Rafed English

Epithets of Abbas (a.s.)

Epithet is a word or phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned.56 Epithets, then, show one's mental characteristics, whether good or bad.

To al-Abbas a number of lofty epithets expressing his kind mentality and high moral standards were addressed:


Like his father who was the door to the Prophet (s), al-Abbas is the actual and spiritual door to Imam al-Hussein (a). Because of the high moral standards and great faithfulness of al-Abbas, Imam al-Hussein used to choose him for every mission and depend upon him in every difficult situation. Likewise, al-Abbas dedicated himself to being at the disposal of his brother. He was the protector and defender of the Prophet's household.

It is related that al-Abbas used to call his brother by 'Sir.' Only on one day and in one situation did al-Abbas call his brother by 'brother.' That was on the day of Ashura when he fell down from his horse after his two hands had been severed and he had been stricken on the head. In such an hour, a man longs for seeing the ones he loves for the last time. Only then he shouted as aloud as possible, 'O brother, reach your brother!'

As soon as the Imam heard that voice, he hurried towards its source. He rode off, put his brother's head in his lap, began to wipe out blood and dust from the face, and asked about his pains.

Al-Abbas opened his sights in his brother's face, looked at him for the last time, and bid him farewell with a smile expressing all meanings of sincerity and loyalty.

As an answer, Imam al-Hussein (a) replied his brother's farewell not with words, but with tears that dropped on the face of al-Abbas while he was in his last sparks of life. Thus, al-Abbas emitted his last breaths while he was in the lap of his brother and has become the door to him.

Hence, it is recommended for the pilgrims of the tomb of Imam al-Hussein (a) to begin first with visiting the tomb of al-Abbas. This is one of the confirmations of al-Abbas's being the door to his brother; chief of the martyrs.

The door intended here is the mental and spiritual. Al-Abbas, hence, is the spiritual door to Imam al-Hussein, and this meaning is very far from the familiar meaning of portership or secretariat. Al-Abbas is too far above such meanings and Imam al-Hussein (a) is, too, far above taking doorkeepers or secretaries since he is beyond all material limits.


Al-Abbas was so bright-faced and handsome. Hence, he was called 'Qamar Bani Hashim -Moon of the Hashemites.' He was also the moon of his family and the moon of Islam because he paved the path of martyrdom with light and shone upon the lives of Muslims.

He was so bright-faced that the light of his countenance lit every darkness and everybody admired his handsomeness. When it happened that al-Abbas was accompanied by his nephew Ali al-Akbar who is known of his similarity to the Prophet physically and morally, people of Medina used to stop in lines watching their bright-facedness. 57


During the battle of at-Taff and the few days preceding, Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad; the governor of Kufa, imposed a blockade on the sources of water so as to prevent Imam al-Hussein (a), his household, and army from having water. , al-Abbas, undertook the mission of fetching water to the camp and harem of his brother. He pushed himself among the large gatherings of that army and could reach the River Euphrates several times. On that account, he had the epithet 'as-Saqqaa -the provider of water.'


56. Excerpted from Oxford Talking Dictionary.

57. See Fursan ul-Haijaa and Abu'l-Faraj al-Isfahani's Maqaatil ut-Talibiyyin.

Adopted from the book : "Al-Abbas"

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