Tracing the footsteps of Tariq Ibn Ziyad

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Every year millions of visitors flock to Spain to access its unique heritage of cultural & language knowledge. It requires years to learn all about Spain but who can forget the year 711 when a mysterious figure landed on the straits of modern day Gibraltar and left a legacy behind. Spain was the accolade of Tariq and the Moors, bringing to native land a great combination of Islam, architecture wonders, poetry, food, music and culture. 

Tariq bin Ziyad route is a tale of courage, war, humility, compassion and faith and runs from Tangier through the province of Gibraltar, and links Ecija, Cordoba, Toledo and Granada, the later three being main cities of earlier Moorish civilization. This is an idealistic route, inspired by Tariq’s great military voyages and taken from various historical books and contents. 


What a great place to start then Tangier in Northern Morocco, a city of Tariq Ibn Ziyad and the first leg of his extraordinary expedition. Though no signs of Tariq Ibn Ziyad on the streets of present day Tangier, yet it is a good day trip, as you absorb and appreciate the city that was under his governance. Agnus Macnab ‘Spain under crescent moon’, “Tariq Ibn Ziyad was the commander of Tangier and lead army of 12,000 Berbers, Saracens and Arabs from Tangier to Gibraltar and then across to peninsula in 711.” 

Experience the magic of Tangier by taking in a panoramic view of the city; enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Medina and various bazaars for some fabulous shopping. 
In the evening, depart Tangier for a journey across the straits of Gibraltar. Take an early-evening ferry through FRS Iberia. You will enjoy dazzling skyline views of Gibraltar on the 80 minute ride. It is one of the best ways to enter Gibraltar in the same manner as Tariq Ibn Ziyad did in 711. As the minarets of Mosques disappear and the hustle bustle of Tangier becomes distant you see a complete opposite side of picture. A serene much orderly organized Gibraltar located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. One wonders did he really land here and conquer it? 

Gibraltar طارق جبل

Welcome to Jebel Tariq, a city where Tariq’s army fought one of the most decisive battles of the world history. Their victory at the battle of Guadelete gave the Iberian Peninsula for eight hundred years to Arab domination. The name Gibraltar is derived from Arabic word, طارق جبل meaning Tariq’s mountain. Stroll through the city, and visit the majestic mountain, from where you can admire the splendid views of Africa and the spectacular cliffs. 


After the victory at battle of Guadelte, Tariq marched to Ecija, a city in the province of modern day Seville where the fugitives and town folks gave battle in the nearby plains. Irving states that Tariq pitched his camps four miles from the town on the Genil River banks near a spring called Tariq’s spring by Arab writers. The fiercest battle of the entire campaign was fought here. This attrition ended with Ecija being yielded to Tariq’s troops. 

A stop in Ecija will provide you with an opportunity to visit city’s churches, convents and an Arab fortress. 


Immerse yourself in numinous saga and rich culture of Moorish Cordoba, home to a 1000 year old great mosque, La Mezquita. Cordoba was a marvel of Middle Ages, home to erstwhile renowned scholars and a ruling seat of Ummayad Caliphate. Be prepared to spend at least two full days in this marvellous city. 

After succession of victories, the conquering army betook itself towards Cordoba where they encountered stout resistance. The defences of Cordoba were in good order and posed many challenges for Muslims. Tariq reorganized his eclectic army into three wings, one column to remain in Cordoba under Mughais al Roomi, while he took another column of 700 warriors towards Toledo and sent third column south eastward toward Granada. 


Toledo, the “imperial city” and most established centre of Visigoth rule was capitulated by Tariq’s forces after little resistance, its malcontented Jews offering a peaceful surrender. The diplomatic alliances that were formed between the Jews of Toledo and Muslims were aimed at preservation of peace, individual liberties and religious freedom. 
Enjoy this city with its artistic treasure troves, medieval bridges, gateways, churches, mausoleums and Jewish quarters. In Toledo, you will see the remarkable synthesis of Islamic and European Gothic architect called Mudejar. Visit Toledo cathedral and marvel at a 13th century polychrome statue of the Muslim saint Abu Walid the peacemaker (1086). 


Give him alms, woman, for life holds no greater affliction, than that of being blind in Granada. F.A. de Icaza
Wrap up your trip by making a final stop in Granada, jewel of Moorish Spain, in which Alhambra palace is the most intelligible and magnificent creation of mankind. 

End of great Journey

Tariq left his conquered kingdom and post as a governor of estate and returned to Damascus on the orders of Ummayad Caliph. He lived a quite life and died in year 720. The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Tariq Ibn Ziyad upon his return to Damascus may never be solved, but his name will live forever because it is not only for his military adroitness that Tariq is venerated. He is also remembered for his humility, compassion, and restraint. He was a favorite son and beloved brother of Berber tribe and was admired by his Arab contemporaries. Thousand of year after his emergence, he stands firmly as a transcendent and triumphant figure in our history; his name continues to hold and the rock that was once his mountain stands proudly in Southern Spain bearing his name.


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  1. According to all Islamic sources, Tariq Ibn Ziad was not from Tangiers but from a coastal area in Modern Day Algeria named Tenes. He was a Berber who learned to fight within the ranks of the Byzantine heavy cavalry army (Catapract). He likely was acquainted with Spain.

  2. I started to write a script about Tariq bin Ziyad 9 years ago because

    it was a marvelous Epic story that i discovered by accident. I was

    never able to locate much information about him then. But if this ever

    reaches [Algerian] please direct me to more information.. I want to

    complete the story. Andre of Los Angeles

  3. There are quite a few places from Spain where you can enjoy a

    beautiful view of the coast with distant views of North Africa . You

    can find little restaurants in or near the main square with the church

    as the focal point, buildings some of which with Moorish traces, and

    have a glass of the local red with crusty bread, the best ham in the

    world, olives and capers, and you just say to yourself “Can anything

    be be better?”

  4. very interesting article.Need wide study to explore the work done by followers specially in agriculture and other vital industries.

  5. you forget to mention were hi came from.for your information he is from Algerian tribe the still living in Algeria near Oued taffna and before him that was other tribe also from Algeria who invade small place or territory from spain from the tribe of Kutma the same tribe wich invade egypte of feraoun and the daugther of kleoptra was marie to Algerian king wikipidia you find all information.

  6. I have always wanted to go to Spain . I just went there with this article and saved a lot of $ . HAHA . I must find out more about Tariq as he sounds to be a very interesting individual . Salaam Alaikum to all .

  7. Wallah I love Tariq Ibn ZIyad. First time I’ve heard of him but I loved it. full article on itm-uk further highlights his achievements. A man without greed. Muslim world needs more heroes like him. Shame on monarchies of Muslim world. May his soul rest in heaven.

  8. Paagle. You seems to forget which century this story took place.

    Wars and conquering territories was common in those days.

    Except, Islam is first to establish rules of engagement, rights of

    POW, protection of the innocence. The West in those days was

    still deciding whether to consider women to be a human being

    or not, (read your history). Furthermore, a Jew or Muslims would

    not have being allowed to practice their faith, worse they would

    have been burned alive on the stake. There is no similarity

    between eighth century europe and whats happening in Irak and

    Afganistan. Nonmuslims have been living for centuries in the

    Muslim world. As a muslim born in the west, I only look at the

    the real Islam which says “Let there be no compulsion in

    Religion”, (Quran 2:256)

  9. Point this Tariq fellow the other direction and he goes from Great Muslim to Infidel Crusader. Of course, judging from the words of praise in the comment section it seems the ability to place one’s self in the other’s shoes is not one of Islam’s strong suits. After all, if he managed to spread Islam its a good thing.

    That some commenters want modern Muslims to follow the example of Tariq is nothing less than declaring a wish to invade non-Muslim lands, establish Islamic law and enforce it long enough for the majority to cave in to the oppression and convert. A few generations later and the conversion may well be genuine rather than simply to avoid higher taxation, unequal representation in court and other systematic discrimination. Please excuse us if we find the idea horrifying.

    (Note: If you reply with something about American repression in Iraq, Afghansitan, wherever else you see it, I’ll make the analogy that Petreus == Tariq, and that America is trying to impose what it sees as good in Iraq & Afghanistan, just as Islamic conquerers did during the days of Islamic expansion. Of course both sides say “never mind the collateral damage.” I doubt the Muslims speaking positively of Tariq are much worried about the collateral damage that inevitably traveled with him – after all, whats a few thousand infidel lives when compared to the glorious spread of Islam?)

  10. Thank you for bringing the memory of the legend alive for me. So little we Muslims know about our heroes and such a small number of those who can tell the story.

  11. What is the difference between the Quranic Generation and Fiqh Generation? The answer is the difference between the Companions and us. I don’t have to tell what we need to do to copy our eminent ancestors.