Skeptics allege that the Shias believe Muawiyah to be an infidel and apostate. So why did Imam Hasan (a.s.) hand over to him the reins of the Muslims, knowing that he was an apostate? Imam Ali (a.s.) fought and defeated the apostates while Imam Hasan (a.s.) had handed over the matter of the Muslims to the apostates.
There is a consensus among the Muslim scholars, both Shia and Sunnis, that there is a question mark on the Islam of Muawiyah. He rebelled against the Imam of the time whose obedience was obligatory upon him and therefore is considered from the oppressors and apostates near them. In the Nahj al-Balagha, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) has reminded Muawiyah about his position (or lack thereof) in Islam.
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal records that Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) fought with the apostates and acted as per the rulings of the Shariah by battling the three rebellious groups of:
- Nakiseen (Battle of Jamal)
- Qasiteen (Battle of Siffin)
- Mariqeen (Battle of Nahrawan)
Also, it was impossible for Imam Ali (a.s.) to lose the war because it was according to his responsibility according to the Quranic verse ‘Say, do you await for us except one of the two best things…’ (Surah Tauba (9) :52)
Its example is like the example of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who acted upon as per his responsibility, even though apparently, he faced losses in Uhud and Hunain, but Islam got the upper hand in the end with divine help.
As for what is attributed to Imam Hasan (a.s.), about handing over the reins of the Muslims to the rebels, the terms of the treaty clearly highlight the conditions of the treaty, which Muawiyah violated with these words:
Surely, I swear by Allah I have not fought with you so that I make you pray or fast or perform Hajj or give zakat because you are doing all that anyway. I have only fought against you so that I can rule over you and Allah has granted me that while you disliked it. Then I have obliged Hasan (a.s.) and have given him something while all of it is under my feet, I shall not fulfil anything from the treaty.
- Kitab al-Irshad v 2 p 14
And if according to the skeptics Imam Hasan (a.s.) handed over the reins of the Muslims in the hands of an apostate person, then it must be said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who concluded the Treaty of Hudaibiyya with the polytheists of Mecca deposited the house of Allah and the Muslims detained in Mecca to the polytheists.
Sayyid Ibn Tawoos (r.a.) (d. 664 A.H.), leading Shia scholar, informs his son:
It is not for the people to condemn your grandfather, Imam Hasan (a.s.) over the peace treaty with Muawiyah since it was at the command of your grandfather, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), who (s.a.w.a.) had likewise made peace with the infidels (in Hudaibiyyah).
The answer to both the actions is that they came under pressure and compulsion, and hence they acted in this manner.
- Kashf al-Muhajjah p 96
In fact, if anything, Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) peace treaty is more surprising since it was in the presence of thousands of Muslims who were eager for battle. While Imam Hasan (a.s.) signed the peace treaty in a state of helpless due to lack of support.
Hence, there can be no objection to Imam Hasan (a.s.) handing over the affairs of the Muslims to a person like Muawiyah, as Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had likewise signed a peace treaty in his era knowing fully well the consequences.