Imam Hassan al-Mujtaba (A.S):The Innocent Imam
On the fifteenth of the holy month of Ramadan, in the third year after Hijra , the Prophetic house announced the birth of the first grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w). This good news was given to the Chosen Prophet (s.a.w) . He hastened to the house of his daughter, the chaste Zahra', to communicate his congratulations and show his delight.
The blessed new born bady was taken to him and the Prophet (s.a.w) received him with the whole of his pure existence. He carried him in his arms. He kissed him and pressed him to his chest. Then, he said the call of prayer (adhan) in his right ear. The first voice that embraced the new born's hearing and entity was, thus, the voice of right.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) turned to Imam Ali (a.s.) and asked him:
"What name did you give my son?"
"I wouldn't precede you in doing ti, "Imam Ali (a.s.) replied.
"Nor would i precede my Lord," averred the Prophet (s.a.w).
No sooner did this short dialougue take place between the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) and his trustee, about the name of the new baby, than the Divine, Holy revelation came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) telling him that Allah, the Glorified, had named the baby, Hassan.
On the seventh day of his blessed birth, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) went to the house of Fatima to do the remaining rituals. He slaughtered a sheep, and gave a thigh to the midwife. He also gave her one dinar in gratitude for the efforts she made for the sake of the baby and his mother, al-Zahra' (a.s.). Then, he shaved the infant Imam Hassan's (a.s.) head and gave the worth of the weight of his hair in silver as alms to the poor. He dyed his head with a kind of perfume called 'Khuluq'. After that, he (s.a.w.) ordered that he be circumcised and he was circumcised.
Prophet's Grandson in the Book and Sunna:
Imam Hassan (a.s.), the grandson of the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w), like the rest of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), enjoys a high position in the book of Allah, the Most High, and the sunna of His Messenger (s.a.w).
The Holy Qur'an, the constitution of the umma, and Islam's eternal miracle, has many verses which speak volumes of the position of Imam Hassan (a.s.), and Ahlul-Bait, in the sight of Allah, the Most High, and His Message , including:
The Verse of Purification (Tathir):
"Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purification."
Holy Qur'an (Ahzab 33:33)
It is reported that the Verse of Purification (Tathir) for revealed was that the Prophet (s.a.w) called for a Khaibari cloak (made in Khaibar), and covered Fatima, Imams Ali, Hassan and Hussein (a.s.) with it, and said: "O Lord! these are my family. So keep away uncleanness from the and purify them."
In response to the prayer of the Prophet (s.a.w), this verse was revealed. It is a withness, given by Allah, in the Holy Qur'an,. about the purity of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), and their infallibility and, also, explains the greatness of their status.
There are other verses like the verse of Malediction 'mubahala' (Aal-e- Imran 3:61) and the verse of Affection "mawadda' (Shura 42:23) as mentioned before and others.
Regarding the Prophetic narrations, we mention the following:
1. Bukhari and Muslim report on the autority of Bara', that he said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) carrying Hassan bin Ali (a.s.) on his shoulder. He was saying: "O Lord! I love him, so love him."
2. Tirmidi reports on the authority of Ibn Abbas, that he said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was carrying Hassan bin Ali (a.s.), when a man said: 'What an excellent mount you are riding, O lad.'
'What an excellent rider he is,' the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) replied."
3. Anas bin malik said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was asked: "Who is most loved by you from among your family?"
'Hassan and Hussein,' he answered."
4. A'isha reports that "the Prophet would pick up Hassan and embrace him and say: 'O Lord! This is my son, and I love him. Love him, and love those who love him."
5. Jabir bin Abdulla says: "The messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: "He who pleases to look at the Lord of the Youths of Paradise, let him look at Hassan bin Ali."
6. Ghazali in his book, lhya' (Revivval), reports that the Prophet (s.a.w) had said th Hassan: 'You resemble me in my appearance and disposition."
7. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: "Hassan and Hussein are two Imams whether they rise (against the unjust rulers) or stand (idlly by)."
Imam Hassan's Character:
The excellent preparation which was provided for the grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), Helped his spiritual entity to sublimate. His closeness to Allah, and his attachment to Him was a source of awe and respect.
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Hassan bin Ali (a.s.) was certainly the most true worshipper, ascetic and merited man among the people of his time."
In the books, 'Rawdat Wa'izeen' (Orchard of the Preachers) it is mentioned that whenever, "Hassan would do his ablution, he would tremble and his face would turn pale. He was asked about it, and he replied: "It is only natural that one who stands in the presence of the Lord of the Throne trembles..."
When he (a.s.) approached the door of the mosque, he would say: "O my Lord! Your guest is at Your gate. O Generous! The transgressor has come to You. Forgive me of my ugly deeds with Your generosity. O Generous!"
When he (a.s.) recited the Qur'an and came across a verse addressing the faithful by these words. "O you who believe...," He said: 'Here I am, my Lord, here I am..."
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) is also reported to have said:
"Hassan bin Ali (a.s.) had certainly gone to pilgrimage hajj twenty-five times on foot. He shared his property with Allah twice."
Concerning his eminent (sublime) character, it is a best example taken from the character of the Prophet's household Ahlul-Bait (a.s.)
The books of traditions reported that once he chanced upon some poor men who put a few crumbs of bread on the ground in front of them and were eating them. They invited him to eat with them. He accepted the invitation and said: "Certainly Allah does not like the proud.
Having finished eating them, he invited them to his house. He showered them with money, fed and clothed them.
Once, he was asked: "We do not see you disappoint a beggar. why?"
He (a.s.) replied:
"I am asking Allah for His favours, and I love to be near Him. I am ashamed, as I am myself in need of Allah, to repulse a beggar. Allah got me used to a habit; to shower me with His bounties, and I get Him used to me showering His bounties on the people. I fear that should I stop my habit, He may stop His habit."
The grandson of the Holy Prophaet (s.a.w.) bought an orchard from the Ansars (the supporters of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) in Madina, at the price fo 400,000 Dirhams. Then he got word that they lost their wealth. He gave them the orchard back with no charge.
These are only a few insights into Imam Hassan's (a.s.) generous acts. Such good deeds had the greatest effect in personifying this high Islamic ethics.
His Scientific Side:
History would never stop hesitently to say that an Imam found difficulty in any branch of knowledge. Nor, would it say that he couldn't offer and answer a question, inquiry of problem, either ideological, religious, scientific, or in any other field. The following are a number of reports about Imam Hassan's (a.s.) vast knowledge.
Imam Hassan (a.s.) had profound and pristine knowledge in Islamic sciences. This discloses Imam Hassan's (a.s.) firm connection with the fountainhead of the message and its original concepts.
What is ascetism?" the Imam was once asked.
The desire to be pious and abstemious in this life," he replied.
"What is forbearance?" he was asked.
"Restraining one's anger and controlling oneself," he answered.
"What is righteousness?" he was asked
"Replacing the bad with the good," came the answer.
"What is honor?" they asked.
"Being kind to one's relatives and shouldering peoples's burdens of sin."
"What is the succour?" he was asked.
"Defending the neighbour, patience in war, and advance during adversities," he said.
"What is glory?" he was asked.
"Holding onto the faith, keeping one's self-respect, being merciful, being kind, giving back people's trusts, and endearing oneself to the people...
This is a brief biography, and whoever wants further information, let him return to the books in detail.
Imam Hassan's Role in Islamic Life:
At an early age, the role of the grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) began to evidence itself. And one who examines the life of the Imam (a.s.) will realize that his role underwent two phases:
First: During His Father's Lifetime:
Imam Hassan's (a.s.) role, during the lifetime of his father, and especially under his caliphate, was marked by his total obedience to his father, who was his example and leader. He dealt with him, not only as a kind son, but, also, as an obedient soldier in the deepest sense of the word, with its implications of compliance and discipline.
He (a.s.) took part in all wars fought by his father, Imam Ali (a.s.), including those of Basra, Nahrawan, and Siffin. He played a critical role in them. He fought in those battles and put down those seditions without any motives other than his concern for Islam.
The role of Imam Hassan (a.s.) was expressed, during all the critical days his father, Imam Ali (a.s.) lived through, in total submission to his father, his leader and the source of his inspiration.
Indeed, the books of history mentioned that Imam Hassan (a.s.) represented Imam Ali (a.s.) in different situations. He was full of permanent activity under the rule of his father, Imam Ali (a.s.). He (a.s.) used to address people in order to explain his father's opinion and views.
Second: During His Imamate:
The second part or stage of the role of Imam Hassan (a.s), in the life of the Muslims, commenced when his father appointed him as the next Imam. Imam Ali (a.s.) said his last will to his son, Hasan (a.s.):
"O my son, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) ordered me to inform you of my last will and hand over my books and weapons to you, exactly as he told me his last will and gave me his books and weapons. He ordered me to order you to give them to your brother, Hussein, when death approaches you."
Then, he turned to his son, Hussein. and said:
"And the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) ordered you to hand them to this son of yours."
Thereupon, he took hold of the hand of Ali bin Hussein (a.s.) and said to him:
"And the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) ordered you to give them to your son, Muhammad bin Ali. Remember the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.)and me to him.
Shortly after the passing away of Imam Ali (a.s.), the people of Kufa hurried to the mosque, dumbfounded and shocked at that great adversity. The grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), Imam Hassan (a.s.), stood amid this mulittude, promulgating the first of his communiques, after the departure of his great leader. He said:
"This night, a man has died whom the first Muslims did not outrun with good deeds, nor did the last ones catch up with him in pleasing acts,. He used to fight by the side of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), risking his own life for the sake of the Prophet's. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) would send him as his standard-bearer. Gabriel would protect him by fighting on his right, and Michael on his left. He would not return from the battlefield until Allah had given him victory. He died in this night, on which Jesus (Isa) son of Mary (Maryam) (a.s.) ascended to heaven, and Yusha' bin Noon, The trustee of Musa (Moses) (a.s.), passed away. He has left no dirhams or dinars besides the 700 Dirhams which were left over from his pay."
No sooner did Imam Hassan (a.s.) finish his speech, than ibn Abbas rose to his feet urging the people to give their pledge of allegiance to the new Imam. And that was exactly what the people did.
Imam Hassan (a.s.) received the pledge of allegiance from the people and was acknowledged as the caliph and the ruler of Kufa, and other Muslim cities. The news, of the demise of Imam Ali (a.s.) and the passing of the caliphate to his son, the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), soon spread.
Mu'awiya rejoiced at the death of Ali (a.s.). His capital witnessed noisy festivals. Happiness flooded it! On the other hand, Mu'awiya was greatly shaken by the announcement of Imam Hassan (a.s.) as the new caliph, and at the pledge of allegiance which he had received. He sent for his advisors, and his leading men. They got together in an emergency meeting at his palace to discuss the latest developments and draw the policy which they would adopt in challenging Imam Hassan(a.s.). The participants decided to send spies to the Muslim community to frighten the people and float rumors against the ruler of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), to the interest of the Syrian sedition.
Meanwhile, the Ummayyad party was busy winning over the leadership and the influential chiefs, who could influence the course of events in Iraq to the advantage of the Ummayyad rule. They were generous in bribery, promising the people good rewards, presenting gifts to them, threatening them... and so on.
Imam Hassan (a.s.) plans for solidifying the government system, and establishing it on firm ground, were soon effective in unearthing the plots of the Ummayyads.
Consequently, letters were exchanged between Imam Hassan (a.s.) and Mu'awiya but ended without any result. Because Mu'awiya refused to stop opposing him nor to submit to him as the legitimate leader, tension heightened between the two parties, and the situation went from bad to worse. War was declared between the two parties. Mu'awiya was the first to declare the state of war.
He began to advance his armies towards Iraq. The Muslims communicated the news of Mu'awiya's move to one another. Imam Hassan (a.s.) took due measures to face the coming enemy.
Imam Hassan (a.s.) announced in a statement the next move. He called the Umma to mobilize and prepare for war:
"Mind you, Allah ordained jihad on his creatures, and made it a duty which they received reluctantly. Then, He said to the combatants of the faithful: "Be patient, Allah is certainly with the patient." You, O people, will not win what you love without enduring what you do not like. Go out, may Allah have mercy on you, to your camp at Nukhaila, till we think and you think, and see and you see."
It brings excruciating pain to know that the multitudes of people who listened to the statement of Imam Hassan (a.s.) were susceptible to the Ummayyad rumors and lies.
Instead of preparing themselves to defend the clear right, they were shocked and flustered. They responded coldly to the statement of their Imam. They did not accept his call to prepare for war and shoulder their responsibilities.
Some of the people were resigned to the status quo and they appeared drawn to life. Others were lured into apathy by Ummayyad money. Imam Hassan (a.s.) was disappointed when he saw the true feelings of the masses which he led, and in which he saw the base on which he was depending to ward off the dangers encircling the Islamic message because of the hostile activites of the Ummayyad party.
Amid those stunned, defeated groups of people, the call of the few faithful of Islam and the true committed men who attached themselves to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), thundered. They expressed their deep loyality. They reproached those cowardly multitudes, and spoke their minds uncompromisingly and daringly.
The committed people hastened to Nukhaila and encamped there, in obedience to their Imam (a.s.). Imam Hassan (a.s.), afterwards, followed them with an army, estimated by some historians, at 4,000 men. The rest of the people were to join him. Imam Hassan (a.s.) hoped that the people would support the right cause and so come to defend Islam. But their delay in joining him made Imam Hassan (a.s.) return once again to his capital, Kufa, to incite on the people to join him.
He (a.s.) marched on, leading a tremendous army, which was paradoxially in low spirit, eaten away by weakness and disharmony. He arrived in Nukahila, where he organized his army, and set plans for the commanders of the divisions. From there, he headed for Dair Abdul-Rahman. There he decided to send a military force ahead of his army. He elected his cousin Ubaidulla bin Abbas as its commander.
The vanguard took its position at Maskin on the banks of Dijail river in Iraq. The main army, under the command of Imam Hassan (a.s.), encamped at Madhlam Sabat, near Mada'in.
It was not long before all the hitherto hidden ills came to the surface, in the forms of disunity, frailty, sedition, chaos, and conspiracy against the leadership itself. Imam Hassan (a.s.) was forced to sign a treaty with Mu'awiya.
Justifications of the Treaty:
He faced all the attempts of Mu'awiya to corner him, before the start of the war, with a lofty, sublime spirit, the spirit which knew nothing but the right and would never lower his head before the forces of falsehood. The prevailing conditions at the time, however, kept him at bay, something which has rarely taken place throughout history.
The army, led by Imam Hassan (a.s.), became the prey of disorder. Spies, agents and the bearers of disrupting news found their way into it. Imam Hassan (a.s.) was on the brink of being forced to surrender to his enemy! The umma, which he was planning a bright and successful future for, and leading its march into history, diverted its course to the advantage of his foe! That was the result of the rumors and luring promises. These factors caused a tip in the balance of power to tilt on behalf of the Umayyyad interests.
Mu'awiya showered large sums of money on the chieftans and the men who held sway in the Iraqi community, in unparalleld generosity. They were left listless and irresoulte. They gave up their earlier plans of going hand in hand with the Imam to fight Mu'awiya. They flooded Mu'awiya with their letters declaring their loyality and obedience to him. They promised to hand Imam Hassan (a.s.) over to him as a prisoner when the fire of war blazed and zero-hour came. His top leader at the front line, Ubaidulla bin Abbas, betrayed him and joined Mu'awiya. He induced two-thirds of the force, which was given the mission of stopping the advancing army, into breaking away with him and were bribed by Mu'awiya. Mu'awiya would never care how many men were killed, and how much blood was shed, as long as he remained the ruler of the Muslims.
Imam Hassan (a.s.) enjoyed quality spiritual power and would not think of deception and treachery. He (a.s.) was covetous to keep away from entering into a war in which blood would be unnecessarily shed, and men killed without result.
Before all these circumstances, there was no benefit in fighting which would cause nothing but the genocide of the remaining members of the faithful.
The Imam (a.s.) explains the factors of the Peace Treaty:
"By Allah, if I had fought Mu'awiya they would have taken hold of my neck and handed me peacefully over to him. By Allah, making peace with him with nobility, is more lovable to me than being killed by him as a captive, or set free, which would be a stain for the tribe of Hashim."
"I am, by no means humiliating the faithful, but honoring them. By my making peace, I only wanted to spare you death, when I saw my followers lingering and refraining from going to war."
"I feared, lest the Muslims should be uprooted from the surface of earth. I wanted the faith to have men who call to it."
Hassan (a.s.) said to Abu Sa'id:
"O Abu Sai'd! The reason I made peace with Mu'awiya is the same one made by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) with the tribe of Bani Eumra and Bani Ashja', and the people of Mecca when he returned from Hudaibiyya."
The Peace Document between Imam Hassan and Mu'awiya:
Indeed, the peace document was given to Mu'awiya on the condition that he abide by the Book of Allah and the sunna of His Messenger (s.a.w.). He (Mu'awiya) had no right to pass the leadership of the Umma to any one after his death. Imam Ali's (a.s.) companions and their followers should enjoy freedom and security, be it themselves, their properties, their women or their off springs.
Imam Hassan (a.s.) proved before the umma and history the conditions of his agreement with Mu'awiya. Thereupon, events and developments proved how Mu'awiya and the Ummayyads betrayed the agreement, how they turned away from the Book of Allah and the sunna of His Prophet, how they killed the righteous of the umma and the best of its offsprings, how they spoiled their properties, how they spread corruption on earth and how they committed other crimes which became prominent on the face of history.
On the first day, Mu'awiya began to tear the treaty and disclosed his intentions when he entered Kufa. There, he went up on the pulpit and addressed the people. In his address, he said:
"By Allah, I have not fought against you to make you pray, nor to fast, nor to make the pilgrimage, nor to pay poor-rates (zakat). Indeed, you do that (already). I fought you so that I might have power over you and Allah has given that to me when you were reluctant to (obey) him. Indeed, I have been requested by Hassan (a.s.), (to give him) things and I have given things to him. All of them are now under my foot. And from now on I will not fulfill anything."
After signing the treaty, Imam Hassan (a.s.), the grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), remained in Kufa for a few days. His heart was wrung by pain for what had happened. He prepared to return to Madina, the city of his illustrious grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).
When his noble procession set out, all the people of Kufa went out. They were deeply remorseful, with the look of great sorrow on their faces. They were either in tears or sad-looking. And why not? They would be humiliated after Imam Hassan (a.s.) and Ahlul-Bait had departed. The seditionists were by now in control of their lives. They appeared helpless, and disgrace descended upon their city. The Ummayyad military forces entered Kufa tightening their grip on it, striking fear into the hearts, and spreading their terror. Those who collaborated with the Ummayyads were rewarded, and those who opposed them were put to the sword.
Imam Hassan (a.s.) caravan set out crossing the desert, while pain was striking at his heart, parting with his capital, and the places which held his memories. On the other hand, when his caravan approached the holy city of Madina, its people rushed to welcome the Imam and his family (a.s.). Rapture colored their faces. Why not? The blessing of the presence of the Ahlul-Bait(a.s.) and returned to them, and the goodness, all goodness, came to their city.
As soon as he settled, Imam Hassan (a.s.) and his family set about to take up his religious responsibilities, but on a new line.
If he was a ruler before who discharged the affairs of the Umma, and set plans for its future through the office of political Imamate, and steered the ship to the coast of happiness, goodness and guidance; after the signing of the treaty he tread upon a new path.
He established a great ideological school and leadership so as to be a seat of guidance and knowledge by which the umma would be guided to the straight path of Allah, and His concluding Message.
The school of Imam Hassan (a.s.) gave fruit twofold. It graduated the greatest scholars and tranditionists.
The Ummayyad rule was not unaware of these nascent Islamic activities. It was they, as a matter of fact, who were to be reckoned with. That is why the high-rankingofficials of the Ummayyad government held a meeting to discuss the matter. They decided to follow the policy of Mu'awiya in order to get rid of the Imam (a.s.) and his Islamic leadership.
The main ingredients of that policy were:
1. Hunting down the faithful leadership in every Islamic region, and putting them to the sword. Men like Hijr bin Adi and his companions, Rasheed Hijrari, Amru bin Himq Khuza'i and others, were murdered, and persecuted.
2. Cracking down on the whole Shi'ites of Imam Ali (a.s.) by resorting to terror, suppression, making people homeless, cutting off their income, tearing down their houses, and so on.
To achieve his plans, Mu'awiya asked for the help of deviated and criminal elements and rulers, such as: Mughira bin Shi'ba, Somra bin Jondub and Ziyad bin Abih whom he appointed as a ruler over Iraq. Ziyad was an illigitimate child, thus, Mu'awiya considered him his father's son and made him as his brother. Books of history mentioned too many of his (Ziyad) crimes, among them are:
"Ziyad observed the followers of Ali bin Abi-Talib and killed them wherever they existed to the extent that he killed too many of them. He even ordered their hands and legs to be cut off, their eyes to be gouged out."
3. The employment of some of the preachers and those loyal to the Ummayyads, to tarnish the image of Ahlul-Bait and particularly Imam Ali (a.s.) who was cursed, as a ritual, on the pulpits. Traditions were invented and attributed to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). They were of great benefit to Mu'awiya and his party. False beliefs were also made up and unfairly ascribed to Ahlul-Bait (a.s.).
4. Handing out money, boundlessly, to the tribal leaderships which posed a threat to the Ummayyads in order to bring them under control.
5. The last item of this unjust, oppressive policy, was the plan to murder Imam Hassan (a.s.) with poison. Mo'awiya presented it to him through Imam's wife, Ja'da bint Ash'ath.
Thus, Imam Hassan (a.s.) went to meet his Lord, while standing in the fields of jihad, for the sake of Islam. which was preached by his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).
He (a.s.) attained martyrdom on the 28th day of the month of Safar, in the 50th year after Hijra.
He had asked his family, in his last will, to be buried by the side of his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), but the Ummayyads and the governor of Madina, Marwan bin Hakam refused to allow his burial there. Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) was thus forced to enter him at Baqi', by the side of his mother, Fatima al-Zahra' (a.s.).