Short Account of Moors Invasion of Spain and Life In Its Early Days

Syed Ameer Ali writes in his book “A short history of Saracens” that, the viceroyalty of Musa bin Nusayr (then Viceroy of parts of Africa under Muslim domination in the time Umayyad Caliph Walid-I) was almost equal to that of Hajjaj bin Yusuf’s governance in the East in extent; but its importance in the demand for administrative ability and general-ship was far greater. It extended from the western confines of Egypt to the shores of the Atlantic.

Whilst Africa was enjoying the blessings of toleration and justice, and was advancing with rapid strides in the path of material prosperity under the Muslim rule, the neighbouring peninsula of Spain groaned under the iron heel of the Gothic Christians. Never was the condition of the country or of the people so bad or so miserable as under the grinding yoke of the Gothic kings. As in the Roman times, the rich, the noble and the privileged classes in general were exempt from taxation ; the middle classes, upon whom alone fell the public burdens, were reduced to ruin and misery. Industrial activity was killed by heavy imposts ; there was no manufacture or commerce ; and a terrible sterility, almost equal to that which has fallen on the land since the expulsion of the Muslims, prevailed all over the Peninsula.

The Jews, who had settled in large numbers in the Peninsula, had suffered terribly from the persecutions of  the Kings, the clergy and the nobles. The old, as a matter of grace, were allowed to retain their religion; but the young were to be brought up in the Christian faith. All marriage within the community was forbidden, and a Jewish slave was henceforth to marry a Christian slave. Such was the punishment meted out to the Jews by the bishops, who held all the power in the land.

The impoverished and ruined citizen, the wretched slave, the miserable serf, the persecuted and hunted Jew, all waited for the relief which was so long in coming. It was in the moment of their acutest agony that the deliverance arrived from an unexpected quarter.Tariq bin Ziyad, who landed at Gibraltar on Thursday 8th Rajjab 92 A.H., April 30th, conquered the Spain. With barely 12,000 men Tariq bin Ziyad defeated a disciplined army of at least five times as large. In less than two years the whole of Spain, as far as the Pyrenees, was in the hands of Muslims. Portugal was conquered a few years later, and was formed into a separate province under the name of al-Gharb, “the West.” A province of modern Portugal is still called Algrave.

The ruthless intolerance and fierce persecution which had characterised the former government made way for a large-hearted toleration under the Muslim rule. The persecuted and downtrodden Jews obtained the right to follow their religion without let or hindrance, and the Christians were secured in the unmolested enjoyment of their faith and laws, the administration of which was entrusted to their own judges. No one was troubled about his faith ; every man, woman, or child was free to worship as he liked or what he liked. The Christians had governors of their own race to collect their taxes and to settle their disputes. Every branch of the public service, and all offices of rank and emolument were open equally to Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Historian Stanley Lane-Poole writes in his book “The Moors in Spain” about the “early days” of Moors administration of Spain: “The Moors organised that wonderful kingdom of Cordoba, which was the marvel of the Middle Ages, and which, when all Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife, alone held the torch of learning and civilization bright and shinning before the Western world.” Syed Ameer Ali remarks on this: “May modern government might well take a lesson from the Muslim administration of Spain”. When Syed Ameer Ali wrote this Pakistan hadn’t came into being otherwise it would specifically have been about “Pakistan” to take a lesson.

Philip K Hitti writes in his book “History of the Arabs” (Page 551) regarding the period of Christian reconquest (reconquista) that started as early as the fall of the Umayyad caliphate in the eleventh century. In fact, Spanish historians consider the battle of Covadonga in 718 AD, in which the Asturian chieftain Pelayo checked Muslim advance, as marking the actual beginning of the reconquest. Had the Muslims in the 8th century destroyed the last vestiges of Christian power in the mountainous north, the subsequent story of the Spain might have been entirely different.

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