Today we converse of a man akin to a branch laden with fruit, humble and worthy. The beloved grandson of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn ‘Abd Manaf al Hashimi al Qurashi. He was born in the month of Ramadan in the 3rd year of the hijrah. The martyr and fifth of the Khalifas’, beloved of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and prince of the youth in Jannat. Through him and his brother does the family tee of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam take shape and he was one of the four through whom Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam beseeched Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala against the Christians of Najran.
An incident in the book Wafayat al A’yan gives us a snapshot of this companion’s forbearance, clemency and charity. His life is fragrant with profound wisdom, valour and foresight. In his every decision, the advancement of principle was paramount.
‘That is Hassan, son of ‘Ali …’ they told me. My heart filled with hatred. I envied ‘Ali for having a son like that. I headed toward him and began cursing him.
These were the words of a traveller to the City of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam—Madinah—upon seeing the saintly, handsome, and well-dressed Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Propaganda and blatant lies had led him to view ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his family in a terribly negative light.
The traveller continued:
When I finished, he asked me, “It seems you are a stranger here?”
I replied, “Yes.”
Then he said, “Come on over to our place! If you need a house, we will host you, if you need money, we will give it to you, if you have another need, we will assist you.”
After hearing this, there was no one on the face of the earth more beloved to me than him. Every time I think back to what he did and what I did, I am grateful to him and feel embarrassed about how I acted.
Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu was nurtured in the presence and under the guidance of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam impressed upon him the character and justice that comes with prophethood, just as he imbued in him a pleasant nature and kindness. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said:
من أحب الحسن والحسين فقد أحبني ومن أبغضهما فقد أبغضني
Whoever loves Hassan and Hussain has loved me and whoever harbours ill feeling towards them has harboured ill feeling towards me.
Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu would display deep affection for Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, kissing his abdomen where he had seen Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam doing the same.
ينجبهما في النيران سواها
|في روض فاطمة نما غصنان لم|
|الوئام والاتـحاد ابناها||
فامير قافلة الجهاد وقطب دائرة
أمسى تفرقها يحل عراها
|حسن الذي صان الجماعة بعدما|
|إمام ألفتها وحسن علاها||
ترك الامامة ثم أصبح في الدّيار
The life of Fatimah produced two supports; noblemen, she birthed these brilliant children.
The leader of the armies, and revolved around them; unity and harmony.
Hassan, a saviour of the groups; after their foundations were stripped.
He gave up leadership and became; the leader of reconciliation.
The life of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu teaches us the importance of foresight in a leader together with seeking help from Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu had a peculiar gift of overhauling and restoring peace amicably with due process and clarity, reaching the desired outcome together with knowing how to deal with challenges that present themselves during this delicate stage.
Abu Bakrah radiya Llahu ‘anhu says, “I heard Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, whilst he was sitting on the pulpit together with Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He would look at Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and then at the people and say:
ان ابني هذا سيد ولعل الله أن يصلح به بين فئتين من المسلمين
This son of mine is a Sayed and perhaps Allah will reconcile two groups of Muslims through him.
This narration speaks of great virtue in favour of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Sayyid, leader of a people. A title given to him by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. His life is an embodiment of a true leader, not one resorting to spilling blood nor forcefully subjugating his people. Leadership does not come with killing and maiming. True leadership is by taking upon oneself care of matters integral to the growth of society and cleansing oneself of self-serving tendencies. It promotes unity and reformation, striving to erase enmity and rancour. These principles encapsulate the life of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
The lifestyle of Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu is a radiating page amongst the greats of history who is worthy of being followed and whose footsteps ought to be traced. His life is an encyclopaedia of faith and benevolence. Furthermore, it depicts a true understanding of this great religion seeking to impart the jurisprudic angles of differences in opinions together with displaying its far reaching social effects and the answer to creating a society peaceful and harmonious.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “This son of mine is a Sayed and perhaps Allah will reconcile two great groups of Muslims through him.” The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam depicted these two groups as ‘great’ as they would be led by two great companions, Hassan and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. A miracle on the part of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who gave accurate news of events that would happen many years after his demise. Hereunder is the incident of the two great groups.
Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu took the reins of the Caliphate after the martyrdom of his father, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and inherited a burdensome legacy of rule. The cities and its people were in turmoil, winds of uncertainty blowing, whistling in every corner of the Muslim empire. The people of Iraq held their swords yet to be cleaned of the blood fighting the Syrians. Iraq was with Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Syria with Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu immobilised his forces leaving Kufah heading towards Mada’in, a town not far from Baghdad. Though he too wished for reconciliation, his experience and wisdom had taught him the nature of the Iraqi people. It would pan out better if Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu began the talks of peace. On the other side when Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to know of the army in Mada’in he too marched from Syria to Iraq.
Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu faced Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu with military squadrons like mountains. ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “By Allah! I see military squadrons that will not turn back until they kill their opponents.”
Then Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “O ‘Amr! If these people are killed then who will assist me with governing the people, who will assist me with their women, who will assist me with their vulnerable?”
Then he sent to him two men from the Quraysh, from Banu ‘Abdul Shams (tribe); ‘Abdul Rahman al Samurah and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amir ibn Kurayz. He said (to them), “Go to this man and present (the option of a peace treaty to him), and plea with him, and request it from him!” They went to him and got his audience and pleaded with him and requested from him.
Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “We are the Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib, we have acquired some of this wealth and this Ummah has squandered a lot of it in its blood.”
They said, “He offers you ‘this and that,’ and requests from you ‘this and that’.”
He said, “Who will guarantee for me this (the fulfilment of this agreement)?”
They said, “We guarantee you that.”
He did not ask them anything except that they said, “We guarantee you that.”
He then entered into the peace treaty with him.
The months and years of peace that followed bore testimony to his astute leadership skills, giving preference to peace over bloodshed, unity over power, and a productive society over a destructive one. His army was well equipped and ready to plunge into the thick of battle, yet he opted to sign a peace treaty, not due to weakness, poor numbers, or personal gain. He stood firm enacting peace to unify the ummah and prevent the spillage of their blood. Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu says:
كانت جماجم العرب بيدي يسالمون من سالمت ويحاربون من حاربت، فتركتها ابتغاء وجه الله تعالى
The Arabs were at my bidding, reconciling with whom I do and waging war against who I do. I left the role of leadership and entered a peace treaty for the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.
Subhan Allah! A leader of greatness. The leader of unity and love. The books of history will forever remember him as someone who played an integral role in uniting the ummah in what has come to be known as ‘Am al Jama’ah (the year of reconciliation). The Muslims were overjoyed by this unification after having split into groups, bringing back the Muslim armies as one, conquering lands and fighting the enemies of Islam.
The blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala can never be forgotten, Who through His sheer mercy enabled the Muslims to gather again as one. He inspired Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu who became the mastermind behind the proceedings in the goal of attaining peace.
Dear reader, a desire for unity and peace are signs of true leadership, where do we stand in relation to it?
NEXT⇒Hussain ibn Ali
 Wafayat al A’yan of Ibn Khallikan, vol. 2 pg. 68.
 Ibn Majah, 143. Narrated by Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Zawaid establishes its authenticity and strength of narrators. Albani has commented on its authenticity as well in Sahih Ibn Majah and Ahkam al Jana’iz, 101.
 Musnad Imam Ahmed, 10331/7455; Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, 4785. He has authenticated it and al Dhahabi concurs with him. Al Albani has deemed it correct as well in al Thamar al Mustatab, vol. 1 pg. 282.
 Sahih al Bukhari, 3536.
 Sahih al Bukhari, 3536.
 Sahih al Bukhari, 2557.
 Al Mustadrak li al Hakim, 4795 and has authenticated it with al Dhahabi holding the same opinion. Hilyat al Awliya’, vol. 2 pg. 37; Tahdhib al Tahdhib, vol. 2 pg. 260.Back to top