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The Role of Ali (PBUH) in the Battle of Badr

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The Battle of Badr occupies a pivotal position in Islamic history and had a significant impact on Muslims, both psychologically and on the battlefield. It restored their confidence in Allah the Almighty and in themselves, as they had been a small group until then, subjected to various forms of torture and persecution, especially the emigrants among them, who were still under the impact of being unjustly expelled from their homes and families, without any means or way to escape this ordeal, which added to their problems. It is known that a person may sacrifice themselves for their dependents and children if there is hope for saving and protecting them.

What made the situation more critical was that Quraysh wanted to annihilate them in their place of migration, so they pursued them to Medina, where they had not yet settled or established a way back. They were in dire need of something to boost their morale, restore hope, and lift them out of the humiliation they were living in. The Holy Quran refers to this state, saying: “And Allah had already given you victory at [the battle of] Badr while you were few in number…”[1].

Divine Support

Given the Muslims’ state of weakness and humiliation, it was necessary to support and strengthen their hearts in both hidden and apparent ways. Thus, He supported them with angels, as He says: “When you were saying 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 comes upon you [attacking] in haste, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand angels having marks [of distinction]'”[2].

As for the apparent support, it was Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), who despite his young age and relatively new experience in warfare, according to external standards, became the ideal example and a good role model for Muslims in warfare and its arts. He had the most significant effect in changing the equation, restoring confidence to the believers in themselves, and convincing them of the possibility of victory despite the small number and lack of equipment, if they devoted their skulls to Allah and dedicated their religion to Him.

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The Myth of Quraysh’s Superiority

The Battle of Badr was not the first instance of the polytheists harassing Muslims. Quraysh, along with the Jews and Arab polytheists, aimed to instill fear in the hearts of Muslims by highlighting their superiority over Muslims, claiming that Muslims had no power or strength against them. Propaganda and media had a visible effect in this.

However, the greatest Prophet (PBUH) managed, with his wisdom and good management, to foil all these plots and thwart their media, by sending some detachments to cut off their caravans, making them understand that he and the Muslims were lying in wait for them. Thus, he (PBUH) was able to strengthen the Muslims’ resolve, bolster their support, and significantly cut off the artery of fear from their souls.

Ali (AS) played an important and dangerous role in these detachments, appearing in public and proving that Ali (AS) has a significant status in this noble religion.

Ali (AS) in the Battle

It is historically established that the Battle of Badr occurred in the blessed month of Ramadan, and Muslims were in a state of fasting and worship, which added to their exhaustion and weakened their physical condition, according to the material data of events. Additionally, they were outnumbered and out-equipped compared to Quraysh. Muslims numbered three hundred and thirteen men, facing nine hundred and fifty men from Quraysh. Muslims had two horsemen and seventy camels, while the polytheists had two hundred horses and seven hundred camels[3].

It is evident that this significant imbalance in the balance of power had a considerable impact on the morale of the fighters. According to material standards, it was impossible for victory to side with Muslims. Thus, it was necessary to demonstrate Allah’s power among them, despite their small number and limited equipment, which could not be achieved without Ali (AS). This indicates his esteemed status and Allah’s support for him. Imam Al-Baqir (AS) said: “A caller called from the sky on the day of Badr named Ridwan ‘There is no sword except Thulfiqar, and there is no youth except Ali'”[3], due to his severe punishment of the polytheists and his slaying of their necks.

A man from Bani Kinana entered upon Muawiyah and asked him if he had witnessed Badr. He said yes,….., He asked him to describe what he saw, and he said: “I saw Ali ibn Abi Talib, a young man, a lion, extraordinary, slicing through them; no one stood against him but he killed him, and he did not strike anything but he destroyed it. I saw no one among the people carry his load or look around like him. He had eyes in the back of his head as if his pounce was the pounce of a wild beast. And Ali (AS) was the one who killed the standard-bearers of Quraysh, and whenever a group of Quraysh gathered, he would charge at them and kill among them”[4].

The number of polytheist casualties in the Battle of Badr reached seventy-two men, and it is well-known among historians that Ali (AS) alone killed half of them and shared with the Muslims in the other half. However, the important point here is that those killed by Ali (AS) were the chiefs and heroes of their people.[5]

The Standard-bearer of the Muslims

It is known that the flag has great importance in wars, as it motivates the fighters and pushes them to fight fiercely for it. As long as the standard is raised and fluttering, the warriors fight in front of it, but when it falls, it signals defeat and surrender.

Therefore, the standard-bearer must possess courage, strength, and determination, as well as sincerity and devotion to the principle.

From this perspective, giving the standard of Muslims in Badr to Amir al-Mu’minin (AS), who was still in his twenties, can be explained. There were other priorities in the battle for divisions and special battalions given to some companions, with differences among historians. Some mentioned it was with Musab bin Umair, others with Saad bin Muadh, and a third with a man from the Ansar.

However, what is undisputed is that the grand banner was with Ali (AS), indicating that the general command of the fighters was in his (AS) hand after the Messenger of Allah (PBUH)[6].

This is an important indication of Ali’s (AS) capabilities and his position in Islam, showing that he is the safe haven for Muslims due to his valor in the Battle of Badr and the Prophet’s and Muslims’ confidence in his leadership despite his young age.

This meaning is also indicated by the fact that at the beginning of the war, the polytheists underestimated the Muslim men, calling out, “O Muhammad, bring us our equals from your people, or we will not fight you,” out of disdain and arrogance. The Prophet (PBUH) then commanded Ubayda ibn al-Harith ibn al-Muttalib, Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib, and Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). When Utbah ibn Rabi’ah asked about themselves, Hamza introduced himself, and Utbah said, “A noble opponent.” When he knew about Ubayda and Ali (AS), he said: “Two noble opponents.”

This also indicates that they saw Ali (AS) as a worthy opponent for their battle and accepted to face him, proving his importance and status among the heroes before that, which was also proven on the battlefield.

In summary, the Battle of Badr placed Ali (AS) at the forefront among Muslims, proving him to be the most deserving of the Prophet’s (PBUH) succession, whether in terms of the battlefield, his wisdom, correctness of opinion, his ability, and his dedication to the principle, and that without him, the war results would not have been in favor of the Muslims.

Written by: Sheikh Hatem Ismail translated by: S.a Almusawi


[1] Surah Al-Imran, verse: 123

[2] Surah Al-Imran, verses: 124-125

[3] In the Company of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, Sayyid Mohsen al-Amin, vol. 1, p. 171

[4] The Biography of the Twelve Imams, Hashim Ma’roof al-Husseini, vol. 1, p. 205

[5] The same previous source [6] The same previous source, p. 203

[6] In the Company of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 1, p. 171

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