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Abu Sufyan ibn Harb

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For the son of Harith, see Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith.

Sakhr ibn Harb (), more commonly known as Abu Sufyan (560-650), was a leading man of the Quraish of Mecca. He was a staunch opponent of the Arabian prophet Muhammad before converting to Islam later in his life.

FamilyEdit

Ancestry Edit

Abu Sufyan was born 560 CE as a son of Harb ibn Umayya. Abu Sufiyan's grandfather was Umayya, after whom the Umayyad dynasty was named, and his great-grand father was Abd Shams ibn Abd Manaf, brother to Muhammad's great-grandfather Hashim.

Women and childrenEdit

Abu Sufyan was married to Hind bint Utbah, who in 602 gave birth to Muawiyah I, who would later establish the Umayyad dynasty.

Abu Sufyan also had relations with his kinswoman Saffya bint abi al-A'as, who bore him a daughter called Ramlah. Ramlah was married to Ubayd-Allah ibn Jahsh and both husband and wife converted to Islam against the wishes of Abu Sufyan. When the first Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, Ramlah and Ubayd-Allah, were among them.

BiographyEdit

Opposition to IslamEdit

Abu Sufyan was the chieftain of the Banu Abd-Shams clan of the Quraish tribe, which made him one of the most powerful men in Mecca. Abu Sufyan viewed Muhammad as a threat to Mecca's social order, a man aiming for political power and a blasphemer of the Quraish gods.

When several muslims emigrated to Abyssinia to escape harrasment in Mecca, Abu Sufyan's daughter Ramlah was among those emigrated to Abyssinia.

Military conflict with MuhammadEdit

After Muhammad had migrated to Medina in 622, the Quraish confiscated the belongings they had left behind. From Medina, the Muslims attacked several of the Quraish's caravans coming from Syria to Mecca. In 624, Abu Sufyan was the leader of such a caravan and as a Muslim force moved to intercept him, he called for help from the Quraish. This resulted in the Battle of Badr, which ended in a Muslim victory. Abu Sufyan however managed to bring his caravan home to Mecca. The death of most Quraish leaders in the battle left him the leader of Mecca.

Subsequently he was the military leader in the Meccan campaigns against Medina, such as the Battle of Uhud in 625 and the Battle of the Trench in 627, but could not attain final victory.

Eventually the two parties would agree to an armistice, the Treaty of Hudaybiyya in 628, which allowed Muslims to make the pilgrimage to the Kaaba.

Muslim Conquest of MeccaEdit

When the armistice was violated in 630 by allies of the Quraish, Muhammad moved towards conquering Mecca. Abu Sufyan, sensing that the balances were now tilted in Muhammad's favour and that the Quraish were not strong enough to hinder the Muslims from conquering the city, travelled to Madina, trying to restore the treaty. No agreement was reached between the two parties and Abu Sufyan returned to Mecca empty handed. These efforts ultimately ensured that the conquest occurred without battle or bloodshed.

Abu Sufyan travelled back and forth between Mecca and Madinah, still trying to reach a settlement. According to the sources, he found assistance in Muhammad's uncle al-Abbas, though some scholars consider that historians writing under the rule of Abbas's descendants, the Abbasid dynasty, had exaggerated Abbas's role and downplayed the role of Sufyan, who was the ancestor of the Abbasids' enemies.

Later lifeEdit

After the conquest of Mecca, Abu Sufyan fought as one of Muhammad's lieutenants in the subsequent wars. During the Siege of Taif, he lost an eye.

When Muhammed died in 632, Abu Sufyan was in charge of Najran..

Abu Sufyan also fought in the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, in which he lost his second eye.

Abu Sufyan died at the age of ninety in 650 at Madina. His kinsman Uthman Ibn Affan, who had become the third Caliph in 644 led the prayer over his grave.

LegacyEdit

Abu Sufyan's son Muawiyah became the founder of the Umayyad dynasty, the first Muslim dynasty which ruled the Islamic realm for a century from 661 to 750. Muawiyah fought a war against Ali and his son, Yazid, was involved in the military conflict that lead to the death of Husayn ibn Ali. Shi'a view him as a hypocrite, who converted only after Muslims had conquered Mecca and who managed to infiltrate Islamic ranks and be included among the Muslims This goes along with Shias hatred of most in his lineage especially Uthman and Yazid.

References Edit

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