Birth: In Madinah during the reign of Sayyidinah Umar (R.A). Born in 21 AH, his father was a freed slave of Zaid ibn Thãbit (R.A), a famous companion of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Hasan Basri (R) was himself brought up in the house of Ummul Mu’meneen Ummi-Salmah (R.A).
Capabilities of Hasan Basri (R): Hasan Basri (R.A) had been gifted with noble virtues and brilliant capabilities essential to make his exhortation for revival of Islãm. He was distinguished for his usual temperament, friendly and considerate, winning and enchanting, on one hand. As also for his scholarship and profound learning strengthened with good judgment and wisdom on the other. In his knowledge of the Qur’ãn and Hadith he excelled all the learned men of his times. He had the opportunity of being an associate of the Sahãbah (R.A) he was fully aware of the deficiencies in practises that had crept in among the different sections of the society, and the measures necessary to eradicate them. Whenever he lectured on the hereafter or described the by gone days of the Sahãbah (R.A) everyone was seen brimming with tears.
Hajjãj ibn Yusuf is rightly renowned for his eloquence but Hasan Basri (R) was considered to be an equally good elocutionist (to have an art of speaking). On Hasan Basri (R) is encyclopaedic knowledge. Rabi ibn Anas (R.A) says that he had the privilege of being closely associated with Hasan Basri (R) for ten years and almost everyday he found something new not heard of earlier in the lectures of Hasan Basri (R). Describing the scholarly achievement of Hasan Basri, (R) Abu Hayyãn at-Thauhidi (R) quotes Thãbit ibn Qurrah saying, “In his-learning and piety, forbearance and restrain, frankness and large-heartedness, insight and good judgment he resembled a bright star. He was always surrounded by students seeking instruction in different branches of knowledge. He would be teaching Tafseer to one, Hadith to another, Fiqh to a third, explaining a Fatwã (Legal opinion) to someone else and imparting instruction in the principles of Fiqh yet to another while continuing his advises in the meantime for those who came to him for the purpose. His knowledge covered a wide area as vast as an ocean, or he was like a dazzling radiance of light illuminating every soul around him. What is more? His heroic efforts to enjoin the good and to forbid the wrong, his support of the righteous path before rulers and administrators could never be forgotten.” The reason why Hasan Basri’s (R) words carried weight with his audience was that he was not simply a preacher but he also possessed a noble and supreme soul, whatever he said was heart-stirring because it came from the depth of his heart, his speeches had a magnetism which no other scholar or mentor of Kufã and Basra could attempt to surpass. Thãbit ibn Qurrah, a non Muslim- philosopher of the third century (A.H), was of the opinion that the few eminent persons produced by Islãm who could rightly by envied by the followers of other faiths, one was Hasan Basri (R.A). He adds that Makkah had always been a centre of Islãmic piety and learning where accomplished scholars in every branch of knowledge met all of parts of the world but even Makkans were dumb founded by his scholarly achievements as they had never seen a man of his calibre.
Sermons of Hasan Basri (R.A): The sermons delivered by Hasan Basri (R.A) are stipulating memories of the simplicity and moral courage of the Sahãbah (R.A). comparing the moral condition of his own times with that of the Sahãbah (R.A), he observes: “Dignified in the company of their friends, praising Allah when they were left alone, content with the lawful gains, grateful when ease of means, resigned when in distress, remembering Almighty Allah among the idle and craving the grace of Allah. When among the pious, such were the companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) their associates and their friends. No matter what position they occupied in life, they were held in high esteem by their companions and when they passed away, their spirit took flight to the blessed companionship on high as the most celebrated souls. O Muslims, those were your righteous ancestors, but when you deviated from the right path, Almighty Allah too withheld his blessings from you.”
Fearlessness of Hasan Basri (R): Hasan Basri (R.A) was as much distinguished for his moral courage and un-flattered pursuit of justice as he was in the field of scholarship and delivering public speeches. He opposed the then caliph, Yazid ibn Abdul Mãlik, in his presence when once someone asked Hasan Basri (R) to express his opinion about the two rebellions, Yazid ibn al-Muhallab and Ibn al-Ash’ath. Hasan Basri (R) replied, “Don’t be a party to either group”. A Syrian, springing upon his feet, repeated the question. “And not even to the Amir-ul-Mu’meneen?” Hasan Basri (R) replied angrily “Yes, not even to the Amir-ul-Mu’meneen .”
In his childhood Hazrat Hasan was fortunate enough to drink the water that was left in the cup by the Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W). When the Prophet knew of it he remarked, “This child will receive from the Lord an amount of knowledge equivalent to the water drunk.” When they brought Hazrat Hasan, as a newly born child before Hazrat Umer (R.A.U), he said, “Call him by the name of Hasan, as he is beautiful. He was initiated by Hazrat Ali (R.A.U).
A very interesting incident records the conversion of Hazrat Hasan. Before turning a Sufi, he was a jeweler. One day he proceeded to Rum (in Asia Minor) on business, and put up with the minister of the Sultan. The minister told him, “You well have to wait for some days as we are present accompanying the Sultan on an important private errand. If you so desire, you may accompany us.” Hazrat Hasan went in company of the Sultan, the minister, and others. They entered a vast wideness. In the middle of it, they saw a magnificent tent fixed up, which was guarded by army officers. The officers entered the tent and then came out. Then they circumambulated it and went away. Some very old respectable citizens who, like the officers, entered the tent, uttered some words, came out, circumambulated the tent and then went away followed them. Then came some medical experts who did likewise. Then came two hundred extremely beautiful young maidens, who entered the tent and acted as the previous ones had done. Lastly came the Sultan accompanied by his ministers, he too entered the tent, uttered some words, then circumambulated the tent and went away. Surprised at the incident Hazrat Hasan inquired of the minister what all that meant. The minister replied, “A very beautiful and brave son of Sultan died and his corpse is interred in a tomb on which stands that tent. Every year all of us visit it, and perform the ceremonies like the ones you saw today. First, the members of the army approach the tomb and addressing the Price say, “If by our arms, we could save thee from the God of Death, we would have sacrificed our life for the fulfillment of that aim, but we are helpless.” Then come the learned citizens who say, “If our knowledge and experience could save thee we should have surely averted thy death, but before Death we are helpless.” Then come the medical men, who say, “If our medicines could save thee, we would have left no stone unturned to save thee from the clutches of Death, but we were powerless before it.” Then come the beautiful maidens who say, “If our beauty and accomplishments could save you, we would have sacrificed our all to save you but we were powerless before Death.” Then enters the Sultan is turn accompanied by the ministers and says, “My son! We tried our best with our army, doctors, and other means to save thee, but no charge was possible in Divine dispensation. We bid you good-buy now and shall visit you nest year at this time.” This incident made such and indelible mark on the mind of Hazrat Hasan that he decided to pass the rest of his life in prayers and worship to face that inevitable end. He returned to Basra, gave up his business, took to solitude, and vowed never to smile in his whole life. Moreover, for seventy years he passed every moment in prayers. The cause that made Hazrat Hasan most famous was that in his life he felt only one necessity---God. In his anxiety to meet God, he took concern of nothing besides Him.
When Hazrat Ra’bia Basri would not come to attend the sermons of Hazrat Hasan, he would deliver no discourse that day. People in the audience asked him why he did that. He replied, “The syrup that is held by the vessels mean for the elephants cannot be contained in the vessels meant for the ants.”
He was asked, “What is Islam, and who is a Muslim?” He replied, “Islam is in the books and Muslim is in the tomb.”
Hazrat Hasan said that four incidents gave him the greatest lessons of life:
- Once I pulled off the garments of and eunuch in mere fun. He said, “Kindly return them to me, for nobody knows my real state.” Immediately the thought crossed my mind: What shall be our condition when on the Day of Judgment, we shall be made naked and all our sins lay bare?
- A drunkard was struggling in mire. I told him to beware lest he should sink in it. He replied, “Hasan, if I fall I alone shall suffer. However, you take care of yourself. For if you fall, all your congregation will stand condemned.”
- A child was one day carrying a lighted lamp. I asked him wherefrom he had brought the light. The child extinguished the light and said, “Tell me, where is the light gone?”
- A beautiful young woman was running one day along the street with her head uncovered, and was complaining about her husband in harsh terms. I told her to cover her head and face. She said, “The love of my husband has made me lose my senses so much that I am not conscious of my body and of my surroundings. If you had not told me that my head and face were uncovered, I would have never known it. I would have walked like that in the street. However, it is a matter of surprise, O Hasan, that you pretend to be a lover of God, and yet are conscious of everything that crosses your way and retain your senses. What is this love of God like in you?”
Sayings of Hazrat Hassan Basri:
- Depart not from your religious practice out of fear of the antagonists who condemn you. They condemned even the Lord.
- The end of the world and the beginning of the life to come is in the tomb.
- Evil company degenerates the seeker.
- Accumulating wealth is worse than drinking wine that is prohibited by the scriptures.
- He who takes to solitude finds safety in it. Moreover, he who disowns allegiance to his carnal soul is set free.
- He is wise who digs out the foundation of the world and builds instead the castle of otherworldliness (eternity) on it.
- He, who gives up his spiritual practices to play the philanthropy in the world, trying to mould its evil ways, is ruined.
- The Lord humiliates whosoever loves silver and gold and he who considers himself the leader of the c9mmunity is misled and belittled.
- The Lord in the Qur’an says, “I shall forgive thee all thy transgressions if ye shall cast thy glances on none besides Me.”
- It was asked, “How are you?” Hazrat Hasan replied, “I am like a person in the midst of the sea whose boat is shattered and he is floating in the waters.”
Qadri Hazrat Khwaja IMAM Hassan Al-Basri (R.A)
Imam Al-Hassan ubn Yasar Abu Saed al-Basri, the great faqih of Basra, leader of the ascetics and scholars of his time. He became known for his strict and encompassing embodiment of the Sunnah; famous for his immense knowledge, asceticism, fearless remonstration of the authorities and his power of attraction both in discourse and appearance. One of the early formal Sufis in both the general and the literal sense, he wore all his life a cloak of wool (Suf).
Both his parents were freed slaves, yet his lineage and childhood could not possibly have been more exalted. He was raised in the household of Zayd ibn Thabit r.a, who was not only one of the seven sahaba fuqaha (jurists), but also the one to whom the compilation of the Quran was entrusted. He was nursed by Umm Salamah r.a, the wisdom filled wife of Rasulullah (swm), who played a crucial role in his upbringing and moral instruction. At his birth, Sayyidna Umar r.a blessed him, saying “Oh Allah! Make him wise in religion and beloved to the people”. Furthermore, he became the murid of Sayyidina Ali r.a at the age of fourteen. A childhood surrounded by such titanic figures unsurprisingly left an indelible impression upon the great Imam. He once remarked, "By Allah! I have met seventy veterans of Badar. Most of their garments were wool. Had you seen them you would have said they were insane. Had they seen the best among you they would have said, these people will have no part in the Hereafter;' and had they seen the worst among you they would have said, 'these people do not believe in the Day of Reckoning.'”
In his uncompromising search for Allah, he became one of the greatest saints of his era and was named ‘Bab al Wilayah’ (the gateway of sainthood). He was a hadith narrator of the highest grading, and over 1400 hadith in the nine books have chains running through him. He was also one of the authorized fuqaha among the taabain, having learnt in the household of Zayd bin Thabit, as well as others. His links to Sayyidna Ali r.a , are evident in all his fields of mastery; hadith, fiqh and tasawwuf. Some hadith masters assert that he related hadith directly from Hazrat Ali r.a ; according to Abd ar-Razzaq r.a , the great Khalifah once accepted his recommendation in a judicial case. Finally, of course, it is the consensus judgment of the great Imams of the Way that Sayyidna Ali r.a transmitted the knowledge of tasawwuf to him with a single look.
He lived most of his life in Basra (Southern Iraq), which was at that time the cultural and intellectual center of the Islamic world. It was also here that many theological and metaphysical controversies raged. It was al-Hassan r.a , a staunch defender of Orthodox Islam, who first mounted a systematic and comprehensive rebuttal of Persian and Greek beliefs. This defense was later continued by such men as the Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Hanbal r,.a, and al-Ashari r.a. In fact, his interpretation of Allah attributes from key components of the aqidah (doctrinal belief) of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l Jamaah.
He developed a wide circle of disciples and students and became renowned as a brilliant orator. Arab scholars have preserved many of his speeches, letters and aphorisms. He made, during his time, the acquaintance of many Sufi saints. To some he was a guide, to others a fellow traveler, and to very few, a pupil. Perhaps the most revered of these was the legendary Hazrat Bibi Rabia of Basra, a female saint whose sanctity and love for God reached mythical dimension.
He was famed and respected not only for his knowledge and wisdom, but also for his tremendous humility and piety. It is reported that for forty years he did not laugh, so completely was he consumed by fear of Allah. Once a man mockingly asked him whether he (al-Hassan) was better or worse than a dog. He replied, "If I am saved from Allah's punishment, then I am better than the dog; but if His punishment overtakes me, then the dog is thousand times better.” When he saw a dog, he used to supplicate," Oh Allah! Forgive me through the wasilah of this dog.”
- We laugh, and yet, who knows? Perhaps Allah has looked at some of our works and said, “I will not accept anything from you. Woe to you, son of Adam! Can you fight Allah? Whoever disobeys Allah is fighting Him”.
- Two thoughts roam over the soul, one from Allah and one from the enemy. Allah shows mercy on a servant who settles at the thought that comes from Him.
- Whoever knows his Lord loves Him, and whoever knows the world does without it.
- Humility is to consider everyone nobler than you.
- The world is a vehicle for you. If you drive it, it will deliver you to your destination. If it drives you, it will lead you to destruction.
Once the great Imam visited his dying neighbor, a Magian Fire worshipper named Simeon. Al-Hassan r.a approached his deathbed and advised him to become Muslim, but the man replied that there were three things stopping him.
"Firstly," he said, "Muslims speak ill of the world, but day and night pursue worldly things. Secondly, you say death is inevitable, but yet make no preparations for it. Thirdly, you say that God's face shall be seen, but you do everything contrary to his good pleasure."
Al-Hassan r.a conceded the fact, but replied that at least Muslims worship God, and not fire. "Fire is but a servant of Allah," said the saint." and if Allah wishes it will not burn one particle of my body." So saying, he thrust his hand directly into the burning flame. There it remained, unaffected by the heat, and true knowledge dawned upon Simeon. He converted to Islam, and later died. Al-Hassan r.a saw him in dream walking through the gardens of Paradise wearing a cloak of light. "Lord God!" he cried, “Such is your mercy! If you can forgive an unbeliever of seventy years because of one utterance, how will you exclude a believer?"
Death of Hasan Basri (R.A): The immaculate sincerity, outstanding piety and moral and spiritual excellence of Hasan Basri (R) had earned the affection of everyone in Basra. When he passed away in 110 (AH), on 5th Rajjab on a Friday at the age of 89, the entire population of Basra attended his funeral which took place on Friday, so that for the first time in the history of Basra the Juma Masjid of the city remained empty at the hour of the Asr prayer.