Abbas ibn Fernas

`Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib

`Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib (العباس بن عبد المطلب) (c. 566 – c. 653) was a paternal uncle and Sahabi (companion) of Muhammad.

Key facts

Background

Muhammad had 10 or 11 uncles. Four of them earned a great name in history - Abu Talib, Abu Lahab, Hamza and Abbas. Abu Talib earned prominence because he brought up his orphan nephew, Muhammad, with great love and care and always supported and protected him. Abu Lahab got the evil reputation because of his enmity with Muhammad. He always tried his best to destroy Islam. Both Hamza and ‘Abbas embraced Islam and remained firm and strong in their faith in Islam. They could sacrifice anything and take any risk to earn the pleasure of Allah. They proved their loyalty to Islam by their words and deeds, putting their resources and their life at stake to serve the cause of Islam.

Though Abbas was an uncle of Muhammad, he was only about two and a half years older than Muhammad. He had a great love for his nephew. Wherever they worked together, Abbas never allowed Muhammad to undergo any hard work. Once the Ka’aba was under repairs, everybody from Quraish, young or old took part in this sacred project. Muhammad and his uncle, Abbas were bringing stones along with other children. While working, Muhammad's shoulder was bruised. His uncle Abbas was upset and without any hesitation he took off his own loin-cloth and put it on the shoulders of Muhammad as a pad to protect him from bruises.

Concern for Muhammad

His love for Muhammad developed more and more with the age. Even before embracing Islam he supported Muhammad in every matter. When he embraced Islam he devoted himself whole-heartedly to the mission of Muhammad conveyed the message of Islam to the people in Mecca and invited them to submit before Allah, Abbas did not concede apparently but he was fully aware of the impact and implications of the message of Islam and had all his sympathies with it. Thus, when 70 Medinities approached Muhammad in the valley of Mina, during the Hajj session, and requested him to migrate to Medina, Abbas was also present at the secret meeting. The speech which he made on that occasion not only showed his vast experience and sincerity of purpose, but also revealed that he understood fully the difficulties in the way of Islamic movement. He said: “You know that Muhammad is highly respected and revered in our family. We have always protected him against the enemies. Now he wants to accompany you. If you can stand by his side till death, I do not object; otherwise you should not take the risk.”

The Ansars gave assurance of their sincere and wholesale support. Abbas was satisfied, and Muhammad migrated to Medina after a few days. Abbas stayed in Mecca, but his heart was with Muhammad. At Medina, Muhammad conquered Khyber, a stronghold of Jewish peoples. Somebody in Mecca spread the rumour that the Muslims have suffered a smashing defeat in Khyber and that Muhammad has been taken prisoner and a number of his followers have been killed.

The Meccans were jubilant at the news, but there was mourning and wailing at the house of Abbas. Abbas could not believe it and sought confirmation of the news from his sources. Soon he came to know that the news was entirely false and that Muhammad had gained a decisive victory over the enemies. Then the joy of Abbas knew no bounds. He changed his dress took hold of his walking stick, and arriving at Ka’aba began to make rounds of the sacred house in a blissful mood. People taunted him saying: “By Allah! Such a great calamity, and such a show of resignation!” Abbas retorted, “By the same Allah, of whom you have sworn, what you say is quite incorrect. You must know that Khyber has been conquered, and every inch of its land is in the possession of Muhammad and his followers.”When the Meccans made enquiries, they found that the information of Abbas was correct. They felt small and humiliated and licked their wounds.

Not only did ‘Abbas share the sorrows and joys of Muhammad but he conveyed important news of Mecca to Muhammad though he was still out of the pale of Islam. He also helped the poor Muslims who could not migrate to Medina for lack of resources. Whenever ‘Abbas thought of migrating to Medina, Muhammad stopped him and said: “It is better, if you stay in Mecca. Just as I am the last of the line of Prophets, you shall be the last person to migrate from Mecca.”

Battle of Badr

The Quraish of Mecca thought that ‘Abbas was attached to Muhammad only with the relation of blood but he did not contribute to the faith of Islam. On this assumption they compelled him to fight against the Muslims in the battle of Badr. Abbas had to go, along with them to the battlefield. But Muhammad knew fully well the position of Abbas and, had issued instructions to his companions saying: “Do not kill ‘Abbas, if you happen to meet him in battle, since he has been brought into the battlefield by force.”

In the battle of Badar, Allah bestowed success upon the Muslims. ‘Abbas was taken prisoner. He was tied with ropes which hurt him, thus he groaned with pain. Knowing him in distress, Muhammad could not sleep. As soon as the good companions came to know of it, they loosened the bonds of Abbas. Such was the love and affection between Muhammad and his uncle Abbas. But in the matter of justice and principles no love and affection did count. When the question of releasing the captives on payment of ransom, arose, Abbas was asked to pay a heavy sum of money. In reply, Abbas argued that he was a Muslim by heart but could not dare to disclose it because of the situation obtaining in Mecca. The infidels forced him to take part in the battle of Badar. Muhammad said: “Allah alone knows what is there in one’s heart. If you speak the truth, Allah will reward you. But no concession can be given to you.” Abbas said that he was a poor man. This Plea, too, was not accepted. Muhammad said “I know you have deposited a big amount of money with your wife,” Abbas was awestricken. He said, “By Allah, no one else knew about that money beside myself and my wife. No doubt you are the Prophet of Allah”. Then he paid a large sum of money in ransom. This brought release to him and two other captives, his nephew Aqeel and Naufal bin Haris.

Emigration to Medina and Acceptance of Islam

Abbas stayed in Mecca for a considerable time without publicizing his views. He got permission to migrate to Medina shortly before the conquest of Mecca. So he took his wife and children with him and reached Medina. There he publicly proclaimed that he had embraced Islam. This sent a wave of joy and happiness among the Muslims and ‘Abbas began to support the Muslims openly.

Business and Wealth

‘Abbas was very wealthy before embracing Islam. After the death of his father, he took charge of the management of the Kaaba and of providing the pilgrims with water. He performed this duty very efficiently till his migration to Medina. His source of income was trade. He lent money on interest. After the conquest of Mecca in 10 A.H. Muhammad delivered a farewell sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj in which he declared that usury was prohibited (haram) by Allah, He said: Henceforth the business of lending money on interest is forbidden. And the first interest, I forego, is that of ‘Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib.”

After this proclamation all the income of ‘Abbas from interest stopped. The business in Mecca has already closed at the time of his migration to Medina. So Muhammad helped him with the property seized in battles and also gave him some portion of the income from Fidak, a garden which was owned by Muhammad. ‘Abbas spent this money very generously. He was a very effective. During the caliphate of ‘Umar, once there were no rains and the country faced a dreadful famine. ‘Umar requested Abbas to pray for Allah’s mercy. As soon as ‘Abbas raised his hands in prayer the clear sky was covered with dense clouds and it rained so heavily that there was plenty of water for a good harvest.

Muhammad’s love for Abbas

Muhammad had a great regard and respect for ‘Abbas on account of his extreme love and effection as well as his great qualities and character. If any one put him to grief, Muhammad was displeased and used to say; ‘Abbas is the uncle of the Prophet of Allah and an uncle is equal in status to the father.”

Sometimes he would say: ‘Abbas is the uncle of the Prophet of Allah. He is the most generous among the Quraish and has great regard of his relations.” Once Muhammad addressed ‘Abbas thus: “By Allah Who is my Creator, whosoever does not love you for the sake of Allah and his Prophet, will be devoid of faith. My uncle is just like my father to me.” When Muhammad passed away, people went to ‘Abbas to offer their condolences.

‘Abbas had a powerful voice. In the battle field when nothing could be audible in the noise of the clash of weapons and the shouts of soldiers, ‘Abbas’s voice could be easily heard. Once he said: “In the battle of Hunain, I was holding the reins of the horse of the Holy Prophet and was running by its side. At the height of the battle, the enemy made such a wild attack that the Muslims were dispersed. Muhammad cried, ‘Abbas ! call the spearmen. I had a loud voice, so I shouted, “O you people with spears! Where are you?” The retreating warriors heard the call and turned towards the enemy and made them retreat. Thus a lost battle was won.”

During the times of Caliphs

A simple story is related here about ‘Abbas which contains many a lessons for those who wish to seek the pleasure of Allah. The story is like this: “During the days of ‘Umar Farooq, some people complained that the water outlet of the roof of Abbas opened towards the holy mosque. Whenever it rains the water collected on his roof falls in the courtyard of the mosque and the people offering prayers are put to great difficulty. The Caliph ordered the water outlet to be closed. ‘Abbas filed a suit against the Caliph. In his petition he argued that the water outlet was in the same position even during the days of Muhammad, and that it has been closed without his permission. The Qadi heard the case. He called witnesses and then gave the verdict in favor of ‘Abbas. ‘Abbas opened the water outlet in the presence of ‘Umar Farooq. When it was done, the uncle of Muhammad said: “O, leader of the faithful. Had I forsaken my claim, the people might have suspected that I had done so because of your fear and to gain your favour. Now that I have won the case, I donate this house for the sake of Allah. Now you may use this house as you wish.”

Thus in the pursuit of seeking pleasure of Allah, ‘Abbas died at the age of 88 and was buried in Jannatul Baqee' cemetery, Madinah, Saudi Arabia. Among his children ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas was a renowned companion of Muhammad.

See also

References

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