Abul Fazl al Abbas: Eminence and Status
Allah the Almighty sent Prophet Moosa (a.s.) for the guidance of the rebellious Firaun. To implement this gigantic task, he (a.s.) beseeched the Almighty,
“Appoint a minister from my progeny; my brother Haroon; strengthen my back with him; and make him a partner in my affairs. ”
(Surah Taha, Verses 29-31)
Prophet Moosa (a.s.) was amongst the Prophets of Allah with unflinching determination (Ulul Azm). The Holy Quran has explained determination thus,
“And if you exercise patience and adopt piety, then surely these are from the affairs that require determination. ”
(Surah Ale Imran, Verse, 186)
Hazrat Luqman (a.s.) advised his son,
“O my son! Establish prayers, enjoin good, restrain from evil and be patient over whatever (calamity) befalls you. Surely, these are from the affairs that require determination. “
The above verse clearly shows that establishment of prayers, enjoinment of good, restraining from evil and exercising patience on all calamities and difficulties that afflict us require a great deal of courage and resolute determination.
On the order of Allah the Almighty, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) announced his Prophethood and went public with his mission. The occasion was Dawat Zul Asheerah. After making the necessary announcements, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) sought a helper and minister for himself. Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibne Abi Taalib (a.s.) promised to help and assist him (s.a.w.a.) in his mission.
From the aforementioned incidents, it becomes amply clear that for monumental tasks such as these, even the greatest Prophets and Messengers of Allah require the help and assistance of somebody. Also, this supporter, helper and minister should be from the family of the Prophet. Prophet Haroon (a.s.) was the brother of Prophet Moosa (a.s.) while Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) was the brother of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).
Imam Husain (a.s.) and Determination
In Ziyaarat-e-Waaresah, we find the following sentences,
“I bear witness that verily you established prayers, paid the poor-rate, enjoined good and refrained from evil and obeyed Allah and His Messenger till certainty (death) came to you.”
The patience exercised by Imam Husain (a.s.) in fulfilling the abovementioned obligations is known to all. So, did this determination and decisiveness not require a brother, a minister and a companion, who would support the Imam (a.s.) and strengthen his back? In proportion to the responsibility and duty imposed by Him on Imam Husain (a.s.), Allah the Almighty had granted him (a.s.) an equally great and magnificent brother in Hazrat Abul Fazl al-Abbas (a.s.). Like Prophet Haroon (a.s.) and Imam Ali (a.s.), Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) too remained with the divine proof and Allah’s representative (a.s.) through thick and thin. Following in their footsteps, Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) was on a lofty pedestal vis-à-vis ethics and morality. Had infallibility not been restricted to the fourteen infallibles (a.s.) on account of divine prudence, it would not be surprising if Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) too would have been included amongst one of the immaculate ones protected by Allah! Although, officially Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) is not enlisted among the infallible guides, nevertheless, he is protected and preserved from all kinds of sins and errors. Moreover, he enjoys discretionary powers over the functioning of the universe.
Imam Husain’s (a.s.) Sacrifice
The sayings of the infallible guides (a.s.) are neither emotional outbursts nor exaggerations. Each and every alphabet uttered by them is based on reality and is an interpretation of divine will. In the teachings of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), the Imam of the time is axis of the universe and the heart of the contingent world. Imam is the medium through which bounties are being conferred on this universe by divinity. How expressive are the following sentences of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) ziyaarat,
“Divine intention in the destinies of His affairs descends to you and emanates from your houses. “
(Mafatihul Jinan (Farsi), P. 423)
It becomes amply manifest that divine intention is routed through the Imam of the time. It is he who is the medium of the conferment of divine grace.
Imam Husain (a.s.) was the Imam of the time and Allah’s proof upon His creatures. All of Allah’s affairs emanate through him. He is the heart of the contingent world. This universe exists and receives subsistence only because of him. Now, kindly pay attention to the statement of Imam Husain (a.s.), which he has said to Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) and take a call if there is anybody in the mortal world who can determine and quantify the status and position of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.)!
On the 9th of Muharram, Ibn Sa’d ordered his army to attack Imam Husain’s (a.s.) camp. At that moment, Imam (a.s.) was sitting in front of his tent with his head resting on his sword. He went into light slumber when he heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) say, “Soon, you will meet me.” In this very state, the enemy’s rampaging forces approached. When Janab Zainab (s.a.) heard the sounds of the soldiers, she said to her brother, ‘The enemies are coming!’ Imam Husain (a.s.) requested his brother Abbas (a.s.),
“May I be sacrificed for you! Please ride atop the horse and ask them the purpose of their arrival. “
(Maqtal-e-Husain Moqirram, p. 252)
Reflect on the statement of Imam Husain (a.s.), ‘May I be sacrificed for you!’ Imagine the greatness and prominence of Abbas (a.s.) on whom the Imam of the universe and the fifth of ‘the People of the Cloak’ (Ahle Kisaa) is willing to be sacrificed! Think about the elevated position of Abbas’ morality and ethics that the infallible Imam (a.s.) is willing to hold his life as ransom for him and this will is naught but Divine Intention!
Perhaps, in some minds there may arise a question that such statements are also found in the ziyaarat of the martyrs of Karbala, ‘May my father and mother be held your ransom!’ while this ziyaarat too is taught by the Imams (a.s.). As a reply to this objection, it will suffice to state that in this ziyaarat, Imam Sadeq (a.s.) is teaching his companion Safwaan the method of ziyaarat. At the plane of teaching and training, the altitude and rank of the students has to be taken into consideration. But, Imam Husain (a.s.) is not teaching and training anyone; rather, he is expressing his real emotions and innate feelings for Hazrat Abbas (a.s.).
Seeing this great position of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), one is inevitably reminded of the saying of his honorable father, ‘The ocean of knowledge flows from me and no bird’s flight can reach to the heights of my perfection. ‘ Verily, Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) is called as “Abu al-Fazl” which means ‘the father of excellence’. In other words, all excellences and perfections have assimilated in him.
In Islam, the value and significance of a person is not in relation to the worldly bounties possessed by him. Rather, his worth and importance is gauged by the parameters of correct beliefs, good deeds, ethics and morality. The thing that lends credence to good actions and raises the stock of a person is his belief. Therefore, it is said that
‘the sleep of a scholar is better than the awakening of an ignorant’.
Belief is related to the heart. Only he who is aware of the depth of the heart and the waves that lash its shores can judge a person’s belief. Allah the Almighty has given the power to the holy Imams (a.s.) to be aware of each individual’s intention and condition of the heart. Hence, Imam is the best person to judge a person’s heart and true intention.
Regarding Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), Imam Sadeq (a.s.) informs,
“Our uncle, Abbas (a.s.), had complete insight. His belief was very firm and unflinching. He fought with my (great-grand) father, Imam Husain (a.s.).”
(Nafasul Mahmoom p. 332)
If an Imam (a.s.) extols someone’s insight and belief and expresses his attachment towards him (our uncle Abbas), one can realize the greatness of the belief of such a person. In the above tradition, Imam (a.s.) prides over the belief of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) and his relation with him through the term ‘our uncle Abbas’.
It was his insight and belief that had brought Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) to Karbala. He had not come to fulfill familial and tribal relations and obligations but to oblige the demands of his creed. He did not consider Imam Husain (a.s.) as his brother only but regarded him as Allah’s proof, whose defense he regarded as a religious obligation and in concordance with divine satisfaction. Therefore, when the accursed oppressors’ attack severed the right hand of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), he recited the following poem,
“By Allah! Even if you sever my hand, I will continue to support my religion forever I will perennially protect the ever-truthful Imam and the grandson of the pure and trustworthy Prophet. “
Each and every word of the above couplet is a testimony of the great faith possessed by Hazrat Abbas (a.s.). In the face of this colossal calamity, the only thought that comes to his mind is that of the ever-truthful Imam of Islam. The point is about the support of religion and the protection of the Imam of the time. This couplet of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) is a thought-provoking reminder for the people of all times towards their responsibilities. The duty of protecting the Imam does not end even with the severance of the hand.
Highest of Levels
In paradise, the grade and position that a person will enjoy will be directly proportionate to the level of his belief. In other words, the criteria for superiority and excellence in heaven will be nothing except belief and good deeds, not material bounties and worldly virtues. About Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), Imam Zainul Aabedeen (a.s.) says,
“May Allah shower His mercy on Abbas! Certainly, he has sacrificed a lot and bore massive atrocities. He kept defending his brother (Imam Husain (a.s.)) with all his life till he lost both his hands. Instead of his lost hands, Allah the Almighty has granted him two wings in paradise by which he flies in the heavens along with the angels, just as He had granted Janab Jafar Ibne Abi Taalib (a.s.). Surely, Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) enjoys such eminence and position in front of Allah that all the martyrs will be envious of him on the Day of Judgment. ”
The term ‘all the martyrs’ carries immense significance and depicts the belief and sincerity of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.).
A Few Special Qualities
We have mentioned earlier that Hazrat Abul Fazl al-Abbas (a.s.) was for Imam Husain (a.s.) what Prophet Haroon (a.s.) was for Prophet Moosa (a.s.) and Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). But Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) had some special qualities in which he was unique and unequalled.
“Amongst those who have sacrificed their lives for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), Janab-e-Hamzah (a.s.) enjoys an exceptional status. He is remembered with the title of ‘Chief of the Martyrs’ (sayyed al-shohadaa). He attained martyrdom in order to protect the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). He was killed when he was attacked with a spear by the Abyssinian slave of Hind, Abu Sufyan’s wife. His liver was removed from his corpse and eaten by Hind, who became notorious in history as the ‘liver-eater’. His martyrdom had a deep impact on the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).
But Janab-e-Hamzah’s (a.s.) head was not severed from his body. His hands were not chopped off. He was not deprived of water for three days. He was the commander but providing water for thirsty children was not his responsibility.
“Janab-e-Jafar Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) was among those great martyrs, whose loss left the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) greatly aggrieved and sorrowful. Both his hands were sliced, for which Allah the Almighty had rewarded him with two wings in paradise. Hence, he became famous as Jafar al-Tayyaar (the flier).
Surely, Janab-e-Jafar’s hands were sliced but his head was not severed from his body nor was it raised on a spear.
“The way Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) defended the holy religion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) is, and shall remain, unmatched and unparalleled. He played a critical role in every battle and led on all fronts. In the Battle of Ohad, when the so-called Muslims forsook the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and left him all alone among the enemy ranks, and Janab-e-Hamzah (a.s.) had attained martyrdom, it was Ali (a.s.) alone who stood in the ruins and single-handedly defended the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) from the onslaught of the polytheists. During this heated clash, his sword broke into two. Immediately, the archangel Jibraeel (a.s.) brought the “Zulfiqaar” from the heavens. In that particular battle, seventy wounds were inflicted on the holy body of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). In the Battle of Khandaq, a severe wound was inflicted on his head. Finally, in the Grand Mosque at Kufa, Ibne Muljim, the accursed, struck on his head on that very wound, which he had received in the Battle of Khandaq. As a result, his head split into two and a mountain of tragedy was wreaked on the Muslim nation.
Keeping these incidents, and all other similar ones, in mind, analyze one special quality of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.). The bravery and courage of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) is known to all and sundry. When Zuhair (a.r.) reminded him of his father’s desire, Abbas (a.s.) loosened his body on the horse, due to which, the saddle’s traction broke. Despite mounting a huge horse, his feet touched the ground.
Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) was unique in the tribulations and sufferings forced on him. Yet, he (a.s.) endured all these for Allah’s pleasure and obedience of the Imam of the time with complete recognition and absolute faith. We shall mention some of them hereunder:
1. All the great warriors and combatants of history had an opportunity to display their courage and valor in the battlefield. But when Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) requested Imam Husain (a.s.) to fight, Imam (a.s.) asked him instead to get water for the thirsty children. Obviously, there is a vast difference in mindsets between going out to secure water for thirsty children and to venture out for a fight. At that moment, the emotion of obedience and compliance displayed by Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) is the greatest show of courage. Thus, Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), the fearless combatant, did not get an opportunity to display his fighting skills in the battlefield.
Ah! The power of Imam, the zeal of valor subdued
Alas! The storm unleashed for permission refused
2. Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) was unique even in his position as provider of water, notwithstanding the fact, that offering water had been a family status for him. His grandfather, Hazrat Abu Taalib (a.s.) always supplied drinking water for the pilgrims who visited the Holy Kabah at Mecca. But there is a huge disparity in giving water to the pilgrims during Haj, when there is abundant water available, and to fetch water for the thirsty children of Imam Husain (a.s.). Perhaps, this is the reason that Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) was given the title of “Provider of water for the children and womenfolk”. Greatness lied in the attempt to obtain water for the scorched throats while not allowing one’s own burnt tongue and gullet to get a feel of the water’s coolness.
3. When the Abyssinian slave attacked Janab-e-Hamzah (a.s.), there was no water-skin on his chest and there was no anxiety of thirsty children on his mind. But when the wretched opponent attacked the chest of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) with an arrow, the water-skin that he was protecting with all his life after the severing of his hands was ruptured and all the water spilled.
4. Ibn Muljim, the accursed, attacked the holy head of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) with a poisonous sword. Yet, at that moment, Ali (a.s.) was in the mosque’s prayer-niche, not on the back of his horse. His hands were intact due to which he could hold his injured head together. But when Hazrat Abbas’s (a.s.) head was attacked, he was without his arms, his chest was riddled with arrows and he was on the back of his horse. To fall on the ground in this condition, badly injured and wounded, is specific only to the son of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), a peculiarity in which he is unique.
5. To go to the river Euphrates, fill the water in the water-bag and yet deprive one’s own thirsty self of water!
6. Every martyr, who went to the battlefield on the day of Aashoora, was dear and beloved to Imam Husain (a.s.). But for nobody’s death did Imam Husain (a.s.) claim, ‘Now, my back is broken!’
7. Imam Husain (a.s.) brought the corpse of every martyr from the battlefield. But he did not bring the dead body of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) and allowed it to remain on the shores of Euphrates. He only brought the severed arms to his camp. The reason for this was the uniqueness of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.). Like his position and status, Allah the Almighty desired to keep his calamities unique as well. If you deliberate a little, you will realize that in front of the shrine of an infallible, no shrine of a non-infallible stands. In Medina, opposite the grave of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) are the destroyed graves of the Imams (a.s.) of Jannat al-Baqee’ and Janab-e-Fatimah Zahra (s.a.). Of course, this is the country of the Wahhabis and its all their doing. But in Najaf, Iraq, only the memorial of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) stands. In Kazmain, Iraq, are the shrines of Imam Moosa al-Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.). In Mashhad, Iran, only the sacred grave of Imam Reza (a.s.) exists. In Saamarra, Iraq, the shrines of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.) and Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) co-exist. All are infallible (a.s.) and there is no non-infallible. But in the case of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), Allah the Almighty has granted him the honor of allowing his shrine to exist with that of Imam Husain (a.s.) in the sacrosanct city of Karbala. The huge inflow of pilgrims and visitors to his holy grave and the countless miracles that occur in it are evidences enough that Allah the Almighty wants to raise the position and status of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) even higher. For, Allah’s satisfaction cannot be expressed without the power of miracles and extraordinary feats. Also, Allah does not raise anyone’s eminence in vain. Such great eminence and stature, as granted to Hazrat Abbas (a.s.), is enough proof that no martyr enjoys as high a position as him and on the Day of Judgment, everybody will be envious of his eminence and significance.
8. A martyr’s sacrifice can never be fully compensated in this world. It will be in the Hereafter that Allah will reward and punish each one in exact accordance with his acts in this world. Thus, one can only imagine the greatness and rewards of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) on the Day of Judgment and in the Hereafter.
The author of Asraar al-Shahaadah has narrated this incident from a few reliable persons:
On the Day of Judgment, when the people gathered will encounter the harsh difficulties of the Hereafter, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) will send Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) to Janab-e-Zahra (s.a.) and invite her to the position of intercession (shafaa’h). Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) will ask her, “What do you have for intercession? What have you stored for this great and frightful day?” She (a.s.) will reply,
“O Ameerul Momineen (a.s.)! On this great day, I have the two chopped hands of my son Abbas! ”
Hazrat Fatema Zahra (s.a.) is the lady of the Day of Judgment and its intercessor. She (s.a.) is the daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the wife of Ali (a.s.), who is the distributor of heaven and hell. Also, she (s.a.) is the mother of the chiefs of the youth of paradise, Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.). When she (s.a.), despite all these greatnesses and positions, is using the severed arms of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) for intercession, one cannot just imagine his greatness!
O Allah! For the sake of the atrocities inflicted on Hazrat Zahra (s.a.), please grant us the intercession of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) on the Day of Judgment. Please confer on us the grace of defending, praying for, protecting and protecting the message of the Imam of our time, Hazrat Hujjat Ibn al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.)! Aameen!