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|Reign||661 – 680|
|Full name||Muʻāwīya ibn ʻAbī Sufyān|
|Born||602 CE (21 BH)|
|Died||April 29 or May 1, 680 CE
(20 or 22 Rajab 60 AH)
|Predecessor||Ali ibn Abi Talib|
|Father||Abu Sufyan ibn Harb|
|Mother||Hind bint Utbah|
Muawiyah I (Arabic: معاوية ابن أبي سفيان Muʿāwiyah ibn ʾAbī Sufyān; 602 – April 29 or May 1, 680) established the Umayyad Dynasty of the caliphate, and was the second caliph from the Umayyad clan. After the conquest of Mecca by the Muslims, Muawiyah's family converted to Islam. Muawiyah and the Islamic prophet Muhammad were brothers-in-law after Muhammad married Muawiyah's sister, Ramla bint Abi Sufyan. Muawiyah, Muhammadand Ali shared the same great great grandfather Abid I Manaf who had two sons, Hashim and Ummyya. Hashim was the great grandfather of Ali and Muhammad. Ummyya was the great grandfather of Muawiyah. Muawiyah became a secretary for Muhammad, and during the first and second caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar (Umar ibn al-Khattab), fought with the Muslims against the Byzantines in Syria. Muawiyah was politically adept in dealing with the Eastern Roman Empire and was therefore made into a secretary by Muhammad.
In 639, when his elder brother Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan (Governor of Syria) died in a plague, along with Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah the governor before him and 25,000 other people, Umar then appointed Muawiyah as Governor of Syria. To stop the Byzantine harassment from the sea during the Arab-Byzantine Wars, in 649 Muawiyah set up a navy manned by Monophysitise Christian, Coptic, and Jacobite Syrian Christian sailors, and Muslim troops. This resulted in the defeat of the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, opening up the Mediterranean. 500 Byzantine ships were destroyed in the battle, and Emperor Constans II was almost killed. Under the instructions of the caliph Uthman ibn al-Affan, Muawiyah then prepared for the siege of Constantinople.
Then caliph Uthman ibn al-Affan was killed and Ali was appointed the fourth and final Rashidun Caliph and moved the capital to Kufa. Muawiyah wanted justice for the assassinated caliph Uthman ibn Affan.
Ali felt that as a Caliph, it was his responsibility to account for every penny and on the day of judgement he will be answerable to God and therefore money should be spent on the poor. Muawiyah argued that that due to the situation on Syria, where the vast majority of the population was not Muslim, he had to pay the wages to his administrative staff and the army and had to retain the Roman administration and had to run a professional administration and tax collection system. Ali then expelled Muawiyah from the Governorship.
Muawiyah refused to obey Ali, and had some level of support from the Syrians in his rebelliousness, amongst whom he was a popular leader. Ali called for military action against Muawiyah, but the reaction in Medina was not encouraging, and thus Ali deferred. Eventually Ali marched on Damascus and fought Muawiyah's supporters at the inconclusive Battle of Siffin (657 CE). This depleted Muawiyah's force and gave the Eastern Roman Empire time to prepare the defences. After making a peace agreement with Ali he applied the siege of Constantinople. With depleted forces the war ended in an unsuccessful siege of Constantinople.
Ali's son Hasan ibn Ali signed a truce and retired to private life in Medina. Muawiyah thus established the Umayyad Caliphate, which was to be a hereditary dynasty, and governed from Damascus in Syria instead of Medina in Arabia.
As caliph, to stop the Byzantine harassment from the sea, Muawiyah developed a navy in the Levant and used it to confront the Byzantine Empire in the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The Caliphate conquered several territories including Cyzicus which were subsequently used as naval bases.
Early life 
Muawiyah bin Abi-Sufyan was born in Mecca (601 CE) into the Banu Umayya sub-clan of the Banu Abd-Shams clan of the Quraysh tribe. The Quraysh controlled the city of Mecca (in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia) and the Banu Abd-Shams were among the most influential of its citizens. Muawiyah and the rest of his family were staunch opponents of the Muslims before the ascendancy of Muhammad. Along with his two older brothers Yazid and Utbah, Muawiyah was one of the members of the hunting party of his maternal uncle Waleed bin Utbah that pursued Muhammad during the hijra (migration), when Muhammad and Abu Bakr were hiding in Ghar al-Thawr (Cave of the Bull).
In 630, Muhammad and his followers conquered Mecca, and most of the Meccans, including the Abd-Shams clan, formally submitted to Muhammad and accepted Islam. Muawiyah, along with his father Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, became Muslims at the conquest of Mecca. Some scholars hold the view that Muawiyah was the second of the two to convert, with Abu Sufyan convincing him to do it.
Muhammad welcomed his former opponents, enrolled them in his army and gave them important posts in what was to become the Caliphate. After Muhammad's death (632) Muawiyah served in the Islamic army sent against the Byzantine forces in Roman Syria. He held a high rank in the army led by his brother Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan.
Governor of Syria 
In 639, Caliph Umar had appointed Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan as the governor of Syria after the previous governors Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah and his brother died in a plague along with 25,000 other people.
Muawiyah gradually gained the loyalty of the people of Syria, instilling remarkable personal loyalty among his troops and the people of the region. By 647, Muawiyah had built a Syrian army strong enough to repel a Byzantine attack.
Muawiyah felt that the behaviour of the ruler vis-a-vis his subject is a trust and a matter of grave concern for him in this world and the Next. The ruler is empowered to implement the Shari'a and all that entails, but he is nevertheless a custodian, and he expects to be corrected by the people of knowledge if he errs. When Abu Bakr was given the bay'a as Khalif, he stood up and addressed people, saying:
O people! I have been put in charge over you, but I am not the best of you. If I act well, then help me, and if I act badly, then put me right. Truthfulness is a trust and lying is treachery. The weak among you is strong in my sight until I restore his right to him, Allah willing. The strong among you is weak in my sight until I take the right from him, Allah willing. Shamelessness does not spread in a people but that Allah envelops them in affliction. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. If I disobey Allah and His Messenger, you owe me no obedience. (Sira Ibn Hisham)
Abu Bakr's successor, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, was also concerned about overstepping his authority.
Salman said that 'Umar asked him, "Am I a king or a khalif?" Salman answered, "If you have taxed the lands one dirham, or more or less, and applied it to unlawful purposes, then you are a king, not a khalif." And 'Umar wept.
This view of leadership was also held by Mu'awiya. He came to Madina and spoke to the people, saying, "I desired the way followed by Abu Bakr and 'Umar, but I was unable to follow it, and so I have followed a course with you which contains fortune and benefits for you despite some bias, so be pleased with what comes to you from me even if it is little. When good is continuous, even if it is little, it enriches. Discontent makes life grim."
He also said in as address which he delivered to the people, "O people! By Allah, it is easier to move the firm mountains than to follow Abu Bakr and 'Umar in their behaviour. But I have followed their way of conduct falling short of those before me, but none after me will equal me in it."
The Greek historian Theophanus does not call Mu'awiya a king or an emperor, but rather a primus inter pares, or in Greek, a protosymboulos, "a first among equals". Theophanus also referred to 'Umar ibn al-Khattab as "primus inter pares", so there cannot have appeared to be much difference between the rule of 'Umar and that of Mu'awiya to an outside non-Muslim observer. We must attribute the later fixation on Mu'awiya as a king with the sense of an absolute monarch or despot to the backdating of things that happened later. Many people did not like his son and therefore the books written during the Abbasid period also portrayed him in the same light.
This use of pomp does not mean that Mu'awiya indulged himself in luxury. Mu'awiya could be seen speaking to the people on the minbar of Damascus wearing a patched garment. Yunus ibn Maysar al-Himyari said, "I saw Mu'awiya riding in the Damascus market wearing a shirt with a patched pocket, going along in the Damascus markets."
Mu'awiya was welcoming to his subjects at every hour of the day, including mealtimes. He created the first postal system and put it at the disposition of his subjects to use. He was known for his impartiality and justice, even where his family was concerned. He would often give judgement against the Umayyads in favour of the Hashimites, especially if it involved Hasan ibn 'Ali whom he was always eager to honour. He once imposed 100 lashes to 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn al-Hakam, the brother of the governor, Marwan, and confiscated his property.
Mu'awiya did not worry about what they said about him, saying, "I do not trouble about words as long as they do not lead to deeds," certainly well anticipating the principle of free speech, but with responsibility for any actions to which such words might lead. This freedom of expression also provided a healthy brake on centralisation, as people knew that they would always have a hearing. They could always speak out against something and be assured of a hearing in the presence of the Khalif.
Deliberations between the khalif and the bedouins took place in the Community Mosque, where the speakers were free and unconstrained towards the khalif. It is reported about him: "If he wanted to do something, he 'had a look at the people'", i.e. he consulted them. When he wanted to undertake a major decision, such as delegating Yazid as the next khalif, he summoned such a shura and the debate was unrestrained and very lively indeed.
To stop the Byzantine harassment from the sea during the Arab-Byzantine Wars, in 649 Muawiyah set up a navy manned by Monophysitise Christian, Coptic, and Jacobite Syrian Christian sailors, and Muslim troops. In subsequent years, he took to an offensive against the Byzantines in campaigns that resulted in the capture of Cyprus (649) and Rhodes (654). This then resulted in the devastating defeat of the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, off the coast of Lycia, opening up the Mediterranean. 500 Byzantine ships were destroyed in the battle, and Emperor Constans II was almost killed. At the same time, Muawiyah prepared to take Constantinople while Emperor Constans II was still in shock.
Muawiyah was motivated by Muhammad's statement:
Before the battle, chronicler Theophanes the Confessor says, the Emperor dreamed of being at Thessalonika; this dream predicted his defeat against the Arabs because the word Thessalonika is similar to the sentence "thes allo niken", which means "gave victory to another (the enemy)".
As Muawiyah and Caliph Uthman were preparing to attack Constantinople, Caliph Uthman ibn Affan was killed and civil war broke out between the Muslims. Muawiyah had asked Caliph Uthman ibn Affan if he could send guards to defend him, but Caliph Uthman ibn Affan refused, saying: "I do not want to spill the blood of Muslims, to save my own neck."
The rapid Muslim conquest of Syria and Egypt and the consequent Byzantine losses in manpower and territory meant that the Eastern Roman Empire found itself struggling for survival.
Ali was very religious and was in Umars consultative committee. Umar had consulted him on all the major issues. Ali had also been the chief judge in Madina. But unlike many of the other companions of Muhammad, Ali had not been involved in the camel caravan trade and had less business and administrative experience.
When Uthman was killed, the people went to Ali and said:
- "This man is killed. The public have to have a leader. No one we have found more deserving to the position than you! You are the oldest in the faith and the nearest to the prophet by relationship."
- "Don’t do that!" Ali said. "Better I be your advisor than your leader."
Ali later wrote in a letter "I did not approach the people to get their oath of allegiance but they came to me with their desire to make me their Amir (ruler). I did not extend my hands towards them so that they might swear the oath of allegiance to me but they themselves extended their hands towards me".
Following the Roman-Persian Wars and the Byzantine-Sassanid Wars there were deep rooted differences between Iraq, formally under the Persian Sassanid Empire and Syria formally under the Byzantine Empire. The Iraqis wanted the capital of the newly established Islamic State to be in Kufa so as to bring revenues into their area and oppose Syria. They convinced Ali to come to Kufa and establish the capital in Kufa. Ali listened to them and moved the capital to Kufa.
Muawiyah I the governor of Syria, a relative of Uthman ibn al-Affan and Marwan I wanted the culprils arrested. Aisha, Talhah and Zubayr ibn al-Awam also asked Ali to arrest the culprits.
In Medina people wanted to know Ali’s point of view about war against Muslims. They wanted to know about his views on Muawiyah and his opposition. So they sent Ziyad Ben Hanzalah of Tamim who was an intimate friend to Ali. He went to him and sat for a while. Then Ali said:
- "Get ready Ziad!"
- "What for?"
- "To fight the Syrians."
He went back and told the people in Madina. In Madina, Marwan manipulated people. In Iraq, many people hated the Syrians following the Byzantine-Sassanid Wars that ran over hundreds of years. Some of Alis supporters were also very extreme in their views and considered every one to be their enemy. Ali had little control over some of them. They felt that if there was peace, they will be arrested for killing Uthman. Many of them later became the Kharijites and eventually killed Ali.
To reduce the divisions between the Muslims, Aisha (Aisha bint Abu Bakr) (Muhammad's widow), Talhah (Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah) and Zubayr ibn al-Awam (Abu ‘Abd Allah Zubayr ibn al-Awwam) also felt that those who assassinated Uthman should be brought to justice. They wanted Ali to arrest Uthman ibn Affan's killer, not fight Muawiyah.
Ali felt that as a Caliph, it was his responsibility to account for every penny and on the day of judgement he will be answerable to God and therefore money should be spent on the poor. Muawiyah argued that that due to his situation on Syria, where the vast majority of the population was not Muslim, he had to pay the wages to his administrative staff and the army and had to retain the Roman administration and had to run a professional administration and tax collection system.
When Ali moved his forces north against Muawiyah during the outbreak of the Muslim Civil War in 656, it bought a precious breathing pause for Byzantium, which Emperor Constans II (r. 641–668) used to shore up his defences, extend and consolidate his control over Armenia and most importantly, initiate a major army reform with lasting effect: the establishment of the themata, the large territorial commands into which Anatolia, the major contiguous territory remaining to the Empire, was divided. The remains of the old field armies were settled in each of them, and soldiers were allocated land there in payment of their service. The themata would form the backbone of the Byzantine defensive system for centuries to come. After his victory in the civil war, Muawiyah launched a series of attacks against Byzantine holdings in Africa, Sicily and the East. By 670, the Muslim fleet had penetrated into the Sea of Marmara and stayed at Cyzicus during the winter.
While dealing with the Iraqis, Ali was unable to build a disciplined army and effective state institutions to exert control over his areas and as a result later spent a lot of time fighting elements of his own army in the form of the Kharijites. As a result on the Eastern front, Ali was unable to expand the state.
Conflict with Ali 
Muawiyah wanted justice for the assassinated caliph Uthman ibn Affan. Aisha (Aisha bint Abu Bakr) (Muhammad's widow), Talhah (Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah) and Zubayr ibn al-Awam (Abu ‘Abd Allah Zubayr ibn al-Awwam) also felt that those who assassinated Uthman should be brought to justice. They demanded Ali to arrest Uthman ibn Affan's killer, not fight Muawiyah. Marwan I and others attempt to manipulated public opinion. Ali claimed that he was not able to apprehend and punish Uthman's murderers fearing rebel infiltration of the Muslim ranks.
Muawiyah did not go to Basra with Aisha, Talhah and Al-Zubayr. He was in Damascus at the time.
Zubair was Ali's and Muhammad's cousin and did not want fellow Muslims to fight. He said to Ali "What a tragedy that the Muslims who had acquired the strength of a rock are going to be smashed by colliding with one another". After talking with Ali before the Battle of the Camel, Zubair did not want to fight and left the battlefield; he was later killed in an adjoining valley. A man named Amr ibn Jarmouz had followed Zubair and murdered him while he performed Salat. Talhah also left. On seeing this Marwan shot Talhah with a poisoned arrow.
The heated exchange and protests turned from words to blows. One night some of Ali's more extreme supporters who later became the Khamarij attacked. Aisha's brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr who was Ali's commander approached Aisha. Ali pardoned Aisha and her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr escorted her back to Medina.
Ali then turned towards Syria. He marched to the Euphrates and engaged Muawiyah's troops at the Battle of Siffin (657). Accounts of the clash vary – however, it would seem that neither side had won a victory, since the Syrians called for arbitration to settle the matter, arguing that continuing the civil war would embolden the Byzantines. There are several conflicting accounts of the arbitrations. One account suggests that Muawiyah’s army were ordered to adorn the tips of their swords with pages from the Quran in an attempt to confuse the army of Ali and prevent them from winning the battle. As a result, the army of Ali ceased fighting so as not to bring harm to the Quran. Muawiyah proposed a cease-fire which Ali agreed to and it was decided to end the conflict through peaceful talks. An elaboration of this conflict has it that Muawiyah, being the governor of Sham (the Levant) and the cousin of Uthman, refused Ali's demands for allegiance. Ali opened negotiations hoping to regain his allegiance, but Muawiyah insisted on Levantine autonomy under his rule. Muawiyah replied by mobilizing his Levantine supporters and refusing to pay homage to Ali on the pretext that his contingent had not participated in his election. Ali then moved his armies North and the two armies encamped themselves at Siffin for more than one hundred days, most of the time being spent in negotiations. Although, Ali exchanged several letters with Muawiyah, he was unable to dismiss the latter, nor persuade him to pledge allegiance. Skirmishes between the parties led to the Battle of Siffin in 657. After a week of combat was followed by a violent battle known as laylat al-harir (the night of clamor), Muawiyah's army were on the point of being routed when Amr ibn al-Aas advised Muawiyah to have his soldiers hoist mus'haf (either parchments inscribed with verses of the Quran, or complete copies of it) on their spearheads in order to cause disagreement and confusion in Ali's army. Ali saw through the stratagem, but only a minority wanted to pursue the fight.
After the battle Amr ibn al-As was appointed by Muawiyah as an arbitrator and Ali appointed Abu Musa Ashaari. Seven months later the two arbitrators met at Adhruh about 10 miles north west of Maan in Jordon in February 658. Amr ibn al-As convinced Abu Musa Ashaari that both Ali and Muawiyah should step down and new Caliph be elected. Ali and his supporters were stunned by the decision which had lowered the Caliph to the status of the rebellious Muawiyah. Ali was therefore outwitted by Muawiyah and Amr ibn al-As. Ali refused to accept the verdict and found him self technically in breach of his pledge to abide by the arbitration. This put Ali in a weak position even amongst his own supporters. The most vociferous opponents in Ali's camp were the very same people who had forced Ali into the ceasefire the Kharijites. They broke away from Ali's force, rallying under the slogan, "arbitration belongs to God alone." This group came to be known as the Kharijites ("those who leave"). In 659 Ali's forces and the Kharijites met in the Battle of Nahrawan.
Now with a much depleted force, after making peace with Ali, Muawiyah shifted his focus back towards Constantinople. A massive Muslim fleet reappeared in the Marmara and re-established a base at Cyzicus, from there they raided the Byzantine coasts almost at will. Finally in 676, Muawiyah sent an army to Constantinople from land as well, beginning the First Arab Siege of the city. Constantine IV (r. 661–685) however used a devastating new weapon that came to be known as "Greek fire", invented by a Christian refugee from Syria named Kallinikos of Heliopolis, to decisively defeat the attacking Umayyad navy in the Sea of Marmara, resulting in the lifting of the siege in 678. The returning Muslim fleet suffered further losses due to storms, while the army lost many men to the thematic armies who attacked them on their route back. Eyup was killed in the siege was, the standard bearer of Muhammed and the last of his companions; His tomb is in Istanbul.
At about the same time, unrest was brewing in Egypt. The governor of Egypt, Qais, was recalled, and Ali had him replaced with Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (the brother of Aisha and the son of Islam's first caliph Abu Bakr). Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr's rule resulted in widespread rebellion in Egypt. Muawiyah ordered 'Amr ibn al-'As to invade Egypt and 'Amr did so successfully.
When Alī was assassinated in 661, Muawiyah, as commander of the largest force in the Muslim Empire, had the strongest claim to the Caliphate. Ali's son Hasan ibn Ali signed a truce and retired to private life in Medina.
In the war... When we met people of Al-Sham, it seemed that our God is one, our prophet is the same, our calling is the same, and no one is more of a believer than the other about believing in Allah, or the prophet. The misunderstandings were about Uthman's blood, and we have nothing to do with it.
Sahih Al Bukhari
Volume 3, Book 49 (Peacemaking), Number 867: Narrated by Al-Hasan Al-Basri
By Allah, Al-Hasan bin Ali led large battalions like mountains against Muawiya. Amr bin Al-As said (to Muawiya), "I surely see battalions which will not turn back before killing their opponents." Muawiya who was really the best of the two men said to him, "O 'Amr! If these killed those and those killed these, who would be left with me for the jobs of the public, who would be left with me for their women, who would be left with me for their children?" Then Muawiya sent two Quraishi men from the tribe of 'Abd-i-Shams called 'Abdur Rahman bin Sumura and Abdullah bin 'Amir bin Kuraiz to Al-Hasan saying to them, "Go to this man (i.e. Al-Hasan) and negotiate peace with him and talk and appeal to him." So, they went to Al-Hasan and talked and appealed to him to accept peace. Al-Hasan said, "We, the offspring of 'Abdul Muttalib, have got wealth and people have indulged in killing and corruption (and money only will appease them)." They said to Al-Hasan, "Muawiya offers you so and so, and appeals to you and entreats you to accept peace." Al-Hasan said to them, "But who will be responsible for what you have said?" They said, "We will be responsible for it." So, what-ever Al-Hasan asked they said, "We will be responsible for it for you." So, Al-Hasan concluded a peace treaty with Muawiya. Al-Hasan (Al-Basri) said: I heard Abu Bakr saying, "I saw Allah's Apostle on the pulpit and Al-Hasan bin 'Ali was by his side. The Prophet was looking once at the people and once at Al-Hasan bin 'Ali saying, 'This son of mine is a Saiyid (i.e. a noble) and may Allah make peace between two big groups of Muslims through him."
Hassan wanted peace. He was one of the guards defending Uthman ibn Affan when the attacker climbed a wall and went around him and killed Uthman ibn Affan. Those events had led to much bloodshed. Many of Hassan's closest friends had been killed in those futile wars, including Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, who he had been raised with. Many of the people around him also wanted peace. There was also a Kharijites rebellion on going and these people viewed everyone as an enermy. Hassan viewed Muawiyah as a Muslim, who could deal with the Kharijites. Hassan therefore made the Hassan–Muawiya treaty with Muawiyah.
In the year 661, Muawiyah was crowned as caliph at a ceremony in Jerusalem. Muawiyah governed the geographically and politically disparate Caliphate, which now spread from Egypt in the west to Iran in the east, by strengthening the power of his allies in the newly conquered territories. Prominent positions in the emerging governmental structures were held by Christians, some of whom belonged to families that had served in Byzantine governments. The employment of Christians was part of a broader policy of religious tolerance that was necessitated by the presence of large Christian populations in the conquered provinces, especially in Syria itself. This policy also boosted his popularity and solidified Syria as his power base.
In a manner similar to Byzantine administrative practices, Muawiyah instituted several bureaucracies, called divans, to aid him in the governance and the centralization of the Caliphate and the empire. Early Arabic sources credit two diwans in particular to Muawiyah: the Diwan al-Khatam (Chancellery) and the Barid (Postal Service), both of which greatly improved communications within the empire.
At the height of tension when fighting was about to erupt at Siffin between Imam Ali and Muawiyah, Muawiyah was informed that the Byzantine Emperor raised a very large army and was drawing very close to the borders of the Muslim state. He wrote to him, giving him a very clear warning, 'By God, if you do not stop your designs and go back to your place, I will end my dispute with my cousin and will drive you out of the entire land you rule, until I make the earth too tight for you.' The Byzantine Emperor was scared off and abandoned his plans
However, some shia scholars contend that he simply placated the Byzantine emperor with offers of land, gold, and slaves and soldiers.
But looking at the Eastern Roman Empire records of the period and the writings of Theophanes the Confessor, Emperor Constans II was still in shock after the Battle of the Masts and was too busy shoring up his defences, initiating major army reform for lasting effect and establishing the themata.
Muawiyah died either on April 29 or May 1, 680, allegedly from a stroke. He was succeeded by his son Yazid I. Muawiyah had held the expanding empire together by force of his personality, through personal allegiances, in the style of a traditional Arab sheikh. However Muawiyah's attempt to start a dynasty failed because both Yazid and then his grandson Muawiya II died prematurely. His grandson Muawiya II abdicating and later died. The caliphate eventually went to Marwan I a descendant of another branch of Muawiyah's clan.
By his creation of a fleet, Muawiyah was the driving force of the Muslim effort against Byzantium. His Navy challenged the Byzantine navy and raided the Byzantine islands and coasts at will. The shocking defeat of the imperial fleet by the young Muslim navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655 was of critical turning point. It opened up the Mediterranean, considered a "Roman lake", and began a centuries-long series of naval conflicts over the control of the Mediterranean. This also allowed the expansion of the state into North Africa and Spain. Trade between the Muslim eastern and southern shores and the Christian northern shores almost ceased during this period, isolating Western Europe from developments in the Muslim world: "In antiquity, and again in the high Middle Ages, the voyage from Italy to Alexandria was a commonplace; in early Islamic times the two countries were so remote that even the most basic information was unknown" (Kennedy). Muawiyah also initiated the first large-scale raids into Anatolia from 641 on.
After the Battle of the Masts Emperor Constans II was still in shock. Had Ali listened to Aisha (Aisha bint Abu Bakr) (Muhammad's widow), Talhah (Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah) and Zubayr ibn al-Awam (Abu ‘Abd Allah Zubayr ibn al-Awwam) and not confronted Muawiyah and depleted his forces, and made a peace treaty with him before the Battle of Siffin like Hassan rather that after the battle and joined him in the Siege of Constantinople, it would have been a very dangerous situation for the Byzantine Empire. The battle of Battle of Siffin gave Emperor Constans II time to shore up his defences and depleted Muawiyah forces. Additionally the Kharijites would not have appeared and it is possible the splits between the Sunni and Shia would not have appeared.
Muawiyah greatly beautified Damascus, and developed a court to rival that of Constantinople. He expanded the frontiers of the empire, reaching the very gates of Constantinople at one point, though the Byzantines drove him back and he was unable to hold any territory in Anatolia. Sunni Muslims credit him with saving the fledgling Muslim nation from post civil war anarchy. However, Shia Muslims charge that if anything, he was the instigator of the civil war, and weakened the Muslim nation and divided the Ummah, fabricating self-aggrandizing heresies and slander against Muhammad's family, even selling his Muslim critics into slavery in the Byzantine empire.
One of Muawiyah's most controversial and enduring legacies was his decision to designate his son Yazid as his successor. According to Shia doctrine, this was a clear violation of the treaty he made with Hasan ibn Ali, in which Muawiyah said he would not make his son his successor.
Muawiyah had a personal library collection (bayt al-hikmah) that was enlarged by his successors "throughout the Umayyad period.… This first major library outside of a mosque was known to include works on astrology, medicine, chemistry, military science, and various practical arts and applied sciences in addition to religion."
As the Kharijites got stronger and Hasan realised that he could not control the situation, he handed over power to Muawiya which led to peace and re-unification of the Umma in 40/661, the year known as the Year of the Jama'a, or Community. There was no further major civil unrest.
Muawiyah I is a reviled figure in Shia Islam for several reasons. Firstly, because of his involvement in the Battle of Siffin against Ali, whom the Shia Muslims believe was Muhammad's true successor); secondly, for the breaking of the treaty he made with Hasan ibn Ali, after the death of Hasan ibn Ali, one of broken terms being appointing his son Yazid as his successor; thirdly, on account of his responsibility for the killing of Hasan ibn Ali by bribing his wife Ja'dah binte Ash'as to poison him; and fourthly by distorting Islam to match his unislamic rule. and fifthly, for the deaths of various Companions of Muhammad.
The role of Muawiya is interesting in modern terms because the rule of Muawiya involves bringing disparate elements into a single unity - as there were really three power bases for a time: Syria and the Umayyads, Iraq where 'Ali based himself, and the Hijaz later represented by Ibn az-Zubayr. There were also the various religious and ethnic groups. How did Muawiya manage to bring about a unity and prevent the fragmentation of the state into three states? Eventually the single unit broke up again under the Abbasids, and never again united entirely.
Once peace was established, Muawiya reconciled many of the people who had been fighting each other by his generosity and fairness. Even the most stubborn of opponents would often melt under his generosity and diplomacy. He also managed through fine diplomacy to balance out the tribal rivalries.
Muawiya said, "Fear Allah and do not prefer anything to that, for there is a reward in fearing Him." He added, "Do not tempt anyone with that to which he has no right, and do not make anyone feel hopeless regarding his rights." This sense of duty to the people under one's authority was important. He also continued the welfare state Bayt al-mal for the Muslim and the Non Muslims poor citizens.
On one occasion, Muawiya ascended the minbar and praised Allah. When he wanted to speak, a lad of the Ansar interrupted him and said, "Muawiya! What makes you and the people of your house more entitled to wealth than us! We have no wrong action against you that we know of other than our slaying of your uncle Walid, your grandfather 'Uqba, and your brother Hanzala." Muawiya said, "By Allah, nephew, you did not kill them. Rather God took their life with angels at the hands of the sons of their father. That was not a fault nor a loss." The Ansari said, "So where is the fault and loss then?" He said, "You spoke the truth. Do you need something?" He said, "Yes. I look after an old woman and sisters and things have been hard on us." Muawiya said, "Take what you can from the treasury." The boy took it and then Muawiya resumed his talk.
When his friends expressed surprise at the vastness of his gifts to his opponents, he said, "a war costs infinitely more." It was a technique which was quite effective with the unruly Bedouins. Muawiya asked Amr ibn al-As, "How great is your cunning?" He replied, "I have never entered into anything but that I got out of it." Muawiya said, "And I have never entered into an agreement, that I wanted to get out of!"
Muawiya was famous for both for his self-possession and for his political finesse. He was a good orator and had a fertile imagination. This allowed him to unify the people.
Muawiya was famous for his ability to foresee future turns of events, and an ability to manoeuvre people. Muawiya had the ability to single out enemies and turn them into allies. Ibn az-Zubayr said of him, "Truly Muawiya deployed a dexterity and mental resourcefulness as one will never see after him. When we tried to impose something on him, an irritated lion with claws unsheathed would not show more audacity than him. He knew when to give into us, to even allow himself to be tricked when we tried to do that to him. He was the most artful of men, more crafty than a thief. I wished that we would never lose him, just as a rock remains on this summit," pointing to the mountain of Abu Qubays outside Makka.
One of the instructions of Muawiya to a new governor was:
"Open your door to the people; thus you will have information from them. You and they are equal. When you decide on a matter, express it openly to the people, and no one will expect anything or make demands on you, and you will be able to carry it out. When you encounter your enemies, and they defeat you at the border of your territory, do not let them defeat you in its interior. If your companions need you to assist them personally, do so."
To repeat the judgement on Mu'awiya in a nutshell: Muhammad said:
- "The best of your Imams is the one you love and who loves you, who gives to you and you to him."
During Mu'awiya's rule he put into practice the advice that Muhammad had given him, "When you rule, do it well." He was scrupulous about justice and was generous and fair to people of all classes. He honoured people who possessed ability and talent and helped them to advance their talents, regardless of their tribe. He displayed great forbearance towards the rashness of ignorant men and great generosity towards the grasping. He made the judgements of the Shari'a binding on everyone with resolution, compassion and diligence. He led them in their prayers and directed them in their gatherings. He led them in their wars. In short, he proved to be a balanced and model ruler. 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas stated that he did not see a man more suited to rule than Mu'awiya.
There has been ample testimony to Mu'awiya's abilities. Ibn Taymiyya said, "The behaviour of Mu'awiya with the people was the best behaviour of any ruler. His people loved him," reflecting what the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is recorded as having said in the Sahih of Muslim: "The best of your Imams is the one you love and who loves you, who gives to you and you to him." This was Mu'awiya's behaviour in a nutshell towards the people.
In summation, despite his endeavours in the expansion of the Caliphate and the establishment of the Umayyad Dynasty, the persona of Caliph Muawiyah I evokes a controversial figure in standard Islamic history whose legacy has never quite been able to shed the taint of his opposition to the Rashidun Caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib. Some of the classical literature recorded by eminent (Sunni) Islamic figures attest to this:
- I asked my father about Ali and Muawiyah. He (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
- answered: "Know that Ali had a lot of enemies who tried hard to find a
- fault in him, but they found it not. As such, they joined a man (i.e.,
- Muawiyah, as given in the footnotes) who verily fought him, battled
- him, and they praised him (Muawiyah) extravagantly setting a snare for
- themselves for him. -Abdullah bin Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
Muawiyah's opposition to Ali manifested itself in the rather ugly practice instituted during his caliphate, which was the verbal abuse and insult of Ali Ibn Abi Talib during the sermons in the mosques. This was even done on the pulpit of the Mosque of Muhammad in Medinah. (This practice lasted for 65 years and was ended by Umayyad caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz.)
For example, Tabari recorded:
- When Muawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan put Mughairah Ibn Shubah in charge of
- Kufah in Jumada 41 AH (Sep. 2 - Oct. 30, 661 CE), he summoned him.
- After praising and glorifying God, he said-
- "I would continue to advise you about a quality of yours-do not refrain from
- abusing Ali and criticizing him, (but) not from asking God's mercy upon
- Uthman and His forgiveness for him. Continue to shame the companions
- of Ali, keep at a distance, and don't listen to them. Praise the
- faction of Uthman, bring them near, and listen to them."
Consequently, both the opposition to Ali and the practice of verbal abuse of him in mosque sermons instituted during Muawiyah's caliphate, has been regarded ever since with particular disdain due to these ahadith of Muhammad:
Abu Huraira narrated-
The Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) said-
Saad Ibn Abi Al-Waqqas narrated-
- Muawiyah, the son of Abu Sufyan, gave order to Saad, and told him:
- "What prevents you that you are refraining from cursing Abu Turab
- (nickname of Ali Ibn Abi Talib)?" Saad replied: "Don't you remember that the Prophet
- said three things about (the virtues of) Ali? So I will never curse Ali."
A narration also tells that Muhammad prayed to God in favor of Muawiyah: "Allahumma (O Allah) guide him and guide people by him." This narration is in many hadith (narration) books. Al-Dhahabi says that this narration has a strong predication (reference), and Al-Dhahabi also explained how some scholars erred in saying that the narration is weak. Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani (a modern narrations critic) also said: all the men of the predication (reference) are trustworthy. and then he explained how the predication is strong.
Muawiyah was very active in the Arab–Byzantine wars and was also involved in the siege of Jerusalem.
Shia Muslims and both several pro-Ali Sunni imams like Al-Nasa'i and imams like Muhammad al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, were of the opinion that Muawiyah was lazy, gluttonous, and obese to the point of not even being able to ride a horse. Nisa'i and Muslim narrate a Sahih hadith, wherein Muhammad summoned Muawiyah who snubbed him and continued eating his meal - Muhammad then cursed Muawiyah with the words: "May Allah never fill his belly!" Nisa'i was not the only Sunni scholar who accepted this hadith - there were many others, the foremost being Bukhari and Muslim who compiled the Sahih Muslim. It has been argued that in the Arabic culture and language the expression is a colloquialism which means a wish that the person's belly be so full of blessings of God (in the form of food) that his belly cannot take anymore, or that he wishes the persons blessings to be without an end. However, the two pre-eminent masters of Sunni hadith, Bukhari and Muslim, have rejected absolutely the latter apology for Muawiyah. Further, Nisa'i was murdered when he recited this hadith in the presence of pro-Muawiya Arab-speaking Syrians as it was perceived as a curse of Muawiyah, which debases the unreferenced suggestion that the term was a form of praise and not condemnation.
Sunni view 
Many Sunni Muslim historians view Muawiyah as a companion of Muhammad, and hence worthy of respect for this reason, and a few Sunni Muslims take great issue with the Shia criticism and vilification of him. However, mainstream Sunni Muslims while refusing to adopt the negative Shia sentiment towards Muawiyah nevertheless quietly withhold according him religious status owing to his rebellions against Ali and Hasan ibn Ali, who are regarded as pious rulers. Finally, Muawiyah transformed the caliphate from a consensus system with some emphasis on religious qualification into a hereditary and monarchical one with no such stringent requirement, by designating his son Yazid as his successor.
A Sunni hadith says:
…Muawiyah who was really the best of the two men said to him, "O 'Amr! If these killed those and those killed these, who would be left with me for the jobs of the public, who would be left with me for their women, who would be left with me for their children?" Then Muawiya sent two Quraishi men from the tribe of 'Abd-i-Shams called 'Abdur Rahman bin Sumura and Abdullah bin 'Amir bin Kuraiz to Al-Hasan saying to them, "Go to this man (i.e. Al-Hasan) and negotiate peace with him and talk and appeal to him." So, they went to Al-Hasan and talked and appealed to him to accept peace…
Sunni scholars interpret al-Hasan's willingness to abandon his claims to the caliphate in favour of Muawiyah as proof that al-Hasan, Muhammad's eldest and beloved grandson, did not go so far as to view Muawiyah an apostate, renegade or hypocrite. They also say that Ali and Hasan gave their allegiance to the First three Caliphs and Hasan also gave allegiance to Muawiyah, meaning they did not feel that only Ali's descendents are allowed to rule the Muslims.
Quran, Surat Al-Hujurat [49:13]:
"O mankind, indeed I have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted." 
Shia view 
The Shia view Muawiyah as a tyrant, usurper and murderer. His supposed conversion to Islam before the conquest of Mecca is dismissed as a fable, or mere hypocrisy. He is also described as a manipulator and liar who usurped Islam purely for political and material gain of his father's loss. He was also widely regarded as a tyrant and usurper by both Shia Arabs and Persians. The Umayyads suppressed Persian culture and language, and a number of Iran's greatest contributors to Persian literature - both Shias like Ferdowsi and Sunnis like Saadi Shirazi - took the side of Ali, not Muawiyah.
According to Shia view, Muawiyah opposed Ali, out of sheer greed for power and wealth. His reign opened the door to unparalleled disaster, marked by the persecution of Ali, slaughtering of his followers, and unlawful imprisonment of his supporters, which only worsened when Yazid came into power and the Battle of Karbala ensued. Muawiyah is alleged to have killed many of Muhammad's companions (Sahabah), either in battle or by poison, due to his lust for power. Muawiyah killed several historical figures, including the Sahabah, Amr bin al-Hamiq, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Malik al-Ashtar, Hujr ibn Adi (to which the families of Abu Bakr and Umar condemned Muawiyah for, and the Sahaba deemed his killer to be cursed) and Abd al-Rahman bin Hasaan (buried alive for his support of Ali).
According to the Shia Muawiyah was also responsible for instigating the Battle of Siffin, the bloodiest battle in Islam's history, in which over 70,000 people (among them many of the last surviving companions of Muhammad) were killed. Notable among the Companions who were killed by Muawiyah's forces was Ammar ibn Yasir, a frail old man of 95 at the time of his death. Shii Muslims see his being killed at the hands of Muawiyah's army as significant because of a well-known hadith, present in both the Shia and Sunni books of hadith, narrated by Abu Hurairah and others, in which Muhammad is recorded to have said: "A group of rebels would kill you", Sahih Muslim and Sahih al-Bukhari.
When the tide of the battle was turning in Ali's favor, Muawiyah stalled Ali's troops by raising the Quran on the tip of a bloody spear as a sort of "holy book shield" against attack by Muslims. This sort of act is widely regarded as blasphemy and desecration of God's word, and Shia scholars condemn Muawiyah for it, arguing such a practice would today be condemned by Sunni Muslims just as much as Shia Muslims.
[...] Then he [i.e. Muawiyah] was informed that Ubaidullah had two infant sons. So he set out to reach them, and when he found them - they had two (tender) forelocks like pearls - [and] he ordered to kill them.
From the Shia point of view and that of many Sunnis - as has been recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, in a hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar that Hasan ibn Ali did not sign the treaty with Muawiyah because he liked him; rather, he did so to prevent even worse bloodshed than had already happened at Siffin. Hasan's intention was to preserve the Muslim Ummah and Shias believe to eventually restore the Caliphate to its rightful heirs, Muhammad's family (as per the terms of the treaty).
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- Shia: 21:6 Secrets of Muawiyah from Al-Amali: The Dictations of Sheikh al-Mufid
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Moawiyah.|
|Sunni Islam titles|
Hasan ibn Ali
Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan
|Governor of Al-Sham
|under direct control of Muawiya I|