The first battle between thc Muslims and the Quraish of Mecca took place at Badr sixty miles from Madina on the trade route to Syria. A divine revelation had prepared the Muslims for Jihad. The revelation was:
"Fight in the way of God, with those who fight against you; but transgress not, for God loveth not the transgressors."
It was a cold day in January 624 A.D. when the Holy Prophet and his army reached the valley of Badr. Intelligence was brought that the Quraish army was encamped beyond a sandhill at the other end of the narrow plain.
The Muslims hastened to take possession of the only stream of water in the valley. The Muslims prayed to God for help. The Holy Prophet prayed, "O Lord, forget not Thy promise of assistance, for if this little band were to perish; there will be none to offer thee worship."
The Muslim army consisted of 313 men. They had only two horses and 70 camels. The Quraish army consisted of a thousand persons, and they had a cavalry of 200 horsemen and 100 camels. The Muslims were poorly equipped, but the Quraish were well armed.
The battle began early in the morning. The heralds of the Quraish stepped forward and poured insults and abuses on the Muslims. The Muslims replied with the shouts of "Allah-oAkbar."
Then three of the Quraish leaders Utba, Shaiba, and Walid stepped forward and challenged the Muslims to single combat. The challenge was accepted by Ali, Ubaida, and Hamza on behalf of the Muslims. In the duels that followed Ali killed Walid; Ubaida killed Shaiba; and Hamza killed Ttba. The Quraish army was stunned at the death of its three chosen leaders.
Then the general battle began. The ground on which the Muslims stood was hard and firm, being the sloping ground of a hill, while the Quraish were encamped on a sandy soil. Rain had fallen during the previous night. It had softened the ground where the Quraish stood and hardened the ground under the Muslims. The Quraish found the soil difficult to tread upon, and this was a great handicap for them. The Quraish were cut off from all water, as the only stream and the source of water was in the occupation of the Muslims. When the battle began the sun stared in the face of ihe Quraish warriors, which greatly confused them. The Muslims fought with the sun at their back, and this was a great advantage for them.
When the battle was at its height, the Holy Prophet picked up a handful of pebbles and threw them in the direction of the enemy saying, "Confusion seize them!"
And then a dust storm arose. It blew into the faces of the Quraish warriors. At this stage the Holy Prophet ordered a general charge. The Muslims rushed forward borne on the crest of the dust storm. Soon the hard-pressed Quraish fled in disorderly rout. The battle ended in the victory for the Muslims. Seventy men of the Quraish lay dead on the battle field. Only fourteen Muslims were martyred. Seventy persons from among the Quraish were captured alive. The rest of the Quraish escaped and fled to Mecca. The booty that the Muslims were able to capture comprised 11 camels, 14 horses, and considerable equipment and armour.
Throughout this battle Umar was the right hand of the Holy Prophet. Among the Quraish who took part in the battle all tribes of the Quraish were represented except the Banu Adi the tribe to which Umar belonged. No person from the Banu Adi fought against the Muslims at the battle of Badr, and this was attributed to the great regard in which Umar was held by his clan. On the other hand many persons belonging to Banu Adi who had been converted to Islam fought on the side of the Muslims under the leadership of Umar.
Among the Quraish who fought against the Muslims was Asi bin Hisham bin Mughirah a respectable Quraish noble. He was a brother of the mother of Umar and his maternal uncle. Umar maintained that all ties of relationship had ceased to exist between the Muslims and the polytheists. He singled out his maternal uncle and killed him in the battle.
The first person to be martyred in the battle was Mahja, a slave of Umar Umar thus came to claim the honour that the first Muslim to be martyred in the cause of Islam was a slave who belonged to him.
The Muslims returned to Madina along with the Quraish captives. Out of the prisoners many were eminent Quraish nobles. These included Abbas an uncle of the Holy Prophet; Aqil a brother of Ali; Abul Aas and Walid bin al-Walid. The sight of these chieftains coming as humble prisoners was very touching. On seeing them Saudah a wife of the Holy Prophet observed, "You come as prisoners; why did you not die on the battle-field?"
The Holy Prophet consulted his companions as to how these captives should be treated. Umar took the strong line and urged that unless these persons accepted Islam they should be killed. He suggested that each Muslim should kill his own kinsman among the prisoners; that Hamzah should kill Abbas and Ali should sever the head of Aqil.
Abu Bakr took the softer line. He suggested that they should be set free on ransom.
The Holy Prophet said that as God had given them victory, it was necessary for them to show mercy to the fallen enemy. He, therefore, agreed to set the captives free on ransom.
About the fate of the captives of Badr, Abu Bakr and Umar held contrary views. Abu Bakr took the lenient view, while Umar took the sterner view.
After taking into consideration both the views, the Holy Prophet said:
"Almighty God softens the hearts of some people-softer than milk. And He hardens the hearts of some people-harder than stone."
Turning to Abu Bakr who had counselled a lenient view, the Holy Prophet said:
"Abu Bakr you are like Abraham who said, 'He who follows me is one of us, and he who disobeys me, then O God, You are gracious enough to forgive'. And Abu Bakr you are also like Jesus who said, 'If you punish them they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, You are All Powerful, Mighty and Wise."
Turning to Umar, the Holy Prophet said:
Umar, you are like Noah who said, 'O God, do not leave on the earth a single unbeliever.' And Umar you are also like Moses who said, 'O God destroy their properties and harden their hearts so that they are not converted till they have suffered punishment."
The Holy Prophet accepted the advice of Abu Bakr and acted accordingly.
The following day, Umar visited the Holy Prophet, and saw that both the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr were weeping.
Umar addressing the Holy Prophet said:
"What is it that makes you weep. Tell me, so that if there is any matter to be grieved over, I may also weep with you."
The Holy Prophet said:
"Umar, there is nothing for you to be grieved over. On the other hand you should rejoice that God has upheld the view that you had taken about the captives of Badr, and admonished those who had taken a contrary view."
Umar's curiosity was awakened and he wanted know what exactly was the revelation. The Holy Prophet recited the verses that had been revealed:
"It is not fitting for an Apostle
Umayr bin Wahb was one of the leaders of the Quraish of Mecca who used to molest the Holy Prophet and his companions while at Mecca, and caused them considerable distress.
In the battle of Badr many of the relatives of Umayr were killed, and one of his sons Wahb was taken prisoner.
After the battle of Badr while one day Abu Sufiyan and Umayr sat in the Ka'bah at Mecca and exchanged views about the battle of Badr, Abu Sufiyan referring to the Quraish discomfiture said, "By God, there is no good in life now that they are dead."
Umayr said. "You are right. Were it not for a debt outstanding against me which I cannot discharge, and a family I cannot afford to leave unprovided for, I would ride to Madina and kill the Prophet."
Abu Sufiyan said, "If you have such noble thoughts I undertake to discharge your debt. I also undertake to take care of your family, and all that I have shall be theirs."
The pact was struck, and Umayr undertook to ride to Madina and kill the Prophet. Umayr took his sword, sharpened it, smeared it with poison and rode to Madina.
One day while in the Prophet's mosque at Madina, Umar was talking with some of his friends about the battle of Badr and mentioning how God had honoured them in giving them victory over the Quraish, he suddenly saw Umayr alight at the door of the mosque, girt with his sword.
Seeing him, Hadarat Umar said, "This dog the enemy of God is Umayr bin Wahb. By God he has come with some evil purpose."
Then Umar went to the Holy Prophet and said "O Prophet of God! this enemy of God, Umayr bin Wabb, has come girt with his sword." The Holy Prophet asked Umar to let Umayr come in.
Umar came to Umayr, and seizing his bandoleer he gripped him round the neck with it. He called the Muslims who were in the mosque, and asked them to sit around the Holy Prophet and watch the rascal Umayr carefully for he was not to be trusted.
When the Holy Prophet saw Umar grasping Umayr's bandoleer round his neck he told Umar to leave Umayr and let him advance.
Umayr came up and according to the pagan way said, "Good morning."
The Holy Prophet said, "God has honoured us with a better form of greeting O Umayr. It is 'Salaam', thc greeting of the inhabitants ot the paradise."
After a while, the Holy Prophet ashed Umayr what had brought him to Madina.
Umayr said, "I have come about the release of my son."
"Then why have you a sword round your neck," asked the Holy Prophet.
Umayr said, "God damn these swords. Have they done us any good?"
"What has brought you?" asked the Holy Prophet again.
Umayr said that he had come to secure the release of his son.
The Holy Prophet said, "Did you not make a pact with Abu Sufiyan? Did he not undertake the responsibility to discharge your debt and look after your family? Did you not sharpen your sword and smear it with poison?"
"That's enough" said Umayr, "All this was secret known to no one. God alone must have told you of that. You are verily the Prophct of God".
Thereupon Umayr declared the article of faith and was converted to Islam. His son was released, and he too was converted to Islam.
Thereafter Umayr returned to Mecca, and he called the Quraish to Islam for that was the true faith.