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Conditions of the peace treaty

Mu‘awiyah took advantage of this opportunity. He sent a letter to Imam al-Hasan (as) in which he proposed peace. He said Imam al-Hasan (as) was free to demand any conditions for himself, his Ahl al-Bayt (as) and his Shi‘ahs.

In his reply, Imam al-Hasan (as) inserted demands and asked Mu‘awiyah to act according to his promises. On the surface, Mu‘awiyah accepted whatever demands Imam al-Hasan (as) made, though deep inside he did not believe in any one of the conditions. Actually, he planned to deliberately undermine all these conditions when the right opportunity arose.

Imam al-Hasan’s (as) conditions were as follows:

1. Entrusting the caliphate to Mu‘awiyah on the condition that he would act according to Allah’s Book and the Prophet’s (S) sunnah.

2. The caliphate should be handed over to Imam al-Hasan (as) after the death of Mu‘awiyah, and in case of Imam al-Hasan’s (as) death, the caliphate should be entrusted to his brother Imam al-Husayn (as). Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan agreed not to hand the caliphate over to anyone else.

3. Mu‘awiyah agreed to stop cursing and vilifying Imam ‘Ali (as). He agreed to stop insulting Imam ‘Ali (as) in the supplications he offered at the time of prayers. He even agreed to remind himself and the people about the good works and excellent virtues of Imam ‘Ali (as).

4. Mu‘awiyah agreed not to claim the money belonging to the public treasury of Kufah. (This money amounted to five thousand dirhams.) In addition to that, Mu‘awiyah agreed to send one million dirhams every year to Imam al-Husayn (as). He recognized the tribe of Bani Hashim to have higher family ties with him than tribe of Bani Shams. Mu‘awiyah had to share and divide a million dirhams among the children of the people who were martyred in the wars of Jamal and Siffin when he fought against Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).

5. All Muslims in all corners of the Muslim World, whether in Sham, Iraq, Hijaz or Yemen, would be able to live in peace and enjoy safety. All races and sects would be able to live in safety and no one should follow up on old grudges and seek retribution from the other.

Imam ‘Ali’s (as) companions were guaranteed to live in peace and safety wherever they might be, and no trouble should be made for his Shi‘ahs. Their lives, property, children and women would be left in peace and security and none of them should be persecuted or attacked. Every one of their rights should be observed and respected.

None of their rights should be abused… and never should any aggression, whether openly or secretly, be carried out on Imam al-Hasan (as), Imam al-Husayn (as) and anyone of the Prophets’s (S) Ahl al-Bayt (as). None of them should be terrorized no matter where they live.

These were some of the conditions which Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) inserted in the peace treaty. If we carefully ponder the conditions which Imam al-Hasan (as) demanded, we realize that he never planned to affirm or stabilize Mu‘awiyah’s caliphate. On the contrary, these conditions were against the interests of Mu‘awiyah. Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as) was only trying to buy time to his own advantage.10

Two opposing circumstances

Some people, because they lack sufficient knowledge about the position and status of an imam, have endeavored to portray Imam al-Husayn (as) as higher in status than Imam al-Hasan (as).

The reason they put forward is that Imam al-Husayn (as) fought the enemies of Allah with very few companions until they all attained martyrdom while Imam al-Hasan (as) chose the way of peace and compromise. However, this belief is a result of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about the Imam and his infallibility, because:

Firstly, we believe that the duty of every one of the Imams was previously planned and determined, and was foretold by the Holy Prophet (S). In addition, each of them has executed all the duties they were charged with in the best interests of the Muslims and for the expedience of Islam.

Secondly, with careful consideration of the circumstances of these two Infallible Imams, the decision made by each of them was correct and reasonable (in the interests of Islam and the Muslims). The treachery of the people of Kufah was such that they prepared the ground for Imam al-Husayn’s (as) apparent victory and invited him to come with his family and entire household to Iraq, while they had never done such a thing for Imam al-Hasan (as).

Thirdly, it has to be borne in mind that Imam al-Hasan’s (as) soldiers broke their allegiance after promising loyalty but the people of Kufah during the time of Imam al-Husayn (as), even though they had invited him in order to pay their allegiance to him, started opposing one another before actually paying their allegiance and going to war. It is for this reason that Imam al-Hasan’s (as) soldiers are considered more treacherous than the people of Kufah during the time of Imam al-Husayn (as).

Imam al-Hasan (as) did not have as many loyal people in his army as Imam al-Husayn (as), so it was practically impossible to fight any war against the enemy.

Fourthly, when we consider the ways and stratagems of the enemies of these two Imams in their different times of Imamate, we realize that Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Husayn (as) faced two different kinds of enemies. These two different kinds of enemies needed to be confronted with two different strategies, one was to make peace and the other was to fight with the sword until martyrdom was attained.

The enemy facing Imam al-Hasan (as) was Mu‘awiyah, and the enemy facing Imam al-Husayn (as) was Yazid, the son of Mu‘awiyah. These two false caliphs had two different ways of life and handling affairs.

Even though Mu‘awiyah was a trickster and a perverted man who did not waste any resources to annihilate the basic teachings of Islam, he nonetheless apparently followed the laws of Islam to some extent. However, Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyah was not only an enemy of Islam in his inner being, but also showed his enmity and hatred of Islam and Allah’s Prophet (S) publicly.

He did not observe or respect any one of the revered orders of Islam. Although Mu‘awiyah apparently showed some respect to Bani Hashim, Yazid did not show any kind of respect for them.

It is for this reason that that the Holy Prophet (S) said,

    «الحسن والحسين امامان قاما او قعداً.»

“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are imams, whether they make peace or rise up.”11

Therefore, we believe that if Imam al-Husayn (as) was in Imam al-Hasan’s (as) position, he would do exactly the same thing which Imam al-Hasan (as) did. And if Imam al-Hasan (as) was in Imam al-Husayn’s (as) position, he too would do what Imam al-Husayn (as) did.

The reason is that they both were sharp at analyzing the times in which they lived and were aware about their circumstances. Whatever decisions they made were for the best interests and expedience of Islam and the Muslims.


10. Al-Nasayih al-Kafiyah, pp. 156-157; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 6, pp. 92-97; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 166; Maqatil al-Talibiyyin, p. 26; Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, pp. 8, 15; A‘yan al-Shi‘ah, vol. 4, p. 43; Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p. 194; Tarikh Ibn Kathir, vol. 8, p. 41; Al-Isabah, vol. 2, p. 12; ‘Umdah al-Talib, p. 52.

11. Ibn Shahr Ashub, Munaqib, vol. 3, p. 394; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 43, p. 291, hadith 54.

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"