The accusation of poisoning Sayyiduna Hasan

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The accusation of poisoning Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu

Amongst the false allegations directed towards Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the poisoning of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The claim is made that Ja’dah (the wife of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu) was the one who poisoned him upon the incitement of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The following references are cited to support this claim, which we will examine individually:

  1. Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 p. 43
  2. Tarikh al Tabari vol. 4 p. 202
  3. Ibn al ’Asakir vol. 4 p. 202
  4. Sirr al Shahadatayn p. 4
  5. Tarikh Ibn al Athir vol. 3 p. 228
  6. Tarikh al Khamis vol. 2 p. 292
  7. Shawahid al Nubuwwah p. 173
  8. Al Isabah fi Tamiz al Sahaba vol. 1 p. 375
  9. Hayat al Hayawan vol. 1 p. 54
  10. Muruj al Dhahab vol. 2 p. 303
  11. Tuhaf al ’Uqul p. 291
  12. Al Isti’ab vol. 1 p. 374

Let us now sequentially study the books often quoted as reference for this allegation, so as to ascertain whether these authors did in fact accuse Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu of poisoning Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu or not?

 

1. Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah

When we turn to the pages indicated above, we find the following text:

 

و عندي أن هذا ليس بصحيح و عدم صحته عن أبيه معاوية بطريق الأولى

According to me, this is not sahih (that Yazid poisoned Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu) and to a greater extent, it is incorrect to possess this belief regarding his father- Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[1]

 

2. Tarikh al Tabari

After a superficial check of Tarikh al Tabari I did not find this text. However, according to the renowned research scholar- Molana Muhammad Nafi’ (may Allah Ta’ala elevate him), this narration is not mentioned in Tarikh al Tabari[2]. This is also the conclusion of the famous historian- Molana Shah Mu’in al Din Nadwi. He writes:

Despite searching for this incident in Tabari, I did not find it.[3]

If this narration is found in Tarikh al Tabari, then please present a correct and precise reference so that it can be scrutinised and the relevant reply given.

 

3. Tarikh Ibn al ’Asakir

In Tahdhib al Tarikh Ibn al ’Asakir, this incident is mentioned without any chain of narration. In Tarikh Madina Dimashq, Hafiz Ibn al ’Asakir rahimahu Llah (d. 571 A.H) has mentioned this incident with its chain of narration as follows:

قال: و أنا محمد بن سعد أنا محمد بن عمر نا عبد الله بن جعفر عن عبد الله بن حسن……..و قد سمعت بعض من يقول كان معاوية قد تلطف لبعض خدمه أن يسقيه سما [4]

Thus, the narrator of this incident is Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al Waqidi. Waqidi has fabricated many baseless and abandoned narrations. This narration too is amongst them. The Muhaddithin have severely criticised him, a few examples of which we will mention here:

a. Imam Bukhari has referred to him as Matruk al hadith (one whose narrations are discarded).

b. Imam Ahmed states: “Together with Waqidi being a great liar, he alters ahadith as well.”

c. Imam Shafi’i states: “All the books of Waqidi are filled with deception.”

d. Yahya ibn Mu’in has regarded him as da’if (weak).

e. Imam Nasaʼi states: “Four liars who would fabricate lies against Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are famous, the first being Waqidi, a resident of Madina Munawwarah.”[5]

f. Ibn Nadim, also a historian, writes regarding Waqidi:

 

و كان يتشيع حسن المذهب يلزم التقية و هو الذي روى أن عليا عليه السلام كان من معجزات النبي صلي الله عليه و سلم كالعصا لموسى و إحياء الموتى لعيسى و غير ذلك من الأخبار

Waqidi was reasonably Shia in his standpoints. He regarded taqiyyah (dissimulation) as necessary. He is the same person who has narrated that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was amongst the mu’jizat (miracles) of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam just as the staff was a miracle of Musa ‘alayh al-Salam and giving of life to the deceased was a miracle of ‘Isa ‘alayh al-Salam, as well as similar types of narrations.[6]

 

Keeping this in mind, how can the above mentioned narration be utilized as a proof?

 

4. Sirr al Shahadatayn

The name of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is not mentioned in Sirr al Shahadatayn with regards to the incident of poisoning.

 

5. Tarikh Ibn al Athir al Jazri

Allamah Ibn al Athir al Jazri rahimahu Llah in Al Kamil fi al Tarikh has attributed the poisoning to Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath ibn Qais al Kindi.

 

في هذه السنة توفي الحسن ابن علي سمته زوجته جعدة بنت الاشعث بن قيس الكندي

In this year (49 A.H), Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu passed away. His wife- Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath ibn Qais al Kindi poisoned him.[7]

 

Ibn al Athir rahimahu Llah has also mentioned that Sa’id ibn al ’As radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the governor of Madina Munawwarah appointed by Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, led the Janazah salah of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the presence of Sayyidina Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[8]

 

6. Tarikh al Khamis

The historian Al Diyar Bakari, has mentioned the incident of poisoning in his Tarikh. He has attributed the action to Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath and not Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

 

ثم دخلت عليه من الغد و هو يجود بنفسه و الحسين عند رأسه فقال يا أخي من تتهم قال لما أ قتلته قال نعم قال إن يكن الذي أظن فالله أشد بأسا و أشد تنكيلا و إلا فما أحب أن يقتل بي برئ و في رواية قال والله لا أقول لك ممن سقاني ثم قضي – و قد ذكر يعقوب بن سفيان في تاريخه أن جعدة بنت الاشعث بن قيس الكندي كانت تحت الحسن ابن علي فزعموا أنها سمته

(‘Amr ibn Ishaq reports) The following day, I came before Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, whilst he was in the throes of death. Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was at his head. He asked, “Brother! (Who gave you poison?) Who do you suspect?” Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu enquired, “Why are you asking? Will you kill him?” When Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied in the positive, Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “If it is the person who I think it is, then Allah has greater power and will give him a severe punishment. If it is not him then I do not like that an innocent person be killed because of me.” Another narration states that he said, “By Allah! I will never mention to you who gave it to me to drink.” Saying so, he passed away. Ya’qub ibn Sufyan has mentioned in his Tarikh that Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath was in the wedlock of Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They thought that she had poisoned him.[9]

 

7. Shawahid al Nubuwwah

There are many things mentioned in Shawahid al Nubuwwah which are contrary to the beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah; for example the belief of 1.) Imamah of twelve Imams, 2.) the concept of Imamah being a divine decree from Allah, 3.) Imam Mahdi’s birth in the house of Hassan al ’Askari rahimahu Llah, 4.) Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu being the wasi (successor) of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and that this is included in the kalimah (declaration of faith)[10]. Thus, finding such a narration in a book such as this comes as no surprise at all and will not serve as proof against us.

 

8. Al Isabah fi Tamiz al Sahaba

Ibn al Hajar rahimahu Llah after mentioning the different views regarding the year of the demise of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu states:

 

و يقال انه مات مسموما قال ابن سعد أخبرنا إسماعيل عن عمير بن إسحق دخلت أنا و صاحب لي على الحسن بن علي فقال لقد لفظت طائفة من كبدي و إني قد سقيت السم مرارا فلم اسق مثل هذا فأتاه الحسين بن علي فسأله من سقاه فأبى أن يخبر رحمه الله

It has been said: “He passed away due to poisoning.” Ibn Sa’d says that Isma’il informed us from ‘Umair ibn Ishaq who said: “I and a friend of mine came before Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He said: “A portion of my liver has fallen out. I have been poisoned a number of times. However, I have not been poisoned as severely as this time.” Hussain ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to him and asked him who had given him the poison. However, he refused to divulge the name (May Allah shower His mercy on him!).”[11]

 

It should be noted from the words of Ibn al Hajar rahimahu Llah that according to him the incident of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu passing away due to poisoning is doubtful, which is why the words “it has been said (يقال)” has been mentioned- which is a sign that there is weakness in the narration.

 

9. Hayat al Hayawan

Allamah Kamal al Din Muhammad ibn ‘Isa al Damiri rahimahu Llah (d. 808 A.H) has attributed the poisoning to a lady by the name of Muqaddamah bint al Ash’ath.

 

و كان الحسن قد سم سمته امرأته مقدمة بنت الأسعث

Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu was poisoned. His wife- Muqaddamah bint al Ash’ath poisoned him. [12]

 

10. Muruj al Dhahab

The author of Muruj al Dhahab, the historian Abu al Hassan al Baghdadi (d. 346 A.H) adhered to the Shia doctrines. In Al Kuna wal Alqab[13], A’yan al Shia[14] and Tanqih al Maqal’[15], he has been described as an ardent Shia. However, he has also mentioned the incident of the poisoning in his history- Muruj al Dhahab, but did not mention the name of the person who administered the poison:

 

على بن الحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب قال : دخل الحسين علي عمي الحسن بن علي لما سقي السم فقام لحاجة الإنسان ثم رجع فقال لقد سقيت السم عدة مرار فما سقيت مثل هذا فقال لقد لفظت طائفة من كبدي فرأيتني أقلبه يعود في يدي فقال له الحسين يا أخي من سقاك قال و ما تريد بذلك؟ فإن كان الذي أظنه فالله حسيبه و إن كان غيره فما أحب أن يؤخذ بي برئ فلم يلبث بعد ذلك إلا ثلاثا حتي توفي و ذكر أن امرأته جعدة بنت الاشعث بن قيس الكندي سقته السم و قد كان معاوية دس إليها [16]

Sayyidina Zain al ’Abidin rahimahu Llah has mentioned: “My father, Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu came before my uncle Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu when he had been poisoned. Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu went to relieve himself. When he returned, he remarked: “I have been poisoned a few times before, but never like this. I have excreted portions of my liver. I saw myself turning it over and over with a stick in my hand.” Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked him, “O my brother! Who gave you poison?” Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked, “Why do you wish to know? If it is the person who I think then Allah is sufficient for him. If it is someone else then I do not like for an innocent person to be punished on account of me.” He only remained alive for three days after this.” It has been mentioned that his wife- Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath ibn Qais al Kindi had given him poison and that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had instigated her.”

 

It is worthy of note that the Shia historian, Mas’udi, could not find any reliable narration regarding this ‘fairytale’. The narration quoted above consists of two parts. In the actual narration, the name of the person who administered the poison is not mentioned. The second portion has been added in, as his manner of writing attests. In this second portion, the name of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu has been mentioned. However, the status of this additional portion can be understood from the words “It has been mentioned (ذكر)”, which is utilized in the Arabic language to indicate an extremely weak report. This word shows that this ‘fairytale’ is not credible and is uncertain.

 

Points to ponder

Now we will analyse this narration logically:

a.) If we were to accept that portions of the liver were able to enter the stomach and were then excreted at the time of relieving himself, then can this fact ever be accepted that a person with a refined temperament like Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu would turn it over in his hands and look at it. According to us this is farfetched indeed.

b.) When Sayyidina Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked his brother- Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the name of the one who had poisoned him, the latter refused to mention it, yet somehow the opponents to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu have come to know of it.

c.) The words of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu indicate that Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu was uncertain as to who had poisoned him. It was merely a feeling or suspicion, as is clear from the words “Who I think it is” (أظنه). There is no need to mention that an Islamic ruling cannot be passed on a mere feeling or suspicion.

d.) If one ponders over the statement of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, one will be convinced that Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had no role in the poisoning. If he had been poisoned then it could have been anyone but Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu answered his brother with the following words:

 

فإن كان الذي أظنه فالله حسيبه و إن كان غيره فما أحب أن يؤخذ بي برئ

If it is the person who I think, then Allah is sufficient for him. If it is someone else then I do not like that an innocent person be punished due to me.

 

From this statement, it is clear that whoever Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu had in mind could have been easily reprimanded and that could be anyone but Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, since he was the khalifah and high ruler, making it extremely difficult and virtually impossible for him to be apprehended. Who could apprehend him or the person he had appointed to carry out the task (if he had done so)? The words of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu make it clear that his suspicion (not certainty) was that the person who poisoned him was an ordinary person who could be easily caught and convicted. It is for this reason he said: “I do not like that an innocent person be punished due to me.”

When this fabricated narration is analysed from a logical perspective, we learn:

i. Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not have absolute knowledge of the person who administered the poison.

ii. He only had a suspicion about someone. However, he refused to divulge the name.

iii. There is no other means by which we can ascertain who gave the poison. With the death of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, this suspicion which he had will also terminate. Now let alone knowledge and conviction, one cannot even possess the slightest suspicion.[17]

 

11. Tuhaf al ’Uqul

Despite an extensive search, we could not locate this book. If a copy of the text with the chain of narrators could be provided then a relevant reply can be given.

 

12. Al Isti’ab

Hafiz Ibn ‘Abd al Barr rahimahu Llah (d. 464 A.H) writes regarding the poisoning, after naming Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath as the guilty one:

 

و قالت طائفة كان ذلك بتدسيس معاوية إليها

A small group state: “Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath poisoned Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and this was upon the incitement of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.”[18]

 

Yes! A very small Shia group. The agents of the Shia claimed that Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu instructed her to poison him. However, reality has no connection with this. Such incidents cannot be established with words which show weakness such as “A small group states” (قالت طائفة), “It is mentioned” (ذكر) or “It has been said” (يقال).

After clarifying the reality of the references often cited, we will now present the clear narrations of three great honourable scholars (in addition to those of Hafiz Ibn al Kathir rahimahu Llah and Allamah Ibn al Khuldun rahimahu Llah which have already been discussed in the preceding pages), in which they have explicitly negated the slander made against Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It should be borne in mind that the proficiency and integrity of these scholars are unanimously accepted.

 

1.) Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah al Harrani

 

أن معاوية سم الحسن فهذا مما ذكره بعض الناس و لم يثبت ذلك ببينة شرعية أو إقرار معتبر ، و لا نقل يجزم به و هذا مما لا يمكن العلم به فالقول به قول بلا علم

Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu poisoning Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu: this is a claim made by some that can neither be proven by any Shar’i testimony or reliable confession, nor any definite text. This is such a matter that knowledge of it is impossible to ascertain. To make such a claim is a claim without knowledge.[19]

 

2.) Hafiz Shams al Din al Dhahabi

 

و قالت طائفة كان ذلك بتدسيس معاوية إليها و بذل لها على ذلك و كان لها ضرائر قلت هذا شيئ لا يصح فمن الذي اطلع عليه

A small group stated: “Ja’dah bint al Ash’ath poisoned Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu upon the incitement of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and for the accomplishment of which he rewarded her generously. She also had co-wives, I (i.e. Al Dhahabi) say, This is not correct. Who is the one who came to know of it?[20]

 

3.) Allamah ‘Abd al ’Aziz al Farharawi

 

أنه بهتان عظيم و خرافات المؤرخين مما لا يعتمد عليها

This is a great slander and tales of the historians, which cannot be relied upon.[21]

 

The above mentioned statements of these honourable scholars make it abundantly clear, by the grace of Allah, that Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had no role to play in the martyrdom of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Logically also, it is clear that Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu faced no imminent danger from Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, since Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu had handed over the caliphate to him. Throughout his life, Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu received an income and gifts from Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and no such incident occurred, which can reveal that there were any ill-feelings or malicious intentions between the two.

 

ولما جاء الكتاب بموت الحسن بن علي اتفق كون ابن عباس عند معاوية فعزاه فيه فأحسن تعزيته و رد عليه ابن عباس ردا حسنا كما قدمنا

When the letter informing of the demise of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu reached Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu happened to be present. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu consoled him in a most beautiful manner. Thereafter Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu answered him in an even better manner, as has been mentioned before.[22]

 

After uttering these words of condolence, Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

لا يسؤك الله و لا يحزنك في الحسن بن علي فقال ابن عباس لمعاوية لا يحزنني الله و لا يسؤني ما أبقي الله أمير المؤمنين

May Allah protect you from difficulties, and not cause you to grieve regarding Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu answered: “May Allah not sadden me and place me in difficulties as long as Allah keeps Amir al Muʼminin (i.e. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu) alive.”[23]

 

These reports prove with certainty that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu bore no enmity or ill-feelings towards Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Now the question arises; who did he have enmity with? This is a matter which has to be pondered over. In one lecture of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, a slight indication is found as to who bore enmity to Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Amir al Muʼminin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

 

قال علي يا أهل العراق او يا أهل الكوفة لا تزوجوا حسنا فإنه رجل مطلاق ……. قال علي ما زال الحسن يتزوج و يطلق حتى حسبت أن يكون عداوة في القبائل

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “O people of Iraq! O people of Kufa! Do not give your daughters in marriage to Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as he is a person who divorces profusely.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu continued marrying and divorcing until I began to realise that many tribes would bear enmity towards him.”[24]

 

Keeping this in mind, a possible suspect behind the poisoning could be one of his previous wives. The clear evidence points to the fact that attributing the poisoning to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is merely defamation and slander.

If Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu (Allah forbid!) had indeed played a role in the poisoning, then Sayyidina Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu would have broken his pledge of allegiance immediately and sought to avenge the blood of his brother. He would never have allowed the Umayyad governor- Sa’id ibn al ’As, to perform the Janazah salah of his brother. He would not have travelled to Damascus thereafter to meet with Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, nor would he have accepted the gifts and allowances granted to him, and he would never have participated in the Battle of Constantinople under the leadership of Yazid ibn Muawiyah; all after the demise of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Hafiz Ibn al Kathir rrahimahu Llah(d. 774 A.H) states:

 

و لما توفي الحسن كان الحسين يفد إلى معاوية في كل عام فيعطيه و يكرمه و قد كان في الجيش الذين غزوا القسطنطينية مع ابن معاوية يزيد في سنة إحدي و خمسين

After the demise of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu used to go to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu every year, who would grant him gifts and honour him. He participated in the Battle of Constantinople under Yazid, the son of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu in 51 A.H.[25]

 

NEXT⇒ The accusation of an illusory truce


[1]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 43

[2]Sirat Muawiyah vol. 2 pg. 201

[3]Siyar al Sahaba vol. 6 pg. 102

[4]Tarikh Madina Dimashq vol. 3 pg. 283-284

[5] Tahdhib al Tahdhib vol. 7 pg. 342, 346 Mizan al I’tidal vol. 3 pg. 362, 363

[6]Al Fahrist of Ibn Nadim pg. 111

[7] Al Kamil of Ibn al Athir vol. 3 pg. 182, Usd al Ghabah vol. 2 pg. 15

[8]Usd al Ghabah vol. 2 pg. 15

[9]Tarikh al Khamis fi Ahwali Anfus al Nafis vol. 2 pg. 293

[10]Shawahid al Nubuwwah pg. 159, chapter 6, Shawahid al Nubuwwah pg. 180, chapter 6, Shawahid al Nubuwwah pg. 212, 213, chapter 6, Shawahid al Nubuwwah pg. 164, chapter 6

[11]Al Isabah vol. 2 pg. 65, 66,

[12]Hayat al Hayawan vol. 1 pg. 73

[13]  Vol. 3 pg. 184

[14]  Vol. 1 pg. 156

[15]  Vol. 2 pg. 282

[16]Muruj al Dhahab vol. 3 pg. 5

[17]  The monthly journal Da’wat Amir Muawiyah pg. 106-109

[18]Al Isti’ab vol. 1 pg. 440

[19]Minhaj al Sunnah vol. 2 pg. 225

[20]Tarikh al Islam of Al Dhahabi vol. 3 pg. 40

[21]Al Nahiyah pg. 43

[22] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 304

[23]  Ibid vol. 8 pg. 138

[24]Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah vol. 5 pg. 254

[25]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 150