1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ḥasan ul-Baṣrī

21810171911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13 — Ḥasan ul-BaṣrīGriffithes Wheeler Thatcher

ḤASAN UL-BAṢRĪ [Abū Sa‘ūd ul-Ḥasan ibn Abī–l-Ḥasan Yassār ul-Baṣrī], (642–728 or 737), Arabian theologian, was born at Medina. His father was a freedman of Zaid ibn Thābit, one of the Anṣār (Helpers of the Prophet), his mother a client of Umm Salama, a wife of Mahomet. Tradition says that Umm Salama often nursed Ḥasan in his infancy. He was thus one of the Tābi‘ūn (i.e. of the generation that succeeded the Helpers). He became a teacher of Baṣra and founded a school there. Among his pupils was Wāṣil ibn ‘Atā, the founder of the Mo‘tazilites. He himself was a great supporter of orthodoxy and the most important representative of asceticism in the time of its first development. With him fear is the basis of morality, and sadness the characteristic of his religion. Life is only a pilgrimage, and comfort must be denied to subdue the passions. Many writers testify to the purity of his life and to his excelling in the virtues of Mahomet’s own companions. He was “as if he were in the other world.” In politics, too, he adhered to the earliest principles of Islam, being strictly opposed to the inherited caliphate of the Omayyads and a believer in the election of the caliph.

His life is given in Nawāwī’s Biographical Dictionary (ed. F. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1842–1847). Cf. R. Dozy, Essai sur l’histoire de l’islamisme, pp. 201 sqq. (Leiden and Paris, 1879); A. von Kremer, Culturgeschichtliche Streifzüge, p. 5 seq.; R. A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, pp. 225–227 (London, 1907). (G. W. T.)