: Prisoners of War - Battle of Badr


Emad Fadel
10-06-2010, 06:40 AM
Imām Ahmad relates on the authority of `Umar Ibn al-Khaţţāb: On the day of the battle, God inflicted a heavy defeat on the unbelievers, with 70 of them killed and 70 taken prisoner. The Prophet consulted some of his companions about what to do with the prisoners. Abū Bakr said: `Messenger of God, these are our cousins and tribesmen. I suggest that you take ransom from them, which we could use to improve our position vis--vis the unbelievers. Besides, they will still have a chance to follow Gods guidance and thus come to support us. The Prophet then asked `Umar Ibn al-Khaţţāb for his view, and `Umar said: `I do not share Abū Bakrs view. I suggest that you give me my relative to kill, and you give `Aqīl Ibn Abī Ţālib to his brother `Alī to kill, and you give Ĥamzah his brother to kill. We thus demonstrate in front of God that we have no sympathy whatsoever with the unbelievers. After all, these are their elite. The Prophet felt more inclined to Abū Bakrs view and accepted ransom from them.
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Umar continues his account of this event: On the next day, I went to the Prophet to find him and Abū Bakr with tears in their eyes. I said: `What makes you and your Companion cry? If I find it in me to cry, I will, and if not, I will pretend to join you in your crying. The Prophet said that they were crying because of what our Companions advised of taking ransom. I have been shown the punishment you would have suffered closer to you than this tree, (pointing to a nearby tree.) Soon afterwards, these verses were revealed: {It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war unless he has battled strenuously in the land. You may desire the fleeting gains of this world, but God desires for you the good of the life to come. God is Almighty, Wise. Had it not been for a decree from God that had already gone forth, you would have been severely punished for what you have taken. Enjoy, then, what you have gained, as lawful and good, and remain God-fearing; indeed God is much Forgiving, most Merciful.} [al-Anfaal: 67-69] This last verse makes it clear that the spoils of war are lawful to take. [This hadīth is also related by Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, and al-Tirmidhī with different chains of transmission]


Imām Ahmad relates on Anass authority: The Prophet consulted his companions concerning the captives taken in the Battle of Badr, saying to them: God has given you power over them. `Umar stood up and said: `Messenger of God, kill them. The Prophet turned away from him, and then said: God has given you power over them, and only yesterday they were your brethren. `Umar repeated his suggestion, but the Prophet turned away from him and repeated his question. Abū Bakr stood up and said: Messenger of God, it may be wise to pardon them and accept ransom from them. The Prophets face cheered up. Then God revealed the verse saying: {Had it not been for a decree from God that had already gone forth, you would have been severely punished for what you have taken.} [al-Anfaal: 68]
Gods Preferred Option

Yet another hadīth reported by `Abdullāh Ibn Mas`ūd explains this incident. On the day of Badr the Prophet asked his Companions what they thought he should do about prisoners of war. Abū Bakr said: 'Messenger of God, they are your own people and your tribesmen. Spare them and offer them the chance to repent of their past attitude.' `Umar said: 'Messenger of God, they have accused you of lying and they have chased you out of your city. Put them to death.' `Abdullāh Ibn Rawāhah said: `Messenger of God, you are now in a valley where there is a lot of wood. Light a big fire and throw them into it. The Prophet remained silent making no rejoinder, and then he went into his home. Some people thought he would take Abū Bakrs view, and others thought `Umars view would be upheld; while still others felt that the Prophet might adopt the view of `Abdullāh Ibn Rawāĥah. The Prophet then came out and said: "God makes some peoples hearts so soft that they become softer than milk and He makes other peoples hearts harden until they become harder than bricks. Abū Bakr, your attitude is similar to that of Abraham (peace be upon him) as he said, he that follows me belongs to me. As for him who disobeys me, well, You (God) are surely most Forgiving, Merciful. [Quran 14: 36] And you are also like Jesus (peace be upon him) as he said: If You (God) punish them (Jesus' people), they are Your servants; and if You forgive them, You are indeed Almighty, Wise. [ Quran 5: 118] As for you `Umar, you are like Moses (peace be upon him) as he said: Our Lord, wipe out their wealth and firm up their hearts so they would not believe until they see painful torment. [Quran: 88] And you are also like Noah (peace be upon him) as he said: My Lord, do not leave on earth a single unbeliever. [Quran 71: 26] You are in poverty, so no one may be set free without a ransom, or else, he should be beheaded.
Imām Ahmad relates on the authority of `Umar Ibn al-Khaţţāb: On the day of the battle, God inflicted a heavy defeat on the unbelievers, with 70 of them killed and 70 taken prisoner. The Prophet consulted some of his companions about what to do with the prisoners. Abū Bakr said: `Messenger of God, these are our cousins and tribesmen. I suggest that you take ransom from them, which we could use to improve our position vis--vis the unbelievers. Besides, they will still have a chance to follow Gods guidance and thus come to support us.

The Prophet then asked `Umar Ibn al-Khaţţāb for his view, and `Umar said: `I do not share Abū Bakrs view. I suggest that you give me my relative to kill, and you give `Aqīl Ibn Abī Ţālib to his brother `Alī to kill, and you give Ĥamzah his brother to kill. We thus demonstrate in front of God that we have no sympathy whatsoever with the unbelievers. After all, these are their elite. The Prophet felt more inclined to Abū Bakrs view and accepted ransom from them.


`Umar continues his account of this event: On the next day, I went to the Prophet to find him and Abū Bakr with tears in their eyes. I said: `What makes you and your Companion cry? If I find it in me to cry, I will, and if not, I will pretend to join you in your crying. The Prophet said that they were crying because of what our Companions advised of taking ransom. I have been shown the punishment you would have suffered closer to you than this tree, (pointing to a nearby tree.)

Soon afterwards, these verses were revealed: {It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war unless he has battled strenuously in the land. You may desire the fleeting gains of this world, but God desires for you the good of the life to come. God is Almighty, Wise. Had it not been for a decree from God that had already gone forth, you would have been severely punished for what you have taken. Enjoy, then, what you have gained, as lawful and good, and remain God-fearing; indeed God is much Forgiving, most Merciful.} [al-Anfaal: 67-69] This last verse makes it clear that the spoils of war are lawful to take. [This hadīth is also related by Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, and al-Tirmidhī with different chains of transmission]


Imām Ahmad relates on Anass authority: The Prophet consulted his companions concerning the captives taken in the Battle of Badr, saying to them: God has given you power over them. `Umar stood up and said: `Messenger of God, kill them. The Prophet turned away from him, and then said: God has given you power over them, and only yesterday they were your brethren. `Umar repeated his suggestion, but the Prophet turned away from him and repeated his question. Abū Bakr stood up and said: Messenger of God, it may be wise to pardon them and accept ransom from them. The Prophets face cheered up. Then God revealed the verse saying: {Had it not been for a decree from God that had already gone forth, you would have been severely punished for what you have taken.} [al-Anfaal: 68]


Gods Preferred Option


Yet another hadīth reported by `Abdullāh Ibn Mas`ūd explains this incident. On the day of Badr the Prophet asked his Companions what they thought he should do about prisoners of war. Abū Bakr said: 'Messenger of God, they are your own people and your tribesmen. Spare them and offer them the chance to repent of their past attitude.' `Umar said: 'Messenger of God, they have accused you of lying and they have chased you out of your city. Put them to death.' `Abdullāh Ibn Rawāhah said: `Messenger of God, you are now in a valley where there is a lot of wood. Light a big fire and throw them into it.

The Prophet remained silent making no rejoinder, and then he went into his home. Some people thought he would take Abū Bakrs view, and others thought `Umars view would be upheld; while still others felt that the Prophet might adopt the view of `Abdullāh Ibn Rawāĥah. The Prophet then came out and said: "God makes some peoples hearts so soft that they become softer than milk and He makes other peoples hearts harden until they become harder than bricks. Abū Bakr, your attitude is similar to that of Abraham (peace be upon him) as he said, he that follows me belongs to me. As for him who disobeys me, well, You (God) are surely most Forgiving, Merciful. [Quran 14: 36] And you are also like Jesus (peace be upon him) as he said: If You (God) punish them (Jesus' people), they are Your servants; and if You forgive them, You are indeed Almighty, Wise. [ Quran 5: 118] As for you `Umar, you are like Moses (peace be upon him) as he said: Our Lord, wipe out their wealth and firm up their hearts so they would not believe until they see painful torment. [Quran: 88] And you are also like Noah (peace be upon him) as he said: My Lord, do not leave on earth a single unbeliever. [Quran 71: 26] You are in poverty, so no one may be set free without a ransom, or else, he should be beheaded.