‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib

Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul Muttalib
June 13, 2018
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
June 13, 2018

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‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib


A year of intense drought afflicts the cities and villages, affecting Madinah and its inhabitants. Desperate, the people come out of the city with their leader Amir al Mu’minin ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu to the empty dry plains to read the ritual rain seeking prayer, Salat al Istisqa’. They beg and plead of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala for beneficial rain. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu takes hold of the right hand of ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu raises it to the sky and prays thus:


اللهم إنا كنا نستسقي إليك بنبينا فتسقينا ، وإنا نتوسل إليك بعم نبينا فاسقنا

O Allah, we would ask you for rain by virtue of our Prophet and you gave us rain. Now we ask you for rain by virtue of the paternal uncle of our Prophet, so grant us rain.[1]


This act is known as seeking goodness through the prayers of the pious, i.e. requesting a pious person to pray on one’s behalf. The Muslim congregation did not leave until rain poured announcing glad tidings, irrigation, and fertility. The Companions rushed to embrace ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu and express their affection for his blessed status saying, “Rejoice! You are now the provider of water of the two Harams.”[2] Who was this great personality? His teknonym Abu al Fadl, his name ‘Abbas son of ‘Abdul Muttalib. The uncle of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and a well respected elder of the Quraysh both in the era of ignorance and Islam. He was extremely tall, handsome, awe inspiring, blessed with a resounding voice, and immense forbearance together with wielding a substantial amount of power.

He was slightly elder than Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, being born three years prior to the Year of the Elephant. It was once asked of him, “Who is bigger between you and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” he replied:


هو اكبر و انا ولدت قبله

He is bigger than me [in status], and I was born before him.[3]


Their close relationship was strengthened by the natural disposition of ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu which Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam grew to love and appreciate. In addition, ‘Abbas’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu good nature and excellent manners complemented the Prophet’s standards of judgment, for he was excessively generous, as if he was the sponsor of good and noble deeds towards humanity. He treasured kinship bonds and cherished his family and relatives. He put himself, his influence, and his money at their disposal. Just as he held a high rank amongst the Quraysh he was held in high esteem by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as well. Moreover, he was an extremely intelligent man. His intelligence was tinged with craftiness. This, along with his high station among the Quraysh, enabled him to avert mischief and abuse against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam when he began to invite people openly to embrace Islam. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam praised him with the following words:

هذا العباس بن عبد المطلب أجود قريش كفا وأوصلها

‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib is the most generous and benevolent towards his relatives from amongst all the Quraysh.[4]


‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu was to his people a gold mine of rich ideas and wisdom. He was a well wisher ever ready to free slaves and disliked the enslaving of humans. He would provide water for the pilgrims and maintain the Masjid al Haram together with ensuring peace and the absence of obscenities therein.[5]

When 73 men and two women from a delegation of the Ansar came to Makkah during the Hajj season to take the oath of allegiance to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the Second Pledge of al ‘Aqabah and to make preparations with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for the imminent emigration of the Muslims to Madinah, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed his uncle ‘Abbas concerning all that went on between him and the delegation and about the pledge, for he trusted his uncle and treasured his opinion, though he was not a Muslim at that time.

When it was time for the secret meeting, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his uncle ‘Abbas went to where the Ansar were waiting for them. ‘Abbas wanted to test their loyalty and ability to help and protect the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and deduce the veracity of their pledge.

Ka’b ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates the proceedings of this meeting.

We sat in the ravine waiting for the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam until he arrived accompanied by his uncle. ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib who said:


يا معشر الخزرج إن محمدا منا حيث علمتم، وقد منعناه من قومنا ممن هو على مثل رأينا فيه، فهو في عزة من قومه، ومنعة في بلده، وإنه قد أبى إلا الإنحياز إليكم واللحوق بكم، فإن كنتم ترون أنكم وافون له بما دعوتموه إليه ومانعوه ممن خالفه، فأنتم وما تحملتم من ذلك، وإن كنتم ترون أنكم مسلموه وخاذلوه بعد الخروج إليكم فمن الآن فدعوه، فإنه في عزة ومنعة من قومه وبلده

O people of Khazraj, you are well aware of Muhammad’s lineage. We have prevented our people from abusing him. He lives here protected and supported by his people and in his own city, yet he prefers to accompany you and emigrate to Madinah. So, on the one hand, if you are certain that you will be capable of giving him sufficient help, protection, and safety, then fulfil your pledge to the fullest. On the other hand, if you intend to forsake and thwart him after he has emigrated to you, then you had better show him your true colors now because he is safer with his people and in his own city.”


Ka’b Ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “We have heard what you have to say, O Rasulullah! Take and do with us as you and your Lord please.”


The answer of the Ansar displayed their resolve, true courage, and sincerity in taking up this mammoth task and being prepared for any outcome. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then spoke, after which the pledge took place.[6]

‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib did not publicly announce his Islam till before the Conquest of Makkah. He took part in Badr against the Muslims [due to compulsion] and was taken as a prisoner after the Muslims defeated the Quraysh army. When it was decided that a ransom would be taken in exchange for the captives’ freedom ‘Abbas wanted to be set free without paying a ransom, saying, “O Messenger of Allah, I was a Muslim, but my people forced me to go forth in this battle.” But Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam insisted saying,


الله أعلم بشأنك، إن يك ما تدعي حقا فالله يجزيك بذلك، وأما ظاهر أمرك فقد كان علينا فافد نفسك

Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala knows best what the truth of the matter is. If you are true in what you say, then Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will recompense you accordingly. We, however judge on the apparent. Ransom yourself.[7]


Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma recounting the condition of the prisoners of Badr says:


The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam loved his uncle ‘Abbas dearly, to the extent that he could not sleep when the Battle of Badr lay down its burden and his uncle was captured. When he was asked about the reason for his sleeplessness, despite his sweeping victory, he said,


سمعت أنين عمي في وثاقه

I heard ‘Abbas moan in his fetters.


As soon as a group of Muslims heard the Prophet’s words, they rushed to where the captives were and untied ‘Abbas out of reverence for Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[8]


Subhan Allah! The voice of his uncle reaches his ears in fetters and he does not get a wink of sleep. Truly we are honored to have a Prophet so affectionate.

Here are a few examples of the status of ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the eyes of those around him.


Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha says:


I have not seen Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam revere anyone as much as he revered ‘Abbas.[9]


Similarly the Sahabah too would revere him to the extent that he passes ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma who are on their conveyance, no sooner do they see him that they disembark until he passes them, honouring the uncle of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in this manner.

When ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu took the reins of the Caliphate and cities fell to the Muslim armies like dominos, wealth began pouring into Madinah. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave preference to those Muhajirin and Ansar who had participated in Badr by giving them five thousand whilst the other Companions were given four thousand. When it came to give ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu however, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave him twelve thousand!

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would honour ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu, kissing his hands and feet saying, “O uncle be pleased with me.”[10]

Sa’id ibn al Musayyab says, “‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the best of this ummah.”[11]

During the Caliphate of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he saw a water spout on the roof of ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu which flowed toward the walk way. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu went up and removed it. ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to him asking if he had removed it to which ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied in the affirmative as it may be nuisance to people.

‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to him, “It was Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who had placed it there.” ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu began crying and swore by Allah to bend down while ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu stood on his back to put it in its place.[12]

Dear reader, envision the respect that was displayed to ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu by the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. The mere relation to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had them intensely revering him. Let us ask ourselves, what is our attitude towards our Muslim brothers and sisters? By extension, what is our attitude towards the Book of our Lord and the saying of our Prophet? Alas! There is no might nor power except in Allah.

‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the uncle of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would have been the only inheritor of his wealth besides his wives and daughter if there was inheritance after the demise of a prophet.

He emancipates seventy slaves at the time of his death and breathed his last in the 32nd year of the hijrah. ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu performed the funeral prayer and he was laid to rest in the Baqi’ graveyard.


May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala be pleased with him.


NEXT⇒Ali ibn Abi Talib

[1] Sahih al Bukhari, 964/3507. Narrated by Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

[2] Al Isti’ab, vol. 1 pg. 146; al Wafi bi al Wafayat, vol. 16 pg. 361.

[3] Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, 5398. Hakim has not commented on the narration. Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, 26256. Al Haythami commented, “Tabarani has recorded it and the narrators are authentic.” See Majma’ al Zawaid, 15482.

[4] Musnad Imam Ahmed, 1610; Sahih Ibn Hibban, 7025; al Mustadrak li al Hakim, 5419; Musnad Abu Ya’la, 820. The annotation has its chain of narration as good. Musnad Bazzar, 1077; Sunan al Nasa’i al Kubra, 8174. Majma’ al Zawaid has the following, “In the chain there is Muhammad ibn Talhah al Taymi who has been considered as authentic by more than one and the rest of the chain in Musnad Imam Ahmed and Musnad Abu Ya’la are all authentic. It is also in the Silsilah al Sahihah of al Albani, 3326.

[5] Tafsir al Tha’labi, vol.2 pg. 121; Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 24 pg. 118.

[6] Sirah ibn Hisham, vol.2 pg. 302.

[7] Musnad Imam Ahmed, 3310. Majma’ al Zawaid has the following, “It is recorded in Musnad Imam Ahmed however one narrator is not mentioned. All the other narrators are strong.

[8] Sunan al Bayhaqi al Kubra, 179323; Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 26 pg. 290

[9] Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 9 pg. 212. Narrated by Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha. Al Dhahabi mentions in Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol.2 pg. 92 the chain of narration is good. Al Hakim brings the narration in his Mustadrak, 5410 with the following words, “Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would revere ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu like a child would his father. An honour Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had bestowed specifically upon ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” The author then writes, “This narration is with an authentic chain of narration however, Imam Bukhari and Muslim have not narrated it in their books.” Al Dhahabi concurs with him in the authentication. Al Albani however has deemed it weak see, Da’if al Jami’, 4538; Silsilah al Da’ifah, 4264.

[10] Al Adab al Mufrad, 976. Al Albani has commented on it saying it is weak and mawquf.

[11] Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, 5434. Al Dhahabi has authenticated it in Tarikh al Islam, vol. 3 pg. 378.

[12] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 96.

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