Abu Sufyan and his position in the Islamic community
 

If I could, I would once more rouse the people against this man!

Abu Sufyan

After his speech the Prophet circumambulated the House of Ka'bah. Abu Sufyan was standing in a corner watching the scene. When he noticed with what love and devotion the Muslims were circling round the House of God behind their Prophet, a wicked idea occurred to him, thinking how find it would be if he could once more rouse the people against Muhammad! The Prophet, reading his thought, turned to him and knocking on Abu Sufyan's chest with his finger, said: "On any such day God will abuse you!"

Abu Sufyan said: "I turn to God again and beg His forgiveness. I did not give tongue to my thought!" Then he murmured to himself: "I do not understand how Muhammad overcame us. At the same moment the Prophet patting his back said: "I over came you at the Will of God!" It was then Abu Sufyan had to utter these words: "I confess that you are the messenger of God."(53)

After the capture of Mecca, the Prophet departed towards Hunayn to stop the aggression of the Hawazin, and he was accompanied by a group of the Quraysh.

al-Miqrizi, a well-known historian, writes: A group of Meccans who had apparently embraced Islam, accompanied the Prophet. They did not take part in the battle but waited to see which side would be victorious so that they could seize some spoils of war from the defeated side.

Among this group was Abu Sufyan ibn Harb who had taken his son Mu'awiyah with him. Abu Sufyan moved in the rear of the army. In his quiver he carried "al-Azlam", a kind of wooden arrows. He collected for himself what the soldiers happened leave on the battle field, such as shield, spear or anything else, so that the sack on the back of his camel as gradually filled with such objects so much so that the poor camel could hardly carry so much weight.(54) According to al-Waqidi, Hunayn is a land within three days' journey from Mecca (55). In this land there lived a strong tribe of 'Adnani Arabs called Hawazin.(56)

In spite of its strength, the army of Islam, did not primarily gain any success in the clash. They had to advance through a narrow valley towards the center of the tribe that they were suddenly raided by the enemy. The majority of the men fled, and only a few including Imam 'Ali and al-'Abbas remained with the Prophet.(57) In the midst of this situation some of the newly-converted Quraysh chiefs uttered some words which are recorded by Ibn Hisham in his biography.

He says: When the Muslims were fiercely under attack the hypocrites who had accompanied the Prophet, observing the run of the war against the Muslims, began to show their old rancor. For instance Abu Sufyan had remarked: "This rout and fight will stretch as far as the Red Sea." He had also brought with him some symbols of infidelity belonging to pagan times, namely al- Azlam which were wooden arrows used by the infidels on special occasions for drawing lots, and the Qur'an speaks of them in reproach in conjunction with pagan idols.(58) Another chief of Quraysh had remarked: "Look, the witchcraft is new counteracted!"

On the order of the Prophet and the gallantry of al-'Abbas the Muslim army pulled together after the shock of the sudden and unexpected raid. Soon after, the enemy forces were defeated and the army of Islam came out victorious.

Most of the spoils seized in this clash were divided among the new converts who in the words of the Qur'an are called "Those whose hearts are made to incline to truth".(59) God and His prophet wished to provide them with their material expectations and thereby soften their hearts towards Islam as God's true religion. Therefore each man of this group was given one hundred camels. Abu Sufyan and his son Mu'awiyah, too, received one hundred camels each as well as a large amount of silver. Then Abu Sufyan said the Prophet: "By God, you are a noble man. May my parents' life be offered for you! When I fought you, I found you to be the best fighter, and now that I am at peace with you, you are the best of peace-makers."

The group of Ansar, who received a small share of the spoils, feel that they had been treated with discrimination and favoritism towards the kith and kin. Consequently they were very vexed and expressed their dissatisfaction The Prophet summoned all the Ansar and after some preliminary remarks, said: "The matter is not as you think. The reason for my action was to incline them more towards Islam, whereas I left you to your true faith in Islam."(60) With the capture of Mecca Abu Sufyan had apparently embraced Islam and had joined the Muslim society, but the Muslims found it hard to forget his past deeds against Islam recorded by Ibn Hisham in his biography.

He says: When the Muslims were fiercely under attack the hypocrites who had accompanied the Prophet, observing the run of the war against the Muslims, began to show their old rancor. For instance Abu Sufyan had remarked: "This rout and fight will stretch as far as the Red Sea." He had also brought with him some symbols of infidelity belonging to pagan times, namely al- Azlam which were wooden arrows used by the infidels on special occasions for drawing lots, and the Qur'an speaks of them in reproach in conjunction with pagan idols.(58) Another chief of Quraysh had remarked: "Look, the witchcraft is new counteracted!"

On the order of the Prophet and the gallantry of al-'Abbas the Muslim army pulled together after the shock of the sudden and unexpected raid. Soon after, the enemy forces were defeated and the army of Islam came out victorious.

Most of the spoils seized in this clash were divided among the new converts who in the words of the Qur'an are called "Those whose hearts are made to incline to truth".(59) God and His prophet wished to provide them with their material expectations and thereby soften their hearts towards Islam as God's true religion. Therefore each man of this group was given one hundred camels. Abu Sufyan and his son Mu'awiyah, too, received one hundred camels each as well as a large amount of silver. Then Abu Sufyan said the Prophet: "By God, you are a noble man. May my parents' life be offered for you! When I fought you, I found you to be the best fighter, and now that I am at peace with you, you are the best of peace-makers."

The group of Ansar, who received a small share of the spoils, feel that they had been treated with discrimination and favoritism towards the kith and kin. Consequently they were very vexed and expressed their dissatisfaction The Prophet summoned all the Ansar and after some preliminary remarks, said: "The matter is not as you think. The reason for my action was to incline them more towards Islam, whereas I left you to your true faith in Islam."(60)

With the capture of Mecca Abu Sufyan had apparently embraced Islam and had joined the Muslim society, but the Muslims found it hard to forget his past deeds against Islam and his constant opposition and enmity. Consequently they could not look upon him with kindness or welcome him in their gatherings.(61) Muslim ibn Hajjaj, the great Sunni traditionist, describes the attitude and conduct of the Muslims as follows in his book of Sahih:

"One day Abu Sufyan was passing by a group of good and virtuous early Muslims such as Salman, Bilal and Suhayb.(62) They were talking together when they noticed Abu Sufyan and said: "By God, the swords of God did not fall upon the neck of this great enemy of God." Abu Bakr, hearing their words vexedly said: "Are you speaking thus about the chief and Sheikh of the Quraysh?"

Then fearing that his words might produce an unfavorable reaction in the Islamic community, he went hastily to the Prophet and narrated what had occurred. The Prophet said: "May be you have annoyed and angered your Muslim brethren. If they are enraged with you, God, too, will surely be enraged with you.

Abu Bakr returned to Salman and his friends and excused himself by saying: "Brothers! Have I annoyed you?" They said: "No, brother! May God bless you!"(63) Such an attitude was not confined to the time of the Prophet. After him, too, as we shall see in the next chapter, the Muslim's attitude towards Abu Sufyan had undergone no change whatever.


Abu Sufyan in the time of two caliphs


May God kill them for not abandoning their rancor against the Muslims.

az-Zubayr

Ibn 'Asakir, the great historian of Damascus, writes: One day Abu Bakr, during the period of his rule, spoke harshly to Abu Sufyan. His father Abu Quhafah, said: "O Abu Bakr! Why did you speak in such a tone to Abu Sufyan?" Abu Bakr answered:

"O father! For the sake of Islam, God has granted eminence to some families and abased others. My house is one of those which found eminence, and his is one with debasement!" At the time when 'Umar ibn al-Khattab had visited Mecca on pilgrimage, he was informed that Abu Sufyan was building a house, and the stones he had heaped for it on the water-course had exposed the city to the danger of a torrent. 'Umar accompanied the complainants to Abu Sufyan's house and ordered he himself to carry the stones back to where they belonged. Then he raised his arms heavenward and said: "0 God! I praise you for enabling me to issue a command to Abu Sufyan, chief of the Quraysh in the middle of the city of Mecca, and making him obey me!"

Historians have written: One day 'Umar, as caliph, was passing along one of the streets of Mecca, and noticed that it was filthy. He ordered the people to clean the front part of their houses. A few days later again he found the streets dirty. He picked up his whip in anger, and hit Abu Sufyan on the head. The incident of the whipping of Abu Sufyan, chief of the Quraysh,

was reported to his wife, Hind. This heiress of pagan times, remembering the time of material power and magnificence, said: "O 'Umar! By God, if you were to whip him in former times, the city of Mecca would have trembled under your feet!" 'Umar answered: "You are right. But for the sake of Islam God has given dignity to one group and has abased another."(64) We saw how Islam had given eminence to one group and abjectness to Abu Sufyan.

Consequently in his heart much rancor and hostility were nested towards Islam and the Muslims; a rancor which revealed itself in his words from time to time.

'Abd Allah Ibn az-Zubayr says: "I was present with my father in the battle of al-Yarmuk but I was too small to fight. During the battle I noticed a group on a hill not participating in the combat. I went towards them and saw Abu Sufyan and some Quraysh chiefs assembled here.

They were the men who had embraced Islam after the capture of Mecca. When I reached them they were in the middle of their conversation. As they looked upon me as a child, they did not think I would understand their words. So they continued their talk and spoke as openly as possible. The moment the Muslims happened to make a slight retreat giving the Romans a slight advantage, this group shouted gladly: "Oh! Long live the Romans!" But as soon as the Romans were driven back and the Islamic army gained the advantage, they cried with a great regret: "O, pity for you Romans!"(65)

When the battle ended and the Muslims defeated the Romans, I told the story to my father az- Zubayr. He laughed and said: "May God destroy them, for not abandoning their rancor! For, we are better than the Romans for them."(66)

The above incident is narrated differently elsewhere, namely: Whenever the Romans drove back the Muslims Abu. Sufyan shouted: "Long live the Romans!" But when the Muslims gained some advantage, Abu Sufyan cried out: "It seems that no living personality has remained from the Roman nobility."

When the warriors of Islam won the final victory, and I told my father the story, he held my hand and took me among various groups of Muslims, saying to each group: "My son! Repeat the story for them!" I repeated all I had heard, and they were amazed at all that hypocrisy and hostility to Islam.(67)


Part Two : Battle of al-Jamal Abu Sufyan in the time of 'Uthman


By God! There exists neither a heaven, nor a hell!

Abu Sufyan

Time passed and with the assassination of 'Umar, 'Uthman became caliph, and Abu Sufyan, owing to his kinship with 'Uthman, found new respect, and he was no longer humiliated. One day when he went to 'Uthman's presence and said: "0 sons of Umayyah! Since the time the caliphate had fallen into the hands of the men of the Taym and 'Adi tribes (meaning Abu Bakr and 'Umar) I coveted that position. Now that it has fallen into your hands, you should take turns in seizing it, in the same way that children pass a ball to one another. I swear to God that there exists neither a heaven nor a hell!"(68)(69)

Another narration says that Abu Sufyan declared: "O Banu Umayyah! Pass the caliphate like a ball to each other. I swear in the name of him to whom Abu Sufyan takes an oath that I have been hoping for a long time to see the caliphate in your hands. Now you should let your children inherit it" 'Uthman rebuked him for this remark and was very displeased.(70) Another narration says: In his old age and when he had lost his eyesight Abu Sufyan went to 'Uthman's presence and after settling down, he said: "Is there no stranger present who might report our words to others?" 'Uthman said: "No, no one." Abu Sufyan said: "This matter of caliphate is a worldly one, and this government is of the same kind as that of pagan times.

Therefore, it is up to you to make our tribe of Banu Umayyah the administrators of the wide realm of Islam."(71)(72)

It was in the same period that Abu Sufyan one day passing by the tomb of Hamzah, the martyr of Islam, started kicking the tomb, and said: "Abu 'Amarah, the thing for which we drew our swords yesterday, has fallen into the hands of our children today, and they are playing with it now."(73)

Thus we see that Abu Sufyan secured his evil wishes with the caliphate of 'Uthman, such wishes for the fulfillment of which he had made so much effort, and for which many leaders of the Quraysh had been killed, without producing any success, owing to the valor of the Muslims. But now in 'Uthman's time and after his death, the rule of the Umayyads fulfilled all those wishes.

Abu Sufyan died in 'Uthman's time in one of the years between 31 and 34 of the Hijrah, and according to various reports he was between 80 and 90 years of age. But his wife, Hind, had died before him during 'Umar's caliphate.(74)


Part Two :Role of Mu'awiyah in the history of Islam


Mu'awiyah in the time of the Prophet

Truly these two, Mu'awiyah and 'Amr ibn al- 'As, never turn to goodness and honesty. The Prophet Mu'awiyah did not for a moment stay away from the leaders of infidelity at the point of the clash between paganism and Islam. Even on the day when he saw his father apparently embracing Islam, he addressed him with reproaching verses saying:

"Oh Sakhr! Do not accept Islam since you will bring us disgrace, After the death of the dear ones who were torn to pieces in the battle of Badr, Both my uncles and my mother's uncle, who was the third of those, killed; And Hanzalah, my good brother, were those who turned our dawn's sleep into wakefulness. Do not even for a moment incline to Islam, since it will burden us with disgrace. I swear to the camels, which go dancing on the way of Mecca, That death is easier than the reproach of enemies, Who may say, Abu Sufyan, son of Harb, turned away for fear of the idol at- 'Uzza." (75)

After the capture of Mecca, among those who embraced Islam, Mu'awiyah appeared to turn to this religion, and he received his share of the spoils of the battle of Hunayn, given to the newly converted to incline them more to Islam, a share which consisted of a hundred camels and a large sum of silver.(76) It was in the last years of the Prophet's life that he generously appointed Mu'awiyah as one of his numerous scribes.(77)(78)

One day the Prophet sent Ibn 'Abbas to fetch Mu'awiyah to write a letter and carry out an order for him. Ibn 'Abbas found him at his meal, so he returned and reported it to the Prophet. Once again Ibn 'Abbas was asked to go to fetch Mu'awiyah. After he found him still at his meal, and Mu'awiyah refused to come. This incident occurred for the third time, and when Ibn 'Abbas was unable to fetch him to carry out the Prophet, the Prophet cursed Mu'awiyah with these words:

"May God never satisfy his belly!"(79)

Later on Mu'awiyah stated: "The Prophet's curse was fulfilled in my case", for, he partook of several meals a day, and an enormous quantity of food(80) and still he felt hungry, so that his gluttony had become proverbial, and the people said of a gluttonous person: "It seems as if Mu'awiyah is in his belly!"

Irrespective of the position of scribe which was not so significant owing to the multiplicity of the Prophet's scribes, Mu'awiyah was not regarded as an important personality even though he was the son of the former chief of the Quraysh and top person of Mecca, since the position of Abu Sufyan as a chief no longer existed with the overthrow of the domination of the Quraysh. There were also other reasons for this indifference:

firstly he did not possess such qualities as chastity and knowledge which inspire true respect. Secondly, now he was not financially so rich as to dazzle the shallow-minded with his wealth. One day female Emigrant consulted the Prophet about her marriage with Mu'awiyah or one of the two other Muslims. The Prophet said: "Mu'awiyah is an indigent man who has no wealth."(81)(82)

The future black deeds of Mu'awiyah could not be hidden from the discerning and divinely penetrating eyes of the Prophet of Islam. Therefore on various occasions he warned the Muslims about Mu'awiyah and his associates. We see many examples of this in historical incidents, such as the following:

One day when the Prophet was leaving Medina in a journey, he heard two people singing, and each one repeated the following line after the other: "The bones of our friends are still exposed, The war has prevented their burial and concealment, The Prophet said: find out who they are!' They said: 'They are Mu'awiyah and 'Amr ibn al-'As!' The Prophet raised his arms in prayer and said:

'0 God! Throw these two in mischief And scorch them in the fire."(83) In another tradition it is said that in the battle of Tabuk the Prophet noticed these two were walking while talking together. The Prophet turned to his friends and said: "Whenever you see these two together, separate them, for they never get together for any good purpose."(84). In a third narration it is stated that the Prophet saw these two together and looked sharply at them. This encounter was repeated on the second and third days, and on each occasion he stared at them for several moments. On the third occasion he said to his friends: "Whenever you see Mu'awiyah and 'Amr ibn al-'As together, you should keep them apart since their getting together is for no good purpose "(85)

One day Abu Sufyan was riding a horse and his two sons, Yazid and Mu'awiyah accompanied him on foot, one of them holding the bridle and the other driving the horse from behind. When the Prophet saw this scene, he said: "0 God, let your damnation descend on this rider and his guide and driver, and deny them your blessing."(86)

Many such words have remained from the Prophet which can be found in the books of history and tradition, all of which give a true picture of the personality of Mu'awiyah from the viewpoint of the Prophet, and the true opinion of Islam about them (87)


Mu'awiyah in the time of the caliphs

We quote the words of the Prophet even if Mu'awiyah be displeased. 'Ubadah ibn as-Samit After the Prophet's death when Abu Bakr became caliph, at first Abu Sufyan showed opposition to him; for, he was loath to see as a ruler, a member of the lowest of the Quraysh tribes, whereas there existed members of the higher Quraysh tribes such as Banu Hashim and Banu Umayyah, both of them of the branch of 'Abd Manaf and each other's cousins, who had received no share of such high positions despite their merit.

Therefore, for the first time he came to Imam 'Ali and said:

"O Abu al-Hasan! Offer your hand so that I may show allegiance to you!" He was willing to do anything to attain his purpose, and declared: "I see a mist in the space, which cannot be cleared by anything except by blood."(88)

The conspirators of as-Saqifah were fully aware of the character of Abu Sufyan and his power. So they made an effort to keep him quiet and satisfied. 'Umar said to Abu Bakr: "Let him keep the alms he has collected in the Prophet's time so that we may be free from his evil."(89) This was done and Abu Sufyan showed allegiance to Abu Bakr and accepted their rule; for, on the one hand he had no hope of becoming a ruler since no one would submit to him, and on the other hand Imam 'Ali would not and could not support him.

Therefore, he chose the third alternative, namely to collaborate with the authorities of the time. Thus Abu Sufyan joined the party of the administrators of as-Saqifah, and he and his household were placed in their rank. As a reward for Abu Sufyan's silence and collaboration, Abu Bakr appointed Yazid Abu Sufyan's son, as commander of a large army of Islamic warriors for the conquest of the ash-Sham region.

This event occurred in the year 13 of the Hijrah, and Mu'awiyah took part in this campaign under his brother's command. After the conquest of ash-Sham, by the order of Abu Bakr Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan was granted the governorship of Damascus as well as the command of the army there.

During 'Umar's caliphate when Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan was stricken with plague, he nominated his brother Mu'awiyah as the ruler of ash-Sham and commander of the army in his own place, and 'Umar, the second caliph, accepted the nomination, and entrusted those positions to Mu'awiyah (90) It was thence that the foundation of the rule and caliphate of the Umayyads was laid.

During the rule of Mu'awiyah over ash-Sham 'Umar made a visit to that province on his way to Egypt. On entering Damascus, Mu'awiyah went out with a magnificent retinue and received him with a ceremonious welcoming. When 'Umar noticed all that pomp and ostentation of Mu'awiyah, he exclaimed: "This man is an Arab Kasra!" When Mu'awiyah approached him, 'Umar asked: "Is all this magnificent retinue yours?" Mu'awiyah answered: 'Yes, O commander of the faithful!"

'Umar said: "I am told that the needy turn to your court and stand at your door for long hours!" Mu'awiyah said: 'Yes, what you have heard is true." 'Umar asked: "Why do you act in this way?" Mu'awiyah answered:

"You see, we are living in a land where there are many enemy spies (Romans) and it is necessary to frighten them with our pomp and glory."(91)(92)

The time of 'Umar passed, and 'Uthman became caliph, and on his assumption of power he granted Mu'awiyah the rule over the whole region of ash-Sham of that day(93) in addition to the governorship of Damascus, and allowed him perfect liberty to act as he wished. Mu'awiyah, too, continued his habitual selfish conduct and created a wholly aristocratic and pagan system, and nothing could hinder him from carrying out his evil fancies or desires.

Among the examples of these selfish acts are the incidents which occurred between him and 'Ubadah ibn as-Samit Khazraji, a noble companion of the Prophet. 'Ubadah was one of the twelve men of Medina who took part in the allegiance of 'Aqabah, and who were given the honorable title of "Sheriffs". They were the first group Of Muslims of Medina. 'Ubadah was one of the few who compiled the Qur'an in the time of the Prophet.(94)

'Umar ibn al-Khattab had sent this learned companion to ash-Sham during the rule of Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan to teach people the Holy Qur'an. He stayed in the town of Hims until Yazid's death, and then with the assumption of power by Mu'awiyah, he joined the Islamic army which was fighting at the Roman frontiers.

Muslim, the great Sunni scholar and a famous traditionist, and author of the book "Sahih" narrates that Mu'awiyah and 'Ubadah had both taken part in one of the Islamic wars in which they were victorious and seized some spoils, including silver vessels, which were by the order of Mu'awiyah offered for sale so that the price of them would be divided among the fighters. The people crowded to buy these silver vessels, and each vessel was sold at double its weight in silver. When 'Ubadah heard this matter, he rose and exclaimed:

"I have heard the Prophet forbidding the exchange of gold for gold and silver for silver except on an equal basis, and thus anyone who takes in excess of this amount, will have committed usury.

On hearing this verdict, the people who had paid more claimed back the extra sum. When Mu'awiyah heard of this matter, in great vexation he said: "How is it that people quote verdicts from the Prophet, whereas we who have been his close companions have never heard him utter such words?"

'Ubadah rose and repeated his former words and added: "We will quote the words of the Prophet even if Mu'awiyah be displeased." According to another narration, he had said: "Despite Mu'awiyah, I don't care even if he does not admit me one night in .his army!"(95)

According to Ahmad ibn Hanbal and an-Nisai, 'Ubadah had said: "I swear to God that it does not matter at all if I do not spend one night in a land where Mu'awiyah lives!"(96)


In Usd a1-ghabah and Siyar al-a'lam an-nubala' which give an account of 'Ubadah, it is stated that he criticized some acts of Mu'awiyah and declared them to be contrary to the explicit injunctions of Islam, and then added: "I will not stay in the same land with you." Then he left ash-Sham for Medina. 'Umar who was still caliph, asked him why had come to Medina. 'Ubadah narrated the improper acts of Mu'awiyah for him. 'Umar said: "Go back to your former place.

May God bring shame on that land in which you and others like you do not live! He can never have domination over you."(97)

adh-Dhahabi adds in Siyar al-a'lam: One day 'Ubadah ibn as-Samit was in the mosque with Mu'awiyah. The Muezzin called for prayer, and then a preacher climbed the pulpit and in his sermon he praised Mu'awiyah. 'Ubadah rose and threw a handful of dust at the preacher's mouth. Mu'awiyah became very angry. 'Ubadah turned to him and said: "You were not with us on the day in the land of 'Aqabah.(98) Before the emigration when we made a pact with the Prophet to uphold the truth wherever we were. We have promised not to fear any reproacher wherever we are. Then Prophet said: Whenever you see a person praising another to his face, throw dust at him."(99)(100)

Another day Mu'awiyah spoke in the sermon he was giving about escaping from plague. 'Ubadah interrupted him by saying: "Your mother, Hind, was wiser than you!" Mu'awiyah ended his sermon and performed the prayer. Then he returned to his palace and sent for 'Ubadah. Several of the Ansar of ash-Sham accompanied 'Ubadah, but government officials refused to admit them, so 'Ubadah alone was taken to Mu'awiyah's presence. Mu'awiyah said to him: "Have you no fear of God, and do you not feel respectful in the presence of your Imam?"(101)

'Ubadah answered: "Do you not know that in the night of 'Aqabah I made a pact with the Prophet not to fear any reproach in the way of God." Later that day Mu'awiyah went to the mosque for the afternoon prayers, and then on the pulpit he addressed the people, saying: 'I quoted a tradition for you earlier today. Then I realized that what 'Ubadah had said was true.

Follow him, for, he is wiser than me!"(102) These events which show a greater degree of mildness, occurred during 'Umar's rule, who, owing to his coarseness, did not allow anyone to go to excess.