Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/42

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the qur′ân

hopes of surprising Abu Sufiyân at Bedr, where the caravan usually halted, but the Meccan had been too much upon his guard, pressed on with all possible haste, and was soon out of danger. The caravan comprised most of the chief men of Mecca, besides its rich freight. Abu Sufiyân’s message, therefore, asking for succour, caused a complete panic in the city. An army of nearly 1,000 men was immediately equipped and marched forth to the rescue, but on the way met a second messenger from Abu Sufiyân with the news that all danger was passed. On this 300 of them returned to Mecca, whilst others hurried to join the caravan. Mohammed was still advancing, in hopes of surprising the caravan, when he was informed of the approach of the Meccan army. After a council of war it was decided to advance and meet the enemy first, as, in the event of victory, they could afterwards pursue the caravan. Arrived at Bedr, the Muslims took up such a position that their foes could not approach the wells, and during the night the rain fell with such violence that the Meccans could scarcely march upon the sodden soil. In the morning these latter were at a great disadvantage, wearied by the state of the ground, and harassed by the blinding sun which shone straight in their faces; but Mohammed, whose numbers were far inferior, awaited the issue of the combat with no little anxiety. During the first part of the engagement the Muslims, by Mohammed's order, stood firm to their posts, whilst he encouraged them by promising the immediate reward of Paradise to those who should fall martyrs in the cause : whilst a fierce winter storm of wind which was blowing at the time, and which added to the discomfort and embarrassment of the enemy, he called the work of Gabriel with a thousand angels fighting for the faith. At length Mohammed gave the expected signal; taking up a handful he threw it towards the Meccans, and exclaimed, ‘ May their faces be covered with shame! Muslims to the attack! The condition of the ground so hampered the movements of the Meccans that they were soon completely routed. Several