The Life of Imam Al-hasan Al-mujtaba
Chapter Xiv : the Cold War
When it was announced that the grandson of the Prophet (Imam al-Hasan) (a.s) became the caliph, waves of worries and sorrows dominated Hind’s son (Mu’awiya). A perplexity overcame him; impatience and astonishment controlled him. That is because he had come to know that Imam al-Hasan had a great position among the Muslims and a remarkable rank among all classes of people, for he was the grandson of the great Prophet, the most beloved, and the closest to him. The traditions transmitted from the Prophet about Imam al-Hasan (a.s) were widespread among the people. They praised Imam al-Hasan and preferred him to all other than him. Then how was it possible for the people to turn away from him and follow Hind’s son (Mu’awiya)? How was it possible for them to compare al-Hasan to Mu’awiya, who belonged to the cursed family as mentioned in the Qur’an, while they had come to know that he (Mu’awiya) and his family were the enemies of Islam from the day when its light rose.
Mu’awiya became upset and his soul was boiling with anger. He spent his night sleeplessly. He thought of the affair for along time. It became clear to him that al-Hasan had no escape from opening a door to the battle against him and that he was serious in fighting him. He was sure that the Battle of Siffin, which had been about to end his government and his days were it had not been for the plot made by ‘Amr bin al-‘Aas, would return.
Mu’awiya was drowned into violent currents of thinking. In the meantime, he found neither an outlet nor a gap to pass through to slander the Imam’s personality or to accuse him of a thing. Imam al-Hasan was innocent of ‘Uthman’s blood that Mo‘awiya used as means to fight against Imam Ali. Moreover, it was said that he (Imam al-Hasan) was among those who defended ‘Uthman. So, what could he accuse him off? Imam al-Hasan was free from all kinds of defects and vices just as Mu’awiya was void of all laudable deeds and virtues!
The Umayyad Conference
Immediately after that, Mu’awiya held a meeting in his palace. He summoned his loyal followers and told them about the critical attitude and the sudden danger that befell his kingdom. He informed them that if they did not do some decisive procedures and offered great efforts and cunning tricks, danger would befall them. So the Umayyad party carefully considered the means they had to take to face the dangerous attitude.
The Decisions of the Conference
After serious debates, the people who attended the meeting decided the following steps:
They had to spread spies in the countries under the dominion of Imam al-Hasan, especially Basra and Kufa. The spies had to inform in detail about the news, the intention of the society and the extent of people’s loyalty to the family of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. In the meantime they had to spread panic, fear, and terrorism through telling them that Mu’awiya was powerful while al-Hasan was weak.
They had to correspond with leaders, great figures, and prominent persons, to bribe them with enormous properties and important offices in the state if they followed Mu’awiya and deserted Imam al-Hasan. As for carrying this decision, it was unanimously postponed to after a short time. As for the first decision, it was soon carried out. That was when Mu’awiya summoned two experienced men whose ability he trusted, and of whose knowledge and skillfulness he was sure. As for the two men, one of them belonged to Himyar, and the other belonged to Banu al-Qayn and was sent by Mu’awiya to Basra.
When al-Himyari arrived in Kufa, and al-Qayni arrived in Basra, they began carrying out the decided plans. When their affair spread, the policemen arrested them. As for al-Himyari, he was brought to Imam al-Hasan, and he ordered him to be killed. As for al-Qayni, he was brought to the governor of the Imam over Basra, Abdullah bin Abbas, and he ordered him to be executed too.
Imam al-Hasan’s Note
Because of this flagrant aggression of Mu’awiya, Imam al-Hasan wrote him a letter in which he threatened him with declaring war against him. This is the text of the letter: “You sent men to deceive and carry out assassinations and you sent out spies as if you want to meet (in battle). That is something will happen soon, so wait for it, Allah willing. I have learnt that you have become haughty in a way that no wise man would become haughty…”
From this letter we understand that Imam al-Hasan had been resolute and determined to battle against Mu’awiya if he had insisted on aggression, mutiny, and going too far in committing sins. The letter also indicates that the Imam condemned Mu’awiya for his showing delight and happiness at the death of Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful.
When Imam al-Hasan’s letter came to Mu’awiya, he was afraid of it. So he looked for an excuse in the bag of his cunning, that he might defend himself with it. He found no excuse but denying the delight he showed at the death of Imam Ali. There was no harm on him in telling lies, for he had regarded it as permissible and lawful, and it was all what he had in himself. As for sending spies, he thought that he had to overlook mentioning it, to turn away from answering it, and to neglect the excuse for it. This is his letter: “Now then, certainly your letter has come. I have understood what you have mentioned in it. I know what has happened. I have shown neither delight nor sadness. I have not gloated over (the murder of Ali) nor have I grieved.[^1] Ali is your father, and he belongs to you both…” From this letter we understand Mu’awiya’s slyness and deception. We also understand his weakness, his weak determination, and his fear of Imam al-Hasan. For this reason, he praised and lauded Imam Ali (a.s) and denied that he showed happiness and delight at his death. Had it not been for that, he would not have praised his opponent in such a beautiful way.
Ibn Abbas’s Note Abdullah bin Abbas, Imam al-Hasan’s governor over Basra, sent Mu’awiya a note in which he condemned him for his sending spies to Basra and threatened him for this aggression. This is the text of the note: “Now then, most surely, through your sending the man from Banu al-Qayn as a spy to Basra, you seek the inattentiveness of Quraysh through what you have obtained…”[^2]
When Ibn Abbas’s letter came to Mu’awiya, he answered it with an answer in which equivocation and deception appeared. This is the text of the answer: “Now then, most surely, al-Hasan has written (a letter) to us in the same manner you have written. He has rebuked me through that which has not brought about mistrust and an opinion of me. You have not got the like of me
[^1] In his book al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, Ibn Katheer has said: “Mu‘awiya showed sadness, sorrow, and pain at the murder of Imam (‘Ali).” I (the author) say: “Firstly, (this statement) does not agree with what Mu‘awiya mentioned regarding his showing no sadness at the death of Imam ‘Ali. Secondly, it does not agree with Mu‘awiya’s line of conduct and his flagrant enmity towards the Imam, for he regarded cursing him (Imam Ali) as one of the religious duties. He chased his followers and companions, and killed them everywhere.” [^2] Abu al-Farajj al-Asfahani, al-Aghani, vol. 8, p. 62. Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahjj al-Balagha, vol. 4, p. 12.
and the like of you. Verily, our like is just as what Tariq al-Khaza‘i has said writing an answer to Umaya’s verses of poetry: “By Allah, I do not know, and most surely I am truthful, to which of those who “accuse me apologize. “(Why) am I rebuked if Zubaynah was destroyed, and evil befell Banu “Lahyan, and they escaped?” This answer is similar to that which he had sent to Imam al-Hasan in respect of denying his showing delight and happiness at the death of Imam Ali. His answer also contains equivocation and cunning. As for his speech to Ibn Abbas, ‘Al-Hasan has rebuked me,’ Imam al-Hasan (a.s) rebuked and blamed him for his showing delight at the death of Imam Ali (a.s), but Mu’awiya threatened him with his declaring war which was more important than his happiness and delight. That was through his sending spies to the countries under al-Hasan’s dominion. However, Mu’awiya turned away from this affair lest Imam al-Hasan’s activity and determination in respect of declaring the war should be announced, that the determinations of Mu’awiya’s troops might become weak, and the morale of the Imam’s companions might be strong.
Ibn Abbas’s Letter to Imam al-Hasan
Immediately after that, the strong-willed, watchful Abdullah bin Abbas, sent a letter to Imam al-Hasan. He urged him to fight against Mu’awiya. His letter indicated that he had knowledge of the political techniques, the attitudes of the society, the attitudes of the Umayyads and their bad behavior toward Islam and the Muslims. This is the text of his letter: “Muslims have entrusted you with their affairs after Ali, peace be on him. Therefore, get ready for war, struggle against your enemy, be near to your companions, buy from the stingy his religion for that which does not defile your religion. Employ notable men to set right through them their tribes, that the people may be a community. Some of what the people dislike, unless it should not exceed the truth and its results make justice appear and strengthen the religion, is better than the much the people like if its results make tyranny appear, abase the believers, and strengthen the sinful. Follow that which has been mentioned on the authority of the just Imams, for it has been narrated from them that lying is not good except at war or reconciling people. Most surely war is a trick. Through that you shall have ease if you are going to war (against Mu’awiya) provided that you should not invalidate something right.
“Know that people turned away from your father Ali (and inclined) to Mu’awiya because he regarded them as equal in revenue and gifts, and that disturbed them. Know that you are going to fight against him who had fight against Allah and His Apostle at the beginning of Islam until Allah’s command appeared. When the unity of Allah was confessed, the polytheism was destroyed, and the religion was strengthened, they showed the faith, recited the Qur’an (but they) sneered at its verses, performed the prayers (while they were) sluggish, and unwillingly performed the religious duties. When they came to know that no one would be powerful through the religion except the pious, they showed the signs of the righteous, that the Muslims might think that they were good. They went on that until they (the Muslims) made them partners in their trusts. They said that Allah would reckon them. If they were truthful, then they were our brothers in the religion. If they were liars, they were losers because of what they had committed. You have been afflicted with those (people), their children, and their likes. By Allah, the long lifetime has increased them nothing except error, and from the men of religion nothing except detest.
Therefore, struggle against him (Mu’awiya). Do not accept his religion, and do not accept any kind of abasement. That is because your father Ali did not respond to the government until his affair was overcome. He responded (to them) while they were fully aware that he was the most appropriate for the rule if they had judged with justice. When they judged according to the mean desire, he returned to that which he had followed until death came to him. Do not leave any right for which you are the most appropriate until death prevent (you) from that. With my Greetings.”[^1]
This letter contains some important points:
In the first place, this letter took great care of urging Imam al-Hasan to fight against Mu’awiya that the community might be safe from his wickedness and from his followers who plotted against Islam under the darkness of night and in the daylight, for they were the enemies and opponents of this religion.
Most surely Abdullah bin Abbas asked Imam al-Hasan to employ noble and influential persons and buy from the stingy their religion, that he might, through that, put an end to disagreements and then people might be one community. Abdullah bin Abbas was inattentive that that was contrary to the wise policy the Prophet’s Household followed, for it was based on the pure truth and on condemning all means that did not agree with the Islamic principles even if success and victory depended on them. We will mention that in detail when we deal with the reasons of the peacemaking. [^1] Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahjj al-Balagha, vol. 4, p. 8. Rasa’il Jamharat al-‘Arab, vol. 2, p. 1.
This letter includes all the true reasons that led to deserting Imam Ali during the time of his caliphate and made Mu’awiya successful during the reign of his government. For most surely Imam Ali followed the policy of justice and equity. He regarded people as equal in the matter of dues. He gave no one precedence over another in the affair of the giving due to the fact that he acted according to what Islam had commanded and his principles had stipulated. He effaced the differences between the white and the black, demolished the barriers between the rich and the poor. He regarded people as equal as the teeth of a comb. All of them belonged to Adam; and Adam belonged to earth.” None had preference to another except through piety. None had merit over another except through work and qualification. Imam Ali (a.s) followed this just policy and clear plan to the extent that he set a record in equality and justice. An example of his justice is that he regarded a Qurashi lady as equal to a slave girl. The Qurashi lady was displeased with that, and she angrily said to him: “Why have you regarded me as equal to this slave girl in giving gifts?”
The Imam looked at her. He took some earth with his hand, turned the earth, and said: “Some of this earth is not better than some other!” This equality and justice disturbed the people, for they demanded nothing except their personal interests. For this reason, they turned away from his government and submitted to Mu’awiya who had no aim except to satisfy his desires and achieve his wishes.
- In his letter, Abdullah bin Abbas has expressed his reliable study on the Umayyads’ manners and his knowledge of what their hearts had hidden. He made clear that they were a group of unbelievers and atheists. So if Imam al-Hasan had warred against them, he would have warred against those who warred against Allah and His Apostle when the light of Islam rose. When Allah brought victory to his religion and the supreme authority of Islam defeated the Arabs, the Umayyads embraced it, but they had no real faith. They followed it out of fear of the sword and death. They read the verses of the Qur’an but they sneered at them. They performed the ritual prayers but sluggishly. They performed the Islamic duties but unwillingly and with hypocrisy. They came to know that their plan was incorrect, would not guarantee a success for them, and would not achieve happiness for them, for none would be strengthened through this religion according to these words of Him, the Exalted: Surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty)[^1] . So they showed, with deception and [^1] Qur’an, 49, 13.
hypocrisy, righteousness, piety, and faith, while they hid in their hearts polytheism, hypocrisy, and malice against Islam. They went on practicing this state showing obedience to Allah and yielding to His commands and His laws, to the extent that the Muslims made them partners in their affairs. However, the Muslims had doubted them, their affair, and their loyalty. Without doubt this letter written by this great religious scholar, Abdullah bin Abbas, had a great impression on al-Hasan’s soul, for it moved him to resist Mu’awiya, and to declare war against him.
Imam al-Hasan’s Letter to Mu’awiya
Imam al-Hasan sent another letter to Mu’awiya. In the letter he summoned him to pledge allegiance to him, to obey him, and to follow what the Muslims followed. He sent the letter with two persons from among the prominent believers and reliable Muslims. They were al-Harith bin Suwayyid al-Tamimi[^1] and Jundub al-Azdi[^2] . This is the text of the letter: “From the servant of Allah, al-Hasan, the Commander of the faithful to Mu’awiya bin Abi Sufyan. Most surely, Allah has sent Muhammad as mercy to the worlds. Through him He has showed the truth, repressed polytheism, strengthened the Arabs in general, and ennobled Quraysh in particular. He has said: ‘And most surely it (the Qur’an) is a reminder for you and your people.’[^3] When Allah caused him to die, the Arabs disputed with each other about the authority after him. Quraysh have said: ‘We are his tribe and his friends. Therefore, do not dispute with us about his supreme authority.’ So the Arabs acknowledged that [^1] Al-Harith bin Suwayyid al-Tamimi had the kunya of Abu A’isha al-Kufi. He narrated traditions on the authority of the trustworthy companions (of the Prophet) of whom were Imam ‘Ali and Ibn Mas‘ud. Some reliable traditionists narrated (traditions) on his authority. The narrators have magnified his importance. Ibn Ma‘een has said: “He (al-Harith bin Suwayyid al-Tamimi) is trustworthy.” Others said: “He is the best narrator.” He narrated (traditions) from Imam ‘Ali, who greatly praised and lauded him. It is sufficient for him that Imam al-Hasan trusted and depended on him. That was when he sent him to Mu‘awiya during the last days of Abdullah bin al-Zubayr. This has been mentioned in (the book) Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 173. [^2] Jundub al-Azdi al-‘Amiri was surnamed as Abu Abdullah. He was a companion of the Prophet (a.s.). He narrated from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, that he has said: “The prescribed punishment for a magician is striking him with the sword.” He narrated traditions on the authority of some companions (of the Prophet) of whom were Imam Ali, peace be on him, and Salman al-Farisi. Some traditionists narrated on his authority. Ibn Hayyan has mentioned him as one of the trustworthy (traditionists) of the second generation. He (Jundub al-Azdi) died at the end of Mu‘awiya’s caliphate. This has been mentioned in the book Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 118. [^3] Qur’an, 43, 44.
for Quraysh, while Quraysh have denied (to acknowledge for) us what the Arabs have acknowledged for them. How far! Quraysh have not treated us with justice while they have excellence in the religion and precedence in Islam. No wonder except your disputing with us about the authority without any known right in the world and a laudable deed in Islam! The promise belongs to Allah. We ask Allah for His favor not to give us in this world anything that may be a cause for decrease in the hereafter!
“Most surely when Allah took Ali to Him, the Muslims entrusted me with the authority after him. Therefore, fear Allah, O Mu’awiya, and reflect on that through which you spare the blood of the community of Muhammad and set right their affair! With Greetings.”[^1]
This letter has been narrated in a simpler and fuller manner. We will mention it because it contains more advantages. “From al-Hasan bin Ali, the Commander of the faithful, to Mu’awiya bin Abi Sufyan. Peace be on you. I thank Allah Whom there is no god but Him. Allah the Almighty has sent Muhammad as mercy to the worlds, kindness to believers, and to all the people, that he may warn him who would have life, and (that) the word may prove true against the unbelievers[^2] .
So he delivered the messages of Allah and carried out Allah’s command until Allah caused him to die neither neglectful nor feeble. After Allah had showed through him the truth, removed polytheism and singled Quraysh in particular with him, He said to him: ‘And most surely it (the Qur’an) is a reminder for you and your people.’ When he passed away, the Arabs disputed with each other about his supreme authority. Quraysh said: ‘We are his tribe, family, and friends. Therefore, it is not lawful for you to dispute with us about Muhammad’s supreme authority and right.’ The Arabs thought that it was as Quraysh said, and that they had a proof of that against whoever disputed with them about Muhammad’s affair. So they said yes to them and submitted to them. Then we argued with Quraysh in the same manner the Arabs argued with them in, but Quraysh did not treat us with justice as the Arabs treated them with justice. They took this affair with the exception of the Arabs through (demanding) justice and argument. When we, Muhammad’s Household and his friends, wanted to argue with and asked them for justice, they sent us far, unanimously wronged and tired us. The promise is Allah’s; and He is the Guardian, the Helper!
“We wondered at those who disputed with us about our right and the supreme authority of our House. We refrained from disputing with them out of fear for
[^1] Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 4, p. 9. [^2] Qur’an, 36, 70.
the religion lest the hypocrites and the allies[^1] should find through that a shortcoming through which they defile the religion, or they may have means to corrupt it. So, today let the wonderer wonders at your disputing, O Mu’awiya, about an affair of which you are not worthy. You are not famous for a merit in the religion nor are you lauded for a deed in Islam. You are the son of one of the allies, and son of the most hostile one to Allah’s Apostle (a.s) and His Book. Allah will reckon you! You shall be returned and know to whom the issue of the abode belong! By Allah, shortly after that, you will meet your Lord, and then He will punish you because of what your hands did; and Allah does not wrong the servants!
“Most surely, when Ali (may Allah have mercy on him on the day when he died, on the day when Allah was kind to him through Islam, and on the day when he will be raised from the dead) passed away, Muslims appointed me as a ruler after him. Therefore, I ask Allah not to give us in the transient world a thing through which He decreases our dignity with Him in the hereafter. The thing that urged me to write (a letter) to you is the excuse between me and Allah, the Great and Almighty, in respect of your affair. If you did that, you would have a great luck and set right the Muslims. Therefore leave going too far in falsehood, and pay allegiance as people paid allegiance to me. Most surely, you have come to know that I am worthier of this authority than you, with Allah and with every repentant (who) keeps (Allah’s limits), and (with) those who have penitent hearts. Fear Allah, keep off aggression, and spare the Muslims’ blood. By Allah you shall have no good through their blood more than that through which you will meet Him! Enter peace and obedience. Do not dispute with the men of the authority about the authority and with those who are worthier of it than you, that Allah may through that put out the enmity and hatred, gather the word (confirm unity), and reconcile (the people). If you refuse (all things) except going too far in your error, I and the Muslims shall march towards you and judge you until Allah judges between us; and He is the best of the judges!”[^2]
According to both narrations, the letter contains important points:
- Most surely, in the letter, the Imam expressed his feelings toward the Islamic caliphate. He thought that it was among the rights of the Prophet’s Household, peace be on them, that none had the right to share them their
[^1] The allies were those who gathered to battle against Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family. They were from Quraysh, Ghattfan, Bani Murrah, Bani Ashja‘, Bani Saleem, and Bani Asad. That was at the Battle of al-Khandaq (trench). Their commander-in-chief was Abu Sufyan. That was in the year 5 A. H. [^2] Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 4, p. 12.
right, and that whoever usurped it from them aggressed against them and plundered their inheritance. The Imam showed his firm opinion in the same manner Quraysh did toward the Arabs due to the fact that they were the nearest of the people to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and the closest of them to him in kinship. This slogan they raised was available with Ahl al-Bayt in the best way, for they were a branch of the tree of the Prophet (a.s) and the nearest of all people to him. It is strange that the Arabs were satisfied with the proofs of Quraysh while Quraysh were not satisfied with those of the family of the Prophet (a.s). The reason for that is that they harbored hatred and malice against them. They showed enmity toward the family of their Prophet, went too far in exhausting them, and punishing them. Therefore, the Prophet’s pure family faced various kinds of ordeals and misfortunes throughout the periods of Quraysh’s reign.
- Imam al-Hasan (a.s) has mentioned the reason for their refraining from demanding their (the Ahlul Bayt) right. They had fear for the entity of Islam and the word of monotheism from the allies and the hypocrites who were accustomed to hypocrisy. That is because their power after the death of the Prophet (a.s) became strong. They seized the opportunity to destroy and uproot Islam. So the Imams, peace be on them, preferred the interest of Islam to losing their right. Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful (a.s) has declared that in the letter he sent to the Egyptians, saying: “When the Prophet (a.s) died, the Muslims disputed on the authority after him. By Allah, it never occurred to me, and I never imagined, that after the Prophet, the Arabs would snatch away the caliphate from his Household, nor that they would take it away from me after him, but I suddenly noticed the people surrounding the man to pledge allegiance to him.
“I, therefore, withheld my hand till I saw that many people were reverting from Islam and trying to destroy the religion of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his family. I then feared that if I did not protect Islam and its people and there occurred in it a break or destruction, it would mean a greater blow to me than the loss of power over you that may last for a few days where everything would pass away as mirage passes away, or as a cloud scuds away.”
Therefore, the Imams refrained from demanding their rights, did not battle against the people, and submitted to Allah for the sake of protecting Islam and the Muslims’ interests.
In his letter, Imam al-Hasan expressed his astonishment at Mu’awiya. That is because the latter disputed with the former about (the authority) and showed audacity toward him. He forgot that he was on top of the forces who fought against Allah’s Apostle (a.s) moved against him the hatred and malice of the people who lived before Islam (Jahiliya). So how did Mu’awiya dispute with Imam al-Hasan, the Prophet’s grandson and inheritor, about his right and position? Yet there is another reason. Mu’awiya had no known merit in the religion, nor had he a laudable deed in Islam, nor had he a talent and virtue, that he might deserve this great position in Islam.
Imam al-Hasan (a.s) has mentioned to Mu’awiya the general pledge of allegiance to him after the death of his father, that the community had unanimously agreed on paying homage to him and to obey him. This would have been a strong proof if Mu’awiya had understood it and returned to the correct and logical speech.
When Imam al-Hasan’s letter came to Mu’awiya, he replied to it with an answer from which one can understand cunning and deception. This is the text of the letter: “I have understood that with which you have mentioned Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, who was the worthiest of the early and the later of all the excellence. And you have mentioned the Muslims’ dispute about the authority after him. You have declared accusing Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Abu ‘Ubayda the trusted one, and the righteous Emigrants. I hated that for you. When the community disputed with each other about the authority (after the Prophet), they came to know that Quraysh were worthier of it than them. So Quraysh, the Ansar, the virtuous and the religious from among the Muslims thought that they had to appoint as a ruler someone from Quraysh who was the most knowledgeable of Allah, the most fearing of Him, and the strongest in the authority. Accordingly, they chose Abu Bakr and did not fall short (of that).
If they had come to know that there was a man who would take the place of Abu Bakr and defend Islam as he did, they would have not turned away from him and handed the authority over to Abu Bakr. The situation between you and me is today similar to that in which they were. If I came to know that you were greater in regulating the affairs, more careful of the community, better in policy, greater in scheming against the enemy, stronger in collecting revenue (than I), I would hand over to you the authority after your father. Most surely your father informed against ‘Uthman, and he was unjustly killed. So Allah demanded his blood; and whomever Allah demands does not escape Him. Then he (your father) usurped the authority over the community and divided their unity. So he was opposed by his equals from among the men of precedence, jihad, and oldness in Islam. He claimed that they broke the pledge of allegiance to him. He fought against them, so blood was shed, and the sacred things were violated. Then he turned to us and demanded us to pay homage to him. But he vaingloriously wanted to possess us. So we fought against him, and he battled against us.
Then the battle continued until he chose a man, and we chose a man, that they might decide that which set the community right, through which the unity and friendliness returned. Because of that we took a covenant against them, the like of it against him, and the like of it against us for the consent of what they would decide. The two arbitrators decided against him, as you have come to know, and deposed him. By Allah he was not pleased with the decision nor was he patient toward Allah’s command. Therefore, how are you summoning me to an affair you are demanding through your father’s right, while he was deposed of it? Therefore, reflect on yourself and your religion. With Greetings.”[^1]
This answer has been narrated in a manner wider and easier than the first one. This is its text: “From the servant of Allah, Mu’awiya, the Commander of the faithful. To al-Hasan bin Ali. Certainly your letter has reached me; and I have understood that with which you have mentioned Muhammad, Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, from among the excellence. He is the worthiest of the early and the later in excellence old and new, small and great. By Allah, he delivered (the messages of Allah), carried (them) out, advised (the community), and guided (it), to the extent that through him Allah saved (it) from destruction, enlightened (it) from blindness, and guided (it to get rid of) ignorance and misguidance. So may Allah reward him on behalf of his community with the best (reward with which) He rewarded a prophet.
The blessings of Allah be on him on the day when he was born, on the day when he died, and on the day when he will be raised from the dead. You have mentioned the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and the Muslims’ dispute after him, and their overcoming your father. So you have declared accusing Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, ‘Umar al-Farooq, Abu ‘Ubayda the trusted one, the disciples of Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, the good Emigrants and the Ansar. So I hated that for you. Most surely you are a man (who is) with us and the people, not accused, nor a wrong doer, nor ignoble. I love for you the right saying and the beautiful fame.
[^1] Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 4, p. 9.
“Most surely when this community differed, they did not ignore your excellence, or your precedence, or your kinship to your Prophet nor your position in Islam and its men. However, the community thought that they had to leave this authority (and hand it over to) Quraysh because of their (close) position to their Prophet. The righteous people from among Quraysh, the Ansar, and the like from the rest of the people and their common ones thought that they had to entrust this authority to someone belongs to Quraysh. (He should be) the oldest in Islam, most knowledgeable in Allah, most beloved to Him, and strongest in Allah’s command. Accordingly, they chose Abu Bakr. That was the opinion of the possessors of religion and excellence, and who reflected on the community.
But this created in your hearts an accusation against them, while they were not accused nor were they mistaken in what they did. If the Muslims had come to know that there was among you someone who would replace him, take his place, defend the sacred things of Islam as he did, they would not have turned away from him and hand the authority over to someone other than him. But they came to know that through what they thought in respect of setting right Islam and its men. May Allah reward them with good on behalf of Islam and its people. I have understood the peacemaking to which you have summoned me. The situation between you and me is today similar to that which was between you and Abu Bakr after the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. If I came to know that you were greater in managing the affairs, more careful of the community, better in policy, stronger in collecting revenue, and greater in scheming against the enemy, (than I), I would respond to what you summoned me and regard you as worthy of that. But I have come to know that I am longer than you in authority, older than you in experience in this community, and older than you in age. Therefore, you are worthier to respond to me in respect of this position for which you have asked me.
So enter the obedience to me, you shall have the authority after me. You shall have whatever money is in the public treasury of Iraq and carry it to whomever you like, you shall have the land taxes of any district of Iraq as an aid for you, for your expense. The one trusted by you will bring it to you and will carry it to you every year. You shall not be controlled with injustice, the affairs will not be decided without you, and you will not be disobeyed in any affair through which you want to obey Allah. May Allah help us and you obey Him. Most surely He is All-hearing and He responds to supplication. With Greetings.”[^1]
[^1] Sharh Nahjol Balagha, vol. 4, p. 13.
According to both narrations, the letter contains Mu’awiya’s lying, cunning, and fallacies, as Dr. Ahmed Rifa’i says. [^1] It is necessary for us to pause to reflect on its contents, which are as follows:
- It has been mentioned in it: “Most surely when this community differed, they did not ignore your excellence or your precedence or your kinship to your Prophet….” Most surely whoever follows the events that took place after the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, comes to know that this speech is false and contrary to the reality, for the pure family faced hard ordeals and misfortunes after the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. The wound did not heal and the Apostle was not buried while the people alone possessed the authority and held a meeting in their shelter (saqifa). They rushed upon authority and neglected the family of their Prophet. They did not take their opinion into their consideration nor did they take care of them. When Abu Bakr was elected, they carried flambeaus and quickly went to the house of the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, to burn it.
They drew the brother of the Prophet and his guardian, Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful, with the braces of his sword, that he might pay homage (to Abu Bakr) by force. He sought help, but no one helped him. After that he inclined to isolation. He spent the night with his cares and sorrows. From that day misfortunes successively befell the family of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. Allah’s Apostle departed to the Abode of Immortality (hereafter). Fifty years after his departure, the Muslims, in a clamorous procession, traveled through the desert and went from a country to another carrying the heads of his children on spearheads, taking his womenfolk as captives, making those far and near looking at them. Did the community carry out their (the Ahlul Bayt) right and come to know of their position after those ordeals that befell them?
- Another example of the contents of the letter is his speech: “The righteous people from among Quraysh, the Ansar, and others from the rest of the people… thought that they had to entrust this authority to someone from Quraysh….” Most surely the righteous Muslims and the good ones from among them followed Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful, and were not satisfied with the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr. They severely protested against that and denied it. We have mentioned that in detail in the first part of the book. The result of Quraysh’s choice was that the Muslims were ruled by Mu’awiya, Yazid, al-Waleed, and the like of them from among the oppressive, tyrannical leaders, who drowned the country into tragedies and [^1] ‘Asr al-Ma’mun, vol. 1, p. 17.
sorrows, and went too far in abasing and exhausting the Muslims who subserviently paid homage to Yazid. This is what the righteous people from Quraysh had decided through their turning away the authority from the family of their Prophet, as Mu’awiya said, and they were successful in their choice, as they said. Therefore we belong to Allah and to Him is our return!
- The strange thing in the letter is his saying: “If I came to know that you were greater in regulating the subjects, more careful of the community, better in policy….” Yes his taking care of Islam and his good policy appeared when the affairs went well with him. That was when he pursued the good, righteous Muslims and threw them into prisons. Another example of his taking care of Islam is that he added Ziyad bin Abeeh to him and cursed Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful, on the pulpits and during the supplication in prayer. Moreover he installed Yazid as a caliph, and the like of these offences and crimes that had blackened the face of history!
**Mu’awiya’s Note ** Mu’awiya sent Imam al-Hasan a note in which he warned him of the revolt against him and in which he made him wish for the caliphate after him if he had abdicated the authority. This is the text of the note: “Now then, for most surely Allah does to His servants whatever He pleases, there is no repeller of His decree, and He is swift to take account. Beware of that your death be through the hands of some mobs from among the people. Despair of finding a shortcoming in us. If you turned away from that in which you were and paid homage to me, I would fulfill what I had promised you and carry out to you what you had stipulated, and I would be in respect of that as A‘sha bin Qays bin Tha‘laba said:
“‘If someone leaves something in trust with you, repay it to him, and you will be called trustworthy when you die. “‘Do not envy the master when he is rich and do not turn away from him if he is perishable through property!’ “Then you shall have the caliphate after me. That is because you are the worthiest of the people of it. With Greetings.” Most likely Mu’awiya sent the Imam this letter, containing such a kind of threat, after he had communicated with the commanders of the Iraqi Army, and they agreed to carry out his plots. Most surely he wrote that after he had communicated with the Iraqi leaders, and he had been hopeless of Imam al-Hasan’s response to him.
Imam al-Hasan’s Answer
As for Imam al-Hasan, he paid no attention to Mu’awiya’s threat and answered him with an answer from which one understands his determination and insistence on declaring the war. This is the text of his answer: “Your letter has reached me. You have mentioned in it what you have mentioned. I have left answering you lest I should aggress against you. I seek refuge with Allah from that. Therefore follow the truth, and know that I am among its men; and there is a sin against me if I say and tell lies. With Greetings.”
This was the last letter between Imam al-Hasan and Mu’awiya, and because of which Mu’awiya came to know that his deception, falsehood, and fallacies were useless. In the meantime he came to know that Imam al-Hasan was determined on warring against him. After that he headed for war and prepared its means and requirements.