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Monday, 29 July 2013


 Lessons From The Battle of Badr

No Matter What The Numbers
David (Truth) Killed Goliath (Falsehood)

(By: M. Javed Naseem)

 Town of Badr today.

وَلاَ يَحْسَبَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ سَبَقُوۤاْ إِنَّهُمْ لاَ يُعْجِزُونَ 
“Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better
(of the godly). They will never frustrate (them)”.
(al-Quran 8:59)

ذٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ شَآقُّواْ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ ٱللَّهَ
وَرَسُولَهُ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعِقَابِ
“This because they contended against Allah and His
Messenger. If any contend against Allah and His
Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment.”
(al.-Quran 8:13)

Badr is the first major encounter between the newly-born nation of Muslims and the evil-living unbelievers (Kaafireen), the Quraish of Makkah. This was the one historic event that changed the course of history of not only the Arabia but of the entire universe. After almost 1500 years, the history seems to be repeating itself (now on a different scale). When you look at the events in Palestine, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Kashmir/Pakistan, Burma (Myanmar) and soon Iran, you realize that this is an onslaught launched by the forces of evil (falsehood) to eliminate the perceived ‘danger’ to their existence – Islam or the Muslims. They don’t want to accept the reality that Islam was the system prescribed by God for the mankind. And it’s going to stay!

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ
فَسَيُنفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ
وَٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوۤاْ إِلَىٰ جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ
“The Unbelievers spend their wealth to hinder (man)
from the path of Allah, and so will they continue to spend;
but in the end they will have (only) regrets and sighs;
at length they will be overcome; and the Unbelievers
will be gathered together to Hell.”
(al-Quran 8:36)

At the dawn of Islam, the same thing happened in Makkah when Muslims were killed, injured, tortured, robbed, persecuted and cornered. Eventually, they were expelled while others fled their homes and took refuge somewhere else. It is happening again today in every place where Islam has its foothold. Muslims are being massacred, their homes and homelands being destroyed and the survivors driven out as refugees. In the West, they are targeted and have become victims of discrimination and racism.
Muslims are being cornered systematically under a major international plan. In this situation, when you have your back to the wall, you fight for your survival with a different spirit than the spirit shown by the war-mongering, power-hungry, money-loving and oil-seeking evil invaders or oppressors.  
And what happens in such situations? The history of mankind tells us that it is the oppressed that conquer the oppressors in the end! That’s how Allah balances out the injustice, persecution, aggression, corruption, transgression and inequality. He helps the oppressed to break the shackles. The history of David and Goliath is being repeated – and we know the outcome very well! It’s a matter of time.

وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسْتُضْعِفُواْ فِى ٱلأَرْضِ
وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ ٱلْوَارِثِينَ
“And We wished to be Gracious to those who were
being oppressed in the land, to make them leaders
(in Faith) and make them inheritors.”
(al-Quran 28:5)

The oppressed are going through the hardest test of their lives. But they also have a small problem – they are not practicing Islam in the true sense nor obeying the laws of Allah. That’s a pre-requisite for seeking Allah’s help.

إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ
وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَاناً وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
ٱلَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلاَةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ 
“For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned,
feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs
rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their
trust in their Lord; who establish regular prayers and spend
(freely) out of the gifts We have given them for sustenance.”
(al-Quran 8:2-3)

The Battle of Badr has been referred to in the Holy Quran; and Allah declared it a “Day of Furqaan”. The Arabic word ‘furqaan’ means to separate or to distinguish. It was the 17th day of Ramadan, in the 2nd year of Hijrah (7th of March, 623 A.D.; Wikipedia puts it as 13th of March, 624 CE) when the Almighty Allah separated/distinguished the Truth from Falsehood; the Light from Darkness; and the Guidance from Ignorance! He gave the believers a great victory and vanquished the hopes and aspirations of the disbelievers who wanted to wipe out Islam which had started gaining popularity.
Muslims were a tiny minority and were constantly persecuted by the politically powerful and financially strong Quraish. Their top adversary was Abu Jahl.

V.C. Bodley writes in his book “The Messenger –The Life of Mohammed” (pub. New York, 1946):
“Abu Jahl’s monomania about Mohammad had remained at
boiling point. He kept raiding parties continually on the move,
attacking any isolated parties of Moslems which could be ambushed.
He made forays into the suburbs of Medina and damaged crops and
gardens. He let Mohammed see that his feelings had not changed,
that his intentions were still murderous”.

Allah gives ample time and opportunities to the people in power (and the forces of evil) to rectify the situation of injustice and transgression. And when they do nothing, the Almighty takes things in His hand.

ٱلَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُواْ مِن دِيَارِهِم بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلاَّ أَن يَقُولُواْ رَبُّنَا ٱللَّهُ
وَلَوْلاَ دَفْعُ ٱللَّهِ ٱلنَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَّهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ
وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا ٱسمُ ٱللَّهِ كَثِيراً
وَلَيَنصُرَنَّ ٱللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ
“(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes
in defiance of right, (for no cause) except that they say,
"our Lord is Allah". Had not Allah checked one set of people
by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down
monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the
name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will
certainly aid those who aid his (cause); for verily Allah is full
of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).
(al-Quran 22:40)

A few days before Ramadan, reports reached Madinah that a trade caravan of Quraish was returning to Makkah from Syria. The caravan was carrying not only merchandise but also weapons. It was estimated that the caravan had made a profit of 50,000 Dinars (pieces of gold). The weapons and the huge amount of money were to be used to equip an army to fight against Muslims. The caravan was led by Abu Soufyan, a Makkan stalwart and staunch enemy of Muslims at that time.
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), after consultation with his companions, decided to intercept the caravan. He appointed Abu Lababa as Governor of Madinah, and left the city for  Badr, a village in the south-west of Madinah. It was 8th of Ramadan. Scholars differ about their exact number (ranging from 305 to 319) but most of them agree on 313. About 80-90 of them were from Makkah (‘Muhajireen’) and the rest were ‘Ansar’ (locals) of Madinah. They settled and took up position in a valley which was known for its water wells. Muslims took control of a strategic well/water reservoir and blocked off some other wells. The enemy had to cross the valley, in front of Muslims, to reach the water wells.
The poor Muslims had no clue that they would never see the Quraish caravan, but instead have an encounter with 1000-strong Quraish army of Makkah.

Here’s a look at the background: Muhajireen (refugees or emigrants) were actually the victims of aggression and oppression; and were expelled by the Quraish leaders of Makkah. They were also forced to leave behind family members, their homes, properties and cattle/camel herds. They arrived in Madinah empty-handed. The Makkans confiscated their properties and cattle/camel herds. On top of it, Muslims were not allowed to fight back (in the beginning). They were very angry. They suffered the worst kind of persecution at the hands of Quraish of Makkah for 13 long years.

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُدَافِعُ عَنِ ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوۤاْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ كُلَّ خَوَّانٍ كَفُورٍ
أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُواْ وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ
“Verily Allah will defend (from ill) those who believe.
Verily, Allah loves not any that is a traitor to faith,
or show ingratitude to those against whom war is made,
permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;
and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid.”
(al-Quran 22:38-39)

Eventually, when Allah’s permission came and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) told them that they were allowed to fight back, they were looking for an opportunity to recover their losses. But Allah had a different plan for them.

Abu Soufyan somehow got the information about this ambush and changed the route (via Yanbu, bypassing Madinah/Badr). At the same time he sent a message to Makkan leaders to come to his rescue. The Quraish leaders of Makkah got furious and decided to teach Muslims a lesson. They sent an army of 1000 fighters to eliminate Muslims. They were equipped with war gear, 100 horses, 700 camels laden with war material and other supplies; and bands of chanters/drum-beaters.
Muslims, on the other hand, were not prepared for any armed confrontation as they did not have the means for it. The 313-men contingent had only two horses and 70 camels and little or no war equipment. Some of them had swords but no shields. To reach the valley near Badr, they had to walk or share the ride by two or three.
When the Quraish army reached Badr, they received a message from Abu Soufyan that the caravan had safely passed the region, therefore, they could return to Makkah. Abu Jahl was an arrogant leader of the Quraish. He refused to return to Makkah without victory. Later, Abu Soufyan and others from the caravan also joined Abu Jahl. They sensed an easy victory with 3-to-1 equation. They wanted to return to Makkah as war heroes. But it was not meant to be!

A Muslim patrol party captured a waterman who confessed that he was one of the group supplying water to the Makkan army. It was a shocking news. When Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) heard that the Quraish of Makkah had dispatched an army of 1000 men and they were just on the other side of the hill, he got worried and called a meeting to decide what to do next. Here’s how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) expressed their feelings:

Al-Miqdaad Ibn Al-Aswad, one of the Muhajireen, said: “O Messenger of Allah! March on as Allah guides you, and we are with you. I swear by Allah! We will not say to you as Banu Israel (Children of Israel) said to Prophet Moses: ‘Go, you and your Lord, and fight them and we will sit here’. Rather, we say to you: Go, you and your Lord, to fight and we will all fight along with you. I swear by the One Who sent you with the Truth, that if you order us, we will follow you to the end of the earth and fight alongside you until your goal is achieved.”

Here’s the verse of the Quran Al-Miqdaad quoted:

قَالُواْ يَامُوسَىۤ إِنَّا لَنْ نَّدْخُلَهَآ أَبَداً مَّا دَامُواْ فِيهَا
فَٱذْهَبْ أَنتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَاتِلاۤ إِنَّا هَاهُنَا قَاعِدُونَ
 “They said: "O Moses! As long as they are in it, we
will never enter (the land). So, go you and your Lord,
and fight you two, while we will sit here (and watch)."
(al-Quran 5:24)

According to Sahih Bukhari, Ibn Masood (r.a.a.) said:
“I was a witness to something that Al-Miqdaad Ibn Al-Aswad did, that I would like more than anything else, to have been the one who did it. Al-Miqdaad came to the Prophet (s.a.w.) while he was supplicating to Allah, and said: ‘We will not say as the people of Musa (Moses) said (Go, you and your Lord, and fight you two …). Rather, we will fight to your right, and to your left, and in front of you, and behind you’. Ibn Masood (r.a.a.) narrated: I saw the Prophet (s.a.w.)’s face beaming with pleasure, because of what Al-Miqdaad said to him.”

After this, Saad Ibn Mu’adh of the Ansaar, perceiving that the Prophet (s.a.w.) wanted to hear explicitly from the Ansaar, spoke and said:
“We have believed in you and regard you as the true Messenger of Allah, and bear witness that what you have been given is the Truth. And on this, we have given you our binding promise, to hear and obey. March on as you desire and we are with you! I swear by Him Who has sent you with the Truth, if you ask us to wade through the ocean, we will wade through with you, and not one of us will stay behind. We will be perfectly content with whatever may happen to us tomorrow, at the hands of our enemies, for surely, we are patient in war, fierce in battle, and truthful in our company. Perhaps Allah will show you from us what will please you. Therefore, by the grace of Allah, march on with us.”
And thus, the stage was set for the first major battle with the unbelievers (Kaafireen).

Muslims were a little worried and the Prophet (s.a.w.) kept invoking Allah. Later, he addressed them and while giving glad tiding of a victory, said:
“Allah has promised you one of the two, either the caravan or the army”.

وَإِذْ يَعِدُكُمُ ٱللَّهُ إِحْدَى ٱلطَّائِفَتِيْنِ أَنَّهَا لَكُمْ وَتَوَدُّونَ
أَنَّ غَيْرَ ذَاتِ ٱلشَّوْكَةِ تَكُونُ لَكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ أَن يُحِقَّ الحَقَّ
بِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَيَقْطَعَ دَابِرَ ٱلْكَافِرِينَ
“Behold! Allah promised you one of the two (enemy) parties,
that it should be yours. You wished that the one unarmed
should be yours, but Allah willed to justify the Truth according
to His words and to cut off the roots of the unbelievers.”
(al-Quran 8:7)

Subhan-Allah! That’s how Allah works! The poor Muslims wanted to capture the trade caravan with its expensive merchandise and other goods; and camels/horses; and be content with it. This was referred to in the Quran as the ‘unarmed party’ of the enemy. The other party was ‘armed’ – the army of the Quraish of Makkah – which Muslims could not even dream of facing at that stage and level, let alone capturing or conquering it! Makkans were considered the richest and the strongest people in the region. But Allah wanted to justify the Truth, therefore, He created the circumstances too. 

إِن تَسْتَفْتِحُواْ فَقَدْ جَآءَكُمُ ٱلْفَتْحُ وَإِن تَنتَهُواْ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ
وَإِن تَعُودُواْ نَعُدْ وَلَن تُغْنِىَ عَنْكُمْ فِئَتُكُمْ شَيْئاً وَلَوْ كَثُرَتْ
وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“(O Unbelievers!) if you prayed for victory and judgment,
now has the judgment come to you: If you desist (from wrong),
it will be best for you; if you return (to the attack), so shall We.
Not the least good will your forces be to you, even if they were
Multiplied; for verily, Allah is with those who believe!”
(al-Quran 8:19)

لِيُحِقَّ ٱلْحَقَّ وَيُبْطِلَ ٱلْبَاطِلَ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ ٱلْمُجْرِمُونَ 
“That He might justify Truth and prove Falsehood false,
distasteful though it be to those in guilt.”
(al-Quran 8:8)

 On the night before the battle, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) made a very long and intense supplication (‘dua’) to Allah. He was praying under a tree, crying until the sun rose. He was standing up, raising his hands toward heavens. Some of the words he uttered:

“O Allah! I invoke You for Your promise of victory.
Here come Quraish full of vanity and pride. They
Oppose You and call Your Messenger a liar.O Allah!
If You decide that we be defeated today, and if this little
Band of your believers perishes today, there would be
none left in the land to worship You!”

At that particular time, those 300-plus people were the only Muslims on the face of the earth and in the case of a defeat, they would be wiped out. When Abu Bakr (r.a.a.) saw this, he came to console the Prophet (s.a.w.). He held the Prophet (s.a.w.)’s hand in his hand and said: “That’s enough! Allah will certainly fulfill His promise He made to you.” And the Prophet (s.a.w.) then went back to his tent and slept. Allah reminds us in the Holy Quran:

إِذْ يُغَشِّيكُمُ ٱلنُّعَاسَ أَمَنَةً مِّنْهُ وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ
مَآءً لِّيُطَهِّرَكُمْ بِهِ وَيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمْ رِجْزَ ٱلشَّيْطَانِ
وَلِيَرْبِطَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ ٱلأَقْدَامَ
“Remember He covered you with a sort of drowsiness,
to give you calm as from Himself, and he caused rain to
descend on you from heaven, to clean you therewith, to
remove from you the stain of Satan, to strengthen your
hearts, and to plant your feet firmly therewith.”
(al-Quran 8:11)

إِذْ يُوحِى رَبُّكَ إِلَى ٱلْمَلاۤئِكَةِ أَنِّى مَعَكُمْ فَثَبِّتُواْ ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ
سَأُلْقِى فِى قُلُوبِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ ٱلرُّعْبَ فَٱضْرِبُواْ فَوْقَ ٱلأَعْنَاقِ
وَٱضْرِبُواْ مِنْهُمْ كُلَّ بَنَانٍ
“Remember your Lord inspired the angels (with the message):
"I am with you. Give firmness to the Believers! I will instill
terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers; smite you above
their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."
(al-Quran 8:12)

Allah’s re-assurance came and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) felt the contentment and peace, satisfaction and confidence to stand up to the challenge facing them. His prayers were answered right then and there.
إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَٱسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّى مُمِدُّكُمْ
بِأَلْفٍ مِّنَ ٱلْمَلاۤئِكَةِ مُرْدِفِينَ
“Remember you implored the assistance of your Lord,
and He answered you: "I will assist you with a thousand
of the angels, ranks on ranks."
(al-Quran 8:9)

After some time, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) came out of the tent smiling and said:
 “O Abu Bakr! Rejoice with the victory of Allah! And he left while reciting the following verse of the Holy Quran:
أَمْ يَقُولُونَ نَحْنُ جَمِيعٌ مُّنتَصِرٌ
سَيُهْزَمُ ٱلْجَمْعُ وَيُوَلُّونَ ٱلدُّبُرَ
”Or do they say: We are acting together victoriously? 
Soon will their multitude be put to flight,
and they will show their backs.”
(al-Quran 54:44-45)

The Quraish leaders and soldiers were very arrogant and boastful of their might and big number. Satan (Devil) was also on their side, alluring and encouraging them. But again, Allah is the best of planners and His promise never fails.

وَإِذْ زَيَّنَ لَهُمُ ٱلشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ وَقَالَ لاَ غَالِبَ لَكُمُ ٱلْيَوْمَ
مِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَإِنِّى جَارٌ لَّكُمْ فَلَمَّا تَرَآءَتِ ٱلْفِئَتَانِ نَكَصَ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ
وَقَالَ إِنِّى بَرِيۤءٌ مِّنْكُمْ إِنِّيۤ أَرَىٰ مَا لاَ تَرَوْنَ إِنِّيۤ أَخَافُ ٱللَّهَ
وَٱللَّهُ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعِقَابِ  
“Remember Satan made their (sinful) acts seem alluring
to them, and said: "No one among men can overcome you
this day, while I am near to you". But when the two forces
came in sight of each other, he turned on his heels, and said:
"Lo! I am clear of you; lo! I see what you see not. Lo!
I fear Allah; for Allah is strict in punishment."
(al-Quran 8:48)

The night before the battle, while Muslims slept, a heavy rain fell. On the morning of Friday, the 17th of Ramadan, 2 A.H., the two armies advanced and drew closer to each other. The rain had been heavier on the side of Quraish, making the ground soft and movement difficult. On the side of Muslims, however, the rain had packed the sand down hard, making it easy for them to march.

In the morning, after having examined the ranks, the Prophet (s.a.w.) then went to a shelter made of palm branches from which he could command the battle. Abu Bakr stayed with him, while Saad Bin Mu’adh, with several of the Ansaar, stood outside guarding the hut.

The battle started in the Arab tradition with the big warriors of Quraish, like Walid Ibn Utba, Utba Ibn Rabia, and Shaiba, coming out and challenging the opposition for duals. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) sent his uncle Hamza (r.a.a.), his cousin Ali (r.a.a.) and his companion Ubaida (r.a.a.) to fight the star warriors of Quraish; and they killed the Quraish heroes sending terror wave in the ranks of the Makkans. Ubaida (r.a.a.) was fatally wounded though and died later (being the first martyr of Badr). Then the troops attacked each other in regular fighting. By noon, the battle was over as Makkans fled the scene leaving dead bodies and material behind.

Nicholson writes: “But the importance of Mohammed’s
success (in the battle of Badr) cannot be measured by the
material damage which he inflicted (upon the pagans of Mecca).
Considering the momentous issues involved, we must allow
that Badr, like Marathon, is one of the greatest and most
memorable battles in all history.”
(A Literary History of The Arabs, by A. Nicholson, 1969).

The battle of Badr claimed some big heads of the Quraish of Makkah; the most important among them was Abu Jahl, his brother and his son. Abu Jahl was considered as ‘Pharaoh for Muslim Ummah’. Umayyah Ibn Khalaf was another big notable killed in Badr. According to one narration, he was killed by his own ex-slave Bilal (r.a.a.). Abu Soufyan survived and returned to Makkah to prepare for another war. In total 70 Makkan fighters were killed and another 70 captured as prisoners of war.
On the other hand, from among the Muslims, 14 people were martyred. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his contingent returned to Madinah, a week before the end of Ramadan, glorifying and thanking the Merciful Lord for His help at Badr.

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ
وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ رَمَىٰ وَلِيُبْلِىَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْهُ بَلاۤءً حَسَناً
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“It is not you who slew them; it was Allah. When
you threw (a handful of dust), it was not your act,
but Allah's, in order that He might test the believers
by a gracious trial from Himself, for Allah is He
Who hears and knows (all things).”
(al-Quran 8:17)

Allah reminds the believers of the events at Badr in the Holy Quran, Surah (Chapter) Aal-e-Imran, verses 121-125, in case we forget:

وَإِذْ غَدَوْتَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ تُبَوِّىءُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَقَاعِدَ لِلْقِتَالِ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
إِذْ هَمَّتْ طَّآئِفَتَانِ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ تَفْشَلاَ وَٱللَّهُ وَلِيُّهُمَا وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ
وَلَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ بِبَدْرٍ وَأَنْتُمْ أَذِلَّةٌ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
إِذْ تَقُولُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَلَنْ يَكْفِيَكُمْ أَنْ يُمِدَّكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ بِثَلاَثَةِ آلاَفٍ مِّنَ ٱلْمَلاۤئِكَةِ مُنزَلِينَ
بَلَىۤ إِن تَصْبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ وَيَأْتُوكُمْ مِّنْ فَوْرِهِمْ هَـٰذَا يُمْدِدْكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ
بِخَمْسَةِ آلاۤفٍ مِّنَ ٱلْمَلاۤئِكَةِ مُسَوِّمِينَ
“Remember that morning you did leave your household
(early) to post the faithful at their stations for battle. And
Allah hears and knows all things. Remember two of your
parties meditated cowardice; but Allah was their protector,
and in Allah should the faithful (ever) put their trust.
Allah had helped you at Badr, when you were a contemptible
little force; then fear Allah; thus may you show your gratitude.
Remember you said to the Faithful: "Is it not enough for you
that Allah should help you with three thousand angels
(specially) sent down? Yea,  if you remain firm, and act
right, 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-Quran 3:121-125)

This was the first major encounter between Muslims and the Makkans. So, the Prophet (s.a.w.) consulted his companions on the subject of ‘prisoners of war’. There were all kinds of suggestions based on different sentiments. Abu Bakr suggested to pardon them and accept ransom for their release. In the end, the Prophet (s.a.w.) announced: “We will ransom the prisoners”.
According to some narrations, they were given the choice to accept Islam and win freedom; or to teach 10 Muslims ‘how to read and write’ and win freedom. Otherwise, the ransom amount was fixed at 400 Dirhams per prisoner.

Like many other ‘Firsts’ of the history of mankind, Badr also set the first example of the treatment of prisoners of war. Their lives were spared; they were treated humanely; they were provided with shelter and fed properly, even when some Muslims did not have food to eat and survived on dates and water.

Sir William Muir, the famous British orientalist, known for his hostility towards Islam and Muslims, wrote:
“In pursuance of Mahomet’s commands, the citizens of
Medina and such of the emigrants who possessed houses,
received the prisoners and treated them with much
consideration. ‘Blessings be on the men of Medina’,
said one of these prisoners in the later days, ‘they made
us ride while they themselves walked. They gave us
wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it,
contenting themselves with dates’.”

The Battle of Badr is a constant reminder to the Muslims that if they fear Allah, the way Allah should be feared; and if they obey Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.), the way they should be obeyed, Allah’s help is guaranteed! Shouldn’t we be then grateful?

وَٱذْكُرُوۤاْ إِذْ أَنتُمْ قَلِيلٌ مُّسْتَضْعَفُونَ فِى ٱلأَرْضِ تَخَافُونَ
أَن يَتَخَطَّفَكُمُ ٱلنَّاسُ فَآوَاكُمْ وَأَيَّدَكُم بِنَصْرِهِ وَرَزَقَكُمْ
مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“Call to mind when you were a small (band), despised
through the land, and afraid that men might despoil and
kidnap you. But He provided a safe asylum for you,
strengthened you with His aid, and gave you Good things
for sustenance: that you might be grateful.”
(al-Quran 8:26)


Monday, 8 July 2013


There’s A Lesson In Petra (Jordan):

They Carved Out Houses In Mountains,
And Built Castles In The Plains
But Eventually Met Their Doom
Because They Defied Lord

(By: M. Javed Naseem)

Petra (or Patra or Batra) is an ancient historical site in Jordan. According to an Arab tradition, Petra is the place where Prophet Musa (Moses) struck a rock with his staff and water came forth. This is also the place where Musa’s brother Harun (Aaron) is buried, at Mount Hor, known today as “Jabal Haroun” or Mount Aaron. The ‘Wadi Musa’ (the Valley of Moses) or ‘Wadi of Moses’ is the Arab name for the narrow valley at the head of which Petra is situated. On the mountaintop, there was a shrine, said to be of Musa’s sister Miriam. It was still shown to pilgrims at the time of Jerome in the 4th century, but its location has not been identified since.

Anything that goes up, comes down. That’s the law of nature. Similarly, nations also rise and fall. They rise when they work hard, uphold great principles and strive with sincere passion to rise. But they fall when they take things for granted and let the corruption, abuse of power, manipulation, extortion, injustice and exploitation set in. Our planet earth is full of ruins that tell the stories of successes and failures of earlier nations. Most of these famous historical sites are located in the Middle East where, as per our limited knowledge, numerous prophets and messengers of Allah appeared.

According to the Quranic stories, Prophet Saleh was sent to the nation of Thamud. The area was Palestine (today’s Jordan, Lebanon, Israel & Syria). Prophet Saleh delivered the similar message of ‘Tawheed’ to his people as did Noah and Aad. The Thamud were very intelligent and competent people. They constructed big castles and palaces in the plains; and carved mountains to build houses. They built dams to manage water for irrigation and to counter draught. They achieved great feats in architecture. But they were arrogant oppressors of the poor.

 Mountain carved into a dwelling

Water was scarce at that time and the privileged class tried to prevent the poor and their cattle having access to water-springs and green pastures. The poor suffered at the hands of the rich. The story is narrated briefly in the Holy Quran.

وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحاً قَالَ يَاقَوْمِ
ٱعْبُدُواْ ٱللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ قَدْ جَآءَتْكُمْ
بَيِّنَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ هَـٰذِهِ نَاقَةُ ٱللَّهِ لَكُمْ آيَةً
فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِيۤ أَرْضِ ٱللَّهِ وَلاَ تَمَسُّوهَا
بِسُوۤءٍ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
‘To the Thamud people (We sent)
Saleh, one of their own brethren.
He said: O my people! Worship
Allah; ye have no other god but Him.
Now hath come unto you a clear
(Sign) from your Lord! This she-camel
of Allah is a Sign unto you. So leave
her to graze in Allah’s earth, and let
her come to no harm, or ye shall be
seized with a grievous punishment.’
(al-Quran 7:73)

The tribal leaders laughed at Saleh and advised others not to pay attention to him. People followed their tribal elders. Nobody wanted to quit idol-worship as it was being practiced there for generations. Saleh reminded people of One God Who had blessed them with bounties but they were not convinced. When man enjoys success and power, he thinks that he merits it, and has achieved it by his own talent and hard-work. It’s true to some extent but all talent and hard-work is vain if God’s blessing and guidance is not there. Man can claim success by grace of God alone because it is the Almighty God Who creates the circumstances leading to our success.
Saleh did not give up his mission and continued to remind Thamud people of Allah’s blessings:

وَٱذْكُرُوۤاْ إِذْ جَعَلَكُمْ خُلَفَآءَ مِن بَعْدِ عَادٍ
وَبَوَّأَكُمْ فِى ٱلأَرْضِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِن سُهُولِهَا
قُصُوراً وَتَنْحِتُونَ ٱلْجِبَالَ بُيُوتاً فَٱذْكُرُوۤاْ
آلآءَ ٱللَّهِ وَلاَ تَعْثَوْا فِى ٱلأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ
"And remember how He made you inheritors after
the Aad people and gave you habitations in the land.
You build for yourselves palaces and castles in
(open) plains, and hew out houses in the mountains.
So bring to remembrance the benefits (you have received)
from Allah, and refrain from evil and mischief on the earth."
(Quran 7:74)

Thamud people were the successors to the ancient tribe (or nation) of Aad for whom God sent His messenger Hud. And Hud came to pass after the era of Noah. It is said that Thamud were the offspring of Eber, the great-grandson of Noah. Allah knows best! Some scholars have described their region in the north-west of Arabia, between Madinah and Syria. As per tradition, centuries later, when Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) led his expedition to Tabuk against the Romans, on a reported Roman invasion from Syria, the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his companions came across the remains of Thamud.

Thamud had achieved great success and were considered the ‘most advanced’ in their material civilization. Their achievements made them arrogant and highly materialistic; and at the same time ‘godless’. They coined their own gods and worshipped idols.

Saleh told them that he was a messenger of God and they should listen to him. They should believe in the Oneness of God (Tawheed) and should worship none but Him. They should mend their sinful ways and repent otherwise God will punish them. But they ridiculed him and ask him to produce a proof or a miracle to support his claim.
Saleh told them that Allah had sent a sign in the form of a she-camel and that was a test for them. They should let the camel graze without any let or hindrance. If they ever tried to harm it, the wrath of Allah would fall upon them. But they rejected Saleh’s message and rebuked him. The chiefs of the tribes jeered at Saleh. They asked people not to believe what Saleh said. They challenged Saleh and as a token of defiance they hamstrung the camel.

فَعَقَرُواْ ٱلنَّاقَةَ وَعَتَوْاْ عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهِمْ وَقَالُواْ
يَاصَالِحُ ٱئْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَآ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ
فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ ٱلرَّجْفَةُ فَأَصْبَحُواْ فِى دَارِهِمْ جَاثِمِينَ
“Then they hamstrung the she-camel,
and insolently defied the order of
their Lord, saying: O Saleh! Bring
about your threats, if you are a
messenger (of Allah)! So, the
earthquake took them unaware,
and they lay prostrate in their
homes in the morning!”
(Quran 7:77-78)

According to the tradition, after slaying the camel, the people of Thamud were given three more days to turn to God in repentance but they asked for no repentance. Then on the night of the third day, a mighty blast occurred in the sky and a dreadful earthquake struck the town. The explosion struck the people of Thamud, and in a matter of minutes, they were buried in the ruins of their own homes. Majority of the people perished but Prophet Saleh and his followers (believers) were guided to safety, being just and righteous people. That was the sad end of Thamud.
ثُمَّ نُنَجِّى رُسُلَنَا وَٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ
كَذٰلِكَ حَقّاً عَلَيْنَا نُنجِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“In the end We deliver Our messengers
and those who believe; thus is it
fitting on Our part that We should
deliver those who believe!”
(Quran 10:103)

When you have strong faith in Allah, you have peace of mind and satisfaction. You know that any harm which is not meant for you, cannot touch you. A true believer (Muslim) knows that everything, beneficial or harmful, comes from God as a test of faith; and he needs to stay on the right path. Therefore, he has neither fear nor grief.

أَلاۤ إِنَّ أَوْلِيَآءَ ٱللَّهِ لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ 
“Behold! Verily on the friends of Allah
there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
(al-Quran 10:62)

Allah created Heavens and this earth in Truth and He governs the universe in Truth. He has certain principles and He never changes those principles for anybody, for anything and under any circumstances. He rewards us for all the good things we do in this life and He warns us of severe punishment of all the injustices and transgressions we commit. Success is only guaranteed to the true and sincere believers.

ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَكَانُواْ يَتَّقُونَ
لَهُمُ ٱلْبُشْرَىٰ فِى ٱلْحَياةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَفِى ٱلآخِرَةِ
لاَ تَبْدِيلَ لِكَلِمَاتِ ٱللَّهِ ذٰلِكَ هُوَ ٱلْفَوْزُ ٱلْعَظِيمُ
“Those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil, 
for them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in
the Hereafter. No change can there be in the words of Allah.
This is indeed the supreme triumph.”
(al-Quran 10:63-64)

As an intelligent being, when we should look at things in a positive way; and to satisfy our curiosity, we should try to find the answers to ‘how’ and ‘why’. This is the first step toward knowledge and research. All these great monuments of the ancient times tell us fascinating stories. But before we start digging, we have to scratch the surface gently and nicely. And the door to knowledge starts opening slowly.

 Rock-cut houses of Petra
Centuries later, some tribes, believed to be the later generations of Thamud people, made history by achieving material success. Notable among them were Edomites and then Nabataeans. Petra was declared ‘capital’ by the Nabataeans. They worshipped idols, just like the pre-Islamic Arab tribes. As a matter of fact, the Arab tribes were worshipping the same gods and goddesses at the advent of Islam when Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) declared his prophecy. King Obodas-I was given the status of god after his death; Dushara was the main male god accompanied by his female trinity: al-Uzza, al-Laat and Manaat. Many statues carved in the rocks of Petra depict these gods and goddesses. At the dawn of Islam, these statues were found even in the Holy Kaabah.
Interestingly, according to the researchers, Nabataean inscriptions in Sinai and other places display widespread references to names including Allah, El and Allaat (god and goddess), with regional references to al-Uzza, Baal and Manutu (Manaat). Al-Laat is also found in Sinai in south-Arabian language. Allah occurs particularly as Garm-allahi (Greek Garamelos) and Aush-allahi (Greek Ausallos). We find both Shalm-lahi (Allah is peace), and Shalm-allat (peace of the goddess). You can also find Amat-allahi (she-servant of god) and Halaf-Ilahi (the successor of Allah). adds:
Saleh, Sahlay or Șāliḥ (Arabic: صالح); meaning Pious, was an Arabic prophet of ancient Arabia mentioned in the Quran, who prophesied to the tribe of Thamud – a wicked community who, because of their sins, were ultimately destroyed. Saleh is sometimes equated with the Salah (biblical figure) of the Hebrew Bible. The preaching and prophecy of Saleh is linked to the famous Islamic story of the She-Camel, which was the gift given by God to the people of Thamud when they desired a miracle to confirm the truth of the message Saleh was preaching. Chronologically, scholars believe Saleh's prophesying to have been post-Antediluvian but pre-Abrahamic.
Thamud cannot be equated with the Edomites (the predecessors of Nabataeans) at Petra. Saleh was born before Abraham and the Edomites were a Semitic race. Historic Petra had several places of worship, and the main mountain at the site - Jebel al-Madhbah - is topped by two stone obelisks, suggesting the worship of deities via stone-phallic symbols. The narrow gorge leading to the site - known as the Siq - can sometimes channel the wind to produce a loud trumpet-like sound, and it is known by local Bedouin as the trumpet of God. The name of Saleh may originate in the name of the city, as it was historically known as Sela, a word deriving from the Hebrew term Se'lah, meaning rock; the Greek name Petra has the same meaning.
The prophet Saleh is not mentioned in any other Abrahamic scripture or contemporary historical text, and his account is only found in the Quran. However, the account of Thamud's destruction was well known in Pre-Islamic Arabia and among the Arabic tribes and their poets that they mentioned them (and the people of Aad) in some of their poetry, as a moral lesson and a bad end. Arab Jews knew about the stories of Thamūd and Aad from the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, but mostly as an Arabian tradition, and not as a matter of belief and faith.  
Petra (Arabic: البتراء, Al-Batrāʾ) is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma'an, that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as "a rose-red city half as old as time" in a Newdigate Prize-winning poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage. Petra was chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the "28 Places to See Before You Die”.
Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra not only possessed the advantages of a fortress, but controlled the main commercial routes which passed through it to Gaza in the west, to Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and Leuce Come on the Red Sea, and across the desert to the Persian Gulf.
Although in ancient times Petra might have been approached from the south on a track leading across the plain of Petra, around Jabal Haroun ("Aaron's Mountain"), where the Tomb of Aaron, said to be the burial-place of Aaron, brother of Moses, is located, or possibly from the high plateau to the north, most modern visitors approach the site from the east. The impressive eastern entrance leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge (in places only 3–4 m (9.8–13 ft) wide) called the Siq ("the shaft"), a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks and serving as a waterway flowing into Wadi Musa. At the end of the narrow gorge stands Petra's most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh (popularly known as "the Treasury"), hewn into the sandstone cliff.

Al-Khazneh (The Treasury)
Evidence suggests that settlements had begun in and around Petra in the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (1550–1292 BCE). It is listed in Egyptian campaign accounts and the Amarna letters as Pel, Sela or Seir. Though the city was founded relatively late, a sanctuary existed there since very ancient times. Although Petra is usually identified with Sela which means a rock, the Biblical references refer to it as "the cleft in the rock", referring to its entrance.
The ruins of Petra were an object of curiosity in the Middle Ages and were visited by Sultan Baibars of Egypt towards the end of the 13th century. The first European to describe them was Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.
Because the structures weakened with age, many of the tombs became vulnerable to thieves, and many treasures were stolen.

T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia):

In October 1917, Lawrence, as part of a general effort to divert Turkish military resources away from the British advance before the Third Battle of Gaza, led a small force of Syrians and Arabians in defending Petra against a much larger combined force of Turks and Germans. The Bedouin women living in the vicinity of Petra and under the leadership of Sheik Khallil's wife were recruited to fight in the defense of the city. The defenders were able to completely devastate the Turkish and German forces.
Petra was the main topic in John William Burgon's Poem Petra. Referring to it as the inaccessible city which he had heard described but had never seen. The Poem was awarded the Newdigate Prize in 1845:
It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.