|The expansion of the caliphate under the Umayyads:|
Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632
Parents: Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and Hind bint Utbah
Date of Birth: 602
Predecessor: Hasan ibn Ali
Predecessor: Hasan ibn Ali
Reign: 661 – 680
Summary: Mecca was not a friendly city to Muhammed when Muawiyah was born in 602. Muhammed began his Muslim uprising in 630 when they conquered Mecca and the entire Umayyad clan was forced to submit to the Muslim authority of their cousin, Muhammed, and his followers from Medina. Muawiyah was apparently the second of the sub-clan to convert, following the conversion of his father, Abu Sufyan. Muqaiyah rose up in ranks of the Caliphate army following Muhammed's death and he served in various battles against the Byzantine Empire in Syria. His brother, Yazid, led the army. In 640, Muawiyah was installed as the Governor of Syria by the Caliph Umar. Muawiyah proved to be a perfect ruler, gaining the loyalty of all of his soldiers and people. His Syrian army fought continuously against the Byzantines and he eventually captured Cyprus and Rhodes from his outpost. During his capture of Rhodes, Muawiyah apparently sold the last remains of the Colossus to a traveling salesman and the Wonder of the World has never been seen since. When Ali became the Caliph, Muawiyah turned his focus to internal Muslim affairs. The governor refused to recognize his new caliph or in his campaigns. They fought a short war which ended in a short-lived peace treaty when the safety of the Quran came in question. Meanwhile, most of the Caliphate broke into open revolt against Ali. The caliph was assassinated in 661 and Muawiyah had the strongest claim to the caliphal throne. Hasan, Ali's son, agreed to step down from his post of caliph in favor of Muawiyah.
By the time Muawiyah became caliph, the Caliphate spread from Spain to Persia and included many Christians and Jews. The new caliph created a bureaucracy to govern the large empire and he also founded a postal service to relay messages. To maintain the integrity of the empire, Muawiyah paid off the Byzantine Empire to stop them from attempting to reclaim their lost territory. He moved the capital from Mecca to Damascus and created a court to rival that of Constantinople. Shi'a scholars blame him for separating Islam into Sunni and Shi'a sects, although that division had already been occurring since Muhammed's death when Ali claimed leadership of Islam for himself against the claims of the first three caliphs. Muawiyah died in 680 from a stroke, probably caused by being extremely overweight. His son, Yazid I, succeeded him as did a grandson after him, but his branch of the Umayyad dynasty failed after that and passed on to a rival line.
Date of Death: 6 May 680
Successor: Yazid I
Other Monarch Deaths:
Edward VII, king of the United Kingdom (1910)