Bryan Caplan  

Social Intelligence: The Wisdom of Muawiya

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My favorite quotation in the entirety of Larry Gonick's magisterial Cartoon History of the Universe series is from the Caliph Muawiya.  Behold social intelligence:
I never apply the sword when the lash suffices, nor the lash when my tongue is enough.  If there is even one thread binding me to my fellow man, I do not let it break.  If he pulls, I loosen.  If he loosens, I pull.


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If there is even one thread binding me to my fellow man, I do not let it break. If he pulls, I loosen. If he loosens, I pull.

The Judo is strong with this one.

Steve Sailer writes:

According to Wikipedia, the early Islamic caliph Muawiyah wasn't quite such a peaceable, decent-minded fellow as this quote might suggest:

As Caliph, Muawiyah developed a navy in the Levant and used it to wage a war against the Byzantine Empire in the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The Caliphate conquered several territories including Cyzicus which were subsequently used as Naval bases. The war ended in an unsuccessful siege of Constantinople.

Muawiyah I is a reviled figure in Shia Islam for several reasons. Firstly, because of his involvement in the Battle of Siffin against Ali, whom the Shia Muslims believe was Muhammad's true successor (see Succession to Muhammad); secondly, for the breaking of the treaty he made with Hasan ibn Ali, after the death of Hassan ibn Ali, one of broken terms being appointing his son Yazid as his successor; thirdly, on account of his responsibility for the killing of Hasan ibn Ali by alluring his wife Ja'dah binte Ash'as to poison him; and fourthly by distorting Islam to match his unislamic rule.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] and fifthly, for the deaths of various Companions of Muhammad.

Ken B writes:

Just a point of English usage: I do not think 'magisterial' means 'amorally irenic'. The murderous founder of a hereditary kingdom is an odd choice for the fount of wisdom -- unless you prize irenic platitudes above history.

Alex J. writes:

A friend of mine, fluent in Arabic, once told me that "muawiya" means "Bitch in heat, howling at the dogs." Presumably, it came to mean that after his rule, rather than before he was named.

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