The Honor of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.)
The sacred religion of Islam has defined the terms of honor and support in separate connotations. But in this context, intense defense of modesty, wealth, government, religion and law is termed as honor. Especially if a certain thing was earmarked for one particular group, family or individual and others want to partake in it, seize it or destroy it. And at this critical moment, the possessor of the thing rises in its defense.
The Almighty has threatened three types of people in this verse, hypocrites, sick at heart and slaves of desires.
‘If the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease and the agitators in the city do not desist, We shall most certainly set you over them, then they shall not be your neighbors in it but for a little while; Cursed: wherever they are found they shall be seized and murdered, a (horrible) murdering.’
(Surah Ahzaab: Verses 60-62)
Similarly, Allah mentions the honor of Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) in the following manner:
‘He said: My Lord! The prison house is dearer to me than that to which they invite me.’
(Surah Yusuf: Verses 33)
In both verses, the implication of honor is made with the same concept as defined earlier. Besides, traditions have explained that honor is among the divine traits.
Surely Allah is Honorable, He loves all those who are honorable. And it is due to His Honor that He prohibited all the evils, in its apparent and hidden form.
(Mizanul Hikmah, pg. 357, tradition 15,263)
In another tradition it is said:
“There is none more honorable than Allah.”
(Mizanul Hikmah, 357, hadith no 15265)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
“My ancestor Ibrahim was honorable, while I am more honorable than him”
Imam Baqir (a.s.) narrated an incident during the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) when some prisoners were brought to him. Since the captives were dangerous and treacherous, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ordered all, except one of them, to be executed. When the freed man inquired from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) about the reason for his pardon and subsequent freedom, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said that Jibraeel (a.s.) informed me that you have five characteristics, which are liked by Allah and His Prophet. They are extreme honor for the family, generosity, cordial disposition, truthfulness of tongue and bravery. When the man heard this, he embraced Islam and gained prominence among the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Later he got martyred in the battle of Yaak.
(Wasaelush-Shiah, vol. 14, pg 109, chap 77, tradition 10, Akhlaq in Quran)
Honor has become a rarity in the contemporary world. Arabs and non-Arabs alike have become alien to honor. However, there was an era when the Arab honorwas at the lips of everybody. The following incident should serve as an example of the Arab’s famed honor.
Behram Gaur lived under the tutelage of Noman Ibne Maqdar. Behram was learning etiquette and social propriety from Noman. One day he went on hunting and began chasing a deer. The deer got tired of constant running and entered a tent to seek refuge. Behram reached the tent and wanted to pounce on the deer. The owner of the tent, whose name was Qabiza, intervened. He told Behram that since the deer had taken refuge in his tent, he cannot allow Behram to lay his hands on the deer. If at all he intended to do any such thing, he will have to kill Qabiza first, only then he can proceed further. If Behram wanted anything else, he could take Qabiza’s horse, he suggested. Behram was stunned at Qabiza’s defiance for a mere deer.
(Zindagani-e-Qamar-e-Bani Hashim, pg. 94, compiled by Emaduddeen Husain Isfahani)
The readers would have understood the extent of the Arab’s honor from this incident. If an ordinary Arab could be so honorable, then imagine the extent of Hazrat Abbas’ (a.s.) honor, the like of which cannot be found in history. Abbas was an Arab stalwart from a noble family; his legacy of honor was inherited from both sides of his family. Although history provides only a few glimpses of his honor, he was unsurpassed even in that.
The author of Zindagani-e-Qamar-e-Bani Hashim, Emaddudeen Husain Isfahani writes that Abbas’ honor was so exalted that he never tolerated any inappropriate behavior or speech. It was due to this reason that Imam Husain (a.s.) had entrusted the task of the women folk’s embarkation atop camel’s back or alighting from it to Hazrat Abbas (a.s.). No mortal dare be around when Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) executed his responsibility. Also Hazrat Abbas’ (a.s.) presence ensured that there remained quite a distance between the women folks’ transports and the rest of the caravan.
(Zindagani-e-Qamar-e-Bani Hashim, pg. 96)
The author of Maqatil writes that the caravan of Imam Husain (a.s.) had reached Karbala on the second of Muharram. Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) had erected the tents on the banks of Euphrates river. But the enemy did not allow Ahle Bait (a.s.) to camp on Euphrates and asked them to shift farther from the river. When Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) heard this, he was enraged and dared the enemy to come forward with the proposal.
Even as the heated exchange was on, Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) summoned Hazrat Abbas (a.s.). Before leaving, Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) drew a line in front of the tents and announced aloud,
‘Whoever dares to step beyond this line will find his head separated from his body.’
During the conversation, Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) requested Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) to shift the tents farther. Much as Abbas (a.s.) did not want to budge from the spot, he did not say a single word. Quietly he returned to his earlier position and with his own hands removed the pegs of the tents and began shifting the camp away.
Hazrat Abbas’ (a.s.) honor did not allow him to protest against the command of Imam and let his own intention dominate his intellect. His reverence of Imam was much more than his own uncompromising principles. Abbas’ (a.s.) honor came out much more dazzling in obedience to Imam than his unrelenting attitude against the enemies.
In yet another example of Abbas’ (a.s.) honor, historians quote the following incident. Since the morning of Ashoora until noon, Abbas (a.s.) had actively assisted Imam Husain (a.s.) in carrying the wounded/martyred supporters of Imam from the battlefield to the camp. Despite this, Abbas (a.s.) never moved a step without the consent of Imam Husain (a.s.). At the same time, Abbas (a.s.) exhorted his brothers towards the glory of martyrdom and ensured that they all met death in front of his eyes.
When all the companions and relatives of Imam (a.s.) had departed, Abbas (a.s.), the proverbial last man standing, folded his hands and with extreme politeness sought Imam’s (a.s.) consent to leave for battlefield. Reluctance was writ large on the countenance of Imam (a.s.). He asked Abbas (a.s.) to make provision for thirsty children first and then leave for battle.
Abbas (a.s.) did as commanded and left to fetch water. Cutting through the hostile ranks and files of the enemy army, Abbas (a.s.) managed to reach the Euphrates. He filled the water bag with the river water. He cupped a little water in his own palm and said,
‘How can I taste you while my master and his children are thirsty?’
He threw the water back. History can never reproduce a more shining example of honor. His honor does not end here, but transcends even beyond this selfless act of sacrifice. As he headed towards the camp, enemies regrouped and launched a desperate onslaught. Abbas (a.s.) lost his right hand first and subsequently the emboldened enemies even severed his left hand. But Abbas’ (a.s.) fortitude and valour was such that he proclaimed – “Even if I am cut to pieces, I will not desist from my support and assistance to my Imam.”
The words uttered actually epitomize his innate sentiments for the defense of his Imam. These are worth pondering over. Indeed this is honor. Certainly the honor of
Hazrat Abbas (a.s.) shall remain unparalleled forever.