History of the Caliphs

By: Rasūl Ja’farīan

Translation by: Ali Ebrahimi

p. 307-313

The trace of the ‘Uthmānids’s attitude in Sunnism proves that Imām Mudjtabā’s six-month caliphate was neglected considered neither as the Orthodox caliphs’ term nor as the monarch’s.[1] In other words, his caliphate was not that legitimate. The survivors of Muhādjirūn and Ansār in Kūfa, yet along with the people of Iraq and the oriental lands of Islam had acquiesced to him as Muslim’s caliph. Meanwhile Mu‘āwiya had also claimed caliphate in Damascus though according to himself only one from among Ansār had joined him, hence a wide gap was created among Muslims.[2] It was evident that not only the principle of analyzing caliphate was not accepted at that time but also to the end of the historical caliphate era it was assumed impossible to exist two caliphs simultaneously in the Islamic world. The present situation of Iraq when Imām Hasan(a) assumed the power was far worse than that of Damascus. In addition to the defeat the Iraqi people had experienced concerning arbitration, the Khāridjites’s revolt did severely undermine their morale and after three wars had gone weary. In very last days of his life, the more Imām ‘Alī tried to mobilize them, the less they obeyed.[3] Now after Imām ‘Alī’s martyrdom and the Iraqi people’s concern about Damascus domination, it looked probable that they resist. They should have chosen an Imām and as referred to previously, they had no other alternative. Qays Ibn Sa‘d’s and ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās’s allegiance to Imām paved the way for the Iraqis’s allegiance. Following them, the residents of Hidjāz after a while of delay swore allegiance.

Among the people the Shi‘ite Muslims were found whose belief was profoundly in Imām Mudjtabā’s Imamate and whose sworn allegiance was based on it as well. As a matter of fact, the tendency of the majority in Kūfa was towards Shi‘ism, namely denying ‘Uthmān and approving ‘Alī (a). They, during Imām’s five-year term, being influenced by Imām and his disciples had become ‘Alawites and hated the ‘Uthmānids. Opposition to ‘Uthmān as well as his infamy in the city from the very time of Imām ‘Alī (a) was to the extent that Djarīr Ibn ‘Abd Allāh Badjalī had said that he would no longer stay where ‘Uthmān was officially insulted.[4] Whom could people choose other than Imām Mudjtabā after ‘Alī’s martyrdom? Among Muhādjirūn and Ansār or even the Qurayshites, of course, there were a group of the Prophet’s disciples such as ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās in Kūfa who without a shadow of doubt had faith in Imām Mudjtabā and never ever did they think of someone else. The meaning was not that the Iraqi people liked Hasan Ibn ‘Alī more than his father,[5] it was owing to the fact that there was no other choice. It is pointed out because some are set to declare that the convenient opportunity was provided to Imām Hasan but he himself declined to keep on his struggle.

As far as the theory of Shi‘ites Imamate is concerned, there is evidence that Imām ‘Alī had introduced his son as his successor though the Sunnis have not referred to such evidence for succession.[6] A narration is quoted from the Prophet in this respect in many a source as stating, [الحسن والحسين امامان، قاما أو قعدا[7 “Hasan and Husayn are the Imāms whether they rise up or not.”

This Hadith makes it clear that the two brothers’ Imamate had been expressly stated. Historically, there are reports as proofs of Imām Mudjtabā’s Imamate.

As reported by Nasr Ibn Muzāhim, A‘war Shannī had addressed Imām ‘Alī (a), “May Allāh endow you more with success for a glance you have cast at divine light… The leader is you. Were you killed, the leaders would be these two, Hasan and Husayn. Lend an ear to what I have composed, “O Hasan’s father! The dazzling sun of the midday is you and the shining moon is your sons. Until the Day of Judgement, thou and these two will go together as an ear with an eye. The generous are thou whose generosity is so sublime that no man can keep up with.[8]

Mundhir Ibn Ya‘mur told Imām in Siffīn, فان تهلك فهذان الحسن والحسين أئمتنا من بعدك “Hasan and Husayn would be our Imāms after you even if you were killed.”

In a poem he had composed,

وهذان في الداجيات القمر

ابا حسن أنت شمس النهار

بمنـزلة السمع بعد البصر[9]

و أنت و هذان حتي الممات

O Hasan’s father, the midday sun dazzling is thee and the shining moon is these two. Until the Day of Judgement thou and these two will go together as an ear with an eye

It clarifies that Imām’s disciples even from his time knew both Imām Hasan and Imām Husayn as his successors as after Imām Mudjtabā’s martyrdom Kūfiyān Shi‘ite Muslims went after Imām Husayn (a). ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās also called the people to listen to Imām Mudjtabā who said, “Swear allegiance to him who is your Prophet’s son and your Imām’s successor”.[10]

In a letter, Imām Mudjtabā also wrote to Mu‘āwiya “On the threshold of demise, my father entrusted the power to me.”[11]

Haytham Ibn ‘Adī has quoted his chiefs as saying, “Hasan Ibn ‘Alī is his father’s successor”.[12] When Abu l-Aswad Du’alī secured allegiance for Imām in Basra, said that, “Successorship and Imamate “ had been entrusted to him by his father.”[13]

People also told Imām, “You are our caliph and your father’s successor and we are you followers”.[14]

Anyhow it can be borne in mind that Imām ‘Alī (a) had introduced his son as his successor.[15] One Friday when Imām did not feel fine, he asked Hasan to lead the Prayer.[16] Heedless of the fact that Kūfa Shi‘ite Muslims had come up with Imām Mudjtabā based on their beliefs, the special Shi‘ites concepts of Ahl al-Bayt and the dignity of Imām should be taken into account.

Imām’s first-ever sermon as reported by all related sources is, “Anyone who knows me, all right but anyone who does not know me, I am Hasan, Muhammad’s son. The son of the Bearer of good news and the Warner is I. I am the son of Allāh’s Apostle and with His permission the guidance light. I am from among Ahl al-Bayt from whom any filth and sin is kept away; whom are purified and whose affection Allāh has made incumbent upon you in His Book, say, for my mission I want thee naught but affection for my kinsfolk’s.[17] And (anyone who does good, we do multiply his good), so this good is feeling affection for us, Ahl al-Bayt.”[18]

Mas‘ūdī has presented a part of Imām Hasan’s one sermon as follows, “The saved Allāh’s party and close kin’s of Allāh’s Apostle are we. We are the purified ones and one of the two weighty things left behind by the prophet. The other one is the divine Book to which no wrong can ever penetrate … Obey us then, for our obedience is incumbent, for besides obeying Allāh and His Apostle about the men of authorities it is ordered too. Anything which was in dispute, refer to Allāh and His Apostle… If you referred to the Apostle and the authorities, they would surely figure it out, for they are the people of science inference”.[19]

Hilāl Ibn Yasāf has recounted that he was present when Hasan Ibn ‘Alī delivered a sermon saying,

“O Kūfiyāns! Fear from Allāh concerning us. We are your emirs and your guests. We are the ones about whom Allāh has stated,
[انما يريد الله ليذهب عنكم الرجس البيت ويطهركم تطهيرا[20 “Allāh only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! And to give you a thorough purifying.”

This sermon appears to be made after Imām Hasan was wounded in Sābāt.

In spite of Muhādjirūn’s and Ansār’s allegiance to the former caliphs, Imām Mudjtabā like his father deemed caliphate his right. His letter to Mu‘āwiya like that of Imām ‘Alī (a) included censure for the former caliphs’ designation. Pointing to Quraysh’s reasoning in Saqīfa, kinship to the Prophet (s) and Arabs’ approval of such reasoning, Imām in his letter wrote,”Although such reasoning we also had, Quraysh never behaved justly towards us as were behaved by Arabs. They altogether oppressed us and stood against us. Since we feared from the hypocrites and the parties, we had to bear them until we now come to grips with you who have no precedence in Islam and whose father had been the archenemy of Allāh’s Apostle and Book”. Then Imām urged him to swear allegiance to him like people.

In his response, Mu‘āwiya referred to his reaction against the event of Saqīfa and wrote, “So you explicitly have denounced not only Abū Bakr, ‘Umar and Abū ‘Ubayda but Muhādjirūn and Ansār. We never deny your virtues and precedence. That day they preferred them to you for protecting Islam. Today the discord between you and me is the same as that between Abū Bakr and you after the Prophet’s departure. If I were certain that you were better than me as a lord of peasants and supporter of the nation or stronger than me in collecting properties and in encountering the enemies, I would swear allegiance to you. Since I am more experienced in ruling and older than you, you had better concede my sovereignty. If you do so, I will entrust the authority to you after myself, grant you a great quantity from Iraqi Bayt al-Māl (Public fund) and the revenues of anywhere you demanded in Iraq.”[21]

The mention Mu‘āwiya had made about the similarity between his dispute with ‘Alī and his son and that of Abū Bakr and ‘Alī was also seen in the letters exchanged between Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr and Mu‘āwiya.[22]

Considering himself as the successor of Abū Bakr and ‘Umar, Mu‘āwiya insisted on it for he was pursuing a political intention as well.

Once he had written to Imām ‘Alī (a),”You did injustice to the caliphs all”.

If I did so, answered Imām, I should not apologize to you. The latter added,”I never did injustice. Only did I blame them and for what I did I will apologize to no one.”[23]

For whatever reason the people of Iraq and Hidjāz swore allegiance to Imām Hasan. It is said that when swearing allegiance, Qays Ibn Sa‘d said, “For the sake of the Holy Book, the prophet’s Sunna and Djihād against the oppressors I do swear allegiance to you.”

Imām only preferred the first and the second ones saying, “These two are superior”.[24] As recounted by Madā’inī after Imām ‘Alī (a) died a martyr Ibn ‘Abbās left home and cried out “One it left behind ‘Alī (a) if willing, invite him to come out and you swear allegiance to him but if unwilling no one forces you”. While they were weeping for Imām ‘Alī (a), people showed satisfaction. Imām stepped out of home and after delivering a sermon and reciting the verse of Tathīr (purification) and the crowd swore allegiance to him.[25] Later on Imām had addressed them, “Of your own volition you swore allegiance to me not under duress”.[26]

According to what Isfahānī has narrated, when Ibn ‘Abbās called on the crowd to swear allegiance to him they announced that they knew no other one to be lovelier and more rightful than him, they announced that they knew no other one to be lovelier and more rightful than him, thus, they swore.[27]

Another point which merits to be taken into account is that the political principle agreed on caliphate is the allegiance of both Mecca and Medina. At the moment after about thirty years after the Prophet’s departure, the majority of Prophet’s disciples have been killed in conquests and also in Djamal and Siffīn. Medina was no longer the center of caliphate. Therefore, the above-mentioned principle that was the allegiance of Muhādjirūn and Ansār residing in Medina was called in to two questions. The problem per se foreboded how the situation was converted. It will be discussed later that the principle was not only dissolved but also substituted by the principle of succession on the part of Mu‘āwiya. In addition, from among the chiefs of Quraysh a few survived to claim caliphate.

In a letter Mu‘āwiya had written to Ibn ‘Abbās, “Now you have to be concerned about Quraysh! Only six are alive, two in Damascus namely ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās and I, two in Hidjāz, Sa‘d Ibn Abī Waqqās and ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Umar and two in Iraq, you and Hasan Ibn ‘Alī”.[28]

Under such circumstances, Iraq could only trust Imām ‘Alī’s son. However there was a problem due to which the Iraqis were not able to be firm in their chosen way. When swearing allegiance to Imām a group was set to swear provided that Imām did battle with Mu‘āwiya. Imām Mudjtabā by no means approved their condition and said that he would not accept their allegiance unless they vowed to battle against anyone he battled and compromise with anyone he compromised.[29] It seems quite natural that no leader can swear allegiance under such a condition. He ought to be fully empowered to battle or compromise. Imām’s remark never implies that form the very beginning he was not intent on war[30], but his next actions showed that he was among the ones who insisted on war. The main reason for rejecting this condition was preserving his sovereignty as Imām of a community. If the condition had been approved, they indeed must have chosen a military commander not an Imām.

Shiykh Mufīd has recorded that Imām was sworn allegiance on Friday Ramadān 21st, 40.[31]

[1] In historical books it is mentioned that after Imām ‘Alī’s martyrdom he took power with the allegiance of those present in Kūfa. In Tārīkh al-khulafā’, Suyūtī, Mas‘ūdī has said that considering Imām Hasan’s caliphate the narration of الخلافة بعدي ثلاثون سنة “The caliphate after me is thirty years” Would be right as seen in some historical books. Later, he referring to the duration of each caliph had confirmed the caliphate until the early third century.
[2] Tabaqāt al-shu‘arā’, p.109; al-Imtā‘ wa l-Mu’ānisa, vol.III, p.170
[3] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.X, p.67
[4] Mukhtasar Tārīkh Dimashq, vol.VI, p.30; vol.VII, p.282
[5] Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn ‘Asākir, p.171
[6] Maqtal Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, p.61, Ibn Abi l-Dunyā has said that no successor ‘Alī introduced.
[7] Madjma‘ al-bayān, vol.II, p. 403; Kashf al-ghumma, vol.II, p.159; al-Irshād, p.220
[8] Waq‘at Siffīn, pp.424-425 (Siffīn Battle, p.580); Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol.III, p.34
[9] al-Futūh, vol.III, p.147
[10] al-Irshād, vol.II, p.8. In a book by Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.I6, pp.30-31 and Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.33 the word of successor is not referred to.
[11] al-Futūh, vol.IV, p.151;( in Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, Isfahānī, p.36 and) Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.I6, p.24, it is narrated, ولّاني المسلمون الامر من بعده “After him, I am Muslims’ leader” The difference between the two is clear.
[12] al-‘Iqd al-farīd, vol.IV, p.474
[13] al-Aghānī, vol.I1, p.116
[14] Bihār al-anwār, vol.IV4, p.43
[15] al-Hayāt al-Siyāsiyya li l-Imām al-Hasan, pp.48-49
[16] Murūdj al-dhahab, vol.II, p.431
[17] It is the first part of the verse to the last part which only was referred in the narration.
[18] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.33; Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XVI, pp.30-31; Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn Sa‘d, p.167; Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p.28; Hayāt al-sahāba, vol.III, pp.526-527
[19] Murūdj al-dhahab, Vol.II, p.432. (The Women, 83)
[20] Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan (a), Ibn Sa‘d, p.167
[21] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XVI, pp.33-36 (simplified); al-Futūh, vol.IV, pp.151-153; Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, pp.64-68
[22] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.II, p.31 Mu‘āwīya wrote to Muhammad Ibn Abū Bakr “You father and I knew well that ‘Alī was superior but after the Prophet passed away”, فكان أبوك وفاروقه أوّل من ابتزّ حقّه وخالفه على أمره “Your father and his horrible friend were the first ones who usurped his right and opposed him” Murūdj al-dhahab, vol.III, pp.11-13
[23] Nahdj al-balāgha, letter 28
[24] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.V, p.158
[25] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XVI, pp.22, 28
[26] al-Futūh, vol.IV, p.156
[27] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XVI, p.31
[28] al-Imāma wa l-siyāsa, vol.I, p.133; Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.IV, p.105, No.315
[29] Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn Sa‘d, pp 154-155; Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.V, p.158; Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p.29
[30] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p.29
[31] al-Irshād, vol.II, p.9
Source: maaref-foundation.com


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