The New International Encyclopædia/Moawiyah
MOAWIYAH, mō′ȧ-wē′yȧ (Ar. Mu‘āwiyyah) (c.610-680). Caliph, and founder of the Ommiad dynasty. He was born at Mecca, the son of Abu Sofian, the bitter enemy of Mohammed. He was made Governor of Syria by the Caliph Othman, and during his term of office conquered the island of Rhodes, but lost Cyprus. On the proclamation of Ali as the successor of Othman in 656, Moawiyah revolted, and with the aid of the gifted Amr ibn al-Asi attempted to make himself Caliph. He was defeated in several battles by Ali, who, however, was prevented by domestic rebellion and foreign war from completely crushing his rival. Moawiyah was proclaimed Caliph at Damascus, 657, and after the assassination of Ali in 661 he succeeded in speedily reducing the rest of the Empire to submission. His army, after making extensive conquests, was unable, after a long siege and repeated assaults, to capture Constantinople, and in 678 he entered into a treaty of peace with the Byzantine Emperor. Moawiyah not only exerted absolute control over the Saracen empire, but succeeded in having the caliphate declared hereditary in his family. Consult: Muir, Annals of the Early Caliphate (London, 1883); Weil, Geschichte des islamitischen Volkes (Stuttgart, 1866).