About the fate of the captives of Badr, Abu Bakr and Umar held contrary views. Abu Bakr took the lenient view, while Umar took the sterner view.
After taking into consideration both the views, the Holy Prophet said:
“Almighty God softens the hearts of some people-softer than milk. And He hardens the hearts of some people-harder than stone.”
Turning to Abu Bakr who had counselled a lenient view, the Holy Prophet said:
“Abu Bakr you are like Abraham who said, ‘He who follows me is one of us, and he who disobeys me, then O God, You are gracious enough to forgive’. And Abu Bakr you are also like Jesus who said, ‘If you punish them they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, You are All Powerful, Mighty and Wise.”
Turning to Umar, the Holy Prophet said:
Umar, you are like Noah who said, ‘O God, do not leave on the earth a single unbeliever.’ And Umar you are also like Moses who said, ‘O God destroy their properties and harden their hearts so that they are not converted till they have suffered punishment.”
The Holy Prophet accepted the advice of Abu Bakr and acted accordingly.
The following day, Umar visited the Holy Prophet, and saw that both the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr were weeping.
Umar addressing the Holy Prophet said:
“What is it that makes you weep. Tell me, so that if there is any matter to be grieved over, I may also weep with you.”
The Holy Prophet said:
“Umar, there is nothing for you to be grieved over. On the other hand you should rejoice that God has upheld the view that you had taken about the captives of Badr, and admonished those who had taken a contrary view.”
Umar’s curiosity was awakened and he wanted know what exactly was the revelation. The Holy Prophet recited the verses that had been revealed:
“It is not fitting for an Apostle
That he should have prisoners of war,
Until he has thoroughly subdued the land.
Ye look on the temporal goods of this world,
But God looks to the Hereafter,
And God is Exalted, Mighty, and Wise.” (8:67)