78 Facts About Mu'awiya


Mu'awiya became caliph less than thirty years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and immediately after the four Rashidun caliphs.

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Unlike his predecessors, who had been close, early companions of Muhammad, Mu'awiya was a relatively late follower of the Islamic prophet.

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Mu'awiya was appointed by Caliph Abu Bakr as a deputy commander in the conquest of Syria.

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Mu'awiya allied with the province's powerful Banu Kalb tribe, developed the defenses of its coastal cities, and directed the war effort against the Byzantine Empire, including the first Muslim naval campaigns.

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Domestically, Mu'awiya relied on loyalist Syrian Arab tribes and Syria's Christian-dominated bureaucracy.

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Mu'awiya is credited with establishing government departments responsible for the postal route, correspondence, and chancellery.

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Mu'awiya was the first caliph whose name appeared on coins, inscriptions, or documents of the nascent Islamic empire.

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In Shia Islam, Mu'awiya is reviled for opposing Ali, accused of poisoning his son Hasan, and held to have accepted Islam without conviction.

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Mu'awiya's father Abu Sufyan ibn Harb was a prominent Meccan merchant who led trade caravans to Syria, then part of the Byzantine Empire.

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Mu'awiya emerged as the leader of the Banu Abd Shams clan of the polytheistic Quraysh, the dominant tribe of Mecca, during the early stages of the Quraysh's conflict with the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

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Mu'awiya's mother, Hind bint Utba, was a member of the Banu Abd Shams.

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Mu'awiya's father was not a participant in the truce negotiations at Hudaybiyya between the Quraysh and Muhammad in 628.

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In 640 or 641, Mu'awiya captured Caesarea, the district capital of Byzantine Palestine, and then captured Ascalon, completing the Muslim conquest of Palestine.

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Mu'awiya oversaw a liberal recruitment policy that resulted in considerable numbers of Christian tribesmen and frontier peasants filling the ranks of his regular and auxiliary forces.

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Mu'awiya restored, repopulated and garrisoned the coastal cities of Antioch, Balda, Tartus, Maraclea and Baniyas.

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Mu'awiya initiated the Arab naval campaigns against the Byzantines in the eastern Mediterranean, requisitioning the harbors of Tripoli, Beirut, Tyre, Acre, and Jaffa.

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Mu'awiya's rationale was that the Byzantine-held island posed a threat to Arab positions along the Syrian coast, and that it could be easily neutralized.

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Mu'awiya established a garrison and a mosque to maintain the Caliphate's influence on the island, which became a staging ground for the Arabs and the Byzantines to launch raids against each other's territories.

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In 653, Mu'awiya received the submission of the Armenian leader Theodore Rshtuni, which the Byzantine emperor practically conceded when he withdrew from Armenia that year.

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Mu'awiya's domain was generally immune to the growing discontent prevailing in Medina, Egypt and Kufa against Uthman's policies in the 650s.

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Mu'awiya dispatched a relief army toward Medina, but it withdrew at Wadi al-Qura when word reached them of Uthman's killing.

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Mu'awiya withheld allegiance to Ali and, according to some reports, the latter deposed him by sending his own governor to Syria, who was denied entry into the province by Mu'awiya.

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At this point, Mu'awiya did not yet claim the caliphate and his principal aim was keeping power in Syria.

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In 657 or 658 Mu'awiya secured his northern frontier with Byzantium by making a truce with the emperor, enabling him to focus the bulk of his troops on the impending battle with the caliph.

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Mu'awiya employed the veteran commander and Kindite nobleman Shurahbil ibn Simt, who was widely respected in Syria, to rally the Yemenites to his side.

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Mu'awiya then enlisted support from the dominant tribal leader of Palestine, the Judham chief Natil ibn Qays, by allowing the latter's confiscation of the district's treasury to go unpunished.

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Mu'awiya rejected suggestions from his advisers to engage Ali in a duel and definitively end hostilities.

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The final meeting in Adhruh, which had been convened at Mu'awiya's request, collapsed, but by then Mu'awiya had emerged as a major contender for the caliphate.

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Mu'awiya reciprocated in kind against Ali and his closest supporters in his own domain.

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In 659 or 660, Mu'awiya expanded the operations to the Hejaz, sending Abd Allah ibn Mas'ada al-Fazari to collect the alms tax and oaths of allegiance to Mu'awiya from the inhabitants of the Tayma oasis.

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Mu'awiya directed Busr to intimidate Medina's inhabitants without harming them, spare the Meccans and kill anyone in Yemen who refused to pledge their allegiance.

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Mu'awiya successfully bribed Ubayd Allah ibn Abbas, the commander of Hasan's vanguard, to desert his post and sent envoys to negotiate with Hasan.

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The Maronite Chronicles maintain that Mu'awiya "did not wear a crown like other kings in the world".

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Mu'awiya established his court in Damascus and moved the caliphal treasury there from Kufa.

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Mu'awiya relied on his Syrian tribal soldiery, numbering about 100,000 men, increasing their pay at the expense of the Iraqi garrisons, about 100,000 soldiers combined.

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Mu'awiya is credited by the early Muslim sources for establishing for correspondences, chancellery and the postal route.

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Mu'awiya received the customary fifth of the war booty acquired by his commanders during expeditions.

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Mu'awiya attempted to mint his own coins, but the new currency was rejected by the Syrians as it omitted the symbol of the cross.

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Mu'awiya was credited with ordering the restoration of Edessa's church after it was ruined in an earthquake in 679.

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Mu'awiya applied indirect rule to the Caliphate's provinces, appointing governors with full civil and military authority.

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Mu'awiya's statecraft was likely inspired by his father, who utilized his wealth to establish political alliances.

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Mu'awiya's ascent signaled the rise of the Kufan represented by Ali's erstwhile backers al-Ash'ath ibn Qays and Jarir ibn Abd Allah, at the expense of Ali's old guard represented by Hujr ibn Adi and Ibrahim, the son of Ali's leading aide Malik al-Ashtar.

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In Basra, Mu'awiya reappointed his Abd Shams kinsman Abd Allah ibn Amir, who had served in the office under Uthman.

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Mu'awiya was unable to maintain order in Basra, where there was growing resentment toward the distant campaigns.

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Consequently, Mu'awiya replaced Ibn Amir with Ziyad ibn Abihi in 664 or 665.

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Mu'awiya was permitted to retain the surplus revenues of the province.

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When Utba's deputy in Alexandria complained that his troops were unable to control the city, Mu'awiya deployed a further 15,000 soldiers from Syria and Medina.

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The troops in Egypt were far less rebellious than their Iraqi counterparts, though elements in the Fustat garrison occasionally raised opposition to Mu'awiya's policies, culminating during Maslama's term with the widespread protest at Mu'awiya's seizure and allotment of crown lands in Fayyum to his son Yazid, which compelled the caliph to reverse his order.

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Mu'awiya dismissed Marwan once more in 678, replacing him with his own nephew, al-Walid ibn Utba.

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Mu'awiya purchased several large tracts throughout Arabia and invested considerable sums to develop the lands for agricultural use.

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Mu'awiya's efforts saw extensive grain fields and date palm groves spring up across Mecca's suburbs, which remained in this state until deteriorating during the Abbasid era, which began in 750.

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One of the earliest known Arabic inscriptions from Mu'awiya's reign was found at a soil-conservation dam called Sayisad 32 kilometers east of Ta'if, which credits Mu'awiya for the dam's construction in 677 or 678 and asks God to give him victory and strength.

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Mu'awiya possessed more personal experience than any other caliph fighting the Byzantines, the principal external threat to the Caliphate, and pursued the war against the Empire more energetically and continuously than his successors.

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The following year, Armenia became a tributary of the Caliphate and Mu'awiya recognized the Armenian prince Grigor Mamikonian as its commander.

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Not long after the civil war, Mu'awiya broke the truce with Byzantium, and on a near-annual or bi-annual basis the caliph engaged his Syrian troops in raids across the mountainous Anatolian frontier, the buffer zone between the Empire and the Caliphate.

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Mu'awiya then sent reinforcements led by Yazid who led the Arab army's invasion in the summer.

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In 677,678 or 679, according to Theophanes, Mu'awiya sued for peace with Constantine IV, possibly as a result of the destruction of his fleet or the Byzantines' deployment of the Mardaites in the Syrian littoral during that time.

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The following year Mu'awiya dispatched Fadala and Ruwayfi ibn Thabit to raid the commercially valuable island of Djerba.

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In 670, Mu'awiya appointed Uqba as Egypt's deputy governor over the North African lands under Arab control west of Egypt.

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Mu'awiya dismissed Uqba in 673, probably out of concern that he would form an independent power base in the lucrative regions that he had conquered.

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Ibn al-Athir alone relates that delegations from all the provinces were summoned to Damascus where Mu'awiya lectured them on his rights as ruler, their duties as subjects and Yazid's worthy qualities, which was followed by the calls of al-Dahhak ibn Qays and other courtiers that Yazid be recognized as the caliph's successor.

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Alhough support from the Kalb and the Quda'a was guaranteed, Mu'awiya exhorted Yazid to widen his tribal support base in Syria.

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Mu'awiya died from an illness in Damascus in Rajab 60 AH, at around the age of 80.

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Mu'awiya's grave was a visitation site as late as the 10th century.

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Mu'awiya is reported by al-Baladhuri to have said "The earth belongs to God and I am the deputy of God".

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In Julius Wellhausen's assessment, Mu'awiya was an accomplished diplomat "allowing matters to ripen of themselves, and only now and then assisting their progress".

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Nonetheless, the hereditary succession introduced by Mu'awiya became a permanent feature of many of the Muslim governments that followed.

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Mu'awiya strangled the communal spirit of Islam and used the religion as a tool of "social control, exploitation and military terrorization".

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Mu'awiya was the first caliph whose name appeared on coins, inscriptions, or documents of the nascent Islamic empire.

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Mu'awiya had somebody walk in front of him with a spear, took alms out of the stipends and sat on a throne with the people below him.

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Mu'awiya was the first to turn this matter [the caliphate] into mere kingship.

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Mu'awiya was compared to these monarchs mainly because he appointed his son Yazid as the next caliph, which was viewed as a violation of the Islamic principle of and an introduction of dynastic rule on par with the Byzantines and Sasanians.

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The civil war that erupted after Mu'awiya's death is asserted to have been the direct consequence of Yazid's nomination.

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In contrast to the four earlier caliphs, who are considered as models of piety and having governed with justice, Mu'awiya is not recognized as a rightly-guided caliph by the Sunnis.

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Mu'awiya is seen as transforming the caliphate into a worldly and despotic kingship.

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Amid rising religious sectarianism among Muslims in the 10th century, while the Abbasid Caliphate was dominated by the Twelver Shia emirs of the Buyid dynasty, the figure of Mu'awiya became a propaganda tool used by the Shia and the Sunnis opposed to them.

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Strong pro-Mu'awiya sentiments were voiced by Sunnis in several Abbasid cities, including Baghdad, Wasit, Raqqa and Isfahan.

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In 10th–11th-century Egypt, the figure of Mu'awiya occasionally played a similar role, with the Ismaili Shia Fatimid caliphs introducing measures opposed to Mu'awiya's memory and opponents of the government using him as a tool to berate the Shia.

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