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Hazrat Abbas was born at Medina on 7th Rajab/4th Shabaan 26 A.H.(645 A.D.). When the news of his birth reached Hazrat Ali, he prostrated himself on the ground as a token of his humble thanks to God. Imam Hussain took the baby in his arms and recited the Azan and Eqamat (Calls for Prayers) in his right and left ears respectively. Then the new born baby opened his eyes to see the beloved face of Imam Hussain. On the seventh day of his birth the ceremony of Aqeeqa (which is one of the emphasised Sunnats) was performed and Hazrat Ali named the child ‘Abbas’.
It was the desire of Hazrat Ali that this son whom he named ‘Abbas’ (Meaning a Dauntless Lion) would accomplish the same deeds of valour and who would follow his teachings without fear of life and death. It was also his wish that Abbas would be a constant companion of Imam Hussain and be his Standard Bearer at Kerbala.
Hazrat Ali who himself was known as ‘The Lion of God’ and the ‘Gateway of Knowledge’ brought up Hazrat Abbas and ably guided him till he was fourteen years old. The next ten years were spent under the careful eye of Imam Hasan and the last ten years with Imam Hussain. Thus it was not surprising that Hazrat Abbas acquired near perfection in so many spheres of life. His gallantry, boldness, courageous outlook, and the art of combat and soldiery were inherited from Hazrat Ali, and this he proved very well in the battles of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrwan. Imam Hasan taught him patience and tolerance. His Lion-hearted loyalty and self-sacrificing nature were the result of his association with Imam Hussain and Janab-e-Zainab. Physically, mentally, morally and spiritually he was fully developed, besides, being an accomplished scholar.
He helped the poor and needy, and discharged his duties towards his fellow-beings according to the precepts of Islam. He was pure in his thoughts, words and deeds, lest any of these should displease God. He lived strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet.
Just as Ali was taught and trained by the Holy Prophet, so was Abbas taught and trained by Hazrat Ali. Ali fully knew the mysteries of life and death, and Abbas had fully imbibed the true spirit of Islam. A man who was brought up, educated and trained by Hazrat Ali could on no account be attached to this worldly life nor fear death, and Abbas fully justified this by his actions.
Hazrat Abbas married Lubaba, daughter of Obaidullah Ibne Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib, and had two sons, Fazl and Muhammad. Some sources say that Lubaba was present at Kerbala and their son Muhammad was martyred there.
At the death bed of Hazrat Ali (AS)
When Hazrat Ali was mortally wounded and lying on his deathbed, he sent for his entire family. Save Hazrat Abbas, he entrusted all to the care of his eldest son Imam Hasan. Then he heard Hazrat Abbas, hardly 12 years old, sobbing. Hazrat Ali asked him to come near him and gave his hand to his second son, Imam Hussain, saying “Hussain, this child I am entrusting to you. He will represent me on the Day of your supreme sacrifice and will lay down his life in defending you and your dear ones”.
And turning to Hazrat Abbas, he had said: “Abbas, my child, I know your unbounded love for Hussain. Though you are too young to be told about it, when that day dawns, consider no sacrifice too great for Hussain and his children”.
This was in 657 A.D. The occasion for the supreme sacrifice came on the battlefield of Kerbala in 680 A.D. when Hussain was poised against Yezid’s forces. It was a battle of good against evil and right against wrong. And in the history of Islam, the battle of Kerbala has become an important landmark of supreme sacrifice, great courage and dedication to a just cause.
In the battle of Kerbala, Hazrat Abbas was Imam Hussain’s commander-in-chief. He fought the evil forces of Yezid gallantly, remembering his father’s last words. The story of the sacrifice of his life in trying to procure water for Imam Hussain’s children on the battlefield is the most touching and significant in Islamic history.
The Life of Hazrat Abbas is an example of unflinching loyalty and love for a brother. It is also the story of a warrior who sacrificed his life for the cause of Islam, which, according to Hazrat Abbas, was a just cause.
The warrior at Siffin
Hazrat Ali’s desire was to ensure that Hazrat Abbas preached the religion of Islam and served the Prophet’s family. Hazrat Abbas saw his first battle when only eleven. This was the battle of Siffin. One day he appeared fully disguised, masked and armoured, on the battlefield. When Ibn-e-Shasa, a brave and famous Syrian fighter saw this masked person, he asked one of his seven sons to slay him. Instead, the son was quickly put down. Similarly, the other six sons tried to fight this masked warrior, but they all met the same fate. Finally lbn-e-Shasa himself came forward and the manner in which he was also beaten, made all the other people stare in disbelief. They then thought this masked fighter to be Hazrat Ali, and no one dared to come forward to fight. But, when Hazrat Abbas removed the mask, people were surprised to note that he was not Hazrat Ali, but instead, Abbas, the inheritor of Hazrat Ali’s gallantry.
Hazrat Abbas devotion, respect and affection for Imam Hussain was so deep, that he used to worship the very ground he walked on. In fact, it is said that he used to apply to his eyes, the dust from Imam Hussain’s feet. He resented anyone taking precedence in serving Imam Hussain. It is said that once Imam Hussain, while present with his Holy father Hazrat Ali in the mosque of Kufa, felt thirsty and asked for water from his servant Qumber. The child Abbas leapt to his feet, and brushing aside the faithful servant, rushed to bring the water for his master himself. In the hurry to carry the water as quickly as possible, he spilt it on his own clothes. His illustrious father stopped in his speech and tears rolled down his cheeks.
When asked by his faithful followers the reason for his tears, Hazrat Ali uttered those prophetic words which came true some twenty years later: “Abbas who has today wetted his clothes with water in his zeal to quench the thirst of his brother Hussain, will one day soak his very body in his on blood in attempting to quench the thirst of Imam Hussain’s children”.
His devotion to Imam Hussain (AS) at Kerbala
He stayed beside Imam Hussain ever since they left Medina and was loved by all the members of the Imam’s family. He was so devoted to Imam Hussain, that when Shimr lbne Ziljoshan, the second-in-command of Yezid’s army came towards Imam Hussain’s camp and called out: “Where are my nephews, Abbas, Abdullah Jafar and Usman ?” Hazrat Abbas refused to reply. It was only after Imam Hussain told him “Answer him, because, despite the fact that he is corrupt he is also one of your relatives” that Hazrat Abbas asked Shimr what he wanted. Shimr replied: “0, my nephews, I have specially asked Obaidullah Ibne Ziad for the safety of you all. So why do you wish to kill yourselves with Hussain? Why do you not join the forces of the mighty Yezid?”
Hazrat Abbas looked at him with contempt and retorted, “May God’s wrath fall upon you and upon your proposition, 0, enemy of God! How dare you counsel us to desert our master, Imam Hussain and tie ourselves up with the corrupt and misguided Yezid?” Shimr turned round and went away angrily.
Another attempt was also made to get Hazrat Abbas away to the camp of Yezid, for in their heart of hearts, they were mortally afraid of his valour and bravery.
Jareer bin Abdullah was a courtier of Ibne-Ziad, the Governor of Kufa, and had much influence on him. Ummul Baneen, the mother of Abbas, was a cousin of Jareer, who was fully convinced that Hussain and his companions would be slaughtered in cold blood. He also did not like the idea of his four nephews (Abbas, Abdulla, Ja’far and Usman) being massacred along with Hussain. He appealed to Ibne-Ziad, to spare the lives of his nephews. Ibne-Ziad granted this request and Jareer immediately wrote to Abbas asking him and his brothers to give up the company of Hussain and come over to lbne-Ziad and to save their lives as the time was very critical. He sent this letter through a person named Irfan. The messenger handed over this confidential letter to Abbas, who having read it was hardly able to control his fury. He tore the letter to shreds, and informed Irfan, “Go away at once and tell my uncle, Jareer bin Abdullah, that we will never desert Hussain and we will never seek protection from Ibne-Ziad. We seek help from God Almighty, and we are ready to sacrifice our lives for our beloved Hussain and Islam.”
When Irfan gave this message to Jareer, he was very much disappointed and sad. He had been over-confident that Abbas would accept his invitation; apparently he had forgotten that Abbas was the son of the ‘Lion of God’ who cared more for Islam and Hussain than his own life.
On the eve of Ashoora as Hazrat Abbas sat sharpening his sword in his tent, his sister, Umme Kulsum came to him and with tears in her eyes said to him: “I cannot make any sacrifice for my dear brother Imam Hussain. who is surrounded by enemies. Zainab has two sons whom she will sacrifice for Hussain; Qasim will represent his father Imam Hasan; Umme Lailah will send her son Ali Akber into the battle-field; even Rabab is going to sacrifice her infant son, Ali Ashgar; but I have no children, and being a woman I am not permitted to fight. People will remember all these brave ladies, and sing their praises. But I have no one whom I can offer on my behalf.” At this Hazrat Abbas consoled her and said, “Do not worry, dear sister. You have brought me up since childhood and you have loved me as a mother. I will sacrifice myself on your behalf. In the morning Umme Kulsum took her brother Abbas to Imam Hussain and said, “Let my brother Abbas fight for you on my behalf and he is my sacrifice for you and Islam.”
When at last after great persuasion, Imam Hussain gave him permission to fetch water for the thirsty children, Hazrat Abbas set out with a leather bag and the Standard.
The fight to reach the river
The towering form of Abbas and his fame as a warrior throughout Arabia, had created much tenor amongst the enemy. When this ‘Dauntless Lion’ made his appearance on the field, the enemy tried its best to prevent him from reaching the river. He stood in front of them boldly and bravely and addressed them as follows:
“We are ourselves the swords of the Hashimite tribe and are sharper than the sharpest edges to shed your blood. 0, sons of the opposers of right I Alas, if our grandfather, the Holy Prophet had survived and seen the calamities that his progeny has been made to suffer, he would truly be ashamed of you. Death under swords is glorifying when Paradise is the fruit. Cursed be this world and its transitory pleasures. You will all roast in the fires of Hell.”
Hearing these words, the enemy attacked him from all sides. Abbas, the dauntless lion, fell upon them with a loud roar. He slaughtered every person that came within his reach. In the forces of Omar bin Saad, there was one person named Marid bin Sudaif. When he saw that Abbas was playing havoc and killing the best soldiers of Yezid, he got very wild, and angrily said, “It is an occasion of great shame and regret that one Hashimite has been causing so much destruction. He is alone. We are numberless. Look at our numerical strength. If each one of you takes up a handful of dust and throws it on his face, he shall die of suffocation. All of you are cowards. Retreat. Let me alone fight with Abbas. I shall kill him in no time.” So saying, he ran towards Abbas with a big lance in his hand. Abbas also moved from his place to try his strength and skill with Marid bin Sudaif who boasted of his chivalry, courage and manliness and who was over-confident of his victory. He said to Abbas contemptuously, “Abbas return and do not fight. If you fight with me, you shall perish. I take pity on you because you are so young and tender. Go away at once and live a peaceful and happy life. Remember that those persons who have fought with you till now and whom you have killed so easily did not possess the necessary dash. Know that you are no match for me. A word is enough for the wise. Retreat if you want to save your life.”
Abbas, the dauntless lion and the Moon of the Bani Hashim, listened to Marid bin Sudaif patiently from the beginning to the end. When he had finished his oration Abbas said boldly, “0, enemy of God! It is quite impossible for me to agree to your terms. You cannot ruin me but you shall yourself be ruined. Those who die for God live forever; those who fight against God perish forever. Blessed are those who sacrifice their lives for the pleasure of God. Rest assured that you can never succeed in misleading and misguiding me. You are aware of my connection with the Prophet. A son of Ali, the Lion of God, can neither tremble nor retreat. He can never submit to evil forces. He can never be afraid of any enemy however strong and powerful he may be. Remember that the secret of a man’s greatness lies in his unshakeable faith in God. He should always be grateful to the Almighty God in whatever circumstances he may be; God’s ways are inscrutable. Whatever He does is always the best. I am not in the least displeased with my fate. I am fully conscious of whatever lies in store for me. I can never weep over the loss of this world and try to escape death when it comes to me I will rather welcome Death if it comes to me in the way of God. I shall submit to Death cheerfully, joyfully and happily, for Paradise Is a much happier abode than this world. This world is not a place worth living. Fortunate is he who dies for Islam.” Marid bin Sudaif lost his balance of mind at this cutting reply. He never expected such a bold reply from a person who was surrounded by the mighty and strong forces of Yezid. He regretted that his appeal did not produce the desired effect. It fell on deaf ears. He was thunderstruck at the audacity and exceptional chivalry of Abbas at this moment of mortal danger, Abbas who was so cool, calm, unperturbed and dignified. He fully realised the gravity of the situation and within the twinkling of an eye, he charged Abbas and attacked him with his lance. Abbas did not lose his presence of mind. He stood his ground. He caught hold of the lance and pulled it so hard that Marid bin Sudaif who had boasted of his valour and over-confidence lost not only his grip on the lance but also his balance on the saddle. Abbas succeeded in snatching his lance. Marid fell, to the ground. Without losing a single moment, Abbas wounded the horse of Marid so severely that it was unfit for further action. Shimr had minutely and carefully observed the awkward position in which Marid had been placed. If he did not get immediate assistance, his condition would be perilous. So Shimr acted quickly, and cried out to Sariqa (a faithful and obedient servant of Marid) to take another horse to his master. Sariqa obeyed the orders of Shimr implicitly. No sooner did Marid see his slave with a horse than he asked him to come quickly lest death should overtake pain.
Abbas acted very wisely. He rode to the slave very swiftly and threw him down with a stroke of the lance, which he had taken from Marid. He then went to meet Marid once more. When Marid saw this strange sight, he was very much frightened. He cried in despair, ‘Alas, Abbas will kill me with my own lance Shimr observed this peculiar situation. He advanced on his own horse. Sinan-bin-Anas-Nakai, Khooli bin Yezidi Asbahi and Jamal bin Maliki-Hajazi accompanied him. Then Yezids full cavalry with drawn swords followed him. But Abbas wounded the hand of Marid with a blow of his lance before these persons could give him any help. Marid appealed to Abbas to spare his life and he promised to become his slave. But Abbas turned down his appeal and struck his lance so forcibly in one of his ears that it came out of the other. Marid died in that wretched condition. It was indeed a very miserable death. Abbas then fell upon the soldiers who had been posted to guard the banks of the Euphrates. He killed many of them. The rest fled for their lives, confounded and perplexed. Abbas reached the bank of the river and began to fill the leather bag. In spite of his thirst, he refused to drink water, and even his horse did likewise. He then lifted the leather bag and hung it on his shoulder.
In the meantime, the archers and other soldiers who had fled away in utter confusion came back again and tried to check Abbas from taking water to Hussain’s camp. It was a bloody battle, but Abbas was not a man either to lose courage or accept defeat. His one thought was to reach this water to the thirsty children waiting anxiously for his return.
Although he was out numbered and surrounded by the enemy, he decided not to submit. He fought bravely, but the odds were very much against him, and ultimately he was martyred.
Blood on the sand
The shifting sand-dunes of Kerbala were smeared with blood. Near one of those dunes, on the bank of the Euphrates, lay the prostrate figure of a youth with blood gushing out from innumerable wounds. The crimson life-tide was ebbing fast. Even so, it seemed as if he was anxiously expecting somebody to come to him, to be near him before he breathed his last. Through his parched throat he was feebly calling somebody Yes, Abbas was anxiously expecting his master to come to him before he parted with his life, as he had come to the side of all his devoted friends who had laid down their dear lives for him in this noble cause.
It is said that before a man dies all the past events of his life pass before his mind’s eye in a flashback. In his last moments, Abbas saw the events of his life. He saw himself as a child in Medina following Hussain with a devotion which was considered unique even for a brother. He saw the events of that hot and sultry day in Kufa when his illustrious father Ali was addressing a congregation in the mosque and he as a child with his characteristic devotion, was looking at the face of his beloved brother, watching him intently, so that he could attend to his wishes as if they were an instant command. Seeing from the parched lips of Hussain that he was feeling extremely thirsty, how he had darted out from the mosque and returned with a tumbler full of cool, refreshing water and in the hurry to carry the water as quickly as possible, how he had spilt it on his own clothes. He recalled now the prophetic words of his father and understood how true they were at this moment of his end.
He was vividly seeing the scene on the 21st Ramazan, way back in 40A.H., when his father, mortally wounded, was lying on his death-bed and entrusting his children and dependants to the care of his eldest brother, Hasan all except him. Seeing that his father had commended all but him to the care of Hasan, how he, a child of twelve had burst out into uncontrollable tears. His father on hearing him sobbing had called him to his side and given his hand in Hussain’s hand with the words, “Hussain, this child I am entrusting to you. He will represent me on the day of your supreme sacrifice and lay down his life in defending you and your dear ones.” How his father had turned to him and affectionately told him; “Abbas, my child, I know your unbounded love for Hussain. Though you are too young to be told about it, when that day dawns, consider no sacrifice too great for Hussain and his children.” He saw before his mind’s eye the parting with his aged mother Fatima in Medina; how she had affectionately embraced him and reminded him of the dying desire of his father to lay down his life in the defence of Hussain and his dear ones.
A faint smile of satisfaction flickered for a brief moment on his parched lips, a smile of satisfaction that he had fulfilled his father’s wish; that he had performed his duty for which he was brought up. It just flitted for a moment and vanished as other scenes came before his mind’s eye. He was re-living the events of the night before. He was seeing Shimr stealthily coming to him and talking to him about his ties of relationship; about the protection he had been promised for Abbas by the Commander of Yezid’s forces only if he would leave Hussain and go over to Yezid’s camp; about the promises of riches and rewards that he would get; how he had spurned the suggestion of Shimr with the utmost disdain to the chagrin of that servile minion who had sold his soul for a mess of pottage. How he had scared away that coward by his scathing rage, saying “You worshipper of Mammon, do not think that Abbas will be lured by your tempting offers of power and pelf. If I die in defending my Master, Hussain, I shall consider myself the luckiest person. Oh coward, remember that valiant die but once. Nobody is born to live eternally. By betraying my master, you have betrayed the Prophet, whose religion you profess to follow. On the Day of Judgement you will be doomed to eternal perdition.” (I am ashamed to own any relationship with you). Had it not been for the fact that you have come here unarmed, I would have given you the chastisement you deserve for your impudence in asking me to become a turncoat.” How that wretch had scampered away seeing him roaring like an enlarged lion! The thought of that unpleasant interlude wrinkled his brows. Or was it the excruciating pain he was suffering on account of the deep gashes he had all over his body?
Yet another scene passed before Abbas’s eyes. The children were shouting as if in chorus “thirst, consuming thirst, is killing us.” Sakina coming to him and putting her dry water-bag at his feet and saying to him “0 uncle. I know you will do something to get water for us. Even if you can bring one bag full, we can wet our parched throats.” He could see that thirst aggravated by the scorching heat of the desert, was squeezing their young lives out of them. The sight of these young children had moved him more than any other soul-stirring event of that fateful day. How he had picked up the water-bag with assurances to Sakina that he would go and bring water, God Willing. How he had taken Hussain’s permission and marched out of the camp with a sword in one hand, the flag in the other and the water-bag on his shoulder, with the children following him in a group unto the outer-perimeter of the camp. How Hussain had repeatedly requested him to avoid lighting as much as possible and confine himself to the task of bringing water!
His thoughts switched over to the events that had preceded his fall from the horse. With the thought of procuring water for his dear little Sakina, he had slain Marid bin Sudaif a champion from Yezid’s army, and how he had charged on the enemy who held the river banks. He had run through the enemy ranks like a knife through butter. Against his surging onslaught the enemy could not stand and had run helter-skelter shouting for protection. For a moment it seemed as if Ali, the Lion of God, had descended from Heaven. In no time Abbas was near the water. (He had jumped down from the horse and bent to fill the water-bag). When it was filled to the brim, he had taken some water in his cupped hands to drink to satisfy his killing thirst. But on second thought, he bad thrown the water away. How could he drink water when Sakina and the children were still withering without water? He had turned to his horse, which had been let loose so that it could satiate its thirst. The animal had been intently looking at its master as if to say “I too am aware that so long as our Master and his children remain without water, our thirst cannot be quenched.”
With the water-bag filled, he jumped on horseback with one thought uppermost in his mind, to get the water for the anxiously waiting children as quickly as possible. Seeing him galloping towards the camp of Hussain, the enemy turned. Somebody shouted from the enemy ranks that if Hussain and his people got water, it would be difficult to fight them on the battlefield. Though it was an unequal fight, he fought them with valour, which was a characteristic of his father.
Seeing that a frontal assault on a man so brave was not possible, they resorted to a barrage of arrows. Abbas had only one thought in his mind-how best to protect the water-bag? To him it seemed more important to protect the water-bag than to protect his life. Seeing Abbas thus preoccupied, one treacherous foe, hiding behind a sand-dune rushed out and dealt a blow on his right hand and cut it off. In a flash Abbas transferred his sword to his left hand and the standard he was bearing, he hugged to his chest. Now that the lion of All was crippled, the foes found courage to surround him. A blow from an enemy’s sword severed his left arm. The odds were now mounting against him. He held the bag with his teeth and protected the flag with his chest bent on the horse.
Now the paramount thought in his mind was to reach the camp somehow or the other. A silent prayer escaped his lips: “Merciful Allah, spare me long enough to fulfil my mission.” But that was not to be. An arrow pierced the water-bag and water started gushing out of it. All his efforts had been in vain. The enemies who had made bold to surround him, now gathered thickly round him. One of them came near him and struck a mortal blow with an iron club. He reeled over and fell from the horse.
Master come to me
He tossed on the burning sand with excruciating pain. He felt that life was fast ebbing out but his wish to see his Master had remained unfulfilled. With one last effort, he shouted: “0 my Master, do come to me before I die.” As if in answer to his prayers, he felt footsteps near him. Yes, his instinct told him that it was his Master.
He felt his Master kneeling down besides him, lifting his head and taking it into his lap. Not a word was said for a few seconds, because both were shaken with emotion. At last he heard Hussain’s voice, a half-sob, half-muffled cry: “Abbas my brother, what have they done to you?”
Abbas now felt the loving touch of his Master’s hand. With great effort he muttered “You have come at last, my Master. I thought I was not destined to have a last look at you but, thank God, you are here.”
Hussain burst into a flood of tears. The sight of his brother, whose name was to became a byword for devotion and unflinching faithfulness, laying down his precious life in his arms, was heart-rending.
Abbas was heard to whisper softly: “My Master, I have some last wishes to express. When I was born, I had first looked at your face and it is my last desire that when I die, my gaze may be on your face. My one eye is pierced by an arrow and the other is filled with blood. If you will clear the eye I will be able to see you and fulfil my last dying desire. My second wish is that when I die, you should not carry my body to the camp. I had promised to bring water to Sakina and since I have failed in my attempts to bring her water, I cannot face her even in death. Besides, I know that the blows that you have received since morning have all but crushed you and carrying my body to the camp will be back-breaking work for you. And my third wish is that Sakina may not be brought here to see my plight. I know with what love and affection she is devoted to me. The sight of my dead body lying here will kill her.”
My Brother! My Brother!
Hussain sobbingly promised him that he would carry out his last wishes and added “Abbas, I too have a wish to be fulfilled. Since childhood you have always called me Master. For once at least call me brother with your dying breath.” The blood was cleared from the eye, one brother looked at the other with a long lingering look. Abbas was heard to whisper: “My brother, my brother!” and with these words he surrendered his soul to his Maker. Hussain fell unconscious on the dead body of Abbas with a cry.
The flow of the Euphrates became dark as winter and a murmur arose from the flowing waters as if to protest against the killing of a thirsty water-bearer on its banks, the beloved “Moon of the Hashimites.”
Alas, the beloved Hazrat Abbas (A.S.) was martyred in the prime of his youth at the age of 35, on the 10th Moharram, in the year 61 A.H. (680 A.D.).
Pilgrimage to his Mausoleum
It is almost fourteen hundred years since this tragedy occured at Kerbala, and still tens of thousands of pilgrims keep going there year after year, from all parts of the Muslim world to pay their respects to the gallant Abul Fazl Abbas (Moon of the Hashimites) at his magnificent Mausoleum.
They offer salutations and pray to Allah for their needs, seeking his intercession, for this is a place where so many vows have been fulfilled and where so many miracles have taken place.
Many a devotee has willed that he be buried in this holy place and so often one sees the sight of a coffin being carried a few times round the tomb of Hazrat Abbas (A.S.) and taken to the alloted place of burial in Kerbala at this wonderful shrine.
Holy Qur’an Says: “And if you are slain in the way of Allah or you die, certainly forgiveness from Allah and mercy is better than what they amass.” (3:157)
The Alam and its significance
During the time of the Moharram Majlises, usually on the 8th, it has become a sort of custom to recite the events leading to the martyrdom of Hazrat Abbas. And when the Alams (replica of the Banner or Standard of the Holy Prophet and the Holy Imams) are taken out, accompanied to the beating of breasts and heads by the mourners, one will notice a Mashk (a leather water-bag), usually made of metal in remembrance of Hazrat Abbas, who sacrificed his life trying to get water for the children of Imam Hussain, who were dying of thirst.
When Hazrat Abbas rolled down from his horse after a mortal blow on his head, the Alam and the Mashk stayed linked together and never got separated. Hence one sees an Alam with a Maslik attached to it, and sometimes one also sees an arrow alongside it.
A Towering personality
Hazrat Abbas was a towering and handsome personality. His dauntless courage, supreme confidence and unflinching loyalty earned him many titles. He was called, “Qamar-e-Bani Hashim” (Moon of the Hashimites), because of his imposing appearance. His remarkable horsemanship made him “Syed-ul-Forosan” (the chief of horsemen). His ability to lead people resulted in his being called “Rais-ul-Shujan” (the leader of the valiant), and the manner in which he sacrificed his life earned him the title of Afzal-ul-Shohada” (the choicest of the martyrs) and “Saqqa” (water carrier), because he sacrificed his life in an effort to procure water for Imam Hussain’s children in the tragic battle a Kerbala. He fully lived up to his name Abbas, which in Arabic stands for Lion.
As Salaamo alaika yub-ne Amir-il-Momeneen,
As Salanmo alaika aiyyo-hul Abdus-Saleh,
Al-mootee-oo lillahey wa ley Rasooley-hee,
Ash hadau anneka qad jaa-hadta Wa ne-sah-ta,
Wa sabarta hatta a-taa kal yaqeen
La a-nalla-hooz zaaleymeena lakoom minal,
Awwaleena wal aakheyreen,
Wal haqahoom bey dar kil jaheem.
Salutations be unto thee, O son of Commander of the Faithful;
Salutations be unto thee, O virtuous servant, obedient to God and His Messenger;
I bear witness that thou didst truly fight the Holy War,
And thou didst help the cause of Faith;
And thou didst patiently endure
Until the certainty (of death) came upon thee.
May God deprive those who wronged thee of His Mercy.
Whether they may have been of the first or the last (i.e., all of them);
And may He consign them to the nethermost regions of Hell;
Salutations and the Mercy and Blessings of God be upon thee, (O beloved Moon of the Hashimites).
“As Salaamo ala ya Abul Fazl Abbas ibne Aliyin Amiril Momeneen wa Rahmatullahey wa Barakaatuh.”
“Peace be upon thee O Abul Fazl Abbas, son of Hazrat Ali, Commander of the Faithful, and the Mercy of Allah and His Bounties.”
(Taken from: ezsoftech.com)