Muawiya (mōäˈwēä) [key], d. 680, 1st Umayyad caliph (661–80), one of the greatest Muslim statesmen; son of Abu Sufyan, a Koreish tribesman of Mecca. He submitted to Islam the year of the surrender of Mecca and became Muhammad's secretary. Under Umar he became the very able governor of Syria. He struggled with Ali over the government of the empire and led in the deposition of Hasan. As caliph he made Islam an autocracy, retaining the old forms of self-government. He secured his domain against aggression by continual raids beyond its borders. His policies ended the ancient hostility that long had separated the North and South Arabian tribes, thus making the Muslim empire the remarkably unified force that it was. Muawiya's administration was always tolerant, and he displayed an enlightened point of view in all his dealings. His name is also spelled Moawiyah.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Middle Eastern History: Biographies

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