I love this statement by Al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib, رضي الله عنه:
سئل العباس بن عبد المطلب رضي الله عنه عم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : أنت أكبر أم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم؟
قال: “هو أكبر وأنا ولدت قبله.”
Someone asked Al-‘Abbās رضي الله عنه: “Are you older (literally: “bigger/ greater”) or the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم?”
Al-‘Abbās replied, “He is greater and I was born before him.”
My heart melts in awe and admiration for such a high level of respect, manners, humility, wisdom, and intelligence. Ma shā’ Allāh.
Al-‘Abbās was one of the paternal uncles of Prophet Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, and he was only a few years older than his nephew. Al-‘Abbās was renowned amongst the men of Quraysh for his sound judgment, wisdom, keen insight, and deep eloquence.
After the death of Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه وسلم, Al-‘Abbās was asked who was older in age – him or Prophet Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم.
His answer reflects his respect and eloquence.
In Arabic, the word “older” in this context is also the same as “bigger” or “greater.”
Al-‘Abbās رضي الله عنه did not deem it fit that he should say the words, “أنا أكبر منه,” as that could mean both:
“I am older than him,” and also, “I am greater than him.”
Even though he was older than his nephew in age, Al-‘Abbās understood that nobody could ever be greater in status than Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه وسلم.
So while replying, Al-‘Abbās replied very respectfully using the following precise phrasing:
“He is greater than me, and I was born before him.”
This statement of his never fails to move me! I always marvel at the amazing level of respect and humility embedded within these words and this excellent mentality.
Contrast this beautiful adab of the Saḥābah of Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه وسلم with our general irreverence, indifference, and thoughtlessness now.
In the modern secular order, an overall culture of disrespect, defiance, and deviance pervades. Most secular people hate even the notion of hierarchy or owing respect to another – no matter who it is. Parents and elders are treated dismissively. Women are not to be cherished or protected by men according to secular liberal culture. Feminism trains women to disrespect and scoff at men. Children are brazenly aborted.
Modernity indoctrinates most people to self-aggrandize. It festers a certain type of selfishness, hyper-individualism, and an obsession with absolute “equality,” in a way that is utterly absurd and laughable.
Alḥamdulillāh for the timeless wisdom and protection of Islām!