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The Future of the Caliphate

"Moawiya does not have the right to nominate anyone after him. After him the authority shall return to (Imam) Hasan (as). According to some narrations, 'after Moawiya, it will be left to 'Shoora' of Muslims as they deem fit'."

Imam Hasan Mujtaba (as) knew the intentions of Moawiya very well. He knew that Moawiya will change the Islamic system of government to the kingdom of Qaiser and Kisra and it will become his family hierarchy. Therefore, the Imam had, by agreement, taken away the right of nomination of heir apparent from him. What is narrated by some that the grandson of the Holy Prophet (saww) had advanced the condition that Moawiya will not nominate anyone after him but rather the election of the caliph will be left to the 'Shoora' of Muslims, is not correct. 15 'Allama Ibne 'Abdul Barr writes:

"There is no difference of opinion among ulama that Imam Hasan (as) had offered the rule to Moawiya till his life time only. Therefore, it had to return to Imam Hasan (as) after him and this was one of the conditions of the agreement between the two. Imam Hasan (as) considered it advisable not to shed the blood of Muslims for the sake of caliphate and made the agreement, though he considered himself much more entitled to caliphate." 'Allama Ibne 'Abdul Barr quotes many narrations in which the condition of the government being returned to Imam Hasan (as) is very clearly mentioned. 16

Hafiz Zahbi also writes about this condition very strongly in his various publications. He also quotes 'Umroo bin Deenar according to whom Moawiya had made the agreement with (Imam) Hasan (as) that if he meets with any accident, the rule will be returned to (Imam) Hasan (as). 17

All the historians and researchers who have mentioned this condition are:Ibne S'ad (according to Ibne Hajar 'Asqalani), Ibne Hajar Asqalani (Al-asabah fee Tamayyaz al-Sahaba) Ibne Asakir (Tareekh-e-Ibne Asakir), Muhib al-Tabari (Zakhair al-Uqbi), Ibne Qutaiba Dinavari (al-Imamah val-Siyasa), Husain Dayar Bakari (Tareekh al-Khamees), Suyuti (Tareekh al-Khulafa), Ibne Abdul Barr (al-Istee'ab) Hafiz Zahbi (Tareekh al-Islam-o-al-'abar) Dr. Abdul Salam Tarmanini (Ahdas al-Tareekh al-Islami) 18

All these writers have clearly written that, according to the agreement, the rule had to return to Imam Hasan (as) after Moawiya. Apart from this, there are other sources of evidence after which no element of doubt remains in accepting this condition. In this regard, attention is drawn to those letters of Moawiya, written before peace, wherein he had offered the future government to Imam Hasan (as) and had confessed that he (Imam Hasan (as)) was the rightful claimant of the same. In addition to these letters, another argument is available from Ibne Qutaiba Dinavari and other sources. They write that when Moawiya tried to appoint Yazid as his heir apparent and invited delegations from different areas, all the others agreed but when the Iraqi delegation was asked about it, its leader Akhnaf bin Qais said:

"(O Moawiya) you have already made an agreement with Imam Hasan (as) in the name of God (and religion), of which you are well aware, that after you, the government will be his." 19 Only the historians Ibne Aasam Koofi, Balazari and Ibne Abee al-Hadeed Mo'tazilli disagree with this condition and state that Imam Hasan (as) had said that the choice of future incumbent of caliphate should be left to 'Shoora'. 20

The other writers do not write anything about the appointment of the future caliph.

Firstly, this disagreement does not have much force in that if the Muslims were consulted, whether in the life of Moawiya, or after him, they would not elect anyone except Imam Hasan (as) as they loved him more than even his father. However, it seems that by adding the condition of 'shoora' an impression has been given that Imam Hasan (as) had abdicated and had handed over the rule to Moawiya. Therefore, after Moawiya he needed a fresh mandate for caliphate, which would be available through 'shoora'. But these writers ignore the fact that Imam Hasan (as) had put in all the terms and conditions in the blank paper which he thought fit; he had completed six months of caliphate and had handed over the rule to Moawiya for a given period. Therefore, the authority to rule over Muslims should have been returned to him according to law and ethics and it does not make sense that he himself would raise the issue of 'shoora'. Ibne Aasam Koofi and Balazari also write that Moawiya had offered the future rule to Imam Hasan (as) but they claim that the Imam (as) had shown no inclination towards it. We feel that these writers have mixed up two issues: one, concerning the destiny of Muslims, and the other, regarding worldly rank and wealth. Imam Hasan (as) had not shown disinclination towards the guidance of Muslims, or caliphate. He had rather shown no interest towards worldly status and the collection of wealth through it. We have discussed the issue in the earlier chapter on 'the philosophy of peace'. In support of the argument is the narration of Balazari himself wherein he has mentioned that when Moawiya offered his future rule and huge sums of money to Imam Hasan (as), he had replied: "he is tempting me towards something which, if I had any inclination towards the same, I would not offer it to him." 21

Dr. Taha Husain has also arrived at the same truth. He adds another point in this connection that, in the opinion of Imam Hasan (as), Moawiya did not have any right to nominate anyone as his heir apparent. In his book 'Fitnatul Kubra' he writes:

"Moawiya had made three offers to Imam Hasan (as): (1) he would nominate him as his crown prince; (2) he would pay him ten lakh (one million) Dirham every year from Baitul Maal; and (3) he would pay the tax revenue of two Persian states to him. Imam Hasan (as) did not accept the offer as, according to him, Moawiya did not have the right to one of these, i.e. the issue of appointing the crown prince." 22

It can be clearly concluded that Imam Hasan (as) had not totally rejected the offer of Moawiya but rather that Moawiya did not have the right to offer the same. In the language of 'al-Futooh' the historical record by Ibne A'sam, there is a contradiction, or may be, some confusion, when on the one hand, it is stated that these conditions were proposed by the delegation of Imam Hasan (as), while, on the other, it is mentioned as an offer by Moawiya. After the above arguments, we are firmly of the opinion that this is not a correct statement.

In some narrations not only by Shias but others as well, it is stated that Imam Hasan (as) had put the condition that after him the caliphate would be handed over to Imam Husain (as) and he would be his heir apparent. Justice Ameer Ali, the author of 'Roohe Islam' (the soul of Islam), also supports this view. 23

It is not improbable that due to the danger to his life, he might have had the foresight and selected, among all, Imam Husain (as). Behind this decision of the Imam were not the family traditions or the fear but rather the religious principles and the political philosophy of his grandfather, the Holy Prophet (saww), who had very well introduced the abilities of these two brothers and had clearly shown the Muslims their leadership qualities through so many of his traditions. However, it may be said that the fact of Imam Husain (as)'s nomination is not so well recorded in history.

15. Ibne A'sam - 'Al Futooh', vol. 4, p.159; Balazari - Al-Ansaab al Ashraaf, vol. 3 p.42; Ibne Abee al Hadeed, 'Sharhe Nahjul Balagha', vol. 16, p.22.

16. Ibne A'bdul Barr - 'Al Isteeab'.

17. Hafiz Zahbi, 'Tareekh Al Islam', Beirut, Darul Kutub al Arabi, 1987, Period of Moawiya, p.5; Hafiz Zahbi, 'Al A'bar;, Beirut, vol. 1,pp. 34-35; refer to Ibne Hajar - 'Al Asaba fee Tamayyaz al Sahaba'.

18. Ibne Hajar - 'Al Asaba fee Tamayyaz al Sahaba'; Muhib al Tabari - 'Zakhair al U'qbi, Cairo, Maktaba al Qudsi, 1356 A.H., p. 139; Ibne Qutaiba Dainvari - 'Al Imama val Siyasa', Qum, Intisharat al Razi, 1413 A.H. p.184; Husain Dayar Bakari - 'Tareekh al Khamees, p.390; Suyuti - 'Tareekh al Khulafa', Qum,Intisharaat al Raza, 1411 A.H., p. 191; Abdul Qadir Badran, 'Tahzeebe Tareekhe Damishq'...Asakir, Beirut, Darul Ahya al..., 1987, vol 4, p.224.

19. Ibne Qutaiba - 'Al Imamah val Siyasah', Egypt: Shirka Mustafa al Babi, 1963, vol. 1 p. 171.

20. The references have been quoted earlier.

21. Balazari - 'Ansaab al Ashraaf', vol. 3 p.41.

22. Taha Husain - 'Islamiyat - Al Fitnatul Kubra'-Ali-o-Nubuvah', p.979.

23. Ameer Ali - 'Mukhtasar Tareekh al Arab', 1961, p.87.

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

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