Al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib is an important figure in Islam, the son of Fatimah the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and of the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib. Hasan is a member of the Ahl al-Bayt and Ahl al-Kisa. He briefly succeeded his father Ali ibn Abi Talib as the righteous Caliph following the latter’s death, before retiring to Madinah and entering into an agreement with the first Umayyad ruler, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, who assumed the Caliphate. Both Sunni and Shia Muslims regard Hasan as a martyr.
As a growing youth Hasan saw his father on the battlefield defending Islam as well as preaching to a vast congregation of believers on the occasion of hajj and as a missionary of Islam to Yemen before retreating to a passive role in the matters of the state during the period of the first three caliphs after the death of his grandfather, Muhammad. Hasan and his younger brother, Husayn ibn Ali, are believed to have been greatly beloved by their grandfather Muhammad as numerous hadiths affirm. There are also hadiths that state that Hasan and Husayn are the Masters of the youth in paradise and that Hasan and his brother Hussein are imams “whether they sit or stand”. Hasan is one of five persons included in the Hadith of the Cloak. He is said to have been the first of the Prophet’s family to enter Yemeni Kisa after Muhammad and to have walked hand in hand with Muhammad as a child to testify to the truth of Islam at Mubahila.
In Medina when Muhammad was sitting with his companions and Hasan, who was still a child, was playing between his hands, Muhammad is said to have gazed at Hasan and said to his companions “This (grand)son of mine is a lord, and may God place in his hands the reconciliation of two great groups of believers (mu’minun).”
When the third caliph was murdered by demonstrators in his palace in Mad’mah Ali was elected to lead the Muslims. Hasan assisted his father: he went to Kufa and raised an army against the dissenting Muslims, then participated actively in the battles of Basra, Siffin and Nahrawan alongside his father, demonstrating skill both as a soldier and a leader. He travelled to Mecca with Ammar ibn Yasir to summon armies to fight against the army accompanying Aisha.
Hasan ibn Ali died in Medina on Safar 28th, 50 AH. He is buried at the famous Jannatul Baqee‘ cemetery across from the Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Prophet). According to historians, Muawiyah wished to pass the caliphate to his own son Yazid, and saw Hasan as an obstacle. He secretly contacted one of Hasan’s wives, Ja’da bint al-Ash’ath ibn Qays, and incited her to poison her husband. Ja’da did as Muawiyah suggested, giving her husband poison mixed with honey.Other traditions suggest that Hasan may have been poisoned by another wife, the daughter of Suhayl ibn Amr, or perhaps by one his servants .
Hasan had asked for his body to be taken to the prophet’s grave, so that he could pay his last respect, and then to be buried near his grandmother Fatima bint Asad. This caused armed opposition. As the funeral proceeded towards the grave of Muhammad some Umayyads mounted on horses obstructed it. A shower of arrows fell on the coffin. Husayn, fulfilling the last wish of his brother, turned the procession of the funeral towards Jannat al-Baqi, the general graveyard of Medina, where he was buried. According to one version Marwan asked Muhammad’s wife Aisha also to allow his relative Uthman ibn Affan to be buried beside the Prophet if Hasan were to be buried there, but Aisha refused Marwan’s request and did not allow anyone else to be buried beside Muhammad.
The shrine of Hasan’s tomb was destroyed by 20th century Salafi Saudis. It was narrated that Abu’l-Hayaaj al-Asadi said: ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib said to me: “Shall I not send you on the same mission as the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent me? Do not leave any statue without erasing it, and do not leave any raised grave without leveling it.” (Narrated by Muslim, 969).