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Imam al-Hasan b. 'Ali al-Mujtaba (a)

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Al-Hasan b. 'Ali al-Mujtaba
2nd Imam of the Shia
5th Caliph of Rashidun Caliphs
Jannat al-Baqi'.JPG
al-Baqi', grave of Imam al-Hasan (a)
Teknonym Abu Muhammad
Born Ramadan 15, 3/March 1, 625
Birthplace Medina
Imamate From Ramadan 21, 40/January 28, 661(for 10 years)
Reign 661 – 661 (6 Months)
Martyrdom Safar 28, 50/March 27, 670 in Medina
Cause of Martyrdom by poisoning
Burial Place Al-Baqi' cemetery,
24°28′1″N 39°36′50.21″E / 24.46694°N 39.6139472°E / 24.46694; 39.6139472
Predecessor 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a)
Successor Al-Husayn b. 'Ali (a)
Father 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a)
Mother Fatima bt. Muhammad (a)
Brother(s) Al-Husayn, 'Abbas, Muhammad,...
Sister(s) Lady Zaynab (a)
Spouse(s) Khawla, Umm Bashir, Umm Ishaq, Ja'da
Son(s) al-Qasim, Zayd, 'Abd Allah, Talha, al-Hasan, ...
Daughter(s) Fatima,...
Descendants Banu l-Hasan
Titles al-Mujtaba (the chosen),
al-Sibt (grandson),
Sayyid Shabab Ahl al-Janna (master of the youth of paradise),
al-Zaki (the pure),
al-Taqi (the pious),
al-Sayyid (the master)
The Twelve Imams
'Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, al-Sajjad, al-Baqir, al-Sadiq, al-Kazim, al-Rida, al-Jawad, al-Hadi, al-'Askari, al-Mahdi

Al-Ḥasan b. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (a) (Arabic: الحسن بن علي بن أبي طالب) (b. 3/625 - d. 50/670), known as Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba, was the second Imam of the Shiʿa (40-50 AH), the fifth caliph of the Muslim community for seven months, and regarded by some Sunnis as the last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs.

Al-Hasan b. Ali (a) was the first child of Ali (a) and Fatima (a) and the first grandson of the Prophet (s). It is reported that the Prophet (s) chose the name al-Hasan for him and that he greatly loved him. The first seven years of al-Hasan’s life were during the lifetime of the Prophet (s). He was present in the Allegiance of Ridwan and in the story of Mubahala between the Prophet (s) and the Christian delegate from Najran.

Shiite and Sunni sources contain numerous reports of al-Hasan’s virtues. According to these reports, he was one of the People of the Cloak, about whom the Verse of Purity (Qur'an 33:33) was revealed. The verses 76:8, 42:23, and 3:61 were also revealed about him, his parents, and his brother. He gave all his wealth to charity twice, and because of such acts of generosity, he came to be called “The Generous One of the Family of the Prophet (s)”. He went to hajj twenty-five times barefoot.

There is not much information about his life during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar. It is reported that Umar appointed him as a witness in the six-member council that was to choose the third caliph. During the revolt at the end of Uthman’s caliphate, he was tasked by Imam Ali (a) to protect the house of the caliph. During the caliphate of Imam Ali (a), al-Hasan (a) moved with his father to Kufa and was one of the commanders of his army in the battles of Jamal and Siffin.

On Ramadan 21, 40 AH/January 28, 661, and after the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a), al-Hasan (a) became the Imam and successor of his father. More than forty-thousand men pledged their allegiance to him on the same day. However, Muʿawiya did not accept his caliphate, and launched a military expedition against him. Imam al-Hasan (a) sent an army under the command of 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abbas to confront Muʿawiya’s army. The Imam (a) himself headed to Sabat with a group of soldiers. Muʿawiya tried to spread rumors among the Imam’s (a) troops to prepare the ground for a peace-treaty. At the same time, one of the Kharijites tried to assassinate Imam al-Hasan (a), which resulted in the Imam’s (a) injury. The Imam (a) was taken to Madain to receive treatment. Simultaneously, a group of Kufan chiefs wrote a letter to Muʿawiya and promised him to either kill al-Hasan (a) or to surrender him to Muʿawiya. Muʿawiya sent their letter to Imam al-Hasan (a) and proposed a peace treaty to the Imam (a). Seeing no other choices before him, Imam al-Hasan (a) accepted the peace treaty and abdicated the caliphate with the condition that Muʿawiya should rule according to the Qur'an and the Sunna of the Prophet (s) and should not appoint any successor for himself, and that no one, including the Shiites, should be persecuted. Muʿawiya did not abide by any of these conditions later. The peace treaty with Muʿawiya led to the dissatisfaction of a number of the Imam’s (a) companions, so much so that some of them called the Imam (a) the Humiliator of the Believers.

The Imam (a) returned to Medina after the peace treaty in 41 AH and remained there until the end of his life. In Medina, he was as a religious and scholarly authority and had a high social status. When Muʿawiya decided to introduce his son Yazid as his successor and demanded that people pledge their allegiance to him, he sent one-hundred thousand dirhams to Ja'da bt. al-Ash'ath, Imam al-Hasan’s wife, to poison the Imam (a). She did so and Imam al-Hasan (a) was martyred forty days after he was poisoned. According to a report, the Imam (a) had requested to be buried next to the grave of the Prophet (s), but Marwan b. al-Hakam and a group of the Umayyads did not let that happen. Thus, he was buried in al-Baqi' cemetery.

A collection of the sayings and writings of Imam al-Hasan (a), and the names of 138 individuals who transmitted his hadiths is published in Musnad al-Imam al-Mujtaba (a).

Shia Islam

His Early Life

Name

The Word “al-Hasan” in Arabic means good or beautiful. This name was chosen for Imam al-Hasan (a) by the Prophet (s). According to a hadith, this name was chosen by God’s command, and did not have a precedent in pre-Islamic history. According to some Sunni sources, before the Prophet (s) chose the name al-Hasan for his grandson, Imam Ali (a) had the names Hamza or Harb in mind, but he told the Prophet (s) that he would choose the name that the Prophet (s) would choose for his son. Some Shiite scholars have rejected these reports for a number of reasons.

His teknonym was Abu Muhammad or Abu l-Qasim, and epithets such as al-Mujtaba (the Chosen One), al-Sayyid (Master), and al-Zaki (the Pure One) have been used for him. There are a number of epithets that have been commonly used for him and for Imam al-Husayn (a), such as Sayyid Shabab Ahl al-Janna (the Master of the Youths of Paradise), Rayhanat Nabi Allah (The Flower of the Prophet of God), and al-Sibt (the Grandson). According to a prophetic hadith, “Al-Hasan is a Sibt from the Asbat “pl. of sibt]”. The word “sibt” in some Quranic verses and hadiths is regarded as meaning an Imam chosen by God from the descendants of prophets.

Childhood

It is reported that Imam al-Hasan (a) used to attend the sessions of the Prophet (s) and would retell to his mother what was revealed in those sessions unto the Prophet (s).

Sulaym b. Qays is reported to have said that after the demise of the Prophet (s), when Abu Bakr was chosen as the caliph, al-Hasan (a) would go together with his brother and his parents to the houses of the Helpers and call them to support Imam Ali (a). It is also reported that he would object to Abu Bakr’s sitting on the minbar of the Prophet (s).

Youth

There are few reports about Imam al-Hasan’s youth. It is reported, for instance, that Umar appointed him as a witness in the six-member council that was to appoint the next caliph.

According to some Sunni sources, Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), participated in the Battle of Ifriqiyya in 26 AH and in the Battle of Tabaristan in 29 AH or 30 AH. Scholars disagree as to whether these reports are reliable. Considering problems in their chains of transmitters and taking into account the opposition of the Imams (a) to the conquests, Sayyid Ja'far Murtada regards these reports as unreliable. He refers as further evidence for his view to the fact that Imam Ali (a) did not allow Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a) to participate in the Battle of Siffin.

It is also reported that in this period, whenever people complained about Uthman’s conducts to Imam Ali (a), he would send his son al-Hasan (a) to Uthman. According to al-Baladhuri, during the revolt at the end of Uthman’s caliphate, when his house was besieged, al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a) and a number of other people were commanded by Imam Ali (a) to protect Uthman’s house, and, according to Qadi Nuʿman al-Maghribi (d. 363 AH) to take water for him. Some reports indicate that al-Hasan (a) was even injured in this episode. Some Shiite scholars, such as Allama Amini, regard these reports as unreliable. Al-Sharif al-Murtada also questions the authenticity of these reports and states that even if they were authentic, they only indicate that Imam Ali (a) was against murdering Uthamn and depriving his family of food and water, not that he opposed overthrowing him as the caliph.

Children and Wives

There are various reports about the number of Imam al-Hasan’s (a) children and wives. Although historical sources do not mention the names of more than eighteen women as the wives of the Imam (a), some of them claim that the Imam (a) had 70, 90, 200, or 250 wives. It has been claimed that Imam al-Hasan (a) was mitlaq (one who marries and divorces numerous women) and that he had many concubines, with some of whom he had children.

This claim has been subjected to much criticism in past and recent scholarly works. According to Madelung, the first person to have spread the rumor that Imam al-Hasan (a) had ninety wives was Muhammad b. al-Kalbi, and the number was made up by al-Madaʾini (d. 225 AH). However, al-Kalbi himself mentions only the names of eleven women as the Imam’s wives, and from these eleven, five were arguably not the Imam’s wives. Al-Qurashi maintains that these reports were fabricated by the Abbasids to tarnish the reputation of the descendants of Imam al-Hasan (a) who led several revolts against them.

There is disagreement as to the number of Imam al-Hasan’s (a) children. According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, they were fifteen, but al-Tabrisi considers them 16, among whom was Abu Bakr who was martyred in the event of Karbala.

Residence in Kufa

Imam al-Hasan (a) was present in the five-year caliphate of his father beside him in all situation. It is reported that when the people pledged their allegiance to Imam Ali (a), Imam al-Hasan (a) went on the minbar at his father’s request and delivered a speech to the people. It also appears that al-Hasan (a) was with his father since the first days of the latter’s residence in Kufa.

The Battle of Jamal

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413) reports that Imam al-Hasan (a), together with Ammar b. Yasir and Qays b. Sa'd b. 'Ubada, was tasked with calling the Kufans to join the Imam’s (a) army. In Kufa, al-Hasan (a) delivered a speech in which he mentioned his father’s virtues and high status in Islam and Talha’s and Zubayr’s betrayal of their allegiance, and then called the people to support Imam Ali (a).

During the battle, when Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr accused Imam Ali (a) of murdering Uthman, al-Hasan (a) delivered a speech and mentioned the role of Talha and Zubayr in Uthman’s murder.

It is also reported that after the battle, Imam Ali (a) became sick, so he tasked al-Hasan (a) with leading the Friday prayer for the people of Basra. In his sermon there, he emphasized the significance of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and the consequences of failing to respect their rights.

The Battle of Siffin

Nasr b. Muzahim (d. 212 AH) reports that prior to the beginning of the expedition of Imam Ali’s army to Siffin, al-Hasan (a) delivered a speech and encouraged the people to jihad. It is said that in this battle, the right wing of the army was under the command of al-Hasan (a) and his brother al-Husayn (a).

According to al-Iskafi (d. 240), when, during the battle, al-Hasan (a) confronted one of the commanders of the Syrian army, the latter refused to fight with him and said, “I saw the Prophet (s) on a camel while you were sitting in front of him. I don’t want to meet the Prophet (s) while having your blood on my hands.”

It is also reported that Ubayd Allah b. Umar (the son of the second caliph) met al-Hasan (a) during the battle and proposed that al-Hasan (a) should take over the caliphate, because the Quraysh hold grudges against his father.” In response, Imam al-Hasan (a) said, “By God, this will never happen.” Then, he told Ubayd Allah, “It is as if I see that you will be killed today or tomorrow, and Satan has deceived you.” This prophecy was fulfilled and Ubayd Allah was killed in the same battle.

The Battle of Nahrawan

According to al-Istiʿab, al-Hasan (a) participated in the Battle of Nahrawan as well.

It is also reported that Imam Ali (a), toward the end of his life, appointed al-Hasan (a) as the commander of an army of ten-thousand troops to confront Mu'awiya another time.

Imamate and Caliphate

Al-Hasan b. Ali (a) is the second Imam of the Shiʿa. He became the Imam after the martyrdom of his father on 21 Ramadan, 40 AH. His imamate lasted for ten years. In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni (d. 329) has collected the hadiths related to the appointment of al-Hasan (a) to imamate. According to one of these hadiths, before his martyrdom, Imam Ali (a) gave his books and weapon (from the Trusts of Imamate) to al-Hasan (a) in the presence of his children and some prominent Shiite figures, and announced that the Prophet (s) had commanded him to appoint al-Hasan (a) as the executor of his will. According to another hadith, when Imam Ali (a) was going to Kufa, he left some of the Trusts of Imamate with Umm Salama, and al-Hasan (a) received them from her when he returned from Kufa.

Al-Hasan’s (a) imamate is also supported by such prophetic hadiths as “These two sons of mine are two Imams, whether they rise or sit” and the Hadith of the Twelve Caliphs.

Imam al-Hasan (a) also succeeded his father as the caliph of the Muslim community and held this position for about seven months.

The Short Period of Caliphate

Imam al-Hasan (a) was a Caliphate of Muslims since Ramadan 21, 40/January 28, 661, for 6 or 8 months. Appealing to a hadith attributed to the Prophet (s), Sunni Muslims takes him as the last caliph from among the Rashidun Caliphs. His caliphate began after the allegiance of people of Iraq and support of people from neighboring lands. People of Syria (al-Sham) opposed his caliphate under the leadership of Mu'awiya. Mu'awiya and armies from Syria went to a war with Iraq. The war was cultivated in a peace in which the position of caliphate was left to Mu'awiya, the first Umayyad caliphate.

Allegiance of Muslims and Oppositions by People of Syria

According to Shiite and Sunni sources, after the martyrdom of Amir al-Mu'minin (a) in 40/661, people pledged their allegiance to al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a). According to al-Baladhuri (d. 279/892), after the burial of Imam 'Ali (a), 'Ubayad Allah b. 'Abbas went to people and gave the news of the Imam's martyrdom, telling them: "he has left a well-deserved and patient successor. You can pledge your allegiance to him if you would like to." According to al-Irshad, in the morning of Friday, Ramadan 21/January 28, al-Hasan b. 'Ali gave a speech in the mosque, in which he enumerated the virtues and merits of his father, emphasized on his own connection to the Prophet (s), pointed to his own merits, and appealed to verses of the Qur'an concerning the special place of Ahl al-Bayt. After the speech, 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas stood up and told people: "pledge your allegiance to the son of your Prophet and the successor of your Imam." And people pledged their allegiance to him. According to sources, the number of people who pledged allegiance to him amounted to over 40,000. On al-Tabari's account, Qays b. Sa'd b. 'Ubada, a commander of Imam Ali's army, was the first person to pledge allegiance to him.

According to Husayn Muhammad Ja'fari in his book, Tashayyu' dar masir-i tarikh (Shiism in the course of history), many companions of the Prophet (s) who had resided in Kufa after the construction of the city or had moved to the city in the period of Imam 'Ali's caliphate pledged their allegiance to Imam al-Hasan (a) or otherwise accepted his caliphate. Ja'fari relies on certain pieces of evidence to show that people of Mecca and Medina also agreed with the caliphate of al-Hasan b. 'Ali, and people of Iraq considered him as the only candidate for the position. According to Ja'fari, people of Yemen and Fars (Persia) had also implicitly endorsed his caliphate, or at least, they showed no opposition thereto.

According to some sources, certain conditions were proposed at the time of allegiance. For example, the book, al-Imama wa l-siyasa, reports that al-Hasan b. 'Ali told people, "will you pledge your allegiance on the condition that you obey me, and you fight whomever I fight, and you make peace with whomever I make peace?" Upon hearing these words, some people became hesitant. Thus, they went to al-Husayn b. 'Ali to make their allegiance to him, but he said, "I refuge to God from letting you make allegiance to me as long as al-Hasan is still alive." They went back and made allegiance with al-Hasan b. 'Ali. Al-Tabari (d. 310/923) says that when Qays b. Sa'd pledged his allegiance to him, he stated the condition that he acts upon the Book of God and the Tradition of the Prophet and to fight those who permit the shedding of the bloods of Muslims. However, al-Imam al-Hasan (a) only accepted the Book of God and the Tradition of the Prophet (s), suggesting that every other condition should derive from these two. Some people concluded from these reports that Imam al-Hasan (a) was a pacifist, war averse person, and his practice was different from that of his father and brother.

Rasul Ja'fariyan believes that these conditions did not mean that al-Hasan b. 'Ali did not intend to go to war since early on. Instead, his main goal was to protect his authority as the leader of the society to freely make decisions, and his subsequent actions show that he insisted upon war. According to Abu l-Faraj Isfahani, one of the first measures taken by al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a) after his ascension to caliphate was a one-hundred percent increase of the wages of warriors.

According to some reports, Imam al-Hasan (a) did not take any measure toward war or peace for about 50 days or more after the martyrdom of his father and the allegiance of people. The first measure of Imam (a) after allegiance was doubling the salary of soldiers.

War with Mu'awiya

Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (a):

"Think, because thinking is the life of the heart of a man who sees and is the key to doors of wisdom."

Musnad al-Imam al-Hasan (a) p:718

When informed of Imam 'Ali's (a) martyrdom and that people had given allegiance to Imam al-Hasan (a), Mu'awiya sent two spies to Kufa and Basra in an attempt to incite the people against Imam al-Hasan (a). So, Imam al-Hasan (a) ordered the arrest and punishment of the two. Letters were exchanged between Imam al-Hasan (a) and Mu'awiya and in them, Imam al-Hasan (a) proved his right to the caliphate.[1]

Mu'awiya tried to mobilize his army and sent letters to his governors asking them to support him. He led his army towards Iraq and left Dahhak b. Qays al-Fihri in the capital as his temporary substitute. It is reported that 60,000 soldiers or more accompanied Mu'awiya.[2] When the army of Mu'awiya crossed Manbaj bridge over Euphrates, Imam al-Hasan (a) asked people of Kufa to prepare themselves for jihad and ordered Hujr b. 'Adi to mobilize people.

Imam (a) joined the army of Kufa in Sabat of Mada'in and in a sermon, called people to unity and said that reconciliation is better than disunity, rancor and enmity. People understood from his speech that Imam (a) wanted to make peace with Mu'awiya. Thus, some people accused him of disbelief and attacked his tent and many people left him. Also, Mu'awiya sent a letter to 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abbas, the commander of the army of Iraq and pretended that Imam al-Hasan (a) asked him for peace and mentioned that if 'Ubayd Allah accepted to side with him immediately, he would give him government and great amount of money. So, 'Ubayd Allah who had thought that Imam (a) had asked for peace, sought his personal interests and accepted Mu'awiya's request and joined Mu'awiya at night with two third of his army. One of the consequences of this event was that some of the chiefs of Iraqi tribes wrote a letter to Mu'awiya and expressed their support for him. After this event, Mu'awiya wanted to bribe Qays b. Sa'd who had become the commander of Iraq's army but failed.

Peace Treaty

Al-Baladhuri wrote that, "Mu'awiya sent a blank contract with his seal at the bottom for Imam al-Hasan (a) to write anything that he wished and thus he wrote, "In this peace treaty, al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a) establishes peace with Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan and leaves the government of the Muslims to him with the following conditions:

  1. He observes the Book of God, the conduct of the Prophet (s) and the conduct of the righteous caliphs.
  2. He appoints no one as the caliph after himself; and after him, the caliph should be elected by a council of Muslims.
  3. Lives, property and children of people should be safe everywhere.
  4. Mu'awiya should not implicitly or explicitly plot against al-Hasan b. 'Ali or threaten any of his companions.

'Abd Allah b. Harith and 'Amr b. Salama bear witness upon this peace treaty."[3]

With the conditions made by Imam al-Hasan (a), the peace treaty was signed in 41/661.[4] However, even though Mu'awiya signed off on them, he denied all of the conditions in his first sermon in Kufa, where the two armies were supposed to meet. He claimed that Imam al-Hasan (a) was asking for peace and insulted Imam 'Ali (a). Imam al-Husayn (a) wanted to respond to his insults, but Imam al-Hasan (a) prohibited him from doing so. Then, Imam al-Hasan (a) delivered a sermon and explained everything with regards to the peace treaty and how Mu'awiya had asked for peace. He responded to the insults to his father in a very eloquent way and noted the honour and legacy that his family held as opposed to Mu'awiya's.[5]This made Mu'awiya very angry.[6]

In different sources, different dates have been mentioned for the peace treaty, including Rabi' I of 41/July 661 and Jumada II/October of the same year. In al-Tanbih wa al-ishraf, al-Mas'udi considered Rabi' I correct and more famous.

After the Peace Treaty

After the peace treaty, Imam al-Hasan (a) went to Medina and became the scientific, religious, social and political leader there. He took positions against Mu'awiya and his companions in Medina and Damascus and had debates with them. These have been mentioned and discussed in al-Tabrisi's al-Ihtijaj.[7]

After Imam al-Hasan (a) signed the treaty with Mu'awiya to protect the lives of Muslims and avoid any harms to their religion, the most difficult part of his life started. Criticism of people, observing political relations, and losing many of old companions and their martyrdom were among the hardships of this period for Imam (a).

Even with the apparent solitude of Imam al-Hasan (a), this period of his life was one of his most influential yet difficult periods of his life; because, on the one hand, he (a) was the Imam of Shia and on the other hand, changes in his relations with Mu'awiya made it difficult for him to sort out the affairs of Shia.

After the peace treaty, Imam (a) gave a sermon and pointed to this issue that Mu'awiya challenged him over his rights and explained the reasons for his peace which was to protect the lives of people and avoid bloodshed. After the treaty, Mu'awiya too gave a sermon at his first presence in Kufa. He broke his promises, saying that Imam (a) had asked for peace and cursed Imam Ali (a). Then, Imam al-Hasan (a) explained about the peace treaty in a sermon and the proposal of Mu'awiya for it and answered to Mu'awiya's disrespect to his father.

Knowing the position of Imam (a), Mu'awiya respected it in appearance; for example, when Ziyad b. Abih was the governor of Kufa, a companion of Imam (a) was annoyed and Imam (a) wrote to him and prohibited him of any misbehavior. When Ziyad gave a disrespectful answer to Imam (a), Imam (a) sent him a historical answer and also forwarded the issue to Mu'awiya and Mu'awiya accepted the request of Imam (a) and also seriously admonished Ziyad.

Mu'awiya's planning for Yazid to take the power was among Imam's (a) most important criticisms to Mu'awiya; asking why a thoughtless drunkard should sit on the throne. Of course, there are so many examples of Imam's (a) enjoining to the good and prohibiting the evil against Mu'awiya, that in some cases, he (a) called the caliph to follow the Book [the Qur'an] and tradition of the Prophet (s).

Considering Mu'awiya's disregard toward criticisms of Imam (a) and refusal of his requests, Imam (a) believed that until after Mu'awiya, no retaliatory action was prudent and emphasized on this. When leaving Kufa for Medina, Imam (a) asked his companions to keep themselves ready for an appropriate time.

When some people of Hawazin tribe wanted to make an uprising under the banner of Saturad b. 'Alfa, Mu'awiya was preparing for the battle and asked Imam (a) to approve his action and considered his presence with himself necessary. But, Imam (a) made a smart move, mentioned a word of Imam Ali (a) on distinguishing those who made mistake from disbelievers and emphasized on it and refused Mu'awiya's request. Thus, he (a) refused to go under the flag of Mu'awiya leaving their relationships unharmed.

It is mentioned in reports that regardless of his apparently justified behavior in public, Mu'awiya had secretly ordered to put Shia under surveillance and curse at Imam Ali (a) on the pulpits. He also appointed a person such as Ziyad as the governor of Kufa to follow this strategy.

When the companions of Imam (a), some of whom were the companions of the Prophet (s), saw the actions of Mu'awiya and Ziyad b. Abih, criticized them and were always harassed by the government. What happened to 'Amr b. Hamiq al-Khuza'i in the last decades of his life was a clear example of such harassments. Because of his criticisms of Mu'awiya, 'Amr was chased up, captured, and martyred in the prison of Kufa.

When Imam al-Hasan (a) was informed about the martyrdom of 'Amr, wrote a letter to Mu'awiya and severely reprimanded him. Another example of breaking promises by Mu'awiya is his behavior toward Hujr b. 'Adi and his companions who made serious criticisms about him. He ordered to capture them in Kufa and send to Damascus and finally martyred them. Rashid al-Hajari, a pious companion of Imam Ali (a) can be added to this list, who was martyred.

In general, the last part of Imam al-Hasan's (a) life which included some journeys to Hijaz and Damascus, was a difficult period and Imam (a) passed through it using his wisdom and forbearance; and in practice, he (a) prepared the situation for the Imamate of his brother al-Husayn (a).

Residence in Medina and Religious Authority

After the peace treaty with Mu'awiya, Imam al-Hasan (a) resided in Medina, despite the request of some of his followers to remain in Kufa. He stayed in Medina until the end of his life, except a few times that he travelled to Mecca and Damascus. Imam al-Hasan (a) was the administrator of the endowments and charities of his father after the latter’s martyrdom, according to a will written by Imam Ali (a) in Jumada I 10, 37 AH.

Religious Authority

There are several reports of Imam al-Hasan’s sessions in Medina, which were intended to educate and guide people in matters of religion. For instance, Ibn Saʿd (d. 230 AH), al-Baladhuri (d. 279 AH), and Ibn ʿAsakir (d. 571 AH) have reported that al-Hasan (a) would perform morning prayer in the mosque of the Prophet (s) and would continue worshipping there until sunrise. Afterwards, people would gather around him and discuss with him about different issues. He had the same gatherings after noon prayer as well. In al-Fusul al-muhimma, it is reported that Imam al-Hasan (a) would sit in the mosque of the Prophet (s) and respond to the questions of the people who would gather around him. However, according to Mahdi Pishvayi, the Imam (a) fell into some disfavor with the people, which had its consequences on the moral decadence of the society of that time.

Social Status

The Imam (a) had a high social status. Ibn Saʿd mentions that when the people would see al-Hasan (a) in hajj, they would rush to him to receive his blessings, such that al-Husayn (a) with the help of some other individuals had to protect him. It is also reported that although Ibn 'Abbas was older than Imam al-Hasan (a), he would serve the Imam (a) by helping him mount his horse.

Political Isolation

When Imam al-Hasan (a) left Kufa, a group of Kharijites gathered in Nukhayla to wage war against Mu'awiya. The latter wrote a letter to Imam al-Hasan (a) and asked him to return to Kufa and fight with them. The Imam (a) refused and responded, “If I were to fight with any Muslims, I would fight with you.” Likewise, when another group of Kharijites revolted against Mu'awiya under the command of Hawthara al-Asadi, Muʿawiya made a similar request from the Imam (a), to which he received the same response.

The Umayyad Reaction

There are some reports of offensive behavior by some Umayyads toward Imam al-Hasan (a). Moreover, in al-Ihtijaj, several debates between Imam al-Hasan (a) and Muʿawiyah and his supporters are recorded. In those debates, the Imam (a) defended the high position of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and revealed the wickedness of his enemies.

Martyrdom

There are various reports as to when Imam al-Hasan (a) was martyred: three days, forty days, or two months after he was poisoned. When the Imam (a) passed away, all the Medinans mourned. In the burial ceremony, al-Baqi' cemetery became full of people, and the shops were shut down for sever days.

Conflict over the Burial Place

Imam al-Hasan (a) reportedly requested from his brother to be buried beside the Prophet (s), his grandfather. According to a report, al-Hasan (a) had informed A'isha about his wish and she had agreed. However, when Marwan b. al-Hakam learned about this decision, he reported it to Mu'awiya, and the latter asked him to forcefully prevent that. According to another report, however, Imam al-Hasan (a) had requested only that his coffin be taken to the grave of the Prophet (s) before his burial beside the grave of his grandmother Fatima bt. Asad (a). According to this report, the Imam (a) had urged his brother to avoid any conflict during his burial ceremony.

When Banu Hashim carried the coffin of Imam al-Hasan (a) toward the grave of the Prophet (s), Marwan and a group of the Umayyads took up arms and blocked the way. Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani (d. 356) mentions that A'isha arrived there on a mule and asked the Umayyads to stop Banu Hashim. According to al-Baladhuri's report, when she found out about the conflict, she claimed that the burial place of the Prophet (s) was her home and she would not allow anyone to be buried there. It is reported that Marwan said, “While Uthman is buried on the outskirts of the city, we won’t tolerate that you bury al-Hasan next to the Prophet.” A conflict was about to break out between Banu Hashim and the Umayyads, but Imam al-Husayn (a), because of his brother’s prior request, did not allow that to happen. Thus, the body of Imam al-Hasan (a) was taken to al-Baqi' cemetery and buried beside the grave of his grandmother Fatima bt. al-Asad.

According to Ibn Shahrashub, the Umayyads shot many arrows toward the body of Imam al-Hasan (a), seventy of which hit the Imam’s body.

Date of Martyrdom

The old picture of Jannat al-Baqi' and the tomb of Imam al-Hasan (a) which was demolished by Wahhabis in 1343/1925

Historical sources have mentioned the years 49, 50, or 51 AH as the year of the Imam’s (a) martyrdom. Among these years, 50 AH seems to be more probable. As to the month of his martyrdom, the Shiite sources have mentioned the month of Safar, but in most of the Sunni sources Rabi' I is mentioned.

As to the day of Imam al-Hasan’s martyrdom, many Shiite scholars such as al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Tabrisi, Ibn Shahrashub have mentioned Safar 28th. Al-Kulayni has mentioned the last day of Safar, and al-Shahid al-Awwal has mentioned Safar 7th. Investigating the authenticity of these different reports, Muqaddasi has concluded that Safar 28th is the right date.

In Iran, Safar 28th has been made a national holiday in commemoration of the demise of the Prophet (s) and the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (a). However, in Iraq, people hold mourning ceremonies for Imam al-Hasan (a) on Safar 7th, which has been regarded in the Seminary of Najaf since long ago as the anniversary of Imam al-Hasan’s martyrdom. The same day has been a holiday of mourning in Qom Islamic Seminary as well since the time of Shaykh Abd al-Karim Ha'iri.

Considering the disagreements over the date of Imam al-Hasan’s martyrdom, the Imam (a) is considered to have been 46, 47, or 48 years old when he passed away.

Virtues and Characteristics

Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba(a):

"The beginning of reason is nice behavior with people and through reason, one can achieve both this world and hereafter. One who does not have reason, has lost both this world and hereafter."

Nahj al-sa'ada fi mustadrak nahj al-balagha, vol 7, p 366

According to al-Ya'qubi (d. 292 AH), al-Hasan b. Ali (a) was the most similar person to the Prophet (s) in his appearance and behavior. He was of medium height and had a thick beard, which he would dye black. His virtues and noble characteristics are explained in many sources.

The Love of the Prophet (s) for Him

There are many reports about the Prophet’s love for his grandson al-Hasan (a). It is reported that while the Prophet (s) would carry al-Hasan (a) on his shoulders, he would say, “O God! I love him, so You also love him!” Sometimes when the Prophet (s) was prostrating himself in congregational prayer, al-Hasan (a) would go on the Prophet’s back, and the Prophet (s) would prolong his prostration so that al-Hasan himself comes down.

The Prophet (s) is also reported to have said about al-Hasan (a), “He is the master of the youth of Paradise and the Proof of God upon the ummah … He who follows him is of me and he who disobeys him is not of me.”

Quranic Verses about Him

Imam al-Hasan (a) is one of Ahl al-Bayt (a), about whom several verses of the Qur'an were revealed, such as Qur'an 76:8 (“They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan and the prisoner”). Qur'an 42:23 (“Say, ‘I do not ask you any reward for it except love of [my] relatives.’”) is also said to have been revealed about Ahl al-Bayt (a). According to this verse, the reward that Muslims should pay the Prophet (s) is loving his relatives. In Quran 3:61 (“Come! Let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us pray earnestly and call down Allah's curse upon the liars.”), “our sons” refer to al-Hasan (a) and al-Husayn (a).

Moreover, Qur'an 33:33 (“Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification”) was revealed about the People of the Cloak, one of whom was Imam al-Hasan (a). This verse has been adduced as evidence for the infallibility of Ahl al-Bayt (a).

Barefoot Pilgrimages

Imam al-Hasan (a) went on multiple pilgrimages to hajj. It is reported that he would say, “I would be embarrassed to meet my Lord without having walked toward His house.” It is said that he made fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five pilgrimages barefoot, while best camels were walking behind him.

Forbearance

There are several accounts of Imam al-Hasan’s (a) forbearance, which was so great that earned him the epithet “al-Halim” (the Forbearing One). It is reported, for instance, that a Syrian man saw Imam al-Hasan (a) and started cursing him. When he finished his insults, the Imam (a) smiled, greeted him, and said, “It looks like you are a stranger in this city … If you needed anything, we will fulfill your needs.” The man was deeply impressed by the Imam’s (a) noble reaction; he started crying and recited the following verse: “God knows best with whom to place His message” (Quran 6:124), indicating that the Imam (a) deserved to be a descendant of the Prophet (s).

Generosity

Imam al-Hasan (a) was immensely generous, and because of that he was called “Karim” “Sakhi” and “Jawad” (three Arabic words meaning a generous person). It is reported that he donated all his properties and wealth to charity twice in his life and donated half of all he had three times to the poor and needy. Ibn Shahrashub reports that during Imam al-Hasan’s travel to Syria, Mu'awiya gifted a considerable amount of wealth to the Imam (a). When the Imam (a) was leaving, he saw a servant fixing his shoes, so Imam al-Hasan (a) granted all that wealth to the servant. One day, he heard a man praying to God for ten-thousand dirhams. The Imam (a) went home and sent the man the amount. Because of his vast generosity, the Imam (a) has been called by the Shia “the Generous One.”

It is also reported that he was greatly attentive to people who needed his help such that he would even leave his i'tikaf and tawaf to help those who asked him for help and he would refer to a hadith of the Prophet (s) according to which he who fulfills a need of a believer is like one who worships [God]] for years.

Humbleness

One day, he passed by a group of poor people who were eating pieces of bread. When they saw him, they invited him to eat with them. The Imam (a) accepted their invitation and sat and ate with them and then invited all of them to his house and offered them food and clothes. In another occasion, his servant made a mistake, for which he deserved punishment. In order to escape punishment, the servant recited the following part of Qur'an 3:134: “[Those who] excuse [the faults of] the people.” The Imam (a) told him, “I forgave you.” The servant recited another part of the same verse: “Allah loves the doers of good.” So the Imam (a) said, “You are free for the sake of God, and I will grant you twice as much money I used to give you for your work.”

Legacy

The number of Imam al-Hasan’s (a) hadiths in the available sources is said to be about 250. Some of these hadiths are the Imam’s own words, and the others are what he quoted from the Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a), and Fatima (a).

Imam al-Hasan’s sayings and letters are collected, with their chains of transmitters, in the book Musnad al-Imam al-Mujtaba (a), including the Imam’s sermons, lectures, conversations, prayers and debates and encompassing theological and legal topics. These sayings and letters together with the poems attributed to the Imam (a) are also collected in the book Balaghat al-Hasan (a).

In his book Makatib al-A'imma, Ahmadi Miyanaji has counted fifteen letters by Imam al-Hasan (a), six of which were written to Mu'awiya, three to Ziyad b. Abih, one to the people of Kufa, and one to al-Hasan al-Basri. Miyanaji also collected seven testaments from al-Hasan (a) to al-Husayn (a), Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya, Qasim b. al-Hasan, and Junada b. Abi Umayya.

'Aziz Allah 'Atarudi has gathered the names of 137 people who quoted hadiths from Imam al-Hasan (a). Al-Shaykh al-Tusi also named forty-one individuals as the companions of Imam al-Hasan (a).

In Culture and Art

Sibt al-Nabi Congress

The International Sibt al-Nabi congress was held by the Ahlulbayt World Assembly in collaboration with some other organizations in June 2014 in Tehran. In this congress, from about 130 articles, seventy articles were chosen for publication.

The Loneliest Leader

The Loneliest Leader (Tanhatarin Sardar) was a tv series, broadcasted by the Iranian tv Channel One, that depicted an account of Imam al-Hasan’s life, the story of his peace treaty with Mu'awiya, the circumstances of the Islamic society and the Shia during his lifetime and a little after his martyrdom.

See also

Notes

  1. Al-Shaykh al-Mufid. Al-Irshad, p. 350
  2. Al-Qurashi, Baqir Sharif. Zindigani Imam al-Hasan, p. 334-335
  3. Al-Baladhuri, Ahmad ibn Yahya. Ansab al-ashraf, vol. 3, p. 41-42; Shahidi, Sayyid Ja'far. Tarikh-i tahlili-yi Islam, p. 162
  4. Khalifa b. Khayyat. Tarikh, p. 203
  5. Al-Tabari, Muhammad b. Jarir. Tarikh al-rusul wa al-muluk, p. 124-129; Harrani, Ibn Shu'ba al-. Tuhaf al-'uqul, p. 232 ff; Da'irat al-ma'arif buzurg Islami, vol. 20, p. 538
  6. Da'irat al-ma'arif buzurg Islami. vol. 20, p. 538
  7. Al-Tabrisi, Ahmad b. 'Ali. Al-Ihtijaj, vol. 2, p. 45-65

References

Further Reading