Hadhrat Abbas was born in Madinah on the 4th of Shaaban to Imam Ali and Bibi Fatema Kalabiyya, popularly known as Ummul Baneen.
Many experts in child psychology believe that parenting, education and the surroundings of a child play important roles in the formation of a person’s character and personality. In this regard, Hadhrat Abbas grew up in exceptional circumstances.
He was wise and knowledgeable as well as tall, handsome and brave. Among the Arabs it was a tradition to call beautiful children qamar, meaning moon. Hadhrat Abbas was called qamar-e-bani hashim, meaning the Moon of the Bani Hashim Clan. He was also polite and patient and this was a reminder of his father’s words that “no heritage is worthier than politeness.”
Hadhrat Abbas showed signs of courage and bravery from a very young age. During the battle of Siffeen, Hadhrat Abbas was in his early teens. The Syrian army of Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan blocked off the water supplies to Imam Ali’s camp. Hadhrat Abbas was sent by Imam Ali to confront Abu Shasa, one of Syria’s most powerful warriors. Abbas covered his face with a veil so as to hide his identity.
The Syrian arrogantly said, “people compare my bravery to a thousand riders, now you want me to fight this young boy?” Abu Shasa sent his youngest son to confront Hadhrat Abbas. But his son was soon defeated and killed. Abu Shasa then sent his other son, but to his surprise, he was also killed. Then Abu Shasa, fuming with rage, swallowed his arrogance and personally entered the battlefield seeking to avenge the death in combat of his sons. But the boy was so valiant that he defeated him and made swift work of the infidel.
At this sight, the Muslim army rejoiced and felt surprised at the bravery of the young masked lad. Imam Ali called the youth and took the mask off his face. Then everyone saw that the brave youth was no one but Hazrat Abbas (a.s.).
His bravery was also shown in Karbala where it is narrated that by-standers from Kufa were said to have surprised when he entered the battlefield and confronted the infidels. Narrators report that shouts of, “it is Ali that has returned,” were heard from the by-standers.