Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) was one of the most respected Companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) was born in the year 602 A. D. He was the son of of the Quraish leader Sayyidna Abu Sufyan Bin Harb (رضي الله عنه). He belonged to the clan of Banu Umayya which was the second most powerful family in Mecca after the Banu Hashim to which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) belonged. Ultimately when Mecca was conquered by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in 630 A. D. the family of Sayyidna Abu Sufyan Bin Harb (رضي الله عنه) accepted Islam.
After the conquest of Mecca, Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) served as Secretary to the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and was the writer of the Revelation. Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) was the brother-in-law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) as Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه)’s sister Ummul Momineen Sayyidah Umm Habiba Bint Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) was married to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم).
Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) was tall and was fair and handsome in appearance. He was eloquent in speech and was noted for his forbearance. He was a man of dignified bearing and good manners. He was a shrewd politician and diplomat par excellence. In winning wars Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) relied more on the use of the tongue than the use of the sword. He was loved and respected by the people of Syria where he served as the governor for 20 years. He was known to his people as “The Silver tongued Amir.” He was a very good mathematician and an excellent calligraphist. Sayyidna Umar Bin Al Khattab (رضي الله عنه) used to call him as “The Ceasar of the Arabs.”
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
“O Allah! Teach Muawiyah the Book and Math, and protect him from the Punishment.”
[Ibne Asakir 16/684,686,Dahabee in Seyar al Ailam al Nubala 8/38, Musnad Shameen 190]
Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to Muawiyah (رضي الله عنه):
“Allah, make him (Muawiya) guided, a guider, and guide people through him”.
[Imam Bukhari in Tareekh Al Kabeer 5/240, Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Shaykh Al-Albani Authenticated in (Sahih Tirmidhee 3/236)]
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.
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) said, “Do not mention Mu’awiya with anything but good. I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘O Allah, guide him!'” Abu Musa al-Ash’ari called him, “Aminu’llah,” the trusty one of Allah.”
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
“The first group of Muslims to make Naval Jihad will be the inhabitants of Heaven.”
History bears witness to the fact that the first Naval Jihad in the history of Islam was organized and lead by Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه).
During the Calipahte of Sayyidna Abu Bakr Bin Abu Quhafa (رضي الله عنه) and Sayyidna Umar Bin Al Khattab (رضي الله عنه) Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) served in the army and fought under the command of Sayyidna Khalid Bin Al Waleed (رضي اللهعنه), Sayyidna Abu Ubaida Bin Al Jarrah (رضي الله عنه) and Sayyidna Yazeed Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه). After the death of Sayyidna Yazeed Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي اللهعنه), Sayyidna Umar Bin Al Khattab (رضي الله عنه) appointed Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) as the Governor of Syria. When Sayyidna Uthman Bin Affan (رضي الله عنه) became the Calpih, he confimed Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) as the Governor of Syria and added some more territories to his jurisdiction.
He once wrote to ‘A’isha (رضي الله عنه) requesting some succinct advice and she wrote back, I heard the Messenger of Allah say,
“If anyone seeks the pleasure of people at the expense of the wrath of Allah, Allah will entrust him to them until the one who praised him becomes his critic. If anyone seeks the pleasure of Allah at the expense of people, Allah will be enough for him against them.”
He took this to heart and later said on the minbar of Damascus, “No one abandons fearfulness of Allah but that the one who praised him becomes his critic.”
Sayyidna Ali Bin Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه) had once said after the Battle of Siffin :
“Do not speak evil about Sayyidna Amir Muawiyah (رضي الله عنه) because if he were to die, our lives would become so insecure that you will see necks flying from the bodies everywhere.”
According to Quran and Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), all Sahabas are trustworthy. Allah says He is happy with them and they are happy with me (no exception)
“Allah is well pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. That is supreme success” (Quran: 9:100)
Allah, The Most High, Says in the Holy Quran:
“Muhammad is a Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him (Sahabah) are hard against the unbelievers and merciful among themselves, thou seest them bowing, prostrating, seeking bounty and pleasure of Allah, their mark is on their faces, being the trace of prostration. That is their likeness in the Torah and their likeness in the Gospel, as a seed that puts forth its shoot, then strengthens it, then it becomes stout, then it rises straight on its stalk, pleasing the sowers that, through them, He may enrage the unbelievers, Allah promises those, who believe and who, out of them, do righteous deeds, forgiveness and a big wage.” ( 29 : 48 )
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
“Fear Allah in every matter concerning my Companions. Do not make them the targets (of your criticism) after me. Whoever loves them loves them out of love for me, and whoever hated them hates them out of hate for me. Whoever troubles them has troubled me and whoever troubles me has troubled Allah; and whoever troubles Allah, it is imminent that Allah seize him” (Mishkat , Tirmidhi, 554.)
According to Arab historian Ibn Kathir, at the height of tension when fighting was about to erupt at Siffin between Imam Ali (رضي الله عنه) 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.
Many Muslims are ignorant when it comes to the status and high level of Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) . They do injustice to him because of the fitnah that occurred between him and Ameer-ul-Momineen and the rightly guided Khalif Ali Ibn Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه) -. Mauwiya did not want Khilafa nor did he object to the Imamate of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه) -, rather he demanded retaliation against the killers of Uthman (رضي الله عنه) and subsequently that they be handed over to him, and then he would pay allegiance to Ali (رضي الله عنه). In this matter, truth was with Ali (رضي الله عنه) as Ahlul Sunnah unanimously believe. Ibn Asaker narrated that Abu Muslim Al-Khawlani came along with other men to Muwaiya (رضي الله عنه) -and said:
“Do you compete with Ali (رضي الله عنه) or are you his like? He said: No! By Allah I know that he is better than me and has more right to rule than me. But do you not know that Uthman was killed unjustly, and I am his cousin and I am the one who demands his blood so go to him and ask him to hand over to me the murderers of Uthman and I will leave this matter to him.”
Ibn Katheer related from Jareer Ibn Abdul Hameed from Mugheera: When the news of the murder of Ali (رضي الله عنه) reached Muawiya he cried. His wife said: “Why do you cry when you have fought against him?” He said:
“Woe to you ! You do not realize what the people have lost of merit, fiqh and knowledge (i.e by Ali (رضي الله عنه)’s death)”
It is narrated that when Ali (رضي الله عنه)- came make from Siffin he said:
“O People! Do not dislike the rule of Muawiya (رضي الله عنه) , for if you lose him you will see heads falling of the shoulders as if it is Khandhal”
Ibn Qudama Al-Maqdisi said:
“Muawiya (رضي الله عنه) is the Uncle of Believers, the scribe of revelation, and one of the Khalifs of Muslims – May Allah be pleased with them.”
One of the major reasons that the scholars give for calling the first four Caliphs to be the “Four Rightly Guided Caliphs” to the exclusion of others is that they were nominated by Shura without coercion and that they did not reduce the leadership to a hereditary system. The Ahlus Sunnah looks to the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs as the model to implement and nobody else. Therefore, it is not fitting that we discuss other leaders, but rather we should confine our discussion to the group which represents our views.
In regards to Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) , it is incorrect to claim that he seized the leadership by force over an unwilling population. In fact, Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) commanded the unbridled support of the entire Banu Umayyah (رضّى الله عنه) , the whole of Syria, and many other Arabian tribes such as Banu Kalb. By the time of Muawiyyah’s Caliphate, the Muslim nation had already broken down into various competing localities. In the locality in which Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) resided, he most definitely had overwhelming support and consent of the governed. However, due to the unfortunate situation, the Ummah was divided and in a state of civil war. In such a confusing situation, it is unfair to be critical of Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) .There are in fact many reasons for this, but we shall limit our discussion to two of them: Firstly, the Muslim nation-state had spread far and wide by this time, and it is much more difficult for larger groups to reach a consensus as opposed to smaller groups. During the nomination of Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , the Muslim state was limited to the Arabian Peninsula, and the Arabian tribes agreed upon the leadership of the Quraish of Mecca. By Uthman (رضّى الله عنه)’s time, the Muslim state had absorbed many Non-Muslim lands such as Persia and Syria [under the valiant command of Umar (رضّى الله عنه)]; with the rapid expansion of the state, the unity of the Ummah was becoming a problem. It is no wonder that by the time of Ali (رضّى الله عنه)’s death, the Kufans and Syrians cannot agree on a Caliph. The second explanation for this disunity is the emerging rivalry between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim. Neither Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) nor Umar (رضّى الله عنه) belonged to either clan and so their Caliphates were saved from much of the in-fighting between the two clans. However, after Umar (رضّى الله عنه)’s death, the top two candidates for the Caliphate came from these two rival clans: Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) from Banu Umayyah and Ali (رضّى الله عنه) from Banu Hashim. Banu Umayyah had been the leaders before the advent of Islam, and now with the advent of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم), Banu Hashim came in power. This shift created a civil struggle, one that would manifest itself in the civil war between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim. And so it was that the Western half of the Muslim empire accepted Banu Umayyah and the Eastern half accepted Banu Hashim. The Syrian Muslims nominated Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) , whereas the Kufans nominated Hasan (رضّى الله عنه) . It was not that Shura was not done, but rather that the two sides did not do Shura conjointly, a problem arising from the vastness of the Muslim empire and the budding rivalry between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani has reported to have said,
“Were I to sit on a path on which Muawiya (رضي الله عنه) would pass, and the dust from the hooves of his horse were to fall on my clothes, I would consider it as a means of my salvation on the Day of Judgement.”
Once Mu’awiya (رضي الله عنه) said in a khutba,
“Umar appointed me over Syria and then ‘Uthman did so after him. By Allah, I never swindled nor monopolised. Then Allah appointed me to command, and I did well sometimes and badly sometimes.”