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History of Islam

Madinah receives the News of Victory
© Suhel Farooq Khan

Two heralds, ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah and Zaid bin Harithah were despatched to Madinah, to convey the glad tidings of victory to the Muslims there.

The multi-ethnic and ideological structure of Madinah featured different respective reactions. Rumour-mongers amongst the Jews and hypocrites spread news to the effect that the Prophet [PBUH] had been killed, and tried to impress their false assumption on the fact that Zaid bin Harithah was riding Al-Qaswâ’, the Prophet [pbuh]’s she-camel. Having reached, the two messengers imparted to the Muslims the happy news of victory, and furnished accurate information about the course of events in order to establish the sense of reassurance deep in the hearts of the anxious, but now, joyous Muslims. They immediately started acclaiming Allâh’s Name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices. Their chiefs went out of the city to wait and receive the Prophet [PBUH] on the road leading to Badr.

Usamah bin Zaid related that they received the news of the manifest victory shortly after Ruqaiyah, the Prophet [PBUH]’s daughter, and the wife of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan had been committed to earth. She had been terminally ill and the Prophet [PBUH] had asked ‘Uthman to stay in Madinah and look after her.

Before leaving the scene of the battle, dispute concerning the spoils of war arose among the Muslim warriors, as the rule relating to their distribution had not yet been legislated. When the difference grew wider, the Messenger of Allâh [PBUH] suspended any solution whereof until the Revelation was sent down.

‘Ubadah bin As-Samit said: "We went out with the Messenger of Allâh [PBUH] and I witnessed Badr with him. The battle started and Allâh, the Exalted, defeated the enemy. Some of the Muslims sought and pursued the enemy, some were intent on collecting the spoils from the enemy camp, and others were guarding the Messenger of Allâh [PBUH] and were on the alert for any emergency or surprise attack. When night came and the Muslims gathered together, those who had collected the booty said: "We collected it, so no one else has any right to it." Those who had pursued the enemy said: "You do not have more right to it than we do; we held the enemy at bay and then defeated them." As for the men who had been guarding the Prophet [PBUH], they also made similar claims to the spoils.

At that very time, a Qur’anic verse was revealed saying:

"They ask you (O Muhammad [PBUH]) about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils are for Allâh and the Messenger.’ So fear Allâh and adjust all matters of difference among you, and obey Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad [PBUH]), if you are believers."
Surah (Chapter) Anfal (The Spoils of War) Qur-an 8:1
 

On their way back to Madinah, at a large sand hill, the Prophet [pbuh] divided the spoils equally among the fighters after he had taken Al-Khums (one-fifth). When they reached As-Safra’, he ordered that two of the prisoners should be killed. They were An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and ‘Uqbah bin Abi Muait, because they had persecuted the Muslims in Makkah, and harboured deep hatred towards Allâh and His Messenger [PBUH]. In a nutshell, they were criminals of war in modern terminology, and their execution was an awesome lesson to oppressors. ‘Uqbah forgot his pride and cried out, "Who will look after my children O Messenger of Allâh?" The Prophet [pbuh] answered, "The fire (of Hell). [Sunan Abu Da'ud with 'Aun-ul-Ma'bood 3/12]" Did ‘Uqbah not remember the day when he had thrown the entrails of a sheep onto the head of the Prophet [PBUH] while he was prostrating himself in prayer, and Fatimah had come and washed it off him? He had also strangled the Prophet [PBUH] with his cloak if it had not been for Abu Bakr to intervene and release the Prophet [PBUH]. The heads of both criminals were struck off by ‘Ali bin Abi Talib.

At Ar-Rawhâ’, a suburb of Madinah, the Muslim army was received by the joyous Madinese who had come to congratulate the Prophet [pbuh] on the manifest victory that Allâh had granted him. Usaid bin Hudair, acting as a mouthpiece of the other true believers, after entertaining Allâh’s praise, he excused himself for not having joined them on grounds that the Prophet [PBUH]’s intention was presumably, an errand aiming to intercept a caravan of camels only, he added that if it had occurred to him that it would be real war, he would have never tarried. The Prophet [pbuh] assured Usaid that he had believed him.

The Prophet [PBUH] now entered Madinah as a man to be counted for in a new dimension — the military field. In consequence, a large number of the people of Madinah embraced Islam, which added a lot to the strength, power and moral standing of the true religion.

The Prophet [PBUH] exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.

Prisoners of war constituted a problem awaiting resolution because it was a new phenomenon in the history of Islam. The Prophet [PBUH] consulted Abu Bakr and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab as to what he should do with the prisoners. Abu Bakr suggested that he should ransom them, explaining this by saying: "They are after all our relatives, and this money would give us strength against the disbelievers, moreover, Allâh could guide them to Islam." ‘Umar advised killing them, saying, "They are the leaders of Kufr (disbelief)." The Prophet [PBUH] preferred Abu Bakr’s suggestion to that of ‘Umar’s. The following day, ‘Umar called on the Prophet [PBUH] and Abu Bakr to see them weeping. He showed extreme astonishment and inquired about the situation so that he might weep if it was worth weeping for, or else he would feign weeping.

The Prophet [PBUH] said that a Qur’ânic verse had been revealed rebuking them for taking ransom from the captives rather than slaying them:

"It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were it not a previous ordainment from Allâh, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took."
Surah (Chapter) Anfal (The Spoils of War) Qur-an 8:67

Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.
Surah
(Chapter) Anfal (The Spoils of War) Qur-an 8:68

The previous Divine ordainment went as follows,

So, when you meet (in fight-Jihad in Allah's Cause) those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives).Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them wihtout ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the ware lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue in ccarrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam and are saved from the punishmetn in the Hell-fire or at least come undr your prtection], but if it had been Allah's Will, He Himself could certinly have punished them (without you). But (he lets you fight) in order to test some of you with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.
Surah
(Chapter) Muhammad (Muhammad S) Qur-an 47:4

Which included an area providing permission to take ransom, that is why no penalty was imposed. They were rebuked only for taking prisoners before subduing all the land of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken to Madinah were not only prisoners of war but rather archcriminals of war whom modern war penal law brings to justice to receive their due sentence of death or prison for life.

The ransom for the prisoners ranged between 4000 and 1000 Dirhams in accordance with the captive’s financial situation. Another form of ransom assumed an educational dimension; most of the Makkans, unlike the Madinese, were literate and so each prisoner who could not afford the ransom was entrusted with ten children to teach them the art of writing and reading. Once the child had been proficient enough, the instructor would be set free. Another clan of prisoners were released unransomed on grounds of being hard up. Zainab, the daughter of the Prophet [PBUH], paid the ransom of her husband Abul-‘As with a necklace. The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace in deference to the Prophet [PBUH] but on condition that Abul-‘As allow Zainab to migrate to Madinah, which he actually did.

In captivity, there was also an eloquent orator called Suhail bin ‘Amr. ‘Umar suggested that they pull out his front teeth to disable him from speaking, but the Prophet [PBUH] turned down his suggestion for fear Quraish should retaliate in the same manner on one hand, and on the other for fear of Allâh’s wrath on the Day of Resurrection.

Sa‘d bin An-Nu‘man, a lesser pilgrim detained in Makkah, was released in return for setting Abu Sufyan’s son, a captive, free.

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