Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Meaning of Word Al-Abbasids
The word “Abbasids” or Al-Abbaasiyah in Arabic is referring to Al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib. They were the descendants of this famous companion and established their own Caliphate after the fall of the Ummayads.
Who is Al-Abbas?
Al-Abbas bin Abdul Mutallib was a famous companion of the Prophet Muhammad . He was the paternal uncle of the Prophet and played an important role during the lifetime of the Prophet . His full name is : Al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib bin Haashim bin Abdul Manaaf Al-Qurashee. He was older than the Prophet by 3 years and some scholars say 2 years. This companion was considered the highest nobleman of the Quraysh tribe and was a heavyweight in politics. He was respected by all the people of Mecca and was the richest of them. Because of his high status and enormous power, he by default controlled the Zamzam well and shouldered the responsibility in caring for the pilgrims that visited Mecca before Islam arrived.
Most narrations suggest that Al-Abbas embraced Islam after the Battle of Badr. Other narrations state that he embraced Islam secretly before the migration of the Prophet also known Al-Hijrah from Mecca to Medina. Scholars and historians believe that he was afraid of persecution and loss of personal wealth should the other noblemen of Mecca find out about his conversion. This would lead to rebellion amongst the lesser tribes of Quraysh and result in the downfall of Bani Abdul Muttalib and their loss of influence in politics. Imam Ibn Abdul Barr strongly believed that Al-Abbas embraced Islam before the conquest of Al-Khaybar, the last stronghold of the Jews in Al-Hijaz and later openly declared his faith at the conquest of Mecca. While the Prophet was in Medina, Al-Abbas secretly had contacts with him informing him of the latest news of Mecca.
Regardless of when he embraced Islam, it was known that he defended Islam even before his conversion. He supported the cause of Islam and tried his best to protect the interests of the Muslims. The Prophet carefully instructed his companions during the Battle of Badr not to kill or hurt Al-Abbas because he was forced by his comrades to march in battle against the Muslims. Many scholars view that this was proof that the Prophet knew that his uncle was a secretly practicing Muslim.
Active Role in Islam
Al-Abbas played an active role in Islam after he declared his faith publicly. He migrated to Madina just before the conquest of Mecca which he also participated in. He also witnessed the battle of Hunayn and the siege of Taif. Afterwards, he retired back to Medinah and settled down. The Prophet respected his uncle very much. The rightly guided caliphs also respected Al-Abbas and sought his counsel in many political affairs. Al-Abbas did not like to be in the political spotlight and refused to seek power after the death of the Prophet . He viewed the other companions as people who were more noble and knowledgeable than him. He passed away during the reign of Uthman bin Affaan at the age of 88 in the month of Rajab 32 Hijri.