Will you give information about the life and caliphate of Hz. Hasan, the grandson of the Prophet?

The Details of the Question
Will you give information about the life and caliphate of Hz. Hasan, the grandson of the Prophet?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Al-Hasan b. Ali b. Abi Talib al-Hashimi al-Qurashi is the oldest son of Hz. Ali and Hz. Fatima; he is one of the beloved grandsons of the Prophet (pbuh) and his “Rayhana” (pleasant-smelling plant). He is regarded as the fifth of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. He is the second of the twelve imams according to Imamiyya.

He was born in Madinah in the middle of the month of Ramadan in the third year of the Migration. There are also some narrations stating that he was born in the month of Shaban in the fourth or fifth year of the Migration but the soundest one is that he was born in the third year of the Migration. (Ibnul-Athir, Usdul-Ghaba, II, 10; Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Tahdhibut-Tahdhib, Hyderabad 1325, II, 296). When Hz. Hasan was born and Hz. Prophet (pbuh) heard that he had a grandchild, he went to Hz. Ali's house at once and said, "Bring me my son. What did you name him?" When he heard that they named him"Harb", he did not like this name. He gave the child the name "Hasan", which was not known during the Era of Jahiliyya. He also gave the child the nickname "Abu Muhammad". Then, he read a supplication and called adhan into his ear. (Ibnul-Jawzi, Abul-Faraj, Sifatus-Saffa, Aleppo (nd), I, 759; Usdul-Ghaba, II, 10; Tahdhibut-Tahdhib, II, 296). When Hz. Hasan became seven days old, the Messenger of Allah ordered an animal to be sacrificed (aqiqa), his hair to be cut and silver as much as the weight of hair to be given to the poor. (adh-Dhahabi, Siyar A'lamin-Nubala, Beirut 1406/1986, III, 246)

Hz. Hasan was educated and trained by Hz. Prophet. The narrations in many Islamic books including sound hadith books stating that the Prophet (pbuh) took care of his grandson so much and that he loved him so much show this fact. The hadiths stating that he took care of his grandson all the time, that he was almost always with him, that he climbed up his back in prayers and that the Prophet lengthened the prostration so as not to hurt him express the love between the grandfather, who received revelation, and his "rayhana".(Ahmad b. Hanbal, III, 493, 494; Nasai, Tatbiq, 82). When the Prophet (pbuh) was in ruku’, his grandson would pass through his legs. (al-Haysami, Majmauz-Zawaid, Beirut 1967, IX, 175; Tahdhibut-Tahdhib, II, 296) The Prophet did not react to this. He sometimes put him down slowly when he was on his back in prostration. Once, the Prophet was reciting a sermon on the pulpit when he saw Hasan and Husayn enter the mosque slithering, wearing long red clothes. He stopped the sermon, went down, held them and hugged them. He said, God Almighty said, "Your possessions and your progeny are but a trial.' (at-Taghabun, 64/15) It is so true. I could not stand seeing them on the ground." This incident is narrated in hadith books. (Ahmad b. Hanbal, V, 254; Abu Dawud, Salat, 233; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31; Ibn Majah, Libas, 20; Nasai, Salatul-Ideyn, 27; Dhahabi, ibid, III, 256).

Many hadiths stating that Hz. Prophet (pbuh) went to the mosque with his two grandsons on his shoulders (Ahmad b. Hanbal, III, 493) and that he walked outside with Hz. Hasan on his shoulders (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31) show that the Prophet (pbuh) took care of his grandsons and tried to meet their needs. That he got up and brought water to Hasan when he asked for water in bed during his visit to his daughter Hz. Fatima and gave water to Hasan and his brother (Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 101; Tayalisi, II,129-130) and his similar acts are signs of the compassion and mercy of the grandfather. That Hz. Prophet loved his two grandsons and prayed for them by saying "O Allah! I love them; You love them too" (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31) showed this love and care with the expression of his tongue. (Bukhari, Adab, 18; Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba, 56-60)

On the other hand, Hz. Prophet kissed his grandsons (Ahmad b. Hanbal, IV, 93 ; Tabarani, hadith no: 2658) and said that both of his grandsons were the masters of the youths of Paradise. (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31; Ahmad b. Hanbal, III, 3; al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikhu Baghdad, Beirut (nd), I,140) Furthermore, the supplications of the Prophet that he wanted Allah to love those who loved his grandsons are included among narrations. (Ahmad b. Hanbal, II, 249, 331; Tahdhibut-Tahdhib, II, 297 ff)

Hz. Hasan looked like his grandfather, the Prophet, physically.  (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31). Once, Hz. Abu Bakr was walking with Hz. Ali after the afternoon prayer; they saw Hz. Hasan playing with other children. Hz. Abu Bakr placed him on his shoulder and recited a line:  "May my father be sacrificed for you! O the boy who looks like the Prophet but who does not like Ali." (Bukhari, Fadailul-Ashab, 22) Hz. Ali smiled when he heard this.

Hz. Hasan was eight years old when Hz. Prophet died. Since he was very young then, the number of the hadiths he directly reported from his grandfather is very few. One of them narrated by Abul Hawra is the following,:

"I asked Hz. Hasan‘What hadith do you remember from Hz. Prophet?’ He narrated me the following incident:

‘I remember this incident: I took a date from the dates of zakah and put it in my mouth. Hz. Prophet removed it from my mouth along with the saliva accompanying it. The people who were there asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Why did you remove the single date this boy put in his mouth?" He said, ‘Sadaqah (zakah) is not halal for the family of Muhammad.’

Another hadith I remember is ‘Leave the things that do not interest you and take care of the things that interest you.’

My grandfather taught me the following prayer:

"O Allah! Guide me among those whom You have guided, give health to me among those You have given health, turn to me in friendship among those on whom You have turned in friendship. Bless me in what You have bestowed, and save me from the evil of what You have decreed. For, verily he is not humiliated whom You have befriended."(Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 200; Abu Dawud, Salat, 340; Tirmidhi, Abwabus-Salât, 341 Nasai, Qiyamul-Layl, 50; Usdul-Ghaba, II, I1).

However, apart from those hadiths, there are many hadiths that Hz. Hasan narrated from his father Hz. Ali and from many Companions.

Hz. Aisha, his son Ali b. Husayn, his two sons Abdullah and al-Baqir, Ikrima, Ibn Sirin, Jubayr b. Nafir, Abul Hawra, Rabia b. Shayban, Abu Mijlaz, Hubayra b. Barim, Shayban b. al-Layl, Sha'bi, Shaqiq b. Salama, al-Musabbib b. Nuhba, Ishaq b. Bashshar and other narrators reported hadiths from Hz. Hasan. (Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, al-Isaba fi Tamyizis-Sahaba, Egypt 1358/ 1939, I, 327-330; Ibnul-Athir Usdul-Ghaba, II, 10; Tahdhibut-Tahdhib, II, 295-296).

Both tabaqat and hadith books include narrations about Hz. Hasan's childhood like the ones above but they do not include much information about the period of his life between the martyrdom of Hz. Ali and his caliphate. One of the few issues that is known about him is the information that when Hz. Umar established the institution of diwan, he allocated a share of five thousand dirhams to Hz. Hasan and Hz. Husayn by adding them to the share of their father. (Dhahabi, ibid, III, 259) Another incident is that Hz Hasan was among the people who defended Hz. Uthman against the people who rebelled against Hz. Uthman. (Dhahabi, ibid, III, 260)

Hz. Hasan appeared as a historical personality after Hz. Ali was martyred and after he was chosen as the caliph when the people of Kufa pay allegiance to him. (h. 40/660)

It is said that the first person who paid allegiance to Hz. Hasan (ra) when he was chosen as the caliph was Qays b. Sa'd. Hz. Ali had appointed him as the commander of the army that was sent to Azerbaijan and that was formed by Iraqis. He was also the commander of another army that was formed by Arabs and that consisted of forty thousand people. This army vowed that they would defend Hz. Ali until they died. Qays, who was one of the commanders that Hz. Ali had the greatest trust in, asked Hz. Hasan to give his hand and told Hasan that he would pay allegiance to him based on the Book of Allah and Sunnah His Messenger, and fighting the rebels.  Hz. Hasan objected to his words. He said that he couldpay allegiance to him based on the Book of Allah and Sunnah His Messenger and that they contained all of the conditions that he mentioned and did not.Thereupon, Qays paid allegiance without saying anything. After him, the other Iraqis paid allegiance. (Tabari, Tarikhur-Rusul wal-Muluk, Darul-Maarif 1963, IV, 158)

After the allegiance, Hz. Hasan delivered a long sermon in the mosque. Then, he summoned Abdurrahman b. Muljam, the murderer of his father. After questioning him, Hz. Hasan decreed death penalty for him. (Ya'qubi, Ahmad b. Abi Ya'qub, Tarikhu Ya'qubi, Beirut, nd. II, 214)

The people of Iraq reminded the caliph the murder of his father and encouraged him to attack Damascus in order to fight Muawiya b. Abi Sufyan, who was there. Hz. Hasan accepted their offer, prepared an army and set off in order to fight.  (Zirikli, ibid, II, 214); (For a different view, see Ibn Hibban, as-Siratun-Nabawiyya, Beirut 1407/ 1987, p. 554) Hz. Hasan was about 37 years old then. He reached Madain with his army of twelve thousand people. He appointed Qays b. Sa'd, who had paid allegiance to him first, as the commander of the army. According to another narration, he appointed Ubaydullah b. Abbas as the commander and Qays as his deputy and ordered Qays to obey all orders of the commander. (Ya’qubi, II, 214)

When Hz. Muawiya, who was one of the four geniuses of Arabs, heard that Hz. Hasan set off in order to fight him, he left Damascus and settled in Masikan, one of the towns of al-Anbar. (Tabari, V, 159) Only eighteen days after Hz. Ali was martyred, two armies confronted because of political concerns. (Ya’qubi, II, 214)

Muawiya analyzed the situation and resorted to various things in order to obtain a favorable result. His biggest trump was the inexperience of his enemy (Hz. Hasan) and his having a soft heart that did not like violence, fearing mischief, loving Muslims a lot and not wanting the blood of even only one Muslim to be shed. Therefore, the first thing Muawiya did was to cause a disorder among the army of Hz. Hasan under the command of Qays b. Sa'd. (Tahdhibut-Tahdhib, II, 299) A few people in the army of Hz. Hasan started to shout, "Qays b. Sa'd was killed!" According to another source, they said that Qays made an agreement with Muawiya and joined him, that Hz. Hasan offered Muawiya to make peace and that Muawiya accepted it. Thus, they spread rumors in the army. (Ya’qubi, p. 214-215) A disorder started in the army of Hz. Hasan. A big panic broke out. Then, this panic was transformed into plundering. The soldiers started to plunder everything. They even plundered the tent of Hz. Hasan including the mattress on the ground. This plundering spread everywhere. After this plundering, the army scattered. (al-Isaba, I. 327-328; Tabari, V.158-159)

A person called al-Jarrah b. Sinan al-Asadi wanted to benefit from this chaos and attacked Hz. Hasan, who wanted to leave the town at night. He stabbed Hz. Hasan on the calf. However, he defended himself and killed the attacker. (Ya’qubi, II, 228; al-Isaba, I, 327-328). After that, Hz. Hasan had nothing to do but to return to "al-Maqsuratul-Bayda" in Madain. At that time the governor of Madain was Sa'd b. Mas'ud. Al-Muhtar b. Abi Ubayd, who appointed this very young governor, made him an offer. He said he would make him a very rich and honorable person if he tied    Hz. Hasan and took him to Muawiya. The young governor rejected this offer and said, "May Allah damn you! You want me to grab and tie the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah? What a disgusting person you are!" (Tabari, V, 159-160)

Hz. Hasan analyzed the situation. He realized that he had an army that he could not trust and a powerful enemy. Besides, he was a person that hated mischief and shedding blood. Therefore, he could not find any solution but to waive the caliphate and leave it to Muawiya for the safety of himself and the ummah of Islam.  He started to find a way to make a treaty and a solution that both parties would agree. He called Amr b. Salama al-Arhabi and sent him to Muawiya with a letter that included an offer to make a treaty. (al-Isaba, I, 327-330) Muawiya accepted this offer, which he received and which he was expecting. He sent Abdullah b. Amir al-Kurayz and Abdurrahman b. Samura as messengers to Hz. Hasan. These two messengers arrived in Madain and said to Hz. Hasan that they would accept what he wanted and that they would undertake the responsibility of this treaty. (Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari fi Sharhi Sahihil-Bukhari, Egypt, 1959, VI. 235, Bukhari narration)

Meanwhile, Hz. Husayn was informed about the situation and opposed to the offer of making a treaty. He told his brother not to make this treaty because it would approve the rightness of Muawiya and deny the cause of Hz. Ali. Hz. Hasan silenced him and insisted on making a treaty by telling Hasan that he knew administration better than him. (Tabari, V. 160)

Meanwhile, Ubaydullah b. Abbas, one of the commanders of the army, understood that Hz. Hasan would leave the caliphate to Muawiya; he sent a letter to Muawiya to join him. He said he would surrender if his wealth was not touched and if he was not killed. Muawiya accepted his offer. Ubaydullah left his army and joined Muawiyah.  Then, Hz. Hasan's army paid allegiance to Qays b. Sa'd and vowed that they would fight Muawiya to the last drop of blood in order to protect the blood and wealth of followers of Hz. Ali. According to another view, Qays was already their commander; so it can be understood as renewing their allegiance. (Ibnul-Athir, al-Kamil fit-Tarikh, Beirut 1385/1965, III, 408)

Finally, the messengers of Muawiya made a treaty with Hz. Hasan. According to this treaty, Hz. Hasan would leave the caliphate to Muawiya on the condition that Hz. Hasan would be the caliph if Muawiya died first. In addition, five million dirhams would be given to Hz. Hasan. Muawiya would stop the custom of cursing Hz. Ali and his followers in the sermon. (Tabari, V, 158-159) They accepted these terms. When Muawiya's messengers, who accepted the treaty, left Hz. Hasan, they said, "Thanks to the grandson of the Messenger of Allah, shedding blood was prevented, mischief ended and peace was made." (Ya’qubi, II, 214-215)

Hz. Hasan, whose wounds got worse, stood up and delivered a long sermon to the people of Iraq. He reminded them that Allah made people find the right path through the Prophet (pbuh), his grandfather, and prevented blood from being shed through himself. He said that he had made a treaty with Muawiya. He asked them to pay allegiance to Muawiya.(Ya’qubi, II, 215) He also told them that he left them because they killed his father, attacked him and plundered his wealth. (Tabari, V. 158)

In accordance with the treaty, Muawiya went to Madain. He entered Kufa with Hz. Hasan. Hz. Hasan handed Kufa over to Muawiya at the end of the month of Rabi’ulawwal in 4 H. Thus, the following hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) became apparent:   

"There is no doubt that this son of mine is a chief, and Allah may make peace between two groups of Muslims through him." (Bukhari, Fitan, 20, Sulh, 9; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 12...)

When Hz. Hasan entered into the presence of Muawiya, Muawiya said to him, "I will reward you in a way that I have never rewarded before and I will never reward in the future." Then, he gave Hz. Hasan 400.000 dirhams. (al-Isaba, I, 327-328) He also allocated one million dirhams to him every year. However, he limited most of it later and gave him very little money.

Imam Sha'bi, who witnessed this treaty between Hz. Hasan and Hz. Muawiya, narrates the incident as follows:

"Muawiya said,

'Stand up and tell people that you left and handed the caliphate over to me.'

Hasan stood up and spoke as follows after praising Allah:

'The cleverest one among the clever ones is the one who has taqwa; the most stupid one among the stupid ones is the one who is fajir (sinner). This issue, which is a disagreement between Muawiya and me is the right of somebody who deserves it more than me or my right. I left the caliphate to him so that the ummah will be in peace, the unity will not be broken and blood will not be shed.' Then, heread the following verse:  ‘I know not but that it may be a trial for you, and a grant of (worldly) livelihood (to you) for a time.' (al-Anbiya, 21 / I 11)

Thus, he finished his sermon." (Hilya, 11, 37)

There are different narrations in the resources about how long Hz. Hasan served as a caliph but the strongest view is 6 months 5 days. (Zirikli, II, 214-215)

After this handover ceremony, Hz. Hasan sent a letter to Qays b. Sa'd, the commander of his army, and asked him to work under the command of Muawiya. Qays consulted his army regarding the issue. He asked them if they wanted to obey an imam who is in deviation or fight without an imam. When he received the answer from them that "they preferred obeying an imam even if he is in deviation", he paid allegiance to Muawiya and worked under his command. (Tabari, V, 160)

According to Ya'qubi, Muawiya sent Qays b. Sa'd one million dirhams and some goods before the treaty and asked him to give up his cause and to join him. Sa'd did not fall into this trap by saying, "You are trying to deceive me about something related to my religion." (Ya’qubi, II, 215) According to another resource, when Hz. Hasan made a treaty with Muawiya, Muawiya wrote a letter to Qays and asked him to obey him. He also sent him a sealed and signed blank sheet of paper and told him to write anything he wanted on it; he said what he had written would be given to him.  Qays, who felt desperate, accepted to be under the command of Muawiya based on the safety of his life and wealth. (Ibnul-Athir, al-Kamil, III, 408. For the other view, see Tabari, V, 158-159)

After leaving the caliphate to Muawiya, Hz. Hasan set off toward Madinah and spent his remaining life (ten years) there. The people of Kufa started to cry when he was leaving but he told them that it was impossible to trust in them. He also reminded them about what they had done to Hz. Ali, telling them that their end would not be good and that he pitied them.

On the way, somebody insulted Hz. Hasan by shouting, "O black sheep of Muslims!" Hz. Hasan tried to remind him that Sons of Umayyad were destined to attain this rank by reporting a hadith from the Prophet (pbuh) (Ibnul-Athir, al-Kamil, III, 407) When another person shouted "O shame of the leader of the believers", he said to him, "Shame is better than fire." (al-Isaba, I, 327-330)

Hz. Hasan, who lived in Madinah for ten years (Dhahabi, ibid, III, 264), sent somebody to Hz. Aisha when his death approached to ask her to give permission to him to be buried near the Prophet (pbuh). Hz. Aisha accepted it. Thereupon, he told his will to his brother as follows:

"When I die, ask permission from Aisha to bury me near the Prophet. I received this permission from her. She did not object. Maybe she felt shy. If she allows, bury me there. I do not think Sons of Umayyad will object to it. However, if they do, do not discuss with them. Bury me in the cemetery of Baqi."

Hz. Hasan was ill for forty days. He died on 5 Rabiulawwal 50 H (2 April, 670). (Sifatus-Safwa, I, 762). (Some scholars say his year of death was 49, 50, 51, even 54 H. (al-Isaba, I, 330) It is said that he was poisoned. It is also narrated that the one who poisoned him was his wife Ja'da bint al-Ash'as b. Qays. When he was ill, his brother asked him who had poisoned him but he avoided answering him. He said he had been poisoned three times before and that he managed to get rid of them. He said to his brother that this poison was different and that he would probably die. (Ibnul-Athir, Usdul-Ghaba, II, 15).

When he died, Hz. Husayn went to Hz. Aisha and talked to her. Hz. Aisha said about Hz. Hasan's will, "I will gladly accept it." (According to Ya'qubi, Hz. Aisha opposed to it severely. (Ya’qubi, II. 225) However, nobody except Ya’qubi puts forward this claim. When Marwan and Sons of Umayyad were informed about it, they said, "By Allah! He can never be buried near the Prophet (pbuh)." Hz. Husayn was informed about it. He and the people near him took their weapons. Hz. Abu Hurayra saw the graveness of the situation and first said it would be cruelty to prevent Hz. Hasan from being buried there. Then, he went to Hz. Husayn and talked to him in order to dissuade him. He reminded Hz. Husayn about his brother’s will and that he said, "If you fear that mischief will occur, bury me in the cemetery of Baqi." Hz. Husayn feared that mischief would occur and buried his brother in the cemetery of Baqi, where many Companions were buried.

Nobody except Said b. al-Ass, who was the governor of Madinah, from Sons of Umayyad took part in the janazah prayer of Hz. Hasan. Hz. Husayn offered the governor to lead the janazah prayer. The governor accepted it and led the prayer. There were so many people in his janazah prayer that the place burst at seams. (Ibnul-Athir, Usdul-Ghaba, II. 15). When Hz. Hasan died, he was 47 years old. (Tahdhibut-Tahdhib, II, 301)

Hz. Hasan was very generous. He took after the Prophet (pbuh) physically and ethically.  He was very pious. It is known that he made hajj fifteen times by walking from Madinah to Makkah.

He liked charity a lot. He distributed all of his wealth to the poor twice; he did "qasama" with Allah three times. That is, if he had two pairs of shoes, he gave away one pair. It is written in resources that he gave one handful of his food to the poor and left one handful to himself, and that he distributed his things to the poor like that in a just way. He had several aphorisms about high ethics and treating food to others. For instance, when he was asked what the ethics of the Prophet was, he summarized it as follows: Telling the truth, giving to someone who wants, high ethics, visiting relatives, feeling ashamed about neighbors, observing the rights of friends, entertaining visitors and last but not least modesty (chastity). (Hilya, II, 37-38; Usdul-Ghaba, II. 13; Ya’qubi, II. 225 ff)

Hz. Hasan was famous for marrying and divorcing a lot. Once, Hz. Ali, his father, told the people of Kufa clearly not to give their daughters to Hasan fearing that the tribes of the women that married to him and were divorced would be enemies to his family. However, somebody stood up and said they would continue giving him their daughters by vowing. Then, he said, “We will give him our daughters; and he may retain whomever he wishes and may divorce whomever he dislikes." (Dhahabi, ibid, III, 267)

He had ten or twelve sons: 1. Hasan b. Hasan (his mother is Hawli bint Manzur al-Fazariyya), 2. Zayd (his mother is Umm Bashir bint Abi Mas'ud al-Ansari al-Khazraji), 3. Umar, 4. Qasim, 5. Abu Bakr, 6. Abdurrahman (their mothers are slaves) 7.Talha, 8. Ubaydullah. (Ya’qubi, II, 228). There are also narrations that she had one daughter. (Zirikli, II, 215)

The descendants of Hz. Prophet (pbuh) continued through his grandsons, Hz. Hasan and Hz. Husayn. Those who came from the descendants of Hz. Husayn are called "sayyid" and of Hz. Hasan are called "sharif" or "amir" by people.

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