The Magnificent Moon

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In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. felicitations once again to you on the 2nd successive day. Today is the auspicious 4th of Sha'ban, the day on which in the year 26 AH, the valiant standard-bearer of the immortal epic of Karbala was born. He is none other than Abu'l-Fazl al-Abbas (PBUH), the valiant and loyal brother of the Chief of Martyrs, Imam Husain (PBUH).


This is a special feature on this hero of Islam, whose birthday is marked in the Islamic Republic of Iran as the Day of the Valiant War Veterans, who risked their life and limb to safeguard Islam and their homeland;


"O the Son of the Commander of the Faithful! I bear witness that you resigned yourself to the Will of Allah, sincerely accepted as true, faithfully kept your promise, and proved yourself a reliable friend, with regards to the Prophet's grandson (Imam Husain)."


What we recited to you was a phrase from the ziyarath or standard form of salutation to Hazrat Abbas (PBUH), who sacrificed his life while defending his brother Imam Husain (PBUH). It is worth noting that a gap of exactly 22 years and a single day separated the birth of these two brothers who had separate mothers as well, but so dedicated was Hazrat Abbas (PBUH) to the son of the noblest-ever lady, Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (peace upon them), that his name has become a symbol of loyalty, fealty, fidelity, and all those lofty traits that signify devotion of the highest order to the cause of truth. He preferred the severance of his both his hands and eventually embraced death in manly combat rather than accept the offers of political posts and wealth from the enemy, on condition of deserting Imam Husain (PBUH).


Abbas (PBUH) was faith personified. He had complete consciousness of God Almighty. He had perfect cognizance of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). He had immersed himself in the Wilayat al-Mutlaqa or Divinely-Decreed Absolute authority of his father Imam Ali (PBUH) after the passing away of the Prophet. He had profound awareness that the Imamate or Leadership of the ummah is the God-given right of Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace upon them), the sons of Hazrat Fatema (peace upon her). He was also well aware that after Imam Husain (PBUH) this God-given right would pass to his youthful nephew, Imam Zain al-Abedin (PBUH) and then of the latter's son, Imam Muhammad al-Baqer (PBUH). No wonder, Imam Baqer's son and successor, Imam Ja'far as-Sadeq (PBUH), was to say decades after the tragedy of Karbala: "may our life be sacrificed for our (great grand) uncle, Abu'l-Fazl al-Abbas."


Thus, it was this deeply-embedded conscientiousness of the Divine Right of Leadership in Islam that has made Hazrat Abbas immortal. This was the reason for his addressing of Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace upon them) as "My Lord", or "My Master", instead of calling them brothers, although the two grandsons of the Prophet insisted that the loyal Abbas (PBUH) use the fraternal term for them because of his sharing of paternity with them.


This was the reason for the firm and steadfast opposition of Hazrat Abbas to those that had usurped the political rule of the Islamic realm through such fallacious means as election, selection, nomination, consensus, etc. But don't mistake him for some meek, simple person, devoid of any other personal qualities except for single-minded loyalty to the Prophet's progeny. No, Hazrat Abbas (PBUH), in addition to being of tall stature, strikingly handsome and well-built – features that earned him admiration as Qamar Bani Hashem or Moon of the Hashemite Clan – was an accomplished swordsman. That doesn't mean he was a swashbuckler, since his valour extended far beyond horsemanship and gallantry into the realms of wisdom, patience, prudence, and the judicious handling of public affairs – a duty he ably discharged both during the Imamate of Imam Hasan and that of Imam Husain (peace upon them). He was born for a cause, lived for a cause and died for a cause in the full bloom of manhood at the age of 35 years. As a matter of fact, his father, Imam Ali (PBUH) had married his mother Fatema al-Kalabiyya or Omm al-Baneen, so that Imam Husain (PBUH) would have an excellent lieutenant to rely upon in the events leading to history’s most heart-rending tragedy.


There are thus lessons to be learnt for all of us from the glorious life of the Immortal Standard-Bearer of Karbala. True, we venerate him, bow at his threshold and invoke his name in our supplications to God for speedy solution to our problems. But this should not close our eyes to the everlasting example he has set in his dynamic defence of divine values, especially the correct definition of leadership in Islam, for which he relentlessly strove and courted martyrdom in the process. His bravery could be gauged from the fact that on the Day of Ashura, after scattering the Yazidi hordes from the banks of the River Euphrates, the faithful Abbas refused to drink a drop of the water because Imam Husain and the children in the camp were all thirsty. He preferred his lips remain parched even while filling the goatskin water-carrier after having bravely fought his way to the River Euphrates, because children in the camp were thirsty. He preferred the severance of both of his hands to ensure that the flag of Islam will forever flutter high, rather than surrendering to the cowardly foes that ambushed him on his return from the river. He preferred glorious death with an eye pierced with arrow and head struck from behind by the mace of a dastardly enemy, rather than return to the camp without water.


God the All-Gracious, has thus bestowed lasting rewards for him, for till this day the shrine of the Bab al-Murad or the Gateway of Needs stands as a sentinel to the shrine of the Chief of Martyrs, Imam Husain (PBUH), brightening up the path for those eager to board the Ark of Salvation. This is Abbas (PBUH), whose birthday today on Sha'ban 4 we celebrate in the Islamic Republic as Rouz-e Jaanbaaz or the Day of the Self-Sacrificing, as an expression of gratitude to the valourous volunteers who during the 8-year war imposed by the US through Saddam, bravely trod his path by risking life and limbs in defence of the principle of "Wilayat al-Faqih" or Rule of the Supreme Jurisprudent, which derives its legitimacy from the "Wilayat al-Mutlaqa" of Imam Ali, Imam Hasan, Imam Husain (peace upon them) and the other Nine Infallible Imams of the Prophet's Household.


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