He was the first child of Fatimah (s.a.). He was born in Ramadan, in the second or the third year of hijra.
When the Prophet (S) was informed about this blessed newborn child, he was very pleased and delighted. He hurried to Fatimah’s house to congratulate her. Arriving in the house, the Prophet said to Asma’, ‘bring me my son!’
Asma’ brought Imam al-Hasan wrapped in a yellow piece of cloth. The Prophet took him, joined him to his chest, kissed him in the mouth, fed him with his saliva, raised his (the Prophet) hands towards the heaven and said, ‘O Allah, I ask You to protect him and his posterity from cursed Satan.’
Then the Prophet (S) recited the azan in the right ear of his blessed newborn child and the eqama in his left ear. This child of prophethood received the world of existence with the highest psalm; it was “Allahu Akbar; Allah is Great, and la illaha illallah; there is no god but Allah.”
The Prophet (S) asked Imam Ali (a.s.), ‘Have you named this blessed child?’
Imam Ali (a.s.) replied, ‘I would not precede you, O messenger of Allah.’
The Prophet (S) said, ‘And I would not precede my Lord.’
It was no long when Gabriel came down to the Prophet carrying with him the name from Allah. The angel said to the Prophet (S), ‘Name him Hasan!’
Seven days after the birth of the Prophet’s grandchild, the Prophet came to his daughter’s house to endow his grandson with some honor. He slaughtered a ram as a sacrifice for him. It was the aqiqah that has become a tradition since then until now. Then he cut the hair of his grandson with his holy hands and gave silver, inasmuch as the weight of the hair, to the poor. Then he surnamed him (gave him a kunyah) as Abu Muhammad.8 Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) had no kunyah other than this one.
The Prophet (S) declared his love to Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and praised him in many traditions. The following are some of them:
1. Aa’ishah narrated that the Prophet (S) said, ‘By Allah, this is my son. I love him and love whoever loves him.’
2. Al-Bara’ bin Aazib narrated, ‘Once I saw the Prophet (S) carrying al-Hasan on his shoulder and saying, ‘O Allah, I love him, so love him!’
3. Abdullah bin Abbas said, ‘One day, the Prophet (S) came carrying al-Hasan on his neck. Some man met him and said, ‘O boy, it is the best back you have ridden on.’
The Prophet (S) said, ‘And the best rider he is.’
4. The Prophet (S) said, ‘Let him, who likes to look at the sire of the youth of the Paradise, look at al-Hasan.’
5. The Prophet (S) said, ‘Al-Hasan is my pleasure in this world.’
6. Anas bin Malik narrated, ‘One day, al-Hasan came in to the Prophet (S). I wanted to take him away from him, but the Prophet (S) said, ‘Stop that! Let alone my son and the fruit of my heart! Whoever harms this one will harm me, and whoever harms me will harm Allah.’
7. Once the Prophet (S) offered the Maghrib (or Isha’) Prayer and prolonged the prostration. After finishing the prayer, People asked him why he did so and he said, ‘My son (al-Hasan) rode on me and I hated to send him down soon.’
8. Abdullah bin Abdurrahman bin az-Zubayr said, ‘The most similar and most beloved one to the Prophet was al-Hasan. I saw the Prophet prostrating (in prayer) and al-Hasan got up over his neck (or back). The Prophet did not send him down until he himself got down. Once I saw him, while bowing (in prayer), open his legs for him (al-Hasan) so that he could pass to the other side.’
There are many other traditions that have been transmitted from the Prophet (S) about the preference of Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) besides many others that are common between Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and Imam al-Husayn (a.s.). We have mentioned those traditions in the first volume of our book “The Life of Imam al-Hasan bin Ali”.
The Prophet (S) brought up and educated his grandson Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and fed him with his own ideals. The other educator of Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) was his father Imam Ali (a.s.) who was the best educator in the world of Islam after the Prophet (S). He also fed in his son his high ideals and morals. His mother Fatimah (s.a.) too, educated him with the loyal faith and the deep love to Allah the Almighty. Therefore, he was a copy to these three great, infallible persons.
Fatimah (s.a.) often sent al-Hasan and al-Husayn, peace be on them, to the meeting of their grandfather the messenger of Allah (S) to learn his traditions and moralities. When they came back home, she asked them about what knowledge and wisdom they got in the meeting of their grandfather (a.s.). Al-Hasan, who was seven years old, listened to the revelation in his grandfather’s meeting and memorized it. Then he came to his mother Fatimah (s.a.) to recite it before her. When Imam Ali (a.s.) came to her, he found that she had known about the revelation that had at once been revealed to the Prophet (S). When he asked her about it, she replied that it was from her son al-Hasan (a.s.).
Once Imam Ali (a.s.) hid himself in his room. Al-Hasan came to his mother to recite before her the revelation he had heard in his grandfather’s meeting. For a moment, he was tongue-tied, and his mother asked kindly, ‘What is the matter with you?’
He said, ‘Do not be astonished at what has happened to me, for there is a Great One that takes care of me.’
Imam Ali (a.s.) came out and began kissing his son al-Hasan.
All high qualities were available in Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan (a.s.), and this naturally was because he had been fed with, his grandfather the Prophet (S) and his father Imam Ali’s virtues. The following stories show the high morals Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) had.
1. One day, an old man from Sham trespassed against Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and began abusing him. Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) remained silent until the man finished his revilement, and then said to him kindly and smilingly, ‘O sheikh (old man), I think you are a stranger. If you ask us for something, we will give you, if you ask us for guidance, we will guide you, if you ask us to carry you (to prepare for your travel), we will do, if you are hungry, we will give you food, if you are in need, we will satisfy you, and if you are chased, we will shelter you.’
The man was astonished and could answer with nothing. He was confused before these high morals of Imam al-Hasan (a.s.). Then he said, ‘Allah knows best with whom to place His message.’
2. One day, Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) was sitting in some place and when he wanted to leave, a poor man came to him. He welcomed the poor man, humored him and said, ‘You sat just when we got up. Do you permit me to go?’
The poor man was astonished at such morality and permitted the imam to leave.
3. Once he passed by some poor men who had put some pieces of bread on the earth and were eating from them. They invited him to participate in their food and he responded. He sat down and began eating with them. He said, ‘Surely Allah does not love the proud.’ Then he invited them to his house. He gave them food, clothes and other things.
Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan (a.s.) was too patient. He met whoever wronged him with pardon and kindness. Historians have mentioned many stories on this matter.
Once he found that the leg of one of his sheep was broken. He asked his servant who did that and the servant said it was he. Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) asked him why and he replied, ‘To grieve you.’
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) smiled at him and said, ‘I will please you in return.’
He set the servant free and gifted him generously.
Marwan, who was one of the bitterest enemies to Imam al-Hasan, acknowledged the great patience of the imam. When the imam died, Marwan came and carried the imam’s coffin. Imam al-Husayn (a.s.) was astonished and said to Marwan, ‘Today you carry his coffin, while yesterday you depressed him bitterly!’
Marwan said, ‘I did that to one whose patience was like mountains.’
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) was a true copy of his grandfather the Prophet (S) in patience and morals.
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) was one of the most generous people, the kindest, and most charitable to the poor and the wretched. He did never reject a beggar at all. He was asked about that and he said, “I always beg Allah and look forward to His gift. Therefore, I feel shy to be a beggar and at the same time I reject a beggar. Allah has accustomed me to a habit that He pours on me His blessings and I have accustomed Him that I pour His blessings on people. I fear that if I stop my habit, He will stop His habit.’ Then he recited the following verses of poetry: “When an asker comes to me, I say: welcome to the One whose favor is urgently obligatory on me.
And from His favor there is a favor on every favorer.
And the best of one’s days is when he is asked (by a needy one).”
Needy people often crowded at the door of Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and he always gave them generously. One day, a nomad came to him asking for help. The imam asked his servant to give the nomad all that there was in the bursary. It was ten thousand dinars. The nomad said to the Imam al-Hasan (a.s.), ‘Would you let me reveal my need and declare my praise?’
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) said to him, “We are people whose donation is fresh, in which hope and expectation revel.
Our selves give before being asked, To save the face of one who asks.
If the sea knows the abundance of our donation, It shall, because of shyness, flow over after its flooding.”
In our book “The Life of Imam al-Hasan bin Ali” we have mentioned many stories on his generosity and bounty.
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) turned his back to the pleasures of this worldly life and turned devotedly towards Allah the Almighty. It is related that he had said: “A bit of poor bread sates me, and a sip of water suffices me, and a piece of thin clothe covers me when alive, and when I die, it is enough as a shroud.”
Muhammad bin Babwayh has written a book called “The Asceticism of Imam al-Hasan” in which he has mentioned many stories on Imam al-Hasan’s asceticism.
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) offered all that he had just to please Allah the Almighty. He gave all his possessions two times, and divided his properties with Allah three times…
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) was the most worshipping one in his time. Historians say, ‘He was not seen at any time unless he was mentioning Allah the Almighty’ and that when he recalled the Paradise and Hell, he became confused and upset as if he was ill, and so he prayed Allah to take him to Paradise and protect him from Hell. When he recalled death and what would come after it, he cried a crying of an afraid repentant. When he recalled the standing before Allah on the Day of Resurrection, he sighed so deeply until he fainted.
When he wanted to perform wudu’ (ablution), he changed color and he trembled. He was asked about this and he said, ‘He, who stands before Allah the Lord of the throne, must tremble and his color fade.’
When he finished his wudu’ and set towards the mosque, he prayed Allah by saying, ‘O my Lord, your guest is at Your door. O Beneficent, the wrong doer has come to You, so forgive the badness we have with the goodness You have.’
When he stood to offer the prayer, fear overcame him until all his organs trembled. After offering the Fajr (dawn) Prayer, he did not utter save the mention of Allah until the sun shone.
He had performed the hajj to the Inviolable House of Allah (the Kaaba) twenty-five times on foot though he had best camels. He was asked about his going too much on foot to the Kaaba and he said, ‘I feel shy of my Lord not to go to His House on my feet.’
He assumed the Islamic caliphate after the martyrdom of his father Imam Ali (a.s.) the pioneer of Justice in Islam. Some of his army rebelled against him and some other leant to rest and gave up fighting. Many of his soldiers were affected by the Kharijites who had accused Imam Ali (a.s.) of reneging his religion. They invited the army to rebel against Imam al-Hasan (a.s.), besides that the commanders of the divisions corresponded with Mo’awiya and agreed with him that they would assassinate Imam al-Hasan or capture him. Unfortunately, Ubaydillah bin al-Abbas, Imam al-Hasan’s (a.s.) cousin, who was the general leader of the army, was bribed by Mo’awiya, and so he took with him a part of the army and joined Mo’awiya under the darkness of night. Therefore, the army of Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) was left in confusion and seditions.
Before this severe ordeal, Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) had but two choices; either to fight with his wrecked army and sacrifice himself, his family, and his followers without offering to Islam and the nation any good, because Mo’awiya with his trick and cunning would deceive the public and show them that Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and his followers had deviated from Islam, and if the imam was taken a captive, Mo’awiya would set him free and thus he would purify himself and his Umayyad family from the disgrace that the Prophet (S) had stained them with when he set them free after the conquest of Mecca.
Or he would make peace with Mo’awiya unwillingly and in spite of him, and then Mo’awiya would be free in his oppression and consequently he would be exposed before the public that he was too far from the reality of Islam. And this came true immediately after the truce. Mo’awiya made a speech before the people of Iraq saying, ‘I have not fought you to offer prayers, to fast, pay zakat, or to perform the hajj, but I have fought you to have power over you, and Allah has given me this although you are unwilling. I have put everything, which I have agreed on with al-Hasan (in the truce), under my feet. I will fulfill nothing of it.’
Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) had chosen peace, and otherwise the nation would suffer calamities and bloodsheds that only Allah knew how disastrous they would be.
In the truce of peace, Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) made conditions on Mo’awiya that deprived him of the legal authority and showed him to people that he was just a boss of a gang. The imam stipulated on Mo’awiya that he (the imam) would not call him as Ameerul Mo'minin (the commander of the believers), and that Mo’awiya should not violate the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His prophet in all of his conducts. Anyhow, Mo’awiya did not fulfill any of the conditions of the truce.
After the truce, the policy of Mo’awiya violated the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His prophet. He governed the nation with a dark policy that had no kindness and mercy. He killed innocent people and spread terror everywhere. He plundered the wealth of the nation and gave power to evil men like Ziyad bin Abeeh, Bisr bin Arta’ah, Amr bin al-Aas, Marwan bin al-Hakam and their like over the Muslims.
From the great offenses of Mo’awiya was the assassination of the Prophet’s grandson Imam al-Hasan (a.s.). Mo’awiya asked Ja’da bint al-Ash’ath to insert poison into the food of her husband Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) after he (Mo’awiya) had tempted her that he would marry her to his son Yazid. She gave the poisonous food to the imam, who was fasting, in the Iftar, and after no long the imam left to the better world.