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Immediately after the death of Caliph Ali, Hasan, his eldest son by Fatima, was acclaimed as the new Caliph by forty thousand people in Kufa to the acquiesce of the Medinese and Meccans. The tacit approval, or at least the absence of protest to the secession from the rest of the Hijaz, Yemen and Persia caused alarm to Mu'awiya, who had been working for the office since the death of Caliph Uthman. Mu'awiya lost no time to denounce the appointment and intensified his already organized espionage network within the Muslim lands.

With forces from Syria, Palestine and Transjordan, Mu'awiya finally marched toward Iraq to fight Hasan. Moving slowly, he dispatched letters to Hasan urging him to submit peacefully. In them he also reaffirmed Hasan's superior place in Islam but maintained that this was not the criterion for the leadership of the community and made explicit what had so far been implicit, as in the case of the first three Caliphate : the separation between political and religious principles.

At the news of Mu'awiya's advancement towards Iraq, Hasan sent Qays Sa'd Ubada al-Ansari, an ardent supporter of Ali and trusted commander of his army, with 12,000 troops as an advance guard to check his enemy until Hasan himself could follow with the main force. As was in the case of his father, Hasan however found lack of enthusiasm on the part of his supporters to take up arms. When he was finally able to gather a force, he advanced to Al-Mada'in. Qays and his vanguard

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army meanwhile, had already reached Maskin, facing Mu'awiya's army. Mu'awiya's agents were able to infiltrated the rank and file of both Hasan and Qays' troops causing mutiny and defection. The Iraqis who had deserted his father, now deserted Hasan.

With a treaty whereby Mu'awiya agreed to rule according to the Holy Qur'an and Sunna of the Prophet, to leave the people in peace, to not persecute those who had supported Ali and to restore the caliphate back to Hasan after Mu'awiya's death, Hasan, who was 38, transferred the power of government to the 58 year old Mu’awiya. That year, 41 AH / 660 CE, became known as the 'Am al-Jama'a or the Year of the Community which in effect saw the reconciliation between two opposing groups : the party of 'Uthman, now represented by Mu’awiya, and that of Ali, now lead by Hasan, or in effect, of the Sunnis and Shi’is. Then like his father Ali, who had retired to a quiet life during the caliphates of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman, Hasan left Kufa and settled in Medina.

Instead of adhering to his agreement with Hasan, Mu’awiya however opened departments for the fabrication of Hadiths to extol the virtues of Uthman, and hence of the Umayyad. Those who relate Hadiths about their merits were rewarded. He next instructed the fabrication of Hadiths about the distinctions of some of the Prophet's contemporaries and his kinsmen to surpass and diminish the merits of his enemy, the Bani Hashim. Regardless of the agreement to restore the Caliphate back to Hasan after his death, Mu’awiya actually harbored ambitious plans to perpetuate the caliphate in his own house and nominated his son Yazid as his heir-apparent.

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Mu'awiya was aware of the continued support of factions within the population for Hasan, whom they still considered as the Imam or leader. Bribing Ju'da al-Ash'ath therefore, one of Hasan's wife, with promise of money and marriage to Yazid instead, Mu'awiya had her administer poison to her husband to which he succumbed on the 28th Safar 50 AH / 669 CE at the age of 58.

While Mu’awiya immediately initiated the process of nominating Yazid as his successor, Hujr 'Adi al-Kindi a pious companion of the Prophet, lead a revolt against Mu’awiya’s lieutenant, Ziyad Abi Sufyan, governor of Kufa and Basra maintaining that the Caliphate was not valid except in the family of the Prophet and that Mu'awiya was a usurper. Hujr and his supporters were caught by Mu’awiya and beheaded. Upset, the Kufans sent a delegation to Medina to Husayn, Hasan's younger brother and now head of the Prophet's family, to urge him to lead an armed revolt against Mu'awiya. Honoring his brother's agreement with Mu’awiya, Husayn declined.

Through bribery and severe repression, Mu’awiya managed to bring together from most of the provinces deputation which declared allegiance to Yazid as heir-apparent. Mu’awiya failed though to compel the four most prominent figures, Husayn b. Ali, 'Abd Allah b. Umar, 'Abd Allah b. Zubayr and 'Abd ar-Rahman b. Abu Bakr, to accept Yazid.

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