Al-'Abbas b. 'Ali (a)

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Priority: a, Quality: b
Descendant of Imam
Al-'Abbas b. 'Ali (a)
Name al-'Abbas b. 'Ali
Kunya Abu l-Fadl
Epithet Qamar Bani Hashim, Bab al-Hawa'ij
Father Imam 'Ali (a)
Mother Umm al-Banin
Birth Sha'ban 4, 26/February 3, 626
Place of Birth Medina
Spouse(s) Lubaba bt. 'Ubayd Allah b. al-'Abbas
Children al-Fadl, 'Ubayd Allah
Demise Muharram 10, 61/October 13, 680
Place of Burial Karbala
Age 34

Al-ʿAbbās (Arabic: العبّاس) (b. 26/647 - d. 61/681), known as Abū l-Faḍl and Qamar Banī Hāshim (the moon of Banu Hashim), is the son of Imam 'Ali (a) and Umm al-Banin. He was the commander and standard-bearer of the caravan of Imam al-Husayn (a) in the Event of 'Ashura'. 'Abbas is considered by Shi'a among the children of Imams (a) holding the highest positions. Shi'a speak of his merits and mourn for him especially on the Day of Tasu'a (9th of Muharram).

He is considered the exemplar of dignity, bravery, generosity, and following the infallible Imam (a). In Karbala, he was the standard-bearer and water-supplier of the army of his brother, al-Husayn b. 'Ali (a) and thus he is also known among Shi'a as Saqqa [the water-supplier] of the plain of Karbala.

According to reports, after the caravan of Imam al-Husayn (a) faced with the problem of the shortage of water, al-'Abbas once on the 7th of Muharram succeeded to bring water for the family and companions of Imam al-Husayn (a). On the day of 'Ashura', he (a) once again went towards the Euphrates to bring water; but on his return, they shot his leather bottle, cut his hands and martyred him.

Lineage, Kunyas, and Titles

The father of al-'Abbas was the first Imam of Shi'a, Imam 'Ali (a) and his mother was Fatima bt. Hizam whom Imam 'Ali (a) married years after the martyrdom of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a) and she was then known as Umm al-Banin.[1]

Abu al-Fadl is the most famous kunya of al-'Abbas.[2] Abu al-Qasim is another kunya of al-'Abbas which is adopted from the Ziyara al-Arba'in where Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari addresses him, "Peace be upon you, O Abu al-Qasim; Peace be with you O al-'Abbas b. 'Ali".[3]

His titles are:

  • Qamar Bani Hashim (the moon of Banu Hashim)[4]
  • Bab al-Hawa'ij (the door to the requests [from Allah])[5]
  • Al-Tayyar (the flyer)[6]
  • Al-Shahid (the martyr)[7]
  • Saqqa (the water supplier)[8]
  • Standard-bearer[9]
Family tree of Ahl al-Bayt (a)
Lady Fatima
Imam Ali
Umm al-Banin
Imam al-Husayn
Imam al-Hasan
Lady Zaynab
Umm Kulthum
Abd Allah
Umm Kulthum
'Abd Allah
'Abd Allah
Imam al-Sajjad
'Ali al-Akbar
'Ali al-Asghar
Imam al-Baqir
Imam al-Sadiq
'Abd Allah
'Ubayd Allah
Imam al-Kazim
Umm Farwa
'Abd Allah
Imam al-Rida
Imam al-Jawad
Imam al-Hadi
Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari
Imam al-Mahdi

Childhood and Teenage Life

Al-'Abbas was born on 4th of Sha'ban 26/647 in Medina.[10] During al-'Abbas' (a) childhood, his father and brothers, al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a), were with him and he (a) benefited from their knowledge and insight. When asked about his son's progress, Imam 'Ali (a) said, "Indeed, al-'Abbas my son acquired knowledge in childhood and like a young pigeon which takes water and food from his mother, gained knowledge from me."[11]

During 14 years and 47 days of living with his father Imam 'Ali (a),[12] al-'Abbas was always with him and during difficult days of caliphate, did not leave him even for a moment. Al-'Abbas attended the Battle of Siffin in 37/657[13] and there are reports about his bravery in the battle.[14]

Wife and Children

'Abbas married Lubaba, daughter of 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abbas[15] and found two sons called al-Fadl and 'Ubayd Allah. The progeny of al-'Abbas continued through 'Ubayd Allah.[16]

Many shrines are attributed to the descendants of al-'Abbas in different cities including Isfahan, Qom, and Zanjan.[17]

In the Event of Karbala

From the beginning of the movement of Imam al-Husayn (a) form Medina, to the Day of 'Ashura, al-'Abbas was with his brother, Imam al-Husayn (a), till the end.

Bringing Water

On the 7th of Muharram, when 'Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad ordered 'Umar b. Sa'd to subdue Husayn (a) and his companions and prevent their access to the water of the Euphrates, Imam (a) called al-'Abbas and sent 30 horsemen with 20 foot soldiers with him to fill leather bottles with water and return to the camp.[18]

On the day of 'Ashura', he (a) went again to Euphrates to bring water by the order of Imam (a), but when he filled a leather bottle, on the way back to the tents, they shot his leather bottle and martyred him.[19]

Rejecting the Safe Conduct

On the evening of Tasu'a, Shimr went near the tents of the caravan of Imam al-Husayn (a), and offered a safe conduct for sons of Umm al-Banin, including al-'Abbas,[20] but al-'Abbas ignored him, until Imam al-Husayn (a) asked him to reply to Shimr. Al-'Abbas told Shimr, "May your hands be cut and curse [of God] be upon your safe conduct. O the enemy of God! Do you suggest us leave our brother and master al-Husayn (a), son of Fatima (s) and join the cursed, sons of the cursed?! You give us safe conduct while the son of the Prophet (s) [Husayn b. 'Ali (a)] is not safe?!"[21]

Guarding the Tents

On the eve of 'Ashura', al-'Abbas took the responsibility of guarding the tents of Imam al-Husayn (a).[22] Even though, he (a) had taken one night permission from the enemy before battle, but al-'Abbas was walking around tents and guarding them as a matter of caution, when Zuhayr b. al-Qayn came to him.

Zuhayr told al-'Abbas about how Imam 'Ali (a) proposed to Umm al-Banin and mentioned that the intention of Imam 'Ali (a) from marriage was having brave sons, and said, "O al-'Abbas! Your father wanted you for a day like today; behold not to fail to fulfill your duty!" Al-'Abbas became angry about such words and told him, "Zuhayr! Do you want to lionize me with such words?! By God I swear, I would not fail to assist and support my brother until death. I will show you that tomorrow in a way that you would have never seen in your life!"[23]

The "Standard-bearer of Karbala" by Mahmud Farshchiyan


In the morning of 'Ashura', when Imam al-Husayn (a) finished his prayer and worships, the enemy's army held a military position and announced war. Imam (a) prepared his people for defense. They consisted of 32 horsemen and 40 foot soldiers.

Imam (a) appointed Zuhayr b. al-Qayn on the right wing and Habib b. Mazahir on the left wing and gave the standard to al-'Abbas in the middle of his people.[24]

Breaking the Siege of the Enemy

In the first hours of the battle, four of the people of Imam al-Husayn (a) with the names of 'Amr b. Khalid al-Saydawi, Jabir b. al-Harith al-Salmani, Mujammi' b. 'Abd Allah al-'Aidhi and Sa'd, the slave of 'Amr b. Khalid made a group attack to the army of Kufa.

The enemy decided to besiege them. When the ring of siege was completed so that they completely disconnected from Imam's (a) army, al-'Abbas rushed towards them alone and succeeded to break the siege and rescue the four.[25]


Historians have narrated the martyrdom of al-'Abbas differently:

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid wrote, "when al-'Abbas b. 'Ali (a), may God's blessings be upon him, saw that many of his relatives were martyred, told his brothers 'Abd Allah, Ja'far, and 'Uthman, 'O sons of my mother! You go ahead so that I see you have purified your goal for God and the Prophet (s), since you do not have any children.' Then 'Abd Allah went to battle and fought severely. Then he and Hani b. Thubayt al-Hadrami exchanged two hits of sword and Hani killed him. Then Ja'far b. 'Ali (a), may God's blessings be upon him, went ahead and Hani killed him too. When 'Uthman b. 'Ali filled the empty place of his brothers, Khawli b. Yazid shot an arrow toward him and dropped him down. Then, a man from Banu Darim attacked him and beheaded him.

The traditional mourning ceremony of 'Alambandan in Masuleh, a city in northern Iran. In this ceremony which is done every year in mourning days of Muharram, people of the city do Sinizani, while they're singing a special song about 'Abbas b. 'Ali (a).

The army of 'Umar b. Sa'd rushed toward the camp of Imam al-Husayn (a) and besieged them. When Imam (a) became so thirsty went on the top of a hill and headed towards the Euphrates while his brother al-'Abbas was walking ahead of him.

The army of 'Umar b. Sa'd stopped them. Among them, there was a man from Banu Darim tribe who told the army, "Woe be to you! Stop him from reaching the Euphrates and do not let him reach the water. Imam al-Husayn (a) said, "O God! Let him die thirsty!" That man became angry and shot an arrow towards Imam (a) which hit Imam (a) under his chin. Imam (a) took the arrow out and put his hand on the wound. When his hand became full of blood, let them spill and said, "O God! I complain to you about what they do about the son of the Prophet's (s) daughter." He (a) then came back while he (a) was very thirsty. The army besieged al-'Abbas and separated him from Imam al-Husayn (a). He (a) fought them until he was martyred. Zayd b. Warqa' al-Hanafi and Hakim b. Tufayl al-Sunbusi killed al-'Abbas after he (a) could not move due to severity of his wounds.[26]

About his martyrdom, al-Khwarazmi said, "al-'Abbas went to the battle and attacked the enemy while he (a) was making war cry and was martyred after he (a) killed some and wounded some others. Then Imam (a) came and sat with him and said, "Now my back is broken and solutions diminished."[27]

About his martyrdom, Ibn Shahrashub wrote, "al-'Abbas was the water-bearer, Qamar Bani Hashim and the standard-bearer of Imam al-Husayn (a) who was elder than his brothers. He (a) went out of the camp to bring water. The enemy attacked him and he (a) fought them and dispersed them. Then Zayd b. Warqa' al-Juhani who had ambushed behind a palm tree was helped by Hakim b. Tufayl al-Sunbusi to hit the right hand of al-'Abbas and cut him. al-'Abbas took the sword with his left hand and attacked them, but he (a) was weakened. Then Hakam b. Tufayl al-Ta'i who had ambushed behind a palm tree, hit him on his left hand. Then al-'Abbas shouted,

O my soul! Do not fear the unbelievers and be blessed by the mercy of great God and being with the noble Prophet (s); these people cut my left hand unjustly. My Lord will drop them in the flames of the hell.

Then Hakam b. Tufayl al-Ta'i hit him on the head with a metal spear and martyred him.[28]

Al-'Abbas was around 34 at the time of martyrdom.[29]

The shrine of al-'Abbas b. 'Ali (a) in Arba'in 2014

In the Words of Imams (a)

At the beginning of the Ziyarah text of al-'Abbas b. 'Ali (a), Imam al-Sadiq (a) said, "Peace be with you, O righteous and obedient servant of God and His Prophet (s), and obedient to the Commander of the Believers (a) and al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a)."[30]

Imam al-Sajjad (a) is narrated as, "May God have mercy upon my uncle al-'Abbas. He surely made sacrifice and did a great fight until his hands were cut and he sacrificed himself for his brother. God gave him two wings like his uncle Ja'far al-Tayyar to fly in the paradise together with angels. Indeed, al-'Abbas has a position before the Almighty God that all the martyrs would wish to reach on the Day of Judgment."[31]

Imam al-Sadiq (a), in some of his phrases, had described al-'Abbas as, "[He (a) had] a impressive insight, great intelligence, deep and full faith, [he (a) made] jihad in the company of Imam al-Husayn (a), sacrifice, martyrdom in the way of his Imam (a), submission before the successor of the Prophet (s), approving the Imam (a) of his time, loyalty, striving until the last resorts, …"[32]

Imam al-Mahdi (a) said, "peace be with Abu l-Fadl al-'Abbas, son of the Commander of the Believers (a) who sacrificed his soul for his brother; used this world as a means for the hereafter and was sacrificed for his brother. He (a) was a guardian who tried hard to bring water to the thirsty of the camp and his both hands were cut in Jihad on the way of God. May God distances his killers Yazid b. Raqad and Hakim b. Tufayl al-Ta'i from His mercy."[33]

Further Reading


  1. al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 7, p. 429; Qummi, Nafas al-mahmum, p. 285
  2. Ibn Nama Hilli, Muthir al-ahzan, p. 254; Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, p. 89
  3. 'Allama al-Majlisi,Bihar al-anwar, vol. 101, p. 330
  4. Ibn Nama Hilli, Muthir al-ahzan, p. 254; Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, p. 90
  5. al-Nasiri, Mawlid al-'Abas b. 'Ali, p. 30
  6. al-Muzaffar, Batl al-'alqami, vol. 2, p. 108-109
  7. al-Muzaffar, Batl al-'alqami, vol. 2, p. 108-109
  8. al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 7, p. 429; Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, p. 117-118; al- Tabari, Tarikh Tabari (Trikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk), vol. 5, p. 412-413
  9. 'Allama al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 45, p. 40
  10. al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 7, p. 429; Ibn Nama Hilli, Muthir al-ahzan, p. 254
  11. al-Nasiri, Mawlid al-'Abas b. 'Ali, p. 62
  12. al-Nasiri, Mawlid al-'Abas b. 'Ali, p. 63
  13. al-Nasiri, Mawlid al-'Abas b. 'Ali, p. 64
  14. Ha'iri Mazandarani, Ma'ali al-sibtayn, vol. 1, p. 437; Birjandi, Kibrit al-ahmar, p. 385
  15. al-Zubayri, Nasab-i quraysh, vol. 1, p. 79; al-Baghdadi, al-Muhabbar, vol. 1, p. 44
  16. Hadimanish, "Farzandan wa nawadigan hazrat 'Abbas".
  17. See: Rabbani Khalkhali, Chihriyi dirakhshan qamar-i bani hashim, vol. 2, p. 127-227
  18. al- Tabari, Tarikh Tabari (Trikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk), vol. 5, p. 412; al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 7, p. 430; Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, p. 78; Ibn A'tham, al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 92
  19. pishwaiy, maqtal-i jami'-i sayyid al-shuhada, vol. 1, p. 838
  20. Baladhuri, Ansab al-ashraf, vol. 3, p. 183
  21. Ibn A'tham, al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 94; Ha'iri Mazandarani, Ma'ali al-sibtayn, vol. 1, p. 433; Abu Mikhnaf, Waq'at al-taf, p. 219-220
  22. Bahr al-'Ulm, Maqtal al-Husayn, p. 314; Ha'iri Mazandarani, Ma'ali al-sibtayn, vol. 1, p. 433
  23. Bahr al-'Ulm, Maqtal al-Husayn, p. 314; Birjandi, Kibrit al-ahmar, p. 386; al-Muzaffar, Batl al-'alqami, vol. 1, p. 97
  24. al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 338; 'Allama al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 45, p. 4; Sibt b. Jawzi, Tadhkirat al-khawas, vol. 2, p. 161; al-Tabrisi, A'lam al-Wra, vol. 1, p. 457; al-Dinawari, Akhbar al-tiwal, p. 25
  25. al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 7, p. 430; al- Tabari, Tarikh Tabari (Trikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk), vol. 5, p. 446; Ha'iri Mazandarani, Ma'ali al-sibtayn, vol. 1, p. 443
  26. al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 411-412; al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Tarjumi Irshad, p. 109-110
  27. al-Khwarazi, aqtal al-Husayn, vol. 2, p. 34; al-Muqarram, Hadisi-yi karbala, p. 262
  28. Ibn Shahrashb, Manaqib al Abi Talib, vol. 3, p. 256
  29. Tabrisi, I'lam al-wara bi-a'lam al-huda, vol. 1, p. 395
  30. Ibn Qulawayh, Kamil al-ziyarat, p. 786
  31. al-Shaykh al-Saudq, al-Khisal, vol. 1, p. 68
  32. al-Amin, A'yan al-Shi'a, vol. 7, p. 430
  33. al-Muzaffar, Batl al-'alqami, vol. 2, p. 311


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