The Peace Treaty that was never honoured by Banu Ummayads
Sunni and Shia, the two main sects of Islam, agree on most of the fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam. However, a bitter split between the two goes back to a dispute over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the leader of the Islamic faith. Today, about 85 percent of the approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are Sunni, while 15 percent are Shia, Shia represent the majority of the population in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan, and a plurality in Lebanon, Sunnis are the majority in more than 40 other countries, from Morocco to Indonesia.
However, the third most controversial period in the history of Islam began when Imam Hasan (as) was declared as the 5th Caliph of Muslims.
IMAM HASAN (as) was the eldest son of Imam ‘Ali (as) and Hadrat Fatimah (sa).
Name: al-Hasan, Title: al-Mujtaba.
Birth: In Medina on Tuesday, 15th Ramadan 3 AH.
Death: Died at the age of 46, in Medina on Thursday, 28th Safar 50 AH; buried in Jannatu ‘I-Baqi, in Medina.
When the Holy Prophet (PBUH) received the happy news of the birth of his grandson, he came to the house of his beloved daughter, took the newly born child in his arms, recited adhan and iqamah in his right and left ears respectively, and in compliance with Allah’s command named him al-Hasan.
The Prophet of Islam Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) chose the name “Al-Hasan” for him.
In the year AH 10 (631/32 CE) a Christian envoy from Najran (now in Saudi Arabia) came to Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) to argue which of the two parties erred in its doctrine concerning Hazrat Isa (Jesus). Most of the Sunni historians also mention Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), Hazrat Fatimah (SA), Imam Al-Hasan (as) and Imam Al-Husayn (as) as having participated in the Mubahalah, and some agree with the Shi’ite tradition that ‘Ali was among them.
After the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (as) Imam Hasan (as) became the Caliph of the Ummah by unanimous choice. He came to Muslims and stood on the minbar of his father.
“Tonight, a man departed who has not been excelled by the predecessors and whom the future generations won’t reach. He is the man who staged jihad alongside the Messenger of God and made his soul the shield of his life. The Messenger of God would give him the banner and send him the battlefield. Then, Gabriel on the right and Michael on the left would engulf him; and he wouldn’t return from the battlefield unless God granted him victory. He passed away in the night that Moses died and the night in which Jesus ascended to the heavens and the night that the Qur’an was sent down.”
After Imam Hassan’s speech, Ubaidullah ibn Abbas started speaking, “O people! This is the grandson of the Prophet and his successor and your Imam. Swear Allegiance to him as God will guide you, through him, to the ways of safety and, through His permission, takes you from darkness toward light and guides you to the right path.”
The Sardars of tribes of Iraq, Hijaz, and Yemen swore allegiance to Imam Hassan Mojtaba (AS).
Amir Muawiya did not accept the Caliphate of Imam Hasan (AS). He was advised to obey the truth and follow the leadership of Imam Hassan (AS). Amir Muawiyah was so obstinate in his recalcitrance that dispatched an army from Syria to Iraq to confront the Imam. The troop was mostly constituted of the Kharejites whose other comrades had placed themselves in Imam Hassan’s army.
Amir Muawiyah never let Imam work in peace. He used all the tricks of statecraft available at his disposal to dethrone Imam Hasan (as) and finally succeeded in his nefarious ambition. To avoid further divisions and bloodshed among Muslims, Imam Hasan (as) agreed to make a treaty with Muawiya bin Abi Sufiyan. These terms, which had been proposed by Imam Hasan (as), were in the interest of Muslim Ummah in general and the treaty was signed with the witnesses of prominent personalities of Iraq and Syria.
Before starting a discussion on the peace treaty, it is important to state a brief backdrop of the treaty.
Muawiya sent the following letter to Imam Hasan (as):
“This letter is from Muawiya bin Abi Sufyan for Hasan bin ‘Ali (as). I make peace with you on the condition that after me the government will be handed over to you and I vouch for you before God, feeling obliged to God and the Holy Prophet (saws), remembering the firm pledge taken by the Glorified God from any of His bondsmen, that I will neither indulge in any intrigue against you nor would conduct any armed struggle against you.
Further that each year I will pay you ten lakh (one million) Dirham from Baitul Maal and the revenue of Mansa and Darb Jard (Darabgard) will be reserved for you. ‘Abdullah b. Amir, ‘Umru b. Salma Hamdani, ‘Abdel Rahman b. Samarah and Muhammad bin Ash’as Kandi are witness to it and it has been written in Rabi II 41 A.H.”
When Imam Al-Mujtaba (as) read the above letter of Muawiya, he called ‘Abdullah bin Haras b. Noful, the nephew of Muawiya, and told him that he should go to his uncle (Muawiya) and tell him that if Muawiya was agreeable to guarantee the life and honour of the general public, then he would agree to hand over the reign to him.
‘Abdullah b. Haras went to Muawiya and explained the condition to him.
In return, Muawiya gave him a blank paper at the end of which was the seal of Muawiya and sent the message to Imam Hasan (as) that he may write on it (the white paper) whatever he thought fit.
Imam Hasan (as) wrote the required terms and conditions on it, and after taking the signatures of the high powered Syrian delegation as a witness, sent it back to Muawiya so that he (Muawiya) may affirm his agreement to all those terms and both these persons may be a witness to the agreement.
These documents clearly indicate that Imam Hasan (as) had demanded the issue of the caliphate must be returned to him after the death of Muawiya and that the people of Iraq, Hijaz, and Madina would not be arrested for having fought Muawiya in the days of his (Imam’s) father.
Muawiya was ready to accept all the terms and conditions of Imam Hasan (as), except that he could not guarantee the safety of ten persons who included prominent persons like Qais b. S’ad against whom Muawiya had vouched to cut his tongue and hands whenever arrested. Imam Hasan (as) conveyed to Muawiya that in such a situation, he was not prepared for peace with him.
Learning this, Muawiya put his seal on the blank paper and handed it over to the representative of the Imam (as) so that he may write what he thought appropriate and that he was willing to accept all the terms of the Imam (as) regarding peace.
Imam Hasan (as) wrote all the terms and conditions demanded by him and sent it back to Muawiya.
When Muawiya agreed to those terms and a promise for the same was taken from him in the presence of responsible persons, only then the agreement was reached between the two sides according to which Imam Hasan (as) agreed to hand over the government to Muawiya for a given time (i.e. till the time Muawiya was alive).
Following is the extract of the treaty between Imam Hassan and Muawiya:
- Authority will be handed to Muawiya provided that he should act according to the Book of Allah, the Sunna of the Prophet, and the behavior of the righteous Caliphs.
- Authority should be for Imam Hassan after Muawiya, and if an accident occurs, the authority should go to Imam Hussain, Muawiya has no right to entrust authority to anyone.
- Muawiya should abandon cursing the Commander of the faithful (Imam Ali) and the practice of using the Qunut in the salat against him, Muawiya should also not mention Imam Ali unless in a good manner.
- He (Muawiya) should exclude what is in the treasury of Kufa, which is five million (dirhams). So handing over authority does not include it (i.e., this sum of money). Muawiya should send al-Husayn one million dirhams a year, he should prefer the children of Hashim (Banu Hashim) in giving and gifts to the Banu Abd Shams, and should divide one million (dirhams) among the sons of those who were killed with the Commander of the faithful at the Battle of the Camel and the Battle of Siffin, and should spend that from the taxes of Dar Abjard.
- The people should be safe wherever they are in the earth of Allah. Muawiya should give security to all races. The companions of Imam Ali should be given security wherever they are. Muawiya should not seek a calamity secretly or openly for Imam Hassan, nor for Imam Hussein, nor for any of the Prophet’s Ahlul Bayt.
Imam Hasan retired from the caliphate and thus safeguarded the blood of the Muslims and the strength of Islam, and prevented the external and internal enemies from taking undue advantage of the situation. One of the conditions of the Peace Treaty between Imam Hasan and Muawiya reads that “Hasan bin Ali makes Peace on the condition that he will not be under an obligation to call Muawiya, the Commander of the Faithful”. It is claimed that Muawiya violated all the conditions of the peace treaty and did not take care of the following five items of the treaty and committed horrible crimes against the Shias of Ali:
- When Muawiya took the reins of government, he did not act according to the Book of Allah, the Sunna (i.e., practices) of His Apostle, and the practices (Sira) of the Orthodox Caliphs,
- He didn’t leave the authority after him to the Consultative Committee or to the Owner of the right (i.e., al-Hasan),
- He didn’t refrain from cursing Imam Ali, he increased cursing Ali to the extent that he ordered his orators to curse him everywhere.
- He didn’t give Imam Hasan (as) the land taxes,
- He didn’t he give security to Ali’s Shias and companions.
Unfortunately, most historians have very brazenly tried to keep the world in the dark about the clauses and the relevant details of the peace treaty.
The historians Masudi and Yaqubi do not mention the terms at all. Similarly, Ibn. Hajar ‘Asqalani and Hakim Naishapuri do admit that (Imam) Hasan (as) had made peace only after so many terms had been agreed and commitments and assurances given, but do not mention the details of what those conditions were.
A similar attitude can be noticed in the narration of ‘Sahih-e-Bukhari’ in which the details beginning with the coming of the delegations till the signing of the agreement have been given, but when the point of the terms and conditions is reached then the issue is evaded by writing ‘etc. etc.’ but it is accepted that the Syrian delegation had accepted all the terms and conditions of Imam Hasan (as).
Imam Hassan Mojtaba’s peace treaty with Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan has been viewed Imam Hassan (AS) as the champion of peace while others accuse him of seeking comfort and ease in life. Some historians believe that seceding the rule to Muawiya caused humiliation of Muslims and deviation of leadership from its main course.
Muawiya breached all his obligations and said, “O people of Iraq! I swear by God that I didn’t fight you for prayer, fasting, zakat, and Hajj. My fight was for the government. Beware that I put whatever covenant and condition that I have concluded with Hassan ibn Ali and it has no value.”
Mu’awiyah’s malice against Bani Hashim led him to conspire with the Imam Hasan’s wife Ja’dah, the daughter of Ash’ath. She was made to give the Imam some poison which affected his liver. Imam Hasan (as) succumbed to Mu’awiyah’s fatal mischief and attained his martyrdom on 28th Safar 50 AH. His funeral was attended by Imam Husayn and the members of the Hashimite family. His bier while being taken for burial to the Holy Prophet’s tomb was shot at with arrows by his enemies, and it had to be diverted for burial to the ‘Jannatu-ul-Baqi’ at Medina. His tomb was demolished along with others on 8th Shawwal 1344 (21st April 1926) by the Saudi rulers when they came to power in Hijaz.