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Andalus
 
Toward the close of the 1st century AH, there existed numerous factors contributing to the urge to expand the conquests into Andalus (Andalusia). The first was the ambitious character of Musa b. Nusayr, the newly appointed governor of Ifriqiyyah, who, unlike his predecessor Hassan, saw governorship as an incessant cycle of war, conquest and accumulation of spoils. Other factors included the avarice of the Marwanid caliphs for laying their hands on the wealth of the people of Maghrib and their unrelenting pressure on the governors of the region for capturing Berber prisoners, the need for bolstering Muslim forces through the fresh and newly converted Berber (Musalim) soldiers, and finally some fifty years of Muslim maritime trade with the region.
At the time of the conquest of Tanjah by Musa b. Nusayr and his appointment of Tariq b. Ziyad as its governor, at the head of a large Berber contingent, there was left one place in Maghrib yet to fall under Muslim control: the port of Sibtah (Ceuta), at the most westerly point of the Mediterranean Sea, east of Tanjah. At the time, Sibtah was controlled by Spain, ruled by Yuliyan, a Goth (Qut, in Islamic sources) leader, and was the object of the envy of the Muslim conquerors of North Africa whose sights were avidly trained on the Spanish port city right across the strait.
The close historical ties between the two sides of the strait in the pre-Islamic period, the links between the Jewish communities of Spain and Maghrib toward the close of the 1st century AH, and the dealings between the two regions in the period subsequent to the Islamic conquests are all indications of the mutual interaction of the inhabitants of the two lands. This link was so pronounced that some Muslim historians considered the Greater Andalus as part of Maghrib. Thus, it appears quite unlikely for the Arab conquerors of Maghrib not to have had some knowledge of the territory beyond the strait prior to their actual crossing. In fact, in 89 AH (708 AD), a few years before the first landing of the Muslim forces in Andalus, they had come into conflict with the Gothic army of Spain over the islands of Balear (Bilyar, in the Islamic sources), an encounter which came to be known as the battle of Ashraf. These events not only provided the impetus for the expansion of the Islamic conquests into Spain, but paved the way for the lightening speed with which the first European territory was to be run over.
Muslim historians indicate the main reason for Musa b. Nusayr’s intention to send forces across the strait to have been the plea made to him by the ruler of Sibtah, Yuliyan, owing to the misconduct displayed toward his daughter by the Gothic king of Spain, Rodrigue (Rudhrig, or Azriq, in the Islamic sources). Yuliyan sent a letter to Musa b. Nusayr offering his obedience and asking him to come to his territory, while securing the necessary agreements for him and his companions. According to the author of Akhbar majmu`ah, initially, Yuliyan opposed Musa militarily, but later he decided to undercut Rodrigue as a result of his misbehavior toward his daughter. However, what can be gathered with certainty is that at the outset of the conquest of Andalus there existed two groups in the region: the remnants of the previous king, Vizita, and the followers of Yuliyan, who appealed to the Muslim forces in Maghrib, across from Andalus, to assist them in the defeat of Rodrigue, whose opponents were lying in wait for the invading Muslim navy to appear on the southern coast of Spain so that they would rise against the Spanish sovereign. According to another report, the children of Vizita played no role in encouraging Arabs to invade Andalus, but they bid their time until the Muslim armies conquered the region and then joined them. There are inconsistent reports with regard to the link between Yuliyan and the commander of Muslim forces, Musa or Tariq.
Whatever the case, Musa reported the developments to the caliph, Walid, and asked for and received permission to launch an attack on Andalus. Musa dispatched a naval force, headed by Tarif, which gave his name to the island in which the Muslims made their first landing in Andalus. Tarif’s forces invaded the island of al-Khadra’ (Algeciras) and took a lot of spoils and prisoners, after which they sailed back in the Ramadhan of 91 AH. The success of this initial expedition encouraged Musa to muster a greater force capable of a major invasion.
Musa, put his agent in Tanjah, Tariq b. Ziyad, at the head of a force made up of Berbers, mawali and a small group of Arabs, which landed on a ridge, in the Ramadhan of 92 or Rajab of 93 AH, which came to be known as Jabal al-Tariq (Gibraltar).
Rodrigue came to meet Tariq with a huge army. Tariq, on his part, was ready for the encounter after the large contingent sent to him by Musa. Tariq, joined by Yuliyan and Vizita’s sons, clashed with Rodrigue at the shores of the river Bikah or Likkah near Shudhunah (Sidonia), or at Jazirat al-Khadra’, toward the end of the of Ramadhan 92 AH. Tariq defeated Rodrigue and marched on toward Ectija, northeast of Sidonia, where he dealt another blow to the Gothic forces, the news of which caused a major influx of Berbers into Spain. Musa did not have permission to press on further. However, he continued his advance until he received a harshly-worded message from Musa, forbidding him from advancing beyond Cordoba.
These two major offensives compelled the Gothic forces to fall back to Tulaytulah (Toletula). It appears that Tariq, on the advice from Yuliyan, sent his forces on various directions toward Rejia, Gharnatah, Malqah and Tudmir (Uriyulah) and himself marched toward Jaen and Toletula.
An examination of the direction of these movements would indicate Tariq to have marched across the mainland of Andalus in a south-northeasterly direction, while the other parts of his army moved eastward along the coastal strip, as a means of providing protection for the rear and the flank of the main force. According to Munis, the southeastern cities of Andalus were conquered later during the reign of `Abd al-`Aziz, the son of Musa b. Nusayr, and Tariq’s intention in dispatching his men to the area must have been to gather information, rather than to make an attempt at their control. All of Tariq’s expeditions achieved their objectives. In places such as Albirah (Elvira) and Gharnatah (Granada), the Jewish community sided with the Muslims, providing for the safeguarding of the conquered territories, a luxury not available to the Arabs in cities such as Mlaqah with no Jewish population. According to Muslim sources, the city of Mursiyyah (Murcia), or Aryula, was peacefully captured through negotiations with its ruler, Tudmir, who lent his name to the city. Following the conquest of Cordoba, the hopes of the sons of Vitiza and their supporters regarding a Muslim exit from Andalus were dashed and they took their appeals to Musa b. `Aqabah and the caliph, which proved futile.
The news of Tariq’s advance toward Toletula prompted the Goths to flee to the north, taking with them the property and relics of their saints. There remained a small population of Christians and Jews in the city, which was captured by Tariq, who later marched on toward the city of Ma’idah.
Sources abound with the accounts of these conquests and the great spoils in gold and precious stones, as well as the disputes between Musa and Tariq. They are conflicting reports in connection to the way Rodrigue was defeated. Some indicate that Tariq remained at the place where the battle was joined, awaiting the arrival of Musa, while others have him marching on in a northwesterly direction toward the region of Jaliqiyyah (Galicia) and Astarqah (Asturias), even after the conquest of the city of Ma’idah, before returning to Toletula, where he was reunited with the forces coming from Istajah. Thus, Tariq advanced to the Bay of Baskuniyyah (Vizcaya) on the Atlantic coast, before receiving Musa’s directive to return to Toletula, which he promptly followed. Therefore, one year passed from the day Tariq set his foot on the Andalusian soil to his triumphant return to Toletula, marking his conquest of the country.
In the Ramadhan of 93 AH (June 712 AD), a year after Tariq’s conquest of Andalus, Musa b. Nusayr arrived in the territory with an army of elite troops. Much has been reported on the motives behind Musa’s directive to Tariq regarding a halt in his advance. Some, while not discounting envy as a possible reason, point to political and military considerations, since, after all, Tariq was commissioned by Musa to carry out the invasion of Spain and he continued to inform Musa of all the developments in the course of his campaign. They conclude that Musa was concerned about the safety of Muslim forces’ line of communication should they penetrate too deeply into the Andalusian peninsula, especially since Tariq had advanced through the heart of Andalus, failing to secure his flanks, which included towns that were yet to be brought under Muslim control. However, if we look at the further advances made by the forces of Musa in the lands beyond Pirnah (the Pyrenees), we would come to realize that concern for Muslim troops is a less than convincing explanation for the motive behind Musa’s directive to Tariq, especially if we were to take into account the claim attributed to Musa that he intended to conquer Europe and to reach Syria via Rome and Constantinople; an objective that would fly in the face of any concern for the safety of the Muslim army. None the less, the theory regarding Musa’s aim of bringing to completion Tariq’s conquest of Andalus and consolidating Muslim position in the region appears to be the most plausible interpretation, especially when taking into account Musa’s direction of movement: from the west and parallel to that of Tariq.
Musa made his first landing in Jazirat al-Khadra’, conquering, through hard fought battles, major ancient cities such as Qarmunah (Carmona), Ishbiliyyah (Seville), and later Marida (Merida), by the end of Ramadhan of 94 AH. The population of Seville rose in rebellion against the Muslims, but were put down by Musa’s son, `Abd al-`Aziz, who moved on to capture Niblah (Niebla) and Bajah (ancient Vaga; modern orthography: Beja), before returning to Seville. Following his conquest of Merida, Musa went to Toletula. He met up with Tariq at Albirah, or Talbirah (Talavera), where he chastised the latter profusely.
After the reconciliation of the two Muslim commanders, Tariq remained in charge of the advancing contingent, while Musa followed close behind. They marched toward Thaghr A`la, the area of the Spanish-Frankish border, where they conquered Sarqastah (Saragosa) and its adjacent areas. The Muslim forces marched on unopposed and concluded peace treaties with all the populations of the newly captured areas. Tariq and Musa advanced up to the land of the Farangs (Franks) in the valley of the Rhone (Rawdanah, or Rudanah), where Tariq marched on Barshilunah (Barcelona), Arbunah (Narbonne), Abiniyun (Avignon) and the fortress of Ludhun (Lyon), in the course of which the Muslim army was distanced from the coastal region from which they had launched their attack. The Muslim army clashed with the forces of Frankish leader, Charles Martel, near Narbonne, which resulted in the valley of the Rhone being established as the de facto border between the Muslims and Franks. It appears that the entire area of northern Spain, from the Basque country (Baskans) to Galicia (Jaliqiyyah), fell under Muslim control. The Muslim forces, then, marched on to the Pyrenees, where they captured Saragosa and Barcelona, before advancing toward the valley of the Rhone via the eastern pass on a northwardly direction. The Muslim soldiers were amazed at their speed of progress, at the same time that they became apprehensive, resulting in their reluctance to move forward. This coincided with a message from the Umayyad caliph, Walid, who called for the return of the Muslim army. Musa, intent on adding to his victories, pressed on until he reached the ridge of Balay (Playo) in Galicia on the coast of the Green Sea (the Atlantic Ocean). There, the caliph’s envoy got hold of Musa and ejected him from Andalus. Tariq also came back from the Frankish border areas, or Astarqah, and joined Musa on his return.
Walid’s call for a halt in the advancement of the Muslim army appears astonishing, considering the conducive circumstances that had inspired so great a degree of optimism in Musa that he had come to dream of marching on to Rome and Constantinople, so as to link the Muslim conquests of the south with those of the north of Mediterranean. Some historians have pointed to the indecision plaguing the caliphal administration, which had nearly scuttled the plan for the conquest of Andalus. This explanation appears less than convincing, in spite of various reports to the contrary. From the days of the second Upright Caliph to the time of `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz, Muslim rulers had continued to express concern over the status of Muslim troops in theaters of war, so much so that the last-mentioned caliph had entertained the idea of pulling Muslim forces from Andalus. None the less, caliphs also came to appreciate the benefits of the conquests, to the point that `Abd al-Malik prodded Musa b. Nusayr to press on with his advance in Maghrib. Thus, Walid, who had remained uninformed with regard to the fate of his army in Andalus, which had as yet encountered no serious calamity, could not have been experiencing much consternation about their wellbeing. Therefore, the only plausible explanation must be that he was getting jittery over his military commanders’ exceeding success and power, concerns whose fires were fanned by such characters as Mughayth Rumi and his comments against Musa and, possibly, Tariq. The harsh treatment meted to Musa by Walid’s successor, Sulayman, bears out the caliphs’ concerns over the potential threat from eminent commanders. The governorship of Andalus though remaining independent from that of Maghrib (Ifriqiyyah) during the reign of certain caliphs, such as `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz, continued its link to the central administration via the caliph’s envoy in Maghrib. With the coming to power of the `Abbasid dynasty, coinciding with the fall of the Umayyad caliphate of Damascus, Andalus continued to drift away from the center of caliphal administration, resulting in increasing disarray in the affairs of the territory, until in 138 AH (756 AD) when `Abd al-Rahman b. Mu`awiyah, known as al-Dakhil, established the Umayyad caliphate of Andalus. During the rule of governors, Andalus was subjected to the repercussions emanating from the crises afflicting the central government in the east, especially the issue of the superiority of Arabs over Berbers and the tribal rivalries between the Arabs themselves, which gave rise to the commitment of atrocities by the Arab leaders of Andalus toward one another that were unimaginable in the cases of the enemies from other religions.
Thus, from the moment of Tariq’s landing to that of the departure of Musa from the Andalusian soil, which spanned a period of some three years, the conquest of the entire territory was accomplished by Muslim forces of Arab and Berber origin. This astonishing feat was made possible because of fortuitous circumstances, which were made more effective through the unbiased demeanor of the Muslim conquerors, so much so that those Christians of Spain who chose to retain their religion became so deeply engrossed in the Islamic and Arab culture that they came to earn the title of musta`rib (that who resembles Arabs) and live alongside the progeny (muwaliddin) of the native Muslims (musalimah). In fact, the influence exerted by the Arabic culture was so pronounced that in Christian churches Arabic language came to replace Latin. However, Andalus was the only conquered territory in which opposition to Muslim rule remained smoldering until it reached a climax some eight hundred years later in the form of a movement which came to be known as the Reconquista and which succeeded in removing the last remnants of Muslim rule from the region. In 898 AH (1493 AD), the last Nasiri ruler, Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad XI, left Andalus for Maghrib. The early Muslim conquerors’ neglect of Istraqah and Jaliqiyyah, owing to their small size and apparent insignificance, has been considered as the main factor contributing to the rise of the movement of Reconquista, since these areas became shelters for the remnants of the Goths who lay in wait and grew stronger, as Muslims, for a variety of reasons, grew weaker, until they began to recapture city after city, until they succeeded in ejecting the Muslims from their last stronghold in the Iberian peninsula.
 
* source: Rahimlou , Yousef "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.529 - 532
 
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