Al-Abbas ibn Ali

Al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Ali ( _ar. العباس بن علي) (born 4 Shaban 26 AH at Medina, died 10 Muharrum 61 AH at Karbala) was the son of the fourth sunni Caliph and the first Shi'ah Imam, ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib and Fātima bint Hizam al-Kilabiyyah, called "Ummu l-Banīn" "Mother of the Sons".

Al-‘Abbās is particularly revered by Shī’a Muslims for his loyalty to his half-brother and third Shī’a Imām, Husayn ibn ‘Alī, his respect for the Ahl al-Bayt, and his role in the Battle of Karbala. He was known as the greatest warrior in arabia and mirrored the strength of his father, imam Ali ibn abu talib (AS).

Al-‘Abbās was married to Lubaba bint ‘Ubaydi l-Lāh. He had three sons and their names were al-Fadl ibn al-‘Abbās, Qasim ibn al-‘Abbās, and ‘Ubaydu l-Lāh ibn al-‘Abbās. Two of them were killed during the Battle of Karbala.

Al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Alī was succeeded by ‘Ubaydu l-Lāh, who had five sons: ‘Abdu l-Lāh ibn ‘Ubaydi l-Lāh, ‘Abbās ibn ‘Ubaydi l-Lāh, Hamza ibn ‘Ubaydi l-Lāh, Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Ubaydi l-Lāh and al-Fadl ibn ‘Ubaydu l-Lāh.

It has been recorded that the angel Gabriel informed Muhammad what would happen to his grandson Husayn ibn ‘Alī at Karbala.Cite web|url= |title=The Martydom of Imam Husain (RA)|accessdate=2006-06-30] Muhammad, Fatima Zahra and ‘Alī were saddened by this, so ‘Alī wished for a son to help Husayn ibn ‘Alī. He asked his brother ‘Aqīl to search for a wife from courageous descent. ‘Aqīl pointed out Fātimah al-Kilabiyyah, who was descended from the honored lineage of Hizam ibn Khalid ibn Rabi’a ibn Amr Kalbī.Cite book|author=Lalljee, Yousuf N.|title=Know Your Islam|publisher=Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an|location= New York|id=ISBN 0-940368-02-1|year=2003|pages=p.160] ‘Alī ibn Abu Talib did not marry her during the lifetime of Fatimah az-Zahra.Cite book|author=Lalljee, Yousuf N.|title=Know Your Islam|publisher=Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an|location= New York|id=ISBN 0-940368-02-1|year=2003|pages=p.125]

Birth & Early Life

Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib was born on 4 Shaban 26 AH. He was the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatimah bint Qalabiyya. Abbas had three brothers, Abdullah ibn Ali, Jafar ibn Ali, and Uthman ibn Ali. Abbas lived 34 years. It is said that he did not open his eyes after he was born until his brother Husayn ibn Ali took him in his arms. Abbas learned the art of war from his father Ali and his eldest brother Hasan ibn Ali who were one of the most skillful warriors and military strategists in world history.Cite web|url= |title=Hazrat Abul Fazl Al Abbas|accessdate=2006-01-08]

Abbas never considered himself equal in rank or stature to his half-brother Husayn. On the contrary, Abbas considered his brother Husayn to be his master. Abbas did not like anyone working for Husayn except himself. This devotion can be gauged by the following event: At the Mosque of Kufa, Ali ibn Abu Talib, Husayn, Qambar (a companion of Ali), and Abbas were sitting. Husayn asked Qambar to bring water because he was thirsty. Abbas stopped him and said, “I will bring the water for my master myself”. Abbas was young at that time. When Ali ibn Abu Talib saw this he started crying. When he was asked why he was crying he said "I foresee a day when Husayn and his family will be thirsty and Abbas wouldn't be able to get them the water they desperately need".Cite book| author=Lalljee, Yousuf N.|title=Know Your Islam|publisher=Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an|location= New York|id=ISBN 0-940368-02-1|year=2003|pages=p.161]

Battle of Siffin

Abbas's debut as a soldier was in the battle of Siffin. In 657 CE, Abbas's father Ali - defender of Islam (the Caliph of the time) and Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, governor of Syria, were locked in a struggle for Islam. One of the main battles of this conflict was at Siffin - a place near the Euphrates river. Cite web|url=|title=Wikipedia: Battle of Siffin|accessdate=2006-01-08] During the course of the battle, Abbas entered the battlefield wearing the clothes of his father, who was known to be a deadly skilled warrior. Abbas killed many soldiers on the other side with his lightning swordship. For this reason, Muawiya's soldiers mistook him for Ali because of his similar deadly art of war. However, Ali himself soon appeared on the battlefield. Muawiya's soldiers were astonished to see him, and were confused about who the other person was. Ali then introduced Abbas by saying, "He is Abbas, The Moon of the Hashimi family".

Battle of Karbala

Abbas showed his loyalty to Husayn at the Battle of Karbala. After succeeding his father Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan as Caliph, Yazid ibn Muawiyah required Husayn to pledge allegiance to him. Husayn refused to do so, saying: "I am the grandson of the messenger of Allah and Yazid is a drunkard, womanizer who is unfit for leadership. A person like me does not pay allegiance to a person like him". In 60 AH (680 CE), Husayn left Medina, with a small group of his companions and family, to travel to Kufa. The people of Kufa said that they would support Husayn if he claimed the Caliphate. On the way, Husayn and his group were intercepted. They were forced into a detour and arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram, 61 AH. Husayn's camp was surrounded and cut off from the Euphrates river. The camp ran out of water on the 7th of Muharram.Cite web|url=|title=Wikipedia: Battle of Kerbala| accessdate=2006-07-30]

Abbas and digging of well

On the 8th & 9th of Muharram, Husayn refused to send Abbas to fight for water. Abbas was extremely eager to fight. Husayn asked Abbas to dig a well. Abbas and some of the Banu Hashim men began digging. But there was no success.Cite book|author=Hasan, Moulana Syed Najamul|title=Zikr-ul Abbas Chapter 34|pages=p.181] Cite web | url=|title=The Great Sacrifice |accessdate=2006-07-30] Cite web|url=| title=Channel 4 - Kerbala|accessdate=2006-08-09]

Abbas, Qasim ibn Hasan, and Ali al-Akbar ibn Husayn

On the eve of tenth Muharram Husayn was passing through a camp in which his nephew Qasim ibn Hassan, his son Ali Akbar ibn Husayn and brother Abbas were sitting and were discussing a matter. He stood beside the camp and heard their conversation. Ali Akbar was saying that tomorrow he will be the first person to sacrifice his life on Husayn. Abbas interrogated him and said “You are the son of my Master. How can you fight before me”? Ali Akbar replied "Uncle, you are the strength of my father. If you go first and die my father will be destroyed. And also you are the commander and the commander should not go first". Abbas replied to Ali Akbar, "nephew! A son is the light of his father eyes. If you die first, my brother will be visionless. Most of all, I cannot bear to see you dying". Qasim was listening to the conversation, and replied, "My dear Uncle! And my dear brother! I will proceed first so that the strength & vision of my uncle Husayn remains, and I am also an orphan". Husayn then entered the camp and held Qasim in his arms and replied "Oh, my nephew don’t ever consider yourself as orphan. I am like your father." Abbas was not ready for anyone entering battlefield before him. Then, Husayn explained to Abbas, "We have not entered Karbala for war". He said “We could win because we have Banu Hashim men like you. However, our mission here is to serve Islam and now Islam requires our sacrifice. We are here to sacrifice our lives for this pure & noble religion."Cite book|author=Najafi, Allama Muhammad Baqir|title=Dama-e-Sakaba Lang. Arabic|pages=p.326]

Fight and Death

The Euphrates river was occupied by Yazid's Army to prevent the camp of Husayn from getting water. Shias believe that Abbas, because of his skill and bravery, could have attacked Yazid's army, occupied the river, and retrieved water for the camp alone. However, Abbas was not allowed to fight. He was only allowed to get water. Thus, he went to the river to get water for Husayn’s 4 year old daughter Sukayna bint Husayn. Sukayna was very attached to Abbas, who was her uncle. To her, Abbas was the only hope for getting water. Abbas could not see her thirsty and crying "Al-Atash" (the thirst). When Abbas entered the battlefield, he only had a spear, and a bag for water in his hands. He was also given the authority to hold the standard in the battle. Once he had made it to the river, he started filling the bag with water. Shias emphasize that Abbas's loyalty to Husayn was so great, that Abbas did not drink any water because he could not bear the thought that Sukayna was thirsty. After gathering the water, Abbas rode back towards the camp. On his way back, he was struck from behind and one of his arms was amputated. Then, he was stuck from behind again, amputating his other arm. Abbas was now carrying the water-bag in his mouth. The army of Yazid ibn Muawiyah started shooting arrows at him. One arrow hit the Bag and water poured out of it. At that moment, Abbas lost all hope. One of Yazid's men hit his head with a mace and Abbas fell off his horse without the support of his arms. As he was falling, he called, "Ya Akkha" ("Oh Brother"). According to shia tradition, Abbas fell first onto his face before he let the standard fall.

He tossed on the burning sand with excruciating pain. He called for his master. Husayn immediately came to him lifting his head and taking it into his lap. Abbas lifted his head off Husayn's lap. Husayn put Abbas's head onto his lap, but Abbas forced it off his lap again. Husayn asked Abbas: "Why are you preventing me from comforting you". Abbas replied: "O master, why should I be comforted in death by you, while no one will be there to comfort you when you die?". Husayn eventually talked Abbas into being putting his head on the Imam's lap. He said "My brother what have they done to you?" Abbas replied, "My Master, I thought I was not destined to have a last look at you but, thank God, you are here." Then he said, "My Master, I have some last wishes to express. When I was born, I had first looked at your face and it is my last desire that when I die, my gaze may be on your face. My one eye is pierced by an arrow and the other is filled with blood. If you will clear the eye I will be able to see you and fulfill my last dying desire. My second wish is that when I die, you should not carry my body to the camp. I had promised to bring water to Sukayna and since I have failed in my attempts to bring her water, I cannot face her even in death. Besides, I know that the blows that you have received since morning have all but crushed you and carrying my body to the camp will be back-breaking work for you. My third wish is that Sukayna may not be brought here to see my plight. I know the love and affection she has for me. The sight of my dead body lying here will kill her." Husayn fulfilled his wishes. Husayn asked him for one last thing. Husayn said, "Abbas, I too have a wish to be fulfilled. Since childhood you have always called me Master. For once at least call me brother with your dying breath." Abbas closed his eyes while repeating, "Husayn my brother, my Imam".

Shia historians say that this was the first time in his life that he called Husayn his brother.Cite book|author=Zakir|title=Tears and Tributes|id= ASIN B000EEP7NC|pages=p.51-52] He was killed on Friday, 10th Muharram 61 Hijri on the banks of the river Euphrates). Hence, he is called Hero of "Al-Qamah" (another name for the river Euphrates). His death is generally mourned on the 8th night of Muharram. Shia Muslims mourn the death of all martyrs of Islam associated with Husayn in the month of Muharram, the first of the Islamic calendar, mainly in the first ten days. See Remembrance of Muharram.

Abuse of his Body

After the battle of Karbala ended, the dead bodies of the slain warriors were lying about without heads. The enemy forces decided to run their horses over the bodies. They did this in order to inflict the maximum possible humiliation on the households of Muhammad and Ali.Cite book|author= Aghaie, Kamran Scot|title=The Martyrs Of Karbala|publisher=University of Washington Press|id=ISBN 0295984481|date=November 30, 2004|pages=p. 200]


Abbas was buried at that ground where he fell from his horse in Karbala, Iraq. Millions of pilgrims visit the shrine and pay homage to it every year. The real grave of Abbas is beneath the masoulem, and is present in the shrine. Environmental effects have caused the Euphrates river's direction to change. Nearly 1400 years after the battle of Karbala, the river is flowing across the grave of Abbas, making a circle around it. It is said that the Euphrates has come to Abbas now.cite book|last = KaraÌraviÌ|first = NajmulhÌ£asan|title = Biography of Hazrat Abbas|publisher = Peermahomed Ebrahim Trust|date = January 1, 1974|id = ASIN B0007AIWQW ]

Honorific Titles

A summary of titles given by various people are as follows:
* Abu al-Fadhl `Abbās (Arabic: "Father of Virtues")
* Abu Qurba (Arabic: "The owner of the skin of water")
* Qamar Banī Hāshim (Arabic: "Moon of the Hashimites". His father, `Alī ibn Abī Tālib announced this title during battle of Siffīn)
* Strength of Husayn
* Shāhen Shāh-e-Wafā (Urdu: "Sultan of Loyalty". Given by Shī`as belonging to the Indian Subcontinent)
* Afdhal ush-Shuhadā (Arabic: "Most Superior Martyr")
* Babul Hawā'ij (Arabic: "The door to fulfilling needs". In accordance with Shī`as, four persons are awarded with this title: Muslim ibn Aqīl, `Abbās ibn `Alī, `Alī al-Asghar ibn Husayn, and the seventh Twelver Shī`a Imām - Mūsā al-Kādhim).Cite web|url=|title=Al-Abbas (PBUH)|accessdate=2006-07-30]
* Alamdār (Persian/Urdu: "Flag Bearer" or "Standard Bearer". Husayn announced this title during battle of Karbalā)
* Saqqa (Arabic: "Who Fetches Water". Sukayna bint Husayn called him through this title during the battle of Karbalā.)

Why Abbas is known as Ghazi?

Ghazi means soldier who returns successfully from the battle. Although Abbas was killed at Karbala, he is known as Ghazi because, when he carried out the first strike against Yazid's army, his mission was to rescue the horse which was seized by Shimr during battle of Siffin. This horse belonged to his other half brother Hassan ibn Ali. Abbas retained control over the horse and presented it to Husayn. []

Shrine of Abbas

Emperors and kings of various dynasties have offered valuable gifts and gems to the shrine of Abbas. It was designed by Persian and Central Asian architects. The brilliant splash of colors on the exterior and interior of the shrine are impressive. The central pear shaped dome is an ornately decorated structure. On its sides stand two tall minarets. The tomb is covered with pure gold and surrounded by a trellis of silver. Iranian carpets are rolled out on the floors.cite book
last = Muhammad
first = Yousaf
title = Al-Abbas (AS) - Rajul Al-Aqidah Wal Jehad
publisher = Islamic Republic of Iran
year = 2001
month = December

Also, the distance between the shrines of Abbas and al-Hussain are, to the centimeter, the same distance between the hills Al-Safa and Al-Marwah.

Awan tribe trace their lineage from Abbas r.a.

Horse of Abbas

Abbas was given a horse named "Auqab" (Eagle).Cite book|author=Tehrani, Allama Ahhsan|title=Zindagi-e-Abbas Lang. Urdu|pages=p.83] This horse was used by Muhammad and Ali. This horse was presented to Muhammad by the King of Yemen, Saif ibn Zee Yazni, through Abdul Muttalib. The king considered the horse to be very important and its superiority over other horses was evident by the fact that its genealogical tree was also maintained. It was initially named as "Murtajis". The name "Murtajis" comes from Arabic name "Rijis" which means thunder (lightning). Muhammad renamed it to "Auqab". Muhammad gave that horse to Ali and later on Ali gave it to Abbas.Cite book|author=Tenrani, Allama Ahhsan|title=Zindagi-e-Abbas Lang. Urdu|pages=p.83] cite book
last = Pinault
first = David
title = Horse of Karbala: Muslim Devotional Life in India
publisher = Palgrave Macmillan
date = February 3, 2001
id = ISBN 0-312-21637-8

See also


External links

* [ AL-ABBAS] By Abu Talib At-tabrizi, Translated by Abdullah Al-Shahin, Edited by Ahmed Haneef
* [ Abbas] an article by encyclopedia Iranica
* [ Sacrifice and Courage of Hadrat Abbas]
* [ Personality of Hadrat Abbas]

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