The Rise and Fall of Muslims Rule in Spain
It was during the rule of Umayyad Caliph Walid bin Abdul Malik in 711 AD when Muslims entered Spain. Spain then, was governed by the Visigothic rulers: Julian, the governor of Gibraltar while Roderick governed the entire Spanish peninsula.
Way back in Morocco, Musa bin Nusayr (the Umayyad Governor of North Africa) motivated Tariq bin Ziyad, an Umayyad Army General to enter Spain. The Umayyad military force, under the command of Tariq bin Ziyad (ra), entered Spain in 711 AD in trading ships with supposedly 1000 horsemen. Tariq bin Ziyad first took his forces to Gibraltar, an Island between Morocco and Spain where he burnt those very ships on which they had come to Gibraltar, right in front of his army. He wanted to ensure that his army forgets the idea of returning home. Tariq bin Ziyad then gave a motivational speech to his army, making his force very determined.
The First battle between Tariq’s forces and the Visigoths was fought the in 711 in what it is called the Battle of Guadalete. Muslim won this decisive battle in which Christian King Roderic was killed. This opened the doors for Muslims to enter into Spain. In due course of time, Tariq bin Ziyad and Musa bin Nusayr were called back to Damascus by the Caliph where they spent rest of their lives.
Muslims fought in many other places of Spain and conquered huge Spanish cities like Cordoba, Granada, Barcelona and Narbonne etc., until 719 AD. Almost 70 years from 719 AD, enormous small and big battles were fought, many of which resulted in Muslim victories and as such, Spain was unified under one Caliphate and was called Al-Andalus.
The Start of Muslims Rule in Spain:
There was tremendous prosperity in Spain under the Umayyad ruler Abdur Rahman III who ruled Spain and also kept fair relations with the mischievous French and German rulers through force and diplomacy from 929 to 961 AD. In 1031, the Umayyad Caliphate collapsed and Al Andalus was divided into many emirates called Taifas. During this tough time too, it must be noted that the Spanish-Muslim rulers did not covert the Christians of Spain through force. Muslims rule in Spain continued.
Muslims contributed tremendously to the Spanish Arts, Trade and Social Welfare including: construction of grand mosques in Cordoba, Granada, Seville etc., Madina Zahra (fort) etc. These are of great architectural importance of Spanish history till today. Muslims also translated various Greek theologies on diverse subjects into Arabic and Hebrew. There was a significant advancement in Science, physics, geography and philosophy in Spain during the Muslim rule. During the Muslim administration, Al Hakam Library was built. It was one of the largest libraries in the world during that time, containing 400,000 books on various topics books. The Madrasa of Granada, formed by Yusuf I of Nasrid Dynasty in 1349 was the first university in Spain.
It must be quiet surprising to many of the readers that it were actually the Jewish masons who made columns of the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Arab traders also brought lot of changes in Al Andalus by introducing textiles, glassware, metal work etc. They also introduced agricultural produces like watermelon, banana and wheat etc. in Al-Andalus. There was diversity in Spain during Muslim rule. Arab Muslims were into spirituality, army and geographical governance. Many Spanish from all over their country accepted Islam, after looking at the god-fearing, friendly and innovative qualities of the Muslims.
After the Umayyad and the Caliphate of Cordoba there were other Muslim dynasties which ruled Spain namely the Taifas, Nasrids, Almohad Caliphate
Centuries after the advent of Islam and Muslim governance in Spain, the Muslims were divided in the Al-Andalus into small emirates and there was no unity in them. Muslim kings had Christian women either as their wives or mothers. Their absolute quality of god-fearing vanished from them. As time passed by, the Christian kings from the northern parts of Spain fought decisive wars with the Muslims and Muslims lost many battles.
Few of the wars wherein Muslims lost are: Battle of Ourique, Battle of Graus, Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, Battle of La Higueruela. This is called the reconquesta, a Spanish term which means re-conquest of Spain by the Christians from the Muslims.
When Muslims kept losing in the battles, the Christian Kings moved their people from their lands into the lands abandoned by the Muslims after the defeat. After Reconquista, Muslims were offered to either accept Christianity or leave the Spanish peninsula. Subsequently, the Mosques of great architectural importance were turned into Cathedrals. In 1609 Muslims of Spanish ethnicity were forced and threatened to convert to Christianity by King Philip II of Spain. As per the author Enrique Soria Messa, by the end of 18th century, the Islamic practices were completely abolished in entire Spain.
As per Union of Islamic Communities of Spain, Muslims constitute to only 4% of total Spanish population as of 2012, most of which are immigrants from Morocco.
Note: Visigoths are of German origin
1 - Al-Ihata Fi Akhbar Gharnata - Lisan al-Din ibn al-Khatib died 776 AH, Dar al-Kuttab al-Alami, Beirut, 1424
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