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Imam Hasan (a.s.) and War Preparations

Many letters had been exchanged between Imam Hasan (as) and Moawiya - who thought that through his cunning and threats he would be able to force the grandson of the Holy Prophet (saww) to resign, but he was very surprised when the Imam (as) did not take any notice of his tactics. Rather, he in turn put political pressure on Moawiya to give up the rebellious approach and pay allegiance to him. After being defeated politically, Moawiya decided to take up arms and planned for a large scale attack on Iraq. He sent the following letter to his agents in Egypt, Jordan and various areas in Syria:

"Almighty God in His grace gave the chance to one of His bondsmen to assassinate Ali b. Abee Talib. So, he assassinated him. After him, his followers are suffering from disturbed conditions and division. We have received letters from their respectable personalities wherein they have sought protection from us for themselves and their tribes. As soon as you receive this letter of mine, you should come to me with your total army and armament. For sure, you have taken revenge of your blood, have got your wishes fulfilled and Almighty God has killed the rebellious and our enemies. My compliments and may God's blessings be on you." 1

On Moawiya's orders, the armed forces started gathering from different areas, and when all, said to have numbered sixty thousand, had assembled, he marched towards Iraq. 2

Doctor Husain Mohammad J'afari writes that he had two main objectives in this attack:

(1) Through the demonstration of armament and his army's strength, he wanted to force Imam Hasan (as) to abdicate the caliphate;

(2) On the failure of his above plan, he wanted to attack the Iraqi army before it could get well prepared for war. 3

Imam Mujtaba (as) was regularly receiving messages regarding the planned attack and the people of Koofa had realized that Moawiya was coming with a large army to attack them. Though it had been the family tradition of the Hashmi tribe that they would not be the first to attack, Imam Mujtaba (as) had a different motive for not trying to fight Moawiya, which was due to the attitude of the residents of Koofa itself. In the circumstances, the Imam (as) did not want to initiate the war, but now the situation was quite different - Moawiya had given him the ultimatum for war and was marching towards his territory. Therefore, he had to save the Islamic government and the caliphate. The leader of the faithful Hazrat Ali (as) had advised him to follow this principle i.e. "Do not start a war, but if someone wages war against you, then face the challenge. This is because the initiator of war is a rebel and the punishment for a rebel is death." 4

If his father was 'the lion of God', then he was the lion of the lion of God. That is why he urgently ordered all his governors to prepare for war. He ordered Hajar b. Adi, the Companion of the Holy Prophet (saww) to instruct all the governors to get ready for war and for him to prepare the war plan. The people were asked to assemble in the 'Jame' (main congregation) mosque. After they had gathered and the mosque was full, he gave a very remarkable sermon. He said: "For sure, the Glorified God has made 'jihad' (holy war) obligatory for His bondsmen and has called it an act not liked by them. Afterwards Almighty God, the Most Sacred, directed the faithful to 'be patient and steadfast as Almighty God is with those who are patient.' So, O men! you cannot achieve your desired aim except by being patient about what you do not like. May God be merciful to you; you all should join the army which is gathering at Nakhaila so that we and you should collectively think and plan what we can do next." 5

Imam Mujtaba (as) was well aware that the people of Koofa, as always, would not welcome this decision of his. He was also aware of the intriguers who were constantly spreading false rumours and were thus fulfilling the aims of the enemy. So, he further said: "We are that party of Almighty God which is always successful. We represent the most prominent personalities of the household of the Holy Prophet (saww) and are his pure and chaste 'Ahle Bait'. We are one of the two most valuable things which the Holy Prophet (saww) left after him; we are the peers of the Holy Book of God which contains the explanation of everything, and in which falsehood cannot enter any way (from the front or back). So, in the exegesis of the Holy Quran, reliance has to be on us, as we have not suffered from doubt or conjecture in its exegesis; rather we have full faith in its truth."

"Therefore, (O people!) submit to me, as submission to us is near the submission to God and the Holy Prophet (saww). Almighty God has commanded thus: "O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and those vested with authority (from) among you; and then if you quarrel concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if you believe in Allah and the last day ..." An Nisa, 59

Almighty God further commands: "...and if they had referred it (the issue in dispute) to the messenger, and (to) those vested in authority amongst them, then they, who could discover the truth, would have known it ..." An Nisa, 83.

Imam Mujtaba (as) further said: "I warn you against listening to the Satan as he is your sworn enemy. But if you do so, then you would be considered as his friend to whom he had said: 'today no one can overcome you and I am your shelter.' However, when two groups came face to face, then he ran away, saying that he was disgusted with them and his view was different from theirs. Thus, you will be the target of the spear and sword of the enemy and would be in the range of their arrows. In such a situation, the faith of one would not help him unless he had entered the fold of religion earlier or had done any virtuous deed according to his faith."

Soon after Imam Mujtaba (as) had finished his speech, awesome stillness prevailed, as if the people had become dumb. Their faces became pale and they were perspiring. The reason for all that was that they had got tired of war and had bitter experience at the hands of the rebellious Syrian group. Soon after, Adi b. Hatim, a respected Shia leader of the Imam (as) broke the silence. The brave son of Hatim Taee, who was the leader of 'Tae' tribe and had a thousand soldiers under his command, shook the conscience of the people. He said: "I am the son of Hatim. God be glorified. How shameful it is; why don't you come forward and put yourself at the service of your Imam, the grand son of the Holy Prophet (saww)? Where are those orators of Egypt who talk so fluently, but when the situation of trial comes they run away like a fox? Are you not afraid of the wrath of God; are you not ashamed of this condition and are you not realizing its harmful effects?" Turning towards the Imam, Adi b. Hatim said:

"May Almighty God keep you as the guide for a long time; protect you from mischief and may grant you success in the act which may have a good beginning and a happy ending. For sure, we listened to you; we will whole heartedly carry out your command and will support your directions; I am immediately going to join the camp as directed by you and anyone who wants to come with me, may do so."

Saying this, Adi b. Hatim came out of the mosque and riding his horse, moved towards Nakhaila so that he could join the camp of the Imam (as) there. He ordered his servant to take his luggage to the camp.

After Adi b. Hatim, the well known personalities like Qais b. S'ad b. Abadah, M'oqil b. Qais Riyahi and Zaid b. S'as'ah Tamimee delivered strong speeches wherein they encouraged them to fight and admonished them for showing weakness towards war.

On this occasion, the grandson of the Holy Prophet (saww) prayed for God's blessings for them in the same manner as sought by the Holy Prophet (saww) for Miqdad and S'ad b. M'az for their speeches on the occasion of the Badr war. History records the following words of gratitude of Imam Mujtaba (as):

"You have proved to be just; May God's mercy be upon you; I have always observed you acting with obedience, love, advice and sincerity. May the Gracious God grant you the best reward for the same." 7

With great effort by this sincere and religious group, the residents of Koofa felt ashamed and they became ready for a defensive war against Moawiya. Imam Mujtaba (as) appointed Warqa b. Noful as his representative in Koofa and strongly advised him to keep encouraging the people to get ready for war, to collect them and move them towards his camp in Nakhaila. The same day, soon after attending to other important matters, he went, along with a small army of men from Koofa, to Nakhaila, located at a short distance from the city towards Syria. We are not sure how many men were with Imam Hasan (as) at the time of his departure from Koofa. The recorded versions present a very disappointing situation. Anyway, the historians have no doubt that the people of Koofa did not welcome the decision of Imam Hasan (as) for war. After great effort and persuasion, a small army moved with the Imam (as). Although we intend to discuss the number and the condition of the army of the Imam (as) in later chapters, yet it may be mentioned that Imam Mujtaba (as) was facing a shortage of soldiers, though the researchers estimate that at least forty thousand soldiers were present in Koofa at the time.

1. Ibne Abee al Hadeed, 'Sharhe Nahjul Balagha', Cairo: Dar Ahya al Kutub al Arabia, 1963, vol. 16, p.37; Balazari - 'Ansaab al Ashraaf', Beirut, Dar al Ta'aruf, 1977, vol. 3, p.30; Abul Faraj - 'Maqatil al Talibeen', Najaf, Maktaba al Haidariya, 1965, vol.1, pp.38-39; Husain Mohammad Ja'fari - 'The Origins and Early Development of Shia Islam', Persian translation, Ayet Ilahi, Tehran, Islamic Culture Centre, 1993, p.162; Hashim M'aroof - 'Seerat al Aimma Asna Ashar' Beirut, Darul T'ar uf, 1986, vol. 2, p.511; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum, Manshooraat al Sharif Razi, 1993, p.93.

2. Husain Mohammad Ja'fari - 'The Origins and Early Development of Shia Islam', p.162; Ibne A'sam - 'Al Futooh, Hyderabad: Daira al M'arif al Usmania, 1971, vol. 4, p.153; Abul Faraj - 'Maqatil al Talibeen', vol.1, p.39; Ibne Abee al Hadeed, 'Sharhe Nahjul Balagha', vol. 16, p.26.

3. Dr.Husain Mohammad Ja'fari - 'The Origins and Early Develop ment of Shia Islam', Tashay'o dar Maiser-e-Tareekh p.162.

4. Sheikh Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', p.90.

5. Balazari - 'Ansaab al Ashraaf', Beirut, Dar al Ta'aruf, vol. 3, p.32; Abul Faraj - 'Maqatil al Talibeen', vol.1, p.39; Ibne Abee al Hadeed, 'Sharhe Nahjul Balagha', vol. 16, p.38; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', p.100; Hashim M'aroof - 'Seerat al Aimma Asna Ashar' vol. 2, p.511; Baqar Qarshi - 'Hayat al Hasan bin Ali', Najaf, Matba al Ilmiah, 1954, vol.2, p.44.

6. Mas'oodi - 'Muravvij az Zaheb', Beirut, Darul Fikr, 1989, vol.3, pp.Hashim M'aroof - 'Seerat al Aimma Asna Ashar' vol. 2, p.511; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum, Manshooraat al Sharif Razi, 1993, p.59.

Note: Sheikh Raazi has written that this sermon has been narrated by Hisham bin Hassan according to whom the Imam (as) had given this sermon at the time of the allegiance. However, from the words of the Imam (as) it is clear that he gave the sermon before the war. God knows better. - Moreover, this sermon has also been mentioned in 'Biharul Anwaar'.

7. Abul Faraj - 'Maqatil al Talibeen', vol.1, p.39; Ibne Abee al Hadeed, 'Sharhe Nahjul Balagha', vol. 16, p.38-39; Balazari - 'Ansaab al Ashraaf', vol. 3, p.32; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', p.100-101; Hashim M'aroof - 'Seerat al Aimma Asna Ashar' vol. 2, p.512; Baqar Qarshi - 'Hayat al Hasan bin Ali', vol.2, p.45; Jawwad Fazlullah - 'Sulh al Imam al Hasan (as)', Qum, Darul Musaqqaf al Muslim, p.82; 'Adil al Adeeb - 'Daur-e-Aimma Ahle Bait', Mashhad, Majma al Buhoos al Islamia, 1408 A.H., p.177.

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

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