Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims around the world as a time of fasting and prayers. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam but since the advent of the religion, Muslims have been subjected to head-on battles.
Ghazwa is the battle in which the Holy Prophet ﷺ (MPBUH) himself participated. The first Ghazwa was in the second year of Hijri, i.e. the date of migration to Medina. It is known as the Battle of Badr, which was fought on 17 Ramazan two years after Hijrah, between the Meccans and the Muslims, considered outcasts, supported by the Ansar of Medina, 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 enrich themselves. The Muslims would resort to targeting Meccan caravans, rationalizing their raids as compensation for the mistreatment meted out by the Meccans.
The background to the Battle of Badr is that the Meccan leader Abu Sufyan led a wealthy trade caravan, returning to Mecca and the Muslims planned to plunder it. Abu Sufyan got word of the impending attack through an informant, so he changed his route but a Meccan army was sent under the command of Amr ibn Hishām, better known as Abu Jahl , perhaps the fiercest enemy of Islam among the Meccan rulers to teach the Muslims a lesson.
The Battle of Badr amply demonstrated the Holy Prophet ﷺ’s astute strategic planning skills and his prowess as a military commander. The Muslim army comprised 313 followers, who were apparently no match for the Meccans three times as numerous, far better equipped and battle hardened.
The Holy Prophet ﷺ tactically led 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 ensuing bloody battle many leaders of the Quraish were killed, including Abu Jahl and Umayyah ibn Khalaf.
The battle resulted in a decisive victory in favor of the Muslims and enhanced Muhammad ﷺ’s status as a leader. The Ansar of Medina eagerly joined his future expeditions, and the tribes outside Medina openly allied themselves 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 of this battle are that Zaid bin Harith went on a trading expedition to Syria laden with goods for the Companions of Muhammad ﷺ.
As he approached Wadi Al-Qura, he was attacked by a group from the Fazara tribe of Banu Badr, who martyred a number of Muslims and looted all the goods. Zaid bin Haritha was carried injured from the field. After recovering from his wound, Abu Bakr ordered the raid on the enemy and attacked him at Wadi al-Qura and inflicted heavy casualties on him. Some of them were killed and others captured. A total of 30 horsemen were killed, including the leader who was an old woman named Umm Qirfa.
Perhaps the most important campaign carried out by Muslims during the holy month of Ramazan is the “Conquest of Mecca”. The genesis of the expedition is that the Meccans violated the treaty of Hudaybiyyah and forced the hand of the Muslims.
On 10 Ramadan 8H, the Prophet ﷺ left Madinah marching towards Makkah with 10,000 soldiers and conquered Makkah without a battle. He smashed the 360 idols of the Ka’bah, showed unprecedented humility and mercy to a people who were once determined to exterminate him and his followers – he forgave them.
The result was that the entire population embraced Islam. The leader of the Quraish, Abu Sufyan, who entered the bosom of Islam on this march to 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 resist.” Al-‘Abbas replied, “It is rather the power of prophethood.” Abu Sufyan agreed. (Raheeq Al-Makhtoom).
The next Islamic military campaign was the Battle of Al-Andalus fought in Ramadan 92H. The Muslim commander was the brilliant young general Tariq bin Ziyad, who liberated Spain’s al-Andalus in a battle that sent major ripples through the annals of history.
Tariq bin Ziyad, leading an army of only 12,000 soldiers, bravely faced and defeated King Roderic’s army of 90,000 and established Islamic rule in Spain.
In Ramadan 582H, Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi, one of Islam’s most revered heroes, defeated the Crusaders and brought Masjid al-Aqsa, Jerusalem back into the fold of Islam.
History tells us that in 492H the Crusaders took control of Jerusalem, slaughtered over 70,000 Muslims and committed horrific atrocities. A weak caliphate in Baghdad was forced to retaliate an appropriate response due to violent infighting. Egypt, at that sad time, was ruled by the Shiite Fatimid Empire, which is said to have cooperated with the Crusaders to the detriment of the rest of the Muslims. Emboldened by their maneuvers, the Crusaders invaded Egypt in an attempt to conquer it.
Nur ad-Din Zengi, the emir of Aleppo and Mosul, decides to send his army to support the Muslims in Egypt under the command of Shirkuh, who takes his nephew Salahuddin with him. The army defeated the crusaders in Egypt, but Shirkuh died of stomach disease and Salahuddin became ruler of Egypt.
Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi set in motion plans to unite Muslims in an attack on the Crusaders. In a grand campaign, albeit outnumbered, Salahuddin’s army liberated the Holy Land from the Crusaders.
The last Islamic Ramazan battle discussed here is the Battle of Ain Jalut, in which the Muslim army defeated the dreaded Mongols on the 25th of 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 plague and destruction. Baghdad, the capital of the Muslim world was also razed and according to some estimates around 1,800,000 Muslims were slaughtered in this carnage.
Following such a horrific disaster and with the looming threat to the entire Muslim world and then Europe suffering the same fate, the Mamluk of Egypt, Saifuddin Qutuz, seized the opportunity and united the Muslim army and met the Mongols at Ain Jalut on 25 Ramadan 658H. Despite enormous difficulties, the Muslim army fought unflinchingly and crushed the Mongol army and reversed this tidal wave of horror. The Mamluks captured Damascus five days later after Ain Jalut, followed by Aleppo within a month.
The Islamic battles in the holy month of Ramazan resulted in glory and success and were mentioned in the history of epic battles.
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