al-ʿAbbās Imaam 'Abd al-Muṭṭalib (c.566 - c.653)

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Place of Burial: Medina, Saudi Arabia
Birthplace: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Death: Died in Medina, Saudi Arabia
Cause of death: Old Age
Managed by: Rehan Allahwala
Last Updated:

About al-ʿAbbās Imaam 'Abd al-Muṭṭalib

Al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, with the kunya Abū al-Faḍl (d. Rajab or Ramaḍān 32/February or April 653), was the Prophet's paternal uncle and the progenitor of the ʿAbbāsids. He was a son of ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib and grandson of Hāshim b. ʿAbd Manāf. His mother, Nutayla bint Janāb b. Kulayb, came from the tribe of Banū Taym Allāh (Ibn al-Kalbī, 28; Ibn Hishām, 1/114; Ibn Saʿd, 4/5). According to a well-known report, he was born three years before the ‘Year of the Elephant’ (ʿām al-fīl) (al-Wāqidī, 1/70; Ibn Saʿd, 4/5; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/1). The responsibility for siqāya, providing drinking water for pilgrims, which was in the hands of the Banū ¶ Hāshim, was passed on to al-ʿAbbās prior to Islam (Ibn Hishām, 1/189; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/15–16; al-Azraqī, 1/114; Ibn Saʿd, 1/86). This indicates the prestige and status he enjoyed amongst the Quraysh as one of their most outstanding notables (Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, 2/811).

Before the advent of Islam, al-ʿAbbās was a close companion of Abū Sufyān (q.v.) (al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/21; al-Dhahabī, 2/80), and most probably, like other tribal leaders of Quraysh, he made his living through trade (Ibn Hishām, 2/82). In addition, he would loan money at usurious rates; however, when the customs of the pre-Islamic period, the jāhiliyya, were annulled by the Prophet after the conquest of Mecca (al-Wāqidī, 3/1103), al-ʿAbbās's usurious loans were also annulled. One verse of the Qurʾān (2/278) is said to have been revealed in connection with this event (al-Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, 6/22–23; al-Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, 2/365; al-Suyūṭī, 3/107, 109).

It is rather surprising that in none of the extant reports is there any indication suggesting either al-ʿAbbās's friendship with or animosity towards the Prophet, despite the fact that al-ʿAbbās was his uncle and held a particularly important position amongst the Quraysh. He also appears to have been aware, from very early on, of the mission of the Prophet (Ibn Isḥāq, 137–138; al-Nasāʾī, 45; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2/311). According to a collection of narratives, which appear to be suspect, al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib was present at the ʿAqaba oath of allegiance and made speeches urging on the Anṣār, the Prophet's Medinan ‘helpers’; at some time before this, some Medinan Muslims apparently made a secret visit to the Prophet when he was still in Mecca, and this encounter is said to have taken place in al-ʿAbbās's house (Ibn Hishām, 2/84; Ibn Saʿd, 4/7–9; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/17).

It does not seem improbable that later, possibly in the time of the ʿAbbāsid caliphs, attempts were made to endow al-ʿAbbās with merits and virtues (faḍāʾil), ¶ likening his role in early Islam to that of Abū Ṭālib (q.v.). In at least one account it is reported that whilst al-ʿAbbās kept the pagan religion of his own community, he nevertheless supported his nephew (Ibn Hishām, 2/84; for the reports transmitted by al-ʿAbbās casting doubt on Abū Ṭālib's Islamic faith, see Muslim, 1/194–195).

Particular efforts were made in reports (riwāyāt and akhbār) to emphasise the positive aspects of al-ʿAbbās's personality. This can be seen in a number of reports concerning the battle of Badr. He is said to have played a crucial role in relating the dream that his sister ʿĀtika had before the battle of Badr, which was interpreted as foretelling the defeat and humiliation of the disbelievers (Ibn Hishām, 2/259 ff.). However, he himself was on the side of the disbelievers in this battle, and his name is even listed amongst those who supplied food for the army of Quraysh (Ibn Hishām, 2/320; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/3). When he was taken prisoner by one of the Anṣār called Abū al-Yasar (Ibn Saʿd, 4/12; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2/463), he told the Prophet that he had in fact converted to Islam, and had not taken part in the battle of his own free will. However, the Prophet did not accept this statement, and al-ʿAbbās found that he had no choice but to pay a ransom in order to be released (Ibn Qutayba, 155; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2/466). According to one account, the Prophet ordered his release out of his extreme compassion for al-ʿAbbās (Ibn Saʿd, 4/13; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 2/463).

An account which quotes his son, ʿAbd Allāh b. al-ʿAbbās, states that before the battle, the Prophet commanded the Companions not to kill al-ʿAbbās and one or two other members of the army of Quraysh, since they had been forced against their will to participate in the fighting (Ibn Saʿd, 4/10–11; Ibn Hishām, 2/281). It has also been argued that he participated in the battle because Abū Jahl had persuaded and advised him to do so (Ibn Saʿd, 4/9–10). Other reports claimed that, through ¶ secret letters, he had warned the Prophet of the forces leaving Mecca to launch the battle (al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/3; al-Wāqidī, 1/204; Ibn Saʿd, 2/37; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/3, who gives the battle of Uḥud instead of Badr). It should be noted that Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Wāqidī (d. 207/ 822), who served for a while as the qāḍī (chief judge) of Baghdad for the ʿAbbāsid caliphs, Hārūn and al-Maʾmūn (Ibn al-Nadīm, 111; al-Khaṭīb, 3/4), in the chapter dealing with the battle of Badr in his al-Maghāzī, made no mention at all of al-ʿAbbās either participating or being captured in the battle. In some accounts, his conversion is placed in the years preceding the battle of Badr, but he is said to have purposely concealed his faith in order to report to the Prophet on the activities of the disbelievers (Ibn Saʿd, 4/31). Other reports state that he concealed his conversion for fear that he might lose his control of the positions of siqāya and rifāda (provision of food and water for the pilgrims) (al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/3). Thus, both the matter of his conversion to Islam and the question of precisely when he joined the Prophet are subjects fraught with ambiguity. It should be noted that there is some discussion in the sources indicating that he joined the Prophet after the conquest of Khaybar or at the battle of Khandaq (Ibn Saʿd, 4/17).

The report claiming that al-ʿAbbās joined the Prophet when the latter was on his way to conquer Mecca seems to be the most plausible (al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/20). It is lent further weight by the fact that, in a saying attributed to Muḥammad al-Bāqir, al-ʿAbbās is included as one of the ṭulaqāʾ (sing. ṭalīq, one who converted to Islam only after the conquest of Mecca) (al-Kulaynī, 8/189–190). On the other hand, shortly before the conquest of Mecca, it was al-ʿAbbās who brought Abū Sufyān to the Prophet to convert to Islam (Ibn Hishām, 4/44–45; Ibn Saʿd, 2/135; al-Yaʿqūbī, 2/44; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 3/53–54). After ¶ the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet reinstated al-ʿAbbās in charge of the function of siqāyat al-ḥājj (Ibn Saʿd, 2/137, 4/25, 26). Al-ʿAbbās's name is given as one of those who showed courage at the battle of Ḥunayn (Ibn Hishām, 4/85; Ibn Saʿd, 2/15, 4/18, 19; al-Yaʿqūbī, 2/47; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 3/74). It is said that the Prophet made various gifts to al-ʿAbbās (Ibn Saʿd, 1/344), but when he asked the Prophet to grant him a governorship, the Prophet declined to do so (Ibn Saʿd, 4/27; Ibn ʿAbd Rabbih, 1/21, 82).

On the death of the Prophet, al-ʿAbbās is said to have been actively involved in the washing (ghusl) of his body, and the performance of the funeral rites (Ibn Hishām, 4/312; Ibn Saʿd, 2/290–291; Abū Zurʿa al-Dimashqī, 1/157; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 1/569, 570). He is also reported to have been one of those who did not swear allegiance to Abū Bakr as the first caliph, and perhaps on account of familial relationships, tended to favour ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (Ibn Saʿd, 2/246; al-Yaʿqūbī, 2/103; Ibn Hishām, 4/304; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 1/582; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 3/193–194, where reports are given showing ʿAbbās's sensitivity on the question of the succession).

During the caliphate of ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb, while al-ʿAbbās enjoyed certain financial advantages (Ibn Saʿd, 3/297; 4/29; al-Balādhurī, Futūḥ, 451; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 3/614), he nonetheless questioned the caliph on certain matters and even had disagreements with him (Ibn Saʿd, 4/21–23; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/15). The final reference to al-ʿAbbās's life concerns his negotiations with ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib about participating in the consultative council (shūrā) which was set up to elect the new caliph after the murder of the second caliph, ʿUmar (al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 4/228, 230). Having been blind for some time, Al-ʿAbbās died in Medina during the caliphate of ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān (al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/22; Ibn Qutayba, 121; Ibn Saʿd, 4/31; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 4/307; see also Khalīfa, ¶ 1/179; Abū Nuʿaym, 3/486, both give a date of death in 33 or 34/653 or 655) and was buried in the cemetery known as Jannat al-Baqīʿ. Al-ʿAbbās's tomb there, next to which four Shiʿi imams were also buried, was covered by a dome at some early, unspecified time. Some sources indicate that this mausoleum was still in existence when the Wahhābīs invaded the Ḥijāz in the 19th and 20th centuries and destroyed the cemetery (Ibn al-Athīr, 10/352; al-Dhahabī, 2/100; Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, 1/143; Evliya Çelebi, 149–150; for a detailed study, see Najafī, 323 ff.).

Among the numerous offspring of al-ʿAbbās who became well known (for a list see Ibn Saʿd, 4/6; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/22; Ibn Qutayba, 121–122), ʿAbd Allāh is the most renowned. Al-ʿAbbās transmitted some ḥadiths from the Prophet (for these sayings, referred to as his musnad, that is ḥadīths listed according to their chain of transmitters [isnād], see Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad, 3/287 ff.; al-Mizzī, 4/264–271). Certain individuals, like his two sons ʿAbd Allāh and ʿUbayd Allāh, al-Aḥnaf b. Qays, ʿAbd Allāh b. al-Ḥārith b. Nawfal and others, heard ḥadīths from him and transmitted them (al-Dhahabī, 2/79).

According to al-Dhahabī, the traditionists endeavoured to collect ḥadīths relating to the merits and virtues (faḍāʾil) attributed to al-ʿAbbās (2/99), in order to win favour with the caliphs. Accordingly, in addition to devoting special chapters to the faḍāʾil of al-ʿAbbās in certain ḥadīth collections (Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Faḍāʾil, 2/915 ff.; Ibn Abī Shayba, 12/108 ff.; al-Bukhārī, 5/91; al-Tirmidhī, 5/652 ff.), writers such as Ibn Abī al-Dunyā, Abū Ṭāhir al-Silafī and Ḥamza b. Yūsuf al-Sahmī, author of Taʾrīkh Jurjān, composed their own works specifically on the faḍāʾil attributed to al-ʿAbbās (Ḥājjī Khalīfa, 1/57, 2/1843). It should not be forgotten that al-ʿAbbās is the progenitor of the greatest dynasty among the Muslim caliphates (q.v. ‘ʿAbbāsids’). Thus elements connected to underpin-¶ ning the legitimacy of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate may be detected in many of the faḍāʾil attributed to him. Firstly, the historical precedence (sābiqa) of al-ʿAbbās, his being alive in the time of the Prophet as one of his Companions and being his uncle, was always generally stressed in the ʿAbbāsid period; for example, in his well-known letter to Muḥammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, the ʿAbbāsid al-Manṣūr made reference to this fact in certain places, taking great pride in it (al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, 7/571; Ibn ʿAbd Rabbih, 5/84–85; see also al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/14). In a number of sayings attributed to the Prophet, al-ʿAbbās is included, implicitly or explicitly, amongst the ahl al-bayt (the Prophet's Household) (Ibn Saʿd, 4/24; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/4–5, 9). Furthermore, it seems that in some of these reports special emphasis was placed on the caliphate issuing from al-ʿAbbās's descendants (Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad, 3/305; al-Balādhurī, Ansāb, 3/4). The claim that the descendants of al-ʿAbbās received the caliphate by hereditary right from the Prophet assumed particular significance, especially when the ʿAbbāsids decided to uphold the legitimacy of their caliphate, not by way of Abū Hāshim ʿAbd Allāh (q.v.), but via al-ʿAbbās himself; this was also referred to by al-Manṣūr in the aforementioned letter (Ibn ʿAbd Rabbih, 5/84–85). Further, according to some sources, a sect called the Rāwandiyya even believed that the Prophet had issued an explicit designation (naṣṣ) to al-ʿAbbās for the caliphate (al-Nāshiʾ al-Akbar, 31; Ibn Ḥazm, 4/154–155, 156; al-Ghazālī, 137, 174–175; Ibn Taymiyya, 1/500).

By contrast, although in Twelver Shiʿi sources al-ʿAbbās is regarded as a Companion of the Prophet and of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (al-Ṭūsī, Rijāl, 43 no. 303, 70 no. 641), there are also some reports in which he is the object of censure (Furāt al-Kūfī, 164; al-Kashshī, 53; al-Majlisī, 36/138; al-Khūʾī, 9/234–235; al-Shūshtarī, 6/15 ff.).

Ali Bahramian Tr. Jawad Qasemi

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idem, al-Musnad, ed. Shuʿayb al-Arnaʾūṭ (Beirut, 1414/1994)

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al-Balādhurī, Aḥmad, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, ed. Muḥammad Ḥamīd Allāh (Cairo, 1959)

idem, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 3, ed. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Dūrī (Beirut, 1978)

idem, Futūḥ al-buldān, ed. M. J. de Goeje (Leiden, 1966)

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Ḥājjī Khalīfa, Kashf

Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Yūsuf, al-Istīʿāb, ed. ʿAlī Muḥammad al-Bajāwī (Cairo, 1380/1960)

Ibn ʿAbd Rabbih, Aḥmad, al-ʿIqd al-farīd, ed. Aḥmad Amīn et al. (Cairo, 1368/1949)

Ibn Abī Shayba, Abū Bakr, al-Muṣannaf (Bombay, 1403/1982)

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Ibn Ḥazm, ʿAlī, al-Fiṣal fī al-milal wa al-ahwāʾ wa al-niḥal, ed. Muḥammad Ibrāhīm Naṣr and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ʿUmayra (Riyadh, 1402/1982)

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Ibn al-Kalbī, Hishām, Jamharat al-nasab, ed. Nājī Ḥasan (Beirut, 1407/1986)

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Citation Bahramian, Ali; Qasemi, Jawad. " Al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib." Encyclopaedia Islamica. Editors-in-Chief: Wilferd Madelung and, Farhad Daftary. Brill Online , 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 15 January 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-islamica/al-abbas-b-abd-al-muttalib-SIM_0011>

  • *************************** Wikipedia Entry Below ***********************************************************

Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib (Arabic: العباس بن عبد المطلب‎) (c. 566 – c. 653 CE) was a paternal uncle and Sahabi (companion) of Muhammad, only a few years older than the prophet. A wealthy merchant, during the early years of Islam he protected Muhammad while he was in Makka, but only became a convert after the Battle of Badr in 2 AH. His descendants founded the Abbassid caliphate in 750 C.E. Abbas was one of the youngest brothers of Muhammad's father Abd Allah ibn Abd al Muttalib, born only a few years before his nephew Muhammad (570 - 632 CE). He became a wealthy merchant in Makka. During the early years while the Muslim religion was gaining adherents, Abbas provided protection to his kinsman but did not adopt the faith. However, shortly before the fall of Makka he turned away from the Quraysh rulers and gave his support to Mohammad.[2] He married Lubaba bint al-Harith (Arabic: لبابة بنت الحارث‎) also known as Umm al-Fadl. Umm al-Fadl claimed to be the second woman to convert to Islam, the same day as her close friend Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of Muhammad. Umm al-Fadl 's traditions of the Prophet appear in all canonical collections of hadiths. She showed her piety by supernumerary fasting, and by attacking Abu Lahab, the enemy of the Muslims, with a tent pole.[3] He was the father of Abdullah ibn Abbas and Fadl ibn Abbas. Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib was captured during the battle of Badr and accepted Islam just before the fall of Makka, 20 years after his wife. al-Abbas was a big man and his captor Abu'l-Yasar was a slightly built man. The Prophet asked Abu'l Yasar how he managed the capture, and he said he was assisted by a person whom he described and whom Muhammad identified as a noble angel. Muhammad allowed al-Abbas to ransom himself and his nephew.[5] The Prophet then named him "last of the refugees" (Muhajirun), which entitled him to the proceeds of the spoils of the war. He was given the right to provide Zamzam water to pilgrims, which right was passed down to his descendants.[1] in some traditions it is said that he was the father of abdullah, obeydullah and qasm. Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib is buried at the Jannatul Baqee' cemetery in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. The Abbasid dynasty founded in 750 CE by Abu al-Abbās Abdu'llāh as-Saffāh claimed the title of caliph (literally "successor to the prophet") through their descent from Abbas's son Abdullah.[7] Many other families claim direct descent from Abbas, including the Kalhora's of Sindh[8], the Berber Banu Abbas[9], and the modern-day Bawazir of Yemen[10] and Shaigiya and Ja'Alin of Sudan.[11] and Dhund Abbasi who are found in these areas of Pakistan: Murree, Circle Bakote of Hazara region and Azad Kashmir.

Source 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%60Abbas_ibn_%60Abd_al-Muttalib

Source 2: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Abbas_ibn_Abd_al-Muttalib

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