The Fatiheen (conquerors) who came from North Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula to liberate the people from the oppressive Germanic Visigoths; with the light and the justice of Islam. When they conquered Al-Andalus they were constantly attacked from France. After the Fatiheen repeatedly repelled their attacks they decided to invade France, so that they could put a definitive end to these attacks. Unfortunately the Muslims were unable to conquer France. After this failed campaign it went downhill, until Al-Andalus was eventually retaken by the Visigoths –this re-conquering was known as the Reconquista.
This loss was not due to the small numbers and strength of the Muslims, they were stronger than the Franks in terms of military strength and men. The reason why the Muslims were unable to conquer France was due to other shortcomings. These same shortcomings that made it impossible for them to conquer France and eventually led to the fall of Al-Andalus, are the same shortcomings that weaken the Jihaad in Shaam. So let us open this page in Islamic history perhaps we could benefit from it inshaAllah.
The most important shortcoming was division between the Muslims. There were many conflicts between the Berbers and the Arabs during the failed campaign against France. These conflicts actually started right after the conquest of Al-Andalus. These armed conflicts and rebellions weakened the Muslims in Al-Andalus a great deal, they delayed the campaign against France and also caused the failure of its conquering, until it eventually caused the fall of Al-Andalus all together. The governor Ubayd ibn Al-Haytham Al-Kalabi from the Umayyad dynasty played an important role in these conflicts, he showed extreme tribalism. Until Allah sent one of the righteous Tabi’een (the generation that came after the Prophet –SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam–) who managed to unite the Muslims somewhat. It was the commander Abdurrahmaan Al-Ghaafiqi.
The Muslims marched forth to conquer France under his command. But unfortunately the division and disputed between the Muslims started again once they captured large war spoils in Southern France. The Arabs said “We are the first Muslims so we deserve more.” While the Berbers said “We are a majority and we were the first ones who conquered Al-Andalus so we deserve more.” This went on and made the cooperation between them very difficult. We are seeing that the enemies of this Ummah and the hypocrites are trying to create a similar division between the Syrian Mujahideen and the foreign Mujahideen in Shaam, or between the so-called moderates and the extremists, etc.
Allah said “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not fall into disputes so that you do not weaken and lose your strength; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.”
When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 they tried to create division between the Taliban and Al-Qaedah, between the Afghan Mujahid and the foreign Mujahid. They tried very hard to drive a wedge between the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Their attempts however were futile. Now we see them repeat the same strategy in Syria. How many times did we hear the international politics repeat that this is a fight of the Syrians alone, a national struggle for a national state, and the media keeps repeating that foreign fighters in Syria cause nothing but trouble. They are trying to create division between the Syrian Mujahid and the foreign Mujahid, and the so-called moderate Mujahid and the extremist Mujahid, etc. While the countless of foreign Shia militias throughout the region in Syria stay unmentioned, even if they are designated terrorist organizations like Hizballah.
We should not base our loyalty on factions and nationalities. Before the Jihaad erupted in Syria our hearts were broken over the tens of thousands of innocent Muslims civilians slaughtered by the ruthless regime. However Allah united the Ummah through this trail, the Muslims carried arms and stood up as one body against this oppression. The blood of the many martyrs in Syria created an exceptional fertile ground for unity, Muslims fought together for a common and divine goal in a legendary and historic front. Unfortunately this unity was lost when we lost sight on that which united us in Syria in the first place; due to misplaced loyalty, partisanship, territoriality, authority, extremism and war spoils.
يا زماناً بَكَيْتُ منه فلما … صِرْتُ في غَيْره بَكَيْتُ عَلَيْهِ
Times which made me cry, when they changed .. I cried (out of nostalgia) for that time.
The division we are seeing in Syria at the moment is much like the division in Al-Andalus. Every group and faction wants authority and everyone wants to build his own exclusive state, according to his own views and methodology. The division in Al-Andalus was at one point so intense that Al-Andalus fell apart in more than 30 small kingdoms. There was a lot of corruption in these kingdoms, and this weakened the Muslims tremendously. It was also the first time in Islamic history that two Caliphates ruled over the Ummah; the Umayyad Caliphate in Cordoba and the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. Until the Murabitun led by Yusuf ibn Tashafin put an end to this division. But not long after their rule they were fought and expelled by the Muwahidun; who were driven by sectarianism and extremism. After a couple of successful conquests by the Muwahidun, and despite their large numbers, they were defeated by the Christians in the disastrous Battle of Al-Uqba (Las Navas de Tolosa). This defeat meant the actual fall of Al-Andalus, and the bloody Inquisition that followed is well known to everyone.
Division, infighting, love for wealth, war spoils, authority and power, extremism; all of these shortcomings are diseases that weaken the Ummah and empower the enemies throughout history. These fatal shortcomings in Al-Andalus have been studied very well by the enemies of this Ummah. They learned from our history and use this knowledge against us. They have divided our Ummah into many submissive tyrannical client states, while unleashing an intense divide and conquer strategy against us. This is not hidden from anyone. Our enemies learn from our mistakes and history and use this knowledge against us, we should also learn from our history and our mistakes. As the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) said “A believer is not stung from the same hole twice.”
When the Muslims invaded France they dragged the heavy weight of the war spoils they gained behind them in Southern France. This was a fatal mistake once they reached the decisive confrontation known as the Battle of Poitiers. When the French tried to seize the spoils from behind, the Muslim army became divided as some of them hurried to protect their spoils of war. They lost the battle because of their love for wealth, and many of them were killed. The same mistake was repeated in Syria. We saw how some fought for oil fields, power plants, wheat fields and territory, while attacking the Mujahideen in their backs instead of defending the innocent civilians from the relentless massacres of the regime. They began to fight for authority and expansion; gaining territory and men for their own exclusive group became their most important priority, this even made them attack the liberated territories. Thousands of Mujahideen died due to these misplaced worldly objectives wrapped up in deviant theological justifications, while we witnessed the Jihaad in Syria weaken tremendously. More than two-thirds of Syria was liberated before the course of the battle and the balance of power turned in favor of the regime.
The Muslims in the Battle of Poitiers also began to rely on their numbers, instead of putting their trust in Allah. The Muslim army had reached fifty thousand men at that time. While the initial Fatiheen of Al-Andalus consisted of only twelve thousand men or less. We saw this same pride in Syria when some gained followers and conquered territories. While Allah warned us about this misplaced materialistic pride in the Quran. As He said “Indeed Allah helped you in many battle-fields and on the day of Hunaiyn, when you took pride in your great numbers, but they proved of no avail to you –for the earth, despite all its vastness, became narrow for you, so you turned back in retreat.”
Rather this materialistic way of thinking even reached the level that the number of followers and size of controlled territory was seen and used as evidence for the truthfulness and religious correctness of a group. The group that is closest to the Quran and Sunnah, even if it’s the weakest and smallest group, is the most truthful and correct group. It is not the biggest and most successful or powerful group. Allah even grants the oppressors power and temporary victories. Look at how big and powerful the armies of the enemies are, if this was evidence for their truthfulness we would not fight against them. Allah repeatedly explains to us in the Quran that the majority of people are on falsehood, and most of the Muslim armies throughout history were always in a minority –so large numbers are anything but evidence for truthfulness and religious correctness.
And if numbers and strength would have been evidence for their correctness, then losses and weakness would be evidence for their falseness. How many times did we hear the haughty slogan “remaining and expanding”. Even great Muslim civilization in Al-Andalus fell, and they did not face any destructive airpower at that time like we are facing today, rather the Muslim army in Al-Andalus had the upper hand in terms of strength and power when they were defeated. If you talk about Al-Andalus today it is as if you are talking about a dreamy fairytale, as if they have never really conquered and ruled for almost 800 years a word power at that time. So it would suit us to be humble.
لكل شيء إذا ما تم نقصان *** فلا يغر بطيب العيش إنسان
Everything declines after reaching perfection .. So do not be fooled by the sweetness of a pleasant life.
هي الأمور كما شهدتها دول *** من سرة زمن ساءته أزمان
As you have observed the decrees take turns .. He who has been made happy by a single moment, is harmed by many others.
و هذه الدار لا تبقى إلى أحد *** و لا يدوم على حالٍ لها شان
This is the abode that will not remain for anyone .. Nor will any condition remain in its state.
يمزق الدهر حتما كل سابغة *** إذا نبت مشرفيات وخرصان
Fate irrevocably shreds every layer of coat .. What the finest swords can not scrape off.
أين الملوك ذوو التيجان من يمن *** و أين منهم أكاليل وتيجان
Where are the crowned kings of Yemen .. And where are their jewel-decorated crowns?
و أين ما شاده شداد في إرم *** و أين ما ساسه في الفرس ساسان
Where are fortresses of Shaddad raised in Iram .. And the Sasanian Empire ruling Persia?
وأين ما حازه قارون من ذهب *** وأين عادٌ وشدادٌ وقحطانُ ؟
Where is the gold Qarun once possessed .. Where are Aad and Shaddad and Qahtan?
أتى على الكل أمر لا مرد له *** حتى قضوا فكان القوم ما كانوا
An irrevocable decree overcame them all .. They passed away as though they had never existed.
و صار ما كان من ملك ومن ملك *** كما يحكى عن خيال الطيف وسنان
What used to be kingdoms and kings .. Came to be like a dream told by its dreamer.
Looking at the history of Al-Andalus we begin to understand why particularly the West is so fearful of the power of Islam. The fact that the Muslims conquered the whole of Al-Andalus (Spain and Portugal) in just three years with no more than twelve thousand men, is an unprecedented military achievement in the history of mankind. It is actually a military miracle. This conquest was achieved by the Berbers, who not long before the conquest of Al-Andalus worshipped idols made out of stone. But the Islamic religion reshaped these primitive people to noble warriors who conquered the most powerful countries at that time in just three years as they built one of the most intellectual and progressive civilizations. They marched forth into the heart of France, just hundred kilometers away from Paris. The enemies of the Ummah could not stop nor defeat them, and they did not lose because of their numbers or military flaws, it was the weakness within their hearts that caused their loss and destruction at the hands of their enemies.
The world saw the reforming power of Islam. Within a few years, Islam changed the simple nomadic people of North Africa and reformed them into honorable heroic conquerors and pillars of civilization who knocked at the gates of Paris. These conquest were not empty promises and loudmouth slogans, they were a reality. They conquered the most powerful countries, and the superpowers of that time. The Crusaders and the European colonialism tried to do the same in our countries. For centuries they have tried to reform the Muslims and change their beliefs into Christianity, Darwinism, secularism, atheism, communism, etc. But they kept failing despite the enormous intellectual and physical weakness of the Ummah. The Ummah remained Muslim even after all of these long exhausting occupations, oppressions and ideological indoctrinations. The West does not have the same reforming power, as all their efforts failed. Whereas the Islam has managed to reshape the same people completely within just a few years. Centuries later they are still holding on to their religion, and their values, principals and morals.
If the Muslims did not lose the crucial Battle of Poitiers they would have continued and enlightened the whole of Europe with the light and justice of Islam. There was another campaign in France under the leadership of Uqbah ibn Hadjaaj. But unfortunately this campaign failed also. Their chance to conquer France was really their first campaign, because the internal conflicts in Al-Andalus only increased after that, until Al-Andalus fell all together. So we must realize that you have to grab a chance and persevere it carefully when it is presented, because this chance could be a one time offer. We might not get the chances again we have today with the Grace of Allah. And we have to think attentively about the consequences of our deeds. When Al-Andalus fell it opened a large front for the Crusaders and the European colonialism after that, and we are still confronted by it until this very day, while this door could have been closed centuries ago. So look at how immense the consequences of our mistakes can be in this world for generations to come, let alone the consequences in the Hereafter. We must learn from this history and we must not repeat the same mistakes especially in Shaam and other fronts.
Allah repeatedly explains to us in the Quran that we must learn from the nations of the past and we must learn from their mistakes. He talks for example about the people of Israel in nearly two-thirds of the Quran, it is so we do not repeat their mistakes. Allah showed us the end of many nations and peoples before us, so that we would take heed. He explained the causes for the rise and downfall of nations. The choice is therefore up to us, do we want to remain a forgotten history or expand into a memorable future?