when the muslims destroyed the power of the arab-desert tribes and guarded themselves against their evils, they started preparations to encounter their great enemy. a year elapsed since they fought quraish at uhud. so it was due time to meet them and start war again in order to determine which of the two parties was worthy of survival. [fiqh as-seerah p.315]
in sha‘ban 4 a.h., january 626 a.d., the messenger of allâh [pbuh] set out to badr accompanied by one thousand and five hundred fighters and ten mounted horsemen, and with ‘ali bin abi talib as standard bearer. ‘abdullah bin rawahah was given authority over madinah during the prophet [pbuh]’s absence. reaching badr, the muslims stayed there waiting for the idolaters to come.
abu sufyan’s forces comprised two thousand footmen and fifty horsemen. they reached mar az-zahran, some distance form makkah, and camped at a water place called mijannah. being reluctant, discouraged and extremely terrified of the consequences of the approaching fight, abu sufyan turned to his people and began to introduce cowardice-based flimsy pretexts in order to dissuade his men from going to war, saying: "o tribe of quraish! nothing will improve the condition you are in but a fruitful year — a year during which your animals feed on plants and bushes and give you milk to drink. and i see that this is a rainless year, therefore i am returning now and i recommend you to return with me."
it seems that his army were also possessed of the same fears and apprehensions, for they readily obeyed him without the least hesitation.
the muslims, who were then at badr, stayed for eight days waiting for their enemy. they took advantage of their stay by selling goods and earning double as much the price out of it. when the idolaters declined to fight, the balance of powers shifted to rest in favour of the muslims, who thus regained their military reputation, their dignity and managed to impose their awe-inspiring presence over the whole of arabia. in brief, they mastered and controlled the whole situation.
this invasion had many a name. it is called ‘badr the appointment’, ‘badr, the second’, ‘badr, the latter’, and ‘badr minor’. [ibn hisham 2/209-210; za'd al-ma'ad 2/112]