Masjid Abdullah Ibn Abbas, in Taif, is build close to the grave of the great sahabi Abdullah Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه). He was the paternal cousin of the Prophet (ﷺ) and is revered by Muslims for his knowledge. He was an expert in Tafsir (exegesis of the Quran) and an authority on the Islamic Sunnah, the practice of the Prophet (ﷺ).
Family and early life of Abdullah Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه)
- Abdullah Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) was the son of Abbas (رضي الله عنه), the paternal uncle of the Prophet (ﷺ). His mother was Umm al-Fadl, the sister of Maymoonah (رضي الله عنها), one of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ).
- He was born around three years before the Hijrah. When he was born, his mother took him to the Prophet (ﷺ) before he had begun to suckle. The Prophet (ﷺ) put some of his saliva on the newborn’s tongue, and that was the beginning of the close relationship between the two.
Service to the Prophet (ﷺ)
- While growing up, he was by the Prophet’s (ﷺ) side doing different services like fetching water for ablution. He would pray with the Prophet (ﷺ) and join his assemblies, journeys and expeditions. The Prophet (ﷺ) would draw him close, pat him on the shoulder and pray, “O Lord, make him acquire a deep understanding of the religion of Islam, and instruct him in the meaning and interpretation of matters.” Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) narrated, “The Messenger of Allah wiped my chest and said ‘O Lord, grant him wisdom.’” Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) devoted his life to the pursuit of learning and knowledge, following the Prophet (ﷺ) and memorising his teachings.
Quest for knowledge
- Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas (رضي الله عنه) said, “I have never seen someone who was quicker in understanding, who had more knowledge and greater wisdom than Ibn Abbas. I have seen Umar summon him to discuss difficult problems in the presence of veterans of Badr from among the Muhajireen and Ansar. Ibn Abbas would speak and Umar would not disregard what he had to say.”
- Abdullah Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) says, “After the passing away of the Prophet (ﷺ), I said to an Ansari friend of mine. The Prophet (ﷺ) is not now with us. But a large number of Sahabah (companions of the Prophet) are still among us. Let us go to them and get knowledge of the Islamic practices”. He said. ‘Who is going to approach you for learning a regulation in the presence of these eminent Sahabah?’ I was not discouraged. I kept up my quest for knowledge and approached every person who was supposed to have heard something from the Prophet (ﷺ). I managed to gather substantial information from the Ansar. If on my visit to someone of the Sahabah, I found him asleep, I spread my shawl at the gate and sat waiting. Sometimes my face and body would get covered with dust, but I kept sitting till they woke and I was able to contact them. Some of them said: ‘Abdullah, you are the cousin of the Prophet (ﷺ); you could have sent for us. Why did you take the trouble of coming to our places?’ I said to them: ‘I must come to you, for I am a student and you are my teachers.’ Some people for whom I had waited said: ‘Since when have you been waiting for us?’ I informed them that I had been sitting there for a pretty long time. They said: ‘What a pity! You could have awakened us from our sleep.’ I said, “I did not like to disturb you for my own sake.’ I thus carried on my pursuits, till there came a time when people began to flock to me for learning. My Ansari friend realised this at that time and remarked. ‘This boy has surely proved himself more sensible than us.”
- Wahab Ibn Munabbah says, “Abdullah Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) lost his eyesight in his old age. I once led him to the Haram in Makkah, where he heard a group of people exchanging hot words among themselves. He asked me to lead him to them. He greeted them with ‘Assalamu Alaikum.’ They requested him to sit down, but he refused and said: ‘May I tell you about people whom Allah holds in high esteem? These are those whom His fear has driven to absolute silence, even though they are neither helpless nor dumb. Rather they are possessors of eloquence and have power to speak and sense to understand. But constant glorification of Allah’s name has so over-powered their wits that their hearts are overawed and their lips sealed. When they get established in this state, they hasten towards righteousness. Whither have you people deviated from this course? After this admonition, I never saw an assembly of even two persons in the Haram.”
- It was the devotion to knowledge, which caused Abdullah Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) to be known as ’Hibr-ul–Ummat’ (the most learned man of Islam) and ‘Bahrul Ulum’ (ocean of knowledge) in his time. He narrated 1660 hadith and is generally viewed as the most knowledgable of the Companions in Tafsir.
Death of Abdullah Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه)
- He died in 68 AH in Taif and is buried close to the masjid shown above. Muhammad Ibn Ali (رضي الله عنه) led the funeral service and remarked, “Today we have lost our godly leader.”
References: Fazail-e-Aamal – Sheikh Zakariyya Kandhalvi, Journey to the Sacred – Sheik Hamza Yusuf, Wikipedia