The highest level of generosity and bounty is sacrifice. It was one of the slogans of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP). The importance of sacrifice is to the extent that Allah (SWT) describes the believers in the Holy Quran by saying:

“…and they give others preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that… (1)”

It has been narrated that Prophet Moses (PBUH) asked Allah (SWT) to show him some of the ranks of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his nation. When he realized their high rank, he asked about the reason for such bestowment. Allah (SWT) said,

“It is because of a merit I have exclusively given to him (among the Prophets), and that is sacrifice (2)”.

The best examples of sacrifice can be found in the incident of Karbala. In fact, one of the main characteristics of the incident of Karbala is sacrifice. And when it comes to sacrifice, is there a better example than Ab al-Fadl al-Abbas (PBUH)?

The manifesting of this humane and Islamic character was one of the purposes of the incident of Karbala. It seems Abbas (PBUH) was made responsible for this task. One of the manifestations of the sacrifice of Abbas (PBUH) was when he fought the army surrounding Euphrates, and he entered the river with his horse. There, water reached the stomach of the horse. He could fill the container he had without dismounting from his horse.

Once he filled the container, he took some water with his hand and raised his hand to drink the water. People were witnessing this scene from far; however, all they have narrated is that he poured the water and did not drink it. But why would he do that? At first, no one realized why Abbas (PBUH) did so. The history says, ”he remembered the thirst of his brother. He thought with himself that it was not appropriate for him to drink water while Imam Hussain (PBUH) was thirsty in the tents”.

But how does this point is concluded from history? It is inferred the poems of Abbas (PBUH). When he exited the river, he started reciting poems. People realized from these poems why he had refused to drink water. In his poems, Abbas (PBUH) addressed himself by saying,

“O Abbas! I do not want you to remain alive after Hussain. You want to drink water and stay alive? O Abbas! Hussain is thirsty in his tent and you want to drink cold water? I swear to Allah (SWT) that this is not the way a brother, a follower of an Imam, or a loyal person would act”.

Indeed, Karbala is the complete manifestation of sacrifice, and Abbas ibn Ali (PBUT) is its best example. He became the example of sacrifice when the enemy brought him a letter of safety but he refused to accept, when he gave a sermon on the night of Ashura and introduced himself as a sacrifice for Imam Hussain (PBUH), and when he refused to drink water while he was extremely thirsty. Abbas (PBUH) preferred his Imam and his religion over his own life. He exemplified an outstanding lesson of sacrifice for all the people throughout the entire history. Such a sacrifice and loyalty is what makes Prophet Moses (PBUH) wonder about the merits of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his nation.

(The above is a selection from “Hamaseye Husseini”, by Late Martyr Scholar Muratada Mutahhari, with minor changes)

The Roshd website offers its condolences upon the remembrance day of the teacher of sacrifice and the defender of the position of Wilayah, Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abitalib (PBUT).

Footnotes:

1. The Holy Quran, (59:9)

2. The Collection of Warram, vol. 1. p. 173