Tariq ibn Ziyad bigraphy, stories - Umayyad general

Tariq ibn Ziyad : biography

unknown - 720

Tariq ibn Ziyad ( died 720) was a Muslim general who led the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 711-718 A.D. He is considered to be one of the most important military commanders in Iberian history. Under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I he led a large army from the north coast of Morocco, consolidating his troops at a large hill now known as Gibraltar. The name "Gibraltar" is the Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq (جبل طارق), meaning "mountain of Tariq",

 named after him. 

Solomon's Table

The most widespread story regarding the enmity between Tariq and Musa concerns a fabulous piece of furniture, reputed to have belonged to the Biblical Solomon. Said to have been made of gold, and encrusted with precious gems, this important relic was noted even in pre-Islamic times to be in the possession of the Spanish Visigoths.Noted, for example, by the 6th-century Byzantine historian Procopius.

Tariq took possession of the table after the surrender of one of Roderic's nephews. Most stories say that, fearing duplicity on the part of Musa, he removed one leg of the table and (in most accounts) replaced it with an obviously inferior one. The table was then added to Musa's collection of booty to be taken back to Damascus.

When both men appeared before the caliph, Musa gave out that he was the one who had obtained the table. Tariq drew the caliph's attention to the inferior (or missing) leg, for which Musa's only explanation was that he had found it like that. Tariq then produced the real leg, leading to Musa's disgrace.Ibn Abd al-Hakam, p. 50 of Spanish translation, p. 210-211 of Arabic text.

There is none of the above story in al-Baladhuri's account, which simply mentions the table being presented to the caliph.P. 366 of Hitti's English translation.


  • Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, Minnesota.
  • Gibraltar


Musa bin Nusayr appointed Tariq governor of Tangiers after its conquest in 710-711,Alternatively, he was left as governor when Musa's son Marwan returned to Qayrawan. Both explanations are given by Ibn Abd al-Hakam, p. 41 of Spanish translation, p. 204 of Arabic text. but an unconquered Visigothic outpost remained nearby at Ceuta, a stronghold commanded by a nobleman named Julian.

After Roderic came to power in Spain, Julian had, as was the custom, sent his daughter to the court of the Visigothic king to receive an education. It is said that Roderic raped her, and that Julian was so incensed he resolved to have the Arabs bring down the Visigothic kingdom. Accordingly he entered into a treaty with Tariq (Musa having returned to Qayrawan) to secretly convey the Muslim army across the Straits of Gibraltar, as he owned a number of merchant ships and had his own forts on the Spanish mainland.

About April 29 711, the army of Tariq, composed of recent converts to Islam, was landed at Gibraltar by Julian.There is a legend that Tariq ordered that the ships he arrived in be burnt, to prevent any cowardice. This is first mentioned over 400 years later by the geographer al-Idrisi, fasc. 5 p. 540 of Arabic text (), vol. 2 p. 18 of French translation. Apart from a mention in the slightly later Kitāb al-iktifa fī akhbār al-khulafā (English translation in Appendix D of Gayangos, The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain) this legend was not sustained by other authors.(the name Gibraltar is derived from the Arabic name Jabal at Tariq, which means mountain of Tariq).

Tariq's army contained about 7000 men, and Musa is said to have sent an additional 5000 reinforcements.Akhbār majmūa, p. 21 of Spanish translation, p. 6 of Arabic text. Roderic, to meet the threat, assembled an army said to number 100,000.Akhbār majmūa p. 8 of Arabic text, p. 22 of Spanish translation. Most of the army was commanded by, and loyal to, the sons of Wittiza, whom Roderic had brutally deposed.According to some sources, e.g. al-Maqqari p. 269 of the English translation, Wittiza's sons by prior arrangement with Tariq deserted at a critical phase of the battle. Roger Collins takes an oblique reference in the Mozarab Chronicle par. 52 to mean the same thing. Tariq won a decisive victory when the Visigothic king, Roderic, was defeated and killed on July 19 at the Battle of Guadalete.

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