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The Prince of Peace – a true reflection of the Prophet

5Aug 2012
The Prince of Peace – a true reflection of the Prophet

 Birth


Madina, 3 A.H, a peaceful night, in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan. The Prophet is overjoyed. He has just received the best of news. He is a grandfather for the very first time! The source of his joy is a handsome baby boy, born to his only beloved daughter Fatima (sa) and son-in-law Ali (as): a source of relief, and a continuation of the hidden realities of the verses of Kauthar, revealed those many years ago when the Meccans had derided him (saw) for a lack of issue.

Naming and Aqiqah

In naming their child the doting parents defer to the authority vested in the Prophet. The Prophet in turn, recognising the greatness of the new arrival, and upon direct instruction from Allah, aptly names him (as) as Hasan (Arabic for handsome), a name unheard of on Arab tongues, after the firstborn son of Haroon (as) Al-Shabar, adding further potency to the Hadith of Manzila (O’ Ali you are to me like Haroon was to Musa). This child is the embodiment and reflection of a Godly beauty previously unseen, both in appearance and character, a beauty that Yusuf (as) himself would bow down to in praise.

The Prophet further honours the baby prince by reciting the Adhan in his right ear, the
Iqamah in his left, as well as sacrificing a ram, shaving his head and donating the silver equivalent to the weight of his hair in charity, thus marking the origins of the ceremony of Aqiqah, (now an important rite of passage).

The Rank of Imam Al-Hasan

In the leaves of history we find that on numerous occasions the Prophet showers his love and affection on his eldest grandson Al-Hasan, stressing upon his station, counting his merits, lauding him with praise and foretelling of his greatness “as the leader of the youth of paradise.”  

On the occasion of the revelation of the verse of purification (Surah Al-Ahzab Verse 33) as recounted in the famous Narration of the Cloak (Hadith Al-Kisa), the Prophet addresses the Imam as:

  يَا وَلَدِي وَ يَا صَاحِبَ حَوْضِي  

“my son and the master of my fountain (Kauthar)

–  underscoring once more in clear and no uncertain terms the continuation of his (SAW)’s lineage, Al-Hasan’s pedigree and authority, as well as his station in Paradise.

On another occasion in his childhood remarking:

This grandson of mine is a leader (Sayed), Allah will create an accord between two groups because of him” (Manaqib). Thus foretelling the leadership Imam Al-Hasan would display in ending the years of civil war and disturbance that would mar the Muslim Caliphate following the assassination of the third Caliph Uthman. And similarly: These two grandsons of mine (Al- Hasan and Al-Hussain) will be the Imams, whether they are standing or sitting down”

alluding once more to the differential circumstances and the policies adopted by the two Imams.   

Likeness to the Prophet – the role model youth

The historian Zohri narrates from Anas bin Malik that ‘no one was closer to the Prophet in looks than Hasan bin Ali’ – a fact openly recognised by all Muslims. Yet this similarity was not limited to a mere facial resemblance, as Imam As-Sadiq (AS) narrates: Al-Hasan

“was the most similar person to the Apostle of God (SAW), in form, manner and nobility”.

Upon a brief examination of the life of the 2nd Imam we find numerous accounts which give evidence to the sentiment expressed by Imam As-Sadiq (AS).

Imam Al-Hasan grew up in the cradle of revelation, and displayed exceptional wisdom and piety for one so young. Even as a child the Imam would make it a habit of rising up with his grandfather and mother to pray Salat-ul-Lail, (resulting in the revelation of Surah Al-Muzzamil, advising the Prophet to rest a little).

As a boy the Imam (AS) would often come home to his mother, having spent time in the mosque with his grandfather, eagerly narrating from memory the latest of verses of the Holy Quran (hot off Gabriel!). His father, Imam Ali (AS) would come home later to narrate those very same verses, and be incredulous that his wife would be pre-informed. On one particular occasion Imam Ali (AS), would inquire as to her (SA) source of information. Following her disclosure, he would one day hide in a corner of the house to witness his young son conveying the revelation.

And yet on this occasion Al-Hasan would find himself stammering, unable to deliver, stating that

“O’ mother, I cannot narrate, for it is as though there is a greater authority in whose presence, I find myself tongue-tied”

–  reflecting the insight of Imam Al-Hasan as well as the love and respect he held for his father, recognising his right over him. Upon hearing this, Imam Ali would step out from his hiding place and embrace his young son.

Al-Hasan would be courteous to the elderly, especially those who had newly reverted and entered within the folds of Islam, shrewdly and diplomatically correcting their practice. He would be showing hospitality to the travellers, even if they were initially abusive, and through his gentleness guiding them to the right path. A practice similar to that adapted by the Prophet against the abuse he was subjected to in Taif and Mecca.

He would be compassionate to the poor and the destitute, often honouring their invitations and sharing their morsels with them. Later on he would invite them back to his home, clothing them, reassuring them, and feeding them with very best, a true depiction of the mercy of the Prophet himself. He would remain hungry and offer the best of food to the needy until he was assured that those in his vicinity were all well looked after, practically living the narration of his grandfather on ensuring the rights of his neighbours. Indeed it is this very hospitality that would earn him title Al-Karim (the generous one).

Imam Hasan’s kindness and mercy would extend to all creatures of Allah, including the kindness he would show towards animals. It is narrated in Bihar Al-Anwar from Manaqib that on one particular occasion the Imam was seen eating a morsel and sharing it with a stray dog that came to sit nearby him. Someone asked him “why don’t you scare it away?” The Imam replied:

“Let it remain, for I am ashamed of Allah, that a living thing is front of me, when I am eating and I do not share my food”.

It was this God-consciousness (Taqwa) that was characteristic of every breath that the Imam drew and every action he would part-take in.

Ayatullah Jafar Subhani mentions that on two occasions in his life the Imam would donate all his possessions in the way of Allah, and on three occasions he would give up half of his total wealth to charity. Furthermore such would be his humility, no doubt inherited from his parents, that on twenty-five occasions the Imam would walk to Mecca for Hajj, often in simple clothing, helping the wayfarers, massaging them and feeding them along their journey. 

And yet, his upbringing would be holistic, where activities such as wrestling, and calligraphy would be actively encouraged, often in a healthy competition and in conjunction with his younger brother Al-Hussain. Imam Al Hasan would often give judgements on the matters of law (even in Imam Ali’s presence) much like the example of Suleiman (AS) in front of Dawood (AS). Imam Ali would often encourage Imam Al Hasan to speak in public, as well as train him in the arts of war.

In battle Imam Al Hasan would be the bravest and the foremost. For example in preparation for the battle of Jamal, he singlehandedly raised an army of 4000 men despite the confusion. He would be the one to end the battle of Jamal, ‘by severing the legs of the she camel’. In the battle of Siffin he would take charge of a battalion in dispersing the Syrian forces, so fiercely would he attack, that on one occasion even Imam Ali would remark:

“Stand before my son Hasan and stop him from continuing forward for if he is Martyred in this battle, the progeny of the Holy Prophet (saw) will become extinct!” 

An example of the same fearlessness, boldness, clarity of mission and fortitude shown by Imam Ali himself in the Battle of the Ditch.

It is therefore in context of this firsthand experience of battle and understanding Imam Al-Hasan’s capabilities as a general and a soldier, can we truly begin to comprehend the sacrifices he made in brokering peace with Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufiyan. No doubt this was an example of his erudite skills in the art of diplomacy and negotiation, tying down Muawiya with severe terms and saving hundreds and thousands of lives in the process. Indeed his enemy, Muwaiya himself, recognising his greatness comments that:

“Whenever I saw him (as) I reflected about his position and feared that he might recount my shortcomings”.

The peace treaty was an opportunity created by Imam Al-Hasan, in preparation for Karbala, openly exposing to the wider Muslim populace (which had thus far been confused and unable to decipher the truth from falsehood) the Umayyad Caliphates’ true character and inability in honouring a promise. Imam Al-Hussain honoured the treaty even after the martyrdom of his older brother, and it proved a force of unification against the external threats posed by the Byzantine armies, awaiting an opportune moment to attack Arabia, and thereby destroying Islam.

Brave and bold, generous and merciful. Easy to forgive and full of compassion. Here in sum was an individual so capable of making war, yet not allowing his emotion to dominate his wisdom. A true reflection of the character of his grandfather (saw) who in his (saw) own wisdom those many years earlier had made peace at Hudaibiya. Al-Hasan (as), the Prince of Peace.

Reference:

1. Bihar Al Anwar
2. The Origins of Early Development of Shia Islam by S Jafari
3. Succession to Mohammed – BY Madelung
4. Leaders of Islam – Ayatullah Jaffar Sobhani
5. Manaqib Ale Abi Talib Ibn Sehr Ashoub
6. Nahjul Balagha
7. Sulh Al-Hassan by Shayikh Radi Yasin

Credit: Prophets mosque by user: Omar A.

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