Hazrat Abu'l-Fazl al-Abbas (A.S.), the valiant standard-bearer of the immortal epic of Karbala
4th of Sha'ban marks the blessed birthday of the valiant standard-bearer of the immortal epic of Karbala, Abu'l-Fazl al-Abbas (AS), whose loyalty and fealty to his brother, Imam Husain (AS) has become a byword till this day.
"My God, submerge me in the most blissful lights of Your majesty, so that I become intimate with You, renouncing all else, fear You and be wary of You, O Majestic and Munificent! And may the blessings of Allah be upon His Prophet Mohammad, and his pure Family, and may countless greetings be to them!"
What you read was part of a famous munjaat or Whispered Supplication of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), in the court of the court of the Lord Most High for the month of Sha'ban – a supplication that the faithful continue to recite till this day. As the Leader of the Pious, it was the habit of the first divinely-decreed successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) to punctually recite this munajat daily in Sha'ban, even on the 4th of this month in the year 26 AH, when God granted him a son, through his third wife, 15 years after the martyrdom of his beloved wife, the noblest ever lady, the Prophet's daughter, Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA) – the mother of his two noble sons, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace upon them). The newborn was named Abbas, and was the first of the four sons of Omm al-Baneen Fatema bint Hazam al-Kelabiyya, who was so intensely devoted to the memory of the Prophet's daughter that she taught her children to address the Prophet's grandsons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS) – both over twenty years elder than him – as "Ya Seyyedi" (My Lord) and "Ya Mowlayi" (My Master), despite the fact that they were his brothers.
In Arabic the word "Abbas" stands for a lion, and the boy – born in the period when his valiant father was patiently passing through a crucial phase of life with the caliphate or political rule of the Islamic realm in incompetent, undeserving and illegal hands, as a result of the sedition at Saqifa Bani Sa'da in 11 AH – soon grew into a valorous youth acquiring the characteristics of piety, prudence, patience, etc. At the age of ten years, he witnessed the tumultuous scene of masses of Muslims crowding around his father and begging him to take charge of the caliphate despite Imam Ali's (AS) reluctance. The Imam agreed on being pressed and beseeched, but on conditions that negated the misrule of his three predecessors and revived the genuine Islamic rule of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) on the basis of the holy Qur'an. Seditionists, unnerved by the rule of justice of Imam Ali (AS), soon imposed wars upon him, with the first such encounter occurring near Basra in Iraq, where the Battle of the Camel ended in the decisive victory of the forces of Islam. This was followed by the lengthy War of Siffeen where Abbas (AS) who was stepping into his teens took part, and according to reports distinguished himself on the battlefield. It is said that the young Abbas was part of the force led by Imam Husain (AS) who launched a lightning attack on the Omayyads to wrest control of the banks of the River Euphrates at a place called Reqqa in Syria. Then Imam Husain (AS) magnanimously allowed the dastardly enemy to avail of water, the elixir of life, since the bounties of God to His creatures, cannot be denied even to the infidels and the agnostics.
Following the martyrdom of Imam Ali (AS) as a result of an assassin's sword blow while engaged in the Morning Prayer in the Mosque of Kufa, and the subsequent treaty that was forced upon Imam Hasan (AS) in 41 AH by the charlatan Mu'awiyah bin Abu Sufyan because of the treachery and fickleness of faith of the Iraqis, the 15-year old Abbas (AS) now returned to Medina along with the rest of the family. Here in his hometown, the next 19 years saw the flowering of the unique qualities of Hazrat Abbas (AS) as the epitome of faith, piety, valour, patience, wisdom and generosity. First under Imam Hasan (AS) and then under Imam Husain (AS), he was entrusted with certain public duties which he handled quite efficiently. When circumstances forced Imam Husain (AS) to leave Medina and come to Mecca, the loyal Abbas accompanied the Imam, and then proceeded along with him to the rendezvous of martyrs – Karbala in Iraq. The rest is history. On the day of Ashura, when the waters of the Euphrates were denied to the Ahl al-Bayt by the cowardly Omayyad forces, he attained martyrdom while trying to fetch water to the thirsty camp of the Imam. Abbas thus preferred death over the offer of amnesty and political posts by the enemy forces on condition of deserting the cause of the Prophet's grandson.
On his martyrdom, Imam Husain (AS) remarked in profound grief: "Inkasarat zahri wa qallat heelati (My back has been broken and all hopes of support have vanished)."
In the Ziyarat Nahiyya Muqaddasa, the Lord of our age, Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance to cleanse the world of oppression and corruption and to establish the global government of peace, prosperity, and justice), says: "Peace upon Abu'l-Fazl al-Abbas, the son of the Commander of the Faithful, and Defender of his brother (Imam Husain) with his life and soul, who prepared for the fateful morning since the day before, and lay down his life for Husain, faithful unto death; and who strove to bring water for him and his children, but whose arms were both cut off."
No wonder, the name of Abbas is alive today and invoked in the court of God by the faithful as Bab al-Murad or the Gateway of needs.