Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Abd al-'Aziz al-Qabisi

‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Qabisi (d. 967), also known as Abu al-Saqr al-Qabisi 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Uthman, Alcabitius or Alchabitius, was an Arab astrologer in the tenth century of the Christian calendar whose main work is an exposition of some of the fundamental principles of horoscopy. He is primarily known for his treatise on judicial astrology, Introduction to the Art of Judgments of the Stars, dedicated to the Sultan Sayf al-Dawlah of the Hamdanid dynasty, a work that was highly prized in medieval and Renaissance Europe.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-'Aziz al-Qabisi
Abu al-Saqr al-Qabisi 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Uthman
Al-Qabisi, 'Abd al-'Aziz
Ibn Uthman
Ibn Uthman, Abu al-Saqr al-Qabisi 'Abd al-'Aziz
Qabisi, al-
Qabisi, 'Abd al-'Aziz al-

'Abd al-'Aziz al-Dihlawi

‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dihlawi, also known as al-Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi (1745/1746-1823/1824) was a noted Indian theologian and author of several religious works in Arabic and Persian.

'Abd al-'Aziz al-Dihlawi was one of the great Sunni Islamic scholars of hadith in India. 'Abd al-'Aziz was the eldest son of  Shah Wali Allah (Shah Waliullah).  He was only 17 years old when Shah Wali Allah died. 'Abd al-'Aziz  took over as the teacher of hadith in place of his father, and later became famous as the Muhaddith of Delhi (just like his father).

In northern India, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz was a prominent Sufi ‘alim of his time, a powerful orator (khatib), an effective preacher (wa’iz), and an expert on hadith and the Qur’an. He left a deep imprint on Islamic learning through his writings and through the students who came to the Madrasah-i Rahimiyah from all over India. He was also a connoisseur of Indian vocal music and Urdu and Persian literature as well as an accomplished calligrapher and horseman.

At the age of sixteen, following the death of his father Shah Wali Allah (d. 1762), the foremost ‘alim of eighteenth century India, Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz assumed responsibility for administering and teaching at the madrasah, which had been founded by his grandfather. Author of twenty-two known works, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz wrote on topics ranging from Islamic philosophy, hadith, tafsir, and the spirit of Sunnism to rhetoric, genealogy, music, and Persian literary styles. In Qur’anic studies, his Fath al-‘Aziz (translation and exegesis of the first two chapters and the last two parts of the Qur’an in Persian, in 3 volumes) is a major contribution in its methodological framework and interpretation. He witnessed the disintegration of the social and political order, the transfer of political power into Shi‘a hands (and the subsequent ascendancy of Shi‘ism in northern India), and the British takeover of Delhi in 1803.

Against this backdrop, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s other two important works Malfusat-i ‘Azizi and Fatawa-i ‘Azizi, along with Fath al-‘Aziz, serve as comprehensive sources for religious and social reconstruction. They reflect the concerns of the Muslim community in a period of transition and expound ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s views on how to deal with such issues as the legal status of India under British rule, social intercourse with the British, the adoption of Western dress, learning English and joining the British service, interest on loans or deposits under British rule, the marriage of Muslim women with Christians, Shi‘a-Sunni intermarriage, abortion, and the use of contraceptives.

‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s major preoccupation, however, was to restore the superiority of Sunnism by refuting aspects of Shi‘ism. Although he wrote several epistles on aspects of Shi‘ism, his most comprehensive and controversial work was Tuhfah-i isna’ ‘ashariyah, completed in 1789-1790. His concern with the “right religion” explaining beliefs and rituals and correcting misconceptions of historical realities such as the caliphate of the first three caliphs – may be seen as an attempt to preserve the Sunnis’ social identity in the changing socio-political order. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz accepted Shi‘ism as an important sect of Islam but rejected some Shi‘a practices.

‘Abd al-‘Aziz did not assume any title that might suggest that God had designated him for a specific role in the community. His contemporaries and posterity, however, bestowed upon him such titles as siraj al-Hind (lamp of India) and muhaddith (expert on hadith). Posterity acknowledged ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s erudition and placed him in the ranks of religious reformers. Among ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s writings, the Tuhfah (also translated into Arabic and Urdu) should be singled out for its lasting impact. This work not only demonstrates ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s profound knowledge and understanding of authentic sources of the Shi‘a and Sunni law but also epitomizes the linear development of sectarian polemics written by Sunni ‘ulama’ in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His contemporaries among the Shi‘a ‘ulama’ in the state of Awadh vehemently refuted each chapter of the Tuhfah. However, as a sign of his enduring legacy, in the wake of sectarian strife and polemical discussions in Pakistan in the early 1990s, the Sunni ‘ulama’ have often referred to 'Abd al-'Aziz's Tuhfah as a source.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-'Aziz al-Dihlawi
Abdul Aziz al-Dehlavi
Al-Dehlavi, Abdul Aziz
Al-Dihlawi, 'Abd al-'Aziz
Dehlavi, Abdul Aziz al-
Dehlavi, al-
Dihlawi, 'Abd al-'Aziz
Dihlawi, al-
Lamp of India

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'Abbasuddin Ahmed

'Abbasuddin Ahmed (1901-1959) was a disciple of Kazi Nazrul Islam, he spent about twenty years with him. He was a master of at least two varieties of folk songs: bhawiya and palligeeti. He influenced the resurgence of Bengali Muslims and, with poet Jasimuddin, was instrumental in popularizing folksongs. 'Abbasuddin is credited with having popularized Islamic songs. He is also known for using a two-string musical instrument (duo tara). He received Pakistan’s "Pride of Performance" award. Abbasuddin’s autobiography is entitled Amer Shilpa Jeban.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas Uddin Ahmed
'Abbasuddin Ahmed
Ahmed, 'Abbas Uddin
Ahmed, 'Abbasuddin  

'Abbas Mirza

‘Abbas Mirza (August 26, 1789 - October 25, 1833) was the son of the Qajar shah of Persia Fath ‘Ali Shah (r. 1798-1834). He was known for his bravery and generosity. Devoted to military art, he was for many years (1799-1833) governor-general of Azerbaijan. Almost a partner to his father’s throne, ‘Abbas Mirza’s sincere efforts to create a modern army (nizam jadid) and an efficient administration did not prevent his disastrous defeats in two rounds of Russo-Persian wars (1804-1813 and 1826-1828) and the loss of the Caucasian provinces to Russian expansionism. An advocate of modernization and European reforms, his provincial seat, Tabriz, grew to become Iran’s chief trade center. After 1831, he extended his control over eastern Iran, but his devastating campaigns failed to secure Herat. He predeceased his father, but Anglo-Russian guarantees made the monarchy hereditary, and because of his mother's royal birth, the line of 'Abbas Mirza was destined to sit on the throne.  

'Abbas Mirza was born in Navaa village.  He was a Qajar crown prince of Persia. He developed a reputation as a military commander during wars with Russia and the Ottoman Empire, as an early modernizer of Persia's armed forces and institutions, and for his death before his father, Fath Ali Shah. 

'Abbas Mirza was a younger son of Fath Ali Shah, but on account of his mother's royal birth was destined by his father to succeed him. Entrusted with the government of a part of Persia, he sought to rule it in European fashion, and employed officers to reorganize his army. He was soon at war with Russia, and his aid was eagerly solicited by both England and Napoleon, anxious to checkmate one another in the East. Preferring the friendship of France, 'Abbas Mirza continued the war against Russia's General Kotlyarevsky, but his new ally could give him very little assistance. Kotlyarevsky defeated the numerically superior Persian army in the Battle of Aslanduz and in October, 1813, Persia was compelled to make a disadvantageous peace, ceding some territory in the Caucasus (present-day Georgia, Dagestan, and most of the Republic of Azerbaijan). 

'Abbas Mirza gained some victories during the 1821 war between the Ottoman Empire and Persia, resulting in a peace treaty signed in 1823 after the Battle of Erzurum. The war was a victory for Persia. His second war with Russia, which began in 1826, ended in a string of costly defeats after which Persia was forced to cede nearly all of its Armenian territories and Nakhchivan. When the peace treaty was signed in February, 1828, 'Abbas Mirza sought to restore order in the province of Khorasan, which was nominally under Persian supremacy, and while engaged in the task died at Mashhad in 1833. In 1834, his eldest son, Mohammed Mirza, succeeded Fath Ali Shah as the next king. 

'Abbas Mirza is remembered for his valor in battle and his failed attempts to modernize the Persian army. He was not successful in part due to the lack of government centralization in Persia during the era. Additionally, it was 'Abbas Mirza who first dispatched Persian (Iranian) students to Europe for a western education.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas Mirza
Mirza, 'Abbas

'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad

‘Abbas Mahmud al-‘Aqqad, also known as Abbas Mahmoud el-Akkad (June 28, 1889- March 12, 1964), was an Egyptian litterateur, journalist, educator, polemicist and critic. He was born in Aswan, a city in upper Egypt. He wrote more than 100 books about philosophy, religions, greats of humanity, and poetry. He founded a poetry school (a salon) with Ibrahim al-Mazny and 'Abd al-Rahman Shokry. Near the end of his life, critics hailed him as a "human encyclopedia" of modern Arab culture. He died on March 12, 1964 in Cairo. His most famous works were The Ingenuity of Christ, The Ingenuity of Abraham, The Ingenuity of Mohamed, The Arab Impact on European Civilization, Sarah, and Allah or God.

Al-'Aqqad received little formal education, completing only his elementary education. Unlike his schoolmates, he spent all his weekly allowance on books. He read about religion, geography, history and many other subjects. He was known for his excellent English and French.

Al-'Aqqad wrote more than 100 books about philosophy, religion, and poetry. He founded a poetry school with Ibrahim al-Mazny and Abdel Rahman Shokry called Al-Diwan.  He died in 1964 in Cairo. His most famous works were al-'AbkariatAllah, and Sarah. Some of his books were translated into English. Al-Aqqad was known for his use of flowery and complicated prose.

Al-'Aqqad experienced two major romantic relationships in his life. The first was with a Christian Lebanese lady, whom he called "Sarah" in his novel of the same name. The second was with the famous Egyptian actress Madiha Yousri. This relationship was ended by al-'Aqqad himself, because of Yousri's career as an actress. Al-'Aqqad wrote a poetry work about this relationship called Cyclones of a Sunset (A-Asiru Maghrib in Arabic).

It was reported by prolific Egyptian author Anis Mansour and various other attendees of Al-Aqqad's famous 'lounge' that he kept a painting in his bedroom that displayed a beautiful cake with cockroaches crawling over it. Supposedly, Al-Aqqad kept this in his room as 'the first thing he looked at in the morning and the last thing he saw in the evening'. It symbolized beauty and purity (the cake) that is wasted to the glamor of spotlights (the cockroaches) as was the case (as he perceived) with actress Madiha Yousri.

Al-'Aqqad died in the early morning of March 13, 1964. His body was transported by train to his hometown Aswan in southern Upper Egypt, where it was buried the same day.

In the early 1980s, an Egyptian television series was produced about the life of al-Aqqad, which was titled The Giant (Al Imlaq in Arabic). It starred the late Egyptian actor Mahmud Mursi.

Alternative names include:

Abbas Mahmoud el-Akkad
'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad
Akkad, Abbas Mahmoud el-
Al-'Aqqad, 'Abbas Mahmud
'Aqqad, 'Abbas Mahmud al-
El-Akkad, Abbas Mahmoud

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'Abbas ibn Firnas

‘Abbas ibn Firnas (810-887) was an Andalusian polymath, scholar and poet of Berber origin at the court of Cordoba.  The invention of the cutting (faceting) of crystal is attributed to him.  He is also credited with being the first person to make a scientific attempt to fly when, in 875, he reportedly used a rudimentary glider launched from the Mount of the Bride (Jabal al-'arus) in the Rusafa area, near Cordoba, Spain. The Iraqis built a statue in his memory on the way to Baghdad International Airport, and the Ibn Firnas Airport to the north of Baghdad is named for him.  The Ibn Firnas crater on the Moon is also named in his honor.

'Abbas ibn Firnas was a Muslim Andalusian polymath: an inventor, engineer, aviator, physician, Arabic poet, and Andalusian musician. Of Berber descent, he was born in Izn-Rand Onda, Al-Andalus (today's Ronda, Spain), and lived in the Emirate of Cordoba. He is known for an early attempt to fly.

Ibn Firnas designed a water clock called al-Maqata, devised a means of manufacturing colorless glass, invented various planispheres, made corrective lenses ("reading stones"), devised a chain of rings that could be used to simulate the motions of the planets and stars, and developed a process for cutting rock crystal that allowed Spain to cease exporting quartz to Egypt to be cut.

In his house, Ibn Firnas constructed a room in which spectators witnessed stars, clouds, thunder, and lightning, which were produced by mechanisms located in his basement laboratory.  He also devised a rudimentary metronome.
Ibn Firnas is also said to have made an attempt at flight using a set of wings. The only evidence for this is an account by the Moroccan historian Ahmed Mohammed al-Maqqari (d. 1632), composed seven centuries later.

Al-Maqqari is said to have used in his history works many early sources no longer extant, but in case of Firnas the only one cited by him was a 9th century poem written by Mu'min ibn Said, a court poet of Cordoba under Muhammad I (d. 886), who was acquainted with and usually critical of Ibn Firnas.

It has been suggested that Ibn Firnas' attempt at glider flight might have inspired the attempt by Eilmer of Malmesbury between 1000 and 1010 in England but there is no evidence supporting this hypothesis.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas Abu al-Qasim ibn Firnas ibn Wirdas al-Takurini
'Abbas ibn Firnas
'Abbas ibn Firnas ibn Wardus
'Abbas Qasim ibn Firnas
Ibn Firnas
Ibn Wardus
Ibn Wirdas al-Takurini

'Abbas ibn 'Amr al-Ghanawi

‘Abbas ibn ‘Amr al-Ghanawi (d. 917 in Diyar Mudar) was a general and governor of the ‘Abbasid caliphs around 900.  He was known for his battle against, and release by, the Qarmatians (Carmathians). 

'Abbas ibn 'Amr al-Ghanawi was a military commander and provincial governor for the 'Abbasid dynasty. He is known for his defeat and capture at the hands of the Qarmatians in 900.

'Abbas was likely born in the Diyar Mudar district of al-Jazira. He embarked on a military career in the service of the 'Abbasids and is first recorded as one of the officers in charge of an expedition sent against unruly Arab tribes in Iraq. In the following year, he was appointed by the caliph al-Mu'tadid as governor of Bahrain and Yamamah and tasked with driving the Qarmatians led by Abu Sa'id Jannabi out of the region. Since the Qarmatians had already successfully occupied much of Bahrain, including Qatif, 'Abbas assembled an army of regular soldiers, Bedouin fighters and volunteers before departing from Basra for the province.

Shortly after their departure, 'Abbas and his army met the Qarmatians and engaged them in battle. The first day of fighting ended in a standstill, but in the evening the Bedouins and volunteers abandoned the campaign and returned to Basra. The following morning, the two armies resumed fighting, and 'Abbas' depleted forces were routed. 'Abbas and seven hundred of his men were compelled to surrender. The day after the battle, Abu Sa'id ordered that the captured soldiers all be put to death.  'Abbas alone was spared and was eventually released, with instructions to warn al-Mu'tadid of the futility of opposing the Qarmatians. 'Abbas returned to Iraq and was rewarded by al-Mu'tadid for his efforts.

Following his failed campaign, 'Abbas remained in military service, and in 902 he was in Fars serving under Badr al-Mu'tadidi, the commander-in-chief of the army. When Badr fell out of favor with the new caliph al-Muktafi, 'Abbas was one of several commanders who complied with the caliph's order to abandon the general and return to Baghdad. He was subsequently made governor of Qom and Kashan in 908-9, and he may have been a member of the campaign led by Mu'nis al-Khadim to defend Egypt against the Fatimids in 914-5. His last post was as governor of Diyar Mudar, and he died there in 917. He was succeeded as governor by Wasif ibn al-Buktamiri following his death.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas ibn 'Amr al-Ghanawi
al-'Abbas ibn 'Amr al-Ghanawi
Ibn 'Amr al-Ghanawi

'Abbas ibn al-Walid

‘Abbas ibn al-Walid (d. 750) was an Umayyad general who fought against the Byzantines.  He was thrown into prison by the last Umayyad Caliph Marwan II and died in 750. 
‘Abbas ibn al-Walīd was an Umayyad Arab prince and general, the son of Caliph al-Walid I (r. 705–715). A distinguished military leader in the Byzantine–Arab Wars of the early 8th century, especially in partnership with his uncle Maslamah ibn Abd al-Malik, he became involved in the civil wars of the mid-740s and was imprisoned. He died in prison of an epidemic in 750.

Little is known about 'Abbas's early life, and Arab and Byzantine sources are often at odds concerning details of his career. He first appears in the 707 campaign against the important Byzantine fortress of Tyana in Cappadocia, where he led the Arab army alongside his uncle Maslamah. The town withstood a long siege over the winter of 707–708, and surrendered only after a Byzantine relief army was defeated in the Spring. During the latter battle, 'Abbas is said by Arab chroniclers to have distinguished himself for the crucial role he played in stopping the wavering Arabs from fleeing and driving them on to victory.

'Abbas participated regularly in the almost annual expeditions launched into Byzantine Asia Minor. His most notable campaigns were the capture of Sebaste in Cilicia in 712 and of Antioch in Pisidia in 713, the raid into Paphlagonia in 721 where he is reported to have captured 20,000 prisoners, and a raid, placed in 722/723 but possibly reflecting an earlier campaign, that captured a fortress called Siza. In 720, along with his uncle Maslamah, he led the suppression of the revolt of the governor of Iraq, Yazid ibn al-Muhallab.

During the reign of the unpopular Al-Walid II (r. 743–744), 'Abbas was initially reluctant to oppose the caliph and counselled against provoking a civil war. In the end, however, he participated in the conspiracy and coup that deposed al-Walid and brought his brother Yazid III to the throne. Neither Yazid nor his brother Ibrahim I lasted long on the throne, which fell to the general Marwan ibn Muhammad (r. 744–750). Marwan had 'Abbas thrown into prison in Harran, where he died of a disease in 750.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas ibn al-Walid
al-'Abbas ibn al-Walid
Ibn al-Walid

'Abbas ibn al-Ahnaf - 'Abbas ibn 'Ali

‘Abbas ibn al-Ahnaf, also known as Abu al-Fadl 'Abbas ibn al-Ahnaf (b. 750 in Basra - d. 809), was an amatory of Iraq from around 750 until after 808.  He became a favorite of the ‘Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid and was connected with the Barmakids.  He cultivated the genre of erotico-elegiac poetry, known as ghazal, using simple and fluent language.  His poems became ready made material for composers and singers.

'Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf was an Arab Abbasid poet from the clan of Hanifa. His work consists solely of love poems (ghazal). His poems are primarily concerned with the hopelessness of love, and the person in his compositions seems resigned to a relationship of deprivation. The vocabulary 'Abbas chose was simple and his style is fluent and easy.

'Abbas grew up in Baghdad, where he became a friend of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid.  Harun al-Rashid employed him for the purpose of amusing him in time of leisure. His work was an acknowledged influence on Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz and Abu al-Atahiya.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas ibn al-Ahnaf
Abu al-Fadl 'Abbas ibn al-Ahnaf
al-'Abbas ibn al-Ahnaf
Ibn al-Ahnaf


'Abbas ibn 'Ali (646/647-680) was the son of the fourth Sunni caliph (and the first Shi'a imam), 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, and Fatima bint Hezam, commonly known as Ummul Baneen.

Al-'Abbas is particularly revered by Shi'a Muslims for his loyalty to his half-brother and third Shi'a imam, Husayn ibn 'Ali; his respect for the Ahl al-Bayt; and his role in the Battle of Karbala.  Al-'Abbas was married to Lubaba bint Ubaydullah ibn 'Abbas ibn Abdil Muttalib.  He had three sons, and their names are al-Fadl ibn al-'Abbas, Qasim ibn al-'Abbas, and Ubaydullah ibn al-'Abbas.  Two of them (al-Fadl ibn al-'Abbas and Qasim ibn al-'Abbas) were killed during the Battle of Karbala.

It is said that the Angel Gabriel informed Muhammad what would happen to his grandson Husayn ibn 'Ali at Karbala.  Muhammad, Fatima Zahra (Muhammad's daughter), and 'Ali were saddened by this, so 'Ali wished for a son to help Husayn ibn 'Ali at Karbala.  He asked his brother, Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, to search for a wife from courageous descent.  Aqeel discovered Fatima Qalabiyya, better known as Ummul Baneen.  Ummul Baneen was descended from the honored lineage of Hezam ibn Khalid ibn Rabi'e ibn Amer Kalbi.  However, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib did not marry Ummul Baneen (or any other woman) until after the death of Fatima Zahra. 

Al-'Abbas ibn Abi Talib was born on 4 Shaban 26 A.H. (646).  He was the son of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima bint Qalabiyya (Ummul Baneen).  It is said that he did not open his eyes after he was born until his half-brother Husayn ibn 'Ali took him in his arms.  This was a sign of the devotion that al-'Abbas would have for Husayn throughout his life.

Al-'Abbas showed his loyalty to Husayn at the Battle of Karbala.  After succeeding his father Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan as caliph, Yazid ibn Muawiyah required Husayn to pledge allegiance to him.  Husayn refused to do so.  In 680, Husayn left Medina with a small group of his companions and family, to travel to Kufa.  The people of Kufa said that they would support Husayn if he claimed the caliphate.  On the way, Husayn and his group were intercepted.  They were forced into a detour and arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram.  Husayn's camp was surrounded and cut off from the Euphrates River.  The camp ran out of water on the 7th of Muharram.

On the 8th and 9th of Muharram, Husayn refused to send al-'Abbas to fight for water.  Al-'Abbas was extremely eager to fight.  Husayn asked al-'Abbas to dig a well.  Al-'Abbas and some of the Banu Hashim men began digging.  But there was no success.

On the eve the tenth of Muharram, Husayn was passing through a camp in which his nephew Qasim ibn Hassan, his son 'Ali Akbar ibn Husayn and half-brother al-'Abbas were sitting and were discussing their situation.  Husayn stood beside the campfire and heard their conversation.  'Ali Akbar said that tomorrow (the tenth of Muharram) he would be the first person to sacrifice his life for Husayn.  Al-'Abbas interrogated him and said, "You are the son of my Master.  How can you fight before me?"  'Ali Akbar replied, "Uncle, you are the strength of my father.  If you go first and die my father will be destroyed.  And also you are the commander and the commander should not go first."  Al-'Abbas replied to 'Ali Akbar replied, "Nephew! A son is the light of his father's eyes.  If you die first, my brother will be visionless.  Most of all, I cannot bear to see you dying."  Qasim interjected, "My dear Uncle!  And my dear cousin!  I will proceed first so that the strength and vision of my uncle Husayn remains.  After all, I am an orphan."  At this Husayn burst upon the group, held Qasim in his arms and replied, "Oh, my nephew don't ever consider yourself to be an orphan.  I am your father." 

Despite the offers of others, al-'Abbas could not stand for anyone else entering the field of battle before he did.  But Husayn reminded him, "We have not entered Karbala for war."  He added, "We could win because we have Banu Hashim men like you.  However, our mission here is to serve Islam and now Islam requires our sacrifice.  We are here to sacrifice our lives for this pure and noble religion."

Access to the Euphrates River was blocked by Yazid's army and prevented the camp of Husayn from getting water.  Shi'as believe that al-'Abbas, because of his skill and bravery, could have attacked Yazid's army, gained access to the river, and retrieved water for Husayn's camp.  However, al-'Abbas was not allowed to fight.  He was only allowed to get water.  Thus, al-'Abbas went to the river to get water for Husayn's four year old daughter Sukayna bint Husayn.

Sukayna was very attached to al-'Abbas, who was her uncle.  To Sukayna, al-'Abbas was the only hope for getting water.  Al-'Abbas could not stand to see Sukayna thirsty and crying.   He had to get her some water.

Al-'Abbas entered the battlefield with only a dagger and a bag for water.  He was also given the authority to carry the standard in the battle. Somehow he made it to the river and began filling the bag with water.  Shi'as emphasize that al-'Abbas' loyalty to Husayn was so great that al-'Abbas did not drink any water because he could not bear the thought that Sukayna was thirsty.  After gathering the water, al-'Abbas rode back towards the camp.  On his way back, he was struck from behind and one of his arms was amputated.  Then, he was struck from behind again, amputating the other arm.  Al-'Abbas was now carrying the waterbag in his mouth.  The army of Yazid started shooting arrows at him.  One arrow hit the bag and water poured out of it.  At that moment, al-'Abbas despaired.  One of Yazid's men hit al-'Abbas on his head with a mace and al-'Abbas fell from his horse without the support of his arms.  According to Shi'a tradition, al-'Abbas fell first onto his face before he let the standard fall.

Al-'Abbas tossed on the burning sand with excruciating pain.  Al-'Abbas called for his master.  Husayn immediately came to him lifting his head and taking it into his lap.  Al-'Abbas lifted his head off Husayn's lap.  Husayn put al-'Abbas' head onto his lap, but al-'Abbas lifted his head again.  Husayn asked al-'Abbas, "Why are you preventing me from comforting you?"  Al-'Abbas replied, "O master, why should I be comforted in death by you, while no one will be there to comfort you when you die?  Husayn eventually talked al-'Abbas into putting his head on the imam's lap. 

Husayn asked al-'Abbas, "My brother what have they done to you?"  Al-'Abbas replied, "My Master, I thought I was not destined to have a last look at you but, thank God, you are here."  Then he said, "My Master, I have some last wishes to express.  When I was born, I had first looked at your face and it is my last desire that when I die, my gaze may be on your face.  My one eye is pierced by an arrow and the other is filled with blood.  If you will clear the eye I will be able to see you and fulfill my last dying desire.  My second wish is that when I die, you should not carry my body to the camp.  I had promised to bring water to Sukayna and since I have failed in my attempts to bring her water, I cannot face her even in death.  Besides, I know that the blows that you have received since morning have all but crushed you and carrying my body to the camp will be back-breaking work for you.  My third wish is that Sukayna may not be brought here to see my plight.  I know the love and affection she has for me.  The sight of my dead body lying here will kill her."  Husayn fulfilled his wishes.  Husayn asked him for one last thing.  Husayn said, "Abbas, I too have a wish to be fulfilled.  Since childhood you have always called be Master.  For once at least call me brother with your dying breath."  Al-'Abbas closed his eyes while repeating, "Husayn, my brother, my imam."

Shi'a historians say that this was the first time in his life that he called Husayn his brother.  Al-'Abbas was killed on Friday, 10th Muharram, on the banks of the Euphrates River.  Al-'Abbas is called the Hero of Al-Qamah (another name for the Euphrates River).  His death is generally mourned on the 8th night of Muharram.  Shi'a Muslims mourn the death of all martyrs of Islam associated with Husayn in the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, mainly in the first ten days. 

After the Battle of Karbala ended, the dead bodies of the slain warriors were lying about without heads.  The enemy forces decided to run their horses over the bodies.  They did this in order to inflict the maximum possible humiliation on the households of Muhammad and 'Ali.

Al-'Abbas was buried at the ground where he fell from his horse at Karbala, Iraq.  Millions of pilgrims visit the shrine and pay homage to it every year.  The grave of al-'Abbas is beneath the mausoleum and is present in the shrine.  However, environmental effects caused the Euphrates to shift location.  Today, nearly 1400 years after the Battle of Karbala, the Euphrates flows across the grave of al-'Abbas, making a circle around it.  It is said that the Euphrates has come to al-'Abbas now.

Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali  (born 4th Sha‘ban 26 AH – 10 Muharram 61 AH; approximately May 15, 647 – October 10, 680) was the son of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (the first Imam and fourth Rashidun Caliph) and Fatimah bint Hizam al-Kilabiyyah (commonly known as: Ummul BaninMother of the Sons).
Al-‘Abbas is revered by both Shi'a and Sunni Muslims for his loyalty to his half-brother Husayn ibn ‘Ali, his respect for the Ahl al-Bayt, and his role in the Battle of Karbala. He was known as the greatest warrior in Arabia and mirrored the strength of his father, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.

'Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib was born on 4 Sha'ban 26 AH (May 15, 647). He was the son of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatimah al-Kilabiyyah. 'Abbas had three brothers, Abdullah ibn 'Ali, Jafar ibn 'Ali, and Uthman ibn 'Ali. Narratives state that he did not open his eyes after he was born until his brother Husayn ibn 'Ali took him in his arms.

'Abbas married a distant cousin, Lubaba bint Ubaydullah. They had three sons, Fadl, Qasim, and Ubaydullah.

'Abbas debuted as a soldier in the Battle of Siffin, one of the main conflicts of the 657 C. C. Muslim struggle between 'Abbas's father 'Ali and Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, the governor of Syria. Wearing the clothes of his father, who was known to be a great warrior, 'Abbas killed many enemy soldiers. Muawiya's forces actually mistook him for 'Ali. Therefore, when 'Ali himself appeared on the battlefield, Muawiya's soldiers were astonished to see him and confused about the identity of the other soldier. 'Ali then introduced 'Abbas by saying, "He is 'Abbas, the Moon of the Hashimi family". He was trained by his father 'Ali in the art of battle, which is why he resembled his father on the battlefield.

'Abbas showed his loyalty to Hussain at the Battle of Karbala. After succeeding his father Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan as Caliph, Yazid ibn Muawiya required Hussain to pledge allegiance to him, but Hussain refused to do so, saying, "I am the grandson of the messenger of Allah, and Yazid is a drunkard, womanizer who is unfit for leadership. A person like me does not pay allegiance to a person like him." In 60 AH (680 C.C.), Hussain left Medina with a small group of his companions and family to travel to Kufa. The people of Kufa invited Hussain to teach them about Islam. Initially he sent his cousin, Muslim, to make his decision after the advice of his cousin. But by the time Hussain arrived near Kufa, his cousin had been killed. On the way, Hussain and his group were intercepted. They were forced into a detour and arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram, 61 AH. Husayn's camp was surrounded and cut off from the Euphrates river. The camp ran out of water on the 7th of Muharram.

[The Euphrates river was occupied by Yazid's Army to prevent the camp of Hussain from getting water. Shi'as believe that 'Abbas, because of his skill and bravery, could have attacked Yazid's army, occupied the river, and retrieved water for the camp alone. However, 'Abbas was not allowed to fight. He was only allowed to get water. Thus, he went to the river to get water for Hussain's 4 year old daughter Sakina bint Hussain. Sakina was very attached to 'Abbas, who was her uncle. To her, 'Abbas was the only hope for getting water. 'Abbas could not see her thirsty and crying "Al-Atash" (the thirst). When 'Abbas entered the battlefield, he only had a spear, and a bag for water in his hands. He was also given the authority to hold the standard (liwa') in the battle. Once he had made it to the river, he started filling the bag with water. Shi'as emphasize that 'Abbas's loyalty to Husayn was so great, that Abbas did not drink any water because he could not bear the thought that Sakina was thirsty despite being severely thirsty himself. The essence of this event was to illustrate that 'Abbas conquered the Euphrates river, held it with his mighty hands, yet still did not drink. They claim that until this very day the water from the Euphrates river circles the grave of 'Abbas. After gathering the water, 'Abbas rode back towards the camp. On his way back, he was struck from behind, and one of his arms was amputated. Then, he was stuck from behind again, amputating his other arm. Abbas was now carrying the water-bag in his mouth. The army of Yazid ibn Muawiya started shooting arrows at him. One arrow hit the bag and water poured out of it. At that moment, Abbas lost all hope. One of Yazid's men hit his head with a mace and Abbas fell off his horse without the support of his arms. As he was falling, he called, "Ya Akkha" ("Oh brother!") he was actually calling for his brother, Husayn. According to Shi'a tradition, Abbas fell first onto his face before he let the standard fall.]

'Abbas was killed on Friday, 10 Muharram 61 Hijri on the banks of the river Euphrates. Hence, he is called the Hero of Al-Qamah (another name for the river Euphrates). His death is generally mourned on the 8th night of Muharram. Shi'a Muslims mourn the death of all martyrs of Islam associated with Husayn in the month of Muharram, the first of the Islamic calendar, mainly in the first ten days. Fadl ibn 'Abbas and Qasim ibn 'Abbas also laid down their lives at Karbala. Ubaydullah ibn 'Abbas lived to continue the lineage of Abbas with five sons of his own.

‘Abbas was buried in the ground where he fell from his horse in Karbala, Iraq. The Al-‘Abbas Mosque was built around his grave, to which millions of pilgrims visit and pay homage every year.

Ghazi, or Gha'Z, means "soldier who returns successfully from the battle".  Although 'Abbas was killed at Karbala, he is known as Ghazi because, when he carried out the first strike against Yazid's army, his mission was to rescue the horse which was seized by Shimr during Battle of Siffin. This horse belonged to his other half brother Hassan ibn 'Ali. 'Abbas retained control over the horse and presented it to Husayn.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas ibn 'Ali
Al-'Abbas ibn 'Ali
Ibn 'Ali
Ibn 'Ali, 'Abbas
Ibn 'Ali, Al-'Abbas

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


‘Abbasa (765-803) was a daughter of the ‘Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi and the sister of the caliphs Harun al-Rashid and al-Hadi.  Her name is connected with the fall of the Barmakids in 803 C.C., because of her alleged love affair.

The Barmakids were a Persian family that had become very powerful during the caliphate of al-Mahdi.  Yahya, the vizier of Harun al-Rashid, had aided Harun al-Rashid in obtaining the caliphate.  Yahya and his sons were in high favor until 803 when the caliph threw them in prison and confiscated their land.  Many reasons are given for this punitive action. Yahya's entering Harun's presence without Harun's permission; Yahya's opposition to Muhammad ibn al-Layth who later gained Harun's favor; and the Barmakid's ostentatious display of their wealth are said to be the cause of Harun's action.  However, the reason which has intrigued writers and storytellers for ages is the alleged romantic relationship between Ja'far, the son of Yahya, and Harun's sister, 'Abbasa.

As the story goes, Ja'far, was the constant companion of Harun.  Harun was also very fond of his sister, 'Abbasa, and loved to have both her and Jafar around at times of recreation.  However, Muslim etiquette forbade their common presence.  To circumvent the rules of etiquette, Harun had a marriage ceremony performed between 'Abbasa and Ja'far, but only with the understanding that the ceremony was purely nominal and that 'Abbasa and Ja'far were not to become intimately involved.  Unfortunately, the heart of 'Abbasa ignored the ban.  She fell in love with Ja'far and became infatuated with him.  One night she entered Ja'far's bedroom in the darkness, masquerading as one of his slave girls.  She seduced Ja'far and had sex with him.

From this union, a child was conceived.  'Abbasa secretly gave birth to the child and the child was sent by 'Abbasa to Mecca.  However, a maid, after quarreling with her mistress, disclosed the scandal.  Harun, while on a pilgrimage in Mecca, heard the story and became enraged.  Upon his return to Baghdad, Harun had Ja'far executed, his body cut in two, and impaled on either side of the bridge.  Harun also had Ja'far's father (Yahya) and brother (al-Fadl) cast into prison.  Ja'far's body stayed impaled for three years until when Harun happened to pass through Baghdad from the East, saw the body, and gave the command for the remains to be taken down and burned.  

This story is discounted by modern scholars, but it has become part of the legend of the court of Harun al-Rashid.


Monday, November 5, 2012

'Abbas II ('Abbas Hilmi II)

ʿAbbas II, also called ʿAbbas Ḥilmi II (b. July 14, 1874, Alexandria, Egypt - d. December 20, 1944, Geneva, Switzerland), was the last khedive (viceroy) of Egypt, from January 8, 1892 to December 19, 1914, when British hegemony was established. His opposition to British power in Egypt made him prominent in the nationalist movement.

ʿAbbas became khedive following the sudden death of his father, Tawfiq Pasha, in 1892, while ʿAbbas was enrolled at the Theresianum in Vienna. At the beginning of his reign, ʿAbbas attempted to rule independently of Lord Cromer, the British agent and consul general in Egypt (1883–1907). Encouraged by popular discontent with the increasing British influence over Egypt and by the enthusiastic support of the nationalists, ʿAbbas appointed a prime minister who was well-known for his opposition to the British. When, in 1894, he criticized the military efficiency of the British troops, Lord Cromer took steps to curb the khedive’s independence of action.

After 1894, although ʿAbbas no longer headed the nationalist movement, he provided financial assistance to the pan-Islamic and anti-British daily newspaper Al-Muʿayyad (“The Supporter”). However, when, in 1906, the nationalists demanded constitutional government for Egypt, ʿAbbas, by then reconciled with the British, rejected their demands. The following year, he agreed to the formation of the National Party, headed by Mustafa Kamil, to counter the Ummah Party of the moderate nationalists, which was supported by the British. With the appointment of Lord Kitchener as consul general (1912–14), the leaders of the National Party were exiled or imprisoned, and ʿAbbas’ authority was curtailed.

At the beginning of World War I, ʿAbbas issued an appeal to the Egyptians and the Sudanese to support the Central Powers and to fight the British. On December 18, 1914, Britain declared Egypt its protectorate and deposed ʿAbbas the following day. His uncle Ḥusayn Kamil (reigned 1914–17) replaced him and assumed the title of sultan. In 1922, when Egypt was declared independent, ʿAbbas lost all rights to the throne. He passed the rest of his life in exile, mainly in Switzerland.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas II
'Abbas II of Egypt
'Abbas Hilmi II
'Abbas Hilmi II Bey
'Abbas Hilmi II Pasha
Hilmi, 'Abbas II

Saturday, November 3, 2012

'Abbas I ('Abbas Hilmi)

ʿAbbas I, also called ʿAbbas Ḥilmi I (b. July 12, 1812, Jeddah, Arabia - d.  July 13, 1854, Banhā, Egypt), was the viceroy of Egypt under the Ottomans from 1848 to 1854. Despite his relatively peaceful and prosperous reign as viceroy of Egypt, ʿAbbas was largely vilified as selfish, secretive, cruel, and a reactionary. Nevertheless, some scholars have since noted that ʿAbbas’ much maligned image may have owed a great deal to exaggerated or fabricated accounts put forth by his opponents in light of disputes among the elite and other motivating factors.

Prepared for government service from a young age by his grandfather, Muḥammad ʿAli (viceroy 1805–48), ʿAbbas served in several other administrative and military positions prior to his reign as viceroy, including as a military commander in Syria. As viceroy, ʿAbbas responded unfavorably to the sweeping administrative and economic reforms initiated by Muḥammad ʿAli by closing down or neglecting the public and military schools and factories. He reduced the armed forces, stopped the construction of the Delta Dam, and opposed the construction of the Suez Canal, which had been proposed by the French. Nevertheless, the road from Cairo to Suez was much improved under ʿAbbas’ reign, and he allowed for the construction of the Alexandria-Cairo Railway by the British, who in return assisted him in his dispute with the Ottoman government over the application of the Western-inspired reforms (Tanzimat) in Egypt. Although he was opposed to the Tanzimat, ʿAbbas showed his loyalty by sending an expeditionary force to assist the Ottomans in the Crimean War (1853). He also abolished the state trade monopolies which had defied Ottoman treaties with the European powers.

ʿAbbas’ curtailment of government spending benefited the poorer classes, who received tax remissions and suffered less from compulsory labor and conscription into the army. A private man, ʿAbbas lived in isolation in his palace at Banhā (Benha Palace), where in July 1854 he was found dead. Although the official report listed his cause of death as apoplexy (stroke), he was believed by many to have been strangled by two of his servants (slaves).

'Abbas was succeeded by his uncle (who was actually younger than him), Said Pasha.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas I
'Abbas I of Egypt
'Abbas Hilmi
'Abbas Hilmi I
'Abbas Hilmi I Pasha
Hilmi, 'Abbas

Friday, November 2, 2012

'Abbas I

ʿAbbas I, also known as ʿAbbas the Great (b. January 27, 1571 in Herat - d. January 19, 1629 in Mazandaran), was the shah of Persia from 1588 to 1629.  'Abbas I strengthened the Ṣafavid dynasty by expelling Ottoman and Uzbek troops from Persian soil and by creating a standing army. He also made Esfahan the capital of Persia and fostered commerce and the arts, so that Persian artistic achievement reached a zenith during his reign.

The third son of Soltan Mohammad Shah, ʿAbbas came to the throne in October 1588, at a critical moment in the fortunes of the Safavid dynasty. The weak rule of his semi-blind father had allowed usurpation by the amirs, or chiefs, of the Turkmen tribes, who had brought the Safavid to power and still constituted the backbone of Safavid military strength. Moreover, the inter-tribal factionalism of these Turkmen (known as Kizilbash [Red Heads] because of the distinctive red headgear that they had adopted to mark their adherence to the Safavids) had so weakened the state that its traditional enemies, the Ottoman Turks to the west and the Uzbeks to the east, had been able to make large inroads into Persian territory.

Shah ʿAbbas thus had two immediate tasks: (1) to reassert the authority of the monarchy and (2) to expel Ottoman and Uzbek troops from Persian soil. Because he was unable to fight a war on two fronts simultaneously, in 1589–90, 'Abbas signed a peace treaty with the Ottomans, thus freeing himself for an offensive against the Uzbeks. By the treaty, large areas in west and northwest Persia were ceded to the Ottomans. Despite the breathing space thus gained, ʿAbbas for 10 years was unable to launch a major offensive against the Uzbeks, and Iran suffered further loss of territory both to the Uzbeks and to the Mughals of India.

The delay was caused by ʿAbbas’ decision to create a standing army -- a concept novel to Safavid kings, who traditionally levied armies in time of need from the tribal cavalry. The creation of a standing army immediately caused a budgetary problem, because the old tribal cavalry had been paid from the revenues of the provinces governed by Kizilbash chiefs. ʿAbbas solved the problem in the short term by bringing a number of these provinces directly under the control of the Shah.  The taxes in these new “crown” provinces were remitted to the royal treasury. In the long run, the inevitable result of this policy, the reduction in the numbers of Kizilbash troops, seriously weakened the country’s military strength.

The new standing army was composed mainly of Georgians, Armenians, and Circassians (who had been brought to Persia as prisoners during the reign of ʿAbbas’ grandfather) and their descendants. After their conversion to Islam, they were trained for service either in the army or in the administration of the state or the royal household. Shah ʿAbbas felt that he could rely on the loyalty of these ghulams (“slaves”) of the shah, as they were known, and he used them to counterbalance the influence of the Kizilbash, whom he distrusted. Ghulams soon rose to high office and were appointed governors of crown provinces.

Eventually, ʿAbbas was able to take the offensive against his external foes. In 1598 he inflicted a major defeat on the Uzbeks and regained control of Khorasan. From 1602 onward, he conducted a series of successful campaigns against the Ottomans and recovered the territory lost to them.
After his great victory over the Uzbeks, ʿAbbas transferred the capital from Kazvin to Esfahan. Under his guidance, Esfahan rapidly became one of the most beautiful cities in the world. He adorned the city with many mosques and theological colleges and constructed numerous caravansaries and public baths. He laid out the city with spacious boulevards and a splendid square.  'Abbas' building energies were not confined to Esfahan.  The extension and restoration of the famous shrine at Meshed and the construction, along the swampy littoral of the Caspian Sea, of the celebrated stone causeway, designed to give access to 'Abbas' favorite winter retreats, were among his most notable achievements.

To Esfahan came ambassadors from European countries, merchants seeking to establish trade relations, representatives of foreign monastic orders seeking permission to found convents at Esfahan and elsewhere, and gentlemen of fortune, such as the brothers Anthony and Robert Sherley -- the former an adventurer, the latter a loyal servant of the Shah who distinguished himself in the wars against the Ottomans. The reign of Shah ʿAbbas was a period of intense commercial and diplomatic activity, and, in the Persian Gulf, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the English strove to make themselves masters of trade there and in the Indian Ocean.

ʿAbbas’ reign also marked a peak of Persian artistic achievement. Under his patronage, carpet weaving became a major industry, and fine Persian rugs began to appear in the homes of wealthy European burghers. Another profitable export was textiles, which included brocades and damasks of unparalleled richness. The production and sale of silk was made a monopoly of the crown. In the illumination of manuscripts, bookbinding, and ceramics, the work of the period of ʿAbbas is without equal. In painting, the work during the 'Abbas period is among the most notable in Persian history.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas I
'Abbas I of Persia
'Abbas the Great
Shah 'Abbas
Shah 'Abbas I
Shah 'Abbas I of Persia
Shah 'Abbas the Great

'Abbas (al-'Abbas ibn al-Muttalib)

'Abbas, also known more formally as al-'Abbas ibn al-Muttalib, (c.566 [568] - [652] 653) was the paternal uncle of the Prophet Muhammad and of the fourth caliph, 'Ali.  A rich merchant of Mecca, 'Abbas initially fought against Islam but was converted in 629.  Thereafter, 'Abbas staunchly supported Islam with money and arms.  'Abbas accompanied the Prophet on the Prophet’s march on Mecca in 630.  'Abbas was the forebear of the 'Abbasid dynasty of caliphs.

Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, also known as Abu'l-Fadl, was the half-brother of the Prophet Muhammad’s father, ‘Abd Allah.  He joined the Prophet in 630.  The ‘Abbasids took their name from him, being descended from his son ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas.

'Abbas was born in Mecca.  'Abbas was a successful merchant known for the grandeur that he surrounded himself with during his travels.  Stories tell that he was in charge of the Zamzam, while this was part of the pre-Islamic pilgrimage of the Ka'ba. His job was to put raisins into it.
'Abbas opposed Muhammad while he still lived in Mecca, but was not one of the fierce opponents.  Later, he became the protector of Muhammad after Abu Talib died. 
'Abbas was captured with other Meccan fighters at the Battle of Badr.  Historians are uncertain as to whether 'Abbas converted to Islam before returning from Badr to Mecca or not.  If he did, he kept his conversion a secret.  However, we know that 'Abbas gave his sister-in-law, Maimuna, in marriage to Muhammad in 628 or 629, when the latter visited Mecca.

'Abbas helped wash Muhammad’s body after the Prophet’s death.  However, for the remaining 20 years of his life, little is known.  He died around 652 [653?] in Medina. 
Alternative names include:


'Abbas, al-

'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, al-
'Abbas ibn al-Muttalib

'Abbas ibn al-Muttalib, al-

Al-'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib

Al-'Abbas ibn al-Muttalib

Ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib

Ibn al-Muttalib

'Abbad ibn Sulayman al-Saymari

‘Abbad ibn Sulayman al-Saymari, also known as "al-Daymari", (d.c.864) was a Mu‘tazili from Basra who emphasized the difference between God (“the other”) and man. 

Alternative names include:

'Abbad ibn Sulayman al-Daymari
'Abbad ibn Sulayman al-Saymari
Daymari, al-
Daymari, 'Abbad ibn Sulayman al-
Saymari, al-
Saymari, 'Abbad ibn Sulayman al-