Sicily under Muslim Rule
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On August 1, 902 AD, Taormina, the last Byzantine stronghold on the island of Sicily off the coast of Italy, surrendered to Muslims led by the Aghlabids, the Abbasid governors of the Province of Ifriqiyya, whose forces had already established themselves in Sicily since 827. The first Muslims to arrive in Sicily were Syrians, way back in 652. In 909 the Aghlabids, who discriminated between Arabs and Berber Muslims, were overthrown by the popular Ismaili Shi'ite revolution that established the Fatemid Dynasty in North Africa.
Sicily soon passed into Fatemid hands, and the city of Taormina was renamed "al-Mu'ezziya" in honour of the Fatemid caliph, al-Mu'ez le Dinillah, whose famous Greek Muslim general from Sicily, Jowhar as-Saqali, went on to take control of Egypt from the Ikhshidid Turkic governors of the Abbasid caliphate, and build the city of Cairo as the new capital of the Fatemids. Muslim rule in Sicily lasted until 1078, when the island fell to the Norman invader, Count Roger I, who, however, kept the Arab administration intact and had Muslims among his advisers and court scholars, including the famous geographer, Seyyed Mohammad al-Hassani al-Idrisi. Muslim influence and Arabic language continued in Sicily till the 1240s when the last of the Muslims were deported from the island and mosques turned into churches.