In this book, the reader will find chapters covering the whole life account of al-Abbas in addition to a brief presentation of the historical circumstances that led him to be on the top in the list of the heroes of humanity in general and Islam in particular.
Great personalities contribute strongly to the formation of perfect characters through their model conducts and high standards. For this reason it has been important to introduce such characters to seekers of perfection so that they will become acquainted with the qualifications that authorize such characters to attain perfection and become cynosures of humankind.
Ansariyan Publications is pleased to introduce this book to the gentle readers, as one that deals with the personality of one of the heroes of Islam and the exemplary man whose sacrifices, ideals, and high moral standards took humanity many steps onwards. This perfect personality is of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali upon whom the Imams (a) conferred the finest words of praise and laudation.
In this book, the reader will find chapters covering the whole life account of al-’Abbas in addition to a brief presentation of the historical circumstances that led him to be on the top in the list of the heroes of humanity in general and Islam in particular.
Undertaking the mission of the propagation for Islam, the team of Ansariyan Publications beseeches the all-benefactor Lord to grant them the ability to present other similar books dealing with other ideal personalities that contributed to elevating the Islamic spirit to levels befitting its perfection.
Thus, in the near future, the dear readers will have in possession similar books about other personalities.
Finally, we hope this book will add new knowledge and contribute, to an extent, in leading towards human perfection.
Ansariyan Publications, 2001
To the lady of whom were born heroes and who could carry all the qualifications of giving birth to a hero,
the lady who preferred the children of the Prophet to her children,
the lady who sacrificed her four sons for God,
the lady whom God has made the door to the settlement of needs,
the mother who fed her son with heroism, magnanimity, and altruism,
the mother of al-’Abbas, the righteous servant of God,
I dedicate this modest work to her, hoping for acceptance.
My deep appreciation is extended first of all to the owner of the idea of compiling a book introducing the personality of al- ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali (a), Mr. Muhammad Taqi Ansariyan who assigned me for this holy task. It is surely a holy task since it deals with the great leader who represented all the meanings of heroism, loyalty, perseverance and truthfulness.
Appreciation is also shown to Dr. Muhsin Jaffar who offered his considerable notes about the text of this book.
I would like to refer to the assistance that I received from Sheikh Abu-Alaa as-Saffar and Mr. Muhammad Gannan too, who supplied me with precious reference books upon which I relied throughout this work.
And finally, thanks to everybody who encouraged and helped me proceed with this work.
This project was, initially, only to investigate the best book written about the personality of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali and then translate it into English. I, having searched the libraries, unfortunately found only few books dealing completely with this personality. Nevertheless, there were books full of topics not related, directly, to the personality of al-’Abbas. Therefore, I, after discussing the matter with Mr. Ansariyan, was asked to choose topics related to the life and personality of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali from the reference books that I could have, and then compile them in a book.
During this work, I have mainly depended upon three books:`
1. Al-Muqarram, Sayyid Abd-ur-Razzaq al-Musawi, Al-’Abbas. Ash-Sharif ar-Radhi Publications, Qum. First Edition.
2. Al-Qarashi, Baqir Sharif, Al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali: The pioneer of dignity and sacrifice in Islam. Mehdiyyeh Publications, Qum. First Edition, 2000 A.D. 1420 A.H.
3. Al-Kulbasi, Ayatollah Hajji Muhammad Ibrahim, Al- Khassaaiss ul-’Abbasiyya (The Particularities of al-’Abbas), Al- Maktaba al-Haydariyya Publications, Qum. First Edition, 2000 A.D. 1420 A.H.
Besides these, I referred to other reference books that dealt with this personality whose heroism and high moral standards are too great to be contained.
As a matter of fact, all books dealing with the tragic story of Karbala have referred, though in brief, to the personality of al- ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali. Yet, they have not referred to all the topics and details of his life. His position in Karbala was unique and unmatched in all its dimensions, so it has taken all the time for such authors to make appear other valuable aspects of his life, though important and worthy of reference, seem minor when compared to his standing with his brother, family members, harem of the household of Prophet Muhammad (S) and the companions of his brother on that day in Karbala. These situations still serve as loadstars for everyone who seeks freedom, dignity, and honor.
This book has ten chapters related to the whole lifetime of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali along with factors, matters, and circumstances that contributed to the formation of his great personality, such as the hereditary factors, the family and social environment, and the political circumstances that happened during his lifetime.
There is also a chapter dedicated to the discussion of al-’Abbas’ moral standards, personality, and capabilities that qualified him to play that great role in the greatest saga of Islam, which occurred in Karbala, on the tenth of Muharram, AH 61 - the encounter that was inevitable for sake of saving Islam from distortion, if not complete eradication.
Another chapter is dedicated to the words of the immaculate Imams that were said about al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali. I have also referred to the handsome shrine of al-’Abbas that is pilgrimaged by thousands of people every day. It represents the courageous, enthusiastic hero who had offered his two hands, before he offered his soul for his Lord and religion, for the sake of freeing people from wrong and oppression.
This hero is one whose name has become the sign of valor and courage and whose intercession is sought for solving any problem, no matter how complicated it is, because he has enjoyed a special, exalted rank in the sight of God.
I hope the reader will forgive any, certainly unintentional, neglect or shortcoming that he may notice in this work. No one, however, is perfect!
Finally, I supplicate to Almighty God to help me, out of His infinite mercy, and lead me, as well as everybody, to success, for His being is the one and only source of success.
Al-’Abbas has a full-dimensional history of ancestry, honorable lineage, knowledge, clemency, courage, munificence, adoration, and asceticism as well as all nobilities and virtues.
Al-’Abbas is the son of the sinless Imam Amir ul-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib.
Al-’Abbas is the brother of the two Imams al-Hasan and al- Husayn the grandsons of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).
Al-’Abbas is the uncle of nine Imams - ‘Ali Zayn ul-Abidin, Muhammad al-Baqir, Jaffar as-Sadiq, Musa al-Kadhim, ‘Ali ar- Ridha, Muhammad al-Jawad, ‘Ali al-Hadi, al-Hasan al-Askari, and al-Mahdi.
Al-’Abbas was a good student of the best four immaculate teachers - his father, his two brothers, and his nephew. How great the teachers were and how great their student was!
About him, Imam ‘Ali (a) predicted:
“Choose for me a woman who is the descendant of the Arab heroes so that I will marry her and she will give birth to a horseman.”
To him, Imam al-Husayn (a) addressed Al-’Abbas:
“Ride on, may I be your sacrifice.”
About him, Imam Zayn ul-Abidin (a) said:
“Allah may have mercy upon my uncle, al-’Abbas. He preferred his brother to himself, did well, and sacrificed himself for his brother until he lost his two hands for sake of such.”
About him, Imam as-Sadiq (a) said:
“My uncle al-’Abbas was clear-sighted, steadfastly faithful… etc.”
About him, Imam al-Mahdi (a) said:
“Salaam be upon Abul-Fadhl al-’Abbas, son of Amir ul- Muminin. He preferred his brother to himself, supplied himself with (opportunities of) today for (rewards of) tomorrow, sacrificed himself for his brother, protected him, hurried for fetching him water, and his two hands were cut (for such).”
Al-’Abbas, after all, was the righteous servant of God and the epitome of heroism.
Undoubtedly the family relation with the great personalities is an honor and dignity, especially when such a great personality is the choice of God and the seal of the prophets. Al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali enjoyed a close relation with Prophet Muhammad (S) since he was the son of ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib who was an independent source of honor and dignity.
About ‘Ali (a), the Prophet (S) and his family, said:
“My brother ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib enjoys innumerable merits. Neither jinn nor can human beings count them.”
Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafii, the founder of the Shafiite school of law answered those who asked him to say his opinion about ‘Ali:
“What can we say about a person whose partisans have had to hide his merits because of fear, and enemies have hidden his merits out of envy? Nevertheless between these two, his merits that have become widely known are too numerous to be counted”1
Ibn Abi’-Hadid, the Mutazilite, says:
“The merits of ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib are too great and familiar to be mentioned or detailed. Even his enemies and rivalries could do nothing but confess the unmatched virtue of this man whose eminence is unconcealed and excellences are unrestrained.
Everybody knows that when the Umayyads held the reins of the Islamic world, they spared no single effort for extinguishing the light of Imam ‘Ali and inventing flaws against him. Moreover, they issued the decisions of cursing him openly from the mimbars of their mosques and sentenced to death anyone who would mention any of his incalculable merits. They also prevented people from reporting any narration that might refer to any of his excellences.
Finally, they even prevented people from calling their newborns by his name. Nevertheless, all these endeavours exalted ‘Ali’s reputation and took him to further elevated levels. He was like musk whose perfume spreads when it is screened, and like the sun that cannot be screened by one’s palm, and like daylight that is seen by many eyes even if one eye is closed against it.” 2
Thus was the father of al-’Abbas who had every right to be taken pride in and gain learning from his morals, ethics and excellences.
From the maternal side, al-’Abbas was the son of a great lady namely Umm-ul-Banin, who enjoyed excellent lineage and personality. In addition to her high moral standards, she was well known for her loyalty to the Ahlul Bayt3 and her devoutness. Therefore, she occupied an elevated position in the sight of the Ahlul Bayt who praised her on many occasions and showed her great respect.
Because of such remarkable care that Umm-ul-Banin took of Imam ‘Ali’s sons and daughters, God has given her an exclusive position and made her a means to reach Him and a way through which the supplicants’ most complex problems are solved.
Umm-ul-Banin was brought up by her noble parents on righteous moralities and the highest ethical standards, so that she became fit to be the wife of Imam ‘Ali (a) and a compassionate mother for the chiefs of the youth of Paradise.4
This great lady gave birth to four courageous sons, the eldest among whom was Abul-Fadhl al-’Abbas. He, as well as his full brothers, acquired the qualities of courage and bravery from their mother whose ancestors were the most courageous among the Arabs. Umm-ul-Banin then, contributed towards forming the personalities of her four sons who showed unmatched courage on the day of Ashura and sacrificed themselves for their religion and its representative - Imam al-Husayn (a).
Ancestry plays a considerable role in the formation of personalities. It has a great influence on self-discipline and behavior. On that account, genealogy, which is the branch of knowledge that deals with the investigation of the details of ancestry, occupies a significant position in the society. It is so because the influence of heredity has been proven through many scientific researches, on the structure of both individuals and communities.
In addition, many Islamic laws have depended mainly on genealogy, especially in fields of inheritance, taxes, regard of relatives, and blood money for unintentional killings etc.
A genealogist, like any other specialist to whom matters relating to his special domain are referred to, enjoys a substantial position in the religious, social, and ethical affairs. ‘Aqil ibn Abi-Talib was the most celebrated in this field. In addition to his being the descendant of that unparalleled pedigree, he was the reference to whom people submitted their queries to in fields of genealogy. He could discern the sources of glory, distinguish the Arab tribes, and tell between the deep-rooted ones and the disreputable.
‘Aqil used to be surrounded by those who were interested in genealogy as well as the history and origins of the Arab tribes in the center of the Prophet’s Masjid5; they gathered to listen to him carefully and trust whatever he would tell.
Historians have reported uninterruptedly that Imam ‘Ali (a) summoned his brother ‘Aqil and asked:
“Choose for me a woman who is the descendant of the Arab heroes so that I will marry her and she will give birth to a horseman.”6
‘Aqil answered his brother:
“Marry Umm-ul-Banin, from the tribe of Kelab, for no Arab individual is more courageous than her fathers and forefathers.”
Al-’Abbas is the son of ‘Ali, son of Abu-Talib, son of Abd-ul- Muttalib, son of Hashim, son of Abd-Menaf, son of Qussay, son of Kelab, son of Murra, son of Kaab, son of Luway, son of Ghalib, son of Fihr, son of Malik, son of an-Nadhr, son of Kenana, son of Khuzayma, son of Mudrika, son of Ilias, son of Madhar, son of Nizar, son of Maad, son of Adnan…
We have to stop at him (Adnan) because we recite the Prophet’s saying, ‘When you refer to my fathers, you should stop at Adnan’, because of seeming difficulty in pronouncing the names of the other forefathers or because of errors that might occur in the series of their names.
Moreover, it is unacceptable to mistake intentionally the names of those whose descendant was the great Prophet Muhammad (S).
To have little discussion about fathers of the Prophet (S), we may refer, first of all, to the following point:
We believe that all fathers of the Prophet (S) up to Adam are pure in birth and belief. In other words, all ancestors of the Prophet (S) were believers as none of them had ever worshipped an idol or anything other than Almighty God. The holy Qur’an proves this fact by saying:
“And rely on the Mighty, the Merciful who sees you when you stand up and (watched you during) your turning over and over among those (ancestors) who prostrate themselves before Allah. Surely, He is the Hearing, the Knowing” 7
Any contrary matter that may arise must be interpreted in a way befitting this principle. For instance, the one to whom the Holy Qur’an has referred as being Prophet Abraham’s father was not his father. He was either his uncle or maternal grandfather. All historians have proved that Prophet Abraham’s father was called ‘Tarikh,’ not ‘Azar’ as the Qur’an says –
“Consider when Abraham asked his father, Azar, Why do you believe idols to be your gods? I find you and your people in absolute error."8
In addition, the Holy Qur’an, in another situation, refers to the uncle as father:
“Were you believers there when death approached Jacob? When he asked his sons, whom will you worship after my death? They replied - we will worship your Lord, the Lord of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac. He is the only Lord, and to Him we have submitted ourselves."9
Prophet Isaac was the uncle of Jacob, nevertheless, the Lord added him to the names of ‘fathers’.
Prophet Muhammad (S) declared that all his ancestors were not worshippers of anything other than Almighty God, and were not the products of illegitimate copulation:
“When Allah wanted to create us, He made us in a form of a pillar of light in the spine of Adam. Hence, that light was shining in his forehead. That pillar, then, moved to Shith his successor who received the commandment of his father that he must not put that pillar in any place other than wombs of purified women.
With the moving of this pillar of light, this commandment moved with it. Hence, only the celebrities could carry that pillar of light and only the purified women carried it. When it reached the spine of Abd-ul-Muttalib, that pillar was divided into two parts one went to Abdullah who moved it to the womb of Amina, and the other went to Abu-Talib who moved it to the womb of Fatima bint Asad.”10
Let us now refer briefly to the fathers of al-’Abbas:
Historical reports have conveyed that Adnan, through many speeches, foretold about the coming of Prophet Muhammad (S) who would be one of his descendants. He also commanded the next generations to follow him.
Maad, who was following the religion of his forefather Prophet Abraham, was a great warrior. He used to lead campaigns against the Israelites who had abandoned the belief of monotheism.
When Nebuchadnezzar besieged and destroyed Jerusalem, God gave His orders to one of his prophets to carry Maad with him so as to save him from any injury. The Lord also told, by revelation that one of the descendants of Maad would be the seal of the prophets. Hence, Maad was taken to Syria until that campaign ceased.11
Historians have also told that Nizar was a famous celebrity from whose forehead the light of prophecy shone.12
It is related that Prophet Muhammad (S) warned against reviling at Madhar (and Rabīa) because these were two faithful individuals who believed in Almighty God. Besides Madhar was a wise man some of whose maxims have been recorded in books of history.
Ilias ibn Madhar was the chief of his people. He was the first to offer camels as sacrifices to the Holy House of God and the first to recognize the standing place of Abraham after the flood that covered the Holy House in Mecca. Finally, he was faithful monotheist. It is also related that Prophet Muhammad (S) warned against reviling at him.
Mudrika was good-looking, high-ranking celebrity. He acted as the reference of the Arabs who used to visit him for learning from his knowledge and virtue. He also predicted the coming of Prophet Muhammad (S) through many speeches of wisdom that he used to deliver. History has recorded for him many maxims.
An-Nadhr is Koreish; hence, his descendants are called the Koreishites. He was also man of wisdom, knowledge, and chieftainship.
When Hassan ibn Abd-Kelal invaded the Kaaba13 to take its stones for building a similar house in Himyar, Yemen - Fihr, who was monotheist, overcame him in a battle and took him as prisoner. Consequently, the Arabs feared and respected him. He was also eloquent. Historians have recorded some of his maxims.
Books of history have mentioned long speeches delivered by Kaab ibn Luway regarding the prediction of the coming of Prophet Muhammad (S) and the commandment to support him. He also composed poetic verses in this regard.14 Because of his high honor and personality, his people made a new calendar beginning with the day of his death.
Kelab was well known for his courage. His forehead shone with light because of the light of prophecy.
Qussay was called chief of the Holy Precinct. He housed his people in Mecca so that the other tribes would fear them. He also constructed the Dar-un-Nidwa, in which people of Koreish used to meet to discuss their affairs. He also founded the custom of serving the pilgrims with food and gained the custody of the Holy House. Historians have recorded many of his words in fields of morals and virtue. One of his speeches proves that he warned his people against drinking wines.
Abd-Menaf was such glorious and honorable personality that he was appointed as chief of his people. Because of his good looks, he was called ‘Moon of al-Bat’haa’. He was also well known for munificence and generosity.
Following the customs of his fathers, Hashim used to serve the pilgrims with food. His situation in the year of famine is very famous.15 He also enjoyed all virtues. His speeches are recorded in books of history.
Abd-ul-Muttalib was called ‘Shaibat-ul-Hamd’ - personality of praiseworthiness - because people praised him so laudably for his remarkable standing in honor, wisdom, and sagacity. To refer to his rank, it is sufficient to mention the following saying of Prophet Muhammad (S):
“O ‘Ali, in the pre-Islamic era, Abd-ul-Muttalib passed five laws that Allah enacted in Islam. He forbade sons from marrying their fathers’ women, and Allah revealed:
“Do not marry, from now on, the ex-wives of your fathers.”16
As Abd-ul-Muttalib found a treasure, he gave its one-fifth as alms. Allah revealed:
“Know that whatever property you may gain, one fifth belongs to Allah, the Messenger, the kindred, orphans, the needy and those who need money while on a journey.”17
When he dug the Zamzam Spring, he called it ‘the watering of the pilgrims’. Allah revealed:
“Do you, because you served water to the pilgrims and constructed the Sacred Mosque, consider yourselves equal to those who have believed in Allah, the Day of Judgment, and have fought for the cause of Allah?”18
Abd-ul-Muttalib issued the law that one hundred camels should be paid as the blood money of murdering. Allah passed the same in Islam.
For the Koreishites, they did not stop at a limited number of circumambulations around the Kaaba; hence, Abd-ul- Muttalib decided seven circumambulations for them. In Islam, Allah passed this law.
O ‘Ali, Abd-ul-Muttalib used to avoid dividing by casting superstitious and gambling arrows, worshipping the idols, and having the flesh of an animal that had been sacrificed on the stone blocks. He used to say: I follow the religion of my father Abraham the prophet (a).19
Historians have recorded that Abd-ul-Muttalib was one of the prophets’ successors and had full acquaintance with the heavenly books. He foretold Abu-Talib, his son, about the prophecy of Muhammad (S). In this regard, Abu-Talib was related to have said: “My father had full knowledge of all the heavenly books. He once said: A prophet will be from my offspring. I wish I would catch up with his time to believe in him. Hence, anyone of my sons who will catch up with his time must believe in him.”20
Like his father, Abu-Talib was the chief of his people and had knowledge of the Heavenly Books. He kept the commandments of the prophets until he delivered them to Prophet Muhammad (S).21
This great personality has become a matter of discussion among historians some of whom, unfortunately, have given credence to the lie that he had departed life before being a Muslim - this fabrication was invented by the pro-Umayyads narrators for no other reason than his being the father of ‘Ali, the first enemy of the Umayyads. Hence, they the Umayyads - and their sycophants wanted to convince people that Abu Suffian, the mortal enemy of Islam and the father of Muawiya, died as Muslim while Abu-Talib was atheist.
Allama al-Mejlisi said, “Unanimously, Shia believe that Abu-Talib had never worshipped an idol. They believe that he was one of the successors of Prophet Abraham (a).”
Through his poetic verses that are related by all historians, people of reason can clearly identify the reality of Abu-Talib. He was the custodian, guardian, and defender of Prophet Muhammad (S) until he, and the Hashemites22 were detained in a col to die there rejecting any submission to the enemies of Islam.23
Finally, let us refer to the following narration as quoted from Tarikh ut-Tabari, 2/214 and as-Seerat ul-Halabiyya,1/306:
Abu-Talib, once asked his son ‘Ali: “What is this belief you are following?”
‘Ali answered, “Father, I have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have given credence to him, kept to him, and followed him.”
Abu-Talib commented, “Certainly, he calls you to nothing but the good. Hence, you must adhere to him.”
The eloquent are too tongue-tied to describe or count the characteristics of ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib. It is, also, very difficult for any writer to refer to Imam ‘Ali’s unparalleled personality with any words.
Firstly, ‘Ali was the foremost to embrace Islam. He in fact had never embraced any belief other than Islam. Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “‘Ali and I belong to the same tree, while people belong to different trees.”24
Since the earliest steps of his divine mission, Prophet Muhammad (S) appointed ‘Ali as his representative, successor, and supporter. Prophet Muhammad (S) said:
“This ‘Ali - is my brother, successor, and representative among you. You thus should listen to and obey him.” 25
The pillars of Islam have relied on the strokes of ‘Ali’s sword. Prophet Muhammad (S) said:
“‘Ali’s stroke on Amr ibn Abd-Wudd is equal to the worship of both mankind and jinn.”26
He (S) also said before the conquest of Khaybar:
“I will hand the standard to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and is loved by Allah and His Messenger. He will come back with conquest.”27
‘Ali, finally, was the most knowledgeable, most sagacious, most pious, and most eloquent among all Muslims.
It is because of the aforementioned golden series of fathers of al- ‘Abbas that he could join the glory to honor and decency. He therefore gained all elements of nobility that resulted in the composition of his matchless personality.
Like fathers, uncles play a good role in the structure of personalities. According to the law of heredity, individuals may acquire some characteristics from their paternal uncles. The paternal uncles of al-’Abbas were such unique personalities whose lives and situations have been matters of pride for humanity in general and Islam in particular.
Hamza won the badge of honor from his nephew, the great Prophet Muhammad (S) who named him, Asadullah wa asadu Rasoulih - the Lion of Allah and the Lion of His Messenger, for his unique bravery and courage. He defended Islam fearlessly until he was killed during the battle of Uhud. Hence, the Prophet (S) named him as chief of martyrs.
Moreover, many narrations confirm that Hamza had considerable knowledge and outstanding rank in the eyes of God. Imam ‘Ali, Imam al-Hasan, Imam al-Husayn, Imam Zayn ul-Abidin, and Imam as-Sadiq mentioned Hamza whenever they wanted to take pride in their lineage or whenever they wanted to refer to the foremost Muslims who defended Islam.
Talib ibn Abi-Talib had to conceal his embracement of Islam because he lived in Mecca. During the battle of Badr, the Meccans obliged him as well as others from the Hashemites, to participate with them. The Prophet (S) therefore declared: “There are some individuals who were coerced to participate in this battle against us - hence, you must avoid fighting them if you meet…”28
‘Aqil was one of the branches of that immaculate tree. He embraced Islam from the beginning therefore, the Prophet (S) had great love for him:
“I love you twice - once for your being ‘Aqil and the other for Abu-Talib’s love for you.”29
Historians have evoked circles of suspicion around the personality of ‘Aqil because he joined Muawiya ibn Abu-Suffian. Some claim that he left the wing of his brother Imam ‘Ali, to join Muawiya’s, because his brother deprived him of additional salaries from the public treasury of the Islamic State.
Anyhow, everyone agrees that ‘Aqil, during his stay with Muawiya, did not show any loyalty to him or any disloyalty to the wing of his brother. All indications prove that ‘Aqil had to visit Muawiya who imposed strict blockade against the Hashemites after the death of Imam ‘Ali (a).30
The righteous progeny glorifies the ascendants. On that account, the descendants of ‘Aqil were high examples of heroism in defense of their belief. Muslim ibn ‘Aqil, for instance, was that glorious personality who fulfilled his mission so completely until he was martyred.
The other sons of ‘Aqil lost themselves defending their leader Imam al-Husayn, during the battle of at-Taff and provided unprecedented examples of sacrifice for their belief. Moreover, among the descendants of ‘Aqil, there have been numerous personalities with piety, knowledge, and authorship. Their names are well known all over the Islamic world.
Ja’far ibn Abi-Talib was a great personality. The Prophet (S) chose him for the commandment of his army at the campaign of Mu’ta. Ja’far however, was martyred during that campaign and the Prophet (S) conferred upon him with the eternal name ‘At- Tayyar’ when he said after that event during which both the hands of Ja’far were severed:
“Instead of his hands that were cut, Ja’far will have two wings with which he will fly in Paradise wherever he wants.”
The Prophet (S) had also said to him:
“You are my copy in physique and morality.31
Nevertheless, the Imams as well as the prophets, peace be upon them all, are required to behave as naturally as possible and to follow the natural laws of this existence. Hence, we notice that the Prophets and Imams (a) used their supernatural energies in very limited situations according to the divine instructions. In this regard, we believe that Imam ‘Ali (a) was more knowledgeable than his brother ‘Aqil in the field of genealogy, but he sought his advice when he wanted to choose a wife that gave birth to heroes - according to the law of heredity, just to indicate natural laws that necessitate following the instructions of the specialists in their fields of specialization.
To prove this matter we may cite as examples the many reports that conveyed to us that Prophet Muhammad (S), though he was divinely directed, used to consult his companions in many affairs and follow their opinions after receiving a signal of acceptance from the Heavens. In this regard, God instructs:
“Only through the Divine Mercy have you (Muhammad) been able to deal with your followers so gently. If you had been stern and hard-hearted, they would all have deserted you a long time ago. Forgive them and ask Allah to forgive (their sins) and consult with them in certain matters. But, when you reach a decision, trust Allah. Allah loves those who trust Him.” (3:159)
Following the Prophet (S), all the Sinless Imams (a) had similar situations.
It has to be added that because the Prophet and Imams have been the examples for people, they had to behave completely naturally so that people would follow their examples. Hence, Imam ‘Ali, in this interchange with ‘Aqil, wanted to guide people to choose women of honorable lineages for marriage and to avoid the inglorious, because mothers play great roles in the natural and educational development of their sons.
“And warn your nearest relations”
- the Prophet (S) summoned me and said: “‘Ali, Allah had ordered me to warn my near relatives, but I was unable to bear this order because I knew that they would show me detestable things if I would approach such a matter with them. I therefore kept it secret until Archangel Gabriel came to me and said that my Lord would punish me if I would shun that order. Now, I want you to make some food with meat of a ewe and bring a jar of milk for us, then gather the sons of Abd-ul-Muttalib so that I will speak to them and convey the matter that I have been ordered to convey.”
I did as he asked me and invited them. They were about forty men among whom there were his uncles - Abu-Talib, Hamza, al- ‘Abbas, and Abu-Lahab. When they all attended, he asked me to fetch that food and I did. When I put it before them, the Prophet (S) took a piece of the meat, tore it with his teeth, threw its pieces around the bowl, and then said: “Here you are, by the Name of Allah.”
Each one of them took it to his sufficiency completely and I could see only the places of their hands. I swear by Allah, each one of them ate from the quantity that I served to all of them. The Prophet (S) then asked me to serve milk to them. I fetched that jar and they all drank from it. By Allah I swear, each one of them drank from the quantity that I served to all of them.
When the Prophet (S) tried to speak, Abu-Lahab overtook and prevented him from speaking. He said: “This man has bewitched you.” Hence, they left without letting the Prophet (S) speak to them.
On the next day, he said to me: “‘Ali, that man overtook me and said the statement that you had heard. They left before I could speak to them. Make for us food like that which you did yesterday then gather them to me.”
I did and invited them all. He then asked me to serve them the food. I served it for them and he repeated the same thing he had done the previous day. Each one had to his sufficiency completely. He then asked me to serve them with milk. I fetched the same jar and they all drank from it to their sufficiency.
Then, the Prophet (S) spoke: “Sons of Abdul-Muttalib, I do not know any young Arab man who has brought to his people a thing better than that which I have brought to you. I have brought to you the goodness of this world as well as the world to come. Allah, Exalted is He, has ordered me to call you to accept this matter. Which one of you will support me in this regard and he will be my brother, successor, and representative?”
They all kept silent except me. I said, while I was the youngest, “Prophet of Allah, I will be your supporter in this matter.” I repeated this statement three times. The Prophet (S) then took me from the neck and said: “This is my brother, successor, and representative among you. You thus should listen to and obey him.”
They left him laughing and saying to Abu-Talib: “He has ordered you to listen to and obey your son!”
This narration is recorded in many reference books such as: At- Tabari’s At-Tarikh 2:319-21; Ibn ul-Athir’s Al-Kamil fit Tarikh 2:22; As-Seerat un-Nabawiyya; Al-Halabi (the Shafiite) 1:311-2; Kenz ul- Ummahl; al-Muttaqi (the Hanafite), Mustadrak us-Sahihayn; Al- Hakim an-Nisapuri (the Shafiite) 3:133; Ad-Durr ul-Manthour; As- Suyoutti (the Shafiite) 5:79, Al-Musnad; Ahmed ibn Hanbal (the founder of Hanbalism) 1:111, Al-Bidaya wan-Nihaya; Ibn Kuthair 3:39; Tarikh; Abu’l-Fidaa 1:119; Shawahid ut-Tanzil; Al-Hasakani 1:485 H.514 and 580; Tarikh Dimashq: the life account of Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib; Ibn Asakir (the Shafiite) 1:97-105 H.133-40 and Sharhu Nahj ul-Balagha; Ibn Abi-al-Hadid (the Mutazilite) 13:210 and 244.
After an unsuccessful siege, the Meccans dispersed. Amr ibn Abd-Wudd was the strongest horseman among the army of the Meccans. He could cross over that ditch to challenge Muslims. Facing this horrible situation that warned the ultimate defeat of Muslims, Prophet Muhammad (S) declared: “I guarantee Paradise for him who will face Amr.” None of Muslims responded to the Prophet’s call except ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib who faced and could kill Amr by one stroke about which the Prophet (S) said that statement.
Umm-ul-Banin is the glorious mother of al-’Abbas. Her name was Fatima, daughter of Hizam. Historians have referred to her name among names of eleven mothers each of whom were known for their glory, honor, and good reputation.1 Her father too was one of the most celebrated personalities of the Arabs, and was the chief of his people.
Historians have also mentioned many names of this great lady’s ancestors that were well known for their horsemanship, heroism, and courage.2
In conclusion, Umm-ul-Banin belonged to one of the most celebrated families in fields of honor, open-handedness, nobility, courage, and bravery.
When Imam ‘Ali lost his wife Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S), he summoned his brother ‘Aqil who was a well- known genealogist to ask him to search for a lady who being a descendant of heroes would give birth to a courageous, immaculate hero whose mission would be to support his brother al-Husayn (S) in the field of Karbala.3
Without hesitation, ‘Aqil advised his brother to propose to Umm-ul-Banin - from the tribe of Kelab because her fathers and people had been the foremost among others in fields of heroism and courage. Agreeing to his advice, Imam ‘Ali asked his brother ‘Aqil to go to that lady’s father and ask her hand for him.
As soon as ‘Aqil mentioned the matter with him, Aamir - Umm-ul-Banin’s father - welcomed and responded to it with pride.
Some historians4 have confirmed that Imam ‘Ali married Umm-ul-Banin after the death of his first wife Fatima the veracious (a). Others5 have recorded that Imam ‘Ali had married Imama, daughter of Zaynab daughter of the Prophet, before Umm-ul-Banin.
Lady Umm-ul-Banin took care of al-Hasan and al-Husayn so remarkably well that she had asked her husband not to call her with her name Fatima, so that this name would not remind these two boys of their mother. They, however, felt the extreme kindness and sympathy of this lady who could fill a part of the great loss of their own mother whose demise had left a deep sadness in their minds.
Emotionally, Umm-ul-Banin had great love for al-Hasan and al- Husayn because of their perfection and unique morality. She in fact loved them more than her own children. She also preferred them to her sons in taking care and responsibility.
Except for this great lady, history has never seen a fellow wife act so sincerely with her stepsons. This is because this perfect lady believed that it was her religious duty to take care of the two Imams the love for who is imposed by God and revealed in the Qur’an:
Say, ‘I do not ask you for any payment for my preaching to you except (your) love of (my near) relatives’6.
Umm-ul-Banin had full knowledge of the actual standings and heavenly ranks of the Ahlul Bayt, therefore, she performed her duty towards them so perfectly. Historian have recorded that when she was carried to her husband’s house, al-Hasan and al- Husayn were sick. As soon as she noticed this, she willingly went on caressing them, using the nicest language. From that time onwards, she went on treating them very kindly. For this reason, she occupies a great position in the eyes of the Ahlul Bayt who had immense regard for her, especially because of her unique bearing in loyalty towards Imam al-Husayn (a).
As soon as she was back home after the tragedy of Karbala - Zaynab, daughter of Imam ‘Ali, visited Umm-ul-Banin for condoling her for the martyrdom of her four sons. Moreover, Zaynab used to visit her on the Eids.7
Umm-ul-Banin gave birth to four sons: al-’Abbas, Abdullah, Ja’far, and Uthman. After the death of Imam ‘Ali, she did not marry again until she died.
As for the Ahlul Bayt, this lady also occupies a great position in the sights of Muslims.
Many believe that she has a great position in the sight of God who will surely respond to any request that is presented through the intercession of her great position. It is natural that such a great lady occupies a great position in the sight of God because she sacrificed her four sons for His sake.
Al-’Abbas had fifteen brothers and eighteen sisters. Their father was the great Imam ‘Ali who brought them up on uprightness and piety.
In the first place we should refer to the two Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn (a), from whom al-’Abbas learnt the best lessons of morality and heroism. They are, as described by their grandfather Prophet Muhammad (S) - “chiefs of the youth of Paradise and two Imams whether they choose peace or choose fighting.”1
Their father took pride in them whenever he wanted to prove his precedence to the others.2 This fact is in itself enough to prove their supreme worth.
So to live under the custody of such persons, after their father, is enough to achieve perfection of personality and to acquire the highest moralities. In addition to the divine knowledge and lore, al-’Abbas came to possess innumerable virtues and good points because of his brotherhood to the two Imams al- Hasan and al-Husayn (a).
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya is another brother from whom al-’Abbas learnt courage plus horsemanship and eloquence. During the battle of Siffin, Imam ‘Ali regarded his son Muhammad as his hand. Hence, the son was fighting bravely before his father.3
Abdullah, Ja’far, Uthman, Abu-Bakr, and Muhammad al-Awsat - all these brothers were martyred during the battle of at- Taff before al-’Abbas.4
Al-’Abbas was the brother of Zaynab al-Kubra, daughter of Fatima az-Zahra, daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S). She was older than al-’Abbas.
Like her mother, the lady chief of the women of this world, Zaynab was the best example of glory, honor, and perseverance to principles. Therefore, she was the type of virtuous woman who contributes strongly to erecting the ideal human society. She was one of the fragments of prophecy and one of the pieces of Imamate. Besides, she was so knowledgeable, righteous, and sagacious.5 Like her father, she was very eloquent.
This lady had special attachment with al-’Abbas who engaged himself with her guardianship during the tragic journey to Karbala.
After the martyrdom of her brothers, sons, and nephews, and after she had been taken as captive to the palace of Yazid , Zaynab gave the best ever example of perseverance and steadfastness when she delivered that incomparable sermon before her enemies who tried, uselessly, to humiliate her.
It is now not surprising for al-’Abbas, to hold all such intellectual and spiritual virtues in his unparalleled personality, since his forefathers, father, mother, brothers, and sisters were all models of human perfection.
Al-’Abbas, was the first child of Umm-ul-Banin. With his birth, Medina shone and the whole world glittered. Waves of pleasures flowed in the family of ‘Ali (a), for the birth of their magnificent moon that would enlighten this world with his merits, and would add immortal glory to the numerous glories of the Hashemites.
As soon as Imam ‘Ali (a) was given the good news of the birth of this blessed child, he hurried to take him, kiss him frequently, and hold the Shariite ceremonies of newborns. The Imam (a) recited the azan1 in his newborn’s right ear and recited the iqama2 in the left. Hence, the first voice that penetrated this great newborn’s hearing was his father’s, stating:
Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest)
La ilaha illa (A)llah (There is no god but Allah)
These great words, which are the message of all prophets and the melody of the God-fearing, found a ground in the inner self of al-’Abbas. These words later on became the most significant element of his personality. In his future, he would adopt the calling to the true application of these words for which he would lose all his limbs.
On the seventh day of birth, Imam ‘Ali (a) shaved the newborn’s hair and gave golden and silver alms as weighty as the cut hair. As he had done for al-Hasan and al-Husayn, Imam ‘Ali (a) slaughtered a ram as offering to God on behalf of his baby. These practices are adopted from the Prophet (S) whose words, practices, and confirmations are regarded as authoritative, together with the holy Koran, for Muslims.
Historians3 have confirmed that al-’Abbas was born on the fourth of Shabaan, AH 26.
After holding the Islamic ceremonies of newborns for Imam ‘Ali’s new baby, Lady Zaynab (a) turned her face towards her father and asked, “Father, have you chosen a name and a nickname for this new baby?”
Her father answered, “Yes, daughter, I have.”
“What are they, father?” she asked eagerly.
The father, as he perceived that this baby would be one of the heroes of Islam and would be frowning in the faces of evils and the wrongdoers, said, “I name him al-’Abbas (the frowning), and nickname him Abu’l-Fadhl (father of virtue).”4
Lady Zaynab however loved this baby very much and could not depart him for a single moment. She told her father about the different feelings that she had for this child.
Referring to the linguistic meaning of the Arabic al-’Abbas, Ibn-Manzhour5 in his al-Ayn, writes down:
Al-’Abbas - the lion that other lions fear and escape6
In Muntaha al-Irab, the following is recorded:
Al-’Abbas - this name is given to the courageous, the fearless, the strong, and the attacker. It is one of the names of a lion. Describing al-’Abbas in the battlefields, many historians have likened him to the angry lion.7
Describing al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali, at-Turaihi, in his al-Muntakhab, says:
Al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali looked like an unshakable mountain. His heart was the same as such an immoveable mound because he was such a unique horseman and hero. In battlefields, he was fearless.
Out of her great love for her son, Umm-ul-Banin did her best to protect him from any evil, including the evils of the envious. Hence, she composed the following poetic verses:
I seek the guard of the One (God) for him
From the eye of every envious -
Including the rising one and those who sit
The Muslims and the unbelievers
The comers and the goers
And sons and fathers.8
Al-’Abbas was called Abu’l-Fadhl (father or owner of virtue). Some mentioned that he had a son called al-Fadhl.9
As a matter of fact, this name represents his personality completely, because he was the owner, leader, and a source of virtues. In his life, he was so openhanded - he used to distribute his virtue and charity to anyone who was directed to him.
After martyrdom, he has been the shelter and refuge of everyone who seeks his help. Most surely, God relieves him who turns to Him and implores to Him by using Abu’l-Fadhl as his means and interceder. Because this is so commonly experienced - the fact is undeniable.
Al-’Abbas was also called Abu-Qirba (the owner of the water skin) because he had carried water to the harem of Imam al-Husayn (a) during the battle of at-Taff.
He was also called Abu’l-Qasim. This name, however, is not common among historians some of whom have mentioned that al- ‘Abbas had a son called al-Qasim who was martyred during the battle of at-Taff. Jabir al-Ansari addressed to al-’Abbas during the Ziyara of al-Arbaeen: 10
“Salaam be upon you, Abu’l-Qasim. Salaam be upon you, O al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali.”
Undoubtedly, Jabir was that great personality who spent much of his time in the house of prophecy and Imamate; therefore he was more knowledgeable than others in the secrets, affairs, and news of this holy house.11
It is narrated that, once, Imam ‘Ali (a) seated his baby al-’Abbas on his knees, lifted his (the baby’s) hands, kissed them, and wept. Watching this situation, the mother was surprised. Hence, Imam ‘Ali (a) told her about the future of her baby and what would happen to his hands. She as well as the others, wept heavily. After that, the Imam told her about her baby’s great position with God, and this relieved her.12
Al-’Abbas was nursed at the hands of a faithful, mother who nurtured him on faith, loyalty, knowledge, devoutness and high principles. His father too, was that great personality who is described as a copy of the Prophet (S), the inheritor of the prophet’s knowledge and the hero of all combats.
Al-’Abbas was brought up under the custody of these parents. No wonder then that he possessed such a personality and offered such big sacrifices for the sake of his religion and principles.
Al-’Abbas adhered to his father when he was in Medina, and when he moved to Iraq and resided in Kufa, al-’Abbas was also under his thoughtful care and wise education. Through heredity, education and environment, al-’Abbas acquired all virtues, high moral standards, knowledge and conversance.
After his father’s demise, al-’Abbas adhered closely to his two brothers - al-Hasan and al-Husayn (a). He returned with them to Medina and learnt from them the religious knowledge and fundamentals in addition to the nobilities of character.
When Imam al-Hasan (a) was poisoned to death, al-’Abbas adhered to his brother Imam al-Husayn and his nephew Imam ‘Ali Zayn ul-Abidin (a). He kept himself with his brother in Medina, Mecca, and Iraq where he protected him as well as his harem until he lost his life for this sake.
Thus, unlike the other sons of Imam ‘Ali (a), al-’Abbas had the characteristic of full adherence to his father, two brothers, and nephew. For that reason, he was a true copy of the Imams in knowledge and morality.
Then, asked the mother, “Have you chosen a name for him?” “We will never precede you in such a thing,” she said.
The Imam (a) said, “Well then, I choose for him the name of my uncle, al-’Abbas.” He then embraced the baby to his chest, took the two small hands, and kissed them warmly while he was weeping. He then said, “I predict these two hands will be cut!”
See al-Kulbasi’s Al- Khassaiss ul-’Abbasiyya, 71-2
Epithet is a word or phrase that expresses a quality or attribute which is considered to be a characteristic of the person or thing mentioned.1 Epithets then reflect one’s characteristics, whether good or bad.
To al-’Abbas a number of lofty epithets expressing his kind mentality and high moral standards have been ascribed:
Like his father who was the door to the Prophet (S), al-’Abbas is the actual and spiritual door to Imam al-Husayn (a). Because of the high moral standards and great faithfulness of al-’Abbas, Imam al-Husayn used to choose him for every mission and depend upon him in every difficult situation. Likewise, al-’Abbas dedicated himself to being at the disposal of his brother. He was the protector and defender of the Prophet’s household.
It is related that al-’Abbas used to call his brother as ‘Master’. Only on one day and in one situation did al-’Abbas address his brother as brother. That was on the day of Ashura - when he fell down from his horse after his two hands had been severed and he had been struck on the head. In such an hour, a man longs to see the ones he loves for the last time. Only then did he shout as loud as possible - O Brother, reach your brother.
As soon as the Imam heard that voice, he hurried towards its source. He rode out, put his brother’s head in his lap, began to wipe away blood and dust from his face, and asked about his pain. Al-’Abbas opened his eyes to see his brother’s face, looked at him for the last time, and bid him farewell with a smile expressing all meanings of sincerity and loyalty.
As an answer, Imam al-Husayn (a) replied to his brother’s farewell not with words, but with tears that dropped on the face of al-’Abbas while he was having the last sparks of his life. Thus, al-’Abbas emitted his last breaths while he was in the lap of his brother and he has become the door to reaching him.
Hence, it is recommended for the pilgrims of the tomb of Imam al-Husayn (a) to begin first with visiting the tomb of al- ‘Abbas. This is one of the confirmations of al-’Abbas’ being the door to his brother – the chief of the martyrs.
The door intended here is the mental and spiritual. Al-’Abbas, hence, is the spiritual door to Imam al-Husayn, and this meaning is very far from the familiar meaning of portership or secretariat. Al-’Abbas is too far above such meanings and Imam al-Husayn (a) is also too far above taking doorkeepers or secretaries, since he is beyond all material limits.
Al-’Abbas was so bright-faced and handsome. Hence, he was called Qamar Bani Hashim - Moon of the Hashemites. He was also the moon of his family and the moon of Islam because he paved the path of martyrdom with light and shone upon the lives of Muslims.
He was so bright-faced that the light of his countenance lit all darkness and everybody admired his handsomeness. When it happened that al-’Abbas was accompanied by his nephew ‘Ali al- Akbar who is known for his similarity to the Prophet physically and morally - the people of Medina stopped in lines to watch their bright-facedness.2
During the battle of at-Taff and the few days preceding it, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, imposed a blockade on the sources of water so as to prevent Imam al-Husayn (a), his household and army from having water. Al-’Abbas, undertook the mission of fetching water to the camp and harem of his brother. He pushed himself among the large gatherings of that army and reached the River Euphrates several times. On that account, he had the epithet as - Saqqaa - the provider of water.
From his forefathers, al-’Abbas inherited the mission of serving water. Other than the other Koreshite clans, the Hashemites exclusively undertook the mission of serving water for the unparalleled qualities of generosity, munificence and honor that they enjoyed.
Historians have recorded that Qussay ibn Kelab was the foremost to serve water to the pilgrims of the Sacred House of God in Mecca. After him, his son Abd-Menaf inherited this mission and left it to his son Hashim who too, left it to his son Abd-ul-Muttalib. The latter undertook this mission so perfectly that God conferred upon him with the bliss of the well Zamzam. After Abd-ul-Muttalib, Abu-Talib undertook this mission then handed it over to his brother al-’Abbas ibn Abd-ul-Muttalib.
On the day of the conquest of Mecca, al-’Abbas offered this mission to the Prophet (S) who gave it back to him.
Furthermore, history is full of narrations mentioning that the Prophet (S) served water to his companions on many occasions before and after prophecy.
Imam ‘Ali Amir ul-Muminin also served the Muslim army with water on the night before the day of the Battle of Badr. On the day of the Hudaibiya Treaty, Imam ‘Ali served the Prophet and the Muslims with water.
When Uthman ibn Affan was blockaded at his house, Imam ‘Ali ordered his sons to send him water. Finally, during the battle of Siffin Imam ‘Ali allowed the other party to drink from the water which was under his control whereas, Muawiya prevented Imam ‘Ali’s army from reaching the river when it was he who had first controlled it.
Like their father, the Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn supplicated to God for rain for people of Kufa when they were afflicted by drought. Because of the Imam’s supplication, the city of Kufa was watered with heavy rain that reurned life to it.
After all, history has not forgotten the situation when Imam al-Husayn, after he had left Medina and Mecca and directed his caravan towards Kufa, served water to people of Iraq:
At the last hours of that night, Imam al-Husayn ordered his servants to fetch water as much as possible. They did although they did not know the reason. In their way, the caravan of the Imam met the army headed by al-Hurr ibn Yazid and they were intolerably thirsty under the heat of that sun and the iron of their military uniform. Only then did the servants of Imam al-Husayn know the reason why their master had asked them to take water as much as possible. Then the Imam (a) ordered, “Serve them with water and give their horses some.”
Copying his fathers and two brothers, al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali assumed to himself the mission of serving water and he was completely worthy of it. On every occasion and every opportunity he could seize, al-’Abbas served the others with water. On the day of Ashura even more so than ever, he undertook this mission in several situations.
On the seventh of Muharram that year, Omar ibn Saad banned the army, household, harem, and children of Imam al- Husayn from reaching the river or taking a single drop of water. This blockade continued to the tenth of Muharram. This occurred in an area in the middle of Iraq which is known of its dry weather and it was summer.
Besides from all the conditions of that situation arose even more heat - heat of war, heat of swords and spears and the heat of breaths. To fetch water in such a situation is really a heroic deed that leaves a great effect on hearts. Hence, Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas won this position not only in the hearts of people but also in the sight of God who conferred upon him innumerable merits and excellences.
Al-’Abbas carried out this mission so perfectly and appreciatively. He fetched water to the camp of Imam al-Husayn three times. The first time was on the seventh of Muharram, as we have already mentioned.
The second time was on the ninth of Muharram.3 It was not a long distance between the camp of Imam al- Husayn and the River Euphrates when Shemr ibn Thi’l-Jawshan shouted at the camp of Imam al-Husayn: “You can see this water flow like reptiles. We will never let you have a single drop from it until you join hell.”
Just then al-’Abbas turned his face towards his brother and asked, “We are the right party, are we not?”
“Yes, by God, we are,” answered Imam al-Husayn (a).
From this answer al-’Abbas understood that his brother would permit him to fetch water for those moaning with thirst among the harem and children. He therefore attacked the troops who were guarding the riverbank and was able to force them to leave their positions. Thus, Imam al-Husayn and his companions could easily reach the river and supply themselves with water.
That was the second time of al-’Abbas’ watering.
The third time was on the tenth of Muharram. When Imam al-Husayn’s camp lost many of the individuals and seemed to be losing the battle, the Imam called out, “Is there not any helper who may help us? Is there not anyone who may guard the harem of Allah’s Messenger?”
Hearing these words from his brother, al-’Abbas approached his brother, kissed him on the face, and asked for permission for fighting. The Imam did not permit him, but he ordered him to fetch some water for the harem and children. Carrying out his brother’s orders, al-’Abbas carried a water skin and attacked the troops on the riverside. He forced them to leave their positions.4
In some historical references5 it is mentioned that al-’Abbas was conferred with this great epithet of as-Saqqaa’ after he had undertaken the mission of serving water to the caravan of his brother Imam al-Husayn on the ten days of Muharram, AH 60.
Al-Alqami is the name of the river on whose bank was the last scene of the life of al-’Abbas. Along this river were gathered around a large number of soldiers whose mission was to prevent the camp of Imam al-Husayn (a) from getting any water.
By his giant determination and unmatched heroism, al-’Abbas attacked that army and occupied the river to carry water to the camp of his brother more than once. In the last attempt - he was martyred there. Hence, he was called ‘Battal ul-Alqami’ - the hero of al-Alqami.
The holding of standards in wars is the most significant position in armies. Standards are given exclusively to the soldiers who enjoy special military abilities. During the battle of at-Taff, the standard was in the hand of Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas who preserved and held it from the beginning of the tragic journey from Medina to up until the last spark of his life.
Al-’Abbas protected that standard so bravely and uniquely that he embraced it to his chest when his two hands were severed. In more than one situation, al-’Abbas asked his brother Imam al-Husayn for permission for fighting, but the Imam used to say to him, “You are the standard-bearer of my army. If you are martyred, my troops will separate”.
It is also well known that standard-bearers are chosen according to special qualifications:
The standard-bearer must be accepted by everybody and must bear qualities such as courage, chivalry, and honor.
The standard-bearers must also exert all efforts to keep the standard high. For this reason, al-’Abbas exerted unique efforts for keeping the standard high. When his right hand was severed, he held the standard in the left. And when this one was also severed, he embraced the standard to his chest and held onto it until the last breath of his life.
Historians have also recorded that when the Umayyad army raided at the camp of Imam al-Husayn after his martyrdom - they robbed everything including the standard borne by al-’Abbas.
In Syria, when Yazid’s sight fell on that standard, he was amazed. He noticed that it was completely stabbed at all places except at the place of its handle, where it was held. He asked about the bearer of that standard and was told that it was al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali.
Astonished by the courage of al-’Abbas, Yazid turned his face to the attendants and said: “Look at this standard! It is stabbed in every place except its handle. This clearly means that its bearer was so courageous and chivalrous that he faced all stabs and strokes without letting that standard fall from his hand. This is the true loyalty to a brother!!”
Hence, al-’Abbas was called ‘Hamil ul-Liwaa’, the standard- bearer.
This title is exclusively given to the higher commander whose mission is to protect and manage his troops. This title was conferred upon al-’Abbas for his unique courage and bravery during the battle of at-Taff when he protected the camp of Imam al-Husayn (a) and guarded the harem.
In fact, the Umayyad army including their commanders feared al-’Abbas; therefore, they made many seductive offers, such as the position of general commandment of the army - provided that he would leave the wing of Imam al-Husayn and join theirs.
When al-’Abbas was martyred, Imam al-Husayn became helpless. He declared: “My spine is now broken; I have lost every solution to happenings and my enemies are rejoicing at my misfortune.”
At the same time, the eyes of his enemies which could not see rest so long as he was there became delighted by the martyrdom of al-’Abbas. While the eyes of Imam al-Husayn’s harem and children, which were tranquil and delighted so long as they could see al-’Abbas protecting them, lost their rest forever.
This title is also addressed to the lofty military personalities. It was conferred upon al-’Abbas because he played the role of the support and commander of his brother’s army.
Al- ‘Abbas received this title because he played an honorable role in guarding and defending the harem of the Prophet (S), al-’Abbas was called ‘Hami az-Zhaeena’ - the protector of the harem. He was responsible for keeping watch over the harem and serving them during the journey from Medina to Karbala.
People believed that God will surely settle the needs of him who implores to Him by seeking the intercession of al-’Abbas for the special rank that he enjoys in the sight of Almighty God for dedicating himself to the obedience to Imam al-Husayn. Hence, al-’Abbas is called ‘Bab ul-Hawaaij’ - the door to settlement of needs.
Although this epithet, which means ‘the martyr’, is not as famous as the other epithets of al-’Abbas, it is mentioned in the statements of Abu’l-Hasan al-Umari and Abu-Nasr al-Bukhari when they refer to the biography of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali. Abu-Nasr refers to a narration in which Imam as-Sadiq (a) calls al-’Abbas as ‘ash-Shahid’.
Muawiya ibn Ammar al-Yazidi narrated:
I asked as-Sadiq (a) how they divided the donation of Fadak when it had been given back to them. He answered: “We gave the descendants of al-’Abbas ash-Shahid ‘the martyr’ a quarter and took the rest for ourselves.”
Historians and biographers should have recorded the epithet of ‘al-Abd us-Salih’ - The righteous servant (of God) along with the other epithets, because it refers to the highest rank one can attain.
In the special ziyara of al-’Abbas that Abu-Hamza ath-Themali narrated, Imam as-Sadiq (a) says:
“Salaam be upon you, the righteous servant!”
Prophets enjoy this rank, because it reflects the close, firm relation between man and the Almighty Lord. In the Holy Qur’an, God describes His prophets, including Prophet Muhammad (S) as righteous servants.
Al-’Abbas was also called ‘al-Aabid’ - the worshipper, for his distinctive worship to the Lord. It is natural without doubt that al- ‘Abbas, being brought up in the center of the household of genuine worship - which is the house of the chief of the worshippers - Imam ‘Ali Amir ul-Mu’minin, acquired the quality of worship supremely.
As-Saduq, in his Thawaab ul-A’maal, records that al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali was described as having the sign of prostration on his forehead. Thus, he is included with those described by God as:
“Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah, and those with him are firm of heart against the unbelievers, compassionate among themselves; you will see them bowing down, prostrating themselves, seeking grace from Allah and pleasure; their marks are in their faces because of the effect of prostration; that is their description in the Torah and their description in the Gospel; like as the seed-produce that puts forth its sprout, then strengthens it, so it becomes stout and stands firmly on its stem, delighting the sowers that He may enrage the unbelievers on account of them; Allah has promised those among them who believe and do good - forgiveness and a great reward.”6
Since obedience is attached to pure worship, al-’Abbas was described by Imam as-Sadiq (a) as the Obedient. In the Ziyara authentically reported to be said by Imam as-Sadiq during his visit to the tomb of Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas, the following statement is addressed to al-’Abbas:
“Salaam be upon you; the righteous servant (of God), the obedient to Allah, His Messenger, Amir ul-Mu’minin, al- Hasan, and al-Husayn, peace and greetings of Allah be upon them.”
Al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali was a whole world of virtues and merits. His personality included each and every lofty characteristic. It is however sufficient honor for him to be the son of Imam ‘Ali Amir ul-Mu’minin (a) - the model of human perfection. Thus, al-’Abbas inherited all elements of human perfection from his father and became, in the sight of Muslims, the epitome of virtue and high moral standards. Let us now refer to some of these elements:
Since it denotes the soundness and perseverance of personality, courage is regarded as the highest characteristic of manhood. Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas got this characteristic from his father who was the ever most courageous. Al-’Abbas’ maternal uncles too were recognized for this attribute among all the Arabs. He was from perfect world that was full of valor; fear never entered his mind during battles in which he participated with his father.1
During the battle of at-Taff, al-’Abbas gave the highest examples of heroism and courage. In fact, that battle is seen as the greatest conflict in the history of Islam. Facing large gatherings of Yazid’s army, al-’Abbas manifested himself so bravely that he changed their courageous warriors into cowards and filled the hearts of their troops with horror.
Losing ideas of how to face this great hero, they went on using deceptive ways - they promised they would give him the general commandment of their army if he would leave the camp of his brother, but al-’Abbas put them down. Their promise was no more than a factor to increase his perseverance on his principles and persistence with defending his beliefs.
Narrators have referred to the great casualties that Yazid’s army suffered at the hands of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali who kept smiling in the midst of fighting. He filled the battlefield with the bodies of the enemies, painted the horses with their blood, and planted horror and terror in their hearts. His sword served as a destructive thunderbolt that inflicted bereavement and fatality upon people of Kufa who were in the opposing party.
The courage of al-’Abbas has astonished poets and authors who have gone on to describe it in nonesuch styles. It has given the best examples of heroism all over history. Since this courage was demonstrated for defending the right and protecting the high values and principles of Islam, its significance has been increasing over time.
Faith was another major feature in the personality of al- ‘Abbas. He was brought up in the laps of true faith, centers of God-fearing, and faculties of obedience to God. His father, chief of the faithful and head of the pious, fed him with the essence of faith, and factuality of God’s oneness.
Hence, al-’Abbas grew up on the cognizant faith and the true pondering over the secrets of creation. This giant, nonesuch faith interacted in the mentality of al-’Abbas to change him into one of the great individuals of faith, piety and sincerity. Out of his faith, al-’Abbas offered his brothers, sons and himself as pure sacrifices for the sake of God.
Al-’Abbas fought for defending the religion of God bravely to protect the principles of Islam that were exposed to dangers of being eradicated during the reign of the Umayyad ancestry. He aimed at nothing other than the satisfaction of God and the attainment of the eternal joy of the life to come.
Disdain and a sense of honor painted the personality of al- ‘Abbas so intensely that he completely refused to live in humiliation under the shadows of the Umayyad rulers who usurped the wealth of God and treated people as slaves. Thus, he pushed himself in the fields of fighting, following his brother who raised the slogan of honor and dignity. He declared that death would be no more than pleasure, while to live with the wrongdoers would only be humiliation.
During the battle of at-Taff, al-’Abbas represented all the concepts of disdain and sense of honor when he rejected proudly the offer of Yazid’s army, if he would leave the camp of his brother. As a result, he pushed himself sincerely in the fields of the battle, felling the warriors and harvesting his enemies’ head - all for defending his freedom, religion, and dignity.
On the day of Ashura, al-’Abbas had to encounter unspeakable crises. Nevertheless, he did not show any item of intolerance or worry and did not utter any single word of resentment. On the contrary, he submitted the whole matter to his Lord the Most High and copied his brother, al-Husayn (a), whose patience was as unshakable as heavy mountains.
Al-’Abbas saw the companions of his brother melted by the sun on the dust of Karbala. He heard the weeping of the children out of their thirst and heard the moaning of the harem who mourned their men. He saw the loneliness of his brother who was encircled by the meanest of enemies, intending to kill him so as to win the prize of the governor of Kufa. In the midst of all these crises, al-’Abbas submitted to his Lord completely without showing any weakness.
Loyalty is the noblest characteristic one can have. Al-’Abbas set a record in this field when he represented all features of loyalty distinguishably.
Al-’Abbas was the most faithful and the best defender of his religion. When Islam had to encounter the danger of eradication by the Umayyad band, who renounced Islam completely and declared war against it, al-’Abbas dedicated himself to fighting on all fronts for defending his religion and raising the word of God on earth. For sake of the principles of his religion, his hands were cut and he was martyred.
As he noticed his nation sinking down under the gloomy nightmare of humility due to the absolute despotism of the Umayyad band that played with people’s fates, al-’Abbas understood that his mission was to proceed for saving them from this scathing fait accompli. Along with his brother, family members and those glorious companions, they raised the slogan of freedom and declared holy jihad2 ceaselessly until they were martyred for doing so. This in fact is the ever most elevated loyalty to the nation.
One of the Umayyad rulers, once, declared: “Iraq is no more than a garden possessed by Koreshites.”3 Hence, they regarded the Islamic homeland as a garden at their disposal. On this account, poverty and misery were the two major characteristics of the Islamic homeland. Besides, the righteous and the free people were being subjected to humiliation. Thus, al-’Abbas, under the commandment of his brother, opposed this ruling regime and its authorities who thanks to the self-sacrifices of al-’Abbas and his party, collapsed. This was the true loyalty to the Islamic homeland.
It is incumbent upon each Muslim to swear allegiance to the Imam who lives in his time. Hence, al-’Abbas gave the best example of being faithful to the allegiance to the Imam of his time, al-Husayn (a). All over history, you cannot find an item of loyalty more exalted than that of al-’Abbas to his brother and leader. Hence, his loyalty has become an ultimate goal that attracts every free, honest man.
Will power is one of the characteristics of the great ones whose deeds have always been successful, since it is impossible for the weak to achieve any social aim or any political work.
Al-’Abbas was full of determination; he joined the right camp and did not show any negligence or shortcoming. On the stage of history, he has shown himself as being that glorious leader who deserves pride and immortality.
Al-’Abbas enjoyed the highest standards of morality. He was so kind and merciful with the underprivileged and the persecuted. In Karbala, when the troops of Yazid occupied the banks of the Euphrates and deprived the other party of water, al-’Abbas showed the most clear-cut signs of kindness and mercy when he saw his brother’s children as well as others, pale-faced and dry-lipped because of thirst. Seeing this view, al-’Abbas pushed himself towards the river and came back with water for those children.
On the tenth of Muharram, Al-’Abbas also heard the children crying because of thirst. Therefore, his kindness and mercy prompted him to want to quench their thirst. He took the container and faced the enemies so bravely that he could drive them away from the river. As he was about to have a drink, he remembered the thirst of his brother and his children. He then refused to drink before he could sate their thirst.
Has anyone ever seen, heard, or known of such feelings of mercy and kindness at any person other than al-’Abbas who climbed to the highest summits of glory because of the characteristics of his unique personality?
The Immaculate Imams are the representatives of God, the successors of His Prophet and the leaders that God has assigned for people so as to make distinction between the right and the wrong. They, peace be upon them, praised many persons and also condemned many others - each according to their deeds. On that account, they described Al-’Abbas, with the finest words of praise, appreciation, and commendation and showed their admiration for his heroic performance for defending Islam. He however, has occupied the hearts and feelings of the great personalities and has become melody of the free people all over history.
Let us now refer to some of the medals that the Immaculate Imams (a) conferred upon al-’Abbas:
We have already mentioned that Imam ‘Ali (a) foretold about the personality and future of al-’Abbas when he was one-day old.
In many other situations, Imam ‘Ali (a) foretold that his son would shoulder the responsibility of protecting the harem of his brother and would sacrifice himself for his religion and belief.
These predictions are regarded as commendations for al- ‘Abbas whose mission was divinely identified and prepared. He did not disappoint his father when he accomplished his mission as completely as possible to the last spark of his life.
Historians have narrated many reports showing the close, unique relation between al-’Abbas and his brother Imam al- Husayn (a), who addressed him so that the words showed great rank that al-’Abbas occupied in his brother’s mind:
In one of the many situations in Karbala, Imam al-Husayn said to his brother al-’Abbas:
“Ride on, may I be your sacrifice.”
When al-’Abbas breathed his last breaths while his head was on the knees of Imam al-Husayn (a), the latter declared in a deeply sad tone, “Now, my spine is broken and I have become helpless, and my enemies are rejoicing at my misfortune.”
These words express the real position that al-’Abbas was occupying for his brother.
Imam Zayn ul-Abidin is one of the founders of true piety and virtue in Islam. Historians have reported that he used to seek Allah’s mercy for his uncle al-’Abbas, and used to refer to him with the finest words of admiration and commendation. Listen to the following valuable words of the Imam (a):
“May Allah have mercy upon my uncle, al-’Abbas. He preferred his brother to himself; he did well, and sacrificed himself for his brother until he lost his two hands for the sake of this. Thus, instead of his two hands, Allah will give him two wings with which he will fly with the angels in Paradise, just like Ja’far ibn Abi-Talib. In the sight of Allah the Blessed, the Exalted, al-’Abbas enjoys a peculiar rank for which all the shahids will be hopeful for if they had its like on the day of Resurrection.”1
The previous statement of Imam Zayn ul-Abidin (a) includes the most significant sacrifices that al-’Abbas did towards his brother - Imam al-Husayn (a). For the sake of his brother, al-’Abbas sacrificed his two hands and went on resisting until he was felled.
For these great sacrifices, God will grant al-’Abbas an unparalleled rank that all martyrs will wish for if they had its like.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) used to praise his uncle al-’Abbas and pay tributes to his heroic situations during the battle of at-Taff:
“My uncle al-’Abbas was clear-sighted and steadfastly faithful. He fought along with his brother al-Husayn, did very well and was martyred.”2
Imam as-Sadiq in the previous statement refers to the noblest characteristics that al-’Abbas enjoyed.
Clear-sightedness originates from being well-advised and intellectually genuine. It is attached to self-purity and simple-hearted nature and is enjoyed only by those who are free from control of passions.
In the personality of al-’Abbas, this characteristic was very clear. It was the principal motive that incited him to support and follow Imam al-Husayn (a) in order to climb up to the summit of honor and glory. Hence, his great personality has lasted forever and shall remain so as long as man is submitted to the human values whose summits and climaxes have been attained by al-’Abbas.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) testified to the unmatched character of his uncle al-’Abbas when he attached the characteristic of steadfast faith to him. This steadfast faith provoked al-’Abbas to challenge the enemies in the fields of jihad and sacrifice himself for his religion.
The testimony of jihad is the best proof on the perfection of personality. Hence, Imam as-Sadiq (a) ascribes this great virtue to the personality of al-’Abbas because of the latter’s self-evident fighting for the sake of his brother, Imam al-Husayn (a).
After he had visited the tombs of Imam al-Husayn, his household, and the virtuous companions, Imam as-Sadiq (a) ran to visit the tomb of his uncle al-’Abbas. He stood on that tomb and recited the famous Ziyara.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) begins this Ziyara by seeking the greetings and salaams of God, His favorite angels, commissioned Prophets, righteous servants, and all martyrs and truthful ones to be on al- ‘Abbas.
He then goes on to testify his uncle for being submissive, believing, faithful, and sincere.
Al-’Abbas submitted completely to his brother and leader and followed him from top to bottom until he was martyred for his sake. This unmatched submission was the result of al-’Abbas’ full acquaintance with the Imamate of al-Husayn (a) that is incumbent upon every Muslim. Al-’Abbas practiced all matters stemming from the divine commandment of the submission to the Immaculate Imams (a).
Al-’Abbas believed in God and gave full credence to his brother. He surpassed all doubts in his belief of the equity of his issue. He believed he was the right while his enemies were wrong.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) testified that his uncle al-’Abbas accomplished his duties towards the pledge with God and the loyalty to the Imam of his time utterly. He supported the right party, stood steadfast with his brother in the most intensive circumstances, and did not leave him until he was martyred after he had lost his two hands.
Finally, al-’Abbas was created to be faithful; therefore his loyalty was a natural element of his personality and was also the fruit of the unparalleled loyalty of his parents.
Sincerity is another feature in the personality of al-’Abbas to which Imam as-Sadiq (a) testified. Al-’Abbas was sincere in his fighting against the wrong and opposing the wrongdoers. He played a great role in the jihad of his brother who took the leadership of struggling against the wrong.
In another paragraph of the Ziyara, Imam as-Sadiq (a) showed his great admiration for the great help and huge sacrifices that al-’Abbas made for Imam al-Husayn. He sacrificed himself, protected Imam with his dearest things, and tolerated steadfastly the crises and hardships - all for the sake of God. May God reward him so remarkably on behalf of Prophet Muhammad, Imam ‘Ali Amir ul- Muíminin, Fatima az-Zahraa, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn (a).
Imam as-Sadiq, in the same Ziyara, testified that his uncle al- ‘Abbas followed the same line of the martyrs of Islam whose blood raised the word of God highly. As he noticed the Umayyads’ attempts to eradicate Islam and take people to the pre-Islamic customs and traditions, al-’Abbas, under the leadership of his brother, revolted to keep the word of God high, to achieve victory for Islam, and to defeat its enemies and rivals.
In the last paragraphs of the Ziyara, we notice the great rank of al-’Abbas in the sight of Imam as-Sadiq (a) who testified for him that he did not show any shortcoming or retreat and did his best for sake of the religion. Hence, the Imam beseeches to God to confer al-’Abbas with eternal happiness, large place in Paradise, and companionship of the prophets, martyrs, and righteous ones.
The Great Reformist Imam al-Mahdi, God may hasten his return, said a great word about al-’Abbas:
“Salaam be upon Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas, son of Amir ul- Mu’minin. He preferred his brother to himself, supplied himself with (opportunities of) today for (rewards of) tomorrow, sacrificed himself for his brother, protected him, hurried for fetching him water, and his two hands were cut off for this. May Allah curse his killers; Yazid ibn ar-Raqqad and Hukaim ibn at-Tuffail at-Taee…”3
In the previous statement, Imam al-Mahdi praises al-’Abbas for the noble characteristics that he enjoyed:
The Imam (a) commends al-’Abbas for:
* Preferring his brother, the chief of the martyrs, over himself,
* Supplying himself with the opportunities for this life and for the life to come. This is an indication to his piety, God-fearing nature and support for the ‘right’ and its people,
* Sacrificing his brothers, sons and himself for Imam al- Husayn (a),
* Protecting his brother with his soul, and
* His efforts to fetch water to his brother and his harem when the opposite party surrounded the Euphrates so as to prevent the party of Imam al-Husayn from having water even for their children and women.
From early ages of humankind, people have showed various forms of adulation to their honorable and unique personalities. One of these forms is the sanctification of their tombs by constructing handsome buildings that are, in most cases, taken as places of worship.
The Holy Qur’an, narrating the story of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, has referred to this phenomenon:
“We caused their story to become public so that people would know that God’s promise was true and that there is no doubt about the coming of the Day of Judgment. They started to argue with each other about the matter (resurrection) and some of them said, ‘Let us establish a building at the youths’ sleeping place.’ Their Lord knew best their intentions about them. The majority prevailed in their suggestion of the establishment of a mosque in that place.”1
Such buildings have been ceaselessly visited by people for seeking blessings, showing respect, and practicing definite ceremonies and rituals of worship there.
The question of visiting the tombs of the prophets, their successors, and saints has been an uninterrupted tradition quoted from Prophet Muhammad’s words, deeds, and confirmations. Nevertheless, some heresy doctrines claiming to belong to Islam have given rise to problematic matters regarding this point. As if they are the only Muslims believing in the legality of visiting the tombs, the Shia have been accused of believing that it is permissible to visit the shrines of the Prophets, Imams and saints, to build them, to seek blessings through them, to pray and make supplications around them. All the other Islamic schools of jurisprudence have shared the Shia in such beliefs.2
Not only is the holy shrine of al-’Abbas visited by the Shia, but also Muslims from other Islamic sects have made pilgrimage to that shrine ceaselessly.
The Immaculate Imams of the Ahlul Bayt (a) confirmed the pilgrimage to the holy shrines of the Prophets, Imams, and saints and referred to definite rules of conduct to be followed there. They also dedicated definite statements of supplication and greetings to such shrines.
As a matter of fact, the question of constructing shrines on the tombs of certain individual is not an ordinary issue originated from personal views or tendencies. Indeed, it is a divine will having many dimensions.
First of all, God, the Exalted has promised to His sincere servants that their names will be commemorated and mentioned in this world as well as in the world to come. One of the signs of their eternal life in this world is the presence of handsome buildings on their tombs to remind of their situation, way of life and piety to their Creator.
As these pious individuals have played exemplary roles during their lives, their shrines keep alive their examples in the minds of people. This should be followed for winning happiness in this life and the life to come.
The holy shrines too, have become the shelters of those who are inflicted with worldly disasters and those who seek refuge of God. Under the domes of such shrines all supplications to God are responded to, all screams of the repentant are heard and all cries of seekers of succor are answered.
These holy shrines finally, have very frequently been the seat of reestablishments of relations with the Lord, many revolutions against individual and shared wrong and injustice and many returns towards God.
Historians have confirmed that Imam al-Husayn (a) used to carry the bodies of his soldiers who were killed in the battlefield to a special tent prepared for this purpose. For instance, historians have confirmed that al-Hurr ibn Yazid when killed, was carried to the tent where those who had been killed were kept and Imam al-Husayn ordered some young men of his household to carry the body of his son ‘Ali to that tent, and he himself carried the body of al-Qasim, his nephew to the same tent.
It is also related that Imam al-Baqir (a) said:
“Al-Husayn used to place the bodies of the killed ones in one place and used to comment: These martyrs are just like the martyred Prophets and sons of Prophets.”3
Nevertheless, Imam al-Husayn (a) left the body of his brother al-’Abbas in the place where he fell wounded at the banks of the River al-Alqami, near the dam.
Some historians have mentioned that Imam al-Husayn (a) could not carry the body of al-’Abbas because it was wounded so heavily that all the organs were separated from each other.4
Others have mentioned that al-’Abbas in the last spark of his life, begged his brother to leave him in his place because he was embarrassed to meet Sukaina, daughter of Imam al-Husayn, whom he had promised to bring water.5
However, it is now very clear that Imam al-Husayn (a) left the body of his brother in that place for an excellent secret that can be understood only by the well-mannered ones. Anyhow the Imam was not able to carry the body of his brother.
Days have uncovered that secret of where al-’Abbas had that handsome shrine built for him, to which thousands of people pilgrimage ceaselessly. The place where that holy body fell has become one of the most considered areas on this earth. People have sought nearness to God, supplicated to Him to solve their most complicated problems and ordeals, offered to Him the most acceptable rituals of worship and seen the most miraculous charismata under the golden, shining dome of that holy shrine that contained the holy body of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali - the righteous servant of God.
People therefore have recognized the actual standing of al-’Abbas in the sight of God and in turn, recognized the scope of respect that they should bear to this personality who has played the role of being a connecting link between people and their Lord.
God the Exalted has willed to grant al-’Abbas a distinctive rank in this world as well as the world to come.
Just like the Immaculate Imams, al-’Abbas has had a special shrine pilgrimaged by the Imams who passed by that area. We have already mentioned that Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad as- Sadiq (a) visited the tomb of al-’Abbas and recited a special Ziyara, different in statements from the Ziyaras recited before the tombs of the other martyrs. In the same manner, the shrine of al-’Abbas has had its special ceremonies and rites of Ziyara.
The traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a) have guided us to the location, as well as the ceremonies and rites to be practiced at that holy shrine of al-’Abbas.
Ibn Qawlawayh, in his book titled Kamil uz-Ziyara, page 256, narrates from an authentic series of narrators that Abu-Hamza ath-Themali related the following saying to Imam as- Sadiq (a):
“If you intend to visit (the tomb of) al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali, which is on the bank of the Euphrates opposite to al-Haair, you should stop at the gate of the shed and say: Salaam of Allah and Salaam of His angels… etc.”6
Al-Mejlisi, in his book titled Mezar ul-Bihar, records another Ziyara for al-’Abbas related to the narration of Sheikh al-Mufid and Ibn al-Mash’hadi, defining the same location that is defined by Imam as-Sadiq (a) in the previous narration.
Similar narrations are recorded in Allama an-Nouri’s Tahiyyat uz-Zaair and related to Sheikh al-Mufid, ash-Shahid, and Sayyid Ibn Tawous.
The following statement of Sheikh al-Mufid identifies the location of the tomb of al-’Abbas that is decided by the saying of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a):
“Except al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali who was buried in a place on the dam in the way of al-Ghadhiriyya, all the members of Imam al-Husayn’s family, peace be upon them, were buried in a hole located beyond the legs of Imam al- Husayn. The tomb of al-’Abbas is clear and known… etc.”
All scholars and investigators have followed this definition of the location. They all have decided that the tomb of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali is opposite to the holy Haair near the shore of the River Euphrates.7
River al-Alqami was a stream branching from the Euphrates. It was passing by and irrigating the lands of Karbala. It was the only river in that area.
Neither the geography scholars nor have the historians referred to the location and history of this river. Moreover, Imam as-Sadiq (a) did not refer to this name as he mentioned the location of the martyrdom of al-’Abbas. However, this name was mentioned in many narratives recorded in authentic, trustworthy reference books.
At-Turaihi, in his book titled al-Muntakhab page 91, writes down a narration in which there is a reference to the River al- Alqami. A narration recorded in Medinat ul-Ma’aajiz in Chapter 127 on page 263; it includes a reference to the River al-Alqami.
Ibn Shahrashub, in his book titled al-Manaaqib; 2/190, records the narration of al-Mutawakkil’s orders of digging the tomb of Imam al-Husayn (a). In this narration, he refers to the River al-Alqami.
In Mezar ul-Bihar page 161, a narration of a special Ziyara to the tomb of al-’Abbas is recorded. This narration begins with:
“If you intend to visit Karbala, you should first reside at the shore of the River al-Alqami, undress yourself, wash…etc.”
This narration is quoted from the famous books of Ziyara compiled by Sheikh al-Mufid and al-Mash’hadi.
All these narrations prove that the name of al-Alqami was known for everybody for many decades. Nevertheless, the reason behind this name is not known. Some mentioned that a man from the tribe of Alqama dug that river.
In his book titled Zeenat ul-Majalis and written in AH 1004, Sayyid Majduddin Muhammad Majdi records that the vizier Saeed ibn al-Alqami gave his orders of ruining that river after he had heard the saying of Imam as-Sadiq (a) addressing to the river:
“How is it that you are still flowing after my grandfather was prevented from drinking from you?”8
As the River al-Alqami was ruined, the gardens of Kufa were damaged, because they were irrigated from its water.
Various reports have been narrated about the places where the heads of the martyrs of Karbala were buried.
Historians have, almost unanimously, agreed that Omar ibn Saad gave the orders of beheading the bodies of the warriors of Imam al-Husayn’s army. They were seventy-eight heads carried by the tribes and individuals of Yazid’s army.9 These heads were then taken to Kufa. Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, later sent these heads with the caravan of the captives to Syria.
After a long series of events the stars of which were Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn ul-Abidin and his aunt Zaynab daughter of Imam ‘Ali in Damascus, Yazid anticipated revolution of people against him. He therefore had to allow the Imam and the captives to go home and respond to all their demands. They demanded Yazid to give them the head of Imam al-Husayn so as to attach it to the body in Karbala.
Historians, though most of them did not refer to the other heads, have mentioned that Yazid gave all the heads to Imam Zayn ul-Abidin who attached them to the bodies on the twentieth of Safar. The head of al-’Abbas was one of these.10
This report seems to be the most acceptable if we take in consideration the events and motives that obliged Yazid to respond to the demands of Imam Zayn ul-Abidin who would surely ask for all the heads so as to attach them to the bodies.
Nevertheless, there are other narrations:
In his A’yaan ush-Shi’a, 4/290, Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin records:
“In AH 1321, I saw a place in the cemetery known as Maqbarat Bab us-Sagheer in Damascus on whose door there was a rock with the script: This is the burial place of the heads of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali, ‘Ali al-Akbar ibn al-Husayn, and Habib ibn Muzhahir… A few years later, that burial place was destroyed. When it was reconstructed, that rock was taken away and a tomb was built inside that burial place. On that tomb the names of many individuals whom were martyred in Karbala with Imam al- Husayn (a) were engraved. In fact, that tomb contained only the three aforementioned heads…etc.”
Had Sayyid al-Amin skimmed through the book of Habib us - Siyar, he would have believed that these three heads were not buried in that cemetery in Damascus. Anyhow, those who wrote the names of these three heroes of Karbala on that rock in the cemetery had other intentions. Finally, it is not unlikely that these three heads were crucified, not buried, at that place.
In Karbala there are two sacred areas believed to be the burial places of the two hands of al-’Abbas. Uninterruptedly, these two sanctuaries have been visited and respected by the generations who believed their being the burial places of the two hands that were cut during the encounter between al-’Abbas and his enemies.
The sanctuary of the right hand lies to the north east of Karbala on the borders of district known as – ‘Bab Baghdad - Gate of Baghdad’ and the district known as – ‘Bab ul-Khan’, near the eastern gate of the holy shrine. On the window found on the wall of that sanctuary, two poetic verses in Persian are carved. Nobody however, knows the poet, date of construction, the designer of the window, or the carver of these two poetic verses.
The sanctuary of the left hand lies in the Minor Market near the small gate of the holy shrine to the south east. This market is called ‘Bab al-’Abbas as-Sagheer’. On the wall of that sanctuary poetic verses composed by Sheikh Muhammad as-Sarraaj are carved.
Indeed, the shrine of Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali is one of the houses about which Almighty God said:
“…the houses that Allah has declared to be highly respected and His Name be mentioned therein in glory in the morning and evening. (24:36)”
The construction of the holy shrine, altogether with the dome, of al-’Abbas who is on the top in the list of the martyrs and righteous servants of God, is another factor helping the discovery of the secret of his having an independent tomb away from the tomb of the other martyrs.
During his visit to the tomb of al-’Abbas, Imam as-Sadiq (a) referred to the praiseworthy personality of this hero who alone possessed such a lofty rank that all martyrs will wish for if they could have its like. On that account, it has become very important to pay a great attention to the construction of the holy shrine of this unique, righteous servant of God.
God, the Exalted, gave the holy mission of constructing this shrine to some individuals who won eternal reputation in this world and will be rewarded abundantly in the life to come, each according to his intention.
Many kings, princes, scholars, and celebrities succeeded each other in constructing this holy shrine, which day by day has increased in splendor and beauty. Today it is gorgeous with its attractive, golden dome that challenges the heavens in elevation and dares the stars in brilliance. Its impregnable sanctuary is as great as throne, its porticoes are covered by flasks, its yard is the field of sanctity, and its handsome, golden lobby that is similar to the edifices of Paradise.
Historians have mentioned that Shah Tahmasp,11 in AH 1032, decorated the dome of the Holy Shrine with tiles. He built a window on the box that contained the tomb, arranged the porticoes and the yard, built the lobby that lies in front of the first gate of the sanctuary, and sent precious carpets made in Iran.
In AH 1115, Nadir Shah sent many gifts to the holy shrine and decorated some of the buildings there with flasks. In AH 1117, the vizier of Nadir Shah went on pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a). He remade the box of the tomb, reconstructed the portico, and presented a chandelier for lighting the holy precinct.
In AH 1216, the Wahhabis invaded Karbala and robbed all the precious lusters and chandeliers that were in the holy shrines of Imam al-Husayn and al-’Abbas. Fath ‘Ali Shah12 gifted new lusters, chandeliers, and precious pieces of decoration to the holy shrines in Karbala. He also reconstructed the dome on the holy shrine of al-’Abbas with tiles, gilded the dome of the holy shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a), and made other constructions.
Hajji Mirza Abd-ul-Karim al-Muqaddas al-Urumi, in his book titled Taqat Raihan, records that Hajji Shukrullah Badal Beg al-Afshari gilded the big hall facing the holy precinct of al- ‘Abbas and spent all his fortune on this work, carrying out the constructions of Sheikh Zayn ul-Abidin al-Mazindarani who died in AH 1309. He also recorded his name on the western side on the wall of the hall on the golden plates. This golden script is still present.
In the same book it is recorded that Nasir ud-Dawla gilded the minaret of the holy shrine of al-’Abbas.
Sayyid Hasan, the writer of Fadak and other books, has mentioned that the golden small hall facing the first gate of the holy shrine was established by the King of Lakanhu Muhammad Shah, the Indian. The wooden shed was established according to the instruction of Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid Khan. Muhammad Sadiq al-Isfahani reconstructed the dome with tile. He also purchased the houses attached to the yard of the holy shrine and increased that yard. He increased the area from the direction of the kiblah to a greater extent. He was buried in a room at the Gate of the Kiblah. He also constructed the yard with tile.
In AH 1355, Sayyid Murtadha, the custodian of the holy shrine, rebuilt the silver gate lying in the golden hall facing the room of the tomb. On the shutters of that gate he wrote the poem of Sheikh Muhammad ‘Ali al-Ya’qoubi.
The custody of the holy shrine of al-’Abbas has been taken by honorable individuals who spared no efforts in managing, servicing, and constructing this holy shrine.
The pilgrimage to the holy shrines of the Prophets, Imams, and saints is called Ziyara. It is different from the ritual pilgrimage to Mecca, which is called Hajj. Hajj however is obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman under specific conditions, whereas Ziyara is not obligatory. Yet, it is much recommended in the innumerable narrations of the Prophet and the Imams who have stated about the rewards of those who perform such pilgrimages voluntarily.13
Simply, Ziyara is to visit the tomb and say a word of greeting, such as ‘Salaam’. Other narrations have confirmed that it is acceptable to address such words of greetings from any place in the world while directing the face towards the direction of the tomb.
At any rate, it is advisable, according to reason as well as instructions of well-versed scholars, to commit to the statements of the Ziyaras that are related to the Ahlul Bayt (a), because such statements express the deep reality of status of the owner of the visited tomb and hint at the most accurate conducts to be practiced there.
On that account, it is recommended for the visitors of the tomb of al-’Abbas to follow the instructions mentioned in the saying of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a) regarding the Ziyara.
In this saying, the Imam instructs the visitor to stop opposite to the body of al-’Abbas turning the back to the kiblah, just like visiting the tombs of the prophets and Imams. This expresses the utmost courtesy befitting the elevated rank of al-’Abbas. In fact, to visit al-’Abbas after his death is same as visiting him during his life. This is because the martyrs are
“…alive with their Lord and receive sustenance from Him.”14
The author of Mezar ul-Bihar on page 165, records that Sheikh al-Mufid, Ibn al-Mash’hadi, and ash-Shahid al-Awwal emphasized that the visitor of the tomb of al-’Abbas should first stop at the door of the shrine and seek permission to enter by saying: “Greetings of Allah… etc.” He then should enter and throw himself on the tomb and recite: “Salaam be upon you, the righteous servant of God… etc.” He then should move to the direction of the head to offer the prayer and supplicate to God. He then should return to the tomb, stop at the two legs, and recite: “Salaam be upon you, Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas… etc.”
Although these statements do not show whether it is advisable to stop at a specific side, it is understood that the direction of the kiblah is the intended.
Some scholars however advised to visit the tomb of al-’Abbas before that of Imam al-Husayn (a), because the earlier is the door to the latter.
It is also advisable to offer the two-rakaa15 prayer of Ziyara at the tomb of al-’Abbas. During his visit to the tombs of the martyrs of Karbala on the fortieth day after their martyrdom, Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari visited the tomb of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali and offered a two-Rakaa prayer.16
It is also advisable to kiss the tomb. This is proved through the narration of Safwan al-Jammal who relates it to Imam as- Sadiq (a):
“…You should then come near the tomb of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali and say… Then throw yourself on to the tomb, kiss it, and say… etc.”17
The noble Sheikh Ja’far ibn Qawlawayh al-Qummi related to a considerable series of narrators that Abu-Hamza ath-Themali had said that (Imam) as-Sadiq (a) stated:
If you intend to visit the tomb of al- ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali that lies on the bank of the River Euphrates opposite to al-Haair, you should stop at the gate of the shrine (precinct) and say -
Salaam of Allah and Salaam of His favorite angels, His commissioned prophets, His righteous servants, all the Shahids, and all the veracious (ones), and also pure, true blessings that come and go, be upon you O son of Amir ul-Mu’minin (chief of the faithful ones).
I testify to you about your submission (to the will of God), honest acceptance as being true, the loyalty and sincerity to the descendant of the commissioned Prophet (S) and his family, the chosen grandson (of the Prophet), the well knowledgeable guide (to the true religion), the conveying successor, and the wrongfully oppressed one (namely - Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali).
So, may Allah reward you on behalf of His Messenger, Amir ul-Mu’minin, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn, peace of Allah be upon them, with the best reward for your steadfastness, dedication (to the sake of God) and support (for the right party) - very excellent may be the reward of an eternal life.
May Allah’s curse be on he who killed you. And Allah’s curse be on he who omitted your right, belittled your sanctity. And Allah’s curse be on he who precluded you from having from the water of the River Euphrates.
I testify that you were killed wrongfully, and that Allah will verily fulfill His promise that He made with you.
O Son of Amir ul-Mu’minin, I have come to you to present myself before you. My heart is submissive to you and is following you. And I am your follower. I am ready to support you until Allah decides for me. He is surely the best of all who decide.
I am verily with you, not with your enemy. I am one of those who believe in you and believe in your Return. I am also one of those who deny your opponents and killers.
May Allah kill the group who killed you with hands and tongues (by giving orders of killing you)
You should then enter, throw yourself on the tomb, and say -
Salaam be upon you; the righteous servant (of God), the obedient to Allah, His Messenger, Amir ul- Mu’minin, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn, peace and greetings of Allah be upon them.
Salaam, Allah’s mercy, blessings, forgiveness, and gratifications be upon you, your soul, and your body.
I testify, and call Allah to witness, that you abided by the same course that was taken by the warriors of (the battle of) Badr and the mujahids for Allah’s sake who faithfully served Him in the battlefields against His enemies, did their bests for supporting His disciples, and defended His intimate ones.
So, Allah may reward you with the best, the maximum, the most abundant, and the most conclusive reward that He may give to anyone who fulfills his homage, answers the call (of the religion), and obeys his (divinely elected) leaders.
I testify that you served (the Lord) extremely sincerely and exerted all your efforts (in this regard).
May Allah attach you with the shahids, add your soul to the souls of the happy ones, give you the largest abode and the most handsome room in His Paradise, exalt your mention in Illiyyin,18 join you to the prophets, the veracious (ones), the shahids, and the righteous (ones) - Very excellent is the companionship of such ones.
I testify that you did not lag behind and did not turn away the face, and that you left this life with full awareness of the truth, following the examples of the righteous ones and sticking to the prophets.
So, may Allah gather us with you, His Messenger, and His disciples in the abodes of those who practiced humbly (with their Lord). He is certainly the most Merciful of all the merciful ones.
You should then turn to the side of the head and offer a two-rakaa prayer. Afterwards you may offer as many units of prayers as you wish. You should also supplicate to God earnestly. After these prayers, you should say:
O Allah, send Your blessings to Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and do not leave for me, in this honored place and glorified shrine, any sin (that I did) without forgiveness, any care without relief, any illness without cure, any defect with covering up, any (source of) sustenance without expansion, any item of terror without pacification, any disunity without reunification, any absent one without guarding and approaching (him to me), and any single need whose settlement achieves your gratification and my good, among the many needs of this life as well as the life to come without settlement. You are the most Merciful of all the merciful ones.
You should then return to the tomb, stop at the side of the legs, and say –
Salaam be upon you, Abu-al-Fadhl al-’Abbas, son of Amir ul-Mu’minin.
Salaam be upon you, son of the chief of the successors (of the prophets).
Salaam be upon you, son of the foremost to (the embracement of) Islam, the first one who believed (in God), the best one who served the religion of Allah, and the most knowledgeable of Islam.
I testify that you served Allah, His Messenger, and your brother sincerely. You were the most excellent consoling brother.
So, Allah’s curse be on the group who killed you. And Allah’s curse be on the group who wronged you. And Allah’s curse be on the group who violated your sanctities and infringed the sanctity of Islam.
You were the most excellent steadfast fighter, protector, supporter, and brother who defended his brother, responded to the obedience to his Lord, and worked desirably for gaining the abundant reward and the nice tribute that others refused.
So, Allah may attach you to the rank of your fathers in the gardens of bliss.
O Allah, I have done the pilgrimage to Your appointed ones out of my desire for (winning) Your reward and my wish to recognize You and Your abundant benevolence. So, I implore to You to send Your blessings to Muhammad and his immaculate family and make my sustenance, by their intercession, flow copiously, my living delightful, my pilgrimage worthy of reward and my life pleasant. And make me take to the conduct of the honored ones and make me one of those who win success and prosperity and deserve forgiveness of sins, covering up of defects, and relief of disasters after their return from the pilgrimage of the shrines of your intimate disciples. You are surely worthy of being feared and worthy of forgiving.
If you intend to take leave, approach the holy tomb and say –
I seek, through you, the guard and custody of Allah and I say Salaam to you.
We have believed in Allah and in His Messenger and in His Book and in that which he conveyed from Allah. O Allah, record our names with the witnesses.
O Allah, do not make this pilgrimage to the tomb of the son of Your Messenger’s (peace of Allah be upon him and his family) brother the last one. Grant me opportunities to visit him so long as You keep me alive, and join me to him and his fathers in the paradises, and introduce me to him, to Your Messenger, and to Your chosen ones.
O Allah, send Your blessings to Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and take me to you abiding by the believing in You, giving credence to Your Messenger, being faithful to ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib and the Imams, his descendants, and disavowing their enemy. My Lord, I have accepted such.. May Allah send blessings to Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.
You may then supplicate to God for yourself, your parents, the faithful believers, and the Muslims. You may choose any statement of supplication you like.19
One of the divine conferment to the faithful supporters of cause of Allah is the grant of supernatural powers to them during their lifetimes and after their death. Such powers indicate the high ranks of those chosen ones in the sight of the Lord. These are also regarded as precious rewards that the true followers of God win in this world for their righteous deeds and great service for their Lord’s sake. Furthermore, such charismata urge others to pursue the examples of such followers.
Thus, people have seen various charismata in the holy shrines and under the domes covering the tombs of the righteous individuals upon whom God conferred the items of His unique kindness and benevolence.
One of these righteous individuals was Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas who won worthily the epithet of ‘the righteous servant of God’. He preceded others in the field of offering everything he had for God’s sake; therefore, the All-benevolent God rewarded him with the best rewards in this world and the world to come. His holy shrine has become the refuge for the fearful and a center for answering of the prayers.
The holy shrine of al-’Abbas has been showing countless charismata that most people witnessed and reported to one another.
Some of these have taken the form of solving the most complicated problems brought to God through the intercession of al-’Abbas. Some have taken the form of completely uprooting the incurable diseases that professional physicians could not treat. Some have taken the form of giving victory to the weak, oppressed ones. Some have taken the form of discovering the most mysterious secrets. After all, under the holy dome that covers the tomb of al-’Abbas all questions are answered and all problems are solved - all by the permission of God who instructs us to seek means that take us closer to Him:
Believers, have fear of God. Find the means to reach Him and strive hard for His cause so that you may have everlasting happiness.20
Those who want (God’s true guidance) should seek means to their Lord.21
Let us now refer to some charismata shown at the holy shrine of al-’Abbas.
Sheikh Abd-ur-Raheem at-Tustari (died in AH 1313) recounted:
In the holy precinct of the tomb of Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas there was an Arab boy, who was paralyzed, tied to the window covering the tomb. With this boy I saw a man, who seemed to be his father, entreating earnestly al-’Abbas to give cure to the boy. Soon after that, the boy stood up and shouted: “Al-’Abbas has cured me!” People who were present there gathered around the boy and tore his clothes for seeking blessings through them…22
Sayyid Ahmed al-Haairi recounted:
I was with a group of the servants of the holy shrine of al-’Abbas when a man went out in a hurry. He was putting his hand on the root of his pinkie from which blood was flowing. We were told that this man had despised al-’Abbas who cut his pinkie. On the widow covering the tomb, we found the pinkie of that man without a single drop of blood.23
Sheikh Hasan Dakheel recounted:
It was very hot that midday when I visited the holy tomb of al- ‘Abbas. Nobody was in the holy shrine except that sixty-year old servant whose mission was to supervise the shrine. Not too long after that a woman hiding all her parts came in with a sixteen-year old boy who was dressed in the garb of the Kurds. A tall white Kurdish man came in after them. Ignoring the rituals people used to do in that place, the man seemed to be disrespecting the holy shrine and the tomb. He turned the back to the tomb and went on looking at the swords and precious pieces hung there.
Few minutes later, something strange occurred. That man, as if he was electrified, was beaten to the window. His face turned to red and all his organs were cramped… the man was taken to the holy shrine of Imam al-Husayn (a). On the way, people began to gather as they noticed the man’s unusual state. He was tied to the window on the tomb of ‘Ali al-Akbar.
He slept there. When he woke up, he recited the shahada24 and declared his submission to the Imamate of the Twelve Imams (a) whose names were mentioned by him. He then told that a tall man, near the holy tomb of al-’Abbas, had seized him firmly and went on beating him with a stick he had in the hand and reproaching him for following the wrong path!
The lady who accompanied him then narrated her story with this Kurdish man.
This virtuous, polite man asked my hand from my brothers after he had done them a great favor. They, as well as I, agreed. After marriage, I asked my Sunni husband to permit me to pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Imam al-Kadhim and Imam al-Jawad in Baghdad, but he refused claiming such pilgrimage is a sort of superstition.
When I became pregnant, I asked him to vow that he would pilgrimage to the holy shrines if the baby would be male. He did, but he did not fulfill his vow when I gave birth of a boy. He promised he would fulfill his vow when the boy would be fifteen years old. As I insisted on the pilgrimage, the man agreed and I could pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Imam al-Kadhim where I asked to show my husband a charisma that would cause him to follow Shiism and show respect to the Imams. Unfortunately however, the husband’s sarcasm at the Imams increased.
We then visited the holy shrines of Imam al-Hadi and Imam al-Askari in Samarra. Nevertheless, my husband was not guided to the right path. As soon as our feet trod on the dust of Karbala, I said to myself: “I will first visit the tomb of al-’Abbas and entreat him to show a charisma due to which my husband will believe in the Imamate. If this will not occur, I will neither visit the holy shrine of his brother, Imam al-Husayn, nor will I pilgrimage to Najaf to visit the holy shrine of his father, Imam ‘Ali Amir ul-Mu’minin.” Now, you have seen what happened in the holy shrine of al- ‘Abbas.25
Sayyid Ibrahim al-Bahbahani recounted:
One week after my marriage in AH 1351, I had flu accompanied by high fever. The physicians of Najaf, including Dr. Muhammad Zaki Abazha, treated me, but uselessly. As my disease was increasing, I decided not to see any physician. A few months later, a committee of four physicians decided that I would die in a month.
In Muharram, AH 1354, my father went to a village called ‘al-Qasim’ to recite the tragic saga of Imam al-Husayn (a) in the memorial gatherings for that anniversary. My mother, who was in an incessant state of weeping, was tending me.
On the seventh night of that month, I saw in sleep a tall, good-looking man asking me to give a sermon in the memorial gathering held in that anniversary. He also asked me to go to Karbala and mention the saga of al-’Abbas there. For three times, that man asked me to do that thing. When I woke up, I told my mother of that dream. She was delighted and decided to take me to the holy shrine of al-’Abbas. None responded to her suggestion because of the bad state I had. Finally, some relatives decided to put me in a coffin because I was unable to ride on anything.
As soon as we arrived in the holy shrine, I slept there and saw the very man who had reproached me for delay and asked me to recite the saga of al-’Abbas. I woke up terrified, but I immediately fainted. When I recovered consciousness, I was very healthy. Everybody who was in the holy shrine, the yard, and even the market gathered around me with cries of Allahu Akbar and La Ilaha illa (A)llah. Policemen attended, asked people to leave, and took me out to the hall facing the holy sanctuary…26
Referring to this charisma, many authors, such as Sayyid Salih al-Hilli, Muhammad ‘Ali al-Ya’qoubi, Sheikh ‘Ali al-Jeshi, Sayyid Hassoun Radi al-Qizwini, Sayyid Muhammad Reda al-Hindi, Sheikh Abd-’Ali Husayn, Ja’far at-Turaifi, Sheikh Kadim as-Sudani, Sheikh Hasan Sebti, Sayyid Nuri Salih al-Baghdadi, and others, composed poetic verses that perpetuated the occurrence.
‘Mkhelef’ was the name of a man who lived in al- Muhammara27 and was inflicted with a chronic illness in his legs which were as thin as fingers. Most of the inhabitants of al- Muhammara knew that man and his illness. Creeping on his buttocks and hands, Mkhelef used to be present at the memorial gatherings held for commemorating the tragedy of Imam al- Husayn (a). He used to sit under the mimbar with his legs extended.
Sheikh Khaz’al, chief of the province of al-Ahwaz southern Iran, had a Husseiniyya in which the ceremonies of the consolation of Imam al-Husayn were held. On the seventh day of Muharram that year, people, as usual, stood up for slapping on chests as expression of their deep sadness for the martyrdom of al-’Abbas. In the midst of their slapping and shouting, the crowds observed that Mkhelef was standing among them shouting, ‘I am Mkhelef. Al-’Abbas enabled me to stand up on my legs.’
As they noticed this miracle, people rushed to Mkhelef and tore his clothes as each one tried to take a piece of it for seeking blessings. Sheikh Khaz’al then ordered his officials to take Mkhelef to one of the rooms of the Husseiniyya and prevent people from reaching him.
When people asked him what had happened, Mkhelef recounted:
As people were slapping and shouting, I fell into a slumber under the mimbar. I saw a tall, handsome man on a horse asking me: ‘Mkhelef, why do you not slap for al-’Abbas?’ ‘Sir,’ I answered, ‘I cannot because of that which you see.’ As the horseman ordered me to stand up, I asked him to give me his hands so that they will help me stand up. He said, ‘I do not have hands! You may hold on the stirrup of the horse and stand up.’
Thus, the holy tomb of al-’Abbas has been, day and night, visited by various kinds of people: needy who seek God’s charity, an ailing person who searches for cure from the Lord, a grieved one who hopes for relief from God, the terrified who seeks succor, and the affected who seeks solution - all through the intercession of al-’Abbas. All return with pleasure and a happy heart as the intercession of al-’Abbas, as usual, achieves success.
Al-’Abbas had five sons - Ubaidullah, al-Fadhl, al-Hasan, al- Qasim, and Muhammad, and two daughters.1
Ibn Shahrashub, the famous historian recorded that Muhammad was martyred in Karbala with his father. The mother of Ubaidullah and al-Fadhl was Lubaba daughter of Ubaidullah ibn al-’Abbas ibn Abd-ul-Muttalib. Genealogists have agreed unanimously that the progeny of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali came from his son Ubaidullah. Sheikh al- Futouni, however, added that al-Hasan ibn al-’Abbas had sons and descendants, too.
Ubaidullah ibn al-’Abbas who died in AH 155, was one of the celebrated scholars. Handsomeness, perfect morality and personality were ascribed to him. He married three ladies.
Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn ul-Abidin (a), respected Ubaidullah greatly. He, very frequently, wept when he saw Ubaidullah, saying that this man reminded him of his father’s unique sacrifice on that day in Karbala. Al-Hasan, son of Ubaidullah lived for sixty-seven years and had five sons: al-Fadhl, Hamza, Ibrahim, al-’Abbas, and Ubaidullah. All of these were honorable, virtuous and authors.
Al-Fadhl was such an eloquent, religious, and courageous personality that caliphs respected him. He was named - ‘Ibn al- Hashimiyya son of the Hashemite lady’-.2 He had three sons, Ja’far al-’Abbas, al-Akbar and Muhammad.
Abu’l-’Abbas al-Fadhl ibn Muhammad ibn al-Fadhl ibn al- Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-’Abbas was a famous orator and poet. He composed some poetic verses eulogizing his forefather, al- ‘Abbas.
Hamza ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-’Abbas copied his forefather, Amir ul-Mu’minin. His grandson Muhammad ibn ‘Ali - the famous poet resided in Basra and died in AH 286.3
Ibrahim Jardaqa was another descendant of al-’Abbas. He was a jurisprudent, man of letters and well known of his ascetics.
Abdullah ibn ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim wrote some books, such as the book titled al-Ja’fariyya. He died in Egypt in AH 312.
Al-’Abbas ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-’Abbas was a great celebrity among the Hashemites. He visited Baghdad during the reign of Harun ar-Rashid. He was one of the most celebrated poets.4
Abdullah ibn al-’Abbas was also a famous personality known for his virtue and celebrity. When he was informed about Abdullah’s death, al-Ma’moun - the ‘Abbasid caliph said: “All people are the same after your demise, O son of al-’Abbas!”5
Abu’t-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Hamza enjoyed a good personality. He was also well known for his regard for relatives and virtue. He had big fortunes in Jordan where he was killed in AH 291. His descendants were called – ‘sons of the martyr.’
Ubaidullah ibn al-Hasan was the Governor and Qadi of Mecca and Medina during the reign of al-Ma’moun.
Abu-Ya’li al-Hamza ibn al-Qasim ibn ‘Ali ibn Hamza ibn al- Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali was one of the most celebrated men of knowledge. He was a great scholar of hadith who instructed many famous scholars and wrote many books, such as - Kitab ut-Tawhid, Kitab uz-Ziyaraatu wel-Menasik, and many others in various fields of knowledge, especially in Ilm ur-Rijal and Ilm ul-Hadith.6
Many scholars described him with remarkable words of praise.7 There is a handsome shrine which was built on the tomb of al-Hamza in a village called ‘al-Hamza’ and lying in al-Jazira, central Iraq, between the Euphrates and the Tigris8. It has been incessantly visited by people.
Finally, books of history are full of names of great personalities among the descendants of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali.9
Being neither naive nor superficial, many events were associated with al-’Abbas right from his earliest youth. These events were links in a long series of conflict between Hashim and the Hashemites on one side and the other Koreishite descendants and clans on the other side. This conflict took different forms, passed through many stages, and finally, took the form of the conflict between right and wrong.
Despite their different trends, all historians have had to confess that the Hashemite branch of Koreish has been distinctive in mentality, manners, and behavior and has been excelling all others at their activities and values.
Hashim and his sons and descendants were highly respected by all tribes and kings. Such high rank aroused the envy of the other clans of Koreish who allied against Hashim, his sons and descendants. Despite all these alliances, victory was always to the side of the Hashemites who achieved memorable, remarkable deeds that immortalized their names all over history.
The envy of the other more than twenty Koreishite clans reached its climax when the grandson of Hashim declared and promulgated his prophecy and that he was receiving revelations and instructions from the Heavens and called the Koreishites, as well as all other people, to follow and support him. Moreover, he was supported by Abu-Talib, chief of Koreish and some of his uncles and was followed by some of his cousins.
The Koreishite chiefs spared no efforts in resisting Muhammad’s prophecy and promulgation and in trying to stop Abu-Talib’s support for him through various sorts of seductions and threats; yet, all their endeavors failed.
They then decided with one voice to persecute, physically and mentally, every single individual who converted to Islam. Owing to the execution of this decision, most of Muslims fled to Abyssinia, and the Koreishite decision failed.
They then decided unanimously, by the participation of other clans, to blockade and boycott the Hashemites completely; therefore, they detained them in a col for three or four years. Nevertheless, this decision failed too due to a divine miracle.
As soon as the Hashemites lost their chief Abu-Talib, the Koreishite clans decided to assassinate the Prophet whom God protected and instructed to move to Yathrib where most of the inhabitants embraced Islam.
By means of seductions, threats and through the Jews, the Koreishites tried to force people of Yathrib, which lay on the way of their commercial artery. They threatened their trade with Syria with cessation and asked them to forsake the Prophet. They failed there too. Hence, they decided to engage themselves in a war against the Hashemite Prophet. They fought against him in the battles of Badr, Uhud, and al-Khandaq - and they failed in all.
They used the Jews as a weapon against him - but they failed again.
They also sought the support of the Persians and the Romans - but they failed.
After eight years of his migration, the Prophet surprised the Koreishites when he conquered their capital Mecca, with an irresistible army. Thus, the Koreishites had to give up and surrender to the Prophet.
Afterwards, the Prophet declared public amnesty to the chiefs of the Koreishite clans and gathered them in the Holy Masjid under the swords of his soldiers to explain to them their arrogance, tyranny, denial of the Verses of God, malice towards the Prophet of God, wronging the Hashemites and Muslims, and waging wars against Islam. He then released them, and they have been called – ‘the released ones.’1
Although their hearts were full of feelings of rage and arrogance after they had to submit to son of Hashim and accept their having been released just like slaves, the Koreishites adopted another principle: Muhammad’s state is ours. He is that ‘generous brother and son of that generous brother’ and that kind son of Koreish; therefore, we have to enter his state and save it from the hands of the strange ones.
Hence, they dedicated all efforts to prevent the Prophet from preparing a Hashemite individual as his successor. In other words, they decided to prevent the Hashemites from having both prophecy and leadership.
As some of them believed that it was difficult to lay hold of Muhammad’s state, they planned to assassinate him so as to stop the whole matter.2 They also failed here because of the will of the Heavens. Thus, they had to find another way.
They came to ask the Prophet to grant them a share in his state, but he rejected because he had already appointed somebody as his successor:
During his life, the Prophet (S) named ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib as his successor and the coming leader of the Islamic Ummahh (community). As a matter of fact, the source of this decision was the decree from the Heavens. It was Almighty God who selected and appointed ‘Ali, followed by the Immaculate Imams of his progeny, as the next leaders of the Islamic Ummahh after the Prophet.
This decision was conveyed by the Prophet from the earliest stage of the march of Islam.3 In almost all occasions that gathered Muslims, the Prophet confirmed that ‘Ali would succeed him in the leadership of the Islamic Ummahh.
The event of Ghadir Khum is a clear-cut proof on our claim. Ahead of about one hundred thousand Muslims whom were gathered in that terribly hot weather, the Prophet (S) raised ‘Ali’s hand to declare that this man must be regarded as the leader of everyone who adopted the leadership of the Prophet, and ordered the present ones to convey this decision to the absent, including the coming generations.
In addition, he gave orders of holding special ceremonies on that occasion and took the pledge of all Muslims’ men and women to recognize the leadership of Imam ‘Ali. The anniversary of that occasion is still celebrated by Muslims who fulfilled their pledge to the Prophet.4
As a hopeless endeavor, the Koreishite chiefs, supported by some Koreishite individuals who were among the first converts to Islam but showed loyalty to the Koreishite conspirators, came to the Prophet to suggest that he had better cancel his decision of appointing ‘Ali as the coming leader…etc.5 But the Prophet refused their demand, emphasizing that the matter was God’s and not based on anyone’s desire.
The Prophet used nice policy with those defeated chiefs. For instance, he appointed their military commander, Abu-Suffian ibn Harb, as a tax collector. But, they kept on their plots and wicked intentions. They, once demanded for autonomy, but the Prophet (S) reproached and threatened to ask his hero, ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib to fight them. He also predicted that the Koreishites would not stop plotting against Islam unless they were made to submit by force6.
Finally, the Koreishites despaired of getting any success with any of their plots as long as the Prophet (S) was alive. Hence, they prepared new matters that would be done after his death.
When the Prophet (S) departed from this life after he had been prevented from dictating his will,7 a great turning in the march of Islam occurred. On the second day of the Prophet’s demise, some Koreishite persons, thinking nothing at all of the Prophet’s previous confirmations of the leadership of Imam ‘Ali, held a meeting to appoint the leader who would succeed the Prophet
In fact, the main reason behind this meeting that had been prepared for previous to the death of the Prophet (S) and which violated all the divine instructions was to take the Hashemites away from the chieftainship of the Islamic nation in general, and bring in other Koreishite clans in particular.
The Umayyads had the biggest hand in convening that meeting during which Abu- Bakr was decided as the new leader of the Islamic Ummah. When Imam ‘Ali, supported by the faithful companions of the Prophet, denied the decisions of that meeting considering the whole matter as violation to the Prophet’s instructions, the head of the founding members of that meeting, namely Omar ibn al-Khattab, declared openly the main cause that made them hold such a meeting and reach such a decision. He said to Imam ‘Ali: “We8 dislike for you, the Hashemites, to have both prophecy and leadership.”9
Showing his limitless malice towards Islam and Prophet Muhammad (S), Abu-Suffian found through such divergence the best opportunity for striking Islam and disuniting Muslims can be seized. He equipped his relatives with weapons and led them to the door of Imam ‘Ali’s house to tell that he, as well as a well-equipped army10 was ready to support him if he would declare war against the other party who usurped his divine right of leadership. Imam ‘Ali understood Abu-Suffian’s real intention very well and rejected his suggestion.
So, the Hashemites lost their position that Almighty God had selected for them. Nevertheless, this did not cancel their being the real leaders of the Islamic nation and the ones whose instructions must be followed since they have been the appointed successors of the Prophet according to divine instructions.
After many events, Abu-Bakr came to power and appointed Omar ibn al-Khattab as his successor. Omar ibn al-Khattab, as being the caliph - the political and religious head of Muslims - appointed Muawiya, son of Abu- Suffian the mortal enemy of Islam and the leader of the armed forces against the Prophet and his companions, as the governor of Damascus.
It is ironic that a man who was to become the political and religious head of a province in the Islamic State was born into a clan that rejected Prophet Muhammad (S) in his home city, Mecca, and continued to oppose him on the battlefields after he had emigrated to Medina, and did not convert to Islam until the Prophet conquered Mecca and obliged its inhabitants to follow his religion.
Another irony was the plan that Omar ibn al-Khattab made for choosing the next caliph who was Othman ibn Affan.
Al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali was born in the reign of Othman ibn Affan. It is very natural that he understood the whole doctrinal, political and social matter of the Islamic State through the instructions of his father and two brothers around whom all the aforementioned events occurred.
Likewise, al-’Abbas, from his earliest youth, recognized that he belonged to the house whom Almighty God had selected for guarding and conveying His religion to the next generations in its pure, correct form and that he had his own role to play in this sacred process. Naturally, he was informed about the events that preceded him in details and, now it was his turn to understand the current and the upcoming events.
The policies of Othman ibn Affan brought about a general disorder in the intellectual and doctrinal lives of Muslims. These policies were aimed at taking the Ahlul Bayt away from the political centers in the state and subjecting these to the illegitimate ruling authorities. Hence, the political and administrative positions were given to persons who belonged to the clans of Umayya and Aal-Maeet. The Hashemites and their partisans were prevented from holding any position.
All the offices of the Islamic State came in the hands of the Umayyad who went on creating crises among Muslims. It is indisputable that the great majority of such governors did not have any Islamic inclination and were directed to work against the real Islam of Muhammad and his family (a). Moreover, they lacked familiarity with expertise in the Islamic laws and the requirements of the Islamic Sharia.
As a result of such policy, some troops of the Islamic army left Iran and Egypt to go to Medina. They demanded from Othman to rectify his policies and remove the Umayyad from the offices of the state. Unfortunately, he did not respond, and the rebels found no means other than assassinating Othman, after they had been encouraged by the most celebrated personalities who had accompanied the Prophet. So, they killed Othman and thus could get rid of his dishonest policies of favoring his relatives to the others and spreading innovations in Islam.
Al-’Abbas was in the vigor of his youth watching all these events and waiting for the future. After the assassination of Othman, it was for the first time that the people could express their opinions freely and select the fittest - ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib, the one selected by the Heavens for the leadership of the Muslims.
The armed forces and all the classes of people all over the provinces of the Islamic State selected Imam ‘Ali for the leadership of the state, except people of Damascus and a few individuals of Medina who understood that Imam ‘Ali would refuse their monopoly and thus would extend the very required social justice all over the Islamic state.
As expected, Imam ‘Ali adopted and applied policies of constructive and comprehensive justice to everybody. He preferred the general interests to the private and dedicated all efforts to the achievement of an ideal social justice and to the eradication of poverty. He also adopted the course of extending principles of freedoms so as to create public developments and wipe out all feelings of humility and subservience. Thus, the Imam worked on extending the religious and political policies.
Imam ‘Ali also paid a good deal of attention to the propagation of religious senses and Islamic idealities among the publics. Through his unparalleled behavior and successful sermons, Imam ‘Ali could find, at least a class of virtuous individuals who, later on during the reign of the Umayyad, resisted the moral collapses and promulgated the true Islamic course.
Imam ‘Ali, also, taught the society how to fulfill their responsibilities before God, watch the general situations of the Islamic State, save the society from deviation, revolt against the unjust rulers, and work purely for sake of God.
These were the principles that made al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali be with his brother Imam al-Husayn who revolted against the unjust rulers who violated the sanctities of the Islamic society and enslaved Muslims. In fact, al-’Abbas, being the son of Imam ‘Ali, was the worthiest of learning and applying the instructions of his father to himself and working on propagating them among people.
Imam ‘Ali (a) also used all weapons for fighting poverty and removing its ghost away from the Islamic society. He therefore supplied the needy people with residential places, eliminated unemployment, monopoly and usury.
He finally stopped all sorts of favoritism, a distinctive feature of the reign of Othman ibn Affan who favored his relatives at the expense of the others. Thus, equality took its purest form during the reign of Imam ‘Ali (a).
All these reforms canceled out the private interests of the Koreishites, especially the Umayyad, who did their best to do away with Imam ‘Ali and his policies. They therefore, formed a different opposing power that waged wars against him.
First of all, there was Aisha (the Prophet’s widow and the first caliph’s daughter) whose limitless malice against Imam ‘Ali controlled her completely to the degree that she rode on that red camel against which the Prophet (S) warned her11 and led an army against the legal authority of the Islamic State namely, Imam ‘Ali.
One can feel the big irony when he recognizes, through authentic reports, that this very Aisha was a direct reason for the assassination of Othman ibn Affan against whom she rallied people and whom she described as non-Muslim.12 When she was informed of his death, she prostrated herself to God as a sign of thanks, but when she was informed that ‘Ali held the position of leadership, her situation was converted and she cried: “Othman was killed wrongfully. I must take revenge upon his killers.”
She then gathered troops and directed to Basra where she faced the army of Imam ‘Ali who overcame and captured her. Then, out of his remarkable and unmatched moral standards, Imam ‘Ali honored the lady who led the mutiny against him, released her, and sent her home.
In the midst of all these events, al-’Abbas was watching with a heedful heart both the opposing powers and his father’s wise treatments of the situation. In fact, his father’s behaviors were the best lessons that led him to occupy the first place in the field of heroism, sacrifice and perseverance on principles.
Continuing with the series of events in their enmity against the right party in general and the Hashemites in particular, the Umayyad formed an opposite power that faced and waged war against Imam ‘Ali.
Muawiya being the governor of Damascus since the reign of Omar ibn al-Khattab, declared armed mutiny against the legal authority of the Islamic State. He could gather the ignorant ones, the hypocrites, the opportunists, and the former officials of Othman’s government whose ill-gotten properties were confiscated by Imam ‘Ali to be distributed fairly among all people, to form an army of mutineers.
Muawiya’s troops directed towards Iraq and camped in Siffeen on the Syrian-Iraqi borders. First, they occupied the two banks of the River Euphrates so as to prevent Imam ‘Ali’s army from getting water. Out of their extreme inhumanity and brutality, the Umayyads used the blockade of water as a weapon against their rivals. They did the same thing with Imam al-Husayn, his household, and his companions when they occupied the two banks of the River Euphrates and prevented Imam al-Husayn’s army from having water.
As Imam ‘Ali noticed that Muawiya’s troops would not permit his army to have water after they had refused his calls to peace, he allowed his army to attack. They could defeat Muawiya’s army and occupy the two banks of the river. Some of the commanders asked Imam ‘Ali to prevent Muawiya’s troops from having water, but he, out of his incomparable mercy and feelings of responsibility towards human beings in general and Muslims in particular, refused that request and permitted the other party to have water which is allowable to all creatures.
Unfortunately, Muawiya, his family, and his group did not thank for Imam ‘Ali his merciful disposition. On the contrary, they rewarded Imam ‘Ali’s son and household with evil and prevented them, even the newborns and women, from having water.
When all attempts at peace failed, Imam ‘Ali had to fight the other party. In the last stage of that war which lasted for two years causing ten thousands of casualties, Imam ‘Ali was about to achieve victory and put an end to that war, but Muawiya turned it with a trickery. He asked his defeated soldiers to impale copies of the holy Qur’an on their lances and call that the judge of the Qur’an should be sought.
Deluded by such false cries, some divisions in Imam ‘Ali’s army responded to these calls and asked Imam ‘Ali to submit. The Imam tried his best to convince the deluded ones, the hypocrites, and the agents, but uselessly. He therefore had to submit to their demand of the arbitration with the Holy Qur’an.
Muawiya suggested that he would choose a man as his representative and Imam ‘Ali should choose one as his representative. Under the pressure of the rebellious groups in Imam ‘Ali’s army, the Imam had to accept Abu-Musa al-Ash’ari as representative. Muawiya chose Amr ibn al-Aas, the disreputable swindler.
Before holding the session of arbitration, Amr ibn Al-Aas fooled al-Ash’ari by claiming that they both should judge after denouncing both ‘Ali and Muawiya so as to save the Muslims from such a fitnah of Civil war. Moreover, Amr could convince al-Ash’ari to ascend the mimbar first and denounce his leader - Imam ‘Ali.
Before the two parties, al-Ash’ari ascended the mimbar and denounced Imam ‘Ali. When he came down, Amr ascended and called people to follow the ‘legal’ leadership of his leader - Muawiya!
This farce of arbitration, which ended in deposing Imam ‘Ali as caliph and appointing Muawiya as the new leader, folded the last page in the holiest Islamic government that aimed at achieving ideal social justice. However, the hypocrites and the Koreishite clans, especially the Umayyad, succeeded in overthrowing this government and replacing it with the reign of the Umayyad dynasty that brought about the most appalling tragedy - the massacre of the Prophet’s household.
Some historians have slackened the reins when they ascribe exaggerated situations of fighting to al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali. As a matter of fact, it is not strange for a hero like al-’Abbas to record astonishing situations of fighting from his early youth, because he was the son of that hero and the descendant of the heroes of the Arabs, and, originally, he was prepared for showing supreme heroism and courage.
Besides, history has recorded for the Hashemites such unparalleled situations of heroism right from the early stages of their lives. For instance, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya, son of Imam ‘Ali, showed great heroism in the battles led by his father when he was twenty years old or maybe even less.13
Some historians have mentioned that al-’Abbas supported his brother Imam al-Husayn who led the division that defeated Muawiya’s troops and occupied the two banks of the River Euphrates during the battle of Siffeen.14
Historians, also, have referred to the following narration: During the battle of Siffeen, a sublime, courageous young man of about seventeen year old putting a veil on the face advanced for fighting. Muawiya, seeing that people feared that warrior, asked Abu’sh-Shaathaa to fight with him. Abu’sh- Shaathaa refused claiming that he was too courageous to fight with such a young warrior. He suggested he would send one of his seven sons to fight. That young warrior killed all the sons of Abu’sh-Shaathaa who became angry and decided to fight with that warrior himself. The warrior killed Abu’sh-Shaathaa and returned to the camp. Showing their admiration of the heroism and courage of that young warrior whom nobody knew, the companions of Imam ‘Ali recognized that he must have been one of the Hashemites. When Imam ‘Ali removed that veil from the warrior’s face, he was al-’Abbas.15
Al-Khawarzmi, in his book titled Manaqib ut-Talibiyyin (147) records the following incident:
Kuraib the strong soldier in Muawiya’s army advanced and could kill three of the horsemen of Imam ‘Ali’s army. He then challenged Imam ‘Ali. Saddened by this challenge, Imam ‘Ali called his son al-’Abbas who was mature and ordered him to ride off his horse and take off his clothes. The father put on his son’s clothes, rode on his horse, and asked his son to dress in his clothes and take his horse so that Kuraib will not shrink in fear and withdraw fighting…
These two incidents emphasize that al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali participated in the battle of Siffeen with his father and brothers.
Some historians, however, have denied the participation of al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali in that battle, claiming that it was al-’Abbas ibn al-Harith, not al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali, who attended that battle.
This is in fact not accurate, because there are other narrations, recorded in books of history such as al-Khawarzmi’s Maqatil ut-Talibiyyin (105), referring to the roles of al-’Abbas ibn al-Harith in that battle.
After the farce of the arbitration, Imam ‘Ali had to encounter other ordeals created by Muawiya who used the hypocrites and the ignorant as means for achieving his vile purposes. Those classes of people criticized Imam ‘Ali for accepting the opinion of the arbitration after they had obliged him to do so. After the cessation of the battle of Siffin, those groups left the army of Imam ‘Ali and adopted a new course in thought and practice. They were called Khawarij - ‘the mutineers’.
The Imam sent some messengers to convince them to change their opinions, but they did not respond. They went on shedding the blood of innocent people and spreading horror among Muslims.
As a second attempt, Imam ‘Ali decided to visit them hoping he would take them back to the right path. Although he proved their being wrong through undisputable proofs, the Khawarij insisted on mutiny. As Imam ‘Ali noticed that they formed a great danger against the Islamic society, he had to wage war against them. In a place called an-Nahrawan, a horrible fighting occurred between the Khawarij and Imam ‘Ali’s army. In that war, the Khawarij were killed completely and none was saved except nine persons.
By the way, al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali, probably, did not participate in this battle, because historians have not referred to any situation for him in this battle. At any rate, some historians believe that Imam ‘Ali prevented some of his sons, including al-’Abbas, from fighting in the battles of Siffin and an-Nahrawan because he wanted to save them from death.
After the ordeal of the Khawarij, Muawiya went on enhancing his power through the many raids that he made against some territories of Kufa, the capital of the Islamic State. He also occupied Egypt to take it out from the control of Imam ‘Ali.
Those ordeals that inflicted the Islamic world saddened Imam ‘Ali very much since he felt the further oncoming ordeals, which would be more horrible.
The Khawarij held a conference in Mecca and decided to get rid of Imam ‘Ali, Muawiya, and Amr ibn al-Aas because, as they thought, those three persons were the reasons beyond people’s disorder. The ruling authority of Mecca knew about that meeting and, probably, supplied one of the conferee with money to facilitate his mission of killing Imam ‘Ali.
The man, Abdur-Rahman ibn Muljim, came to Kufa and went on preparing for doing his mission with the help of the hypocrites of that city.
On the nineteenth night of the holy month of Ramadan, Imam ‘Ali went to the mosque to lead the collective Fajr prayer. When he raised the head after the prostration, the infidel struck him on the head with his sword. As soon as the Imam felt the stroke, he smiled and declared: “By the Lord of Kaaba, I have won.”
He was carried to his house where his sons, daughters, and harem gathered around him. The Imam looked at all his sons as he predicted each one’s role in the future. The Imam looked at his son al-’Abbas with a sight of affection and emotion when he remembered the divine prediction regarding this courageous son and the role that he would play in supporting the religion of God. He then instructed his sons on the high moral standards, commitment to the right, and perseverance on principles.
As the poison of the sword that struck the Imam spread to his entire body, death crept to him in sure steps. The Imam then departed life.
His elder son, Imam al-Hasan along with his brothers, prepared the funeral rituals of his body. They washed his body, put it in the coffin, and carried it to the burial place in Najaf.
From the conduct of his father, along with the problems and ordeals that happened during his reign, al-’Abbas learnt how to stand up with all he had for the sake of keeping the principles and achieving justice on this earth. He did believe in the brilliant goals to which his father called for and for the application of which he sacrificed everything including his holy soul.
These lessons contributed greatly in creating that high spirit enjoyed by al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali.
After his father, Imam al-Hasan held the position of the leadership of the Islamic State. All the political and social circumstances were not stable. The great majority of the military commanders, including the general commander, showed loyalty to Muawiya who seduced them by means of precious bribes.
The false ideas of the Khawarij too, worked as a destructive factor that ruined the building of the Imam’s wing. As a result, many attempts of assassination, though unsuccessful, were made against the Imam. Finally, some hypocrites accused him of infidelity.
All these ordeals encouraged Muawiya to declare war against the Imam. Thus, Muawiya gathered his powerful army and directed it towards Iraq.
Accompanied by a few divisions of his army, Imam al-Hasan marched towards al-Madaain where he stationed his troops. Peace treaty with Muawiya was the only solution that would save the Imam’s soul and save Muslims from disunity and apostasy. Thus, Imam al- Hasan had to sign a peace treaty with Muawiya.
After that peace treaty, Imam al-Hasan, along with his household and brothers including al-’Abbas, left from Kufa to Medina. He resided there and began spreading his knowledge among its seekers and conferring alms upon the needy and the poor with his abundant generosity. By the presence of Imam al-Hasan, Medina regained its leading position as the spiritual capital of the Islamic world.
The bitter trials that Imam al-Hasan encountered opened the eyes of al-’Abbas on new facts regarding the nature of both the society and the ruling authorities.
After the peace treaty with Imam al-Hasan, Muawiya ibn Abi-Suffian; the mortal enemy and the son of the mortal enemies of Islam, could hold the position of the leadership of the Islamic State after he had eradicated the government of ‘Ali and his descendants - the one and the only legitimate government, after the Prophet’s - that was characterized by ideal justice.
With the collapse of Imam ‘Ali’s government, all the values of humanity and morality were replaced by values of paganism. Altogether with all its disadvantages, Muawiya exerted all his efforts to confirm them as an alternative for the principles of Islam.
Under the shades of the Umayyad reign, vice, immorality, despotism, and corruption spread all over the Islamic provinces. Muslims had to encounter insufferable ordeals that tested their perseverance on their principles, the scope of their faith and steadfastness against their misfortunes.16
Muawiya, first of all, directed towards the policy of eliminating the eminent Islamic personalities, such as Hijr ibn Edi, Amr ibn al-Hamq, Rushaid al-Hujari, Saad ibn Abi-Waqqas, Abd-ur-Rahman ibn Khalid, Abd-ur-Rahman ibn Abi-Bakr, and, finally, Imam al-Hasan.
He then dedicated all his possibilities to antagonize the Ahlul Bayt because they acted in his opposition, represented the genuine and true trend of Islam and belonged to that great Prophet who smashed the glories of the other Koreishite clans, especially Muawiya and his father who had stood against him as openly as they possibly could until he conquered their city, captured them, and then set them free.
He established a faction of fabricators whose missions was to invent words, ascribe them falsely to the Prophet, praising the other companions (of the Prophet) so as to be a front against the Ahlul Bayt. They also invented words that criticised the Ahlul Bayt, and invented a third collection of words praising the Umayyads.
Regrettably, the influence of these inventions are still effective and many Muslims have been still deluded by such fabrications that were aimed at deceiving the Islamic nation by taking it away from the actual leadership that God, His Prophet Muhammad, and intellect had selected.
Muawiya, also, issued a formal decision ordering the officials of his government to revile at Imam ‘Ali openly from the mimbars of Masjids all over the Islamic State.
Furthermore, Muawiya used the teaching institutions for achieving his blind goals of eradicating the Ahlul Bayt. Hence, the new generations were brought up with malice against the Ahlul Bayt.
All the same, the policies of Muawiya have failed and he was terribly disappointed. The personality of Amir ul-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib has been the world’s song of human perfection and freedom, while the Umayyad became nothing but a corrupt germ detested by everybody.
All these policies of persecution and grievous forms of discrimination that the Ahlul Bayt had to suffer during the reign of the Umayyad increased in the mind of al-’Abbas - the necessity to struggle against oppression. He also believed in the obligation of revolting against the Umayyad for sake of fulfilling the religious duty and saving the Muslim community against the deviations and wrong policies of those illegitimate rulers.
The gravest danger that Muawiya brought to the Islamic nation was his naming of Yazid, his lascivious son as the next ruler of the Islamic State.
Historians have unanimously mentioned that Yazid ibn Muawiya was devoid of any humanitarian value. He was sunk deep into sins and crimes. He declared openly that he did not believe in God or His Prophet and that he had had one and only mission - to eradicate the Prophet’s progeny so as to revenge himself against the Prophet and his family who killed many of his forefathers and humiliated the others.
Finding his faithless son as the best one to achieve the evil aims of his forefathers and him, Muawiya appointed Yazid as the upcoming leader and instructed him to do some matters that achieve the continuity of the Umayyad dynasty as absolute rulers of this nation.
Even during the funeral ceremonies of Imam al-Hassan, the Umayyad aroused a seditious matter when they prevented the holy body of the Imam to be buried beside the holy body of the Prophet. They exploited the malice that Aisha bore against the Ahlul Bayt for achieving their wicked purposes.
Moreover, they threw darts at the coffin of the Imam. As he could no longer stand the situation, al-’Abbas tried to attack the Umayyad and tear them into pieces with his sword, but Imam al- Husayn stopped him and asked him to comply with the will of their dear deceased brother who ordered them not to shed a single drop of blood because of a matter concerning him.
Thus, the funeral ceremonies were ended peacefully and the holy body of Imam al-Hasan was buried in al-Baqee.
When Muawiya surpassed the limits and adopted policies in violation of the interests of Muslims, Imam al-Husayn, in Medina, denied and exerted all efforts for exposing Muawiya’s policies and called Muslims to revolt against such an illegitimate authority.
The secret agents in Medina reported all these activities to Muawiya who was frightened; therefore, he forwarded a message to the Imam threatening him with severe procedures if he would not stop. The Imam answered with a strongly-worded message in which he renounced Muawiya’s policies by mentioning his horrible political events and declared an opposite position against that of the government.17
During the season of hajj, Imam al-Husayn held a political conference which was participated to by a good number of Muhajirs,18 Ansars19and their followers. He delivered a sermon in which he referred to the harsh ordeals that the Prophet’s household, as well as all Muslims had to encounter during the reign of Muawiya. The Imam also asked the attendants to convey his message to everybody they trust so that Muslims would not be deluded by the mean policies of Muawiya and his agents.20
Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas attended all the chapters of the great revolution of his brother - the giant revolution that changed the course of history, shook the whole world, freed the Muslim individuals, and provoked the Muslim publics to stand against the wrong authorities and antagonize every item of despotism and oppression. Indeed, it has been one of the most important revolutions of humanity.
Al-’Abbas contributed in this revolution so positively and effectively as he understood all the goals and believed in the necessity of applying them to humanity in general and the Muslim society in particular. He was one of the most important characters of that revolution. He supported his brother, believed in his movements, and trusted his standards.
Since the Imam left Medina, al-’Abbas did not leave him for even a single moment. Hence, you can find the ghost of al-’Abbas attending every item of Imam al-Husayn’s march until he lost his life for the sake of that great uprising.
Let us now refer to some chapters of Imam al-Husayn’s revolution.
Al-Waleed ibn Aqaba, the ruler of Medina, summoned Imam al-Husayn at dusk. As soon as the Imam realized the reason behind such summon, the Imam asked his brother al-’Abbas, as well as the other men of his household, to be with him for protection. He asked them to sit outside the ruler’s hall until they would hear his raised voice as a sign to come inside for his defense.
The ruler welcomed the Imam warmly before he informed him about the death of Muawiya and Yazid’s decision of taking the acknowledgement of him as the new leader of the Islamic nation. He wanted swearing of allegiance to him from the people of Medina in general and the Imam in particular.
The Imam asked al-Waleed to give him a respite until next morning. During this respite, the Imam intended to gather people the next morning to declare his rejection of Yazid’s leadership and his call to mutiny against him.
Marwan ibn al-Hakam who attended that situation burst forth to agitate the fire of sedition. He addressed to al-Waleed, “If he departs from here without accepting his homage, you will never be able to take it at any time else before numerous victims from both parties fall. Detain him so as to take his acknowledgement of allegiance to the new caliph. If he does not give it, you should then behead him.”
Looking at Mawran with contempt, Imam al-Husayn said to him, “Is it you or he who will kill me? By God I swear, you - the mean one, has lied.”
He then turned to al-Waleed and said:
“Emir, we are from the household of prophecy, the core of the divine mission, the object of visiting angels, and the center of the (divine) mercy. Allah commenced (the creation) with us and will seal with us. Yazid is a faithless man. He drinks wine, kills the respectful soul, and declares lechery openly. Those of my standing do not acknowledge allegiance to those of his standing. But, let both of us wait until morning and see which one is more meritorious of the caliphate - the religious and political leadership of the Islamic nation - and of being acknowledged for homage…”21
With these words, Imam al-Husayn remained indifferent to the ruling authorities and their threats, rejected paying homage to Yazid and declared the reason behind such rejection.
Imam al-Husayn, then, decided to leave Medina for Mecca so that he would establish it as his new center. Before he left, he headed to the tomb of his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (S) to complain to him about the ordeals that gathered around him. He also headed towards the tomb of his mother Fatima, the Veracious (a) to say farewell. Finally he visited the tomb of his brother Imam al-Hasan (a). He then led his household and harem to Mecca. Along this march, his standard was flapping with dignity and courage in the hands of his brother al-’Abbas who held the mission of supervising the affairs of his harem.
Some personalities asked Imam al-Husayn to change the way that he took to Mecca so that the authorities would not arrest him. But the Imam declared courageously:
“No, by Allah, I will not leave this way before I reach Mecca until Allah does what He wills.”
On the third of Shaban, the Imam’s caravan arrived in Mecca and resided in the house of al-’Abbas ibn Abd-ul-Muttalib. The people of Mecca received the Imam so warmly and frequented him severally. The Imam was also frequented by the hajjis and visitors of the Holy House of God. During all this time, the Imam was broadcasting the political and religious knowledge among his visitors and called upon people to revolt against the illegitimate leadership of the Umayyad dynasty.
Meanwhile the ruling authorities in Mecca feared very much after they had noticed the Muslims frequented to visit Imam al- Husayn and reported that the Imam was worthier of the leadership of the Islamic nation than the descendants of Abu- Suffian who waged wars against Islam.
The governor of Mecca, Amr ibn Saeed al-Ashdaq, hurried to the Imam and said with wrath, “What has brought you to the Holy House of God?”
With a tone of confidence and quietness, the Imam answered, “I have come to seek the refuge of Allah and this House.”
As this procedure threatened the Umayyad government, the governor of Mecca sent a message to Yazid telling him about all details. As he read the message, Yazid sent a note to Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas in which he threatened Imam al-Husayn (a) for starting such movement and asked him to interfere for preventing the Imam from revolting against his government.
Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas answered Yazid’s note by advising him not to oppose the Imam since he had left Medina because the ruling authorities there did not respect his standing and personality.
Hence, the Imam resided in Mecca for some time during which all his movements and activities were reported to Damascus, the capital of the Umayyad State.
As soon as people of Kufa heard the news of Muawiya’s death, they exulted openly and held a popular conference at the house of their chief, Sulaiman ibn Sard al-Khuzaai, and delivered enthusiastic speeches in which they referred to the various sorts of persecution and torture that they suffered during the reign of Muawiya, and agreed on paying homage to Imam al-Husayn (a) and rejecting Yazid’s power.
At the same time, they sent a delegation to Mecca to urge the Imam to come to them for forming a government and declaring their city as the capital of the Islamic State as it was during the reign of Imam ‘Ali (a).
Furthermore, people of Kufa sent thousands of messages in which they expressed their serious determination to support the Imam and sacrifice their souls and fortunes for him. They also charged him with the responsibility of what they would suffer with if he would reject.
In the view of Imam al-Husayn (a), all these matters imposed on him a legal responsibility of responding to the calls of the persecuted people.
Hence, he decided to send his cousin Muslim ibn ‘Aqil to Kufa for inspecting the real situation there. After the report of Muslim, the Imam would see whether it was obligatory upon him to lead that revolt or not.
As he arrived in Kufa, Muslim resided in the house of al- Mukhtar ibn abi-Ubaida ath-Thaqafi. As the Shias knew about this matter, they hurried to al-Mukhtar’s house, received Muslim warmly, gathered around him, and appealed to him to accept their declarations of allegiance to Imam al-Husayn (a).
Responding to their request, Muslim opened a register in which he recorded the names of signers whose number reached eighteen thousand on the first few days. Day by day, the number was increasing.
It is worth mentioning that the ruling authorities of Kufa, though they knew everything about these procedures of revolution, kept silent because their head, an-Numan ibn Bashir al-Ansari, did not show loyalty to Yazid who opposed Ansar and because an-Numan’s daughter was the wife of al-Mukhtar whose house was the center of Muslim.
Naturally, the pro-Umayyad hypocrites did not like this situation; therefore, they contacted the capital and informed Yazid about everything. They also demanded him to dismiss an-Numan and appoint a new governor who would be able to eradicate the revolution and subjugate people of Kufa to his government.
This news terrified Yazid who summoned Sirjawn, his personal consultant, and asked for an advice. The skillful consultant advised Yazid to appoint Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad, the terrorist, for holding the position of governorship of Kufa.
Like his father, Ubaidullah, who was the governor of Basra, was devoid of any humane tendency. He was ready to commit the ugliest crimes against humanity. Yazid, thus, wrote the decree of naming Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad as the governor of Kufa besides Basra. Ubaidullah was also ordered to head towards Kufa for eradicating the revolution there and killing the envoy of Imam al- Husayn - Muslim ibn ‘Aqil.
As soon as he received the decree of naming him as the new governor of Kufa besides Basra, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad rushed there so that Imam al-Husayn would not precede him. As he reached the borders of the city, he disguised himself with black clothes so that people would think of him as Imam al-Husayn (a). Thus, people welcomed him warmly.
This situation made Ubaidullah very resentful. He therefore hurried to the Palace of Governorship - Qasr ul-Imara - so that no one would realize the reality. As he reached there, he knocked the door. From the balcony, an-Numan who also thought of him as Imam al-Husayn shouted, “Son of God’s Messenger, I will not fulfill my pledge to you and I do not want to fight you…”
“Open the door,” shouted Ubaidullah, “You will suffer a long nighttime!”
As some of the public who walked behind him knew his reality, they shouted, “This is indeed son of Marjana.”22
Thus, they ran away with their hearts filled in with terror. Ubaidullah, the tyrant went towards the palace, seized the weapons and fortune, and was surrounded by the agents of the Umayyad dynasty, such as Omar ibn Saad, Shemr ibn Thi’l- Jawshan, Muhammad ibn al-Ashaath, and other famous names among the hypocrites of Kufa. They began discussing the matters of the expected revolution of Kufa and its chiefs, and went on plotting about eradicating it.
Next morning, Ubaidullah gathered the people in the Grand Masjid of Kufa to tell them about the new decision of appointing him as the new governor. He promised the obedient and threatened the disobedient and the mutineers with harsh punishment. He then showed items of horror by putting to death some individuals before he had interrogated them. He also filled the prisons with innocent people. All these means were used for controlling the country completely.
As Muslim knew about Ubaidullah’s coming to Kufa, he changed his residential place. He moved to the house of Hani’ ibn Urwa - one of the most celebrated personalities of Kufa, who welcomed him hospitably and received his partisans to plan for the revolution.
The success that Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad achieved in the political fields is ascribed to the series of plans that he made. The introductory step that he betook was spying on the movements of Muslim to circulate his political activities and realize his points of power and weakness.
Ubaidullah chose his servant, Miiqal for this mission. He gave him some money and ordered him to contact with the significant members of the revolution by claiming that he shows loyalty to the Ahlul Bayt and that he had come to Kufa as he heard the call of Imam al-Husayn (a).
Miiqal could first reach Muslim ibn Awsaja - one of the celebrated personalities of the Shia and show him false loyalty. Unfortunately, Muslim ibn Awsaja was deceived when he showed Miiqal the residential place of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil. Thus, Miiqal frequented about the place and could comprehend everything about the expected revolt and report to his master, son of Marjana.
The second and most dangerous process that Ubaidullah did was to arrest Hani’ ibn Urwa who was the chief of the tribes of Mithhaj - the great majority of the inhabitants of Kufa. This procedure spread a big wave of horror among people of Kufa and sent a destructive strike to the expected revolution.
Before Ubaidullah the tyrant, Hani’ denied the accusation that he had Muslim ibn ‘Aqil in his house. Hence, the ruling authorities summoned Miiqal the spy to testify of the truth. However, Hani’ refused to give up his guest to the authorities. But the tyrant ordered his servants to draw Hani’ near him and went on beating him on the face with a bar he had in the hand. He then ordered Hani’ to be detained in one of the rooms of the palace.
This procedure shook the feelings of the tribes of Mithhaj who, under the leadership of the traitor Amr ibn al-Hajjaj, pushed themselves towards the palace. Amr shouted so as to make Ubaidullah hear him, “I am Amr ibn al-Hajjaj, and these are the celebrities and chiefs of Mithhaj. Yet, we are not denouncing our loyalty to you nor are we mutinying against you.”
Furthermore, Amr said words of surrender and humility for which Ubaidullah did not care. He then asked Shuraih the judge to see Hani’ and then tell his tribe about his state. The judge entered the cell of Hani’ who shouted, “How strange this is! Have my people all died? If only ten persons from my tribe come to me they will certainly save me.”
When Shuraih left him, he said to people of Mithhaj, “I have seen your chief. He is alive. He has ordered you to go home.” Amr ibn al-Hajjaj shouted, “Well, he has not been killed. Thanks to God.”
As if they have been granted the one and only opportunity to escape a lightless jail, people of Mithhaj turned their faces back and ran away. It seems that there had been a secret agreement between the chiefs of Mithhaj and Ubaidullah on killing Hani’, otherwise they would have attacked the palace and saved their chief.
Muslim ibn ‘Aqil knew about the situation of Hani’ who was an important member of the expected revolution; therefore, he declared openly the revolution against Ubaidullah. Thus, about four thousand warriors joined him. Ubaidullah was delivering a speech when he heard the noise of the rebels whose numbers were increasing and were directing towards the Palace of Governorship.
Like a dirty dog, Ubaidullah hurried towards the palace. He had only thirty policemen; so, he used the meanest means that would save him - war of nerves. As he knew the mentalities of people of Kufa very well, he ordered the traitorous chiefs of Kufa to slip among the troops of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and spread the rumors that the armies of Syria would soon punish those who joined Muslim’s army, the government would deprive those who joined Muslim of their salaries and economic resources, and that martial laws would be applied to them. These rumors acted as bombs on the heads of people of Kufa most of whom declared, “We should not engage ourselves in questions of policy!”
Before long, most of them left Muslim who led the rest to the Masjid for prayer. Even during the prayer, the others left and Muslim, as he finished the prayer, found himself alone!
That night, he could not find a house to settle in. He therefore had to wander alone in the ways of Kufa. Only a noble lady called Tawaa had the courage to let Muslim in. As she served him food, Muslim refused to eat or drink because he was thinking of the fate that Imam al-Husayn (a) who was on his way to Kufa after receiving the message from Muslim that told him that the way for his revolution was paved. He would now face the betrayal of people of Kufa.
Son of Tawaa, however, knew the whole story of his mother and with the first light of that morning he hurried to inform the ruling authorities about the matter.
Three hundred horsemen, led by Muhammad ibn al-Ashaath, attacked the house of Tawaa, but Muslim faced them with such an unprecedented courage that he had inherited from his fathers. He alone could defeat those horsemen and kill a great number of them. The mean ones however began to throw stones and fireballs on Muslim who overcame them too.
When Muhammad ibn al-Ashaath returned to Ubaidullah and asked him for more troops and weapons, the latter said with astonishment, “I have sent you to capture one man! But he did this to your troops!”
Ibn al-Ashaath answered, “Do you think you have sent me to bring an ordinary man from Kufa or Hira? You have sent me to capture a courageous lion and a hero from the family of the best men in whose hands cutting swords are lie.”
Ubaidullah supplied Muhammad ibn al-Ashaath with more troops and weapons, but Muslim the hero kept on fighting against them so bravely. This encounter took a long time during which Muslim suffered thirst and the troops of the ruling authorities increased around him, though they were too terrified to attack him. Finally, they stabbed him with their lances until they could capture him. The people of Kufa who had betrayed him, now crowded to see how he was being taken to the Palace of Governor.
Near the palace, Muslim felt thirsty and asked for water. Somebody served him water, but Muslim could not drink because the cup was filled with blood.
Muslim ibn ‘Aqil was very courageous before Ubaidullah, the tyrant. When he refused to submit to the tyrant, Ubaidallah ordered Bukair ibn Hamran to take Muslim to the roof of the palace and behead him. He also ordered Hani’ to be killed before the individuals of his tribe who showed subjugation.
The dead bodies of Muslim and Hani’ were dragged on the ground in the streets of Kufa as a sign of terrorism and to scorn the adherents of Muslim - the representative of Imam al-Husayn (a).
Imam al-Husayn (a) had understood that Yazid had ordered some individuals to assassinate him even if he would adhere to the curtains of the Holy Kaaba. He therefore left Mecca so that his blood would not be shed in the Holy House of God in the Sacred Month.
Besides, he received a missive from his envoy Muslim ibn ‘Aqil telling him to hurry to Kufa since its people would be ready to sacrifice their fortunes and souls for him and would help him form an independent government there.
Encircled by those bright-faced youths of the Prophet’s household, headed by the epitome of determination and disdain Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas, Imam al-Husayn (a) led his harem towards the land of martyrdom, Karbala. During this march, al-’Abbas was holding fast on the standard, which was flapping on the heads of his brother and his harem to fill their hearts with tranquility and peace. He was undertaking all the affairs of the women and children in that caravan.
During that march, scathing thoughts repeatedly intruded in the mind of Imam al-Husayn. He believed that he, as well as his household, would be killed at the hands of the evil, faithless gang who sent him tens of missives asking him to lead them against the regime.
On his way, the Imam met the famous poet, al-Farazdaq, who revealed the actual state of people of Kufa. He said: “People’s hearts are with you, but their swords are with the Umayyad. Act of God descends from the heavens, and He does only what He wills. Every day, God has a definite act.”
The Imam assented to al-Farazdaq’s opinion and told him about his determination to continue his march of jihad for sake of protecting the sanctity of Islam and that the result would be either victory or martyrdom.
As the caravan reached a place called Zuroud, a man came from the direction of Kufa. He informed two of the Imam’s companions that he had witnessed martyrdom of Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and Hani’ ibn Urwa. This news broke the hearts of the Imam and his household and companions. As the harem knew about it, they wept heavily as everybody realized that people of Kufa breached their pledges to the Imam and they would face the same fate that Muslim had faced.
The Imam turned his face to the sons of ‘Aqil ibn Abi-Talib and said: “After the killing of Muslim, what do you see?”
They answered: “No, by God. We will never return unless we take our revenge or face the same fate that Muslim faced.”
The Imam supported their opinion and repeated their words. The caravan continued and received another grievous news - the martyrdom of Abdullah ibn Yaqtur whom Imam al-Husayn (a) had sent to Kufa to meet Muslim ibn ‘Aqil and know what had happened to him. The policemen of Kufa arrested Abdullah and brought him before their master Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad who ordered him to ascend the mimbar and curse Imam al-Husayn. The man observed the order, ascended the mimbar, and shouted in a loud voice: “People, I am the messenger of al-Husayn son of Fatima (the Prophet’s daughter). He asks you to support him against this bastard and son of bastard - son of Marjana… etc.”
Expressing his extreme anger, Ubaidullah ordered his police to throw Abdullah ibn Yaqtur from the roof of the palace to the ground.
Imam al-Husayn, after he had received this grievous news, gathered his companions and said, “Our adherents - in Kufa - have disappointed us. Hence, I permit all of you to leave me and I free you from the pledge that you took with me.”
The greedy ones who followed the Imam for gaining spoils or mundane affairs left him, and none remained except the choicest ones who followed him since they had believed he was the right.
Thus, the caravan marched with a few individuals as excellent companions, prime household, harem, and children. As they reached a place called ‘Shuraf’ the Imam gave the orders of fetching as much water as possible from the springs there.
A few steps after these springs, one of the companions saw something like date-palm trees and shouted to make the others notice so. Some of those who had full knowledge of that area realized that it was nothing but arrowheads and ears of horses. Imam al-Husayn, too, realized that these were the vanguards of the Umayyad army. He therefore asked his companions whether they knew a near place to hide in. some referred to the Mount Thu-Husam to the left.
As the Imam’s caravan directed towards that location, the massive troops - of about more than one thousand horsemen as some historians have confirmed - under the commandment of al- Hurr ibn Yazid ar-Riyahi whom Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad commissioned to wander through the desert until he would meet and capture the caravan of Imam al-Husayn, caught them.
It was midday when al-Hurr’s troops were too thirsty to continue their march. Seeing this situation, the Imam felt pity for them and ordered his companions to give them from the water they had with them. Even the horses of that army were given water.
After that, the Imam delivered an articulate sermon to the troops of that army. He said:
“People, this is only an argument intended to release me from the responsibility that lies on me with regard to Allah and you. I came to you only after I had received your missives and your messengers who asked me to come to you since you had no leader and since you desired to be guided to the right guidance through my leadership. If you are still bearing this very tendency, then here I am. Show me pledges and covenants due to which I will be sure of your intentions. But if you dislike my coming to you, I will leave you and return to the place from which I came.”
Because most of the individuals of that army were among those who sent missives and asked the Imam to come to them and paid homage to him via his representative Muslim ibn ‘Aqil, they could not answer him.
As time of the Dhuhr Prayer fell, the Imam ordered the muezzin to declare it. He then turned his face to al-Hurr and asked whether he would lead the collective prayer for his companions. “We will follow you in prayer,” answered al-Hurr politely.
When they performed the Asr Prayer, the Imam delivered another sermon:
“People, if you fear Allah and recognize the people of the right, this will surely please Him more than anything else. We - the Ahlul Bayt are worthier of holding the position of leadership than those who claimed it falsely and governed you by means of wrong and oppression. If you will dislike us and ignore our right and change your minds that you had expressed in your missives you sent to me, I will surely leave you…”
As he knew nothing about these missives, al-Hurr asked the Imam, “What are these missives you are mentioning?”
The Imam ordered one of his companions to fetch them and show to al-Hurr who, as soon as he saw them, was shocked. He then said to the Imam, “We are not among those who wrote these missives.”
Afterwards, the Imam wanted to leave that place and return home, but al-Hurr prevented him and said, “I will not leave you until I lead you to Kufa to be present before Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad.”
“Death is nearer to you than doing so,” the Imam answered and ordered his companions to ride and direct towards Medina. But al-Hurr prevented them. The Imam said to him, “What do you want from us?”
“I want to lead you to Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad,” answered al- Hurr.
“I will not follow you,” said the Imam.
“And I will not leave you,” answered al-Hurr.
War was about to break out, but al-Hurr could save the situation by saying, “I was not ordered to fight you. I was only ordered not to leave you before I lead you to Kufa. If you refuse, you may take a way that takes you neither to Kufa nor Medina so that I will write a report to Ubaidullah and hope God will save me from fighting you.”
Hence, the Imam’s caravan took another way southward and al-Hurr’s army watched them.
In a place called ‘al-Baidha’, the Imam delivered a sermon. He said:
“People, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘For anyone who knows an unjust ruler that is violating Allah’s sanctities, breaking the pledge of Allah, going against the Sunna of the Prophet, and treating the servants of Allah with means of sin and oppression and avoids denying so by a deed or a word, it will be incumbent upon Allah to take him to the place he deserves (i.e. Hell).’
Those individuals - the Umayyad rulers - have adhered to the obedience to the Shaitan, deserted the obedience to the All-beneficent (Lord), made public sinfulness, defied the doctrinal provisions, dedicated the treasuries to themselves, deemed lawful the things that Allah has decided unlawful, and deemed unlawful the things that Allah has decided lawful. I am the worthiest of bearing the mission of denying their acts.
I have received your missives and your messengers who reported to me that you paid homage to me and that you would neither let me down nor disappoint me. If you keep your homage, you will certainly do the right thing. I am al-Husayn son of ‘Ali and Fatima, daughter of the Messenger of Allah. My soul will be with yours and my harem will be with yours. (i.e. they will face the same fate that you will face). I however am the example that should be followed.
But if you break your homage and pledge, this is in fact not strange from you. You have already done it with my father, brother, and cousin (Muslim ibn ‘Aqil). He who believes you is surely deceived. Anyhow, you have only missed your opportunity of success and neglected your chance of safety. He who breaches is only doing ill to himself. Allah will surely find me a substitution.”
After this sermon, al-Hurr said to the Imam, “I only want to advise you. I am sure that you will be killed if you fight. I swear it.”
The Imam answered, “Do you threaten me with death? Will misfortunes depart you if you kill me? I really do not know what to say to you. But I will copy the saying of that man from the (tribe of) Aws whom his cousin threatened with death while he was going to defend the Prophet (S). He said:
I will go on, and death is not shameful for the hero
Who intends good and fight for his Islam
And sacrifices his soul for the righteous men
And defies the perished ones and departs the wrong ones
If I live I will not regret, and if I die I will not be blamed.
It is certainly sufficient humility to live in humbleness
As he heard these words from the Imam, al-Hurr left him and realized that he had decided to sacrifice his soul for sake of saving Muslims from the oppression and wrong of the Umayyad rulers.
The caravan went on and the troops of al-Hurr were preventing it from directing towards the desert and trying to push it towards Kufa. Meanwhile, a rider came out. It was a man carrying a message from Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad to al-Hurr, “As soon as you receive this message, lead al-Husayn to a derelict place in the desert where there is no shelter or water. I have also ordered the man who carried this message to you to haunt you until you carry out this order.”
As Imam al-Husayn (a) wanted to reside in a place near a spring or a shelter, al-Hurr prevented him and recited Ubaidullah’s message. As the situation attained its climax, Zuhair ibn al-Qain, one of the sincere companions of the Imam, suggested that they would fight against al-Hurr and his troops, but the Imam rejected and said, “I will never begin fighting.”
Al-Hurr then obliged the Imam to reside in a place, and the Imam had to respond.
“What is this place called,” asked the Imam.
“This is Karbala,” answered one of the companions.
“Allah, I seek Your protection against agony and ordeal,” supplicated the Imam (a)
He then turned towards his companions and said:
“This is the place of agony and ordeal. This is the place where we, as well as our riding animals, will reside and our blood will be shed.”
Al-’Abbas, accompanied by the heroes of the Prophet’s household and the Imam’s companions, hurried to pitch tents for the harem who were reigned by horror as they imagined the coming events on this land.
The Imam then raised his hands upward for supplicating to God. He said:
“Allah We, the household of Your Prophet Muhammad, have been banished away from the sanctum of our grandfather and have been aggressed by the Umayyad. Allah take vengeance from those who oppressed us and supported the wrongdoers.”
He then turned his face towards his household and companions and said:
“People are certainly the slaves of this world. The religion is only slavery on their tongues. They turn it wherever their livelihood demands. If they are examined by misfortunes, the religious will be very little. This world has changed, snubbed, and its good has turned tail. Nothing has remained from it except a thing that is as scanty as the leftover of a cup and a mean life that is like a noxious grazing. Have you not noticed that the right is ignored and the evil is not forbidden? This is sufficient for making the believer desire for meeting Allah rightfully. I consider death as happiness and life with the wrongdoers as boredom.”
By these words the Imam informed his household and companions about the coming ordeals that they would face and declared his readiness to fight against the wrong party to the last spark of his life.
As they heard his words, those unmatched individuals who paved the way of freedom to humankind through their unparalleled situations spoke before their leader to show him their readiness to participate with him and continue the way whatever the sacrifices would be. The first companion to speak was Zuhair ibn al-Qain:
“Son of God’s Messenger, we have understood your words. We may stop supporting you if we understand that this world will perpetuate for us for good… etc.”
Another hero, Burair ibn Khudhair said similar words. The turn of the other heroes came next, who declared their position of perseverance with principles and readiness to sacrifice their souls for their leader, Imam al- Husayn, who represented the genuine trend of Islam. Anyhow, the other companions said similar words before the Imam, who thanked them for their feelings and blessed them.
In Kufa, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad felt happy when he was informed that the vanguards of his army had seized Imam al-Husayn. He therefore began to plan for the next step, whom should he choose for the commandment of the army who would kill the Prophet’s dearest one?
As he reviewed the names of the candidates, he could not realize any individual meaner and more vicious than Omar ibn Saad. At first, Omar refused to fight against the Imam, but Ubaidullah who selected him for this mission threatened he would dismiss him from the governorship of Ray - currently Tehran. Thus, he accepted and began his campaign towards Karbala with four thousand horsemen. As his troops arrived in Karbala, they joined the army of al-Hurr ibn Yazid there.
In Kufa again, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad gathered people and spoke, “People, as you tried the descendants of Abu-Suffian, you have found them as exactly as you like. You have also known your leader Yazid as good and praiseworthy man. He treats his subjects kindly, gives everybody his deserved share of the public treasury, and honors people out of his wealth. He has ordered me to give each of you one hundred dirhams monthly as an addition to your fixed shares of the public treasury. He has also ordered me to call you to participate in the campaign against his enemy al-Husayn. Hence, you should listen to and obey him…”23
Unfortunately, most of them carried out his orders and composed a huge army against Imam al-Husayn. Afterwards, they traveled to Karbala and occupied the two banks of the River Euphrates.
Some historians however, have mentioned that three days before the encounter, Imam al-Husayn was prevented from water.24 This in fact was the most horrible misfortune that he faced. The strange thing is that this band of the Umayyad army took pride in this criminal act that challenged all humanitarian values. One of them, for instance, shouted at Imam al-Husayn, “Husayn, you can see water flow like reptiles. You will not taste it before you die…”25
Expressing his joy at this situation, Amr ibn al-Hajjaj addressed to the Imam, “Husayn, this is the Euphrates. Dogs, donkeys, and pigs are licking its water. But we shall prevent you from having a single drop from it…”26
As he saw the children and harem cry out of thirst, al-’Abbas declared his readiness to fetch water by force. He therefore took thirty horsemen and twenty warriors and attacked the bank of the river. Amr ibn al-Hajjaj who was in charge of guarding the river from the companions of the Imam faced Nafii ibn Hilal to tell him that it was impossible to let him take water to Imam al-Husayn. But al-’Abbas and the other heroes did not pay attention to the criminal’s words; therefore, they encountered a battalion of the Umayyad army.
However, the two parties did not encounter any casualty. The result was that al-’Abbas and his companions reached the river and filled up the twenty skins they had with water and came back.
Since that day, or maybe before, al-’Abbas was given the honorable name of ‘as-Saqqaa - the provider of water’.27
In addition to their numerous mean and inhuman means to weaken the party of Imam al-Husayn, Shemr ibn Thi’l-Jawshan obtained a grant of reprieve to al-’Abbas and his full brothers from Ubaidullah son of Marjana. This callous trial was intended to take al-’Abbas and his full brothers away from the battle and make them forsake their brother. Hence, Shemr stopped before the army of the Imam and shouted, “Where are the sons of our sister? Where are al-’Abbas and his full brothers?”
Al-’Abbas and his brothers kept silent to avoid answering him, but the Imam asked them to answer and see what for he had come. Only then they stood before Shemr and said, “What do you want, son of Thi’l-Jawshan?” He said, “I have taken for you a grant of reprieve.”
As they heard his shameless words they shouted in his face, “Curse be on you and curse on your grant of reprieve. How dare you say such words, while son of God’s Messenger is not safe from danger?”28
These words were enough to express their real situation; they were ready to protect the Imam until he was safe or they lost their lives.
It was afternoon on Thursday when the vanguards of the Umayyad army came forward for fighting against the Ahlul Bayt. Imam al-Husayn was sitting near his tent with the sword in his hand when Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas turned his face and said, “They have come to you.” The Imam then asked his brother to identify their intents. He said to him:
“May I sacrifice myself for you, brother! Ride on and meet them to ask about their intentions.”
With twenty horsemen, al-’Abbas hurried towards that army and asked what they wanted. “The Emir has ordered us to call you to submit to his orders, otherwise, we will fight you,”29 they answered.
As al-’Abbas turned back to tell his brother about their intention, Habib ibn Muzhahir delivered a sermon to that army in which he admonished and warned them against the divine punishment they would face if they fight against the family of the Prophet. However, some of them answered him impudently.
When he heard the words of his brother, Imam al-Husayn said to him, “Go back to them and try your best to delay them until tomorrow morning so that this night, we will pray to our Lord who knows that I love praying to Him, reciting His Book and supplicating to Him.”
Al-’Abbas conveyed these words to the Umayyad army. Omar ibn Saad, because he feared that others would bear his situation to the Emir, offered the suggestion to Shemr who was his only competitor. The other however did not say anything, but Amr ibn al-Hajjaj intruded, “How strange this is! Even if they are from the non-Arabs we will respond to their demand!!”
As others supported Amr’s opinion, Omar ibn Saad accepted to postpone waging war against the camp of the Imam. Thus, the fighting was postponed for a night and Omar ibn Saad’s armies waited to see whether the Imam would respond to them or fight.
On that night, Imam al-Husayn gathered his companions and household and foretold them of the fate that they would face the next day. He also permitted them to leave him since the other party wanted him, not anyone else.
As soon as the Imam finished his words, Abu’l-Fadhl al- ‘Abbas, representing the Ahlul Bayt, said to his brother:
“Why should we do so? Is it for that we will live after you? No! We supplicate to the Lord to forbid it.”
The same situation was shown from the sons of ‘Aqil and the other companions who showed their readiness to sacrifice their souls for their Imam.
Hence, all spent that night with worship and acts of obedience to Allah. They were waiting for the dawn of that day on which they would obtain their highest goal in this life, martyrdom.
Day of Ashura; the tenth of Muharram, was unique in its tragedies, misfortunes, and disasters. On that day, the Ahlul Bayt had to suffer the ever most horrible adversity of this world. Hence, it is certainly the day of grief.
From early morning, the Imam left his tent and saw in front of him innumerable warriors and horses fill up the desert and unsheathe their swords for shedding his blood. Thus, the Imam asked for a copy of the holy Qur’an to put it on the head and raise his hands upward for supplicating to his Lord for seeking His refuge.
He then decided to deliver a speech before those troops so that they would be fully acquainted with the reality of the situation. Hence, he rode on, went towards them, and raised his voice with the finest words of wisdom so that most of them, at least, would hear him.
As his harem could hear some of his words, they wept and cried, but the Imam asked his brother al-’Abbas and his son ‘Ali to go to them and order them to stop it. He then continued with such bright words that should have led every deviant to the right path. However, the Umayyad army could not understand the Imam’s words because they were too ignorant to understand anything other than criminality. In addition, they could not say a single word as an answer.
The Imam then addressed some of them and reminded them of the missives they had sent to him, but those individuals denied the whole matter!
Qays ibn al-Ashaath then asked the Imam to submit to the Umayyads, but the Imam refused declaring his unchangeable situation:
“No by Allah, I will never submit to them like the humble and will not flee like slaves.”
The Imam’s companions, then, spoke similar words before the Umayyad army, but without any use.30
Finally, the Imam decided to advise them again so that none of them would excuse he had not known the matter clearly. He opened a copy of the holy Qur’an on the head, wore the turban of Prophet Muhammad (S), proceeded towards them, and said:
“So then, fie and grief be on you, O group. When you appealed for our help grievously and we hurried for your help exhaustingly, you unsheathed against us a sword that had been in our right hands and ignited against us the fire that we had struck against your and our enemy.
You therefore formed groups surrounding your allies and became the support of your enemies although they did not spread justice among you and you lost any hope in them. In addition, you noticed no heresy or new opinion that came out of us. Why did you -woe to you!- not leave us when swords were sheathed, malice was hidden, and the decision was not taken. But you hurried to the sedition like locusts and fell on it like the falling of butterflies (in fire).
Damn and away with the idols of the Ummah, irregulars of the parties, deserters of the Book, expectorants of the Shaitan, distorters of the meanings, extinguishers of the traditions, avowers of the bastards, and the mockers who divided the Qur’an believing in some parts and rejecting others.
By God I swear, your disloyalty is expected because it is entwined with your arteries and it recurred in your origins. You therefore are the bitterest fruit that causes its caretaker to choke and gives good taste for its usurper. God curse the disloyal ones who disregard their firm oaths after they have already appointed God as their Guarantor.
The bastard, son of the bastard, has forced me to choose one of two things - either fighting or ignominy. Ignominy is impossible for us. Allah, His Apostle, the (faithful) believers, chaste laps, jealous noses (individuals), and noble souls (personalities) refuse for us to prefer obedience to the mean to the death of the honorable.
I am advancing to them with this family despite the alliance of the enemies, their great numbers, and the betrayal of the supporters. They will soon ride their horses, war will flare up, and the necks will be lapped. My father (peace be upon him) foretold me about so. So, plan against me without delay. I trust God who is my Lord as well as yours. It is God who controls the destiny of all living creatures. It is my Lord who knows the right path.
O Allah, prevent them from the drops of the heavens and impose upon them years of draught like these which you imposed on the people in the time of Prophet Joseph, and set up upon them the man of Thaqif as absolute master so that he will treat them unjustly and make them drink from bitter water, for they have belied and disappointed us. You are certainly our Lord. On You we rely, in You we trust, and to You everything returns.”
At these moments, the conscience of al-Hurr ibn Yazid woke up. He began to think of his destiny if he would fight against Imam al-Husayn who represented the right party and the true religion of God. Finally, he decided to join the Imam. He went to Omar ibn Saad and said:
“Do you really want to fight against this man?”
“Yes I do,” answered Omar, “I want to fight against him as intensely as possible.”
“Why do you not respond to his calls and accept one of the options he had offered?” asked al-Hurr.
“I would do if it is my right to choose. But the matter is not mine. It is your Emir’s,” answered Omar.
Only then al-Hurr realized that Omar ibn Saad was fully ready to fight Imam al-Husayn (a); therefore, he changed direction towards the Imam and proceeded as he felt sorry for his past deeds against the Imam.
When the Imam conferred upon him with pardon, al-Hurr turned the face towards the troops of Omar ibn Saad and went on addressing to them words of reproach and blame for disappointing the Imam. Anyhow, al-Hurr’s words did not find any place in the hearts of those troops.31
As Omar ibn Saad anticipated that other commanders would copy al-Hurr, he hurried towards the Imam’s camp and threw an arrow towards him shouting, “Be the witnesses. I am the first to throw al-Husayn!”
This was the opening to hundreds of arrows which were shot towards the Imam. Seeing the situation, the Imam turned to his companions and said, “Stand up, generous people. These arrows are your enemies’ messengers to you.”
Hence, thirty-two horsemen and forty warriors had to encounter tens of thousands. However, this little party would not stop against those huge well-equipped numbers and showed unprecedented scenes of courage and bravery.
Then Omar ibn Saad gave the orders of waging a wide campaign during which all the detachments of the Umayyad army fought against the Imam’s companions. Although half of the Imam’s companions were killed during that campaign, they combated extremely courageously and caused great losses to the Umayyad army.32
After this general campaign, the other companions of Imam al-Husayn began to wage individual campaigns against the other party. In fact, their unparalleled heroism frightened the whole camp of the Umayyad army and caused it great losses; therefore, Amr ibn al-Hajjaj cried at them, “Do you know against whom you are fighting? You are fighting against the most courageous horsemen of this country. They will keep killing anyone of you who intends to face them. By God I swear, if you only throw stones at them, you will kill them.”33
Omar ibn Saad agreed on Amr’s opinion and ordered his forces to leave facing those heroes. He then gave the orders of waging a general attack against the companions of Imam al- Husayn. Nevertheless, the companions caused great losses to the attacking forces to the degree that Urwa ibn Qays asked the general commander of the army to supply him with more men and weapons.
Omar ibn Saad then had to call al-Hussayn ibn Numair and supply him with five hundred bowmen who could wound the riding animals of the Imam’s companions. Thus, all the companions, including al-Hurr ibn Yazid, had to fight against their enemies on feet. This fighting was described by historians as the fieriest battle all over history; it continued until midday.34
In the midst of that horrible scene of fighting, Abu-Thumama as-Saidi, one of Imam al-Husayn’s companions, raised his head to the sky then turned his face towards the Imam and told about the time of the Dhuhr prayer. As a result, the Imam asked his companions to demand with cease fighting so as they would offer the prayer. They responded to this demand, but as soon as the Imam and his companions stood erect for the prayer, the Umayyad army began throwing darts at them.
Saeed al-Hanafi made his body as the armor that protected the Imam, while he was praying, from these darts. When the Imam finished his prayer, Saeed was heavily wounded that he fell dead.35
The other companions continued fighting for sake of their Imam courageously until they all were killed.
It is worth mentioning that al-’Abbas ibn ‘Ali participated in these campaigns and fought bravely and was given the missions of saving the companions when they were encircled by the Umayyad army.
After the companions, it was the turn of the youth from the Prophet’s household. The first one to advance was the young man who was the most similar to Prophet Muhammad (S) in creation, morals, and personality. That youth was ‘Ali al-Akbar son of Imam al-Husayn.
The Imam felt very sad when he knew for certain that his son would be proceeding to fight. He therefore raised his beard towards the heavens and complained to the Lord against the gang who had fought against him and would be ready to kill his dearest one.
The Imam as well as the harem of the Prophet’s household saw off ‘Ali al-Akbar with tears, cries, and moaning. The youth proceeded declaring the principles for which he was fighting and his tremendous determination to protect the religion of God even if this would cost him his life. He then encountered the enemies and showed indescribable courage and heroism to the degree that historians have described his fighting by saying, “‘Ali’s fighting reminded the enemies of the attacks of his grandfather Amir ul-Muminin.”36
In the midst of the fighting, ‘Ali was seriously thirsty because the enemies had deprived them of water. He therefore returned to his father and asked for some water. But the father had nothing to do. He did not have a single drop of water to give to his son. Painfully he apologized from his son and promised that the Prophet would very soon give him a drink of water that would save him from thirst forever.
The young ‘Ali Akbar then went to the battlefield again and fought courageously despite many wounds that he had on his body. The whole camp of the Umayyad army complained about the great losses that the young son of Imam al-Husayn caused to them; therefore, Murra ibn Munqith decided to kill him. So, he stabbed him with the spear from the back and struck him with his sword heavily on his head.
‘Ali held fast on his horse’s neck since he thought that the horse would take him towards his father’s camp. Unfortunately, the horse took him towards the enemies’ camp, who encircled him and cut his body into pieces. The air carried the son’s cries to his father who hurried to him and found him in the last sparks of life. He put his cheek on his son’s body which had been cut to pieces and shed tears for him.
In this horrible situation, al-’Abbas was with his brother and felt the same painful feelings for the great catastrophe that inflicted their camp by the martyrdom of ‘Ali. Zaynab, the mistress of the Prophet’s harem, moaned for the martyrdom of her nephew and the Imam was touched by that painful situation.
After that, the young descendants of ‘Aqil ibn Abi-Talib rushed for jihad so as to sacrifice their souls for their leader. Like their forefathers, they fought courageously and caused great losses to the Umayyad army. However, they were all martyred. These were nine young men.37
Then, it was the turn of descendants of Imam al-Hasan. They also pushed themselves for protecting their uncle and defending their religion. Among them was al-Qasim whom is described as the moon in brightness. Before he fought against the enemies, he had declared, “My uncle al-Husayn will not be killed while I am alive.”
The Imam however did not permit al-Qasim to fight, but the young man insisted importunately and went on kissing his uncle’s hands and feet; and and begged him to let him fight. Hence, the Imam had to permit him with weeping eyes and a burning heart.
Like the other heroes of the Hashemites, al-Qasim fought bravely and killed a number of the Umayyad army. In the midst of the fighting, his sandal thong was cut. As he bent down to repair it, one of the criminals of the Umayyad army, out of his disdain seized that opportunity and struck al-Qasim on the head. He fell down and called for his uncle who hurried towards him and killed that criminal.
The Imam then carried the dead body of his nephew and placed it beside the dead bodies of his son and the other martyrs.
Then sons of Zaynab, daughter of Imam ‘Ali went for fighting. They also were killed. Then none remained except the brothers of Imam al-Husayn.
Al-’Abbas was watching all these crises and misfortunes patiently and was waiting for the proper opportunity to begin fighting against the enemies and take revenge upon them.
After the martyrdom of the youth of the Prophet’s household, al-’Abbas turned towards his full brothers and said to them: “Brothers, proceed for fighting so that I will be sure that you have done sincerely for sake of Allah and His Messenger and I will surely avenge your blood. You have no children.”38
He then turned his face towards his full brother Abdullah and said: “Proceed for fighting until I will see your martyrdom and offer you as sacrifice for Allah.”39 All his brethren welcomed his call and went for fighting against the enemies courageously. One by one, they all were killed before their elder brother al-’Abbas who stood near their dead bodies and shed tears for these bright faces.
When al-’Abbas noticed the loneliness of his brother and the martyrdom of his companions and household, he advanced towards his brother and asked for permission to fight. The Imam did not permit him and he said with sad tone, “You are the holder of my standard…”
Imam al-Husayn, in fact, felt security and protection so long as al-’Abbas was with him. But al-’Abbas insisted on the permission and said, “I can no longer stand it. I want to take avenge upon those hypocrites.”
As the Imam had nothing to do other than permitting his brother to fight against the enemies, he asked him first to try to get water for the harem and children who were gravely thirsty. Hence, al-’Abbas directed towards the Umayyad army with words of admonition and warned against God’s punishment.
He directed his speech to their commander: “Omar ibn Saad, this is al-Husayn son of the daughter of Allah’s Messenger. You have killed his companions and household. These now are his children and harem. They are thirsty and I ask you to give them water. Nevertheless, he is still calling you to let him go to Rome or India and leave Hijaz and Iraq for you…”
None from the Umayyad army could answer al-’Abbas except Shemr who said to him, “Son of Abu-Turab,40 if the whole surface of this earth is water controlled by us, we will not give you a single drop of it before you submit to the leadership of Yazid.”
Hence, al-’Abbas had to report this situation to his brother.
Meanwhile, he heard the cries of the children because of thirst and saw the change in their faces and the dryness of their lips. Therefore, he decided to fetch water for them. He rode his horse, took a waterskin with him, and rode towards the River Euphrates. The Umayyad troops fled and he alone occupied the banks of the river. His heart was as hot as fire because of thirst, but when he extended his hand to the water and tried to drink, he remembered the thirst of his brother, as well as his children and harem; hence, he threw away the water from his hand and said:
My soul, you must be preceded by al-Husayn
And you must not continue to exist after him
Al-Husayn is about to drink from cups of death
While you want to drink from this cold water
No, by Allah! This is not my religion!
After this tremendous demonstration of altruism that exceeded any other in all dimensions of time and space, al-’Abbas filled the skin carrier he had with him with water and took it on the way back to his brother’s camp.
In the meantime, the enemies surrounded him from every side and tried to prevent him from taking that water to his brother’s camp. Al-’Abbas spared no efforts in fighting against them and caused them big losses.
Chased by terror and fear, the enemies were fleeing away from al-’Abbas who was like his father in courageous situations. However, one of the filthy hypocrites of Kufa waylaid him from behind a date palm tree, striking him from the back on his right hand, and cut it. Nevertheless, al-’Abbas the hero did not care for so when he held the standard in his left hand and went on saying:
By Allah, if you cut my right hand
I will keep on defending my religion
And that true-tongued Imam
Who is the son of the pure Prophet
A few moments later, another man hidden behind a tree, struck al-’Abbas with a sword on his left hand, and cut it. Although he was bleeding and suffering these wounds besides thirst, al-’Abbas held the waterskin with his teeth and hurried trying to take the water to his brother’s children and harem.
Meanwhile, a spear hit the waterskin and caused that water to dribble onto the ground. Seeing this, al-’Abbas was struck with sadness and perplexity. He did not know what to do. A few moments later, another man attacked him with an iron post and struck on the head. Al-’Abbas fell to the ground and shouted, “Peace be upon you, Abu-Abdullah!”
As the Imam heard these words of farewell, he hurried toward the River al-Alqami where al-’Abbas fell. He pushed himself through the troops of the enemies and threw himself on the body of his brother. Expressing the grave misfortune that he suffered by the martyrdom of his brother, Imam al-Husayn wailed, “My spine is now broken and I have lost everything and my enemies are rejoicing at my misfortune.”
No one can describe the real feelings that Imam al-Husayn felt after the martyrdom of al-’Abbas. However, historians have mentioned that he, as he was leaving the dead body of his brother, could hardly move his feet. He went towards the camp while he was wiping off his tears. His daughter Sukaina received him with the question, “Where is my uncle al-’Abbas?”
Here the Imam wept and told her about her uncle’s martyrdom. The daughter had nothing to do other than moan aloud. The situation was more difficult for Zaynab who put her hand on her heart and shouted aloud, “O, brother al-’Abbas. We have certainly lost everything as we lost you.”
It was surely grave misfortune for Imam al-Husayn and the Prophet’s harem whose cries and moaning for their guardian and protector filled that place. The Imam also participated with them in weeping as he cried:
“We have surely lost everything as we lost you, O Abu’l-Fadhl al-’Abbas.