The popular misconception and misinformation of being a serial divorcer was attributed to Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) elder grandson and one of the two Chiefs of Youths of Paradise – Imam Hasan Ibn Ali al-Mujtaba (a.s.).
The misinformation campaign, one of many launched by Muawiyah, was targeted at portraying his opponents in an unfavourable light, making him appear as the more eligible candidate for caliphate.
Without getting into his other misinformation campaigns against Imam Hasan (a.s.) all of which have been rebutted by Muslim historians, let us delve a little into the ‘reports’ of Imam Hasan’s (a.s.) being a serial divorcer, as there is much to be learnt over here about another personality.
We state one report from the Muslim scholar and biographer Zahabi:
Imam Hasan Ibn Ali (a.s.) married and divorced frequently. He had nearly 70 wives.
- Seyar A’laam al-Nobala v 3 p 253 (under Imam Hasan (a.s.)
Such reports maligning the infallible Imams (a.s.) and Shias are not surprising given that Muawiyah’s fake news factory was firing on all cylinders at the time.
But this fake news of Imam Hasan Mujtaba (a.s.) marrying 70 women is suspiciously similar to another actual report of a man close to Muawiyah who did in fact marry 70 women or possibly even higher than this number.
It is narrated about Mughairah Ibn Shobah, Muawiyah’s close confidant and troubleshooter that he married 70 women or perhaps even more as he himself admits:
I married 70 times or more than 70 times.
The chain is correct (Saheeh)
- Sunan al-Baihaqi v 7 p 136
- Silsilah al-Ahadeeth al-Sahihah v 1 p 198
Laith Ibn Abi Sulaim reports: Mughairah married 80 women.
It is reported that he used to marry four women in one go and divorcing all other women en masse, to keep the count to four wives always.
Abdullah Ibn Nafe reports that Mughairah had 300 wives after he embraced Islam.
Ibn Wezah reports that Mughariah had 1,000 wives.
- Tehzeeb al-Kamal v 27 p 373
Imam Malik reports:
Mughairah Ibn Shobah married frequently
- Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah v 5 p 360
Muslims defends Mughairah
The reports of Mughairah’s multiple marriages and divorces are not rejected by Muslims. On the contrary the reports are accepted as ‘Saheeh’ and Muslim have advanced many arguments to defend ‘an illustrious companion’ like Mughairah. They claim Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) also had many wives and to have many wives and children who defend Islam is an honour and so on.
Of course, these arguments can never clear Mughairah because his intentions behind the multiple marriages were far from noble, seeing how he married four women in one sitting and divorced all other wives in one sitting only to satisfy his base desires.
At any rate, it is impossible for Muslims to defend a criminal like Mughairah. Mughairah played a role in antagonizing all five members of the cloak – Ashab al-Kisa (a.s.) apart from Abu Talib (a.s.) – in all, three Bani Hashim generations.
Mughairah’s marriages/divorces likely got Muawiyah thinking
It is likely that the serial marriages and divorces of Mughairah Ibn Shobah got Muawiyah and / or Mughairah thinking on how the same could be used to malign Imam Hasan’s (a.s.) reputation. And this probably gave rise to the fairy tales of Imam Hasan’s (a.s.) serial marriages and divorces.
Of course, the big difference between the cases of Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Mughairah is that Mughairah has himself admitted to marrying 70 times or more in a Saheeh report and other historians have recorded this fact widely and there are no denials of the reports. While there is no such ‘Saheeh’ report regarding Imam Hasan’s (a.s.) serial marriages and in fact historians have defended Imam Hasan (a.s.) against such malicious filth attributing it correctly to Muawiyah’s conspiracies. The Ahle Bait’s (a.s.) high morals and etiquette and precedence over others in faith makes it impossible for even remotely negative reports to stick to them. Divorcing is a hateful and abominable act near Allah, and Imam Hasan (a.s.) being an Imam himself knows it better than anyone else.
Clearly, the fake report of Imam Hasan’s (a.s.) serial marriages and divorces had Muawiyah’s handprint all over them. What is interesting is that the reports were not picked out of thin air. Muawiyah seems to have played this conspiracy very smartly by borrowing the serial marriages / divorces from his close confidant Mughairah Ibn Shobah and attributing the same to Imam Hasan (a.s.) so that Imam (a.s.) would face the same questions as Mughairah Ibn Shobah. Muawiyah seems to have worked on the principle that the best lie is the one that is borrowed from the truth.