ABU MUHAMMAD KHWAAJA HASAN BASRI (RA)
[Home][Pir Sahib][Recent Updates To The Site][Genealogy & Spiritual Lineage][Picture Gallery][Video Library][Jamiyat Tabligh-Ul-Islam][Islamic Resource][Audio Library][Contact][Urs Programmes]
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra), was a great leader of the ascetics and scholars of his time. He was the son of a freedwoman of Umm Salama (ra) (the prophet’s (saw) wife), and a freedman of Zayd ibn Thabit (the prophet’s (saw) stepson). Umm Salama (ra) nursed him. His mother took him as a child to Hazrat Umar (ra) who supplicated for him with the words : O Allah – make him wise in the religion and beloved to people. As a man, Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was known for his strict and encompassing embodiment of the Sunna of the prophet (saw). He was also famous for his immense knowledge, austerity and asceticism, fearless remonstrances of the authorities, and power of attraction both in discourse and appearance. He was one of the early Sufis, in both the general and literal sense – he wore the cloak of wool (suf) all his life.
In a hadith narrated by Hazrat Anas (ra) – the prophet (saw) says : The earth will never lack forty men similar to the friend of the merciful, and through them people receive rain and are given help. None of them dies except Allah substitutes another in his place. Qatada said that he considered Hadhrat Hasan al-basri (ra) to bo one of them. Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was also considered to be one of the al-abdal, by the Salaf.
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) is one of the great hadith masters and narrators of the tabi’in, responsible for transmitting over 1400 narrations in the nine books alone.
In his childhood Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was fortunate enough to drink the water that was left in the cup by the Prophet Muhammad (saw). When the Prophet (saw) knew of it he remarked : This child will receive from the lord an amount of knowledge equivalent to the water drunk”. As a newly born child, Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was brought before Hadhrat Umar (ra) who said : “Call him Hasan, as he is beautiful”. Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was initiated by Hadhrat Ali (ra).
Before Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) became a sufi, he was a jeweller. There is a very interesting incident that records the conversion of Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra). One day he proceeded to Rum (in Asia Minor) on business, and met with the minister of the Sultan. The minister advised him that he will have to wait for some days, as he was accompanying the sultan on an important private errand. However Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was invited to go along, and so joined them. They entered a vast wilderness, and in the middle was a magnificent tent which was guarded by army officers. The officers entered the tent and then came out. Then they circumambulated the tent and went away. They were followed by some very old respectable citizens who also entered the tent, came out and circumambulated it and went away. Then some medical experts did likewise. Then came two hundred young maidens, who acted as the previous ones did. Lastly came the sultan accompanied by his ministers, and they too entered the tent, uttered some words, then circumambulated the tent and went away.
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was surprised by this incident and inquired of the minister what this meant. The minister advised that: “ a brave son of the sultan died and his corpse is interred in a tomb on which the tent stands. 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 addressing the prince, they say : if by our arms we could save thee from the god of death, we would have sacrificed our life for the fulfilment 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 are powerless before it. The come the 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 who says : My son we tried our best with our army, doctors and other means to save thee but no change was possible in divine dispensation. We bid you goodbye now and shall visit you next year at this time”
The incident had an incredible mark on Hadhrat Hasan al-basri (ra), and he decided to pass the rest of life in prayers and worship to face the inevitable end. When Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) returned to Basra, he gave up business, took to solitude and vowed never to smile in his whole life. For seventy years, every moment was spent in prayer. The cause which made Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was that in his life he only had one necessity – GOD. He took concern of nothing but God, in the anxiety to meet him.
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was in the habit of writing his sins on his garments so he could often look at them during the course of the day, Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) would often, out of sheer repentance, weep so much that he would fall senseless.
Once Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra), accompanied by several people, was on the way to the Ka’ba. On the way, they came across a well. Everyone was thirsty but they had no rope to pull the water with. Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) said “I am going for prayer (namaz). As I am in prayers, you will notice the water rise in the well. You will then drink it and allay your thirst”. So it happened. But when a person, after drinking to his fill, filled a tumbler to keep by his side for future use, the water sank to it’s original low level. When asked the reason for this strange occurrence, Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) replied “It was due to your lack of faith to depend solely on God”.
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was so humble the he considered himself inferior to all. One day on the bank of the river dajla, he found a man seated with a young lady, and a bottle of wine in front of him. A thought crossed his mind, “ how depraved is this man! If only he were like me”. Just then a boat appeared in the river at a little distance from him, and gradually began to sink in deep water. The man immediately jumped into the water and of the seven men in the boat who were drowning, he saved six and the looking towards Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) he said “If you are superior to me, then in god’s name save the seventh man. You save one man, whilst I have saved six.” Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) could not do so. The man then said “Sir, this woman is my mother, and the bottle yonder contains water. This scene was enacted to put you to the test”. Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) fell to his feet and said “Just as you have saved six people, save me also from drowning in the waters of pride and vanity”. He replied “may god fulfil thy desire”. Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) felt as though his desire had been fulfilled. Since that day Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) became so humble that seeing a dog one day he remarked, “O lord! for the sake of this virtuous dog, accept me as thy slave”
Abu Jaafar Al Razi says: I remained a student of Hadhrat Hasan Basri (ra) for ten years during which I always heard something new. Once Al Hasan described the effect of the Quran on the believer. He said: Son of Adam! By God if you recite the Quran then believe in it then your sadness will be long in this life, so will be your fear and your weeping. That is why one contemporary of Al Hasan says: I never saw anyone who had such a long time of sadness as Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra). Everytime I met him I thought he had a new misfortune
Rabeeah Ibn Kulthoom quotes Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) as saying: We learnt from Abu Huraira the following: The Prophet ordered me to do three things: To take a shower every Friday, to finish my prayers nightly with one final prostration and to fast three days of every month. Muhammad Ibn Saad says in his famous encyclopedia called Al Tabaqat that Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was all embracing in his knowledge, a real scholar of a high standard, one who excels in jurisprudence, reliable as a source, trustworthy, a sincere worshipper, overflowing with learning, outspoken, beautiful and handsome. He was also one of the bravest men. No one looks like him except a prophet. That is why Ibn Burda says: No one is similar to the Companions of the Prophet as he was. Thus Abu Qatada says: Keep close to this old man, for I have seen no one whose opinion is like that of Umer as Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) is. So Anas Ibn Malek says: Ask Al Hasan for he still remembers while we forgot
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) says: I used to enter the rooms of the Messenger of God during the caliphate of Uthman; I would touch their ceilings for I was a grown up boy then. I was 14 years old when Uthman was killed. A beautiful tradition reported by Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) on the authority of Anas Ibn Malek is the following. He said: The Messenger of God peace be upon him used to give the Friday sermon while standing near a piece of wood against which he would lean his back. When the number of people increased in the mosque he said: Make a pulpit of two steps for me, which they did. When the Prophet stood up to give the sermon on Friday the said piece of wood moaned as if it expressed its feeling of missing the Messenger of God peace be upon him. Anas comments: I was in the mosque and heard the piece moan. It continued to moan until the Prophet descended to it and embraced it. Then it was silent. As a matter of fact, whenever Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) narrated this tradition he would cry and say: O slaves of God! A piece of wood misses the Messenger of God! It is you who should do so.
It may sound strange how can a peice of wood moan and feel sorry and miss the absence of the Prophet. First of all there are other authentic traditions that confirm this incident. As Muslims we believe that everything in this world glorifies the praises of God. Trees and stones used to greet the Messenger of God, which is one of his minor miracles.
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) and Abu Amr
It is related that Abu Amr, the leading authority on the reading of the Koran, was teaching the Koran one day when suddenly a handsome boy arrived to join his class. Abu Amr gazed at the child improperly, and immediately he forgot the whole Koran, from the P of "Praise" to the n of "jinn and men". A fire possessed him, and he lost all self-control. In this state he called on Hasan of Basra and described to him his predicament.
"Master," he wept bitterly, "such is the situation. I have forgotten the whole Koran."
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) was most distressed
to hear of his situation.
"Now is the season of the pilgrimage," he
said. "Go and perform the pilgrimage. When you have done that, repair to the
mosque of Khaif. There you will see an old man seated in the prayer-niche. Do
not spoil his time, but let him be until he is disengaged. Then ask him to say a
prayer for you."
Abu Amr acted accordingly. Seated in a corner of the mosque, he observed a venerable elder and about him a circle of people seated. Some time passed; then a man entered, clad in spotless white robes. The people made way before him, greeted him, and conversed together. When the hour of prayer arrived, the man departed and the people departed with him, so that the elder remained alone.
Abu Amr then approached and saluted him.
"In Allah's name, help me," he cried.
And he described his predicament. The elder, much concerned, raised his eyes to heaven.
"He had not yet lowered his head," Abu Amr recounted, "when the Koran came back to me. I fell down before him for joy."
"Who recommended me to you?" the elder asked.
"Hasan of Basra," Abu Amr replied.
"Anyone who has an imam like Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra)," the old man commented, "what need has he of another? Well, Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) has exposed me. Now I will expose him. He rent my veil, and I will rend his as well. That man," he went on, "in the white robes who entered after the afternoon prayer and left before the rest, and the others did him reverence - that man was Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra). Every day he prays the afternoon prayer in Basra and then comes here, converses with me, and returns to Basra for the evening prayer. Anyone who has an imam like Hasan, why should he ask me for a prayer?"
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) and the fire-worshipper
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) had a neighbour named Simeon who was a fireworshipper. Simeon fell ill and was at death's door. Friends begged Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) to visit him; he called, to find him in bed, blackened with fire and smoke.
"Fear God," Hasan counselled him. "You have passed all your life amid fire and smoke. Accept Islam, that God may have mercy on you."
"Three things hold me back from becoming a Muslim," the fire-worshipper replied. "The first is, that you speak ill of the world, yet night and day you pursue worldly things. Secondly, you say that death is a fact to be faced, yet you make no preparation for death. In the third place, you say that God's face shall be seen, yet today you do everything contrary to His good pleasure."
"This is the token of those who know truly,"
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) commented. "Now if believers act as you describe, what
have you to say? They acknowledge the unity of God; whereas you have spent your
life in the worship of fire. You who have worshipped fire for seventy years, and
I who have never worshipped fire - we are both carried off to Hell. Hell will
consume you and me. God will pay no regard to you; but if God so wills, the fire
will not dare so much as to burn one hair of my body. For fire is a thing
created by God; and the creature is subject to the Creator's command. Come now,
you who have worshipped fire for seventy years; let us both put our hands into
the fire, then you will see with your own eyes the impotence of fire and the
omnipotence of God."
So saying, Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) thrust his hand into the fire and held it there. Not a particle of his body was affected or burnt. When Simeon saw this he was amazed. The dawn of true knowledge began to break.
"For seventy years I have worshipped fire," he groaned. "Now only a breath or two remains to me. What am I to do?"
"Become a Muslim," was Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) reply.
"If you give it me in writing that God will not punish me," said Simeon, "then I will believe. But until I have it in writing, I will not believe."
Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) wrote it down.
"Now order just witnesses of Basra to append their testimony."
The witnesses endorsed the document. Then Simeon wept many tears and proclaimed the faith. He spoke his last testament to Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra).
"When I die, bid them wash me, then commit me to the earth with your own hands, and place this document in my hand. This document will be my proof."
Having charged Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) thus, he spoke the attestation of faith and died. They washed his body, said the prayer over him, and buried him with the document in his hand. That night Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) went to sleep pondering what he had done.
"How could I help a drowning man, seeing that I am drowning myself? Since I have no control over my own fate, why did I venture to prescribe how God should act?"
With this thought he fell asleep. He saw Simeon in a dream glowing like a candle; on his head a crown, robed in fine raiment, he was walking with a smile in the garden of Paradise.
"How are you, Simeon?" Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) enquired.
"Why do you ask? You can see for yourself," Simeon answered. "God Almighty of His bounty brought me nigh His presence and graciously showed me His face. The favours He showered upon me surpass all description. You have honoured your guarantee; so take your document. I have no further need of it."
When Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) awoke, he saw that parchment in his hand. "Lord God," he cried, "I know well that what Thou doest is without cause, save of Thy bounty. Who shall suffer loss at Thy door? Thou grantest a Guebre of seventy years to come into Thy near presence because of a single utterance. How then wilt Thou exclude a believer of seventy years?"
Four incidents that gave Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) the greatest lessons of life :
1 – Once Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) pulled off the garments of an eunuch in mere fun. The eunuch said “kindly return them to me, for nobody knows my real state”. Immediately the thought crossed his mind : what shall be our condition when on judgement day we shall be made naked and all our sins laid bare.
2 – A drunkard was struggling in a mire. Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) told him to beware lest he should sink in it. The drunkard replied “Hasan, if I fall I alone shall suffer. But you take care of yourself. For if you fall, all your congregation will stand condemned”
3 – A child was one day carrying a lighted lamp. Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) asked him wherefrom he had brought the light. The child extinguished the light and said “tell me, where is the light gone?”.
4 – A beautiful young woman was running one day along the street with her head uncovered, and was complaining about her husband in harsh terms Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) 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 you are conscious of everything which crosses your way and retain your senses. What is this love of god like in you?”.
Some of Hadhrat Hasan al-basri (ra) sayings :
1 - A sheep is more aware than a human being, for it responds to the warning of a shepherd, but ignorant is man that he disobeys the commands of the Lord and follows the behests of thy devil (nafs – carnal self)
2 - Evil company degenerates the seeker
3 - Accumulating wealth is worse than drinking wine, which is prohibited by the scriptures.
4 - He who takes to solitude finds safety in it. And he who disowns allegiance to his carnal soul is set free.
5 - He is wise who digs out the foundation of the world and builds instead the castle of otherworldliness (eternity) on it.
6 - Whosoever recognises god considers the world as his enemy, and he who loves the world turns enemy of god.
7 - He who gives up his spiritual practices to play the philanthrop in the world, trying to mould its evil ways, is ruined.
8 - Whosoever loves silver and gold is humiliated by the lord and he who considers himself the leader of the community is misled and belittled.
9 - The lord in the qur’an says, “I shall forgive thee all thy transgressions if ye shall cast thy glances on none besides me”
10 - Son of Adam! You are nothing but a number of days, whenever each day passes then part of you has gone
11 - Death has shown the reality of this worldly life. It did not leave any happiness for those who are wise
12 - The laughter of a believer is a sign of the inadvertence of his heart
When death approached Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) he began to say: We are for God and to Him we will return. When he repeated this his son said: My father you make us sad for your sake. Have you seen anything around you which you don't like? Hadhrat Hasan basri (ra) said: It is only myself nothing is more heavy for me than it is.
Hassan Ibn Hisham says: We were with Muhammad Ibn Seereen on Thursday evening when a man told him about the death of Al Hasan Al Basri. He was so sad that he kept silent and the colour of his face was changed. He lived after Hadhrat Hasan al-basri (ra) for one hundred days only. May God be pleased with both.
Copyright(c) 2005. All rights reserved.