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The Master Preacher
Al-Hasan ibn Yasaar Al-Basree
He isn’t from Arabia originally.
His father came as a slave from Persia.
NOTE: He doesn’t have a tribe. Was not a tradition of the Persians to have tribes
in their last name
He was born in 22 AH (642 CE) in Madinah.
He died in the year 110 AH (October 11th
in 728 CE), in Al-Basrah
His father, Yassar, was the slave of Zaid ibn Thaabit Al-Ansari (radi Allaahu’anhu). His
mother, Khayrah, was the slave of Umm al-Mu’mineen, Umm Salamah (radi
Hence, he was raised in a house that was close to the Prophet (Sallahu Alyhee Wa
Salaam)’s home. In some narrations, it suggests that his mother was busy and she left
him with Umm Salamah (radi Allaahu’anha).
On one occasion he was crying, to the point that she offered her breast to him, even
though there was no milk. But, Allah willed for there to be milk and some say that
because of this he became so eloquent in his speech.
He lived very close to the house of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. He saw the
house of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and the things he used to use.
His father brought him to ‘Umar (radi Allaahu’anhu) as a new-born, and Umar made a
dua’a for him: “Oh Allah, give him understanding of the religion, and make
him beloved by the people.”
He studied under the senior companions, such as:
1.‘Uthman (radi Allaahu’anhu),
3.Abu Musa Al-Ash’aree (radi Allaahu’anhu),
4.Ibn ‘Umar (radi Allaahu’anhu),
5.Ibn Abbaas (radi Allaahu’anhu),
6.Mu’aawiyah (radi Allaahu’anhu),
7.Jaabir ibn ‘Abdillah (radi Allaahu’anhu),
8.Anas ibn Malik (radi Allaahu’anhu).
Most of his teachers were those that didn’t get involved in the fitnah. He learned a lot
from them and developed a correct and pure understanding of Islam.
He also attended classes of Mutarrif ibn ‘Abdillah ibn Ash-Shikhkheer.
He traveled with Anas ibn Malik (radi Allaahu’anhu), to al-Basra and settled there, till
Ibn Al-‘Arabee mentioned that Al-Hasan Al-Basree was married to a woman from
amongst the people of the book (most likely Christian). He didn’t have any children.
Abu Burdah said about him: “I have witnessed the companions of the Prophet (Sallahu
Alyhee Wa Salaam), and I have not seen anyone that resembled them more than this
Shaykh (referring to Hasan al-Basree).
Appearance & Characteristics
-He was a very good-looking man. He was tall; broad shouldered, and had a soft,
handsome look on his face.
-He had fair coloured skin and would dye his gray hair blond. He was muscular, so
that his biceps and triceps were a hand-span wide.
-Al-‘Awwam said about his appearance: “He was so good-looking, I cannot
describe him with anything more accurate than that he had the look of the
o“... Look of the prophets”, meaning he was perfect in his appearance. He
-He used to wear a black turban, a long garment, and a Kurdish robe in the winter
and would wear linen Izaar (Pallium), a shirt, and a light shawl, that looked as
soft as silk in the summer.
oThis is important to note because in that time if someone had different
clothes to wear for different seasons, it would imply that they are wealthy.
oHe used to wear Tayla Sa’an (common in Iraq, which implied status).
-Salaam once said: “I saw a robe on Al-Hasan that shimmered like gold.”
-Al-Hasan’s food was known to be delicious; its smell was recognized and
described to smell better than perfume.
-He loved to host people in his house.
oHis friends and students
Important Factors That Shaped His Life
1.Growing up in the home of Umm Salamah (radi Allaahu’anha), and thus, seeing
the people who lived with the Prophet (Sallahu Alyhee Wa Salaam).
2.Studying under the senior Sahabah. He was able to develop a correct and deep
understanding of the Deen.
3.Growing up in the golden era of early Islaam.
4.Witnessing the murder of ‘Uthman (radi Allaahu’anhu) and the fitnah that
ensued. He was 14 years old at that time.
5.Seeing the fitnah that occurred between the Sahabah in the time of Ali (radi
Allaahu’anhu), and its negative consequences. He learned that the fitnah did not
help Muslims in any way.
6.Living through the political changes that occurred when the Khalifah came in the
hands of the Umayyads, being passed down from Mu’aawiyah (radi
Allaahu’anhu) to his son.
7.Witnessing the economic changes that happened during the era of ‘Uthman (radi
Allaahu’anhu), and appeared even more strongly in the time of the Umayyads.
Mu’aawiyah (radi Allaahu’anhu) gave without count. People live a very
8.Witnessed Al-Hajjaj’s oppressive regime and the evil it caused.
9.The emergence of deviant groups, such as the Khawaarij, the Rawaafid, and the
He lived in al-Basra
a.All cities classified in one of two ways:
i. Built by Muslims.
Muslims had their own style of city-building. The masjid was in the centre of city;
(near it was the Governor’s house); stores were built around the Masjid, houses
around the stores, and finally the graveyards existed in the outermost parts of the
city. Masjid was at the centre ~ So that the dunyah doesn’t take one away
from the Deen. ‘Umar (radi Allaahu’anhu) ordered Basra to be built while he
- Basra comes from the word ‘eye/eyesight’ – it was built as a military city as
there were battles going on with Persians.
- A place for Muslims to re-fuel.
- Basra was a lively city (think Toronto compared to Windsor = Basra vs.
Madinah). This is why Al-Basri talked a lot about the hereafter and brotherhood
because he felt the reminders were needed in the community.
ii. Built before Muslims.
10.Witnessing the era of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdil-‘Azeez, the symbol of justice.
11.His wide experience:
a.Living through two generations – the Sahabah and Tabi’een.
b.Experiencing the cultures of Hijaz and ‘Iraq.
c.Living through stable times and times of political unrest.
-Qataadah said regarding him: “I have never met a scholar without seeing that he
benefited from Al-Hasan. He was the most knowledgeable person in halal and
haram.” Also, he said that Al-Hasan al-Basree’s fatawa/’ilm was similar to that of
‘Umar (radi Allaahu’anhu).
-Anas ibn Malik (radi Allaahu’anhu) was asked about an issue, and he replied:
“Ask my slave, Al-Hasan.” They questioned: “We are asking you and you are
referring us to Al-Hasan?” He said: “Ask him. He heard what I heard, but he
remembered what I forgot.”
-Ayyub as-Saqyani (one of the greatest scholars of Shaam) was asked: “What do
you think of al-Basree?” He said: “You have not seen with your own eyes anyone
more knowledgeable than al-Basree.”
-When al-Hasan came to Makkah, they made him sit on a high chair and everyone
was asking him questions. People of Makkah said: “We have never seen
somebody like this.” This means a lot because Makkah was a very active city,
which was visited by many from all over for hajj and umrah and so they
witnessed many scholars during their time. That he made such an impression on
them is an indication of the calibre of his scholarship.
His ‘ILM and FATAWA were similar to that of Umar radhi Allahu
1.His broad knowledge of all aspects of the Shari’ah.
a.Al-Mugheerah said: “The most knowledgeable person when it comes to
judgement and is perfect in history is so-and-so. And one most
knowledgeable in Fiqh was so-and-so and one who mastered all these
fields was Hasan al-Basree.”
b.Ar-Rabi’a said: “I studied under al-Basree for 10 years, and I always
learned something new in each class.” This means al-Hasan was
constantly increasing his knowledge. He wasn’t shallow in his ‘Ilm; he
never repeated himself.
c.Abu Salama said: “I documented 8000 fatwa that Hasan Al-Basree had
2.His knowledge resulting in his own righteousness, and impacting other people by
instilling taqwa in them.
a.‘Awf ibn Malik said: “I don’t know anyone who knows the way to al-
Jannah better than al-Basree. His knowledge takes you to paradise.”
3.His great eloquence and noble character.
a.His talk was similar to the Prophets’ talk
“We would benefit from him even before he began his talk.” I.e. from his
4.His truthfulness and his practice of what he preached
a.Khalid ibn Safwan was asked: “Do you know al-Basree?” He said: “Yes, I
know him very well. Whatever he says it is what he is practicing. When he
preached people to do something, he did it first. When he asked to abstain
from someone, he abstained first. He needed no body, but everyone
5.His excellent manners and helpful nature towards others.
a.“Helping my brother in one thing was more beloved to me than spending
the entire day in the Masjid.” - Al-Basree.
Once, he stopped someone from speaking ill against Al-Hajjaaj. He said:
“Al-Hajjaaj is here because of our own actions.”
b.He would be in the first line in battles. People would hide behind him
when they got scared.
6.The moderation in his views and practice, and his good understanding of how to
deal with the changes in societal circumstances.
a.GEM: He never took zuhd as abstaining from good food or
clothes. The real zaahid is the one who avoids the
haraam, not the halal.
b.He understood the change in the society in his time. He recognized that his
fatwa had to go with that change. For example: earlier, it was not
permissible to sell the mushaf. Al-Basree wrote a fatwa and said it is
permissible to sell mushaf because (1) there are many people who are able
to read (2) there are many people/madrasah that need the mushaf and
people to teach others and they need to be paid.
c.He advised the rulers, he visited them, even if they were not righteous. He
said if we leave them and don’t advise them then how would change come
d.He shared with people his concerns when people attacked.
7.His great da’wah
a.He encouraged his students to make da’wah
a.A real Zahid is one who knows his Lord and knows his religion.
An Event to Remember
In 103 AH, ‘Umar ibn Hurayrah Al-Fizaaree, the ruler of Iraq during the time of Yazeed
ibn ‘Abdul Malik, called Ibn Sireen, Ash-Sha’bee, and Al-Hasan Al-Basree and said to
them: “Allah has chosen Yazeed as His Khalifah on Earth and has ordered us to obey
him, and he has asked me to rule over Iraq, so what do you say?”
Ibn Sireen and Ash-Sha’bee said some tactful words, so as not to anger the ruler.
Ibn Hubayrah then said: “What about you, Al-Hasan? What do you say?”
Al-Hasan said: “Oh, son of Hubayrah. Fear Allah more than Yazeed, and do not fear
Yazeed more than Allah. Allah can protect you from Yazeed, but Yazeed cannot protect
you from Allah. Very soon, Allah will send to you an angel to strip you from your
Al-Hasan Al-Basree used to cry when he related the Hadith, narrated by Anas ibn Malik
(radi Allaahu’anhu), which spoke of the tree trunk that the Prophet (Sallahu Alyhee Wa
Salaam) used to stand on when delivering his sermons. When they made the Prophet
(Sallahu Alyhee Wa Salaam) a minbar, the tree trunk was heard crying. The Prophet
(Sallahu Alyhee Wa Salaam) got down and hugged the tree trunk until it had stopped
crying. Al-Hasan used to say: “Oh, slaves of Allah! A tree trunk longs for the Prophet
(Sallahu Alyhee Wa Salaam), so you should feel more longing to be with him.”
kingdom and take you down from your throne to your grave. He will take you out of
your wide palace to a tiny hole. In that grave, nothing can save you except your deeds.”
Ibn Hubayrah accepted his advice. When he gave them each a gift reward, he doubled
Ash-Sha’bee and Ibn Sireen said: “We gave him cheap words, so he gave us cheap gifts.”
On a Thursday night, the 1st
of Rajab 110 AH (October 9, 728 CE), Al-Hasan fainted. He
later regained consciousness and said: “You have awakened me from gardens and
springs.” He died soon afterwards.
His funeral prayer was after Juma’ah prayer in the main Masjid in Al-Basra. All the
people of Al-Basra followed his procession to the graveyard, to the extent that no one
was left in Al-Basra to call the adhan for ‘Asr Salah.
A Gift from Al-Hasan al-Basree
“What terrible companions are the dirham and dinar; they do not benefit you until they
Lessons from the Life of Al-Hasan al-Basree
-His involvement in the fitnah of al-Ash’ath (seen as a mistake by some) didn’t
lessen his status in any way. Lesson: don’t hold people accountable for one
misjudgement and forget all the good that is in them.
-He was known as a Zaahid, yet he participated in the community. He advised
-It is not haram to wear the clothes of a land, as long as they’re fit the
requirements of the Shari’ah and they are not particular to people of a certain
-One shouldn’t get bored of knowledge. These days, we get bored so easily. After a
few halaqaat/seminars, we think we know enough and don’t need to attend
anymore. There were students who studied under Hasan al-Basree for 10 years
and learnt something new all the time.
-Hasan al-Basree was an extremely righteous and respected member of the
society, yet he interacted with people as if he was one of them.
-Beauty shouldn’t stop you from being humble and pious.
-Don’t allow people speak ill of others around you.
-One should feel passionate about giving da’wah
Test Your Comprehension :
1.His father was the slave of __________ and his mother was the slave of
Umm al-Mu’mineen, ____________.
2.Describe 3 of his special qualities.
3.True or False: He used to wear a black turban and long garment and a
Turkish robe in winter?
4.True or False: He witnessed the Caliphate of Umar ibn Abdul ‘Azeez?
5.What was his definition of zuhd?
6.How were Muslim cities constructed during his lifetime?
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