Imam Hasan bin Ali (a.s.)
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Imam Hasan bin Ali (a.s.)
"... say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives..."
Holy Qur'an (42:23)
"He who pleases to look at the Lord of the Youths of Paradise, let him look at Hasan bin Ali."
Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.)
"Hasan and Hussein are the two leaders, whether they go to war (against the unjust), or refrain from doing so."
Imamate, which means leadership, is a principle of Islam that is probably one of the most debated and, at the same time, most misunderstood of all its principles. Even the word "imam" has been taken on as a general term of leader, where, in Islam it has a very precise designation.
The Imams of the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) were not leaders chosen by the people, although many times in order to take their right full position among the ummah they were "selected" by the people. The true Imams, those descending from the first Imam, Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.) and Fatimah al-Zahra' (a.s.) were chosen by Allah, Most High and number, including Imam Ali, twelve.
These twelve, Fatimah (a.s.) and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) make up the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.). They were pure and sin less and possessed Divine knowledge of the seen and unseen. They are those who were "deemed weak in the land" and upon whom the "favor of Imamate" was bestowed. May they intercede for us on the Day of Judgement.
In these series of books about the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) Al Balagh Foundation hopes to clear up many of the distorted "historical facts" about this most blessed group of human beings, may Allah, Most Gracious, count us among their lovers and followers.
The purpose of Imamate, through the kindness and love of Allah for His creatures, was to provide a guide for us after the death of the last Prophet, Muhammad bin Abdullah (s.a.w.). These guides would keep us on the straight path and lead us to victory in this life and the next. The first of them was Imam Ali (a.s.) and the last of them is Imam al-Mahdi, the Awaited One (a.s.).
Eleven of these blessed Imams came to power and proceeded with their Divinely assigned task. All of them met with the same fate--assassination.
The last of them, Imam Mahdi, through Allah's most high grace, has been given a long life to manage the affairs of the ummah in occultation until Allah calls him forward to achieve the task for which he was created--to bring justice to a world filled with injustice and to bring mankind to its final stage.
This book is about the second Imam, Imam Hasan (a.s.). He was the son of the first Imam who received his commission upon the death of his father, may Allah allow us to be called his Shi'ah. Many erroneous accounts have been given about Imam Hasan (a.s.), the most treacherous of them being about the number of wives he had and attributing worldly passions to him, God forbid! The most misunderstand and underestimated act of this great Imam was the signing of a peace treaty with the usurper Mu'awiyah.
A large portion of this book has been dedicated to clarifying this treaty. Why it was made. Why Imam Hasan (a.s.) was forced to sign it. What it contained and how it was broken.
We pray that Allah is pleased with our efforts and that the true glory of this Imam shines forth for all to see.
With Allah comes success.
Praise be to Allah, the Praiseworthy, and peace and the blessing of Allah be upon the choice of His Messengers, Muhammad, and on the chosen people from among his ummah, his pure household and his righteous companions.
Leaving aside what the "official" historians have written and the fabrications, lies and falsehoods they have made, we will see that the majority of unbiased analysts and the common biographers recounted the life of Imam Hasan bin Ali (a.s.), the Prophet's grandson, with no analysis or explanation about the great unique position he took towards Mu'awiyah bin Abi Sufyan.
It is axiomatic that one cannot evaluate any historical event devoid of its major heroes, causes, reasons, the circumstances that led to it, and its results. Given objective, comprehension and unbiased examination into the event, the judgement can be correct, and the conclusion sound. History can, thus, say the truth.
The basil of the Messenger of Allah, peace and the blessings of Allah with him and his progeny, the pure Imam Hasan bin Ali, peace be with him, drew the most excellent image of political expertise and clever sense of jihad (Holy War), by his move against Mu'awiyah. It is not because he chose to seek peace or compromise that he agreed to a treaty in the Year of Unity as it was later called. It was because he wished to disclose the veiled falsities, and foil the plot of the unbelievers with the conditions he stipulated in the treaty with Mu'awiyah. Imam Hasan (a.s.) was sure Mu'awiyah wouldn't honor any one of them. That is exactly what had happened. Mu'awiyah put the terms of the treaty under his foot!
Moreover, Hasan (a.s.) wanted to reserve his brother, Hussein (a.s.) for the Day of Taff (sacrifice). By so doing, the epic would be consummated. The family of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) would attain martyrdom. No child, youth or grown-up would be spared. The family of the Prophet, the trusts of Allah, the Compassionate, would be taken captive from Karbala' to Yazid bin Mu'awiyah, bound up in fetters and shackles.
In signing and agreeing to this treaty, Imam Hasan (a.s.) aimed at perpetuating the steadfastness of the right in the face of the falsehood, and supporting the uprising of the mujahidin (those who fight in the way of Allah) against any deviation from Islam.
In presenting "Rays from the Life of Imam Hasan bin Ali (a.s.)", Al-Balagh Foundation hopes the present Muslim generation would find in it the light which brightens their path towards Allah, the Most High, and a flame which sharpens their determination, and solidifies their will to fight the enemies of Islam and humanity.
Allah, the Most High, is certainly, the best Patron, and best Supporter.
The companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) competed with one another to win the hand of Fatimah Al-Zahra' (a.s.), his only surviving child. They all knew the great status and high position she enjoyed in Islam. She was part of the Chosen Prophet (s.a.w.), his beloved daughter, and the chief of Women of the World.
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) turned down all his companions' offers to marry Fatimah (a.s.).
One day Imam Ali (a.s.) was told of some of the companions' proposals. He heard of the Messenger's objection to her marriage to any of his companions. He felt a desire to go to the Messenger (s.a.w.) and ask for his daughter's hand.
Before Imam Ali's (a.s.) call on the Prophet (s.a.w.), to tell him of his desire, Jibril (a.s.) had informed the Messenger (s.a.w.) of the command of Allah, the Exalted and High, to marry Fatimah to Ali (a.s.).
The Divine command, as related by the Holy Revelation, was:
"... O Muhammad! Allah, the Most High, sends His greeting to you, and says to you: "I have certainly married Fatimah, your daughter, to Ali bin Abi-Talib in heaven. So marry her to him on the earth." 1
Imam Ali (a.s.) knocked on the door of the room of Um Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was inside. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) told him to come in. Imam Ali (a.s.) seated himself next to the Messenger (s.a.w.) who said to him:
"I see that you have come on business. Tell me about it. Unburden your soul. Any of your requests are granted..."
Imam Ali (a.s.) told his dear leader that he desired Fatimah's hand. On hearing this, the Prophet's face lit up. He went to Al-Zahra' (a.s.) to tell her of Ali's request. By doing so, be set an eternal Islamic concept that marriage should be based on mutual consent and agreement, so that the future family would be built on cooperation, love and peace.
The Messenger of Allah said to his daughter:
"Ali bin Abi-Talib is known to you, in his closeness (to us), his merits and profession of Islam...he talked about you. What do you say?"
Fatimah al-Zahra' (a.s.) was too shy to say a word. Silence fell on the room and lingered.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) kept looking at her countenance. Satisfaction and consent were clearly drawn on it. Presently, he went out, repeating from the depths of his pure heart: "Allah is great! Her silence signals her consent!"
As soon as he returned to Imam Ali (a.s.), the Prophet (s.a.w.) asked him: "Do you have anything with which I marry you (to Fatimah)?" Once more, the Messenger (s.a.w.) established an Islamic rule for his ummah throughout its generations which stipulates that the man should import the dowry to his women as the first sign of maintainance, and of his responsibility of managing the affairs of the family.
Imam Ali had nothing beside his sword, a camel for watering his field, and his coat of mail. He told the Prophet (s.a.w.) of it. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
"As for your sword, you cannot do without it; with it you strive in the way of Allah and fight the enemies of Allah. With your camel you water your date-palms and on it bring water to your family. When you travel you carry luggage on it."
He ordered Imam Ali (a.s.) not to sell his sword and camel but allowed him to sell his coat of mail which was given to him by the Prophet (s.a.w.), to protect him from the strikes of the enemies.
Imam Ali (a.s.) sold his coat of mail and brought the money to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to buy the bride's trousseau.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) delivered the money to Bilal, Salman and Um-Salamah. They were assigned with the task of buying the needed furniture, perfumes, and clothes. They bought good, simple things. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) wanted to inform the Muslims of Al-Zahra's betrothal to Ali (a.s.). He gathered some of his companions to witness the ceremony of the blessed contract of marriage. He addressed them in the following words:
"Praise be to Allah, Who is praised through His favors, worshipped through His power, obeyed through His authority. He is the One feared, due to His trials and punishment, Whose order is executed in His heavens and earth. He created the creatures by His power, distinguished them with His laws, strengthened them with His religion, and honored them with His Messenger, Muhammad. Allah, may His name be blessed, and His greatness be high, made marriage an attached lineage and an ordained duty by which He solidified family ties and drew people together. He, the Mighty, says:
"And He it is Who has created man from the water then He has made for him blood-relationship and marriage relationship and your Lord is powerful."
Holy Qur'an (25:54)
"Allah's command certainly is excuted as His decree. And His decree is obeyed as it is His will. Every decree is issued at a certain time, and every time has a duration, and every duration is fixed. Allah confirms or abrogates what He pleases. His is the Eternal Book. Allah, the Most High, ordered me to marry Fatimah, the daughter of Khadijah, to Ali bin Abi-Talib. Bear witness that I have married him (to Fatimah) with a dowry of four hundred mithqals (unit of weight equal to about 5 grams) of silver. That is, if Ali bin Abi-Talib agrees to that."
Then he called for a dish of dates. It was placed in front of the gathering.
"Partake of it," the Prophet (s.a.w.) ordered, and they ate. All were eating when Imam Ali (a.s.) entered. The Prophet (s.a.w.) smiled. Then he said: "Allah has ordered me to give to you Fatimah, in marriage with a dowry of four hundred mithqals of silver if you agree to it."
"I agree to it, O Messenger of Allah," Ali replied.
Anas said: "The Prophet said: 'May Allah strengthen the bond that connects you, make your grandfather happy, bless you, and cause you to produce much good."
"By Allah", Anas said, "He caused them to produce much good." 2
Before one month had slipped by after the ceremony of the contract of marriage, Aqeel bin Abi-Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, contacted his brother, Imam Ali (a.s.), urging him to consummate the marriage.
"Why do you not?" he asked. "Ask the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to bring her (to your house), so that your happiness, by your union, will be completed."
They agreed to approach the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) on the matter. But before doing anything, they met with Um Ayman Barakah, the daughter of Tha'labah, a respected woman and consulted her. She suggested that she would talk about it to the mothers of the faithful (Prophet's wives), who would, in turn, talk to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).
The women met with the Prophet (s.a.w.). Um-Salamah, on behalf of them, explained the matter to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).He sent for Ali. When he came, the Prophet asked him:
"Do you want your wife to be brought to your house?"
"Yes," the Imam replied.
"With pleasure," the Messenger (s.a.w.) agreed. Then the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.) asked Imam Ali (a.s.) to make a feast for the faithful. The wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.) themselves cooked the food. The guests enjoyed it.
Then the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) ordered Um-Salamah and the rest of his wives to take Fatimah to her new house. A procession presently started off led by the Prophet (s.a.w.) chanting "There is no god but Allah," and "Allah is great."
The wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.) recited some verses from the Holy Qur'an in honor of the occasion.
After the wedding ceremony, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) came to congratulate Imam Ali (a.s.). He said to him:
"May Allah bless you on account of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah." He took a bowl of water, recited some Qur'anic verses over it, and ordered Imam Ali and Al-Zahra' (a.s.) to drink from it. Then he sprinkled a bit of it on their heads and faces and held his hands up in prayer.
"O Lord ! They are the most beloved of the creatures to me. Bless their offspring, and protect them. I command them and their descendants into Your protection from the accursed Satan."
Thus glory dwelt in the most honored house. The school of Imamate was built in the shade of the revelation and the message. It was made under the care of Allah, in the light of His Shari'ah and His righteous path. These ceremonies speak volumes of Islam's simpleness and easiness. It is Islam that responds to the needs of the spirit and the body It doesn't flee in the face of human nature. It is harmonious with life, and the status quo, with no pretention, imposition or injustice.
On the strength of this, one could easily judge that the Prophetic sunnah retains a lofty position regarding Islam's teaching. The sunnah has a great role in organizing the conduct and ties of the individual, the family and the whole community.
On the fifteenth of the holy month of Ramadhan, in the third year after Hijrah (migration), the Prophetic house announced the birth of the first grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w.). This good Joy news was given to the Chosen Prophet (s.a.w.). A look of covered his noble face and happiness flooded his heart. He hastened to the house of his daughter, the chaste Zahra', to communicate his congratulations and show his delight.
The blessed newborn baby was taken to him, in the arms of Um-Salamah, or in another version, Asma', daughter of Umays. 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 to prayer (adhan) in his right ear and recited the call to begin the prayer (iqamah) in his left ear. The first voice that embraced the newborn'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 it," Imam Ali (a.s.) replied.
"Nor would I precede my Lord," averred the Prophet (s.a.w.). 3
No sooner did this short dialogue take place between the Messenger (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, Hasan. 4
That was the first phase of the Islamic rituals in honoring Imam Hasan (a.s.), the noble baby.
On the seventh day of his blessed birth, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) went to the house of Fatimah 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 Hasan'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 al-Khuluq (a kind of perfume). He forbid his wives to dye the baby's head with blood because that was, as he explained, a practice of the Arabs in Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era). He dispensed with the ceremony of circumcision as Imam Hasan (a.s.) was born circumcised, as were all the prophets of Allah and the Holy Imams from the household of the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.). This state was one of the signs of Allah of their special position in this world and with Allah, the Almighty. These rituals, which the Prophet (s.a.w.) performed for Imam Hasan (a.s.) became a sunnah which the Muslims adopted to receive their newborn babies.
Imam Hasan (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 sunnah of His Messenger (s.a.w.).
The Holy Qur'an, the constitution of the ummah, and Islam's eternal miracle, has many verses which speak volumes of the position of Imam Hasan (a.s.), and Ahlul-Bait in the sight of Allah, the Most High, and His Message, including:
1. 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) purifying."
Holy Qur'an (33:33)
It is reported that the reason the Verse of al-Tathir (purification) was revealed was that the Prophet (s.a.w.) called for a Khaibari cloak (made in Khaibar), and covered Fatimah, Imams Ali, Hasan and Hussein (a.s.) with it, and said: "O Mord! These are my family. So keep away uncleanness from them and purify them." 5
In response to the prayer of the Prophet (s.a.w.), this ayah was revealed. It is a witness, given by Allah, in the Holy Qur'an, about the purity of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), and that they were Islam incarnate.
2. The Verse of Malediction (Mubahalah)
"... come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people,..."
Holy Qur'an (3:61)
The exegetes, in explaining the cause of the revealation of this verse known as the verse of al-Mubahalah (malediction), say that the Christians of Najran agreed with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to pray to Allah to kill the party which espoused falsehood. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), went out accompanied only by his family; Fatimah, Imams Ali, Hasan and Hussein (a.s.) to the contest. When the Christians saw the blessed faces which the Messenger (s.a.w.) had brought with him to pray to Allah for death on the liars, they backed out offering some excuse. They yielded to his authority and paid him the jizyah (a tax paid by the non-Muslims who live in the Islamic state).
As we can see, the holy verse calls Imams Hasan and Hussein (a.s.) "our sons", and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and Imam Ali (a.s.) "ourselves", while Her Holiness Fatimah Al-Zahra' (a.s.) represented the women of all the Muslims, as she is called "our women". It is a frank, and incontrovertible proof of the great stature of Ahlul-Bait in the eyes of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.).
3. The Verse of Affection (Mawaddah)
"... say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives;..."
Holy Qur'an (42:23)
Exegetes say that this ayah called al-Muwaddah (love) was revealed concerning Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Hussein (a.s.). The two sahihs (authentic books of hadith), Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal (Book of Hadith with complete chains of transmission), the Qur'anic exegesis of al-Tha'labi, and the Qur'anic exegesis of bin Abbas quotes bin Abbas as saying: "'When the verse ‘...say: I do not ask of you any reward for it ...' was revealed, they (the Muslims) asked: 'O Messenger of Allah! who are your relations whom you ordered us to love?’ ‘Ali,’ he replied, ‘Fatimah, and her two sons.’ 6
Imam Ali bin Hussein (a.s.), Sa'id bin Jubair, Amru bin Shu'aib, Abu-Ja'far, and Imam Hussein (a.s.) quoted the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) as having said when asked about the interpretation of the verse, 'To love my relatives ...’ 7
If we confine ourselves to these few verses, the lofty position, in the eyes of Allah, of Imam Hasan (a.s.), the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), and all of Ahlul-Bait, becomes clear. We deem it useful to cite some other texts, however, conveyed from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) about Imam Hasan (a.s.), and his high status in the world of Islam, and in the sight of the leading Prophet (s.a.w.):
1. Al-Bukhari and Muslim report on the authority of al-Bara', that he said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) carrying Hasan bin Ali (a.s.) on his shoulder. He was saying: 'O Mord! I love him, so love him'"
2. Al-Tirmidhi reports from bin Abbas as saying: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w ) was carrying Hasan bin Ali'(a.s.), when a man said: 'What an excellent mount you are riding, lad.' 'What an excellent rider he is,' the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) replied."
3. Al-Hafid Abu-Na'im reports on the authority of Abu Bakr, who said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was leading us in prayer. Hasan, who was still a child, would come to him while he was in prostration, and sit on his back or sometimes on his neck. The Prophet (s.a.w.) would lift him tenderly. When the prayer was finished, they (the Muslims) asked him: 'O Messenger of Allah! You are doing to this boy what you do not do to another person?'
'He is my basil,' he replied."
4. Anas bin Malik said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was asked: 'Who is most loved by you from among your family?' 'Hasan and Hussein,' he answered."
5. A'ishah reports that "the Prophet would pick up Hasan and embrace him and say: 'O Mord! This is my son, and I love him. Move him, and love who loves him'
6. Jabir bin Abdullah 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 Hasan bin Ali.'"
7 Ya'la bin Murrah says: "We went with the Prophet (s.a.w.) to a feast, to which we were invited. We ran into Hasan (a.s.) who was playing near the road. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) went ahead of the people hurriedly, and put out his hand to the boy. Then he pretended to pass by Hasan one time on his right hand, and another time on his left hand, to make the boy laugh. Then he approached him. He put one hand on his neck and the other on his head. Presently he embraced and kissed him. Then he said: 'Hasan is from me and I am from him. Allah loves whoever loves him."'
8. Al-Ghazali in his book, Al-Ihya' (Revival), reports that the Prophet (s.a.w.) had said to Hasan: 'You resemble me in my appearance and disposition." 8
This is only a small number of the narratives about Imam Hasan (a.s.). He who wants more should refer to: Yanabee' al-Muwaddah (Springs of Love), by al-Qandoozi al-Hanafi, Fada'il al-Khamasah min al-Sihah al-Sittah (Outstanding Merits of the Five Persons from the Six Authentic Books of Hadith), by al-Firoozabadi, Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Tadhkirat al-Khawas (Reminder of the Pious), by Sibt Bin al-Jawzi, etc.
Through the Holy Qur'an, the Prophet's sunnah, and the many books of authentic hadiths, the exalted position of the Prophet's beloved grandson, Imam Hasan, becomes undeniable.
By reading a few of the pages of our glorious history about the status of the Prophet's grandson, Imam Hasan (a.s.), we aren't aiming at recounting historical events without referring to the Divine mission of the Imam. We, as is our primary goal, present samples of the conduct of our Islamic personalities, who implemented Islam in the most wonderful ways. We want to make them the examples which we and the coming generations follow.
The researcher who examines the life of the Holy Prophet's grandson, Imam Hasan and his brother, Imam Hussein (a.s.), can't help drawing the conclusion that they enjoyed a high level of education and spiritual and ideological upbringing, which no other person had won next to their grandfather (s.a.w.), mother and father (a.s.).
The imprints of the revelation and Divine care marked their characters, in all its aspects, ingredients and angles. They were highly refined and brought up in line with Islam's teachings by their grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), their father, Imam Ali (a.s.), and their mother Fatimah Al-Zahra' (a.s.), through excellent examples and direct daily guidance.
Although they lost both their grandfather and mother at an early age, their upbringing suffered no interruption. Their father, Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), the disciple of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), and the graduate from the school of Divine revelation, who was the beacon for the people, was alive, throwing his shade over them. There is no doubt that Imams Hasan and Hussein (a.s.) wound up in the stage of Divine preparation.
They were prepared to shoulder the responsibility of the Divine message, in form and content. The ultimate result was that both Imams Hasan and Hussein (a.s.) became Islam personified walking on the earth.
As the ingredients of the characters of the two Imams were the same, they were singular in their behavior, march, steps and goals, which were Islamic in their entirety.
The nature of our discussion dictates that we present lively examples from Imam Hasan's (a.s.) spiritual, scientific, and ethical activities.
1. Spiritual Side
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.
Following are a few narratives which shed light on this side of his character:
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Hasan bin Ali (a.s.) was certainly the most true worshipper, ascetic and merited man among the people of his time."
Rawdhat al-Wa'ideen (Orchard of the Preachers) mentions that whenever "Hasan 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 turns ashen, and trembles...'"
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) is also reported to have said:
"Hasan bin Ali (a.s.) had certainly gone to hajj twenty-five times on foot. He shared his property with Allah twice...or three times."
Ali bin Jadh'an, and Abu-Na'im report in Hulyat al-Awaliya' (Ornament of the Saints) and Tabaqat bin Sa'd (Castes of bin Sa'd) that Imam Hasan had given all his money to the needy twice, seeking Allah's pleasure, and had given half his money to the needy three times. He would even give a single shoe and retain the other, and give a single sandal and retain the other. When he approached the door of the mosque, he would say. 'O Lord! Your guest is at Your gate. O Generous! The transgressor has come to You. Forgive me my ugly deeds with Your Generosity. O Generous!'
When he remembered death he wept. When he thought of the grave he wept. When he thought of the Resurrection and Day of Judgement he gasped so deeply and painfully that he fainted because of it.
When he 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...'
As for his charity and alms, suffice it to say that he had given all his money twice and half his money three times in the way of Allah. 9
2. Scientific Side
If a living, receptive mind is rated as the mainstay of the Islamic character, and if the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and the guiding Imams of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) had ascended to the top peg of the ladder of Islamic characteristics due to their direct subjugation to the Divine preparation, Imam Hasan (a.s.), the grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w.), as well as all of the blessed, guiding Imams (a.s.) were pioneering activists in the sphere of thought. They had no match in that.
This can be attributed to the nature of their upbringing and the care they were favored with. All of the rightly guided Imams either received their education directly from the Messenger (s.a.w.) or indirectly from the preceding Imam.
As for the new questions and developments of life, the sublime, inner entity of the Imam himself, and his boundless spirituality, qualified him for self-acquired knowledge. That is why the Muslim orators dubbed the knowledge of the Imams, from the perspective of the "present knowledge". An Imam wouldn't need to be tutored or taught by others in this respect. He acquired knowledge by means of direct inspiration.
Inspiration, as it is known, is something different from revelation. Any good-natured reader would realize this fact, through his research into the lives of the Holy Imams (a.s.). 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 or problem, either ideological, religious, scientific, or in any other field. Following are a number of reports about Imam Hasan's (a.s.) vast knowledge.
A. Hasan al-Basri wrote to Imam Hasan (a.s.), asking him about the Divine decree. The grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) answered him in these words:
"Mind you, he who does not believe that all sudden incidents that happen, be they good or bad, are known earlier by Allah, is an infidel. He who blames sins on Allah, is unchaste. Allah is not obeyed against His will. He is not sinned against by force. He does not leave aside His servants in His Kingdom. He is the Owner of what He gives to them. He is the Powerful over whatever He puts at the disposal of them. Nay, He orders them with no coercion, and prohibits them as a warning. If they opt to obey Him, none would stand in their way, and if they choose to sin, He may prevent them from doing it. But if He does not, He is not to blame, because it is not He Who forces them to do it, or compels them into committing it against their will. But He does them a favor by opening their eyes, teaching, warning, ordering and prohibiting them. He does not force them to do what He orders, so as to be like the angels, not does He pressure them to keep away from what He forbids. Allah's is certainly the conclusive argument. If Allah willed, He would have guided you to the right path ..." 10
By these eloquent, concise words the Imam explains one of the most complicated, and thorny matters of thought. It was so difficult, that many intellectuals were perplexed and at a loss because of it. Moreover, it gave rise to extremely fanatical groups.
Imam Hasan (a.s.), however, expressively shows his profound and pristine knowledge in Islamic sciences. This discloses Imam Hasan's (a.s.) firm connection with the fountainhead of the Message and its original concepts.
B. "What is asceticism?" 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 people's burdens of sin."
"What is the succour?" he was asked.
"Defending the neighbor, patience in war, and advance during adversities," he said.
"What is glory?" he was asked.
"Giving while being in debt and forgiving others their offences."
"What is manliness?"
"Holding onto the faith, keeping one's self-respect, being merciful, being kind, giving back people's trusts, and ingrantiating oneself to the people ..." 11
C. A man from Syria asked Imam Hasan (a.s.):
"What distance is between the right and the falsehood?"
"Four fingers," the Imam replied. "What you see with your own eye is the right. You may hear a lot of falsehoods with your ear."
"What distance is between faith and certitude?" the Syrian asked.
"Four fingers," Imam Hasan (a.s.) again answered. "The faith is what we hear, and certitude is what we see."
"What is the distance between the sky and the heaven?" asked the Syrian.
"The prayer of the wronged," replied Imam.
"What is the distance between the east and west?," asked the Syrian.
"A day's travel of the sun," said the Imam. 12
D. Imam Hasan (a.s.) is reported to have said:
"O people! He who is faithful to Allah, taking His words as a beacon, is guided to that which is most upright. Allah helps him to attain righteousness and leads him to goodness. The neighbor of Allah is certainly secure and protected. His enemy is fearful and in failure. Be cautious of Allah's wrath by much remembrance of Him. Fear Allah by piety and draw close to Allah by obeying Him. He is Near and Answering. Allah, the Blessed and Most High, says:
"And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way."
Holy Qur'an (2: 186)
Imam Hasan (a.s.) continued,
"Be obedient to Allah, and have faith in Him. It is unbecoming of him who grasps the greatness of Allah, to be haughty. The loftiness of those who know the greatness of Allah is expressed in their modesty, and those who know the highness of Allah in humbleness before Him. The safety of those who know the power of Allah is expressed in their surrender to Him, undenial after they have known the truth, and not straying after they have been guided. You should know for sure that you will not attain peity until after you have known the nature of guidance. You will not hold onto the covenant of the Book until after you have known those who turned their backs on it. You will not recite it as you should, until after you have known those who tried to distort it. Having known that, you can know the innovations and pretentions, see the lies against Allah and the distortion, and see how will fall aside those who go astray. Do not be influenced by the ignorant. Seek the knowledge from its bearers. They are the light with which one can enlighten oneself. They are the rightful Imams whom one can follow. With their existence, knowledge revives and ignorance fades away. They are those whose knowledge tells you about the non-existence of ignorance in them, the way of their reasoning about the soundness of their judgements, their appearance about their inner self. They do not go against the right, nor do they differ on it. Allah set a sunnah for them, and issued His verdict on them. It is a reminder for those who want to remember. Understand what I say when you hear it, take care to act in compliance with it, and do not try to grasp it as if it were conveyed to you by the word of mouth. It is because the transmitters of the Book are many, but those who preserve it are few. Allah is the One Whose support is sought." 13
E. One day Imam Hasan (a.s.) was asked about politics. He said:
"Politics means observing the rights of Allah and the rights of the living and the rights of the dead. Rights of Allah are that you should obey His orders, and avoid what He forbids. Rights of the living are that you should observe your duty to your brothers, and not tarry in serving your ummah. You should be faithful to the one in authority among you as long as he is faithful to his ummah. You should speak up in his face should he deviate from the right path. Rights of the dead are that you should remember their good deeds and overlook their bad ones. They have a Lord Who shall ask them about whatever they did."
This is only a mere glimpse of the vast and deep knowledge and rays from the light of Imam Hasan's (a.s.) perfect reason which Allah favored him with. We cited them here as samples of the rich ideological heritage left by Imam Hasan (a.s.) to the future generations of the Muslim ummah throughout its long history. 14
3. Ethical Side
Covering this aspect of the character of the grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w.) by no means signifies a difference among the guiding Imams (a.s.) in this respect, or in any other ingredient of the ideal Islamic character. They are equal in this. We will confine ourselves to presenting some narratives of the Imam's behavior with the people. We hope that his morals are the ones which we adopt and follow.
A. His Modesty
1. It is reported that he once chanced upon some poor men who put a few crumbs of bread on the ground in front of them, which they had earlier picked up from the road. They 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 with them he invited them to his house. He showered them with money, fed and clothed them.
2. Imam Hasan (a.s.) reportedly passed by some boys who were eating. They invited him to share their food with them. He accepted their invitation, then called them to his house and generously rewarded them.
3. It is reported that he was sitting in some place. When the Imam (a.s.) rose to go, a poor man came in. The Imam (a.s.) greeted him, and spoke kindly to him. "You have come at the time when I was taking leave," he said to the man. "Do you permit me to go?"
"Yes, O son of the Messenger of Allah," replied the man.
We can get an idea of Imam Hasan's (a.s.) smooth manners and modesty from this narrative.
B. His Kindness to the Wrongdoers
1. He once found out that an ewe had a broken leg. He called one of his slaves and asked him: "Who did it?"
"I," the slave answered.
"So as to disconcert you!" the slave retorted.
The Imam (a.s.) smiled to him and said: "But I will make you happy."
He freed him and generously rewarded him.
2. A Syrian, imbued with hatred and spite against the family of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), by Mu'awiyah bin Abi-Sufyan, once saw the Imam on horseback. He at once emitted a series of curses! Imam Hasan (a.s.) did not put in a word of protest or interruption. When the man finished, Imam Hasan (a.s.) approached him with a tender smile. He said to him:
"O old man! I think you are a stranger here. Maybe you mistook me for someone else? If you propitiate us, we will satisfy you. If you ask us, we will give you what you need. If you ask our advice, we will guide you. If you ask us to give you a ride, we will take you with us. If you are hungry, we will satisfy you. If you are naked, we will clothe you. If you are in need, we will make you rich. If you are a refugee, we will give you lodgings. If you have a request, we will grant it. If you join your luggage to ours, and be our guest until the time of your travel, it will be more useful to you, because we have a spacious place, a good social position, and a vast amount of money."
Upon hearing these words, the Syrian broke into tears. Then he said: "I bear witness that you are the viceroy of Allah on the earth. Allah knows best whom to entrust with His message. You and your father were the most hateful creatures of Allah to me. But now you and your father are the most beloved from among all the creatures of Allah to me."
Then the Imam took the Syrian to his house as his guest till the time of his departure. The man had completely changed his opinion and position toward Ahlul-Bait (a.s.).
C. His Generosity
Maybe the most eminent of Imam Hasan's (a.s.) attributes is his generosity. He believed that money was only a means to clothe the naked, help the destitute, pay the debts of the indebted, or satisfy the hungry. Once, he was asked: "We do not see you disappoint a beggar. Why?"
"I am asking Allah for His favors, 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."
Following are examples of his unlimited generosity:
1. An Arab desert-dweller once asked for help. In response, Imam said: "Give him what is in the safe." In it there was ten thousand Dirhams.
"Sir," the bedouin said, "won't you allow me to reveal my need and praise you?"
Imam's reply was something like this:
"We are people whose bounties are flowing. In them hopes and wishes dwell. Our souls give out before we are asked in fear of the disgrace of the one who asks. Should the sea know how much we give who asks us, it will shrink, after its flooding, in shame."
The grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) bought an orchard from the ansars (the supporters of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) in Madinah), at the price of 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 Hasan's (a.s.) generous acts. Such good deeds had the greatest effect in personifying his high Islamic ethics. 15
Now we are able to form a clear idea of the ingredients of the character of Imam Hasan (a.s.). It was the top example of the Muslim character ever witnessed by this planet after the prophets (a.s.). This was the character of the Ahlul-Bait (a.s.) generally and all of them shared the same character and personality.
Such practical attitudes which we quoted here are an expressive refutation to the claims of the enemies of Islam who allege that Islam is a theoretical system which cannot be implemented.
At an early age, the role of the grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) began to evidence itself. It was before he was officially appointed to the office of Imamate by his father. His positive role took shape clearly from the moment the Muslim ummah gave their pledge of allegiance to Imam Ali (a.s.) as the new caliph. It rose to its zenith after the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a.s.).
Imam Hasan (a.s.) performed all the tasks assigned to him with unparalleled efficiency, ability, wisdom and insight. If one examines the life of Imam Hasan (a.s.) he will realize that his role underwent two phases:
Stage One: During His Father's Lifetime
Imam Hasan'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. The role of Imam Hasan (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.
Following are some of his deeds during this part of his life:
A. After the camp of Imam Ali (a.s.) was attacked, due to the mutiny of Talha and al-Zubair in the city of Basrah, and after the rising of the deviants under the leadership of Mu'awiyah bin Abu-Sufyan, Imam Ali (a.s.) felt he needed the support of the masses of Kufah to protect the right and put down the sedition kindled by some people. For that mission, he chose his elder son, Hasan (a.s.). He ordered him to encourage the people of Kufah to champion the pure Islamic cause, represented by Imam Ali (a.s.). Imam Hasan (a.s.) accepted the mission and made for Kufah in the company of Ammar bin Yasir. Imam Hasan (a.s.) was carrying an edict from Imam Ali (a.s.) to his governor in Kufah, Abu-Musa al-Ash'ari, relieving him of his post due to his disgraceful stance in failing Imam Ali (a.s.) and turning his back on the indisputable truth.
As soon as he entered Kufah, the multitudes swelled around Imam Hasan (a.s.) declaring their loyalty and their readiness to help him. He made a speech, in which he blew enthusiasm into their inept souls, and urged the people to hoist the banner of jihad high. Imam Hasan (a.s.) was most successful in accomplishing his mission. He exorted them to support the right, defend the message and its noble state. 16
B. The battle of al-Jamal (The Camel) had already ended in Basrah. Mu'awiyah was rapidly gathering Syrian forces, stationing them at Siffin. Imam Ali (a.s.) got wind of the moves of the Ummayad party. He divulged the news to his soldiers, and asked their council. They all announced their readiness to do whatever Imam Ali (a.s.) ordered them.
In the meantime, Imam Hasan (a.s.) was standing amid the masses calling them to rally around the truth. In one of his speeches he said:
"Thanks be to Allah. There is no god other than He. He has no partner. I praise Him and He is Praiseworthy. Allah gave you great favors and showered you with His graces which are beyond number. One cannot possibly thank Him for them. Neither a statement or saying can express them. We are angry only on behalf of Allah. He favored us with what cannot be given by anyone but Him. We should, therefore, thank Him for His bounties, tribulations and favors. Our praise should ascend to Allah, carrying our satisfaction to Him. It should be truthful. Our praise has to be so true that Allah believes us. It has to make us entitled to receive more of his bounties. Our praise should increase rather than decrease Allah's favors. No group of people gather around some matter without making it firmer, and their beliefs solid. So mobilize yourselves for the fight against your enemy, Mu'awiyah, and his soldiers, because he has advanced against you. And do not discourage one another, for discouragement cuts assunder the heartstrings. Advancing under the spearheads is a sign of bravery and piety, for no people had ever observed jihad without the lifting of malaise from among them by Allah. He would spare them the tribulations of humility, and guide them to the hallmarks of denomination ..." 17
In this speech, Imam Hasan's (a.s.) aim was to solidify the bonds of unity, close the ranks of the people, and rally the people to challenge the party led by Mu'awiyah and a handful of opportunists.
C. The Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), had warned the people against the arbitration during the Battle of Siffin. He knew it was a trick. After the charade of arbitration was over--and it ended with Abu-Musa al-Ash'ari's failing Imam Ali (a.s.)--the camp of Imam Ali (a.s.) was thrown into confusion. Chaos prevailed, and each group of people began to disassociate themselves from the other. They started reviling each other. Imam Ali (a.s.) wanted to explain to the people the situation as it was, and to show that the arbitration was invalid because it was not based on truth and logic. He assigned this task to his son Abu-Muhammad Hasan (a.s.).
"Stand up, son, and talk about these two men: Abdullah bin Qais, 18 and Amru bin al-Aas," Imam Ali (a.s.) told his son.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) stood and addressed the people, telling them the real dimensions of the situation. He said:
"O people! You have talked too much about these two men. They were only chosen to judge according to the Book and in the light of its guidance. But, they judged according to their whims and not the Book. This being true, their verdict cannot be called a judgement. Rather, it was an opinion forced upon them. Abdullah bin Qais erred when he named Abdullah bin Umar as the caliph. He made mistakes concerning three points: First, he disagreed with his father who did not rate him as qualified for caliphate, nor did he appoint him as a member of the Shura (consultative group). Secondly, he did not consult him on the matter. And thirdly, neither the immigrants nor the ansar (helpers) rallied around him. These are those who appoint the ruler and establish his reign over the people. As for arbitration, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) himself had chosen Sa'd bin Ma'ath for this. And he did judge with what pleases Allah. Undoubtedly, if he had deviated, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) would not have approved of him". 19
In these words, the grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w ), Imam Hasan (a.s.), clarified the matter, disclosed the falsity of the arbitration, and proved to the people the mistake of Abu Musa al-Ash'ari, who was elected by the common people among the army of Imam Ali (a.s.), and without thinking it over, they charged him with a task he could not fairly accomplish. The man had bad intentions.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) demonstrated some of Abu-Musa's mistakes. Among them was deposing Imam Ali (a.s.) and calling Abdullah bin Umar bin al-Khattab the caliph of Muslims. His judgement involved three errors, not to mention the rest of his arbitration. Imam Hasan (a.s.) was an astute thinker, had a sound foundation in logic and politics. His analysis of Abu-Musa's actions in the arbitration process was acute and left no doubt in a reasonable mind that the analysis was without flaw.
He said that:
1. When Umar bin al-Khattab appointed a six-man consultative group at his deathbed, he did not appoint his son Abdullah as one of the group. That was because he recognised that his son was not qualified to be a caliph, and a leader of the people.
2. The pledge of allegiance, as was the order of the day, was initiated by the immigrants and ansar, then, the whole of the ummah followed suit. How could al-Ash'ari do something without consulting them?
3. Al-Ash'ari, when he appointed Abdullah as the caliph of Muslims, did it without seeking the view of the man himself He could not tell whether Abdullah would consent or refuse. The man was not informed of the question earlier, and he was not asked about this most historically critical matter.
Moreover, Imam Hasan (a.s.) set an example of a just and good arbitration, which is approved of by Allah. He cited the arbitration of S'ad bin Ma'ath, who was chosen by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), to settle the question of Bani Quraidhah, after their military defeat by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.). His judgement was firm and sound.
D. Imam Hasan (a.s.) took part in all the wars fought by his father, Imam Ali (a.s.), including those of Basrah, 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 over Islam.
These are a few of the practical attitudes which were taken by Imam Hasan (a.s.) during the lifetime of his father. They represent the first stage of his religious role in the life of the Muslims.
Stage Two: During His Imamate
The second part or stage of the role of Imam Hasan (a.s.) in the life of the Muslims commenced when his father appointed him as the next Imam. In the wake of the cruel attempt on his life by Abdul-Rahman bin Muljim and his cohorts the dying Imam (a.s.) said his last will to his son, Hasan (a.s.):
"... 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." 20
Then he named as the witnesses to his last will, Hussein, his son Muhammad, all of his sons, and the chiefs and leading men of his Shi'ites (followers).
The last days of Imam Ali (a.s.) teemed with many of his moral guidelines, which were aimed at establishing the right, and sticking to it. Most of them were addressed to his sons and particularly to Imam Hasan (a.s.). He emphasized his son's Caliphate and Imamate after him. Shortly after the passing away of Imam Ali (a.s.), the people of Kufah hurried to the mosque, dumbfounded and shocked at that great adversity. The grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), stood amid this multitude, 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. Jibra'il would protect him by fighting on his right, and Mika'il on his left. He would not return from the battlefield until Allah had given him victory. He died in this night, on which Isa bin Maryam (a.s.) ascended to heaven, and Yusha' bin Noon, the trustee of Musa (a.s.), passed away. He has left no dirhams or dinars besides the 700 Dirhams which were left over from his pay." 21
At this point Imam Hasan (a.s.) halted his speech for his tears choaked him. The image of the great departing man, with his eternal deeds and stances, loomed before his eyes. The Muslims could not help crying bitterly with him. Then he resumed his speech. He said:
"O people! Who has recognized me, that is that. Who has not, let him know that I am Hasan bin Ali. I am the son of the Holy Prophet. I am the son of the Trustee. I am the son of the bearer of the good news, and the warner. I am the son of the Caller to Allah by His permission. I am the son of the bright lamp. I am from the house at which Jibra'il used to descend to us, and ascend from us, and from the Ahlul-Bait whom Allah kept away from uncleanness and totally purified them. I am from a household whose love Allah made an obligation on every Muslim. Allah, the Blessed and the Most High, said to His Prophet:
‘... say. I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives;...’
Holy Qur'an (42:23)
Imam Hasan (a.s.) concluded his speech by saying, 'Doing a good deed means loving us, the Ahlul-Bait ...'" 22
In this speech, Imam Hasan (a.s.) spells out the qualities of the late leader. Also he presents his own qualifications and stature in the Muslim world, and asserted the fact that he, and not any other person, was entitled to be the next leader of the Muslims.
No sooner did the Imam Hasan (a.s.) wind up his speech, than Bin 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 Hasan (a.s.) received the pledge of allegiance from the people, and was acknowledged as the caliph and the ruler of Kufah. Then the 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'awiyah rejoiced at the death of Ali (a.s.). His capital witnessed noisy festivals. Happiness flooded it! On the other hand, Mu'awiyah was greatly shaken by the announcement of Imam Hasan (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 Hasan (a.s.). The participants decided to send spies to the Muslim community, under the rule of Imam Hasan (a.s.) to frighten the people and float rumors against the rule of Ahlul-Bait (a.s.), to the interest of the Syrian sedition.
Meanwhile the Umayyad 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 Umayyad rule. They were generous in bribery, promising the people good rewards, presenting gifts to them, threatening them...and so on.
Mu'awiyah lost no time in implementing the resolutions of the meeting. He set up a network of spies, and appointed two men to surprise them. One of them was named Humairi. He made for Kufah. The other was called Qeeni. He headed for Basrah ... 23
Imam Hasan's (a.s.) plans of solidifying the government sys tem, and establishing it on a firm ground, were soon effective in unearthing the plots of the Umayyads. 24
In the wake of that, Imam Hasan (a.s.) sent a letter to Mu'awiyah warning him, and threatening him with war:
"... Mind you. You have sent stealthily men to me. It is as if you like to go to war. I have no doubt it. Then anticipate it, Allah willing. I have heard that you rejoiced about what the wise men do not gloat over. Your parable is like the one of whom the poet says: "I and the one who had died are like someone who goes home, goes to sleep, to wake up the following day. So, tell him who remains behind that who departs: 'Prepare for something like this. You, too, will be something of the past.’" 25
Mu'awiyah, in a responding letter, dodged and denied that he had rejoiced at the death of Imam Ali (a.s.), something which we will not discuss in length here. They exchanged letters. The most important of the letters was that which was sent by Imam Hasan (a.s.) in which he called on Mu'awiyah to stop opposing him and submit to him as he was the legitimate leader. Tension heightened between the two parties, so much so, that Mu'awiyah wrote a letter in which he called on Imam Hasan (a.s.) to abdicate and join him, with the promise that the caliphate would be his after Mu'awiyah's death!
Imam Hasan (a.s.) sent a short letter which displays his insistance and determination:
"Mind you, your letter has arrived. You mention in it what you mention and I did not answer you...I take refuge with Allah from that. Follow the right, you will know that I am its follower. I will be a sinner if I tell a lie. And peace be upon you." 26
That was the last letter. The situation went from bad to worst. War was declared between the two parties.
Mu'awiyah was the first to declare the state of war. He began to advance his armies towards Iraq. The Muslims communicated the news of Mu'awiyah's move to one another. Imam Hasan (a.s.) took due measures to face the coming enemy.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) announced, in a statement, the next move. He called the ummah to mobilize and prepare to war:
"Mind you, Allah ordained jihad on His creatures, and made it a duty which they receive reluctantly. Then He said to the combatants: '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 al-Nukhailah, till we think and you think, and see and you see." 27
It brings excruciating pain to know that the multitudes of people who listened to the statement of Imam Hasan (a.s.) were susceptible to the Umayyad 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 Umayyad money. Imam Hasan (a.s.) was disappointed when he saw the true feeling of the masses which he led, and in which he saw the base on which he was depending to ward of the dangers encircling the Islamic message because of the hostile activities of the Umayyad party.
Those listless multitudes were stolid. They lost their vitality because of only a slight shock. It was because of their weak faith.
The followers of the Imam (a.s.) were unaware of their historical responsibility to keep the Divine Message intact and keep it safe from sedition. They were oblivious to the line of Imamate represented by Imam Hasan (a.s.), and to the fact that they should obey him and defend him because he was the actual representative of the same Islam which was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).
Amid those stunned, defeated lumps 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 loyalty. They reproached those cowardly multitudes, and spoke their minds uncompromisingly and daringly.
At the top of the list of those faithful, pious men were: Uday bin Hatim, Qais bin S'ad bin Ubadah, Ma'qal bin Qais, and Ziyad bin Sa'sa'ah al-Timeemi. 28
They scolded, reprimanded and urged the people to take on their religious responsibility. At the same time they did not forget their Imam (a.s.). They took his hand and made a pledge to march forward in support of right and face tyranny and sedition fearlessly until they achieved martyrdom or victory.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) praised them for their true stance, and addressed them in these words:
"You are truthful, may Allah have mercy on you. I still know of your true intention and loyalty, your approval and true love. May Allah reward you the best of rewards." 29
The committed people hastened to al-Nukhailah and encamped there, in obedience to their Imam (a.s.). Imam Hasan (a.s.), afterwards, followed them with an army, estimated by some historians, at 4,000 men. 30 The rest of the people were to join him.
Imam Hasan (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 Hasan (a.s.) return once again to his capital, Kufah, to egg on the people to join him.
He marched on, leading a tremendous army, which was paradoxically in low spirit, eaten away by weakness and disharmony. He arrived in al-Nukhailah, 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 Ubaidullah bin al-Abbas as its commander. He said to him:
"... Cousin! I am sending with you twelve thousand men, among whom there are famous horsemen of the Ara
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