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Newsletter for May 2016
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The Second Imam: Hasan ibne Ali (AS)
by Dr. Syed Haider Husain Shamsi
Epithet: Abu Muhammad
Father: Ali ibne Abi Talib (as)
Mother: Fatima binte Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam (pbuh)
Date of Birth: Ramadhan 15, 3 AH (March 1, 625 AD)
Place of Birth: Madinah
Progeny: From Umm Bashir binte Abu Masud al-Khazraji:
One son: Zaid
From; Khawla binte Fazari:
One son: Hasan al-Muthanna
From: Umm Is-haq binte Talha bin UbaidAllah al-Taimi
Two sons: al-Husain, Talha
One daughter: Fatima
He had many other children from other wives
Date of Death: Safar 28, 50 AH (March 6, 670 AD)
He lived to an age of 45 years
Place of Death: Madinah
Place of Burial: Jannatul Baqi
LIFE OF HASAN (AS) DURING
THE TIMES OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD
The Holy Prophet was very happy when he heard the news of the birth of his grandson. He came to the house of Ali and his beloved daughter Fatima and named the child Hasan. He had the good fortune to be loved and nurtured personally by the Messenger of Islam for seven years before his death. He often carried his grand child on his shoulders.
As a youth, he witnessed the conflict between kufr (paganism, polytheism) and Islam. He saw his father, Imam Ali being victorious and playing the key role in many important battles with the non-believers. This was also the glorious time of Islam with the inception of the Muslim community in Madinah under the Holy Prophet himself, and the rapid expansion of the message of Islam throughout the Arabian peninsula.
Hasan was one of the five members of the Ahle Bait. It was in 9 AH when the Prophet of Islam took him along as one of the five who went out to face the challenge of the grand cardinals of Najran on the occasion of Mubahala, and witnessed the triumph of the Truth over Falsehood.
LIFE OF HASAN DURING THE TIMES OF IMAM ALI
As a growing youth, Hasan saw the active role of his father, Imam Ali, in the battlefield defending Islam, as a preacher to a vast congregation of believers on the occasion of Haj, and as a missionary of Islam to Yemen. After the death of his grandfather, the Prophet, he saw his father having retreated to a passive role in the matters of the state during the period of the first three caliphs. However, whenever he saw it necessary, Imam Ali never refrained from giving his opinion to the caliph of the time on matters of the practice of faith. He had also seen that the caliphs, in turn, respected Imam Ali for his overall knowledge, and consulted him on many occasions as the need arose.
When the third caliph was murdered by a mob of agitated demonstrators in his palace in Mad'mah, and Imam Ali was elected to lead the Muslim nation, Imam Hasan took active part in assisting his father in many ways. He went to Kufa and successfully raised the first army of believers against the dissenting Muslims. He participated actively in the battlefields of Basra, Siffeen and Nahrawan alongside his father, and demonstrated his skills as a soldier and as a leader.
Before he died, Imam Ali appointed Hasan to lead the nation of believers and to be their Imam after him. The people also chose him to be their Caliph.
THE LIFE OF IMAM HASAN AS A CALIPH
Imam Hasan assumed the responsibility of the Caliphate after the martyrdom of his father, and the people of Kufa gave him the pledge of fealty. He addressed a large congregation of believers in the mosque and reminded them of the stand his father had taken in upholding the Truth, and that he would not change his course of conduct in any other way. He also reminded them of the deceitful way in which they were deprived of their victory over Muawiyah, the defiant governor of Syria. He strongly urged them to search their hearts if they wished to achieve a stable and pious way of life under his rule.
Muawiyah continued his unrelenting efforts to weaken the position of Imam Hasan from the seat of Caliphate. The hnam wrote him a letter inviting him for peace, and to join him in furthering the cause of a unified Islamic State. This called for Muawiyah to accept Imam Hasan as the legitimate successor of the Caliphate. Muawiyah had previously declined this in a similar communication from Imam Ali, and had carried arms against him.
Imam Hasan called up his forces from his pledged supporters. However, the army he could gather consisted of people with disparate motives. Although there were some true believers in the army, many others had joined in for the sake of war spoils and with divided loyalties. Thus, even some Kharjites had joined the army, not for the love of the Imam but, in the event of victory, for their own design of eliminating Muawiyah from the Caliphate. There were others who had come, not because they believed in fighting for the cause of the Truth but because their tribal leaders had urged them to do so.
However, just before the impending war, Muawiyah was able to break the strength of the Imams army by paying off some and diverting others away from h4n, and spread the manors that the Imam had agreed to stop the war to save bloodshed of Muslims on either side. These rumors had their desired effect. The Kharjis saw a failure of their own goal through the forces of the Imam, so they turned against him. He received a bad slash on his thigh, and was quickly taken away by his supporters for care and tending. His army dispersed to escape a general massacre by Muawiyah's forces.
The leaders of several tribes wrote to Muawiyah for his clemency towards them in exchange for surrendering Imam Hasan to him. Muawiyah sent all these letter to the Imam and offered him safe passage to Madinah under all the conditions he chose for himself. To this end, he sent Imam Hasan a blank page with his stamps in the bottom of the page. Then Muawiyah wrote, "In this page, whose bottom I have stamped, stipulate whatever you want, for that will be for you."
The Imam, in his desire to avoid bloodshed and to uphold the unity of the Muslim Ummah, saw the advantage in accepting Muawiyah's offer. He was well aware of the ploy of Muawiyah during the days of his father, and he had seen his tactics during the Battle of Siffeen. He had seen Muawiyah's devious means during his confrontation with him, and had seen the rift and loss of life of the Muslims on both sides. The apparent truce was a safe way out from the bitter confrontation. The Imam accepted peace in order to preserve the integrity of Islam. He wrote on the page provided by Muawiyah all the conditions that suited him, his family and towards his role as the Imam of believers. It is unfortunate that this page is not valuable to us. However, the conditions laid down by the Imam have been mentioned in several authoritative works of history and biography.
THE PEACE TREATY
5. "The people should be safe wherever they are in the earth of Allah; in Sham (Syria), Iraq, Hijaz, Yemen, etc. He should give security to the black and the red alike. He (Muawiyah) should bear their slips, should not follow some of them for the bygone, nor should he punish the Iraqis foe hostility."
"The companions of Ali should be given security wherever they are; that he (Muawiyah) should not expose them to any evil; that they should be given security over their lives, their properties and women and children; and that he should give them their rights.
"He (Muawiyah) should not seek a calamity secretly or openly for alHasan or his brother al-Husain, nor for anyone from the progeny of Ahle Bait of the'Apostle of Allah, nor should he frighten them in any country or territories."
Many historians have related that the text of this Peace Treaty was conveyed to Muawiyah who read this in his court, and made a covenant with Allah to fulfil the conditions stipulated by Imam Hasan. It was not long after this event that Muawiyah went back from his part of the covenant with Allah and put the Peace Treaty aside. He took pleasure in demeaning the Imam just as he had been doing to his father. The Imam decided to leave Kufa and return to Madinah.
Marwan bin al-Hakam, who was the personal secretary to the third caliph, and had fought against Imam Ali during the Battle of Camel, was now the governor of Madinah under Muawiyah. He took personal pleasure in discharging Muawiyah's wishes to slur the reputation of the Imam and his father. Needless to say that the Imam's life in Madinah after the treaty of peace was not peaceful at all. In addition to the relentless taunts and abuse slung at him by Muawiyah, the Imam had to endure the anger of his supporters for having relinquished the Caliphate to the life long enemy of himself and that of his father before him. They had failed to appreciate that Imam Hasan had given up his right in the larger interests of Islam, and to avoid further bloodshed of the Muslims. The Imam continued to deal with the abuse with patience and forbearance, and continued to uphold the Truth.
THE MARTYRDOM OF IMAM HASAN
Muawiyah was successful in deceitfully gaining the absolute power he had aspired for. He was not interested in the functions of preaching piety or theology. He was interested in expanding his sphere of influence in the territories already conquered by the Muslims, and was actively engaged in further conquests to the north and north west of Syria. In utter violation of the terms of the Treaty with the Imam, Muawiyah decided to name his son Yazid to succeed him after his death. He knew that Yazid lacked all qualifications to be a caliph for the Muslims and to represent the Holy Prophet of Islam. He also knew that the Imam, being a true representative of the Prophet, would oppose the nomination of his son. Consequently, he decided to eliminate the opposition.
Muawiyah solicited the services of Marwa'n bin Hakam, a son-in-law of the third Caliph, who was the governor of Madinah at that time. With a promise for a reward, Marwan approached one of the wives of the Imam, Ju'da binte al-Ash'ath bin Qais to poison the Imam. He was successful, and the Imam died as a result of this plot.
Before he died Imam Hasan, in accordance with the Will of Allah, named his brother, Husain to be the next Imam. He expressed his wish to his brother to bury his body near to the grave of his grandfather, the Prophet of Islam. This caused an armed opposition by the governor of Madinah. Under a shower of arrows, the jenazh (funeral procession) of Imam Hasan had to withdraw and be diverted to Jannatul-Baqi', the general graveyard of Madinah, where he was buried.
REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE OF IMAM HASAN
Imam Hasan lived a life of piety mirroring the teachings of the Quran and the Sunna of the Prophet. The ten years he spent in Madinah under the oppressive rule of Muawiyah and his appointed governors, only revealed his tolerance and forbearance towards the abuse. Some followers felt that the Imam should have retaliated against Muawiyah when he ignored the terms and conditions of the Treaty, oppressed them slung verbal abuses at them. But the Imam only pointed to the conduct of his father before him, who had endured similar circumstances without armed retaliation. He told his followers that he did not retaliate against the oppressor because the abuses that were being thrown at him were against his person and not against Islam.
THE TABLE OF IMAM HASAN
From the time of the assassination of the third caliph and the events surrounding Imam Ali's rule, the Ahle Bait had again come into focus. Many dignitaries and new Muslims from far off places sought audience with the Imam in Madinah. They came to learn interpretations of the Quran, the teachings of Islam, and expounded the seera (the conduct of personal life) of the Prophet of Islam.Imam Hasan adopted a unique method of teaching and preaching Islam. Even during the life of Imam Ali, the Table of Hasan was well known. Now with the increased visibility, the number of attendants had increased many folds. To accommodate them, he used to lay an extensive table for all his guests. While at the table, and with ample food in front of them the people sat down in peace and relative comfort to eat and listen. Thus, they were able to benefit from his teachings, and he was able to answer their questions.
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