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Establishment of Umayyad Dynasty; Character of Muawyia


Establishment of the Umayyad Dynasty: Muawiya I  661-680 A.D


Hazrat Hassan (R.A) abdicated in favour of Muawiya. In July 661, Muawiya became the undisputed caliph of the whole Empire.

Muawiya as Caliph:

  • Second son of Abu Sufyan.
  • Became Governor of Damascus after the death of his elder brother Yazid.

Problems Confronting Muawiya on accession to Caliphate:

  • Bedouins were deserting Islam and creating unrest.
  • Bedouins became disloyal to Government of Islam.
  • Internecine quarrels among Arabs halted the progress.


  • Muawiya appointed strong administrators in the troubled areas to crush trouble makers.
  • Revived the forward policy of conquest and expansion of the Empire.
  • Nominated his son Yazid as his successor in order to avoid possible quarrels and bloodshed conquest upon the election of his successor.

Muawiya’s Administrative System:

  • Appointed Governors not for their piety or service to Islam but for their loyalty to himself and their ability for a strong and severe rule.
  • He entrusted them with full authorities to restore peace and order in their provinces.

Conquests Under Muawiya:

  • Muslim armies marched forward both in the East and in the West under Muawiya.

Conquests in the East:

  • In the East, Ziyad was the supreme commander.
  • Conquest of Makran, Sistan and Kabul.

Conquests in the West:

Amr bin al-As, sent an expedition of 10,000 against Berbers in the west who were aided by Byzantines.

War with the Greeks:

  • Muawiya used to fight with Greeks when he was Governor of Syria. After rising to Caliph, he renewed hostilities with Greeks and attacked Byzantine Capital, Constantinople.
  • He sent a formidable army under his son Yazid who failed to capture Constantinople not due to snow, long distance and long line of supply, but mainly because of a new Greek weapon which they called the Greek fire.

Nomination of Yazid as Heir-apparent:

  • In 676, Muawiya nominated him.
  • The election of Caliph as a privilege of the people of Madinah which they were not willing to give up.
  • Muawaya wanted to avoid a civil war after his death for the election of caliph.
  • He also wanted to retain the caliphate in his own family.
  • Imam Hussain, Abdur Rehman bin Abu Bakr, Abdullah bin Umar and Abdullah bin Zubair refused to acknowledge Yazid as the successor of Muwiya.

Significance of Yazid’s nomination:

  • Transformed caliphate into kinship.
  • Henceforth caliphate was no longer an elective institution but became a hereditary one
  • Transformed the caliphate from the orthodox into Umayyad one.

Assessment of Muawiya’s Character and Policy:

  • “Wise, courageous and forbearing, he held the dangerous elements around him in check.” Sir William Muir.
  • Charming personality.
  • Knack to win firnends and influence people. Shrewd head, wise tongue, and lawish —-.
  • Virtue of a mild and sane use of force and violence when their use became necessary.
  • “I do not use my sword where my lash is sufficient, and I do not use by lash where my tongue is enough” Muawiya
  • He applied his great qualities of head and heart to personal and dynastic ends rather than to nobler ends.

Muawiya as Caliph:

  • Introduced changes in Caliph system of Islam.
  • He is regarded as the first king of Islam.
  • Transformed spiritual/theocratic state into secular.
  • Bedeck himself with trapping of royal as a kingly throne, bodyguards of eunuchs, a squad of soldiers at his palace gates, a royal position in the mosque etc.
  • Costly costumes of silk and diamond.

“The accession of Muawiya to the throne at Damascus heralded the end of khilafat and the beginning of kingship.”

“The caliphate of Muawiya is the opening chapter of Muslim monarchy. ”

Muawiya’s Institutions:

  • Abolished “Shura” or consultative council of the early caliphate.
  • Organized naval force in the Mediterranean against Greeks.
  • Built a standing army, disciplined and tested in constant warfare.
  • Institute the diwan al khatim, or the chancery.
  • Postal system, al Bareed.

His Daily life:

  • After Morning Prayer he used to listen police reports.
  • The meeting with ministers and councils.
  • During breakfast, take report of provinces.
  • At noon time, went to mid-day prayer and listen to common people till afternoon prayer.
  • Evening again with ministers.
  • After state dinners, study 1/3 of night of Ancient history.

His Role and Place In Islamic History:

“On the whole Muawiya’s rule was prosperous and peaceful at home and successful abroad”. Syed Ameer Ali.

Muawiya Secularism:

  • Worldly Ruler instead of spiritual.
  • Substituted the Rules of Islamic Faith by the Rule of Arab Blood.
  • Substituted Religious ties and social aims with the ties of tribal affinity and the sentiments of Arabism.
  • Established Arab kingdom in place of Islamic Republic.

His Tribal Policy:

  • Did not advanced favoritism/nepotism
  • Far sighted and balanced tribal policy with wise impartiality.
  • Married daughter of Yemeni Chief in Syria to win support.
  • Mother of Yazid, Maysum.

His Tolerance:

  • Showed tolerance towards non-Muslim subjects.
  • Arab Christian poets attended his covet.

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