Battle of Badr - Background

Background

Muhammad was born in Mecca around 571 AD into the Quraish tribe. In 622, to escape persecution of Muslims by the Meccans, Muhammad and many of his followers migrated from Mecca to the neighboring city of Medina. This migration is called the Hijra.

Following the hijra, tensions between Mecca and Medina escalated and hostilities broke out in 623 when the Muslims began a series of raids (called ghazawāt in Arabic) on Quraishi caravans. Ghazawāt (s. ghazw) were plundering raids organized by nomadic Bedouin warriors against either rival tribes or wealthier, sedentary neighbors. Since Medina was located just off Mecca's main trade route, the Muslims were in an ideal position to do this. Even though many Muslims were Quraish themselves, they believed that they were entitled to such raids because the Meccans had expelled them from their property, homes and tribes, a serious offense in hospitality-oriented Arabia. Also, there was a tradition in Arabia of poor tribes raiding richer tribes. It also provided a means for the Muslim community to carve out an independent economic position at Medina, where their political position was far from secure. The Meccans obviously took a different view, seeing the Muslim raids as banditry at best, as well as a potential threat to their livelihood and prestige.

In late 623 and early 624, the Muslim ghazawāt grew increasingly brazen and commonplace. In September 623, Muhammad himself led a force of 200 in an unsuccessful raid against a large caravan. Shortly thereafter, the Meccans launched their own "raid" against Medina, although its purpose was just to steal some livestock which belonged to the Muslims. In January 624, the Muslims ambushed a Meccan caravan near Nakhlah, only forty kilometers outside of Mecca, killing one of the guards and formally inaugurating a blood feud with the Meccans. Worse, from a Meccan standpoint, the raid occurred in the month of Rajab, a truce month sacred to the Meccans in which fighting was prohibited and a clear affront to their pagan traditions.

Read more about this topic:  Battle Of Badr

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