Al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn Abu Talib, may Allah be please with him, was the last of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. He was born in the middle of Sha'ban 3 AH. He resembled the Prophet who named him Al-Hasan, and nobody had this name during the Age of Ignorance. 'Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubayr is reported to have said, " Al-Hasan resembled the Prophet very much who loved him dearly." Imam Al-Bukhari reports from Abu Bakr "The Prophet was once sitting on the pulpit with Al-Hasan beside him. He would sometimes look towards the audience and at times at Al-Hasan and said: 'This son of mine is the chief of the people and will make peace between two factions of the Muslims'." The Prophet was once going somewhere with Al-Hasan on his shoulder. A man came across and remarked addressing Al-Hasan, "What a good mount you have." At this the Prophet replied "Even the rider is very good."
Al-Hasan was very polite and generous and commanded great respect. He had a great dislike for political disorder and bloodshed. He performed Hajj twenty-five times on foot although he had his camel with him. 'Umayr Ibn Is-haaq says, "Al-Hasan alone is the person whom I love to hear speaking. I never heard him using foul language."
'Ali Ibn Zayd relates, "Al-Hasan gave away as charity in the way of Allah all his goods and chattels twice and gave half three times." Someone mentioned before Al-Hasan that Abu Dharr used to say, "I hold dear poverty more than opulence and sickness more than health." Thereupon he remarked, "May Allah show him mercy. As for me, I leave myself totally in the Hand of Allah without desiring anything; He will do what He likes; I dare not interfere in His Decrees."
Mentionable Events during the Caliphate of Al-Hasan
When 'Ali was asked on the eve of his death whether Bay'ah (oath of allegiance) may be taken at the hands of Al-Hasan, he said in plain words, "At present I am involved in my own personal affairs so you do this with whomever you like." They took it to be his indication in favor of Al-Hasan and he was, therefore, chosen for the post. Qays Ibn Sa'd Ibn 'Ubadah was the first to take Bay'ah followed by others. At the time of taking Bay'ah, Al-Hasan kept asking the people to admit: "Act according to what I say; fight with whom I fight and make peace with whom I enter into peace."
When Mu'awiyah came to know of the martyrdom of 'Ali he adopted the appellation of Ameer-ul-Mu'mineen (Chief of the believers). Although he had obtained from the Syrians Bay'ah for his caliphate following the decision of the arbitrators, he had it renewed. When Qays Ibn Sa'd was taking Bay'ah at the hand of Al-Hasan, he uttered, "I take Bay'ah at your hand to follow the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah and on waging Jihad." Thereupon Al-Hasan said, "jihad and fighting form an integral part of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah they need not, therefore, be mentioned separately." Al-Hasan's expression gave rise to speculation among the people of Koofah that he was disinclined to fight.
Mu'awiyah, on the other hand, set out towards Koofah at the head of sixty thousand men and sent a message to Al-Hasan, "Peace is better than war, and it is proper for you to accept me as Caliph and take Bay'ah at my hand." When he understood that Mu'awiyah had taken Koofah in mind, he left Koofah at the head of forty thousand troops and sent Qays Ibn Sa'd as vanguard with twelve thousand fighters. When he reached Mada'in, someone spread the rumor that Qays Ibn Sa'd was killed. Al-Hasan halted there for a day to give rest to the animals. He assembled his people and addressed them after praising Allah the Almighty: "People! You have taken Bay'ah at my hand that you will obey me in war and peace. I say, by my oath to Allah the Exalted, that I harbor enmity against none, from the East to the West there is none whom I hate or detest, I am one who prefers unity, consensus, love and security to disunity, discord and enmity."
Verdict of Disbelief against Al-Hasan
Having heard this speech, the Khawarij (a deviant sect) and the hypocrites spread the rumor in the camp that Al-Hasan wanted to enter into peace with Mu'awiyah, and they issued a verdict of blasphemy against him.
The verdict stirred the military camp. Opinion was divided between his being a believer or a disbeliever. Very soon the faction charging him with blasphemy dominated the scene and started making their opponents victims of excesses of all kinds.
Many of them once entered the camp and surrounded Al-Hasan on all sides calling him a disbeliever. They pulled his garments so violently that they were torn into pieces. They also took away the mantle from his shoulder and plundered the camp. Following this, Al-Hasan hurried to the Rabee'ah and Hamadan clans on horseback and called on them for help as they were his supporters. They helped him without delay and removed the detractors from the camp.
He left for Madaa'in afterwards. Al-Jarrah Ibn Qabisah, a man from the Khawarij, struck him with his spear and injured his thigh. He was brought into the white palace of Mada'in where he stayed and recovered his health. Qays Ibn Sa'd sent as the vanguard at the head of twelve thousand troops, was surrounded by Mu'awiyah at Anbar. He then sent 'Abdullah Ibn 'Aamir to Al-Hasan on a peace mission at the head of the vanguard. After the trouble in his camp, Al-Hasan had sent 'Abdullah Ibn Al-Harith Ibn Nawfal to Mu'awiyah for peace talk.
On being informed that 'Abdullah Ibn 'Aamir had reached a little distance from Mada'in at the head of a detachment, Al-Hasan came out of Al-Mada'in with his army. When 'Abdullah Ibn 'Aamir noticed troops coming from the opposite direction, he drew near and called out to the people of Iraq aloud and said, "I have not come here for the sake of fighting. I am leading the vanguard of Mu'awiyah who is halting at Anbar with a big army. You convey my salutation to Al-Hasan and tell him that 'Abdullah requests you by Allah to stop fighting and save the people from death and destruction."
When Al-Hasan heard this, he came back to Al-Mada'in and sent his message to 'Abdullah that he was ready to make peace with Mu'awiyah and quit his office of the caliphate in his favor on condition that he would stick to the Book (Quran) and the Sunnah and hold back from getting in the way of his opponents by setting aside past activities and grant safety of life and property to his (Al-Hasan's) supporters.
'Abdullah Ibn 'Aamir rushed to Mu'awiyah with these conditions and told him that Al-Hasan was ready to quit his post on certain conditions. On being asked about the conditions, he said to Mu'awiyah, "The first condition is that the caliphate will be restored to him on your death. Secondly, an annual amount of five hundred thousand from the public treasury will be paid to him while you are alive. Thirdly, he will collect the tribute from Ahwaz and the Persian territories."
These three rather hard conditions were the making of 'Abdullah's own mind. Following these he placed before Mu'aawiyah the conditions, which were actually put forward by Al-Hasan. Mu'awiyah very eagerly agreed to all and more than that. He is reported to have said, "Al-Hasan's intention appears fair and he seems to bring peace between two factions of the Muslims." With this remark Mu'awiyah put down his signature on a blank piece of paper and asked 'Abdullah Ibn 'Aamir to take that to Al-Hasan to write down all his conditions to be fulfilled by me.
When Al-Husayn and 'Abdullah Ibn Ja'far came to know of this development, they approached Al-Hasan and tried to hold him back from the implementation of his plan. But Al-Hasan declined their advice. He had watched the activities of the people of Iraq and Koofah from the time of 'Ali . He was conscious of Mu'awiyah's abilities in running the administration of his territories and skill in statecraft. Therefore, he remained firm in his determination to accept the peace offer.
To be concluded