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Imam al-Hassan (a) al-Mujtaba: The Elder Grandson of the Prophet (s)

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Imam al-Hassan (a) al-Mujtaba, the revered second Twelver Shia Imam, holds a prominent place in the history of Islam. He was the first son of Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a) and the first grandson of Prophet Muhammad (s). Known for his exemplary character, Imam al-Hassan embodied piety, devotion, virtue, generosity, and nobility – qualities that set him apart as an outstanding figure of his time. In this article, Islam4u will delve into the life and character of this holy Imam from the Ahlul Bait (a), shedding light on his remarkable legacy.

Birth of Imam al-Hassan (a)

In the annals of Islamic history, a name that resonates with profound reverence and admiration is that of Imam al-Hassan (a). This illustrious figure was blessed to enter this world on the auspicious day of Ramadan 15, 3 AH, in the holy city of Medina. He was the precious fruit of the union between Imam Ali (a), the brave and devout cousin of Prophet Muhammad (s), and Lady Fatima, the beloved daughter of the Noble Prophet (s).

Imam al-Hassan (a) was the first child born to this esteemed couple. His arrival was a source of boundless joy and happiness for his family and the entire Muslim community. With his birth, the light of prophetic guidance and wisdom was further amplified, and the lineage of the Noble Prophet (s) was strengthened through the birth of his first grandson.

Names, Teknonym, and Titles

When Imam al-Hassan (a) was born, he was brought to the Prophet (s) to name him. The Prophet (s) asked the Commander of the Faithful (a) whether he had named the child, to which Imam Ali (a) said, “I will not overtake you in naming him, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (s) said, “And I will not overtake my Lord in naming him.” The angel Jibril descended and carried a message from Allah, saying, “Allah congratulates you on the birth of your grandson. Because Ali to you is like Aaron was to Moses, name him the same name as Aaron’s son.” The name of Aaron’s son in Arabic is “al-Hassan.” Therefore, he was named al-Hassan (a), which means good or beautiful.

His teknonym was Abu Muhammad. He had several titles, including:

1. al-Mujtaba (the chosen)

2. al-Sibt (the grandson)

3. Sayyid Shabab Ahl al-Jannah (the master of the youth of paradise)

3. al-Zaki (the pure)

4. al-Taqi (the pious)

5. al-Sayyid (the master)

Imam al-Hassan’s Childhood (a)

Not much is known about the childhood of Imam al-Hassan (a). However, there are some events in which Imam al-Hassan (a) was present when he was a child. Let us go over some of them.

The Hadith of the Cloak

The hadith of the cloak is a famous tradition that Lady Fatima (a) has narrated. The Prophet (s) felt weak and asked his daughter for his Yemeni cloak. She gave it to him and noticed his face shining like the full moon as he went under it. Then her son al-Hassan (a) came and greeted his mother and said, “I can smell the scent of my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah.” Lady Fatima (a) said, “Yes, your grandfather is under the cloak.” Imam al-Hassan (a) asked the Prophet’s permission to go under the cloak. The Prophet permitted him, and he went under the cloak. Then came Imam al-Hussain (a), the Commander of the Faithful Ali (a), and finally, Fatima herself. They all went under the cloak. Then the Prophet prayed to Allah to purify his household and cleanse them from every evil.

Then the angel Jibril descended and asked the Prophet (s) to allow him to join them. The Prophet (s) readily gave him permission. Then Jibril said that Allah sends his greetings to you and has revealed this verse in your honor:

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ ٱلرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا

Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification. (33:33)

Thus, Imam al-Hassan (a), his grandfather, father, mother, and brother were purified from every sin and evil. The nine Imams that would come after Imam al-Hussain (a) are also among the purified ones.

The Event of Mubahala

Imam al-Hassan (a) was one of the individuals present at the event of mubahala. After the Prophet (s) invited a group of Christians of Najran to Islam, they came to the Prophet (s), refusing to believe in Islam. They debated with the Prophet (s) so much that they said they would like to engage in mubahala in a desert. Mubahala is a form of face-off where two groups pray to Allah to bring down His curse and punishment on whoever is lying and make the truthful victorious. The following verse of the Quran was revealed:

فَمَنْ حَآجَّكَ فِيهِ مِنۢ بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا۟ نَدْعُ أَبْنَآءَنَا وَأَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَنِسَآءَنَا وَنِسَآءَكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وَأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَى ٱلْكَٰذِبِينَ

Should anyone argue with you concerning him, after the knowledge that has come to you, say, ‘Come! Let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us pray earnestly, and call down Allah’s curse upon the liars.’ (3:61)

So the Prophet (s) brought Ali (a), al-Hassan (a), al-Hussain (a), and Fatima (a) with him and kneeled to begin the mubahala. When the heads of the Christians saw the illuminant faces of the household of the Prophet (s), they conceded. They asked the Prophet (s) what they should do instead. The Prophet (s) said they must pay a specific amount of money as tax every year. Later, a few of the heads of those Christians came to the Prophet (s) with gifts and converted to Islam.

Imam al-Hassan (a) During the Prophet’s Martyrdom

Imam al-Hassan was only seven years old when the Noble Prophet (s) was poisoned and eventually martyred on Safar 28, 11 AH. During the last moments of the Prophet, Imam al-Hassan and al-Hussain (a) sat on the chest of the Prophet (s). It is said that when a person is dying, no weight should be placed on them. Therefore, Imam Ali (a) wanted to take the Hassanayn (a) off the chest of the Prophet (s). However, the Prophet (s) said, “Al-Hassan and al-Hussain are my comforts in this world.” Shortly afterward, the Prophet passed away.

Imam al-Hassan’s Imamate

After his father, Imam Ali (a), was martyred, Imam al-Hassan (a) succeeded him and became the second Imam of the Shia. His Imamate lasted ten years, from 40 AH to 50 AH.

The Peace Treaty of Imam al-Hassan (a)

Imam al-Hassan ascended to the position of Imamate when there was much turmoil in the Islamic state. Mu’awiya was the bitter enemy of Imam al-Hassan (a) as he claimed to be the caliph of Muslims. Imam al-Hassan (a) was initially forced to fight a war with Mu’awiya. However, his followers and companions were deceived by Mu’awiya one after another until he was left with very few followers to continue the war. Under such circumstances, continuing the war with Mu’awiya was not only suicide for Imam al-Hassan (a) and his few companions but also suicide for the whole of Islam. Therefore, Imam al-Hassan signed a peace treaty with Mu’awiya in 41 AH. This peace treaty was not passive but for the benefit of Muslims and Islam. Based on this treaty, Mu‘awiya had to:

  • Act according to the Book of Allah and the Prophet’s Sunnah
  • Not pass anyone as his successor, and after his death, the caliphate should be dealt with by a council of Muslims
  • Let people everywhere feel safe about their lives, properties, and offspring
  • Not conspire any riots against al-Hassan (a) or threaten any of his friends

Mu‘awiya did not abide by any of the articles of the treaty.

Imam al-Hassan’s Martyrdom

After making peace with Mu‘awiya, Imam al-Hassan (a) moved to his place of birth, Medina. There, he was a religious, social, and political leader for the Muslim community. Imam al-Hassan (a) still criticized Mu‘awiya, especially because he would violate the treaty, such as appointing his son Yazid as his heir and successor. Eventually, Mu‘awiya decided to kill Imam al-Hassan (a). It is said that he enticed one of Imam al-Hassan’s wives named Ja‘dah that she would become the wife of Yazid if she poisoned Imam al-Hassan (a).

Imam al-Hassan (a) was fasting and wanted to break his fast. Ja‘dah gave him a poisoned drink, which caused Imam al-Hassan (a) to fall ill. After a few days, his holiness was martyred on Safar 28, 50 AH, at the age of 46. He was buried in al-Baqi cemetery in Medina.

Imam al-Hassan’s Generosity

Imam al-Hassan (a) is remembered and revered for his exceptional benevolence and selflessness. Known as the Karim of the Ahlul Bait (a), or the generous one among the household of the Prophet (s), he embodied the true essence of charity and compassion. His heart overflowed with kindness and empathy for those in need, whom he would never hesitate to assist and support.

The Imam’s generosity knew no bounds, as he often invited those in need to dine with him and share his provisions. This act of kindness not only provided them with nourishment but also helped to uplift their spirits.

It is said that the Imam gave away his entire possessions and wealth to charity twice in his lifetime, a testament to his commitment to serve humanity and alleviate the suffering of others. His legacy of selflessness and generosity continues to inspire and guide us today, reminding us of the importance of giving back to our communities and caring for those less fortunate.

Conclusion

Imam al-Hassan (a), the second Twelver Shia Imam, was the son of Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a) and the first grandson of the Noble Prophet (s). He is known for his wisdom, patience, and compassion toward all people, regardless of their backgrounds. He played a crucial role in providing leadership and guidance to the community during a time of great uncertainty and unrest. Despite facing many challenges and trials, he remained steadfast in his commitment to upholding the principles of justice, equality, and compassion. Today, he is remembered as a shining example of what it means to be a true servant of God.

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