Jihad Galore

Thursday, 27 November 2008 02:11 Geoff Dickson

Jihad Galore and the Toledo Whore

Battle of Higueruela

Alhambra - GazelleHow often in conversation with a Muslim, do they quote Spain as the crowning achievement of Islam, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in harmony for about 800 years?

And when you mention the killings and massacres, you are told that the Spanish Inquisition was much worse.
This is a misconception, since the Inquisition in Spain was responsible for only between 4,000 and 5,000 lives. [1]

Yet in 1066AD, in a single day, muslims murdered over 4,000 Jews because Vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela had risen to a position greater than them, and of course, this upset the Muslim sensitivities. [2]

 Battle of Higueruela

 History tells us that the Muslim invasion started in 711AD and that Spain, or al-Andalus, was Islamic until 1492 when Granad

a fell to King Ferdinand, the Christian king of Spain.

Spain then provides an excellent case for studying how Islam might work in a Western civilization today. It is both timely and relevant to examine this period in history, and we know that after the Madrid bombings in 2004, Osama bin Laden has called for the retaking of Spain for Islam. [3]

Certainly it is true that the Muslim invaders of Spain believed in the Holy Trinity, the Islamic version, of course, 1) Booty, 2) Women and 3) Slaves!

Does a critical look at history support this romantic view that al-Andalus was a model of Islamic harmony, and what does it say about Jihad?


We shall investigate the motivation for invading Spain, how Jihad forged what Islamic Spain became, how the so called “Golden Age” developed, the relationships with the Caliphates back in the Middle East and the treatment of the Dhimmis, the Jews and Christians who had already made Spain their home.

Mezquita MosqueSpain boasts many fine examples of Islamic architecture including the beautiful Mezquita in Cordoba which was built over the original church of St Vincent and opened as a mosque in 785AD. It is believed to have been designed by Abdul Rahman I with the help of Syrian architects, and later extended by Abdul Rahman II, Al-Hakim II and even Al-Mansur. One of Mohammed’s arm bones is supposedly kept in the Mezquita. [4]

Other fine achievements include the Alcazar in Seville, but for mine, the pinnacle of achievement is the Alhambra Palace complex and Generalife Gardens that overlook Granada in the south of Spain, in what is known as Andalucia.

The Alhambra palace complex with its amazing Generalife gardens stands majestically on a hill overlooking Granada with the white painted Albayzin district below.

The Nasrid dynasty is intertwined with the continuous development of this complex over many centuries, and it was the fall of Constantinople in 1453AD and the Islamic practise of breaking contracts that brought its demise.
Islamic Spain endured through three major dynasties or Caliphates that existed in the  Middle East, the Umayyads (661-750AD), the Abbasids (750-1258AD) and finally the Ottomans, but was never directly ruled from Damascus or Baghdad at any time.

Alhambra Castle
Alhambra Palace in Granada


Holy War or the Toledo Whore?

By 710AD, Jews and Christians had been in the Iberian peninsula for a few hundred years and the Visigoth king Rodrigo ruled from the capital Toledo. Rodrigo had earlier usurped power from Witiza after their father died, and ruled the peasants with a heavy hand. Now a story goes that Count Julian, governor of the city of Ceuta (near Tangiers) had a beautiful daughter, Florinda, who was invited by King Rodrigo to the court at Toledo. One day while she was swimming in the Targus river, Rodrigo noticed her beauty and invited her to the Royal apartment where she succumbed to the King’s advances. Filled with shame afterwards, she wrote to her father and asked him to take her back to Ceuta. Now Count Julian was peeved indeed at his daughter’s distress, and on return, went to visit the Emir Musa who ruled North Africa from Kairouan in Tunisia.

The Count persuaded Musa that Spain was ripe for plunder with greaty booty and beautiful girls aplenty for the Harems in Kairouan and Damascus, and because he knew the land so well, he would act as advisor to the Emir. Musa then received permission from the Caliph Walid who ruled from Damascus, and then chose Tariq, a Berber, who was a former Algerian slave, but now a fierce warrior and a recent convert to Islam, to lead his army. They sent a small force of a few hundred men on a raid, and when they returned loaded with riches and pretty girls, Musa was much impressed.

So the invasion of Al-Andalus (valley of Vandals) was not so much about converting the infidel to Islam, but the focus was on booty, women and slaves to be delivered back to Damascus. While the story of Florinda was probably a myth, some locals blamed the whole affair on poor Florinda, calling her unjustly the Whore (La Cava) of Toledo. [5]

711-732AD  Jihad invasion in al-Andalus

Count Julian led the invasion force of seven thousand men, mostly Berbers, to land near the mountain they called Jabel Tariq, or the mountain of Tariq. The name Jabel Tariq later morphed into the word “Gibraltar” as we know it today.

The first major battle was against the Visigoth king Rodrigo, and took place near the river Rio Barbate, which is in the Xeres district, now famous for its sherry.

Rodrigo and his army was no match for the fierce Berbers and were easily defeated, with casualties in the tens of thousands. Rodrigo himself is believed to have drowned in the river attempting to escape. His horse, robes and diadem were found on the river bank.

After this, count Julian persuaded Tariq to advance to Toledo, the capital.

On the way Cordoba was captured, and Toledo was easily taken. The booty was fabulous and included a gold and emerald table from the Temple of Solomon.

Meanwhile, when Musa found out, he was furious and afraid of being upstaged by Tariq, so in 712AD he invaded Spain with about 18,000 Arab and Berber soldiers.

On the way to Toledo, Musa captured Carmona, Seville, Merida, Malaga and Granada.

When Musa met up with Tariq in Toledo, he asked “why did you disobey me?”, to which Tariq answered “to serve Allah”. Apparantly Musa replied “Allah has been well served”.

So Tariq kept his head, but Musa was not so fortunate!
Musa returned to Damascus with tons of booty, Visigoth dignitaries as prisoners and 3,000 Spanish virgins. However, the old Caliph al-Walid had died and Suleiman had taken over. Being suspicious of Musa, Suleiman had Musa banished to Yemen, but not before presenting Musa with the head of his son Abdul Aziz who had been suspected of treason in Seville.  

Historical records are sketchy, but it appears that by 715AD, Spain was essentially under Islamic control. However Muslim armies also raided north into France, setting up a base at Narbonne until defeated at the Battle of Tours in 732AD by Charles Martel.

Eventually the Berbers considered themselves to be superior to the Arab Muslims and so began sectarian Jihad, of Berbers against Arabs.


Jews and Christians were treated as “people of the Book” and allowed to practise their religion, although as second class citizens and having to pay the Jizya tax. The severity of Dhimmitude varied and probably was most favourable under Abdul Rahman III.

Forced conversions were not common as money was needed to fund Jihad.
However, many converted to Islam to make life easier for them.

756 - 1031 AD   Umayyads of Cordoba

In 750AD the Abbasid’s came to power after vanquishing the Umayyads. The first ruler Abu al-Abbas set about killing the remaining Umayyads who were mostly at Basra.

Ninety managed to escape, so Abbas explained that it was “all a mistake” and invited them to a dinner. When they were all assembled, the soldiers set upon them, flogging them till dead. A carpet was laid out over the bodies and the Abbasids feasted on the uneaten food. Only Abdul Rahman who did not go to the dinner escaped, and eventually turned up in al-Andalus in 756AD.

Cordoba and the Golden Age

When Abdul Rahman III in 929AD named himself the Caliph, proclaiming independence from the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad, Cordoba had become the largest city in Western Europe and this ushered in the Golden years. His court was frequented by Jewish, Arab and Christian scholars all working together. Abulcasis (936-1013) wrote a 30 volume medical encyclopaedia and is considered the father of modern surgery.Averroes


The 11th century philosopher poets Ibn Hazm who wrote in Arabic and Judah Ha-Levi who wrote in Hebrew spent important time in Cordoba. In fact the two most celebrated scholars of Al-Andalus were the Muslim philosopher Averroes and the Jew Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides) came from Cordoba. Maimonides, being Jewish, later fled at an early age to Egypt because of Almohad intolerance.

So civilization flourished in Cordoba while the laws of Islam were relaxed. Muslims, Jews and Christians (banned by Mohammed) worked together progressing science and literature, poetry and music (banned by Mohammed) delighted the Cordobans, and even wine (banned by Mohammed) was drunk for enjoyment.
So what happened to this “Golden Age”.

The Berbers, who held strictly to Islamic teachings, terrorised and looted Cordoba until the city fell and the Umayyad dynasty came to an end in 1031AD.

What can we deduce?

Only when Islamic law was softened did civilization flourish and science and art develop, but chaos and anarchy returned when strict Islam was adopted.

It is ironic considering that an arm bone of Mohammed is in the Mezquita in Cordoba, that when the arm of Mohammed was relaxed, science, philosophy, art, music and poetry flourished, but when Mohammed’s arm was tightened (Berbers), chaos and anarchy took the ascendancy.

This is a lesson not just for Spain today, but for the whole Western world.

1031-1248 AD  Jihad continues; Islam declines

For some decades the Caliphate had descended into a number of Taifas or Kingdoms, which weakened the Moors and made them vunerable to Reconquista.

Generalife GardensWhen Toledo was recaptured in 1085AD, and Seville had become the centre of Moorish culture, they sought help from North Africa. However the Almoravids were horrified when they entered Seville and noticed Jews and Christians trading freely in the markets, selling musical instruments and wine. A Fatwa was obtained and the Almoravids gained control of all Muslim lands and even taking back Valencia from the Christians.

This was followed by the even stricter Almohads who in turn fought and defeated the Almoravids in bloody Jihad.

But the Reconquista proved unstoppable and soon only the southern Taifa of Granada was left in Muslim hands, and it had to pay tribute to Castile.


1248-1492     Nasrid Dynasty; Islam is vanquished

Although the Alhambra complex had stood from the 9th century with the Alcazaba military complex, it was not until the 14th century that Alhambra reached its splendour under the Nasrid dynasty. Yusuf I (1333-1354) and Mohammed V (1354-1391) extended the building programme adding a Madrassa and a market and mercantile exchanges. The beautiful Generalife gardens stand as a lasting monument to the grandeur of Muslim Granada, with extensive water features which pay tribute to the technology of its architects.

Eventually Ferdinand and Isabella forced Mohammed XII (Boabdil) to surrender and he even gave them the keys to the palace before fleeing to Fez in Africa. Islam no longer controlled any part of Spain.


Spain provides a perfect example of how Islam is torn apart by sectarian and class rivalries which override the spiritual plane and result in endless Jihad.
There was Jihad galore, with Berbers and Arabs fighting the Visigoths, then Berbers fighting Arabs, Ummayyads fighting everyone else, Christian converts to Islam fighting the ruling classes, negroes, touaregs and Berbers against Christians, Christian soldiers fighting with Muslims against other Muslims, and the Almoravids and the Almohads fighting everyone else and each other.

Was there a Golden Age?Lustreware - Spain

What can be concluded is that under the Umayyads of Abdul Rahman III, civilization flourished because true Islam was not practised, and indeed :

Indeed, it could be said that:

“the Golden Age happened in spite of Islam, NOT because of Islam”.

When Cordoba was sacked, the scholars moved base to Toledo after 1085AD where science and literature flourished under Christian rule, NOT Islam. Scholars came from Europe to embrace new ideas then spread this throughout Europe.

The stricter the practise of Islam, the more chaos and fighting occurred.

A Call to Action
The West must learn from the lessons of Spain and realize that the Wahhabi form of Islam promoted and spread by the Saudis will never produce another “golden age” and that Islam must be resisted with all our strength.
If we are silent, then the West will suffer the same fate as Cordoba did in the 11th century.



Fregosi, Paul       JIHAD   Prometheus books

The Alhambra and Generalife in Focus   Edilux


[1]  Spanish Inquisition

[2]  Granada Massacre of Jews 1066

[3]  bin Laden calls for retaking of Spain

[4]  Andalucia Lonely Planet  p278

[5]  Florinda’s story in Toledo    “Jihad” by Paul Fregosi  p90.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 July 2010 12:33