Muawiya ibn abi Sufyan: From Arabia to Empire (Makers of the Muslim World)

Muawiyah I
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The conquest of the Iranian plateau, during the s and s, was a slow, bloody business, fought castle by castle and city by city, but after there was no centralized resistance to the Arab-Muslim armies. In this context, we can appreciate Mu'awiya's decision to keep the pressure on the Byzantines but to forgo decisive battles or permanent conquests.

When he became governor, Syria was by no means fully secure; the coast was vulnerable to naval attack and the northern frontiers were ragged. Moreover, at first he did not control the whole of geographical Syria.

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However, not long after 'Uthman became caliph in , he made Mu'awiya viceroy for all four provinces. Under this system, Mu'awiya had the authority to appoint his own sub-governors.

Such a concentration of power presented obvious dangers for the caliph,. However, 'Uthman's confidence was well placed. He knew that Mu'awiya was a proven soldier and administrator, who had earned the respect and support of the Arab tribesmen under his command. He was not only a close kinsman but someone who had unfailingly followed his superiors' directives since the beginning of the conquests in If his efforts in these provinces ultimately did him no good, that wasnot Mu'awiya's fault.

Even as Mu'awiya consolidated his authority in Syria, the struggle against the Byzantines was far from over. The Byzantines reoccupied some Lebanese ports late in 'Umar's reign or possibly during the confusion follOwing his assassination. Their inhabitants had been driven out when they were first conquered in and no garrisons stationed in them, perhaps because of the severe personnel shortages of the Muslim armies then operating in Syria. Mu 'awiya was determined not to lose control of the coast.

He quickly retook the ports, rebuilt their fortifications and garrisoned them.

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Not long after, Mu'awiya besieged Tripoli, the lastmajorSyrio-Lebanese port still in Byzantine hands. With no relief in sight, the inhabitants decided to abandon the city and were evacuated in ships sent by the Emperor. Tripoli had an excellent harbor and easy land communications to the Syrian interior and could not be left derelict. Mu'awiya settled a community of Jews there - we are not told where they carne from - and posted a permanent garrison. When Mu'awiya became caliph, he started a systematic program to resettle all the-coastal cities, with a mix of generous incentives for example, hereditary land-grants and compulsion for example, forced population transfers from the cities of the interior.

He may have thought, sensibly enough, that uprooted outsiders would be more docile subjects than indigenous Syrians.

Early years

There were occasional flare-ups'but on the whole he was not disappointed. We can easily imagine how the struggle for the coastal towns during the mids reinforced Mu 'awiya's determination to create a navy. Even during 'Umar's caliphate, when the Muslim position in Syria was still uncertain, he had argued for the construction of a Muslim navy. It was abundantly clear that the coast was terribly vulnerable, as long as the Byzantine navy enjoyed a monopoly of the sea lanes.

Love and hatred of Ali is the difference between one being legitimate and illegitimate

Mu'awiya ibn abi Sufyan: From Arabia to Empire (Makers of the Muslim Abd al- Malik (Makers of the Muslim World) by Chase Robinson Paperback $ . Muawiya is a controversial figure, as Humphreys points out; his ACTIONS are. Mu'awiya ibn abi Sufyan: From Arabia to Empire (Makers of the Muslim World) () by R. Stephen Humphreys and a great.

However, there is every reason to think he knew that, in addition to a navy's defensive role, a strong fleet could open up new lines of attack against the Byzantines. We might expect to find some support in the early Muslim chronicles for these surmises butTabari, our main source for the origins of Mu'awiya's navy, is content with what appears to be a bit of pious folklore:. Now 'Umar was doubtful about this because Mu'awiya was the one who advised it. He therefore wrote to 'Amr ibn al- 'As his governor in Egypt : 'Describe the sea for me and send me information about it'.

It is naught but sky and water and those who travel upon it are like a worm on a twig. If it bends he drowns and if he is saved he is amazed How then can I bring the troops to this troublesome and infidel being? By God, one Muslim is dearer to me than all the Byzantines possess.

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By their accounts it was, for the most part, an intellectual backwater. June Learn how and when to remove this template message. Mu'awiya's year of birth is uncertain with , or cited by the Muslim traditional sources. More information about this seller Contact this seller. The Society established to be a graduate peonage on the settlement state and it were detained as development by William Lloyd Garrison and significant schools. Narratives were formulated to persuade and encourage, edify and teach. The shocking defeat of the imperial fleet by the young Muslim navy at the Battle of the Masts in was a critical turning point.

Take care not to disobey me, for I have given you a command'. He uses it to set the stage for Mu'awiya's invasion of Cyprus in even though the story clearly refers not to distant Cyprus but to the isle of Arwad Aradus , just off the coast from the modern city of Tartus. Tiny Arwad was hardly a threat to the Muslim control of the coast of Syria, nor would its conquest have required a real navy.

Tabari, living in Iraq years later, had no understanding of the real geography of coastal Syria but the story's original context was unimportant. Thus, he was better placed than anyone else to give an informed opinion. Almost certainly, however, the exchange of letters between the caliph and' Amr is a literary fiction, a dramatic tableau which hints at 'Umar's suspicion of Mu'awiya's real motives and his concern that he was becoming too powerful. Quite apart from ignorance and fear of the sea or worries about Mu'awiya's long-term intent, 'Umar had sound strategic reasons to block the governor's initiative.

He cannot possibly have thought that the life of a single Muslim was worth more than all the Byzantines possessed or he would have called a halt to the land campaigns in Anatolia. However, he might well have believed that Muslim forces were already stretched to the limit.

In addition, none of the Arab tribes in Syria had the remotest idea of how to build or man a ship, so a navy would require the service of large numbers of non -Muslims -Syrian or Egyptian Christians - whose loyalties were extremely unpredictable. In his latter years, 'Umar devoted a good deal of energy to establishing an administrative structure for the vast territories that he ruled and a navy would have been just one more thing he did not have time to think about.

After 'Umar's death in and 'Uthman's election, Mu'awiya's persistent arguments finally succeeded. By , he had a fleet up and running.

Section 3: The Umayyad and Abbasid Empires

The shipbuilders and sailors of the 7 The dates are confirmed by two Greek inscriptions. See Theophanes- Mango, , n. However, the crucial fighting in ancient and medieval naval battles was hand-to-hand combat after boarding the enemies' ships; the Arab troops very quickly became highly effective marines once they got their sea legs. The new Muslim fleet quickly proved its worth when Mu' awiya invaded Cyprus in Christian sources tell a vivid story of pillage, plunder and destruction but the Muslim sources are silent; they state that he was bought off with a substantial tribute, equal to the amount traditionally collected by the Byzantines.

The Cypriots burdened themselves with a double tribute, for they continued to pay the Byzantines; an expensive but simple way of buying protection from both sides.

The very next year, Mu 'awiya led a second invasion, to punish the Cypriots for Violating their treaty. As punitive expeditions tend to be, it was bloody and destructive - as all the sources agree - but under the circumstances his terms were moderate. He re-imposed the existing tribute and established a military colony on the island with 12, regular troops, a very large garrison by the standards of that time.

It was not a permanent conquest; the garrison was withdrawn soon after Mu 'awiya's death, but Cyprus was unquestionably his greatest military victory. Arwad was also overrun in and its inhabitants compelled to leave while this might seem unnecessary, Arwad had a good harbor and might have served as a base for a Byzantine counter-strike.

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Further afield, the strategic island of Rhodes was raided and occupied for The date of for the first Cyprus expedition is confirmed by two Greek inscriptions: Theophanes-Mango, , n. The dates are disputed in the sources; the first raid occurred in , though a real occupation may only have occurred in The most spectacular success of the new navy came within a decade of its foundation.

In , in the great Battle of the Masts, which took place just off the port of Phoenix the modern Finike, on the south-western coast of Anatolia , a large Muslim fleet confronted Byzantine ships under the personal command of the Emperor Constans II. The Christian and Muslim descriptions of this titanic clash are typically epic and picturesque but also vague and contradictory. The Muslim fleet probably had ships and soldiers from both Lebanon and Egypt. The Christian sources state that the expedition was on Mu 'awiya's initiative but he was apparently not present at the battle.

Given the vast expenditures, high risks, and the involvement of fleets from two provinces Syria and Egypt , the caliph 'Uthman must have authorized the enterprise but there are no mentions of his name. The main Muslim account contradicts this; it states that both fleets were drawn up in tight formation.

The key factor was a strong wind, which prevented the two forces from closing. Suddenly it died away and the Muslims seized the opportunity to launch a powerful attack along the whole Byzantine line. All the sources agree that the battle was bloody and bitterly fought.

The sea was covered with the debris of shattered vessels and thousands of Byzantine corpses were washed up on to the beaches. Il Ii Li. Even more important than the humiliation and heavy losses, the gates to the Aegean Sea were opened. The southern and western coast of Anatolia was left defenseless against Muslim raids for decades. That blockade had to be dismantled but the Arab navy remained a grave threat to the commerce and security of the Byzantine Empire.

Land campaigns against the Byzantines continued to be important but for the most part he was content to assign these to his subordinates. During his years as governor, we read of only a few campaigns - perhaps no more than three - into central Anatolia. These were normally launched from Cilicia, the broad coastal plain north of Antioch, where the Syrian and Anatolian coastlines meet.

However, the Byzantines left this area a wasteland when they abandoned Syria and Mu'awiya never tried to occupy and resettle it. Cilicia did not become a Muslim settlement until a century or more later. During Mu'awiya's time, Antioch was the Empire's northernmost major city. During this period, the main zone of combat lay to the northeast, in Armenia. Seventh-century Armenia had a tangled history - just what we would expect of a strategic territory sandwiched between the Persians on the east and the Byzantines on the west.

Armenia was a Christian land; over the centuries it supplied several Byzantine emperors, possibly including the great Heraclius Constans II maintained his grandfather's close ties with his ancestral homeland and tried to use it as a springboard for his counter-offensive against the Muslims. However, his efforts were undone by the bitter factionalism of the great aristocratic clans who ruled Armenia if one enjoyed the favor of the Byzantine emperor, another would inevitably seek an alliance with the Muslims and by the Muslim determination to drive the Byzantines out of Armenia.

When 'Uthman became caliph, he instructed the governors of Syria and Kufa to launch a joint campaign against Armenia;. Habib ibn Maslama was not yet thirty years of age; they had probably come to know one another durblg the conquest of Syria.


It was an inspired choice; until his early death in , Habib ibn Maslama was Mu 'awiya's most loyal and effective general. Melitene became the most important base for the Muslims' summer campaigns in Anatolia, while Erzerum was subject to tribute, though not permanently occupied. Habib chased down the- army of the Byzantine military governor in Armenia, Maurianus.

In a night attack, they were scattered and Maurianus killed. In a charming vignette, we are told that Habib's wife accompanied him on this expedition. On the evening of the decisive battles, she asked him, "Where shall I meet you? When Habib fought his way into the pavilion, he found her already there. She was awarded the pavilion as her personal share of the 9 The date of this expedition is uncertain; the most likely possibility is Habib was briefly given this post but was soon recalled to Syria and put in command of the exposed districts along the Byzantine frontier, where he served with great distinction.

Indeed, he won the civil war and retained unchallenged power thereafter because he was the only Muslim leader who had solid control of the fiscal and personnel resources of his province. To begin with, 'Ali had no army and had to patch one together from the disparate tribes of Iraq mostly fron:; Kufa , each of which had its own agenda. There were other potential leaders living in Mecca and Medina, but these cities hardly had the resources to defend themselves, let alone to dominate the rest of the Muslim Empire.

The important allied tribes, which had once underpinned their power, had been drained off by the great conquests. How did Mu'awiya, alone among Muslim leaders, build such a coherent, effective power base?