundreds of his followers to intercept the caravan and raid it before it arrives to Mecca.
Abu Sufyan was a careful leader. He knew what was on stake and how rich the caravan was. His strategy was to send spies to explore the roads ahead and screen them for gangs who might be tempted to raid the caravan. Indeed, the news came that there was a huge gang, an army in fact, under the command of Mohammed, waiting to ambush the caravan at the place called Badr. Abu Sufyan diverted the caravan to an alternative route that went towards Yanbu’, at the red sea coast. At the same time, he sent to Mecca to alert them that Mohammed and his gang were planning to ambush the caravan.
Nearly every Meccan family had a stake in that caravan, so the news generated a lot of anger. About a thousand men gathered in haste and rushed to Badr to protect their caravan. Just as they were about to reach Badr, The news came to them that their caravan has arrived safely to Mecca. However, the two armies were destined for a confrontation and the Meccans decided to teach Mohammed and his gang a lesson. Because they had time on their side, the Muslims were better positioned as they already occupied the water sources. Mohammed was encouraged by a dream he had the night before that the Meccan army was a small army, which he interpreted as a good sign(2). Angel Gabriel, with three thousands of his angels, supported the Muslims’ army (3). The battle lasted only a few hours and ended by the early afternoon as many of the leaders of the Meccan army were killed
The caravan was saved, but the Quraish lost some of its best men in that battle, including Omar Ibn Hisham and Nadr Ibn Al Harith, who often exposed Mohammed’s ignorance when he was still in Mecca. Both men often asked Mohammed questions to which he had no immediate answers. After weeks of thinking, Mohammed used to come up with useless responses in the form of Quranic verses like “they ask you about the spirit, say the spirit is something my god understands!…”. Amr Ibn Hisham was a respected man renowned of his knowledge about religions and history. Mohammed was not comfortable with Amr Ibn Hisham’s status and reputation and later changed his title to Abu Jahl (father of ignorance), which suggests that the original title was ‘father of knowledge’, as Mohammed was known to reverse the titles he didn’t like. Ibn Al Harith was not killed in the battle but was taken as a prisoner but Mohammed did not like to see him alive and gave his orders to Ali to kill him, to which Ali obliged by beheading him! Of course, Mohammed released the necessary verses to justify his actions(4).
Summary of the Events at Badr
No matter how you read it, or from which angle you look at it, this is what happened in Badr:
1. A trading caravan coming home from Syria to Mecca.
2. Muslims armed gang was waiting to ambush the caravan, kill its men and seize the caravan and the merchandise for themselves.
There is nothing else to see in the story, as the Muslims told it, other than killing the prisoners, which was (and still) against the prevailing ethics of war.
And that was Islam at its best!
That is what Muslims celebrate on the 17th of Ramadan every year!
The battle of Badr was piracy on a large scale carried out by a gang of merciless and blood thirsty murderers against innocent traders- plain and simple. It will remain a disgraceful piracy to the end of time. When Mohammed and his companions left Medina to intercept that rich caravan, they were not interested in preaching a religion or teaching ethics; they were only interested robbery and murder.
But that is all that Mohammed had ever done. He and his companions were professional gangsters who made a living from murders and theft.
Why don’t Muslims see the reality of Badr?
When Muslims read the story of Badr, they do not sense any piracy or murder, which looks bizarre to non Muslims. This is also true when Muslims read about Mohammed’s other raids. Indeed, sensing any of Islam’s inanities is not as straightforward to Muslims as the non Muslims think. I spent decades in Islam without feeling there was anything disgraceful in the battle of Badr or any of Mohammed’s other raids, which were far worse. Some may wonder how does that happen? is there something wrong with the Muslims’ intellectuality?
The fact that it happens emphasizes the concerns that Islam cripples the mind. The problem is that we keep comparing Islam to other religions; the fact is that Muslims are brought up in a completely different way than the followers of other religions. It may look as an overstatement, but I do believe that professional research is required to understand the effects of Islam on the mind. I do believe that Islam is dangerous to mental health and something must be done about it. The fact that people who convert to Islam suddenly become dangerous to their relatives and their societies says it all. We all know that people commit suicides or murders soon after converting to Islam. If it is observed that people commit suicides after taking a drug, that drug would be banned.
In my experience, Muslims’ inability to see the reality of Islam has to do with the extensive brain washing the Muslim is subjected to since his/her birth(5). By the time a Muslim comes to read about the battle of Badr, his/her mind is already conditioned to revere words like rasool, PBUH, Sahaba and their titles, Muslims ..etc. At the same time, his/her mind is conditioned to despise and be repelled by words like Kuffar, enemies of Allah, Mushrikoon etc. The Muslim’s basic facts are established at an early stage in life as absolute facts, and that becomes difficult to change later in life. When the Muslims read the Sirat books, they are already prepared to accept, even think highly, of anything “the prophet PBUH” might do or say.
A Muslim school book introduces the story by claiming that the Quraish had already confiscated the properties of the “prophet of Allah PBUH, and the Muhajeroon, may ridwan of Allah(acceptance) be upon them”, therefore, raiding a caravan was approved by “Allah SWT and his prophet PBUH” as a justified action to make the ‘haq’(right) victorious and the ‘batel’(wrong) loser. The Muslims’ books actually put the blame on the Quraish and depict them as war mongers and portray Mohammed and his gang as peace loving people! “The battle could have been averted, as the caravan arrived safely to Mecca. The prophet PBUH and the sahaba, may ridwan (acceptance)Allah be upon them, were preparing to leave, but the enemies of Allah SWT seized the opportunity to fight the Muslims to extinguish the divine light of Islam, but Allah SWT will protect his light to eternity”
The killing of the prisoners is also justified: “The prophet PBUH asked for the Sahaba’s (May ridwan Allah be upon them) opinion. But Allah SWT, the all knowing, revealed verse Q.8:67, which blamed the prophet PBUH for being soft and nice to the enemies of Allah SWT and ordered him to apply Allah’s punishment on them, because SWT, the all knowing, knew that the hearts of those prisoners were too black and filled with hatred to Allah SWT and his prophet PBUH. Keeping them alive would be too dangerous to Islam. Allah SWT knew what was best for his religion and his prophet”.
It is worth mentioning that most of Mohammed’s companions in Badr were from the Ansar, who lived in Medina, and had no properties at all in Mecca. The battle of Badr was not a one off piracy; the Muslims raided many other tribes where Muslims, Muhajeroon and Ansar, had no properties at all. Interestingly, the issue of properties never came up in any of the negotiations Mohammed had with the Quraish after hijra, which means it never existed.
Criminals are never short of justifications, but a piracy is always a piracy and a murder is always a murder.
That was the battle of Badr, when Muslims did their best and Islam appeared in its best form!
Sirat Ibn Hisham
Q. 8: l 43,44
Q. 3: 123,124