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The Hasan–Muawiya treaty was a political peace treaty signed between Caliph Hasan ibn Ali and Mu'awiya I in order to bring the First Fitna (656–661) to a close. According to the treaty, Hasan ceded the caliphate to Muawiya under a number of conditions, including the safety of Muslims and that the latter would not name a successor for himself. Muawiya violated the terms of this treaty, most notably the latter part through the succession of him by his son, Yazid, ushering in the dynastic Umayyad Caliphate.
Abdication of Hasan
When Ali was elected caliph in 656 CE, Muawiya was the incumbent governor of the Levant region, consisting of the modern day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Muawiya refused to pledge his allegiance to Ali and later declared war on him. The two parties fought the inconclusive Battle of Siffin in 657. After the assassination of Ali, his eldest son, Hasan, was elected caliph in 661. Muawiya did not recognize the caliphate of Hasan and marched with a large army on Kufa, the seat of Hasan's caliphate, but was held back by the vanguard of Hasan's army. Hasan's military response to Muawiya, however, suffered defections in large numbers, in part facilitated by military commanders and tribal chiefs who had been swayed to Muawiya's side by promises and offers of money. In one instance, Ubayd Allah ibn al-Abbas was bribed to switch sides, along with the 8,000 men under his command. Hasan's efforts were also hampered by the subversive activities of Muawiya's network of spies, which included the spread of false reports. Al-Yaqubi has recorded Hasan's address to Iraqi nobles, in which he reproached the lukewarm support and the fickle-mindedness of his troops, echoing the speeches of Ali.
According to Jafri, these circumstances compelled Hasan to avoid war with Muawiya. For his part, the latter was also eager to conquer Iraq without an all-out war. On the other hand, Hasan's decision seems to have turned those supporters with Kharijite tendencies against him, as evidenced by the looting of his military pavilion in al-Madain and the failed attempt on his life by the Kharijite sympathizer Abd al-Rahman ibn Abd Allah ibn Ja'al al-Azdi, which left Hasan badly wounded.
Muawiya had earlier proposed that he would appoint Hasan as his successor and financially compensate him in return for his abdication. A wounded Hasan now signalled his willingness to make peace on the condition that Muawiya would ensure the safety of the people. Muawiya immediately sent Hasan a carte blanche, inviting him to write on it whatever he wished. In response, according to Madelung, Hasan wrote that he was surrendering the reign of Muslims to Muawiya on the basis that he would rule in compliance with the Quran and Sunnah, that his successor would be appointed by a council (shura), people would remain safe and, in particular, Hasan's supporters would be granted amnesty. The letter was testified by Abd Allah ibn al-Harith and Amr ibn Salima, and transmitted by them to Muawiya. Hasan, thus, surrendered his control of Iraq in Rabi II 41 (August 661) after a reign of seven months.
Content of the treaty
According to Jafri, some historians, such as Ya'qubi and al-Masudi, do not mention the terms of peace treaty at all. Other historians, such as al-Tabari, Dinawari, Ibn Abd al-Barr, and Ibn al-Athir, record the conditions differently. Jafri adds that the timing of the carte blanche sent by Muawiya to Hasan is confusing in al-Tabari's account. The most comprehensive account, according to Jafri, is given by Ahmad ibn A'tham, which must have been taken from al-Mada'ini. The peace treaty, according to Madelung and Jafri, stipulated that
- Muawiya should act in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah.
- Muawiya's successor should be elected by a council (shura).
- The people and their properties should be safe under Muawiya's rule.
- Muawiya should not retaliate against Hasan and his supporters.
Some early historians, such as al-Zuhri, list generous financial compensation for Hasan as part of the treaty, though both Madelung and Jafri consider these claims to be fictitious and part of Umayyad's propaganda campaign against Hasan.
The following is a compilation of various early historical reports about the content of the peace treaty between Hasan and Muawiya:
- Muawiya should act according to the Book of God, the Sunna of Muhammad, and the behavior of the righteous caliphs.
- The authority should return to Hasan after Muawiya, and if an accident occurs, the authority should go to Husayn. Muawiya has no right to entrust his authority to anyone else.
- Muawiya should abandon the practice of cursing of Ali, including in the qunut of prayers. Muawiya should not mention Ali unless in a good manner.
- Muawiya should exclude what is in the treasury of Kufa, that 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. The companions of Ali should be given security wherever they are. Muawiya should not seek to wrong Hasan, Husayn, or anyone from Muhammad's household, secretly or openly.
After Hasan's abdication, Muawiya arrived in Kufa triumphantly with his army. In his inaugural speech, the latter told the public that he would not recognize the promises he had made to Hasan. For his part, Hasan retired to Medina where he refrained from engaging in politics for or against Muawiya, though he was still considered the chief of Muhammad's house by Ali's partisans and the Banu Hashim tribe, who hoped that Hasan would succeed Muawiya. Hasan died in 669 CE at the age of forty six. It is believed that he was poisoned at the instigation of Muawiya, as the latter paved the way for the succession of his son, Yazid. Throughout his reign, Muawiya prosecuted notable partisans of Ali, including Hujr ibn Adi, a companion of Muhammad, who was executed in 670. According to Madelung, Muawiya also institutionalized the regular public cursing of Ali in the congregational prayers in order to lend legitimacy to his rule.
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