The claim that the khilafah of Muawiyah was not worthy of being followed

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The claim that the caliphate of Muawiyah was not worthy of being followed

It is claimed that the rule of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not bear any resemblance to the era of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin (Rightly Guided Khalifas) and therefore is not worthy of being followed. On the contrary, the rule of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah was almost a reproduction of their caliphate and thus in light of the hadith:

 

عليكم بسنتي و سنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين

Hold fast to my way and the way of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.

 

It is necessary to recognize and submit to the rule of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz, in addition to al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.

Before proceeding, we need to first clarify what the term al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin actually means. Molana ‘Abd al Shakur Lucknowi Faruqi rahimahu Llah explains:

 

Occupying the position that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once held and to take the reins of the caliphate is a mammoth task. Naturally, people vary in their ability to execute this task. Scholars hence divide the caliphate into the following classes:

1) Al Khilafa al Rashidah al Khasah (The golden age of caliphate, unsullied by any internal strife or dissension)

This era was marked by complete conformity to the Sunnah and was dominated by leaders who ranked amongst the earliest Muhajirin and the foremost Sahaba of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. They accompanied Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in all of his expeditions, such as Badr, Hudaybiyyah, Tabuk and others. Their iman was praised in the Qurʼan and their lofty station in Jannat guaranteed. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also praised them, making their elevated status known to all. Moreover, he indicated that they were completely deserving of taking the reins of caliphate after his demise.

Electing these Sahaba as khalifas thus became binding upon the ummah and it was these Sahaba whom Allah used to preserve and protect Islam. The scholars of Islam unanimously agree that this category of caliphate is restricted to the first three khalifas. History also stands as a testament to the fact that no other leader in the history of Islam enjoyed such widespread acceptance and success.

These three khalifas were such complete embodiments of the Sunnah that it was almost as if Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was seated behind a curtain and guiding them. It seemed as if these khalifas were the reigns in the blessed hands of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with him directing their movements as he desired. It was almost as if these khalifas had a speaker over which the blessed voice and guidance of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was transmitted.

Amongst the rule of these illustrious three khalifas, the rule of the first two khalifas stands out.

2) Al Khilafa al Rashidah al Mutlaqah (The era which immediately followed, still considered to be part of the al Khilafa al Rashidah, though hampered by internal strife)

This era holds slightly less distinction than the era that preceded it, but nevertheless remains lofty in terms of accomplishment and adherence to the Sunnah.

This era too was dominated by such khalifas whose eligibility for the position of caliphate, iman and character was explicitly attested to by Rasulullah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. However, he did not bind the ummah to necessarily adopt their leadership.

This era consisted of the reigns of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and for a brief six months, his son-Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

In a hadith, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said:

The caliphate will last for thirty years.

 

The hadith refers to these first two categories (i.e. al Khilafa al Rashidah al Khasah and al Khilafa al Rashidah al Mutlaqah).

3) Al Khilafa al Adilah (the just caliphate)

The third category of caliphate holds significantly less merit than its preceding two categories. Rulers of this era satisfied the conditions desired within a leader and also fulfilled the objectives of the caliphate. However, the eligibility of rulers of this class for the caliphate was not specifically attested to by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is considered to be amongst the khalifas of this category.

 

A detailed explanation of these categories can be found in Chapter One of the widely acclaimed book Izalat al Khafa, by Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Delhwi rahimahu Llah.[1]

 

Molana Zafar Ahmed ‘Uthmani rahimahu Llah similarly states:

 

Those disillusioned people who quote the hadith of Tirmidhi:

الخلافة بعدي ثلاثون سنة

The caliphate will remain for thirty years after me.

and as a result regard the caliphate of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be only kingship should look at the following hadith, recorded by both Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi:

Abu Bakarah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates that a man related to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that he had a dream in which he saw a scale descend from the sky. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu were both weighed, and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was heavier. Thereafter Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu were weighed, and Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was heavier. Thereafter ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu were weighed together and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu turned out to be heavier. The scale was then lifted. The dream saddened Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and upon hearing it said:

خلافة نبوة ثم يوتى الله الملك من يشاء

The period of caliphate will be like the era of nubuwwah after which Allah will give kingship to whomever He desires.[2]

 

The following few points are noted from the above hadith:

  • Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was most entitled to the caliphate after Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, contrary to those who claim that Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was most deserving of the caliphate after Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
  • After the rule of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the caliphate will be converted to kingship. However, it is by consensus that the rule of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is considered to be part of the al Khilafa al Rashidah. However, it is apparent from this hadith that within the al Khilafa al Rashidah, the period from the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to the end of the caliphate of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu stands out as most distinguished, such that it was termed as Caliphate Nubuwwah (the prophetic caliphate) by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself. As explained above, Shah Waliullah has termed this period as “al Khilafa al Rashidah al Khasah”.
  • It should be noted that although this vision was only a dream, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam accepted it and interpreted it as well. The status of dreams as proofs in the Shari’ah should thus not be disputed here.
  • One might wonder why Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was grieved by this dream. Allah knows best, but it could perhaps be that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam understood from this dream that the period of al Khilafa al Rashidah al Khasah would not extend beyond three khalifas. The caliphate thereafter would never enjoy the same splendour that it experienced during the rules of these first three khalifas. In fact, after that period, instead of fighting the forces of the kuffar, a period of civil war began and Muslims fought each other. This fighting escalated to such a point that Sayyidina Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was compelled to hand over the reins of caliphate to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, to prevent further strife. It was only after this great act of selflessness that internal strife temporarily came to an end, and the standard of Islam was could be raised again, opening the door for further conquest.[3]
 

Commenting on the hadith of Tirmidhi:

 

الخلافة بعدي ثلاثون سنة ثم تكون ملكا

The caliphate will remain after me for thirty years after which it will become kingship.

 

Molana Hussain Ahmed Madani rahimahu Llah says:

 

Even if one were to disregard this hadith due to weakness in its chain of narration, as hadith critics have done, it is still reported in another hadith:

 

تدور رحي الاسلام لخمس و ثلاثين او ست و ثلاثين اوو سبع و ثلاثين

Islamic rule will continue to thrive for thirty, thirty-six, or thirty-seven years.

 

This hadith cannot possibly mean that Islamic rule will terminate after a mere thirty-seven years, as this is historically inaccurate. Instead this hadith implies that Islam will continue to thrive with its full glory for thirty-seven years after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Therefore, the first seven years of Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu rule is also included in it.

Why then is the rule of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu considered to be in a separate class from the rule of his predecessors? In Sahih al Muslim it is recorded that Sayyidina Jabir ibn Samurah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrated from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

لا يزال هذا الدين عزيزا منيعا الى اثنا عشر خليفة كلهم من قريش

This religion will remain honored and secure for the reign of twelve khalifas, all of whom will be from Quraysh.

 

Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is certainly included amongst these twelve. He was an illustrious Sahabi and much progress was seen during his reign with vast territories being conquered. It is important to note that this hadith specifically referred to him as a khalifah and not as a king.

 

It is recorded in Majma’ al Zawa’id and Jami’ al Saghir that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

ان عدة الخلفاء بعدي عدة نقباء موسى

The number of khalifas after me will be the same as the number of chieftains from the tribes of Musa ‘alayh al-Salam.

 

To elaborate further, it is stated in the Qurʼan:

 

و بعثنا منهم اثني عشر نقيبا

And we brought forth from them twelve chieftains.

 

In this narration as well, we find the word “khalifah” being used to refer to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The above discussion makes it abundantly clear that Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was unmistakably a khalifah of Islam. It contradicts logic, is unjust, and utterly subjective to quote the hadith of Sayyidina Safinah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to prove that any rule after the al Khilafa al Rashidah is an un-Islamic rule.

In this manner, there were also various degrees within the al Khilafa al Rashidah. The earliest period was highly distinguished over the later periods. Similarly, the era of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu surpasses the rule of those who came after him.

It should be kept in mind that no khalifah is deserving of criticism for his rule not being included within the al Khilafa al Rashidah. This is a matter which will be decided by Allah, having no relation to our opinions or research. Is it that Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is to blame for his reign not being considered within the al Khilafa al Rashidah al Khasah? Rather, this is amongst those matters referred to by the verse:

 

ذٰلِكَ تَقْدِیْرُ الْعَزِیْزِ الْعَلِیْمِ

That is the decree of the All-Mighty, All-Knowing.[4]

 

We do not intend at all by this to say that the rule of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the rule of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin were on the same level but rather, we openly state that there was a significant discrepancy between the two. However, this difference was not one of justice and injustice, piety and ungodliness, truth and falsehood, or loyalty and treachery, but a difference of taking a rukhsah (dispensation) or not, opting for a more scrupulous route or not, being more precautious or not, and being correct in juristic deduction.

Those who see any deficiency in the rule of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu do so when comparing it to the era of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.

 

Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani states:

 

It is preposterous for a person to come along 1350 years after the era of the Sahaba and liken the rule of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to the dirty politics of today. Without any thorough academic investigation, these devious individuals simply look at the failings of politicians today and hurl false accusations of deceit, treachery, bribery, corruption, injustice, tyranny, and cowardice at Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. There was definitely a difference between the rule of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, but this difference was not one of transgression, sin, injustice, or tyranny. Rather, the rule of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was also a just rule.[5]

 

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahu Llah (d. 728 A.H) says:

 

فلم يكن من ملوك المسلمين ملك خير من معاوية و لا كان الناس في زمن معاوية اذا نسبت ايامه الى من بعده و اما اذا نسبت الى ايام أبي بكر و عمر ظهر التفاضل

There was not a single king of the Muslims better than Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu nor were there ever any subjects of a king who were better than the subjects of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is when you compare his rule to the rule of those after him. However, when you compare the rule of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to that of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu or ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu then the disparity is evident.[6]

 

Allamah ‘Abd al ’Aziz al Farharawi (d. 1240 A.H) explains the difference between the period of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin and the reign of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as:

 

قلت لاهل الخير مراتب بعضها فوق بعض و كل مرتبة منها يكون محل قدح بانسبة الى التي فوقها … و لذا قيل حسنات الابرار سيّئات المقربين، و فسّر بعض الكبراء قوله عليه الصلوة و السلام اني لاستغفر الله في اليوم اكثر من سبعين مرة بانه كان دائم الترقى و كلما كان يترقى الى مرتبة استغفر عن المرتبة التي قبلها و اذا تقرر ذلك نقول كان الخلفاء الراشدون لم يتوسّعوا في المباحات و كان سيرتهم سيرة النبي صلى الله عليه و سلّم في الصبر على ضيق العيش و الجهد… و اما معاوية فهو ان لم يرتكب منكرا لكنه توسّع في المباحات و لم يكن في درجة الخلفاء الراشدون في اداء الحقوق الخلافة لكن عدم المساواة بهم لا يوجب قدحا فيه

I say that people vary in their virtue, with some superior to others and every stage being inferior when compared to the one above it. It is in light of this that it has been said:

حسنات الابرار سيّئات المقربين

The good deeds of the righteous might be construed as a sin by the pious.

Thus, some righteous scholars have explained the statement of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

I seek Allah’s forgiveness more than seventy times in a day

to mean that he was constantly in a state of spiritual progression towards Allah. Every time he would ascend to a higher station, he would seek Allah’s forgiveness for the station that he was previously on. With this in mind, we now say that the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin were extremely scrupulous in religious matters, even if there was room for permissibility (they would still refrain). Their lives and conduct were both a complete reflection of the life of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in their patience, the difficulties they endured, and spirit of self-sacrifice.

As for Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, even though he never committed a major sin, he was slightly more lenient when room for permissibility was present. He was not on the same level as the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, in terms of discharging the obligations of the caliphate. However, despite this disparity, he is not worthy of any blame or criticism.[7]

 

Allamah Khalid Mahmud rahimahu Llah, a close and dear friend of this unworthy author, has written a comprehensive and level-headed article on the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

The caliphate of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is between the al Khilafa al Rashidah and the general caliphate. It was a caliphate of justice that was a mirror image of the teachings in the Qurʼan and hadith. Penalties for justice and equality were in place. However, its stage or status was on the second level of the al Khilafa al Rashidah. The four al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin resembled the conduct of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam closely. Their day to day life was on the standard of patience and giving preference over themselves. They would sacrifice and go through difficulties in fulfilling the needs of the masses. They would not become complacent by seeking convenience in lawful matters, but instead they would follow the path of abstinence. Although Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not perpetrate any act which was in conflict to the Shari’ah during his caliphate, but at times he would take the path of convenience in lawful matters, and for this practice to become a norm as time passes on is natural. The truth is that his period of rule is called a caliphate. He did not acquire the caliphate through inheritance, but through his expertise in politics. His first stage of leadership was in the deputation by ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and his second stage began with the signing of the peace treaty with Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was the khalifah at that time. (In the hadith) The words “ثم ملكا”(thereafter the caliphate will become kingship) the word “thereafter” should be understood in context, because only that type of rule is meant which started after those thirty years, and the rule of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had started within the thirty years, even though it was not in the form of a completely perfect caliphate. Yes, the caliphate on the way of nubuwwah is only restricted to the four khalifas. In Nibras, the commentary of ‘Aqaʼid al Nasafi, the fine difference between al Khilafa al Rashidah and al Khilafa al ’Adilah (Righteous rule) has been explained in detail: “One cannot refute the fact that in lawful matters the four khalifas chose a path of abstention, and this is a path of strong determination. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the other hand, on many occasions chose the path of convenience and ease in matters, and this practice is in no way detestable or objectionable. Yes, in superiority however it differs. Hypothetically, if we were to regard the rule of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a kingship for some reason, then too it will not be contradictory if it is also called a caliphate. How is it possible that Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu could have handed over the caliphate for a kingship? From this view the founder of kingship will be Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu as he handed over the caliphate, and it obvious that if this were the case then his actions should not have been praiseworthy. Whereas, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had prophesised that Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu would perform this selfless act and praised him for it; namely that two large groups of this ummah will unite as one through him.[8]

 

This is the correct view regarding the rule of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Nonetheless, a doubt may arise and to remove it is necessary. The doubt in this case might be that the scholars have referred to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a “king”, and one might ask the reason for this. Allamah Ibn Hajar al Haythami rahimahu Llah explains:

 

Whoever uses the word “kingship” for the rule of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, it will be taken to mean that in his rule the previously mentioned interpretations of Islamic law took place, and wherever it has been referred to as a “caliphate”, then it is because after Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu handed over the caliphate and on the agreement of the populace, Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu became the sole ruler and submission to him became obligatory. In light of this point of view, the obedience due to him and the rights he had over the people was the same as the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.[9]

 

Is a Kingship condemned in Islam?

This question is imperative to understand, namely that is a kingship flatly condemned in Islam or not? Or is it that that kingship is only condemned when it contradicts the laws of Shari’ah and its foundation built upon principles contrary to those of an Islamic caliphate. Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Qurʼan:

لِمَنِ الْمُلْكُ الْیَوْمَ

To whom does the kingdom belong today?[10]

 

هُوَ اللّٰه الَّذِیْ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ ۚ   اَلْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوْسُ

He is Allah besides Whom there is none worthy of worship. He is the Sovereign Ruler, the Most Pure.[11]

 

Similarly, the Banu Israʼil requested from their Nabi (Shamwil ‘alayh al-Salam) to appoint a king for them, under whom they could carry out jihad. They were informed that Allah had appointed Talut as their king. If kingship was condemned in Shari’ah then neither would the Nabi ask such a thing from Allah nor would Allah accept his supplication.

 

اَلَمْ تَرَ اِلَی الْمَلَاِ مِنْۢ بَنِیْۤ اِسْرَاءِیْلَ مِنْۢ بَعْدِ مُوْسٰی ۘ اِذْ قَالُوْا لِنَبِیٍّ لّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِیْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰه ِ ؕ قَالَ هَلْ عَسَیْتُمْ اِنْ كُتِبَ عَلَیْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ اَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوْا ؕ قَالُوْا وَمَا لَنَاۤ اَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِیْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰهِ وَقَدْ اُخْرِجْنَا مِنْ دِیَارِنَا وَاَبْنَاۤئِنَاؕ     فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَیْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا اِلَّا قَلِیْلًا مِّنْهُمْؕ     وَاللّٰهُ عَلِیْمٌۢ       بِالظّٰلِمِینَ 246 وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِیُّهُمْ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوْتَ مَلِكًاؕ   قَالُوْۤا اَنّٰی یَكُوْنُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَیْنَا وَنَحْنُ اَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْکِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ یُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِؕ   قَالَ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ اصْطَفٰهُ عَلَیْكُمْ وَزَادَه بَسْطَةً فِی الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِؕ   وَاللّٰهُ یُؤْتِیْ مُلْکَه مَنْ یَّشَآءُؕ   وَاللّٰهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِیْمٌ 247

Did you not see when a group from the Bani Israʼil after Musa ‘alayh al-Salam said to their Nabi: “Appoint for us a king so that (under his leadership) we may fight in Allah’s way.” He said: “Would you then refrain from fighting after it was made obligatory for you?” They replied: “Why should we not fight in Allah’s way when we have been exiled from our homes and children?” So when fighting was ordained for them, all except a few turned away. Allah is Well-Aware of the wrong doers. Their Nabi said to them: “Allah has appointed Talut as king over you.” They said: “How can he be given kingship over us when we are more deserving of kingship than he and he has not been given any wealth?” He (the Nabi ‘alayh al-Salam) replied: “Verily Allah has chosen him over you and increased him abundantly in wisdom and stature. Allah gives His rule to whoever He wills. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.”[12]

 

In a similar manner, Nabi Sulaiman ‘alayh al-Salam and his honorable father both were Prophets as well as kings. Regarding Nabi Dawood ‘alayh al-Salam, Allah Ta’ala has mentioned:

 

وَاٰتٰىهُ اللّٰه الْمُلْكَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ

And Allah granted him (Dawood ‘alayh al-Salam) kingship and nubuwwah.[13]

 

Nabi Sulaiman ‘alayh al-Salam supplicated to Allah Ta’ala:

 

قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْلِیْ وَهَبْ لِیْ مُلْكًا لَّا یَنْبَغِیْ لِاَحَدٍ مِّنْۢ بَعْدِیْۚ   اِنَّكَ اَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ

O my Rabb! Forgive me and grant me a kingdom that cannot be had by any other after me. Undoubtedly, You are the Great Giver.[14]

 

This subject could be discussed further but it is sufficient to understand that kingship is not something condemned in Shari’ah, rather it is the king who may be good or bad.

 

The caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu

Now we shall mention the views of the Sahaba, Tabi’in, and illustrious scholars of the past regarding the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah, which will assist in understanding his caliphate better and his method of rule.

 

1. Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas

Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu comments:

 

ما رأيت رجلا كان أخلق بالملك من معاوية

I have not seen anyone more worthy of authority than Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[15]

 

In another narration it appears:

 

ما رأيت أحدا كان أحق بالملك من معاوية

I have not seen anyone more deserving of authority than Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[16]

 

Similarly, on hearing about the demise of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he remarked:

 

أما والله ما كان مثل من قبله ولا يأتي بعده مثله

By Allah! Although Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not equal to his predecessors, but definitely there will not be anyone equal to him after him.[17]

 

2. Sayyidina ‘Ali

Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

 

أيها الناس لا تكرهوا إمارة معاوية، فإنكم لو فقدتموه رأيتم الرؤوس تندر عن كواهلها كأنها الحنظل

O people! Do not be displeased with the leadership of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. By Allah! If you lose him, you will see heads being severed from its bodies like wild gourd falling from its tree.[18]

 

3. Sayyidina Hassan

At the time when Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu signed the peace treaty with Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, some foolish people disapproved and rebuked him. Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied to them: “Do not rebuke me, for I have heard Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying:

 

لا تذهب الأيام والليالي حتى يملك معاوية.

The day and the night will refuse to alternate until Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu attains authority.[19]

 

4. Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar

Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu praised him:

 

ما رأيت أحدا بعد رسول الله أسود من معاوية.

I have not seen anyone worthier of leadership than Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[20]

 

He was then asked:

 

فقيل له ابو بكر وعمر وعثمان وعلي فقال: كانوا والله خيرا من معاوية وافضل، معاوية اسود

What of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu? He replied: “By Allah! Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu are better and more virtuous than Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is worthy of leadership.[21]

 

5. Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas

Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhu once remarked:

 

مارأيت أحدا بعد عثمان أقضى بحق من صاحب هذا الباب

I have not seen anyone after ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu fulfilling rights of people better than Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[22]

 

6. Ka’b al Ahbar

Ka’b al Ahbar rahimahu Llah stated:

 

قال كعب لن يملك أحد من هذه الأمة ماملك معاوية.

No one surpassed Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the ummah regarding leadership.[23]

 

7. Imam Abu Ishaq

Imam Abu Ishaq rahimahu Llah commented:

 

روى أبوبكر بن عياش عن أبى اسحاق قال: مارأيت بعده مثله. يعنى معاوية

I have not seen the likes of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu after him.[24]

 

8. Imam Mujahid

Imam Mujahid rahimahu Llah said:

 

لو أدركتم معاوية لقلتم هذا المهدي

If you were to have seen Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu you would have said that this is Al Mahdi.[25]

 

9. Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahu Llah has written:

 

وكانت سيرة معاوية مع رعيته من خيار سير الولاة، وكانت رعيته يحبونه.وقد ثبت في الصحيحين عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: “خيار أئمتكم الذين تحبونهم ويحبونكم، وتصلون عليهم ويصلون عليكم

The conduct of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to his subjects was of the best amongst the leaders, and his subjects loved him. A hadith is narrated in Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih al Muslim that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has said: :The best amongst your leaders is the one whom you love and he loves you, and you supplicate for mercy upon him and he does the same for you.[26]

 

10. Hafiz Ibn Kathir

Hafiz Ibn Kathir rahimahu Llah mentions:

 

وأجمعت الرعايا على بيعته في سنة إحدى وأربعين كما قدمنا، فلم يزل مستقلا بالأمر فيهذه المدة إلى هذه السنة التي كانت فيها وفاته، والجهاد في بلاد العدو قائم، وكلمة الله عالية.والغنائم ترد إليه من أطراف الأرض، والمسلمون معه في راحة وعدل، وصفح وعفو

In the era of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the series of conquests continued, the word of Allah was elevated, booty from the spoils of war began to pour into the public treasury, and the Muslims began to live a life of peace, tranquillity, justice, harmony and forgiveness.[27]

 

11. Hafiz al Dhahabi

Hafiz al Dhahabi rahimahu Llah states:

 

فضائل معاوية في حسن السيرة والعدل والاحسان كثيرة.

The virtues, courtesy, justice and kindness of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu are innumerable.[28]

 

After these unambiguous views of our esteemed predecessors, can one still doubt that the leadership of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not exemplary?

 

We will now address three arguments usually raised in this discussion.

1) The caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not resemble the caliphate of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.

2) Since the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah resembled the caliphate of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, it is superior to the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

3) The caliphate of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz radiya Llahu ‘anhu is worthy of emulating in light of the hadith:

 

فعليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين

Adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.[29]

 

Therefore the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is not worthy of emulating, since it does not resemble the caliphate of the four al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.

 

Argument 1

Sufficient proof against this is the following testimonies:

  1. Sayyidah ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha said:

والذي سن الخلفاء بعده وحضت معاوية على العدل واتباع اثرهم.

Allah guided the four Rightly Guided Khalifas after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and granted Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu the ability to be just and follow in their footsteps.[30]

 
  1. The famous historian Allamah Ibn Khaldun rahimahu Llah says:

Since Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu followed the way of the four al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, it becomes known that his caliphate is also included amongst theirs.

وقد كان ينبغي أن تلحق دولة معاوية وأخباره بدول الخلفاء وأخبارهم فهو تاليهم في الفضل والعدالة والصحبة، ولا ينظر في ذلك إلى حديث “الخلافة بعدي ثلاثون سنة” فإنه لم يصحّ، والحق أنّ معاوية في عداد الخلفاء… وحاشى الله أن يشبّه معاوية بأحد ممّن بعده، فهو من الخلفاء الراشدين

It would be more suitable if we mention the caliphate of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his biography, in this volume alongside the four al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, on account of his virtue, justice and lofty rank amongst the Sahaba. In this regard, the hadith: “Caliphate will be thirty years after me”, should not be considered, because it has not reached the required level of authenticity. The fact is that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is amongst the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin and by no means should Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu be compared to those who came after him as he is amongst the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.[31]

 
  1. Shah Isma’il Shahid rahimahu Llah commented:

A just ruler is considered to be a al Khalifah al Rashid (a rightly guided leader), i.e. even though he has not witnessed the era of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, but has emulated their practice with sincerity and truthfulness…. A just ruler is like a saint between the emperors and the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin. If the masses were to see the emperors, it will seem to them as if this just ruler is a rightly guided khalifah, but if they had to see the condition of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin then they would regard this person to be a mere emperor. This is why Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu says:

لست فيكم مثل أبى بكر وعمر ولكن سترون أمراء من بعدي.

I am not of the calibre of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu amongst you, but soon you will see the condition of the leaders after me.

On this account, the era of his leadership resembles the era of nubuwwah and the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin. Therefore, it can be said that from the era of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin until the end of his era, Islam continued progressing.[32]

 
  1. Ahmed Rada Khan Barelwi was asked:

Which caliphate is regarded amongst the rightly guided?

He replied:

Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Umar al Faruq radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Uthman al Ghani radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Ali al Murtada radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah; their caliphate is regarded as rightly guided.[33]

 
  1. Faydh Ahmed Uways Barelwi said:

The caliphate of Amir Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah is not entirely part of the al Khilafa al Rashidah, but it definitely resembled it.[34]

 

Argument 2

The argument still remains regarding the difference between the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah. In explanation of this we refer to an incident of Imam A’mash rahimahu Llah, who is the teacher of Imam Abu Hanifah rahimahu Llah; he would refer to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu by the title of Al Mushhaf, on account of his innumerable praiseworthy qualities.

On one occasion in the gathering of Imam A’mash rahimahu Llah (Sulaiman ibn Mahran), the justice and equality of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah was mentioned, upon which Imam A’mash rahimahu Llah commented:

 

كيف لو أدركتم معاوية؟ قالوا: في حلمه؟ قال: لا والله، بل في عدله.

What would you have said if you had to witness the era of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu? The people enquired: “Do you refer to his tolerance?” Imam A’mash rahimahu Llah replied: “No! Rather his just manner.”[35]

 

His tolerance was most definitely one of his defining qualities but his justice is often overlooked. Qabisah ibn Jabir radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

 

مارأيت رجلا أثقل حلما، ولاأبطأ جهلا، ولا أبعد أنانا منه.

I have not seen anyone more tolerant, far from ignorance, and dignified than Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[36]

 

Hence, if the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah resembled the al Khilafa al Rashidah then most certainly the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu also resembled it. In this regard we mentioned the views of Umm al Muʼminin Sayyidah ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, Allamah Ibn Khaldun rahimahu Llah, Shah Isma’il Shahid rahimahu Llah, as well as Faydh Uways and Ahmed Rada Khan. As far as ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah is concerned; he would flog any person who would speak ill of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[37]

Sayyidah ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, Shah Isma’il Shahid rahimahu Llah, and Faydh Uways have regarded the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be similar to the al Khilafa al Rashidah. In fact, the followers of Faydh Uways declare the caliphate of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be amongst the al Khilafa al Rashidah and not just similar to it.

Lastly, we mention the words of Faydh Uways, which he attributes to Allamah Khaffaji rahimahu Llah:

 

ومن يكون يطعن في معاوية         فذاك كلب من كلاب الهاوية

Whoever belittles Muawiyah is a dog amongst the dogs of Hawiyah (Jahannam).

 

Argument 3

It is reported in Tirmidhi:

 

فإنه من يعش منكم بعدي فسيرى اختلافا كثيرا، فعليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين، تمسكوا بها، وعضوا عليها بالنواجذ

Those of you who will live after me, will see many differences (of opinions), so hold steadfast onto my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, adopt it and hold on to it strongly with your teeth.[38]

 

Now let us dive into the depths of academic research and learn who the majority of the Muhaddithin have indicated to be amongst the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin. It is imperative to study the research of the Muhaddithin on this topic and then conclude who falls under the ruling of this hadith.

The al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin are the continuous successors of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; they are also called “The Four Imams”. Their succession was not only general governmental rule but rather the succession of the Sunnah and political authority. The Muslim community recognized them to be the successors of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and to be the completion of his legacy.

The esteemed Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Delhwi rahimahu Llah writes:

The days of the caliphate were a reminder of the days of nubuwwah.[39]

 

The caliphate of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu completed the succession of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin. However, this does not imply that the caliphate of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the same as the four khalifas who preceded him and who were commonly known to be the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin or as the Qurʼan mentioned to be the guided ones. In fact, it is understood to be the termination of the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin because of the prophecies of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam having materialised (such as the reconciliation with Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu). Secondly, it was not complete leadership as he handed it to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He stepped down and acknowledged the leadership and prowess of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, which in itself turned out to be an exemplary leadership reflecting the Qurʼan and Sunnah. His succession had come into existence by reconciliation rather than replacement. All the qualities which were necessary for the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin are only truly found in the group of Muhajirin, and amongst the khalifas none held these qualities except the first four khalifas, which is why they became commonly known as the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin.

It should be borne in mind that these two pious khalifas (Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu) by the principles upon which they ruled are also understood to be Rightly Guided Khalifas but may not necessarily be those khalifas referred to by the Qurʼan as “Those who are Rightly Guided”. The reason being that this is restricted to the first Muhajirin, and Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu are not amongst them. Undoubtedly, those who had acknowledged Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah as al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, did so after taking into account the principles upon which they governed. If this point was not to be considered than it is unanimously agreed that the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin are the first four khalifas only. Respected Qadi Mazhar Hussain rahimahu Llah, while clarifying the verse of leadership and caliphate says:

 

In the verse of succession, Allah Ta’ala declares in favour of the Muhajirin that:

(Those who were taken out of their homes by the mushrikin and established their homes in Madina by the order of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) If we give them power and leadership in the country, then they will surely fulfill these four tasks after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and only those four had been granted caliphate from amongst the Muhajirin, i.e. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu , ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu , ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Therefore, in light of this divine declaration, it is obligatory for those who believe in the Qurʼan to distinctly believe that the four khalifas of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had fulfilled the task s described in this verse, namely establishing salah and zakat, as well as ordaining good and preventing evil. Thus, if one denies the sincerity of these four khalifas after understanding the meaning of this divine declaration, then he is refuting this verse and it would mean that declaration of Allah Ta’ala is not true (Allah forbid). Furthermore, those who came after these khalifas cannot be implied as this declaration is specifically for those who were driven out from their homes, who are the Muhajirin, and beside these four Sahaba, none of the Muhajirin attained authority or caliphate. In light of the above, only these four are called al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin, which is the culmination of the promise made in the Qurʼan and this succession is strictly restricted to those four Companions.

In a similar manner, in the verse of succession Allah Ta’ala has clearly promised to give caliphate to those who are believers and do good deeds and were present at the time that this verse was revealed, as is indicated by the words “from amongst you”- (منكم). Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was a mercy for all the worlds, the last of the Prophets, and after him amongst the Muhajirin only Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu obtained the post of khalifah. It is for this reason that one can safely conclude that the promise of succession which Allah mentioned in this verse materialised in favour of these four khalifas and it is their caliphate that is the promised caliphate described in the Qurʼan. If we do not accept these four Imams to be those implied by the verse then the promise of Allah will not be true since the words “from amongst you”- (منكم), empathically states that it can only refer to the Sahaba. Even if it be Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu or Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and even ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al ’Aziz rahimahu Llah or Al Mahdi, who will appear before Qiyamah and who will be the last guide and reviver from the ummah of Nabi Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. After these four khalifas, whoever else has been accepted as a ‘Rightly Guided Khalifah’ was on account of his rule being just and fair. They also shared the same insight as the al Khulafaʼ al Rashidin but nonetheless the true successors were only these first four khalifas. It is they who are referred to in the promised succession of the Qurʼan.[40]

 

NEXTThe al-Khulafaʼ al-Rashidin are four


[1]Tuhfah Khilafah pg. 82-84

[2]Mishkat

[3]Baraʼati Uthman pg. 63

[4] Surah Yasin: 38

[5]Hadrat Muawiyah awr Tarikhi Haqaʼiq pg. 146

[6]Minhaj al Sunnah vol. 3 pg. 185

[7]Sharh al ’Aqaʼid pg. 309

[8]  ‘Abaqat pg. 422-423

[9]Al Sawa’iq al Muhariqah pg. 219

[10]  Surah al Muʼmin: 16

[11]  Surah al Hashar: 23

[12]  Surah al Baqarah:246, 247

[13]  Surah al Baqarah: 251

[14]  Surah al Sa’d: 35

[15]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 135

[16]  ibid

[17]Ansab al Ashraf vol. 4 pg. 37

[18]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 131

[19]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 131

[20]Tarikh al Islam vol. 2 pg. 321

[21]Usd al Ghabah vol 5 pg. 222

[22]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 132

[23]Ansab al Ashraf vol. 4 pg. 100

[24]Al Muntaqa pg. 388

[25]Al ’Awasim min al Qawasim pg. 205

[26]Minhaj al Sunnah vol. 3 pg. 189

[27]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 119

[28]Al Muntaqa pg. 388

[29]Ibn Majah

[30]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 131

[31]Tarikh Ibn Khaldun vol. 2 pg. 1140

[32]Mansab al Imamah pg. 147-149

[33] Malfuzat Ahmed Rada Khan vol. 3, pg. 319

[34]  Hadrat Amir Muawiyah pg. 51

[35]Minhaj al Sunnah vol. 3 pg. 185

[36]Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 135

[37]Tabqat Ibn Sa’d vol. 5 pg. 299

[38]Tirmidhi vol. 2 pg 92

[39]Izalat al Khafa vol. 1 pg. 100

[40]Sunni Mowqaf pg. 52