The Second Imam Al-hasan Al-mutaba (a.s.)
NAME AND PARENTAGE
His name is IMAM HASAN; "AL-MUJTABA" and "ABU MUHAMMAD" are his titles. He was the elder son of Imam Ali (as) and Fatima (as), the revered daughter of the holy Prophet (p).
He came into this world on RAMADAN 15, 3 A.H. (March 1, 625 A.D). This was the first joyful event of its nature in the Messenger's immediate family. In Mecca, when the Prophet's sons passed away during their infancy and only his daughter Fatima (as) survived, the infidels taunted him by calling him ABTAR, (issueless, sonless). It grieved the Prophet a great deal, but soon a prediction was revealed to him through the verses of SURAT AL-KAWTHAR that he would have many descendants and that his enemy would instead become "issueless".
So Imam HASAN'S birth in the third HIJRI year was the first manifestation of SURAT AL-KAWTHAR. The world knows that through Imam HASAN and Imam HUSAIN (as), the Prophet's descendants spread to every corner of the globe. In such great numbers are they that towns are brimming with them. The UMAYYADS and other dynasties tried to eliminate them by murder or hanging on crosses and successfully poisoned many of them, yet in every village or town of the world they are still bearing the standard of the Faith. On the other hand, the Prophet's enemies, once rejoicing in the plentitude of their own offspring, have effaced so completely that historians find it hard to trace them. This is also one of the proofs which bear testimony to the truthfulness of the holy QUR'AN.
IMAM HASAN (AS) had the opportunity to be contemporary to his grandfather the holy Prophet (p) for eight years, enjoying his great affection. History records several accounts of the Prophet's love for Imam HASAN (as) and for Imam HUSAIN (as), the younger brother of Imam HASAN (as). Many QUR'ANIC verses and traditions testify to the virtues and qualities these descendants of the Messenger share in common. The following are samples of such verses: On p. 25 of YANABI' AL-MAWADDA, the HANAFI HAFIZ AL-QANDUZI, quoting AL-MUFADDAL, says: "I asked JA'FAR AS-SADIQ (AS) about verse 124 of Chapter 2 (AL-BAQARA): 'IBRAHIM was tried by His Lord with words'. And he said: 'They are the words Adam received from his Lord before is repentance was accepted, that is, that he said: 'Lord! I implore Thee in the name of Muhammad and Ali and Fatima and HASAN and HUSAIN (to accept my repentance)'". Then he asked: "What about 'and He completed them?'". The Imam answered: "It means that He completed them up to the QA'IN AL-MAHDI, twelve Imams, nine of them being the offspring of HUSAIN (AS)".
The traditions in praise of Imam HASAN (AS) and Imam HUSAIN (AS) are numerous. These are excerpts of the sayings (AHADITH) of the holy Prophet of Islam (p):
- HASAN and HUSAIN are the chieftains of the youths of Paradise.
- They both are the decoration of Heaven.
- Both are my two bouquets.
- Lord! They are dear unto me; so hold them dear too.
These and many other traditions indicate the greatness of Imam HASAN (AS) and Imam HUSAIN (AS). According to the common customs of the world, the lineage or descent is traced through male children, but the Prophet explicitly indicated that his grandsons could be rightfully called his own sons. Another tradition which is unanimously acknowledged by the traditionalists of all Muslim sects affirms that the Prophet said: "God defines everyone's children as his offspring; in my case, He has defined Ali's sons as my own". In view of the above, the Prophet looked after the instruction of these two children with special care. The two brothers were undoubtedly rendered sanctified and infallible through AYAT AT-TATHIR (holy QUR'AN, 33:33). Both brothers, even while still children, were miniature models of the Prophet's own conduct and behavior. The Prophet, explaining their characteristics, said: "HASAN possesses my majesty and grandeur of leadership, while HUSAIN has inherited my courage and generosity". The word "leadership" represents and reflects a number of manly qualities. One of them was demonstrated by the Messenger himself, as commanded by God, even during Imam HASAN'S childhood, when he carried him to take part in the MUBAHALA, i.e. the spiritual contest with the YEMENITE Christians based on the asserting of one's own truthfulness and calling for the Lord's curse on the liars. This also shows that under God's guidance, the Prophet intended his progeny to carry on his sacred mission after his death.
The Prophet passed away on the 28th of SAFAR (or on the 12th of RABI' AL-AKHIR according to other traditions) of the year 11 A.H. (May 25, 632 A.D) and Imam HASAN (AS) was deprived of his cherishing love. After three months, he had to suffer the calamity of the death of his dear mother. His instruction was now carried on totally by his father IMAM ALI IBN ABU TALIB (AS). In this atmosphere of learning, Imam HASAN (as) grew up to be a graceful and highly accomplished youth. After the Prophet's death, Imam Ali (as) led a secluded life for twenty-five years. During those years, he did not involve himself in political affairs except when expressly requested for consultation by the three caliphs. On 'UTHMAN'S tragic death, the Muslim community of Medina repeatedly requested him to assume the caliphate. As soon as Imam Ali (as) became the caliph, a series of battles ensued: JAMAL, SIFFIN and NAHRAWAN. In all these battles, IMAM HASAN (AS) assisted his father with feats of valor of his own.
Imam Ali (as) was martyred on 21st of Ramadan, 40 A.H. (January 28, 661 A.D.). The Muslims then unanimously acknowledged IMAM HASAN (AS) as their caliph. He had to shoulder such a great responsibility while still grieved by the loss of his revered father. When he addressed the nation from the pulpit for the first time, he described his qualities in detail, highlighting his indifference to property and wealth. He was quite emotional while saying that, so much so that tears choked his throat and his audience, too, burst into tears. Then he reminded people of his ancestors and their virtues. ABDALLAH IBN ABBAS stood up and, after a short speech, invited people to take the oath of allegiance to Imam HASAN (AS). All obeyed willingly. IMAM HASAN (AS), before whose eyes the coming events were already their shadows, put to the eager audience the condition that they should follow him sincerely; that if he wanted to fight, they should all join him against the foe, and observe peace if he made a treaty. All agreed to these terms; IMAM HASAN (AS) took up the administration, appointed governors and officials, and began to issue his verdicts in disputed matters.
During that time, MU'AWIYA was firmly seated on his throne in Damascus, Syria. The battles he fought with IMAM ALI (AS) had been a profitable bargain for him through the cunning arbitration of AMR IBN AL-'AS. Northern Arabia and Iraq, which used to be ruled by Imam Ali (as), were now under the control of Imam HASAN (AS). Soon disunity and dissension started prevailing due to the intrigues and plots of MU'AWIYA. Even Imam Ali's orders in the last year of his life were being ignored as is obvious from reviewing his sermons during that year. The KHARIJITES, whose power had been crushed by Imam Ali (as) at the battle of NAHRAWAN, were scattered throughout various parts of Arabia and were bent on ruffling the peace of the nation. It was a member of this very group who had wounded Imam Ali (as) at the Mosque of KUFA and had been the cause of his death.
The nation was still morning Imam Ali (as), and Imam HASAN (as) had not yet straightened out the administration, when MU'AWIYA started ambushing the highways in the territories under the rule of Imam HASAN (AS). His secret agents were already busy conducting anti-Islamic activities. For example, a man of the tribe of HUMAIR was arrested in KUFA at the house of a butcher and was found guilty of such conduct; another, belonging to BANI SALIM, was arrested in Basra, and both admitted that they had come from Syria to create unrest and a disagreeable atmosphere against IMAM HASAN (AS), and to send intelligence reports to Damascus. Both were caught red-handed and were punished accordingly.
At this stage, IMAM HASAN (AS) wrote to MU'AWIYA warning him in the following tone: "You have sent your agents to create trouble and rebellion in my territory; your spies are busy in various quarters. It appears that you are bent on fighting. If it is really so, be prepared for it as its stage cannot be far away. I have also come to know that you spoke tauntingly at my father's death. Such taunting does not suit a wise person. Death is destined for all of us. If we face it here today, you shall confront it there tomorrow. In reality, we think that our dead have just left one place to go to rest in another". After this, a good deal of correspondence was exchanged between IMAM HASAN (AS) and MU'AWIYA. The latter had learned through his agent that the people of KUFA were disunited, that they were divided among themselves and were very weakened. MU'AWIYA, therefore, thought that the time was opportune to attack Iraq. Accordingly, he led his forces to the border. IMAM HASAN (AS), too, made preparations for battle. He sent HIJR son of 'ADIISON of HATIM AL-AT'I to tour the territories and expedite the government officers for war, and to persuade people to enlist for JIHAD. But as IMAM HASAN (AS) had already expected, his appeal received the cold shoulder. The army, which was formed anyway, consisted of KHARIJITES, trouble-seeking soldiers who desired nothing but booty, and some warriors who joined only because their tribal chiefs had compelled them to. Those who could be taken as faithful SHI'AS of Imam Ali (as) and Imam HASAN (as) formed only a tiny minority.
MU'AWIYA sent ABDALLAH IBN AMR IBN KARIZ as his vanguard. He camped at ANBAR. Imam HASAN (as) set forth to meet him and he camped at SABAT near DIYAR BAKR. In order to know the people's intentions, he assembled them and delivered a sermon saying:
"Know that I don't bear a grudge against any Muslims. I seek your welfare as keenly as that of my own. I have formed a decisive opinion about you and I think you will not contest it. I see that many of you have lost the courage to fight the enemy. Accordingly, I do not think it is wise to goad you into warfare".
At the conclusion of the sermon, some of his men burst into revolt. The gallant son of Imam Ali (as) could have suppressed the tumultuous mob personally had they been his open enemies. But these were his own soldiers whom he would not antagonize. His father Imam Ali (as), too, had to face a similar situation during the Battle of SIFFIN. He was likewise unable to control his own men when the enemy raised copies of the holy QUR'AN on their lances according to the trick invented by IBN AL-'AS. IMAM ALI soldiers had surrounded him and demanded that he should stop the fighting or else they would take hold of him and hand him over to the enemy. In such a situation, Imam Ali (as) did not like to wield his sword on his disobedient soldiers; he preferred to postpone the battle. The same or even more serious situation now threatened Imam HASAN (as). The revolting mob assaulted him. They pulled away the prayer mat from underneath his feet. One of them pulled away his mantle from his shoulders. The Imam had to mount his horse and call loudly upon the tribes of HAMDAN and RABI'A to come to his rescue. The faithful warriors of these two tribes speedily repelled the mutiny. Imam HASAN (as) then marched from SABAT to MADA'IN. a KHARIJITE named AL-JARRAH IBN QABAISA AL-ASADI lay in ambush and attacked the Imam with his dagger, wounding him in the thigh. He was arrested and punished. After having been under treatment at MADA'IN for a few weeks, Imam HASAN (as) recovered and made preparations to fight MU'AWIYA
TERRORISM OF MU'AWIYA
Besides the weekly cursing of Imam Ali (as) from the pulpits of Syria and the degradation of the dignity of the Messenger's family, MU'AWIYA ruled with an iron fist, he once summoned SUFYAN IBN AWF AL-GHAMIDI, one of the commanders of his army, and said to him: "This army is under your command. Proceed along the river Euphrates till you reach Hit. Any resistance in the way should be crushed, then invade ANBAR. After that, penetrate deep into MADA'IN. O SUFYAN! These invasions will frighten the Iraqis and please those who like us. Such campaigns will attract frightened people to our side. Kill whoever has a different opinion from ours; loot their villages and demolish their houses. Indeed, the war against their financial interest is similar to killing but is more painful to their hearts".
BISHR IBN ART'A, another commander, was summoned and ordered to proceed towards HIJAZ and Yemen. MU'AWIYA instructed him thus: "Proceed to Medina and expel its people. Meanwhile, people in the way who are not from our camp should be terrorized. When you enter Medina, let it appear as if you are going to kill them. Make it appear that your aim is to exterminate them. Then pardon them. Terrorize the people around Mecca and Medina and scatter them".
MU'AWIYA had come to know the condition of Imam HASAN'S army and the mutiny of his men. He concluded that the Imam was not in a position to carry on any battle. He also knew that the son of Imam Ali (as) and Fatima (as) and the grandson of the Prophet, however powerless or forlorn he might be, would never stoop to make peace on such conditions as might be against righteousness a promotion of KUFR. With all these facts in view, he sent a message through ABDALLAH IBN AMIR to the followers of Imam HASAN (as), asking them not to endanger their lives, and he dissuaded them from further bloodshed. Some he won over to his side by bribing while some cowards were frightened by a reference to the overwhelming numbers of MU'AWIYA'S forces. Besides this, he sent a message to Imam HASAN (as) requesting him to conclude a peace treaty on any terms he chose. Imam HASAN'S decision not to fight MU'AWIYA was a most painful one. He confided to a few of his followers: "By God, I did not give up the fight except due to the absence of supporters. Had I had sufficient supporters, I would have fought him (MU'AWIYA) day and night till God judges between us".
IMAM HASAN (AS), who fully and painfully aware of the disloyalty of most of his men, thought it would be completely unwise to continue the fighting, yet he was cautious enough not to act in such a way that would result in encouraging the faithless enemy. The Prophet's progeny never hankered after power; they only desired the welfare of humanity and the implementation of the Divine Law. Now that MU'AWIYA himself made him an unconditional offer for peace, IMAM HASAN (AS) could not afford to refuse it because such a refusal would have been interpreted as a desire for bloodshed. The grandson of the Prophet was placed in exactly the same situation as had the Prophet himself been placed prior to concluding the treaty of HUDAYBIYYA. Still before sending his reply to MU'AWIYA, IMAM HASAN (AS) assembled his followers and addressed them thus:
"Know that two battles have already been fought in which countless warriors fell. Some of them were slain at SIFFIN whom you are still mourning; others died at NAHRAWAN whose blood-money you are still demanding. Now if you do not fear death, let us refuse this offer of peace; rely on God and let our swords decide the matter. But it life is dearer to you, then let us accept this offer of peace". In response, most people began to shout: "We prefer to live! Make peace with the foe!" as a result, Imam HASAN (as) drafted the terms of the treaty and dispatched them to MU'AWIYA.
TERMS OF THE TREATY
The conditions of peace were as follows:
1- That MU'AWIYA shall rule in accordance with the QUR'AN and the SUNNAH of the Prophet throughout the territories under his control. 2- That MU'AWIYA shall have no right to nominate his successor. 3- That all people in Syria, Iraq, HIJAZ, and Yemen shall lead their lives safely and securely. 4- That the lives and properties of the SHI'AHS of Imam Ali (as), as and where they are, shall remain safe. 5- That MU'AWIYA shall not try, openly or secretly, to do harm to or kill Imam HASAN (as), his brother Imam HUSAIN (as) or other members of the Prophet's family, nor shall they be threatened or terrorized. 6- That the abusive phrases, the cursing of Imam Ali (as) during prayer services which were already taking place at the Grand Mosque of Damascus, be stopped. (This cursing had started immediately after 'UTHMAN had been murdered and Imam Ali (as) was unfairly accused of murdering him. MU'AWIYA agreed not to permit it as long as Imam HASAN (as) was in power. It continued not only during MU'AWIYA'S reign of terror but also during that of all the succeeding UMAYYAD rulers till the days of UMER IBN ABD AL-AZIZ).
This treaty was signed in RABI' AL-AWWAL or JUMADA AL-AKHIR of the HIJRI year 41 (July or September of 661 A.D.). In a letter Imam HASAN (as) wrote to HIJR IBN 'ADII AL-KINDI, he said: "I found the people wishing to reconcile, and they disliked war, I did not want to go through something which they disliked. I therefore reconciled especially for the sake of our followers so that they would be spared from being killed. However, I have only postponed the war, and God has a surprise every day".
AFTER THE TREATY
As a result of peace, the forces dispersed. MU'AWIYA'S authority was now recognized throughout all Muslim territories. Syria, Egypt, Iraq, HIJAZ, Yemen and even Persia were all under his sway. As a result of this treaty, Imam HASAN (as) had to hear very insolent and taunting phrases from his followers which none but a forbearing person like Imam HASAN (as) could tolerate. Those who once greeted him as "chief of the faithful" now labeled him as "The Humiliate of the faithful". As for MU'AWIYA, he entered Iraq, came to NUKHAILA at the border of KUFA and, after the Friday sermon, he proclaimed:
"O people of Iraq! By fighting HASAN, I did not mean to pressure you to observe the prayers or the fast or to pay ZAKAT or to perform the pilgrimage, for you were already doing them. My purpose of fighting was to make you acknowledge my superiority which has been fully served by this very treaty with Imam HASAN (as). God gave me success although you are not pleased with it. As to the terms of the treaty, they are all henceforth under my feet".
The audience stood aghast but none could speak against the arrogant self-imposed ruler. He even spoke insolently of Imam HASAN (as) and his father Imam Ali (as) at which his brother Imam HUSAIN (as) stood up to check the tongue of the haughty tyrant. But Imam HASAN (as) made him sit down and he stood instead to reply to MU'AWIYA with a brief yet convincing speech. MU'AWIYA, however, persisted in violating all the terms of the treaty. Although Imam HASAN (as) led a peaceful life, he was constantly harassed by the UMAYYADS. Their false propaganda interpreted his deeds so scornfully that he was degraded in the public esteem. The taking by MU'AWIYA of several wives and his divorcing of some of them without taking into consideration the rules of the SHARI'A was justified in the most hideous manner, claiming that what he did was within the limits of the Divine Law, and on account of the "prevailing circumstances". Moreover, the UMAYYADS continued their inhuman behavior towards the descendants of the Prophet, cursing and abusing them. One event will suffice to depict how things went in those days:
While Imam HASAN'S coffin was being carried to the graveyard, MARWAN went weeping along with the others. Imam HUSAIN (as), tortured by the past behavior of this man, said to him: "Now you weep after HASAN' death, but during his life you made him drink the bitter cups of grief and sorrow, such as only our hearts know". MARWAN replied: "I admit that. But whatever I did, I did it with the one whose tolerance is more than the mountain can bear".
CONDUCT AND VIRTUES
Apart from other saintly virtues, the outstanding quality of IMAM HASAN (AS) which was acknowledged by friend and foe alike was his tolerance which even an enemy like MARWAN had to admit. The flatterers of the Syrian regime intentionally provoked Imam HASAN (as) with their abusive language so that his rage might flare up and they would have an excuse for bloodshed. But Imam HASAN (as) demonstrated such patience and tolerance in those situations as could not be shown by anyone else. His hospitality and generosity, too, were famed throughout Arabia. Thrice did he give away his entire wealth to please God. Twice he gave away in charity half of his belongings, including the bedding and garments.
IMAM HASAN (AS) used to give to some destitute thousands of DIRHAMS at one time. Some historians claimed that in his treaty with MU'AWIYA, one of the conditions was that MU'AWIYA should pay him a certain amount of his collected revenues every year. If this is correct, Imam HASAN'S condition might have been just to enable him to distribute a portion of the treasury to deserving destitute of HIJAZ. Surely he did not mean to spend the amount to satisfy his personal whims. It was his custom to give away to the beggar whatever money he had. On being asked why he did not reject the beggar's requests, though he himself was in need, he replied: "I myself an a beggar in the Kingdom of God. I feel too shy to reject the requests of other beggars like me. If I do not grant them what they want, how can I expect that God would grant me my boon?". Besides the above-mentioned virtues, Imam HASAN (as) was a great scholar, ABDALLAH IBN ABBAS, the renowned scholar of the Divine Law, had attained a high position in learning as he had availed of Imam Ali's companionship. He was the unquestioned monarch of the realm of religious sciences. But in comparison with Imam HASAN'S knowledge, he admitted his subordination to the Imam, and the world would have to acknowledge that the Prophet's family had no peer. Once a person came to the Prophet's Mosque and inquired about the commentary regarding a certain verse. He approached ABDALLAH IBNABBAS first, then he consulted ABDALLAH IBN UMER IBN AL-KATTAB. Finally, he came to Imam HASAN (as). He stated that Imam HASAN'S explanation was definitely better than what he had heard from all the others.
He spoke several times in the hostile court of his opponent MU'AWIYA on the virtues of AHL AL-BAYT and the qualities of Imam Ali (as) so fluently that the enemies lowered their heads in respect and were impressed by his matchless eloquence, based as it was on truth. His piety, too, commanded appreciation. He made the pilgrimage to Mecca twenty or twenty-five times barefoot. Upon the mention of death, the grave, and Doomsday, he used to burst into tears. When he reflected on the reckoning of good and bad deeds, he cried till he lost his consciousness. Whenever he stood to say his prayers, his whole body shook.
In spite of leading a calm life, without harming anyone, his presence was intolerable to the Syrian monarchy which finally put him to death using the same soundless weapon which was quite often used by the UMAYYAD regime, that is, poison. JU'DA daughter of AL-ASH'ATH IBN QAYS was wife of IMAM HASAN (AS). The tribal enmities were working in her blood. MU'AWIYA allured her with the promise of one hundred thousand DIRHAMS as a reward for her complacency and promised to marry her to his son and heir-apparent YAZID. She was tempted enough to poison IMAM HASAN (AS). Physicians who had a chance to examine his corpse said that his liver was so fatally affected that it was split by poison into bits and pieces. Before breathing his last, he called his younger brother IMAM HUSAIN (AS) to his side and made his will that he should be buried near his grandfather the holy Prophet provided it would not be resisted by the enemies; otherwise, IMAM HUSAIN (AS) should refrain from any bloodshed and bury him at JANNAT AL-BAQI' instead.
IMAM HASAN (AS) passed into God's mercy on the 28th of SAFAR, 50 A.H. IMAM HUSAIN (AS) took his coffin to the Prophet's tomb. But as IMAM HASAN (AS) had expected, both UMM AL-MU'MININ A'ISHA and MARWAN IBN AL-HAKAM resisted his burial there, so much so that their hooligans shot arrows at him, some of which fell close to the coffin. IMAM HUSAIN (AS), in accordance with his brother's will, took his brother's corps to JANNAT AL-BAQI' where he buried him.