The second Sultan-ul-Faqr Hazrat Khawaja Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allahu Ta'ala Anhu was the first person after the Ahl-e-Bait who was bestowed with the extreme status of Faqr. He got the cloak (Khirqah) of Khilafat from Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem who also passed on the Trust of Faqr to him, so he is the medium who transferred the Faqr of Hazrat Mohammad Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam from the Ahl-e-Bait to the Ummah.
His name was Hassan and patronymic was Abu Mohammad, Abu Saeed, Abu Nasar and Abu Ali. His father's name was Yasar who was a freed slave of Hazrat Zaid Bin Sabit Razi Allah Anhu. His mother's name was Khaira and she was the maid of Umm-ul Momenin Hazrat Umm-e-Salma Razi Allah Anha. Hazrat Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu was brought up by Hazrat Umm-e-Salma Razi Allah Anha and she also fed him her milk, thus she was his foster mother.
Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu was born in the caliphate of Hazrat Umar Razi Allah Anhu in 21 Hijri in Madina. Since birth he had an enlightened beauty, when he was brought to Hazrat Umer Razi Allah Anhu he said meaning: "name him Hassan as he is very beautiful". Hazrat Umar Razi Allah Anhu also prayed for him that "Oh Allah bless him with the perfect knowledge of Islam and make him beloved among people". This pray was granted and Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu accomplished highest status in Faqr and the religious knowledge.
Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu was brought up and educated among the sacred companions of the Holy Prophet Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam. He also gained the apparent as well as actual intrinsic knowledge of Islam from these companions specially from Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Umar Farooq, Hazrat Usman Ghani, Hazrat Ans bin Malik Razi Allah Anhum and also from Hazrat Hassan Mujtaba and Hazrat Imam Hanfia Razi Allah Anhum. He used to say that "I have had the privilege of seeing and meeting 130 sacred companions of the Holy Prophet Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam, among them 70 were those who had fought the battle of Bader". So his status is the highest amongst the Tabe'een.
Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu took oath of allegiance at the hands of Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem and also got cloak of Khilafat from him. Hazrat Ali granted him the special cloak and turban which was granted to him by the Holy Prophet Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam and blessed him with the complete knowledge of Divine secrets. He also passed him the Trust of Faqr and taught him the real method of invocation of Kalma Tayyaba through negation of one's ownself (Nafi) and verification (by heart) of presence of the Divine Self (Asbat) as Hazrat Mohammad Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam had taught him, then through him this method was introduced in the whole world (of Islam). (Sair-ul-Awliya, Sair-ul-Aqtab)
After getting the Trust of Faqr and reaching the status of a Perfect Man (Insaan-e-Kamil). Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu established a grand system of orders and ways of Tasavvuf and Tareeqat which was introduced and spread in the whole world for gaining the Gnosis (Marifat), Recognition (Pehchan) and nearness of Allah. This system still exists and is still followed to reach Allah. All the orders and ways, whether it be Qadria or Soharwardia, Chishtia or Nizamia, Rifaaiya or Shazlia, Al-Maghribia or Kalabia, trace back their spiritual lineage to Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu and through him every order reaches Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem, except the Naqshbandi way which reaches Hazrat Abu Bakr Sidiqque Razi Allah Anhu through Hazrat Salman Farsi Razi Allah Anhu.
Although it is a unanimously accepted fact that all the orders and ways reach Hazrat Ali through Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri and there isn't any controversy or contradiction about it, still the scholars of Hadithes and Traditions disagree upon the fact that Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu has ever met Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem or heard any Hadith from him. The Reason for this disagreement is that these scholars could not find any Hadith which Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allahu Ta'ala Anhu has narrated after listening it from Hazrat Ali and had never quoted name of Hazrat Ali while narrating a Hadith. From this they conclude that Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu has never met Hazrat Ali. If this conclusion of these scholars is accepted then the whole system of orders and ways of Tasavvuf and Tareeqat collapse down because if Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu had never met Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem, neither took oath of allegiance on his hands nor got cloak of Khilafat and Trust of Faqr from him than how do all the orders reach Hazrat Ali and from him to Hazrat Mohammad Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam? Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu is the main link which connects every order to Hazrat Ali Razi Allah Anhu and Hazrat Mohammad Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam. If this link is removed, it becomes impossible to pass the knowledge of Gnosis and Divine Secrets to the Ummah.
The circumstances and evidences also proof that it is not possible that Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri had never met Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem. Hazrat Hassan Basri was born in 21 Hijri in the Caliphate of Hazrat Umar Razi Allah Anhu in Madina and remained in Madina till the Caliphate of Hazrat Ali Razi Allah Anhu. He left Madina and shifted to Basra in 37 Hijri when Hazrat Ali Razi Allah Anhu shifted to Koofa after completing two years of his Caliphate. So both of them remained together in Madina for about sixteen years. Hazrat Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu was brought up amongst these sacred companions, lived with them, offered prayer with them five times in Masjid-e-Nabwi and during the Caliphate of Hazrat Ali he remained in Madina for at least two years so he must have offered prayers behind him and listened to his sermons, then how is it possible that he had never met Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem or had never heard any Hadith from him.
In Tehzeeb-ul-Kamal Hafiz Miz'zi states "when Hazrat Usman Razi Allah Anhu was martyred, Hazrat Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu was present there, he was about 14 years of age at that time. Although scholars of Hadith accept these evidences but still they question that if Hazrat Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu had met Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem and listened Hadith from him then why he hadn't ever narrated any Hadith with his name. To answer this question Imam Nisai, Imam Jallal-ud-Din Saiu'uti, Imam Miz'zi and many other great Imams, after much research, not only found some Hadithes which Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri had stated with the name of Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem, but also found that statement of Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri in which he had explained the reason that why he did not ever take the name of Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem and had narrated Hadith directly from Hazrat Mohammad Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam although he was born after his death and never had the privilege to see him or listen Hadith directly from him. In "Tehzeeb-ul-Kamal" Imam Miz'zi states:
"Younas Bin Obaid said that once I asked Imam Hassan Basri "Oh Abu Saeed while narrating a Hadith why do you say that "Prophet Mohammad Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam said" although you have not found his sacred company and haven't met and listened Hadith directly from him?" Answering me he said "Oh nephew you have asked me a question which nobody has ever asked me before. If you weren't special to me, I would not have answered this question of yours. The matter of fact is that every Hadith before narrating which I say that "Holy Prophet Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam said" I have actually heard from Hazrat Ali Razi Allah Anhu but the age in which we are living is such that I cannot openly take the name of Hazrat Ali Karam Allahu Wajhul Kareem" (Tehzeeb-ul-Kamal-book 4, page 124).
It was the age of Hajaj Bin Yousaf and Banu Ummaiyyah who were against Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem and whoever took his name praisingly was punished badly and was banned to give sermons or lectures. Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem had to face great opposition and enmity from Banu Ummaiyyah and the Kharijites since the beginning of his Caliphate. He could see through his perspicacity that in the future all his companions, friends, and disciples would either be killed or banned to take his name. Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri was a chosen one by destiny to spread and promote the real and true knowledge of Islam i.e knowledge of Gnosis and Recognition of Allah. Had he been killed or banned to give sermons, it had become impossible to spread and promote this knowledge, so he must have been ordered and instructed by Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem to stop taking his name while narrating a Hadith, just to be careful and to avoid any enmity so that he could do his duty secrectly and easily without any chaos. His silence about Hazrat Ali will give the impression to the enemies that he had no relation with him.
Moreover, this point must also be kept in mind that if some scholars of Hadith could not find any Hadith narrated by Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri which he had heard from Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem, then this does not prove that such Hadithes do not exist. They could not find them due to their own lack of research, because the scholars who sincerely and painstakingly tried to find such Hadithes surely found a few. Some of these Hadithes with correct references are given below:
- Hazrat Ahmad Bin Humble writes in his Musnad that "Hasheem has stated that he has heard from Yousaf that he has heard from Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu that he has heard from Hazrat Ali Razi Allah Anhu that Hazrat Mohammad Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam said that Allah has exempted three persons, a boy unless he is matured, a sleeping person unless he is awaken and a lunatic unless he returns to his senses". This Hadith is also quoted by Imam Tirmazi. Imam Nissai and Imam Hakim has confirmed its authenticity.
- Imam Nissai states: "Ali Bin Hajr has told us that Yazid Bin Haroon has quoted from Hameed who has heard from Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu that Hazrat Ali Razi Allah Anhu said: "When Allah blesses you with His Divine favour then you must show generosity and give a bowl of wheat or the like as charity".
Imam Saiu'uti has written a booklet with the title "Itehaf-ul-Firqah Bawasul-ul-Khirqah" in which he had proved that Hazrat Imam Basri had taken cloak of Khilafat from Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajhul Kareem.
Hazrat Shah Wali Allah Muhadas Dehlwi and Hazrat Shah Fakhar-ud-Din Dehlwi had a dialectic over this controversy which continued for three days. Hazrat Fakhar-ud-Din gave evidences and arguments to prove the meeting between Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri while Hazrat Shah Wali Allah gave arguments against it. To prove his point Hazrat Fakhar-ud-Din had collected 35 such Hadithes which Imam Hassan Basri had quoted with the name of Hazrat Ali Razi Allah Anhu. For brevity, all of these hadithes and their references cannot be stated here. However, a few references are given below:
- Ibn-e-Maja, Al-Sunan, Kitab-ul-Jihad, Volume 2, page 922, Hadith no. 2761.
- Ahmad Bin Humble, Al-Musnad, Volume 1, page 140, Hadith no. 1183.
- Imam Nisai, Kitab Al-Sunan Al-Kubra, Volume 2, page 222, Hadith no. 3161.
Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu is considered the Imam in exegesis and Hadith. He was not only accomplished in all branches of religious knowledge but was also highly devoted towards prayers and mystic exercises. He used to fast for seven consecutive days. It is stated that he never remained unabluted. The fear of Allah overwhelmed him so much that he was always seen weeping. He mostly lived in seclusions and except giving sermon once a week did not like to meet people or attend gatherings.
His sermons were usually about the diseases of ethereal self (Nafs), wrongdoings of people, lustful wishes and temptations of inner self which restrict a Muslim to reach close to Allah. A large number of people gathered to listen to his sermons which also included the scholars and saints of that time. Hazrat Rabia Basri Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayha, a great saintly woman also attended his sermons and gained spiritual knowledge from him. Hazrat Imam Baqir Razi Allah Anhu said that "Hassan's speech resembles the speech of Prophets". Hazrat Bilal Bin Abi Barda used to say "I haven't seen anyone resembling to the sacred companions of the Holy Prophet Sall'Allahu Alayhi Wa'alihi Wasallam more than Hassan Basri".
Once someone asked a saint that why Hassan Basri is superior to us? He answered "Everyone of you is in need of his knowledge but he is not in need of anyone except Allah". (Azala-tul-Khulafa, Volume.3)
Hazrat Hassan Basri granted Khilafat to many of his disciples but the most famous are Shaikh Abdul Wahid Bin Zaid and Shaikh Habib Ajmi. Fourteen orders of Tasavvuf started from these two disciples of Imam Hassan Basri Razi Allah Anhu. Five orders i.e. Zaidia, Ayyazia, Adhmia, Hibiria and Chishtia started from Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Wahid Bin Zaid and nine orders i.e. Ajmia, Taifooria, Karkhia, Saqtia, Junaidia, Gazronia, Toosia, Soharwardia and Firdausia originated from Shaikh Habib Ajmi Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayh. Imam Hassan Basri passed on the Trust of Faqr to Shaikh Habib Ajmi Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayh.
Hazrat Imam Hassan Basri died on Friday, 4th of Moharram in 111 Hijri (8th April 729) during the reign of Hashim Bin Abdul Malik Bin Marwan. His tomb is in Basrah.