Imam Hasan and Caliphate
- :Qurrat-ul-Ain Abidiy
Imam Hasan and Caliphate
The life of Imam Hasan (as) was both eventful and full of lessons, and yet the significance of his role seems to have been ignored, forgotten, or eclipsed by the extent of focus on Imam Hussain (as). Why has history blackened the radiant face of that Imam in whose adoration forty thousand people unanimously raised their hands to pledge allegiance, and the outside of whose house was continually overflowing with people?
A common misconception is that he was just a peace-maker, yet nothing could be further from the truth. For Imam Hasan (as) was overwhelmingly and popularly appointed as Caliph due to his charisma, knowledge and eminent piety. Then he led the Islamic Caliphate for six months with authority and control, and he prepared his army, leading it to war against Muawiya and exhorting it to be brave and unflinching. Only when his men became weak at the knees and fell prey to bribery, did he have to resort to peace in order to achieve his objectives. And by that means, he forever made absolutely clear the difference between Caliphate and Monarchy, thus putting an end to Muawiya’s schemes.
So what we see in our history and communities is that there is an imbalance of treatment between Imam Hasan (as) and Imam Hussain (as), whereas the Prophet (saw) declared them both as the leaders of the youth of Paradise. This book very nicely redresses that balance by displaying the brilliance of Imam Hasan’s leadership, the farsightedness of his thinking, and his iron-like resolve in serving Allah (swt) – all characteristics so reminiscent of his father before him.
Moreover, the author demonstrates, with exacting scholarship – using authentic sources and the motherbooks of history, how there would have been no Karbala without the groundwork laid by Imam Hasan (as).
The book also has great value as a manual of instruction on how one should obey the Imam of one’s time, in war and in peace – thus making it an excellent way of preparing for the emergence of the Twelfth Imam (atf).
The author, Hujjatul Islam Sayyid Muhammad Qurat-ul-Ain Abidy, has been in the Holy City of Qom for twenty years, first as a student in the Islamic Seminary & then as a teacher of Quran Tafseer and Fiqh. Among his publications are the following works:
‘Islah Ijtimai Dar Islam’ (Social Reforms in Islamic Society),
‘Seerat-e-Ali’ (Translation to Urdu of the biography of Imam Ali (as)).
‘Ghina’ (Translation into Persian of a treatise on music).
He is also a founding member of the Islami Afkar Foundation in Pakistan and a senior teacher in the Al-Asr organization of London.
I hope that this book is of benefit to both scholars, who will appreciate the thoroughness of its investigations, and to lay people, who will appreciate the excitement of a narrative depicting the rise and fall of rulers and the battles fought between them. In particular, students of Islamic history from 40AH – 50AH, and those studying the causes of the shift from Islamic Government (Caliphate) to materialistic Monarchy, will find this work valuable.
Zahir Davdani (MEng)
Qom - 30/9/05.
Although there is difference of opinion among the Muslims about the vicegerency of the Holy Prophet (saww), or in other words, about who should have been the caliph of Muslims after the death of the Holy Prophet (saww), Shi'a believe that the caliph should have been appointed by the Holy Prophet (saww) as had always been the practice in accordance with the commands of Almighty God, while Ahle Sunnat believe that the Holy Prophet (saww) had left the method of selection of the caliph to the discretion of the people. According to them, if people pay allegiance to a person, then he is a caliph, otherwise not. If for a moment this criterion is accepted, then there will be left no choice but to accept that only Hazrat Ali (as) and the first caliph are caliphs, as the common Muslims had only paid allegiance to these two persons. As against this, the second caliph was nominated while the third caliph was selected through a committee of six persons. Therefore, it becomes clear that the allegiance by the people alone is not enough for a person to be declared Imam or caliph. On the other hand, it is known that there has always been a difference of opinion among the Muslims about the caliphate and the vicegerency of the Holy Prophet (saww). To be just and fair, after the Holy Prophet (saww), it was only Imam Hasan (as)'s eminent and undisputed personality about whom no difference of opinion was witnessed in the Islamic society regarding his caliphate. Whether the Holy Prophet (saww)'s hadith, or the nomination of the next caliph by the earlier caliph, or the people's allegiance, or the learned and eminent personality of Imam Hasan (as) is taken as the criterion for the true Islamic caliphate or Imamat, Imam Hasan (as) emerges as the most suitable person among the Muslims of the time for the high rank of Islamic caliphate. That is why all the Muslim states of that period had acknowledged him as the caliph. The only exception was a group of insurgents who did not pay allegiance and vowed to fight against him.
The Holy Prophet (saww), as extensively quoted by the Shi'a and Sunni Hadith narrators, had stated that there would be twelve caliphs after him and emphatically said that all of these would be from among the Quraish. There is no doubt that the second name among these is that of Imam Hasan Mujtaba (as). 1
Apart from this, the Holy Prophet (saww) had specifically mentioned the Imamat of Imam Hasan (as) and his brother Imam Husain (as) in many of his Hadith. For example:
"These two (Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (as)) are Imam, whether they take a firm stand against an issue or observe peace." 2
Although the above Hadith of the Holy Prophet (saww) has a deep rooted meaning and many other points to reflect upon, here the Holy Prophet (saww) is emphasizing that the Imamat and the caliphate of these two brothers is so sound that any decision of theirs regarding peace or war would be correct and would not adversely affect their status. There is no doubt that some Muslims of the time had raised some objections against the peace treaty of Imam Hasan (as) and the revolutionary strategy of Imam Husain (as), but the Holy Prophet (saww) had already replied to these objections in advance and had instructed the Muslims to follow them in all conditions, whether in peace or war, and to treat them as their Imam.
Similarly there is the following Hadith of the Holy Prophet (saww) which has been quoted repetitively by the historians:
"This son of mine is the leader and Almighty God will arrange peace between two groups through him." 3
(If this hadith is true), then it is clear that Imam Hasan (as) had the eminent status due to which the two groups acknowledged him as their leader and guide, followed him and accepted the peace arranged by him. There is no doubt that caliphate is another name of such an eminent position and undisputed personality.
Similarly, if the nomination of a caliph is taken as the criterion of caliphate, then history records that Hazrat Ali (as) had assigned many responsibilities to Imam Hasan (as) on different occasions and had directed him to lead the prayers in his place just before his martyrdom. Imam Hasan (as) was his vicegerent about treating Ibne Muljim, the assassin of Imam Ali (as), and about other issues. According to Shi'a narrations, Amirul Momineen Hazrat Ali (as) had made the following will in favour of him just before his martyrdom:
"O my son, you are the caliph after me and you are the vicegerant after me regarding my assassin."
Regarding the above will, he had taken as witness not only Imam Husain (as), Mohammad b. Hanafia, his other sons, but a number of prominent Shi'as well. Afterwards he gave his copy of the Holy Quran and his armament to him and said that these had been given to him by the Holy Prophet (saww) who had directed that he should hand over these to him, declaring him (Imam Hasan (as)) as his heir. 4
As against this, some historical records show that when Imam Ali (as) was asked as to whom he was nominating the caliph, he had declined to name anyone and had left it to the choice of Muslims.
We feel that such narrations are far from the truth and have been concocted by those who were bent upon declaring allegiance or consultation ('shoora') as the basis for caliphate, because the views of Hazrat Ali (as), as reflected in Nahjul Balagha and other historical books, are quite different. He considered only the Ahle Bait (as) and members of the household of the Holy Prophet (saww) as fit for caliphate and in the presence of Imam Hasan (as), he would normally have appointed him as the caliph.
Again, if the conditions prevailing at the time are taken into account, the caliphate and the government of Hazrat Ali (as) was facing a crisis situation. Nearly all historical narrations record that at the time Hazrat Ali (as) was preparing for a decisive battle against Moawiya and forty thousand soldiers had vowed to fight along with him till death. In that situation, for sure he was likely to appoint as his heir and next in command a person who would truly guide a large army and uproot the rebellious group in an appropriate manner. Not doing so would have endangered the center of Islamic caliphate! 5
Not only is it that no objection against the caliphate of Imam Hasan Mujtaba (as) was raised by the Muslims of the time, but rather the whole Muslim history records that Muslims up to the current period regard him as their Imam and caliph, despite so many other differences among them. 'Ahle Sunnat val Jama'at' consider him as the orthodox caliph and claim that the Islamic caliphate ended for ever after Imam Hasan (as) and the monarchical system commenced. They further quote that his grand father,the Holy Prophet (saww), had earlier prophesied the same in the following words:
"The caliphate will last thirty years after me. After that, it will be monarchy." 6
According to the historians, the thirty years were completed when Imam Hasan (as) agreed for peace with Moawiya and handed over the outwardly power to him.
The above hadith is not only well known but the learned and the old nobles among Ahle Sunnat treat Imam Hasan (as) as the true Islamic caliph. On this basis an objection can be raised against those scholars who, writing about caliphate and monarchy, have mentioned only four orthodox caliphs of Islam and have thus ignored Imam Hasan (as), while there is no doubt that monarchy commenced with Moawiya and there is a gap of six to eight months between the same and the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (as), which is the period of the orthodox caliphate of Imam Hasan (as).
Though a lot can be written on the issue, let us see what details history has recorded about the allegiance to Imam Hasan (as).
It was a little before dawn on the 21st Ramadhan and the people in the city of Koofa were mourning the martyrdom of Ameerul Momineen Hazrat Ali (as). Apart from Koofa, the sorrow and shock of the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (as) was being felt by Muslims in all other cities as well. According to the will of Hazrat Ali (as), Imam Hasan (as) had performed his burial rites along with a group of Imam Ali (as)'s followers. At the same time a large number of Muslims were awaiting him in the mosque of Koofa. These included not only the residents of Koofa and those who had come from the nearby areas, but also well known personalities among the Mohajireen and Ansar and the sincere and trusted companions of his father Hazrat Ali (as). All of them performed their morning prayers under the leadership of Imam Hasan (as), who gave a long sermon on this occasion of grief. In the sermon he paid tribute to the leader of the pious ones in a manner most appropriate to the unique and unparalleled personality of the late Imam (as). All the historians have quoted this sermon, with very little variation. After duly praising Almighty God for His beneficence and mercy and invoking God's blessings on the Holy Prophet (saww) and his progeny, he said:
"This night has gone beyond this transitory world a person whom no one had surpassed earlier and none would be his equal in future. There is no doubt that he was with the Holy Prophet (saww) in the religious wars and used to protect him even to the extent of putting his own life at risk. On any mission that he was assigned by the Holy Prophet (saww) to lead, Gabriel used to be on his right and Michael on his left, and he would not return until Almighty God had granted him success. He has been martyred in the same night in which Prophet Moses b. Imran had died, Prophet Jesus Christ was elevated to the sky and the Holy Quran was revealed. He has not left any worldly wealth except seven hundred Dirham, which were left over from his distribution as he wanted to make arrangement for a servant for his household and these too he has instructed me to return to Bait ul Maal."
After the above words, tears welled up in his eyes and seeing him in such grief about his father, the whole gathering wept and cried. After a while, when quietness had returned to the mosque at Koofa, Imam Hasan (as), continuing his sermon, said: "O men! apart from those who know me, those who don't, should be aware that I am Hasan, son of Ali (as); I am the son of the Holy Prophet (saww) and the son of his heir; I am the son of one who has been called the lamp resplendent; I am one of the Ahle Bait to whom Gabriel used to come and fly back from them; I am from the family of the Holy Prophet (saww) which has been kept away from every kind of uncleanliness by Allah and He has purified us with a thorough purification. Our love and respect has been made obligatory by Allah on every Muslim (man and woman). In the Holy Quran Allah has commanded: 'Say (O Muhammad) "I do not ask of you any recompense for it (the toils of the prophet ship) save love of (my) relatives" and whoever earns good, We increase for him (more and more) good therein.' - Ash Shura, 23; So, earning good really is our love."
The learned scholar Sheikh Raazi Aale Yasin, explaining the above sermon, writes:
"While paying tribute to his father, Imam Mujtaba (as) adopted a unique style which is unparalleled. Neither he re ferred to the respectable life and great achievements of his illustrious father, nor his learning, modesty, eloquence, bravery, high status, noble genealogy was narrated, as is the normal practice. He adopted such a unique approach which cannot be traced in any other historical record. Imam Hasan (as) viewed Hazrat Ali (as) from a moral and religious angle. It is clear that really one Imam is focussing his attention on the one who is another Imam. Thus, the one leaving this transitory world was such a unique personality that his life, viewed from any angle, was unmatched even by the trusted angels, holy men or the pious persons.
He is a human being - yet such a being that neither any person earlier than him nor later could equal him. He is a human being but surrounded by Gabriel and Michael; isn't he an angel-like person?
"He leaves the earthly life on the same day that prophet Jesus Christ was elevated to the sky; he was martyred the same day that prophet Moses had died; he is lowered in the grave the same night that the Holy Quran is being revealed. "These are the levels of high status that are attained by the trusted angels, 'ulul azm' prophets (possessors of determina tion) and the holy books.
"He was such a person who used to fight along with the Holy Prophet (saww) and would protect him even putting his own life at risk. When he was worthy of such high rewards in the hereafter, then one can imagine what his worldly qualities and achievements would be!!" 9
As mentioned by the learned scholar, Imam Hasan (as) adopted a unique style while describing the life of the leader of the pious ones. Similarly, his manner of introducing himself was also unique. He not only explained his close relationship with the household of the Holy Prophet (saww), indicating his own very close lineage, but also referred to the relevant verses of the Holy Quran which proved that he was one of the five persons who had been kept away from every kind of uncleanliness by Allah and He had purified them with a thorough purification. This means that he had an ideal character and belonged to that illustrious family of piety and chastity whose love had been made obligatory on all Muslim men and women by Almighty God.
A question arises as to who can be more fit for caliphate and to be a candidate for the leadership (Imam) of the Muslims than the one who belonged to such a distinguished and pious family, whose character was an ideal one where there was no chance of error, and whose love has been made obligatory on every Muslim man and woman? That was the reason that as soon as he had finished his sermon, his uncle and the governor of Hazrat Ali (as) in Yemen, Ubaidullah b. Abbas, got up and invited the people to pay allegiance to Imam Hasan (as), and said: "O men! he is the son of the Holy Prophet (saww) and the heir to your Imam. So, pay allegiance to him." 10_
People welcomed the offer of allegiance and soon became the followers of such a respected leader through the allegiance. They showed the love and respect that they had for the son of the Holy Prophet (saww), indicated the right that he had over them, and the fact that none had a greater right to caliphate and allegiance than him! Perhaps it was for the first time that a city like Koofa, despite all sorts of differences, disunity and being a hot bed of intrigue, had shown such unity while taking such a major decision. The first person who came forward to offer allegiance to Imam Mujtaba (as) was Qais, the son of S'ad b. 'Abadah Ansari. Qais was a close follower of Hazrat Ali (as) and had been his representative in Azerbaijan during the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (as). While Hazrat Ali (as) was planning for a decisive war against Moawiya before his martyrdom, he was commanding a very important regiment called 'the Thursday soldiers' ('Shurtah al Khamees'), which was similar to the Elite Commandos of today.
Anyway, Qais came forward and said to the Imam (as): "Kindly extend your hand so that I may pay allegiance to you in accordance with the commands of the Holy Quran, the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (saww) and to fight against those who declare lawful what has been forbidden by Almighty Allah." The grand son of the Holy Prophet (saww) looked at S'ad with kindness and love and said: "the allegiance in accordance with the Holy Book revealed by the Gracious God and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet includes all that is right and excludes any other unnecessary condition. As prayers, fasting, zakat (the religious tax) and other obligations have been made compulsory according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah, similarly to fight against those creating disturbance, the traitors and those declaring lawful what has been forbidden by Almighty God, has been made obligatory by Him.
Imam Mujtaba (as) further stated: "I can accept your allegiance on the condition that you will fight with one with whom I fight and will observe peace with one with whom I make peace." 11 Some historical records show that after hearing these words from the Imam (as), some persons started doubting his willingness to wage war while those who were favouring peace and understanding, felt that he would fight just like his illustrious father. We will discuss these points in detail in subsequent chapters.
After the Imam (as) had expressed the above words, Qais b. S'ad paid allegiance to him and the masses in large numbers vowed to follow him and immediately started to pay allegiance to him as the true Islamic caliph. Apart from Koofa, Basra, Hijaz, Yemen, Persia and all other areas that were in the caliphate of his illustrious father also accepted him as the true Islamic caliph and came under his rule. No city, not even the holy cities of Makkah and Madina, raised any voice of dissent or opposition. Only the group of traitors, who had not accepted the caliphate of Imam Ali (as), considered this allegiance as a threat to them and started their nefarious activities.
Commenting on the above event, Dr. Husain Mohammad J'afari in his book 'Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam,' writes: "The election of Imam Hasan (as) as the caliph, without any opposition or objection from Koofa, Hijaz or any other area, is a clear evidence of his capabilities, nobility and high status. Qais b. S'ad b. 'Abadah, the sincere companion and loyal general of Hazrat Ali (as) was the first person to pay allegiance to Imam Hasan (as). The forty thousand soldiers, who had vowed with Hazrat Ali (as) to fight against Moawiya till death, congratulated him on being elected the caliph. Outwardly expressing his own feelings and those of the Iraqi army, Qais tried to include, along with following the Holy Book and Sunnah, war against 'Muhilleen', i.e. those who had considered permissible what Allah had forbidden, as one of the basis of allegiance. However, Imam Hasan (as), explaining that it was included in the first two conditions, convinced him to delete this condition. The Iraqi soldiers, who were inclined to fight against Moawiya, did not want to delete this third condition, yet they all paid allegiance to him despite the same. Later events show that perhaps Imam Hasan (as) was apprehensive that Iraqis would run away from war at an hour of trial. Therefore, he did not want to bind himself under an emotional decision which might result in the total destruction of persons. Despite all that, according to the majority narrations, all those who were present on the occasion, paid allegiance on the specific condition that they will fight one who wages war against Imam Hasan (as) and would make peace with whom the Imam (as) made peace."
He further writes that the declaration of the caliphate of Imam Hasan (as) from Iraq and its support from Hijaz, Yemen, Faras and other areas, meant a great danger to Moawiya, who had started his scheme to capture power soon after the death of Hazrat Usman. 12 After the allegiance, the Imam (as) got down from the pulpit and got busy in earnest in performing the responsibilities of caliphate. The appointment of the governors, other responsible office bearers of the vast territories and the solution of many other issues was taken in hand in earnest by the noble Imam (as).
In Shi'ite history, Koofa has had a central position. From the time of the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (as) to the revolutionary period of Imam Husain (as) and further till the steadfast and firm stand taken by Hazrat Mukhtar, many important incidents took place there. One of the most important of these was the peace treaty of Imam Hasan (as). It would be appropriate to give a brief description of the historical background of Koofa before the peace treaty of Imam Hasan (as), so that the conditions through which the residents of Koofa were passing or had faced earlier, would become clear.
Koofa was founded in 17 A.H. when the Muslim army had achieved success in the Qadsiya wars and the 2nd Caliph had asked S'ad b. Abee Waqas, the commander of the Muslim army to stay on in Iraq. This way he could advance towards Persia after strengthening the Muslim army. However, the Muslims soldiers were on the look out for a site which may, apart from being a suitable place for the army, offer a good climate and have suitable living conditions. After a two year search, a location on the western side of the river Euphrates was selected as the army garrison, where Muslim soldiers could come from other cities to stay, and after getting due training, plan for an attack on the then great Persian kingdom. In the beginning Koofa had a population of 24,000, of which twelve thousand were from southern Arabia (Yemen) while eight thousand were from northern Arabia (Nazaar). Apart from these, there were four thousand Persian prisoners of war or slaves who had been arrested during Qadsiya battles and had converted to Islam.
Initially, Koofa was inhabited by those persons who had come to fight in the Qadsiya wars, but later, Muslims migrated to the city from other cities. After the decline of the great Iranian kingdom, a large number of Iranians had also settled there. These were in addition to those whom the Muslims had brought as their slaves or maids. By the time of the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (as), a new generation from the maids had grown up. Apart from the Muslims, a sizable number of Christians from Najran had also settled there. It is said that at the time of the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (as) there were forty thousand Muslim soldiers, and Koofa and its population has been estimated at about one hundred thousand inhabitants.
Whereas other cities normally had a tribal set up, Koofa, having been founded on conquest and strategic considerations, consisted of persons from different tribes and areas. Due to these conditions, S'ad b. Abee Waqas faced many problems in settling the persons of different colour and race under various tribal groups or to assimilate them in one social and cultural set up. After some time he divided them into seven groups.
It has been reported that during the period of the 2nd Caliph, some effort was made to spread Islamic culture in Koofa and to train the Muslim army on an Islamic pattern. For this purpose, Ammar Yasir was appointed the governor of Koofa. However, due to the fact that the caliph used to treat the Muslim soldiers better through the distribution of Bait ul Maal, and the number of slaves and maids had considerably increased due to extensive victories, the values had changed and wealth, authority and such other considerations had taken the place of Islamic and moral values. As a result, the wealthy persons had acquired a much higher status in Koofa. Later, during the rule of the 3rd Caliph, with the appointment of Waleed b. 'Aqaba as governor, the tribal aristocracy was revived and the Islamic values were even ridiculed. During this period, the Umayyads had attained domination in the politics of Koofa but the religious and the faithful persons of Koofa could not bear the ridicule of religious values and stood against the rulers. Thus Koofa had become divided into different groups. On one side was the religious group who were devoted to the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah, while on the other side was the ruling clique who wanted to strengthen its rule and the capitalistic system. During the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (as), the religious group had attained an upper hand in Koofa as many Muhajireen, Ansars and the Companions of the Holy Prophet (saww) had immigrated there due to its becoming the capital. Apart from it, a large number of Shi'as had appeared in Koofa during the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (as). However, the influence of non-believers and tribal chiefs, who had been against the religious group from the beginning and had been intriguing against religion ever since, was not an insignificant one. That is why the residents of Koofa had, in the beginning, decided to remain neutral in the camel ('Jamal') war and the religious group had not succeeded in their efforts until the arrival of Imam Hasan (as), who succeeded, after long discussion, in recruiting twelve thousand soldiers for the army, though forty thousand soldiers were present there at the time.
During the caliphate of Imam Hasan (as), another group, known as 'Khawarij' had gained considerable influence in Koofa. These persons had become the enemies of Hazrat Ali (as) after the Siffin war and had particular, specific ideas. It is said that their speeches used to swiftly influence the thinking of the people who were accepting their ideas. The common people were confused, being divided into these three groups. Due to the varying views, ideas and opinions, they were unable to decide who was right and who was wrong! For further understanding the conditions prevailing at the time of the caliphate of Imam Hasan (as), three points should be well understood:
After crushing the internal rebellion of the camel ('Jamal') war, Hazrat Ali (as) decided in 36 A.H. to declare Koofa as the capital. There is no doubt that this was a major step in the history of Koofa. The historical records do not reflect any clear reason for this decision. No historian has given any indication that the Imam (as) wished, before the 'Jamal' war, to announce the shifting of the capital to Koofa. However, some researchers have written that when the Imam (as) heard the news of the death and destruction by the rebellious group in Basra, he was busy at the time in preparing for war against the insurgents of Syria. But, realizing the nature of the rebellion, he had to postpone the earlier war plans and to march towards Basra. After restoring peace in Basra, his first priority was to bring the Syrian insurgents back on the right path as directed by Almighty Allah and to fight them, as ordered by the Holy Prophet (saww). From a military point of view, Koofa was an ideal location where a large Muslim army was present and soldiers from other areas could also be gathered there. Moreover, he could also contain the internal and external conspiracies which had been hatched against the Muslims and reached a city like Koofa. One link of these conspiracies was the 'Jamal' war itself which had been planned by the Syrian rebellious group, and was difficult to control from Madina.
The historical perspective described here makes it clear that a majority of the influentials in Koofa belonged to the group of self-seekers and those after status. They had old associations with the mutineers of Syria. Although they were with the leader of the faithful in the Siffin war, yet behind the scenes they had been intriguing against the Imam (as). These aversive intrigues at first led to the Imam (as)'s outward set back in the Siffin war, the disobedience of his orders, and finally his martyrdom.
From the above facts it can be concluded that in addition to differences due to race, colour, ideas and beliefs, Koofa was also a hot bed of malice, mistrust and intrigue. The main aim of the intrigues was to weaken the truly Islamic Alavi government. So, these extended till the time of Imam Hasan (as) and beyond. Imam Hasan (as) also faced great danger due to these intrigues, as they had reached a crisis stage during the time of his caliphate.
It is a historical fact that the residents of Koofa used to say so many things emotionally, yet at the moment of trial they would run away from the battle field and lacked patience and steadfastness.
This fact emerges more clearly at the time when Imam Husain (as) went to Koofa at the invitation of its nationals and wished them to participate in his revolution. Then the people advised him otherwise, explaining the nature of the residents of Koofa as follows:
"No doubt their hearts are with you, but their swords are with your enemy", which meant that those people were very emotional while expressing love, regard and respect for someone but would abandon him at the time of trial and tribulation. At that time they only worried about their personal interests.
There is no doubt that in the Siffin war these people were responsible for the leader of the faithful sufferring a set back from a victorious position; they did not follow the command of Imam Hasan (as) for war and left him alone at Madain, due to which the carpet was pulled under his feet and he was severely injured in a dagger attack. Subsequently, when Hajar b. Adi, the Companion of the Holy Prophet (saww), started a movement against the representative of Moawiya, the residents of Koofa withdrew their support for him at a difficult hour. Hazrat Muslim b. Aqeel faced the same fate and Imam Husain (as) had to face untold problems and tribulations, even though it were the residents of Koofa themselves who had invited Imam Husain (as) to come to Iraq.
We have to regretfully state the fact that when the historians discuss the peace treaty of Imam Hasan (as), they ignore these hard realities, as if the residents of Koofa had, against their very nature, become fully prepared for war and that Imam Hasan (as) had ordered them to accept peace to avoid bloodshed! There is no doubt that a large number of Shi'a and the devotees of the household of the Holy Prophet (saww) ('Ahle Bait') were present in Koofa, who had faith in Imam Hasan (as) and accepted him as their caliph and Imam, but only till such time as their own interests were not endangered and Imam Hasan (as) had not instructed them to face any major responsibility. There were very few Shi'a who were determined to remain faithful to the Imam (as) till death.
The time of the accession to caliphate of Imam Hasan (as) was such a sensitive and difficult one that the people of Iraq had by then become extremely disheartened due to prolonged internal wars. The wars had resulted in huge destruction and their social and political conditions had become miserable.
The people of Iraq were facing a very cunning and formidable enemy. Under the leadership of Hazrat Ali (as), they had tried, in the Siffin war, to finish off the rival who was based in Syria, but the war did not result in success due to some moneyed persons and self-seeking officers. A number of wars continued later till the people got tired of the same, so much so that they started disobeying the orders of the leader of faithful himself. The unending wars, beginning with the camel ('Jamal') war, and con tinuing with the Siffin war, the Nahrwan war against the 'Khawarij', the skirmishes with the detachments of the Syrian army sent by Moawiya, and the use of the army to quell revolts in certain areas all had resulted in a situation where the people of Koofa had started to betray the leader of the faithful. They had openly started to disobey Hazrat Ali (as) due to which the Imam (as) had condemned them. In the sermons of the Imam (as), quoted in 'Nahjul Balagha', his views are clearly reflected. He states that while the people had become tired and sad, they had also disappointed him. Among the consequences of these wars, two points need serious attention:
(a) A large number of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (saww) and sincere and religious personalities had lost their lives in these wars and the group devoted to religious values which could present the Islamic ideals, had become weak. For that reason, the common people had lost the sense of deeper values of life and the hereafter. They were after only the worldly benefits.
(b) In the bitter Siffin war a large number of the soldiers from Iraq and Koofa had lost their lives and those who had survived were remembering their loved ones in grief. Later, when their near ones fought the Nahrwan war as the 'Khawarij', remaining rebellious despite the advice of the leader of the faithful, and were eliminated, it had a very bad effect on the residents of Koofa - who became revengeful. The selfish Iraqi leaders, taking advantage of the prevailing conditions, disobeyed the orders of Hazrat Ali (as) after the Nahrwan war, to go to fight against the rebellious group of Syria, which the Imam (as) had planned. These leaders, pretending excuses, forced the Imam (as) to postpone the war.
The situation in Koofa at the time was such that the soldiers had a mixed feeling of grief and revenge. It was not an ordinary situation, as they had lost many of their relatives. Thus they could not be expected to fight a formidable enemy very soon. The rest of the people, who included the wealthy group, preferred peace and understanding. In those distressed conditions they had also lost their Imam and caliph and were facing the aggressive rulers of Syria who had been their rivals. However, they were very hopeful that Imam Hasan Mujtaba (as) would find some political solution to the existing hatred between Syria and Iraq, so that peace and tranquility would prevail in Koofa.
In his sermons, Imam Hasan (as) has himself described the pathetic conditions prevailing in Koofa at the time, which we would discuss in subsequent chapters. Apart from these, another consideration for Imam Hasan (as) was that he had to take into confidence those persons from Koofa and other cities who had gathered for a final battle with Moawiya and who had taken a vow with his illustrious father to fight till death. They were pressing the Imam (as) to march against Moawiya immediately.
1. Hashim al M'roof - 'Seerat al Aimma al Asna Ashar', Beirut, Dar ul T'aruf Dar ul Qalam,1977,vol.1, p.38.
2. Baqar Qarshi, 'Hayat al Imam al Hasan bin Ali', Najaf, Matba' al Adaab, 1973, vol.1, p.103; Taufiq ul ulm -Ahlul Bait, Cairo, Maktaba la Anjalo al Misriyah, 1970, p.307; Hashim al M'roof - Seerat al Aimma al Asna Ashar', Beirut, Dar ul T'aruf Dar ul Qalam, 1977, vol.1, p.544; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum; Munshooraat al Razi, 1373 A.H.. p.52.
3. This hadith has been quoted by nearly all reliable historians. Majlisi - Biharul Anwaar, Beirut, Moassasah al Wafa, 1983.
4. Baqar vol. 43, p.322 ('Tareekh al Hasan al Zaki' - extract from "Kaafi").
5. Ibne Aseer - 'Al Kamil fee al Tareekh', Beirut: Dar Ahya al Turas, 1989, vol. 2 p. 445; Tabari - 'Tareekh al Tabari', Beirut: Daarul Kutub al Ilmiah 1988, vol 3, p. 164; Husain Dayar Bakari - 'Tareekh al-Khamees', Beirut, Moassasah Shabaan, vol. 2, p.389; Ibne Khaldoon, 'Tareekhe Ibne Khaldoon', Beirut, Moassasah A'la mi, lil Matboo'at 1971, vol. 2, p. 186; Ibne Kaseer - 'Albidayah val Nihaya', Beirut, Maktaba al M'arif 1974, vol. 8 p.14; Muhib al Tabari - 'Zakhair al U'qbi, Cairo, Maktaba al Qudsi, 1356 A.H., p. 139; Dr. Hasan Ibrahim - 'Tareekh al Islam', Beirut, Dar Ahya al Turas al Arabi, 1964, vol. 1, p.274; Carl Brockelmann - 'Tareekh al Sh'oob al Islamiah, Beirut, Darul Ilm lil- Mabain, 1965, 4th edition, p. 120.
6. Ibnul Sabbagh al Maliki - 'al Fusool al Muhimmah, Najaf, Darul Kutub, p.146; Ibne Khallakan - 'Wafeeyat al-'ayan', Qum, Manshoorat al Razi, 1985, vol. 2, p.66; Ibne Kaseer - 'Albidayah val Nihaya', Beirut, Maktaba al M'arif, 1974, 2nd edition, vol. 8 p.16,and vol. 6 p.220 (the book 'D alail al-Nubooah'); Abdul Qadir Badran, 'Tahzeebe Tareekhe Damishq', Beirut, Darul Ahya al-Turas 1987, 3rd edition, vol. 4, p.22; Ibne Asakir - 'Tareekh-e-Madinate Damishq, Tarjuma al Imam al Hasan' (Al Mahmoodi research) Beirut, Moassasah al-Mahmoodi, 1980, p. 171, tradition No. 289; Mas'oodi - 'Murawwij al Zahab', Beirut, Dar ul Fikr, 1989, vol. 3, p.7.
7. Mas'oodi - 'Murawwij al Zahab', Beirut, vol. 2, p.426; Dinavari - 'Al Akhbar al Tawaal', Cairo: Daar Ahya al Kutub 1960, p. 216; Hakim 20 Naishapuri, 'al Mustadrak al Saheehain', Beirut, Darul Ma'rifa, vol. 3, p.172; Yaqoobi - 'Tareekhe Yaqoobi', Beirut: Dare Sadir, vol.2 p. 213; Hafiz Zahbi, 'Tareekh al-Islam', Beirut, Darul Kutub al Arabi, 1987, 'Ahde Khulafa-e-Rashideen p. 52; Ibne A'sam - 'Al Futooh, Hyderabad: Daira al Ma'arif al Usmania, 1971, vol. 4, p.15; Ibne Aseer - 'Al Kamil', Beirut: Dar Ahya al Turas al Arabi, 1989, vol. 2 p. 442; Tabari - 'Tareekh al Tabari', Beirut: Daarul Kutub al Ilmiah 1988, 2nd edition, vol 3, p. 164; Muhib al Tabari - 'Zakhair al U'qbi, Cairo, Maktaba al Qudsi, 1356 A.H., p. 138; Sheikh Mufeed, 'Kitab ul Irshad', Teheran, 'Intisharaat-e-Ilmiah' vol 2, p. 4; Balazari - 'Ansaab al Ashraaf', Beirut, Dar al Ta'ruf lil Mat bu'at, 1977, vol. 3, p. 28.
8. Abul Faraj - 'Maqatil al Talibeen', Najaf, Maktaba al Haidar iya, 1965, vol.1, pp.32-33; Ibne Abee al Hadeed, 'Sharhe Nahjul Balagha', Cairo: Dar Ahya al Kutub al Arabia, 1962, vol. 16, p.30; Hakim Naishapuri, 'al Mustadrak al Saheehain', Beirut, Darul Ma'rifa, vol. 3, p.172, (the book M'arifat as Sahaba); Muhib al Tabari - 'Zakhair al U'qbi, Cairo, Maktaba al Qudsi, 1356 A.H., p. 138; Sheikh Mufeed, 'Kitab ul Irshad', Teheran, 'Intisharaat-e-Ilmiah' vol 2, p. 4; Hashim al M'roof - 'Seerat al Aimma al Asna Ashar', Beirut, Dar ul T'aruf, 1986, vol.1, p.501.
9. Sheikh Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum; Munshooraat al Razi, 1373 A.H. pp.56-57.
10. Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', p.58; Abul Faraj, 'Maqatil al Talibeen, Najaf, Maktaba al Haidariyah, 1965, vol. 1, p.33; Tabari - 'Tareekh al Tabari', Beirut: Daarul Kutub al Ilmiah 1988, vol 3, p. 166; Balazari - 'Ansaab al Ashraaf', Beirut, Dar al Ta'ruf lil Mat bu'at, 1977, vol. 3, p.28; Hashim al M'roof - 'Seerat al Aimma al Asna Ashar', vol.2, p.501.
11. Balazari - 'Ansaab al Ashraaf', Beirut, Dar al Ta'ruf lil Matbu'at, 1977, vol. 3, p.29; Ibne Kaseer - 'Albidayah val Nihaya', Beirut, Maktaba al M'arif. 1974, vol. 8 p.17; Ibne Aseer - 'Al Kamil fee al Tareekh', vol. 2 p. 443; Ibne A'sam - 'Al Futooh, Hyderabad: Daira al Ma'arif al Usmania, 1971, vol. 4, p.148; Abdul Qadir Badran, 'Tahzeebe Tareekhe Damishq', Beirut, Darul Ahya al-Turas al Arabi, 1987, vol. 4, p.223; Ibne Asakir - 'Tareekh-e-Madinate Damishq, Tarjuma al Imam al Hasan', Beirut p. 174; Tabari - 'Tareekh al Tabari', vol 3, p. 167.
12. Dr. Husain Mohammad J'aferi, 'The Origin & Early Development of Shia Islam',(Persiantranslation) Dr. Ayet Ilahi, Tashay'o dar Tareekh, Tehran, Islamic Cultural Publishing Centre, 1993, pp. 158-161.
13. Husain Mohammad J'afari - 'The Origins and Early Development of Shia Islam', Persian translation, Ayet Ilahi, Tashay'o dar Masla(?)-e-Tareekh, Tehran, Office of Islamic Cultural Publica tions, 1993, pp. 125-154; Yaqoot - 'M'oajjim al Baladan; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum; Munshooraat al Razi, 1414 A.H. pp.63-77; Hashim M'aroof - 'Seerat al Aimmah Asna Ashar', Beirut, Daar ul T'aruf, 1986, vol. 1, p.420 and p.493; Jawwad Fazlullah - 'Sulh ul Imam Hasan', Qum, Dar ul Musaqqaf, p.65; Nahjul Balaghah, sermon No. 25, (Sharhe Ibne Abee al Hadeed, vol. 1, p.333, Cairo.
A study of the historical record shows that the historians have ignored the period between the accession to caliphate by Imam Hasan (as) and the commencement of the war. Although this ambiguity is reflected in describing the whole life of Imam (as), yet it is more visible for this period. The fact that no major conflicts or clashes took place in the disturbed political and economic conditions of Koofa during the brief caliphate period of Imam Hasan (as), shows a great success of his brief caliphate period and reflects his great qualities of cool political planning and statesman-like policies. As a true caliph, it was the statesmanship of the Imam (as) which kept Koofa in peace under his centralized effective control, despite all its differences and mistrust.
The sound political planning of Imam Mujtaba (as) was visible from the very day when the people wanted to pay allegiance to him. He had permitted them the allegiance on the specific condition that they would make peace with the one with whom he would do so and would fight one who would fight against him. Due to this stand of the Imam (as), Koofa remained united and peaceful, and he maintained a neutral position between those wanting to fight and the seekers of peace.
Declaring the Holy Book and the Sunnah as the basis of allegiance, he demonstrated a practical proof for being the grand son of the Holy Prophet (saww) as well as his true caliph. There is no doubt that the Holy Prophet (saww) commanded the people to follow the Holy Book and Sunnah and used to make it clear to them that the solution of all their problems lay in following the same. It cannot be denied that the Holy Book and the Sunnah contain the commands for war as well as peace and it is for the Imam and the caliph of the Holy Prophet (saww) to decide as to when to fight and when to make peace. The people must follow the Imam in either case.
After assuming the office of caliph, the first step that Imam Hasan (as) took was that he raised the salary of the soldiers by 100 Dirham each. Before him, the leader of the faithful had done the same at the time of the Camel war, while he did it at the time of becoming the caliph. Subsequently all the caliphs followed him in this respect. 1
Though the raise in the salary of soldiers has always been considered as strengthening the fighting spirit of the soldiers, particularly at the critical moment of war, yet the grandson of the Holy Prophet (saww), by doing so, did not intend to wage war immediately. Rather, he wanted to revive the morale of the Iraqi army which had been adversely affected during the earlier years due to internal conflicts. He might have taken other steps as well to restore the military strength of the victorious forces, but that is not known to us. However, the fact that he directed his urgent attention at these issues while facing a dangerous enemy, reflects his full command over the prevailing conditions.
On Imam Hasan's (as) emerging as the true Islamic caliph, whose allegiance was taken by all the governed areas, Moawiya had felt aggrieved. He had strongly reacted against the caliphate of the Imam (as) as it was beyond his imagination that the Muslims who had always been voicing differences on the issue of caliphate, would collectively accept Imam Hasan (as) as the caliph, especially in a city like Koofa where he had considerable influence. It was also a bad omen for him as he had become a candidate for caliphate after the death of Hazrat Usman and was constantly trying to grab the same. The main motive of all the intrigues against Hazrat Ali (as), which resulted in his martyrdom, was none other than the caliphate itself. Therefore, he also refused to accept Imam Hasan (as) as the caliph, just like he had done in the case of Hazrat Ali (as), and planned rebellion against him.
After the assumption of the caliphate by Imam Hasan (as), Moawiya wrote to Ziyad b. Abih, the Imam (as)'s governor in Persia, to join him, while threatening him if he acted otherwise. A year earlier than the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (as), disorderly conditions had developed in Persia, so his confidants had advised the Imam (as) to appoint Ziad b. Abih as the governor to control the situation, which he had accepted.
When Moawiya's letter reached Ziad, he addressed the masses standing, wherein he said: "I am surprised at the son of the liver-eater, the central intriguer, the chief of the rebellious group, that he threatens me while between him and me is the regard of two grand sons of the Holy Prophet (saww) (Imam Hasan (as) and Imam Husain (as)), with whom are seventy thousand soldiers ready to fight, with open sword. By God, if he tries to attack me, he will find me a tough soldier and a strong swordsman."
In the speech, Ziad had exaggerated the army strength to frighten Moawiya; he had not put down his arms till Imam Hasan (as)'s peace with Moawiya, and had been loyal to the Imam (as) all along. 2
Apart from the above plans, Moawiya had sent a large number of spies to Iraq. The learned scholar Baqar Qarshi writes in this regard:
"Moawiya invited his close associates, informed them about Imam Hasan (as)'s accession to caliphate and drew their attention to the fact that if they did not manage to control the situation, they would never be able to establish their kingdom. After long deliberations it was decided to take two key steps:
(a) "Spies should be sent to those areas that had paid allegiance to Imam Hasan (as), particularly to Koofa and Basra to assess the social and cultural atmosphere there, to determine their plans and to find out the extent of their love for the 'Ahle Bait' (as). Apart from that, they should be made to feel the terror of Moawiya, his power and strength.
(b) "Correspondence should be started with the dignitaries and tribal leaders, they should be bribed and provided large sums of money so that they may obey Moawiya." 3
It cannot be denied that the spies of Moawiya were active in Yemen, Hijaz, Persia and Iraq since the time of the caliphate of Hazrat Ali (as). During the period of Imam Hasan (as), the spy network was extended. The historians mention in particular the arrest of two spies, one of whom was arrested in Koofa and the other in Basra. Imam Hasan (as) sentenced them to death, thereby suppressing the spy movement and perfidy through Islamic penal law. Later the Imam (as) wrote the following letter to Moawiya:
"There is no doubt that you have sent many spies towards us which implies that you are planning war against us. I have no doubt about the same. If Almighty God so wills, you should wait for the same. I have also learnt that you have expressed your rejoicing at the sad incident, which no sane person would do." 4
In this letter Imam Mujtaba (as) had warned Moawiya against his destructive inclinations. On the one hand, he informed Moawiya that he was aware of his intention to wage a war, while on the other, he stated that he was determined and fully prepared to face him in the battle field. In addition, he castigated him at rejoicing at the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (as).
The brief peaceful period of the caliphate of the Imam (as) lasted for four to five months. Hafiz Zahbi writes in the book 'Al'Abar' that Imam Hasan (as) had marched for war in Rabi II, 41 A.H. Accordingly, this period would be six months. So, if the duration of war is taken as one and a half months and the period of the caliphate of the Imam (as) is taken as six months and few days, still a duration of four to five months remains, though according to some other narrations the peaceful period of the caliphate of the Imam (as) would be more than that. During this period, the religious group which was loyal to his illustrious father, started pressing him for war against Moawiya. Ibne Abbas, his father's cousin and his governor in Basra, wrote a letter to him, which reflects the religious feelings and has historical significance:
"To the bondsman of God and the leader of the faithful; from Abdullah b. Abbas, the bondsman of God. After salutation. The Muslims have handed over the reign to you. They have objected to your not launching war against Moawiya and not claiming your rights. So, you should finalize the plans for war and start the same early; you should treat your close associates kindly; you should win the hearts of the nobles and dignitaries through giving them important posts and high status. Moreover, you should follow reforms just like the earlier just and fair rulers, so that they be attracted towards you. Know that war is a sort of deception and there is scope for you in it till any Muslims's rights do not suffer. You certainly know that people had left your father and joined Moawiya as your father was maintaining justice and fair play in the distribution of prize money and the Baitul Maal funds, which was not liked by those persons.
"You are also aware that you are at war against those persons who were fighting the Holy Prophet (saww) himself till the Islamic victory (the conquest of Makkah). These persons outwardly embraced Islam only after all men had embraced it, the symbols of polytheism and idol worship had been removed and the voices praising the Unity of God were heard all around. They would recite the Holy Quran, yet make fun of its verses as well; they would stand in prayers half-heartedly; they would observe the duties as commanded by Allah, yet in their heart of hearts they disliked these. Later, when they realized that only the apostles of God, good-natured persons and pious ulama were entitled to respect and dignified status, they also pretended to be abstinent and pious. Outwardly, they obtained what their ancestors cherished but their long life proved that they were misled and a trap for the Muslims! "Therefore, O respected Imam, may God's blessings be upon you, you should start the war against them and should not accept surrender at any cost. Your father Hazrat Ali (as) had also not accepted arbitration until it was forced on him. And when that happened, he had agreed to it on the condition that the arbitrators would follow justice and fair play. But, when they announced their decision based on selfish aims and personal interest, then he reverted to his earlier policy (of waging war). Till his martyrdom, he was determined to fight them. May God's blessings be upon him. Therefore, O highly respected Imam! do not surrender this right of yours which you deserve more than any one else, even though the undeserving ones may argue with you against it. With regards, and may the blessings of Glorified God be with you." 5
In this letter, Ibne Abbas, expressing the feelings of the supporters of the Imam, has emphasized the need for war. He analyses the reasons for the outward set back of his illustrious father and throws considerable light on the Umayyads' true feelings with regard to Islam. There is no doubt that the religious elite who were sincere and who had proved their loyalty towards his father, were pressing the Imam (as) for war. They were aggrieved that the people of Koofa had disappointed his father as they could not arrange the army which could attack the rebellious group and finish them off. To remove that feeling they were pressing the Imam (as) to start the war. The letter of Ibne Abbas was supportive of the same. But it was premature for the Imam (as) to take such a big step. He had not yet had the chance to reform the areas under his control and to effectively reorganize his army. Moreover, the majority, which was under the in fluence of the leaders and self-seekers, was against war and they could leave the Imam (as) at any crucial moment, thus declaring him responsible for all the bloodshed. In the circumstances, it was essential that he should settle the issue peacefully before starting the war, so that, in case of war, they should have no ground to run away from the war and thus betray him.
Historians record that just after receipt of the letter of Ibne Abbas, the Imam (as) called the letter-writer and dictated the following detailed letter to Moawiya:
"From the bondsman of God and the leader of the faithful Hasan, to Moawiya b. Sakhar: There is no doubt that the Glorified God sent the Holy Prophet (saww) as a divine blessing for the universe. Through him, the right achieved mastery, falsehood was defeated and the Quraish got a high status. Then He commanded the chief of His creation thus:
"For sure this is an occasion of warning, learning a lesson, for you and your nation."
When the Holy Prophet (saww) breathed his last, there was a dispute among the Arabs about his successor. The Ansar (Madenite companions of the Holy Prophet) demanded that 'one should be from us and one from you'. On this, the Quraish replied that 'we are from his family and the clan. So, it is not appropriate that you should disagree with us on the issue of the succession'. So, the Arabs gave the right to Quraish but when we demanded our right on the basis of kinship, i.e. belonging to the family of the Holy Prophet (saww), the Quraish declined and did not do justice to us, which, we thought, was very strange. Though these persons had some priority in embracing Islam and respect, yet I am very surprised today when a person like you, who has no credible performance for the religious cause, nor has he served it in any significant manner, and who is the son of the worst enemy of the Holy Prophet (saww) from the Quraish clan, has claimed the candidacy of caliphate. So, Almighty God will hold you accountable!
"Moreover, I must tell you that after the martyrdom of the leader of the faithful, the Muslims have given the rein of their affairs to me and I pray the Gracious God that He may mercifully keep me away from taking such a thing in the world, which may cause a lesser reward for me in the hereafter.
"O Moawiya! Desist from falsehood and further revolt and pay allegiance to me like the masses have done, as you are well aware that I am entitled to caliphate much more than you in the eyes of Almighty God, his angels and those having a rational mind. So, you should fear God and abandoning revolt, do not shed the blood of Muslims. But, if you continue the policy of waywardness and rebellion, then I will attack you along with the Muslims and try to finish you off till Almighty God may send His command and there is no doubt that He is the One whose commands are the best." 6
The learned scholar Sheikh Raazi Ale Yasin, analyzing the above historical letter of Imam Mujtaba (as), writes: "Imam Hasan (as) advised Moawiya to give up waywardness and rebellion and to join the masses by giving allegiance to the Imam (as). It was the thoughtful political approach of the time which was meant to weaken the enemy and thereby to weaken his policy of opposition. But the Imam (as) addressed Moawiya with these words after he had advanced solid arguments in his own favour. He invited him, like a leader and guide, towards the right path; like one in authority, threatened him and ultimately gave him a clear ultimatum for war. Thus, he followed the approach of his illustrious father, as if the period of Hazrat Ali (as) was still there; no doubt he was his true successor. If war was inevitable during the caliphate of his father, then its significance during his own period could not be overlooked. His own caliphate was based on such authority and firmness which left no scope for mischief mongers in the religion of God. For that reason he admonished Moawiya in strong words and frightened him with the consequential punishment in the hereafter." 7
The scholar Hashim M'aroof al-Hasani writes that Imam Mujtaba (as) knew very well that Moawiya would never accept the offer of the Imam (as), especially when, after the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (as), he was considering himself to be in a relatively more sound position. However, the Imam (as) wanted in this way to make it abundantly clear to the whole Muslim world the extent to which Moawiya and his household were hiding their malice and enmity towards Islam, the Holy Prophet (saww) and the members of his household. This enmity they had inherited from Moawiya's liver-eating mother and his father. 8
Imam Hasan (as) handed over this letter to Handab b. Abdullah Azdi and Haris b. Suwaid Tameemi, two of his companions. They took it to Moawiya so that they may formally ask him to submit and to give allegiance to the Imam (as). On receipt of Imam Hasan (as)'s above letter, Moawiya replied thus:
"I have fully understood the contents of your letter and when you mention that the Holy Prophet (saww) was better than all human beings, I have no doubt that he embodied all excellence; after that you have mentioned the difference among Mus lims and have particularly given the names of Abu Bakr Siddiq, Umer Farooq, Abu Ubaidah, Ameen, Talha, Zubair and good natured Mohajirs (the refugees in Madina) and Ansars. O Abu Mohammad! I do not like this for you for the reason that, when the dispute among the Ummah arose on the issue of succession after the death of the Holy Prophet (saww), they saw that the Quraish had a special status in the eyes of the Holy Prophet (saww) due to their lineage as well, and thus they were more entitled to it. Then the respectable and religious Muslims among the Quraish and Ansar agreed that the rank should be given to one who may be better in learning and piety and who may have been ahead in embracing Islam. So, they chose Abu Bakr. And if they had considered someone more respectable than Abu Bakr, who had also embraced Islam earlier than him and would have been able to safeguard Islam better than him, then they would not have ignored him. Your and my situation is similar. If I realized that you are more experienced in ruling over the populace, have greater right over the Ummah, are more capable in political issues and deceiving the enemy and such other matters, then I would hand over the rule to you. I realize that you are demanding it as your father's successor though he fought a war against me which resulted in the selection of one person by him and one by me so that these two arbitrators may give a decision in the interest of the Ummah which may establish brotherhood among them. We took a vow and agreement from them on the issue. After that, they unanimously decided to dethrone your father from caliphate. So, how can you demand something as a claim on behalf of your father, when he was deprived of the same?
"So, on account of my being more experienced than you and being elder than you, you should submit to me. After me, the caliphate will belong to your household. Whatever you want, you can take from the Baitul Maal of Iraq. Further, you can take the tax of any area of Iraq for your personal expenses. So, O the father of Mohammad! think over carefully about yourself and your religion. My compliments to you." 9
The scholar Hashim M'aroof al-Hasani expresses his views about the above letter of Moawiya thus:
"The first letter of Moawiya is based on fallacy, deceit and fraud, of which he was a master. On the one hand, he personates himself as one of the respectables who cannot deny the dignified status of the dignitaries even if they are their worst enemies, while on the other, he tries to find fault with Hazrat Ali (as), the leader of the faithful, by writing that the Ummah had to select one who was ahead of others in learning, piety and embracing Islam earlier than others, so they selected Abu Bakr. Moawiya further wrote that 'you and I are like your father and Abu Bakr; if I realized that in the interest of the populace you are better than me and that you are an expert and more experi enced than me in protecting the rights of the Ummah, politics, collecting taxes and in deceiving the enemy, then I would have positively responded to your invitation'."
Hashim M'aroof writes: " this meant that the qualities which Moawiya had, were not in Imam Hasan (as), just like these qualities were not supposed to be in his illustrious father when people gave allegiance to Abu Bakr! Therefore, it was expedient from an Islamic point of view that the caliphate should be given to him (Moawiya) just like it was expedient to hand over the caliphate to Abu Bakr after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (saww)."
Hashim M'aroof further writes: "This style of deception and fraud he could not apply to the illustrious father of the Imam (as). But it seems now all the favourable conditions had become available to him; the majority of the leaders in Koofa had promised their support to him; further, that through monetary temptation he had tried his best to turn the masses' opinion against the Imam (as)." 10
The scholar Sheikh Raazi Ale Yasin gives a comprehensive reply to these fallacies of Moawiya in his book 'Sulh-ul-Hasan (as)', (the peace of Hasan (as)). He writes:
"The letters of Moawiya contained material the main objective of which was to widen the differences among the Muslims and to incite them for mischief and rioting; he wanted to raise the dead issues and to destroy the unity of Muslims which was the foundation of their religion. When he failed to present his father and himself as challengers, he took the names of others and started to mention their differences with the members of the household of the Holy Prophet (saww) ('Ahle Bait'). In these letters, let alone any argument, he could not mention even the false ground of 'the revenge of the blood of Usman', as historians claim that Imam Hasan (as) had been the supporter of Hazrat Usman and had tried till the last moment to save him; and if that was true, then what argument did Moawiya have? The only argument that he had was: 'that I have been a ruler longer than you and, being elder than you, I have more experience'. If he had any other argument he would have advanced the same rather than mentioning the differences!
It is not understood what the father of Yazeed meant by his experiences. Was he referring to the day when the Syrians had lodged a complaint against him to Hazrat Umar and the caliph had asked him to appear in court along with his messenger, and he was trembling like an ordinary slave from fear of the lashes of the caliph?
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