The Moorish Civilization : When Blacks ruled Spain (Continued)

Before reading this article, it is appropriate for each and every one to research on the how North Africa was inhabited, to understand what will be said below. This is the continuation of our early writings on the role of Blacks in the Muslim occupation of Spain and Portugal between the 8th and the 15th century.

Moorish architecture in Spain at Cordoba, Granada, Seville and Zaragoza Source : Wikipedia
Moorish architecture in Spain at Cordoba, Granada, Seville and Zaragoza
Source : Wikipedia

Here we will define more precisely the roles of Africans and Arabs in the so-called Moorish civilization that is at the origin of the European Renaissance.

Beforehand, it should be noted that historians refer to those times speaking of Moorish civilization, Moorish architecture, Moorish Spain etc … no one ever speaks of “Arab” invasion, civilization or architecture. As we know, Moor strictly means Black in Greek, Latin, and in the European language of the medieval period [1]. Therefore, this means that we must understand that civilization, architecture and knowledge as a black fact.

Some recent authors wanted to replace the term Moorish by Arab. Why would they disavow the word Moor if it simply means Muslim as they claim? The Moorish word is almost as fought as the word Kemet (name of ancient Egypt) which is meaningful on its own – Black Country – to prove that the ancient Egyptians were black. So, to clarify what was the role of Blacks and Arabs among Muslim occupants, we will talk about 6 leading figures of that civilization. It is about Tariq ibn Ziyad the conqueror, Abdul-Rahman who started the Moorish civilization, the greatest king Yusuf Ibn Tachfin, the founder of the last dynasty Yakub Al Mansour, the most emblematic scholar Ziryab and the last king Abu-Abdi-Llah.

Tariq ibn Ziyad the conqueror

Medieval illustration of the battle between Europeans and Muslim invaders in northern Spain in the 8th century Source: Jean Philippe Omotunde for Africamaat
Medieval illustration of the battle between Europeans and Muslims in northern Spain, 8th century. Roland, nephew of king Charlemagne, faces king Marsilio of Zaragoza in Spain. We see that Marsilio and his armies are black. We are at the time of the first Moorish dynasty ; the Umayyad (Source: Bibliotheque nationale de France)

There is no nominative writing about Tarik Ibn Ziyad’s physical appearance but the consensus of historians agrees that he was a Berber; a Berber from where? We do not know. However, we know he left Morocco to conquer Spain. Was he a Maghreb or Libyan Berber? That information would have been relevant, knowing that in the 8th century the Berbers of Morocco-Algeria-Tunisia were as black as Ugandans and those from Libya were Blacks and Whites.

It is only by considering the generalities about those times, which showed that Berbers were black people with a white minority, that one may think precisely that Tariq was black. Tariq Ibn Ziyad was appointed as the General of Morocco’s army by the Arab ruler Musa. Although he was under the tutelage of Musa, he showed a real independence in his attack of Spain with his 95% black Army [2], to the point that Musa came as reinforcement in the end in order not to stay out of history.

It is the name Tariq that begot Gebel Tariq, then, Gibraltar today. If we cannot swear that Tariq was black, the invasion of Spain for its part remained remembered as a “Moorish” invasion.

Abd-al-Rahman, the initiator of the Moorish civilization

If there is one man to whom we must attribute the authorship of that civilization, it is Abd-al-Rahman, the first real king of the Umayyad dynasty, and initiator of the great prosperity that Spain and Portugal experienced for about eight centuries. Abd-al-Rahman’s father was a Syrian Arab, and his mother was a Nafza Berber from Tunisia [3]. Therefore, here again, if we take into consideration the general knowledge about that period, Abd-al-Rahman was a half-breed from Arab and Black.

Yusuf Ibn Tachfin, the greatest Moorish king

The Christian Spanish King Peter of Aragon, receiving the decapitated crowned heads of four Moorish rulers of the Almoravid dynasty. We can see that the heads are excessively black Source : Wikipedia
The Christian Spanish King Peter of Aragon, receiving the decapitated crowned heads of four Moorish rulers of the Almoravid dynasty. We can see that the heads are excessively black

Ibn Tachfin was a Berber from Sahara. His people used to practice African spirituality mostly and was refractory to Islam in the begining [4]. This is therefore a cultural description of a black people. Yusuf Ibn Tachfin rescued the declining Umayyad dynasty in Spain and founded the Almoravid dynasty, with his African army advancing to the rhythm of drums and which was adorned with totems. He thus ruled over a huge territory stretching from Spain to the Senegal River, passing through Morocco and Algeria.

There is an illustration of King Abu Bakar, Tachfin’s cousin, who was infamous for destroying in his Jihad the mighty empire of Ghana. This 15th century illustration, made 4 centuries after his life, shows Abu Bakar with a dark charcoal color. His cousin Yusuf ibn Tachfin is described in the 14th century Moorish document Roudh-el-Kartos as a “brown skin” and “wooly hair” man [5]. The greatest among the kings of Moorish Spain was therefore Black.

Yakub Al Mansur, founder of the the Almohad dynasty

That man from Morocco took advantage of the declining Almoravid movement in Africa and crossed Gibraltar to found the Almohad dynasty in Spain. Though his Berber father from Morocco was not described, documents from the 14th century mention that his mother was a “Negress” [6]. The king himself was described as a brown man [6].

Moorish royal court, 14th century Source : Jean Philippe Omotunde for Africamaat
Moorish royal court, 14th century, at the time of the Almohads
Source : Jean Philippe Omotunde for Africamaat

Ziryab, the most iconic Moorish scholar

First course, main meal, dessert, spring-summer-autumn-winter collection; if today Europeans conceive the meal as an art, change clothes every season, this is thanks to Ziryab, an extraordinary multidisciplinary scholar, known throughout Spain during his lifetime. He is the one who brought about those revolutions in the western lifestyle and who certainly created moreover, the first musical conservatory in Europe. We reportedly also owe him the invention of toothpaste, the democratization of hair removal cream for women, the introduction of crystal dishes at meals.

The name Ziryab means black bird [7]. Bird because of his singing voice and his highly distinguished manners, and black because he was black. Ziryab was a Black from Baghdad, a freed slave. However, it is not said if he was directly descended from Africans or from indigenous Blacks of Iraq (Sumerians). Of course there were eminent Arab scholars in the Moorish civilization including Averoes, a philosopher and multidisciplinary engineering scientist, who was the most celebrated.

Source : The Golden age of the Moor; Ivan Van Sertima, Introduction

Abu-Abdi-Llah, the last Moorish king

That general, Sultan of the city of Granada in Spain, was portrayed during his defeat. We therefore have a picture that shows that he was black. So, there is no further comment to make about it. Abu-Abdi-Llah or Boabdil, as the Spanish called him, was the last Moorish ruler. His surrender after a re-conquest war by the Spanish marked the end of the Moorish civilization in 1492.


We see through the great figures of the Muslim occupation of Spain and Portugal, that the dominant element within the elite was black, the Arabs were a minority. The number of Blacks in Spain and Portugal was estimated to 3.5 million at the end of the occupation. This black presence explains mostly the current tanned complexion of the Spanish. Although the inspiration of that civilization was Arabic and it is essentially the Arab culture that was introduced in Europe, Africans were indeed – predominantly – the authors of this civilization.

Knowing that, that civilization enabled the European renaissance, one must say that Blacks re-civilized Europe after civilizing it in antiquity through the Egyptians and the Phoenicians.

Finally we share this legendary scene from the french movie Les Visiteurs with Jean Reno and Christian Clavier. Having been deported from the Middle Ages to modern times, both heroes find themselves in front of a Black they call Saracen. Saracen was also the other name for the Muslim invaders. The very bright writer who imagined this scene makes us understand that the so called Saracens were mostly black. The actors’ reaction shows that Europeans were at war with Blacks at that time. One may not understand this scene if nothing is known about the Moorish invasion. The scene is a delight. Enjoy…


By: Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :

  • [1] The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 151
  • [2] Ibid, page 161
  • [3] The Fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba: Berbers and Andalusis in conflict , Peter C. Scales, page 111
  • [4] The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 171
  • [5] Ibid, page 372
  • [6] Ibid, page 374
  • [7] Andalusia, A cultural history: a cultural, John Gil, page 81.
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