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Who is Tariq Ibn Ziyad

Tariq ibn Ziyad also known simply as Tarik in English, was a Berber Umayyad commander who initiated the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Visigothic Hispania (present-day Spain and Portugal) in 711–718 AD. He led a large army and crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from the North African coast, consolidating his troops at what is today known as the Rock of Gibraltar. The name “Gibraltar” is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Ṭāriq meaning “mountain of Ṭāriq”, which is named after him.


Medieval Arabic historians give contradictory data about Ṭāriq’s origins and nationality. Some conclusions about his personality and the circumstances of his entry into al-Andalus are surrounded by uncertainty.[1] The vast majority of modern sources state that Ṭāriq was a Berber mawla of Musa ibn Nusayr, the Umayyad governor of Ifriqiya.


The Moorish Castle’s Tower of Homage, symbol of the Muslim rule in Gibraltar According to Ibn Abd al-Hakam (803–871), Musa ibn Nusayr appointed Tariq Ibn Ziyad governor of Tangier after its conquest in 710-711 but an unconquered Visigothic outpost remained nearby at Ceuta, a stronghold commanded by a nobleman named Julian, Count of Ceuta.

After Roderic came to power in Spain, Julian had, as was the custom, sent his daughter, Florinda la Cava, to the court of the Visigothic king for education. It is said that Roderic raped her, and that Julian was so incensed he resolved to have the Muslims bring down the Visigothic kingdom.

Accordingly, he entered into a treaty with Ṭāriq (Mūsā having returned to Qayrawan) to secretly convoy 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.[citation needed]

On or about April 26, 711, the army of Tariq Ibn Ziyad, composed of recent Berber converts to Islam, was landed on the Iberian peninsula (in what is now Spain) by Julian.[a] They debarked at the foothills of a mountain which was henceforth named after him, Gibraltar (Jabal Tariq).

Ṭāriq’s army contained about 7,000 soldiers, composed largely of Berber stock but also Arab troops.Roderic, to meet the threat of the Umayyads, assembled an army said to number 100,000, though the real number may well have been much lower.[9] Most of the army was commanded by, and loyal to, the sons of Wittiza, whom Roderic had brutally deposed.Ṭāriq won a decisive victory when Roderic was defeated and killed on July 19 at the Battle of Guadalete.

Tariq Ibn Ziyad split his army into four divisions, which went on to capture Córdoba under Mughith al-Rumi, Granada, and other places, while he remained at the head of the division which captured Toledo. Afterwards, he continued advancing towards the north, reaching Guadalajara and Astorga.[1] Ṭāriq was de facto governor of Hispania until the arrival of Mūsā a year later. Ṭāriq’s success led Musa to assemble 12,000 (mostly Arab) troops to plan a second invasion, and within a few years Tariq Ibn Ziyad and Musa had captured two-thirds of the Iberian peninsula from the Visigoths.

Both Ṭāriq 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.[11] The son of Musa, Abd al-Aziz, who took command of the troops of al-Andalus, was assassinated in 716.[2] In the many Arabic histories written about the conquest of southern Spain, there is a definite division of opinion regarding the relationship between Tariq Ibn Ziyad and Musa bin Nusayr.


Some relate episodes of anger and envy on the part of Mūsā 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, writing in the 9th century, merely states that Mūsā wrote Ṭāriq a “severe letter” and that the two were later reconciled.

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