Al Hassan al Muthanna and his son, ‘Abdullah Al Mahd
Some greats have less words dedicated to them than others in the books of history, however this does not take away from them their countless feats. It simply serves as a reminder that time will not remember for us, it is our duty to pen down our history and not show aversion to it.
This chapter is dedicated to a man whose accolades as a humanitarian and bearer of sublime character has been celebrated as one who had internalised the pristine teachings of Islam. He was practicing scholar and graceful worshiper. He is the noble Sayyid, Hassan al Muthanna ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib rahimahu Llah, a most sought-after personality in his era and considered to be a leader from the leaders of the Ahlul Bayt.
Al Asma’i says:
I entered to make tawaf (practice of Muslims circumambulating the Ka’bah), where I saw a young man of striking appearance and strong build who was covered in a shawl which had two ends. He was holding on to the cover of the Ka’bah and saying:
شكوت إليك الضر فارحم شكايتي
|ألا أيها المأمول في كل ساعة|
|وهب لي ذنوبي كلها واقض حاجتي||
ألا يا رجائي أنت كاشف كربتي
أللزاد أبكي أم لبعد مسافتي
|فزادي قليل ما أراه مبلغي|
|فما لي الورى خلق جنى كجنايتي||
أتيت بأعمال قباح ردية
فأين رجائي ثم أين مخافتي
أتحرقني بالنار يا غاية المنى
O being in who all hopes lie; I complain to you, so see my complaints.
My hopes lie in you, remover of my difficulty; forgive my sins and fulfil my needs.
My provisions are few which will not take me to my destination; is it over my provisions I cry or over the distance of my travels.
I come to you with actions that are far and a few; I am a sinner like no other in the creation.
Will you burn me in the fire, O guardian of ultimate hopes; where is then my hopes and my fear.
I went up to him and removed the shawl from his face, to my utter amazement standing before me was Hassan ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib rahimahu Llah.
I said to him, “The likes of you, O noble sage, utters such words? You are the family of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam!”
Hassan ibn Hassan rahimahu Llah said, “Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has created Jannat for those who obey him, irrespective of their social demographics or family standing and he has created Jahannam for those who disobey him even if it is a Qurashi. O al Asma’i! Have you not heard the verse of the Qur’an:
فَإِذَا نُفِخَ فِي الصُّوْرِ فَلَا أَنسَابَ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَلَا يَتَسَاءَلُوْنَ فَمَنْ ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِيْنُهُ فَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَ وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِيْنُهُ فَأُولٰئِكَ الَّذِيْنَ خَسِرُوْا أَنفُسَهُمْ فِيْ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدُوْنَ
So, when the Horn is blown, no relationship will there be among them that Day, nor will they ask about one another. And those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds] – it is they who are the successful. But those whose scales are light – those are the ones who have lost their souls, [being] in Hell, abiding eternally.”
Subhan Allah! What deep reflection and practical explanation of the following narration of his grandfather salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
يا معشر قريش اشتروا أنفسكم لا أغني عنكم من الله شيئا يا بني عبد مناف لا أغني عنكم من الله شيئا يا عباس بن عبد المطلب لا أغني عنك من الله شيئا ويا صفية عمة رسول الله لا أغني عنك من الله شيئا ويا فاطمة بنت محمد سليني ما شئت من مالي لا أغني عنك من الله شيئا
O people of Quraysh! Save yourselves (from the Hellfire) as I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment; O Banu ‘Abd Manaf! I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment, O Safiyyah, the Aunt of Allah’s Apostle! I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment; O Fatimah bint Muhammad! Ask me anything from my wealth, but I cannot save you from Allah’s Punishment.
A valuable lesson from this life of this stalwart; not simply taking support from one’s lineage, rather acting upon the teachings of Islam to its fullest. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:
من بطأ به عمله لم يسرع به نسبه
Whoever’s actions are lacking, his lineage will not help.
The connection between the creation and creator is one of taqwa and pious deeds. Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah understood this and portrayed his understanding in his practical lifestyle. He says:
أحبونا فإن عصينا الله فأبغضونا
Love us, if however, we disobey Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala then hate us.
A man once came and expressed his love for the Ahlul Bayt as an extremist would, upon which Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah became angry and said to him, “Woe unto you, love us, if however, we disobey Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala then hate us.”
The man then said, “You are the family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Ahlul Bayt.”
Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah replied, “If anyone were to benefit on the sole basis of family it would be his parents. By Allah! I fear the sinner from amongst us will be punished double just as the pious will be rewarded two times over. Fear Allah and speak only that which is factual about us. It will please you and us.”
This exchange is profound in delivering the noble character of the Ahlul Bayt. The bond that connected them to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was pure, not tainted by worldly aspirations as is the case with other groups and faiths.
A mere bond raises them to infallibility and gives them a God complex as is the case with the Brahmin priests and other such faith groups. They treat those beneath them as their slaves and have them at their call and beck.
The Ahlul Bayt on the other hand were embodiments of nobility in speech and action. They were resolute in not hankering after the paltry gains of this world based on their lineage. They built their world around the ideology of renunciation from the wealth of people and self-respect.
Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah proposed to Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu for one of his daughters. His uncle, Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu told him to choose whomsoever he wishes from his daughters, however, Hassan ibn al Hassan bashfully remained silent. Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu then chose his daughter, Fatimah bint al Hussain, saying to him that she resembles his mother Fatimah bint Muhammad radiya Llahu ‘anha the most. Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah thus married her the same year in which Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred, the 61st year after the hijrah.
Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah participated in the Battle of Karbala’ with his uncle Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu amongst other members of the Ahlul Bayt. He, however, was saved due to his young age or some say due to an illness.
Ibn ‘Asakir has mentioned the following incident, which is one amongst the difficulties he faced in his life.
‘Abdul Malik ibn Marwan wrote to the then governor of Madinah, Hisham ibn Ismail, “Reports have reached me that Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah is trying to consolidate himself as a leader by having the people of Iraq pledge allegiance to him. When you receive my letter call for him and bring him in.”
When his cousin, ‘Ali ibn al Hussain came to know of this exchange he said to him, “O cousin read the words of deliverance:
لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ الْحَلِيْمُ الْكَرِيْمُ لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيْمُ سُبْحَانَ اللهِ رَبِّ السَمَاوَاتِ السَبْعِ وِرَبِّ الْأِرْضِ وَرِبِّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيْمِ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ
When he was brought in front of Hisham ibn Ismail he recited this prayer upon which he said, “I see a man who has been slandered. Let him go and let the Amir al Mu’minin know of his innocence.”
Thus Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala saved this saved this pious man by him sincerely turning to his creator. His demise was in the 97th year of the hijrah.
The son of Hassan al Muthanna rahimahu Llah, ‘Abdullah was counted amongst the great worshipers and saints. He was noble, exuded awe, and was expressive. He was known as ‘Abdullah al Mahd (Mahd meaning unique) as he was the first to child to be born from the union of the children of Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He is a leader of the Banu Hashim and has narrations in the authentic books of hadith. Mus’ab ibn ‘Abdullah says:
ما رأيت أحدا من علمائنا يكرمون أحدا ما يكرمون عبد الله بن حسن بن حسن
I have not seen our scholars respect anyone as much as they revered ‘Abdullah ibn al Hassan ibn al Hassan rahimahu Llah.
This noble saint possessed great forbearance as well. Yahya ibn Ma’in rahimahu Llah says:
A man swore at ‘Abdullah ibn al Hassan rahimahu Llah which he dismissed saying, “He is not likeminded that I retaliate nor beneath me that I be stingy.”
He once advised his son with the following:
با بني استعن على السلامة بطول الصمت في المواطن التي تدعوك نفسك إلى الكلام فيها فإن الصمت حسن على كل حاله وللمرء ساعات يضر فيها الخطأ ولا ينفع فيها الصواب
O my son, seek peace through long periods of silence in instances where you want to speak. Silence is golden, and man goes through many a time where a mistake will haunt him whilst saying something good will not benefit him either. Therefore, it is best to adopt silence.
This chapter is a letter to those men and women who have high aspirations to inculcate such character and understand the responsibility they have to their children. Advise them in this way, instil within them these great advices which we dream of. The life story of these august personalities are not fairy tales. These are lives that left an invaluable imprint in the pages of history.
 Surah al Mu’minun: 101-103. Tarikh al Dimashq 41/359.
 Sahih al Bukhari, 2602; Sahih Muslim, 206. Narrated by Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
 Sahih Muslim, 2699. From the narration of Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
 Tarikh al Islam, vol. 1 pg. 744; Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, vol. 5 pg. 319; Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 13 pg. 70.
 Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, vol. 5 pgs. 319/320.
 Al Murtada li al Nadwi, 228. With some changes.
 ‘Umdat al Talib, 165; Ansab al Talibiyin, 62; Sahib al Aghani with his chain of narration, vol. 16 pg. 150.
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 13 pg. 67; Shu’ab al Iman, 624.
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 27 pg. 378.