The first prophecy
Sirat p. 290
Atika saw a vision which frightened her. She sent to her brother al-Abbas, saying: “Brother, last night I saw a vision whcih bfrightened me, and I am afraid that evil and misfortune will come upon your people, so treat what I tell you as a confidence.” He aksed what she had seen, and she said: “I saw a rider coming upon a camel who halted in the valley. Then he cried at the top of his voice: “Come forth, Oh people, ´do not leave yor men to face a disaster what will come upon you in three days time.” I saw the people flock to him, and then he went into the mosque with the people following him. While they were round him, his camel mounted to the top of the Ka’aba. Then he called out again, using the same words. Then his camel monted to the top of Abu Qubays [a mountain nearby], and he cried out again. Then he seized a rock and loosened it, and it began to fall, unitl at the bottom of the mountain it split into pieces. There was not a house or a dwelling in Mecca but received a bit of it. This dream is immediately recognized as a vision by the Meccans. Al-Abbas said: “By Allah, this is indeed a vision, and you had better keep quet about it and not tell anyone.” But the story soon escaped into the town talk of Mecca. Soon after: Abu Jahl said [addressing the Muttalib family, to which Muhammad belonged]: “Oh Banu Abdul-Muttalib, since when have you had a prophetess among you?” [..] “Are you not satisfied that your men should play the prohet, that your women should do so also? Atika has alleged that in her vision someone said: “Come forth to war in three days.” We shall keep an eye on you these three days, and if what she says is true, then it will be so; but if the three days pass and nothing happens, we will write you down as the greatest liars of the temple people among the Arabs.” Story out, the idea to have another prophet in the family is not particular appealing. And a woman, at that! The solution to this is obvious: Wait out the three days, and declare her a liar if nothing happened. On the third day after Atika’s vision, Abu Jahl heard the voice of Damdam crying out in the bottom of the wadi, as he stood upon his camel, having cut his nose, turned his saddle around, and rent his shirt, while he was saying: “Oh Qurays, the transport camels, the transport camels! Muhammad and his companions are lying in wait for your property which is with Abu Sufyan. I do not think that you will overtake it. Help! help!” The vision of Atika had an interesting quality: It was prophetic. After three days, indeed comes a rider on a camel calling out in warning to the Quraysh. One might wonder if this is not a problem for the claim of Muhammad to be a prophet? After all, the prophets of Israel had this quality of visions useful to guide their people. But the point is actually rendered moot, for Islam has an additional meaning to the word ‘prophet’, namely to be a divine messenger handing out the scripture stored in heaven since the beginning of time. It is thus the revelations that earn Muhammad the title of prophet, not prophecies in the traditional sense.
Quraysh prepare to go to Badr
Sirat p. 291
The men prepared quickly, saying “Do Muhammad and his companions think this is going to be like the caravan of Ibn Hadrami? By Allah, they will soon know that it is not so.” Every man of them either went himself or sent someone in his place. The Meccans apparently had a basic solidarity inside their clan. When a caravan is under threat, everyone sends someone to participate in the rescue force. However, a squabble breaks out among the Quraysh over outstanding blood (= unavenged murder). A young man is killed before the score is settled, and eventually the rescue force sets in motion. For details, see the original.
Muhammad sets out
Sirat p. 292
Muhammad set out in the month of Ramadan. What – in Ramadan? The tradition of the Arabs was not to fight during the Ramadan, presumably to enable the passage of caravans without the burden of having to provide strong escorts. On the other hand, we saw earlier that Allah granted his permission for fighting in the holy month, as long as it was for the benefit of Islam. Muhammad was preceded by two black flags, one with Ali called al-Uqab and the other with one of the Ansar. His companions had seventyh camels on which men rode in turns. Black flags are used by the Jihad warriors of our days as well.
Scouting and council
Sirat p. 293
Muhammad sent Basbas b. Amr al-Juhani and Adiy b. Abu to Badr to scout for news about Abu Sufyan and his caravan. News came to him that Quraysh had set out to protect their caravan, and he told the poeple of this and asked their advice. [Future Caliph] Abu Bakr and then [future Caliph] Umar got up and spoke as well. The news of the rescue force is obviously worrisome to Muhammad, who had expected an easy fight with an unprotected caravan. For once, we see him asking advice from his companions (not from Allah, interestingly). There’s something weird here. Muhammad countless times promised the early Muslims either abundant booty in this life, or martyrdom and the rewards of paradise in the next. Himself, being in direct contact with Allah, should have less doubt about this message than anyone else. So why hesitate? It should be a win-win deal to proceed without heistation. Then al-Miqdad got up and said: “Oh, messenger of Allah, go where Allah tells you, for we are with you. We will not say as the children of Israel said to Moses: “You and your Lord go and fight, and we will stay at home”, but you and your lord go an fight, and we will fight with you. By Allah, if you wre to take us to Bark-al-Ghimad [in Yemen or Haja. Tabari adds: ‘A town of the Abyssinians’], we would fight resolutely with you against its defenders until you gain it.” One of the most significant differences between Islam and other religions was the adherents’ readiness to fight in the name of religion. It still is. Muhammad thanked him and blessed him. Then he said: “Give me advice, Oh men,” by which he meant the Ansar [Muslims from Medina]. […] Muhammad was afraid that the Ansar would not feel obliged to help him, unless he was attacked by an enemy in Medina, and that they would not feel it incumbent upon them to go with him against an enemy outside their territory. A very relevant concern. The citizens of Medina (Yathrib) had promised to protect Muhammad in Medina against attacks from the Meccans, but not to go out and assist him in attacks on the Meccans. And that was for religious reasons, as Muhammad had told them clearly that he was the messenger of Allah. Raiding caravans for booty was a different matter. When he spoke these words, Sad b. Muadh said: “It seems as if you mean us,” and when he said that he did, Sad said: “We believe in you, we declare your truth, and we witness that what you have brougth is the truth, and we have given you our word and agreement to hear and obey; so go where you wish, we are with you; and by Allah, if you were to ask us to cross this sea and you plunged into it, we would plunge into it with you; not a man would stay behind. We do not dislike the idea of meeting your enemy tomorrow. We are experienced warriors, trustworthy in combat. It may well be that Allah will let us show you something which will bring you joy, so take us along with Allah’s blessing.” This is where they truely became Muslims: In full submission to Muhammad, they declare themselves experienced soldiers ready for battle. Muhammad was delighted at Sad’s words which greatly encouraged him. Then he said: “Forward in good heart, for Allah has promised me one of the two parties [the caravan or the army]. Interesting that the support of the Ansar goes before the promise from Allah. Divine blessing secured, the party moved on. After a period of scouting for the caravan, Abu Sufyan scouts ahead, too: Abu Sufyan went forward to get in front of the caravan as a precautionary measure until he came down to the water, and asked Majdi if he had noticed anything. He replied that he had sen nothing untoward; merely two riders had stopped on the hill and taken water away in a skin. Abu Sufyan came to the spot where they had halted, picked up some camel dung and broke it into pieces, and found it contained date-stones. “By Allah,” he said, “this is the fodder of Yathrib [Medina].” He returned at once to his companions and changed the caravan’s direction from the road to the seashore leaving Badr on the left, traveling as quickly as possible. Being a good scout, he analyzes even the camel droppings for clues that Muhammad and his companions might be around. Finding such clue (camels being fed dates – i.e. from Yathrib where Muhammad resides), he immediately leaves Badr by an alternative route. This saved his caravan. But not the unfortunate rescue force: