Islam / Caliph / Umayyads /
mu¢āwiyya bni abī sufyān
(602-680) Caliph of Islam 661-680, founder of the Umayyad dynasty.
Mu'awiyya was a forceful leader who managed to unite and rebuild the state structure after some years of schisms and unrest in the Muslim world, although he was never reconciled with the supporters of Ali's family as Caliphs (later Shi'is).
He is considered to have deviated from the ideal Muslim type of leadership. Mu'awiyya employed tribal principles in his ruling practice, placing Christians in leading positions (recognizing that the territories had a Christian majority); and he built up a bureaucracy, based upon a Byzantine model. He also established a postal service for his territories.
After assuming the Caliphate, Mu'awiyya stayed on in Damascus, where he had been governor for 21 years already. Damascus became capital of the Muslim world for the following 90 years, and he started a grand programme for beautifying the city.
Mu'awiyya had his son, Yazid 1, appointed heir, and made nobles and chiefs of the empire swear allegiance to him while Mu'awiyya was still alive.
602: Born in Mecca into the Abd Shams clan, as son of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, who was a fierce enemy of Muhammad for years.
630: Muhammad takes control over Mecca, and Mu'aiwyya converts to Islam. Mu'awiyya is made a scribe in Muhammad's service.
630's: Serves as one of the military leaders in the operations against the Byzantine possessions in Syria.
640: Is appointed governor of Syrian areas. He conquers much of the remaining territory over the following years.
649: Leads his Syrian forces to take control over the islands of Cyprus.
654: Takes control over the island of Rhodes.
655: Defeats the Byzantines in Lycia.
656: Ali becomes new caliph, but refuses to investigate the murder of Caliph Uthman, Mu'awiyya's relative.
657: Mu'awiyya and Ali faces each other at the Battle of Siffin, where he manages to trick Ali into negotiations, and arrange a ceremony through which he is appointed caliph. Ali immediately objects, and the stalemate between the two contenders continues until Ali's death 3 years later. In between, Mu'awiyya acted as ruler, independent of Ali in the territories he controlled, Egypt and Syria.
Conquers large parts of Egypt.
661: Ali is killed, and as Mu'awiyya holds control over both Syria and Egypt, he is the strongest leader in the Muslim world. He quickly assumes power.
670: Mu'awiyya's troops establish the garrison city of Kairouan, thereby taking control over Tripolitania and Africa (approx. modern northwestern Libya and Tunisia).
680 April/May: Dies in Damascus.