Abbas ibn Ali

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al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Alī
العباس بن علي
Al Abbas Mosque, Shrine Karbala.jpg
The shrine of Abbas on November 28, 2010 in Karbala, Karbala Governorate, Iraq
Born Sha'ban 4, 26 AH[1]
(647-05-15)May 15, 647
Medina, Hejaz (now in Saudi Arabia)[1]
Died Muharram 10, 61 AH
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Karbala, Umayyad Empire (now in Iraq)
Cause of death Killed during the Battle of Karbala by Yazid I's men while bringing some water from Euphrates river for the family of Muhammad
Resting place Shrine of Abbas, Karbalā, Iraq
Residence Medina, Hejaz (now in Saudi Arabia)
Ethnicity Hejazi Arab
Known for Battle of Karbala
Title أبو الفضل
(Arabic: Father of Virtue)
*قمر بني هاشم[2]
(Arabic: Moon of the Hashimites)
(Arabic: The provider of water‎‎)
(Persian: Flag/Standard bearer)
*شہنشاہِ وفا

(Arabic: Door to Hussein‎‎)
*باب الحوائج[3][4]
(Arabic: The door to fulfilling needs‎‎)
*افضل الشهداء
(Arabic: Most superior martyr‎‎)
*Abū Qurba
(Arabic: The owner of the skin of water‎‎)
*Strength of Hussein
Opponent(s) Yazid I
Spouse(s) Lubaba bint Ubaydillah
Children Ubaydullah ibn Abbas
Fadl ibn Abbas
Qasim ibn Abbas
Parent(s) Ali
Fatima (known as the mother of the sons)
Relatives Muhammad

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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]
Abbas ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala

Al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Ali (Arabic: العباس بن علي‎‎, Persian: عباس فرزند علی‎‎) also Qamar Banī Hāshim[6] (the moon of Banu Hashim), (born 4th Sha‘bān 26 AH – 10 Muharram 61 AH; approximately May 15, 647 – October 10, 680) was the son of Imam Ali, the first Imam of Shiite Muslims and the fourth Caliph of Sunni Muslims, and Fatima bint Hizam, commonly known as Mother of the Sons (Persian: 'أم البنين'‎‎).

Abbas is revered by Sunni and Shiite Muslims for his loyalty to his half-brother Hussein, his respect for the Households 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.[7]

Early life

Abbas was the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Ummul Banin. Abbas had three brothers – Abdullah ibn Ali, Jafar ibn Ali, and Usman ibn Ali. Narratives state that he did not open his eyes after he was born until his brother Hussein took him in his arms.

Abbas married a distant cousin, Lubaba. They had three sons – Fadl ibn Abbas, Qasim ibn Abbas, and Ubaydullah ibn Abbas.

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 AD. 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.[8][9]

Abbas was trained by his father in the art of battle, which may be one reason he resembled his father on the battlefield.

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, saying:

Yazid is a drunkard, a womanizer who is unfit for leadership.

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. Hussein's elder brother Hassan had made a pact[clarification needed] that they[clarification needed] 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[clarification needed] . With the help of Ubayd Allah, Yazid I conspires 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 ibin Akeel (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[clarification needed] , Hussein and his group were intercepted. They were forced into a detour and arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram, 61 AH. Hussein's camp was surrounded and cut off from the Euphrates river. The camp ran out of water on the 7th of Muharram.[citation needed]


The Euphrates river was occupied by Yazid I's army to prevent the camp of Hussein 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 not allowed[clarification needed] to fight. He was only allowed to get water. Thus, he went to the river to get water for the children in Hussein's camp.[10] 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!.[8] 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.[clarification needed] Once he had made it to the river, he started filling the bag with water. Abbas's loyalty to Hussein was so great that, though 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. To this very day, the water of the Euphrates winds past the grave of Abbas. 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, amputating 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.[11] 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 killed 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 night of the 8th 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[clarification needed] 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.[12] The Albanian Bektashi community also maintain a shrine to Abbas on the summit of Mount Tomorr, where an annual pilgrimage is held every August.


Al-Abbas had five sons – Ubaidullah, Fadhl, Hassan, Qasim, and Muhammad – and two daughters. Ibn Shahrashub, the famous historian, recorded that Muhammad 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, added that Hassan ibn Abbas had sons and descendants, too. 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.

Ali (son of Hussein), had great respect for his uncle Ubaidullah. 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 was a famous orator and poet. He composed several poetic verses eulogizing his ancestor, al-Abbas. Hamza ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-Abbas copied his ancestor, Amir ul-Mu'minin.[clarification needed] His grandson[clarification needed] Mohammed ibn Ali, a famous poet, resided in Basra and died in AH 286.97[clarification needed]

Ibrahim Jardaqa was another descendant of al-Abbas. He was a jurist and a man of letters, and was well known for his ascetics[clarification needed]. Abdullah ibn Ali ibn Ibrahim wrote several books, including one titled al-Ja'fariyya. He died in Egypt in AH 312. Al-Abbas ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-Abbas was a great celebrity among the Hashemites; he visited Baghdad during the reign of Harun ar-Rashid. He was one of the most celebrated poets. 98[clarification needed]

Abdullah ibn al-Abbas, another son of al-Abbas, was also famous for his virtue and celebrity. When he was informed about Abdullah's death, the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'moun said, "All people are the same after your departure, son of al-Abbas!"[clarification needed] 99[clarification needed] Abu't-Tayyib Mohammed ibn Hamza had a good personality.[clarification needed] He was also well known for his regard for his relatives and his virtue. He left a large fortune in Jordan where he was killed in AH 291.[clarification needed] His descendants were called "sons of the martyr".

Ubaidullah ibn al-Hasan was the governor and qadi of Mecca and Medina during the reign of al-Ma'moun. Abu-Ya'la al-Hamza ibn al-Qasim ibn Ali ibn Hamza ibn al-Hasan ibn Ubaidullah ibn al-Abbas ibn Ali was one of the most celebrated men of knowledge.[clarification needed] 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 various fields of knowledge, especially 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.[13]


Ghazi, or Gha'Z (غازی),[clarification needed] means "soldier who returns successfully from the battle". Although Abbas was killed at Karbala, he is known as Ghazi 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.[clarification needed] He is also known as Abu Fazl (ابوالفضل), meaning the father of heavenly graces and/or the father of the graceful manner. Abbas (as) is the king of chivalry and the most loyal companion to his brother Imam Hussain (as). Abbas ibn Ali is also known as-Qamar Bani Hashim, meaning the moon of the Hashemites.[clarification needed]

Horse of Abbas

Abbas was given a horse named "Uqab" (Eagle).[14] 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 Abdul 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).[14][15][16]

See also


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  13. Al-Abbas by Badr Shahin.
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External links