1

As the question reads, I'm trying to find sources for the Battle of Badr outside of the Qur'an from the same time period.

  • 1
    "All knowledge of the battle at Badr comes from traditional Islamic accounts, both hadiths and biographies of Muhammad, recorded in written form some time after the battle. There is little evidence outside of these of the battle. There are no descriptions of the battle prior to the 9th Century." - Wikipedia. I can't find it in the source Wikipedia quotes, though. – b a Jan 13 '18 at 20:12
  • @b a ah OK, I suppose 5000 angels running rampant killing people wasn't very noteworthy – Charlie Jan 13 '18 at 20:17
  • 4
    @Charlie - ...or nobody on hand was both literate and extravagantly wealthy enough to be carting writing materials around with them on campaign in the middle of the Arabian desert. Paper didn't exist there yet, and papyrus was both very expensive, and not well-suited for very dry environments. – T.E.D. Jan 13 '18 at 22:14
  • 2
    Well, the hadiths are just that.. And why would someone in a far away land would have cared about some battle (another one) in the middle of the Arabian desert, which involved less than 1,500 people? Yet it did have ramifications, but the battle itself seems like a rather minor affair. And the only ones with an interest in giving it importance (which was a fairly common situation back in the day) and having it known would have been the Muslim themselves (i.e. hadiths). – SJuan76 Jan 14 '18 at 0:12
  • 1
    @T.E.D. I would prefer to believe that 5000 angels came down from the heavens to take vengeance upon unbelievers. The reality is the lack of sources means it was unlikely that it happened. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but it's a red flag and we can't assume it did simply because it's in the Qur'an and hadith. Mohammed was a notorious liar. He lied about Abraham never having been a polytheist when Abraham was pagan in his early life. Mohammed also forged his ancestry – Charlie Jan 14 '18 at 19:32
7

It depends what you are prepared to accept as "sources".

If you are looking for written sources, then you are likely to be disappointed. The Wikipedia article on the Battle of Badr lists the extant primary sources.

Although the Battle of Badr was the first relatively large-scale confrontation between the followers of Muhammad and those of his opponents in Mecca, it was still not what many people would consider to be a large battle. There were only about 1500 combatants, and less than 100 casualties. It was fought in a part of the Arabian Peninsula that was relatively isolated from much of the rest of the world.

Its significance was that the smaller Muslim army had defeated a much larger force. The Muslims could argue that this showed that God was on their side (in much the same way as the English did after the Battle of Agincourt), but it is hardly a surprise that it wasn't widely known about outside the region. Few people had any reason to write about it, and, as far as we know, only Muhammad did.

Of course, in addition to the record of the battle preserved in the Quran, the battle would have been preserved in oral traditions. The fact that the battle was explicitly mentioned in the Quran would have made those traditions more important. The hadiths are later collections of these oral traditions and so are also sources for the battle, with all the usual caveats about oral tradition.

  • 2
    Agreed, Islamic historiography (written history) started from Abbasid dynasty, from CE 750 onwards -- i.e. 125 years after the battle. It was in oral medium during the formative years - Islamic Historiography, Oxford, 2002 – J Asia Jan 14 '18 at 13:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.