Ibn Ziyaad is one of the most prominent commanders who recorded his name in
the glorious Islamic history which includes names like Khaalid Ibn Al-Waleed,
S`ad Ibn Abi Waqaas, `Amr Ibn Al-`Aas, Salaahuddeen and Muhammad Al-Faatih.
Taariq Ibn Ziyaad, a Muslim state was established in Andalusia, known
nowadays as Spain and Portugal. This state lasted for eight centuries. This
great hero was not originally an Arab, rather he was one of the Berbers who
lived in Morocco. Many of these Berbers embraced Islam, including `Abdullaah,
the grandfather of Taariq. `Abdullaah is the first Arab Muslim name in his
family but the rest of his grandfathers were Berbers who were distinctly
tall and blond.
Taariq Ibn Ziyaad started out his
life just like other Muslim children. He learnt how to read and write and
memorized some Qur'anic chapters and Prophetic narrations. His love of
military life made him join the army commanded by Moosaa Ibn Nusayr, the
Commander in charge of Morocco. Taariq participated in the Islamic conquests
and he displayed superior courage and excellent commanding skills that
attracted the attention of Moosaa Ibn Nusayr. Moosaa Ibn Nusayr admired his
skills and abilities and appointed him as the ruler of Tangier, a Moroccan
city on the Mediterranean.
An opportunity to conquer Andalusia
Andalusia was ruled by an unjust
king, Ludrique, who was hated by his own people who were thinking of
deposing him and revolting against him. They sought the help of the Muslims
who were ruling the North African region, especially after they heard how
fair the Muslims are. Count Julian, ruler of Ceuta near Tangier,
intermediated in order to convince the Muslims to help the Andalusians.
Julian contacted Taariq Ibn Ziyaad and offered him his assistance in order
to get rid of Ludrique. Taariq welcomed this offer and found it a good
opportunity to resume Jihaad and conquests and to spread Islam and allow
people to know about its noble teachings. Taariq sent to Moosaa Ibn Nusayr,
in Morocco, in order to take permission to conquer Andalusia. Moosaa asked
Taariq to wait until he sends to the Caliph of the Muslims, Al-Waleed Ibn
`Abdul-Malik in order to take his permission to conquer Andalusia and
explain the situation to him. The Caliph gave him permission but instructed
Moosaa Ibn Nusayr to send a reconnaissance campaign first in order to
discover what is going on in Andalusia before sailing towards them.
Tareef's reconnaissance expedition
In response to the command of the
Caliph, Taariq started to prepare a small campaign in order to cross the
Mediterranean to Andalusia. The campaign was under the command of a Berber
commander called Tareef Ibn Maalik. It consisted of five hundred of the best
Muslim soldiers who moved in order to check the status quo in Andalusia. The
campaign marched out in Ramadhaan 91 A.H., July 710 A.C. They crossed the
sea in four ships offered by Ct. Julian. They landed on the opposite bank in
an area which was later named Tareef Island after the commander of the
campaign. This small campaign examined the country well. They did not
encounter any resistance, and they returned with generous spoils of war.
The expedition of Taariq Ibn Ziyaad
The results of Tareef's expedition
encouraged Taariq to prepare for the invasion of Andalusia. After less than
a year following Tareef's expedition, Taariq Ibn Ziyaad marched out with
seven thousand soldiers, most of them were Muslim Berbers. He crossed the
Mediterranean to Andalusia and the Muslim Army was assembled near a mountain
that was known later as Jabal Taariq (the mount of Taariq or Gibraltar) on
the fifth of Rajab 92 A.H., the 27th of April 711 A.C.
Taariq stayed in this area for
several days. He built a castle to act as a military base near the mountain.
He assigned some soldiers to guard it and protect the back lines of the army
in case he was forced to withdraw.
Supported by Ct. Julian, Taariq Ibn
Ziyaad marched with his army penetrating the nearby area. He headed towards
the "Green Island" province and occupied its castles. At this point,
Ludrique came to know about the invasion. He was busy fighting some rebels
in the north. He stopped fighting them and returned to Toledo, the capital
of the country, and prepared himself to encounter the Muslim army.
Taariq Ibn Ziyaad marched north
towards Toledo. His forces camped in a wide valley between Tajo river in the
east and Albarracin river in the west. At the same time, Ludrique completed
his preparations and recruited a tremendous army of one hundred thousand
warriors armed with the most powerful weapons. Ludrique marched to the south
and he was quite sure that he will be victorious.
When Taariq Ibn Ziyaad was informed
about this large number of soldiers, he sent a message to Moosaa Ibn Nusayr
telling him about the situation and asking for support. Moosaa Ibn Nusayr
sent five thousand of the best soldiers. Thus the total number of the
Muslims reached twelve thousand.
The big encounter
Ludrique marched towards Shadhunah
where he completed his preparations. Then he headed in order to encounter
A decisive battle took place between
the two armies near Shadhunah. The battle started on the 28th of
Ramadhaan 92 A.H., the 18th of July 711 A.C. and continued for
eight days. The Muslims were courageous fighters, and were as firm as
mountains in the battlefield, although their enemy who were well-equipped
outnumbered them. The Muslims were not afraid of the enemy's power or large
number. The Muslims were victorious over their enemy through excellent
preparation, deeply-rooted faith, sincerity, and the ardent desire to be
killed as martyrs for the sake of Allaah.
On the eighth day of the battle, the
Muslims were victorious. Ludrique, the last of the Visigoth kings, fled
after the battle, and no trace of him was found; it seems that he lost his
life in the battle in which he had also lost his kingdom.
The aftermath of victory
After this resounding victory,
Taariq chased the defeated army and he marched out with his army conquering
the country. He did not encounter considerable resistance on his march to
the north. On his way to Toledo, the capital of the Visigoth, Taariq sent
small military expeditions in order to conquer cities such as Cordoba,
Granada and Malaga.
Taariq continued his march northward
penetrating the hills of Andalusia until he reached Toledo after a long,
harsh journey that covered more than six hundred kilometers away from the
When Taariq reached Toledo, he
treated its people kindly and he did not touch their churches. Then he
marched further north until he reached the Bay of Biscay. He returned again
to Toledo and wrote a message to Moosaa Ibn Nusayr informing him of his
victorious conquest. He asked for more men and equipment in order to
continue his march, spread Islam in these areas and help its people get rid
of the injustice of the Visigoths.
Nusayr and his participation in the conquest of Andalusia
Moosaa Ibn Nusayr was following up
the march of the Islamic army under the command of Taariq Ibn Ziyaad. He
realized that Taariq is in need of help and support, especially after the
martyrdom of many Muslims in the battles they fought. Commanding eighteen
thousand soldiers, he crossed to Andalusia in Ramadhaan 93 A.H., June 712
A.C. He marched taking a different route other than the one taken by Taariq
so that he could have the honor of conquering new areas. He marched until he
reached Toledo where he met Taariq Ibn Ziyaad.
After a short rest in Toledo, the
two commanders restarted invasion again and they conquered Zaragoza,
Tarragona and Barcelona as well as other cities. Then, each commander took a
different route until they conquered all of Andalusia.
The Return to Damascus
While the two commanders were
conquering these areas, they received a message from caliph Al-Waleed Ibn
`Abdul-Malik in which he asked them to stop the conquest and return to
Damascus in order to submit a report on the progress of the conquest. The
two commanders organized the affairs of the places they conquered and took
Seville as capital of Andalusia due to its closeness to the sea.
The two commanders left Andalusia
and marched towards Damascus, the capital of the Umayyad caliphate. They
reached Damascus and found that Al-Waleed died and his brother Sulaymaan Ibn
`Abdul-Malik has become caliph. They submitted a complete report on the
conquest. The caliph ordered them to stay in Damascus. Taariq Ibn Ziyaad
stayed there and the caliph was satisfied with his great conquests that made
him immortal among the great Muslim commanders.
The character of Taariq Ibn Ziyaad
Taariq Ibn Ziyaad was a great
commander who managed, through his faith, patience, decisiveness and
determination, to reach this high position.
He managed to achieve all these
victories because he used to think over every step he takes, and he never
rushed in taking decisions. He used to collect information before he moves;
for example, before he crossed to Andalusia, he sent a reconnaissance
expedition in order to check the status quo of Andalusia.
He was also a faithful believer and
he was quite sure that Allaah's victory will be in his side even in the most
critical moments. For eight days, he continued to fight an enemy that
excelled his army in terms of number and equipment, but with the Grace of
Allaah he managed to achieve victory at the end.
Taariq Ibn Ziyaad in brief
A great commander of
non-Arab origin. He belongs to the Berber tribes living in Morocco which was
conquered by the Muslims.
- His military talents
qualified him to be promoted in the army commanded by Moosaa Ibn Nusayr
until he reached the highest positions.
- Moosaa Ibn Nusayr
named him ruler of Tangier in appreciation of his efficiency.
contacted Taariq Ibn Ziyaad and asked his help in invading Andalusia in
order to eliminate the injustices of the Visigoths.
- He crossed the
Mediterranean to Andalusia and the Muslim Army assembled near a mountain
that was known later as Gibraltar.
- He fought Ludrique,
the king of the Visigoths, in a decisive battle in Shadhunah and he achieved
a great victory after eight days of ferocious fighting.
- He resumed his
conquest and took over Toledo, the capital of the Visigoths.
Moosaa Ibn Nusayr
marched to support him and the two commanders completed the conquest of
- After the conquest
was completed, he went to Damascus, the headquarter of the Umayyad
caliphate. He submitted a report on the conquest to the Umayyad caliph and
he stayed in Damascus and did not go back to resume conquest.