Chapter 6

The Abdication of Hasan

During the last year of 'Ali's caliphate, Muawiya b. Abi
Sufyan, the governor of Syria and the main challenger of 'Ali,
managed to bring a large part of the Muslim empire under
his control. He also had the authority vested in him, though
under doubtful and ambiguous circumstances, by 'Amr b. al-
As at the arbitration of Adruh after the battle of Siffin.
Nevertheless, he could not claim for himself the title of Amir
al-Mu'minin while 'Ali was yet alive. 'Ali was still the
legitimate caliph chosen by the community at large in
Medina; this was not publicly repudiated by the community
as a whole, nor was the declaration of Abu Musa al-Ash'ari
deposing 'Ali and that of 'Amr b. al-'As installing Mu'awiya
accepted by the Muhajirun and the Ansar. Thus, despite all
his military and political successes, Mu'awiya could do no
more than style himself only as Amir.(1) With 'Ali's assassination,
the road was finally cleared for the realization of the
ultimate goal of Mu'awiya's ambitions. The very favourable
circumstances that prevailed in the form of the impotence of
Medina and the remnant of the pious section of the
community and the vacillating nature of the Iraqi supporters
of 'Ali's successor Hasan, coupled with the characteristic
shrewdness of Mu'awiya, made it easier for him to complete
the task he had initiated after the death of 'Uthman: the
seizure of the caliphate for himself and his clan.

Hasan, the elder son of 'All and Fatima, was acclaimed as
caliph by forty thousand people in Kufa immediately after
the death of his father. (2) We are told that at the battle of Siffin
(Safar 37/July 657), less than three years before his death, 'Ali
had in his army seventy Companions who fought for the


Prophet at Badr, seven hundred of those who renewed their
allegiance to Muhammad (bay'at ar-ridwan) at the time of the
treaty of Hudaybiya, and another four hundred from other
Muhajirun and Ansar.( 3 ) Many of them were still residing in
Kufa with 'Ali as he prepared for a final encounter with
Muawiya. They must have participated in the election of
Hasan and must have accepted him as the new caliph,
otherwise our sources would have recorded their opposition
to his succession. To this there is no testimony at all. The
people of Medina and Mecca seem to have received the news
with satisfaction, or at least with acquiescence. This is evident
from the fact that not a single voice of protest or opposition
from these cities against Hasan's accession can be located in
the sources.

Two major reasons can be advanced for this attitude. First,
at the time of 'Ali's death almost all the distinguished
Companions of the Prophet from among the Muhajirun were
dead. Of the six members of the Shura appointed by 'Umar,
only Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas was still alive; the other members of
the leading elite of the community had also died. Among the
younger nobility such as 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas, 'Abd Allah
b. az-Zubayr, Muhammad b. Talha, and 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar,
none could match Hasan, the elder and dearest grandson of
the prophet. The people of Medina still remembered that
ardent love and affection which the Prophet had showered
upon his grandsons: that he interrupted his sermon and
descended from the pulpit to pick up Hasan, who had
stumbled over his long tunic and fallen down while entering
the mosque ;(4) that he allowed his grandchildren to climb on
his back while he was prostrating himself in prayer.(5) There
are numerous accounts describing extraordinary favours
being bestowed by Muhammad on his grandsons; these are
preserved not only by the Shi'i sources, but are overwhelm-
ingly transmitted by the Sunni works as well.(6) Hasan is also
unanimously reported to have resembled the Prophet in
appearance.(7) Secondly, the people of Mecca and Medina
naturally could not be expected to be pleased to see Mu'awiya,
the son of Abu Sufyan, the representative of the clan of
Umayya, become their leader. It was Abu Sufyan who had
organized the opposition to Muhammad and had led all the
campaigns against him. The Umayyads in general, and the


Sufyanids in particular, did not acknowledge Muhammad
until the fall of Mecca; their Islam was therefore considered
to be of convenience rather than conviction. Mu'awiya, for
his part, depended on the support of the Syrians, whom he
had consolidated behind himself, and to whom he had been
attached for close to twenty years as governor of the province,
and on the support of his large and powerful clan and their
clients and allies who swarmed around him. It was therefore
natural, under the circumstances, that the inhabitants of the
holy cities, who formed the nucleus of the Islamic Umma,
would not oppose Hasan's caliphate, especially since the
alternative was the son of Abu Sufyan and Hind.

As for the people of Iraq, the eldest son of 'Ali was the only
logical choice, though not all of his supporters were motivated
by the same feelings or attachment to the same cause. To a
great number of them Hasan's succession meant the continuation
of 'Ali's policy against the rule of Mu'awiya and
against the domination of Syria over Iraq. To some others,
Hasan was now the only person worthy of leading the
community on religious grounds. Whether motivated by
merely political or by religious considerations, however, it
cannot be denied that the Iraqis acclaimed Hasan as caliph
on the grounds that he was the grandson of the Prophet
through 'Ali and Fatima. Hasan's spontaneous selection after
the death of 'Ali also indicated Iraqi inclinations, though in
vague terms, towards the legitimate succession to the
leadership of the community in the line of 'Ali. It seems that
the people of Iraq, even at that early period, were quite clear
in distinguishing the line of the Prophet through Fatima
from other members of the Hashimite clan, otherwise they
would have chosen, for example, 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas,
who was a cousin of the Prophet, was senior in age to Hasan
and was experienced in affairs of state, having been 'Ali's
governor in Basra. (8) Hasan's close relationship to the Prophet
is frequently referred to as the reason for the special
consideration of the people for him.

Following the custom established by Abu Bakr, Hasan
made a speech on the occasion of his accession to the caliphate.
In this speech, reported in many sources with varying lengths
and wordings, Hasan praised the merits of his family and the
special rights and unmatched qualities of his father. He


emphasized his own intimate relations with the Prophet,
described his own merits and claims, and quoted the verses of
the Qur'an which exalt the special position of the Ahl al-
Bayt. (9) Qays b. Sa'd b. 'Ubada al-Ansari, an ardent supporter
of 'Ali and a trusted commander of his army, was the first to
pay homage to him. The forty thousand troops of Iraq who
had sworn allegiance to 'Ali on the condition to die for him
('ala'l-mawt) readily hailed Hasan as their new caliph. (10)
Apparently expressing his own sentiments as well as those of
the Iraqi army, Qays tried to impose the condition that the
bay'a should be based, not only on the Qur'an and the Sunna
of the Prophet, but also on the condition of the war (qital)
against those who declared licit (halal) that which is illicit
(haram). Hasan, however, succeeded in avoiding this commitment
by saying that the last condition was implicitly
included in the first two. The more militant among the Iraqis,
eager to fight against Mu'awiya, were not in favour of
exclusion of the third condition from the terms of the bay'a,
but they nevertheless paid their allegiance to him. (11) Later
events would demonstrate that Hasan was perhaps from the
very beginning quite apprehensive of the fickle-mindedness
of the Iraqis and their lack of resolution in time of trials; and
thus he wanted to avoid commitment to an extreme stand
which might lead to complete disaster. He was moreover a
peace-loving man of mild temper who hated to see the
shedding of Muslim blood.(12) However, according to the
majority of the sources, the oath of allegiance taken by those
present stipulated that: "They should make war on those who
were at war with Hasan, and should live in peace with those
who were at peace with Hasan." (13)

Hasan's acclamation as caliph by the Iraqis, and a tacit
approval, at least an absence of protest or opposition, from the
Hijaz, Yemen, and Persia, were a great cause of alarm to
Mu'awiya, who had been working for the office since the
death of 'Uthman and who, after five years of ceaseless
struggle, at last saw a clear path to undisputed authority since
'Ali was no longer alive. He lost no time in taking action.
First of all, as soon as the news of Hasan's selection reached
Mu'awiya, he denounced the appointment, and both in
speeches and in letters announced his firm decision not to
recognize Hasan a caliph. (14) secondly, he dispatched many


of his agents and spies to arouse the people against Hasan.
Such agents had already been quite active in the provinces of
Yemen, Persia, and the Hijaz, which were still within 'Air's
domain though not fully under his control at the time he was
killed. These agents were active even in the heart of Iraq and
Kufa, 'Ali's only solid possession. Of this activity there is no
doubt at all. This already organized espionage network was
now intensified by Mu'awiya and expanded to a much larger
scale. There are numerous exchanges of letters on the subject
of these spies between Hasan and Mu'awiya and between
'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas and Mu'awiya. (15) Mu'awiya did not
even deny these subversive activities. Finally, he began
preparations for war and summoned all the commanders of
his forces in Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan to join him.
Not long after, the Syrian leader marched against Hasan
with an army of sixty thousand men, (16) taking the usual
military route through Mesopotamia to Maskin, on the Tigris
boundary of Mosul towards the Sawad. When Mu'awiya
warlike intentions became clear, Hasan had to prepare for
war and was compelled to take the field before he had time
either to strengthen himself in his position or to reorganize
the administration that had been thrown into chaos by the
death of his father.

The purpose of this prompt action by Mu'awiya was
twofold: first, by his demonstration of arms and strength, he
hoped to force Hasan to come to terms; and secondly, if that
course of action failed, he would attack the Iraqi forces before
they had time to consolidate their position. It was for the first
reason that Mu'awiya intentionally moved towards Iraq at a
very slow pace, while sending letter after letter to Hasan
asking him not to try to fight and urging him to come to
terms. If Hasan was defeated on the battlefield, this would
give Mu'awiya only power and authority; but if Hasan
abdicated, this would provide Mu'awiya with a legal base and
legitimize his authority as well. This was what was
trying to achieve. Moreover, Hasan defeated, or even killed,
still represented a serious threat unless he resigned his rights;
another member of the Hashimite house could simply claim
to be his successor. Should he resign in favour of Mu'awiya,
such claims would have no validity and the Umayyad position
would be secured. This strategy proved correct, as will be


seen below. Even after the death of Hasan, ten years later,
when the people of Iraq approached his younger brother
Husayn concerning an uprising, the latter advised them to
wait as long as Mu'awiya was alive because of Hasan's treaty
with him.

The correspondence between Hasan and Mu'awiya, which
continued throughout this period, makes interesting reading
and provides some useful information. Both referred to the
old question of the caliphate with polemical arguments. In
one of his long letters to Mu'awiya, Hasan argued his rights
to the caliphate on the grounds that the authority of the
caliphate stems from the Prophet of God, who was the most
excellent and the best of men on earth and through whose
guidance the Arabs found light while they were deep in
darkness and attained honour and glory while they were
disgraced, and that Hasan was the nearest to the Prophet in
blood and relationship. Hasan then used his father's argument,
which the latter had advanced against Abu Bakr after the
death of Muhammad, that if Quraysh could claim the
leadership over the Ansar on the grounds that the Prophet
belonged to Quraysh, then the members of his family, who
were the nearest to him in every respect, were better qualified
for the leadership of the community. In the last part of his
letter Hasan wrote:

"We were shocked to see that some people snatched away our
right from us even though they were men of excellence, virtues,
and merits, and were the forerunners in Islam [reference to the
first three caliphs]. But now what a great astonishment and shock
it is to see that you, O Mu'awiya, are attempting to accede to a
thing which you do not deserve. You do not possess any known
merit in religion (din), nor have you any trace (athar) in Islam
which has ever been praised. On the contrary, you are the son of
the leader of the opposition party from among the parties (hizb
min al-ahzab) [a reference to the "confederacy" which under
Mu'awiya's father, Abu Sufyan, made the last united effort to
crush Medina]; and you are the son of the greatest enemy of the
Prophet from among Quraysh... so give up your persistence in
falsehood (batil) and enter into my homage as other people have
done, for you are certainly aware of the fact that I am far more
entitled to the caliphate than you in the eyes of God and all
worthy people. Fear God, restrain yourself from rebellion and
from shedding the blood of the Muslims; for, by God, there


would be no good for you to meet your Lord with the
responsibility of the blood of the Muslims." (17)

Mu'awiya's detailed reply to Hasan is even more interesting,
especially since he used the argument used by 'Umar b. al-
Khattab against 'Ali. Writing to Hasan, Mu'awiya argued:

"Whatever you said about the excellence and merits of the
Prophet, he was indeed the most excellent among all men before
and after him, past or present, young or old. Indeed God had
chosen Muhammad for His message, and through him we
received guidance, were saved from destruction, and came out
from darkness and error.

"You have mentioned the death of the Prophet and the dispute
which took place among the Muslims at that time. In this you are
clearly making accusations against Abu Bakr, 'Umar, and Abu
'Ubayda, and against those virtuous men among the Muhajirun
and Ansar. I hate this accusation against the people whose
actions, according to us and other people, were beyond doubt and

"When this community had some disagreements after the
Prophet concerning the leadership, it was not ignorant of your
family's merits, your priority, and your close relationship to the
Prophet; and the community was also not unaware of your
exalted place in Islam and your qualifications in it. But the
community saw that this thing [the caliphate] would be better
placed among Quraysh in general and they therefore selected
Abu Bakr. This is what the people thought best in the interest of
the community. You are asking me to settle the matter peacefully
and surrender, but the situation concerning you and me today is
like the one between you [your family] and Abu Bakr after the
death of the Prophet. Had I believed that you had a better grasp
over the subject people than I do, that you could protect the
community better than I, and you were stronger in safeguarding
the properties of the Muslims and in outwitting the enemy than
I, then I would have done what you have asked me. But I have a
longer period of reign [probably referring to his governorship],
and am more experienced, better in policies, and older in age
than you. It would therefore be better for you not to insist on
what you have asked me; if you enter into obedience to me now,
you will accede to the caliphate after me." (18)

Mu'awiya's letter is significant in that it gives a clear idea
of the direction Muslim polity was henceforth opting to adopt
openly. Mu'awiya's arguments for his claims to the caliphate


manifest those guidelines and the principles by which the
question of the caliphate had been previously decided in the
case of the first three caliphs, and he claimed that the same
considerations must remain the deciding factors now and in
the future. To him it was the interest of the state and the
profane aspects of the community which must decide the
question of the leadership. Mu'awiya did not deny Hasan's
exalted position in relation to the Prophet and his superior
place in Islam, but claimed that this was not the criterion for
the leadership of the community. The qualifications for the
office, according to Mu'awiya's arguments, were personal
power and strength, ability in political affairs and administration,
expansion of the empire, and ability to defend the
Muslims and rule the subject effectively. In this way,
Mu'awiya made explicit what had been so far implicit: the
separation between political and religious principles, which
was henceforth permanently established. Thus, in due course,
the majority of the Muslims placed the religious leadership in
the totality of the community (Jama'a), represented by the
'ulama', as the custodian of religion and the exponent of the
Qur'an and the Sunna of the Prophet, while accepting state
authority as binding. They came to be known as the Sunnis.
A minority of the Muslims, on the other hand, could not find
satisfaction for their religious aspirations except in the
charismatic leadership from among the people of the house of
the Prophet, the Ahl al-Bayt, as the sole exponents of the
Qur'an and the Prophetic Sunna, although this minority too
had to accept the state's authority. This group was called the

Before proceeding further in an attempt to reconstruct the
events which ultimately led to the abdication of Hasan, a
word seems necessary regarding the sources of our information
on the subject. The struggle between Hasan and
Mu'awiya has not yet been thoroughly and critically studied
and remains one of the most obscure chapters of early Islamic
history. Wellhausen, giving only a short and sketchy account
of Hasan's abdication, (19) complains that the events are
recorded with confusion and fragmentation and that it is,
therefore, difficult to place certain critical details of the
episode in precise chronological order. Indeed, chronology is
always a serious problem in early Muslim histories. But in his


brief description of the subject it seems that Wellhausen
depended solely on Ya'qubi, (20) Dinawari, (21) 'and Tabari. (22)
Both Yaqubi and Dinawari usually gloss over details in their
short and compact histories, and it would therefore be futile
to expect from them a comprehensive account of the
abdication of Hasan. Tabari provides more information than
the first two but does not cover the subject with his usual
thoroughness and he leaves the reader unsatisfied on many
important questions. Moreover, all three of these sources
suffer from a common weakness in that their renderings lack
the exact sequence of events, a problem which makes it
difficult to determine whether Hasan abdicated of his own
free will or was forced by the circumstances to do so.

There are, however, three other early and important
sources which were not' used by or were unavailable to
Wellhausen. These works, already referred to above, were
authored by Ibn A'tham al-Kufi (23) (died ca. 314/926), Abu'l-
Faraj al-Isfahani (24) (died 356/967), and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid (25)
(died 655/1257). Abi'l-Faraj records the whole event from
Abu Mikhnaf with verifications and additions from five other
chains of transmitters, commenting that "these narratives are
mixed one with the other, but are near in meaning to each
other." Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, though a late author, is one of the
best informed. He takes his material primarily from the
famous early historian Mada'ini and completes the account
from Abu Mikhnaf. The second part of Ibn Abi'l-Hadid's
account thus is similar to the corresponding portion of Abu'l-
Faraj; the fact that both Abo Mikhnaf and Mada'ini wrote
on the subject is confirmed by the lists of their works recorded
by Ibn Nadim. (26)

Abu Muhammad Ahmad b. A'tham al-Kufi al-Kindi must
be given a place of special importance, for his Kitab al-Futuh
is perhaps one of the earliest comprehensive and systematic
works on the early conquests of Islam and the civil strife in
the community. According to Doctor Sha'ban, (27) a modern
scholar, this work was composed in 204/819; this mean: his
date of death must be placed some time in the middle of the
3rd/9th century and not in 314/926 as has so far been assumed.
In any case, his history has proved to be a major source for the
early history of the Arabs, particularly for events in Iraq. Ibn
A'tham was fortunate enough to have access to the works of


Zuhri, Abu Mikhnaf, Ibn al-Kalbi, and some other lesser
traditionists in their original and unadulterated forms.
According to his methodology, as is evident in the Futuh, he
combines the traditions of these early writers into a connected
and coherent historical narrative without interruptions and
without citing his sources for each individual tradition.
Nevertheless, whenever he records some significant tradition,
he does mention the name of his source; in this respect
Mada'ini is the most frequently cited authority. According to
Sha'ban, Ibn A'tham, being a contemporary of Mada'ini, had
the pronounced advantage of quoting this great master in his
lifetime.(28) Comparison of the narratives of Ibn A'tham with
the tradition of Mada'ini recorded by Tabari show that Ibn
A'tham not only provides a useful check for the material
recorded by Tabari, but also adds important details which
Tabari has ignored and which are preserved in the Kitab al-
Futuh. In the episode of Hasan it is through Ibn A'tham that
the complete narrative of Mada'ini has come down to us.
This is confirmed by a comparison of Ibn A'tham's account
with that of Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, who cites Mada'ini as well; the
latter gives only an abridged version of Hasan's abdication,
but Ibn A'tham has recorded a complete description of the
course of events from Mada'ini.

From these three sources we receive the complete texts of
the lengthy correspondence between Hasan and Mu'awiya,
of which only two letters have been quoted above. There
seems to be no reason for doubting the authenticity of these
texts. There is a rich literature of correspondence exchanged
between important personalities during the classical period
of Islam, and this material is frequently quoted in the Arabic
sources. (29) The correspondence between Hasan and Mu'awiya
must be considered in this light and must be given its due
importance. Together with the other sources mentioned
above, such literature enables us to form a clearer picture of
the episode than has so far been available.

Tabari narrates the events in two independent versions
from Zuhri and 'Awana. Zuhri's account seems somewhat to
favour the case of Mu'awiya at the expense of Hasan, (30) or at
least glosses over those details which might weaken the
position of the founder of the Umayyad caliphate. This is
understandable, for Zuhri was closely attached to the


Umayyad court and was writing under the successors of
Mu'awiya. His account is an unclear isolated report not
recorded by other authorities; and in contrast to this, 'Awana's
account (31) appears to have been more balanced in describing
the circumstances under which Hasan abdicated. Unlike
Zuhri's version, 'Awana's bears considerable historical merit
in that it very largely conforms with the accounts reported by
other authorities such as Ya'qubi and Dinawari.
According to Zuhri, Hasan was from the very beginning
inclined to hand over the caliphate to Mu'awiya in return for
the most favourable terms he could secure for himself from
his rival. Before his death 'Ali had entrusted the leadership of
his forty-thousand-man Iraqi army to Qays b. Sa'd, one of his
trusted and zealous supporters, for the campaign against
Mu'awiya. Qays was a great enemy of Mu'awiya and the
Syrians, and had sworn allegiance to 'Ali to the death. Hasan
knew that Qays would never agree to his plans for abdicating
in favour of Mu'awiya, and therefore he deposed Qays from
the command of the army and appointed 'Abd Allah b. al-
'Abbas in his place. The Kufans were already suspicious of
Hasan's intentions because he had not clearly committed
himself to fight against Mu'awiya at the time when homage
was paid to the former. Soon they came to the conclusion that
Hasan was not the person to lead them against their Syrian
enemies, and they became increasingly restless. Not long after
Hasan came to be aware of their ill-feelings towards him, he
was attacked by a Kufan and sustained a lance wound in his
thigh. Unlike all the other accounts, Zuhri specifies neither
the place nor the timing of this attack on Hasan, which
renders the whole account still more ambiguous and unclear.
After having been attacked, Hasan hastily wrote to
Mu'awiya that he was renouncing the caliphate on the
condition of receiving from him a certain sum of money. As
Hasan sent his envoy to Mu'awiya with his letter, the latter
simultaneously dispatched his own envoy to Hasan with a
blank sheet of paper, signed and sealed by Mu'awiya, on
which Hasan was to inscribe whatever terms for abdication
he wanted. The letters crossed. When Mu'awiya received
Hasan's letter he was overjoyed to see that the latter had
decided to abdicate without much difficulty; he kept Hasan's
letter as evidence of this and informed him that he had


accepted Hasan's terms. When Hasan received Mu'awiya's
carte blanche letter, he added further financial demands on it.
Upon meeting Mu'awiya, perhaps on the occasion of the
official transfer of power, he asked the Syrian leader to discard
his previous letter and replace it with the carte blanche on
which Hasan had written new terms regarding financial
arrangements. Mu'awiya now refused to grant anything
further, saying: "Everything you first requested I agreed to
and granted to you; my open offer to you cannot any more be
binding on me since you have already committed yourself."
Hasan therefore could get nothing more from Mu'awiya and
was sorry for his hasty action in writing his terms of
abdication. (32)

Zuhri also tells us that as soon as 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas
noticed that Hasan was negotiating terms of abdication with
Mu'awiya, he himself secretly began treating with Mu'awiya
for safe conduct and a grant of money for himself. Mu'awiya
readily agreed to Ibn 'Abbas' terms, whereupon the latter
abandoned the army and moved to Mu'awiya's camp in the
darkness of night. (33) Hasan's army, finding itself without a
leader, again chose Qays as commander on the condition that
he carry on the war until the adherents of 'Ali were granted
amnesty and security for their lives and property. Qays easily
gained these concessions from Mu'awiya, who himself was
quite willing to grant such concessions if it would enable him
to reach a peaceful settlement and avoid a confrontation with
Qays' strong army. He made direct offers to Qays himself, but
the latter refused the money that was offered to him by
Mu'awiya and, without making any deal for himself, he gave
up resistance on condition of amnesty and security for the
Iraqi army. (34)

Zuhri's pragmatism in reporting the events of the abdication
of Hasan raises more questions than it answers. This account,
which clearly shows minimal resistance on the part of Hasan,
must have been circulated by the Umayyads themselves, who,
in the absence of the three principles of ijma', nass, and shura
by which the previous four caliphs had been nominated, were
anxious to find a legal basis for their rule. Hasan's voluntary
abdication in favour of Mu'awiya, as Zuhri would have us
believe, provides such a legal ground. It was natural that
Zuhri in the environment of Umayyad Damascus, should


adopt the tradition which must have been most popular and
in widest circulation in that city. The events that led to
Hasan's abdication do not seem, however, to have been as
simple as Zuhri describes.

'Awana's account in Tabari (35) and in the other sources
named above gives a somewhat different impression of the
events and stands in sharp contrast to that of Zuhri. According
to 'Awana, Qays did not have command of the whole army
during the lifetime of 'Ali, but rather only of the vanguard of
12,000 men, over which he continued to retain command
when Hasan succeeded his father. At the news of Mu'awiya's
advance towards Iraq, Hasan sent Qays with his 12,000 troops
as an advance guard to check the enemy until Hasan himself
could follow with the main force. (36) According to Ya'qubi,
Abu'l-Faraj, and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, the vanguard of 12,000
men was sent by Hasan under the command of 'Ubayd Allah
b. al-'Abbas, and along with him were sent Qays b. Sa'd and
Sa'id b. Qays as advisors by whose counsel 'Ubayd Allah was
to be guided. (37) The reason for Hasan's delay in departure
seems to have been some lack of enthusiasm on the part of his
supporters. This is evident from a report that when he
appealed to the Kufans to march with him against Mu'awiya,
there was a poor response. It was only when 'Adi b. Hatim, an
old and devoted follower of 'Ali and the chief of the tribe of
Tayyi, addressed the Iraqis, urging them to respond to the
call of "their Imam, the son of the daughter of their Prophet", (38) that they came out to participate in the war.

Soon after, Hasan left Kufa with his main army and
reached Al-Mada'in, where he encamped in the outskirts of
the city. Qays and his vanguard had already reached Maskin,
facing Muawiya's army. The Syrian governor tried to bribe
Qays by offering him a million dirhams if he would defect
from the ranks of Hasan and join him. Qays rejected the offer
with contempt, saying: "You want to deceive me in my
religion." (39) Mu'awiya then made a similar offer to 'Ubayd
Allah b. al-'Abbas (or his elder brother 'Abd Allah, as Zuhri
reports), who accepted it and went over to him with 8,000
men. Qays was thus left with 4,000 soldiers, waiting for the
arrival of Hasan. (40)'O We may note here in passing that though
'Ubayd Allah did go over to Mu'awiya before Hasan
announced his abdication, the timing of 'Ubayd Allah's


defection as given by Ya'qubi does not seem correct. 'Ubayd
Allah's defecti6n must have occurred only shortly before
Hasan's abdication, as will be discussed below.

However, while Hasan's vanguard was waiting for his
arrival at Maskin, Hasan himself was facing a serious situation
at Al-Mada'in. Some of his troops rebelled against him,
plundered his tent, and fell upon him. Five different versions
of this rebellion are given in the sources. According to
'Awana, (41) someone suddenly spread the news in the army of
Hasan that Qays had been defeated and slain and that the
troops should flee. Hasan's tent was then plundered, and he
himself was attacked. If this version is correct, the spreading
of the rumour must have been a well-calculated ruse and an
act of espionage by the spies of Mu'awiya, who had, with6ut
any doubt, infiltrated the rank and file of Hasan's army. A
second version is given by Ya'qubi, (42) who reports that as
soon as Hasan reached Al-Mada'in, Mu'awiya sent Al-
Mughira b. Shu'ba, 'Abd Allah b. 'Amir, and 'Abd ar-
Rahman b. Umm al-Hakam to Hasan as his mediators. After
they talked to Hasan confidentially, and while leaving his
camp, they spread the news that Hasan had agreed to abdicate
in favour of Muawiya, whereupon Hasan's soldiers fell upon
him and plundered his tent. Ya'qubi also records that
Mu'awiya sent his men to Hasan's camp to spread the news
that Qays had made peace with Mu'awiya and had come over
to his side, while simultaneously he spread the word in the
army of Qays that Hasan had made peace with Mu'awiya.' (43)
In this case, again, Mu'awiya's machinations are responsible
for the mutiny in Hasan's army.

The third version is given by Dinawari. According to his
report, i;1asan left Kufa for Al-Mada'in, and by the time he
reached Sabat, in the outskirts of Al-Mada'in, he had
discerned that some of his troops were showing fickleness,
lack of purpose, and an indifferent or withdrawn attitude to
the war. (44) Hasan therefore halted at Sabat, encamped his
army there, and made a speech, saying:

"O people, I do not entertain any feeling of rancour against a
Muslim. I am as much an overseer over yourselves [of your
interests] as I am over my own self. Now, I am considering a
plan; do not oppose me in it. Reconciliation, disliked by some of
you, is better [under the circumstances] than the split that some


of you prefer, especially when I see that most of you are shrinking
from the war and are hesitant to fight. I do not, therefore, consider
it wise to impose upon you something which you do not like." (45)

When his people heard this, they looked at each other,
reflecting their suspicions. Those among them who were of
Kharijite persuasion said: "Hasan has become an infidel
(Kafir) as had become his father before him." They suddenly
rushed upon him, pulled the carpet from under his feet, and
tore his clothes from his shoulder. He called for help from
among his faithful followers from the tribes of Rabi'a and
Hamdan, who rushed to his assistance and pushed the
assailants away from him. (46)

The fourth version is given by Mada'ini in Ibn Abi'l-
Hadid, (47) who says that while Hasan was on his way to Al-
Mada'in he was wounded by a lance at Sabat and his
belongings were looted. When word of this reached Mu'awiya,
he spread the news far and wide, whereupon the nobles and
leaders from among the 12,000-man vanguard of Hasan
began defecting to Mu'awiya. 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas
informed Hasan of the grave situation, and it was at this point
that Hasan called the Iraqi leaders of his main army and,
with great disappointment, told them of his intention to
terminate the struggle and abdicate. Before proceeding to the
fifth version, it would be appropriate to point out here in
passing that according to all four of these versions, Hasan's
decision to abdicate was forced upon him by the circumstances
 and was not of his own free desire.

The fifth version is given by Ibn A'tham and Abu-'l-Faraj,(48)
whose sources are not clear. Ibn A'tham, as noted above, does
not often cite his source. At the beginning of his narrative
Abu'l-Faraj quotes Abu Mikhnaf along with five other
informants; thus it is not clear whether this particular account
is taken from Abu Mikhnaf himself or from any one of the
other five narrators. According to this version, when Hasan
arrived at Al-Mada'in he suddenly halted his army there and
made a speech in which he declared his intention to abdicate.
Wordings of the speech, with few variations, are almost the
same as that quoted above from Dinawari. After hearing
Hasan's speech some of his troops fell upon him, plundered
his tent, and tore his clothes. This version, unlike the other
four described above, gives no reason for Hasan's decision to


deliver his speech at that particular moment at Al-Mada'in
and thus renders it rather ambiguous. It also presents serious
contradictions and raises many unsolved questions. One
would ask, for example, why did Hasan encourage the people
and make speeches asking them to join his army for the war
against Mu'awiya, as has been quoted earlier from Abu'l-
Faraj himself. Why would he go all the way from Kufa to Al-
Mada'in with all the necessary preparations for battle, and
yet suddenly change his mind and make a declaration of
peace at Al-Mada'in? We should therefore accept one of the
four previous explanations, of which the most probable is
Dinawari's that Hasan's speech and his announcement of his
resignation from the office were prompted by the Iraqis'
treacherous attitude and finalized by Mu'awiya's successful
use of espionage and diplomacy.

After such treatment at the hands of his own troops, the
disheartened and shaken Hasan found it impossible to stay in
the army camp; he took to his horse and, escorted by his close
associates and faithful followers, rode to the safety of the
White Castle of Al-Mada'in, the residence of his governor. It
was on this road, just before reaching the castle, that a die-
hard Kharijite, Al-Jarrah b. Sinan al-Asadi, managed to
ambush Hasan and wounded him in the thigh with a dagger,
shouting: "You have become an infidel (Kafir) like your father
before you." (49) Al-Jarrah was overpowered and killed; Hasan,
bleeding profusely, was carried to the castle, where he was
cared for by his governor, Sa'd b. Mas'ud ath-Thaqafi. The
news of the attack on Hasan, having been spread by
Muawiya was soon in wide circulation. This further
demoralized the already disheartened troops of Hasan and
led to large-scale desertion from his army. (50)

After describing this, Ya'qubi, Dinawari, and Tabari fail to
give a detailed account of further events and hurriedly
describe Hasan's abdication, although the first two sources do
contain a few fragmentary sentences in passing which are of
limited value. Keeping in view their method and style, this
brevity is understandable. Ibn A'tham and Abu'l-Faraj,
however, record for us in detail the events which took place
between the incident of the attack on Hasan and his
abdication. The accounts of these two, however, vary in
certain points and must be treated separately.


According to Ibn A'tham, at the time when Hasan was
having these difficulties at Al-Mada'in, Qays b. Sa'd with his
12,000-man vanguard was already at Maskin, facing
Mu'awiya's army and awaiting Hasan's arrival. When he
heard of the attack on Hasan, Qays thought it wise to engage
his army in battle with the Syrians so that they should not
have a chance to brood over the situation and become further
demoralized. An encounter between the two armies took
place, resulting in some losses on both sides. Mu'awiya's
envoys then came forward and addressed Qays, saying: "For
what [cause) are you now fighting with us and killing
yourself? We have received unquestionable word that your
leader has been deserted by his people and has been stabbed
with a dagger and is on the verge of death. You should
therefore refrain from fighting until you get the exact
information about the situation." Qays was thus forced to stop
fighting and had to wait for the official news about the
incident from Hasan himself. But by this time troops had
begun defecting to Mu'awiya in large numbers. When Qays
noticed this large-scale desertion, he wrote to Hasan about the
gravity of the situation. (51)

After receiving Qays' letter, Hasan lost heart and immediately
called in the Iraqi leaders and nobles and addressed
them in dejection and disgust:

"O people of Iraq, what should I do with your people who are
with me? Here is the letter of Qays b. Sa'd informing me that
even the nobles (ashraf) from among you have gone over to
Mu'awiya. By God, what shocking and abominable behaviour on
your part! You were the people who forced my father to accept
arbitration at Siffin ; and when the arbitration to which he yielded
[because of your demand) took place, you turned against him.
And when he called upon you to fight Mu'awiya once again, then
you showed your slackness and lassitude. After the death of my
father, you yourself came to me and paid me homage out of your
own desire and wish. I accepted your homage and came out
against Mu'awiya; only God knows how much I meant to do [i.e.
how full of zeal and spirit I was in facing Mu'awiya's challenge).
Now you are behaving in the same manner as before [with my
father). O People of Iraq, it would be enough for me from you if
you would not defame me in my religion, because now I am
going to hand over this affair [the caliphate] to Mu'awiya." (52)


Ya'qubi gives the same reason for Hasan's decision, though,
as mentioned above, he covers the matter very briefly.

If this statement is accepted, it sufficiently explains the
whole situation and the circumstances which made Hasan
decide in favour of abdication. The statement clearly reflects
that Hasan, from the very beginning, even from the time of
was suspicious of the unreliable character of the Iraqis.
In his judgement they were impulsive people who talked
with emotion, but when the time came for action and trial
they never stood firm. This fact is not directly mentioned by
the sources for the event of Hasan's abdication, but it appears
at the time when his brother Husayn was going to Iraq in
response to the Kufan appeal to lead them in rebellion. All
those who advised Husayn against responding positively to
the Ku fan appeal clearly reminded him how the Iraqis had
deserted (khadhalu) his father and brother at the critical
moment. (53) Hasan's feelings are an echo of 'Ali's attitude
towards the majority of his Iraqi supporters, a sentiment
which he expressed time and again in his speeches preserved
in the Nahj al-Balagha and in many other early sources.

After his speech before the leaders of the Iraqis, Hasan
immediately sent word to Mu'awiya informing him of his
readiness to abdicate. When the news of Hasan's decision
reached Qays, he told his associates: "Now you must choose
between the two, either to fight without a leader (Imam) or to
pay homage to the misled (dalal) [Mu'awiya]." They replied:
"Paying homage is easier for us than bloodshed." Thus Qays,
along with those who were still with him, left the battlefield
at Maskin for Kufa. Surprisingly enough, the name of
'Ubayd Allah b. al-'Abbas does not appear at all in this

Turning to Abu'l-Faraj, we are told, as has already been
quoted above from Ya'qubi, that the leader of the 12,000 man
vanguard was 'Ubayd Allah b. al-'Abbas and not Qays b.
Sa'd. Both Mu'awiya and 'Ubayd Allah reached Maskin with
their armies on the evening of the same day that Hasan
reached Al-Mada'in. On the second day, after the morning
prayer, while Hasan was confronted with the mutiny of his
troops and was wounded, there was at Maskin a brief
encounter between Mu'awiya and 'Ubayd Allah. When night
fell, Mu'awiya sent a message to 'Ubayd Allah, saying:


"Hasan has informed me of his decision to make peace and
hand over the caliphate to me. If you come under my authority at
once, you will be treated as a leader (matbu'); otherwise I will
penetrate [into your forces] and then you will be made only a
subject (tabi). If you join me now I will pay you one million
dirhams, half of which will be paid immediately, and the second
half when I enter Ku fa." (54)

During the night, 'Ubayd Allah secretly slipped through to
Mu'awiya's side. In the morning the people assembled,
waiting for him to come and lead them in the morning prayer.
When, after a search, he was not found, Qays came forward,
led the prayer, and then made a fiery speech attacking 'Ubayd
Allah, his father 'Abbas, and his brother 'Abd Allah for their
wavering character and time-serving policies. Hearing Qays'
words, people shouted: "Thanks be to God that he ['Ubayd
Allah] has left our ranks; now we will rise and pounce on our
enemy," and set off to make an attack. Busr b. Abi Artat, a
confidant of Mu'awiya, came forward with 20,000 troops and
shouted: "Here is your leader ['Ubayd Allah], who has already
paid homage [to Mu'awiya], and Hasan has also agreed to
make peace. For what, then, are you killing yourselves?" Qays
then addressed his people again and asked: "Choose one of
the two, either fighting without an Imam or pay a strayed and
misled homage [to Mu'awiya]." The people said that they
would continue to fight even without an Imam, made a brief
attack on the Syrians, and then returned to their bases. When,
however, it became clear that Hasan had agreed to abdicate,
they returned to Kufa. (55)

Abu'l-Faraj's rendering of the events between the attack on
Hasan and his abdication is important in that it gives a more
logical and understandable timing of the defection of 'Ubayd
Allah, which was confusingly recorded by other sources.
From his account it also becomes clear that of the two
brothers, the one who defected was 'Ubayd Allah and not his
elder brother 'Abd Allah, whose name appears only in Zuhri's
account. However, Abu'l-Faraj's report that the Iraqis replied
to Qays that they would continue to fight even without an
Imam must be rejected on the simple grounds that it is
contrary to all other sources, who unanimously report that
the troops replied in favour of accepting Mu'awiya.

The terms and conditions on which Hasan abdicated are


reported by the sources not of only with major variations, but
also with confusion and ambiguity. Ya'qubi and Mas'udi do
not mention the terms of peace at all. Tabari mentions three
conditions directly, and the fourth indirectly in a different
context. The first three conditions were:

1: that Hasan would retain the five million dirhams then in
the treasury of Kufa;

2: that Hasan would be allowed the annual revenue from the
Persian district of Darabjird;

3: that 'Ali would not be reviled and cursed, as had been the
practice of Mu'awiya since the beginning of 'Ali's caliphate-
at least not in Hasan's presence. (56)

The first condition, that Hasan would retain five million
dirhams from the treasury of Kufa, makes no sense for two
obvious reasons. Firstly, Hasan, until his abdication, was the
sole caliph in Kufa, and thus the treasury was already in his
possession. Secondly, our sources agree that it was 'Ali's strict
practice to empty the treasury at the end of every week. It is
thus difficult to believe that within a few months of Hasan's
accession, (57) especially considering the heavy expenditure for
war and the unorganized state of the administration (and
therefore of tax collection as well) due to 'Ali's sudden death,
the treasury of Kufa had become gorged with five million
dirhams. It is interesting to note that after a long gap in which
Tabari describes the brutalities of Busr b. Abi Artat in
administering Basra, he mentions a fourth condition of
abdication. This tells us that "Hasan made peace with
Mu'awiya on the condition that all the friends and followers
of 'Ali, wherever they might be, would be given amnesty and
safe conduct." (58) As will be seen below, this condition is
recorded by other sources in its appropriate place.

In his account of the abdication, Dinawari records for us
the following conditions:

1 : that no one from among the people of Iraq will be treated
with contempt, and that every one of them will be guaranteed
peace and safety no matter what charge or offences might be
pending against them;

2: that Hasan will be entitled to the annual revenue of the
district of Ahwaz (instead of Tabari's Darabjird);


3: that preference should be given to the Hashimites (the
'Alids and the 'Abbasids) over the Banu 'Abd Shams
(Umayyads) in the granting of pensions ('ata) and awards. (59)

Ibn 'Abd al-Barr and Ibn al-Athir, two judicious writers on
the lives of the Companions of the Prophet, and some other
sources, record yet another two conditions:

1: that no one from among the people of Medina, the Hijaz,
and Iraq will be deprived or dispossessed of anything which
they possessed during the caliphate of 'Ali;

2: that the caliphate would be restored to Hasan after the
death of Mu'awiya.  (60)

Abu'l-Faraj, like others, does not seem to be interested in
recording the conditions in detail. According to him,
Mu'awiya sent 'Abd Allah b. 'Amir and 'Abd ar-Rahman b.
Samra as his envoys to Hasan to discuss the terms of peace.
On behalf of Mu'awiya "they granted the terms of peace to
Hasan to which Mu'awiya had agreed: that no one from
among the Shi'at 'Ali would be molested, that the name of
'Ali would not be mentioned except in good terms, and some
other things which Hasan wanted.' (61)

The most comprehensive account, however, is given by
Ibn A'tham, (62) which must have been taken from Mada'ini,
since Ibn Abi'l-Hadid (63) describes almost the same conditions,
quoting Mada'ini as his authority. According to Ibn A'tham,
after the incidents at Al-Mada'in and after the statement
which Hasan made before the nobles of Iraq, as quoted above,
he sent 'Abd Allah b. Nawfal b. al-Harith to Mu'awiya to
inform him of Hasan's willingness to abdicate and to discuss
the terms of abdication with the Syrian leader on his behalf.
The only condition which Hasan stipulated to 'Abd Allah
was a general amnesty for the people. 'Abd Allah reached
Maskin and told Mu'awiya that Hasan had authorised him
to negotiate the conditions of peace on his behalf, laying down
the following terms:

1 : that the caliphate will be restored to Hasan after the death
of Mu'awiya;

2: that Hasan will receive five million dirhams annually from
the state treasury;

3: that Hasan will receive the annual revenue of Darabjird;

4: that the people will be guaranteed peace with one another. (64)

Hearing this, Mu'awiya took a blank sheet of paper, affixed
his signature and seal, and said to 'Abd Allah: "Take this
carte blanche to Hasan and ask him to write on it whatever he
wants." Mu'awiya asked his associates around him to stand
witness to his signature and promise. 'Abd Allah, with the
carte blanche and accompanied by some of the nobles of
Quraysh, among them 'Abd Allah b. 'Amir, 'Abd ar-Rahman
b. Samra, along with some other nobles from among the
Syrians, returned to Hasan and told him: "Mu'awiya has
agreed to all the conditions I have asked of him for you and
which you yourself can write on this blank paper." Hasan
replied: "As far as the caliphate is concerned, I am no more
interested in it; had I wanted it I would not hand it over to
Mu'awiya. As for the money, Mu'awiya cannot make it a
condition for me when the [real] issue in question is a matter
of concern for the Muslim [community]." Hasan then called
his secretary and asked him to write: "These are the terms on
which Hasan b. 'Ali b. 'Abi Talib is making peace with
Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan and handing over to him the state or
government of Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali:

1: that Mu'awiya should rule according to the Book of God,
the Sunna of the Prophet, and the conduct of the righteous

2: that Mu'awiya will not appoint or nominate anyone to the
caliphate after him, but the choice will be left to the shura of
the Muslims;


3: that the people will be left in peace wherever they are in the
land of God;

4: that the companions and the followers of 'Ali, their lives,
properties, their women, and their children, will be guaranteed
safe conduct and peace. This is a solemn agreement and
covenant in the name of God, binding Mu'awiya b. Abi
Sufyan to keep it and fulfil it;

5: that no harm or dangerous act, secretly or openly, will be
done to Hasan b. 'Ali, his brother Husayn, or to anyone from
the family of the Prophet (Ahl Bay: an-Nabi; this agreement
is witnessed by 'Abd Allah b. Nawfal, 'Umar b. Abi Salama,
and so and so." (65)


Ibn A'tham's rendering of the terms of peace as dictated by
Hasan solves many problems and explains the different
ambiguous accounts of other sources. The timing of the carte
blanche sent by Mu'awiya to Hasan was confusing in Tabari,
whereas Ibn A'tham's timing of it makes it understandable.
Tabari, Abu'l-Faraj, and some other sources cite the names of
'Abd Allah b. 'Amir and 'Abd ar-Rahman b. Samra as being
sent by Mu'awiya as his envoys to Hasan to discuss the terms
of peace; Ibn A'tham, while confirming this report, gives the
proper and logical occasion of their commission. Ibn A'tham
records the conditions in two parts: one laid down by Hasan's
envoy 'Abd Allah b. Nawfal, and the other dictated by Hasan
himself, as enumerated above. If both sets of conditions are
combined together, these, with the exception of the first two
conditions mentioned immediately above, are the same as
those found scattered in an unorganized way in other sources.
The first of these conditions, that Mu'awiya should rule
according to the Qur'an, prophetic Sunna, and the conduct of
the righteous caliphs, strongly reflects the tendency and spirit
of the epoch which was still predominant in the function and
character of the office of the caliphate. In all probability, the
immediate successor of 'Ali and the Rashidun caliphs would
not have handed over the office without expressing this
traditional condition, at least outwardly, if we must be so
sceptical in accepting such reports. It should be noted,
however, that from the time of the Shura, 'Ali, his house, and
his supporters always emphasized following only the Sunna
of the Prophet and refusing to acknowledge the validity of the
Sunna of the first three caliphs. It therefore seems likely that
reference to the conduct of the righteous caliphs was added
later on in an attempt at reconciliation of the Jama'a as has
been seen above. Naturally Hasan could not contradict his
own father's stand at the Shura, where the latter refused to
accept the Sunna of Abu Bakr and 'Umar.

The second condition--that Mu'awiya would not nominate
anyone to the caliphate and would leave the choice to the
Shura of the Muslims--should not be difficult for us to accept.
The precedent of nominating the successor, only to be
endorsed by a few leading personalities, had already been set
by Abu Bakr when he appointed 'Umar as his successor. The
decision of Abu Bakr was, however, dominated by his sincere


concern for the interests of the Muslim community in general,
and he did not appoint his son or even a relative to public
office. It was not to be so with Mu'awiya and the Umayyads.
Thus the imposition of this condition on Mu'awiya by Hasan
was a natural corollary of the situation. The condition that
the caliphate be restored to Hasan after Mu'awiya's death,
reported by many sources, must have been at least discussed.
From the letter of Mu'awiya quoted above, we may safely
deduce that Mu'awiya referred to Hasan's succession after
himself as a strong possibility, but without giving any clear
undertaking on his own part. Some time later, the Shi'a,
gathering together, showed their disapproval of the fact that
Hasan had not asked for sufficient guarantees and had not
secured an undertaking in writing from Mu'awiya that the
latter would leave him the caliphate after his death.

Finally, the most interesting point seems to be Mu'awiya's
acceptance of the complete amnesty to all the followers and
companions of 'Ali. The acceptance of this particular term
proves the falseness of Mu'awiya's stated reason for fighting,
which was to avenge the blood of 'Uthman and punish those
responsible for his murder. Among the Shi'at 'Ali who were
given complete amnesty by Mu'awiya in the terms with
Hasan there were men such as 'Amr b. al-Hamiq al-Khuza'i
who was said to have been involved in the murder, and Malik
b. al-Ashtar, who was the leader of the rebel contingent of
Ku fa. It becomes therefore clear that the reason for the
revenge of the blood of 'Uthman was, as has been pointed out
elsewhere, a pretext which Mu'awiya used to realize his
ambition to seize the caliphate for himself.

The agreement having been concluded, Hasan returned to
Kufa, where Qays joined him. Soon afterwards, Mu'awiya
entered the city with the full force of his army. A general
assembly was held, and different groups of people, one after
the other, paid him homage. Our sources give a detailed
description of the mixed feelings of the people in accepting
as their new ruler. Many of them adopted a time-
serving attitude to safeguard their interests; others could not
hide their dislike, and even hatred, for the Umayyad ruler,
but nevertheless had to reconcile themselves with the
situation. (67) The heated remarks, bitter speeches, and resentful
dialogues exchanged among the antagonists from both sides


make interesting and informative reading which cannot be
dealt with in detail here. The speech of Hasan delivered at
the insistence of 'Amr b. al-'As and Mu'awiya is worth noting,
however. Though quoted by all the sources, the speech is
recorded with different wordings and content. The shortest
version is given by Tabari from Zuhri and reads: "O people,
God has guided you through our elders [Muhammad and
'Ali] and spared you from the bloodshed through those who
followed [referring to himself). Indeed this [the caliphate] is
nothing but an ephemeral thing; these worldly possessions
keep shifting and changing hands. God said to His Prophet:
'And I do not know if this may be a trial for you and a grant
of [worldly] livelihood to you for a [limited) time."' (Qur'an,
xxI, 111).

At this point, Mu'awiya became alarmed and asked Hasan
to sit down, reproachfully asking 'Amr b. al-'As: "Is this what
you advised me?"(68)

Mada'in!, quoted by Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, gives a much longer
version of the speech, in which Hasan explains the reasons
for his abdication as, besides Mu'awiya's ambitions and
rebellion, the unreliable and treacherous attitude of his
supporters. Hasan even referred to the time of 'Ali and how
the people failed him then. (69) Another source, Abu'l-Faraj,
quotes only one sentence from Hasan's speech, which reads:
"The khalifa [successor of the Prophet) is one who dedicates
himself to the way of God and the Sunna of His Prophet, and
not the one who is an oppressor and aggressor; the latter is
only a king (malik) who rules a kingdom (mulk), whose
enjoyment is little, and whose pleasure is short-lived, leaving
behind only a trace of it. I do not know if this is a trial for you
and a grant of [worldly] livelihood to you for a [limited]
period." (70) It is interesting to note that if this quotation is
historically correct, it might be the origin of the use of the
word mulk (king) instead of khilafa (caliph) for Mu'awiya and
his successors, used by Muslim historians from the earliest
times. However, there are numerous instances where
Mu'awiya is recorded as saying, in reference to himself, "I am
the first king in Islam." (71)

The historical accounts of the circumstances facing Hasan
from the beginning of his caliphate indicate that his abdication
was not motivated by the lure of a life of ease and luxury, as


some modern writers would have us believe. The source.
specify the causes of Hasan's abdication as love of peace,
distaste for politics and its dissensions, and the desire to avoid
widespread bloodshed among the Muslims. Moreover, he
realistically assessed the situation and was fully aware of the
disastrous consequences for himself, his family, and his
handful of trustworthy followers should he insist on settling
the issue by force of arms. (72) He thus accepted the political
realities then prevailing while gaining time for the Shi'i trend
of thinking to consolidate its own following on ideological
grounds. This is evident from any one of the versions of his
speech quoted above on the occasion of the transfer of the
caliphate to Mu'awiya.

In spite of his abdication of the caliphate, Hasan continued
to be regarded as the leader, or Imam, of the Shi'a after the
death of 'Ali. Even those of the Shi'a who criticized his action
of abdication never ceased to affirm that he had been
designated by his father to succeed him as the Commander of
the Faithful. The details of the theory of the imamate were no
doubt worked out later on, but the fact remains that as long
as Hasan was alive he was considered by both the Shi'a and
by all the family members as the head of the house of 'Ali and
of the Prophet, and that was enough for the Shi'a throughout
its history to consider him as the second Imam after 'Ali.
Hasan's abdication was extremely distasteful to those of the
Iraqis who had supported him and his father before him,
mainly because of their hatred of Syrian domination. It was
equally disturbing to those of the Kharijites who had gathered
around Hasan in order to fight against Mu'awiya; it was a
Kharijite who furiously attacked Hasan when he heard of his
intention to abdicate. There was yet another group,
represented by men like Hujr b. 'Adi al-Kindi, which was
perturbed by Hasan's decision, but for other reasons. It was
this last group that represented the true Shi'at 'Ali at this
stage. They were the people who believed that 'Ali and his
house were entitled to the caliphate on religious grounds, as
opposed to those who supported the cause of 'Ali and then of
Hasan for political or economic considerations. Thus the
Shi'at 'Ali, from the time of the Umayyad domination of the
provinces under 'Uthman, must be divided into two distinct
groups, political and religious. In the civil war between 'Ali


and Mu'awiya, these two groups temporarily found them-
selves united against a common enemy. But when Mu'awiya's
overwhelming political and military power put the outcome
of the conflict beyond doubt, the political group of Hasan's
supporters crumbled and scattered, defecting in swarms to
Mu'awiya's side, while the religious supporters remained
firm in their belief. They were disappointed by Hasan's action
of abdication, but they still remained persistent in their ideals
regarding the leadership of the community. They did not lose
their identity as an opposition group to the rivals of the house
of the Prophet, even after political support for the family of
Muhammad had collapsed; and they refused to accept (73) what
the majority had willingly or unwillingly accepted, as will be
seen below.

Later on, when the early events of Islam were committed
to systematic writing, both Sunni and Shi'i historians and
traditionists explained Hasan's action in terms of a meritorious
deed" by which he reconciled the opposing parties.
The year of his abdication became known as the 'Am al-
Jama'a, the year of the community, and a tradition attributed
to the Prophet was reported as saying: "This son of mine is a
lord (Sayyid), and he will unite two branches of the
Muslims." (74) This tradition reflects the efforts of the second
half of the first and early second centuries when a "central
body", or Jama'a, was emerging from a confused situation
and thus clearly reflects the tendency by which this "central
body" was being formed. The Shi'is thus defended Hasan's
action against those extremists who were blaming him for
abdication; on the other hand, the Sunnis accepted such an
explanation as it conformed to their needs for a reconciliation
between the two opposing groups: the party of 'Uthman, now
represented by Mu'awiya, and that of 'Ali, now led by his son
Hasan. This "central body" later on received the title of the
Jama'a (commonly rendered in English as the "orthodox"
branch) in Islam, leaving behind and branding as sectarian a
body of those who could not and did not agree to reconcile
themselves to this synthesis.

Though Hasan prevented a bloody military solution of the
conflict by abdicating in favour of Mu'awiya, he did not
thereby heal the split in the community. In fact, his abdication
had far-reaching consequences for the later development of


Shi'ism. Previously he had been, at least nominally, the head
of the central body of believers. But now events were
developing in the opposite direction, and the 'Uthmaniya
branch, with Mu'awiya at its head, became the central body,
while the Shi'at 'Ali was reduced to the role of a small
opposition party and thus was thrust into a sectarian position.
The spokesman for this opposition, however, was not Hasan
himself, but rather Hujr b. 'Adi al-Kindi and his party.
Supported by a number of diehard Shi'is of Kufa, he never
ceased to protest against Mu'awiya and the official cursing of
'Ali from the pulpits-a policy imposed by Mu'awiya as a
propaganda measure.

The nine-year period between Hasan's abdication in 41 /600
and his death in 49/669 is one in which Shi'i feelings and
tendencies were passing through a stage of, so to speak, fire
underground, with no conspicuous activities visible above
the surface. An historical survey of this period for the
development of Shi'i deals is very difficult, as our sources are
almost silent. Nevertheless, it is not totally free from the
occasional voices raised here and there in support of the house
of the Prophet and against the rule of Mu'awiya. Now and
then we hear of individuals or small groups, mainly from
Ku fa, visiting Hasan and Husayn and asking them to rise in
rebellion-a request to which they declined to respond. (75)
The silence of the Shi'is during this period might have been
due to two factors. Firstly, the tight grip which Mu'awiya
maintained over the empire through his trained and loyal
Syrian forces was too strong to allow any rising; and secondly,
the Shi'i movement was yet not organized enough to take
action against such a formidable power. But it was passing
through a natural process of evolution until it could register
a widespread support and then translate itself into action.
Mu'awiya was, however, fully aware of strong She sentiments
among certain parts of the population of Kufa, and he
took various measures to prevent insurrections. Soon after
taking control of Kufa, he transferred some of the tribes that
were devoted to the house of 'Ali from the city, replaced them
with others from Syria, Basra, and Al-Jazira who were loyal
to him. (76)

After his abdication, Hasan left Kufa and settled in
Medina, leading a quiet retired life without engaging in


politics. His attitude could be understood from the fact that
during the journey back to Medina, at Al-Qadisiya, he
received a letter from Mu'awiya asking him to take part in a
campaign against a Kharijite revolt which had just erupted.
Hasan replied that he had given up fighting against Mu'awiya
in order to bring peace to the people, and that he would not
take part in a campaign at his side. (77) This passive and
withdrawn attitude towards Mu'awiya he maintained while
pacifying those of the Shi'is who occasionally visited him and
expressed their bitter feelings against the Umayyad ruler.

Hasan did not live long, however. He died in 49/669, long
before his rival. Mu'awiya took the caliphate from Hasan at
the age of 58 and died in 60/680 at the age of 77, while Hasan
at the time of his abdication was only 38 and died at the age
of 45 or 46. This difference in age is very important to note,
especially when we read of Mu'awiya's ambitious plans to
perpetuate the caliphate in his own house and nominate his
son Yazid as his heir-apparent. This was not possible, because
of the terms on which Hasan had abdicated to
nor, considering the vast difference in age, could Mu'awiya
have hoped that Hasan would die before him. To carry out
his plan and fulfil his desire, Mu'awiya had to remove Hasan
from the scene. The majority of our sources, both Sunni and
Shi'i, historians and traditionists, report that the cause of
Hasan's death was poison administered by one of his wives,
Ju'da bint al-Ash'ath. (78) Mu'awiya is reported to have
suborned her with the promise of a large sum of money and
of marrying her to his son Yazid. After she had completed the
task, Mu'awiya paid her the promised sum of money but
refused to marry her to Yazid, saying that he valued the life
of his son. (79) The overwhelming historical testimony,
Mu'awiya's desire to nominate his son as his successor, which
he did immediately after Hasan's death, combined with many
other clues found in the sources, make it likely that Mu'awiya
must have been the instigator of the poisoning, though this
will probably never be clearly established. Nevertheless, the
fact that the cause of Hasan's death was poison, administered
by his wife Ju'da, is beyond any doubt an historical truth.
According to Hasan's own statement, this was the third time
he had been poisoned, and this time it proved fatal. Our
sources also tell us that upon receiving the news of Hasan's


death, Mu'awiya could not hide his feelings of relief and even
joy and passed taunting remarks to Ibn 'Abbas. (80) Another
fact which the sources unanimously record is that soon after
Hasan's death, Mu'awiya initiated the process of nominating
Yazid as his successor, (81) as will be seen below.
While Mu'awiya took the opportunity of Hasan's death to
go ahead with his plans to secure Yazid's nomination to the
caliphate, the Shi'is of Kufa, on the other hand, found the
occasion appropriate for making another bid to restore the
caliphate to the house of 'Ali. As soon as the Shi'is of Kufa
heard the news of Hasan's death, they held a meeting in the
house of Sulayman b. Surad al-Khuza'i and wrote a long
letter to Husayn. In it, after expressing their grief and
condolences on the death of "the son of the Wasi, the son of
the daughter of the Prophet, and the banner of the guidance",
they invited Husayn to rise against Mu'awiya and assured
him that they would be ready to sacrifice their lives in his
cause. Husayn, however, honouring his brother's treaty with
Mu'awiya, refused to respond and advised them to refrain
from agitation and to stay calm in their houses as long as
Muawiya was alive. (82)

The most enthusiastic among the Shi'is, however, could no
longer remain idle. Hujr b. 'Adi al-Kindi and his associates,
who had never compromised their Shi'i ideals, now came out
in open revolt against Mu'awiya and his lieutenant Ziyad b.
Abi Sufyan, who governed both Kufa and Basra after the
death of the governor of Kufa, Al-Mughira b. Shu'ba, in
51/671. The revolt is reported in great detail by the early
sources and demonstrates the strong Shi'i feelings of the
movement as it re-emerged at this stage. Even though it was
of hardly any consequence or significance militarily, the fact
that many early works devote long chapters to Hujr (83)
indicates that the episode was of not insignificant proportions
in the revolutionary events of early Islam.

We are told that these die-hard Shi'is had been consistently
protesting not only against the cursing of 'Ali, but also against
the rule of Mu'awiya, whom they considered a usurper of the
rights of the house of 'Ali to the caliphate. Their slogan was
that "the caliphate is not valid and permissible except in the
family of Abu Turab." (84) While Ziyad himself was in Basra,
and Kufa was being administered by his deputy 'Amr


b. Hurayth, they repeatedly went to the mosque and publicly
denounced Mu'awiya and Ziyad. When 'Amr tried to warn
them, during one of the Friday sermons, of the consequences
of this open rebellion, they stoned him and forced him to take
refuge in the governor's palace.(85) The numerical strength of
those who thus demonstrated their support for the Shi'i cause
can be judged from the report that "they used to occupy half
of the mosque of Kufa." (86) It may be noted that the mosque
of Kufa had the capacity of accommodating as many as 40,000

Informed by his deputy of the alarming situation, Ziyad
rushed back to Kufa. The governor first sent some Yemeni
tribal leaders of Shi'i inclination, with whom he had managed
to establish a modus vivendi, to warn Hujr of the dangerous
path he was following. The sources bear enough testimony
that from the time Ziyad took over the governorship of Kufa
in 51/671 he tried his best to win over Hujr. Ziyad had already
offered him a seat in his administrative council and was
willing to enhance Hujr's position in the tribe of Kinda.
Nothing could change the latter's attitude, however. Indeed,
if the problem is regarded as one of a political nature, then it
must be pointed out that almost all political concessions and
material rewards had already been offered by the governor to
satisfy Hujr. Furthermore, his refusal to accept any of the
concessions which the governor was rather generously
offering him could not possibly have involved an aspiration
for further personal power on Hujr's part. He was simply too
old. Even if he had succeeded in bringing the Shi'a to power
by making Husayn caliph, his position would not have been
any better than it had been during 'Ali's time. Such personal
gains had already been offered to him by Ziyad, but he totally
refused them. In the final analysis, we are left with no choice
but to accept that Hujr's only motive was his religious
conviction and his unshakable faith in the leadership of the
Ahl al-Bayt. The tribal leaders, some of them old friends of
Hujr, who were sent to him to mediate and seek a compromise,
failed in their efforts, but nevertheless asked the governor to
treat him leniently. (87) This indicates the deep respect and
high regard in which Hujr was held by them. One could
hardly expect tribal leaders to defend a power-thirsty
politically motivated self-seeker and troublemaker who might


challenge or undermine their own leadership. They would,
on the other hand, defend a man whose deeper religious
convictions agreed with their own and who had greater moral
courage to stand by his principles.

Ziyad, however, refused to listen to their pleas for Hujr and
sent out his police to arrest him, but Hujr's active supporters
were numerous enough to repulse them. Realizing the
seriousness of the situation, Ziyad immediately summoned
the nobles and leaders, especially those of the Yemeni tribes,
and addressed them, saying that it was their people who 'were
helping Hujr, and if they did not withdraw their support
from him Ziyad would call in the Syrian forces for a complete
crackdown. A phrase of Ziyad's address quoted by the sources
is most illustrative of the character and attitude of these tribal
leaders of Ku fa. According to Tabari, Ziyad said: "Your
bodies are with me, but your affection and passions are with
Hujr." (88) Abu'l-Faraj quotes a rather elaborate statement
which reads: "Your bodies are with me, but your passions are
with this foolish man surrounded by flies [i.e., by people who,
like flies, gather around any object]; you are with me, but
your brothers, sons, and your clansmen are with Hujr." (89)

Afraid of losing their positions, the tribal leaders of Kufa once
again demonstrated their characteristic weakness and persuaded
their respective clansmen not to expose themselves to
Syrian arms. While the majority of those who had gathered
around Hujr finally deserted him, there was still a sizeable
group who refused to leave and resisted Hujr's arrest. Ziyad
had to call in the regular army, specifically choosing troops
from the Yemeni contingent in Kufa, to deal with the

The task was not so easy, however, not only because of the
personal prestige and the widespread support Hujr enjoyed
among the Ku fan masses, but also because of the fear of tribal
complications. A skilled politician with extraordinary abilities
in dealing with rebellions, Ziyad tactfully managed to involve
in the operations the Yemeni tribes to whom Hujr himself
belonged. In this way Ziyad avoided the greater danger of a
serious conflict between the Nizari and the Yemeni groups of
the tribes. Among the Yemeni tribes themselves, he played
one off against the other and terrorized the members and
nobles of Kinda, Hujr's own tribe, threatening them with


death and the destruction of their property if they did not
hand over Hujr to him. The lengthy account of the episode
given by Abu Mikhnaf and other early authorities, as
recorded by Tabari and Abu'l-Faraj, is interesting in many
ways. It reveals how the personal interests of the tribal leaders
were exploited to make them act against their own religious
aspirations, how tribal rivalries were played off against each
other, how the supporters of Hujr were coerced, and how
ultimately Ziyad succeeded in arresting one of the most
respected leaders of the Shi'is of Kufa and in suppressing a
deep-rooted movement.

Besides Hujr, thirteen other prominent Shi'is were rounded
up and arrested. (90) The tribal affiliations of the fourteen men
arrested break down as follows: Kinda, two; Hadramawt,
one; 'Abs, two; Khath'am, one; Bajila, two; Rabi'a, one;
Hamdan, one; Tamim, three; and Hawazin, one. It is
interesting to note that of these fourteen, eight were from
various Yemeni tribes Kinda, Hadramawt, Khath'am,
Bajila, and Hamdan-and six were from the Nizari tribes of
the North-'Abs, Rabi'a, Tamim, and Hawazin. This shows
the dimension of the movement and indicates that the Shi'i
feelings in Kufa were not strictly confined to the Yemenis.

Ziyad decided to dispatch his captives to Syria to he dealt
with by Mu'awiya. Along with them he had to send an
indictment duly attested to by the people. He therefore called
in the four heads of the four administrative divisions of the
Kufan population. (91) These leaders spelled out the charges
against Hujr as follows:

1: "Hujr gathers the crowds around himself and openly
reviles and curses the caliph;

2: He exhorts people to fight against the Amir al-Mu'minin;

3: He caused disturbances in the city and ousted the caliph's

4: He believes in and propagates the claim that the caliphate
is not valid except in the family of Abu Talib;

5: He preaches that Abu Turab ('Ali) was completely free of
all blame, he praises him, and he urges people to love and
respect him;

6: He calls for secession from and denunciation of the
enemies of 'Ali and all those who fought against him;


7: And those of the persons who are with him are the leaders
of his followers and are of a similar opinion." (92)

The charges spelled out in this document against Hujr by
the four chiefs of Kufa were no doubt accurate and
representative of the thinking, feelings, and activities of Hujr
and his associates. This document, which appears to have
been preserved without any attempts to falsify or suppress its
content, gives us perhaps the clearest picture of the Shi'i
religious position at the time of Hujr, their feelings and
aspirations, their love for the house of 'Ali, and their
resentment against Mu'awiya as a usurper.

Ziyad did not like the indictment, however. The reason, so
clearly recorded by the sources, is very important to note as it
sheds light on the real situation. As Ziyad said after examining
the document: "I do not think this indictment is conclusive
enough; I want the attestations of more witnesses than just
these four chieftains to be affixed to it." (93) The charges laid
down in the original document dealt almost exclusively with
Hujr's Shi'i cause and his love for the house of 'Ali. Ziyad
considered that not very many Yemenis, whom he particularly
wanted to bear witness to the charges, would be willing to
sign, on the grounds of Hujr's activities in the cause of Shi'i
ideals. Most of the Yemenis were of Shi'i inclination, with of
course varying degrees of practical commitment. Moreover,
it seems, Ziyad was hesitant to inform Mu'awiya officially
that Shi'i feelings and activities were so strong and were
being so openly demonstrated in Kufa while Ziyad was the
governor of the province. It was indeed a unique privilege for
him to hold the governorships of both Kufa and Basra
simultaneously, an honour no official had ever before enjoyed.
Consequently, another indictment was prepared, laying
down the following charges:

1: "Hujr b. 'Adi has cast off his allegiance to the Caliph;

2: He has caused a schism in the community;

3: He curses the Caliph;

4: He calls for war and has created discord;

5: He gathers the people around him and exhorts them to

break off allegiance to the Amir al-Mu'minin and remove him
from office;

6: He disbelieves in God."(94)


The marked difference between the two documents is clear
enough. While the charges laid down in the first indictment
centred on Hujr's activities and open rebellion for the Shi'i
cause, the second stressed his rebellion against the state and
the authority of Mu'awiya, with no reference to the Shi'i
movement. The first document places much emphasis on
Hujr's unshakable love for 'Ali and devotion to his family on
religious grounds; the second replaces this charge with an
accusation that Hujr disbelieved in God, which according to
the precedent set by Abu Bakr provided firm grounds for
execution. All the evidence at our disposal leaves us in no
doubt that the charges listed in the first document are
authentic, whereas the second indictment is a revision
fabricated for the reasons elaborated above. This explains the
reports that Mu'awiya was hesitant to accept the indictment
and reluctant to take drastic action against Hujr. Moreover,
as will be seen below, the only condition given by Mu'awiya
for the Shi'i leaders to save their lives was that they must
curse and denounce 'Ali. This also indicates that their main
offence was their pro-Shi'i activity and not crimes against the
state and Caliph as presented in the second indictment.

It hardly need be said that Hujr was unmistakably held by
the Kufans as a die-hard and uncompromising Shi'i leader.
Re was also considered an extremely pious Muslim. To this
fact even those who did not share his Shi'i views bore
testimony. The Qadi Shurayh b. Harith wrote to Mu'awiya,
saying: "I bear witness that Hujr is a pious Muslim, steadfast
in prayer; he gives alms, observes the fast in the month of
Ramadan, and always performs the hajj and 'Umra... and he
indeed commands a high place in Islam." (95)

Nevertheless, Ziyad called the people to attest to the
authenticity of the indictment. Seventy people, of whose
names forty-five are specifically recorded, are reported to have
signed the document. (96) Some of these signatures were
certainly forged, as is commonly indicated by the sources
listing these names. Qadi Shurayh protested in his letter to
Mu'awiya that he never signed the document and that his
name had been added without his knowledge. Some others
apologized later for signing, indicating that Ziyad had put
pressure on them to attest to the charges. (97)

When the prisoners reached Mu'awiya, there was strong


pressure on him from the various tribes to release their
respective clansmen. Seven of the fourteen prisoners were
freed through the efforts and influence of their relatives. Hujr
and the other six were given a chance to save their lives if they
would publicly curse and denounce 'Ali. Mu'awiya's executioners
told them: "We are commanded to give you a chance
to save yourselves by denouncing 'Ali and cursing him; if you
refuse to do this we will kill you." Hujr and the other six with
him steadfastly replied : "By God, we will never do this." They
were thereupon beheaded. (98)

That these men would sacrifice their lives rather than
denounce 'Ali is a matter that cannot be taken lightly: there
must have been a meaning to it much deeper than the level of
political interests. The history of religion is full of men who
have died rather than compromise their faith, and the history
of man cannot be explained only in political and economic
terms. To read history only in material terms is indeed a
regrettable phenomenon of modern historiography. On the
other hand, to accept religious consciousness in one case and
deny it in another, though the circumstances are similar, is an
equally regrettable example of prejudice. No doubt, in most
cases popular movements in human society are dominated by
political or economic factors, yet there is no dearth of instances
where individual conscience has gone far beyond these
considerations. Hujr was certainly one of these examples. Not
only was he given the opportunity to save his life, but he was
also offered by Ziyad both political power and economic
advantages. He refused. To him, achieving these through
denouncing and cursing 'Ali meant the denunciation of the
faith itself. There are political implications to this episode
only insofar as political considerations were ancillary to
religious objectives. Thus Hujr's concern with who should be
the caliph was not a political or economic question: he
believed in and was prepared to die for, as he did, the idea of
special qualities being granted by God to the family of the
Prophet, making them specially suited to rule.

Hujr and his companions must therefore be considered as
representative of those first Shi'is who voiced their religious
opinion in support of 'Ali immediately after the death of the
Prophet, and they were the forerunners of a progressively
developing movement soon to be crystallized as a full-fledged


section of the Muslim community. He was a distinguished companion
of the Prophet, widely respected for his piety and devotion
to religious practices, even though a great partisan of 'Ali.
His tragic fate sent a wave of grief and shock through the
holy cities. Even the Prophet's widow 'A'isha and 'Abd Allah b.
'Umar vehemently protested against his execution. 99 It is interesting to
note that the tragedy of Hujr initiated the martyrology of the Shi'a,
and his death was lamented in numerous elegies that developed
into a rich literature in Shi'i Islam. Naturally, the tragedy affected the
Kufans most Their sentiments were stirred up with a deep sense of
calamity and produced serious reactions. They sent a delegation to
Husayn at Medina and urged him to lead an armed revolt
against Mu'awiya. Husayn turned down the request with the same
advice as before. (100) Mu'awiya was not unaware of these overtures
to Husayn and was alarmed by such activities, especially when he
received a letter from his governor in Medina, Marwan b. al-Hakam,
warning that the delegation sent from Kufa was staying in Medina and
having frequent meetings with Husayn. The Caliph wrote a threatening
letter to Husayn as a warning, but the latter maintained in his reply the
same indifferent attitude towards the existing order and assured
Mu'awiya that he would continue to honour the treaty of his brother.(101)

Except for the revolt of Hujr, suppressed by rather severe measures, the period between the deaths of Hasan and of
Mu'awiya is again a quiet and subdued one in the history of
the Shi'i movement. The general impression which we get from
the sources is of an atmosphere of fear and caution on both
sides. Mu'awiya's apprehensive attitude towards the potential
of a Shi'i uprising is demonstrated by his extreme measures
against Hujr and his limited, but quite serious, revolt. The
fact that Mu'awiya, well known for his shrewd diplomacy in achieving
his goals, should act in such a violent manner against Hujr indicates
his uncompromising attitude towards Shi'i sympathies, an attitude
perhaps resulting from fear of the deep-rooted Shi'i movement,
especially in Kufa where the group was strongest. On the other hand, Husayn's repeated refusal to lead the Kufan enthusiasts in open revolt reveals his own cautious attitude and desire to avoid giving
Mu'awiya any excuse to completely annihilate the supporters


of the house of 'Ali. Throughout this period, Mu'awiya
seems to have been trying to destroy, at the slightest pretext, those
of 'Ali's followers who could not be bought or intimidated
into submission; until this could be accomplished, the
Umayyad hold on the caliphate would remain insecure.

It is not unlikely that one of the reasons for the imposition
of cursing 'Ali from the pulpits was to provoke the Shi'i
sympathizers into open revolt and thus subject them to attack
and destruction at the hands of the Umayyad forces. When
Al-Mughira b. Shu'ba was appointed governor of Kufa in
41/661, one of the duties specified to him by Mu'awiya was
that he should vigorously carry out the cursing of 'All,
propagandize against him and his followers, increase the
intensity of the campaign to disgrace, dishonour, and impugn
the character of 'Ali and his followers, and finally popularize
and propagate the virtues of 'Uthman and his supporters.
The same instructions were given to Ziyad b. Abi Sufyan
when he was entrusted with the governorship of Kufa after
the death of Mughira in 50/670. (102) Both of these governors
carried out these duties to the satisfaction of Mu'awiya. Hujr
and a few others could not tolerate this continuous provocation
and fell into the trap, while others remained cautious and
careful. Husayn, on his part, fully understanding the situation,
wisely avoided any provocation against Mu'awiya and waited
for an appropriate opportunity to move into action. In this
way, he saved himself and his party from severe repression on
the one hand, and honoured his brother's treaty, which
indirectly involved Husayn as well, on the other.

Perhaps the most important event in the history of the
development of the Shi'i "Passion" was Mu'awiya's nomination
of his son Yazid to succeed him. The Caliph could not act
in this direction as long as Hasan lived, and it is significant
that immediately after the news of Hasan's death, Mu'awiya
began actively working on the project that would fulfil his
desire of perpetuating the rule of his family. This was no easy
task, and the Caliph had to move with great caution and use
all those devices characteristic of his rule: diplomacy, generous
gifts, bribes, and finally threats and oppression. It is not our
intention here to go into the details of how Mu'awiya
succeeded in buying off the leaders of the tribes and silencing
the more resolute with severe repression. These details are


preserved in the sources with hardly any serious differences.
It will suffice for our purpose here to note that after careful
arrangements through his governors, Mu'awiya managed to
bring together from most of the provinces deputations which,
as planned, declared their allegiance to Yazid as heir-apparent. (103)

It was different with the Hijaz, where there lived
the elite of Islamic nobility and the sons of the most prominent
Companions of the Prophet, most important among them
being Husayn b. 'Ali, 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar, 'Abd Allah b. az-Zubayr,
and 'Abd ar-Rahman b. Abi Bakr. Any delegation
from Medina without them would have been meaningless,
thus their refusal to co-operate was of the utmost gravity.
Mu'awiya therefore went to Medina in person with 1,000
selected horsemen to deal with the recalcitrants.

According to one version, Mu'awiya, reaching Medina and
calling these four to meet him in the outskirts, treated them
in such a harsh manner that they fled to Mecca. This worked
as planned, and in their absence Mu'awiya declared the
nomination of Yazid; this was approved by his supporters,
while others had not the courage to resist. The problem of
Medina solved, Mu'awiya proceeded to Mecca. There he
changed his attitude and first tried to win over these four by
treating them with exceptional friendliness. After spending
quite some time with them and showing his great affection
and regard for them, just before he was about to set out on his
return home, he expressed his desire for their support for
Yazid. Re explained that he was not demanding much from
them, that Yazid would be ruler only in name, and that,
under Yazid's name, it would in fact be they who would have
real control of the government. After a spell of silence, Ibn az-Zubayr
spoke and, in the name of all, he rejected the Caliph's
suggestion. The enraged Mu'awiya said : "On other occasions,
when I speak in the pulpit, I allow anyone to object to my
speech if he so wishes; but he who contradicts me today, a
sword will silence him." Then he entered the mosque of
Mecca, taking his four opponents with him, and declared:
"These four men, without whom no decision concerning the
succession can be made, have agreed to Yazid's nomination;
so now none of you people should have any difficulty in doing
the same." Thereupon people did homage to Yazid, while the
four remained silent out of fear. (104) Even if this version is


cautiously regarded as a later elaboration, Mu'awiya's going
to the Hijaz for the purpose of trying to compel these persons
not to oppose Yazid cannot be denied. (105)


Notes to Chapter 6

(1) Tabari, II, p.5

(2)Tabari, II, pp. I if.; Mas'udi, Muruj, II, p.426; Tanbih, p.300;
'Iqd, IV, p.361; Ya'qubi, II, pp.214 f; Dinawari, pp. 216 f.; Isti'ab.
I, p. 385; Usd al-Ghaba, II, p.14

(3) Ya'qubi, II, p. 188. According to Ibn Sa'd, VI, pp.4, 370 early
Sahaba immediately moved into Kufa and settled there as soon as
'Umar b. al-Khattab founded the garrison city.

(4) Usd al-Ghaba, II, p.12; Tirmidhi, II, p. 306; Musnad, V, p.354;
Hadid, Sharh, XVI, p.27

(5) Musnad, II, p.513

(6) The standard works of tradition usually devote a separate
chapter to the special merits of Hasan and Husayn (Bab Manaqib
al-Hasan wa'l-Husayn).

(7) Ibn Habib, Muhabbar, p. 46; Bukhari, Sahih, II, pp.175, 198;
Usd al-Ghaba, II, p.13

(8) According to Abu'l-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil at-Talibiyin,
p.52, 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas himself was the first to advance
Hasan's nomination and invite the people to pay homage to him
as the caliph after the death of 'Ali. See also Hadid, Sharh, XVI,
pp.31 f.

(9) Dinawari, p. 216; Maqatil, p.52; Hadid, Sharh, XVI, p.30

(10) Tabari, II, p. I; Usd al-Ghaba, II, p.14;

(11) Hadid, loc. cit.; Isti'ab,I, p. 383

(12) ibid.

(13) Ibn A'tham, IV, p.148; Tabari; II, p.5; Hadid, Sharh, XVI,

(14) Maqatil, pp.52 f.; Hadid, Sharh, XVI, pp.25 f.

(15) Aghani, XXI, p. 26; Maqatil, loc. cit.; Ya'qubi, II, p.214; Hadid,
Sharh, XVI, p.31

(16) Ibn A'tham, IV, p.153; Hadid, Sharh, XVI, p.26

(17) Maqatil, p. 56 (from Abi Mikhnaf); Ibn A'tham, IV, p.151;
Hadid, Sharh, XVI, p.24 (from Mada'ini), p.33 (from Abi Mikhnaf
with slight variations)

(18) Maqatil, p.57 (from Abu Mikhnaf); Ibn A'tham, IV, p.152;
Hadid, Sharh, XVI, p.25 (from Mada'ini), p.35 (from Abu Mikhnaf
with slight variations)

(19) Arab Kingdom, pp.104-7

(20) Ta'rikh, II, pp. 214 f.

(21) Akhbar, pp.217 ff.

(22) Ta'rikh, II, pp. 1-8


(23) Kitab al-Futuh, IV, pp.148-67

(24) Maqatil, pp. 46-77

(25) Sharh, XVI, pp. 9-52

(26) Fihrist, PP.03, 101 f., respectively. The importance of these two
authors in early Muslim historiography has been discussed in
Chapter 2.

(27) M. A. Sha'ban, E12 article 'Ibn A'tham"

(28) Sha'ban, op. cit. Cf. Yaqut, Irshad al-Arib ila ma'rifat al-Adib,
ed. D.S. Margoliouth, (Leiden, 1007-31), I, p. 379; C.A. Storey,
Persian Literature: a Bio-bibliographical Survey (London, 1927), I,
ii, p.1260

(29) See Ali mad Zaki Safwat, Jamharat Rasa'il al-'Arab fi 'usur al-
'Arabiyat az-Zahira (Cairo, 1937), a four-volume work in which all
the letters from the time of the Prophet until the end of the 'Abbasid
period have been collected with documentation.

(30) Tabari, II, pp., f., 5-8. See Wellhausen, Arab Kingdom, p.107

(31) Tabari, II, pp.2-5

(32) Tabari, II, pp. I, 5 ff.

(33) Tabari, II, pp.2, 7

(34) Tabari, II, pp.7-8

(35) Tabari, II, Pp.2-4

(36) Tabari, II, p.2

(37) Ya'qubi, II, p.214; Maqatil, p.62; Sharh, XVI, p.40

(38) Maqatil, p. 61; Sharh, XVI, p.38

(39) Ya'qubi, II, p.214

(40) ibid.

(41) Tabari, II, p.2

(42) Ya'qubi, II, p. 115

(43) ibid.

(44) The Arabic phrase reads .fa lamma intaha ila Sabat raya min
ashabihi fashl wa tawakul 'an al-harb.

(45) Dinawari, p.216

(46) ibid.

(47) Sharh, XVI, p.22

(48) Futuh, IV, p.154; Maqatil, p.63

(49) Dinawari, p.217; Ibn A'tham, IV, p.155; Ya'qubi, II, p.215;
Maqatil, p.64

(50) Dinawari, loc. cit.; Ibn A'tham, loc. cit.; Ya'qubi, loc. cit.;
Maqatil, loc. cit.

(51) Ibn A'tham, IV, pp.156 f.

(52) ibid., p. 157

(53) Tabari, II, pp.220, 223, 274; Dinawari, pp.243, 299; ,Iqd, IV,

(54) Maqatil, pp.64 f.


(55) Maqatil, pp.65 ff.

(56) Tabari, II, pp.3-4

(57) The shortest period given for his caliphate is three months, the
longest is seven months.

(58) Tabari, II, p.13

(59) Dinawari, p. zi8

(60) Isti'ab, I, pp.355 f. Usd al-Ghaba, II, p. 14 adds: "and some
other conditions like this." See also Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Sawa'iq
al-muhriqa, p.134; Al-Imama wa's-siyasa, I, p.140

(61) Maqatil, pp. 66 f.; Sharh, XVI, pp.43 f.

(62) Ibn A'tham, IV, pp. 158 f.

(63) Sharh, XVI, pp.22 f.

(64) Ibn A'tham, IV, p. 158

(65) Ibn A'tham, IV, pp.159 f.; Sharh, XVI, pp.22 f.

(66) Ibn A'tham, IV, p. 165

(67) See Ibn A'tham, IV, pp. 161-7; Maqatil, PP. 68-73;Tabari, II,
pp. 6-9; Ya'qubi, II, pp. 216 f.

(68) Tabari, II, p.6; Ya'qubi, II, p.215

(69) Hadid, Sharh, XVI, p.28

(70) Maqatil, pp.72 f.

(71) Isti'ab, III, p.1420; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya Wa'n-Nihaya, VII I,

(72) See, for example, his reply to Hujr that he abdicated to save the
lives of his handful of true followers, in Dinawari, p.220

(73) Ibn A'tham, IV, pp.164 if.; Maqatil, pp.67 ff.; Ya'qubi, II,
pp. 216 f.; Dinawari, pp.220 f.; Isti'ab, 1, pp. 387 f.

(74) Usd al-Ghaba, II, pp. 13 f.; Isti'ab, I, p.384; Bukhari, Sahih, II,
p.198; Tabari, II, p.199; Jahiz., Rasa'il, "Risala fi Bani Umayya,"
p 65; 'Amili, A'yan, IV, p.54

(75) Dinawari, pp.220 f.

(76) Tabari, I, p.1920

(77) Baladhuri, Ansab, IVA, p.138; Hadid, Sharh, XVI, p.14. Also
see Vaglieri, EI2 article "Hasan"

(78) Mas'udi, Muruj, II, pp. 426 f.; Maqatil, pp.73 f.; Hadid, Sharh,
XVI, pp.10 f., 17; Isti'ab, I, pp. 389 f.; Usd al-Ghaba, II, p.14;
Ya'qubi, II, p.225; Ibn Khallikan, Wafayat, II, p.66

(79) Mas'udi, Muruj, II, p.427; Maqatil, p.73; Hadid, Sharh,
XVI, p.11

(80) Dinawari, Akhbar, p.222; Ya'qubi, II, p.225; 'lqd, IV, p. 361;
Mas'udi, loc. cit.

(81) Ibn A'tham, IV, pp. 206, 224 f.; Maqatil, p.73; Ya'qubi, II,
p. 228; Isti'ab, I, p.391

(82) Ya'qubi, II, p.228; Dinawari, p.221

(83) See Tabari, II, pp.223-5; Baladhuri, IVA, pp.211-36; Aghani;
XVI I, pp.78-96; Dinawari, pp. 223-5 ; Isti'ab, I, pp.329-33


(84) Tabari, 11, p. 131; Dinawari, Pp. 223 f.; Aghani; XVII,
PP.79 f

(85) Aghani; XVI I, p. 81; Baladhuri, IVA, p.214

(86) Aghani; XVII, p. 81; Baladhuri, IVA, p.214

(87) Ibn Sa'd, VI, p.219

(88) Tabari, II, p.117; Baladhuri; IVA, p.214

(89) Aghani; XVII, p.82

(90) See Tabari, II, pp. 117 ff; 136

(91) After assuming control of Kufa, Ziyad regrouped the entire
population into four administrative quarters and appointed a head
of his own choosing in charge of each quarter. This has been
discussed in chapter 5 in connection with the general assessment
of the situation in Kufa.

(92) Tabari, II, p.131; Aghani; XVII, p.89

(93) Tabari, loc. cit.; Aghani loc. cit.

(94) Tabari, II, p.132; Aghani; loc. cit.; Baladhuri, IVA, p.221

(95) Baladhuri, IVA, pp.222 f.; Tabari, II, p.137

(96) Tabari, II, pp.133 ff; also, with some variations, Baladhuri,
IVA, Pp.221 ff; Aghani; XVII, pp.89 ff

(97) See sources cited in note 95 above

(98) Tabari; II, p. 140; Aghani; XVII, pp.92 f.; Baladhuri, IVA,

(99) Tabari, II, p.145; Isti'ab, I, p.229 f.; Baladhuri; IVA, pp.22,
228, 229 ff

(100) Dinawari; p.224

(101) ibid.

(102) Tabari, II, pp. 111 f.; Baladhuri, IVA, pp. 211 f.

(103) For details, see Tabari under the years 56 to 6o; also Mas'udi,
Muruj; III, pp.27 f.

(104) For details see Ibn A'tham, IV, pp.235-49; Ibn Athir, Al-
Kamil fi'l-Ta'rikh, (Beirut, 1965)111, pp. 508-11

(105) See references quoted above in notes 103 and 104 and also
Tabari, II, pp. 175 f.

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