Making choices, whether with desire or lack of desire, are one of our common everyday activities. Our choices depending upon their importance are categorized accordingly. They each play different roles in our lives- roles which affect our entire lives, and as a result may decide the true meaning of life.

Abbas (PBUH) had a good knowledge of whom the Iraqis of his time were, and was especially aware of the character of the people of Kufa in not staying loyal and true to his father, Imam Ali (PBUH), and to his brother, Imam Hassan al-Mujtaba (PBUH). He was aware of how the people of Kufa unite to support their belongings and wishes, and how they would easily surrender to small worldly goods, and break their vows. He was also aware of the power the Umayyad sons carried, how fearless they are in bloodshed, and how his brother’s (Imam Hussain’s (PBUH)) companions are minimal in number.

As Imam Hussain’s (PBUH) caravan approached Kufa, Imam Hussain (PBUH) would hear worrisome news from the city. Generally the news implied that the people of Kufa had broken their oath and allegiance. When news of Muslim ibn Aqeel’s martyrdom reached Imam Hussain (PBUH), a large number of those accompanying the Imam lost their already weak faith, and scattered far from Imam Hussain (PBUH).

  Abbas (PBUH) had heard many prophecies from his father and brothers about the tragedy of Karbala; and now witnesses what he heard with his own eyes. Alas! What tragedy will be born in the next few days (in Karbala)?

He made his decision despite the fact that he knew if he withdrew from helping his brother, and had chosen to stay neutral, he could protect his life. On the other hand he also knew that if he had joined the enemies in this mission, he would be safe, facing no danger and could provide himself with fine property, status, comfort, and luxury in life.

Abbas (PBUH) however, had no desire for fame or worldly positions. His only goal was to join the master of martyrs, Imam Hussain (PBUH). He chose a path, a path unlike all others, and he faced all bitter consequences with his life.

Today is the birthday anniversary of the Man who made a great decision, a decision for which history has never recorded an identical.

I wonder, if you and I were in his place, which path would we choose?

How much time would we spend thinking about deciding between our options?

How uncertainly and hesitantly would we make our decision?

The event of Karbala passed, yet remains alive. And now it is our turn to cross the two ways of our lives: a cross-way, which expects us to choose one way.

(Selection taken from: “The Commander of Karbala”, a translation of “Al-Abbas (PBUH)” by Muqarram, with minor changes)

We cordially congratulate the auspicious birthday anniversary of the Commander of Karbala, Abalfadl al-Abbas (PBUH) to the one savior of the world, Imam Mahdi (PBUH), and to all his devotees.

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