The Muluk Al Tawaif and The Rise of the Murabitun

Thus in 1031 CE began the era called the Muluk Al Tawaif, (or roughly translated as Party Kings, to imply the multitude of mini kingdoms that sprang up in the wake of the collapse of the Ummayad Khilafa in Andalus), period. It is a period that sped  up the reconquista, (or reconquest of Islamic Spain by the Christians), due to Muslim forces being disunited and fighting amongst each other, but also a period that began the processes of increasing Muslim usage of Christian mercenaries, or vice versa, Muslim fighting alongside Christian armies to fight Muslim rivals.

However, on a brighter note, it is also the period which saw the mujahid Commander, Yusuf Ibn Tashfin being requested to land at the shores of Spain to save the Muslims kingdoms from annihilation by an impending Christian onslaught. Ironically of the many princes that requested Tashfeen’s increasingly powerful mujahid Murabitun[1] army from Africa was Muhammad Ibn Abbad Al Mu’tamid, (or simply Al Mu’tamid), the ruler of Seville, who had in 1074 CE fought the Murabitun army and ejected them from Jaen, (in Arabic جيان), was not in 1086 CE asking for help against Alfonso VI of Castille, (a clear indication of the dire situation on the part of these corrupt Muslim rulers). In retrospect it was a period not unlike our own in the 20th Century CE, where there were taxes imposed on the people that were not from the Quran and Sunnah, alcohol was everpresent as was debauchery, excessive love of poetry, (Al Mu’tamid was actually quite a famous poet himself), Bid’ah, (innovation in the Religion), misguidance due to Greek Philsophy, forgetting the essential concepts of Wala and Bara (loving and hating something for Allāh’s (سبحانه و تعلى) sake),  all the while cooperating with the Kuffaar against Muslims and adopting their habits and practices.

The Murabitun were a breath of fresh air that came to revive the deen in Andalus and cleanse it from the impurities acquired over a century of mismanagement, greed and Fitan (corruption). Little did Yusuf know that the fruits of his jihad would be snatched by corrupt rulers looking to their own survival, rather than making Allāh’s Word the highest. In any case Murabitun intervention was successful, capped by a spectacular success at the battle of Zallāqa where 7500 Castillian troops or more died, (out of 15,000 at the beginning of the battle), which is why the battle was named Zallāqa, (slippery ground), since there was so much blood on the floor that soldiers were loosing their foothold. With a series of confrontations at behest of the Andalusi kings, the Murabiteen mujahideen kept a check on increasing ambition on the part of Christian forces hoping to reconquer land back from the Muslim kings. Yusuf bin Tashfeen returned home with his jihad complete, however as soon as he left the Christian pressure began once again and the jizyah like payments began once more to be extracted from the Buyut Al Maal (Treasuries), of the Muslim Kings on the fringes of Christian Spain as a bribe to avoid Spanish attacks upon Muslim territory, (The Muslim kings and their armies were notoriously afraid to fight and avoided it at any cost, even if it meant bankrupting the lands treasury). At the same time Muslim territories were being lost to the Chrisitians in the northern frontier. One of these was Barbushtaru [Bobastro] in north-east Andalus, and bears the ignominious title of the first city to be captured by the Christians, as part of their reconquista, in 1064. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr wrote about this event and addressed the Muslims of Andalus:

“Being frightened we are addressing you, seeking refuge we are writing to you: our eyelids are ulcerated, our hearts are wounded, and our souls are in flames. It is happened because our enemy has surrounded us like the encirclement of necklaces with the nape; they fought till they won. O Muslims, alas! You saw the lamentable conditions of your coreligionist brothers, they were defeated on their wealth and families, swords pierced their bodies deeply, death captured them, injections of javelins mocked them, clamor and howling increased. Bloods were flowing on their feet, floods of rain were in all ways, and their heads were flying in front of them. Now there is no rescuer and protector, and ears become deaf by the clamor of children and the weeping of women. O Muslim Ummah! Do you have any idea about the indescribable adversity of your coreligionists? Women and Children-compelled to be undressed- are driven to the places of slaughter, sometimes on their backs, other times on bellies, tied by ropes, bounded in chains and fetters. They are seeking help, but there are none to help them, they are shouting for food, but no food is supplied to them, they are crying for water, but is not given to drink, their dreams went stray and their delusive imaginations were wept out. O Prophet Muhammad! O Holy Quran! (Hoque)”

Ibn Al ‘Assal was affected by the calamity of Bobastro and composed a poem about it:

ولقد رمانا المشركون بأسهم              لم تخط لكن شأنها الاصماء

هتكوا بخيلهم قصور حريمها              لم يبق لا جبل ولا بطحاء

جاسوا خلال ديارهم فلهم بها              في كل يوم غارة شعواء

باتت قلوب المسلمين برعبهم              فحماتنا في حربهم جبناء

كم موضع غنموه لم يرحم به              طفل ولا شيخ ولا عذراء

ولكم رضيع فرقوه من أمه                له إليها ضجة وبغاء

وموصونة في خدرها محجوبة              قد أبرزوها ما لها استخفاء


  • The mushrikun have thrown harms toward us, that never missed, and it was so fierceto make us deaf.
  • Sacred palaces [of Bobastro] were torn apart by the strike of their horses’ troop, no hill or flatland remained intact.
  • Enemies searched the houses [of the Muslims] and everyday they launched dreaded raids there.
  • Hearts of Muslims spent the night filled with fear; since our protectors were cowards in the war.
  • How many a place they ransacked, where no child, old man or virgin was pitied!
  • How many babies, whom they have separated from their mothers, when they were crying for their mothers.
  • Many protected and veiled women were dragged out in a way that no hide-out was left for them. (Ibid)”

And today, our ‘protectors’ are cowards too, who neither defend us, nor aid the interest of Muslims, but rather kill Muslims, as part of their pastime.

In 1090, after long deliberation, Yusuf Bin Tashfin decided to come back to Andalus to get rid of the Muluk Al Tawaif and end the non-shariah based taxes that burdened the Muslims of their land, (these taxes were created to repay the massive debt incurred by the protection money demanded by the Christian armies of Castille).  Upon hearing rumours that Yusuf bin Tashfin was coming to free them from the tyranny of the coward rulers that ruled over them, the populace of Andalus was elated. Yusuf had obtained fatwas from the Moroccan fuqaha which declared that the Muslim rulers of Andalus were unworthy of ruling since they had allied themselves with the Christians and had played a double game against the defenders of Islam. The faqihs of Granada, Abu Ja’far Ahmad al-Qulay’i and Abu Bakr ibn Musakkan were among those most eager to justify this intervention. By this fatwa, Yusuf was therefore authorised to demand of the Andalusi Kings that they carry out their precepts and abolish those taxes which were not prescribed by the Quran and the Sunna, (Bewley, Yusuf ibn Tashfin: The March Of Conquest Of Yusuf B.Tafsin). This would particularly affect the economies of those kingdoms which relied on all sorts of taxes and impositions to maintain their courts and pay off Alphonso.

Yusuf still had religious doubts which kept him from taking decisive action against the other kings of Andalusia, and so required further fatwas condemning their conduct. The fuqaha of Andalus declared that the Andalusian princes were libertines and impious and that they had corrupted the people by their bad example and made them indifferent to their religious duties. Furthermore, they had levied illegal taxes and, although Yusuf had commanded their abolition, they had maintained them. They had also concluded an alliance with Alphonso VI and so they were unworthy of ruling the Muslims any longer.

To finish, they said:

“We take it on ourselves to answer for this action before Allāh. If we are in error, we agree to pure the penalty of our conduct in the Next world. We declare that you, Amir al-Muslimeen, are not responsible. But we firmly believe that if you leave the Andalusi princes in peace, they will deliver our country to the unbelievers and if that is the case, then you will have to render an account to Allāh of your lack of action, (Ibid).”

This fatwa was was extremely important to Yusuf, but he still was not completely satisfied until the faqihs of Africa had approved of it and he also sent to the famous scholars of Egypt and Asia and they had confirmed the opinion of the scholars of the Maghrib. Active lobbying on Ibn Tashfin’s behalf was carried out by by the famous Andalusi scholar, Ibn Al Arabi in the Abbasid khalifa’s court to allow Yusuf Bin Tashfin to be recognized and invested of authority by the Abbasid khilafa, (and thus provide the sharia justification need to fight the Muluk Al Tawaif). Thus al-Ghazzali[2] and Imam Tartushi[3] approved this fatwa and acknowledged that Yusuf had the right, as defender of the shariah, to depose the Taifa kings.[4] However, it must be added that inspite of his intention to remove the rulers of Andalus, he did give bay’a (pledge of allegiance) to the ‘Abbasid Khalifa and Ibn Tashfin refused to accept any name other than the laqab[5] of Amir al-Muslimin wa Nasir Al Din, (Leader of the Muslims and the victor of the Religion). In other words, he didn’t aspire to power or to challenge the Abbasid Khilafa. In his fatwa, Imam Ghazali says:

“…They must listen and obey and firmly believe that obedience of the Abbasi khalifa is considered the obedience of the imam and his disobedience is considered the disobedience of the imam.  And whoever rebels and disobeys the imam, the verdict applied to him is that of the baaghi [rebel/transgressor]…

…And compliance of the command of Allāh is to recognize [deferring to] the just Sultan- the one who pledges loyalty of the true imam, associated with the Abbasid khilafa. Anyone who rebels against the truth, he will be repelled by the sword to the truth.  So it is compulsory on the Emir and his party to fight those who are rebellious.  More importantly they turn to their Christian mushrikeen allies [awliyaa] for aid- and they are the enemies of Allāh against the Muslims, who are the awliyaa of Allāh and one of the greatest forms of worship is to fight them until they return to the obedience of the just Emir who steadfastly obeys the Abbasid khilafa.”

Prior to the engagement, Sir Abi Bakr, one of Ibn Tashfin’s Generals, asked what their rules of engagement were with the Muluk Al Tawaif and Yusuf replied thus, “order them to accompany thee to the enemy’s country [to wage Jihad to defend the Muslim lands]; if they obey, well and good; if they refuse, lay siege to their cities, attack them one after the other, and destroy them without mercy. Thou shalt begin with those princes whose dominions border on the enemy’s frontier…(Makkari, Al Nafh Al Tibb, p. 296, Vol. II).” Of the many princes killed, (in the case of resistance to the Murabitun), were Al Mutawakkal Omar Ibn Muhammad who was the king of Badajoz and his two sons Al Fadhl and Al ‘Abbas. In addition, Al Mu’tamid’s, the ruler of Ishbiliyya, sons, Al Fath Al-Ma’mun and Yazid Al R’adhi were beheaded, while Malik was trampled under Horses, and Abdul Jabbar was assassinated by an arrow, (Makkari, Al Nafh Al Tibb, p. 297-300, Vol. II).

It would be interesting to ascertain how the current day puppet Muslim scholars and rulers react to these actions by Tashfin and his troops to remove, in the word of Sir Abi Bakr, (in Maqri’s Nafh Al Tibb), the rulers of Andalus who (not unlike their contemporaries), “…were plunged in pleasure and sloth…(Makkari, Al Nafh Al Tibb, 295, Vol. II),” while his men waged, “…incessant war [Jihad] against the Christians, and leading at the same time a life of hardship and privation…(Ibid).” It would certainly nullify the argument that rebelling against the ruler is wrong Islamically, (as long as the ruler does not interfere/establishes prayer), unless one was to either say that the Muluk al Tawaif didn’t pray at all themselves, (which would be a stretch, but granted, a possibility), or that Yusuf ibn Tashfin was wrong and his reputation in the Muslim world as a hero and a mujahid who made the Christians taste bitter defeat and renewed the Deen in Andalus and cleansed it of the bidah and shirk that was present, would now be nullified to serve the purposes of petty, despotic and Machiavellian rulers, (willing to manipulate Islam to an unheard of extent to achieve their aims).

Yusuf sent emissaries to demand the submission of ‘Abdullah. ‘Abdullah asked for the help of Alphonso and other Taifa kings. He got plenty of verbal encouragement, but no troops or other material help. Fearing the reprisals of Yusuf, the other lords left him to Yusuf’s forces. ‘Abdullah realised he was lost.

By 8 Sept 1090 CE, Yusuf arrived before Granada. ‘Abdullah came out and humbled himself, admitting his mistakes and asking for his pardon. When he arrived before Yusuf, ‘Abdullah dismounted and said he had been unfortunate to displease him and asked for his pardon. Yusuf reassured him that if he had any grievances against him, he had forgotten them and asked him to go to a tent where he would receive honours that suited him. When he was in the tent, he was loaded down with chains. Then Yusuf received the important people of the city and welcomed them and told them that they should have no fear of him. He received their homage and published an edict which abolished all taxes not prescribed by the Quran. Then he entered the city. ‘Abdullah and his family were exiled to Maghrib al-Aqsa and installed in Aghmat. He was well treated and received a pension for his needs.

A short time later, in October, Yusuf deposed Tamim ibn Buluggin from Malaga, and, like his brother ‘Abdullah, he was sent to Maghrib al-Aqsa and confined to Baziaf. Before returning to the Maghrib, Yusuf received the visits of al-Mu’tamid and al-Mutawakkil in Granada who came to congratulate him. Yusuf received them coldly, having been persuaded of their double game and the falseness of their words. The two princes left having received from Yusuf the command to abolish all illegal taxes and to employ themselves in fighting against the Christians.

By 1094, he had removed them all, except for the one at Zaragoza; and though he regained little from the Christians except Valencia, he re-united the Muslim power, and gave a check to the reconquest of the country by the Christians. With that began the Murabitun era of Andalus. At around the same moment a symbolic mark is reached in the Christain campaign of Reconquista, in that they conquer Tulaytala, (Toledo), in 1092 CE and forthwith, it never returned to Muslim hands. It would be the first of the major Muslim cities to fall to the Christian Spanish forces permenantly.

Imam Tartushi wrote in his letter to Ibn Tashfin in 1098/1099, after Ibn Tashfin’s successful liberation of Andalus:

“…Be aware, Abu Yaqub, that Allāh, (سبحانه), has established jihad upon all Muslims, and it can never be rejected by neither tyrant, distanced from orthodoxy, nor the unrighteous who are far from Allāh, until the establishment of the Hour. He, Allāh (Azza wa jal) says:

﴿قَـتِلُواْ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلاَ بِالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ وَلاَ يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلاَ يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ حَتَّى يُعْطُواْ الْجِزْيَةَ عَن يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَـغِرُونَ

Fight against those who believe not in Allāh, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allāh and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued[6]

And He did not absolve our people [Muslims] to fight the enemy, as long as they do not deliver jizya or accept Islam, because this verse abrogates any another verse in the Book of Allāh, the exalted, concerning fighting against the kuffaar

…You have an obligation, therefore, to fight the heretics [kuffar] on those frontiers of Islam close to you, because you’re the [Muslim] king closest to them, and have horses [kura’] and weapons, influence, machines of war, Muslim armies and soldiers, all at your command. And, like you, all the warriors, fighters, with strength and power, which are your neighbours and nearby to you. And, you are in a critical moment to stop losing those Muslims, with their wives and children, who are on the borders of Al Andalus. How is it that you do not imitate the defenders and warriors of Islam who had [come] up there [Andalus], from the lands of hijaz, to conquer and extend in them the word of Islam and tawheed? What about, therefore, he who is close and is a neighbour of those regions?…

Your insistence on fighting and your steadfastness, your support for the deen and [the] fuqaha… pray for you and give great consideration [to you], and [it] makes us desire to go to fight the heretics [kuffar] near to you, and increase the wealth of Muslims who follow you. O Lord, who gives generously His bounty, we ask that you and we will be granted shahada in jihad. And humbly ask that you do see where the truth is, and follow that, and avoid the false as false…”

Try to find a scholar today that would give this advice to the mujahideen commanders. They usually preoccupy themselves, as the Faqih of the Marines does, in asking the mujahideen to surrender or telling them how they are khawarij or people of the hell-fire, as the Saudi court scholars usually do.


[1] Berber dynasty, that mostly consisted of the Lamtuna tribe, from the Sahara that spread over a wide area of northwestern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula during the 11th century. Under this dynasty the Moorish empire was extended over present-day Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Jabal Tariq, Tlemcen and a great part of what is now Senegal and Mali in the south, and Spain and Portugal to the north in Europe. At its extent, the empire stretched 3,000 kilometres north to south. In western literature they are known as Almoravids.

[2] Imam Ghazali was from Khorasan. He was a Shafi’i and an Ashari. Ghazali received many titles such as Sharaful A’emma (شرف الائمه‎), Zainuddin (زين الدين), Hujjatul Islam, meaning “Proof of Islam” (حجة الاسلام).

[3] Another Spanish Imam that came from the city of Tortosa in Spain, who immigrated to Jeruslam. He is most famous for his book Siraj Al Muluk.

[4] A portion of this series of correspondences is included in Appendix J

[5] Epithet or title

[6] Surah Al Tawba, verse 29

1 Comment »

  1. Abdul Rehmaan said,

    What a pity you have used this fine effort to propagate your misguided jihadi ideology. The “mujahideen” of today are sadly too busy killing themselves and their fellow Muslims en masse. This is why the scholars do not praise them as they praised ibn Tashfin.

    Moreover, he was acting under the authority of the legitimate ruler of the Muslims so he cannot be said to be rebelling against the rulers – rather the Andalusian princes were the rebels whereas those who rebel against the rulers today are doing so for the sake of their groups, parties or sects.


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