He was brought up in the lap of his holy Grandfather, and was always referred to as: a “Son of The Prophet (pbuh)”. Imam Ali (AS) himself referred to Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hussein (AS) as ‘Bani Fatima” or ‘Sibtain-e-Rasool’ as opposed to the ‘children of Ali (AS)’.
Lady Fatima (SA) referred to her two noble sons as the “coolness of her eyes, and the fruits of her heart”. The holy Prophet (pbuh) said that the Almighty Allah Himself desired to name both the sons of Fatima (SA), advising the Prophet (pbuh) through the arch angel Gibril to call the first new born ‘Shabbar’ and eventually the second son as ‘Shabbir’ in the tradition of the two sons of Prophet Moses (pbuh), and Arabically these names translated into Hassan and Hussein!
On countless occasions the Prophet emphasized to his companions that “Hassan and Hussein are the names of the inhabitants of Paradise,” and again: “Hassan and Hussein are the Leaders of the Youth of Paradise [Sayyadai-Shabaab-e-Ehley Jannah]”; and then again: “Hassan and Hussein are from me, and I am from them.”
In the birth of Imams Hassan (AS) and Hussein (AS) a prophecy of the Quran was fulfilled, wherein Allah had consoled the Prophet (pbuh) when his enemies used to taunt him regarding his being without a [male] issue, by revealing the Chapter 108 of ‘Al Kawser’ (The Abundance of Good) – “Lo! We have bestowed upon you an abundant progeny. So pray to you Lord and offer sacrifice (to Him). Verily! He who taunts you shall be childless!”
The noble and distinctive qualities of Imam Hassan (AS) still shine to this day like a beacon of a non-extinguishable light, which the Ummayyads who controlled the scribes and their inscriptions by dint of their treasures and threat of their swords, unsuccessfully tried to put out due to their intense malice and hatred of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS)!
Imam Hassan’s piety and fear of Allah was such that his complexion would turn pale and his body trembled while he performed the ablution [Wuzu] before preparing for the ritual prayers. His humility in the service of Allah was so great that he often used to walk barefooted over the rough terrain while proceeding for ‘Haj’ or major pilgrimage to Kaaba.
Clemency and forgiveness were the hallmarks of this noble personality, which have been immortalized by several poets and historians. Justice had become synonymous with his name, when he was entrusted with the judicial powers and also held charge of the public treasury (Baitul-Maal) during the reign of Imam Ali (AS) as the caliph of Muslims.
The depth of his knowledge on matters of jurisprudence, [‘Fiqh’] or indeed on any other subject was limitless. He was famous for passing decisions full of wisdom and sagacity even during his childhood. Very often when people came to Imam Ali (AS) seeking his advice, Ali (AS) whom the Prophet (pbuh) had referred to as “The Gateway to the City of Knowledge” [Baab-ul-Ilm], would often refer them to Imam Hassan (AS) for a decision!
His eloquence of speech was in the true tradition of his noble father and holy Grandfather, and can be gauged from his various sermons and speeches on record. His generosity and charity are legendary. His intense bravery on the battlefield, and excellent swordsmanship can be witnessed in historical accounts of the battles of ‘The Camel’ (Jamal), Siffin and Nahrawan.
But more than any of the above, his patience, fortitude and forbearance in the face of severe trials and tribulations stand out as the prominent traits of his character, and can never be eulogized or appreciated fully by mere mortals like us. The approximate ten years of his Imamate which are ‘glossed over’ as the period of ‘Suloh-e-Hassan’ (The Treaty of Hassan) are in fact some of the most important years in Islamic history.
During all the ten years of his imamate, Imam Hassan (AS) lived in conditions of extreme hardship and under persecution, with no security even in his own house. In the year 50 AH he was poisoned and martyred by one of his own household who, as has been accounted by historians, had been motivated by Mu’awiyah.