JIHAD IN THE KORAN
Battle of Badr
Muhammad and his followers, after being run out of Mecca, took refuge in Medina from which they attacked the caravans passing between the Red Sea and the oasis city on their way to and from Mecca igniting a civil war. The first real battle of what would become a bloody fratricidal war was an attack on a force of an estimated one thousand Meccans sent to protect a large caravan which the Muslims intended to plunder.
The Prophet sent us as an army unit of three hundred warriors under the command of Abu Ubaida to ambush a caravan of the Quraish.
The Prophet initially wanted to attack the caravan before the Meccan forces could intervene, but Allah promised him a victory no matter which he chose to attack. With God’s guarantee, Muhammad decided on the Meccan armed detachment, a decision which did not meet with unanimous approval.
8:5 Just as when your (meaning Muhammad) Lord brought you out in truth from your house (to fight), though a group of the believers disliked it.
8:6 They disputed with you concerning the Truth after it had become manifest, as though they were being led to their deaths while looking on.
8:7 And [remember] how Allah promised you that one of the two [enemy] groups (the Meccan caravan of the Quraysh and the army which was sent to defend it) would be yours, and you wanted the unarmed one (the caravan) to be yours. Allah, however, willed the Truth to triumph in accordance with His Words and to cut off the remnants of the unbelievers.
8:8 So that He may cause the Truth to triumph and nullify falsehood, even though the wicked sinner dislike it.
To avoid His Messenger getting cold feet the night before the battle, in a dream Allah made the enemy appear to be much fewer, then repeated the same illusion the next day to a fully awake Prophet.
8:43 [Remember] when Allah showed them [O Muhammad] in your sleep as few. Had He showed them to you as many, you would have lost heart and you would have differed over the matter. But Allah saved you. He knows what is hidden in the hearts.
8:44 And [remember] when He showed them to you, as you met, few in your eyes, and made you few in their eyes; so that Allah might bring about a matter already decreed. And unto Allah shall all matters return.
If only Muhammad was subjected to the illusion of a small Meccan army, then the following verse, where the believers saw themselves outnumbered two to one, makes sense:
3:13 There surely was a sign for you in the two armies that confronted each other (at the Battle of Badr); the one side fighting for the cause of Allah, and the others consisting of unbelievers. The believers saw them with their very eyes to be twice their actual number. God will strengthen with His Might whomever He pleases. Surely, there is in this a lesson for those who are possessed of vision.
The Mohsin Khan Saudi-sponsored, supremacist, anti-Semitic translation disputes Allah’s estimate, making it 3-to-1, and the sign was for the Jews.
3:13 There has already been a sign for you (O Jews) in the two armies that met (in combat i.e. the Battle of Badr). One was fighting in the Cause of Allah, and as for the other, (they) were disbelievers. They (the believers) saw them (the disbelievers) with their own eyes twice their number (although they were thrice their number). And Allah supports with His Victory whom He wills. Verily, in this is a lesson for those who understand.
No matter their relative strength, the believers held the high ground. They would have abandoned that strategic position and attacked the caravan (“cavalcade” in Revelation 8:42) with disastrous results, had God not already decided how the battle should unfold.
8:42 While you were on the nearer side [of the valley] and they were on the farther side, with the cavalcade beneath you. Had you made an appointment, you would surely have failed to keep the appointment. But [this happened] so that Allah might bring about a matter already decreed, and that those who were to perish would perish after a clear proof [had been given], and those who were to survive would survive after a clear proof [had been given]. And surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
The Muslim army defeated the Meccans at the famous battle of Badr, with Allah taking credit for the victory. And why shouldn't He? After all, He did send an army of invisible angels to help the Muslims defeat their enemy, and made it possible for the believers to fall asleep, in an atypical rain, the night before the battle.
8:9 And when you called upon your Lord for help, He answered you: “I will reinforce you with a thousand angels following one another.”
8:10 Allah did this only as good tidings and that your hearts might be assured thereby. Victory comes only from Allah; Allah is indeed Mighty and Wise.
8:11 [Remember] when He allowed slumber to overcome you as an assurance from Him, and sent you water down from heaven so as to purify you, relieve you of the Devil’s temptation, fortify your hearts and steady your feet therewith. Words of encouragement for His angels:
Words of encouragement for His angels:
8:12 And when your Lord revealed to the angels: “I am with you; so support those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve; so strike upon the necks and strike every fingertip of theirs.”
8:13 That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger; and he who opposes Allah and His Messenger [will find] Allah’s Punishment very severe.
8:14 This is how it will be; so taste it; the torture of the Fire is awaiting the unbelievers.
Words of encouragement for the believers:
8:15 O believers, if you meet the unbelievers on the march, do not turn your backs upon them.
8:16 Whoever turns his back on that day, unless preparing to resume fighting, or joining another group, incurs Allah’s Wrath and his refuge is Hell; and what an evil fate!
8:45 O believers, if you encounter an enemy host, stand fast and remember Allah frequently, that perchance you may prosper.
8:46 And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you lose heart and your strength dissipates. And stand fast, for Allah is on the side of those who stand fast.
8:47 And do not be like those who went out of their homes boastfully showing off in front of the people, while they barred others from the Path of Allah. Allah is fully aware of what they do.
[8:47] alludes to the army of the disbelieving Quraysh, which, when it proceeded on a military expedition against the Muslims, was accompanied by singing and dancing minstrels.
Words of encouragement from Satan for the unbelievers. The Devil fled the battlefield before any actual engagement, which probably demoralized the opponents of the believers somewhat.
8:48 And the Devil made their [foul] deeds look fair to them saying: “No man shall overcome you today; and I am indeed by your side.” But when the two hosts sighed each other, he turned on his heels saying: “I am quit of you; I see what you do not see; I fear Allah, and Allah is stern in retribution.”
What about the hypocrites?
8:49 And the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a sickness said: “Their religion has mislead those people (the Muslims).” But he who trusts in Allah will find Allah is Mighty and Wise.
Strong winds lashed the battlefield. One wind blast, the Prophet told his fighters, was one thousand angels led by the archangel Gabriel coming to their aid.
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The Prophet said on the day (of the battle) of Badr, "This is Gabriel holding the head of his horse and equipped with arms for the battle.
The angels were not only there to fight, but also to carry the souls of the dead unbelievers to Hell.
8:50 And if you could only see when the angels carry off the unbelievers, striking their faces and their rears [saying]: “Taste the punishment of the Fire.”
8:51 That is on account of what you have done, and Allah is not unjust to His servants.
What did the Pharaoh’s people and the dead unbelievers at Badr have in common?
8:52 Just like the wont of Pharaoh’s people and those who preceded them; they disbelieved in their Lord’s Revelations; so Allah punished them for their sins. Allah is Strong and Stern in retribution.
8:53 That is because Allah never changes a favour He confers on a people unless they change what is in their hearts, and because Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
8:54 Just like the wont of Pharaoh’s people and those who preceded them; they denied Allah’s Revelations, so We destroyed them because of their sins and We drowned Pharaoh’s people. They were all wrongdoers.
The total number of enemy dead at the Battle of Badr was 70.
Narrated Al-Bara bin Azib:
On the day of Uhud the Prophet appointed Abdullah bin Jubair as chief of the archers, and seventy among us were injured and martyred. On the day (of the battle) of Badr, the Prophet and his companions had inflicted 140 casualties on the pagans, 70 were taken prisoners, and 70 were killed.
God reminded the believers as to Who who slewed them.
8:17 It was not you (those addressed are the Muslims) who slew them, but Allah; and when you (Muhammad) threw (the pebbles or a handful of dust at the enemy in retaliation) it was actually Allah who threw; so that He might generously reward the believers. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
Why Allah threw the dust:
8:18 That was done, so that Allah might foil the machinations of the unbelievers.
God again makes it clear that He is on the side of the believers.
8:19 If you seek victory, the victory has been granted you; and if you desist, it will be better for you; but if you come back, We will come back (We will again support the believers) and your forces will avail you nothing, however numerous they are. Allah is on the side of the believers.
Muhammad had one of his most vocal critics, the poet al-Nadr whom he spotted after the battle, beheaded on the spot, but he did show mercy to sixty or more other prisoners. He ignored demands that each be killed by a relative to avoid a blood feud, that they be burnt alive, and ordered that they be ransomed. He was exercising Allah’s prerogative.
3:127 That He may cut off a group of the unbelievers or humiliate them, so that they may turn away completely baffled.
3:128 It is no business of yours whether Allah forgives them or punishes them; for they are indeed evil-doers!
Spoils of Badr
Narrated Ibn Shihab:
These were the battles of Allah's Apostle (which he fought), and while mentioning (the Badr battle) he said, while the corpses of the pagans were being thrown into the well, Allah's Apostle said (to them), "Have you found what your Lord promised true?"
Abdullah said, "Some of the Prophet's companions said, "O Allah's Apostle! You are addressing dead people.'"
Allah's Apostle replied, "You do not hear what I am saying, better than they."
The total number of Muslim fighters from Quraish who fought in the battle of Badr and were given their share of the booty, were 81 men."
Az-Zubair said, "When their shares were distributed, their number was 101 men. But Allah knows it better."
After the battle there are the spoils and a discussion ensued as to who gets what. Those familiar with Jesus’ response in the Gospel of Luke to the question posed by the scribes, “Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" will see a similarity in the Prophet’s response to the question, “Who gets what?” The big difference is that Muhammad, as Allah’s Overseer on Earth, is entitled to both Allah’s and Caesar’s share.
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
8:1 They ask you about the spoils (taken by the Muslims after the Battle of Badr), say: “The spoils belong to Allah and to the Messenger. So fear Allah and settle your differences.” Obey Allah and His Messenger if you are true believers.
There is, of course, more to being a believer than simply being entitled to an unbeliever’s possessions, as Allah quickly reminds those whose focus is on the booty.
8:2 The true believers are whose hearts, upon the mention of Allah, quiver with fear; and when His Revelations are recited to them, they strengthen their faith. They put their trust in their Lord.
8:3 Those who perform the prayer, and spend of what We provided for them.
8:4 Those are in truth the believers; they shall enjoy with their Lord a high station and receive forgiveness and a generous provision.
God, in a subsequent revelation, decided on a more even-handed distribution of the booty.
8:41 And know that whatever booty you take, the fifth thereof is for Allah, the Messenger, the near of kin, the orphan and the wayfarer, if you really believe in Allah and in what We revealed to our Servant on the day of decision (the Battle of Badr), the day when the two hosts met. Allah has power over everything.
Dead pagans down the well and booty for the believers. What a God! This did not, however, stop the grumbling about how the alms were distributed.
9:58 And some of them disparage your handling of the alms. If they are given part of it they are satisfied, but if they are not given any, they turn away angrily.
9:59 And would that they were satisfied with what Allah and His Messenger gave them and said: “Allah suffices us; Allah will give us of His Bounty, as will His Messenger. We turn humbly to Him.”
The dissatisfaction may have had to do with the wealth that Muhammad spent in Allah’s Way which, as God explains in Revelation 9:60, is a legitimate charitable expense. It costs a lot of money to maintain an army fighting in Allah’s Path.
9:60 The alms are for the poor, the needy, their collectors and those whose hearts are bound together, as well as for the freeing of slaves, [repaying] the debtors, spending in Allah’s Path, and for the wayfarer. Thus Allah commands. Allah is All-Knowing, Wise.
Those whose hearts are to be won over.
A portion of Zakat Funds may also be given to win over to Islam those who might be engaged in anti-Islamic activities or to those in the camp of the unbelievers who might be brought to help the Muslims or to those newly converted Muslims, who might be inclined to revert to kufr if no monetary help was extended to them.
It is permissible to award pensions to them or give them lump sums of money to make them helpers of Islam or submissive to it or at least to render them into harmless enemies.
Sparrows at War
The Koran does mention another A.D. confrontation in which God spectacularly interfered with the outcome. In this battle He sent sparrows, not angels, to defeat His enemies. The following story about birds defeating an army on elephants is from Virgil Gheorghiu’s La vie de Mahomet, with supporting verses from the Koran.
The inhabitants of the Peninsula knew that Mecca was special to God even before the Prophet made it official. It is reported in the Traditions that in 570, the year of Muhammad’s birth, Abraha, the Christian ruler of the principality of Saba in Yemen (then part of the Abyssinian Empire), marched on Mecca after the Meccans allegedly tried to burn down a church he had built and which the Meccans feared would attract more converts to Christianity.
On the approach to Mecca, the elephant that Abraha was riding stopped and knelt on the ground, refusing to go any further. Suddenly, out of the sky appeared squadron after squadron of sparrows armed with pebbles with which they stoned the army of Abraha, killing all the estimated 60,000 men, their elephants, camels and horses.
As an example of how pre-Islamic mythology made its way into the Koran, one of the last surahs is dedicated to this unlikely encounter of which history has no record.
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
105:1 Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant?
105:2 Did he not turn their cunning into perdition?
105:3 And send upon them swarms of birds;
105:4 Hurling upon them stones of clay;
105:5 And so He reduced them to munched blades of grass.