When Black Men Ruled Europe: Tariq ibn‑Ziyad

"Oh my warriors, whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy.”

Ṭāriq ibn Ziyād was a Berber Muslim commander who led the Islamic Umayyad conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711–718 A.D.


Tariq bin Ziyad is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in the Iberian history (the Iberian Peninsula , includes the countries of Andorra, Portugal and Spain, and the British colony of Gibraltar). 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.

The army of Tariq, comprising 300 Arabs and 10,000 Berber converts to Islam, landed at Gibraltar. King Roderic of Spain amassed a force of 100,000 fighters against them. Tariq called for reinforcements and received an additional contingent of 7,000 cavalrymen under the command of Tarif bin Malik Naqi .

When Tariq bin Ziyad found the Muslim ranks a bit nervous in the face of the large enemy in front of them, he ordered the ships to be burned and then delivered the historic and stirring address to the Mujahedeen. The two armies met at the battlefield of Guadalete where King Roderic was defeated and killed on Ramadan 28, 92 AH. The defeated Spanish army retreated toward Toledo. Tariq bin Ziyad divided his troops into four regiments for a hot pursuit. One regiment advanced toward Cordoba and subdued it. The second captured Murcia and the third advanced toward Saragossa. Tariq himself moved swiftly toward Toledo. The city surrendered without resistance. King Roderic’s rule came to an end in Spain. In a little over three years, the Muslim forces conquered much of the Iberian peninsula except for a mountainous region near the Biscay bay.

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