The Life of Imam Al-hasan Al-mujtaba

Chapter Xx : Imam Al-hasan Meets With Mu’awiya

Perhaps the severest ordeal through which the soul of any man passed was that which befell Imam al-Hasan (a.s) when he met with Mu’awiya bin Abi Sufyan, for that meeting filled his noble soul with an exhausting pain and a bitter sorrow. He came to know that Mu’awiya’s falsehood became firm and his tyranny became victorious. The thing that increased his sadness was that from which the community would suffer during the reign of this tyrant of calamities and misfortunes. This left in his soul the deepest pain and sadness.

Imam al-Hasan unwillingly met with Mu’awiya. The meeting was at al-Nukhaylah.[^1] It was said that it was in Kufa.[^2] Many Muslims attended the meeting. They impatiently waited for what the victorious king would say in respect of security, welfare, and establishing justice among the people. What would Mu’awiya do during that terrible hour? He went up on the pulpit and showed the wickedness of his selfness and his bad intention. He declared what he had harbored against the Muslims from among evil and exhaustion. He also showed them the reason for his warring against Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful, and his son al-Hasan, saying: “O people, if the affair of a community is different after its prophet, then men of its falsehood will overcome the men of its truth.”

When he started his speech through which he said the truth, he paid attention that he meant himself by it. He repented of that and made it right, saying: “Except this community!”

Then he rudely addressed the Iraqis expressing to them the reality of the war he launched against them. He told them about that and the aim he sought from that war was controlling the authority and not avenging ‘Uthman’s blood. He said to them: “O people of Kufa! Do you think that I fought you in order that you may offer prayers or give zakat or perform the pilgrimage? I know that you do pray, pay zakat, and perform the pilgrimage. Indeed, I fought you in order to take command over you with contempt, and Allah has given me that against your wishes. Rest assured that whoever killed any of us will himself be killed. And the treaty between us of amnesty is under my feet.[^3] Nothing

[^1] Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol.4, p.16. He has mentioned that the following speech of Mo’awiya was at al-Nukhaylah. [^2] Al-Ya‘qubi, Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 192. Al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 170. [^3] In the narration of Abi Ishaq al-Subay’i: “All the things I had given to al-Hasan bin

will set right the people except three things: giving salaries in time, sending the troops in time, and invading the enemy in his homeland. If you do not invade them, they will invade you.”

Indeed this is the excessiveness in sin. When Abdurrahman bin Shurayk[^1] narrated that, he said: “By Allah, this is the impudence!” Abu Ishaq al-Subay‘i, among those who narrated Mu’awiya’s speech, has said: “By Allah, he (Mu’awiya) was treacherous!” Then Mu’awiya cursed Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful (a.s) and his son al-Hasan. He paid no attention to the sin resulted from that. In this manner he violated the stipulations of the treaty he had signed.

Imam al-Hasan’s Speech

Mu’awiya asked Imam al-Hasan to go up on the pulpit and tell people about his abdicating the authority. It was said that it was Amr bin al-‘Aas who advised Mu’awiya to do that, that he might, as he claimed, show the people Imam al-Hasan’s incapability of expressing himself and of making a speech. He was mistaken in that. Imam al-Hasan addressed the people more than one time during his father’s lifetime and after his death. He was not known for incapability of expressing himself and aphasia, for he was from among Ahl al-Bayt, who were the origin of good style, eloquence, and sound judgment. The Imam went up on the pulpit. The people who were willing and unwilling listened to him. He made a long wonderful, eloquent speech. He preached to the people and summoned them to friendliness and love. In his speech he pictured the terrible events that befell Ahl al-Bayt after the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family.

He ascribed that to the early men who turned people away from the Ahlul Bayt (a.s). He refuted Mu’awiya at the end of his speech. This is the text of his speech: “Praise belongs to Allah whenever a man praises him. I testify that there is no god but Allah whenever a man testifies to him. I testify that Muhammad is His servant and His apostle whom He has sent with the truth and whom He entrusted with the revelation, may Allah bless him and his family. By Allah, I hope that I shall always be with Allah’s praise and kindness. I am the sincerest of Allah’s Ali are under these two feet of mine. I will not fulfill them.” This has been mentioned by Ibn Abi al-Hadeed in his book Sharh Nahj al-Balagha. A narration similar to that has been mentioned by al-Mufid in his al-Irshad.

[^1] ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Shurayk al-Nakha‘i al-Kufi narrated on the authority of his father, and al-Bukhari narrated on his authority in his Kitab al-Adabin Ibn Habban regarded him as among the trustworthy. He said: “Perhaps, he made a mistake.” He (‘Abd al-Rahman bin Shurayk) died in the year 227 A. H. This has been mentioned in (the book) Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 6, p.194.

creatures in giving advice to them. I have not become one who bears malice to any Muslim, nor one who wishes evil or misfortune to others. Indeed what you dislike in unity is better for you than what you like in division. I see what is better for you than you see for yourselves. Therefore do not oppose my commands and do not reject my judgement. May Allah forgive both me and you and may He guide me and you to that in which there is love and satisfaction.”[^1]

Then he turned to the people and said to them: “O people, surely the pious is the cleverest of the clever, and the sinful is the most foolish of the foolish. By Allah, if you search for a man whose grandfather is Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and his family, between Jabliq[^2] and Jabris[^3] , you would not find him other than me and other than my brother al-Husayn. You have come to know that Allah has guided you through my grandfather Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his family. So He has saved you from misguidance through him, raised you from ignorance through him, strengthened you after the abasement through him, and made you many after the fewness through him. Mu’awiya has disputed with me about a right that belongs to me, with the exclusion of him. So I have considered that which sets right the community and puts an end to the discord. You had pledged allegiance to me provided that you should make peace with whom I make peace with and fight him whom I fight. So I think I have to make peace with Mu’awiya and to put an end to the war between him and me. I have pledged allegiance to him. I think that sparing blood is better than shedding it. Through that I do not want anything except setting you right and your survival. I know that that may be a trial for you and a provision for a time.”[^4]

[^1] Al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p. 169. [^2] It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that Jabliq was (a place) in the Far West, and that its inhabitants belonged to ‘Ad’s children. This has been mentioned in the book Mu‘jam al-Buldan, vol. 3, p. 32. [^3] Jabris was a city in the Far East. The Jews claimed that the children of their Prophet Musa, peace be on him, escaped either during the Battle of Taloot or during the Battle of Bucht Nussar. So Allah made them walk to it and made them live in this place, so none reached them. He folded the earth to them and made the night and the day similar to them until they reached Jabris and lived in it. None can account their number but Allah. When a Jew went to them, they killed the Jew and said: “You have come to us because your law has become corrupt!” According to this consideration they regarded as lawful killing him. This has been mentioned in the book al-Mu‘jam, vol. 3, p. 33. [^4] Kashf al-Ghumma, p. 170.

Then he (a.s) mentioned the persecutions from which Ahl al-Bayt suffered, saying: “And that Mu’awiya has told you that I have seen him worthy of the caliphate and have not seen myself as worthy of it. We are more appropriate for the people than the people in the Book of Allah, the Great and Almighty, and on the tongue of His Prophet. We, Ahl al-Bayt, have been oppressed since Allah took His Prophet to Him.

So Allah is between us and him who has wronged us, controlled us, moved the people against us, prevented us from taking our share of al-Fay’, and deprived our mother of that which the Prophet (a.s) had apportioned to her. I swear by Allah, if the people had pledge allegiance to my father at the time when Allah’s Apostle departed from them (died), the heaven would have given them its rain, the earth (would have given them) its blessing, and you, Mu’awiya, would not have craved after it

When it (the caliphate) came out of its origin, Quraysh disputed with each other about it. So the released (prisoners of war), son of the released, you and your companions, have craved after it. Allah’s Apostle has said: ‘When a community entrusts its affair to a man and there is among it one who is more knowledgeable than him, its affair will come to nothing until it returns to what it has left.’ The children of Israel left Harun while they had come to know that he was the vicegerent of Musa among them, and followed al-Samiri. And this community left my father and paid homage to other than him, while it had heard Allah’s Apostle say to him: ‘You are to me as Harun was to Musa except for prophethood.’ They saw Allah’s Apostle installing my father (as a caliph) on the Day of Ghadir Khum and ordering the present to inform the absent. Allah’s Apostle escaped from his people while he was summoning them to Allah until he came into the cave. If he had found helpers, he would not have escaped. My father withheld his hand (from them) when he summoned them and asked them for help, but none helped him. So Allah placed Harun in ease when people deemed him as weak and were about to kill him. And Allah placed the Prophet in ease when he entered the cave and did not find helpers. Likewise my father and I are in ease from Allah when this community has deserted us. The laws and examples follow each other.”[^1]

Then he turned to those who attended the meeting and said to them: “By Him Who sent Muhammad with the truth, when someone decreases our right, Allah decreases his deed. When the circumstance is against us, the final result belongs to us. And most certainly you will come to know of it after a time.”

Then he (a.s) turned to Mu’awiya and denied his cursing his father, saying to [^1] Bihar al-Anwar, vol.10 p. 114.

him: “O you who mention Ali, I am al-Hasan and Ali is my father. You are Mu’awiya and your father is Sakhr (Abu Sufyan). My mother is Fatim and your mother is Hind. My grandfather is the Apostle of Allah and your grandfather is Harb, My grandmother is Khadija and your grandmother is Futayla. May Allah curse him who tries to degrade our reputation and to diminish our nobility, who does evil against our antiquity and yet who has been a head in unbelief and hypocrisy.”

Groups of the people in the mosque shouted out: “Amen! Amen!” Those who heard them said: “Amen!” And we say: “Amen! Amen!”

This is the most eloquent speech history has ever known. In it the Imam has clearly explained all things, pictured the critical situation where he was, made a comparison between the events he met and those his father had met. He has indicated that the events dated back to those who usurped the caliphate after the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family. Had it not been for them, Mu’awiya would not have craved after the caliphate and disputed with Imam al-Hasan about it. The Attitude of Leader Qays When the great leader Qays bin Sa‘d heard of the painful news, he became astonished, a wave of cares dominated him, and clouds of sorrows covered him, to the extent that he wished that he had departed life. He repeated with himself: “How did the Commander of the truth make peace with the commander of falsehood?”

He stood with a perplexed mind. His abilities were weak. He wanted to move his feet from the ground but he could not. He shook all over with fear. Perplexity prevailed his heart. Stormy pain appeared on his face. Then he burst into tears and composed poetry, saying: He has come to me in the land of al-‘Aal from the land of Maskan (and told me) that the Imam of the truth has become peaceful. Since I saw him I have looked right and left. I have observed the stars while I am humble-hearted and silent.[^1] Defeat overcame him. Impatience and astonishment prevailed over him. He turned to the troops and said to them with a faint voice and sad tones:

[^1] Al-Manaqib, vol. 2, p. 167.

“Choose between two! Either you fight without an Imam or you pledge allegiance (to Mu’awiya) with pledge of misguidance!” Abasement and humiliation dominated them, so they answered him, saying: “Rather we fight without an Imam!” Then they advanced towards the troops of the people of Sham and returned them to their ranks. As for Mu’awiya, he became very disordered. He wrote a letter to Qays to make him wish and to threaten him. However Qays answered him: “No, by Allah, you will not find me as you like. Only the sword and the spear are between me and you!”

When Mu’awiya despaired of him, he sent him a letter in which he cursed and threatened him. This is the text of the letter: “Surely you are a Jew. You are making yourself unhappy and killing yourself for that which is not yours. If the more beloved of the two parties to you overcame, he would forsake and desert you. If the more detested one of them to you overcame you, he would severely punish and kill you. Your father stringed (a bow) other than his bow and shot at other than his target. He made much cutting off and made a mistake in respect of the judgement. So his people deserted him. His day (death) reached him, and he died strange in Hawran. With Greetings”

Qays answered him: “You are an idol, and son of an idol! You unwillingly embraced Islam, timely followed it, and willingly withdrew from it. Allah has not placed for you a share in it. Your Islam is not old, and your hypocrisy is not new. You are still fighting against Allah and His Apostle. You are one of the parties of the polytheists, an enemy to Allah, to His Prophet, and to the faithful of His servants. You have mentioned my father. By my life, he stringed (no bow) but his own bow and shot at (no target) but his own target. However, those, to whom you are not like in glory, provoked against him. You have claimed that I and my father are Jews, while you and the people have come to know that I and my father are the enemies of the religion from which you withdrew (pre-Islamic beliefs) and are the supporters of the religion you followed and come to it (Islam). With Greetings.”

This letter has shown Mu’awiya’s fact and reality. When Mu’awiya read the letter, he became angry, and he wanted to write an answer to it, but his crafty, cunning minister (Amr bin al-‘Aas) prevented him from doing that, saying to him: “Surely if you wrote him (a letter), he would answer you with a (letter) severer than yours. If you left him, he would follow what people have followed.”

Mu’awiya regarded his viewpoint as correct so he turned away from strictness and violence.[^1] He sent him a letter in which he has mentioned: “According to whose obedience are you fighting? The one to whom you had pledged allegiance has pledged allegiance to me!”

Qays was not satisfied with that, and he insisted on his opinion. However Mu’awiya was afraid of the trouble and of the development of the events, so he sent him a parchment and stamped at the bottom of the parchment. He said to the messenger: “Say to him: ‘Write on it whatever you wish!’” ‘Amr bin al-‘Aas was displeased with that, for it contained a kind of welcome to Qays. He turned to Mu’awiya and said to him: “Do not give him that! Fight him!”

Mu’awiya came to know that Amr bin al-‘Aas had harbored malice against Qays and that he was not sincere in what he advised him. So he answered him: “Slowly! We do not reach killing them unless a number from the people of Sham equal to their number should be killed. So there is no good in life after that. Surely, by Allah, I will not fight him until I find no escape from fighting him.”

The messenger handed the parchment to Qays and told him about Mu’awiya’s statement. Qays carefully considered the affair. He thought of it for a long time. At last he could find no escape from following what the people had followed. He had no forces with which he had to fight against Mu’awiya. There was no powerful person to whom he had to resort to get rid of the pledge of allegiance to Mu’awiya. Accordingly, he answered the messenger through accepting Mu’awiya’s summons. He wrote in the parchment about security for him and his followers. He asked nothing other than that.[^2] However he refrained from meeting with Mu’awiya, for he had promised Allah that he would not meet with him unless there should be a sword and a spear between them. When Mu’awiya came to know of that, he ordered a sword and a spear to be brought between them in order that Qays might fulfill his oath, and do not break it. So Qays was ready to meet with him. He came and was surrounded by groups of people. The people looked at him while he was bowing his head, walking heavily, being unable to see his way because of sorrow and abasement, and sighing deeply. When he sat down, he turned to the groups of people and said to them: “O people, you have replaced evil by

[^1] Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol.4, p.15. In his book Murujj al-Dhahab, vol. 2, p. 319, al-Mas‘udi has mentioned: “This speech occurred between Mo’awiya and Qays during the lifetime of (Imam Ali), the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him. That was when Qays was his governor over Egypt.” [^2] Al-Kamil, vol. 3, p. 207. Al-Tabari, Tarikh, vol. 6, p. 94.

good, abasement by glory, and unbelief by belief. After the authority of (Imam Ali) the Commander of the faithful, the lord of the Muslims, and cousin of the Apostle of the Lord of the worlds, you have become under the authority of (Mu’awiya) the released prisoner of war, son of the released one. He will treat you unjustly and behave toward you through the sword. So how have you failed to know that? Or has Allah set a seal upon your hearts so you do not understand?”

Abasement and defeat appeared on his face. Then he turned to Imam al-Hasan and asked him with a faint voice and shaking tones: “Am I free from the pledge of allegiance to you?”

The Imam greatly burnt with grief owing to Qays’s statement, so he answered him with one word: “Yes.” Mu’awiya was not satisfied with that. Impudence urged him to ask: “Will you pledge allegiance (to me), O Qays?” “Yes,” replied Qays with a faint, sad sound.

Then he lowered his head, put his hand on his thigh, and did not stretch it out to Mu’awiya. The latter rose from his chair, walked towards the former, stooped, and rubbed his hand, but the former did not lift his hand.

With this topic we will end our speech about Imam al-Hasan’s meeting with Mu’awiya. The meeting was among the most difficult and severest ordeals. After that Imam al-Hasan (a.s) got ready to go to Yathrib (Medina) and to leave the Iraqis who deserted him and had deserted his father before, who did not fulfill their covenant and promise toward them (Imam Ali and Imam al-Hasan). The Imam decided to leave Mu’awiya and the Umayyads to act freely toward the Iraqis and according to their wishes. The Umayyads brought Iraq out of ease, welfare, and security into strictness, severity, and torture. After the Imam’s departure, the Iraqis remembered the days of their life under the Hashimite government. They grieved very much and strongly repented of their deserting (Imam Ali) the Commander of the faithful and his son al-Hasan, peace be on them.