Praise be to Allaah.
Andalusia was one of the greatest periods of Islamic history,
indeed it is a beacon in the history of mankind as a whole, because it was a
source of knowledge on earth for many centuries, from which Europe learned
all its lessons of civilization and civility. Its conquest, beyond a doubt,
was one of the greatest incidents of the first Hijri century (92 AH/711 CE).
That period was the greatest and most prosperous in the history of Andalusia
from the beginning of history and perhaps until the end of time.
Because of the importance of this topic, it is essential to
explain a number of important matters that have to do with this great
The most important aim for which jihad has been prescribed is
to convey the message of Tawheed by eliminating all suppressive powers which
come between the people and Tawheed, and calling people to Islam without
compulsion or force, rather they should come to it willingly and by choice.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief
and worshipping of others along with Allaah) and (all and every kind of)
worship is for Allaah (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no
transgression except against Az‑Zaalimoon (the polytheists, and
Qataadah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Until there is
no more shirk, “and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allaah (Alone)”
means, until it is said Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (there is no god but Allaah).
It is for this that the Prophet of Allaah fought and it is to this that he
called. Tafseer al-Tabari (3/567).
Andalusia, the ancient name for which is Iberia, was under
the rule of the Roman Empire. At the dawn of the fifth century CE, in around
410 CE, it was overrun by the Gothic tribes (Visigoths) whose religion was
Arianism, during which they established a Gothic state, the capital of which
Hence we can understand that the original peoples of
Andalusia – Catholic Canaanites – were, before the Islamic conquest, subject
to Gothic rule. The inhabitants formed four classes which were in conflict
with one another: the ruling, colonialist class of Goths; the Roman elite,
which also included feudal lords and clergymen; the Jews; and a working
class composed of indigenous inhabitants of the land.
It was a land under occupation and persecution, which was not
under the rule of its indigenous inhabitants. It was not the Muslims who
initiated the idea of conquering it, rather they rid the land of an unjust
occupation and it turned into a Muslim land whose inhabitants chose to
follow Islam and become part of this Islamic state.
In addition to the occupation that the Visigoth tribes
imposed on Andalusia, domination, oppression and persecution were prominent
features of their period of rule which lasted for approximately three
Husayn Mu’nis says in his book Fajr al-Andalus (p. 8,
But their authority was not well established in the land at
first, because of the religious conflicts that occurred between them and the
original people, and because of the disputes that occurred among their
rulers. Hence throughout the sixth century the land was subjected to civil
wars and the chaos and problems that resulted from them, until the time of
the last Visigoth ruler, whose name was Roderic (in Arabic, Ludhreeq). What
is clear and indisputable is that the man felt that he was not fully in
control and all his life he feared an attack from his many enemies. These
enemies were not only the sons of Wittiza, whose kingdom Roderic had
usurped, rather they included most of the Iberian, Roman and Jewish people,
i.e., most of the people of the land which the Goths had invaded. End
Many Spanish historians have tried to defend the Gothic state
– out of resentment and rejection of the Islamic presence in that land – but
the history books are filled with evidence of what Professor Husayn Mu’nis
mentioned of the local people’s rejection of Gothic rule. On p. 10 he quotes
Rafael Balasteros, the Spanish historian, as saying “If the Arabs had not
interfered in the Peninsula’s affairs in 711 CE and put an end to this age
of turmoil, the Goths would have inflicted unimaginable harm on Spain.”
When the Goths’ oppression of that land intensified and its
people could not longer put up with it, they sent word to the Muslims,
asking them to help them and save them. The Arabic sources are agreed that
the ruler of Ceutah, whose name was Julian, sent word to Moosa ibn Nusayr,
asking him to enter the land and rid it of the evil of Roderic. Many sources
also state that the sons of Wittiza sent word to Moosa ibn Nusayr asking him
for help against the one who had usurped their father’s kingdom. Even
Western historical sources state that the Jews in Andalusia who were being
persecuted by the Goths sought help from those who were across the sea in
Africa, or the Muslims, to save them from the oppression of Roderic and his
helpers. Although this is denied by some historians, they are all agreed
that the Jews, during that period, were subject to persecution that almost
destroyed them and would have left no trace of them. See Fajr al-Andalus
by Husayn Mu’nis (p. 14).
In the surviving texts there is a great deal of evidence to
suggest that the Andalusians welcomed the Muslims as saviours. For example:
The author of the book Akhbaar Majmoo’ah fi Fath
al-Andalus (p. 24) says, describing the services that some of the
Spaniards offered to Moosa ibn Nusayr:
When he reached the Peninsula, it was said to him: Follow
this route. He said: I will not proceed by this route. The non-Muslim guides
said to him: We will show you a way that is better than his way, and cities
that are of greater importance than his cities, that have not been conquered
yet, but Allaah will grant you victory over them if Allaah wills. End
He also says:
Then he travelled to the city of Qarmoonah. He sent ahead to
it the non-Muslims who were with him. There was no more strongly fortified
city in Andalusia than this, and none that was less likely to be conquered
by means of fighting or siege. It was said to him when he drew close to it:
It will not be taken except with diplomacy. He sent ahead to it non-Muslims
to whom he had granted safety and who he felt could be trusted, such as
Julian, and they may have been companions of Julian. They came to them,
bearing arms, and they admitted them to their city. When they entered it, he
sent the cavalry to them by night, and they opened the gate for them, and
attacked the guards, and the Muslims entered Qarmoonah. End quote.
Some of the Christian bishops also helped the Muslims in
their conquest, such as Awbaas the bishop of Seville, as it says in the book
al-‘Arab lam yaghzu al-Andalus (p. 187).
The author of Tareekh al-Nasaara fi’l-Andalus (p. 45)
reports what happened during the life of Saint Theodard, the head bishop of
Narbonne, who lived around 266 AH. When the Muslims entered the Languedoc
for the first time, the Jews sided with them and opened the gates of the
city of Toulouse to them.
The Muslims believe that supporting the oppressed and
achieving justice and peace are among the greatest aims of jihad in Islamic
sharee’ah. The evidence for that is what happened during the life of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), namely Hilf
al-Fudool (the treaty of al-Fudool), where the tribes agreed to restrain the
wrongdoer and support the one who was wronged, even if he was a kaafir.
Shaykh Muhammad Abu Zahrah said in his book al-‘Alaaqaat
al-Duwaliyyah fi’l-Islam (83):
Islam looks at the people who are being ruled unjustly and
whose freedoms are being restricted with compassion and kindness, and it
supports them if they ask for support, and relieves them of the harshness of
the tyrants if they ask them for help. End quote.
This is what some of the Jews bore witness to when they
realized the great favour that the Muslims did to them by providing them
with a life of dignity and freedom, the like of which they had not
experienced throughout the history of their presence in Europe.
The Jewish writer Chaim al-Za’faraani says in his book Alf
Sanah min Hayaat al-Yahood fi’l-Maghreb (A thousand years of Jewish life
in the Maghreb) (p. 13): The Jews of Andalusia in general knew a life of the
greatest ease and security, such as they had never known anywhere else. End
Naseem Rajwaan – Editor-in-chief of the Israeli newspaper
The Jews had suffered for many centuries in misery, as the
hardhearted tyrant kings of Spain knew nothing of pity and compassion. When
the Muslims entered Spain, they did not only liberate the Jews from
persecution, but they also encouraged them to establish a civilization that
parallels in its richness and depth the most famous civilizations of all
ages. End quote from Ahl al-Kitaab fi’l-Mujatama’ al-Islami (p. 49).
What has been mentioned above may be crowned with certainty
when we bear in mind that the conquest of that land took no more than
approximately three years (92-95 AH), during which the Muslims reached
France, and no more than a few thousand troops took part in this conquest,
which shows you definitively that it was not so much a military conquest as
an intellectual and ideological conquest in which the inhabitants of
Andalusia came to believe in the ‘aqeedah of the Muslims, and they chose –
out of love and voluntarily – to submit to this new religion and rid
themselves of the tyranny of the church and the feudal system that had been
prevalent before the Muslims came. One of the most famous historians of
Spain, Ignacio Olagi, wrote a book which became famous in the 70s, which was
called The Islamic Revolution in the West, which was summarized and
translated into Arabic by the historian Ismaa’eel Ameen, under the title
al-‘Arab lam yaghzu al-Andalus, which was published by Riyaadh al-Rayyis
li’l-Kutub wa’l-Nashr. In this book, the author sought to demonstrate that
conversion to Islam in Andalusia only took place because of the spread of
ideas and a conflict between ideas, then the domination of what the author
calls the strongest idea, which formed the basis of the Islamic Arab
civilizations in three quarters of the known world at that time. Despite the
exaggerated criticism in the book of everything that is well known about the
history of Andalusia, what concerns us here are a few texts which show that
the introduction of Islam to Andalusia was not done by force, rather it was
an opening of hearts and an illumination of minds. I hope the reader will
put up with the length of the text that is quoted here, because it is one of
the most brilliant texts that have been written by the enemies of Islam
concerning a matter that those who bear grudges keep stirring up.
It says on pp. 55-66:
“Thus the foreign invasion is reduced to a passing incident
in a civil war. Is there any connection at all between this military event,
on the one hand, and the fact that the Iberians embraced Islam, then
developed an Islamic civilization in Iberia, on the other?
“With regard to the myth of invasion, we have accurate
figures. Taariq, along with seven thousand men, arrived to defeat Roderic,
and Moosa ibn Nusayr arrived at the head of eighteen thousand men to
subjugate the Iberians to his rule. Twenty-five thousand men introduced this
huge change to the Latin language, Christianity and monogamy. In one fell
swoop the Iberians changed their customs, traditions and religion. After
this great achievement, the Muslims hastened without bringing in any
reinforcements or consolidating their gains, to invade France.
Despite that, it remains to be explained how this
transformation of the people of Iberia, which was fortified geographically
and naturally, was completed in such a speedy manner, by small numbers of
people to whom many miracles are attributed, especially since the Iberians
and the conquerors did not share a common origin.
It is obvious that an army of this type could have been
absorbed into these multitudes (of indigenous people) when that army took
this risk and penetrated deep into that land, let alone the fact that the
Iberians, throughout their long history, had never been a peaceful people
when confronted with such events. Was it not possible for them to launch a
guerrilla campaign, the type of warfare that they introduced to the world?
What did the Iberians do at this time? After 711 CE, history
does not tell us anything about them, even though ten million souls –
according to the lowest estimate – did not disappear in one fell swoop
during that blessed era when there were no means of mass destruction. It
would have taken the conquerors a long time to butcher this number of people
by the sword, and the small valleys of Asturias could not have absorbed this
number of refugees. It is enough for these valleys that they served as
fortresses for the few rebels who later formed the core of the Christian
kingdom. Thus ten million Iberians disappeared from the pages of history. If
the conquest of Christian land by the “heathens” (i.e., Muslims) started on
such a huge scale, then how can we explain that its people converted to
Islam, adopting Arabic, Islamic culture? Either all of them were killed or
they were enslaved, or they fled to the mountains, or their existence was
simply ignored by the historians. How and why did the human communities who
were located in the Byzantine regions of Asia, Egypt, North Africa and the
Iberian Peninsula embrace a new faith and a new concept of the universe? It
may be easy to turn the myth of the Arab conquests, which are impossible in
geographical and historical terms, into facts, but we cannot deny that
Islamic, Arabic civilization spread in all these regions.
Some researchers may be astonished when they realize from the
reports that the number of conquerors was only twenty-five thousand and they
destroyed ten million!
In fact the process of embracing the Islamic religion
continued and took between two and three centuries to complete. It was a
complete conversion, which left only a few islands whose existence is
regarded as dubious. How can we explain this leaving of Christianity and
this embrace of Islam as being by means of force?
What were its consequences?
Some historians accepted the traditional prepared answer to
these questions, and some others were utterly confused.
They were unable to understand the way in which the peoples
of Egypt and the Byzantine region submitted to what they call “Bedouin
laws”. Kazafi Plan Hall stated in his book al-‘Aalam al-Islami (the
Islamic World) that Islam was always a religion of the city, but let us
assume nevertheless that they were subjugated forcefully by Bedouin groups.
Why did they give up all their civilized ways for these Bedouins?
The Byzantine regions enjoyed an advanced civil life; their
cities were prosperous and large. The number of inhabitants in Antioch was
300,000, and among the four hundred Byzantine dioceses, 371 were in Asia.
Hence we see the importance of the Islamic victory at the intellectual
Do we have to imagine that the city-dwellers were dazzled by
the culture of those who were coming in from that vast wilderness? It seems
impossible if all that these Bedouin had was the sword.
Religious fanaticism and misunderstanding, resulting from
lack of awareness and sometimes deliberate, concealed in the midst of lies
and myths an important chapter in the history of thr spread of Islam along
the eastern and southern coasts of the Mediterranean. In accordance with a
primitive interpretation of history, they interpreted this giant spiritual,
social and cultural transformation in the seventh and eighth centuries CE –
in the eastern and Mediterranean worlds – as the result of military conquest
that imposed language, culture and religion by means of a curved sword.
Force does not explain everything.
In fact the historians confused the spread of brilliant ideas
that a certain civilization carries with military abilities that do not lead
to anything but the emergence of temporary empires that diminish with the
passage of time. They confused intellectual power with material strength.
From the study of similar movements, we may conclude that the
spread of Islam was the result of an idea combined with strength; it was not
the result of the ability to launch a military attack. Just as Hellenic
civilization was dominant in the past, and the West is dominant today, the
domination of Islam could only be the result of this interaction between
ideas and strength.
Continuing to believe that people could be invaded in their
own country by a destructive civilization, and that they gave up their
beliefs and changed their customs because a group of courageous horsemen
defeated them militarily, does not indicate anything but a childish and
foolish concept of how societies function and develop.
The military aspect of these events should be retracted and
regarded merely as a minor issue that is no more than an interesting aspect
of some individual lives. We should understand this problem from an
intellectual and cultural perspective.
There was no military aggression, rather there was a
revolutionary crisis, and a call conveyed by the scholars, not by the
Scholars alone can understand the movement of peoples and are
able to lead them. Military domination could not have lasted for eight
centuries in Andalusia or forever in huge areas of the world. End quote.
Useful historical references include al-Bayaan
al-Mugharrib fi Akhbaar al-Andalus wa’l-Maghrib by Ibn ‘Adhaari
al-Maraakishi (2-9) and Nafh al-Teeb by al-Muqari (1/229-263) etc.
On our site there are some questions dealing with the topic
of jihad. Please see questions no.
And Allaah knows best.