The as-yet unseen Muawiyah TV series, to be broadcast over Ramadan, is already the cause of tension and ill-will in our discussions.
Are our modern societies so fragile that a TV show covering events of more than 1,400 years ago can trigger discord among our communities? Surely, if a TV series can stir such civil discord and sectarian strife, then it reveals more about us — our sects and our ‘peoples’ — than about what is said on-screen.
The argument today is between Sunnis and Shiites, not Muawiyah and his opponents. The conflict centres on their different interpretations of their daily reality, not on the contemporary representation of Muawiyah.
The relevance of history
The issue in approaching a character such as Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan is his influence on our cultural and historical consciousness and the continued relevance of the events in which he participated or brought about.
These events remain at the core of sectarian and denominational divisions in many Arab and Islamic countries today, and renewed interest in Muawiyah’s actions may only add to the two opposing Sunni and Shiite narratives, providing them with yet more arguments and pretexts for fighting.