Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims all over the world as a period of fasting and prayers. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam but right from the advent of the religion, the Muslims were subjected to face battles.
Ghazwa is the battle in which the Holy Prophet ﷺ (MPBUH) himself participated. The first Ghazwa took place in the second year of Hijri i.e., date of migration to Madinah. It is known as the battle of Badr, which was fought on the 17th of Ramazan two years after Hijrah, between Meccans and the Muslims, considered outcasts, supported by the Ansar of Madinah, who had provided refuge to the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
The economic strength of the Muslim Muhajerin (refugees) was still weak while the Meccans continued to trade and get richer. The Muslims would resort to targeting the Meccan caravans, rationalising their raids as compensation for the ill treatment by the Meccans.
The background to the Battle of Badr is that Meccan leader Abu Sufyan was leading a rich trading caravan, returning to Makkah and the Muslims planned to raid it. Abu Sufyan got wind of the impending attack through an informer, so he changed his route but a Meccan Army was dispatched under the command of Amr ibn Hishām, better known as Abu Jahl, perhaps the staunchest enemy of Islam among the Meccan chiefs to teach the Muslims a lesson.
The battle of Badr amply demonstrated the astute strategic planning skills of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and his prowess as a military commander. The Muslim army comprised 313 faithful, who were supposedly no match for the three times larger and much better equipped and battle-hardened Meccans.
The Holy Prophet ﷺ tactically directed his army to occupy the wells of Badr, to deprive the Meccans of water. He then placed his forces in such a position that in the bloody battle that ensued, many chiefs of the Quraish were slain including Abu Jahl and Umayyah ibn Khalaf.
The battle resulted in a decisive victory in favor of Muslims and strengthened Muhammad ﷺ's status as a leader. The Ansar of Madinah eagerly joined his future expeditions and tribes outside Madinah openly allied with Muhammad ﷺ. The battle has been described in Islamic history as a decisive victory attributable to divine intervention and the leadership qualities of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
The second battle that took place in Ramazan 6 Hijri is the expedition to Wadi Al-Qura under the command of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. The circumstances to this battle are that Zaid bin Harith went on a trading expedition towards Syria laden with merchandise for the Companions of Muhammad ﷺ.
As he approached Wadi Al-Qura, he was attacked by a party from the Tribe of Fazara of Banu Badr, who martyred a number of Muslims and looted all the merchandise. Zaid bin Haritha was carried wounded from the field. After his recovery from the injury, Abu Bakr ordered the raid on the enemy and attacked them at Wadi al-Qura and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Some of them were killed and others captured. In all 30 horsemen were killed, including the leader who was an old woman named Umm Qirfa.
Perhaps the most important campaign by the Muslims, conducted in the holy month of Ramazan is the “Conquest of Makkah”. The genesis of the expedition is that the Meccans violated the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and forced the hands of the Muslims.
On the 10th of Ramadan 8H, the Prophet ﷺ left Madinah marching toward Makkah with 10,000 soldiers and conquered Makkah without a battle. He smashed all the 360 idols in Ka’bah, showed unparalleled humility and mercy while dealing with a people who were once hell-bent on exterminating him and his followers — he forgave them.
The result was that the entire populace embraced Islam. The chief of the Quraish, Abu Sufyaan, who entered the fold of Islam during this march toward Makkah, commented to Al-Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet ﷺ, upon seeing the great Muslim army, “I swear by Allah that the sovereignty of your brother’s son has become too powerful to withstand.” Al-‘Abbas answered, “It is rather the power of Prophethood.” Abu Sufyaan agreed. (Raheeq Al-Makhtoom).
The next Islamic military campaign was the battle of Al-Andalus conducted in Ramadan 92H. The Muslim commander was young and brilliant general Tariq bin Ziyad, who liberated Spain, al-Andalus, in a battle that caused major ripples in the annals of history.
Tariq bin Ziyad, leading an army of only 12000 soldiers, boldly faced and defeated King Roderic’s army of 90,000 and established Islamic rule in Spain.
In Ramadan of 582H, Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi, one of the most revered heroes of Islam, defeated the Crusaders and brought Masjid al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, back into the fold of Islam.
History informs us that in 492H, the Crusaders took over Jerusalem, massacred over 70,000 Muslims and committed horrible atrocities. A weak caliphate in Baghdad was constrained from riposting a suitable response because of severe infighting. Egypt during this sad era, was ruled by the Shia Fatimid Empire, who reportedly cooperated with the Crusaders to the detriment of the rest of the Muslims. Emboldened by their maneuvers, the Crusaders invaded Egypt in a bid to conquer it.
Nur ad-Din Zengi, the emir of Aleppo and Mosul, decided to send his army to support Muslims in Egypt under the command of Shirkuh, who took along his nephew Salahuddin. The army defeated the Crusaders in Egypt but Shirkuh died of a stomach illness and Salahuddin became the leader of Egypt.
Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi set into motion plans to unite the Muslims in an attack on the Crusaders. In a major campaign, despite being outnumbered, Salahuddin’s army liberated the Holy Land from the Crusaders.
The final Islamic battle in Ramazan discussed here is the battle of Ain Jalut, in which Muslim army defeated the fearsome Mongols on 25 Ramazan in 658H. The background to the battle is that in the seventh century Hijri, the Mongols under Genghis Khan, razed Samarkand, Ray and Hamadan. His grandson Halagu Khan continued the scourge and destruction. Baghdad, the capital of the Muslim world was also razed and according to some estimates, about 1,800,000 Muslims were butchered in this carnage.
In the wake of such a horrible disaster and with the impending threat to the whole Muslim world and then Europe being subjected to the same fate, the Mamluk of Egypt, Saifuddin Qutuz rose to the occasion and united the Muslim army and met the Mongols at Ain Jalut on 25th of Ramadan, 658H. Despite facing huge odds, the Muslim army fought unflinchingly and crushed the Mongol army and reversed this tidal wave of horror. Mamluks captured Damascus five days later after Ain Jalut, followed by Aleppo within a month.
Islamic battles in the holy month of Ramazan have resulted in glory and success and found mention in the history of epic battles.
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