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Date of birth unknown; died 680. Founder and first caliph of the Umayyad dynasty. Muawiyah came from the aristocracy of the Quraysh tribe. In 639 he became vice-gerent of Syria. In 657 he took arms against Caliph Ali; after Ali was slain by the Kharijites in 661, Muawiyah was proclaimed caliph. Muawiyah established the dynastic principle of absolute rule by the caliph. During his rule, Damascus became the capital of the Umayyad caliphate.