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The Bait-ul-Maal of Koofa

"Moawiya would hand over the Bait-ul-Maal of Koofa and the revenue of Darab Jerd ( Darab Gard, a state in Iran) to Imam Hasan (as) so that he could meet his expenses and pay back his debt and other dues." 29

Before deciding whether this condition is true or false, it is necessary to study the relevant details.

The historian Tabari, and later Ibne Aseer, writes that Imam Hasan (as) wanted that Moawiya should hand over to him the money available in the Bait-ul-Maal of Koofa. Moawiya agreed to this condition. At that time there were fifty lakh (five million) Dirham in that Bait-ul-Maal which (Imam) Hasan bin Ali (as) took to Madina. 30

Dr. Husain Mohammad J'fari, challenging this narration of the historian Tabari, writes :

"For two reasons, there seems to be no logical reason for this condition:"

"1. Till the time of the peace agreement, Imam Hasan (as) was the undisputed caliph of Koofa. Therefore, the Bait-ul-Maal was under his custody;"

"2. Our sources confirm that it was the practice of Hazrat Ali (as) that at the end of every week he used to distribute all that was in the Bait-ul-Maal. Therefore, it is difficult to believe that within the few months of the caliphate of Imam Hasan (as), despite heavy war expenses and the disorder due to the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (as), fifty lakh (five million) Dirham would still be available in the Bait-ul-Maal." 31

In a few narrations it is mentioned that Imam Mujtaba (as) had demanded that Moawiya should allow him to take as much money from Bait-ul-Maal as he wished so that he could repay the debt and other dues, while some others say that Imam Hasan (as) wanted that Moawiya should hand over the Bait-ul-Maal of Koofa to him. At that time there were said to be seventy lakh (seven million) Dirham in the Bait-ul-Maal of Koofa which Imam Hasan (as) is alleged to have taken with him to Madina. Moawiya had promised to give him an additional sum of ten lakh (one million) Dirham per annum. In "Mukhtasar-al-Jame' " it is even alleged that Imam Hasan (as) had sold the caliphate to Moawiya for fifty lakh (five million) Dirham and had taken the commitment that he would pay a similar amount annually to the Imam (as). 32 According to the historian Dinavari, Imam Hasan (as) had demanded that, apart from Bait-ul-Maal, the revenue of an Iranian state Darab Jard would be reserved for him; a sum of twenty lakh Dirham (two million) would be given to his younger brother Imam Husain (as); and Bani Hashim would be given preference over Bani Abde Shams. Also, that these conditions had been included in the Peace Agreement. The condition about Darab Jard's revenue has also been mentioned by other historians. 33

All these narrations have so many inaccurate statements that the researchers doubt whether such a large amount could have been demanded from Moawiya and consider these narrations as weak. Those mentioning such narrations have used the Arabic words "qeel or yaqal" which is a clear indication that these are weak narrations. That is why a large number of historians do not even mention these conditions. Apart from the above, many objections can be raised against these narrations:

(1). Imam Mujtaba (as) was the caliph of Islam. Is it possible that he was so indebted that he needed such a large amount for its repayment while the Bait-ul-Maal of Muslims was under his own control?

(2). In the Bait-ul-Maal, along with booty, there is also the amount of propitiatory offerings and Zakat. Is it possible that Imam Hasan (as), being one of the Ahle Bait on whom propitiatory offerings are forbidden, had considered it lawful to use the money from Bait-ul-Maal for his personal expenses? Had he done so, would the other members of the household of the Holy Prophet (saww) not have objected?

(3). It is a hard historical fact that huge sums had been offered to the Imam (as) by Moawiya so that he may abdicate caliphate in favour of Moawiya, but he declined Moawiya's politics of bribery and faced him boldly. He clearly indicated that if he had the love of wealth and coveted worldly power and authority, Moawiya would never have been able to snatch the same from him. In the light of these hard facts, there is no doubt that the weak narrations, particularly those that he sold the caliphate in exchange for a certain amount and put the condition that Bani Hashim be given a higher status than Bani Umayyah, are unreliable. The fact is that in the dignified and pious life of the grandson of the Holy Prophet (saww) there is no chance of such behaviour. In authentic narrations about him it has been stated that twice he had distributed all that he had among the needy. Similarly, in his character and manners there is no indication that he might have aired family status and ignored the principle of equality in the distribution of money from Bait-ul-Maal.

(4). From the Shia sources the narrations regarding the Imam (as) having asked for the money and revenue are not confirmed. The only demand that is confirmed is that Moawiya would pay compensation to those who were killed or injured in Siffin and other wars and the revenue from Darab Jerd would be reserved for the purpose. This appears to be a reasonable condition as Moawiya was responsible for these wars and it was his duty to compensate for the same. The scholar Baqar Qarshi writes in this regard:

"(Imam) Hasan (as) did not like that he should take any sum from the Bait-ul-Maal for himself or his Shias. As far as he was concerned, the propitiatory offerings are forbidden for him as well as for all Ahle Bait (as). As far as his Shia are concerned, it cannot be denied that the propitiatory offerings are undesirable as these may include ill gotten money (after the payment of which the rest of the amount becomes 'paak'). Therefore, the Imam (as) did not consider it suitable for his Shias as well, and fixed the revenue from Darab Jerd (for compensation to them) which was booty, and there was no element of doubt in its use for them." 34

The scholar Hashim M'aroof al Hasani also doubts the weak narrations and he expresses his views thus:

"These narrations lack authenticity from the point of view of continuity of source and are weak. Apart from this, it is also likely that the governments of Bani Umayya and Bani Abbas concocted such narrations just like dozens of others that they had concocted about Imam Hasan (as), so that they may influence human minds that Imam Hasan (as) had bargained for money in exchange for caliphate and had opted for a life of pleasure, giving up the most important religious issues. These ideas were spread by an Abbaside caliph who wanted to harm the cause of Husaini followers who were active against the oppressive rulers. 35

We cannot claim that the above research is a hundred percent correct but it cannot be denied that Moawiya had offered large sums to Imam Hasan (as) which he had rejected outright as he considered it "blackmail" and bribe. In his opinion, Moawiya or any other caliph did not have the right to give the money belonging to Muslims to anyone - even to Imam Hasan (as). This fact has been mentioned by A'sam Koofi in his history. 36 Researchers like Dr. Taha Husain also do not disagree with these conclusions. 37
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29. Ibne Khaldoon, 'Tareekhe Ibne Khaldoon', vol. 2, p. 186; Abdul Qadir Badran, 'Tahzeebe Tareekhe Damishq'...Ibne Asakir, Beirut, vol. 4, p.224; Ibne Kaseer, 'Albidayah val Nihaya', vol.8, p.15; Hafiz Zahbi, 'Tareekh Al Islam'; Dainvari - 'Al Ekhbar al Tawaal, Cairo, Daar Ahya al Kutub, 1960, p.218; Ibne Khalkan - 'Wafeeyat al 'yan', Qum, Manshoorat al Razi, 1364 A.H., vol. 2, p.66; Ibne Aseer - 'Al Kamil fee al Tareekh', Beirut, vol. 2, p.446; Husain Dayar Bakari - 'Tareekh al Khamees', vol. 2, p.390; Hafiz Zahbi, 'Al A'bar, vol. 1, pp.34-35; Tabari - 'Tareekh al Tabari', vol 3, p. 166; Ibne S'ad - 'al Tabaqaat al Kubra', vol. 8,p.76, under publica tion. Dr.Abdus Salaam Tarmanini - 'Ahdaas al Tareekh al Islami',vol.1, p.420; Abdul Aziz Salim - 'Tareekh al Daulatal Arabia,vol .2, p.337 ; Sayuti - 'Tareekh al Khulafa', Qum, p. 191;

30. Earlier references.

31. Husain Mohammad Ja'fari - 'The Origins and Early Development of Shia Islam', p.149;

32. Husain Dayar Bakari - 'Tareekh al Khamees', vol. 2, p.390;

33. The references have been quoted under No. 29.

34. Baqar Qarshi - 'Hayat al Imam al Hasan bin Ali', Najaf, Matba' al Aadab', 1973, vol 2, p.245.

35. Hashim M'aroof - 'Serat al Aimmah Asna Ashar' Beirut, Darul T'aaruf lil Mutboo'at, 1977, vol. 1, p.584; For further reference, refer to Baqar Qarshi - 'Hayat al Imam al Hasan bin Ali', vol 2, p.405.

36. Ibne A'sum - 'Al Futooh', vol.4, p.159.

37. Taha Husain - Islamiyat - 'Al Fitnatul Kubra', Ali-o-Nubuva, p.979.

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