When Shimr Ibn Dhiljaushan was departing from Kufa for Karbala, a person in Ibn Ziyad’s court said, “Some of my maternal relatives have accompanied Al-Husayn Ibn Ali. Hence I want you to write a letter of pardon for them.” Eventually, Ibn Ziyad wrote a letter regarding them.
Shimr’s tribe also had a distant relation with the tribe of Umm ul-Banin (s.a.). So he also obtained a letter of pardon from Ibn Ziyad and reached Karbala with this letter on the ninth of Muharram in the late afternoon (Asr).
When his filthy one reached near Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) camp he shouted, “Where are the sons of my sister?”1 His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) was sitting near Imam Al-Husayn (A) along with his brothers. None of them replied. Then Imam Al-Husayn (A) said,
“Give him a reply even if though he may be a transgressor.”
When Imam Al-Husayn (A) gave permission, all of them replied,
“What are you trying to say?”
He said, “I have brought good news for you. I have brought a letter of pardon for you from the Governor, Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad. You are free. If you go away now, your lives will be saved.”
All of them replied in unison, “May Allah curse you, your Amir and the letter of pardon that you have brought. Shall we leave our Imam and brother only for the sake of saving our lives?”
The first to announce support to Imam Al-Husayn (A) on the Ashura eve was his brother, His Eminence Al-Abbas (A). Even if all exaggerations mentioned about him are ignored, it is well-known in history that His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) had an excellent character; he was brave, tall and a handsome youth.
He had earned the nom-de-plume of ‘moon of Bani Hashim.’ Now this is such a fact that there is no doubt in it and there is no exaggeration also. Without any doubt, he was the inheritor of Ali’s valour.2
It is also a fact that Imam Ali (A) had told his brother Aqeel,
“Find a wife for me who is from the progeny of brave men”3 and Aqeel had selected Umm ul-Banin (s.a.). She proved exactly as desired by Imam Ali (A). Imam wished that a brave son would be born to her.4 Everything narrated till here is fact and the wish of Imam Ali (A) was fulfilled in the form of His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A).
According to one or two narrations, His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) came to Imam Al-Husayn (A) on Ashura day and requested,
“Brother dear! Please allow me to go for Jihad. My chest is becoming straitened. I am suffocating. I can control no more. I want to sacrifice myself on you as soon as possible.”
Who knows what was the exigency of Imam Al-Husayn (A) saying,
“Brother! Go if you want, but make some arrangement of water for the children.”
Imam (A) knows the reason better. His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) had already received the title of ‘the water-carrier of the holy household’ (Saqqa-e-Haram) because he had brought water for the children during the previous nights tearing through the enemy ranks. [That is why he is also called Ghaazi (victorious)].
From the 7th of Muharram, the enemy had cut off water supply to the progeny of the Prophet whose Kalima they recited. Anyway, in reply to Imam Al-Husayn (A) His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) said: Your command is welcome.
Now see how amazing is the scene. What bravery it is! What valour! What humanity! What a great honour! How great is divine recognition and sacrifice!
The lion of the lion of God attacked a huge army single-handed and drove away four thousand soldiers guarding the river. (After driving them away) he entered the water. (It is also mentioned in books that) first he filled his water-bag and hung it on his shoulder while he is mounted on the horse. The water surface is touching the horse’s belly.
He is thirsty. It is extremely hot. He has come after fighting a battle. Once he fills a cupped hand with water and takes it to his lips. The enemy saw from far away that after sometime he threw the water back into the Euphrates and came out of the stream thirsty.
No one understood why he did not drink the water. However, when he came out of the river and recited the following war poem, people came to know why he had not drunk the water:
“O self of Al-Abbas! I do not want you to remain alive after Al-Husayn has passed away. Al-Husayn is preparing to drink the cup of death in thirst and you want to drink cool water? What kind of manliness is it? What kind of love and affection is it?
Isn’t Al-Husayn your Imam? Aren’t you the follower of Al-Husayn? Aren’t you the obedient one of Al-Husayn? By Allah, neither my religion permits me this nor can my loyalty bear to see that Al-Husayn remains thirsty and I drink water.”5
When Al-Abbas (A) returned from the river, he changed his route. He had come straight but now he was going through the oases because he was carrying a precious thing with him. He was trying his best to take the water to the camp anyhow and would not risk an arrow that may pierce the water-bag and let all the water get wasted. Al-Abbas (A) was moving forward with extreme care but suddenly something happened and he cried out aloud:
“By Allah, Even if you have cut off my right hand, I would continue to help my religion and the true Imam who is the grandson of the pure and trustworthy prophet.”6
After some moments, his war poem changed to the following lines:
“O self! Do not fear the infidels. Be happy for there is mercy of the Omnipotent God and neighborhood of the Rightful Prophet for you. What is there to worry even if enemies have cut off my left hand also because of their cowardice?”7
In this war poem, His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) stated that his left hand was also cut off. It is written that the water-carrier tried in every way to save the water-bag. He turned it around very skillfully to the front and bent upon it to save it from getting pierced. My tongue does not have the power to narrate this painful incident. This scene is very moving and makes one cry tears of blood.
Normally, sufferings of His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) are narrated on the eve of the Ninth.
Let me also mention that His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A)’ mother, Lady Umm ul-Banin (s.a.) was alive at the time of Karbala tragedy. However, she was in Medina. When she got the news that all of her four sons were martyred in Karbala, she used to go to Jannatul Baqi and cry.
It is narrated that her cries were so remorseful that whoever passed by her used to cry out. Even Marwan Ibn Hakam, the stone-hearted enemy of Ahl al-Bayt used to have tears in his eyes. Sometimes Lady Umm ul-Banin (s.a.) used to remember all her sons and weep and sometimes she remembered her eldest son and cried.
His Eminence, Al-Abbas (A) was the eldest in age and superior to his brothers in spiritual and physical perfections. I would recite for you one of the two elegies of this lady, which I can recollect. This was recited by the aggrieved mother (Normally, Arabs recite very remorseful elegies):
“O looking eye that was watching the events of Karbala! Narrate to me the scene when my brave Al-Abbas and before him, his (three) lion-hearted sons had attacked the coward army. Is it true that after the hands of my son were cut off, an oppressor hit him on his head with an iron mace?
“Oh! My brave lion, Al-Abbas, was hit with a mace on his head.
“O my Al-Abbas! O my dearest one! I know that if your hands were all right the cowardly enemy would not have remained in front of you. The impure enemy dared to do this only because your hands were cut off.”8
In the name of Allah and by Allah and on the religion of the Messenger of Allah (S)
- 1. Lohoof, Pg. 88; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 44, Pg. 391; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al- Husayn, Pg. 389.
- 2. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 687; Al-Abbas, Muqarram, Pg. 81; Damaus Sujum, Pg. 176.
- 3. Absarul Ain, Pg. 126; Damaus Sujum, Pg. 176.
- 4. Absarul Ain, Pg. 26.
- 5. Yanabiul Mawaddah, Vol. 2, Pg. 408.
- 6. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 40; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 688; Maqtal al-Husayn, Muqarram, Pg. 169
- 7. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 40; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 688.
- 8. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 689.