Al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib
|Al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib|
|Well-Known Relatives||'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas (son)|
|Birth||56 before Hijra/567|
|Place of Birth||Mecca|
|Place(s) of Residence||Mecca, Medina|
|Burial Place||Al-Baqi', Medina|
|Presence at Ghazwas||Hunayn|
|Known for||The Prophet's (s) uncle|
|Notable Roles||Siqaya and Rifada|
Al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib (Arabic: العَبّاس بن عَبدُالمُطَّلِب) (b. 56 before Hijra/567-32/652) was an uncle of Prophet Muhammad (s) and the ancestor of the Abbasid caliphs. During his childhood and adolescence, he was a playmate of the Prophet (s). Although there is a disagreement about when he converted to Islam, he tried to support the Prophet (s) even before his conversion to Islam. It is widely believed that he converted to Islam after the Hijra, although he supported the Prophet (s) in the Pledge of 'Aqaba which occurred before Hijra. He died in the period of 'Uthman b. 'Affan's caliphate and was buried in al-Baqi'.
Al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf b. Qusayy b. Kilab b. Murra b. Ka'b b. Lu'ayy was an uncle of the Prophet (s) and a son of 'Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet's (s) grandfather, and his mother was Nutayla. He was born three years before 'Am al-Fil and 56 years before Hijra in Mecca in a family which was in charge of the Quraysh tribe. Al-'Abbas was one of the youngest sons of 'Abd al-Muttalib. He was only three years older than the Prophet (s).
|Family tree of the Prophet (s)|
Life before the Prophethood of the Prophet (s)
Since al-'Abbas and the Prophet (s) were of almost the same age and since the Prophet (s) lived in 'Abd al-Muttalib's house, they were playmates and friends in addition to their kinship. Both of them carried stones on their shoulders for the reconstruction of the Ka'ba when they were teenagers. Al-'Abbas accompanied the Prophet (s) when he was a child, a teenager, and an adult so that everyone who was looking for the Prophet (s) went to al-'Abbas.
Like other people from Quraysh, al-'Abbas was a merchant and a rich man. After Abu Talib and during his life, he occupied the position of supplying water and food for the visitors of Mecca and later the "construction of Masjid al-Haram". During the drought in Mecca, al-'Abbas took Ja'far b. Abi Talib to his house in order to decrease the expenses of Abu Talib.
After the Prophethood of the Prophet (s)
Al-'Abbas attended the event of Yawm al-Dar. Although he did not convert to Islam for a while after the bi'tha (the beginning of the Prophet's prophethood), he never opposed the Prophet (s); rather he always supported him. During the three years of sanctions in Shi'b Abi Talib, al-'Abbas was beside other people of Banu Hashim in order to support the Prophet (s).
Al-'Abbas married Lubaba al-Kubra (Umm al-Fadl), the daughter of Harith b. Hazan from Banu 'Amir, attributed to the king of Rabi'a.
Conversion to Islam
There are different accounts of al-'Abbas's conversion to Islam: early days of Islam, on the eve of Hijra, before the Battle of Badr, after being taken as captive in the Battle of Badr, or in the Battle of Khaybar. According to al-Dhahabi, it seems that al-'Abbas converted to Islam after the Battle of Badr. However, Ibn Athir takes the Prophet's (s) order that al-'Abbas should not be killed to be evidence that he was already a Muslim before the battle.
However, according to some sources, Umm al-Fadl, al-'Abbas's wife, was the second woman who converted to Islam. After the Hijra, the Prophet (s) separated his daughter, Zaynab bt. Muhammad, who had converted to Islam from her husband, Abu l-'As, who had not converted to Islam. They remained separated until 6/627 when Abu l-'As converted to Islam. This shows that the ruling of separation between a Muslim wife and a non-Muslim husband was in place at least after the Hijra. Therefore, if al-'Abbas was a polytheist, the Prophet (s) would separate him from his wife.
After the Hijra
Against Muslims in the Battle of Badr
In the Battle of Badr which was the first military action by the Quraysh against the Prophet (s), people of Mecca, who were rushing towards Medina to save their commercial caravan, forced al-'Abbas and some other people from Banu Hashim to accompany them. Al-'Abbas let the Prophet (s) know about the Quraysh's action and the reason why he was with them. According to a report, in his letter, he pointed out to the Prophet (s) that he would lead the Quraysh's army to a defeat if he could.
It is said that when 'Abbas was taken as captive in the battle, he and the Prophet (s) negotiated over the ransom of Badr's captives. According to some sources, the Quran 8:70, is concerned with this story. However, Ibn Hisham did not mention al-'Abbas as a captive of Badr.
After the Battle of Badr
When al-'Abbas was released after the Battle of Badr, he returned to Mecca and asked the Prophet (s) to let him migrate to Medina. In response, the Prophet (s) said: "stay in your place. God will seal the migration (Hijra) with you, as he has sealed prophethood with me."
Both before and after the Battle of Badr, al-'Abbas asked the Prophet (s) to let him migrate to Medina, but he received the same response from the Prophet (s) every time. Thus, he stayed in Mecca at the command of the Prophet (s) to report the actions of the Quraysh against the Prophet (s). He wrote letters to the Prophet (s) with respect to the battles of Badr, Uhud, and Khandaq and let him know about Quraysh's plans. He finally migrated to Medina a short time before the Conquest of Mecca and joined the Prophet (s). He played a crucial role in the Conquest of Mecca and the unconditional surrender of the Quraysh to the Prophet (s).
Battle of Hunayn
Al-'Abbas was actively present in the Battle of Hunayn which occurred a short time after the Conquest of Mecca. When people in the Islamic army ran away and left the Prophet (s) alone after a camisado was launched by polytheists, al-'Abbas fought on the right side of the Prophet (s), his son, Fadl, fought on his left side, and Ali (a) fought in front of him. They resisted so adamantly that the Quran 9:26, was revealed about them.
According to al-Baladhuri, on the day when the Battle of Hunayn began, some people tried to attack and assassinate the Prophet (s) while al-'Abbas was holding the bridle of the Prophet's (s) camel. Al-'Abbas seized one of the attackers and told a servant of the Prophet (s): "hit! No matter which of us you will kill!" The servant killed the enemy. On this account, al-'Abbas did the same with six other attackers. He then kissed the Prophet (s) and prayed for him.
According to historical accounts, 'Abbas was a nobleman, intelligent, awesome, tolerant, generous, handsome, very white, tall, sturdy, and loud. According to al-Dhahabi, he was one of the tallest, most handsome, most awesome, loudest, most tolerant gentlemen. About his height, it is said that he was taller than all people when they circumambulated around the Ka'ba and seemed like a white howdah.
Al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib died on Friday, Rajab 14, 32 (February 21, 653) in the period of 'Uthman's caliphate at the age of 88 or 89. Ali (a) and his sons performed ghusl al-mayyit on his corpse, and 'Uthman, the third caliph, asked them to let him attend the ceremony. In addition to Banu Hashim's messenger, 'Uthman's messengers also went to villages and tribes and called people to attend 'Abbas's funeral. The population that gathered in his funeral was unprecedently large. The place where the Funeral Prayer was supposed to be performed did not have enough space for the population therefore the prayer was performed in al-Baqi' cemetery behind 'Uthman. Because of the congestion of the population, the cloth over his corpse was torn apart. Thus, the caliph commissioned his police to keep people away to let Banu Hashim engage in the burial of the corpse. In any case, al-'Abbas's corpse was buried with a unique glory.
In the burial ceremony of 'Abbas, Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a), and Imam al-Husayn (a) were present, and his sons, 'Abd Allah, 'Ubayd Allah, and Quththam, entered the grave, since his corpse was too sturdy.
Imam al-Hasan (a), Imam al-Sajjad (a), Imam al-Baqir (a), and Imam al-Sadiq (a) were later buried in al-Baqi' near al-'Abbas's grave. A dome and a monument were constructed over their graves which were there until the dominance of Wahhabis over Hijaz, but they were demolished by the Wahhabis. (See: Demolition of al-Baqi')
Contrary to the accounts given by historical books written in the Abbasid period about al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, some people believe that since Abbasid caliphs grounded their legitimacy in al-'Abbas as their ancestor, they tried to give a positive historical picture of al-'Abbas and some of his children and grandchildren. It was especially pressing because they lacked the positive background enjoyed by their rivals, Talibis and 'Alawis. They first tried to reduce the detested picture of al-'Abbas with respect to events in the early days of Islam, and then attribute some virtues to him. Thus, they tried to show that al-'Abbas's presence in the Battle of Badr against the Islamic army was a plan out of necessity, and this was why the Prophet (s) ordered his followers not to kill him when he was captured. Or they said that al-'Abbas had a secret relationship with the Prophet (s) and gave him news about the polytheists.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from عباس بن عبدالمطلب in Farsi WikiShia.