Assalamu alaykum waRahmtullah waBarakatuh dear brothers and sisters,
Abul Fazl Abbas (a.s), the son of Imam Ali a.s.The Life of Hazrat Abbas (a.s) is an example of unflinching loyalty and love for a brother. It is also the story of a warrior who sacrificed his life for the cause of Islam.
Hazrat Abbas (a.s) was born at Medina on 7th Rajab/4th Shabaan 26 A.H.(645 A.D.). When the news of his birth reached Imam Ali(a.s), he prostrated himself on the ground as a token of his humble thanks to God. Imam Hussain (a.s) took the baby in his arms and recited the Azan and Eqamat (Calls for Prayers) in his right and left ears respectively. Then the new born baby opened his eyes to see the beloved face of Imam Hussain. On the seventh day of his birth the ceremony of Aqeeqa was performed and Imam Ali (a.s) named his child 'Abbas'.
A similar incident took place at the time of the birth of Hazrat Ali. He only opened his eyes when the Holy Prophet took him in his arms. It was the desire of Imam Ali (a.s) that this son whom he named 'Abbas' (Meaning a Dauntless Lion) would accomplish the same deeds of valour and who would follow his teachings without fear of life and death. It was also his wish that Abbas (a.s) would be a constant companion of Imam Hussain and be his Standard Bearer at Karbala.
Imam Ali (a.s) who himself was known as 'The Lion of God' and the 'Gateway of Knowledge' brought up Hazrat Abbas (a.s) (a.s) and ably guided him till he was fourteen years old. The next ten years were spent under the careful eye of Imam Hasan (a.s) and the last ten years with Imam Hussain(a.s). Thus it was not surprising that Hazrat Abbas (a.s) acquired near perfection. His gallantry, boldness, courageous outlook, and the art of combat and soldiery were inherited from Imam Ali (a.s), and this he proved very well in the battles of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrwan. Imam Hasan (a.s) taught him patience and tolerance. His Lion-hearted loyalty and self-sacrificing nature were the result of his association with Imam Hussain(a.s) and Janab-e-Zainab(a.s). Physically, mentally, morally and spiritually he was fully developed, besides, being an accomplished scholar. Hazrat Abbas (a.s) married Lubaba, daughter of Obaidullah Ibne Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib, and had two sons, Fazl and Muhammad. Some sources say that Lubaba was present at Karbala and their son Muhammad was martyred there.
At the death bed of Hazrat Ali (AS):
When Hazrat Ali was mortally wounded and lying on his deathbed, he sent for his entire family. Save Hazrat Abbas, he entrusted all to the care of his eldest son Imam Hasan. Then he heard Hazrat Abbas, hardly 12 years old, sobbing. Hazrat Ali asked him to come near him and gave his hand to his second son, Imam Hussain, saying "Hussain, this child I am entrusting to you. He will represent me on the Day of your supreme sacrifice and will lay down his life in defending you and your dear ones".
And turning to Hazrat Abbas, he had said: "Abbas, my child, I know your unbounded love for Hussain. Though you are too young to be told about it, when that day dawns, consider no sacrifice too great for Hussain and his children".
This was in 657 A.D. The occasion for the supreme sacrifice came on the battlefield of Karbala in 680 A.D. when Hussain was poised against Yezid's forces. It was a battle of good against evil and right against wrong. And in the history of Islam, the battle of Karbala has become an important landmark of supreme sacrifice, great courage and dedication to a just cause.
In the battle of Kerbala, Hazrat Abbas (a.s) was Imam Hussain's commander-in-chief. He fought the evil forces of Yezid gallantly, remembering his father's last words. The story of the sacrifice of his life in trying to procure water for Imam Hussain's children on the battlefield is the most touching and significant in Islamic history.
Abbas (a.s) helped the poor and needy, and discharged his duties towards his fellow-beings according to the precepts of Islam. He was pure in his thoughts, words and deeds, lest any of these should displease God. He lived strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuhap).
Just as Ali (a.s) was taught and trained by the Holy Prophet(pbuhap), Abbas (a.s) was taught and trained by Imam Ali (a.s). Ali fully knew the mysteries of life and death, and Abbas (a.s) had fully imbibed the true spirit of Islam. A man who was brought up, educated and trained by Ali (a.s) could on no account be attached to this worldly life nor fear death, and Abbas (a.s) fully justified this by his actions.
Since early childhood Hazrat Abbas (a.s) would follow Imaam Hussain like a shadow. If Imaam Hussain looked thirsty, Abbas (a.s) would rush to bring him water. If Imaam Hussain seemed hot, Abbas (a.s) would fan him with the hem of his cloak. Abbas (a.s) never considered himself equal in rank or stature to his half-brother Hussein (a.s). On the contrary, Abbas (a.s) considered his half-brother Hussein (a.s) to be his master. Abbas (a.s) did not like anyone working for Hussein (a.s) except himself. This devotion can be gauged by the following event: At the Mosque of Kufa, Ali Ibn Abu Talib (a.s), Hussein (a.s), Qanbar (a companion of Ali), and Abbas (a.s) were sitting. Hussein (a.s) asked Qanbar to bring water because he was thirsty. Abbas (a.s) stopped him and said, “I will bring the water for my master myself”. Abbas (a.s) was young at that time.
Battle of Siffin:
Abbas (a.s)'s debut as a soldier was in the battle of Siffin. In 657 CE, Abbas (a.s)'s father Ali (a.s)- defender of Islam and Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan, governor of Syria & enemy of Islam, were locked in a struggle for Islam. One of the main battles of this conflict was at Siffin - a place near the Euphrates River. During the course of the battle, Abbas (a.s) entered the battlefield wearing the clothes of his father, who was known to be a deadly skilled warrior. Abbas (a.s) killed many soldiers on the other side with his lightning swordship. For this reason, Muawiya's soldiers mistook him for Ali (a.s), Abbas (a.s) was only eight years old. Imam Hussain was fighting in the battle field. When Hazrat Abbas (a.s) saw an enemy soldier approaching Imam Hussain (a.s) from behind,he took a sword and rushed into the battle field and killed the enemy, at the same time crying out in a loud voice, "How can any one dare attack my Mawla while I am alive." He continued to fight maintaining his position behind Imaam Hussain. Muawiya saw this and asked, "Who is that boy?" When he was told he was Abbas (a.s) ibne Ali, he said, "By God! No one can fight like that at that age except a son of Ali!" because of his similar deadly art of war. However, Ali (a.s) himself soon appeared on the battlefield. Muawiya's soldiers were astonished to see him, and were confused about who the other person was. Ali(a.s) then introduced Abbas (a.s) by saying, “He is Abbas (a.s), (The Moon of the Hashimi family)".
Battle of Karbala:
Abbas (a.s) showed his loyalty to Hussein (a.s) at the Battle of Karbala. After succeeding father Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan as Caliph, Yazid Ibn Muawiyah required Hussein (a.s) to pledge allegiance to him. Hussein (a.s) refused to do so. In 60 A.H. (680 CE), Hussein (a.s) left Medina, with a small group of his companions and family, to travel to Kufa. The people of Kufa said that they would support Hussein (a.s) if he claimed the Caliphate. On the way, Hussein (a.s) and his group were intercepted. They were forced into a detour and arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram, 61 A.H. Hussein (a.s)'s camp was surrounded and cut off from the Euphrates River. The camp ran out of water on the 7th of Muharram.
Abbas (a.s), Qasim Ibn Hassan, and Ali Akbar Ibn Hussein (a.s):
On the eve of tenth Muharram Imam Hussein (a.s) was passing through a camp in which his nephew Qasim Ibn Hassan, his son Ali Akbar Ibn Hussein (a.s) and brother Abbas (a.s) were sitting and were discussing a matter. He stood beside the camp and heard their conversation. Ali Akbar was saying that tomorrow he would be the first person to sacrifice his life on Hussein (a.s). Abbas (a.s) interrogated him and said, “You are the son of my Master. How can you fight before me”? Ali Akbar replied, "Uncle, you are the strength of my father. If you go first and die, my father will be destroyed. And also you are the commander and the commander should not go first". Abbas (a.s) replied to Ali Akbar, "nephew! A son is the light of his father eyes. If you die first, my brother will be visionless. Most of all, I cannot bear to see you dying". Qasim was listening to the conversation, and replied, "My dear Uncle! And my dear brother! I will proceed first so that the strength & vision of my uncle Hussein (a.s) remains, and I am also an orphan". Imam Hussein (a.s) then entered the camp and held Qasim in his arms and replied "Oh, my nephew don’t ever consider yourself as orphan. I am like your father." Abbas (a.s) was not ready for anyone entering battlefield before him. Then, Imam Hussein (a.s) explained to Abbas (a.s), "We have not entered Karbala for war". He said, “We could win because we have Banu Hashim men like you. However, our mission here is to serve Islam and now Islam requires our sacrifice. We are here to sacrifice our lives for this pure & noble religion."
Fight and Death:
The Euphrates river was occupied by Yazid's Army to prevent the camp of Imam Hussein (a.s) from getting water. Shias believe that Abbas (a.s), because of his skill and bravery, could have; attacked Yazid's army, occupied the river, and retrieved water for the camp alone. However, Abbas (a.s) was not allowed to fight. He was only allowed to get water. Thus, he went to the river to get water for Imam Hussein (a.s)'s 4 year old daughter Sakina bint Hussein (a.s). Sakina was very attached to Abbas (a.s), who was her uncle. To her, Abbas (a.s) was the only hope for getting water. Abbas (a.s) could not see her thirsty and crying "Al-Atash" (the thirst). When Abbas (a.s) entered the battlefield, he only had a dagger and a bag for water in his hands. Once he had made it to the river, he started filling the bag with water. Shias emphasize that Abbas (a.s)'s loyalty to Hussein (a.s) was so great, that Abbas (a.s) did not drink any water because he could not bear the thought that Sakina was thirsty. After gathering the water, Abbas (a.s) rode back towards the camp. On his way back, he was struck from behind and one of his arms was amputated. Then, he was stuck from behind again, amputating his other arm. Abbas (a.s) was now carrying the water-bag in his mouth and consoled himself by the following:
By God, though you have severed my right hand
My faith, I will surely forever defend
I will defend the truthful leader of conviction
The grandson of the pure and truthful Prophet
The army of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah started shooting arrows at him. One arrow hit the water-skin and water poured out of it. At that moment, Abbas (a.s) lost all hope. One of Yazid's men hit his head with a mace and Abbas (a.s) fell off his horse without the support of his arms. As he was falling, he called, "Ya Akkha" (Oh Master).
He tossed on the burning sand with excruciating pain. He called for his master. Imam Hussein (a.s) immediately came to him lifting his head and taking it into his lap. He said "My brother what have they done to you?" Abbas (a.s) replied, "You have come at last, my Master. I thought I was not destined to have a last look at you but, thank God, you are here." Then he said, "My Master, I have some last wishes to express. When I was born, I had first looked at your face and it is my last desire that when I die, my gaze may be on your face. My one eye is pierced by an arrow and the other is filled with blood. If you will clear the eye I will be able to see you and fulfill my last dying desire. My second wish is that when I die, you should not carry my body to the camp. I had promised to bring water to Sakina and since I have failed in my attempts to bring her water, I cannot face her even in death. Besides, I know that the hits that you have received since morning have all but crushed you and carrying my body to the camp will be back-breaking work for you. My third wish is that Sakina may not be brought here to see my plight. I know the love and affection she is has for me. The sight of my dead body lying here will kill her." Imam Hussein (a.s) fulfilled his wishes. Imam Hussein (a.s) asked him for one last thing. Imam Hussein (a.s) said, "Abbas (a.s), I too have a wish to be fulfilled. Since childhood, you have always called me Master. For once at least call me brother with your dying breath." Abbas (a.s) closed his eyes while repeating, "Hussein (a.s) my brother, my Imam". On the death of Abbas (a.s), Hussein (a.s) was in tears. The small children never asked for water after the death of Abbas (a.s) and remained thirsty and silent until they were killed or enslaved by the enemies of Islam. ( yazid and his cruel force ). Hussein (a.s) declared him "Saqqa" (One who fetches water).
When Al-Abbas (a.s) (a.s) the flag bearer of Imam Hussain's (a.s) army was attacked by Banu Ummaya, The Imam (a.s) stated: "Now my back has become broken and my options are few.”
"And if you are slain in the way of Allah or you die, certainly forgiveness from Allah and mercy is better than what they amass." (Holy Quran 3:157)
"To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return." (2:156)