The Muslim conquest of Spain
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On April 29, 711 AD, the Muslim conquest of Spain formally started with the landing of a well-organized Berber-Arab army under command of Tareq ibn Ziyad on the rocky island known till this day in his memory as Gibraltar – a corruption of the Arabic term “Jabal at-Tareq”. Since the 680s Muslims from North Africa had been raiding the coastal towns of the Iberian Peninsula across the Mediterranean but this was the first full-fledged expedition that led to the conquest of what are now Spain and Portugal, and which became the Province of al-Andalus.
Tareq was governor of Tangiers in what is now Morocco under Musa ibn Nusayr, the conqueror and overall governor of the Province of Ifriqiya (made up of present day western Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco). Tareq was made governor of Islamic Spain but was eventually called back to Damascus by the jealous Omayyad caliph, Walid I, who also relieved Musa ibn Nusayr of the overall charge of northwest Africa, Spain and the islands off the coast of France.
There are three different accounts of the origins of Tareq given by Arab historians – he was a Persian from Hamadan; he was an Arab of the Sadf tribe; he was a Berber from North Africa. Musa is also said to be the son of an Iranian Christian, according to the historian Tabari; while others say he was from the Lakhmid Arab clan who were clients of the Sassanid Dynasty.