On the 15th of the holy month of Ramadan, the small mud house occupied by the Commander of the Faithful and Sayyida Fatima Zahra (peace be upon them) witnessed the birth of its first child. Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (peace be upon him) was born in Medina in the third year after Hijrah. His Islamic training was led by the two champions of Islam: the Prophet Muhammad educated him for eight years; his father, Imam Ali, was also his mentor for over 25 years. Despite being from the blessed lineage of the last Prophet and carrying the most sublime of virtue and worship, Imam Hasan was subjected to the worst slander and smear campaign cause by those who claim to be loyal to his grandfather (peace be upon him and his progeny).
His Divine Name
Following the blessed arrival of the second Imam, the next charge was to find a name befitting a person bestowed such a lofty position in the eyes of God. Imam Hasan was taken to the Holy Prophet, who would recite the Adhan in his ears. The Prophet then asked Imam Ali if they had decided on a name for the newborn. Imam Ali replied, “I won’t precede you.” The Prophet responded by saying, “I won’t precede Allah either.” Allah ordered the angel Jabreel (Gabriel) to descend to the Earth and congratulate the Prophet on the birth of his grandson. Lastly, God also instructed Jabreel to convey the following message to the Prophet: “The position of Ali towards you resembles that of Harun towards Musa. So name his son as Harun’s son.” The name of Prophet Harun’s son was Shabbar, and the Arabic equivalent to this name is Hasan.
Heir of the Prophet’s Nobility
During the time in which the Prophet was suffering from the same illness that would later claim his life, Lady Fatima went to visit Him along with Imams Hasan and Hussain. “Apostle of God,” she said, “these are your two (grand)sons. Give them something as an inheritance.” The Holy Prophet replied, “As for al-Hasan, he has my form and my nobility. As for al-Hussain, he has my generosity and my bravery.”
Just as his father and grandfather had served the poor and needy, Imam Hasan carried on this tradition and was widely recognized for his generosity and mercy towards those less fortunate. During his Imamate, the Imam refused to have his meals until he was certain the widows, orphans, and deprived of the community had eaten before him. On occasion, a beggar would approach the Imam during his meal, and characteristically, the Imam would give his meal to the beggar, leaving himself hungry.
The Leaders of the Youth of Paradise
Among the countless merits of the Second Imam was the title granted to him and his brother Imam Hussain: the Leaders of the Youth in Paradise. This epithet was designated to them by Prophet. According to various traditions from the Shia and Sunni sects, the Prophet’s companions one day noticed him being overjoyed and happy. When they inquired as to why was so delighted, he replied, “How could I not delight when Jibraeel has already come to me and brought me news of Hasan and Hussain being masters of the youths of paradise?” (Silsilat al-Ahadeeth al-Saheeha, ch. 2 p. 444; Tareekh Ibn Asakir, ch. 13 p. 209)
The excellence of Imam Hasan is found in the many lofty and divine positions awarded to him and deservingly so. He is among the Twelve Imams to whom Allah made obedience obligatory and purified from sins. Imam Hasan was among the five people the Prophet covered with his cloak (Hadith Kisa). He also helps make up one of the two most worthy and praised items the Prophet left us before he passed away: the Holy Qur’an and Ahlul Bayt. Imam Hasan is one of those whose love Allah deemed as a reward for the message of Islam brought forth by the Holy Prophet.
A Life of Grace and Piety
Imam Hasan displayed an amount of piety and asceticism known only to the divinely sent prophets and messengers. He performed the Hajj pilgrimage 25 times, and each of those times he walked by foot to the holy city of Mecca while stating, ” I am ashamed to meet my Lord in a condition that I fail to reach His House on foot.” During one of the trips, swelling appeared on the Imam’s legs, and a companion of his exclaimed, “O Son of Allah’s Messenger! When your mount is present, why do you not travel upon it?” The Imam’s reply was clearly that of a Godly guide, “I have not kept the mount with me to ride upon it myself. It is there in case I find a traveler too tired to walk and I may give him a lift.”
On five different occasions did the Imam give up either half or all of his wealth to charity, candidly exemplifying a life of humility and patience. He carried on the tradition of his father by living just on the extremely basic human necessities, and his meals consisted of barley bread with vinegar or salt. However, the meals he prepared for his guests and the impoverished who visited him were befitting of the finest king or ruler. The logic behind such actions was twofold: firstly, the Imam did not have the typical human inclination towards material items and possessions. Secondly, it was among his attributes to put the needs of the Muslims before his.
Pearls of Wisdom by Imam Hasan
Despite the efforts of the enemies of Ahlul Bayt to slander and demean the pure personality of Imam Hasan by accusing him of false and ungodly actions, the truth of his character is apparent. Imam Hasan strived during his lifetime to preserve Islam and protect Muslims from the devious measures of the caliphate of his time.
He left his followers with traditions that serve to guide us away from falsehood and darkness and into truthfulness and knowledge. A small selection of the prized and exalted quotes by Imam Hasan:
“The greatness of those who came to know His greatness lies in their modesty. The dignity of those who came to know His glory lies in their humbleness. The security of those who came to know His power lies in their submission to God.”
“O servants of God! Do have God fearing, and do know that God enables God fearing persons to overcome trials and to succeed in their affairs. He will also smooth the path of right for God-fearing people.”
“The most preferable adornment is graceful manners.”
Akhlaq al-Aimma: Morals of the Imams
Al-Husayn Ibn ‘Alee by Ibn al-Adeem, p.35
Kitab al Irshad, pp. 279 – 289