Al-Abbas (a.s.) and Watering
From his forefathers, al-Abbas inherited the mission of serving water. Other than the other Koreishite clans, the Hashemites exclusively undertook the mission of serving water for the unparalleled qualities of generosity, munificence, and honor that they enjoyed.
Historians have recorded that Qussay ibn Kelab was the foremost to serve water to the pilgrims of the Sacred House of God in Mecca. After him, his son Abd-Menaf inherited this mission and left it to his son Hashim who, too, left it to his son Abd-ul-Muttalib. The latter undertook this mission so perfectly that God conferred upon him with the bliss of the Well Zamzam. After Abd-ul-Muttalib, Abu-Talib undertook this mission then handed it over to his brother al-Abbas ibn Abd-ul-Muttalib.
On the day of the conquest of Mecca, al-Abbas offered this mission to the Prophet (s) who gave it back to him.
Furthermore, history is full of narrations mentioning that the Prophet (s) served water to his companions in many occasions before and after prophesy.
Imam Ali Amir ul-Muminin, also, served the Muslim army with water at that night before the day of the Battle of Badr. On the day of the Hudaibiya Treaty, Imam Ali served the Prophet and Muslims with water.
When Uthman ibn Affan was blockaded at his house, Imam Ali ordered his sons to send him water.
Finally, during the battle of Siffin Imam Ali allowed the other party to drink from the water which was under his control although Muawiya prevented Imam Ali's army from reaching the river when he, first, had controlled it.
Like their father, Imams al-Hasan and al-Hussein supplicated to God for rain for people of Kufa when they were afflicted by draught. Because of the Imams' supplication, the city of Kufa was watered with heavy rain that regained life to it.
After all, history have not forgotten the situation when Imam al-Hussein, after he had left Medina and Mecca and directed towards Kufa, served water to people of Iraq:
At the last hours of that night, Imam al-Hussein ordered his servants to fetch water as much as possible. They did although they did not know the reason. In their way, the caravan of the Imam met the army headed by al-Hurr ibn Yazid and they were intolerably thirsty under the heat of that sun and the iron of their military uniform. Only then did the servants of Imam al-Hussein know the reason why their master had asked them to take water as much as possible. Then, the Imam (a) ordered, "Serve them with water and give their horses some."
Copying his fathers and two brothers, al-Abbas ibn Ali assumed to himself the mission of serving water and he was completely worthy of it. On every occasion and every opportunity he could seize, al-Abbas served the others with water. On the day of Ashura, more than ever, he also undertook this mission in many situations.
On the seventh of Muharram that year, Omar ibn Saad banned the army, household, harem, and children of Imam al-Hussein from reaching the river or taking a single drop of water. This blockade continued to the tenth of Muharram. This occurred in an area in the middle of Iraq which is known of its dry weather, and it was Summer. Besides, all the conditions of that situation were arising heat: heat of war, heat of swords and spears, and heat of breaths.
To fetch water in such a situation is really a heroic deed that leaves a great effect on hearts. Hence, Abu'l-Fadhl al-Abbas won this location not only in the hearts of people but also in the sight of God Who conferred upon him with innumerable merits and excellences. Al-Abbas however carried out the mission so perfectly and appreciatively. He fetched water to the camp of Imam al-Hussein three times. The first time was on the seventh of Muharram, as we have already mentioned. The second time was on the ninth of Muharram: 58
It was not a long distance between the camp of Imam al-Hussein and the River Euphrates when Shemr ibn Thi'l-Jawshan shouted at the camp of Imam al-Hussein: "You can see this water flow like reptiles.
We will never let you have a single drop from it until you join Hell."Just then al-Abbas turned his face towards his brother and asked, "We are the right party, are we not?""Yes, by God, we are," answered Imam al-Hussein (a).
From this answer al-Abbas understood that his brother would permit him to fetch water for those moaning thirsty harem and children. He therefore attacked the troops who were guarding the riverbank and could force them to leave their positions. Thus, Imam al-Hussein and his companions could reach the river easily and supply themselves with water.
That was the second time of al-Abbas's watering. The third time was on the tenth of Muharram:
When Imam al-Hussein's camp lost many of the individuals and seemed to be losing the battle, the Imam shouted, "Is there not any helper who may help us? Is there not any one who may guard the harem of Allah's Messenger?"
Hearing these words from his brother, al-Abbas approached to his brother, kissed him on the face, and asked for permission for fighting. The Imam did not permit him, but he ordered him to fetch some water for the harem and children.
Carrying out his brother's orders, al-Abbas carried a skin of water and attacked the troops on the riverside. He could force them to leave their positions… etc. 59
In some historical references 60 it is mentioned that al-Abbas was conferred with this great epithet of 'as-Saqqaa' after he had undertaken the mission of serving water to the caravan of his brother Imam al-Hussein on the ten days of Muharram, AH 60.
58. See al-Qummi's Muntaha al-Aamal as quoted from al-Mahaasin wa'l-Masaawi.
59. According to al-Kulbasi's al-Khassaaiss ul-Abbasiyya, this third time of al-Abbas's fetching water to the camp of Imam al-Hussein was not the last one which resulted in his martyrdom. Al-Abbas had a fourth time of fetching water, and in this very time he was martyred.
60. Such as Tarikh ul-Khamis and Ibn Idris's as-saraair.
Adopted from the book : "Al-Abbas"
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