Battles in the Quran: The Battle of Badr

The first major battle in Islam, the battle of Badr took place 70 miles outside Madinah in the year 2AH between 1000 polytheist Makkans and 313 Muslims. It was a significant event that made the Muslims a force in the region.

warror on a horse
World war officer (or warrior) rider on horse with a sword ready to fight and soldiers on a dark foggy toned background. Battle scene battlefield of fighting soldiers. Selective focus

Following unimaginable amounts of persecution and torture, the Muslims had suffered enough at the hands of the polytheists of Makkah, who still tried to attack and kill them even after the migration to Madinah.

In the second year of Hijrah (migration), a caravan of the Meccans, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan, went to Syria.  Sensing trouble, on his return he sent a message to Mecca asking for help as he feared an attack from the Muslims.

What led to the Battle of Badr?

Despising the Muslims as much as he did, Abu Jahl, one of the highest in rank and most vile leaders of Makkah at the time, marched with 1000 soldiers to go and assist Abu Sufyan.

The caravan of Abu Sufyan was thought to have carried a lot of wealth and provisions, so on hearing this, Prophet Muhammed SAW gathered 313 men from among the Muhajireen – migrants of Makkah – and the Ansar – residents of Madinah – and led them forward to defend Islam.

Along with the 313 men were 3 horses and 70 camels. This was nothing in numbers compared to the strength of the Mushrikeen (polytheists) of Makkah.

Where did battle of Badr take place?

Battle of Badr map
Map of the Battle of Badr

The battle of Badr took place around 70 miles from the city of Madinah in a very mountainous region of Arabia. This today would be approximately 100 miles travelling on road by a car, and would take around 1 hour and 30 minutes to get there.

Abu Sufyan got his caravan safely away from the Muslims so he sent another message to say the caravan was safe, but Abu Jahl had other ideas.  He had been making preparations for a long time and was not prepared to turn back the army he had assembled, consisting of 700 camels and 300 horses and very well equipped and trained men. 

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Prophet Muhammed SAW reached the mountainous region of Badr – which was approximately 70 miles from Madinah and made supplications to Allah SWT, requesting His help and assistance.

Allah sent His mercy and help against the unbelievers and the Muslims won the battle.  Seventy of the unbelievers were killed including Abu Jahl.  The result of this first battle considerably strengthened the Muslims and their cause.

‘Already there has been for you a sign in the two armies which met – one fighting in the cause of Allah and another of disbelievers. They saw them (to be) twice their (own) number by (their) eyesight. But Allah supports with His victory whom He wills. Indeed in that is a lesson for those of vision.’

Quran [3:13]

How many angels were in the Battle of Badr?

‘And already had Allah given you victory at (the battle of) Badr while you were few in number. Then fear Allah; perhaps you will be grateful – (Remember) when you said to the believers, “Is it not sufficient for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down? – Yes, if you remain patient and conscious of Allah and the enemy come upon you (attacking) in rage, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand angels having marks (of distinction)’ 

Quran [3:123-125]

The more they were patient despite their fear; the more the Lord helped them with a heavenly host. So at the initial instance that they pleaded for help, the Lord promised them 1000 angels, as a first wave of support, which was followed up by rank upon rank of more angels.

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Then, the Prophet (SAW) encouraged them to stay the course for more divine support, in the form of 3000 angels, and when they showed true faith despite the oppression, Allah would pour even more of His divine mercy onto the believers, with another wave, making it 5000 angels.

In fact, an authentic narration has supported this, when Rabee’ ibn Anas says: “Allah aided the Muslims on the day of Badr with 1000 [angels], then He increased them in help, so they were 3000, then He increased them in help, so they were 5000.” [as quoted in Fath al Bari, al-Asqalani]

Allah knows best what the exact number was.

Names of those that died in the battle of Badr?

There were 14 martyrs in the battle of Badr. Their names have been inscribed on a marble plaque at the badr site. They are as follows:

  1. Sayyiduna ‘Umayr ibn Abi Waqas. RA
  2. Sayyiduna Safwan ibn Wahb. RA
  3. Sayyiduna Dhu-Shimalayn ibn ‘Abdi. RA
  4. Sayyiduna Mihja’ ibn Salih. RA
  5. Sayyiduna ‘Aqil bin al-Bukayr. RA
  6. Sayyiduna ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Harith. RA
  7. Sayyiduna Sa’ad ibn Khaythama. RA
  8. Sayyiduna Mubashir ibn ‘Abd al-Mundhir. RA
  9. Sayyiduna Harithah ibn Suraqah. RA
  10. Sayyiduna Rafi’ ibn Mu’ala. RA
  11. Sayyiduna ‘Umayr ibn Humam. RA
  12. Sayyiduna Yazid ibn al-Harith. RA
  13. Sayyiduna Mu’awidh ibn al-Harith. RA
  14. Sayyiduna ‘Awf ibn al-Harith. RA

May Allah have mercy on them all and grant them the highest levels of paradise. Ameen.

horses in Battle of Badr

How many Quraish died in Badr?

From the army of the polytheists of Makkah, 70 were killed. Most of these were commanders and generals of the huge army and this included Abu Jahl. Another 70 were captured as prisoners of war, who were later ransomed back to the Meccans.

Prisoners of war who are captured by a Muslim army are not treated like other armies would if they captured them. They are still treated fairly and given provisions and they are given chances to live, either by being bought back by their people or converting to Islam, hoping that after seeing the beautiful ways of Islam, they would end up converting. The prisoners would also be given chances by becoming slaves of the believers and helping and serving the believers.

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An incident demonstrating this is mentioned in Sahih Al-Bukhari:

Jâbir RA relates: “After the Battle of Badr, prisoners of war were brought. Among them was al-`Abbas. He did not have a shirt on, so the Prophet SAW looked for a shirt for him. It turned out that a shirt of `Abdullah b. `Ubayy was the right size, so the Prophet gave it to al-`Abbas to wear and compensated `Abdullah with his own shirt.” 

Sahih Al-Bukhari

Which Quran Surah talks about Badr?

Surah Al-Anfal (Spoils of War No. 8) was revealed on the occasion of the battle of Badr.  The rules and laws relating to war and peace were codified in this chapter.  The chapter also mentions the divine help that Allah sent down and how the Muslims should rid themselves of pride and arrogance that might creep in after the victory, just as it had done to the Meccans upto now.

The objectives for which the Prophet (SAW) launched the battle were described as well as directing the Muslims to the merits and qualities which brought about the momentous victory.

‘And remember when you were few and oppressed in the land, fearing that people might abduct you, but He sheltered you, supported you with His victory, and provided you with good things – that you might be grateful.’

Quran [8:26]

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