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Name: `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas
Title: {{{title}}}
Birth: 618-619CE [1]
Death: 687 [2]
Main interests: Qur'an and Sunnah, Hadith and Tafsir[1]
Influences: ProphetMuhammad[1], Ali ibn Abi Talib
Influenced: Umar [1]
Ata ibn Abi Rabah[3]
Wahb ibn Munabbih [4]
Tawus ibn Kaysan [5]
Al-Rabi ibn Khuthaym [6]
Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr[7]

Part of a series on the
Muslim scholars

– a sub-group of Muslims

1st millennium AH
2nd millennium AH

Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Arabic: عبد الله ابن عباس‎) was a paternal cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. He is revered by Muslims for his knowledge and was an expert in Tafsir (exegesis of the Qur'an), as well as an authority on the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.





He was the son of a wealthy merchant, `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, thus he was called "Ibn Abbas", "the son of Abbas". The mother of Ibn Abbas was Umm al-Fadl Lubaba, who prided herself with being the second woman who converted to Islam, on the same day as her close friend Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Prophet Muhammad's wife [8].

The father of Ibn Abbas and the father of Muhammad were both the sons of the same person, Shaiba ibn Hashim, better known as ‘Abdu’l-Muṭṭalib. That persons father was Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, the progenitor of the Banu Hashim clan of the distinguished Quraish tribe in Mecca.

610 – 632: Prophet Muhammad's era

Ibn Abbas was born in 3 BH (618-619 CE) and his mother took him to Prophet Muhammad before he had begun to suckle. Prophet Muhammad put some of his saliva on the newborn's tongue, and that was the beginning of the close relationship between those two [1].

While growing up, he was by Prophet Muhammad's side doing different services like fetching water for ablution (Arabic: wudu). He would pray (Arabic: salat) with Prophet Muhammad and follow him on his assemblies, journeys and expeditions. Prophet Muhammad would often draw him close, pat him on the shoulder and pray, "O God! Teach him (the knowledge of) the Book " [9], and Ibn Abbas devoted his life to the pursuit of learning and knowledge. Ibn Abbas kept following Prophet Muhammad, memorizing and learning his teaching [1].

Prophet Muhammad's statement

On 10 AH (631632), Prophet Muhammad fell into his last illness. During this period, the Hadith of the pen and paper was reported, with Ibn Abbas as the first level narrator, at that time being ten to fifteen years old [10]. Ibn Abbas used to say, "No doubt, it was a great disaster that Allah's Apostle was prevented from writing for them that writing because of their differences and noise." [11]. Days after that, Ibn Abbas and Ali supported Prophet Muhammad's weight on their shoulder, as Prophet Muhammad was too weak to walk around on his own accord [12].

632 – 634: Abu Bakr's era

Inheritance from Prophet Muhammad

After Abu Bakr came into power, Ibn Abbas and his father were among them who unsuccessfully requested their part of Prophet Muhammad's inheritance, since Abu Bakr said that he heard Prophet Muhammad say that prophets do not leave inheritance.

Continued education

After Prophet Muhammad's era, he continued to collect and learn Prophet Muhammad's teaching from Prophet Muhammad's companions (Arabic: Sahaba), specially those who knew him the longest. He would consult multiple Sahaba to confirm narrations, and would go to as many as thirty Companions to verify a single matter [1]. Once he heard that a Sahaba knew a hadith unknown to him.

Ibn Abbas was not content just to accumulate knowledge, but due to a sense of duty to the ummah, he educated those in search knowledge and the general masses of his community. He turned to teaching and his house became the equivalent of a university in the full sense of the word, with specialized teaching and with him as the only teacher [1].

One of his companions described a typical scene in front of his house:

I saw people converging on the roads leading to his house until there was hardly any room in front of his house. I went in and told him about the crowds of people at his door and he said: 'Get me water for wudu.'

He performed wudu and, seating himself, said: 'Go out and say to them: Whoever wants to ask about the Quran and its letters (pronunciation) let him enter.'

This I did and people entered until the house was filled. Whatever he was asked, Abdullah was able to elucidate and even provide additional information to what was asked. Then (to his students) he said: 'Make way for your brothers.'

Then to me he said: 'Go out and say: Who wants to ask about the Quran and its interpretation, let him enter'.

Again the house was filled and Abdullah elucidated and provided more information than what was requested. [1]

He held classes on one single subject each day, classes on issues such as tafsir, fiqh, halal and Haraam, ghazawa, poetry, Arab history before Islam, inheritance laws, Arabic language and etymology. [1]

634 – 644: Umar's era

Advising Umar

Umar often sought the advice Ibn Abbas on important matters of state and described him as a "young man of maturity" [1]:

The Sahaba Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas 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 Muhajirin and Ansar. Ibn Abbas would speak and Umar would not disregard what he had to say. [1]

644 – 656: Uthman's era

656 – 661: Ali's era

Battle of Siffin

Ibn Abbas remained a staunch supporter of the final Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, during Ali's war with Muawiyah, including at the Battle of Siffin.

A large group of Ali's armies were discontent with the conclusion of that arbitration, and broke off into a separate group. Ibn Abbas played a key role in convincing a large number of them to return to Ali, 20,000 of 24,000 according to some sources. He did so using his knowledge of Muhammed's biography, in particular, the events of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah [1].

661 – 680: Muawiyah's era

680 – 683: Yazid's era

According to the Shias, due to coercion and duress he gave an oath of allegiance to Yazid the son of Muawiyah the son of Abu Sufyan. Shia contend that he used Taqiyya. While the Sunnis remain neutral about Yazid, they believe Ibn Abbas was for the unity of the Muslims and hence did not revolt against rulers.

683 – 684: Muawiya II's era

684 – 685: Marwan's era

685 – 688: Abd al-Malik's era

Ibn al-Zubayr and Mut'ah

Ibn Abbas became blind during his last years, and Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr sought to mock him in a gathering by stating "some people's hearts are blind like their eyes, since they deem Mut'ah to be permissible". Ibn Abbas rejected his words.

Last years

At the age of 70 , while talking to his student, the Taba'een Said ibn Jubair, Ibn Abbas cried when recalling the person preventing Muhammad's statement, saying that Muhammad was "delirious" [15].

He died in at the mountainous city of Ta'if [1] in 68 AH (687688) [2], 71 years old, assuming he was born in 3 BH. Other sources state that he died between 68 AH and 70 AH, between the age of 65 and 70 [10].


As `Abd-Allah's knowledge grew, he grew in stature. Masruq ibn al Ajda said of him:

Whenever I saw Ibn Abbas, I would say: He is the most handsome of men. When he spoke, I would say: He is the most eloquent of men. And when he held a conversation, I would say: He is the most knowledgeable of men." [1]

He had a son named Ali ibn Abdullah who died in 118 AH. From Ibn Abbas' lineage came the Abbasid dynasty which replaced the Umayyad dynasty. Ibn Abbas is highly respected by both Shia and Sunnis, although Shia suffered severe persecution during the Abbasid Dynasty.


Ibn Abbas viewed that Tafsir can be divided in four categories [16]:

  • The category the Arabs knew because of its language,
  • Those of ignorance of which no one will be excused
  • Those which the scholars know
  • Those which no one knows except God (Arabic: الله Allāh).


Students and intellectual heirs

Among his students were:

Sunni view

Sunni view him as the most knowledgeable of the Companions in tafsir [2]. A book entitled Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas is tafsir, all explanations of which are said to go back to Ibn Abbas [1]. Of all narrations transmitted by Ibn Abbas, 1660 were considered authentic (Arabic: Sahih) by the authors of the two Sahihs [1][17].

Regarding Ibn Abbas giving verdicts (Arabic: fatwa) in favor of Nikah Mut'ah, most Sunnis view that Ali corrected him on the matter, while other view that "Ibn Abbas position on the permissibility of Mut'ah until his last day is proven" per the Hadith of Ibn al-Zubayr and Mut'ah[18].

Sunnis describe thus:

... the courageous Abdullah showed that he preferred peace above war, and logic against force and violence. However, he was not only known for his courage, his perceptive thought and his vast knowledge. He was also known for his great generosity and hospitality. Some of his contemporaries said of his household: "We have not seen a house which has more food or drink or fruit or knowledge than the house of Ibn Abbas."

He had a genuine and abiding concern for people. He was thoughtful and caring. He once said: "When I realize the importance of a verse of God's Book, I would wish that all people should know what I know.

"When I hear of a Muslim ruler who deals equitably and rules justly, I am happy on his account and I pray for him...

"When I hear of rains which fall on the land of Muslims, that fills me with happiness..."

Abdullah ibn Abbas was constant in his devotions. He kept voluntary fasts regularly and often stayed up at night in Prayer. He would weep while praying and reading the Quran. And when reciting verses dealing with death, resurrection and the life hereafter his voice would be heavy from deep sobbing. [1]

Shi'a view

Shi'a view Ibn Abbas as one of the better Sahaba, but not reaching the top ranks that was held by Sahaba such as Ammar ibn Yasir.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s biography on the MSA West Compendium of Muslim Texts
  2. ^ a b c Ibn 'Abbas
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b Jewish Encyclopedia [1]
  5. ^ a b Media Monitors Network, A Few Comments on Tafsir of the Quran, Habib Siddiqui October 2004
  6. ^ a b Mashahir, 99-Too; Ghaya, 1. 283; Abu Nu`aym, II. 105-19; Kashif, I. 235; Ibn Marthad 41-3
  7. ^ a b usulgloss2
  8. ^ Marriage to a 'past': Parents should not reject a proposal without a good reason - and being a revert with a past is not an acceptable one
  9. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 9:92:375
  10. ^ a b Regarding Omar's Refusal to Give the Prophet a Pen to Write his Will!!!
  11. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 1:3:114
  12. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 1:4:197, 1:11:634, 3:47:761,5:59:727
  13. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 4:56:821
  14. ^ Bukhari, Vl, No. 494
  15. ^ Sahih Bukhari 53.393
  16. ^ Interpreting The Text
  17. ^ Reliance of the Traveller by Ahmad al-Misr, (A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law), translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, published by Amana publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA 1991
  18. ^ Fatih al-Qadir by Muhammad ash-Shawkani, Sharh Hidaya Volume 3 p. 51

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