landing on the coastal strip overlooking the rock which was later named as ‘Jabal-ul-Tariq’
(Gibraltar), its conqueror Tariq Bin Zayid, ordered the burning of the
ships that had brought his Muslim troops from Africa in 711 A.D.
are you doing this. Sir?’ cried the astonished soldiers.
reply, he uttered those historic words, which will always inspire people to
embark on brave deeds. He said: ‘We have not come her to return. Either we
shall conquer and establish ourselves here or we will perish.’
by these words. Tariq and his soldiers routed one of the most formidable
armies of the West and carried the banner of Islam even beyond the high walls
of the Pyrenees.
after the death of the Holy Prophet of Islam (sws), the Muslims were
threatened from all sides. The mighty neighbouring Empires of the Roman and
Persians were conspiring to uproot this new force. But the Arabs not only met
this challenge but also crushed the two greatest Empires of the world, and in
less than half a century their arms held sway over the three known continents.
Islamic principles of equality and fraternity had enabled the conquered and
newly converted races to take their share in the government along with the
noblest of the Arabs. Islam recognised no distinction of caste and creed and
readily patronised talent wherever found. This is why all capable slaves have
occupied the highest positions in an Islamic polity and many slave dynasties
have magnificently ruled over Muslim subjects.
bin Ziyad, a newly
converted Berber slave wsa a lieutenant of Musa bin Nusair, the Muslim
Viceroy of Africa. The Berber slave was destined to be the conqueror of Spain,
the biggest Muslim territory in Europe, which, for eight centuries under the
Muslims, kept aloft the torch of civilisation and culture that at last
dispelled the gloom that had enveloped the Mediaeval Europe.
this time, when Africa was enjoying the blessings of toleration, justice and
prosperity under the Muslims,
neighbouring Spain was groaning under the tyranny, and bigotry of its Gothic
ruler. The honour of women was not safe and the tillers of the soil were put
to heavy taxation. The rulers and their henchmen revelled in luxury while the
masses groaned in poverty. A large number of refugees from Spain both
Christians and Jews who had suffered under the Gothic rule had taken refuge in
Muslim Africa. One of them was Julian, the Governor of Ceuta, whose daughter.
Florinda, had been dishonoured by Roderick, the Gothic King of Spain. They
appealed to Musa to liberate their country from the tyrant’s yoke.
response to their prayer and with the sanction of the Caliph, Musa made a
reconnaissance on the southern coast of Spain. The report was favourable and
in May 711, Tariq bin Zaid with 7,000 Muslims crossed the Straits in
ships in small contingents. As his troops landed in Europe, Tariq concentrated
them on a hill, which took the name of ‘Jabl-ul-Tariq’ (The Rock of
Tariq) now called Gibraltar, and urged them either to conquer or perish. They
had no intention to go back home.
Gothic King Roderick collected a huge army of more than one lakh solders. Tariq,
too was reinforced by 5,000 soldiers dispatched by Musa and now his
army numbered 12,000. The two armies met at the mouth of river Barbate, on the
shores of a lagoo of Janda and fought a decisive battle on July 9th,
711, A.D. The two armies were unequally matched. The Christians by Tariq
was irresistible and the Goths were completely routed with terrible losses.
King Roderick was drowned in the river. This remarkable victory of Tariq broke
the morale of the Spaniards, and henceforward, they did not dare face the
Muslims in the open.
the armies of Tariq met little resistance in the interior of Spain. His was a
triumphant march from place to place in the Peninsula. Tariq had divided his
small army into four divisions and directed one of his lieutenants towards
Cordova, the other towards Malaga, the third towards Granada and himself at
the head of the main body hurriedly marched upon Toledo, the Capital of Spain.
All these cities capitulated without much resistance. The Goths were paralysed
by the rapidity of Tariq’s movement and the severity of his blows. The
Gothic armies fled before him. ‘God’, says an analyst, ‘filled the
hearts of idolators with terror and alarm.’ The oppressed masses of Spain
hailed the Muslims as their liberators. The exemplary treatment of Tariq and
his men endeared him to the conquered races.
fiercest battle of the entire campaign was fought at Ecija, which resulted in
the victory of Tariq’s forces. Toledo, the Capital of Spain, also
capitulated after little resistance. Here Tariq was joined by his Master Musa
bin Nusair, thee Muslim viceory of Africa. Hence forward, the two generals
moved side by side and in less than two years, the whole of Spain was in
Muslim hands Portugal was conquered, a few years after. ‘This constituted
the last and the most sensational of the major Arab campaigns’, writes
Philip K. Hitti,’ and resulted in the addition to the Moslem world of the
largest European territory ever held by them… In its swiftness of execution
and completness of success, this expedition into Spain holds a unique place in
the Mediaeval Military Annals.
and Tariq would have easily conquered the whole of Europe which lay at their
feet. There was none to stop their victorious advance, but Providence meant
otherwise. When they were planning the conquest of Europe, they received
summons from the Caliph to present themselves at Damascus. They exhibited a
rare discipline by obeying the orders of the Caliph, reaching Damascus at the
earliest possible time. Tariq died there afterwards.
conquest of Spain by Muslims opened a new era for the Peninsula. It brought
about a social revolution in which the freedom of religion was fully
recognised. The intoleration and persecution of the Christians gave place to
toleration and large-heartedness. The captured Christian cities received
favourable terms which were faithfully observed. Individual acts of violence
by the Muslim soldiers were severely punished. No properties or estates were
confiscated. Instead, the Muslims introduced an intelligent system of
taxation, which soon brought prosperity to the Peninsula and made it a model
country in the West. The Christians had their own judges to settle their
disputes. All communities had equal opportunities for entry into the public
wise an generous administration of Muslim conquerors had its good effects. The
Christians including their priests, who had first left their homes in terror
came back and passes a happy and prosperous life. A well-known Christian
writer says: ‘The Moors (Muslims) organised that wonderful kingdom of
Cordova, which was the marvel of the Middle Ages, and which, when all Europe
was plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife, alone held the torch of learning
and civilisation bright and shining before the Western world.’
from ‘The Hundred Great Muslims’)