As Islam started spreading rapidly from the Arabian Peninsula, the Mujahideen opened up many lands to the Dawa, (or call/preaching), of Islam on the foundation of tawheed. Amr Ibn Al Aas was one of the many Sahaba, (companions of the Prophet, Peace and Blessings Upon Him), and Mujahids that were involved in these expeditions. He opened, (Fataha), Egypt in 641 CE and set up the city of Fustat as a launch pad for further expansion of the Islamic Dawa into Africa. Muslim Expeditions reached further into Africa until they reached Qayrowan in Ifriqiya, (Present day Tunisia), led by the nephew of Amr Bin Al Aas, the Ummayad General Uqba Ibn Naafi. Subsequently Qayrowan replaced Fustat in 671 CE as a launch pad for further Muslim expedition in Africa and Southern Europe.
At around thia time in Dimashq, (Damascus), The Ummayads were trying to strategize how best to take Constantinople, (Istanbul), due to it being the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, (or Byzantium, or ‘Rum’), and in an attempt to attain the blessed status promised to the one who opens Constantinople:
Abdullah Bin Bashr Al Ghanawi narrates that his father heard the Prophet (صل َّىلاللهلعليہلوسل َّم), say: “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!”
The father of the Governor of Bani Ummaya in Qayrawan, Musa Bin Nusayr, had advised the Khalifa Muawiya (RA) that the only way to take Constantinople was from the south, (through Anatolia) and north, (up through Spain, France, Italy, Romania and Hungary) and so Musa was commissioned to begin the invasion of Europe to reach Constantinople. It was a move that harked of the strategy of the Carthaginian General Hannibal, (and some historians say deliberately so on the part of Musa Bin Nusayr’s father, in that he was aware of Hannibals strategy), and his strategy to attack Rome by attacking, first, the Roman province of Hispania, (Spain), and then crossing the Pyrenees and working his way down the Italian Peninsula to attack Rome. Albeit, in Hannibal’s case, Scipio Africanus got the better of his forces for a variety of reasons, (leading to the end of the already
crippled Carathaginian Empire12 in the Third Punic War at the hands of another Scipio, Scipio Aemilianus Africanus in 146 BC), the Khalifa Muawiya believed the tactic could work and so ordered Musa to be groomed to go to Spain. However due to delays and a civil war13 between Muslims, the plan was delayed.
In 710 CE, as a preliminary intelligence collection mission16, Tareef Ibn Malik, (a Berber Commander under Musa Bin Nusair), was sent to recon the southern coastline of Andalus, with the help of Julian, (Governor of Ceuta under the Visigoths), in order to guage enemy capabilities and to designate a suitable landing spot for a subsequent larger raiding force to remove Roderic. The recon and subsequent test raid was successful and, after Musa got word of the mission’s success, decided to go forward with a full scale land raid into Andalus. At this very moment, their was a fracturious civil war underway in the Visigothic Kingdom, weaking army morale, reducing coordination of their forces and leaving them off-guard for a possible Muslim raid.
In 711 CE Tariq Bin Ziyad landed 7,000 fighters at Jabal Tariq, (Gibralter), to begin the invasion of Spain through a continuous northward thrust of raids deeper and deeper into Visigothic territory. After a series of raids in enemy territory a decisive engagement took place at the Battle of Guadalete17, Tariq ibn Ziyad defeated King Roderic, the last Visigothic ruler of Hispania, at the Guadalete River in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Tariq goes on to take Tulaytula, while a detachment under Mugeyth Al-Rumi took Qurtuba. Due to internal strife within the Visigoth kingdom and the discipline of the Mujahideen, the Muslim army easily defeated Roderic’s army of over 20,000 men almost without resistance.
The Islamic armies establish control of Andalus as a Wilayat, (province/governorate), under the Ummayad Khilafa with the capital initially being in Ishbiliyyah, (Seville), while Islamic law was established with the Christians and Jews being given their rights as Ahl Al-Dhimma18. At the same time, without wasting a moment, detachments of mujahideen and their commanders fan out across the peninsula to put down the revolts of the seditious local Christians and continue to push northwards to liberate further Christian territory reaching all the way to Tours in 732 CE wherein the encountered Charles Martel and his armies. Under the command of then Governor of Andalus, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi faced off against the Franks19under Martel at Tours, (which Martel decided due to his familiarity with the terrain), with 60,000 mujahideen, versus Martel’s 30,000 troops. Abdul Rahman assumed these were just one of the many numerous rebellious barbarian tribes that had ravaged the Romans, (i.e. ragtag and without troop discipline, preferring to overwhelm the enemy without recourse to any particularly clever strategy), and that Martel was just one of the many tribal leaders that were not particularly motivated, and would either flee or negotiate after a few skirmishes.
However, he was proven wrong, as Martel executed a victory by using the land to his advantage by employing a phalanx20 formation and fighting downhill, (to negate cavalry charges that would have to charge uphill). Notably, Martel fought without cavalry, (i.e. horses), which would be the equivalent of a modern national army going into battle with only infantry, (i.e. no planes, tanks, trucks, or satellites). Moreover, a rumor spread during the battle that Martel’s men had snuck into the Muslim camp to steal the ghaneema (booty/spoils). As soon the call went out the mujahideen raced to rear camp to defend their apparently besieged ghaneema while leaving this commander and a few detachments exposed to Frankish attacks, (in a replay of the Battle of Uhud21 all over again), leading to the death of Abd Al Rahman .
His army routed the Muslim army with many mujahideen and, their commander, Abd Al Rahman Ghafiqi attaining Shahada, that most loftiest of stations22. Losses upon the Muslim army were estimated to be approximately 10,000. In the aftermath, disunity on part of the Muslim army destroyed any chance of a real counterattack which could have stolen victory from the jaws of defeat, in that, the commanders in the Mujahideen camp could not decide on whom to nominate to lead them and fell into dispute. All the while, Martel capitalized on this and continued bringing the fight to the mujahideen. On this point, the Quranic viewpoint has to be examined, (and it is important in spite of the fact, this is supposed to be a brief introduction to the topic of Muslims after the fall of Andalus), along with the strategic military shortfalls as well. Allah (سبحانہلولتعلى) says:
And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His permission; until Fashiltum24 and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you what you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you. But surely, He forgave you, and Allah is Most Gracious to the believers.
(And remember) when you ran away without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, nor for what struck you. And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do.
Ibn Kathir States in these verses, (regarding َّ The Battle َّ of Uhud), about how the Archers on the peak of Uhud disobeyed the orders of Prophet (صلىلاللهلعليہلوسلم), with the desire to to not miss out on attaining Ghaneema from the apparently defeated Makkan coalition.
This Ayah means, Allah gave them the upper hand to try and test you, O believers…He forgave the error you committed, because, and Allah knows best, the idolators were many and well supplied, while Muslims had few men and few supplies.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ said, “We met the idolators on that day (Uhud) and the Prophet appointed `Abdullah bin Jubayr as the commander of the archers. He instructed them, `Retain your position, and if you see that we have defeated them, do not abandon your positions. If you see that they defeated us, do not rush to help us.’ The disbelievers gave flight when we met them, and we saw their women fleeing up the mountain while lifting up their clothes revealing their anklets and their legs. So, the companions (of `Abdullah bin Jubayr) said, `The booty, the booty!’ `Abdullah bin Jubayr said, `Allah’s Messenger commanded me not to allow you to abandon your position.’ They refused to listen, and when they left their position, Muslims were defeated and seventy of them were killed. Abu Sufyan shouted, `Is Muhammad present among these people’ The Prophet said, `Do not answer him.’ Then he asked, `Is the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) present among these people’ The Prophet said, `Do not answer him.’ He asked again, `Is the son of Al-Khattab (`Umar) present among these people As for these (men), they have been killed, for had they been alive, they would have answered me.’ `Umar could not control himself and said (to Abu Sufyan), `You lie, O enemy of Allah! The cause of your misery is still present.’ Abu Sufyan said, `O Hubal, be high!’ On that the Prophet said (to his Companions), `Answer him back.’ They said, `What shall we say’ He said, `Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime.’ Abu Sufyan said, `We have the (idol) Al- `Uzza, and you have no `Uzza.’ The Prophet said, `Answer him back.’ They asked, `What shall we say’ He said, `Say, Allah is our protector and you have no protector.’ Abu Sufyan said, `Our victory today is vengeance for yours in the battle of Badr, and in war (the victory) is always undecided and is shared in turns by the belligerents. You will find some of your killed men mutilated, but I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for their deed.’25
‘ Only Al-Bukhari collected this Hadith using this chain of narration. Muhammad bin Ishaq said that, `Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr narrated that Az-Zubayr bin Al-`Awwam said, “By Allah! I saw the female servants and female companions of Hind (Abu Sufyan’s wife) when they uncovered their legs and gave flight. At that time, there was no big or small effort separating us from capturing them. However, the archers went down the mount when the enemy gave flight from the battlefield, seeking to collect the booty. They uncovered our back lines to the horsemen of the disbelievers, who took the chance and attacked us from behind. Then a person shouted, `Muhammad has been killed.’ So we pulled back, and the disbelievers followed us, after we had killed those who carried their flag, and none of them dared to come close the flag, until then.”’ Muhammad bin Ishaq said next, “The flag of the disbelievers was left on the ground until `Amrah bint `Alqamah Al-Harithiyyah picked it up and gave it to the Quraysh who held it.”26
Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you… 27
by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, for that you missed the booty and triumph over your enemy…
Imam Ibn Kathir Continues:
Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves and thought wrongly of Allah — the thought of ignorance. They said, “Have we any part in the affair” Say: “Indeed the affair belongs wholly to Allah.” They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you, saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair, none of us would have been killed here.” Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,”
but that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which was in your hearts (sins), and Allah is All-Knower of what is in the breasts.
Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, Shaytan only caused them to err because of some of what they had earned. But Allah, indeed, has forgiven them. Surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.
…The second group mentioned in the Ayah were the hypocrites who only thought about themselves, for they are the most cowardly people and those least likely to support the truth…
“While another party was thinking about themselves,” and they were not overcome by slumber because of their worry, fright and fear…
Similarly, Allah said in another statement,
“Nay, but you thought that the Messenger and the believers would never return to their families”29.
This group thought that the idolators achieved ultimate victory, when their forces took the upper hand in battle, and that Islam and its people would perish. This is typical of people of doubt and hesitation, in the event of a hardship, they fall into such evil thoughts…
…Allah the Exalted said,
“Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,”
Meaning, this is Allah’s appointed destiny and a decision that will certainly come to pass, and there is no escaping it. Allah’s statement,
“That Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which was in your hearts,”
means, so that He tests you with whatever befell you, to distinguish good from evil and the deeds and statements of the believers from those of the hypocrites…
After that lengthy explanation by Imam Ibn Kathir, the point to drive home is that at Uhud, what destroyed the battle strategy was a combination of indiscipline, disobeying orders, (and at that, the Prophet ( صل َّىلاللهلعليہلوسل َّم) orders), their fear of the enemy and dieing, weak iman and greed for Ghaneema. All of these factors slot almost identically into the loss at Tours.
Strategically speaking, the battle preperations by the Muslim army were too hasty to say the least, and their reconnaissance of Martel’s troop numbers and capabilities were poor and based more on bravado than on old-fashioned reconnaissance and intelligence. Secondly, Abd Al-Rahman’s army made the massive mistake of allowing the native enemy to choose the battlefield, which was disastrous in this case, as Martel lured the mujahideen in a battlefield where he negated their advantages (i.e. cavalry/horses), and minimized his weakness, (his weakness of not having cavalry). Furthermore his troops were better drilled and trained and had greater battle experience, (almost four years of fighting together as a unit prior to this engagement), whereas the mujahideen were rag-tag with some who had battle experience, and some who merely went along for the ghaneema. This indiscipline first led to the collapse of the Muslim base camp but moreover led to the later confusion in succession of leadership, (in that the Mujahideen failed to make appropriate preparation for the possible event of their commander being killed). To avoid these problems, or at the very least, to avoid a repition of these mistakes in future or current battles, the lessons learnt are:
• Rigorous training for Rank and File: Discipline is always needed in high pressure situation and its makes the difference between victory and defeat. This includes sticking to standard procedures and not making assumptions that are not based on facts on the ground. By that I mean:
- Making sure a tentative battle plan is in place
- Making sure to always do adequate Recon of target in question
- Drafting a comprehensive Plan of Battle: by drafting an Order of Battle by incorporating intelligence, (both of troop capabilities and Geographical Intelligence of enemy location, and if it is suitable for a confrontation, and if not, where is the best place to engage them).
- Then finally, give the order to execute
• Contingency Planning: Put in place a succession plan of leadership, in the case of death of first layer of leadership, with procedures to deal with the prevailing situations in order to avoid drop in morale and coordination of troops.
• Intelligence and Recon: These two components are integral to battlefield domination and victory. If it is defective, then the army’s preparation may not be equipped properly for the enemy they will face, which might possibly lead to loss of life and defeat.
The battle marked the northernmost point of the spread of the Islamic Dawa’, wherein afterward, no raid or campaign was quite so adventurous to venture that far north. Subsequently, after this battle, the Berbers of North Africa and, later, the people of Al Andalus rebelled against the Ummayad Government in place in 739 CE in the Maghribain, (North Africa and Andalus), due to their grievance that the government was not inclusive of Berbers and was discriminatory towards them. This revolt lasted four year wherein, soon after the Ummayad Dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasids in 749 CE. At this time, an Ummayad Emir, Abd Al Rahman Al Dakhil, (Abd Al Rahman I), escaped from the clutches of the Abbasid death squads and made his way out of Iraq, zig-zagging his way through Sham, North Africa and then finally to Andalus, where he established, (after numerous battles), the Ummayad Emirate of Qurtuba in 756 CE. The Emirate lasted till 929 CE and intermittment Christian rebellion continued throughout this period along with infighting between Muslims, (Berber vs. Arabs, New Muslims vs. Old Muslims, Shami’s vs. Yemeni’s etc.). A notable event during this period was the jihad declared by Hisham bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-Dakhil, (Hisham I), in 792 CE against the Christians in France and Andalus. Ten of thousands of Muslim flocked from as far away as Sham to join the jihad.
Another notable event during this period came in 850-859 CE, when Perfectus, a Christian priest in Muslim-ruled Córdoba, is beheaded after he refuses to retract numerous insults he made about Muhammad ( صل َّىلاللهلعليہلوسل َّم). He is reported to have said that the The Prophet ( صل َّىلاللهلعليہل was a “…false Prophets foretold by Christ and as a moral reprobate who had seduced the wife ,)وسل َّم of his kinsman. ” Similar things were said by the remainder of this Christian contingent. Numerous other priests, monks, and laity would follow as Christians became caught up in a zest for ‘martyrdom.’ In total forty-eight Christians men and women are decapitated for refusing to convert or blaspheming Muhammad. They are known as the Martyrs of Córdoba. One can not help but wonder if the same is reoccurring as the ‘Martyrs of Free Speech’ lead their crusade against the character of the Prophet ( صل َّىلاللهلعليہلوسل َّم), are merely a repition of the above misguided individuals? Their end will probably be the same as of their idols, but I digress, more on that later in the conclusion.
The next significant development is the resurrection of the Ummayad khilafa in Andalus in 929 CE. How did it come about? Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muhammad ibn ʿAbdلAllāh,ل(AbdلAlلRahmanل III), faced with the threat of invasion by the Fatimids30, proclaims himself khalifa of Qurtuba, breaking all ties with the Abbasid khilafat in Baghdad. Under the reign of Abd al-Rahman III, (and his fore-runners), Al Andalus reaches its greatest height with military expansion and waging Jihad against the Christians to the north continuously. However by 1008, Muhammad Al Thani Al Mahdi, (Muhammad II) – great-grandson of Abd al-Rahman III – deposes Hisham II as khalifa, (Hisham will
get reinstated in 1010 but then subsequently deposed and killed by rebel Berbers in 1013 while they massacre half the population of Qurtuba). The period of anarchy over the next 23 years is what resulted, albeit slowly, the fragmentation of Andalus into 30+ Tawaif (groups/seperate kingdoms), due to internal infighting, palace intrigues, Christian unity and increasing strength of Christian forces.
Author and Work
Ibn Hashim al Mujahid
The Muslims of Spain Post 1492/897 In a Global Context and Its Relevance to Muslims Today
11Narrated in Imam Ahmed’s Musnad (18189), Imam Bukhari’s Tareekh Al Kabir (1760), and Al Hakim’s Mustadrak (8300)
12 Carthage was one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean that was created to facilitate trade from the cities of Sidon, Tyre and others from Phoenicia, which was situated in the coast of what is now Syria, Lebanon and Israel. In the 3rd and 4th Century, it was a power to rival Rome and the leadership of Hannibal and his father before him.
13 The Second Fitna which took place during 680-692 CE which include the killings of of Hussayn Bin Ali, (grandson of the Prophet ( صل َّىلاللهلعليہلوسل َّم)), and his followers at the Battle of Karbala, the revolts of Ibn Al-Zubayr and the khawarij revolts in Iraq and Persia.
16 Imam Maqri says that Musa Bin Nusayr wanted to hurry into the invasion, but the khaleefa, Abd Al Malik Ibn Al Waleed, insisted on reconnaissance, showing the military acumen of Abd Al Malik Ibn Al Waleed. In hindsight, his foresight paid off.
17 Muslim historians placed this battle at slightly different places, as, according to Abd Al Hakam in Futūh Misr, said the battle took place at Medina Sidonia or Shedunya, while others specified further that it at happened at Wadi Lakka, which is identified as the Guadelete River.
18 The people of the dhimma or pact of protection which is the one whose dhimma (responsibility of protection has been taken) is a non-Muslim subject of a land governed in accordance with the Sharia. The obligation of the state is to protect the Dhimmi’s life, property, and freedom of religion, (which does not include proselytization), and worship, and required loyalty to the empire, while charging a poll tax known as the jizya, and exemption from military service.
19 West Germanic tribes first identified in the 3rd century as an ethnic group living north and east of the Lower Rhine. Under the Merovingian dynasty, they founded one of the Germanic monarchies which replaced the Western Roman Empire from the 5th century. The Frankish state consolidated its hold over large parts of western Europe by the end of the eighth century and the Carolingian Empire and its successor states were Frankish.
20 A rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, or similar weapons. The term is particularly (and originally) used to describe the use of this formation in Ancient Greek warfare. The word phalanx is derived from the Greek word phalangos, meaning the finger
21 A battle that occurred near Jabal Uhud, (near Medina), in 625 AD/3 AH between the Muslims and the Makkan Quraysh a year after the Battle of Badr.
22 It is for that very reason that this battle is called my Muslim historians معركةلبلاطلالشهداء or The Battle of the Court of Martyrs
23 Surah Al Imran, Verses 152-153
24 Ibn Katheer says in his Tafseer that: “Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn `Abbas said that Fashiltum means, `lost courage’.” In this context it is “…you lost courage”
25 Sahih Bukhari
26 Sahih Bukhari
27 Surah Al Imran, Verse 152
28 Surah Al Imran, Verse(s) 154-155 29 Surah Al Fath, Ayah 12
30 Ismaili Shia dynasty operating out of Egypt