Abbas ibn Ali

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Al-Abbas ibn Ali
ٱلْعَبَّاس ٱبْن عَلِيّ
Al-Abbas ibn Ali.png
Al-Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib's name in Arabic calligraphy
Bornshaban 4, 26 AH[1]:39–40
May 15, 647
Madinah, Hijaz[1]:39–40 (present-day Saudi Arabia)
DiedMuharram 10, 61 AH
October 10, 680(680-10-10) (aged 33)
Cause of deathMartyrdom during the Battle of Karbala by Yazid I's men while bringing some water from Euphrates river for the family of Muhammad
Resting placeShrine of Abbas, Karbala, Iraq
NationalityHijazi Arab
Known forBattle of Karbala
Titleأَبُو ٱلْفَضْل
(Arabic: Father of Virtue)
*قَمَر بَنِي هَاشِم[1]:45–47
(Arabic: Moon of the Hashimites)
(Arabic: The provider of water)
(Persian: Flag/Standard bearer)
*شاهنشاہِ وفا
(Persian: King of Loyalty)
*باب الحسین
(Arabic: Door to Hussein)
*باب الحوائج[2][3]
(Arabic: The door to fulfilling needs)
*افضل الشهداء
(Arabic: Most superior martyr)
*Abū Qurba
(Arabic: The owner of the skin of water)
*قوت الحسین
(Arabic: Strength of Hussein)
Opponent(s)Yazid I
Spouse(s)Lubaba bint Ubaydillah
ChildrenUbaydullah ibn Abbas (died in the Battle of Karbala
Fadl ibn Abbas
Mohammad ibn Abbas (died in the Battle of Karbala)
Ummul Banin (known as the mother of the sons only)
RelativesSayyida Ruqayya bint Ali( real sister[4])
Hasan ibn Ali (paternal half-brother)
Husayn ibn Ali (paternal half-brother)
Zaynab bint Ali (paternal half-sister)
Umm Kulthum bint Ali (paternal half-sister)
Muhsin ibn Ali (paternal half-brother)
FamilyBanū Hāshim Banū Kilab
Painting commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Husayn at the Battle of Karbala; its focus is his half brother Abbas ibn Ali on a white horse.[5]

Al-ʻAbbās ibn ʻAli (Arabic: ٱلْعَبَّاس ٱبْن عَلِيّ‎, romanizedal-ʿAbbās ibn ʿAlī), also known as Qamar Banī Hāshim (Arabic: قَمَر بَنِي هَاشِم‎)[6][7][8] "the moon of Banu Hashim" (born 4th Shaʻbān 26 AH – 10 Muharram 61 AH; approximately May 15, 647 – October 10, 680), was a son of Ali (who was the first Shi′i Imam and the fourth Caliph of Sunni Muslims) and Fatima bint Hizam, commonly known as Umm al-Banīn "Mother of the Sons" (Arabic: أُمّ ٱلْبَنِين‎).

Abbas, also known as Alamdar (standard-bearer), is highly revered in Islam for his loyalty to his brother Husain, his respect for the Household of Muhammad, and his role in the Battle of Karbala. Abbas is buried in the Shrine of Abbas in Karbala, Karbala Governorate, Iraq, where he was martyred during the Battle of Karbala on the day of Ashura.[9] He was praised for his "handsome looks"[10] and was also well known in the Arab community for his courage, bravery, strength and ferocity as a warrior. Ibn Manzur narrates in his al-Ayn that Al-Abbas was the "lion that other lions feared" as a testament to his accolades as a warrior.[11] Sheikh at-Turaihi describes Abbas's appearance as resembling an unshakable mountain, with his heart firmly rooted, due to his qualities as a "unique horseman" and a "fearless hero".[11]

Birth and early life

Abbas was born in the month of Sha'ban in the year 26 AH (approximately May 647 CE) in the city of Medina to Ali and Umm al Banin. Abbas had three full brothers – Abdullah ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, Jafar ibn Ali, and Usman ibn Ali. Abbas married a distant cousin, Lubaba. They had three sons – Fadl ibn Abbas, Mohammad ibn Abbas, and Ubaydullah ibn Abbas.[9] His mother would recite famous lines of poetry in supplication to ward off the evil of those who envied him.[11]

Battle of Siffin

Abbas debuted as a soldier in the Battle of Siffin, one of the main conflicts of the struggle between Abbas's father Ali and Muawiyah I, the governor of Syria, in 657 CE. Wearing the clothes of his father, who was known to be a great warrior, Abbas killed many enemy soldiers. Muawiya's forces actually mistook him for Ali. Therefore, when Ali himself appeared on the battlefield, Muawiya's soldiers were astonished to see him and confused about the identity of the other soldier. Ali then introduced Abbas by saying:

He is Abbas, the moon of the Hashimites.[12][13]

Abbas was trained by his father and his elder brother Hassan (AS) in the art of battle, which may be one reason he resembled his father on the battlefield. When describing his fighting on the battlefield, many historians call him a furious lion because of his courage, fearlessness, and strength as an attacker.Abbas then became the trainer of most of his elder brothers sons in the art of battlefield. A perfect example of this is the courage of Ali Akbar(AS) son of Hussain(AS)[11]

Battle of Karbala

Entrance to the shrine of Abbas in Karbala, Iraq

Abbas showed his loyalty to Hussein at the Battle of Karbala. After succeeding his father Muawiya I as caliph, Yazid I demanded that Hussein pledge allegiance to him, but Hussein refused,[14] saying:

Yazid is a person who kills people without cause, and an individual like me doesn't pledge allegiance to someone like him...[15]

As these behaviors were (and still are) prohibited in Islam, if Hussein had pledged allegiance to Yazid, his act would have ruined the basics of Islam.[16] Hussein's elder brother Hassan had made a pact, that they (i.e. Ahl al-Bayt) would be responsible for religious (i.e., Islamic) decisions and would not interfere in other matters. Hussein wanted to do what had been agreed upon, but Yazid I wanted to take total control of diverse affairs. With the help of Ubayd Allah, Yazid I conspired to kill Hussein by sending a letter to him in the name of people of Kufa (Iraq), inviting him to come to Kufa and guide them on the right path, an invitation that was accepted by Hussein; though most historians state that the letters were actually sent by the people of Kufa who later betrayed him when the body of Muslim ibn Aqeel (Hussein's messenger to Kufa) was thrown from a building in the center of Kufa by Yazid's army while the people of Kufa stood silent. In 60 AH (680 AD), Hussein left Medina for Mecca with a small group of companions and family members to travel to Kufa. He sent his cousin, Muslim, on ahead to make his decision after the advice of his cousin. But, by the time Hussein arrived near Kufa, his cousin had been killed.

On the way of Kufa, Hussein and his group were intercepted.[17] They were forced into a detour[18] and arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram, 61 AH.[19] Hussein's camp was surrounded and cut off from the Euphrates river. The camp ran out of water on the 7th of Muharram.[20]


Apart of being the "standard bearer" of Hussain ibn Ali's army, Abbas was asked by Hussain to provide some water for the thirsty children.[21] The Euphrates river was occupied by Yazid I's army to prevent the camp of Hussain from getting water. Because of his skill and bravery, Abbas could have attacked Yazid I's army, occupied the river, and retrieved water for the camp alone. However, Abbas was only allowed to be defensive because his brother Hussain didn't want him to fight. He was only allowed to get water [22] (although there are also narrations which mention that he participated in battle, too).[23] Eventually, Abbas went to the river to get water for the children in Hussein's camp.[22] Sakinah was very attached to Abbas, who was her uncle. To her, Abbas was their only hope for getting water. Abbas could not stand to see her thirsty and crying, Thy thirst!.[12] When Abbas entered the battlefield, he only had a spear, and a bag for water in his hands. He was also given the authority to hold the standard in the battle and Hussain gave the standard to him who was the bravest one; therefore he came to be known as Abbas Alamdar. Once he had made it to the river, he started filling the bag with water. Abbas's loyalty to Hussein was so great that, although he was very thirsty, Abbas drank no water because he could not bear the thought that Sakinah was thirsty. This story illustrates how Abbas conquered the Euphrates river, held it with his mighty hands, yet still did not drink. After gathering the water, Abbas rode back towards the camp. On his way back, he was struck from behind, and one of his arms was amputated. Then he was struck from behind again; the attack amputated his other arm. Abbas continued, carrying the water-bag in his mouth. Yazid's soldiers started shooting arrows at him. One arrow hit the bag, and water poured out of it. Immediately after the bag of water was hit, the enemy shot an arrow at Abbas that hit his eye.[24] One of Yazid's men hit Abbas' head with a mace, and, lacking the support of his arms, Abbas fell off his horse. As he was falling, he called, "Oh brother!", [calling for Hussein]. Abbas fell on his face before he let the standard fall.

He was martyred on Friday, the 10th of Muharram, 61 AH, near the bank of the river Euphrates. Hence, he is called the "Hero of the Euphrates." His death is generally commemorated by the Shiite Muslims on the eighth night of Muharram. Muslims, particularly Shiites, mourn the death of all the martyrs who fell at the Battle of Karbala with Hussein in the Islamic month of Muharram, mainly in the first ten days of the month. Fadl ibn Abbas and Qasim ibn Abbas also laid down their lives in Karbala. Ubaydullah ibn Abbas lived to continue the lineage of Abbas with five sons of his own.

Abbas was buried at the spot where he fell from his horse in Karbala, Iraq. The Shrine of Abbas was built around his grave, at which millions of pilgrims pay homage every year.[25] The Albanian Bektashi community also maintain a shrine to Abbas on the summit of Mount Tomorr, where an annual pilgrimage is held every August.


Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib had 5 sons, namely: Ubaidullah, Fadhl, Hassan, Qasim and Mohammad; and also 2 daughters.[26] Ibn Shahrashub, the prominent historian, recorded that: "Muhammad ibn Abbas was martyred in Karbala with his father." The mother of Ubaidullah and Fadhl was Lubaba. Genealogists have agreed unanimously that the progeny of Al-Abbas came from his son Ubaidullah. Sheikh al-Futouni, however, mentioned that Hassan ibn Abbas also had sons and descendants. Ubaidullah ibn Abbas, who died in 155 AH, was a celebrated scholar known for his handsomeness, perfect morality, and fine personality. He had three wives.[26]

Ali (son of Hussein), had great respect for his uncle Abbas. He often wept when his eyes fell on Ubaidullah, explaining that he reminded him of his father's heroic and tragic exploit on that day in Karbala.

Al-Hassan, son of Ubaidullah, lived to age 67 and had five sons – Fadhl, Hamza, Ibrahim, Abbas, and Ubaidullah, all of whom became honorable, virtuous authors.

Stenciled phrase Arabic: یا أبوالفضل‎, meaning O' Abol-Fazl (title of Abbas ibn Ali), made by stencil and cinnamon powder on the Iranian dessert, Sholeh-zard

Al-Fadhl was such an eloquent, religious, and courageous personality that even caliphs respected him. He was named 'Ibn al-Hashimiyya – son of the Hashemite woman . He had three sons – Ja'far, al-Abbas al-Akbar, and Mohammad.

Abu'l-Abbas al-Fadhl ibn Mohammed ibn al-Fadhl ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-Abbas who was a famous orator/poet, composed several poetic verses eulogizing his ancestor, Abbas ibn Ali.

Ibrahim Jardaqa (Arabic: ابراهیم جردقة) was another descendant of Abbas ibn Ali. Jardaqa was a jurist and litterateur; he was well known for his ascetics (piety), too.[27] Abdullah ibn Ali ibn Ibrahim (Arabic: عبدالله بن علي بن ابراهیم) wrote several books, consisting one titled al-Ja'fariyya. He died in Egypt in AH 312. Al-Abbas ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-Abbas was a well-known celebrity among the Hashemites; he visited Baghdad at the time of Harun ar-Rashid reign. He was also among the most celebrated poets.[26]

Abu't-Tayyib Mohammad ibn Hamza (Arabic: ابوطیب محمد بن حمزه) was also one of Abbas descendants who had a good personality. He was likewise well known for his regard for his relatives and likewise his virtue. Abu-Tayyib had properties in Jordan where he was killed in 291 AH .[28] His descendants were called "sons of the martyr".[26] Abdullah ibn al-Abbas, another son of Abbas ibn Ali whose name has been mentioned among the "martyrs of Karbala",[29] He was famous for his virtue/celebrity, too. The Abbasid caliph al-Ma'moun mentioned about him that: "All people are the same after your departure, son of al-Abbas!".[26]

Ubaidullah ibn al-Hasan whose ancestor is reached to Abbas, was the governor/qadi of Mecca and Medina during the reign of al-Ma'moun.[26] Abu-Ya'la al-Hamza ibn al-Qasim ibn Ali ibn Hamza ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-Abbas ibn Ali, as another descendant of Abbas was one of the most celebrated men of knowledge. He was great hadithist who instructed many famed scholars and wrote many books, such as "Kitab ut-Tawhid", "Kitab uz-Ziyaraatu wel-Menasik", and many others in different fields of knowledge, particularly in Ilm ur-Rijal and Ilm ul-Hadith. Many scholars described him with remarkable words of praise. In a village called al-Hamza in al-Jazira, central Iraq, between the Euphrates and the Tigris, 102 is a handsome shrine built over the tomb of al-Hamza that continues to be visited by many people.[30]


Abbas is known as Abu al-Fazl (ابوالفضل), meaning the father of heavenly graces and/or the father of the graceful manner.[31][32][33] Abbas was the king of chivalry and the most loyal companion to his half brother Hussain. Abbas ibn Ali is also known as-Qamar Banu Hashim, meaning the moon of the Hashim clan.

He is also known as Ghazi;[34] Ghazi (غازی), meaning "soldier who returns successfully from the battle". Although Abbas was killed at Karbala, he is known as because, when he carried out the first strike against Yazid's army, his mission was to rescue the horse which was seized by Shimr during the battle of Siffin. This horse belonged to his other brother Hasan ibn Ali. Abbas retained control over the horse and presented it to Husayn.

Horse of Abbas

Abbas ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala

Abbas was given a horse named "Uqab" (Eagle).[35] Shia sources say that this horse was used by Muhammad and Ali and that this horse was presented to Muhammad by the King of Yemen, Saif ibn Zee Yazni, through Abd al-Muttalib. The king considered the horse to be very important, and its superiority over other horses was evident by the fact that its genealogical tree was also maintained. It was initially named "Murtajiz", which comes from the Arabic name "Rijiz" meaning thunder (lightning).[35][36][37]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d at-Tabrizi, Abu Talib (2001). Ahmed Haneef (ed.). Al-Abbas Peace be Upon Him. Abdullah Al-Shahin. Qum: Ansariyan Publications.
  2. ^ Lalljee, Yousuf N. (2003). Know Your Islam. New York: Tahrike Tarsile Qurʼan. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-940368-02-6.
  3. ^ "شبكة رافــد للتنمية الثقافية". Retrieved 2006-07-30.
  4. ^ [File:Name plate Zarih Sayyida Ruqayya.jpg]
  5. ^ "Brooklyn Museum: Arts of the Islamic World: Battle of Karbala". Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, New York. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Biography of Hazrat Abbas (ibn Ali)". Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Abbas martyrdom". Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Al-'Abbas (a)". Archived from the original on 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2015-11-21.
  9. ^ a b Calmard, J. (13 July 2011). "ʿABBĀS B. ʿALĪ B. ABŪ ṬĀLEB". Encyclopædia Iranica.
  10. ^ Bulookbashi, Ali A.; Negahban, Tr. Farzin (2008). Al- ʿAbbās b. ʿAlī. Brill. doi:10.1163/1875-9831_isla_COM_0009.
  11. ^ a b c d Shahin, Badr (2001). Al-Abbas. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan Publications. p. 22. ISBN 978-1494329235.
  12. ^ a b "Hazrat Abul Fazl Al Abbas". Archived from the original on 7 January 2006. Retrieved 2006-01-08.
  13. ^ Lalljee, Yousuf N. (2003). Know Your Islam. New York: Tahrike Tarsile Qurʼan. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-940368-02-6.
  14. ^ "Imam Hussain didn't pledge allegiance to Yazid". Tebyan. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Yazid demands allegiance of Husayn". Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  16. ^ "If Imam Hussain (a.s.) would pledge allegiance to Yazid ..." Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Who was Hurr?". Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Detour, from Kufa to Karbala". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Muharram came". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  20. ^ "The crisis of water". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  21. ^ "Army standard bearer". Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  22. ^ a b "The Great Sacrifice". Archived from the original on February 13, 2007. Retrieved 2006-07-30.
  23. ^ "Didn't Imam Hussain allow Hazrat Abbas to fight? (And solely asked him to bring water)?". Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  25. ^ KaraÌraviÌ, NajmulhÌ£asan (January 1, 1974). Biography of Hazrat Abbas. Peermahomed Ebrahim Trust. ASIN B0007AIWQW.
  26. ^ a b c d e f "Descendants of Al-ʻAbbas". Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  27. ^ "Qamar Bani Hashim". Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  28. ^ "His sons/descendants. (Abbas)". Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  29. ^ Khalkhali, "the bright face of Qamar-Babi-Hashim, Abul-Fazl al-Abbas", Vol. 1, P. 122
  30. ^ Al-Abbas by Badr Shahin Archived March 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^ Amin, A'yan al-Shia, Vol. 7, P. 429
  32. ^ Qommi, Nafs al-Mahmoum, P. 285
  33. ^ "Who is Abbas?". Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Hazrat Ghazi Abbas". Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  35. ^ a b Tehrani, Allama Ahhsan. Zindagi-e-Abbas Lang. Urdu. p. 83.
  36. ^ Pinault, David (February 3, 2001). Horse of Karbala: Muslim Devotional Life in India. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-21637-5.
  37. ^ Naqvi, Allama Zamir Akhtar (2007). Imam aur Ummat. Markaz-e-Uloom-e-Islamia.

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