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Tariq ibn Ziyad
|Tariq bin Ziyad|
طارق بن زياد
|Buried at||Damascus , Syria|
|Battles/wars||Conquest of Hispania|
• Battle of Guadalete
|Other work||Governor of Al-Andalus|
Tariq ibn Ziyad (Arabic: طارق بن زياد, died 720) 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 the north coast of Morocco, consolidating his troops at a large hill now known as Gibraltar. The name “Gibraltar” is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq (جبل طارق), meaning “mountain of Tariq”, named after him.
- 1 Origin
- 2 History
- 3 Tariq vs. Musa
- 4 Solomon’s Table
- 5 Namesakes
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 Literature
- 9 External links
An illustration of Tariq ibn Ziyad.
Most medieval historians give little or no information about Tariq’s origins or nationality. Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam, Ibn al-Athir, Al-Tabari and Ibn Khaldun do not say anything, and have been followed in this by modern works such as the Encyclopedia of Islam and Cambridge History of Islam. There are three different accounts given by a few Arabic histories which all seem to date from between 400 and 500 years after Tariq’s time. These are that:
- He was a Berber from North Africa. Even here there are several different versions, and modern workers who accept a Berber origin tend to settle on one version or another without giving any reason for so doing. The Berber tribes associated with these ancestries (Zenata, Walhāṣ, Warfajūma, Nafzā) were, in Tariq’s time, all resident in Tripolitania.
- The earliest reference seems to be the 12th-century geographer al-Idrisi, who referred to him as Tariq bin Abd ‘Allah bin Wanamū al-Zanātī, without the usual bin Ziyad.
- The 14th-century historian Ibn Idhari gives two versions of Tariq’s ancestry (the differences may be caused by copyist errors). He is referred to as Tāriq bin Zīyād bin Abd ‘Allah bin Walghū bin Warfajūm bin Nabarghāsan bin Walhāṣ bin Yaṭūfat bin Nafzāw (Arabic: طارق بن زياد بن عبد الله بن ولغو بن ورفجوم بن نبرغاسن بن ولهاص بن يطوفت بن نفزاو) and also as Tāriq bin Zīyād bin Abd’ Allah bin Rafhū bin Warfajūm bin Yanzghāsan bin Walhāṣ bin Yaṭūfat bin Nafzāw (Arabic: طارق بن زياد بن عبد الله بن رفهو بن ورفجوم بن ينزغاسن بن ولهاص بن يطوفت بن نفزاو).
Most historians, Arab and Spanish, seem to agree that he was a slave of the emir of Ifriqiya (North Africa), Musa bin Nusayr, who gave him his freedom and appointed him a general in his army. But his descendants centuries later denied he had ever been Musa’s slave.
The earliest reference to him seems to be in the Mozarab Chronicle, written in Latin in 754, which although written within living memory of the conquest of Spain, refers to him erroneously as Taric Abuzara.
Tariq’s name is often associated with that of a young slave girl, Umm Ḥakīm, who is said to have crossed to Spain with him; but the nature of their relationship is left obscure.
The Moorish Castle’s Tower of Homage, symbol of the Muslim occupation of Gibraltar.
Musa bin Nusayr appointed Tariq governor of Tangiers after its conquest in 710-711, but an unconquered Visigothic outpost remained nearby at Ceuta, a stronghold commanded by a nobleman named Julian.
After Roderic came to power in Spain, Julian had, as was the custom, sent his daughter to the court of the Visigothic king to receive an education. It is said that Roderic raped her, and that Julian was so incensed he resolved to have the Arabs bring down the Visigothic kingdom. Accordingly he entered into a treaty with Tariq (Musa having returned to Qayrawan) to secretly convey the Muslim army across the Straits of Gibraltar, as he owned a number of merchant ships and had his own forts on the Spanish mainland.
About April 29 711, the army of Tariq, composed of recent converts to Islam, was landed at Gibraltar by Julian.(the name Gibraltar is derived from the Arabic name Jabal at Tariq, which means mountain of Tariq).
Tariq’s army contained about 7,000 men, and Musa is said to have sent an additional 5.000 reinforcements. Roderic, to meet the threat, assembled an army said to number 100,000. Most of the army was commanded by, and loyal to, the sons of Wittiza, whom Roderic had brutally deposed. Tariq won a decisive victory when Roderic was defeated and killed on July 19 at the Battle of Guadalete.
On the advice of Julian, Tariq split his army into various divisions which went on to capture Cordoba, Granada and other places, while he remained at the head of the division which captured Toledo and Guadalajara. Tariq was de facto governor of Hispania until the arrival of Musa a year later.
Both Tariq and Musa were simultaneously ordered back to Damascus by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I in 714, where they spent the rest of their lives.
Tariq vs. Musa
In the many Arabic histories written about the conquest of Spain, there is a definite division of opinion regarding the relationship between Tariq and Musa bin Nusayr. Some relate episodes of anger and envy on the part of Musa, that his freedman had conquered an entire country. Others do not mention, or play down, any such bad blood.
On the other hand, another early historian al-Baladhuri (9th century) merely states that Musa wrote Tariq a “severe letter” and that the two were later reconciled.
The most widespread story regarding the enmity between Tariq and Musa concerns a fabulous piece of furniture, reputed to have belonged to the Biblical Solomon. Said to have been made of gold, and encrusted with precious gems, this important relic was noted even in pre-Islamic times to be in the possession of the Spanish Visigoths.
Tariq took possession of the table after the surrender of one of Roderic’s nephews. Most stories say that, fearing duplicity on the part of Musa, he removed one leg of the table and (in most accounts) replaced it with an obviously inferior one. The table was then added to Musa’s collection of booty to be taken back to Damascus.
When both men appeared before the caliph, Musa gave out that he was the one who had obtained the table. Tariq drew the caliph’s attention to the inferior (or missing) leg, for which Musa’s only explanation was that he had found it like that. Tariq then produced the real leg, leading to Musa’s disgrace.
There is none of the above story in al-Baladhuri’s account, which simply mentions the table being presented to the caliph.
|New title||Governor of Al-Andalus|
Tariq bin Ziyad