Birth and Childhood
Hazrat Abbas was born at Medina on 4th Shabaan 26 A.H.(645 A.D.).
When the news of his birth reached Hazrat Ali, he prostrated himself on the ground as a token of his humble thanks to God. Imam Hussain took the baby in his arms and recited the Azan and Eqamat (Calls for Prayers) in his right and left ears respectively. Then the new born baby opened his eyes to see the beloved face of Imam Hussain. On the seventh day of his birth the ceremony of Aqeeqa (which is one of the emphasised Sunnats) was performed and Hazrat Ali named the child 'Abbas'.
A similar incident took place at the time of the birth of Hazrat Ali. He only opened his eyes when the Holy Prophet took him in his arms.
Name: al-Abbas (a.s.)
Title: Alamdar-e-lashkar-e-Hussain (as.), Qamar bani Hashim
Agnomen: Abul Fazl
Father: Imam Ali Amir al-Muminin (a.s.)
Mother: Fatima bint-e-Huzzam ibn-e-Khalid (a.s.)
Birth: 4th Shabaan 26 AH.
Death: Martyred in Karbala (Iraq) at the age of 36, on Friday, 10th Muharram 61 AH and buried there.
Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) grew up to be a tall and handsome man. He was so tall, that when he sat on a horse his feet touched the ground. He was so handsome that he was known as Qamar-e-Bani Hashim, the Moon of the family of Hashim.
Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) was also a valiant warrior. It was said that Muawiya did not dare invade Madina because of five men who were with Imam Hussain (a.s.) and could, together with their Imam, conquer a whole army. These were Muhammad Hanafia, a brother of Imam Hussain (a.s.), Hazrat Muslim ibn-e-Aqeel (a.s.), Abdullah Ibn-e-Jaffer (a.s.), Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) and Hazrat Ali ibn-al-Hussain (a.s.), our fourth Imam, Zainul 'Abideen (a.s.).
When Imam Hussain (a.s.) decided to leave Madina in the month of Rajab 60 Hijrah, he did not encourage Muhammad Hanafia and Abdullah Ibn-e-Jaffer to accompany him. He wanted to make sure that no one at the time or in the future would suggest that Hussain (a.s.) wanted to fight for the khilafah.
Just before Imam Hussain (a.s.) left Madina, Ummul Baneen (a.s.) summoned all her four sons and said to them, "My sons you must remember that while I love you, Imam Hussain (a.s.) is your Master. If Imam (a.s.) or his sisters or his children get injured or hurt while you are still alive, I will never forgive you."
There were tears in Hazrat Abbas's (a.s.) eyes as he promised his mother that he and his brothers would lay down their lives for Imam Hussain (a.s.) and his children.
Titles of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.)
1-Qamar-e-Banihashem (The Moon Of Banihashem's Progeny)
This was his most famous nickname. The reason behind that was his good looking face which was resembled to the moon.
2-Saqqa' (The One Who Brings Water)
This is his another famous nickname.Since he was dealing with bringing water to Imam Hussein (A.S)'s camps and supplying Imam's thirsty children with water, he was given this nickname.
3-Hamel-ul-Lava' (The One Who Carries the Flags)
This nick name was given to him because he was the one who carried the flag in Imam Hussein (A.S)'s troop.
4-Raees-e-Askar-al-Hussein (the Commander of Imam Hussain(a.s.)'s troops)
This nickname was given to him because he was the commander of Imam Hussain (as.)'s troops.
Personality and Bravery
He was also polite and patient and this was a reminder of his father"s words that No heritage is worthier than politeness.
Hazrat Abbas, who was brought up in such a congenial atmosphere never sat down without permission in front of his brothers Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein (peace be upon them).
He respected the high status of his brothers as the heirs of his father and the righteous successors of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny). Soon his knowledge and wisdom reached a level in which the scholars of his era become humble before him. Hazrat Abbas since his youth showed signs of bravery and courage alongside his father Imam Ali (PBUH).
During the Siffeen war against the rebel governor of Syria Mua"wiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, when the enemies blocked water to camp of the Muslims, Hazrat Abbas who was in his early teens entered the battlefield with a veil on his face to hid his true identity. Mua"wiyah ordered one of his powerful men Abu Shasa to confront him.
The Syrian arrogantly said: People compare my bravery to a thousand riders, now you want me to fight this young boy? Abu Shasa sent his youngest son to confront him. But his son was soon defeated and killed. Abu Shasa then sent his other son, but to his surprise, he was also killed. Then Abu Shasa fuming with rage swallowed his proud words and personally entered the battlefield seeking to avenge the death in combat of his sons. But the boy was such valiant that he defeated him and made swift work of the infidel.
At this sight, the Muslim army rejoiced and felt surprised at the bravery of the young masked lad. Imam Ali (PBUH) called the youth and took the mask off his face. Then everyone saw that the brave youth was no one but Hazrat Abbas.
During the era of Imam Hassan (PBUH), Hazrat Abbas stood steadfastly at his side despite the plots of the enemies to snatch away the political leadership of the Ummah from the Prophet"s elder grandson. Despite his courage, Hazrat Abbas always followed the Imam and was patient.
He retired with the Prophet"s Household to Medina from Kufa in Iraq when the rebel Mua"wiya deceived the Iraqi people and forced Imam Hassan (PBUH) to sign a peace treaty relinquishing the caliphate. Ten years later when Imam Hassan (PBUH) was martyred through poisoning, the divine right of imamate came to rest on the shoulders of the Prophet"s younger grandson Imam Hussein (PBUH).
Faithful and Trustworthy Advisor
He was a faithful and trustworthy advisor. So devoted was Abbas that he never left the side of his beloved brother Imam Hussein (PBUH).
The height of the greatness of the personality of Hazrat Abbas reached its peak in Karbala and the heroic martyrdom. In chaotic conditions when the people were entangled with worldly desires and succumbed to the offer of posts, he became the Imam's flag bearer and led his troops.
Guarding the Imam, protecting the tents of the womenfolk of the Prophet's household, caring for the children and making a sacrifice to bring water to the thirsty camp of Imam Hussein (PBUH) were among the most beautiful and epical manifestations of his life in Karbala.
In reality in Karbala Hazrat Abbas' effort to satisfy God and carry out his duty, astonished the world.
In Karbala Yazid's troops cut the water supply to the Imam's camp. When the young children could no longer tolerate thirst, Hazrat Abbas volunteered to bring them water. But this was almost impossible.
With his courage, he drove away hordes of enemies and reached the banks of the River Euphrates. Although he was thirsty himself, he never drank a drop of water. After filling the goatskin water-carrier, while he was making his way towards the Imam's camp , the cowardly enemy attacked him from all sides. One of his hands was severed when he was struck from behind.
He fought single-handedly with his left arm, which was also severed by the Omayyud marauders. Nevertheless, he spurred his horse towards the Imam's camp hoping to take water to the thirsty children. Alas, he was not destined to do so. The enemies burst upon him like a pack of jackals and shot arrows in his eye and at his chest piercing the goatskin water-carrier and making the water flow on the ground.
Hazrat Abbas thus drank the cup of eternal martyrdom in this valiant name and the memory of this great sacrifice will remain eternal in history. To this day even many non-Muslims bow at the threshold of Hazrat Abbas in Karbala and beseech God Almighty through him.
Imam Zain ol-Abedin says about his uncle Hazrat Abbas, My uncle Abbas will have such a high status before God on the day of resurrection that all the martyrs will envy him.
It was the desire of Hazrat Ali that this son whom he named 'Abbas' (Meaning a Dauntless Lion) would accomplish the same deeds of valour and who would follow his teachings without fear of life and death. It was also his wish that Abbas would be a constant companion of Imam Hussain and be his Standard Bearer at Kerbala.
Hazrat Ali who himself was known as 'The Lion of God' and the 'Gateway of Knowledge' brought up Hazrat Abbas and ably guided him till he was fourteen years old. The next ten years were spent under the careful eye of Imam Hasan and the last ten years with Imam Hussain. Thus it was not surprising that Hazrat Abbas acquired near perfection in so many spheres of life. His gallantry, boldness, courageous outlook, and the art of combat and soldiery were inherited from Hazrat Ali, and this he proved very well in the battles of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrwan. Imam Hasan taught him patience and tolerance. His Lion-hearted loyalty and self-sacrificing nature were the result of his association with Imam Hussain and Janab-e-Zainab. Physically, mentally, morally and spiritually he was fully developed, besides, being an accomplished scholar.
He helped the poor and needy, and discharged his duties towards his fellow-beings according to the precepts of Islam. He was pure in his thoughts, words and deeds, lest any of these should displease God. He lived strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet.
Just as Ali was taught and trained by the Holy Prophet, so was Abbas taught and trained by Hazrat Ali. Ali fully knew the mysteries of life and death, and Abbas had fully imbibed the true spirit of Islam. A man who was brought up, educated and trained by Hazrat Ali could on no account be attached to this worldly life nor fear death, and Abbas fully justified this by his actions.
Hazrat Abbas married Lubaba, daughter of Obaidullah Ibne Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib, and had two sons, Fazl and Muhammad. Some sources say that Lubaba was present at Kerbala and their son Muhammad was martyred there.
At the death bed of Hazrat Ali (AS)
When Hazrat Ali was mortally wounded and lying on his deathbed, he sent for his entire family. Save Hazrat Abbas, he entrusted all to the care of his eldest son Imam Hasan. Then he heard Hazrat Abbas, hardly 12 years old, sobbing. Hazrat Ali asked him to come near him and gave his hand to his second son, Imam Hussain, saying "Hussain, this child I am entrusting to you. He will represent me on the Day of your supreme sacrifice and will lay down his life in defending you and your dear ones".
And turning to Hazrat Abbas, he had said: "Abbas, my child, I know your unbounded love for Hussain. Though you are too young to be told about it, when that day dawns, consider no sacrifice too great for Hussain and his children".
This was in 657 A.D. The occasion for the supreme sacrifice came on the battlefield of Kerbala in 680 A.D. when Hussain was poised against Yezid's forces. It was a battle of good against evil and right against wrong. And in the history of Islam, the battle of Kerbala has become an important landmark of supreme sacrifice, great courage and dedication to a just cause.
In the battle of Kerbala, Hazrat Abbas was Imam Hussain's commander-in-chief. He fought the evil forces of Yezid gallantly, remembering his father's last words. The story of the sacrifice of his life in trying to procure water for Imam Hussain's children on the battlefield is the most touching and significant in Islamic history.
The Life of Hazrat Abbas is an example of unflinching loyalty and love for a brother. It is also the story of a warrior who sacrificed his life for the cause of Islam, which, according to Hazrat Abbas, was a just cause.
Pilgrimage to his Mausoleum
It is almost fourteen hundred years since this tragedy occured at Kerbala, and still tens of thousands of pilgrims keep going there year after year, from all parts of the Muslim world to pay their respects to the gallant Abul Fazl Abbas (Moon of the Hashimites) at his magnificent Mausoleum.
They offer salutations and pray to Allah for their needs, seeking his intercession, for this is a place where so many vows have been fulfilled and where so many miracles have taken place.
Many a devotee has willed that he be buried in this holy place and so often one sees the sight of a coffin being carried a few times round the tomb of Hazrat Abbas (A.S.) and taken to the alloted place of burial in Kerbala at this wonderful shrine.
Holy Qur'an Says: "And if you are slain in the way of Allah or you die, certainly forgiveness from Allah and mercy is better than what they amass." (3:157)
The Alam and its significance
During the time of the Moharram Majlises, usually on the 8th, it has become a sort of custom to recite the events leading to the martyrdom of Hazrat Abbas. And when the Alams (replica of the Banner or Standard of the Holy Prophet and the Holy Imams) are taken out, accompanied to the beating of breasts and heads by the mourners, one will notice a Mashk (a leather water-bag), usually made of metal in remembrance of Hazrat Abbas, who sacrificed his life trying to get water for the children of Imam Hussain, who were dying of thirst.
When Hazrat Abbas rolled down from his horse after a mortal blow on his head, the Alam and the Mashk stayed linked together and never got separated. Hence one sees an Alam with a Maslik attached to it, and sometimes one also sees an arrow alongside it.