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the Mediterranean Islands
 
Following their conquest of Egypt and Syria, Muslims’ attention turned to the Eastern Roman Empire and, in turn, to the need for the development of a naval force. The first Muslim navy was established by Mu`awiyah b. Abi Sufyan, in Syria, and `Abd Allah b. Sa`d b. Abi Sarh, in Egypt, which came to exert a decisive influence in the future of the Muslim state. In 28 or 29 AH (649 or 650 AD), Mu`awiyah set out for Cypress, which he managed to capture peacefully. This marked the first naval victory for Muslims and was their first conquest of an island. Some years later, the people of Cypress joined forces with the Romans in a fight to reclaim the island. In 33 or 35 AH (653 or 655 AD), Mu`awiyah took a huge fleet to Cypress, which he succeeded in recapturing by force. He also founded several Muslim settlements in the island.
Around the same time, in 30 or 35 AD (651 or 655 AD), following the conquest of Ifriqiyyah, the Roman emperor, Constantine, engaged the Muslim navy in a great battle, known as Dhat al-Sawari, but was dealt a crushing defeat at the hands of Muslims who were commanded by `Abd Allah b. Abi Sarh. Muslim naval activities during the caliphate of Mu`awiyah extended to Sicily, as well as to the walls of Constantinople. The expansion of Muslim military expeditions in the coastal regions of Maghrib and in Andalus drove home the importance of a strong navy as well as the strategic significance of the Mediterranean islands. Hisan established a shipbuilding facility as well as a naval fleet in Tunis, near Carthage, in order to ward off possible attacks by the Romans. Musa b. Nusayr constructed a 12-mile canal, extending inland, at the port of Tunis, as a means of creating a winter haven for the Muslim fleet, as well as facilities for building naval vessels. During the Umayyad caliphate, shipbuilding activities continued to flourish in such ports of Andalus as Tarkunah, Tartushah, Qartajinah, Ishbiliyyah and al-Miriyyah.
A number of islands also fell to the Muslims in the course of their advance toward Maghrib and Andalus, which included Bal’ar in the western Mediterranean, near the coast of Andalus, comprising the three islands of Miruqah, Minurqah and Yabisah (Ibiza), captured in the reign of Musa b. Nusayr. Beginning in the 1st century AH, the island of Sardaniyyah (Sardinia) became the subject of a tussle between the Muslims and the Europeans, who ruled the island intermittently. Starting in the late 2nd century AH (early 9th cen. AD), Muslim pirates, who had chosen the ports of Tunis and Susah in Ifriqiyyah as their bases of operation, began launching raids on the island of Corsica as well as on the southern coasts of Europe. In time, they were joined up by their European colleagues from Normandy, a development which prompted Charlemagne to construct fortifications in the coastal regions as well as at the mouths of rivers and to build a special fleet to counter them. The last Muslim raid on Corsica took place in the days of Mujahid `Amiri, in 406 AH (1015 AD).
 
* source: Rahimlou , Yousef "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.535
 
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