What happened to al Andalus? What is the history of the Andalus? What was the islamic state of al Andalus?
The Conquest of Andalusia and the Age of Governors (711-755)
The Andalusian Muslims (Dia, Ii, 211)
Tariq ibn Ziyad who had been a slave emancipated by Musa bin Nusayr was put in charge of the conquest of Africa during the time of the Umayyad caliph Walid I. When Musa bin Nusayr saw Tariq ibn Ziyad’s strong character, his valor, his tenacity and willpower, his right decisions, his elocution and strong rhetoric that left an deep impression over his audience, he put Tariq in charge for the conquest of Andalusia (Spain). In 711, Tariq moved to Andalusia with four ships and seven thousand soldiers that were under his command. The soldiers landed in the Southern coasts of Spain. Tariq set all ships on fire in order to prevent his soldiers’ escape. Then, he passionately addressed to his soldiers. The soldiers, who got excited from Tariq’s passionate speech forgot everything, and started to think about attacking on their enemies. The saying “burn one’s boats” started to be used after this incident. Finally, the two armies met. The enemy soldiers were about 100,000 men. Tariq ibn Ziyad sent envoy and made the following offer: “We are inviting you and your folk to embrace Islam. If you become Muslims, you will be our brothers and we will embrace you. If you do not accept it, you can save yourselves by paying jizya (poll tax). If you refuse this, only sword and war can make peace between us.” The king of Spain rejected this offer because he relied on the magnitude of his army. A great battle began. Tariq ibn Ziyad fought fiercely and reached at the king of Spain. He killed the king with a sudden and rapid sword blow. The enemy soldiers who saw the death of their king began to flee away. After the dispersion of the Spanish army, the Muslims entered in Andalusia. The “Andalusian Muslim Civilization” was born as a result of this victory.The exact root of the word “Andulus,” which was used by the Arabs for Spain, was at first only used with the meaning “Muslim’s Spain,” and after the Muslims were completely expelled from the country passed to Spanish as Andalucia, could not be found. The Muslims at first used the name Andalus for all of the territories in Spain that were under their rule including the Septimania region which is located in the South part of France.Andalusia was governed by the Muslims from its conquest in 711 to 750 by the Umayyads and from this date up to 756 by the Abbasids. The era before the Andalusian Umayyads, which was established at During this period, the conquerors used Andalusia as a military base for the expeditions over Europe. In 732, the Muslim (Arabic) armies came very close to the place where today’s Paris is located. However, because of the tribal conflicts among the Muslims, the unity and solidarity broke down and the conquest campaigns could not be completed.The conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain formed the last part of the Islamic conquests. With the permission of the Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik in spring of the year 750, Musa bin Nusayr, the Umayyads’ governor of North Africa, sent a troop with 500 men under the command of Tarif ibn Malik. By this troop sent to the south coast of Spain for the purpose of expedition, the conquest movements began. Meanwhile, the Visigoth Kingdom in Spain was at the brink of losing all of its power because of the fights for the throne and social-religious conflicts. The Umayyad army easily passed to Spain. It is known that the aid of Julianos, the governor of Sebtah (Ceuta) who had bad relations with the Visigoths, affected this victory.The army set up headquarters at Gibraltar or the mountain of Calpe located on the southern end of Spain and captured Algeciras after its first attack. Soon afterwards, they won a victory over the Visigoth army that was under the leadership of king Rodrigo. The war took place at the riverside of the valley Guadalbeca (Rio Barbate) located on the plain Frontera which is located between the cities Xeres (Jerez) and Sidonia. From then on, there were no serious obstacles left before the conquest.After the victory, the commanders were put in charge of the conquest of different cities, and thus in a short time they captured Malaga, Elvira and Qurtubah (Cordova, Córdoba) with the help of the people who were dissatisfied with the Visigoth ruling. At the same time, Tariq conquered Écija and then the Visigoths’ capital Tuleytulah (Toledo).Thereby, Tariq brought his conquest to an end which he had started in spring 711 as an army commander and finished it in the summer of the same year as a victor who captured half of Spain and opened it to Islam. Musa bin Nusayr passed to Spain with his army that was composed of 18,000 men most of whom were Arabs. After he conquered Ishbiliya (Seville), Carmona, Leble (Niebla) and Maride (Mérida) he met with Tariq at Tuleytulah. As a result of the campaign to the northern direction of the country, they conquered the cities León, Lleida (Lérida), Barcelona, Zaragoza (Saragossa) and the Galicia region in 713 then they went beyond the Pyrenees and entered in the Franc territories.In 714, Musa left the governance of Andalusia to his son Abdulaziz with the order of Caliph Walid and returned to Damascus with Tariq. Thus, the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula took place in a short time like three years and the Age of Governors in Andalusia (asr al-wulat) began. The conquests spread up to the inner regions of Europe in 756, during the age of governors in which 21 governors served in office. When the Muslims came close to Paris after conquering Murcia (Theudimer, Theodemir) and Narbona, they were defeated by the Francs in the Battle of Tours or Poitiers (Balat al-shuhada). Hereupon, the Muslims mostly struggled with civil wars and disorders. However, during the same period, the Spaniards started to gain strength under the leadership of Pelagius (Pelayo) in the North in Covadonga located in the Asturias region.
The Andalusian Umayyads (756-1031):
- The Period of Emirate:
After the collapse of his state, Abdurrahman bin Muawiyah one of the last Umayyad princes moved from Palestine and Egypt to North Africa and passed therefrom to Andalus in 755. Despite the obstacles, the last Andalusian governor Yusuf ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri declared his independence at Cordoba in 756. Thus, he established a new Umayyad Dynasty that lasted 275 years from 756 until 1031. The period of the Andalusian Umayyad Dynasty ruling is divided into two parts: the “EMIRATE” period 756-929 and the “CALIPHATE” period between the years of 929 and 1031.The former one during which Abdurrahman I (756-778), Hisham I (788-796), al-Ḥakam I (796-822) and Abdurrahman II (822-852) ruled are the years in which the state was established and developed. In this period, they, on the one hand, had to struggle against the internal revolts that were encouraged by the Abbasids and Francs, on the other hand they had to defend themselves against the troops sent to Andalusia by the Francs and the Christian Spanish Kingdoms.Andalusia experienced important economic developments during this period. Mines started to be operated and the roads and bridges were modernized. In the field of agriculture, new methods adopted from the East started to be practiced. With the improvement of the production and industry, the volume of foreign trade increased. Beside the economic improvement, there had also been progress in the field of architecture. During this era, Islam started to spread swiftly among the native Spaniards. About 3.5 million people, mostly from the natives embraced the new religion without any oppression. Those who did not accept Islam lived a peaceful life due to the administrators’ tolerance.The years in which Muhammad (852-856), al-Mundhir (886-888) and Abdallah (888-912) ruled became a period of crisis. Inexperienced and incompetent people ascended the administration during this period which lasted about 60 years. Tribal and ethnical enmities emerged and the conflicts among the tribal and ethnical elements (Arabs, Berbers, Muladi and the Mozarabs) were provoked by the Spaniards and Andalusia slid into civil strife. The instability collapsed the economy and the treasury emptied because the taxes could not be collected.
- The Period of Caliphate (929-1031):
When Abdurrahman III, who is accepted as the second founder of the Umayyad Dynasty, came to power, he took over a country that was fragmented into regions by those who claimed to be independence fighters and insurgents belonging to various fractions and by frequent attacks of the northern Christian kingdoms.Abdurrahman III, the most powerful ruler of the Andalusian Umayyad Dynasty, first put an end to chaos in the country. After he pacified the country, he dealt with the solution of the external issues. He stopped the attacks of the Christian Kingdom of León, paid attention to the development of the country, and established a new city called “Medinat Al-Zahra” located near to Cordoba, which had been the capital since the period of Abdurrahman I and a famous palace was built there.The life of agriculture, cultivation, and business developed and the welfare of the people notably improved during the ruling period of Abdurrahman III. This ruler also used the title of caliph (929). By removing all those troubles, he turned the country into a great, prosperous, orderly, peaceful, and a secure place. After Abdurrahman III established peace and solidarity, he began to struggle against the Fatimids and the Spanish kings of the North. Ultimately, the King León and the Pamplona Kingdoms accepted to pay tribute and entered under his rule.He expanded his influence up to the inner parts of Maghreb by allying with some Berber tribes of North Africa against the Fatimids. The Byzantine and Germen empires sent envoys and established political relations. Abdurrahman III eliminated the rivalry among the Arab tribes that played a crucial role in the internal fragmentation thus he opened the government offices to the people from all classes. He decorated Cordoba with architectural monuments. The revenue of Bayt al-mal (public treasury) increased as never seen before. After the demise of Abdurrahman III in 961, his son Hakam II came into power. The stability of the state and the superiority over the Spaniards that was achieved before were maintained during this period (961-976). The main developments of his period were in the field of science and art. During this period, Andalusia became the most dynamic center of the Islamic society. Just in the capital Cordoba, 27 boarding schools for poor students were opened. The largest library in the world with its 400,000 books was also established.
Especially scientific and artistic activities accelerated. Many Muslim thinkers received education at the Andalusian madrasahs, and by benefiting from scientific works, they became intermediaries of the transmission of the intellectual ideas into their country. After the demise of Hakam II, his young son Hisham II came to power (976-1009, 1010-1013). Hajib ibn Abu Amir and his two sons made use of Hisham’s young age and exercised the caliph’s authority. They preserved the political power in Andalusia for 30 years. The state’s stability established by Abdurrahman II were destroyed when Hajibs son Abdurrahman took the government from his brother Abdulmalik. Abdurrahman’s ambitions had an impact on this. In 1016, the Shiite Hammudids who alleged to be from the lineage of Ali took advantage of the failure of the Umayyad dynasty and captured Córdoba and the throne. Despite the tranquility seen at the beginning, they were not able to solve the problems and finally they were forced to exile from Cordoba in 1022 by the people. The following seven years passed with the fight for the throne of the members of the Umayyad family. The notables and the people abolished the caliphate and forced the members of the Umayyad family exile from the city. Thus, the Andalusian Umayyad State collapsed that was established in 756 as an independent emirate.
Andalusia after the Umayyads (Period of Principalities) (Muluk al-Tawaif) (1031- 1492):
After the weakening of the Umayyad state and its fall into internal conflicts, there rose independent regencies in every province and district. Many influential families of the cities outside Cordoba declared their independence. One of the most important political incidents which took place in this period in Andalusia was the wars that broke out among “the Principalities” and continued vehemently. The ambitions of the governors, viziers and commanders was the reason for the development of situation to such levels. They did not think that the Christians took advantage of their ambitions that led to the separation and enmity between them. They did not think what would happen to them and they did not pay attention to the public benefit because of the separations and enmities between them. This situation led to the gradual weakening of the Muslims and formed an opportunity for the Christian kingdoms to realize the “reqonquista”. The governors could never come together, and collaborate against the foreign enemy, instead assaulted to each other and continued to threaten each other.Those who tried to revive the caliphate most at the collapse of the Umayyad State in Spain were the regencies that were established in Sevilla and Toledo. In 1085, the capture of Toledo, which was the second largest city in Andalusia after Cordoba, by Alfonso VI the king of Castile was the Christians’ biggest blow given to the Muslims. Some emirates that sensed the approching danger were forced to ask help from the Almoravids who reigned in North Africa with the encouragement of the scholars and the public.
- The Period of Almoravids (1090-1147):
One year after the invasion of Toledo, the Almoravid ruler Yusuf ibn Tashfin with a huge army was sent to Andalusia upon the invitation of the Abbadid Amir al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad on behalf of the Andalusian Muslims. At the “Battle of Sagrajas,” the Almoravid ruler Yusuf ibn Tashfin who passed to Andalusia defeated Alfonso VI who threated Badajoz. The spread of the Christianity to the South stopped for a while after the Battle of Sagrajas. Yusuf b. Tashfin returned to Maghreb after he recommended the Andalusians to band together against the enemy army. The Christians who took advantage of the struggle between the principalities started again to attack. Hence, Yusuf ibn Tashfin came to Andalusia for the second time. This time, he ruled over Andalusia with the encouragement of some amirs and jurists. He developed this place up to a province and allied with the Almoravids. The Almoravid reign lasted about sixty years in Andalusia. After these years, the internal disorders started again. The diminishing of the Andalusian amirs’ support and the oppression over the people by heavy duties led the support to the Almoravids diminish.The political entity in Andalusia was destroyed again with the collapse of the Almoravids in 1147. The Kingdom of Castile made an advantage of this disintegration and captured Almeria (1147) with a crusader army consisting of soldiers from Aragon, Pisa, and Genoa. The Shire of Catalonia captured Tortosa (1148) and Laride (1149). The Almohads came to help of Andalusia at a time when the political fragmentation began and the Christian Kingdoms started to recapture the lands in Andalusia.
- The Period of the Almohads (1147- 1229):
Unlike the Almoravids, the Almohads moved to Andalusia to protect some friend amirs who asked for help against their enemies. In the first years, the Almohads took under their control some provinces like Badajoz, Seville and Silves. They captured Valencia, Carmona, Baeza and Granada. After the return of the Almohad army to North Africa, the Christians started their expeditions again. The Almohadian ruler Abu Yusuf al-Mansur came back to Andalusia in order to stop the advent of Christians and in 1195, he won a victory against the Castile forces at “Alarcos,” the northern part of Cordoba. He also surrounded Toledo but he did not get any result. Later, the king of Castile defeated the Almohades with a big crusader army including the Portuguese and French forces at the famous battle of “al-`Iqab” in 1212. This defeat caused the weakening of the Almohades’ dominance in North Africa and Andalusia and thus, the “reqonquista,” which had temporarily stopped, restarted a fast process of advancement.
The Emirate of Granada (the Nasrids) (1238-1492):
The only Emirate that could get free itself from the invasions that were swiftly realized by the Christian Kingdoms was the Nasrids who ruled over the narrow coastal strip from Libre up to Ronda in the South East of Andalusia. In spite of the appalling conditions, they succeeded to stay in the stages of the history over two and a half centuries. This Muslim state has an important place in the history of Islam because it was the last representative of the Islamic dominance in Andalusia and it represented a period that the best architectural monuments like the Alhambra palace were created.Most of the Granada amirs had a flexible policy in their foreign relations and they paid attention to Christian kingships. They established good relations with the Marinids of the North of Africa in order not to be alone if/when they encounter threats from the Christian kingdoms. They had relatively a good time until the year 1462. The Spaniards took advantage of the internal conflicts which occurred after 1462 and then captured Gibraltar in order to carry out the “reqonquista”. That was the only place that provided passage from Andalusia to North Africa. The marriage of Isabella, the queen of Castile – León and Fernando II, the king of Aragon in 1469 led to the establishment of the Spanish unity and the spread of Christianity. All the cities of the Emirate of Granada except its capital city were conquered. The Muslims defended Granada with body and soul. However, because of ravages, lack of food and various hardships caused by the siege, they had to surrender (1942). From this date on, the Muslims who remained in Spain were soon afterwards forcibly Christianized, exiled or were exposed to inquisition or massacre. Even the ones who accepted Christianity were subjected to great hardships and persecution. Finally, the last remaining Muslims of Andalusia were completely expelled from Spain in 1609. From that day on, the loss of Andalusia left an indelible trace on Muslims and it became one of the topics frequently examined by various branches of Islamic literature.The most sumptuous work that was created in this era was the Alhambra palace. As a defensive fortress or palace, Alhambra was founded in a plain site on the top of a hill looking over Granada. This is why, it seems a bit bulky from outside, but inside the walls of this clumsy castle exists a palace that is beyond comparison. Red brick were used for the construction of the walls and red tiles for the roof, which is why it is called Alhambra in other words “the Red.”The Nasrid rulers enlarged the castle with new buildings. Thus, the Alhambra turned into a group of buildings consisting of palaces and manors. The yards of the palaces are as beautiful as their inside. The most beautiful ones among them are the “la Barca” that is embellished with its long pool, the “Mexuar court,” which has a marble flooring, and the “Court of the Lions.”The Court of Lions was built during the era of Muhammad V who reigned between 1354 and 1359. The 12 lions that exist in the middle of the court support a heavy and round pool basin. The water that squirts from the sprinkler flows through the folds that are similar to the surrounding porches. The surrounding halls of the Court of Lions and the la Barca that are perpendicular to each other are so beautiful beyond comparison. The length of the first court is 36 meter. There are passages by the side halls from the reciprocal doors over the two large edges of the court. The ornaments of the gallery of the seven arches that are on the North and South of the court are in a unique beauty. There is a passage from the door at the northern marge to the corridor and from there to the Hall of the Ambassadors. The edges of the salons are 11.24 meter, their height is 18 meter and the width of the walls is 3 meter. Because of the thickness of the walls, the windows seem like rooms.
The Alhambra palace is like like a poem with its fine and substantial embroideries, its gardens and pools. However, when Charles V captured the palace, he demolished a section of the palace and wanted to build in its place a palace in a Renaissance style. The palace was also damaged a little bit more at an earthquake in 1522 and at an explosion in 1590. However, it started to be protected after the middle of the 19th century and it has survived until present day.
- The End of the Existence of Islam in Andalusia (1492):
After the establishment of the Emirate of Granada, the Muslims who lived in the other parts of the country under the Christian raids refuged to this place. The Emirate of Granada that followed a peaceful policy attached importance especially to science, art and commerce. However, the European Christianity never accepted the Muslim’s existence in this country and used to eliminate them in every chance they got.There emerged a strong Christian state, when Fernando the king of Aragon married to Isabella the queen of Castile. They took the other Christian states under their control and assaulted to the Emirate of Granada that was located in the South of Spain. The Christians, who captured Granada in 1492, killed everyone who stood before them in an unprecedented brutality. The Muslims were mercilessly killed and the products of the Islamic civilization that were created in hundred years were destroyed. Numerous books were burned and libraries, madrasahs, mosques and buildings were torn down.
- The Place of Andalusia in Muslim Culture and Civilization
Despite the internal conflicts and the Christian oppressions coming from outside, very important works in the field of Islamic thought, culture and art were created in Andalusia.The scholarly atmosphere provided by Abdurrahman III was maintained by his son Hakam II, and just in Cordoba about thirty madrasahs were established. All the Islamic cities and small towns, especially Medinat Al-Zahra, Seville and Granada, grew into prosperous and comfortable places.Ibn Bajjah (Avempace), Ibn Tufail, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Al-Idrisi, Ibn Arabi, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Khaldun etc. were some of the scholars who lived or moved to Andalusia. The views of those scholars who produced many important works in various branches of Islamic sciences like Islamic philosophy, medicine, botanic, geography and history illuminated the other Muslim countries and even Europe.
The Mudéjars and Moriscos
The Spaniards, who recaptured Andalusia and shattered everything belonging to the Muslims who lived for a while more there, started to deal with the remaining Muslims. The Muslims who were called Moriscos were forced to either accept Christianity or die. Some of the Muslims who were under this oppression converted to Christianity just in appearance but, they continued to practice Islam secretly in their homes. A royal charter was published in 1501 that commanded the Muslims who lived in Castile and Leon to either accept Christianity or leave Spain. In 1556, Philip II brought an edict into force that ordered Muslims immediately to stop using their language, their religious institutions, and their life-style. They put Muslims into enclosed places, sprinkled baptismal water over them, and declared their conversion to Christianity. The Qur’ans and other books in Arabic were collected, the libraries were emptied, wearing traditional clothes were forbidden. Teaching Arabic to the children were banned. The mosques were turned into churches. Those who act contrary were sent to inquisition. According to some Spanish sources, the inquisition delivered a judgment about the execution of more than three thousand Muslims by impalement or by burning. Despite all, the Muslims were able to continue their religious lives secretly.Finally, in 1609 Philip III issued an edict that commanded Muslims to be removed from Spain in masses. Thusly, more than 3 million Muslims were expelled from the country or they were massacred. Some of them moved to North Africa, some others together with the Jews were brought to Anatolia by ships.