The forbearance of Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya
Mawlānā Ḥafīẓ al-Raḥmān ʿAṭṭāri Madani
A Companion and the son of a Companion, Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya b. Abī Sufyān رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهُمَا is related to the final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم through a shared ancestor five generations previous.
Although he entered the ambit of Islam in 6 AH after the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, he postponed announcing it openly to the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم until the conquest of Makka. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم responded to his declaration with “welcome.”
Alongside his countless qualities, achievements and excellences, he was also a scribe of revelation and was given the honour of writing the blessed letters of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.
His admirable qualities
Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ was sincere, observant of his promises, learned, a diligent jurist and mujtahid, beautiful in conduct, generous, a powerful orator, gracious to guests, caring for the poor, and constantly in the service of Allah’s creation. He was a godly soul, obeying Allah in all scenarios and firmly adhering to the Sunnah.
Some of his foremost qualities were his forbearance, patience and clemency. The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم himself prayed for this honourable Companion to be blessed with the foremost quality in the following manner, “O Allah! Fill Muʿāwiya with knowledge and forbearance.”
What is forbearance?
Forbearance refers to the ability to tolerate provocation and control one’s anger.
The supplication of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم for Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ had such an impact on him, that the qualities of forbearance and clemency were eminently visible in every facet of his life. Let us now observe three narrations correlating to this.
1. The final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم declared, “In my Ummah, Muʿāwiya has great forbearance.”
2. Sayyidunā ʿUmar رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهُمَا announced, “Do not speak ill of Muʿāwiya in front of me. He is a person of clemency who laughs even when angry.”
3. Sayyidunā ʿAbdullah b. ʿUmar رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهُمَا once explained, “Muʿāwiya b. Abū Sufyān is the most resolute person and most forbearing in disposition.”
As we have ascertained, forbearance and clemency were his foremost qualities. These became most apparent whenever someone spoke or behaved badly towards him. Despite being able to retaliate, he would exhibit these qualities in an exemplary fashion. Two incidents pertaining to this are thus enclosed:
1. A person once spoke harshly with Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ. A person said to the latter, “If you wish, you can give this person a punishment that will serve as admonition for others.” He responded: “I fear lest the mistake of my subordinate becomes a reason of decline in my own forbearance and clemency.”
2. When baskets of dates were brought to Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, he distributed them amongst the citizens of Syria. He gave a basket to an old person, who proceeded to become enraged and swore to strike the head of Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ with the same basket. Upon finding out, this great Companion said to the old person, “Fulfill your oath. We all should be gentle with one another.”
Forbearance was the most favoured quality of Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ. Not only did he display this on many occasions, but also encouraged others to adopt this and openly expressed his sentiments regarding it. He said, “To me, there is nothing sweeter than suppressing anger.”
Who is the greatest leader?
Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ was asked, “Who is the greatest leader?” to which he replied, “He is more generous than anyone when asked from and displays good character when in gatherings. The more he is belittled and deemed inferior, the more forbearance and clemency he exhibits.”
Advising towards clemency
Addressing the Banū Umayyah, Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ declared:
Through forbearance, behave well with Quraysh! By Allah! If anyone were to speak ill of me in the Age of Ignorance, I would still treat them with forbearance and clemency. Such a person would befriend me and aid me. Forbearance does not strip an honourable person of his honour but enhances his standing.
His love for Prophetic relics
The scribe of revelation, Sayyidunā Muʿāwiya رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ left the following will when passing away, “Shroud me in the lower and upper garment of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, as well as his blessed cloak. Place the holy hair and nails of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم on my face and nose. Perhaps Allah will have mercy on me for the sake of these relics.”
He passed away in Rajab 60 AH, at the age of 78.
His funeral prayer was led by the Companion, Sayyidunā Ḍaḥḥāk b. Qays رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ. He was laid to rest in the famous Bāb al-Ṣaghīr cemetery in Damascus.
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