Excerpt from "The Lasting Honor of the Family of Muhammad (God bless him and give him peace)" by Yūsuf ibn Ismāʿīl al-Nabahānī (d. 1932);Translated by the late Muhtar Holland (d. 2010). Image from original calligraphy by Turan Sevgili.
Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan
Prince of the Believers,
the grandson of God’s Messenger,
(Allah bless him and give him peace)
and his progeny
(may Allah be well pleased with him)
The last of the rightly guided Caliphs according to the text of the Prophetic tradition, he was born in the middle of the month of Ramaḍān of the year A.H. 3. The Prophet (God bless him and give him peace) called him al-Ḥasan, sacrificed a sheep or goat on his behalf on his seventh day, shaved his hair, and commanded that a piece of silver equal to the weight of his hair should be given as alms. According to Abū Aḥmad al-ʿAskarī: “The Prophet (God bless him and give him peace) called him al-Ḥasan, and he also gave him the cognomen Abū Muḥammad, for this name was unknown in the Age of Ignorance [al-Jāhiliyya].”
As related by ʿIkrima, Ibn ʿAbbās said (may God be well pleased with him and his father): “God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) was carrying al-Ḥasan on his shoulder, so a man said: ‘How splendid is the vehicle you have ridden, O youngster!’ The Prophet then said (God bless him and give him peace): “And how splendid is the rider!’” According to al-Barāʾ ibn ʿĀzib: “I saw God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) placing al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī on his shoulder, and he was saying: ‘O God, I love him, so love him!’”
According to al-Bukhārī, Abū Bakra said: “I saw God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) on the pulpit and al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī was together with him. He was turning one time toward the people and one time toward him, and saying: ‘This son of mine is a Chieftain. Perhaps God will reconcile two parties among the Muslims by means of him!’” Abū Bakra also said: “God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) used to lead the people in the ritual prayer, and al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī would jump on his back when he performed the prostration. He would do that more than once, so they said: ‘You are surely doing something with this person that we have not seen you doing with anyone else!’ He said: ‘This son of mine is a Chieftain, and by means of him God will surely reconcile two prodigious parties among the Muslims!’” ʿAbdu’llah ibn az-Zubair also said: “Of the members of the family of the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace), the most similar to him and the dearest to him was al-Ḥasan. I saw him come while he was performing the prostration, so he would mount his neck” – or he said: “his back” – “and he would not set him down, so that he would be the one who got down by himself. I had also seen him opening a space for him between his legs while he was in the bowing posture, so that he would emerge from the other side.”
According to al-Bukhārī, on the authority of Abū Malīka, ʿUqba ibn Ḥārith said: “Abū Bakr led us in the ritual prayer, then he moved away. He saw al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī playing, so he took hold of him and carried him on his neck, while he was saying:
He resembles my father, the Prophet.
He does not resemble ʿAlī.
ʿAlī was laughing, and Fāṭima (may God be well pleased with her) was shaking al-Ḥasan and saying something like that.
According to Zuhair ibn al-Arqam: “Al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī started speaking, so a man from Azdshanūʾa stood up and said: ‘I bear witness that I had seen God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) placing him on his lap, while saying: “If someone loves me, he must surely love him, and the witness must communicate the unseen!”’ But for the noble generosity of the Prophet, he would not have told anyone about it.” According to Abū Huraira (may God be well pleased with him): “God’s Messenger said (God bless him and give him peace): ‘O God, I love him and I love anyone who loves him!’ There was therefore no one dearer to me than al-Ḥasan, after God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) said what he said.”
He also said (may God be well pleased with him): “I never saw al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī unless my eyes were shedding tears, and that was because God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) emerged one day while I was in the mosque, then held my hand and leaned upon me, until we came to the market of Qainuqāʿ. He inspected it, then returned until he sat in the mosque. Then he said: ‘Send for my son,’ so al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī came quickly until he arrived in his room. God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) then set about opening his mouth, i.e. al-Ḥasan’s, then inserting his mouth in his mouth and saying: ‘O God, I love him and I love anyone who loves him three times!’”
It has been said that he (may God be well pleased with him) performed the Pilgrimage ten times traveling on foot. He used to say: “I would surely be ashamed to meet my Lord without having walked to His House,” and he shared his property with God (Exalted is He), so he used to leave a shoe and take a shoe. He also left all of his property on two occasions, and confirmed about him was the saying of the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace): “This son of mine is a Chieftain….”
When he was appointed to the Caliphate after the assassination of his father, allegiance was pledged to him by more than forty thousand who had pledged allegiance to his father at the point of death, and they were very obedient to al-Ḥasan and very fond of him. He remained as Caliph approximately seven months in ʿIrāq, Khurāsān, Yemen, the Ḥijāz and elsewhere. Then he handed the authority over to Muʿāwiya without a fight, for he was extremely fearful of shedding the blood of the Muslims, so when he pledged allegiance to him, he addressed the people before Muʿāwiya entered Kūfa, and he said: “O people, we are merely your commanders and your guests, and we are the People of the Household of your Prophet, from whom God has removed uncleanness and cleansed them with a thorough cleansing.” He repeated that until there was nothing left of him except someone who wept until his sobbing was audible.
When Muʿāwiya entered Kūfa, he said to him: “Stand up, O Ḥasan, and speak to the people about what has happened between us,” so al-Ḥasan dealt with a matter that he had not considered. He praised God and extolled Him, then he said spontaneously:
O people, God has guided you by means of the first of us, and He has spared your blood by means of the last of us. Surely the smartest individual is the one who is piously smart, and the weakest is the profligate weakling, and this is the authority about which Muʿāwiya and I have disagreed. Whether he be more entitled to it than I am, or whether it be my rightful due, I have abandoned it for the sake of God (Almighty and Glorious is He), and for the sake of the improvement of the Community of Muḥammad (God bless him and give him peace) and the sparing of your blood.
Then he turned toward Muʿāwiya and said: “For all I know, perhaps he is a trial for you all, and provisions for some time!”
According to the erudite aṣ-Ṣabbān: “When he resigned from it,” meaning the Caliphate, “seeking the countenance of God (Exalted is He), God replaced it for him and the people of his household with the internal Caliphate, so that some people held the view that the Substitute-saint [Quṭb al-Awliyāʾ] at any time could be none other than one of the People of the Household.” As for those who maintained that he could be other than one of them, one is Sidi Abu’l-ʿAbbās al-Mursī, as reported on his authority by his pupil, Tāj ibn ʿAṭāʾi’llāh.” Was al-Ḥasan the first of the Substitute-saints, or was Fāṭima az-Zahrāʾ the first to receive the Substitute-sainthood from the Chosen Prophet (God bless him and give him peace), for the duration of her life, and was it then passed from her to Abū Bakr, then to ʿUthmān, then to ʿAlī, then to al-Ḥasan? Abu’l-ʿAbbās al-Mursī held the first opinion, and Abu’l-Mawāhib held the second, as stated in the Ṭabaqāt of al-Manāwī. I have also seen the following text in al-Manāwī’s ash-Sharḥ al-Kabīr ʿala ’l-Jāmiʿ aṣ-Ṣaghīr:
According to al-Ḥarālī, the chain of transmission of the People of the Path is traced in every respect from the direction of the Shaykhs and the disciples to the People of the Household, for the directions of the paths of the Shaykhs go back altogether to Tāj al-ʿĀrifīn Abu’l-Qāsim al-Junaid. The initiation of Abu’l-Qāsim was received from his maternal uncle as-Sarī, and as-Sarī followed the example of Maʿrūf, and Maʿrūf was the client of ʿAlī ibn Mūsā ar-Raḍī, and he received from his forefathers (may God be well pleased with them), so the whole chain goes back to ʿAlī (may God ennoble his countenance). “They are God’s party. Is it not God’s party who are the ones who will prosper?” (Q.58:22).
Then he explained about his speech (may God be well pleased with him):
“The term al-murūʾa [manliness] signifies chastity and improvement of the state of being.
“The term al-ikhāʾ [brotherliness] signifies sharing in hardship and ease.
“The term al-ghanīma al-bādira [easy prey] signifies the longing for piety.”
He also used to say to his sons and the sons of his brother: “You must acquire knowledge, so if you cannot remember it, you must set it down in writing and lodge it in your houses.” When he was about to die, he said to his brother al-Ḥusain (may God be well pleased with him): “O my brother, I advise you not to seek the Caliphate, for by God, I do not believe that God will combine Prophethood and the Caliphate in us. You must therefore beware lest the idiots of Kūfa disdain you and expel you, for you will regret so much that regret will not avail you.” Ibn Saʿd has also reported on the authority of Saʿīd ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān that his father said: “Some people from Quraish were boasting, for every man mentioned what he possessed, so Muʿāwiya said to al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī (may God be well pleased with him and his father): ‘What prevents you from speaking, for you are not tongue-tied!’ He replied: “They have not mentioned any noble deed or excellent merit, without my being endowed with its purity and its quintessence, so what is the point of debating when I have already won the competition?”
As stated in al-Musāmarāt of the Greatest Shaykh, Muʿāwiya said one day, while the nobles of the people of Quraish and others were in his presence: “They have informed me of the noblest of the people: a father and a mother, a paternal uncle and a paternal aunt, a maternal uncle and a maternal aunt, a grandfather and a grandmother.” Mālik ibn ʿUjlān thereupon stood up, pointed to al-Ḥasan (peace be upon him) and said: “This one’s father is ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib; his mother is Fāṭima, the daughter of God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace); his grandmother is Khadīja bint Khuwailid; his grandfather is God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace); his paternal uncle is Jaʿfar aṭ-Ṭayyār in the Garden of Paradise; his paternal aunt is Umm Hāniʾ bint Abī Ṭālib, and his maternal uncles and his maternal aunts are the children of the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace).” The people therefore remained silent and al-Ḥasan stood up, so a man from among the Banū Sahm arose and said: “Did you authorize Ibn ʿUjlān to say what he said?” Ibn ʿUjlān then said: “I have not said anything that is not true. No one among the people will seek the good pleasure of a creature by means of disobeying the Creator, unless he is not granted His safekeeping in his worldly life, and he is doomed to misfortune in his afterlife. The Banū Hāshim are the most handsome of you in physique and the most vigorous of you in striking sparks of fire, and so on, O Muʿāwiya,” so Muʿāwiya said: “O God, yes indeed!”
Al-Ḥasan (may God be well pleased with him) died poisoned in the year (A.H.) 50, according to one of the opinions, and he was buried in al-Baqīʿ [the cemetery of Medina] (may God be well pleased with him).
We may draw a lesson from the following story. According to al-Ḥāfiẓ as-Suyūṭī in Taʾrīkh al-Khulafāʾ [History of the Caliphs], as reported by al-Baihaqī, and Ibn ʿAsākir by way of Abu’l-Mundhir Hishām ibn Muḥammad, the latter’s father said:
Al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī was impoverished, and his gifts in every year amounted to one hundred thousand [coins]. Muʿāwiya kept them from him in one of the years, so he suffered an extreme impoverishment. He said: “I therefore sent for an inkwell, in order to write to Muʿāwiya to remind him of myself, but then I refrained, for I saw God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) in a dream, and he said: ‘How are you, O Ḥasan?’ I replied: ‘I am well, O my father,’ and I complained to him about the delay of the property from me, so he said: ‘Did you send for an inkwell in order to write to a creature like you, to remind him of that?’ I said: ‘Yes, O Messenger of God, so how should I act?’ He replied: ‘Say: O God, cast the hope of You into my heart, and cut off my hope from anyone other than You, so that I do not hope for anyone other than You! O God, my strength was not too weak for it, but my conduct fell short of it, and my desire did not attain to it. My problem did not reach him, and on my tongue there flowed none of the certitude that You have granted to anyone among the ancients and the moderns, so bestow it upon me, O Lord of the Worlds!’ al-Ḥasan said: “By God, I did not urge Him for a week, until He sent Muʿāwiya to me with a thousand thousand and five hundred thousand [coins], so I said: ‘Praise be to God, the One who does not forget someone who remembers Him, and does not disappoint someone who supplicates Him!’ Then I saw the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace) in a dream, and he said: ‘How are you, O Ḥasan?’ I replied: ‘I am well, O Messenger of God’ and I told him my story, so he said: ‘O my son, this is an example of someone who hopes for the Creator and does not hope for the creature!’
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