Who Were The Moors In Spain: Tarik Ibn Zeyad

Who were the Moors and what was their role in Spain? Tarik ibn Zeyad was a Moor who was instrumental in conquering Spain and honored by having the Rock of Gibraltar named after him.

The fact that people of African descent, or specifically the Moors were in western Europe from 710 AD until the late 1400's is indisputable. It is noteworthy that these Moors were in Europe as conquerors and served as a "civilizing force," as opposed to being enslaved by the Europeans. The Moors had a tremendously positive impact on European cultural, socio-economic and political institutions.

In his work, "The Moor: Light of Europe's Dark Age," Wayne B. Chandler offers the following definition of the Moors: "Although the term Moor has been put to diverse use, its roots are still traceable. Circa 46 B. C., the Roman army entered West Africa where they encountered black Africans whom they called "ËśMaures' from the Greek adjective mauros, meaning dark or black." Traditionally, the Moors were the African people who occupied northwest Africa, or present-day Morocco and Mauritania. These same African people became converts to Islam in the seventh century and have since been mistakenly identified by western European scholars as Arabs, Mohammedans, Saracens, etc. W. E. B Dubois in his work, "The World and Africa," wrote on this subject, "The Arabs brought the new religion of Mohammed into North Africa. During the seventh century, they did not migrate in great numbers. Spain was conquered not by Arabs, but by armies of Berbers and Negroids led by Arabs." The truth is that the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal, was an African not an Arab conquest. The conquest of Spain and Portugal in the eighth century, and later the greater part of western Europe, was orchestrated by the Arabs who conquered North Africa; but the actual conquest was carried out by African adherents of Islam.

The Rock of Gibraltar is named for the Moor, Tarik ibn Zeyad. In 711 AD, Musa-ibn-Nusair commanded his leading Moorish general, Tarik ibn Zeyad to assemble an army of seven thousand men and ordered them to conquer Spain in the name of Islam. In that same year, General Tarik ibn Zeyad and his men, most of whom were Moors and Berbers, landed at the edge of an escarpment known then as "Mons Calpe." Since King Roderick and most of his military forces were engaged in a battle with the Basques in the north of Spain, Tarik ibn Zeyad and his army had little opposition as they conquered all the small towns in close proximity to Mons Calpe. When King Roderick heard of the invasion of Spain by the Moors, he amassed an army six times that of Tarik ibn Zeyad's and moved south to defend his kingdom. The two forces met in a fierce battle that lasted for an entire week. Greatly outnumbered, the Moors began to lose faith, but their leader, Tarik ibn Zeyad, was resolute and ordered them forward. King Roderick and his forces were routed and Roderick was killed in the fierce fighting. J. C. deGraft-Johnson describes the fight in his work, "African Glory:"

"The conflict was a bloody one, but Tarik was victorious and soon became master of Spain.... Tarik left a garrison at the foot of Mons Calpe, which the Africans renamed in a compliment to their general, Gebel Tarik "" the Hill of Tarik "" a name that was subsequently corrupted by the Spaniards into Gibraltar. "

Gibraltar continued under Moorish dominion for over seven centuries, but was taken by Spain for a period of 24 years in the early 14th century. It was not until 1472 that the Spaniards finally re-captured The Rock. It remained a Spanish possession until the beginning of the 18th century when it fell to a combined Anglo-Dutch force. The Treaty of Utrecht ceded The Rock to the "Crown of Great Britain" in perpetuity.

The Moorish civilization enlightened Europe and brought it out of the dark ages to usher in the Renaissance period. The roots of European culture can be traced back to the Moors whose civilization was not only artistic, scientific and commercial, but also incredibly tolerant of other races and cultures. Many of the Moors' cultural and intellectual influences are still in evidence today. The Rock of Gibraltar owes its name to a man of valor, Tarik ibn Zeyad, a man of extraordinary courage and a true leader.

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