The story of Ashura and the great sacrifice made by Imam Hussain (a.s.) to save the religion of Islam was a classic tale of good versus evil. The evil in these events was personified by Yazid ibn Muawiya (may Allah curse him), a man who was simply a despicable human, let alone a so-called Muslim.
His reign as “caliph” was short but painful. In his first year of rule he commanded his forces to kill the grandson of the Holy Prophet, along with his family and friends and in the second year he attacked the Holy Kaa’ba and set fire to it. He was a power-hungry, selfish and arrogant man but tracing through history, he was not the real brains behind the attempt to destroy Islam, the real brains was his father – Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan.
The Ahle Sunnah like to give him three main claims to fame. Firstly, he was a great companion of the Holy Prophet. Any hadith claiming words of praise about Muawiya from the Holy Prophet have been fabricated by Muawiya himself. He was a great propaganda machine and spent much of his time in power creating new hadiths about himself and Bani Ummaya. He also created other hadiths trying to discredit Imam Ali (a.s.) and Bani Hashim in an attempt to legitimise his rule.
The reality is that he was not a great companion of the Holy Prophet, and the Prophet enunciated not one word of praise or merit about Muawiya. Many Sunni scholars have come to this conclusion in their research, including Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti and Abdul-Haqq Dehlavi who all attest to there being no hadiths in praise of Muawiya in their books.
He is, in effect, Islam’s first tyrant. He was the man who created structures of kinship and autocracy. He dug the roots of tyranny, terror and totalitarianism that defaces Islam today. Famous Sunni scholar, Abul Ala Maududi, in his 1973 book “Caliphate and Kingship”, outlines in detail the numerous ways in which Muawiya enriched himself at the expense of the people, how corrupt he was, how many companions and innocent Muslims he killed and how he amassed both power and wealth. He turned the Caliphate into a Kingship. (After all that criticism, Maududi still managed to end the book with “Hazrat Muawiya, (r.a.)”!!)
Sunni scholar Sibt ibn al-Jawzi writes in his book, Mir’at al-Zaman that Muawiya openly claims “I did not fight you to pray, fast and pay charity, but rather to be your leader and to control you!” From the horses mouth himself.
Was Muawiya a Writer of the Revelation? As I mentioned earlier, he converted to Islam . How could he be the writer, when most of the Quran had already been revealed and transcribed by the companions of the Prophet? Sunni scholar Allama Zahabi in his book “Tareekh ul Islam” states that “Muawiya was the writer of the Prophet’s correspondence, his letters between the Prophet and the Arabs.” I guess “Writer of Letters” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. The truth is that when Abu Sufyan embraced Islam, he besought the Prophet to give Mu’awiya some measure of position in the eyes of the Arabs; thus he would be compensated of being slow to embrace Islam and of being one of those who had no precedence in the new religion. So the Prophet used Mu’awiya for writing letters and contracts and agreements. But none of the companions ever said that he wrote down any of the Prophet’s revelations, as was asserted by Mu’awiyas partisans after he had assumed the throne.
Sunni scholar Ahmad ibn Hanbal writes in his famous collection of Hadtih: “Musnad” “”Abdullah bin Buraida said: ‘I entered on Muawiya with my father, then he (Mu’awiya) made us sit on a mattress then he brought food to us and we ate, then he brought a drink to us, Muawiya drank it and then he offered that to my father, thus (my father) said: ‘I never drank it since the messenger of Allah made it [that drink] Haram’….”
Muawiya was responsible for the death of the great companion of the Holy Prophet, Ammar ibn Yasir. There are many Sunni narrations praising the status of Ammar ibn Yasir. According to the Sunni book Sunan ibn Majah (one of the Sunni six major Hadith collections), the Holy Prophet said “Ammar is filled with faith, with imaan, from the crown of his head, to the soles of his feet.” He was the son of Yasir and Sumaya, who were amongst the first people that were martyred in the name of Islam.
When it came to his death, it was prophesied by the Holy Prophet and is mentioned in both Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim (the 2 most important Sunni books of hadith). Sahih Bukhari narrates: “Ibn ‘Abbas said to me and to his son ‘Ali, “Go to Abu Sa’id and listen to what he narrates.” So we went and found him in a garden looking after it. He picked up his Rida’, wore it and sat down and started narrating till the topic of the construction of the mosque reached. He said, “We were carrying one adobe at a time while ‘Ammar was carrying two. The Prophet saw him and started removing the dust from his body and said, “May Allah be Merciful to ‘Ammar. He will be inviting them (i.e. his murderers, the rebellious group) to Paradise and they will invite him to Hell-fire.” ‘Ammar said, “I seek refuge with Allah from affliction.” (Volume 1, Book 8, Number 438). And in Sahih Muslim: “This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Umm Salama that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to ‘Ammar: A group of rebels would kill you.” (Book 041, Number 6968).
Who were these rebels that would kill Ammar ibn Yasir? History is clear when it records the death of Ammar in the Battle of Siffin. He fought in the ranks of Imam Ali (a.s.) and was killed by the army of Muawiya. The famous English translator of Sahih Muslim, Abd-al-Hamid Siddiqui goes on to add a footnote to the above hadith about Ammar: “This narration is clearly indicative of the fact that in the conflict between Hadrat Ali and his opponents, Hadrat Ali was on the right as Ammar Ibn Yasir was killed in the Battle of Siffin fighting in the camp of Hadrat Ali.” It does not, therefore, make much sense to say that both Imam Ali (a.s.) and Muawiya were in the right.
Muawiya was also responsible for the deaths of other Muslims such as Hujr ibn Adi. Abul Ala Maududi writes in “Caliphate and Kingship” that Muawiya had Hujr ibn Adi buried alive for refusing to curse Imam Ali (a.s.). He also killed Muhammed ibn Abu Bakr – son of the first caliph and foster son of Imam Ali (a.s.), and then wrapped him in the carcass of a dead donkey and burned it to ashes. It was following this incident as narrated by Allama ibn Athir, in his book Tarikh-e-Kamil, that Ayesha, wife of the Holy Prophet and sister of Muhammed ibn Abu Bakr, began cursing Muawiya after every salat.
His greatest crime was killing the grandson of the Holy Prophet – Imam Hasan (a.s.). Muawiya paid Imam Hasan’s wife, Jada 100,000 dirhams and his son, Yazid’s hand in marriage if she would kill her husband. She poisoned his water, causing him to suffer for 40 days before dying. This has been reported in many major Sunni hadith books, including works by Abul Fida, Abdul Rahmān bin Abd Rabbāh, Ibne Shahnah and Ibne Abdul Birr. Muawiya went on to pay Jida the money, but refused to marry his son to her – if she could kill one husband, what would stop her killing her next husband?
His hatred of Imam Ali (a.s.) and the Ahlul Bayt continues to this day from his followers, from those Sunnis who ignorantly respect him. The Sunnis who try to build up Muawiya are living in denial. Muawiya was a corrupt, greedy and un-Islamic leader and should be treated as such.