I hope you will agree with me that there are accurate criteria to evaluate the character of men when they are worried during their attempts. These criteria are their attitudes towards their stipulations. Rather they bind themselves to fulfill their stipulations willingly and voluntarily. Every man who takes care of his humanity should fulfill his stipulations of his own accord. For if he breaks them, he will defame his character, his reputation, and his right. It is easy for us to imagine the person who makes desperate efforts to keep his words and his promises. That is because such a persons dies for an ideal manner through which he loses the limited life to win the limitless life. Also he adds a new value to ideal humanitarian society.
As for the person who breaks his promise, violates his oath, does not keep his words, smiles at his friend and deceives him during certain conditions, then he frowns at his friend, turns away from him, and repents of what he has given him, he is not regarded as a human being. Rather he is the enemy of humanity. That is because he destroys the rules of humanity and paralyzes its decisions.
Moreover, such a person is the enemy of his character, for he subjects it to wrath, scorn, bad reputation, and deprivation of the trust of the society. After that, it does not avail him when he says or when the people say concerning him: "The end justifies the means." That is because this excuse itself is a perfect crime which the forgiving heart cannot bear. The ends, though different, must have the moral value on which the people have agreed. Therefore every end should have moral means. Besides the end is never moral unless it depends on moral means.
It is an act of kindness that all people, since the beginning of society, have agreed on the morality of the oath and of the promise to guarantee mutual interests. Apart from this all Divine religions have agreed on fulfilling the covenant.
It may be better for us to read, here, what the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, wrote to Malik al-Ashtar al-Nakha'i concerning this matter. He said: "Do not reject the peace to which your enemy may call you and wherein there is pleasure of Allah, because peace brings rest to your army and relief of your worries and safety for your country. However, after peace there is great apprehension from the enemy because often the enemy offers peace to benefit by your negligence. Therefore be cautious and do not act by wistfulness in this matter. If you conclude an agreement between yourself and your enemy or enter into a pledge with him, then fulfill your agreement and discharge your pledge faithfully.
Place yourself as a shield against whatever you have pledged because among the obligations of Allah there is nothing on which people are more strongly united despite the difference of their ideas and variation of their views than respect for fulfilling the pledges. Besides Muslims even unbelievers have abided by the agreements because they realized the dangers to come in the wake of violation (there of). Therefore do not deceive your enemy, because no one can offend against Allah save the ignorant and the wicked. Allah made agreement and pledge the sign of security which He has spread over his creatures through His mercy and an asylum in which they stay in His protection and seek benefit of His neighborhood. Therefore there should be no deceit, cunning or duplicity in it.
Do not enter into an agreement that may admit different interpretations and do not change the interpretation of vague words after the conclusion and confirmation (of the agreement). If an agreement of Allah involves you in hardship do not seek its repudiation without justification, because bearing of hardships through which you expect relief and handsome result is better than violation whose consequence you fear, and you apprehend that you will be called upon by Allah to account for it and you will be unable to seek forgiveness for it in this world or the next."
I (i.e., the author) say: If we return to our subject, we will see that the stipulations which al-Hasan b. 'Ali, peace be on him, imposed on Mu'awiya in the Peace Treaty were certain pledges and strong oaths which history had never witnessed before. Moreover, Mu'awiya himself had written their final copy with his pen and stamped them with his stamp.
Therefore no wonder when the Islamic public opinion at that time looked forward to fulfilling these conditions because they were obligatory according to these pledges and oaths, and because their fulfillment would be appropriate for two figures of such kind in Islam.
As for that strange surprise which Mu'awiya started within a week after concluding the Peace Treaty, it shook the Muslim society. As we have already mentioned, Mu'awiya (according to al-Mada'ini's narration) said: "The conditions which I have made with al-Hasan are under these two feet of mine." Also he (according to the narration of Abu Ishaq al-Subay'i) said: "Indeed everything which I have given to al-Hasan b. 'Ali is under these two feet of mine. From now on I will not fulfill anything." Then al-Husayn b. al-Mundhir al-Raqqash bore witness against Mu'awiya when he said: "Mu'awiya did not fulfill what he had given to al-Hasan. He killed Hujr and his companions, pledged allegiance to his son, and poisoned al-Hasan."1
In this way, this man (i.e., Mu'awiya) with large possessions and narrow talents became the worst of all people in trust, and the least of them in importance according to the moral criteria on which the people had agreed. That is because he broke openly his oath and his pledge. That was a suitable punishment. For most of those who were deceived by him denied him as he denied his pledges and covenants. They put him at the place where he had put his conditions.
We do not know. We may be at the crossroads between the overcome past and the victorious future through which the historical struggle between al-Hasan and Mu'awiya will appear. Now, we are about to understand the great plan through which al-Hasan b. 'Ali, peace be on him, made peace with Mu'awiya and imposed his will on him, though the latter was known for his cleverness in avoiding the failure in the plans he made to achieve his interests.
As we know, al-Hasan was the most knowledgeable of people in the truthfulness and loyalty of Mu'awiya. For this reason al-Hasan made Mu'awiya give strong forms of oath and pledges to be sure of his truthfulness and honesty and to show the stupid his abilities in his religion, his covenant, and his honor.
Al-Hasan took the initiative to start his movement towards his second field. From here he was able to add a new value to the matter of the members of the House (Ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. Then the time passed. So the successful steps appeared one by one.
The most prominent steps which al-Hasan, peace be on him, accomplished through his plan to defame Mu'awiya, whether dead or alive, and the Umayyads are as follows:
1. He incited a large number of the great figures in the Islamic countries against Mu'awiya at the beginning of his independent period. So some of them cursed him openly; some of them regarded him as a wicked person; some of them blamed him face to face; some of them abandoned him; some of them said concerning him: "By Allah, he (i.e., Mu'awiya) was traitorous"; and some of them said concerning him: "Mu'awiya had four qualities. If he had only one of them, it would have been a grave sin."'2 Besides many men and women treated him in such a way. Now we do not intend to mention their number and their words.
2. He made some classes oppose Mu'awiya. That is because the items of the Peace Treaty included them whether concerning the security imposed in the items or the textual financial rights. So a great group of people regarded him as a mortal enemy, for he broke the conditions regarding their lives and belongings.
3. Through breaking al-Hasan's Peace Treaty, Mu'awiya thought that he would be able to create a formal situation for the pledge of allegiance to his son Yazid. In other words, with this situation, he wanted to destroy the Islamic laws which the Muslims adopted for the pledge of allegiance and the powers of the successor.
Immediately, the accomplished fact prevented Mu'awiya from achieving his aims. For this new pledge. of allegiance to his son Yazid incited all Muslims against the objectives of the Umayyads towards Islam. That was from the day when Mu'awiya nominated Yazid as a successor after him.
4. Mu'awiya killed good Muslims from the early companions and the later companions (of the Prophet) without any guilt. So these bloody disasters, which he committed openly after he had broken the Peace Treaty, were other factors to defame him and to destroy his claimed spirits. That took place according to the firm plan which Imam al-Hasan, peace be on him, wanted from the day when he decided to make peace with Mu'awiya.
5. The matter of al-Husayn in Karbala' in the year 61 A.H. was the greatest of al-Hasan's matters, for the latter paved the way to the former to fight against their mutual enemy who was the enemy of their father before.
We must not forget that al-Hasan said to al-Husayn on the day when he was about to die: "Abu `Abd Allah, there is no day (battle) like your day."
Though these words are short, they were the only symbol which was heard from al-Hasan, peace be on him, when he referred to the secret plan whose six dimensions obscurity covered from the day when he made peace with Mu'awiya to the day when he said these words. From these words you understand the language of the supreme commander who distributed the leaders according to the battles, and the days according to the occasions, then he distinguished his brother and the day of his brother when he said: "Abu Abd Allah, there is no day like your day."
Surely, the time occasions showed the steps of the plan one by one. It was necessary for one step to wake the other, the latter step to hire the former one, the first step to burn the firebrand of the second one, and so on. Also al-Hasan considered theses steps carefully from the day when he intended to make peace with Mu'awiya. Apart from this, he studied the psychological features of his opponents who were displeased with him, his brother, his Shi'a (followers), and all his objectives. These wide scale studies were the base on which al Hasan built his future steps that were necessary for both himself and his enemy. Certainly, al-Husayn would have adopted these steps if al Hasan himself had been unable to achieve them. This is what we wanted at the beginning of this chapter.
In this manner the immortal uprising of al-Husayn was the greatest step in the plan of his great genius brother.
The tragedy of Karbala', which all the languages in the earth have contained, is still the black stain that dyed the history of the Umayyads with shame as long as there is a mark for Karbala' and a name for the Umayyads.
6. In the historical periods after the tragedy of al-Husayn, peace be on him, in Karbala', the plan with strategic goals was still denoting a series of bloody events resulted from the core of the Umayyad situation with similar features to the period between the time of Mu'awiya and the time of his cousin called al-Himar (the donkey).3
Those who were interested in their Islam regarded the Ummayyads as an unjust government. Also they regarded them as the ones who overcame the people with oppression, extravagance, and deviation from the religious laws. In the course of time, the people were very indignant with the Umayyads and were read to sacrifice their lives to fight against them.
Therefore the Peace Treaty was concluded in the interest of Islam, the interest of the members of the House (Ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them, and the interest of the Islamic mission. Moreover, less than one century, al-Hasan b. 'Ali, peace be on them, became the victorious winner over his opponents who were defeated in history.
Al-Hasan's steps were successful. His policy was above all policies. He had done all that with silence, humbleness, and patience. Therefore he achieved righteousness, peace, and sparing the blood of the Muslims.
Accordingly, I (i.e., the author) wonder: Is greatness a thing other than this?
- 1. Ibn Abu al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 4, pp. 6, 7, and 16.
- 2. His friend Samra cursed him. His friend al-Mughira described him as the most evil of all people. `A'isha and others blamed him face to face. Malik b. Hubayra al-Sikuni abandoned him. Al-Rabi` b. Ziyad al-Harithi died of sadness because of his (Mu’awiya’s) acts. Abu Ishaq al-Subay'i said concerning him (By Allah, he was traitorous), and al-Hasan al-Basri said: "Mu'awiya had four qualities ...." Concerning these words see these books: Nahj al-Balagha, al-Kamil fi Ta'rikh, and Muruj al-Dhahab.
- 3. His name was Marwan. He belonged to the Umayyads. The Umayyad dynasty ended during his lifetime. He was called al-Himar (i.e.,, the donkey) and al-Ju'di, for he was attributed to his teacher al-Ju'di b. Dirham. Ibn Dirham was an atheist, so he taught Marwan his doctrine. The people dispraised Marwan, for he belonged to al-Ju'di b. Dirham. The `Abbasid conquerors defeated Marwan and followed him, but he sought protection in the church at Bousir. I (i.e., the author) wonder: Why did Marwan not seek protection in the Mosques? See Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi al-Ta'rikh, vol. 5, pp. 159- 60.