Introduction

“With the royal banners and the cross of Christ plainly visible on the red walls of the Alhambra: …the Moorish king with about eighty or a hundred on horseback very well dressed went forth to kiss the hand of their Highnesses. Whom they received with much love and courtesy and there they handed over to him his son, who had been a hostage from the time of his capture, and as they stood there, there came about four hundred captives, of this who were in the enclosure, with the cross and a solemn procession singing the Te Deum Laudamus [a devotional hymn], and their highnesses dismounted to adore the Cross to the accompaniment of the tears and reverential devotion of the crowd…and the Moorish King and the Moors who were with him for their part could not disguise the sadness and pain they felt for the joy of the Christians, and certainly with much reason on account of their loss, for Granada is the most distinguished and chief thing in the world…”[1]

The date was the second of January, 1492, and the occasion was the procession of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella into the Al Hamra,’ something which was not even imaginable by Spanish Monarchs up till one hundred years prior. When Tariq Ibn Ziyaad marched across Jabal Tariq and into Andalus to liberate it from the Visigoths, he would have shuddered to think that within eight hundred years, Muslims would not only be defeated in Andalus, where the pure blood of thousands of mujahideen under his command flowed and shahada was attained, but that Islam itself would be expelled from it within in a further hundred years. Coincidentally, the same year Tariq invaded Andalus was also the same year, at the tender age of 17, Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi, The noble Ummayad Qa’id and Mujahid, under order of the Khalifa Walid I, raided Sindh in retaliation to Hindu Pirate raids launched from there and established Ummayad control over Sind, (and later Punjab). Would Tariq have imagined Andalus’s fate when he landed upon those shores and made his famous speech as recounted by Imam Maqri in Al Nafh Al Tib:

“Oh my warriors, whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. By Allāh! there is no salvation for you but in your courage and perseverance. Consider your situation;-here you are on this island like so many orphans cast upon the world; you will soon be met by a powerful enemy, surrounding you on all sides like the infuriated billows of a tempestuous seas, and sending against you countless warriors, drowned in steel, and provided with every store and description of arms. What can you oppose them [with]? You have no other weapons than your swords, no provisions but those that you may snatch from the hands of your enemies…Banish all fear from your hearts, trust that victory shall be ours, and that the barbarian king will not be able to withstand the shock of our arms. Here he comes to make us the masters of his cities and castles, and to deliver into our hands his countless treasures; and if you only seize the opportunity now presented, it may perhaps be the means of your becoming the owners of them[2], besides saving yourself from certain death. Do not think that I impose upon you a task from which I shrink myself, or that I try to conceal from you the dangers attending this expedition. No: you have certainly a great deal to encounter, but know that if you only suffer for a while, you will reap in the end an abundant harvest of pleasures and enjoyments. And do not imagine that while I speak to you I mean not to act as I speak, for as my interest in this is greater, so will my behavior on this occasion surpass yours[3]. You know well that the khalifa Abdu-l-Malik Ibnu-l-Waleed has chosen you, like so many heroes from among the brave; you know that the great lords of this island are willing to make you their sons and brethren in marriage, if you only rush on like so many brave men to the fight, and behave like true champions and valiant knights; you know that the recompenses of Allāh await you if you are prepared to uphold His word, and proclaim his deen in this peninsula…Bear in mind that Allāh (تعلى) will select, according to this promise, those that distinguish themselves most among you, and grant them due reward both in this world and the hereafter and know likewise that I shall be the first to set you the example, and to put in practice what I recommend you to do[4]; for it is my intention, on the meeting of the two hosts, to attack the Christian tyrant Roderic and kill him with my own hand, Insha’Allāh. When you see me bearing against him, charge along with me; if I kill him, the victory is ours; if I am killed before I reach him, do not trouble yourselves about me, but fight as if I were still alive and among you, and follow up my purpose…If, however, I should be killed, after inflicting death upon their king, appoint a man from among you who unites both courage and experience, and may command you in this emergency, and follow up the success. If you follow my instructions, we are sure of victory, (Makkari, The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain, Vol. 1, 310-311)[5]

Tariq’s troops replied resoundingly thus:

قد قطعنا الآمال مما يخالف ما عزمت عليه، فاحضر إليه فإننا معك وبين يديك

“We are ready to follow you, O Tariq! We shall all, to the last man, stand by you, and fight for you; nor could we avoid it were we otherwise disposed… (ibid, 311).[6]

The sacrifices and victories that laid the foundation of the western frontier of Islam, (or as Arabs referred to it as one of the Maghribain, or the ‘west’s’ in reference to North Western Africa and Andalus), seemingly had gone to waste and many Muslims of today see it as a period of nostalgia and of glory lost. We remember it as a time where Muslims excelled in the science, Fiqh, Philosophy and numerous other fields. Unfortunately, confusion is our lot due to not only our military defeats and conquest at the hands of the Kuffaar over the previous five hundred years in every part of the world and at the hand of every kafir nation, but also the mental colonization that has taken place in the minds of not only the previous generations, but the youth as well. We have been led to believe Andalus was a land of Convivencia, (Coexistence), between Islam, Christianity and Judaism and Western or Western influenced Muslim Scholars reiterate the examples of the translation schools in Tulaytulah, (Toledo), where apparently Muslims and Jews worked together to translate books of Plato and Aristotle, or of the ‘Zambra[7]‘ and the musical styles of Andalus, since these worldly and Batil (Falsehood), things are what the West is interested in studying. Subsequently they disseminate these views through scholarly work, wherein they then work their way down to the masses, (Muslim and non-Muslim alike). However, Muslims that read these books seem to forget that Andalus was the land of jihad, where continuous Ghazwa‘s took place on the frontier, (Thagr) against the Kuffaar in the lands beyond the Pyrenees up to Tours in France, (which is merely a few hundred kilometres from Paris). It was a place where talented Fuquha, (almost all Maliki), vigorously carried out their duty of guiding the masses and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, (Amr Bil Ma’aroof wa Nahya A’nil Munkar).

On the other hand, those of us that can read Arabic and took the time and trouble to read Muslim sources on the history of Andalus in Arabic, then the picture is certainly clearer with the glaring and the almost inexplicable abrupt end to the account of Islam in Spain. As I explained earlier, for reasons that I will touch upon in the conclusion of this work, Muslim historians’ account of Islamic Spain ends in 1492 with the capitulation treaty being signed between Abu AbdAllāh Muhammad Ithna Ashr (The 12th), which surrendered the Emirate of Garnata to the Spanish, but at the same time allowed the Muslims that remained in the Emirate, full freedom of worship and protected their rights, (going as far as even promising to punish anyone who peers into a Muslim household). The agreement seemed to be made binding upon the Spanish Crown of Castille but as we shall see, it was broken within ten years after the agreement was put into effect, (I have included terms of the capitulation from Carvajal’s account in Appendix G and Imam Maqri’s in I). Great insight is offered on the issue of the Moriscos and Muslims in Spain after 1492, and the ambivlance shown by Muslims towards the issue by Prof. L.P. Harvey of the University of Chicago:

“It is surprising that there has been so little debate within the Islamic world about this final aspect of the experience of Spains Muslims. In 1991, when the Islamic peoples are in the midst of a great debate on where they stand in relation to the modern western world, the experience of the Moriscos is not without relevance. Rather than focus on the Moriscos, however, modern Muslims seem to prefer to direct their attention towards other aspects of the experience of Andalus, on the philosophers of the 5th/11th-7th/13th centuries, or on the heroic conquerors of earlier periods, (Manuela, ‘Handbuch Der Orientalistik,’ 303).”

Undoubtedly, a clear understanding of this most complicated, (but nonetheless, important), of histories can not be attempted until we briefly recap Andalus’s history to bring the issue at hand, (Muslims in Andalus post-1492), in perspective.


[1] From a Letter of an eyewitness to the surrender of the Al Hamra’ to the Bishop of Leon

[2] SubhanAllah! Even though they are heavily outnumbered and are facing what most military strategists would have said was definite defeat and death, here Tariq is saying that Roderic has come to the battlefield to make the Muslims masters of the land of Andalus! He epitomized fearlessness and tawakkul on the battlefield.

[3] Unlike our rulers of today, Tariq says that not only will he give the orders and be on the field with his men, but he will surpass them in taking risks, courage and bravery!

[4] He practiced what he preached, once again, unlike our rulers and military commanders today.

[5] In the Arabic edition, this quotation is located in Vol. 1, on page(s) 240-241

[6]The translator did a sloppy job of this quote. I would have translated it like this: “We have already cut off any hope of what differs from your plan upon him [Roderic], So [lets] go to [fight] him [Roderic]. Verily we are with you and under your command!” And Allah knows best.

[7] In Maghrebi Arabic spoken in Morocco, ‘zambra‘, (in Arabic Zamra’), means party. Originally this Arabic term was used to describe the noises made by the sounds of lively crowds and certain musical instruments, such as in a party or celebration. The term was applied during the 15th century in Spain when the Muslims continuted their famous and traditional celebrations of song, dance, music, joke and story telling or ‘Zamr.’ Documents dated to the 1600’s describe the Zamra’ as festivities with the music of wind instruments such as the sounds of pipes and flutes. These were banned by the Kingdom of Spain in the 16th century as sign of Muslim culture, (as were other things such as hijab and salat among many others). ‘Zambra’ could also mean a band of musicians and may have derived from the Arabic word “Samra'” that meant an ‘evening party that went on all night’ or ‘zamara’ meaning ‘musicians.’ The word was also been used to describe an ‘uproar’ or ‘sound of certain instruments and muffled voices with merry-making. If any one was curious, the custom of shouting ‘ole’ in Spain, (generally and in the dance called Flamenco), is derived from the Arabic expression Wa’Allah (‘By Allah’) that was presumably used during the Zamra’ dances.

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