IMAM HASAN"S CHARACTER
The researcher who examines the life of the Holy Prophet’s grandson, Imam Hassan and his brother, Imam Hussein (as),can’t help drawing the conclusion that they enjoyed a high level of education and spiritual and ideological upbringing, which no other person had won next to their grandfather (pbuh),mother and father (as).
The imprints of the revelation and Divine care marked their characters, in all its aspects, ingredients and angles.
They were highly refined and brought up in line with Islam’s teachings by their grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), their father, Imam Ali (a.s.), and their mother Fatima (a.s.) , through excellent examples and direct daily guidance. Although they lost both their grandfather and mother at an early age, their upbringing suffered no interruption. Their father, Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), the disciple of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), and the graduate from the school of Divine revelation, who was the beacon for the people, was alive, throwing his shade over them. There is no doubt that Imams Hassan and Hussein (a.s.) wound up in the stage of Divine preparation.
They were prepared to shoulder the responsibility of the Divine message, in form and content. The ultimate result was that both Imams Hasan and Hussein (a.s.) became Islam personified walking on the earth.
As the ingredients of the characters of the two Imams were the same, they were singular in their behavior, march, steps and goals, which were Islamic in their entirety.The nature of our discussion dictates that we present lively examples from Imam Hassan’s (a.s.) spiritual, scientific, and ethical activities.
1. Spiritual Side:
The excellent preparation which was provided for the grandson of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), helped his spiritual entity to sublimate. His closeness to Allah, and his attachment to Him was a source of awe and respect.
Following are a few narratives which shed light on this side of his character:
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Hassan bin Ali (a.s.) was certainly the most true worshipper, ascetic and merited man among the people of his time."
Ali ibn Jadh’an, and Abu-Na"im report in Helyat al-Awaliya" (Ornament of the Saints) and Tabaqat ibn Sa"d that Imam Hasan had given all his money to the needy twice, seeking Allah"s pleasure, and had given half his money to the needy three times. He would even give a single shoe and retain the other, and give a single sandal and retain the other. When he approached the door of the mosque, he would say. "O Lord! Your guest is at Your gate. O Generous! The transgressor has come to You. Forgive me my ugly deeds with Your Generosity. O Generous!"
2. Scientific Side:
All of the rightly guided Imams either received their education directly from the Messenger (s.a.w.) or indirectly from the preceding Imam.
As for the new questions and developments of life, the sublime, inner entity of the Imam himself, and his boundless spirituality, qualified him for self-acquired knowledge. That is why the Muslim orators dubbed the knowledge of the Imams, from the perspective of the "present knowledge". An Imam wouldn’t need to be tutored or taught by others in this respect. He acquired knowledge by means of direct inspiration.
Following are a number of reports about Imam Hasan"s vast knowledge.
A. Hasan al-Basri wrote to Imam Hassan (a.s), asking him about the Divine decree. The grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) answered him in these words:
"Mind you, he who does not believe that all sudden incidents that happen, be they good or bad, are known earlier by Allah, is an infidel. He who blames sins on Allah, is unchaste. Allah is not obeyed against His will. He is not sinned against by force. He does not leave aside His servants in His Kingdom. He is the Owner of what He gives to them. He is the Powerful over whatever He puts at the disposal of them. Nay, He orders them with no coercion, and prohibits them as a warning. If they opt to obey Him, none would stand in their way, and if they choose to sin, He may prevent them from doing it. But if He does not, He is not to blame, because it is not He Who forces them to do it, or compels them into committing it against their will. But He does them a favor by opening their eyes, teaching, warning, ordering and prohibiting them. He does not force them to do what He orders, so as to be like the angels, not does He pressure them to keep away from what He forbids. Allah"s is certainly the conclusive argument. If Allah willed, He would have guided you to the right path..."
B. "What is asceticism?" the Imam was once asked.
"The desire to be pious and abstemious in this life," he replied.
"What is forbearance?" he was asked.
"Restraining one"s anger and controlling oneself," he answered.
"What is righteousness?" he was asked.
"Replacing the bad with the good," he answered.
"What is honor?" they asked.
"Being kind to one’s relatives and shouldering people’s burdens of sin."
"What is the succour?" he was asked.
"Defending the neighbor, patience in war, and advance during adversities," he said.
"What is glory?" he was asked.
"Giving while being in debt and forgiving others their offences."
3. Ethical Side:
Covering this aspect of the character of the grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w.) by no means signifies a difference among the guiding Imams (a.s.) in this respect, or in any other ingredient of the ideal Islamic character.
They are equal in this. We will confine ourselves to presenting some narratives of the Imam’s behavior with the people.
A. His Modesty:
1. It is reported that he once chanced upon some poor men who put a few crumbs of bread on the ground in front of them, which they had earlier picked up from the road. They were eating them. They invited him to eat with them. He accepted the invitation and said: "Certainly Allah does not like the proud."
Having finished eating with them he invited them to his house. He showered them with money, fed and clothed them. 2
. It is reported that he was sitting in some place. When the Imam (a.s.) rose to go, a poor man came in. The Imam greeted him, and spoke kindly to him. "You have come at the time when I was taking leave," he said to the man. "Do you permit me to go?" "Yes, O son of the Messenger of Allah," replied the man.
B. His Kindness to the Wrongdoers:
A Syrian, imbued with hatred and spite against the family of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), by Mu’awiyah bin Abi-Sufyan, once saw the Imam on horseback. He at once emitted a series of curses! Imam Hasan (a.s.) did not put in a word of protest or interruption. When the man finished, Imam Hasan (a.s.) approached him with a tender smile. He said to him:
"O old man! I think you are a stranger here. Maybe you mistook me for someone else? If you propitiate us, we will satisfy you. If you ask us, we will give you what you need. If you ask our advice, we will guide you. If you ask us to give you a ride, we will take you with us. If you are hungry, we will satisfy you. If you are naked, we will clothe you. If you are in need, we will make you rich. If you are a refugee, we will give you lodgings. If you have a request, we will grant it. If you join your luggage to ours, and be our guest until the time of your travel, it will be more useful to you, because we have a spacious place, a good social position, and a vast amount of money."
Upon hearing these words, the Syrian broke into tears.
Then he said: "I bear witness that you are the viceroy of Allah on the earth. Allah knows best whom to entrust with His message. You and your father were the most hateful creatures of Allah to me. But now you and your father are the most beloved from among all the creatures of Allah to me."
Then the Imam took the Syrian to his house as his guest till the time of his departure. The man had completely changed his opinion and position toward Ahlul-Bait (a.s.).
C. His Generosity:
Maybe the most eminent of Imam Hassan’s (a.s.) attributes is his generosity. He believed that money was only a means to clothe the naked, help the destitute, pay the debts of the indebted, or satisfy the hungry. Once, he was asked: "We do not see you disappoint a beggar. Why?"
He replied:" I am asking Allah for His favors, and I love to be near Him. I am ashamed, as I am myself in need of Allah, to repulse a beggar. Allah got me used to a habit; to shower me with His bounties, and I get Him used to me showering His bounties on the people. I fear that should I stop my habit, He may stop His habit."
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