Evil deeds of Muawiyah
Source: Understanding Karbala, By: Allamah Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi
Now we should turn our attention towards Damascus. It was the time when Muawiyah was the accepted ruler of the Muslim populace. Not through selection or nomination but through force and armed conflict. We have already seen the atmosphere preceding it that every un-Islamic imagination or method was accepted as a part of Islam. The only condition was that the ruler in power must present it.
Muawiyah tried by all means to take advantage of this view. The power of money reached to the zenith. Poison, sword and gold were made use of to the optimum level to achieve the unjust aims of the tyrannical rulers. It became very common to kill the opponents, to martyr the opposite party by poison and treason, to imprison those whose loyalty was doubtful and to burn down their houses and property. Imam Hasan Ibn ‘Ali (a.s) was martyred through poison. Hujr bin Adi and his companions were accorded security in the name of God but martyred in the most cruel manner. Malik Ibn Ashtar was martyred through poison.
Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr (son of the first caliph) was put inside a donkey’s skin and burnt to death. Ayesha (daughter of the first caliph and the wife of the Prophet) was killed by being pushed into a trench, which was later filled up with lime and she was left to perish in that hole. Khalid bin Walid’s (whom the Sunnis call the sword of Allah) son, was killed by poison. Amr bin Hamaq, the respectable companion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was killed in an atrocious manner.
We have already discussed the beliefs of Abu Sufyan, and Muawiyah was not better than his father.
It is worth narrating the report of the trusted governor of Muawiyah here. Once he was having a conversation with Muawiyah. During the talk, Muawiyah said, “Why should I do good to the people? Even if I do good how can I hope that I would be remembered with a good name? See, a person from Bani Teem (that is the first caliph) ruled over the people, and did many great things for them. But when he died his name also died with him.
Today people refer to him only as “Abu Bakr” and that’s all. After that came a person from Bani Adi (that is the second caliph) and he ruled with absolute authority for ten years. But his name also ended with him. And now people refer to him most of the time as “Umar”, and that’s all. But look at Ibn Abi Kabasha. (The infidels of Quraish used to refer to the Prophet with this derogatory title and Muawiyah is also using this epithet). His name is called out five times every day and the Muezzin(Caller of Azan) screams from every mosque, “I witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” Now after his success what else remains to be done and what good deed could be remembered?
Except for this open insult of the Messenger and Azan what else could be expected from an offspring of Abu Sufyan? In addition to political intrigue, misappropriation of trusts, dishonesty, barbarity and murder, he also tried to change the method of worship.
Examples of innovations are also found in the previous regimes. Caliph number two added: “As-Salaato Khairum min an-Nawm”( Prayer is better than sleeping) in the Morning Azan.( Call for Prayer). He also removed “Hayya Alaa Khairil Amal”( Prayer is the best of deeds) from the Azan. He started conducting Tarawih prayers in congregation. Caliph number three added one more Azan before the Friday Prayer. And he also started the custom of sermon before the Eid Prayers.
He initiated the ritual of performing full prayer while on a journey though it was an established practice to recite two units instead of four during the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). But Muawiyah went most ahead of his predecessors. He omitted the recitation of Bismillah (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.) from the chapters of Qur’an recited in the ritual prayers. Similar was the case with the utterance of ‘Allaho Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest) before every action in prayer. He stopped this custom.
He recited the sermon of the Friday Prayer in seated position on the pulpit. When he was going to confront His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), the caliph of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) he ordered his soldiers to recite the Friday Prayer on Wednesday itself. It is needless to say that people acted upon his instructions. During the Hajj, instead of jogging between the Safa and Marwah mountains, he rode on a horse. Even though no excuse existed for him to do so. He removed the “talbiyah” (Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik- Here I am, O Lord) from the rituals of Hajj.
However the most significant of these innovations is the joining of hands during Prayer. There are many historical proofs that show that it was only Muawiyah who had started this custom. Imam Malik (the founder of the Maliki sect) has commanded his followers to keep their hands open and straight during prayers. (As the Shias do). And he stated its reason was that the people of Medina used to keep their hands loose in prayers and the people of Medina had seen the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) praying.
Hence the method of the people of Medina must indeed be based on the emulation of the Messenger. Imam Malik died in 179 AH. In addition to his logic, we have the traditional reports of Abdullah bin Zubair, Ibn Sireen and other scholars of Islamic jurisprudence that prove that at least until the 2nd century of the Hijrah Calendar, the people of Medina did not join their hands during Prayer.
On the other hand Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Ahmad Hanbal (who were educated in Iraq and Syria where the influence of Banu Umayyah was more) have advised their followers to join their hands. And more interesting is the verdict of Imam Shafei (who initially lived in Mecca and Medina and later resided in Iraq and Egypt), who says that both options are permitted in Prayers.
Some proofs of innovation in Prayer are also found through two companions of the Prophet. Anas bin Malik (an aged companion of the Prophet) went to Damascus. He wept incessantly on whatever he witnessed there. He said, I don’t see anything among you that I had witnessed in the time of the Prophet except this prayer and that is also transmogrified.
Another companion of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), Abu Darda said, “I don’t find anything here in accordance with the religious law, except that they perform the ritual prayers in congregation. Apart from this, everything has been abandoned.” When His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) was engaged in battle against Muawiyah, he said, “We are fighting them so that the prayer may be established anew.”
Here it would be most appropriate to mention that when His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) led the prayers in his caliphate, people became joyous and automatically exclaimed, “This is how the Prophet prayed. We have witnessed this prayer after a long time.” Among those who expressed such views are the notable names of Umar bin Hussayn, Abu Musa Ashari and Abu Huraira.
Muawiyah was the first person in Islam who not only took usury in trade, but he also made it permissible according to religious law. He openly indulged in wine, singing, music and dance, while all these things are clearly prohibited in Islam.
He initiated the cursing of the Prophet’s cousin and his caliph, His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s), and this shameful practice continued among the Muslims until the end of the first century of the Hijrah. Here it is necessary to remind that His Eminence, ‘Ali (a.s) is the one, love and respect towards whom is made obligatory on all Muslims through the command of the Qur’an and the instructions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Love for ‘Ali is love for the Messenger, and enmity towards ‘Ali is construed as enmity towards the Prophet. Peace and harmony with ‘Ali (a.s) is peace and harmony with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). And discord with him is same as discord with the Prophet. Also, cursing ‘Ali (a.s) is like cursing the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w).
Openly opposing the established principles of Qur’an and Islam, Muawiyah announced in the Friday sermon that all the income of the Islamic kingdom was his personal property and to distribute it among the Muslims or not rested upon his personal discretion. If he likes he may give something from it to whomsoever he likes, but if he does not, no one had any right to question him because it was his personal property.
These examples clearly show that Muawiyah not only tried to change the worship acts, he endeavored to make changes in every field of the Islamic law. If he was not able to succeed it was only because of the divine diplomacy of Imam Hasan (a.s).
Let me also mention that the diplomacy of Imam Hasan (a.s) also proved successful in the fact that through it, it became sufficiently easy to distinguish between a true believer and a hypocrite. During the lifetime of the respected father of Imam Hasan (a.s), in the last four years, all Muslims used to consider him as the ruler of the Muslim dominions. Among them were some who believed him to have been divinely appointed and the majority considered him to be the consensual caliph. The faith did not have any benefit from this milling crowd of people harboring different views as circumstances have shown clearly. The treaty of Imam Hasan (a.s) with Muawiyah removed all the misconceptions and only those true believers remained with Imam Hasan (a.s) whose faith could not change with the changing political scenario.
If one studies this much history of Muawiyah one would begin to wonder if more destruction of Islam was possible. But to say this would be premature because the curtain had not yet risen on the last act of this drama. The worst of Muawiyah’s plots was appointing his son, Yazid as his successor. He tried all means to make his plan successful, through bribes as well as intimidation. By intrigue and by deception, by poisoning and by blatant murder.
A few years after this evil nomination, the ruler of Muslims, who called himself the Prophet’s successor, departed from the world with the crucifix around his neck. Now Yazid was the absolute ruler of complete Islamic territories that spread upto Azerbaijan in the east to Yemen in the south and to Egypt in the west and Iran in the east.