Arabs, Berbers, and Local Converts

Authored by: Jessica A. Coope

The Routledge Handbook Of Muslim Iberia

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138649149
eBook ISBN: 9781315625959
Adobe ISBN:


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During the first three centuries of Islamic rule in al-Andalus (Muslim Spain), Muslims were far from united. Although they shared a common religion, they were sharply divided along ethnic lines. An Arab dynasty, the Umayyads, ruled al-Andalus from their capital at Cordoba until 422/1031, and formed the core of an elite that defined itself as Arab Muslim. Berbers, however, the North African tribal peoples who came to al-Andalus with the invading army in 92/711, also made up a significant part of the Muslim population. They resented Arab claims of superiority, and often rebelled against the Umayyads. As Islam spread on the peninsula, Iberians from convert families, called muwallads, became another important sub-group within Islam. They also staged revolts against Arab rule. This chapter examines the genealogical and culture factors that defined ethnicity in al-Andalus, and the shape of Berber and muwallad resistance to the Cordoban elite.

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