By: Ali Naqi Naqvi
Name and Genealogy
His name was 'Hasan', title 'Mujtaba' and kunniyat 'Abu Muhammad. He was the elder son of Ameerul Momineen Ali ibne Abi Talib (AS) from Hazrat Fatima Zahra (SA), the revered daughter of the Prophet of Islam (SAW).
He was bom on the 15 th of Ramdhan in the 3 rd year of, Hijral. His birth in the house of the Prophet (SAW) was the first happy event of its kind. When in Makkah male offspring of the Prophet (SAW) died one after the other and barring one daughter none survived, the polytheists began to taunt him calling him Abtar or heiriess. This hurt the Prophet (SAW) deeply and then 'Sura Kauser' was revealed in the Quran by way of solace to him. In this Sura happy tidings have been conveyed to the Prophet (SAW) saying that God has blessed him with plenty of offspring and that it is his enemies and not he that shall be heiriess.
The birth of Imam Hasan(AS) in the very third year of arrival at Madinah was, so to say, the first exposition of 'Sura Kauser'. It is well known that it was Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS) through whom the progeny of the Prophet (SAW) spread in such abundance that till this day the world is overflowing with their descendants. There would scarcely be a place in any part of the world where persons belonging to this household may not be found. This, in spite of the fact that their enemies have ever been making every possible effort to obliterate them from the surface of the earth. Thousands of the Prophet's (SAW) descendants were hacked to death or hanged, or poisoned. On the other hand the offsprings of the Prophet's (Saw) enemies who were legion at that time have so disappeared from the world that not a trace of them is to be found anywhere. This is the living and lasting proof of the authenticity of the Quran and the veracity of the Prophet (SAW) for the world to see. For this reason, the pleasure of the Prophet (SAW) on the birth or Imam Hasan (AS) was not just what normally a maternal grandfather feels on the birth of a grandson. He was particularly happy because the first token of his truthfulness (in the person of this child) had arrived before the world. The Aqeeqa rites were performed on the seventh day and according to divine edict the Prophet (AS) named him as Hasan (AS). This name was not in vogue before the advent of Islam. It was for the first time that this child of the Prophet (AS) was given this name. Similarly, the name of his younger brother Husain (AS) was particular to him. No body was known by this name before him.
Hazrat Imam Hasan (AS) had the privilege to pass the first eight years of his life under the affectionate shadow of his grandfather, the Prophet of God. The instances of the deep love which the Prophet (SAW) had for this grandson of his continued to persist in the memory of the eyewitnesses forever. Most of the traditions of the Prophet (SAW) concerning his love for Hasan and Husain as weli as their virtues are common to both. For example,
"Hasan and Husain are the leaders of the youth of paradise";
"Both are the ear-r'mgs(ornaments) of empyrean (the allegorical seat of God)";
"These two are my bouquets "
"0 God, I love both of them and Thou also bless them with Thy love".
These and similar other traditions of the Prophet (SAW) are found in large number. Besides this, there is one more specialty in their case. As a rule children are known with relation to their father. But in respect of these two the Prophet (SAW) had very clearly indicated that it would be quite right to call them not only his grandsons but also as his sons. The followin tradition of the Prophet (SAW) is recorded in all the Islamic books of tradition: " God has ordained the offsprings of every man to be from his loins but my offsprings shall be from the loins of Ali ibne Abi Talib" . In the circumstances one can guess what special attention the Prophet (SAW) must have given towards the upbringing of these children particularly when Providence had equipped them with infallibility and absolute purity. On the one hand the mirror itself was so clear, on the other it was further polished by the Prophet (SAW) himself. The result was that the children, even at a tender age, became the very replica of the sublime morals and attributes of the Prophet (SAW), the Prophet (SAW) himself observed in respect of them: Hasan has inherited my awe inspiring and authoritative faculties and the grandeur of leadership: while Husain has got my generosity and valour Although the expression grandeur of leadership is a brief one but it reflects a number of attributes and qualities of perfection. Along with this, on different occasions and in different ways, the Prophet (SAW) associated them, on divine direction, in the furtherance ofhis mission. This also shows that the Prophet (SAW) in accordance with God's Will, wanted to entrust the mission of the preservation of Islam to his own Ahle Bait (members of his family) after him- An instance of this is found in the plains of Mubahela where Imam Hasan also was in the. company of his grandfather. The Prophet's (SAW) demise took place on the 2 nd of Rabiul Awwal 11 A.H. and Imam Hasan was deprived of the happy and contented life that he had been hitherto leading. A short while later. Imam Hasan had to bear the shock of the death of his esteemed mother, Hazrat Fatima Zahra (SA) as well. Now the responsibility for the upbringing of Imam Hasan devolved on his holy father Hazrat Ali ibne Abi Talib (AS). During this period he reached the stage of adolescence and after that of full manhood. After having remained confined to his house for twenty five years, Hazrat Ali ibne Abi Talib (AS) was ultimately acknowledged as Caliph by the muslims. Thereafter the battles of Jamal, Siffeen and Naharwan took place. In every battle Hasan (AS) accompanied his esteemed father and performed outstanding feats.
On 21 s t of Ramdhan in 40 A.H. Hazrat Ali ibne Abi Talib embraced death. Then Muslims unanimously acknowledged Imam Hasan (AS) as Caliph. He was intensely grieved at the martyrdom of his father. In the first sermon that he delivered h dwelt at length on the virtues and superior qualities of Hazra Ali ibne Abi Talib (AS) and talked about his life style and dislike for worldly grandeur. Then he was so overwhelmed with grief that his throat was choked and the entire audience began crying with him involuntarily. Then he spoke about his own and his family's distinctions. Thereafter Abdullah ibne Abbas stood up and delivered a speech exhorting people to swear allegiance to Imam Hasan. All the people did so willingly and joyfully. Visualizing the future turn of events correctly. Imam Hasan plainly put forward the condition that in the event of his making peace they would have to follow suit and in case he had to wage a war, they would have to fight along with him. All of them agreed to this condition. He took the administration of the state in his hands. He appointed his governors and administrators all over the slate and began to settle cases and pronounce judgments. This was the time when in Damascus the ruler of Syria , Muawiya, was firmly in the saddle. The result of the fighting in Siffeen between Hazrat Ali (AS) and the Syrian ruler had come out in favour of the latter due to a deep conspiracy related to the arbitration proceedings. Here the territory ruled by Hazrat Ali (AS) that was now under the suzerainty of Imam Hasan (AS), was torn by mutual discord and ill will. The half-hearted manner in which the orders of Hazrat Ali (AS) were carried out, is evident from his sermons delivered in the closing years of his life. The seditious activities of the Kharjites of Nehrwan were a constant cause of discontent and worry. Although their collective power had suffered defeat in Nehrwan their scattered bands were still bent upon disrupting the peace of the country. Things were in such a shape when, apparently, a member of this very faction struck a blow with his sword on the head of Hazrat Ali (AS) in the mosque which ultimately led to his demise.
The country was still mourning the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (AS) and Imam Hasan had not yet completed the administrative arrangements in the state when the Syrian ruler started making inroads into his domain. His secret agents commenced their activities. A man belonging to the tribe of Humair was arrrested in Kufa and another pertaining to that of Bani Qain was apprehended in Basra . They had come with the intention of reporting the situation prevailing there to the authorities at Damascus and also to make the environment unfavourable for Imam Hasan. Fortunately their designs were exposed in time, The man from the tribe of Humair was caught from the house of a butcher in Kufa and the one from Bani Qain was arrested from the tribe of Bani Saleem. Both of them were suitably punished. After this incident Imam Hasan (AS) wrote a letter to Muawiya which read as follows:
"You do not desist from meddling in my affairs. You have sent people to ferment revolt against me. You have spread out your spies here. It seems you want to fight and if so, be prepared for it. That stage is not far off. News has also reached me that you used taunting and sneering words on the death of my father. This sort of behaviour is not worthy of a man in his senses. Every body has to meet his death. Today this calamity has befallen us; tomorrow you will have to confront it. Moreover, in fact we do not deem our dead ones as really dead. It is just as if one has shifted from one place to another to rest in comfort and peace."
This letter was followed by a series of correspondence between Imam Hasan and the Syrian ruler. In the meantime Mtiawiya had come to know through his spies of the mutual discord, disinterestedness and the lack of will for any action of the people of Kufa. Therefore, he thought that it was the most suitable moment to invade Iraq . Accordingly, he reached the frontiers of Iraq with his forces. Imam Hasan also began preparations to face him. Hujr bin Adi was deputed to go round the country to exhort the functionaries of the various parts of the stale to get ready to meet the enemy and to prepare for the Jihad. But as expected, all efforts were met with cold reception. A small army was formed which included some Kharjites, some rowdy elements, some others who had come in the lure of booty and some who had joined half-heartedly under the pressure of their tribal chiefs. The number of men who could really be as Shias of Hazrat Ali (AS) and Imam Hasan (AS) was very small.
Muawiya first dispatched Abdullah bin Amir bin Kuraiz who camped at Ambar. On this side Imam Hasan (AS) set out to confront him and encamped at Sabat near the monastery of Kaab. Here with a view to have an idea of their real intentions he collected all his men and delivered a sermon saying: "You should know that I have no ill will towards any follower of Islam. I am as much your well-wisher as I should be towards my own self. I am forming a final opinion about you and 1 hope you will not differ from it. I find that most of you have lost your courage and are no longer wilting to participate in Jihad. I do not think it proper to compel you for any action against your will." No sooner he had concluded his speech than there was a commotion in the crowd. The valiant son of a father like Ali (AS) could himself effectively deal with this disorderly crowd if it were openly a gathering of his enemies. Before this Ali (AS) too had apparently become helpless when in Siffeen after the copies of the holy Book were raised on lances and the people of his own army had surrounded him and told him to stop fighting or else they would take him into captivity and hand him over to the enemy- On that occasion Ali (AS) did not brandish his sword to fight with them. Instead- he had to suspend fighting out of compulsion. Imam Hasan had to face a much more serious situation as the crowd attacked him and pulled away the prayer carpet from beneath him and the sheet from his shoulders. Riding his horse he called out: "Where are the tribes of Rabiya and Hamadan ?" The two loyal tribes immediately rushed to his rescue and dispersed the assailants. Thereafter, he started for Madain. But Jarrah bin Qabisa Asadi, a Kharjite lay in ambush and attacked him with a dagger that wounded him in his thigh- The assailant was arrested and duly punished. After undergoing a prolonged treatment he recovered and again started preparations to give battle to Muawiya.
The Syrian ruler had come to know the state of Imam Hasan's army and the treachery of the people. Therefore, h knew that it was not possible for Imam Hasan to give battle t him. At the same time he was also sure that howsoever helples and alone Imam Hasan (AS) may be, being the son of Ali (AS) an Fatima (SA) and the grandson of the Prophet (SAW) he will not agree to make peace on terms that would appear to violate the principle of righteousness and favour falsehood. Keeping this in view he sent a message to the companions of Imam Hasan through Abdullah bin Amir asking them to avoid bloodshed and not to endanger their lives. In this connection some were bribed and some cowards were frightened by the superiority of his forces. On the other hand, he made an offer to Imam Hasan to theeffect that he was prepared for a treaty on whatever terms he may like.
Imam Hasan, keeping in view the perfidy of his companions, did not consider it proper to give battle to Muawiya- At the same time it was in the forefront of his mind that no situation should be allowed to develop that could apportion blame to him for strengthening the forces of evil. As is well known this household never cherished any lust for power and authority. All that it wanted was the welfare of the people, reinforcement of obligations towards God and observance of the limits laid down by Him. Now that Muawiya had expressed his readiness to execute a treaty on the terms and condition to be laid down by Imam Hasan, the latter's refusal to agree to the treaty would have been construed as nothing but a craving for personal power. That the Syrian ruler will not abide by the terms of the treaty, was something that only the future was to unfold. This result could not be known till after the treaty was executed. Only then his stand could have been fully vindicated. Even then, before sending a final reply he got together his supporters and said to them:
"Be it known to you that we have gone through two battles in which much blood has been shed and a large number of people have been killed. Some were killed in Siffeen whom you are still mourning and some died in Nehrwan for whom you have been demanding reparation. Now if you are agreed on death, then we may not accept this offer for peace and decide the matter with sword relying on divine help- If you hold your life dear then we may accept it and act as you please. The crowd began shouting in reply that they wanted to live and so the peace treaty should be concluded. Consequently, the terms of the treaty were drawn and sent to Muawiya."
Terms of the Treaty
The detailed terms of the treaty were as follows:
1. That Muawiya shall act according to the Book of God and the Prophet's (SAW) Sunnat (practice) in the matter of governance of the Islamic State;
2. Muawiya shall have no right to nominate the caliph after him;
3. Safety shall be assured to the people of Syria , Iraq , Hijaz and Yemen;
4. The life, property, and honour and children of the the companions and followers of Hazrat Ali (AS) wherever they might be shall be safe;
5. Muawiya shall not try to kill or do any harm openly or clandestinely to Hasan ibne AH" and his brother Husain ibne Ali (AS) and also to any one belonging to the Prophet's (SAW) household. Likewise none of them shall be threatened or terrorized anywhere and at any time;
6. The practice of using unbecoming words for Hazrat Ali' (AS) in Jama Masjid and during prayers shall be discontinued in future.
As regards to the last condition Muawiya had some reservations. It was therefore decided that at least such expressions shall not be used in the presence of Imam Hasan (AS). This agreement was executed in Rabiul Awwal or Jamadiul Awwal, 41 A.H.
After the treaty
The armies were withdrawn after the conclusion of the treaty. The sovereignty of Muawiya was generally recognised in the Muslim world. Now along with Syria and Egypt . Iraq , Hijaz. Yemen and Iran also submitted to his rule. The heart- breaking and derogatory words which were used for Imam Hasan (AS) by many of his companions after the treaty were such as only he could endure. Those very people who only till yesterday paid homage to him calling him Ameerul Momineen, began to greet him with expressions Mudhillul Momineen (one who brought disgrace to the believers). Even then Imam Hasan put up with this unpleasant situation with patience, perseverance and magnanimity and steadfastly stood by the agreement. But on the other side. after the end of the hostilities and stabilisation of political power, the Syrian ruler entered Iraq and camped at Nukhaiia which was in the outskirts of Kufa. After the Friday sermon he declared:
"My objective behind the war was not that you should start offering prayers and keeping fast or perform Haj and pay Zakat. All this you have already been doing. My aim was only that my rule over you be firmly established. This objective has been achieved with the conclusion of the treaty with Hasan (AS) and God has granted me success in spite of your disliking it. As for the terms of the treaty with Hasan (AS), they are all under my feet. Whether I abide by those conditions or not is upto me."
The entire congregation was dumbfounded. No body had the courage to open his mouth against it. Things had come to such a pass mat Muawiya used unbecoming words in respect of Hazrat Ali (AS) and Imam Hasan (AS) in the presence of Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (AS) . When Imam Husain (AS) stood up to counter him on behalf of his brother Imam Hasan (AS), the latter bade him to sit down and himself stood up and gave a short and comprehensive reply to Muawiya. The Syrian ruler violated all the terms of the treaty and never cared to honour any one of them.
In spite of the fact that he was leading a silent life Imam Hasan (AS) was not safe from harassment at the hands of the Umayyads during that period. On the one hand, there was false propaganda and baseless allegations, which were directed to taint his noble image in general estimation. For example, multipilicity of marriages and divorces is permissible under Islamic law but in respect of Imam Hasan (AS) the whole matter was presented in such a horrible manner by the Umayyads that can never be acceptable. Besides, an idea of the misbehaviour of the Umayyad supporters, their use of rude words and invectives can be had from what Imam Husain (AS) said to Marwan when he was weeping at the funeral of Imam Hasan (AS). Imam Husain (AS) said to him: "Today you are weeping but before this you behaved with him in a manner that hurt him grievously. We are well aware of that." Marwan's reply was: "That is correct. But then I did all that to one whose power of endurance was greater than of that mountain."
Moral and Attributes
An extra ordinary attribute of Imam Hasan (AS) which his friends and foes have all acknowledged was this very quality of forbearance to which Marwan was referring. Supporters of the Syrian government deliberately used harsh and abusive words so as to enrage him and provoke him into taking such steps as may provide them an opportunity to blame him for the violation of the terms of the treaty and thus enable them to use it as an excuse for bloodshed. But on such occasions he manifested such an amazing capacity for forbearance that no body else could have done. His generosity and hospitality were known all over Arabia, Thrice he gave away his entire property in charily and on two other occasions he distributed half of his possessions, including household goods and clothing, among the needy. The destitute supplicants were granted thousands of Dirham at a time. According to some historians the treaty with Muawiya included the condition that a particular amount shall be paid to Imam Hasan (AS) annually. In fact, if correct, the Imam's objective must have been that at least a part of the public funds should reach the needy and deserving persons. The condition was not laid down because he wanted the money for his personal use. When people requested for financial help, he would give away all that he had at that moment no matter how big the amount was. Some body enquired of him as to why he never denied help to a supplicant when he was himself in nee of it- He replied: "I myself solicit help from God and. Therefore I feel ashamed that being myself a supplicant I should reject th request of others. In that case what right shall I have to expec fulfilment of my entreaties to God?"
Besides, his scholarship was so vast and all-encompassing that the world bowed its head in reverence to him- Although Abdnllah bin Abbas from the knowledge acquired from Aineerul Mominen Hazrat Ali (AS) had established his reputation as an authority in the world of learning, yet when confronted with the God-gifted knowledge of Imam Hasan (AS), every one had to acknowledge the superiority of the Prophet's household in this field. For instance, a questioner came to the Prophet's mosque and asked Abdullah bin Abbas about the exposition of a particular verse of the Quran. He sought the same from Abdullah bin Umar and Imam Hasan (AS) Ultimately he confessed that the reply of Imam Hasan (AS) was definitely better than that of the other two. Often he delivered such impressive speeches in the hostile environment of Muawiya's court about the virtues o f Ahle Batl and in praise ofAmeerul Momineen that the adversaries had to bow their heads before the fluency and eloquence of his diction and the righteousness of his statements. His worship and devotion to God were also of a distinct nature. He performed Haj pilgrimage twenty or twenty five times on fool. Whenever he thought of death, grave, the day of resurrection or of the Siraat, tears would start flowing from his eyes. This Infallibie one would cry out and become unconscious when he would think of the presentation of the records of his deeds before God (for scrutiny). When standing up for prayers, his whole body would start trembling for fear of God.
In spite of the fact that he was leading a harmless and secluded life, the secret weapon, which was often used by the Umayyads against their adversaries, was also used to put an end to his life. The Syrian ruler used Jada binte Ashath, the treacherous wife of Imam Hasan (AS) for this purpose. Promising, her a reward of one hundred thousand Dirham and marriage with his son Yazid, he persuaded her to poison him. The poison split the liver of Imam HasanAS into pieces and his condition worsened. He called his brother Imam HusainAS and told him to bury his dead body near the grave of his grandfather, the Prophet of God (SWT) , if possible. He, however, cautioned him that if there was any resistance there should be no bloodshed and his body should be brought back and buried in Jannatul Baqui. Imam Hasan (AS) left this world on the 28 th of Safar 50 A.H. When Imam Husain (AS), in accordance with his brother's will, carried his bier towards the shrine of the Prophet (SAW), as apprehended, there was resistance on behalf of Ummul Momineen Aisha and Marwan. Things came to such a pass that there was a shower of arrows from the other side. Some of the arrows reached the dead body of Imam Hasan. The incitement and anger of Bani Hashim knew no bounds. But Imam Husain (AS), again acting according to the will of his brother, brought back the bier of his brother and buried him in Jannatul Baqui.