Abu Suffian RA family remained in power in Syria from 18 Hijrah (year 638) onward. This area became the power source for them. This is where the era of Ummayad Khilafat originated in 41 Hijrah (661).
We need to keep in mind that there are many people in Umayyad who were named Muawiah & Yazeed. Abu Suffian had two sons called Muawiah (RA) & Yazeed (RA). Then Muawiah (RA) had a son called Yazeed. He was the one involved in the incident of Karbalah where Imam Hussain RA was martyred (underlined & marked with Red arrow in the chart below).
Initial Khaleefahs & No Relatives Policy:
Abu Bakar (RA) was from Bani Taiyam and Umar (RA) was from Bani Adi; so first two khaleefs were neither Hashimi nor Umayyad. Then Usman (RA) from Bani Ummayyiah came into power. Neither Muhammad (SAW) nor any of the first two khaleefs appointed anyone from their family.
But Usman RA reversed this policy and appointed a lot of his close relatives at high positions in his Government. This is when the Ummayiah- Hashimi rivalry started surfacing again.
Umayyad in Power under Usman (RA)
Usman (RA) sincerely believed that He is appointing a suitable person for the job and that Allah Ta’ala has commanded Muslims to be kind to their close relatives.
As Usman RA appointed many people from Umayyad, they became very strong during his era. There were good Umayyad people appointed who served the state in great ways but there were some doubtful appointments such as:
Waleed bin Uqaba: Usman’s (RA) Step Brother. He was appointed an Ammal (Tax collector) by Prophet (SAW). But he lied to prophet when sent to Bani Mustaliq’s and hence was removed from his appointment. Usman RA appointed him as Governor of Kufa replacing Saad bin Waqas (RA) (Ashra-e-Mubashra). Waleed prayed 4 Rakah in Fajar under the influence of alcohol. He was then removed & punished by Usman RA.
Abdullah bin Saad bin Sarh: Usman’s (RA) Razai Brother (suckled milk from same woman). He was one of the worst enemies of Islam. At Fatah Makkah Prophet (SAW) ordered to kill him (& 7 others) even if they hold Ka’aba’s Cover (Ghulaaf). But he was saved by Usman (RA). He accepted Islam, then Rejected, & then accepted again.
Usman appointed him as Governor of Egypt.
Marwan bin Hakam: Hakam was uncle of Usman (RA). He was exiled by Prophet SAW from Madina due to anti state activities. He & his son Marwan remained in exile till the time of Usman (RA). Abu Bakar & Umar RA did not allow them to return. But Usman RA brought them back to Madina. As stated by Usman RA, he took permission from Rasul Allah (SAW).
Marwan was appointed as State Secretary by Usman (RA). He held the official seal of the Khalifah but he abused his powers many times. It was one such incident which eventually led to the death of Usman RA. Marwan was the killer of Abu Talha RA (Ashra Mubashra sahabi) during the battle of Jammal. He also confiscated the Oasis of Fadak (Khyber) which was kept by Rasul Allah (SAW) for his family.
Ameer Muawwiah RA: Usman RA extended Ameer Muawiah’s RA rule to the whole Syria including Jordan & Palestine. He remained as Governor here for about 23 years. A long tenure at one place turned out to be lethal and led to worst power struggle Muslims ever saw plus the killing of thousands of Muslims including Imam Husaain (RA).
Bani Ummayyad vs Ahl-e-Bait (Family of Rasul Allah SAW)
After the death of Usman RA, Ali RA was appointed as 4th Khalifah. He was from Bani Hashim. Ameer Muawiah RA, the governor of Syria at the time, refused to give his allegiance to Ali RA. As a result a sad battle of Saffain was fought between them and thousands of Muslims lost their lives. Ali’s RA whole tenure of Khilafat was wasted due to fighting among Muslims. People were so deprived of peace.
Ali (RA) shifted Dar Al-khilafah, the Capital of Government from Madina to Kufa so that people of Madina could get some peace from power struggles and focus more on knowledge.
After the sad death of Ali RA, Hazrat Hassan RA was appointed as Khaleefa. But Ameer Muawwiah RA continued his efforts to become the ruler of all the Muslims so the internal fights continued. Imam Hassan RA was very kind hearted; he did not like to further the spillage of ordinary Muslims blood. Hassan RA stepped down and Amir Muawwiah became the Khaleefa of all Muslims world of the time.
This act was disliked by the Banu Hashim and the Rivalry turned into “Umayyad vs Ahl-e-Bait” (Family of Prophet SAW). A large group of supporters of Ahl-e-Bait emerged called Shia (discussed below).
Era of Umayyad Khilafat (661 – 749):
Ameer Muawiah RA taking Khalifah’s office was the foundation of Umayyad Khilafat. He RA apparently took good care of the Ahl-e-Bait.
Muawwiah RA nominated his son Yazeed as khaleefah after his death. This was the first & worst example of Monarchy (Malookiat, Inherited Family based Government). People generally rejected it but some people accepted it out of fear because Umayyad had power in their hands. Some accepted it just to keep unity. But people with high morals from Quraish and especially Ahl-e-Bait opposed it.
At the forefront of opposition were Imam Hussain & Abdullah bin Zubair bin Awam RA. Imam Hussain RA was martyred along other Ahl-e-Bait at Karbala.
Yazeed died after few years and his appointed son Muawiah (son of Yazeed) stepped down within few days of taking the power. And this brought an end to ruling in Amir Muawiah RA family. Khalafat continued in Bani Umayyad though till 749. It was then taken over by the Bani Abbas (decedents of Abbas RA, uncle of Rasul Allah SAW).
The 92 years of monarchy based Umayyad era was full of oppression & killings among Muslims. Although they mainly focused on gaining & maintaining power and Islam was not their main agenda, yet they largely implemented Islam as a system to look after the collective affairs of Muslims. This is in full contrast to the present days Muslim rulers; they are not only illegal but also run our affairs with 100% non-Islamic system.
The Big Split:
It is evident the Umayyad Hashmi Rivalry created a big rift in Muslims form very early days. It later transformed into Umayyad vs Ahl-e-Bait (Family of Rasul Allah SAW). The dispute was largely around power or leadership of the nation (or, may we say Political). People were largely divided into 3 groups, plus two small opportunist Groups (4 & 5, which are not discussed here):
Umayyad & their Supporters
Ahl-e-Bait & their Supporters known as Shia’a
Neutrals: These stayed away from fighting either out of fear or to avoid fitna (dispute)
Sabaai: A group started by a munaafiq Abdulla bin Sabaa, a former Jew who had religious grudge against Muslims. They spread a lot of bad rumours, wrong beliefs, propaganda and misinformation to spoil the situation, especially among new Muslims. They are extinct now but the intellectual damage caused by them will be with us forever.
Khawaraj: They took verses of Quran literally (word by word meaning) and declared most Muslims kaafir (out of Islam). They were responsible for a large number of killings. They are also extinct now.
There is a long history but in the end we are left with Shia group on one side & the rest of Muslims as Sunni on the other side. This is the biggest divide we see up to today in Muslim nation. Politicians have exploited this situation cleverly to keep this divide alive and to make both groups fight each other.
Divide upon Divided upon Divide:
The initial divide was focused on political side only; no one cared about Fiqh or Madhab. But later on this divide was turned into a Fiqhi (Madhabi, religious) Division of Shia vs Sunni Fiqh. It was (& still is) fully abused by clever politicians to keep us divided along these lines. Currently we are divided on Fiqh as well as politically (based on colour, area, race, language, etc., etc.). We have more than 50 Muslim countries and many more so called ‘nations’ which are further divided on Jaafria Fiqh & Sunni Fiqh which is then further divided into (Hanafi, Shaafai, Maaliki & Hanbali) plus Ahl-e-Hadees – endless.
Fiqhi divide is fine as long as it is based on just Islam and is not used to discriminate & fight with each other. But the political division is outright bad; we are one Ummah (nation) so we really should be under one Government. Soon Eesa (AS) will be arriving in Syria insha Allah. Which passport will he have? Will he need visa to visit Iran, Saudi or Pakistan? Think!!
Literal meaning of Shia is a group, supporters or followers. There were a number of supporters of Ahl-e-Bait at around that time. Main groups were:
Shia’an Ali: Supporters of Ali RA. They were divided after his death as below.
Shia’an Fatimi: Supporters of Ali’s RA children from Fatima RA. After the martyr of Imam Hussain RA, Imam Zain al Abideen was the main person in his lineage. He stayed away from power struggle and focused on the knowledge.
Shia’an Alvi: Followers of Ali’s RA children from other wives. Muhammad ibin Hanfiyya (son of Ali RA but named after his mother Hanafiyah RA) became the main leader of Ahl-e-Bait after the martyr of Hussain RA.
Abu Hashim bin Muhammad Hanafia (grandson of Ali RA) handed over imamat of Ahl-e-Bait to Muhammad bin Ali, the grandson of Abbas RA (uncle of Rasul Allah SAW). Over time, Abbasi family gained enough power to overturn the Umayyad Government. Hence the Abbasi Khilafat was born which lasted for 500 years.
Later in history shia were subdivided further into sects such as Kaysaania, Zaydia, Immamia, Ismaeelia, isna Asharia (majority now) & few other groups.
System Still Islam:
Although Umayyad rulers were selected via Monarchy; they implemented Islam as a system throughout. Umayyad rulers implemented Islam mostly but broke some of its rules. BUT leaders throughout Muslim world today implement non-Islamic systems with some Islamic flavour to it.
I am sure the Muslim divisions will cease to exist and we will be one united Nation again once Islam is implemented as a Whole, as a way of Life insha Allah….
Tribe of Quraish has a special significance in Islam; our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAW) belongs to it. Allah Ta’ala mentions Quraish in Quran (Surah Al-Quraish) as He blessed them with favours. Muhammad (SAW) talked about their importance in different hadeeth. Understanding Quraish’s origins and its structure will help us understand the nature of initial struggle for establishing Islam. More importantly the roots of the biggest divide that Muslims have, originated from the very structure of Quraishi tribe; i.e. the Shia Sunni Divide.
The tribe Quraish links back to our spiritual father & Prophet Ibrahim AS who moved to the place now known as Makkah and built the first house of God known as Ka’ba. The tribe’s foundation was laid by one of his decedents called Fahr whose Laqab (nick name) was Quraish. His decedents were called Quraishi. With the passage of time they subdivided into small tribes or branches as listed below:
Quraish’s organised social life & political structure was formed by Qasi who was born in the 5th generation after Fahr. Three main areas of Administration were:
Army: Organising Army, Battles, Relations with other nations. This was the responsibility of Bani Ummaiyah
Courts: Decision making via Collective Council, Disputes Solving, and
Religious Affairs: Looking after Ka’aba & Haaji visitors. Responsibility of Bani Hashim
Quraish’s main profession was trade. They would travel far & wide for it. Allah Ta’ala granted them two gifts as mentioned in Quran (surah Quraish) i.e. Rizq (Food) and Peace. The 3rd and biggest gift is Ka’aba, the House of the Lord. People from all over the world would come to visit it. So, Quraish had a lot of respect, prominence & power at the time.
Two Key Tribes:
Bani Hashim and Bani Ummaiyah were the strongest and most prominent tribes. These very tribes shaped the Muslim history in coming years.
Bani Hashim were respected the most as they were in-charge of the Religious affairs i.e. looking after Ka’aba, Pilgrims & the related matters. Muhammad Rasul Allah (SAW) descended in this tribe
Bani Ummaiyah (Umayyads) were most powerful; they were rich and bigger in number. Bani Ummaiyah were in-charge of Army.
Relations & Rivalry:
Both Hashimis and Umayyads were descendants of same grandfather Abd Munaf hence were close relatives. But there was always a sense of rivalry present among them. Because both tribes were more or less equally strong in terms of wealth & honour so matter of competition was not major. The ties were further strengthened through intermarriages…..Until Hashimis were granted the Prophet-hood.
Muhammad (SAW) becoming prophet took Hashimis to prominence; feud & power struggle grew apparent. Umayyads had nothing personal against Hashimis. They were against Hashimis as were the other Quraishi tribes. It was their Leading role that was at stake.. Being the strongest militarily & financially, Umayyads would have acted the same way against any other tribe in such a situation.
The relations between two tribes remained even after the arrival of Islam. Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) daughters were married to Usman (RA) & Abu Al-Aas, both Umayyad, and Prophet’s wife Um-e-Habiba (RA) was the daughter of Aub Sufian (RA), the head of Quraishi Army at the time.
Unity under Islam:
Fatah Makkah (conquer of Makkah) crushed the power of Quraish. Banu Ummaiyah, like many other tribes accepted Islam. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) honoured them significantly, especially Abu Suffiyan (RA) & his family. He was granted special privileges. His son Ameer Muawiah (RA) was appointed as Katib-e-Wahi (writer of Revelations). Suitable people from Ummayiah were given leadership roles. Umayyads returned that honour with great dignity; Abu Sufian (RA) fought battles taking his whole families along. Usman (RA) spent all of his wealth in the way of Islam.
So Umayyad remained prominent even after the arrival of Islam. And the tradition continued after the passing away of Muhammad (SAW).
Conquer of Syria:
Abu Bakar (RA) sent an army to conquer Syria. Abu Sufian (RA) participated in this war with all of his family. Uazeed (Son of Abu Sufian RA) was appointed as in-charge of a small army section that went to Damascus (Damishq). Damascus was eventually conquered in Umar’s (RA) time. Umar (RA), the 2nd Khaleefa-e-Rasihda appointed Ameer Muawiah bin Abu Suffian (RA) as Ruler here.
The action of appointing Muawaiah RA in Syria laid the foundations of the biggest divide in Muslim nation andchanged the course of Muslim history forever.