Hassan ibn 'ali

"Imam Hassan" redirects here. For places in Iran, see Imam Hassan, Iran.
Hasan ibn Ali

2nd Imam of Shia Islam
Al-Baqi' in Saudi Arabia
Born c. (625-03-04)4 March 625 CE
(15 Ramadhan 3 AH)[1][2]
Died c. 9 March 670(670-03-09) (aged 45)
(7 or 28 Safar 50 AH)[3][4]
Medina, Umayyad Empire
Cause of death Death by poisoning
Resting place

Jannatul Baqi, Saudi Arabia
24°28′1″N 39°36′50.21″E / 24.46694°N 39.6139472°E / 24.46694; 39.6139472

Ethnicity Arab (Quraysh)
Term 661 – 670 CE
Successor Husayn ibn Ali
Religion Islam
Denomination Shia
Parents Ali

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib (Arabic: الحسن بن علي بن أبي طالب) (born March 4, 625 CE (Ramadhān 15th, 3 AH) – died March 9 or 30, 670 CE (Safar 7th[7] or 28th, 50 AH) aged 47)[8] is an important figure in Islam. He is the son of Ali and his wife Fatimah. The latter is the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. After his father's death, he briefly succeeded him as the righteous Caliph (head of state), before retiring to Madinah and entering into an agreement with the first Umayyad ruler, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, who assumed the Caliphate. Both Sunni and Shia Muslims regard Hasan as a martyr. Hasan is one of the five people of the Ahl al-Kisa, as well as a member of the Ahl al-Bayt. Hasan ibn Ali is 2nd Imam of Shia Islam. Hasan is also highly respected by the Sunni as the grandson of Muhammad.

Birth and family life

According to Shia[9] and Sunni[10] sources, Muhammad, upon the birth of his grandson in 3 AH, was ordered by the archangel Gabriel to name him Hasan - a name not used in the pre-Islamic period.[11] Muhammad also honoured his grandson by reciting the Adhān in his right ear,[12] the Iqāmah in his left ear,[12] shaving his head,[13] and sacrificing a ram for the sake of his birth.[14]

Number of Marriages

He married nine women:[15]

  1. Um Kulthum bint Alfadhl bin Al-Abbas bin Abdulmuttalib bin Hashim
  2. Khawla bint Mandhoor bin Zaban bin Syar bin Amro
  3. Um Basheer bint Abi Mas'ud
  4. Ju'da bint Al-Ash'ath bin Qays Ma'di Karb Alkindi
  5. Um Ishaq bint Talha bin Ubaydillah bin Uthman Al-Taymi
  6. Zainab bint Sabee' bin Abdullah
  7. Baqliya
  8. Dhamya'
  9. Safia

Early life

As a growing youth Hasan saw his father on the battlefield defending Islam as well as preaching to a vast congregation of believers on the occasion of hajj and as a missionary of Islam to Yemen before retreating to a passive role in the matters of the state during the period of the first three caliphs after the death of his grandfather, Muhammad. Hasan and his younger brother, Husayn ibn Ali, are believed to have been greatly beloved by their grandfather Muhammad as numerous hadiths affirm . There are also hadiths that state that Hasan and Husayn are the Masters of the youth in paradise and that Hasan and his brother Hussein are imams "whether they sit or stand". Hasan is one of five persons included in the Hadith of the Cloak. He is said to have been the first of the Prophet's family to enter Yemeni Kisa after Muhammad and to have walked hand in hand with Muhammad as a child to testify to the truth of Islam at Mubahila.

In Medina when Muhammad was sitting with his companions and Hasan, who was still a child, was playing between his hands, Muhammad is said to have gazed at Hasan and said to his companions "This (grand)son of mine is a delight, and may God place in his hands the reconciliation of two great groups of believers (mu'minun)."

Hasan was raised with Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and Hussein ibn Ali. After the death of Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr's son Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was raised by Ali and was brought up with Hasan and Hussein ibn Ali. Hasan was one of the guards defending Uthman ibn Affan when the attackers climbed a wall and went around him and killed Uthman ibn Affan.

When the third caliph was murdered by demonstrators in his palace in Mad'mah Ali was elected to lead the Muslims. Hasan assisted his father: he went to Kufa and raised an army against the dissenting Muslims, then participated actively in the battles of Basra, Siffin and Nahrawan alongside his father, demonstrating skill both as a soldier and a leader.


The Shia view is that Ali’s right to the caliphate was usurped and his family abused by Abu Bakr but Ali, Hasan and his younger brother Husayn ibn Ali valued the Muslim community's stability above their own rights, even going to defend the third caliph Uthman before Ali himself received the caliphate.

Upon the death of Ali in Kufa a new caliph had to be elected. According to Ali's appointment before his death the choice was restricted to Hasan and his younger brother Husayn. The latter did not claim the caliphate so Kufi Muslims gave their allegiance (bay'ah) to Hasan without dispute.[16] Most caliph chronologies do not include Hasan ibn Ali among the Rashidun Caliphs. However, many Sunni Muslim historians, such as Suyuti, Ibn al-Arabi, and Ibn Kathir accept Hasan ibn Ali as the last such caliph.[17][18]

Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, who had a long-running dispute with Ali, summoned the commanders of his forces in Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan to join him in preparation for battle. He first attempted to negotiate with Hasan, sending him letters asking him to give up his caliphate, believing he could thus avoid killing fellow Muslims and avoid lingering questions regarding his legitimacy should he kill Hasan outright. Most historians say that large sums of money and promises of vast properties and governorships of provinces were offered to commanders of Hassan's army who left him,one of which was ubaydallah ibn al abbas,the commander of Imam Hassan army and that Muawiyah was not interested in the functions of preaching piety or theology but in expanding his sphere of influence in the territories already conquered by the Muslims and in further conquests to the north and north west of Syria.

Negotiations failed and Muawiyah decided to march against Hasan's army of forty thousand[19] with his own army, claimed to have numbered sixty thousand fighters.[20] The two armies faced each other near Sabat. Hasan is said to have given a sermon in which he proclaimed his hatred of schism and appealed to his men to follow his orders even if they did not agree with them. Some of the troops, taking this as a sign that Hasan was preparing to give up battle, rebelled and attacked him. Hasan was wounded but loyal soldiers surrounded him and managed to kill the mutineers. One commander, Ubayd-Allah ibn Abbas, deserted him and joined Muawiyah’s forces.

The two armies fought a few inconclusive skirmishes. Hasan was distressed, understanding that the engagement of Muslims in a battle against each other would mean a loss of many: Muawiyah also had his concerns about being forced into a battle and sent two men from the Banu Quraish to negotiate a settlement.[21] Shia scholars quote hadith from later Shia Imams to the effect that Hassan lacked the support to fight and win and so ceded power to Muawiya, signing an agreement that he would return the caliphate at his death. According to Shia scholars Hasan stipulated that the caliphate should be returned to him if he was still alive after Muawiyah's death, otherwise it should be given to his younger brother.[22] According to Sunni scholars Hasan stipulated that Muawiyah should follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah, allow a parliament (shura) as regards the caliphate after his death and refrain from any acts of revenge. Muawiyah accepted the conditions attached to the peace treaty;

  1. the enforced public cursing of Ali, e.g. during prayers, should be abandoned
  2. Muawiyah should not use tax money for his own private needs
  3. there should be peace: followers of Hasan should be given security and their rights[23]

Al-Hasan Al-Basri provides a detailed description of the events:

Sahih Al Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 49 (Peacemaking), Number 867 :[24] Narrated by Al-Hasan Al-Basri

By Allah, Al-Hasan bin Ali led large battalions like mountains against Muawiya. Amr bin Al-As said (to Muawiya), "I surely see battalions which will not turn back before killing their opponents." Muawiya who was really the best of the two men said to him, "O 'Amr! If these killed those and those killed these, who would be left with me for the jobs of the public, who would be left with me for their women, who would be left with me for their children?" Then Muawiya sent two Quraishi men from the tribe of 'Abd-i-Shams called 'Abdur Rahman bin Sumura and Abdullah bin 'Amir bin Kuraiz to Al-Hasan saying to them, "Go to this man (i.e. Al-Hasan) and negotiate peace with him and talk and appeal to him." So, they went to Al-Hasan and talked and appealed to him to accept peace. Al-Hasan said, "We, the offspring of 'Abdul Muttalib, have got wealth and people have indulged in killing and corruption (and money only will appease them)." They said to Al-Hasan, "Muawiya offers you so and so, and appeals to you and entreats you to accept peace." Al-Hasan said to them, "But who will be responsible for what you have said?" They said, "We will be responsible for it." So, what-ever Al-Hasan asked they said, "We will be responsible for it for you." So, Al-Hasan concluded a peace treaty with Muawiya. Al-Hasan (Al-Basri) said: I heard Abu Bakr saying, "I saw Allah's Apostle on the pulpit and Al-Hasan bin 'Ali was by his side. The Prophet was looking once at the people and once at Al-Hasan bin 'Ali saying, 'This son of mine is a Saiyid (i.e. a noble) and may Allah make peace between two big groups of Muslims through him."

After witnessing what happened due to the lust for wealth and power, Hasan of Basra later advocated piety and the condemnation of worldliness which later influenced the development of the Sufis.

Hassan wanted peace. He was one of the guards defending Uthman ibn Affan when the attacker climbed a wall and went around him and killed Uthman ibn Affan. Those events had led to much bloodshed. Many of Hassan's closest friends had been killed in those futile wars, including Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr who he was raised with. Many of the people around him also wanted peace. There was also a Kharijites rebellion on going and these people viewed everyone as an enermy. Hassan viewed Muawiyah as a Muslim, who could deal with the Kharijites. Hassan therefore made the Hassan–Muawiya treaty with Muawiyah.

Muawiyah proceeded to Kufa and demanded that the Muslims there pledge allegiance to him as caliph. He also asked Hasan to join him and support him in the fight against the rebellious Kharijites. Hasan is claimed to have written to him in response: "I have abandoned the fight against you, even though it was my legal right, for the sake of peace and reconciliation of the Muslim congregation (ummah). Do you think that I shall then fight together with you?"[25]

Muawiyah did not comply with the terms of the treaty, saying to the people of Kufa, “do you think I have taken power to teach you? No, I have taken power and if any one of you tries to disagree with me he shall pay the costly price of the loss of his head.” He carried out his ambition of keeping the power in his family by nominating his son Yazid as caliph after him. But the decision stirred widespread agitation, particularly amidst prominent personalities such as Hussain, Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr, Abdullah ibn Umar, Abdullah ibn Al-Zubayr, Aisha and others.

Retirement to Medina

Hasan returned to Medina. According to Persian Shia historians , Marwan ibn al-Hakam, the personal secretary to the third caliph Uthman ibn Affan who had fought against Ali during the Battle of Bassorah, was now the governor of Medina. Hasan lacked his moral support and had a hard time during his stay there after the peace treaty, with taunts and abuse from some of Muawiyah's followers and the anger of his supporters for having relinquished the caliphate.

On the other hand, Sunni historians[26] see the treaty as conferring great benefits on the Muslim Empire in years to come. Hasan has been quoted as commenting:

"If Muawiyah was the rightful successor to the caliphate, he has received it. And if I had that right, I, too, have passed it on to him; so the matter ends there."[27]

He donated all his belongings completely twice in his lifetime. Also, he divided his property between himself and the poor people equally three times .[28]

Events surrounding his death

Hasan ibn Ali died in Medina either on Safar 7th or 28th, 50 AH. He is buried at the famous Jannatul Baqee‘ cemetery across from the Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet). According to historians, Muawiyah wished to pass the caliphate to his own son Yazid, and saw Hasan as an obstacle. According to the Shia sources he secretly contacted one of Hasan's wives, Ja'da bint al-Ash'ath ibn Qays, and incited her to poison her husband. Ja'da did as Muawiyah suggested, giving her husband poison mixed with honey.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36] Madelung notes other versions of this story, suggesting that Hasan may have been poisoned by another wife, the daughter of Suhayl ibn Amr, or perhaps by one of his servants, citing early historians (Baladhuri, Waqidi, etc.). Madelung from the Institute for Ismaili Studies in London believed that Hasan was poisoned but that the famous early Islamic historian al-Tabari suppressed this tale out of concern for the faith of the common people.[37]

Shia Muslims believe that Ja'da was promised gold and marriage to Yazid. Seduced by the promise of wealth and power, she poisoned her husband, and then hastened to the court of Muawiyah in Damascus to receive her reward. Muawiyah reneged on his promises and married her to another man.[38]

According to Encyclopedia Iranica:[39]

"Moʿāwiya would naturally be suspected of having a hand in a murder that removed an obstacle to the succession of his son Yazid which he was promoting, and, in any case, he did not try to hide his pleasure on news of Ḥasan’s death."

Hasan had asked for his body to be taken to the prophet's grave, so that he could pay his last respect, and then to be buried near his mother Fatima bint Muhammad. This caused armed opposition. As the funeral proceeded towards the grave of Muhammad some Umayyads mounted on horses obstructed it. Some more recent Shia sources[which?] suggest that Aisha bint Abu Bakr appeared, riding a mule and shouting that the grave of Muhammad was in her house and she would not allow the grandson of Khadijah binte Khuwaylid to be buried beside Muhammad. A shower of arrows fell on the coffin. Sunni sources[which?] disagree with this.

Ibn Al-Atheer narrated about the death of Hasan bin Ali, that “Al-Hussain asked for Aysha’s permission to bury his brother. She gave him the permission.” Al-Kamil, by Ibn Atheer, vol.3, p. 315, year.39H

In Al-Este’ab, “When Al-Hasan passed away, Al-Hussain went to Aysha to ask her to bury his brother. She said, “Certainly yes”” Al-Esti’ab, vol.1, p. 392

Marwan was the governor of Madina at the time and objected on the grounds that Authman had not been allowed to be buried.

There is a detailed account of the events in Ibn Katheer's book Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah:[40]

It is narrated that Jabir bin 'Abdullah saw al_Hasan bin Ali on the day of his death. Conflict almost broke out between al-Hasan bin Ali and Marwan bin al_Hakam after al_Hasan instructed his brother to bury him with the Messenger of Allah, but if some battle or mishap were to occur because of it then he should be buried with in al-Baqee. Marwan objected to allowing al-Hasan to be buried with the Messenger. In fact Marwan never ceased to be the enemy of the Banu Hashim tribe until his death. As Jabar recalls: "That day I spoke to Husain bin Ali to whom I said "O Abu Abdullah! Fear Allah for your brother did not like to see conflict. Therefore bury him in al-Baquee with his mother, so he did"[40]

Husayn, fulfilling the last wish of his brother, turned the procession of the funeral towards Jannat al-Baqi, the general graveyard of Medina, where he was buried. According to one version Marwan asked Muhammad's wife Aisha also to allow his relative Uthman ibn Affan to be buried beside the Prophet, but Aisha refused Marwan's request. No one else was buried beside Muhammad in Aishas house.[41]

According to Encyclopedia Iranica:[39]

"Marwān b. al-Ḥakam, who had been deposed the year before, swore that he would not allow Ḥa-san to be buried next to Moḥammad with Abu Bakr and ʿOmar as long as ʿOṯmān was buried in al-Baqiʿ...Moʿāwiya eventually rewarded Marwān for his stand by reappointing him governor of Medina "

When Aishas brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed by the Ummayads[42] Aisha raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakrs mother was from Alis family and Qasims daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim was married to Muhammad al-Baqir and was the mother of Jafar al-Sadiq.

After Hasan's death his Iraqi followers wrote to Husayn pledging allegiance and proposing to remove Muawiya. However, Husayn refused, choosing to abide by the treaty between Hassan ibn Ali and Muawiyah, which could not be broken at that time.

The shrine containing Hasan's tomb was destroyed in 1925 during the conquest of Medina by al-Saud tribes.[43] [44] This was part of a general destruction of memorials in cemeteries for religious reasons.[45] "In the eyes of Wahabis, historical sites and shrines encourage "shirq" – the sin of idolatry or polytheism – and should be destroyed."[45]


Hasan ibn Ali
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu Quraish
Born: 15th Ramadhān 3 AH 4th March 625 CE Died: 28th Safar 50 AH 30th March 670 CE

Shia Islam titles
Preceded by
Ali ibn Abu Talib
2nd Imam of Shi'a Islam
661–669 Disputed by Nizari
Succeeded by
Hussein ibn Ali
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Ali ibn Abu Talib
5th Rashidun Caliph of Sunni Islam
661 – 661
Succeeded by
Muawiyah I

See also


  • Vol 12
Vol 6 page 249-250
  • [12]

External links

  • Hasan ibn 'Ali In Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Wilferd Madelung, In Encyclopædia Iranica
  • Kitab al Irshad, by Sheikh al Mufid, translated by I.K.A Howard, pp. 279 - 289

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