"Allah did indeed fulfil His Promise to you, when you were about to annihilate the enemy with His permission, until you flinched and fell to disputing about the command, and disobeyed after He showed you what you covet. Among you were some that hankered after this world and among you were some that desired the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from them in order to test you. But He has forgiven you, for Allah is full of grace to those who have faith." [Quran 3:152]
Everybody in Makkah rejoiced at tbe arrival of the caravan from Palestine. The caravan had been in grave danger during the few days it moved along the coastal road near Madinah and very nearly fell into the hands of the Muslims. It was only the skill and leadership of Abu Sufyan, who led the caravan, that saved it from capture. The caravan consisted of 1,000 camels and had taken goods worth 50,000 dinars, on which Abu Sufyan had made a cent per cent profit. Since every family of note in Makkah had invested in this caravan, its return with so much profit was a matter of jubilation for all Makkah. And it was spring in Arabia: the month of March, 624.
Even as the people of Makkah sang and danced, and the merchants rubbed their hands while awaiting their share of the profit, the battered and broken army of the Quraish picked its weary way towards Makkah. This army had rushed out in response to Abu Sufyan's call for help when he had first realised the danger from the Muslims. Before the Quraish army could come into action, however, Abu Sufyan had extricated the caravan and sent word to the Quraish to return to Makkah as the danger had passed. But Abu Jahl, who commanded the army, would have none of this. He had spent the past 15 years of his life in bitter opposition to the Prophet, and he was not going to let this opportunity slip away. Instead of returning, he had precipitated a battle with the Muslims.
Now this proud army was returning home in a state of shock and humiliation.
While the Quraish army was still on its way, a messenger from it sped to Makkah on a fast camel. As he entered the outskirts of the town, he tore his shirt and wailed aloud, announcing tragedy. The people of Makkah hastily gathered around him to seek news of the battle. They would ask about their dear ones and he would tell of their fate. Among those present were Abu Sufyan and his wife, Hind.
From this messenger Hind heard of the loss of her dear ones; of the death of her father, Utbah, at the hands of Ali and Hamza, uncle of the Prophet; of the death of her uncle, Sheiba, at the hands of Hamza; of the death of her brother, Waleed, at the hands of Ali; of the death of her son, Handhalah, at the hands of Ali. She cursed Hamza and Ali and swore vengeance.
The Battle of Badr was the first major clash between the Muslims and their enemies. A small force of 313 Muslims had stood like a rock against the onslaught of 1,000 infidels. After an hour or two of severe fighting the Muslims had shattered the Quraish army, and the Quraish had fled in disorder from the battlefield. The finest of the Quraish had fallen in battle or been taken prisoner.
A total of 70 infidels had been killed and another 70 captured by the Muslims, at a cost of only 14 Muslim dead. Among those killed were 17 members of the Bani Makhzum, most of them either cousins or nephews of Khalid. Abu Jahl had been killed. Khalid's brother, Waleed, had been taken prisoner.
As the messenger announced the names of those who had fallen and those who had killed them, the Quraish noted the frequency with which the names of Ali and Hamza were repeated. Ali had killed 18 men by himself and had shared in the killing of four others. Hamza had killed four men and shared with Ali in the killing of another four. The name of Ali thus dominated the proceedings of this sad assembly.
Two days later Abu Sufyan held a conference of all the leaders of the Quraish. There was not one amongst them who had not lost a dear one at Badr, Some had lost fathers, some sons, some brothers. The most vociferous at the conference were Safwan bin Ummayya and Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl.
Ikrimah was the most difficult to restrain. His father had had the distinction of commanding the Quraish army at Badr and had fallen in battle. The son drew some comfort from the fact that his father had killed a Muslim at Badr and that he himself had killed another. Moreover, he had attacked and severed the arm of the Muslim who had mortally wounded his father; but that was not enough to quench his thirst for revenge. He insisted that as noble Quraish they were honour-bound to take revenge.