The End of the Jihad And The Relocation Of The Muslims

King Phillip II had realized that the Muslims in these concentrated mountainous pockets were a threat to the security of Spain in general, (as they could be used by the Uthmanis to mount a land invasion of Spain and provide them intelligence on the Spanish and the land), and Garnata in particular. He decided to begin the forced expulsion and relocation of Muslim in Garnata by distributing them to Christian majority areas in North Castile. The first target they had was the Muslim enclave of Runda, (Ronda), which had not openly joined with the mujahideen yet, and to preempt an attempt at the Rundans joining the mujahideen, on the 20th of May 1570, they sent 4500 infantrymen and 110 cavalry men to surround Runda at fajr time and ‘evacuate’ all the Muslims out of Runda to Northern Castile. The Muslims, for good reason, did not trust the Spanish and when they saw the soldiers, they began to pack up their belongings and moved their women and children uphill, while the men took to arms. The Spanish troops began looting and killing and the Muslims responded by attacking back. Seeing the chaos and to avoid inflaming the Muslims further, Captain Pedro Bermudez moved all the remaining women, children and old people of the town to the Church at Ubrique, which is 27 km west of Runda. In essence they were prisoners, for a lack of a better word, and the Muslims attacked the church and the guards defending, freeing all the Muslims inside. The Muslims killed forty of the guards that were defending the Church. The Spanish retreated with 12,000 official Muslim prisoners from the town while even more were taken by the troops, who took Muslim men, women and children as their personal slaves to be sold at auctions for a profit. In total it can be estimated that 20-30,000 Muslims were taken by the Spanish, not including those killed by them, (ibid, 233). Those 12,000 Muslims were promptly delivered to be distributed throughout Castile. The refugees and escapees from Runda, seeing what fate awaited them and their brethren if they surrendered, decided to send their women, children and elderly uphill into the well defended Muslim enclaves while they were ready to fight, till the death if needed. However, some Rundan Muslims entered into negotiations with King, (under the leadership of Al Arabeek [El Arabique]), and said that they were willing to obey the king and lay down their arms as long as they can keep their land, children and women when they relocate. The King replied and conceded to all the demands of these Muslims and subsequently, “a few Moors [Muslims] came in to surrender but they brought very few arms with them, and when asked why, told their interrogators that those of their compatriots who were determined to stay and fight it out had prevented them, (ibid, 241).” They were those traitors who were willing to live under kufr and obey it, at the expense of their Muslim brethren.

On May 28th, Marmol reports that a Spanish envoy had come to negotiate with Ibn Abu on surrender terms. This attempt by the Spanish to negotiate surrender proceeded the secret negotiations Al Habaqi, Caracaj, Nabil and company had undertaken the previous month.  It seems that Ibn Abu continued these negotiations until he received word that a small contingent of mujahideen had just arrived at Castil de Ferro, (they arrived covertly as the Spanish had recently retaken control of the port), and they brought news that more help from Algiers was on the way. As soon as he received word, he ended negotiations, (Carajaval, 254). This lends strong credence to the view that Ibn Abu was simply biding for time  and pretending to negotiate as for additional reinforcements to arrive. If the troops did not arrive, he would simply continue to fight the enemies of Allah. In no way does it appear that Ibn Abu chose negotiation as a first choice, or due to cowardice or bad judgement. However, Al Habaqi was of a different mind and he was truly negotiating for peace and not doing it as a stratagem of war.

On May 30 1570, Al Habaqi arrived in Yegen, (a small town 21 km west of Andarash and north of Cadiar), after a negotiation session with the Don John. He is reported to have gone in the town and demanded all the people of the town surrender. The people said they were, “…waiting for Aben Aboo [Ibn Abu] to give the word, (Harvey, Muslims in Spain 1500-1614, 232).” Reportedly, Al Habaqi said if, “…Aben Aboo [Ibn Abu] did not willingly come in, he (el Habaqui) would bring him in ‘tied to the tail of his horse,’ (ibid).” Understandably when the news of this reached Ibn Abu, he sent his bodyguard to arrest him. Al Habaqi resisted arrest but was eventually strangled to death secretly and his body was disposed of, (ibid, 233). Ibn Abu wrote a letter to Algiers to numerous senior Turkish mujahideen to explain his actions, (the letter is found in Marmol’s book on the Al Bushra jihad):

“Praise be to Allāh [Al Hamdu lillah], who is one. From the servant of the One God [Allāh] to the commanders Bazquez [Vasquez] Aga Baxit [Basit] and to all our Turkish friends and confederates:

We would have you know that we are well, praise be to Allāh [Al Hamdu lillah], and if only we might see you in person, we would lack nothing to content us. You should know Nebel[1] [Nabil] and commandant Caracax [Caracaj] have destroyed us, and the whole kingdom, because they came to tell us they wished to return home, and although we did not wish to permit them to leave, for we still hope for help from Allāh, and from you, still they insisted, and left. If anybody tells you that I gave my permission to the people of Al-Andalus to make peace with the Christians, do not believe them, they are heretics [kafir] and do not believe in God [Allāh]. The truth is that el Habaqui [Al Habaqi] and Muza [Musa] Cache with others went to the Christians, and made a deal with them to to sell the land to them. They then made an agreement with Caracax [Caracaj] and Nebel [Nabil] and with Ali arraez [Al Ra’ees], and Mahamete araez [Muhammad Al Ra’ees] and they and other merchants gave them sixty prisoners, to enable them to obtain ships to cross safely into Barbary [Maghrib]. When he made this deal, el Habaqui [Al Habaqi] went to the people, and told them all to surrender to the Christians and to leave Castile. I thought they had in mind the good of the Muslim Community. I subsequently discovered that what they were doing was selling us all out. For this reason I had him arrested and had his throat cut. What has happened here after Caracax [Caracaj] and his companions left, is that the Chrisians attacked us, and there was a very big fight between us and them, and we killed many of them…but we fear that their King [Philip II] will gather together another group, and send it to [fight] against us. Therefore support us soon, Allāh is our supporter; and [so] help us, and Allāh is our Helper. And for the love of Allāh give us tidings [you have] recieved of the Eastern Navy [Uthmani fleet]. And if there are ships prepared on the coast, send those that are able, in which may pass the women and the children: because we desire to continue fighting our enemies to death. And remember, if we are not aided [by you], we will demand [our rights from] you on the Day of Judgement before Allāh. With me is Ali Ebalquez with hundred and fifty Turkish [mujahideen], and many women and children in distress: Have mercy on them, as you more than any other person in the world are leading this relief…

The date of this letter is the 15th of the month of Safar 978 AH (19th July 1570)

Signed: Muhammad Ibn Abu

(Carajval, 397-399).”

At this time, Abu Muhammad Abdullah Al Ghalib Billah[2] of the Sa’adi dynasty[3], which was ruling portions of Morocco at the time, had been inciting and aiding the Muslims of Garnata for a considerable period of time. To that end, a Garnatan Muslim by the name of Al Maliki, (who had been a prisoner of the inquisition), and was most probably a freelance agent for Sultan Abu Muhammad, (due to this frequent clandestine trips across to Tetuan and back to Spain), started inciting the Muslim of Runda. Some of the Muslims of the area were ready to negotiate and surrender to King Phillip II, but Al Maliki told them that Al Arabeek and those of his ilk were lying traitors. Reportedly, he also claimed to have proof that Al Arabeek had received 9000 Ducats from the Duke of Sesa and in return he had negotiated away his people, women, children the land and the deen, (Mendoza, 242). He apparently told them,

“…that their hands would be bound and they would be herded down the galleys at Gibralter [Jabal Tariq] and their leaders would be hanged and they themselves hanged condemned to life-sentences at the oars, where they would suffer hunger, cold and blows, and they would remain as their enemies slaves without any hope whatsoever of regaining their liberty until death delivered them, (ibid).”

The veracity of this allegation can be questioned, but as for the fate of these Muslims after the jihad ended in 1571, Al Maliki was on the mark as all the Muslims of Garnata were forcefully relocated, imprisoned, enslaved and/or killed and eventually expelled out of Spain. As a result, the Muslims of the Runda mountains joined in the jihad, and seeked out the traitor Al A’rabeek and his cohorts and stoned them to death. The people of the village of Benahaviz [Ibn Habus[4]], (south of the Runda, near the coast), wished to communicate to the Spanish king that they were willing to surrender in return for a royal pardon, (i.e. amnesty), and to be put under the king’s protection, (in other words, assurances that they would not be abused or enslaved). To that effect, they sent a messenger south east to Marbella but through a series of mishaps, and the Christians of Marbella killing the messenger, (since they realized that if the Muslims joined the jihad, they could loot and pillage Muslims houses and take many Muslim slaves), negotiations ended. The Muslims of Benahaviz remembered the words of Al Maliki and realized that, perhaps there was more to him than just hot air. They joined the jihad shortly afterwards.

The numbers of Spanish troops streaming into Garnata were staggering and the mujahideen had to face the prospect that military victory seemed unlikely. Many of them made arrangements to send their women and children across the sea to the maghrib, while the mujahideen dispersed in order to evade Spanish forces than to fight them. Thus there was a shift from guerilla operations, at least in the Runda Mountains, to simply evasion. In addition, the relocation of Muslims were proceeding and Deigo Hurtado de Mendoza says that a classified memo from King Phillip II stated that the order was expanded and that all the Muslims of Garnata should be expelled by October 1570, (ibid, 250). The Duke of Sesa marched on Ronda in late November with more than 1600 troops. Al Maliki and 3000 troops under his command blocked all the mountain passes into the town and prepared to fight. After intense fightings Al Maliki and his lieutanants were granted shahada along with more than 200 other Muslims, (according Diego Hurtado de Mendoza). The rest of the army was shattered and dissolved in an attempt to retreat from the area. Those that escaped, escaped towards other Muslims in the Al Bushra Mountains or were able to procure transport to the Maghrib, (by private maghribi vessels or perhaps even ships sent by Uruj Ali Pasha from Algiers). The fate of the Muslims caught by the Spanish was a barbaric one, as Diego Hurtado Mendoza describes:

“Their chiefs, elders and captains had their flesh torn off with pincers, and then they were hanged. The rest were sent to the galleys to serve the king as slaves of the oar, (ibid, 256).”

Muslims were now surrendering in droves, frightened by the tens of thousands of troops pouring into the area. Spanish troops were operating now in the Al Bushra mountains and Ibn Abu was “…hiding himself in one cave after the other, (Marmol, 269).” Ibn Abu had determined to fight till shahada and only a few men remained aside him, and those were, Bernardino Abu Amer, (his secretary), his twenty bodyguards and Gonzalo Al Seniz. As normal Muslims surrendered, one high ranking Muslim also surrendered called Faraj, (not to be confused with Faraj Ibn Faraj), who when interrogated, said that he knew Ibn Abu’s chief of governors, (Gonzalo Al Seniz), and several senior Muslims that allegedly wanted to surrender, if only they could be given assurances of a royal pardon. His Spanish interrogator, Francisco Barredo, made the adequate arrangements to secretly meet Gonzalo Al Jeniz and offer him, his family members and all cooperative Muslims a royal pardon in return for capturing or killing Ibn Abu. Gonzalo Al Seniz agreed and set about to ambush Ibn Abu. Gonzalo called Ibn Abu to Berchules to discuss important matters of the state, and unfortunately for Ibn Abu, he thought it prudent to leave behind all but one of his 20 man bodyguard team for reasons of secrecy of the visit, (so that no one would know he was visiting Gonzalo. After all, he thought Gonzalo really wanted to meet him to discuss important strategic affairs). They chatted idly for a few moments until Gonzalo told Ibn Abu of his plan, and offered him a chance to surrender. Ibn Abu, incensed at Gonzalo’s betrayal, tried to leave, but was cornered and bludgeoned to death with a large stone. One assumes that either his bodyguard was killed as well, or that he stood idly by and looked on. And so, on March 15, 1571, the jihad ended in shahada for this hero, albeit he and the other Muslims did not achieve military victory, they were truthful with Allāh and Allāh was truthful with them. The traitors and hypocrites made their plots to destroy the jihad and they thought they were successful, but with Allah is their final judgement and they will indeed be asked why they deserted or betrayed Emir Ibn Abu and why, if they did indeed, cooperate with the kuffaar against the Muslims.

Al Seniz and the loyal servants of the kuffaar then took the body to Francisco Barredo who ordered the body to be degutted and filled with straw, (Mendoza, 258). The humiliation continued, as Barredo then,

“…put a wooden plank between his [Ibn Abu’s corpse] shoulders and a pack saddle on a mule and hoisted him up so that he seemed to be riding It and the great crowds could all see him and in this manner he entered Granada, (ibid).”

After much fanfare, the mayor of Garnata came out and beheaded the corpse in the city square, while the dismembered body was dragged around by people in the streets and then burnt. Ibn Abu’s head was sent to one of the city gates and “…hung a wooden cage in which they placed the head…(ibid, 259).” As for Spanish casualties in this jihad, at the hand of such few men, of such few means, they reportedly killed 60,000 Spaniards, (Lea, Moriscos of Spain, 308).

On a related tangent, the Uthmanis did not stop trying to liberate Al Andalus after the defeat of the mujahideen. Rather they continued their planning to try to liberate Al Andalus by trying to send arms and men to rearm and reorganize the mujahideen. From letters that were unearthed from the Munsheat Al Salateen, which was a collection of letters from the Uthmani Grand Wazir, (Wazir A’dham/can also be called Prime minister), Sokullu Muhammad Pasha and other state communications during that period of time, (the collection was compiled by his chief secretary, Fareedun Baig). A letter written in approximately 1574, sent from the Grand Wazir to the Andalusis explained that now that the Uthmanis had occupied Cyprus and had accomplished their engagements in the east, they would now turn their attention towards Andalus once again. In one part of the letter the Wazir says:

“Therefore our man, whose name is not revealed [Mahrem naam adamiz], from the special servants of the Empire [khilaafa] and who is knowledgeable of those regions [Andalus], has been sent to you with a book that shows [our] friendship. When our above mentioned man arrives, insha’Allāh, may He be exalted, all of you shall consult together in good agreement and complete unity. Also, if in whatever year and time you will have the ability and power to move on and attack the enemies of religion [deen] with the zeal of the Evident Religion [deen], accordingly you shall, with the knowledge of our above mentioned man, send your men to the Threshold of Felicity [Istanbul] from the direction of Algeria. You shall communicate in detail with one another in order that the preperations of the enemies of evil repute shall be known, that [aid] will arrive for you by sea and land on the time that was appointed and assigned, and that they [the Uthmani territory of Algeria] will render every assistance, (Hess, 1968, 18).”

Furthermore, the Uthmanis were attempting to use the enemies of the Spanish, the Calvinists of the Netherlands, (the khalifa mistook them for Lutherans), against the Spanish, (Note: he did not enter into a treaty or pact with them, he was simply using them). It was planned that the Calvinists would increase pressure and casualties upon the Spanish forces occupying the Netherlands[5], in conjunction with the Muslims of Andalus fighting the Spanish simultaneously. It was hoped that this would weaken the Spanish and allow the Muslims to be able to free themselves of the Spanish and allow the Uthmani forces to establish a foothold in the Iberian peninsula, thus aiding the Muslims of Andalus. In another letter from the Munsheat Al Salateen, the Uthmani khalifa. Murad III, told the Muslims of Andalus:

“The Lutheran [Calvinist] sect does not cease war and combat with those who are subject to the Pope and his madhab [Catholicism]. You [Andalusis] shall [, therefore,] secretely communicate with them [the Calvinists of the Netherlands], and when they set out upon war and combat with the Pope you also shall take care, jointly, to cause losses to the provinces and soldiers [of the Pope] from your side, (ibid, 19).”

However, with that said, with the shahaada of Ibn Abu ended the last bright hope of reestablishing the rule of shariah in Garnata but there are interesting lessons to be learnt from this episode of Muslims in Andalus:

  1. The most glaring thing to ponder for us today is that no Muslim country was willing to come to the aid of the Muslims in Garnata. When I say ‘others,’ I primarily mean the Uthmanis and secondarily, the small maghribi kingdom such as the Sa’adis. The arguments are vast to excuse the Uthmanis, but honestly, was fighting a few hundred crusader knights in Cyprus worth sacrificing the chance of establishing Islam once again in Andalus? Was it worth the torture inflicted upon the Muslims of Andalus, executions, imprisonment, enslavement and their forced relocation? In the defence of the Uthmanis, they were constantly worrying more about the Safavid Shias to their south before making any strategic decision. It can be argued that it is due more to the Safavid threat than simply the decision to invade Cyprus that the Uthmanis did not help their brothers in Al Bushra.
  2. The Muslim forces attempted to organize their forces and coordinate their strategies in all areas to maximize their efficiency. However, due to the slow participation of the Muslims of Garnata, (i.e. they all joined at intervals of 6-9 after each other), effective integration, and effectively, military victory become all the more unlikely
  3. The interesting phenomenon of Moros de Paz, or ‘Peaceful Muslims’ occurred as a Spanish classification. A similar concept was applied in the Americas by the Spanish upon the Native American tribes they encountered, as “…the native people, in the area under Spanish control, those who were known as ‘Peace Indians’ in contrast to the ‘war Indians,’ were guaranteed certain legal rights and protection, (Kamen, 2004, 255). These were the Muslims, as are ‘Rand Muslims’ today, (who will be discussed in the conclusion), who were peaceful Muslims and did not cooperate with the ‘terrorist’ forces of Ibn Ummaya, and subsequently, Ibn Abu. They in fact sometimes collaborated with the Spanish to fight and/or kill the mujahideen.
  4. Betrayal from within was the supreme cause of almost all the defeats suffered by the mujahideen, spanning from the betrayal of Ibn Ummaya by his inner circle to Alonso Castillo’s false prophecies to finally the betrayal of Ibn Abu by his men.

On a brighter note, brave Muslims who perhaps knew of the barbarity of Ibn Ummaya man and his enmity for Islam, assassinated him in Morocco, (where Barredo was involved in freeing Christian slaves who had been enslaved by Muslims), (Mendoza, 259). So, after the Muslims dealt with their final blow in the peninsula, what happened to these Muslims?


[1] Both Caracaj and Nabil, both Turkish mujahideen commanders, presumably left in April 1570 during which, negotiations were allegedly ongoing along with Husseini and Caravaji, (the two other Turkish mujahideen commanders).

[2] Reigned from 1557-1574 and was the second sultan of the Saadi Dynasty. He came to power to the throne as the legal heir of Mohammed Al Sheikh. During a relatively peaceful reign AbdAllah succeeded in warding off both the Spanish and the Uthmanis and in consolidating the sovereignty of Saadians over Morocco. He fought the invading Uthmanis in 1558 near the oued Leben and drove them out of the country. After his victory he even occupied Tlemcen for a short period. In 1568 he supported the jihad of the Muslims in Al Bushra.

[3] The Dynasty began with the reign of Sultan Mohammed Al Sheikh in 1554. From 1509 to 1554 they had ruled only in the south of Morocco. The Saadian rule ended in 1659 with the end of the reign of Sultan Ahmad Al Abbas. The Saadī family claimed descent from Prophet Muhammad (صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم) through the line of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima Al Zahra. The most famous sultan of the Saadi was Ahmad al-Mansur (1578–1603), builder of the Al Badi Palace in Marrakesh and contemporary of Elizabeth I. One of their most important achievements was ousting the Portuguese from Morocco, (eventhough they fought the Uthmanis, which would be a failure of judgment on the part of the Sa’adians). However as it applies to the subject at hand, The overall Sa’adi stance and role in relation to the Muslims of Garnata is not as positive as the Uthmanis and their cooperation and aid to Garnata and might have been due to the Sa’adis sensing that if the jihad does succeed, they would like to have a say in the future government, (by sending men they supported to aid the Muslims of Al Bushra), in order to level the playing field with their rivals and enemies, the Uthmanis.

[4] Former ruler of Garnata, Ibn Habus who was apparently the first governor of Garnata when Andalus was opened in 711. It could also be named after the Zirid prince Badees Ibn Haboos, (1038-1073)

[5] The Dutch Revolt or the Eighty Years’ War (which ran from 1568-1648), was the successful revolt of the seventeen provinces in the Low Countries against the Spanish Empire. It led to the coming into being of the independent Dutch state of (the Netherlands). The main leader was William of Orange, followed by several of his descendants and relations. This revolt was one of the first successful secessions in Europe, and led to one of the first European republics (which later turned into a kingdom). Spain was initially successful in suppressing the rebellion. In 1572, however, the rebels captured Brielle and the rebellion resurged.

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