Abbas ibn Ali – Role Model for Seekers of Allah

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Abbas ibn Ali

Role Model for Seekers of Allah

Abbas ibn Ali is famous by the title of ‘Abbas Alamdar’. Alamdar means standard of an army. Abbas is the ‘standard bearer’ of the army of Husayn ibn Ali, his brother and his Imam.

Fatimah bint Huzam

After the death of Fatimah bint Mohammad, Ali ibn Abi Talib expressed to his brother Aqeel ibn Abi Talib to find him a wife. On hearing that, he suggested that he should marry Umm ul-Banin al-Kulabiyya because none is braver and courageous than her ancestors in the land of Arab.

Then Aqeel brought the message to the leader of Kulabiyya. Immediately, he expressed his joy and asked his daughter who happily replied that she will follow her father’s command.

She was famous as Umm ul-Banin but her name was Fatimah bint Huzam. When after marriage she stepped into the house of Ali from her father’s. First, she kissed the steps and then she bowed. Moreover she humbly said,

“This is not the house of Fatimah bint Huzam but of Fatimah bint Mohammad and I can never match her grandeur. Hence, I am a slave and a slave must act according to her status.”

Also, she was welcomed with flowers from the women of Ali’s clan and men with unsheathed sword both of whom respectfully stood at the entrance.

When she entered she hugged Hasan, Husayn, Zaynab and Kulthum and showed affection. In addition she expressed to them,

“O my lords! Accept me as your slave. O princes and princesses! Accept me in your service.”

Fatimah bint Huzam once said,

“I am proud of the fact that I am slave of Fatimah bint Mohammad and wife of Ali.”

First Sight and love for Husayn

She gave birth to Abbas on 4th Shaban 26 H. Surprisingly, the child neither opened his eyes nor drank any milk. What was happening! Was that the seeker desired the beloved! In other words Abbas was waiting for his Imam (Murshid Kamil). Moreover Imam Husayn came to Fatimah bint Huzam when he heard the news. He held his brother and said azan in his ear. Immediately, Abbas opened his eyes and the first face he saw was that of his Imam (Murshid). Husayn put his sacred tongue into the mouth of Abbas who started sucking it.

Husayn ibn Ali requested his father to let him train Abbas. Ali replied in affirmative and expressed his happiness and this was how his training began.

Abbas was master of great attributes such as valour, courage and bravery. Also he was fiercest in battlefield. On the other hand Allah had blessed him with handsome looks that he became famous by the title of ‘Moon of Hashimites’ (Qamar Banu Hashim).

Abbas passionately and ardently loved (Ishq) Husayn. Only the seekers of Truth can understand this feeling. Husayn was his brother. Despite the fact, he never addressed him by the word ‘brother’. He always called him his ‘Master’ or ‘Sayyid’ out of love and respect. Abbas deeply loved and cared for Husayn’s children as well especially Sakina. It was Sakina’s request that he headed towards the river.

Sad Silence of Abbas

Abbas kept watching when Imam Husayn migrated from Madina on 28th Rajab 61 H. Abbas again kept silent when Zaynab, Kulthum, Ruqayya and all sacred members of Prophet’s Family accompanied Husayn. As the exalted Imam started his journey to Iraq shortening his Hajj into Umra, Abbas kept quiet on the order of his Imam. On their way they were informed of martyrdom of ibn Aqeel and Abbas’ anger roused yet he remained patient. Also Hurr diverted the route of caravan to Karbala and Abbas submitted to his master’s wish. The caravan then approached Karbala on 2nd Muharram 61 Hijri. Camps were placed and Abbas waited for the order of Imam. Abbas, the symbol of loyalty is silent.

Yazid’s army surrounded Husayn’s camp, cut it off from Euphrates River. Immediately, Abbas withdrew his sword but the great Imam said that they will not start the battle. The camp of children of Prophet ran out of water on 7th of Muharram. The women and children were weeping with thirst. At that moment, Abbas with grief looked at the face of his Imam for orders. Yet again the Imam answered him that they will not start the battle and he submits to the order.

O Abbas! May I sacrifice myself at your loyalty and submission! O son of Ali! Your submission and loyalty is unmatched.


Abbas asked for the Imam’s permission at every turn of the event but Husayn told him to observe patience. Hence, the age was astonished at the exalted stage of his submission.

The army of Yazid was terrorised of Abbas. They were also afraid and dreaded him. Such was the fear in their hearts that Umar ibn Saeed wrote to ibn Ziyad that their army was outnumbered as long as Abbas was with Husayn.

A trick played to divert the loyalty of Abbas from Husayn. The enemy used deception to separate seeker from his Imam (Murshid) but how can tricks and cleverness succeed before the lover! They could not even budge his resoluteness.

In the court of Yazid was present Jarir bin Abdullah Fehla Kalabi who was a cousin of Fatimah bint Huzam. He said to Yazid that sons of his cousin namely Abbas, Abdullah, Jafar and Uthman were in the caravan of Husayn and to grant immunity to them before the battle. For the said purpose, even a letter was drafted and Shemr who was also from the same family said yes to the scheme.

Jarir bin Abdullah Fehla Kalabi handed the letter to his slave, Irfan and ordered, “Take this letter to the brothers and do not let any other person hear of it.”

Response to letter

Irfan took the letter. He went to Karbala and handed it to Abbas. He answered Irfan,

“Tell my so called benefactor, Abdullah that I am not like him to sit in the comforts granted by ibn Ziyad. Allah is enough for them and we seek what Allah has already written.”

Zaynab called Abbas when she heard of the letter and asked him,

“Do you want Shemr’s immunity?”

Abbas answered,

“Sister! May those feet break which leave Imam! May those eyes explode that no longer desire to seek Husayn. I have replied. Imam Husayn is enough for me.”

On 8th Muharram, Fizza ran towards Zaynab and said that Abbas was holding the pillar of the camp and was crying. Sister called her brother and kissed his forehead. Then she said,

“Abbas! My beloved brother, may I sacrifice for you. Why are you insisting to make your brother Husayn and sister Zaynab alone in this stranger city? We left Madina depending upon you. The Syrian army cannot dare to even look towards our camps till you are alive.”

Abbas remained quite. 9th Muharram passed away and it is 10th. Imam Husayn called Abbas. He at times kissed his forehead and at times his arms and Zaynab is amazed at the love between the two brothers. It was the last night of Banu Hashim.

The Trial

The world’s biggest trial started. It was 10th Muharram. Moreover the sky was silent, land was scared and clouds drifted before the sun. It was like the sun had lost its power. It was tyranny, cruelty, oppression and injustice. One by one the members of the sacred Family were martyred. Abbas looked at the face of his Imam with longing and sadness.

Water for Children

How painful it was for Abbas who supressed his heart and wished for death if not allowed to fight. Husayn kissed his forehead and in that moment wife of Abbas cried that Sakina was thirsty. He ran towards her thinking how could he had let her cry. As long as he lived he would not allow her pain. Children asked for water. Asghar was thirsty. Abbas sat and held empty bag of water from Sakina. He then sought permission from Husayn with bag in one hand and standard in the other.

Husayn allowed Abbas to bring water for thirsty children. He met everyone in the camp before leaving. He was not to fight but be defensive and had only a spear.

Abbas, son of Ali rode towards the river. Moreover the dust gathered and everyone in Yazid’s army got alert. From one corner of the river, army of Yazid drifts back. With one spear he killed many villains. However, he could have killed all if allowed by the great Imam.

Reached the river and filled the bag but look at his loyalty that he did not even take a sip. How could he when his beloved princes and princesses were thirsty! Then he spurred his horse but the enemy decided to surround him. Yet he rode with lightning speed towards the camp.


Accursed Noufal attacked him from behind and amputated his right arm. Then Abbas held the bag of water in his left hand and standard under his shoulder. Suddenly, Hakam bin Taufail attacked his left arm. It was also amputated. Then he held the bag of water in his mouth looking at the sky and made one last request to Allah,

“O Lord! Children of your Prophet are thirsty. I am taking water for your beloved’s children.”

Accursed Hurmal aimed arrow at the bag of water and it burst open. At that moment, heart of Abbas sank and desired for life to end. A tyrant aimed at his head with mace and Abbas was martyred.

Husayn said when he heard of his martyrdom,

“Today I have suffered a great loss.”

Model for Seekers of Allah

The unmatched grandeur of Abbas ibn Ali lies in the fact that he was epitome of loyalty, surrender and submission. Moreover no one can match his grandeur. He never gave advice to his Imam boldly and never hesitated looking at the circumstances. Therefore, like a seeker looked at the sacred face of his Imam and waited for orders. Whatever the exalted Imam said, Abbas accepted and submitted.

His life was the life of loyalty towards Husayn and he holds the great example for seekers of Allah. In the path of Faqr, loyalty and sacrifice are of great importance. The more seeker perfects loyalty and sacrifice, the more he heads towards an eternal life. Abbas set such an example of loyalty and sacrifice which no one else can meet. With attention to this incident “Imam” is Husayn ibn Ali and “seeker” is Abbas ibn Ali. Hence, he is role model for the seekers of Allah.


This blog is English translation of an Urdu article of the magazine ‘Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore’ for the month of January, 2009. The title of the Urdu article is:

پیکرِ وفا اور طالبانِ مولیٰ کے لیے مشعلِ راہ حضرت عباس عَلَمدار علیہ السلام

Originally penned by Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is presently in English by Sahibzadi Muneeza Najib Sarwari Qadri exclusively for the website. For articles in Urdu language click the link now

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