He is the son of the uncle of the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him; and he was born 3 years before the emigration to Medina. He was always around the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- because he is the Prophet’s cousin-peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- , also the nephew of Maimuna, one of the wives of the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him. When he was a little child, the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- once hugged and prayed for him,
اللَّهُمَّ عَلِّمْهُ الْكِتَابَ – اللَّهُمّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ
“O Allah, teach him the Book (the Qur’an) – O Allah, make him knowledgeable in religion.” (Narrated by Bukhari in hadith no. 3756 and Muslim, no. 2477)
By this blissful prayer, Ibn Abbas became one of the companions who has brilliant expertise in tafseer and islamic jurisprudence. Allah has made him a very enthusiastic man in learning and seeking for knowledge, and spreading it to the society. He even was dubbed as “The Ink of The Nation” and “The Interpreter of the Qur’an”. Ibn Mas’ud said, “The best interpreter of the Qur’an is Ibn Abbas. Supposed that his age is like ours, none will be as knowledgeable as him.” (See: Al Itqan, 2:493).
He was a noble man in the public eye, so noble that Umar Ibn Khattab -may Allah be pleased with him- ever invited him to join the High council of Islam in Medina, which was attended by the seniors of companions, and Umar took Ibn Abbas’ opinion. Ibn Umar once was asked about tafseer, but he told the questioner to come to Ibn Abbas. In Umar said, “Indeed, Ibn Abbas is the most knowledgeable about Allah’s book among the rest of companions of today.”
Also, the tabiin (generation after the companions) learned from him, and they praised him much. Among them was Atha’ Ibn Raba, who said, “I’ve never seen any lesson that was better and more strengthening for one’s faith than the lesson of Ibn Abbas in jurisprudence. The experts of jurisprudence were sitting together following his lesson, the experts of the Qur’an were sitting together following his lesson, the experts of poems were sitting together following his lesson. Ibn Abbas gave them all knowledge from the vast valley of knowledge.”
During the Pilgrimage season, Ibn Abbas ever delivered a sermon in Arafa. He started his speech by reciting the chapter An Nuur/The Light; he read and interpreted it with an excellent interpretation, so excellent that a man named Abu Wail said, “I’ve never seen and heard the saying of a man like that. If only the Romans and Persians and Turks heard his speech, they would have embraced Islam.”
At reign of Ali Ibn Abi Thalib -may Allah be pleased with him- , he was assigned to Bashrah, and when Ali was killed he moved to the area of Hijaz and lived in Mecca. And then he moved to Thaif and died there in the year of 68 H, aged 71.
- “Ushul fi Tafsir”. by Muhammad bin Shaleh Al-Utsaimin. Maktabah As-Sunnah. Egypt. 1419 H.
- Al-Jami Ash-Shahih Al-Mukhtashar”, by Muhammad bin Ismail Al-Bukhari. Dar Ibnu Katsir. Beirut. 1407 H.
- “Shahih Muslim”. Author: Imam Muslim bin Hajjaj An-Naisaburi. Dar Ihya At-Turats. Beirut. 1374 H.
- “Al-Itqan fi Ulum Al-Qur’an”. by Jalaluddin As-Suyuthi. Asy-Syamilah.
Article of www.whatisquran.com