Muaweyah Ibn Abi Sufyan

Al hamdu Lellah, Was-Salatu was-Salamu ala rsoulellah:

This article touches on one of the great companions of the prophet; that is Muaweyah Ibn Abi Sufyan (RA). It is divided into four sections: a) Introduction, b) Muaweyah’s virtues, c) The position of Ahlu-sunna regarding his mistakes, d) Conclusion.

Introduction

One of the most important beliefs a Muslim has is accepting the Quran and the authentic teachings of the prophet Muhammed (PBUH). Besides, an accurate methodology should be maintained when investigating history, which is, looking into the authenticity of the text. However, in case there is no authentic evidence; as Sakr (n.d.) states, there is an essential framework specific to the companions of the prophet, this is, Allah and the prophet’s praise on them. Hence, all the companions are religiously honest and just.

While it may be true that the prophet’s companions are not infallible, historians and the so-called critics should be cautious when talking about their mistakes and should work within the abovementioned framework. Muaweyah (RA) is one of the great companions who is attacked by non-Muslims and deviant groups. So, what was his position in Islam and what are his virtues?

The virtues of Muaweyah

There are virtues general to the prophet’s companions (including Muaweyah) and others specific to Muaweyah (RA); these are as follows:

  1. According to the Qurán, Muaweyah is a believer: He was among those in the battle of Hunain whom Allah called ‘believers’. Allah said, the meaning of which is, “Then Allah sent His peace of reassurance down upon His messenger and upon the believers, and sent down hosts ye could not see…” Qurán (9:26)
  2. He is among those whom Allah promised ‘Al Husnaa‘ i.e., the Paradise: He fought and spent in the battle of Hunain and At-Taif. Allah said, the meaning of which is, “Those who spent and fought before the victory are not upon a level (with the rest of you). Such are greater in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards. Unto each hath Allah promised good [1] Qurán (57:10)
  3. He is one of those whom Allah Has His mercy on them: Allah said, the meaning of which is, ” Allah hath turned in mercy to the Prophet, and to the Muhajirin and the Ansar who followed him in the hour of hardship” Qurán (9:117)

The ‘hour of hardship’ is the battle of Tabuk which Muaweyah attended.

  1. He is a scribe of revelation: This is a great virtue as the prophet (PBUH) trusted him for this critical documentation. In Ibn Abbas’s hadith when Abee Sufyan asked the prophet to “Accept Mu’awiya to serve as your scribe. He said: Yes[2]“. Ibn Taymeyah said that the prophet accepted him as his scribe due to his experience and honesty (Sakr, n.d.: 108)
  2. The first to undertake a navel expedition: Those who were the first Muslims to do this are granted paradise. Um Haram informed that she heard the Prophet (PBUH) saying, “Paradise is granted to the first batch of my followers who will undertake a naval expedition.[3]
  3. Prophet Muhammed liked that Muaweyah and his family be honoured: Hind bint Utabah, the mother of Muaweyah, came to the prophet and said: “Messenger of Allah, by Allah, there was no other household upon the surface of the earth than your household about which I cherished Allah bringing disgrace upon it, (and now) there is no other household upon the surface of the earth than your household about which I cherish Allah granting it honour”. Allah’s Apostle said: It “is so, by Him in Whose Hand is my life [4]
  4. Prophet Muhammed asked Allah that Muaweyah be guided: the prophet said to Mu’awiyah: “O Allah, make him a guiding one, and guide (others) by him.[5]
  5. Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz or Muaweyah? A man asked Al Muafa Ibn Imraan about how Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz was compared to Muaweyah? He became very angry and said: “None is comparable to prophet Muhammed’s companions; Muaweyah (RA) is the prophet’s scribe, his friend/companion, his brother-in-law and his secretary of revelation.[6]
  6. He enjoins good and forbids evil: There are many examples: one of them is narrated by Homran Ibn Abaan that Muaweyah said (to the people): “You offer a prayer which we, who were the companions of the Prophet never saw the Prophet (PBUH) offering, and he forbade its offering,” i.e. the two rak`at after the compulsory `Asr prayer.”[7]
  7. Great accomplishments: During his reign, there were major accomplishments that add to his virtues such as: ending the civil war between the prophet’s companions, subduing of the khawarij and the expansion of the Muslim world in all directions.

The position of Ahlu- Sunnah regarding Muaweyah’s mistakes

The understanding of Ahlu-Sunnah is the most moderate way which is supported by naql i.e., revelation; and aql i.e., logical reasoning. The two extreme ends regarding the prophet’s companions are:

  • Nawasib: Who declared their hostility to aal albeite., the prophet’s household.
  • Rawafid: Who claim to love aal albeit but are hostile to the prophet’s companions.

Both, either follow inauthentic or fabricated sources, or misinterpret authentic texts. On the contrary, the methodology of ahlu-Sunnah is systematic and far from personal interests. There are two main mistakes that concern people about Muaweyah:

Firstly: His opposition to Ali Ibn Abee Talib (RA).

Position: Though it is true that the right was on Ali’s side, both Ali and Muaweyah’s opinions (and actions) were the result of ijtihad and both justified what they did thinking that it pleases Allah. Muaweyah did not want the caliphate for himself but he wanted revenge for Othman’s murder. Some sects like the Shia excommunicate Muaweyah, nevertheless the prophet (PBUH) prophesised the conflict and declared that both sides are Muslims and from the Ummah. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said: ” A group would secede itself (from the Ummah) when there would be dissension among the Muslims. Out of the two groups who would be nearer the truth would kill them. [8]

Secondly: The appointment of his son, Yazeed.

Position: Although there were many companions who deserved the caliphate, Muaweyah made his ijtihad believing that this was the best for the ummah. There were political and social factors why he took this decision: the ummah needed a firm ruler who would keep its unity. We have to bear in mind that some companions were for and some were against. Consequently, this was a matter of ijtihad and Muaweyah is rewarded.

The prophet said: “When a judge utilizes his skill of judgement and comes to a right decision, he will have a double reward, but when he uses his judgement and commits a mistake, he will have a single reward.[9]

Conclusion

Overall, Muaweyah is an honoured companion: he has endless good deeds either by struggling in the cause of Allah by himself or by his armies that opened several territories and as a result, thousands of people became Muslims. He is not infallible: he committed mistakes that are outweighed by his virtues. He spoke about Ali in the best way and vice versa. This means that we must respect him, ask Allah to be pleased with him and all the prophet’s companions.

Bibliography

Al Aajurri, A (1999) الشريعة, [Windows® PC application] Riyadh: Dar Al Watan

Al Abbad, A (2000) عقيدة أهل السنة والجماعة في الصحابة الكرام رضي الله عنهم وأرضاهم, [Windows® PC application] KSA: Dar Ibn Khuzaymah

Al Munajjid, M. (n.d.) وقفات مع طاعنٍ في الصحابي الجليل معاوية بن أبي سفيان رضي الله عنه, [online]. Available from < http://islamqa.info/ar/140984> [Accessed: 4th July 2014]

Al Nabhani, Y (n.d.) الأساليب البديعة في فضل الصحابة وإقناع الشيعة, [Windows® PC application] Egypt: Al Matbaah Al Maymaneyyah

Al Omairy, S. (n.d.) موقف الصحابة رضي الله عنهم من معاوية بن أبي سفيان رضي الله عنهما, [online]. Available from < http://www.dorar.net/art/1207> [Accessed: 4th July 2014]

Al Sherbeny, E. (2005) في ضوء القرآن الكريم والسنة النبوية عدالة الصحابة رضى الله عنهم ودفع الشبهات, [Windows® PC application] Cairo: n.d.

Assallabi, A (2008) معاوية بن أبي سفيان – شخصيته وعصره, [Windows® PC application] Egypt: Dar Al Andalus Al Jadidah

As-Sergani, R. (2010) ولاية العهد ليزيد بن معاوية, [online]. Available from <http://islamstory.com/ar/> [Accessed: 4th July 2014]

Pickthal (n.d.) Qurán Translation [online]. Available from < http://www.quranexplorer.com/quran/> [Accessed: 4th July 2014]

Sakr, S (n.d.) معاوية بن أبي سفيان أمير المؤمنين وكاتب وحي النبي الأمين صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – كشف شبهات وردّ مفتريات, [Windows® PC application] Alexandria: Dar Al Khulafaa Al Rashdeen

Sunnah (2014) Jami At-Tirmidhi [online]. Available from < http://sunnah.com> [Accessed: 4th June 2014]

Sunnah (2014) Sahih Al Bukhari [online]. Available from < http://sunnah.com> [Accessed: 4th June 2014]

Sunnah (2014) Sahih Muslim [online]. Available from < http://sunnah.com> [Accessed: 4th June 2014]

[1] This is the translation of Pickthal, however, al husna is clarified in verse 101 of chapter Al Anbeyaa 21. It means the Jannah.

[2] Sahih Muslim 2501

[3] Sahih AL Bukhari 2924

[4] Sahih Muslim 1714

[5] Jami At-Tirmidhi 4213

[6] Al Sharia Lil Aajurri 5/1956

[7] Sahih AL Bukhari 3766

[8] Sahih Muslim 1065

[9] Bukhari and Muslim

About Ahmed Othman

Ahmed is an English teacher, a teacher trainer, a public speaker, a writer and a therapist.

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