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Monarchy or Caliphate

Another important point for consideration in the above condition is whether Imam Mujtaba (as) had handed over the rule over Muslims and the government to Moawiya through peace treaty, or he had given allegiance to Moawiya as a caliph and had accept ed the caliphate of Moawiya formally.

It should be clearly understood that often such language has been used in historical versions which implies that either Imam Hasan (as) had shown his willingness to give allegiance to Moawiya, or had assured him of following him completely, or handed over the caliphate to him, or, in the words of historian Ibne Qutaiba, had handed over the Imamat to him! We are not concerned about the words used. Ahle Sunnat in this regard differentiate between caliphate and 'Khilafate Rashida' (truly religious caliphate). Without going into this argument, we have to find an answer to the question whether Imam Hasan (as) had handed over the caliphate to Moawiya and accepted him formally as a caliph and had given allegiance to him (i.e. the way the allegiance was given by the Muslims wherein the commitment of complete obedience to the caliph was made). Alternatively, whether Imam Hasan (as) had made a peace treaty with Moawiya like an agreement between two parties in any other dispute, rather than giving allegiance and, through the agreement, he had temporarily handed over the government to Moawiya on specified conditions and not the high religious authority which is called 'caliphate'?

Imam Mujtaba (as) was a duly elected and formal caliph of Muslims. His caliphate had all the legal and constitutional validity which was in accordance with the practice among the Muslims at the time. Not only the leading personalities and the residents of Haramain Sharifain had paid allegiance to him but he also had the support of all the states and the opposition by Syria and Egypt could not affect the constitutional position, specially as a period of six months had elapsed since his taking over as the caliph. If Imam Hasan (as) had given allegiance to Moawiya or had agreed to hand over the caliphate to him, granting him the legitimacy of caliphate, then Moawiya would have been included among the true Islamic caliphs ('Rashideen Caliph') and no political opponent of his would have been able to challenge that status as Hazrat Abu Bakr had also nominated Hazrat Umar as caliph.

However, the fact remains that after fourteen hundred years, even the supporters of Moawiya cannot dare claim that Moawiya was a truly Islamic caliph ('Rashid Caliph'). Moawiya understood the point very well and when he fully realized the political plan of Imam Hasan (as), even before the formal announcement of the peace treaty, he publicized that Imam Hasan (as) had accepted him as a caliph. Perhaps he thought that through a large army, military strength and repenting his earlier deed against Imam Hasan (as), he would be successful in getting recognition as a caliph. However, despite the political and military pressure, the grandson of the Holy Prophet (saww) not only refused to accept Moawiya as a caliph, but accused him as being power hungry and declared his government as oppressive and illegal. We will discuss the details of this aspect in subsequent chapters.

For that reason, though some historians have shown anxiety, a majority of them have expressed words like 'tasleem-ul-amr' (acceptance of the order) or 'nuzool-ul-hukm' (receipt of a directive), which clearly indicate that the Imam (as) had only relinquished power, or handed over government, to Moawiya. A team of current researchers supports this view. A few leading ones among these are: -

-Justice Ameer Ali,

-Dr. Abdel Salam Turmanini,

-Dr.. Syed Mohammad Vakil,

-The scholar Razi Aale Yaseen. 12

It was Imam Mujtaba (as)'s maturity of thought, example of excellence, courage, and the success of his political foresight which resulted in Moawiya being considered as a monarch or king by all sections of the society at that time, and he had to accept that status. A clear example of the same is that after Imam Mujtaba (as), S'ad bin Abee Waqas, the well known Companion of the Holy Prophet (saww), addressed Moawiya as 'monarch'. 13 However, there is no historical significance of allegiance to Moawiya after peace. Rather some researcher or historian, while discussing the peace, might only guess that Imam Hasan (as) might have given allegiance.

The scholar Raazi Aale Yaseen, while discussing the issue of monarchy or caliphate, writes:

We know for sure that referring to Ahle Bait (as), Moawiya told his son Yazeed 'certainly it is their right'! It is also in our knowledge that while offering peace, Moawiya wrote to Imam Hasan (as): 'the affairs will not be decided without your order nor shall your views be opposed on any issue.' "!!

We are also aware that after taking over the reigns, Moawiya while addressing from the pulpit at Koofa, said: "I did not wage war against you that you may say the prayers and observe fast .., I only fought against you that I may rule over you." !!!

We have also learnt that Imam Hasan bin Ali (as) had refused to accept Moawiya as caliph, on which Moawiya kept quiet and could not refute him.

The scholar Aale Yaseen, analyzing these arguments, draws the conclusion that: "Now we can say with certainty that when Moawiya took over the rule, he did not assume caliphate. And when he himself said that 'I did not wage war against you that you may say the prayers and observe fast...', then he himself proved that he was not a religious guide or caliph but an ordinary ruler having worldly consideration, who was not interested in prayers or fasting. All that he wanted was to rule over the people.

Similarly, Moawiya's words 'decisions will be taken with your (Imam's) consent' or 'the right belongs to them', clearly indicate that he conceded that Imam Mujtaba (as) had such a high religious standing which Moawiya could not challenge. Certainly, caliphate is nothing other than that high status! For that reason, when Imam Hasan (as) declined to accept his caliphate and said that he was claiming caliphate without any justification, Moawiya had no choice except to keep quiet. 14

12. Ameer Ali - 'Mukhtasar Tareekh al Arab' (Arabic translation: 'feef B'albaki), Beirut, Dar ul Ilm lil Malayeen, 1961, p...; Abdus Salaam Tarmanini - 'Ahdaas al Tareekh al Islami',vol. 1, p.420; Mohd. Vakil - 'Al Umayyun bain al Sharq val Gharb', Beirut, Dar al Shamiah, 1995, vol. 1 p.25; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum, pp.267-276.

13. Ibne Aseer - 'Al Kamil fee al Tareekh', Beirut: Darul Kutub al Ilmiah, 1987, vol. 3 p. 275; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum, pp.268.

14. Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', pp.274-275.

Adpted from the book: "Imam Hasan and Caliphate" by: "Qurrat-ul-Ain Abidiy"

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