raids led by the prophet
as further evidence to all the foregoing it is said that the prophet himself had undertaken the leadership of the raids on al abwa' twelve months after the hijrah and appointed sa`d ibn `ubadah as his vice-regent in madinah during his absence. in their search for the quraysh as well as the banu damrah, the muslims reached waddan. they did not meet any man from quraysh on that expedition, but they did succeed in winning banu damrah as allies. a month later, muhammad led a force of two hundred riders from both the muhajirun and ansar camps with buwat as their objective, where a caravan of 1,500 camels accompanied by one hundred riders under the leadership of umayyah ibn khalaf was reported to be passing. no engagement took place because the caravan had taken an untrodden, unknown route. two or three months after muhammad's return from buwat by way of radwa, he appointed abu salamah ibn `abd al asad to take his place in madinah while he and more than two hundred muslim riders went on an expedition to `ushayrah in the district of yanbu`. there he spent the whole month of first jumada and a few days of second jumada of the second year .a.h. (october 623 c.e) waiting for a quraysh caravan headed by abu sufyan to pass, without success, for it had already gone earlier. during his stay in the area, he concluded a pact of friendship with the tribe of banu mudlaj and their allies from banu damrah. he had hardly spent ten days in madinah after his return when kurz ibn jabir al fihri, an ally of quraysh, raided the camels and cattle of madinah. the prophet immediately led a force after him, appointing zayd ibn harithah as his representative during his absence. the force marched until it reached a valley called safawan in the district of badr and again missed their objective, the said kurz ibn jabir al fihri. it is to this raid that biographers refer as the first raid of badr.
the historians' view of the first raid
does not all this constitute evidence that the muhajirun as well as muhammad sought first of all to avenge themselves on the quraysh and to open hostilities against them? there is full evidence, according to these historians, that for these expeditions and raids the muslims had two objectives: first to seize the caravans of the quraysh, on their way to or from al sham during the summer, in order to take possession of the goods which they carried; second to cut off the quraysh caravan routes to al sham. this latter goal was to be achieved by concluding covenants and pacts with the various tribes settled along these routes. thus, it would be all the easier and safer for the muhajirun to attack these caravans without fear of detection or attack from the local inhabitants, and the caravans themselves would then be at the total mercy of the muslims. the raids which the prophet sent out under the leadership of hamzah, `ubaydah ibn al harith, and sa'd ibn abu waqqas, as well as the pacts of friendship and peace which he concluded with banu damrah, banu mudlaj, and others, confirmed this second objective and proved that the muslims had definitely aimed at cutting the road to al sham for the quraysh and makkah.