Was the Muslim Conquest of Spain Driven by Piety or Plunder? Ha, Ha, Ha - “Bringing knowledge, justice, freedom, and equality” to the conquered By Raymond Ibrahim
Saturday, June 04, 2022
Recently, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, claimed
that the seventh century Muslim conquests of the mostly Christian
majority Middle East and North Africa “were not conquests of
colonization that rely on the methods of plunder, oppression, control,
and the policies of domination and dependency.”
Rather, they were about
bringing “knowledge, justice, freedom, and equality” to the conquered.
A couple of weeks before al-Tayeb made these highly ahistorical claims,
another prominent sheikh and professional historian, Dr. Ali Muhammad
al-Salabi, wrote a lengthy article dedicated to making the same
claims—also during Ramadan, when Muslims are wont to reminisce over the virtues of jihad—but in the context of the Muslim conquest of Spain.
by the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and titled “From
Ramadan’s Victories: The Islamic Conquest of al-Andalus,” it offers a
more focused case study on this phenomenon of wildly whitewashing
According to Dr. al-Salabi, the Muslim conquerors of Spain were not in
it “to gain spoils or achieve status; and this was the objective of all
the Islamic conquests. Reading about and learning their [true] nature
is sufficient to reject the allegations and refute the forged slanders
which suggest, implicitly or explicitly, that plunder was the motive of
this conquest. Such a claim is devoid of arguments, proofs, and
evidence; it is an illusion without the slightest whiff of scientific or
historical support.” Instead, the Muslim conquest of Spain was about
“turning the page of injustice and tyranny to a new page of progress and
These are quite the claims. Back in the real word of actual recorded history,
the sources make abundantly clear that the Muslim conquest of Spain was
driven almost entirely by lust for booty—both animate and inanimate.
For example, according to one of the earliest accounts, the Latin Chronicle of 754, the Muslims “long plundered and godlessly invaded Spain to destroy it.” On landing there, they “ruined beautiful cities, burning them with fire; condemned lords and powerful men to the cross; and butchered youths and infants with the sword.” As for Musa bin Nusayr, the supreme general of the expedition whom al-Salabi otherwise praises in his article for his unswerving piety, “He terrorized everyone.”
Some may object that the Chronicle of 754 was written by an ungrateful Christian infidel, who failed to appreciate Islam’s altruistic intentions in conquering his nation. Unfortunately for them, Muslim sources—their own sources—are just as, if not more, explicit that the conquest of Spain was heavily motivated by thoughts of plunder.