March 10, 2009
Excerpts from Al Ra’ees Ibrahim Bin Ahmad Al Andalusi’s ‘Manual de Artilleria’
(Source: James, David. “The “Manual de artillería” of al-Ra’īs Ibrāhīm Ahmad al-Andalusī with Particular Reference to Its Illustrations and Their Sources.” pp. 237-257)
1. Excerpts from the introduction, including the biography of the author:
“Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Giver of victory to the Believers over the kafireen! May He bless our Lord and Master Muhammad, the most excellent of mankind, who participated personally in some ten campaigns and was given Divine victory in the Jihad! May He be pleased with his family and his companions, the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, and those who continued their good works, until the Day of Judgement, Amen! We implore Him to give victory and happiness to all the Muslims and their leaders, a victory by which the Faith will be exulted and the Infidel humbled! The humble supplicant for Allah’s favour and indulgence, etc., in this world and the next, Ibrahim known in the foreign tongue as al-ribaash Bin Ahmad Bin Ghanim Bin Muhammad Bin Zakariyya’ Al-Andalusi, relates that his birth-place was ‘Nawlash’ in the district of Garnata. After the Uprising he was taken to the vicinity of the city of Granada where he grew up. He remained there until the Christian Monarch commanded that all Andalusis (i.e. Moriscos) who had not left in the first expulsion should remove themselves to a place outside the sultanate (i.e. the old Moorish kingdom) of Granada. That was forty-eight years before this date.
We settled in Seville, and having become interested in sailing I made several voyages on the Atlantic. Later I sailed in the great vessels known in the foreign tongue as ghalyuniyya (i.e. galleons), which carry silver from the distant West Indies, travelling in convoys as is their custom with troops and artillerymen on board. The latter associate with their grandees to discuss their art and sometimes bring books written on the subject. These are numerous for when those familiar with the science and practice of gunnery saw the esteem in which their rulers hold people expert in that art and those who write about it they cultivated it.
I used to sit with them and memorize some of the discussion and try my hand at gunnery without any of them being aware that I was Andalusi. At the time when the Christian Monarch ordered the expulsion of all Andalusis I happened to be in prison because of an incident between myself and some Christians, who had questioned my courage. However, an important Christian acquaintance helped me and kept me company until Allah liberated me from prison. I wanted to leave with the other Andalusis for the Muslim territories but I was prevented from doing so. I produced evidence to show that I was an Andalusi, but to no avail: I had to resort to bribery in order to leave with the others.
I came to the city of Tunis-May Allah protect it-where I found many Andalusi companions and friends. There the ruler, ‘Uthman Dey-May Allah have mercy upon him-took an interest in me and appointed me to the command of two hundred Andalusis, giving me the sum of five hundred sultaanees and two hundred hand-guns and daggers plus whatever was necessary for a sea voyage.
We set sail with our companions in the Dey’s ships, but we had not been gone six months when he died-Allah have mercy upon him. Shortly afterwards we returned to Tunis with scant booty and myself severely wounded.
After I had recovered we set out again in search of the Infidel and his wealth. While we were off the city of Malaga, which lies on the edge of the Bahr Al Saghir (La Ensenada de Malaga?) we came upon eleven galleys. It was during the second half of August when there is no wind and the sea is calm. A terrific battle ensued in which many died on both sides. We were closely pursued until only a handful of us remained. We were captured after I was wounded. But truly, that day more than six hundred ofthe Enemy Unbelievers were killed, including more than twenty of their grandees. After seven years Allah released me from captivity and I made for Tunis where the ruler Yiisuf Dey sent me to join the garrison of the fortress of Halq Al Wadi (i.e. La Goulette). There I completed my gunnery studies by both practice and reading books in the foreign tongue on the subject.
On observing that the body of artillerymen in the fortress had little knowledge of gunnery and were unable to load or fire properly I resolved to compose this book for I saw that the production of every piece of artillery involves the expenditure of much time and money and is then put into the hands of one who damages or destroys it at the first or second shot while the one who loads it puts his life at risk. So, to advise the gunner and his subordinate I was encouraged to compose this work. I beseech Allah to accept that my aspirations were greater than what I have produced, and to send someone who will translate it from Ishbanyul (i.e. Spanish) which is the foreign tongue used in al-Andalus.
My intention in composing this work has not been for worldly gain but to dedicate to the Almighty its translation so that copies might be made and dispatched-Allah willing-to various parts of the Muslim lands. I have mentioned its usefulness in every way as well as referring to the duties incumbent upon artillerymen in the service of the Muslim rulers, and the Divine recompense which will accrue to them, when through the perfection of their art, they alleviate the worries of their fellow Muslims and terrify their unbelieving enemies.”
 Probably refers to the Spanish name, ‘Rivas’ or ‘Riva’
 Niguelas which is located in the Al Bushra Mountains.
 Remember, this was the same fortress that was used by Khayr Al Deen to operate out of in 1504 for numerous ghazawaat, (Abun-Nasr, 148), indicating the locations utility to be used as a staging post for naval raids.