The Muslim Conquest of Spain – Quranmualim

The Muslim conquest of Spain – Islamic Spain (711-1492) – Islamic Spain was a multi-cultural mixture of people from three monotheistic religions of the world: Muslims, Christians as well as Jews.

While Christians and Jews had to live under strict rules during the majority of period, they managed to coexist and in some ways profit from each the other.

It brought a degree civilization to Europe that was comparable to the highs that were the heights of both the Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance.


Seven years ago, Muslim forces invaded and over seven years, conquered Iberian Peninsula. Iberian Peninsula.

It was one of the greatest Muslim civilizations and reached its apex through it being crowned with Umayyad caliphate at Cordovain the tenth century. Muslim rule waned thereafter and was ended in 1492 , when Granada was defeated.

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The center during Muslim rule was Southern Spain or Andalusia.


Muslim Spain wasn’t a one-time period, but an accumulation of rules.

  • The Dependent Emirate (711-756)
  • The Independent Emirate (756-929)
  • The Caliphate (929-1031)
  • The Almoravid Era (1031-1130)
  • Decline (1130-1492)

Conquest – The victory

The Muslim conquest of SpainThe most popular story is that in 711 an victimized Christian head, Julian, went to Musa ibn Nusair, the governor of North Africa, with a appeal for help to the oppressive Visigoth head from Spain, Roderick.

Musa replied to the challenge by sending the new general Tariq bin Ziyad, who was accompanied by an army of 7000 men. The name Gibraltar comes by Jabal At-Tariq which is Arabic meaning ‘Rock of Tariq’ named for the location in which the Muslim army was based.

The account of the request to help is not widely accepted. The fact is that Tariq has invaded Spain However, the motivation for this may be more in connection with the Muslim desire to expand their territory.

The Muslim army was able to defeat Visigoth army Visigoth army easily. Roderick lost his life in the battle.

Following the victory, the Muslims took over the majority of Spain and Portugal without difficulty and without much opposition. By the year 720 Spain was mostly under Muslim (or Moorish, as it was referred to) control.


One reason for the quick Muslim popularity was their generous terms for surrender they offered to their people, in contrast to the harsh conditions that were imposed by the prior Visigoth rulers.

The government’s Islamic forces were composed of various nationalities, and most of them were converted with a lack of motives, therefore the establishment of a stable Muslim state was not an easy task.


The center in the era of Muslim rule was Southern Spain or Andulusia. The name Andalusia originates from the word Al-Andalus which was used by Arabs and originated of the Vandals, who were settled in the region.

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A Golden Age


The Muslim conquest of Spain – The stability of Muslim Spain was achieved from the creation in the Andalusian Umayyad Dynasty, which was in existence from 756 until 1031.

The credit belongs at the feet of Amir Abd al-Rahman, who created an Emirate named Cordoba and was able to persuade the diverse Muslim groups that had defeated Spain to join in governing it.

The Golden Age

The Muslim period of Spain is usually described as a “golden age of learning, where libraries, schools, and public baths were constructed and poetry, literature and architecture thrived. Both Muslims as well as non-Muslims made significant contributions to the blossoming of culture.

The Golden Age of religious tolerance?

Islamic Spain is sometimes described as a “golden era” of tolerance for ethnic and religious beliefs and interfaith harmony among Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Many historians believe that the notion of a golden age to be incorrect and could lead contemporary people to think, incorrectly the notion that Muslim Spain was more tolerant than the standards of the 21st century Britain.

The real situation is much more complex. The renowned scholar Bernard Lewis wrote that the non-Muslims’ status within Islamic Spain was a sort of second-class citizenship , but Lewis continued to state:

Second-class citizenship, despite being second-class is not a form of citizenship. It comes with certain rights, but not all of them, but certainly is better than none at all…

…A accepted status, even that of being inferior to the dominant class, that is enacted through law, affirmed through tradition, and affirmed by popular vote and is not to be snubbed.

Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam, 1984

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Life for non-Muslims in Islamic Spain

The Muslim conquest of Spain – Jews and Christians had some degree of freedom during Muslim rule, as long as they abided by certain rules. While these rules today would be considered to be a complete travesty however, they weren’t much of a burden according to those standards at the day and in many ways, the non-Muslims in Islamic Spain (at least before 1050) were treated more favorably than the conquered populations might be expected to receive during that time of time.

  • They were not required to live in ghettos or in other special places
  • They weren’t slaves
  • They were not hindered from following their beliefs
  • They were not required to convert or die under Muslim rule.
  • They were not barred from any specific method of making a living. they frequently took on work that were deemed undesirable by Muslims;
  • They also had unpleasant jobs like tanning and butchery
  • as well as enjoyable jobs, such as banking and dealing in silver and gold
  • They could be employed in their civil services of Islamic rulers
  • Jews and Christians could contribute to the culture and society

Another theory to this Golden Age of Tolerance is that Jews as well as Christians had to endure a lot of restrictions in Muslim Spain as they were required to reside in a state called “dhimmitude”. (A Dhimmi is an individual who is not a Muslim resident of an Islamic state, who does not count as slaves, however doesn’t have similar rights to an Muslim who lives in the state.)

Then, in Islamic Spain, Jews and Christians were allowed to live if:

  • recognized Islamic superiority
  • Accepted Islamic power

Paid a tax known as Jizya paid to Muslim rulers, and occasionally paid more than other taxes.

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Avoiding from blasphemy

Did not attempt to convert Muslims

They complied with the regulations laid in the regulations of authorities. They also followed the rules set by the authorities.

restrictions on clothes and the requirement to wear a badge limitations on the construction of synagogues and churches.

  • Not allowed to carry weapons
  • cannot receive an inheritance from an Muslim
  • can’t be able to bequeath any thing to an Muslim
  • would not be able to be the owner of an Muslim slave

A dhimmi man was not able to marry with a Muslim female (but the opposite was acceptable)

A dhimmi cannot provide the evidence required in an Islamic court Dhimmis will receive less indemnity in comparison to Muslims in the event of the exact injuries

There were times when there were limitations regarding the practice of faith evidently. Chanting or bell-ringing were deemed unsuitable and public parades were not permitted.

A lot of Christians in Spain adopted parts of Muslim culture. Many learned Arabic Some were able to adopt the same dress to be their rulers (some Christian women even started wearing the veil) Some were given Arabic names. Christians who took this step were known as Mozarabs.

The Muslim rulers did not grant their non-Muslims equal status. As Bat Ye’or stated that non-Muslims were to the bottom of society.

There was a sharp division of society according to religious and ethnic boundaries and religious lines, with the Arab tribal groups at the highest of the pyramid being closely followed by people of the Berbers who were not recognized as equals even though they had Islamization at a lower scale were the mullawadun converts along with, on the lowest were those who were dhimmi Christians as well as Jews.

Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, 2002

The Muslims didn’t explicitly hate or vilify non-Muslims. According to Bernard Lewis puts it:

Contrary in contrast to Christian anti-Semitism, Muslim view of non-Muslims towards Muslims is not one of hate or fear , or envy, instead, but of contempt.

Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam, 1984

A good example of this disdain can be seen in this ruling from the 12th century:

A Muslim shouldn’t touch the body of a Jew or Christian and should not dispose of his garbage or clean his toilets. A Jew or Christian are better suited for these kinds of trades since they are trades that belong to people who are considered disgusting.

12th Century rule

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What was the reason that non-Muslims were accepted by Islamic Spain?

The Muslim conquest of SpainThere were many reasons the Muslim rulers were tolerant of other faiths:

Judaism as well as Christianity were monotheistic religions and, therefore, their followers were worshiping the same God

Even though they have some unorthodox ideas and habits, like not accepting the importance to Muhammad or in the Qur’an

In the past, Christians were more numerous than the Muslims . Therefore the mass conversion, or massive executions were not feasible. . prohibiting or limiting the beliefs of a lot of individuals would be incredibly costly. Incorporating non-Muslims in government, made it easier for the rulers to hire administrators. They were who were loyal (because they were not a part of any of the different Muslim groups)

who can be easily removed or disciplined in the event of a need. (One Emir went so far as to designate an evangelical Christian as leader of his guard.)

The passages in the Qur’an stated that Christians as well as Jews are to be accepted provided they adhered to certain guidelines

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Later Islamic Spain

The Muslim conquest of Spain – The Muslim ruling class in Spain were open to tolerance. Almanzor robbed churches and imposed strict rules.

The situation of non-Muslims within Spain declined significantly since the midpoint to the end of the 11th century when the ruling class became more strict , and Islam was put under more pressure from the outside.

Christians were not permitted to have homes that were taller as Muslims They were also not allowed to employ Muslim servants, and were required to surrender to Muslims in the streets.

Christians were not allowed to display any symbol of their faith or carrying an actual Bible. There were executions and persecutions.

A notable event was a pogrom that took place in Granada in 1066. the following year, there was more brutality and discrimination as the Islamic empire itself was under attack.

When the Islamic empire fell and more land was returned from Christian ruling families, Muslims in Christian areas were subject to similar restrictions as those they previously placed on other people.

On the whole the situation of minority religious groups would get more difficult after Islam had been substituted by Spain with Christianity.

Also, the culture of Alhambra had connections especially in the form of architecture . The 12 lions of the Alhambra court. Alhambra are a symbol from Christian influences.

The mosque in Cordoba that is now converted into a cathedral , is in a way, ironically, referred to as La Mezquita or literally, the mosque.

The mosque was established in the late 8th century under the Ummayyad Prince Abd al Rahman ibn Muawiyah.

The rule of Abd al Rahman III (r. 912-961) Spanish Islam reached its highest power when, every May, wars were initiated toward the Christian frontier. It was also the peak of culture in Islamic civilization in Spain.


The Muslim conquest of Spain – in the 10th century Cordoba which was the capital of the Umayyad Spanish Empire, was unrivalled both in the East and West for its riches and civilisation. One writer has written about Cordoba:

There was a half million residents who lived in 113,000 homes. The city had 700 mosques as well as 300 public baths scattered throughout all of the city, as well as 21 suburbs. The streets were laid out with a paved surface and lit…There were bookshops, and more than 70 libraries.

Muslim scholars were an important link in the introduction of Greek philosophy that the Muslims had been previously the primary custodians, into Western Europe.

There were alliances and interchanges among Muslim as well as Christian rulers, such as the famous Spanish warrior El-Cid who fought with and against Muslims.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian interaction

What were the ways that Muslims, Jews and Christians engage in their daily lives? Was this time of apparent peace based on an understanding of the sacred texts of each other? What caused the eventual decline of Cordoba and Islamic Spain? Are we in the wrong of describing this time as an era of peace and harmony?

Three contributors address these questions together with Melvyn Bragg. They include: Tim Winter, a convert to Islam and professor of Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University; Martin Palmer Martin Palmer, an Anglican lay preacher , theologian, and the author of The Sacred History of Britain as well as Mehri Niknam, the Executive Director for the Maimonides Foundation, a joint JMIF located in London.

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Decline and fall

The fall of Islamic rule in Spain was not just due to the increasing violence by Christian state, but also also due to differences among Muslim rulers. The problem was that it came from both the central as well as the extremes.

In the 11th century the single Islamic Caliphate had been shattered into a multitude of tiny kingdoms that were ripe for a rip-off. The first major Islamic center to fall to Christianity was Toledo in the year 1085.

The Muslims came back with troops from Africa that led by the General Yusuf bin Tashfin defeated the Christians by a massive victory in 1086, and in 1102 had taken back the majority of Andalusia. The general was able unify a lot of Muslim Spain.


The war didn’t last long. Yusuf died in the year 1106 In 1106 and according to one scholar, it”the “rulers of Muslim states began cutting each other’s throats again”.

Internal revolts in 1144 as well as 1145 destroyed Islamic unity. And despite occasional military victories Islam’s rule over Spain was put to rest for good.

The Muslims eventually lost the power they had to Spain around 1492. In 1502, the Christian rulers had issued an order that required all Muslims to change their religion to Christianity but in the event that this did not work, they placed severe restriction on those who were still Spanish Muslims.

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Islam in the Iberian Peninsula, current day Spain was a force for over eight centuries.

It is a question to be asked as we look at the remains of this glorious timeHow did the Muslims lost their supremacy?

While there are many theories that can be debated in depth however, in the majority of cases we’re all to be accountable. Infatuation with excess weak rulers, as well as a lack of confidence in faith eventually lead to the decline of Islam in the Iberian Peninsula.

What remains of this great time across the globe is Allahthat is engraved on its walls. It has survived unharmed through decades of wars, unrest changes, and earth quakes with the proof that “There is no conqueror but Allah”.

The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain

In the 7th and 8th century in the seventh and eighth centuries, the Muslim Arabs conquered large areas of North Africa and then, with the aid of their former enemies from North Africa, the Berbers were able to win an overwhelming victory against their rivals, the Visigoths during the seventh and eighth centuries in Spain. 

The book, which was first published in 1989 , and is based upon Arabic along with other sources outlines the process of settlement and conquest and first reveals that there was no unity within North Africa and the corruption and insolvency that afflicted Spain that made the advancement possible. 

It also provides a comprehensive analysis of Arab and Berber settlements in Spain by tribe of origin, region of settlement and date of entry. The book emphasizes that it’s important to understand the administrative and economic connection that exists between North Africa and Spain. It chronicles the growing resentment of the first settlers to Spain and the limitations on their autonomy, imposed by Governor General of North Africa and the caliphate. 

The book describes the increasing tensions between new and old settlers as well as between the various tribes, eventually leading into an eventual Berber revolt and the consolidation of Abdulrahman’s power at the close period of Umayyad caliphate.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Routledge; 1st edition (July 5, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 292 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1138689637
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1138689633
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.25 pounds

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