Muawiyah: A Christian Caliph?

Islamic literary history (which is their only source of historical record) says all Arab leaders after Muhammad were Muslims who ruled in the name of Islam as a Caliph.

However there is mounting evidence that this was not so and in this blog I will give you one such piece of evidence. It comes in the form of a building inscription dated to 662-663 AD, some 30 years after the traditional Islamic date for the death of Muahmmad. The Arab leader at that time was Muawiyah I (602-680) who was the founder and first caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate. This piece of archaeological evidence was unearthed smack-bang in the middle of Muawiyah’s rule and just a stones throw from where he ruled.

The evidence below suggests strongly that Muawiyah was not a Muslim but actually a Syrian Monarchian Christian. Monarchianism was a very popular theology of that era and location that said God was one, not three and that Jesus was just a messenger/prophet of God. This became the core theology of Islam at a later date, but was actually the official teaching of the Syriac Church, which was at theological loggerheads with the Trinitarian Catholic Byzantines.

Let’s now look at the actual evidence. It is an inscription found on the baths of Gadara, in northern Jordan. In English It reads thus:

In the days of Maauia (Mauwiya) the servant of God, the leader of the protectors, the hot baths were preserved and renovated by the emir Abdallah, son of Abuasemos, on the fifth of December, on the second day of the week, in the sixth year of the indication, in the year 726 from the founding of the city, in the year 42 following the Arabs, for the healing of the sick, under the supervision of Johannes, the magistrate of Gadara.

Please note the following points:

First, as you can see if you click on the web link above, the entire inscription begins with the sign of the Christian cross! Lower Jordan was still a Christian part of the world, not the Islamic world. If it was Islamic there would have been reference to Muhammad, not Christ via the cross on this inscription.

Second, the inscription is in Greek, not Arabic. Arabic was not considered important enough at this point in history (year 42 of the Arab era, or 662-663 AD) that others had to learn it.

Third, Muawiya is not described as the Caliph, but simply as a servant of God and protector. This is a Christian title and common to the early Arab leadership.

Fourth, the year of the city is noted first, then the Byzantine year, then finally the era of Arab rule. This shows the relative insignificance of the beginning of the new era to the people and leadership of that time period. It was not the cataclysmic Islamic event as we are taught today.

Fifth, the new era was simply called the era of the Arabs which began in 622 AD when Arab leaders first gained their independence after the destruction of the Persian army. There is no Islamic reference at all on the inscription. I repeat: THERE IS NOT A SINGLE REFERENCE TO ISLAM ANYWHERE ON THIS ENTIRE INSCRIPTION!

Sixth, the person responsible for the construction is called Abdallah, a common name for Christians then, and today, in that part of the world.

Muawiyah was therefore definitely not your typical Muslim Caliph as portrayed in traditional Islamic literature. In addition to the inscription above, nowhere on his coins, on any other stone inscription, or on any surviving documents during his reign is there any mention of a prophet called Muhammad, or a religion called Islam. Nor are there any Qur’ans, or fragments of any Qur’ans datable to this time period.

Muawiya’s wife Maysum was a Jacobite Christian from the Kalb tribe and he even restored Edessa’s cathedral after it had been toppled by an earthquake.

In fact, Muawiyah is known to have traveled from his capital in Damascus down to Jerusalem and followed the footsteps of Christ around the city, finally praying at Golgotha. This was supposedly many years after Muhammad had declared in the Qur’an that the crucifixion was a fraud. In addition, Muawiya made it his spiritual duty to protect the Church and tomb of John the Baptist in Damascus. Protecting holy places gave great status to rulers of this era, not to mention money from a steady flow of pilgrims.

These are not legacy of a Muslim ruler and strongly suggest there was a transition period between an Monarchian Christian Arab empire based around the powerful Syriac Church, to an eventual Islamic faith some time later that completely rescinded its links to Christianity.

Kevin Davis

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