A Brief Biographical Sketch of ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbbās
By Bint Umer (4th Year ʿĀlimah Student, DarusSalam Seminary)
ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbbās was born two or three years before the hijrah. He was in the company of the Prophet (upon him be peace) for approximately thirty months. Some narrations mention that he was ten years old when the Prophet passed, while others mention that he was thirteen. He, the son of ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, is one of the Prophet’s paternal cousins.
He was a tall, handsome, and intelligent man. Ibn ʿAbbās migrated along with his parents to Madīnah in AH 8, while he accepted Islām before then. Ibn ʿAbbās said regarding his migration: “My mother and I were vulnerable; I was a child and she was a woman.” His mother was Umm al-Faḍl, Lubābah al-Kubrā. She accepted Islām after Khadījah.
Ibn ʿAbbās fasted during the days, spend his nights in prayer, and sought forgiveness in the early hours before dawn. No one is parallel to him in knowledge; this was through the blessing of the Prophet’s supplication. ʿIkrimah narrated from Ibn ʿAbbās that he said:
“The Prophet wiped his hand over my head and supplicated for wisdom. The Prophet said: ‘O Allāh! Grant him understanding of the religion and teach him exegesis.’” Once, the Prophet was so pleased with Ibn ʿAbbās preparing ablution water for him that he made this supplication.
Ibn ʿAbbās was given the title “al-Baḥr” because of the immense knowledge he possessed. He narrated 1,666 narrations from the Prophet (upon him be peace). Once, ʿUmar asked his companions regarding the exegesis of the final verse from Sūrat al-Naṣr. Ibn ʿAbbās was a part of this gathering. Some companions said: “Allāh is commanding His Prophet that when he sees people entering Islām in large groups, he should praise Him and seek His forgiveness.” Then, ʿUmar requested Ibn ʿAbbās to express his opinion. He said that the verse is speaking about the Prophet’s passing. Incidents like these occurred on many occasions, where his deep understanding of religion manifested.
Ibn ʿAbbās reached great heights in knowledge due to his perseverance and effort. A prominent Tābiʿī, Masrūq, said: “When I would see Ibn ʿAbbās, I would think to myself that he is of the most handsome of men. When he spoke, I thought he was the most eloquent. And when he narrated, I thought that he was the most knowledgeable.”
Senior scholar, like ʿIkrimah, Anas, ʿUrwah b. Zubayr, Saʿīd b. Jubayr, Mujāhid b. Jabr, and Qāsim b. Muḥammad narrate from him. His house became a university and a center of learning. One difference between the universities of today and his is that today we have over a hundred teachers, while his university consisted of just one, Ibn ʿAbbās himself.
In AH 68, he completed his stay in the dunyā and traversed into the Hereafter to meet his Lord. Muḥammad b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib led his funeral prayer.
 Dhahabī, Siyar, 3:335.
 Ibn Ḥajar, Iṣābah, 4:122.
 Pāshā, Suwar min Ḥayāt al-Ṣaḥābah, 174.
 Dhahabī, Siyar, 3:350.
 Pāshā, Suwar min Ḥayāt as-Ṣaḥābah, 180.
 Ibid, 181.