THE BATTLE OF BADR
The great Empires of the Mediterranean and the Middle east, had for centuries been accustomed to raids across their borders by nomadic Arabian tribes. Though very troublesome, these raids never became a serious threat due to the political disunity of the Arabic peoples. However in the seventh century this was about to change dramatically, as a result of the prophet Mohammed, and the rise of Islam.
Mohammed Ben Abdullah was born in the city of Mecca in 571AD, Mohammed carried out a seemingly normal life as a merchant until at the age of forty, when he was struck by a vision from Allah. In the city of Mecca, Mohammed decided to spend the rest of his life in the service of Allah and teach his people to stop praying to idols and worship the one single God.
As Islam began to spread throughout the middle east, Mohammed was joined by followers to his new religion including the poor, slaves and outcasts of society. The city elders had grown suspicious of Mohammed's teachings and by 615 AD, the situation within Mecca had become dangerous, thus Mohammed and his followers fled to Ethiopia.
In 622 AD, after seven years in exile, the city residents of Medina (a commercial rival of Mecca) invited Mohammed to come and teach them about Islam. Mohammed was to use Medina as a permanent base to fight the ruling Arab classes of Mecca and all non believers of Islam.
The Arab’s first serious attempt at destroying Mohammed and his Islamic followers came at the small town of Badr in 624 AD. The Meccan forces under the command of the great chief Abu Jahl, numbered 3, 200 men ( 3,000 infantry and 200 cavalry ). In response to this threat Mohammed could only muster a mere 300 ill equipped followers.
Upon seeing Mohammed's inferior force before him, Abu Jahl became increasingly arrogant and felt no reason to give battle, deciding instead to completely ignore his adversary and hold a feast to entertain the other local chief’s accompanying him.
Suddenly a young Muslim stepped forward from Mohammed's lines and challenged Jahl to send forward a champion. Jahl's response was to send the fierce warrior Tolhah to slay the Muslim youth, who strangely sat motionless eyes shut and praying.
Although puzzled by the Muslim’s strange actions, the over confident Tolhah did not draw his sword as he came within weapons range, and was caught totally off guard when his adversary stopped praying and suddenly leapt from the ground drawing his saber and striking Tolhah down with one lightning blow.
Immediate shock and silence fell over the Meccan forces, but their silence was soon interrupted by the chorus of cheers emulating from the Muslim side of the battle field. Enraged by what he had just witnessed, Jahl immediately ordered his archers to open fire. The Muslim cheers quickly turned silent as the archers volleys struck them down.
Jahl then ordered his entire army forward in a general advance. The situation looked bleak for Mohammed when suddenly from the barren desert a violent sandstorm appeared and completely engulfed the advancing Meccan forces.
Mohammed saw the opportunity he needed and ordered his remaining men to attack. With great courage and valour the Muslim’s advanced into the storm catching the blind and confused Arab’s by surprise. When the storm had passed it was clear that the Meccan’s had been routed and put to flight, leaving behind many dead and wounded, including their commander.
battle losses were high in relation to the number of forces involved. Abu Jahl's army lost 600 men and an equal number seriously wounded in comparison to Muslim losses of 100. At Badr, the power of pagan Arabia had been shattered forever and this victory would pave the way for an Islamic Empire.
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