Abu al-Fadl Abbas - The Standard Bearer/Flagman

Abbas Qamar-e-Banu Hashim (the Moon of the
Hashimites), who was next only to the Holy Imam in
charge of the Holy Imam's camp, after a very
strenuous fight with the enemy at the river, got a
sack of water but when the sack filled with water
was placed before the thirsty children, the poor
innocents not waiting till it was properly opened,
and not knowing how to open the sack, rushed to it
and fell upon it, one over the other, in the haste to
at least cool their burning bodies.
But alas! The knot at the mouth of the sack gave
way to the pressure and the whole water flowed
away on the sand. It can be imagined what the
feelings of despair and disappointment of the poor
children and the helpless mothers would have been,
and how disappointed the brave son of Imam Ali
(pbuh), who got the water, would have felt at the
loss of the water which he could get for the poor
children and the inmates of the camp after so much
of fight with the enemy guarding the banks of the
river. Attempts to dig a well were also made but in
vain, for instead of water, stones came out. The
Holy Imam preached patience and fortitude to every
one at each disappointment and torture, saying:
"Be you all cheerful and always surrender to the will
of the All-Merciful Lord, for the end of all these
trials is at hand and the water of Paradise awaited
there to quench your thirst."
After the Zuhur prayers on the day of Ashura, one
by one the brave companions of Imam Hussain fell
in the battlefield. At last only Imam Hussain, Ali
Akbar and Abbas were left. Imam Zainul Abideen
(Sajjad) lay sick in his tent.
Several times Abbas asked Imam Hussain (pbuh)
for permission to go and fight. Each time Imam
Hussain (pbuh) would reply "Abbas, you are the
captain of my army; you are my Alamdar - the
Standard Bearer." Abbas would never argue with
Imam Hussain (pbuh). His three brothers were
killed in the battle fought after Zuhur. Imam Hussain
(pbuh) could see the anger in Abbas's eyes. Imam
Hussain (pbuh) knew that if he let Abbas go and
fight; there would be a massacre in the enemy rank.
Imam Hussain's object was to re-awaken Islam and
not to score a victory on the battlefield.
Just then Sakina (According to other reports Roqaia
is the name) four (4) year old daughter of Imam
Hussain (pbuh) came out holding dried up leather
bag (Mashk). She walked up to Abbas and said "Al
Atash, Ya Ammahu! I am thirsty O my uncle Abbas!"
Abbas went to Imam Hussain (pbuh) and requested
for permission to go and get water for Sakina. Imam
Hussain (pbuh) gave his permission. Abbas put
Sakina's Mashk on the Standard (Alam), mounted
his horse and rode up to Imam Hussain (pbuh). He
said "I have come to say goodbye." Imam Hussain
(pbuh) said "My brother, come and embrace me."
Abbas dismounted his horse. There were tears in
Imam's eyes. As Abbas (pbuh) prepared to mount
his horse, Imam Hussain (pbuh) said, "My brother, I
want a gift from you. I want your sword." Abbas
(pbuh), without uttering a word, gave Imam Hussain
(pbuh) his sword and rode into the battlefield, armed
only with a spear and holding the Alam (Flag).
Now note this majestic scene! What greatness!
What valor! What a spirit of understanding and self-
sacrifice! A lone warrior, alone by himself,
advances against a host. The number of men who
guarded the river bank was four thousand (4,000).
They had all heard of the valor of Abbas (pbuh). A
cry arose, "Abbas is coming!" Yazid's soldiers
started hiding behind one another. A few brave ones
dared go near Abbas but were soon put to death by
the spear or by a kick.
He descends along the river bank Euphrates
(Furaat) and leads his horse into the water. First, he
fills the water skin (Mashk) that he has brought and
lays it on his shoulder. He himself was very thirsty.
The air is hot and has been fighting. But as he sits
on the back of his horse and the horse stands in
water reaching up to its belly, he lowers his hands
into water, takes water into them and raises them
somewhat towards his sacred lips.
Those who were watching from a distance report
that he hesitated for a while. Then they saw that he
threw the water back and came out of the river
without drinking any. He placed the Mashk on his
Alam and started to ride back. No one knew why
Abu Al-Fadl did not drink water there. But when he
came out he recited Rajaz verses which were
addressed to himself. Now from these verses they
understood why he had not drunk water.