Written By: Syed-Mohsin Naquvi

Imam Hasan bin Ali, the fifth of the Khulafa-e-Raashidoon

The fifteenth day in this holy month of Ramadhan is the birth anniversary of Imam Hasan bin Ali.

The terms, Khilaafat Raashida[1] and Khulafa Raashidoon are in common use today in Islamic writings, both by Muslims as well as by non Muslim writers. It wasn’t always so. Let us discuss the historical background of the evolution of these terms in the writings on Islam and Muslims.

Let us first define those terms here. The first four Khaleefas who came one after the other, after the passing away of the Prophet (pbh), namely: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali are Khulafa Raashideen (or Raashidoon), and their period is known as the Khilafat Rashida. This period is also known as ‘Ala minhaj an Nuboowah, or, the period similar (lit. on the same path) to that of the Prophethood.

Let us begin at the point in time when the period of the Umayyad rulers was already over, and the Abbasids had fully established their power.

If we go back in history and search for this term of Khilafat Raashida or Khulafaa Raashidoon, we will not find them in any of the writings of the pre Abbasid period. It is extremely difficult though, to find such writings (those produced before 150 year of Hijra) in their original texts. We can however, deduce this by reading the other sources available and analyzing them in the proper background and context. Here is our view and analysis of the known facts.

If one asks the average Sunni Muslim, he/she would give the above mentioned four names for the ‘rightly guided Khalaeefas’ of the Prophet. However, the Sunni scholars have had to include Hasan bin Ali as the fifth of the ‘rightly guided’ in most of their works. We have said: ‘have had to include.’ Why? Let us explain.

There is a hadeeth of the Prophet of Islam which is employed to authenticate the notion of Khilafat Raashidah, which goes as follows:

Khilafat will last in my Ummah for thirty years, then there are kings.

Mawdoodi quotes this hadeeth in his celebrated book titled: Khilafat-o-Mulookiyyat, pp 148, he quotes this hadeeth from al-bidaya wan-Nihaya of Ibn Katheer. Mawdoodi adds that this period of 30 years ended in 41 A.H., when Imam Hasan abdicated in favour of Mu’awiyya.

So, if we separate the period of Imam Hasan, those 30 years cannot be completed. That is why the scholars have had to include the period of Imam Hasan in the terminology of Khilafat Raashidah. (The Prophet passes away in the 11th year of Hijra. Imam Ali is assassinated in the 40th year of Hijra. That only makes 29 years. Imam Hasan abdicates from worldly rule in the 41st year of Hijra. That makes the one extra year to complete the 30.)

As already stated, after the treaty between Muawiyyah and Imam Hasan was signed, Muawiyyah ordered people to come and acknowledge him as the sole ruler of the Muslim kingdom, which they did in most areas. That year was coined as the year of Jamacat, and the historians write about the Muslim community from that point on as Ahl al Sunnah wal-Jamaca.

Let us see where the word SUNNA came from. There is another very well-known hadeeth of the Prophet which has been preserved by both Shica and Sunni scholars, as follows:

I am leaving among you two valuable things (thaqalayn) Allah’s book and my ITRAT; they will not separate from each other until they come to me at the Pond, so if you attach yourselves to those two, never ever shall you go wrong[2].

This hadeeth was so well known that it was causing serious problems to the cause of Banu Umayya. After all, they had taken over the KHILAFA by displacing the Ahlul-Bayt (the ITRAT of the Prophet). The court paid fuqaha and Qadhees came to the rescue of the ruling party. A parallel hadeeth was coined and given currency by the government, as follows:

I am leaving among you two valuable things The Book of Allah and my Sunna (SUNNATI instead of ITRATI)..

The word SUNNA was taken from this distorted version of the hadeeth and put together with the decree of Muawiyyah in which he had proclaimed the YEAR OF JAMACAT, to formulate the term Al-Sunnat wal-Jamacat.

During the entire period of the Umayyad rule, the Khaleefa was just Khaleefa, so were the first four of them. The term Raashid and Raashidah were never used. In the period of the Umayyad rule, the court historians had prepared a list of the Khaleefas of the Prophet. The names of Imam Ali and Imam Hasan were not included in that list, for obvious reasons. In that period, the continuous names were:

(1) Abu Bakr, (2) Umar, (3) Uthman, (4) Muawiyyah, (5) Yazeed, (6) Marwan.

It was common practice that the official pulpits were used to praise these names while abuse was thrown at Imam Ali. How could they include Imam Ali in the list of the Khaleefas? In fact, the common word in Syria was that Ali was not even a Muslim. When news arrived in Syria that Imam Ali had been assassinated, people asked as to how he was killed. When the answer was given that he was killed inside the mosque, they would ask: What was Ali doing inside a mosque? That was the extent of the anti Ali propaganda inside Syria.

The event of Karbala shook the foundations of the Umayyad tyranny. The Abbasids took advantage of the popular sentiment and made political capital out of it. They now became the avengers of the blood of Ahl al Bayt; and with that premise, the Abbasids took over the rule of the state. However, now they faced a unique dilemma.

If they had accepted the legitimacy of the Khilafat of Muawiyyah and company, their own claim to that seat would be thrown out the window. If they had cancelled the entire concept of Khilafat, then how would they legitimize their own being in the driving seat? If they had done that, they would have to revert to the Quranic theory of Imamat, that is, the notion of IMAM MANSOOS MIN ALLAH, which would force their hand to give the khilafat (or the worldly leadership) back to the members of the Ahl al Bayt.

Once again, the court paid political spin doctors, Qadhees and Fuqaha, came up with the combined formula of Khilafat Raashidah (the period of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali) and the Khilafat Ghayr Raashidah (the Umayyad period). That was the best way to connect the Abbasid rule with that of the Prophet of Islam, going through the Khaleefas who were rightly guided and cutting those off who were not.

So, in fact, this notion of Khilafat Raashidah was an urgent need for the emerging Abbasid dynasty, which, eventually, became the backbone of the Islamic political theory as elaborated by the Sunni Muslim scholars at large.

By the time the great works of Hadeeth, Tafseer and jurisprudence were being compiled (the second and the third centuries of Hijra) this notion was widely accepted, in fact fully embraced by the Muslim world at large. It had become one of the basic tenets of faith in Islam. Even today when you go to the Grand Mosque in Makkah, you will find those four names inscribed on the pillars of the mosque. Actually there are a total of twelve pillars in the mosque. So, those four names are repeated three times.

[1]Â Raashid (masc.) and Raashidah (fem.) both mean ‘rightly guided.’

[2] Moderressi, An Introduction to Shia Law, from which we quote:

The Hadeeth al-Thaqalayn, a tradition which was handed down by both Shi’is and Sunnis from the Prophet, according to which the prophet called on Muslims to follow the Quran and his own Family after him, was alongwith a number of other traditions, the root and original source of this tendency which was later strengthened by further theologico-philosophical and historical reasonings.

Moderresi quotes the following sources for that hadeeth Ibn Sad, Tbaqaat, Vol. II, Musnad of Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol.III, Saheeh of Muslim, Vol.II, Jami of Tirmizi, Vol.II, Nasai, Darimi, Bayhaqi, Haakim, Baghawi, Khateeb, Tahaawi, Tabrani, Ibn Atheer, Asqalaani, Ibn Asaakir, and Suyooti. Additionally, Moderresi refers his readers to the monumental work by Mawlana Hamid Husain Moosawi of Lucknow, India, titled:Abaqaat al-Anwar, in which the Mawlana has devoted one whole volume of his book to list some two hundred Sunni scholars of source who have quoted the Hadeeth of Thaqalayn.

Source: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ahlilbait5

Source: almujtaba.com


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