TAARIQ BIN ZIYAAD Conqueror of Spain-I
By Dr. Mahmoud Esmail Sieny
Every time a ship passes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean or vice versa the passengers will have to go past or even stop at Gibraltar, which lies at the South Western corner of Europe opposite to Morocco. What does Gibraltar mean? And where did it get this name from? Gibraltar stands for "Jabal Al-Tariq" and it took its name from our hero, "Taariq bin Ziyaad".
Taariq bin Ziyaad was born in the tribe of the Nafzaawa (A Berber tribe of North Africa). His father was the early convert to Islam who had joined the Faith since the days of the first liberator of North Africa, Uqba bin Naafi al-Fihri. Upon the death of his father, our hero still a teenager, joined the Muslim's army in North Africa. Despite his young age, he showed great courage and enthusiasm for the Faith and its spread in the hearts of people. Thus soon he won the trust of great Musa ibn Nusair who appointed him governor of Tangier and its surroundings in the Far West (as Morocco was called then). When the area was liberated from the Roman control; our hero was also given the authority to communicate with Julian, the Roman governor of Ceuta another important window in the Iberian peninsula.
History tells us that Spain at the time was suffering from turmoil and strife under the rule of Roderick, who usurped the Spanish throne from its rightful heirs. Julian, we are told had sent his daughter to get education at the Spanish Court in Toledo. But Roderick apparently did not observe the rules of propriety in dealing with royal guests. So Julian's daughter was badly mistreated and imprisoned by him. When her father learnt of the news, he was enraged. Julian convinced the legal heirs of the Spanish throne to seek the help of Muslim Arabs who had conquered the whole of North Africa, and were near the doors of Iberian peninsula. So both talked to Taariq bin Ziyaad who suggested them to talk to his Emir, Mousa ibn Nusair at Kairwaan in Tunisia. Naturally, Mousa ibn Nusair and our hero were already studying the ways and means of carrying the torch of Islam across the sea to Spain. Julian's visit gave Mousa ibn Nusair a golden opportunity to learn more closely of the situation there. Mousa ibn Nusair wrote to the Caliph in Damascus for permission to invade Spain. Due to the novelty of experience, the Caliph was very reserved in his reply. He suggested that souting expeditions be sent to Spain before any major invasion is undertaken. Tareef, another Berber Muslim was chosen to lead 400 commandoes for the task of military exploration. The expedition was a success. Upon the return of Tareef, Mousa ibn Nusair decided that the time was ripe for the invasion.