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:
"O soul of Abu al-Fadl! My wish is that you live not after Hussain! Will you have a drink of cold water, while there stands Hussain, thirsty, near the tents, And about to drink the cup of death!? Such is not the way of my faith, Nor that of one who abides in conviction and truth!"
'Umar son of Saad' cried out, "Do not let that water reach Hussain's camp; otherwise we shall all be doomed!"
A soldier climbed a tree and as Abbas was riding past the tree he struck his sword on the right shoulder and the arm fell on to the ground. Just then someone crept behind Abbas and struck him on the left shoulder. The Alam fell down. Abbas gripped the Mashk with his teeth. His only object was to get the water to Sakina. Fighting with his feet he urged the horse to get him to Imam's camp as quickly as possible.
Alas! An arrow was shot. It went flying across the desert and hit the Mashk. The water began to pour out and with the water all the hopes of Abbas poured on to the sands of Karbala to be buried forever in the thirsty desert. Abbas now did not want to go back and face Sakina. With his feet, he signaled the horse to turn back. The enemy surrounded him from all sides. Abbas fell from the horse!! As he fell, he cried out "My Salutations (Salaam) to you my Master (Maula)!" Imam Hussain (pbuh) seemed to lose all his strength when he heard the voice of his dear brother Abbas.
When Abbas left to go to fetch water, Imam stood at the gate of the camp watching the Alam. Sakina was standing next to Imam Hussain (pbuh), also with her eyes fixed on the Alam. When Abbas reached the river bank and bent down to fill the Mashk, the Alam disappeared from sight. Sakina was frightened and looked at her father. Imam said, Sakina, your uncle Abbas is at the river bank. Sakina smiled and said, 'Al-Hamdulillah!' and called out all the children to welcome Abbas. When Abbas lost both arms, the Alam fell onto the ground. Sakina could not see it any longer! She looked at Imam Hussain (pbuh), but he turned his face away. Sakina began to tremble with fear and her eyes filled with tears. She raised her hands and prayed, 'Oh my God! Do not let them kill my uncle Abbas! I will never ask for water again!' and ran inside to her mother.
Imam Hussain (pbuh) reached where Abbas was lying. It was a tragic sight. Abbas was lying on the ground. Both arms had been severed! There was an arrow in the right eye and blood blocked the left eye. As soon as Abbas sensed the presence of Imam Hussain (pbuh) he said "Maula, why did you take the trouble to come over? Please go back and look after Sakina." Imam Hussain said, "My dear brother, all your life you have served me and my children. Is there anything I can do for you at this last moment of your life?" Abbas replied, "Maula, please, clean the blood from my eye so that I can see your beloved face before I die!" Imam cleaned the blood. Abbas fixed his gaze on Imam. Then he said, "Maula please do not carry my body to the camp. I do not wish Sakina to see me in this state!" Imam Hussain (pbuh) took Abbas in his arms, and kissed his forehead. Imam Hussain (pbuh) said "O Abbas I also have one request for you, I have never heard you call me brother, for once I would like to hear you call me brother." Abbas, with his dying breath called out "My brother", Imam Hussain (pbuh) cried "O Abbas my beloved brother what have they done to you? Who is now left to fight by my side now?" Just then the Thirty four (34) year old Abbas son of Imam Ali (pbuh) breathed his last. Imam Hussain (pbuh) placed Sakina's Mashk on the Alam and carried the Alam to the camp. He went to Zainab's tent. Imam Hussain (pbuh) could not say a word. He gave the Alam to Zainab and sat down on the floor!