Sunday, October 28, 2007

'Abbas Ibn 'Abdul Muttalib

Equality and brotherhood are two of the main principles of the Islamic faith. Qur'an states that: "O mankind! Indeed, We have created you from male and female and made you Peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted." [Quran, 49: 13].

The glorious history of Islam reminded again and again of these principles, especially that of equality. A vivid illustration of this involved 'Abbas Ibn 'Abdul Muttalib who was not only a beloved uncle of Prophet Muhammad SAW but also his playmate. They were only a couple of years apart in terms of the age difference.

In the Battle of Badar, the first major battle in Islamic history, some leaders of the Makkan community were forced to join the army of the pagan, the arch enemies of Islam mainly through moral pressure. These included Al-'Abbas and another prominent leaders of the Quraish, who was known for his sympathetic attitude and conduct towards the Companions of Muhammad. Realizing this fact, Prophet Muhammad SAW gave orders to his followers not to kill such people, pointing out that they were not real enemies who deserved death.

Later, when 'Abbas Ibn 'Abdul Muttalib was taken captive to Al-Madinah, the Companions found the Prophet SAW was sleepless. So they asked him: "Why are you so restless, O Messenger of Allah?" He answered: "I heard the moaning of Al-'Abbas, due to the tightness of the ropes with which he is being tied." A little while later the Prophet SAW asked: "Why Al-'Abbas is quiet now?" He was told that someone loosened the fetters for him. The Prophet SAW ordered that the same be done with the other prisoners.

The second incident occurred when the ransom was collected from the prisoners of war. When asked to pay ransom for himself and some followers of his, Al-'Abbas said: "But I am a Muslim and I was forced to join the Makkah army." The Prophet's answer was: "Allah knows about your Islam. If it is true, then He will reward you and return to you whatever you pay. According to what appears to us, you have to pay the ransom." 'Abbas Ibn 'Abdul Muttalib despite his relationship with the Prophet SAW , he was treated on equal footing like any other prisoner of war, and was freed only upon payment of his ransom.

The supporting spirit of Al-'Abbas to Islam and its Prophet SAW explains his attendance of the secret meeting at Al-'Aqabah where seventy-three Medinites gave their oath of allegiance to Prophet Muhammad SAW to protect him whenever he migrated to Al-Madinah. It was Al-'Abbas who checked the sincerity of the Medinites for the Prophet SAW.

After the Prophet’s victorious re-entry into Makkah, the pagan tribes in the neighbourhood of Makkah joined forces to fight the Muslims. For the first time the Muslim army exceeded twelve thousand in number. So many of the fighters had a sense of self-assurance, an attitude that leads to defeat.

Some Muslims said, "Never will we be defeated due to insufficiency." However, it was Allah's will that His soldiers be properly trained for the battles they were to enter at various places and times on this earth. The Muslim army in the battle of Hunain was surrounded by the enemy [being ambushed and taken by surprise]. The Messenger of Allah SAW turned to the right and said:

"O people! I am the Messenger of Allah. I am Muhammad, the son of Abdullah."

Those who steadfast by him were only a few emigrants and some of his kinsmen and Al 'Abbas was one of them. The matchless bravery of the Prophet SAW was then brought to light. He went on and on in his attempts to make his mule steadfast in the face of the disbelievers while saying loudly:

"Truly saying, I am the Prophet I am the [grand] son of Abdul Muttalib."

However, Abu Sufian Ibn Al-Harith who was then holding the rein of the Prophet’s mule, and Al-'Abbas, who was holding its stirrup; were endeavoring to make it halt. The Messenger of Allah dismounted and asked his Lord to render him help.

"O, Allah, send down Your Help!"

The Messenger of Allah ordered his uncle Al-'Abbas who had a loud voice to call out on the companions. As loudly as he could, Al-’Abbas shouted: "Where are the lancers?" Al-'Abbas said, "By Allah, upon hearing my voice calling them back, they turned round to the battlefield as if the wild cows tending towards their calves."

It was the Prophet's SAW strong and firm faith in Allah and his courage as well as the heroic nature and behavior of people like Al-'Abbas Ibn 'Abdul Muttalib that saved the day in that battle, known as 'The Battle of Hunain.' At those critical moments, it was Al-'Abbas who stayed all the time with the Prophet SAW along with a handful of companions. The battle took a new turn, the enemy was defeated, and the Muslim army came out victorious.

Al-’Abbas as pointed out earlier was an uncle of Prophet Muhammad SAW and a dear one for that. Besides this, he is remembered for being the father of the well-known authority 'Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas on matters of the Quran and the teachings of the faith. He passed away in Al-Madinah in 32 AH during the reign of 'Uthman Ibn ‘Affan.

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