Al-Andalus (Arabic: الأنْدَلُس, trans. al-ʼAndalus;
Spanish: al-Ándalus; Portuguese: al-Ândalus; Catalan: al-Àndalus;
Berber: Andalus), also known as Muslim Spain, Muslim Iberia, or
Islamic Iberia, was a medieval Muslim territory and cultural domain
occupying at its peak most of what are today Spain and Portugal. At
its greatest geographical extent in the 8th century, a part of
southern France—Septimania—was briefly under its control. The name
more generally describes parts of the
Iberian Peninsula governed by
Muslims (given the generic name of Moors) at various times between 711
and 1492, though the boundaries changed constantly as the Christian
Reconquista progressed, eventually shrinking to the south
Andalusia and then to the Emirate of Granada.
Umayyad conquest of Hispania, al-Andalus, then at its
greatest extent, was divided into five administrative units,
corresponding roughly to modern Andalusia, Portugal and Galicia,
Castile and León, Navarre, Aragon, the County of Barcelona, and
Septimania. As a political domain, it successively constituted a
province of the
Umayyad Caliphate, initiated by the
Caliph Al-Walid I
Emirate of Córdoba
Emirate of Córdoba (c. 750–929); the
Córdoba (929–1031); and the
Caliphate of Córdoba's taifa
(successor) kingdoms. Rule under these kingdoms led to a rise in
cultural exchange and cooperation between
Muslims and Christians.
Jews were subject to a special tax called Jizya, to the
state, which in return provided internal autonomy in practicing their
religion and offered the same level of protections by the Muslim
Caliphate of Córdoba, al-Andalus was a beacon of learning,
and the city of Córdoba, the largest in Europe, became one of the
leading cultural and economic centres throughout the Mediterranean
Basin, Europe, and the Islamic world. Achievements that advanced
Islamic and Western science came from al-Andalus, including major
advances in trigonometry (Geber), astronomy (Arzachel), surgery
(Abulcasis), pharmacology (Avenzoar), agronomy (
Ibn Bassal and Abū
l-Khayr al-Ishbīlī), and other fields.
Al-Andalus became a major
educational center for Europe and the lands around the Mediterranean
Sea as well as a conduit for culture and science between the Islamic
and Christian worlds.
For much of its history, al-Andalus existed in conflict with Christian
kingdoms to the north. After the fall of the
al-Andalus was fragmented into minor states and principalities.
Attacks from the
Christians intensified, led by the Castilians under
Alfonso VI. The
Almoravid empire intervened and repelled the Christian
attacks on the region, deposing the weak Andalusi Muslim princes and
included al-Andalus under direct Berber rule. In the next century and
a half, al-Andalus became a province of the Berber Muslim empires of
Almoravids and Almohads, both based in Marrakesh.
Ultimately, the Christian kingdoms in the north of the Iberian
Peninsula overpowered the Muslim states to the south. In 1085, Alfonso
VI captured Toledo, starting a gradual decline of Muslim power. With
the fall of Córdoba in 1236, most of the south quickly fell under
Christian rule and the
Emirate of Granada
Emirate of Granada became a tributary state of
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile two years later. In 1249, the Portuguese
Reconquista culminated with the conquest of the
Algarve by Afonso III,
Granada as the last Muslim state on the Iberian Peninsula.
Finally, on January 2, 1492,
Muhammad XII surrendered the
Emirate of Granada
Emirate of Granada to Queen Isabella I of Castile, completing the
Reconquista of the peninsula. Although al-Andalus ended as a
political entity, the nearly eight centuries of Islamic rule which
preceded and accompanied the early formation of the Spanish
nation-state and identity has left a profound effect on the country's
culture and language, particularly in Andalusia.
2.1 Province of the
Umayyad Emirate and
Caliphate of Córdoba
2.3 Taifas period
2.4 Almoravids, Almohads, and Marinids
2.5 Emirate of Granada, its fall, and aftermath
Muslims under the Caliphate
4.1 Art and architecture
4.2.2 Jewish philosophy and culture
5 See also
9 External links
Main article: Name of Andalusia
The toponym al-Andalus is first attested by inscriptions on coins
minted in 716 by the new Muslim government of Iberia. These coins,
called dinars, were inscribed in both Latin and Arabic. The
etymology of the name "al-Andalus" has traditionally been derived from
the name of the Vandals; however, proposals since the 1980s have
challenged this contention. In 1986, Joaquín Vallvé proposed that
"al-Andalus" was a corruption of the name Atlantis, Halm in 1989
derived the name from a Gothic term, *landahlauts, and in 2002,
Bossong suggested its derivation from a pre-Roman substrate.
Province of the
Umayyad conquest of Hispania
The Age of the Caliphs
Rashidun Caliphate, 632–661
Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750
During the caliphate of the
Caliph Al-Walid I, the commander
Tariq ibn-Ziyad led a small force that landed at
Gibraltar on April
30, 711, ostensibly to intervene in a Visigothic civil war. After a
decisive victory over King
Roderic at the
Battle of Guadalete
Battle of Guadalete on July
19, 711, Tariq ibn-Ziyad, joined by Arab governor
Musa ibn Nusayr
Musa ibn Nusayr of
Ifriqiya, brought most of the
Visigothic Kingdom under Muslim
occupation in a seven-year campaign. They crossed the
Septimania in southern France.
Most of the Iberian peninsula became part of the expanding Umayyad
Empire, under the name of al-Andalus. It was organized as a province
subordinate to Ifriqiya, so, for the first few decades, the governors
of al-Andalus were appointed by the emir of Kairouan, rather than the
Caliph in Damascus. The regional capital was set at Córdoba, and the
first influx of Muslim settlers was widely distributed.
The small army Tariq led in the initial conquest consisted mostly of
Berbers, while Musa's largely Arab force of over 12,000 soldiers was
accompanied by a group of mawālī (Arabic, موالي), that is,
non-Arab Muslims, who were clients of the Arabs. The Berber soldiers
accompanying Tariq were garrisoned in the centre and the north of the
peninsula, as well as in the Pyrenees, while the Berber colonists
who followed settled in all parts of the country – north, east,
south and west. Visigothic lords who agreed to recognize Muslim
suzerainty were allowed to retain their fiefs (notably, in Murcia,
Galicia, and the Ebro valley). Resistant
Visigoths took refuge in the
Cantabrian highlands, where they carved out a rump state, the Kingdom
The province of al-Andalus in 750
In the 720s, the al-Andalus governors launched several sa'ifa raids
into Aquitaine, but were severely defeated by Duke
Odo the Great of
Aquitaine at the Battle of Toulouse (721). However, after crushing
Odo's Berber ally
Uthman ibn Naissa on the eastern Pyrenees, Abdul
Rahman Al Ghafiqi led an expedition north across the western Pyrenees
and defeated the Aquitanian duke, who in turn appealed to the Frankish
Charles Martel for assistance, offering to place himself under
Carolingian sovereignty. At the Battle of Poitiers in 732, the
al-Andalus raiding army was defeated by Charles Martel. In 734, the
Andalusi launched raids to the east, capturing
overran much of Provence. In 737, they traveled up the
reaching as far north as Burgundy.
Charles Martel of the Franks, with
the assistance of Liutprand of the Lombards, invaded Burgundy and
Provence and expelled the raiders by 739.
Interior of the
Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba
Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba formerly the Great
Mosque of Córdoba. The original mosque (742), since much enlarged,
was built on the site of the Visigothic Christian 'Saint Vincent
Relations between Arabs and
Berbers in al-Andalus had been tense in
the years after the conquest.
Berbers heavily outnumbered the Arabs in
the province, had done the bulk of the fighting, and were assigned the
harsher duties (e.g. garrisoning the more troubled areas). Although
some Arab governors had cultivated their Berber lieutenants, others
had grievously mistreated them. Mutinies by Berber soldiers were
frequent; e.g., in 729, the Berber commander Munnus had revolted and
managed to carve out a rebel state in
Cerdanya for a while.
In 740, a
Berber Revolt erupted in the
Maghreb (North Africa). To put
down the rebellion, the
Caliph Hisham dispatched a large Arab
army, composed of regiments (Junds) of Bilad Ash-Sham, to North
Africa. But the great Syrian army was crushed by the Berber rebels at
Battle of Bagdoura (in Morocco). Heartened by the victories of
their North African brethren, the
Berbers of al-Andalus quickly raised
their own revolt. Berber garrisons in northern Spain mutinied, deposed
their Arab commanders, and organized a large rebel army to march
against the strongholds of Toledo, Cordoba, and Algeciras.
In 741, Balj b. Bishr led a detachment of some 10,000 of the
Arabic-speaking troops referred to as "the Syrians" across the
straits. The Arab governor of al-Andalus, joined by this force,
crushed the Berber rebels in a series of ferocious battles in 742.
However, a quarrel immediately erupted between the Syrian commanders
and the Andalusi, the so-called "original Arabs" of the earlier
contingents. The Syrians defeated them at the hard-fought Battle of
Aqua Portora in August 742 but were too few to impose themselves on
The quarrel was settled in 743 when Abū l-Khaṭṭār al-Ḥusām,
the new governor of al-Andalus, assigned the Syrians to regimental
fiefs across al-Andalus – the
Damascus jund was established in
Elvira (Granada), the Jordan jund in Rayyu (
Málaga and Archidona),
Jund Filastin in
Medina-Sidonia and Jerez, the Emesa (Hims) jund
Seville and Niebla, and the Qinnasrin jund in Jaén. The
was divided between Beja (Alentejo) in the west and Tudmir (Murcia) in
the east. The arrival of the Syrians substantially increased the
Arab element in the Iberian peninsula and helped strengthen the Muslim
hold on the south. However, at the same time, unwilling to be
governed, the Syrian junds carried on an existence of autonomous
feudal anarchy, severely destabilizing the authority of the governor
Portrait of Abd al-Rahman I
A second significant consequence of the revolt was the expansion of
the Kingdom of the Asturias, hitherto confined to enclaves in the
Cantabrian highlands. After the rebellious Berber garrisons evacuated
the northern frontier fortresses, the Christian king Alfonso I of
Asturias set about immediately seizing the empty forts for himself,
quickly adding the northwestern provinces of Galicia and León to his
fledgling kingdom. The Asturians evacuated the Christian populations
from the towns and villages of the Galician-Leonese lowlands, creating
an empty buffer zone in the
Douro River valley (the "Desert of the
Duero"). This newly emptied frontier remained roughly in place for the
next few centuries as the boundary between the Christian north and the
Islamic south. Between this frontier and its heartland in the south,
the al-Andalus state had three large march territories (thughur): the
Lower March (capital initially at Mérida, later Badajoz), the Middle
March (centered at Toledo), and the
Upper March (centered at
These disturbances and disorders also allowed the Franks, now under
the leadership of Pepin the Short, to invade the strategic strip of
Septimania in 752, hoping to deprive al-Andalus of an easy launching
pad for raids into Francia. After a lengthy siege, the last Arab
stronghold, the citadel of Narbonne, finally fell to the
Al-Andalus was sealed off at the Pyrenees.
The third consequence of the Berber revolt was the collapse of the
authority of the
Caliphate over the western provinces. With
Umayyad Caliphs distracted by the challenge of the Abbasids in the
east, the western provinces of the
Maghreb and al-Andalus spun out of
their control. From around 745, the Fihrids, an illustrious local Arab
clan descended from Oqba ibn Nafi al-Fihri, seized power in the
western provinces and ruled them almost as a private family empire of
their own –
Abd al-Rahman ibn Habib al-Fihri in
Ifriqiya and Yūsuf
al-Fihri in al-Andalus. The
Fihrids welcomed the fall of the Umayyads
in the east, in 750, and sought to reach an understanding with the
Abbasids, hoping they might be allowed to continue their autonomous
existence. But when the Abbasids rejected the offer and demanded
Fihrids declared independence and, probably out of
spite, invited the deposed remnants of the
Umayyad clan to take refuge
in their dominions. It was a fateful decision that they soon
regretted, for the Umayyads, the sons and grandsons of caliphs, had a
more legitimate claim to rule than the
Rebellious-minded local lords, disenchanted with the autocratic rule
of the Fihrids, conspired with the arriving
Umayyad Emirate and
Caliphate of Córdoba
Emirate of Córdoba
Emirate of Córdoba and
Caliphate of Córdoba
Abd-ar-Rahman III and his court receiving an ambassador in Medina
In 756, the exiled
Abd al-Rahman I
Abd al-Rahman I (nicknamed
al-Dākhil, the 'Immigrant') ousted Yūsuf al-Fihri to establish
himself as the
Emir of Córdoba. He refused to submit to the Abbasid
Abbasid forces had killed most of his family. Over a
thirty-year reign, he established a tenuous rule over much of
al-Andalus, overcoming partisans of both the al-Fihri family and of
For the next century and a half, his descendants continued as emirs of
Córdoba with nominal control over the rest of al-Andalus and
sometimes parts of western North Africa, but with real control,
particularly over the marches along the Christian border, vacillating
depending on the competence of the individual emir. Indeed, the power
of emir Abdallah ibn
Muhammad (circa 900) did not extend beyond
Córdoba itself. But his grandson Abd-al-Rahman III, who succeeded him
in 912, not only rapidly restored
Umayyad power throughout al-Andalus
but extended it into western
North Africa as well. In 929 he
proclaimed himself Caliph, elevating the emirate to a position
competing in prestige not only with the
Abbasid caliph in
also the Fatimid caliph in Tunis—with whom he was competing for
control of North Africa.
Caliphate of Cordoba in the early 10th century
The period of the
Caliphate is seen as the golden age of al-Andalus.
Crops produced using irrigation, along with food imported from the
Middle East, provided the area around Córdoba and some other
Andalusī cities with an agricultural economic sector that was the
most advanced in Europe by far, sparking the Arab Agricultural
Revolution. Among European cities, Córdoba under the
Caliphate, with a population of perhaps 500,000, eventually overtook
Constantinople as the largest and most prosperous city in Europe.
Within the Islamic world, Córdoba was one of the leading cultural
centres. The work of its most important philosophers and scientists
Abulcasis and Averroes) had a major influence on the
intellectual life of medieval Europe.
Muslims and non-
Muslims often came from abroad to study in the famous
libraries and universities of al-Andalus, mainly after the reconquest
of Toledo in 1085 and the establishment of translation institutions
such as the Toledo School of Translators. The most noted of those was
Michael Scot (c. 1175 to c. 1235), who took the works of Ibn Rushd
Ibn Sina ("Avicenna") to Italy. This transmission of
ideas remains one of the greatest in history, significantly affecting
the formation of the European Renaissance.
Main article: Taifa
Gold dinar minted in Córdoba during the reign of Hisham II
Caliphate of Córdoba
Caliphate of Córdoba effectively collapsed during a ruinous civil
war between 1009 and 1013, although it was not finally abolished until
1031 when al-Andalus broke up into a number of mostly independent
mini-states and principalities called taifas. In 1013, invading
Berbers sacked Córdoba, massacring its inhabitants, pillaging the
city, and burning the palace complex to the ground. After 1031,
the taifas were generally too weak to defend themselves against
repeated raids and demands for tribute from the Christian states to
the north and west, which were known to the
Muslims as "the Galician
nations", and which had spread from their initial strongholds in
Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque country, and the Carolingian
Marca Hispanica to become the Kingdoms of Navarre, León, Portugal,
Castile and Aragon, and the County of Barcelona. Eventually raids
turned into conquests, and in response the
Taifa kings were forced to
request help from the Almoravids, Muslim Berber rulers of the Maghreb.
Their desperate maneuver would eventually fall to their disadvantage,
however, as the
Almoravids they had summoned from the south went on to
conquer and annex all the
Almoravids, Almohads, and Marinids
See also: Timeline of the Muslim presence in the Iberian peninsula
Map showing the extent of the
Expansion of the
Almohad state in the 12th century
In 1086 the
Almoravid ruler of Morocco, Yusuf ibn Tashfin, was invited
by the Muslim princes in
Iberia to defend them against Alfonso VI,
King of Castile and León. In that year, Tashfin crossed the straits
Algeciras and inflicted a severe defeat on the
Christians at the
Battle of Sagrajas. By 1094, ibn Tashfin had removed all Muslim
Iberia and had annexed their states, except for the one at
Zaragoza. He also regained
Valencia from the Christians.
Almoravids were succeeded by the Almohads, another Berber dynasty,
after the victory of Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur over the Castilian
Alfonso VIII at the
Battle of Alarcos
Battle of Alarcos in 1195. In 1212, a coalition of
Christian kings under the leadership of the Castilian Alfonso VIII
Almohads at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. The
Almohads continued to rule
Al-Andalus for another decade, though with
much reduced power and prestige. The civil wars following the death of
Abu Ya'qub Yusuf II rapidly led to the re-establishment of taifas. The
taifas, newly independent but now weakened, were quickly conquered by
Portugal, Castile, and Aragon. After the fall of
Murcia (1243) and the
Algarve (1249), only the
Emirate of Granada
Emirate of Granada survived as a Muslim
state, and only as a tributary of Castile until 1492. Most of its
tribute was paid in gold that was carried to
Iberia from present-day
Burkina Faso through the merchant routes of the Sahara.
The last Muslim threat to the Christian kingdoms was the rise of the
Marinids in Morocco during the 14th century. They took
their sphere of influence and occupied some of its cities, like
Algeciras. However, they were unable to take Tarifa, which held out
until the arrival of the Castilian Army led by Alfonso XI. The
Castilian king, with the help of
Afonso IV of Portugal
Afonso IV of Portugal and Peter IV of
Aragon, decisively defeated the
Marinids at the Battle of Río Salado
in 1340 and took
Algeciras in 1344. Gibraltar, then under Granadian
rule, was besieged in 1349–50.
Alfonso XI and most of his army
perished by the Black Death. His successor, Peter of Castile, made
peace with the
Muslims and turned his attention to Christian lands,
starting a period of almost 150 years of rebellions and wars between
the Christian states that secured the survival of Granada.
Emirate of Granada, its fall, and aftermath
See also: Emirate of Granada, Nasrid dynasty, and
A 15th-century portrait of
Muhammad XII, the last ruler of al-Andalus
From the mid 13th to the late 15th century, the only remaining domain
of al-Andalus was the Emirate of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold
in the Iberian Peninsula. The emirate was established by
al-Ahmar in 1230 and was ruled by the Nasrid dynasty, the longest
reigning dynasty in the history of al-Andalus. Although surrounded by
Castilian lands, the emirate was wealthy through being tightly
integrated in Mediterranean trade networks and enjoyed a period of
considerable cultural and economic prosperity. However, for most
of its existence
Granada was a tributary state, with Nasrid emirs
paying tribute to Castilian kings. Granada's status as a tributary
state and its favorable geographic location, with the Sierra Nevada as
a natural barrier, helped to prolong Nasrid rule and allowed the
emirate to prosper as a regional entrepôt with the
Maghreb and the
rest of Africa. The city of
Granada also served as a refuge for
Muslims fleeing during the Reconquista, accepting numerous Muslims
expelled from Christian controlled areas, doubling the size of the
city and even becoming one of the largest in Europe throughout the
15th century in terms of population.
Muhammad XII's family in the
Alhambra moments after the fall of
Granada, by Manuel Gómez-Moreno González, c. 1880
In 1469, the marriage of Ferdinand of
Aragon and Isabella of Castile
signaled the launch of the final assault on the emirate. The King and
Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV to declare their war a crusade. The
Catholic Monarchs crushed one center of resistance after another until
finally on January 2, 1492, after a long siege, the emirate's last
Muhammad XII surrendered the city and the fortress palace, the
Alhambra (see Fall of Granada).
By this time
Muslims in Castile numbered half a million. After the
fall, "100,000 had died or been enslaved, 200,000 emigrated, and
200,000 remained as the residual population. Many of the Muslim elite,
Muhammad XII, who had been given the area of the Alpujarras
mountains as a principality, found life under Christian rule
intolerable and passed over into North Africa." Under the
conditions of the Capitulations of 1492, the
to be allowed to continue to practice their religion.
Mass forced conversions of
Muslims in 1499 led to a revolt that spread
Alpujarras and the mountains of Ronda; after this uprising the
capitulations were revoked. In 1502 the
Catholic Monarchs decreed
the forced conversion of all
Muslims living under the rule of the
Crown of Castile, although in the kingdoms of
Aragon and Valencia
(both now part of Spain) the open practice of Islam was allowed until
1526. Descendants of the
Muslims were subject to expulsions from
Spain between 1609 and 1614 (see Expulsion of the Moriscos). The
last mass prosecution against Moriscos for crypto-Islamic practices
Granada in 1727, with most of those convicted receiving
relatively light sentences. From then on, indigenous Islam is
considered to have been extinguished in Spain.
Clothing of al-Andalus in the 15th century, during the Emirate of
The society of al-Andalus was made up of three main religious groups:
Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The Muslims, although united on the
religious level, had several ethnic divisions, the main being the
distinction between the Arabs and the Berbers. The Arab elite regarded
Muslims as second-class citizens; and they were particularly
scornful of the Berbers.
The ethnic structure of al-Andalus consisted of Arabs at the top of
the social scale followed by, in descending order, Berbers, Muladies,
Mozarabes, and Jews. Each of these communities inhabited distinct
neighborhoods in the cities. In the 10th century a massive conversion
Christians took place, and muladies (
Muslims of native Iberian
origin), formed the majority of Muslims. The
Muladies had spoken in a
Romance dialect of Latin called Mozarabic while increasingly adopting
the Arabic language, which eventually evolved into the Andalusi Arabic
in which Muslims, Jews, and
Christians became monolingual in the last
surviving Muslim state in the Iberian Peninsula, the Emirate of
Granada (1230-1492). Eventually, the Muladies, and later the Berber
tribes, adopted an Arabic identity like the majority of subject people
in Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and North Africa. Muladies,
together with other Muslims, comprised eighty percent of the
population of al-Andalus by 1100. Mozarabs were
had long lived under Muslim and Arab rule, adopting many Arab customs,
art, and words, while still maintaining their Christian and Latin
rituals and their own Romance languages.
The Jewish population worked mainly as tax collectors, in trade, or as
doctors or ambassadors. At the end of the 15th century there were
Granada and roughly 100,000 in the whole of
Muslims under the Caliphate
La Convivencia and Golden age of Jewish culture in the
A Christian and a Muslim playing chess in 13th-century al-Andalus
Muslims were given the status of ahl al-dhimma (the people under
protection), with adult men paying a "Jizya" tax, equal to one dinar
per year with exemptions for the elderly and the disabled. Those who
Christians nor Jews, such as pagans, were given the
status of Majus. The treatment of non-
Muslims in the
been a subject of considerable debate among scholars and commentators,
especially those interested in drawing parallels to the coexistence of
Muslims and non-
Muslims in the modern world.
Image of a Jewish cantor reading the
Passover story in al-Andalus,
from a 14th-century Spanish Haggadah
Jews constituted more than five percent of the population.
Al-Andalus was a key centre of Jewish life during the early Middle
Ages, producing important scholars and one of the most stable and
wealthy Jewish communities.
The longest period of relative tolerance began after 912 with the
Abd-ar-Rahman III and his son, Al-Hakam II, when the
al-Andalus prospered, devoting themselves to the service of the
Caliphate of Córdoba, to the study of the sciences, and to commerce
and industry, especially trading in silk and slaves, in this way
promoting the prosperity of the country. Southern
Iberia became an
asylum for the oppressed
Jews of other countries.
Almoravids and the
Almohads there may have been intermittent
persecution of Jews, but sources are extremely scarce and do not
give a clear picture, though the situation appears to have
deteriorated after 1160. Muslim pogroms against
Jews in al-Andalus
occurred in Córdoba (1011) and in
However, massacres of dhimmis are rare in Islamic history.
The Almohads, who had taken control of the Almoravids' Maghribi and
Andalusi territories by 1147, far surpassed the
fundamentalist outlook, and they treated the non-
Faced with the choice of either death or conversion, many
Christians emigrated. Some, such as the family of Maimonides,
fled east to more tolerant Muslim lands.
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Many ethnicities, religions, and races coexisted in al-Andalus, each
contributing to its intellectual prosperity. Literacy in Islamic
Iberia was far more widespread than in many other nations in the West
at the time.
From the earliest days, the Umayyads wanted to be seen as intellectual
rivals to the Abbasids, and for Córdoba to have libraries and
educational institutions to rival Baghdad's. Although there was a
clear rivalry between the two powers, there was freedom to travel
between the two caliphates, which helped spread new
ideas and innovations over time.
Art and architecture
The Alhambra, constructed by the orders of the first Nasrid emir Ibn
al-Ahmar in the 13th century
Alhambra palace and fortress best reflects the culture and art of
the last centuries of Moorish rule of Al-Andalus. The complex was
completed towards the end of the Muslim rule of Spain by Yusuf I
(1333–1353) and Muhammed V, Sultan of
Granada (1353–1391). Artists
and intellectuals took refuge at
Alhambra after the
to roll back Muslim territory. The site integrates natural qualities
with constructed structures and gardens, and is a testament to Moorish
culture in Spain and to the skills of the Muslim artisans, craftsmen,
and builders of their era.
The decoration within the palace comes from the last great period of
Andalusian art in Granada, with little of the Byzantine influence of
Abbasid architecture. Artists endlessly reproduced
the same forms and trends, creating a new style that developed over
the course of the Nasrid Dynasty using elements created and developed
during the centuries of Muslim rule on the Peninsula, including the
Caliphate horseshoe arch, the
Almohad sebka (a grid of rhombuses), the
Almoravid palm, and unique combinations of these, as well as
innovations such as stilted arches and muqarnas (stalactite ceiling
decorations). Columns and muqarnas appear in several chambers, and the
interiors of numerous palaces are decorated with arabesques and
calligraphy. The arabesques of the interior are ascribed to, among
other sultans, Yusuf I, Muhammed V, and Ismail I, Sultan of Granada.
See also: Early Islamic philosophy
Said al-Andalusi wrote that
Abd-ar-Rahman III had
collected libraries of books and granted patronage to scholars of
medicine and "ancient sciences". Later, al-Mustansir (Al-Hakam II)
went yet further, building a university and libraries in Córdoba.
Córdoba became one of the world's leading centres of medicine and
Averroes, founder of the
Averroism school of philosophy, was
influential in the rise of secular thought in Western Europe. Detail
from Triunfo de Santo Tomás by Andrea Bonaiuto, 14th century
When Al-Hakam's son
Hisham II took over, real power was ceded to the
hajib, al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir. Al-Mansur was a distinctly religious
man and disapproved of the sciences of astronomy, logic, and
especially of astrology, so much so that many books on these subjects,
which had been preserved and collected at great expense by Al-Hakam
II, were burned publicly. With Al-Mansur's death in 1002, interest in
philosophy revived. Numerous scholars emerged, including Abu Uthman
Ibn Fathun, whose masterwork was the philosophical treatise "Tree of
Maslamah Ibn Ahmad al-Majriti
Maslamah Ibn Ahmad al-Majriti (died 1008) was an outstanding
scholar in astronomy and astrology; he was an intrepid traveller who
journeyed all over the Islamic world and beyond and kept in touch with
the Brethren of Purity. He is said to have brought the 51 "Epistles of
the Brethren of Purity" to al-Andalus and added the compendium to this
work, although it is quite possible that it was added later by another
scholar with the name al-Majriti. Another book attributed to
al-Majriti is the Ghayat al-Hakim, "The Aim of the Sage", which
explored a synthesis of
Platonism with Hermetic philosophy. Its use of
incantations led the book to be widely dismissed in later years,
Sufi communities continued to study it.
A prominent follower of al-Majriti was the philosopher and geometer
Abu al-Hakam al-Kirmani
Abu al-Hakam al-Kirmani who was followed, in turn, by Abu Bakr Ibn
al-Sayigh, usually known in the Arab world as Ibn Bajjah, "Avempace".
The al-Andalus philosopher
Averroes (1126–1198) was the founder of
Averroism school of philosophy, and his works and commentaries
influenced medieval thought in Western Europe.
Another influential al-Andalus philosopher was Ibn Tufail.
Jewish philosophy and culture
Main article: Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain
Jewish Street Sign in Toledo, Spain
As Jewish thought in Babylonia declined, the tolerance of al-Andalus
made it the new centre of Jewish intellectual endeavours. Poets and
Judah Halevi (1086–1145) and Dunash ben Labrat
(920–990) contributed to the cultural life of al-Andalus, but the
area was even more important to the development of Jewish philosophy.
A stream of Jewish philosophers, cross-fertilizing with Muslim
philosophers (see joint Jewish and Islamic philosophies), culminated
with the widely celebrated Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages,
Maimonides (1135–1205), though he did not actually do any of his
work in al-Andalus, his family having fled persecution by the Almohads
when he was 13.
In the book Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia Daniel Eisenberg
describes homosexuality as "a key symbolic issue throughout the Middle
Ages in Iberia", stating that "in al-Andalus homosexual pleasures were
much indulged in by the intellectual and political elite. Evidence
includes the behaviour of rulers, such as Abd al-Rahmn III, Al-Hakam
II, Hisham II, and Al Mu'tamid, who openly kept male harems; the
memoirs of Abdallah ibn Buluggin, last Zirid king of Granada, makes
references to male prostitutes, who charged higher fees and had a
higher class of clientele than did their female counter-parts: the
repeated criticisms of Christians; and especially the abundant poetry.
Both pederasty and love between adult males are found. Although
homosexual practices were never officially condoned, prohibitions
against them were rarely enforced, and usually there was not even a
pretense of doing so." Male homosexual relations allowed
nonprocreative sexual practices and were not seen as a form of
identity. Very little is known about the homosexual behaviour of
Islam and anti-Semitism in Iberia
History of Islam
History of the
Jews under Muslim rule
Hispanic and Latino Muslims
Islamic Golden Age
Islam in Spain
Social and cultural exchange in Al-Andalus
Timeline of the Muslim presence in the Iberian peninsula
List of Moorish writers
^ "Para los autores árabes medievales, el término
la totalidad de las zonas conquistadas — siquiera
temporalmente — por tropas arabo-musulmanas en territorios
actualmente pertenecientes a Portugal, España y Francia" ("For
medieval Arab authors,
Al-Andalus designated all the conquered
areas — even temporarily —by Arab-Muslim troops in
territories now belonging to Portugal, Spain and France"), José
Ángel García de Cortázar, V Semana de Estudios Medievales: Nájera,
1 al 5 de agosto de 1994, Gobierno de La Rioja, Instituto de Estudios
Riojanos, 1995, p.52.
^ Eloy Benito Ruano (2002). Tópicos y realidades de la Edad Media.
Real Academia de la Historia. p. 79. ISBN 978-84-95983-06-0.
"Los arabes y musulmanes de la Edad Media aplicaron el nombre de
Al-Andalus a todas aquellas tierras que habian formado parte del reino
visigodo: la Peninsula Ibérica y la
Septimania ultrapirenaica." ("The
Muslims from the
Middle Ages used the name of al-Andalus for
all those lands that were formerly part of the Visigothic kingdom: the
Iberian Peninsula and Septimania")
^ Esposito, John L. (2003). Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford
^ O'Callaghan, Joseph F., A History of Medieval Spain, Cornell
University Press, 1983, p.142
^ Lewis, Bernard. The
Jews of Islam. PrincetMeyrick, Fredrick. The
Doctrine of the Church of England on the Holy Communion.on, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1984.pg. 14. "Under the ruling
descendant of Mohammed--the prophet of G-d on earth), the
able to preserve their rites and traditions. Peaceful coexistence led
to their economic and social expansion. Their status was that of
Muslims living in a land governed by Muslims. The Jews
had limited autonomy, but full rights to practice their religion, as
well as full protection by their Muslim rulers, but this did not occur
for free. There was a specific tax called the jizya that
to pay to receive these benefits. Having its origin in the Qur'an, it
Dhimmis who did not pay this tax, should either convert to
Islam, or face the death penalty (Qur'an 9, 29). This tax, higher than
Muslims had to pay, was in several occasions one of the most
important sources of income for the kingdom. The jizya was not only a
tax, but also a symbolic expression of subordination (Lewis 14)."It is
a common misapprehension that the holy war meant that the
their opponents a choice 'between Islam and the sword'. This was
sometimes the case, but only when the opponents were polytheist and
idol-worshippers. For Jews, Christians, and other 'People of the
Book', there was a third possibility, they might become a 'protected
group', paying a tax or tribute to the
Muslims but enjoying internal
autonomy" (Watt 144)
^ a b "Rediscovering Arabic Science Muslim Heritage".
www.muslimheritage.com. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
^ a b Zaimeche, Salah (August 2002). "Agriculture in Muslim
civilisation : A Green Revolution in Pre-Modern Times". Muslim
Heritage. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017.
^ "Historia en el aula". El Historiador. Archived from the original on
8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
Moors in Andalucia - 8th to 15th Centuries". Andalucia Com SL.
Retrieved 28 November 2015.
^ Michael L. Bates (1992). "The Islamic Coinage of Spain". In
Jerrilynn D. Dodds. Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain. Metropolitan
Museum of Art. p. 384. ISBN 978-0-87099-636-8.
Thomas F. Glick (2005). Islamic And Christian Spain in the Early
Middle Ages. BRILL. p. 21. ISBN 90-04-14771-3.
^ Joaquín Vallvé (1986). La división territorial de la España
musulmana. Instituto de Filología. pp. 55–59.
^ Halm, Heinz (1989). "
Al-Andalus und Gothica Sors". Der Islam. 66
(2): 252–263. doi:10.1515/islm.19188.8.131.52.
^ Bossong, Georg (2002). Restle, David; Zaefferer, Dietmar, eds. "Der
Name al-Andalus: neue Überlegungen zu einem alten Problem" [The Name
al-Andalus: Revisiting an Old Problem] (PDF). Trends in Linguistics.
Studies and Monographs. Sounds and systems: studies in structure and
change. (in German). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 141: 149.
ISSN 1861-4302. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 27,
2008. Retrieved 8 September 2013. Only a few years after the Islamic
conquest of Spain,
Al-Andalus appears in coin inscriptions as the
Arabic equivalent of Hispania. The traditionally held view that the
etymology of this name has to do with the
Vandals is shown to have no
serious foundation. The phonetic, morphosyntactic, and historical
problems connected with this etymology are too numerous. Moreover, the
existence of this name in various parts of central and northern Spain
Al-Andalus cannot be derived from this Germanic tribe. It
was the original name of the Punta Marroquí cape near Tarifa; very
soon, it became generalized to designate the whole Peninsula.
Undoubtedly, the name is of Pre-Indo-European origin. The parts of
this compound (anda and luz) are frequent in the indigenous toponymy
of the Iberian Peninsula.
^ Roger Collins (7 May 2012). Caliphs and Kings: Spain, 796-1031. John
Wiley & Sons. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-0-631-18184-2.
^ 'Abdulwāhid Dḥanūn Ṭāha (July 2016). "Early Muslim Settlement
in Spain: The Berber Tribes in Al-Andalus". Routledge Library
Editions: Muslim Spain. Taylor & Francis. pp. 166–177.
^ Specifically, 27,000 Syrian troops were composed of 6,000 men from
each of the four main Syrian junds of
Jund Dimashq (Damascus), Jund
Jund al-Urdunn (Jordan), and
Jund Filastin (Filastin),
plus 3,000 from
Jund Qinnasrin. An additional 3,000 were picked up in
Egypt. See R. Dozy (1913) Spanish Islam: A History of the
Spain (translated by Francis Griffin Stokes from Dozy's original
(1861) French Histoire des Musulmans d'Espagne, with consultation of
the 1874 German version and the 1877 Spanish version) Chatto &
Windus, London, page 133
^ Roger Collins (7 May 2012). Caliphs and Kings: Spain, 796-1031. John
Wiley & Sons. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-631-18184-2.
^ Mahmoud Makki (1992). "The Political History of Al-Andalus". In
Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Manuela Marín. The Legacy of Muslim Spain.
BRILL. pp. 12–13. ISBN 90-04-09599-3. CS1 maint: Uses
editors parameter (link)
^ Levi-Provençal, (1950: p.48); Kennedy (1996: p.45).
^ Franco Cardini, Europe and Islam , Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, p. 9
^ Roger Collins, "The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710–797", pp.
113–140 & 168–182.
^ Squatriti, Paolo (2014). "Of Seeds, Seasons, and Seas: Andrew
Watson's Medieval Agrarian Revolution Forty Years Later". The Journal
of Economic History. 74 (4): 1205–1220.
^ Ruggles, D. Fairchild (2008). Islamic Gardens and Landscapes.
University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 15–36.
^ Tertius Chandler. Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical
Census (1987), St. David's University Press (etext.org Archived
2008-02-11 at the Wayback Machine.). ISBN 0-88946-207-0.
^ Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Marvin Perry,
Myrna Chase, Margaret C. Jacob, James R. Jacob, 2008, 903 pages,
^ Gerber, Jane S. (1994).
Jews of Spain: A History of the Sephardic
Experience. Simon and Schuster. p. 54.
^ Khaldun. The Muqaddimah
^ Arrighi, Giovanni (2010). The Long Twentieth Century. Verso.
p. 120. ISBN 978-1-84467-304-9.
^ Granada- The Last Refuge of
Muslims in Spain by Salah Zaimeche
^ Tellier, L.N. (2009). Urban World History: An Economic and
Geographical Perspective. Presses de l'Universite du Quebec.
p. 260. ISBN 9782760522091.
^ Meyer, M.C.; Beezley, W.H. (2000). The Oxford History of Mexico.
Oxford University Press, USA. p. 31.
^ Kamen, Henry (2005). Spain 1469–1714: A Society of Conflict (Third
ed.). Pearson. pp. 37–38.
^ Fernando Rodríguez Mediano (19 April 2013). The Orient in Spain:
Converted Muslims, the Forged Lead Books of Granada, and the Rise of
Orientalism. BRILL. p. 42. ISBN 90-04-25029-8.
^ Anouar Majid (2004). Freedom and Orthodoxy: Islam and Difference in
the Post-Andalusian Age. Stanford University Press. p. 25.
^ Patricia E. Grieve (19 March 2009). The Eve of Spain: Myths of
Origins in the History of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Conflict. JHU
Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8018-9036-9.
^ L. P. Harvey:
Muslims in Spain, 1500 to 1614. University of Chicago
Press, 2008, ISBN 9780226319650, p. 1 (excerpt, p. 1, at Google
^ Vínculos Historia: The moriscos who remained. The permanence of
Islamic origin population in Early Modern Spain: Kingdom of Granada,
XVII-XVIII centuries (In Spanish)
^ Fletcher, Richard; Fletcher, Richard A. (2006). Moorish Spain.
University of California Press. p. 27.
^ Ruiz, Ana (2012). Medina Mayrit: The Origins of Madrid. Algora
Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 9780875869261.
^ Glick 1999, Chapter 5: Ethnic Relations.
^ "The rate of conversion is slow until the tenth century (less than
one-quarter of the eventual total number of converts had been
converted); the explosive period coincides closely with the reign of
'Abd al-Rahmdn III (912–961); the process is completed (eighty
percent converted) by around 1100. The curve, moreover, makes possible
a reasonable estimate of the religious distribution of the population.
Assuming that there were seven million Hispano-Romans in the peninsula
in 711 and that the numbers of this segment of the population remained
level through the eleventh century (with population growth balancing
out Christian migration to the north), then by 912 there would have
been approximately 2.8 million indigenous
Muslims (muwalladûn) plus
Arabs and Berbers. At this point
Christians still vastly outnumbered
Muslims. By 1100, however, the number of indigenous
Muslims would have
risen to a majority of 5.6 million.", (Glick 1999, Chapter 1: At the
crossroads of civilization)
^ Wasserstein, 1995, p. 101.
^ Jayyusi. The legacy of Muslim Spain
^ Cohen, Mark R. (1994). Under Crescent and Cross: The
Jews in the
Middle Ages. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691010823.
Retrieved 24 November 2012.
^ Spain — AL ANDALUS
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^ Roth, 1994, pp. 113–116.
^ Frederick M. Schweitzer, Marvin Perry., Anti-Semitism: myth and hate
from antiquity to the present, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002,
ISBN 0-312-16561-7, pp. 267–268.
Granada by Richard Gottheil, Meyer Kayserling, Jewish Encyclopedia.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Al-Andalus.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Al-Andalus
Photocopy of the Ajbar Machmu'a, translated by Lafuente 1867
The routes of al-Andalus (from the
UNESCO web site)
The Library of Iberian Resources Online
Al-Andalus Chronology and Photos
Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain by Kenneth Baxter Wolf
The Musical Legacy of Al-Andalus – historical maps, photos, and
music showing the Great Mosque of Córdoba and related movements of
people and culture over time
Patricia, Countess Jellicoe, 1992, The Art of Islamic Spain, Saudi
"Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain" (documentary
Al-Andalus: the art of Islamic Spain, an exhibition catalog from The
Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF)
History of the Spanish Muslims, by Reinhart Dozy, in French
Coordinates: 37°N 4°W / 37°N 4°W / 37; -4