Peace Treaty of Imam al-Hasan (a)
The peace treaty of Imam al-Ḥasan (a) (Arabic: (صلح الإمام الحسن (ع) refers to a peace treaty between Imam Hasan b. Ali b. Abi Talib (a) with Mua'wiya (Abu Sufyan's offspring) in 41/661, after Imam Ali's (a) demise. This treaty was made after the war whose cause was Mu'awiya's greed and his rejection to pledge allegiance to Imam al-Hasan (a), caliph of Muslims. It is said that due to people's disloyalty, some commanders' betrayal, protection of Shi'as, and the threat of Khawarij, Imam al-Hasan (a) was forced to sign the treaty. Based on this peace treaty,caliphate was handed on to Mu'awiya. This treaty included some provisions, the most important of which was Mu'awiya not assigning a successor, not to conspire against Imam al-Hasan (a), and to protect Muslims' lives. Mu'awiya conformed to none of these conditions afterwards. Imam al-Hasan (a): "If I had had a supporter, I would not have handed the caliphate on to Mu'awiya, for the caliphate is prohibited for Banu Umayya."
Situation in Kufa and Other Regions After Imam Ali (a)
After Imam Ali (a), Muslims pledged allegiance to his son Imam al-Hasan (a), however, it was clearly revealed, by the first day of his caliphate, that he had to face many difficulties of his time. Some of them are:
- The fate of Kufa was challenged by outbursts and commotions.
- The absence of an efficient and effective governor.
- Mu'awiya's rulership over Syria and his disposition to dominate other areas of Iraq by making further aggressions.
- The lack of faithful, tactful and courageous force.
- The disinterested Muslims and among them Shi'as who were lied to by Mu'awiya.
Mu'awiya and His Agents
Mu'awiya's agents devised schemes and attempted to stir up people against Imam al-Hasan (a) in those days. The agents of the ruler of Damascus in Hijaz, Yemen, Egypt and even in Iraq were engaged in plotting numerous conspiracies against their governments. This was Mu'awiya's hidden plot to crawl his way to power. The agents had to:
- Conciliate the top men in tribes.
- Offer bribes or murder the top men in tribes.
- Spread rumors and lies in a rumor-growing ground, Iraq.
- Plunder the bordering towns and threaten their residents.
- Tell made-up and exaggerated stories about Mu'awiya's generosity and his "ability" in governing the country.
Negligence in War and Attacks on Imam's Tent
Mu'awiya arrived in Iraq along with his army and settled in Maskin. Imam Ali (a) had prepared an army in the last days of his lifetime to attack Syria (but this went unfinished due to his martyrdom). This army had to carry on with its unfinished mission despite the fact that it could not be without an appropriate commander. There were Qays b. Sa'd b. 'Ubada and 'Ubayd Allah b. 'Abbas, but it was unclear who was going to be the next commander in chief.
Qays became ready to go to Syria. Meanwhile, Imam al-Hasan (a) went to al-Mada'in. But, almost every day, the camp could not live without new incidents since its establishment. In one incident, it was said that Qays had been killed. After this rumor was spread, uproar broke out. The soldiers attacked their Imam's tent and took whatever existed in there with them. They even took the rug on which their Imam sat. They cut their (Imam's) thigh with a hack when he was trying to escape to find a shelter amid the attacks on his tent. According to Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, when Imam al-Hasan (a)'s tent was plundered, he went to Sa'd b. Mas'ud al-Thaqafi (al-Mukhtar's uncle). Sa'd had been elected as the ruler of al-Mada'in by Imam (a). Al-Mukhtar, who was young at that time, asked Sa'd:
- - Do you wish to gain opulence and honor?
- - How?
- - Arrest al-Hasan, hand him to Mu'awiya and get whatever you wish.
- - God damn you! What an evil man you are! How could I hand son of prophet's daughter to his enemy?
Al-Mukhtar b. Abi 'Ubayd al-Thaqafi is the one who took the leadership of Shi'a's uprising against Umayyads 25 years later. Perhaps 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr's supporters had made up these stories to accuse al-Mukhtar, however, it is also possible to be an authentic one. Anyhow, fact says that there was a group of people in Kufa who prioritized their personal benefit to Muslim's goodness. This is a reality behind every revolution or movement.
Imam al-Hasan (a) thought resistance is pointless due to the disobedience and rebelliousness of the people claiming to be his friends. He was certain, that in case of resistance, his army (if there was any army) would run away before passing al-Mada'in, and would even make al-Mukhtar's thought practical and hand him to Mu'awiya. Ultimately, Imam al-Hasan (a) had to sign a peace treaty with Mu'awiya.
Two hundred years passed until the treaty was recorded in books. During this time, Umayyads, then Abbasids and also political and religious-political groups falsified this document, and any other document in favor of themselves as much as possible. Thus, to analyze this issue at present, we must not disregard other analogies.
Al-Tabari quotes, "Initially, Mu'awiya sent a sealed blank paper to Imam al-Hasan (a) so that he would write whatever he wished and Mu'awiya would accept it. But he (Imam) had written his conditions and sent it to Mu'awiya, before the paper reached him. After the paper arrived, Imam al-Hasan (a) demanded more privileges than what was written in the first letter. But Mu'awiya did not accept." Ibn Athir has brought this story as well."
Shahidi writes, "Undoubtedly, this story was made up by the historians belonging to Banu 'Umayya, or they have reversed the reality and added false information to it. Those who have pondered about Hasan b. Ali's life, know that he, regardless of his position as Imam in which Shi'a believe, was a person with high civility and humanity codes. He signed the peace treaty when he was convinced resistance would bring about no benefit or fortune except bloodshed and final victory for Mu'awiya. He was not a trader to negotiate with a purchaser over a commodity, or increase the price when noticing the market is in favor of him. He was so kind and civil that even his enemy could not resist concealing it. If the story of the blank paper was real, so when Imam al-Hasan (a) authored his conditions in it and brought it back to Mu'awiya, it is likely that Mu'awiya forged this story and spread it in order to refuse to conform to the conditions, having achieved his ultimate wish and not fighting. More surprisingly, what al-Tabari has mentioned is much more similar to a legend or humor rather than a historical narration, let alone representing a reality."
Some historians believe that Imam al-Hasan (a) pledged allegiance to Mu'awiya on condition that he would give him five billion dirhams from Kufa treasury (bayt al-mal) and the tax of Darabgard in Fars, and prohibit people from insulting Imam Ali (a) on pulpits. Mu'awiya did not accept the last condition though. Therefore, it was determined not to insult Imam Ali (a) just in front of Imam al-Hasan (a), however, Basra people confiscated the tax of Darabgard. They stated this is our fay' (meaning the property or money obtained by Muslims through a war without bloodshed).
In analyzing these historical outlooks, Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi writes, "These credulous historians have failed to observe that if Imam al-Hasan (a)'s satisfaction for establishing peace was to gain money, his followers would definitely take his life, or would behave towards him so badly that he could not commute easily among Muslims. Imam al-Hasan (a) was able to demand this amount of money and Mu'awiya was willing to pay it, but Imam did not do so. Why al-Tabari has not referred to the major provisions based on which the peace treaty was written?"
There are some other documents revealing the reality, representing the fact that the historians belonging to Umayyad and 'Abbasid era have falsified any event which was in favor of prophet's family. Al-Baladhuri's remark, which is earlier, sounds more authentic than al-Tabari's.
Al-Baladhuri writes, "Mu'awiya sent a sealed blank paper to al-Hasan (a) so that he would write in it whatever he wishes. Thus, he wrote: This is the peace treaty between al-Hasan b. Ali and Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan. I declare peace between us and hand the caliphate on to him on condition that:
- He (Mu'awiya) would act according to God's book and prophet's sunna, and the method of four first caliphs.
- He would not pass anyone as his successor, and after his death the caliphate should be dealt with by a council of Muslims.
- People living everywhere should feel safe about their lives, their properties, and their offspring.
- Mu'awiya should not conspire any riots against al-Hasan or threaten any of his friends.
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami has remarked on the peace treaty as well. He writes, "This is a peace treaty between al-Hasan b. Ali and Mu'awiya. Al-Hasan agrees to establish peace and to hand Muslims' caliphate on to him on condition that:
- He would act based on God's book, sunna, and method (sira) of Rashidun Caliphs.
- He does not have the right to pass a successor after his death. This should be dealt in Muslims' council.
- People in any land, Syria, Hijaz, or Yemen would be secure.
- Ali's friends and followers should feel safe about their lives, their properties, their wives, and their offspring wherever they reside.
- Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan undertakes God's commitment not to hold any riot against al-Hasan b. Ali, or his brother, or anyone from prophet's family, openly or secretly, and not to threaten anyone of them in any spot.
Such and such a person are witnesses to this treaty, and Allah is sufficient as a witness."
Place and Time
The peace treaty was signed in Maskin region, and the provisions of peace were carried out before a large number of people from Syria. Baqir Sharif al-Qarshi in Hayat al-Hasan (a) writes : "There is no unanimous idea about the time of the peace. It is said to be in Rabi' I in 41/661, or Rabi' II, or Jumada I".
Hujr b. 'Adi, 'Adi b. Hatam, Musayyib b. Najba, Malik b. Dumra, Sufyan b. Abi Layla, Bashir al-Hamdani, Sulayman b. Surad, 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr, Abu Sa'id, and Qays b. Sa'd were Imam al-Hasan's friends who disagreed with the peace. Their conversations with Imam al-Hasan (a) are mentioned in history books.
Reasons Imam al-Hasan (a) Signed the Treaty
Protection of Shi'a and His Life
Imam Ali's (a) best men were mostly martyred in the Battles of Jamal, Siffin, and Nahrawan. Only a few of them were left. In case of war, regarding Iraqi people's negligence, Imam al-Hasan (a) and his Shi'as would undergo irrecoverable losses.
Abu Sa'id al-'Aqisa narrates, "I visited Imam al-Hasan (a) and said to him: 'You son of the prophet! Why did you accept peace with the cruel and corrupt Mu'awiya despite the fact that you already knew you were right?' He (Imam) replied: 'If I had not done so, no one of our followers would have remained on earth and they all would have been slaughtered.'"
Imam al-Hasan (a)'s response to a person who called Imam as the "humiliator of pious men" was: "I am not the humiliator of pious men, rather I've raised their honor. So when I realized you (Shi'as) did not have the power to resist and confront Syrian army, I handed the caliphate on to Mu'awiya in order to save our (your) lives. Just as a tactful person who causes a defect in a ship to save its owners' and passengers' lives (pointing to the Quranic story of Moses (a) and Khidr (a) in Sura al-Kahf). Our story is similar to this. This is because we could remain among our enemies and opponents."
His Excellency says in another hadith: "I swear to God that what I did is better and more beneficial for my Shi'as than sunset and sunrise."
It is also narrated that after peace, Hujr b. 'Adi came to Imam al-Hasan (a), protesting by saying: You humiliated the pious men. Imam al-Hasan (a) replied: "It is not like this that all the people want what you wish, or think as you do. What I did was just for your protection and survival and no more."
People Refused to Support Imam al-Hasan (a)
To evaluate people's readiness to fight, Imam al-Hasan (a) told them: "If you are ready to take arms against Mu'awiya, we will reject the peace and will take his life; however, if you would like to stay put, we will accept the peace and will demand safety for you." At this point, people repeated vehemently the phrase "al-baqiyyah, al-baqiyya" (which means staying still), signing the peace treaty.
Al-Shaykh al-Mufid states in al-Irshad, "It became obvious for Imam al-Hasan (a) that people had abandoned him. Khawarij insulted him, regarded him a kafir, were suspicious of him, thought it was mubah to take his life, and plundered his properties. Apart from these people, no one was Imam's supporter who would be free from negative thoughts towards him. It was not except from some of his relatives, either they were his father's Shi'a or his, a few who could not confront the large army of Syria".
Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali states, "When Mu'awiya came to kufa, Imam al-Hasan (a) went up the pulpit and after praising God said: 'I take oath to God, if people pledged allegiance to me and helped me, the sky would generously grant them its rain and the earth would give them its bless, and you Mu'awiya would never be tempted to take over caliphate.'"
Imam al-Hasan (a) refers to the disloyalty and lack of support from people in a sermon by saying, "If I had a friend or a companion, I would never hand the caliphate on to Mu'awiya, since the caliphate is prohibited to Banu Umyya." Moreover, he replied to the person protesting the peace: "I handed the caliphate on to Mu'awiya on account that I did not have enough companions to fight with him. If I had some, I would fight with him day and night to finally defeat him."
Imam al-Hasan (a) puts forth the reason of establishing peace with Mu'awiya by saying, "I thought it would be appropriate to behave towards Mu'awiya peacefully and to declare ceasefire. I knew preventing bloodshed is better. My only purpose was your survival and goodness." He also said, "I had all Arabs' heads in my hand, if I established peace, they would do so, and if I fought, they would take arms, but I ignored it because of God's satisfaction and saving Muslims' lives." He replied to Sulayman b. Surad's objection, "I see something way beyond what you see, and I did not do so but only to prevent bloodshed." Imam al-Hasan (a) explained elsewhere that: "I thought preventing bloodshed is better than the opposite."
After the peace treaty, Mu'awiya asked Imam al-Hasan (a) to take part in fighting with Khawarij. He did not participate and sent Mu'awiya a letter saying, "If I wanted to fight with any Muslim, the first one of them would be you. But I did not make a war against you for Muslims' goodness and protection of their lives."
One of the main reasons why Imam al-Hasan (a) accepted the peace treaty is protecting the religion, since fighting with Muslims would have exposed the Islamic territories to the danger of the religion becoming extinct. To go on war against Mu'awiya, was not a beneficial decision to make, neither for Kufa nor Syria. It only paved Rome Empire's path to attack Islamic territories.
On the other hand, war and bloodshed would have added more suspicion to religion and sacred things due to a weak understanding of religion which came from a corrupt culture of the people living in that time. Perhaps it was one of Imam al-Hasan (a)'s reasons for accepting peace. He said, "I was afraid Muslims be eradicated and no one remained. Therefore, I consented to peace in order to save God's religion."
Tired of Fighting
Due to 40 years of fighting in different wars, there had not remained any spirit of fighting among Muslims except for a handful of pure Shi'as and brave youths. After establishing Islamic government, Muslims participated in ghazwas and sariyyas at the Prophet's presence. Then they had to fight with soldiers of Rome, Iran, and some neighboring nations of Arabian Peninsula during the caliphate of the three first caliphs. And after that, they suffered from three great civil wars imposed on the then ruler, Imam Ali (a).
Considering all these factors, a few volunteered to take part in war when Imam al-Hasan (a) and his close friends such as Hujr b. 'Adi and Qays b. Sa'd al-Ansari invited people to unite against Mu'awiya.
Imam al-Hasan (a) told the people who had pledged allegiance to him and promised to give him a hand in fighting against Mu'awiya, "If you are honest in what you have said, join me at the camp in al-Mada'in." Then, Imam (a) set out for al-Mada'in. Those who had really decided to fight went along with Imam, yet a large number of them, turned out to be unfaithful to Imam and did not fulfill their promises. They deceived Imam al-Hasan (a) as they had deceived his father Imam Ali (a). Imam al-Hasan (a) expressed his anger and criticism by saying, "I'm surprised of a nation who has neither any sense of embarrassment nor any rank of faith in religion. If I hand the caliphate on to Mu'awiya, I take oath to God you will not live easily and Banu Umayya will torment you with the most severe behaviors and tortures." He reiterated, "I saw you have been slow towards war (jihad), and I do not enforce you to do something you are unwilling to do."
Threat of Khawarij
Abu Bakr Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. 'Arabi, the author of Ahkam al-Qur'an says, :"One of the main reasons Imam al-Hasan (a) accepted peace was that he was aware that Khawarij had surrounded him. So, if he kept on fighting with Mu'awiya, Khawarij would take the control of Islamic lands. On the other hand, if he fought with Khawarij, Mu'awiya (indulged in the fantasy of domination) would take over the Islamic regions under Imam al-Hasan (a)'s control."
Al-Shaykh al-Mufid in al-Irshad writes, "The people accompanying Imam al-Hasan (a) were from different groups and different interests; a number of them were his or his father's Shi'a, a group of them were supporters of Hakamiyya (Khawarij) that were influenced (by the desire of) fighting with Mu'awiya by means possible. Some of them were men who loved discords and were anxious for booties of war, some of them were doubters, others were tribal supporters who followed the leaders of their tribes without reference to religion."
An army essentially composed of these people would divide in any incident. Khawarij accompanied with Imam al-Hasan (a) to contrive their deceitful schemes, they fought but by the purpose of corruption. There is no one more dangerous than the enemy who pretends friendship. Such an enemy shows you friendship openly, but he fights against you secretly. So the most dangerous enemy is he who fights against you with hatred, malice, and tribalism. Imam al-Hasan (a) answered to the person who protested his agreement with peace, "People of Iraq will bring anyone trusting them to failure, since they are not consistent with each other in thoughts and demands. They are decisive neither in goodness nor in badness."
Al-Shaykh al-Mufid believes, "Imam al-Hasan (a) had no alternative but to accept peace and abandon war, since his followers had weak beliefs and were discouraged to fight due to Mu'awiya's worldly promises. They no longer had much faith in Imam al-Hasan (a) so as to fight Mu'awiya. According to what happened, they disagreed with him and merited taking his life as halal. They wanted to turn him over to his enemy. His cousin 'Ubayd Allah b. al-'Abbas gave up assisting him and joined his enemy and generally people turned their faces to the worldly desires and disregarded blesses of Akhira."
Among Imam al-Hasan (a)'s army, there were those who seemingly were obedient of Imam's orders. A group of Kufa great men wrote a letter to Mu'awiya secretly saying: we are totally obedient of you". Then, they encouraged him to travel to them, promising to turn al-Hasan over to him when his army approached, or kill him surprisingly off-guard. Zayd b. Wahb al-Juhani explains, "When Imam al-Hasan (a) was injured and was resting in bed in al-Mada'in, I visited him and said to him: What is your decision? People are confused. He replied: "I take oath to God that I see Mu'awiya better for me than these people who, supposedly, are my Shi'as and at the same time make schemes to kill me. They plunder my furniture, and steal my property."
No Stipulations Fulfilled
After peace, Mu'awiya made a speech at the Mosque of Kufa. He started by vilifying Imam Ali (a) and went on to insult Imam al-Hasan (a). Later he continued by proclaiming: "I am trampling on everything I promised to al-Hasan." After all his disparaging comments, Imam al-Hasan (a) stood up and made a long resonating speech:
- "O you, who mention Ali, I am al-Hasan and Ali was my father. You are Muawiya and your father was Sakhr (Abu Sufyan). My mother was Fatima and your mother was Hind. My grandfather was the Apostle of God and your grandfather was Harb. My grandmother was Khadija and your grandmother was Futayla. May God curse him who tries to reduce our reputation and to diminish our nobility, who does evil against our antiquity and yet who has been ahead of us in unbelief and hypocrisy."
After that, some groups of people in the mosque said: "Amen, Amen"
Although Imam al-Hasan (a) was under his friends' pressure for the first clause of the treaty, he remained loyal to his promise, but if he wanted, he was free to alter or transform his provisions. Because caliphate was conditional, yet Mu'awiya was not loyal to any of the provisions he was provided to fulfill. Saying Friday Prayer on Wednesday, suspending divine limits, declaring riba as permissible, announcing adhan for Eid prayer, making khutba before Eid prayer, declaring the obligation of paying zakat for gifts, debauchery and impudence, and forging hadiths were Mu'awiya's innovatory traditions (a regime of religious heresy) which was completely against sunna of the holy Prophet (s). Mu'awiya violated the second clause of the treaty by passing his son Yazid as his successor.
Mu'awiya always thought that his government would be stronger by insulting Imam Ali (a), so he violated the third clause as well. His people insisted so much on this odious action that regarded it as a part of Friday Prayer and anyone refusing to do it would have been thrown away from his position.
Those who believed paying Darabgard taxes to Imam al-Hasan (a) was one of the clauses of the peace treaty, have written, "People of Basra prevented transferring the taxes of Darabgard to Imam al-Hasan (a). They said: This booty is ours. And this was done through Mu'awiya's order.
Even though Mu'awiya had promised to secure Shi'as, he sent a letter to all of his governors and rulers in Islamic regions by stating that, "Be aware to omit anyone's salary and pension who is in favor of Ali". He also attached another letter to it and ordered: "Anyone accused of loving this family must be imprisoned and his house has to be destroyed." He even, Mu'awiya, intended to poison Imam al-Hasan (a) several times, but no success was achieved. Ultimately, he deceived Ja'da, Imam al-Hasan (a)'s wife, by cunningly putting forth some worldly promises. Ja'da poisoned Imam al-Hasan (a), making him martyr.
Works Concerning the Peace Treaty of Imam al-Hasan (a)
Lots of books have been authored about the peace treaty of Imam al-Hasan (a). Only names of some of them have been remained in indexes:
- Sulh al-Hasan wa Mu'awiya, written by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Sa'id b. Abd al-Rahman al-Sabi'i al-Hamadani, passed away in 323/934-5.
- Sulh al-Hasan (a), written by 'Abd al-Rahman b. Kathir al-Hashimi (not from Banu Hashim family, but one of their mawali)
- Qiyam al-Hasan (a), written by Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Sa'id b. Hilal b. 'Asim b. Sa'd b. Mas'ud al-Thaqafi, passed away in 283/896-7
- Qiyam al-Hasan (a) , written by Hisham b. Muhammad b. al-Sa'ib
- A book from Abd al-'Aziz b. Yahya al-Juludi al-Basri about Imam al-Hasan's peace.
- Akhbar al-Hasan (a) wa wafatih , written by Haytham b. 'Adi al-Tha'labi, passed away in 207/822-3.
- Akhbar al-Hasan b. Ali (a) , written by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Isfahani al-Thaqafi.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from صلح امام حسن علیه السلام in Farsi WikiShia.