The rise of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula

Muslim Travel Blog

The rise of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula (Hispania)

In the year 711 Muslim forces, following the orders of the governor of Africa, Musa ibn Nusayr, and under the command of Tariq ibn Ziyad, crossed the straits of Gibraltar and defeated the army of the Visigothic king Roderic somewhere inland from Tarifa. In the following year, Musa himself led an army across the straits and took over command of the conquest.

The rapid advance of the Muslims throughout the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain & Portugal) was impressive. By 720 almost all the territory was under their control, with the exception of a thin strip along the north coast, roughly equivalent to Asturias and Cantabria.

Whether the Muslims intended to stay is not clear, but undoubtedly the large fertile areas they saw were a significant factor in their decision to remain.  In addition, the invasion was a useful means of channeling the energies of the recently conquered and converted Berbers of the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) with the promise of booty, slaves and lands.

Run by governors acting for the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus (Syria), the peninsula’s fortunes were initially tied to the interests of the Middle East. . After the conquest of the peninsula, governors followed thick and fast, the first being Musa’s son, Abd al-Aziz,  soon decapitated in Seville  accused of trying  to usurp power and declare himself ruler.

 

The Arabs brought with them tribal quarrels inherited from the Middle East while the Berbers felt treated as second-class citizens by the Arabs. The Berber grievances were not without cause. When land was confiscated from those who had opposed the invading armies, the Arabs amassed the best property, e.g. along the Guadalquivir, Guadiana and Ebro river valleys, and the fertile coastal areas. The Berbers had to make do with the rest, mainly mountainous areas around Granada, the hostile Duero valley and damp Galicia in the north west, and the Pyrenees in the north east.

A Berber rebellion in 740 resulted in a civil war.

At this moment, the history of Al-Andalus or Muslim Spain witnessed an important event, the arrival of Abd al-Rahman

 

by 750, a rival dynasty, the Abbasids (who claimed descent from the Prophet via his daughter Fátima and his murdered son-in-law Ali), succeeded in overthrowing the Umayyads and shortly after removed the caliphate to Baghdad. The whole process was a bloody affair and the Umayyad royal family decimated in the purge. Only one member, 20-year old Abd al-Rahman, escaped. He made his way across North Africa, eventually arriving in Spain in 756.

Quickly he gathered support from among the pro-Umayyad factions there, and within a few months had deposed the governor of al-Andalus, entrenched himself in Córdoba and declared himself emir. The Umayyads may have lost everything in the Middle East, but under Abd al-Rahman, a new Umayyad dynasty was born in Spain that would largely set its own political independence of the Caliphate of Baghdad.

 

Abd al-Rahman I: Emir of Al-Andalus 756-788

Abd al-Rahman ruled for 32 years, spending much of the time putting down revolts within his realm and consolidating his power. When he arrived in 756, Muslim control had already contracted from the heady days of the invasion, especially in the northwest, thanks to Christian resistance.

Abd al-Rahman’s determination to impose his rule was constantly challenged by these local rulers, and also by Abbasid support from Baghdad. However, he gradually put down revolts one by one, and when the occasion merited it was not above coming to terms with Christian opposition.  By the early 770s, Abd al-Rahman controlled all but the Ebro valley.

In 785 Abd al-Rahman build a great Masjid in Cordoba. It was a large and striking house of worship befitting both his illustrious heritage and his authority in al-Andalus.

The great Cordoba Mosque was a powerful statement to the still considerable Christian community -called the Mozarabs-, that Islam was there to stay. As a tribute to his lost home in Siria, Abd al-Rahman ordered to orientate the qibla wall -that always directs the faithful towards Mecca when praying- facing Damascus. This way when praying, he would symbolically be paying homage to his Umayyad heritage.

Another building was a more personal and nostalgic reminder of Abd al-Rahman’s Syrian past. It was the beautiful palace of Rusafa, built on the hillside overlooking the city (where today stands the Parador of Arruzafa).

T the palace was surrounded by a beautiful garden.  Here Abd al-Rahman spent most of his last years tending his plants and especially his palm trees, planted so it is believed by the emir himself. A short poem, written by Abd al-Rahman is a poignant summary of his nostalgia:

A palm tree stands in the middle of Rusafa,/ Born in the West, far from the land of palms./ I said to it: How like me you are, far away and in exile,/ In long separation from family and friends./ You have sprung from the soil in which you are a stranger;/ And I, like you, am far from home.

Abd al-Rahman died in Cordoba in 788, passing the reins of power to his designated heir, a younger son, Hisham.

Other articles you may like

What to Do and See in Cordoba?

Cordoba is a city in Andalusia, Spain. Formerly one of the world's most populated countries, after a sharp decrease in population during the Renaissance, it is now a moderately sized city and is an Unesco World Heritage Site. Human inhabitation of Córdoba can be...

All You Need to Know About Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban

Everything You Need to Know About Trump's Latest Travel Ban Immigration has been a long standing point of contention since President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office in January 2017. Trump’s controversial "Muslim Ban"—a travel ban primarily targeting immigrants...

12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter by Lisa Alexander   Known for its winding streets and hidden squares steeped in history, El Barri Gòtic is ideal for a historic walk followed by a rest at one of the many trendy bars or cafes. A trip...

Some of the best shopping malls in Madrid

Madrid is home to some great outdoor shopping areas like the Gran Vía, but sometimes, especially when the weather is bad, a shopping mall is a much nicer shopping prospect. Read on to discover some of the city’s best shopping centres. Centro Comercial La Gavia If you...

Abd Al-Rahman III

the greatest Umayyad ruler of al-Andalus: Abd al-Rahman III   It required a powerful personality to maintain and assert the integrity of al-Andalus: it came in the figure of Abd al-Rahman III (ruled 912-961), the most dominant of all the Umayyad rulers of...

5 ideas for a road trip around Spain

5 ideas for a cool road trip around Spain Planning a road trip to Spain? great idea! it is an excellent way to explore the country’s unique natural and cultural heritage as well as savor its delectable cuisine at every pit stop. Here are the best road trips through...

Tariq ibn Ziyad

Tariq ibn Ziyad was a Muslim general who led the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711-718 A.D. He is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. Under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I he led a large army from...

Muslim Travels App that will make your trip much easier

What are the good apps for Muslim travelers Fortunately, technology has made our lives easier. Kompas.com has compiled four apps that would make your trip during this holy month more enjoyable. If a Muslim women in #Hijab, how to protect yourself traveling Europe...

Things to do in 3 days in Barcelona

3 Days itinerary for your getaway to the city   If you have 3 days in Barcelona, you are lucky! because that’s the perfect amount of time to experience most of the city’s main tourist attractions and even get a little bit off the beaten path! The Catalan capital,...

Marbella

The Costa del Sol’s bastion of bling is, like most towns along this stretch of coast, a two-sided coin. Standing centre stage in the tourist showroom is the 'Golden Mile', a conspicuously extravagant collection of star-studded clubs, shiny restaurants and expensive...

Chefchaouen

Beautifully perched beneath the raw peaks of the Rif, Chefchaouen is one of the prettiest towns in Morocco, an artsy, blue-washed mountain village that feels like its own world. While tourism has definitely taken hold, the balance between ease and authenticity is just...

Ronda one of Spain most beautiful old town

onda is one of the most beautiful of Andalusia   Steeped in dark myths and bullfighting folklore, whilst boasting one of the most extraordinary locations in Spain, it is small wonder that Ronda has become Andalusia’s third most visited town. With its world-famous...

Follow the trace of Al-Andalus Legacy in these routes through Spain

Our suggested route explores the heritage, history and culture of al-Andalus, the Islamic Andalusia of the 8th to 15th centuries. Follow these routes to marvel at unique sites like the Alhambra in Granada and the Great Mosque of Cordoba, and visit charming villages...

The Biggest Shopping Malls in Barcelona

Here we resumed all the information you may need about Barcelona’s largest shopping centres, you’ll read about the centres and what you can find inside. Barcelona is a beautiful city that offers such a great number of places to explore, where you can never really go...

Mausoleum in Moulay Idriss Zerhoun

Mausoleum in Moulay Idriss Zerhoun [at_icon icon="td-marker-location-2"] Moulay Idriss, Morocco, North Africa The Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss is Morocco's most important pilgrimage site, and the town is swamped every August during the annual moussem to venerate it;...

The 10 best Halal Restaurants in Amsterdam

Looking for a good halal restaurant in Amsterdam? Planning a trip to Paris? Wonder where to find Halal restaurants in Paris in between all that sightseeing? Cuisine from India to Japan, Kebabs, mezze, sushi, tandoori chicken and couscous. Here a selection of the 10...

Formentera: What to see in the Spanish Island

If you are looking for tourist attractions in Formentera, in this section we give you a list of places that you cannot miss on the island given its tourist interest. Formentera has options for all tastes: art and culture, nature, sport, tradition, etc. Below you will...

The Castle of Gibralfaro in Malaga

An impressive well-preserved 10th-century Islamic fortress   The magnificent Castillo de Gibralfaro sits on a high hill overlooking Malaga city and port and dates back to the 10th century.  The hill where the Gibralfaro is situated forms part of the Montes de...

Top Spanish Souvenirs in your Spain Holidays

Top Spanish Souvenirs in your Spain Holidays Spain is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and is home to incredible architecture, history and beaches, as well as some distinctly unique souvenirs. From handmade fans and flamenco guitars to Esencia de...

Spain (Europe): Best Halal Friendly Destination

HALAL TOURISM IN SPAIN Spain is a destination that adapts to the tastes of Muslim tourists in services, accommodation and food   If you are looking for a country that takes your needs into account and makes you feel comfortable during your holidays, we recommend...

Ibiza old town guide for Muslim travelers

Ibiza old town guide for Muslim travelers Explore the cobbled streets, the numerous attractions and the local shops of this beautiful Baleary Island in Spain When in Ibiza, a visit to Eivissa Dalt Vila is a must.  Dalt Vila refers to the oldest part of Ibiza’s Old...

What to Visit in The Alpujarra of Granada

The Alpujarras is a region of mountain towns and villages that lie on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, just one to two hour’s drive from the city of Granada in Andalusia. The area was made famous by Chris Stewart’s Driving Over Lemons series of novels about...

Tariq ibn Ziyad

Tariq ibn Ziyad was a Muslim general who led the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711-718 A.D. He is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. Under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I he led a large army from...

Casa Mila “La Pedrera” Anthoni Gaudi’s House

Casa Mila "La Pedrera A masterpiece by architecture Gaudí Barcelona, Spain Everything in this building is curved and undulating. Its originality and the techniques used in its construction are surprising throughout. This is one of the best-known works of the architect...

Top Five Islamic Heritage Site in Seville, Andalusia

  Seville, top travel city in Andalusia The travel giant Lonely Planet announced in 2018 the quintessentially Andalusian city of Seville as its top travel city. Home of the flamenco, bullfighting, tapas, and over 500 hundred years of Muslim history. So here are our...

The History of the Alhambra Palaces

 The History of the Alhambra Palaces   The Alhambra was so-called because of its reddish walls, in Arabic "qa’lat al-Hamra" means Red Castle. It is located on top of the hill al-Sabika, on the left bank of the river Darro, to the west of the city of Granada and...

Arabic Baths of Santa María

Arabic Baths of Santa María The Arabic Baths whose remains survive in calle Velázquez Bosco, very near the Mosque, were possibly built in the Mudejar period on the site of a 10th century washing room connected to the Great Mosque of Cordoba. They are now part of...

Costa Brava: A route through its wild coast of Catalonia

These are some of the most beautiful places in Catalonia (Spain) where travelers can explore old fishing villages by the sea and medieval inland towns.

Discover why Spanish nature reserves are considered one of the best in Europe

Get ready to discover why Spanish nature reserves, are considered among the best destinations in Europe. With 52 UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserves, there are a multitude of diverse ecosystems and rich natural landscapes to enjoy.

Muslim Travelers top destinations in Spain

Muslim Travelers top destinations in Spain Officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a sovereign state located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe; the world’s most popular tourist destination. Below are some of the popular cities for you to plan your next Halal...

El Retiro Park, green oasis in the heart of Madrid

Covering over 125 hectares and comprising more than 15,000 trees, El Retiro Park is a green oasis in the heart of the city

Things to do in 3 days in Barcelona

3 Days itinerary for your getaway to the city   If you have 3 days in Barcelona, you are lucky! because that’s the perfect amount of time to experience most of the city’s main tourist attractions and even get a little bit off the beaten path! The Catalan capital,...

The archaeological site of the old Caliphal city of Madinat al-Zahra

Madinat al-Zahra The archaeological site of the Ummayad Caliphate in Cordoba   The archaeological site of the old Caliphal city of Madinat al-Zahra is located approximately 5.5 km west of Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain   The city was founded in 940 or 941, by the...

What to See & Do in Portugal?

Do you want to see the best historic destinations in Portugal? Explore these Beautiful Villages Keep reading for a few ideas to explore one of the oldest countries in Europe and its many beautiful historic towns Tomar, Portugal Inside the Convento de Cristo in Tomar |...

Don’t miss some of the best halal restaurants in London!

Don't miss some of the best halal restaurants in London! London caters pretty well to those that want to eat halal meat. From chain restaurants to indie venues, fast food to fine dining affairs, there’s a decent choice for anyone wanting to eat out. And it’s not just...

Don’t miss this spectacular 16th-century mansion in Seville

Casa Pilatos (House of Pilatos)     Seville's Casa de Pilatos was built in the 16th century and is an outstanding example of Seville's civil palace architecture. It is a splendid blend of the Renaissance, Mudejar and Baroque styles. The humanist character of...

Da Pena Palace & Sintra National Park

Park & National Palace of Sintra (Portugal) The Palace of Pena stands atop a rocky peak, which is the second-highest point in the Sintra hills (the only place higher than the palace itself is the Cruz Alta, 528 meters above sea level). The palace is situated in...

Chefchaouen

Beautifully perched beneath the raw peaks of the Rif, Chefchaouen is one of the prettiest towns in Morocco, an artsy, blue-washed mountain village that feels like its own world. While tourism has definitely taken hold, the balance between ease and authenticity is just...

The magnificent Plaza de España of Seville

This exuberant and magnificent place is located in María Luisa Park. It was one of the main constructions and symbols of the Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair that took place in Seville in 1929. Nowadays, it remains a magical place with a style that recreates de...

The Golden Tower of Sevile (Torre del Oro)

The Torre del Oro is one of Seville’s most recognisable landmarks, means the gold tower. It dominates the Guadalquivir river banks and it’s probably one of the most photographed sights of the city. You can enjoy some spectacular views from the top so bring your camera...

Top 20 Madrid Attractions You Need to Visit

Top 20 Madrid Attractions You Need to Visit Madrid might not have the status of Rome or Paris in terms of sights, but the Spanish capital is a pleasure to explore. From historical gems and world-class art, to an incredible food scene and picturesque parks, we take a...

Toledo Travel – What to See & Do?

What to See & Do in Toledo? TOLEDO TRAVEL   Only a 1-hour drive from Madrid, our 20 minutes pleasant train journey, find dramatically sited atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, Toledo. For centuries it was known as the ‘city of three cultures’ in the Middle...

Things to Do in Madrid, Spain

The top things to Do  in Madrid, Spain Madrid is a city so full of life and culture that it’s hard to do justice to it in a few paragraphs. Artistically the city holds its own against any in Europe, with the of the best art museums on the continent where renaissance...

Carmen de los Martires gardens

Carmen de Los Martires The hidden gardens of Alhambra   Carmen de Los Martires is a 19th-century construction made up of a palace building and vast gardens; a French Baroque garden with a large pond, which has a statue of Neptune in the center and is surrounded...

Where to go Shopping in the major cities of Spain?

Shopping in Spain is concentrated in the two largest cities Madrid and Barcelona. These cities have the best malls and shopping centers in the country where you can find things of any price. Collections are represented by...

Costa Brava: A route through its wild coast of Catalonia

These are some of the most beautiful places in Catalonia (Spain) where travelers can explore old fishing villages by the sea and medieval inland towns.

Alpujarra

What to Do and See when visiting Seville?   The city of Seville boasts a rich history of over 2,200 years with numerous civilisations and eras behind its name. Several well-preserved historic sites such as the Alcázar, Torre del Oro, City Hall, Palace of San...