Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan

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Mu’awiya Ibn Abi Sufyan, founder of the Umayyad dynasty of caliphs based in Syria; b. ca. 605, ruled. 661-680. He had been a crypto-Muslim since 628, and made his Islam manifest in 630. His sister Umm Habiba was married to the Prophet. He functioned as a commander against the Byzantines and in 646 Syria andn al-Jazira were under hi control. Against the Byzantines he established strong garrisons along the coast and instituted Arab maritime warfare in the Mediterranean. The caliph “Uthman Ibn Affan”, while being besieged in his #### Medinan residence in 656, sent word to Mu’awiya asking for help, but the relief force turned back on learning that Uthman had been killed. Thereafter Mu’awiya bided his time while the Prophet’s son-in-law “Ali” sought to establish himself as leader. After the Battle of the Camel, Ali elicited Mu’awiya’s oath of allegiance, but, with the support of Amr Ibn As, Mu’awiya decided to fight Ali, alleging vengeance for Uthman. After the Battle of Siffin in 656 Mu’awiya was recognised as caliph by the Syrians and by Amr Ibn As, who then went to conquer Egypt. While Ali’s position grew weaker in Iraq fighting the Kharijites (the Arabic term indicates the dissidents who, at the Battle of Siffin in 657, refused arbitration between Ali and Mu’awiya and “departed”), Mu’awiya again bided his time. Ali became murdered by a Kharijite in 661, and Mu’awiya became caliph. To posterity his image is ambivalent; he was seen not just as the man who pervirted the caliphate into kingship, bu also as a clever and successful ruler. He is either cursed or venerated, the legitimacy of his caliphate being a far more important issue than its historical nature. Mu’awiya died in 680 in Damascus.


Islamic encyclopedia


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