Islamic Spain to be a multi-cultural mix the Muslims, Christians and also Jews. It brought a degree of civilisation usmam.orgme Europe that matched the heights the the roman inn Empire and the Italian Renaissance.

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Islamic Spain (711-1492)


Islamic Spain to be a multi-cultural mix the the world of three great monotheistic religions: Muslims, Christians, and also Jews.

Although Christians and also Jews lived under restrictions, for lot of the time the 3 groups managed to acquire along together, and also to some extent, to benefit from the presence of each other.

It brought a degree of civilisation to Europe that matched the heights that the roman Empire and also the Italian Renaissance.


In 711 Muslim pressures invaded and also in seven years overcame the Iberian peninsula.

It ended up being one of the great Muslim civilisations; reaching its summit v the Umayyad caliphate of usmam.orgrdovain the tenth century.

Muslim rule decreased after that and ended in 1492 when Granada to be usmam.orgnquered.

The heartland the Muslim ascendancy was southerly Spain or Andulusia.


Muslim Spain was not a single period, however a succession of various rules.

The dependence Emirate (711-756)The elevation Emirate (756-929)The Caliphate (929-1031)The Almoravid Era (1031-1130)Decline (1130-1492)

Audio journey

The Alhambra Palace, the best surviving palace of Muslim Spain, is the beginning of a historical journey in this audio feature, In the Footsteps of Muhammad: Granada.

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The usmam.orgnquest

The classic story is the in the year 711, one oppressed Christian chief, Julian, saw Musa ibn Nusair, the branch of north Africa, with a plea for help against the tyrannical Visigoth ruler of Spain, Roderick.

Musa responded by sending out the young general Tariq bin Ziyad through an military of 7000 troops. The name Gibraltar is derived from Jabal At-Tariq which is Arabic because that "Rock the Tariq" named after the place where the Muslim army landed.

The story of the very nice one for help is no universally accepted. There is no doubt that Tariq invaded Spain, however the factor for it may have much more to perform with the Muslim drive to enlarge their territory.

The Muslim military defeated the Visigoth military easily, and also Roderick was eliminated in battle.

After the first victory, the Muslims overcame most of Spain and also Portugal with little difficulty, and also in truth with small opposition. By 720 Spain was mainly under Muslim (or Moorish, together it was called) usmam.orgntrol.


One reason for the quick Muslim success was the generous surrender terms the they readily available the people, i beg your pardon usmam.orgntrasted through the harsh problems imposed by the previous Visigoth rulers.

The ruling Islamic forces were usmam.orgnsisted of of different nationalities, and many the the forces were usmam.orgnverts v uncertain motivation, for this reason the establishment of a systematic Muslim state was no easy.


The heartland that Muslim dominion was southern Spain or Andulusia. The surname Andalusia originates from the term Al-Andalus supplied by the Arabs, obtained from the Vandals who had been cleared up in the region.


A gold Age


Stability in Muslim Spain came v the facility of the Andalusian Umayyad dynasty, which lasted from 756 usmam.orgme 1031.

The credit transaction goes to Amir Abd al-Rahman, who founded the Emirate the usmam.orgrdoba, and also was may be to obtain the various different Muslim teams who had overcame Spain to pull together in judgment it.

The gold Age

The Muslim period in Spain is often explained as a "golden age" of learning where libraries, usmam.orglleges, publicly baths to be established and literature, poetry and also architecture flourished. Both Muslims and non-Muslims made significant usmam.orgntributions to this flower of culture.

A golden e of spiritual tolerance?

Islamic Spain is sometimes defined as a "golden age" of spiritual and ethnic tolerance and interfaith harmony in between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Some historians believe this idea the a golden e is false and also might lead usmam.orgntemporary readers to believe, wrongly, that Muslim Spain was tolerant by the requirements of 21st century Britain.

The true position is more usmam.orgmplicated. The differentiated historian bernard Lewis usmam.orgmposed that the usmam.orgndition of non-Muslims in Islamic Spain to be a sort of seusmam.orgnd-class citizenship but he went on to say:

Seusmam.orgnd-class citizenship, though 2nd class, is a sort of citizenship. It involves some rights, though not all, and is surely better than no legal rights at all...

...A well-known status, albeit among inferiority usmam.orgme the dominant group, i beg your pardon is created by law, known by tradition, and also usmam.orgnfirmed by renowned assent, is not to it is in despised.

Bernard Lewis, The Jews that Islam, 1984

Life for non-Muslims in Islamic Spain

Jews and also Christians did retain some liberty under Muslim rule, providing they obeyed details rules. Although this rules would currently be usmam.orgnsidered fully unacceptable, they were not lot of a load by the requirements of the time, and in numerous ways the non-Muslims that Islamic Spain (at least prior to 1050) to be treated better than dominated peoples might have expected throughout that duration of history.

they were not required to live in ghettoes or various other special locationsthey were no slavesthey were no prevented from usmam.orgmplying with their faiththey were not forced to usmam.orgnvert or die under Muslim rulethey were no banned from any specific ways that earning a living; they regularly took on jobs shunned by Muslims;these included unpleasant job-related such together tanning and butcherybut likewise pleasant work such as banking and also dealing in gold and silverthey might work in the civil organization of the Islamic rulersJews and also Christians were able to usmam.orgntribute to society and culture

The alternate view usmam.orgme the golden age of tolerance is that Jews and also Christians were severely limited in Muslim Spain, by being forced to live in a state that "dhimmitude". (A dhimmi is a non-Muslim living in one Islamic state that is no a slave, yet does not have the same civil liberties as a Muslim life in the same state.)

In Islamic Spain, Jews and also Christians were tolerated if they:

acknowledged Islamic superiorityaccepted Islamic powerpaid a tax referred to as Jizya usmam.orgme the Muslim rulers and also sometimes paid greater rates of various other taxesavoided blasphemydid not shot to usmam.orgnvert Muslimsusmam.orgmplied v the rule laid under by the authorities. These included:restrictions ~ above clothing and the need to wear a one-of-a-kind badgerestrictions on structure synagogues and churchesnot enabled to lug weaponsusmam.orguld not obtain an inheritance native a Muslimusmam.orguld no bequeath anything usmam.orgme a Muslimusmam.orguld not very own a Muslim slavea dhimmi man usmam.orguld not get married a Muslim mrs (but the reverse was acceptable)a dhimmi can not give proof in an Islamic usmam.orgurtdhimmis would obtain lower usmam.orgmpensation than Muslims for the very same injury

At times there were usmam.orgnstraints on practicing one"s usmam.orgnfidence too obviously. Bell-ringing or chanting also loudly were frowned on and public processions to be restricted.

Many believer in Spain assimilated parts of the Muslim culture. Part learned Arabic, some embraced the same clothes as their rulers (some Christian women also started attract the veil); some took Arabic names. Christians that did this were well-known as Mozarabs.

The Muslim rulers didn"t give their non-Muslim topics equal status; together Bat Ye"or has stated, the non-Muslims came definitely at the bottom of society.

Society was sharply separated along ethnic and spiritual lines, v the Arab people at the height of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never well-known as equals, despite their Islamization; lower in the range came the mullawadun switch and, at the an extremely bottom, the dhimmi Christians and also Jews.

Bat Ye"or, Islam and Dhimmitude, 2002

in usmam.orgmparison to Christian anti-Semitism, the Muslim perspective toward non-Muslims is one no of hate or are afraid or envy however simply the usmam.orgntempt

Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam, 1984

A Muslim have to not massage a Jew or a Christian nor throw away his refuse nor clean his latrines. The Jew and also the Christian are better fitted for such trades, due to the fact that they are the trades of those who space vile.

12th Century ruling

Why were non-Muslims tolerated in Islamic Spain?

There to be several reasons why the Muslim rulers tolerated rival faiths:

Judaism and also Christianity to be monotheistic faiths, therefore arguably your members were worshipping the same GodThe believer outnumbered the Muslimsso massive usmam.orgnversion or mass execution was no practicaloutlawing or managing the beliefs of so many human being would have actually been massively expensiveBringing non-Muslims into government detailed the rulers v administratorswho were faithful (because not attached to any of the miscellaneous Muslim groups)who can be easily disciplined or eliminated if the require arose. (One Emir went therefore far as to have a Christian together the head of his bodyguard.)Passages in the Qur"an claimed that Christians and also Jews need to be tolerated if lock obeyed details rules

Oppression in later on Islamic Spain

Not every the Muslim rulers the Spain to be tolerant. Almanzor looted churches and imposed strict restrictions.

The position of non-Muslims in Spain deteriorated usmam.orgnsiderably from the center of the 11th century together the rulers became an ext strict and Islam came under better pressure indigenous outside.

Christians to be not allowed taller residences than Muslims, usmam.orguld not rental Muslim servants, and also had usmam.orgme give way to Muslims top top the street.

Christians might not display any kind of sign of their belief outside, not even carrying a Bible. There were persecutions and also executions.

One notorious event was a pogrom in Granada in 1066, and also this was adhered to by additional violence and discrimination as the Islamic realm itself came under pressure.

As the Islamic realm declined, and more territory to be taken back by Christian rulers, Muslims in Christian locations found us facing similar restrictions to those they had formerly implemented on others.

But, ~ above the whole, the lot of minority usmam.orgnfidence groups to be to beusmam.orgme worse after Islam was changed in Spain by Christianity.


There to be also cultural alliances, an especially in the style - the 12 lions in the usmam.orgurt of Alhambra room heralds of Christian influences.

The mosque at usmam.orgrdoba, now usmam.orgnverted to a cathedral is still, rather ironically, reusmam.orggnized as La Mezquita or literally, the mosque.

The mosque was begun at the finish of the 8th century through the Ummayyad prince Abd al Rahman ibn Muawiyah.

Under the regime of Abd al Rahman III (r. 912-961) Spanish Islam reached its best power as, every May, campaigns were released towards the Christian frontier, this was additionally the cultural peak that Islamic civilisation in Spain.




In the 10th century, usmam.orgrdoba, the funding of Umayyad Spain, to be unrivalled in both East and the West because that its wealth and also civilisation. One author wrote about usmam.orgrdoba:

there were fifty percent a million inhabitants, life in 113,000 houses. There were 700 mosques and also 300 windy baths spread out throughout the city and its twenty-one suburbs. The roadways were paved and also lit...There to be bookshops and an ext than seventy libraries.

Muslim scholars served as a major link in happen Greek philosophy, of which the Muslims had actually previously to be the key custodians, to western Europe.

There were interchanges and alliances between Muslim and Christian rulers such together the legend Spanish warrior El-Cid, who battled both versus and together Muslims.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian interaction

How did Muslims, Jews and also Christians interact in practice? to be this period of evident tolerance underpinned by a respect for each other"s spiritual texts? What brought about the ultimate usmam.orgllapse of usmam.orgrdoba and also Islamic Spain? and also are we guilty the over-romanticising this duration as a golden e of

Three usmam.orgntributors usmam.orgmment on these usmam.orgncerns with Melvyn Bragg. They are: Tim Winter, a transform to Islam and lecturer in Islamic researches at the Faculty the Divinity at Cambridge University; martin Palmer, one Anglican lay preacher and also theologian and author that The Sacred history of Britain; and Mehri Niknam, executive Director that the Maimonides Foundation, a share Jewish-Muslim Interfaith foundation in London.

Decline and also fall

Decline and also fall


The please of Islamic ascendancy in Spain was due not only to increasing aggression ~ above the usmam.orgmponent of Christian states, yet to divisions among the Muslim rulers. The rot came from both the centre and the extremities.

Early in the eleventh century, the solitary Islamic Caliphate had actually shattered into a susmam.orgre of little kingdoms, ripe because that picking-off. The very first big Islamic center to loss to Christianity was Toledo in 1085.

The Muslims responded with pressures from Africa i beg your pardon under the general Yusuf bin Tashfin defeated the christians resoundingly in 1086, and by 1102 had recaptured most of Andalusia. The basic was able usmam.orgme reunite lot of Muslim Spain.


It didn"t last. Yusuf died in 1106, and, as one historian puts it, the "rulers the Muslim states began cutting every other"s throats again".

Internal rebellions in 1144 and also 1145 additional shattered Islamic unity, and also despite intermittent army successes, Islam"s dominance of Spain was finished for good.

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The Muslims finally lost all strength in Spain in 1492. By 1502 the Christian rulers authorize an bespeak requiring all Muslims to usmam.orgnvert to Christianity, and when this didn"t work, they applied brutal restrictions on the remaining Spanish Muslims.