Libmonster ID: SE-385
Author(s) of the publication: D. E. MISHIN

In the historiography of Muslim Spain (Andalusia), the 1990s were marked by a new discussion about one of the most interesting and dramatic phenomena in the country's history-a series of rebellions of the late 9th - early 10th centuries (fitna), which in terms of scale and duration deserves to be called a civil war. Telling about the events of that time, sources report about numerous rebels who captured individual fortresses and entire regions and sought de facto independence from the rulers of the country - the emirs of Cordoba. It took the latter more than half a century to put an end to the rebellions and restore their power throughout Andalusia.

So many aspirations, ambitions, and other motivations are intertwined in the actions of the rebels that it is quite difficult to find an unambiguous interpretation for them. The traditional interpretation of fitna, based on the vision of events by medieval Muslim authors, is that the defining moment was the mutual hatred of autochthonous Spanish (regardless of religion) and alien Arab-Berber elements, which manifested themselves in numerous cases of confrontation at various levels. Another characteristic of Fitna was the appearance of more successful robbers, who, taking advantage of the weakening of the central government, plundered entire areas with impunity. 1

And so, in 1994, the Spanish scholar M. Asien Almanza published the book "Between feudalism and Islam. Umar Ibn Hafsun in the portrayal of historians, in sources and in history " 2, in which he called for a radical revision of the established point of view. Judging by the title of the work, it should be about Umar Ibn Hafsun - the most remarkable and colorful person among all the Andalusian rebels, but from the very first lines the author formulates his task as follows: not to create another political biography, but to conduct a comprehensive study of the features of the spread of Islam in Andalusia using this example (p. 7).

Starting his research with the traditional interpretation of Fitna, M. Asien Almansa came to its complete rejection. His main argument is that the available information about the activities of the rebels (mainly about their alliances with each other) does not indicate that the factors of ethnic and cultural community determine their practical actions. "If the unifying principle for people is not ethnic and religious ties, it is necessary to look for a different explanation [for their actions]," concludes M. Hacienne Almanza (p.71) suggests first of all analyzing the relations between the rebels and the population of the territories where they managed to establish their power. The conclusion made by the Spanish scientist is remarkable: the rebels not only did not seek to improve the situation of the masses (as, according to the established stereotype, the leaders of popular uprisings did), but, on the contrary, robbed the population and ruined it with exorbitantly high taxes. The population, in turn, resisted: people took refuge in fortresses = (khusun) and they turned to the central authorities for help (pp. 71-81).

If the rebels were nothing like the people's leaders, then what were they? M. Asien Almansa is categorically opposed to considering the rebel leaders as successful robbers and adventurers. His vision is completely different: the leaders of the rebels are descendants of the old Spanish-Gothic nobility, or rather those families that by that time still retained

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male-line succession and did not merge with the Arab and Berber aristocracy. According to M. Asien, Almansa Ibn Hafsun and Ibn ash - Shaliyyah were representatives of such clans, and the sources give at least some definite information about their origin (pp. 89-91).

As soon as the rebel leaders became the offspring of aristocratic families under the pen of M. Allen Almanza, the picture of relations between them took on a completely different look. Marriages between the rebel clans or their children became possible to interpret as binding unions between them through marriage ties. Without stopping at this, the scholar suggested the possibility of the existence of a whole hierarchy of rebel leaders, built on the classical feudal model: at the top of this ladder was Umar Ibn Hafsun, who bore the title "Lord of the highest (ar - rabb al-ala), and below - the leaders of the lower ranks dependent on him (ashab) (p.58,90).

What made the Romano-Visigothic nobility oppose the emir? In the interpretation of M. Despite submitting to the political domination of Muslims and accepting Islam, the Romano-Visigothic aristocracy managed to maintain the main thing-domination over the peasants, a position close to that of feudal lords. But in the ninth century a situation was created when such a system of relations between the aristocrats and the population was threatened. The Muslim state established its own system of land relations, excluding the former feudal duties; the population increasingly showed discontent, fled to the mountains, took refuge in fortresses and townships. The old aristocracy was losing ground, and the only way to change the situation was by raising a radical rebellion. The Romano-Visigothic nobility followed this path. Its representatives began to establish their power in various regions of the country without a clear order. They built large fortresses (ummahat al-husun), which allowed them to keep the population in subjection and at the same time be independent of the emirs of Cordova. Fitna was thus a revolt of the old Romano-Visigothic aristocracy, struggling to maintain their feudal rule over the population. This explains M. Asien Almansa the oppression of peasants by the rebels (pp. 122-124).

The theory of M. Asien Almanza, who proposed a fundamentally new interpretation of one of the most confusing phenomena in the history of Muslim Spain, caused a mixed reaction in the scientific world. Shortly after the publication of M. Asien Almanza's book, a large article was published: "The Cause of Umar Ibn Hafsun's rebellion in Andalusia. A study on the social history of the Middle Ages " 3, the author of which R. Marin Guzman puts forward an alternative interpretation of the activities of the rebels. He proceeds from the fact that " in most uprisings, various motives are intertwined - from political to socio-economic, national and religious. Descended from the Muwallads (descendants of the Spaniards who converted to Islam. - D. M. ) the leader could have both socio-economic difficulties and political aspirations, while using religion as a tool for influencing the masses and implementing changes." In his opinion, the main factors that caused the uprising of Umar Ibn Hafsun were the distribution of land ownership, taxation, national discrimination and his political aspirations (p. 180).

Having stated such a multivariance of the motives of the rebels, R. Marin Guzman, however, later focused on the socio-economic aspects of the events. He considers tax oppression to be the main cause of the riots (p. 195), as a result of which the population was reduced to complete poverty (p.219). Fitna, thus, is explained again from the socio-class point of view, but if, according to M. Asien Almanza, it was unleashed by feudal lords who fought against the central government and at the same time against their own peasants, then in the view of R. Marin Guzman, the population rebelled against the oppression and abuses of the authorities. "We can conclude that the leaders of this movement did not want to pay taxes to the central government. They rebelled, and among the many reasons for this was their desire to end what probably seemed to them a heavy burden. The movement turned into a political movement and an attempt to gain autonomy in the same way as it did in many other uprisings, both in Maschrica and in Andalusia" (p.213). Similarly, Umar Ibn Hafsun appears in a completely different light, "who became a symbol of hope, a man in whom many saw the one who would save them from social and economic hardships" (p. 221).

Although we can agree with some of the ideas of R. Marina Guzman (for example, on the multivariance of the motives of the rebels), I do not think that his constructions can be considered as such.

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a serious alternative to M. Asien Almansa's theory. On the one hand, while highlighting socio-economic reasons, it is necessary to first ask why mass uprisings broke out during a period of relative prosperity, and in one of the richest regions of Andalusia. On the other hand, for an adequate understanding of the causes of uprisings, it is necessary to analyze not only their possible socio-economic background, but also the actions of the rebels, which, as it seems, better than anything else reveal their motivations. And here in the constructions of R. Marin Guzman you can find a lot of gaps. For some reason, he speaks only of the Muwallad rebels, completely ignoring the Arab rebels (Banu Hajjaj in Seville, Savvara and Judi in Elvira, etc.) and Christians, and mentioning only the people whom the Muwallad rebels subjugated and taxed (p. 201). It is not difficult to understand that these people - who were not identical with the Muwallads and formed the bulk of the tax - paying population-could only be Christians. But the role of Christians in the revolts was not limited to paying taxes. The Christians of Andalusia actively participated in the revolts, and their role in the struggle against the emirate was further strengthened after the baptism of Umar Ibn Hafsun himself (899).

A reasoned answer to the theory of M. Asien Almansa was attempted by M. Fierro, who made an article "Four questions about Ibn Hafsun" 4 . Agreeing with M. Asien Almansa that "the fitna of the second half of the III-5th (IX) centuries was the result of friction caused by an attempt to establish an "Islamic social structure" by superimposing it on the tendencies of tribal or feudal societies " (p. 298), M. Fierro also criticized a number of provisions of his theory. Her objections were caused, in particular, by M. Asien Almansa's denial of the ethno-cultural factors of Fitna. M. Fierro draws attention to the incorrectness of one of the arguments of M. Asien Almansa - his interpretation of the texts of the medieval chronicler Ibn Izari, which contains the famous call of Ibn Hafsun to fight against the Arabs. "For a long time the Sultan oppressed you, taking away your property and burdening you with excessive duties," says Ibn Hafsun. "The Arabs humiliated you and enslaved you. I want to celebrate for you and free you from slavery. " 6 Ibn Izari then adds:: fa qana ibn Hafsun la yuridu haza ala ahad illa ajaba-hu wa shakara-hu - " and among those to whom I said this (the above invocation. - D. M. ) Ibn Hafsun, there was not one who did not respond positively and thank him." Meanwhile, M. Asien Almansa, in his attempt to deny the ethno-cultural factors of Fitna, interpreted this phrase in such a way that Ibn Hafsun allegedly expressed his ideas only to those who fully supported him .7 The open call to revolt against Arab domination thus became a secret subversive idea, communicated only to initiates. M. Fierro rightly pointed out that M. Asien Almansa's interpretation is based on an inaccurate translation. 8 Although M. Asien Almansa, as can be seen from the preface to the second edition of his book, remained in his opinion 9, there is no doubt about the correctness of the criticism in this case.

Attaching more importance than M. Asien Almansa to the ethno-cultural factors of Fitna, M. Fierro expressed doubts about the correctness of his proposed "socio-class" interpretation of the actions of the rebel leaders. In her opinion, neither Ibn ash-Shaliyyah nor Ibn Hafsun can be unequivocally considered representatives of the interests of the Romano-Visigothic nobility. The noble origin of Ibn al-Shaliyyah is hypothetical and is supported only by one line from the poems of his panegyric poet, 10 although, as M. Fierro notes, what is said in the palace panegyrics can hardly be taken on faith and considered historical evidence" (p. 294). As for Ibn Hafsun, M. Fierro notices one interesting detail in his biography: at the beginning of the IX century, Umar's great-grandfather moved from Ronda, where the family originally lived, to the Malaga region, starting there almost from scratch. Thus, Ibn Hafsun hardly fits the image of a Visigothic feudal lord defending the system of relations with the peasants that had developed over several centuries: he did not raise an uprising on his ancestral lands (pp. 293-296).

Differences between M. Asien Almanza and M. Fierro are observed not only in the social, but also in the ethno-cultural characteristics of the rebels. According to M. Fierro, the Muwallads who formed the main driving force of Fitna were Spaniards, Muslims and Christians who grew up and were brought up in an Arab cultural environment. The rebel leaders, also Muvallads, appear in M. Fierro not as adherents of the old Visigothic order, as M. Asien Almansa sees them, but as elements of Arab-Muslim society, which, however, occupies a lower, subordinate position in it compared to the Arabs. Unable to borrow

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in this society, a dignified position brought the Muwallads to the camp of the enemies of both the Arabs and the Emir (pp. 311-312).

The discussion on the history of Andalusian Fitna will undoubtedly continue, as the issues raised are too serious. It is not only a question of who and why acted as the driving force of the rebellion; M. Asien Almansa's theory makes us think about the characteristics of the Islamic social structure, which it contrasts with feudalism and the tribal system. We will no doubt see many more interesting works in which the history of Fitna will be analyzed in detail. Meanwhile, it seems that the contours of the future discussion can be predicted right now. The concept of M. Asien Almansa looks harmonious and quite logical. It is possible to argue about the origin and motivations of Umar Ibn Hafsun and Ibn ash-Shaliyyah, but in principle it cannot be denied that the remnants of the old Romano-Gothic noble families could have opposed the emir, retaining, of course, their power over the population. The discussion is likely to touch on something else - the analysis of the arguments presented by M. Asien Almaza and his opponents.

It is quite obvious that M. Asien Almansa's interpretation of these sources is not always correct. We have already seen this in the example of Ibn Hafsun's invocations. In another fragment of M. Asien Almansa, trying to convince the reader that alliances between the rebels did not depend on their origin, refers to one of the leaders of the Arabs - Uthman Ibn Amrun, who, in his opinion, ignored ethno-cultural motives and made an alliance with the Spaniards who converted to Islam (Muwallads and Musalim) (p.66). However, in source 11, the message about this is as follows: taassaba ala-l-muwalladin wa-l-musalim - "and he turned against the Muwallads and Musalim." The interpretation of this episode, therefore, should be the opposite of that proposed by M. Asien Almanza: the leader of the Arabs is not allied with the Spaniards, but, on the contrary, fiercely opposes them.

More generally, the references to alliances between Arab and Spanish rebels during Fitna are an argument of dubious merit. Yes, Umar Ibn Hafsun was for some time allied with the most powerful Arab rebel, Ibrahim Ibn Hajjaj, and this alliance cannot be explained based on the ethno-cultural motivation of the leaders of the revolts. But it was a tactical rather than a strategic alliance, an alliance not " for " but "against", as can be seen at least from the fact that Emir Abdullah (888-912) very soon and with almost no effort, destroyed it. Such tactical alliances, as historical experience shows, often unite very diverse forces acting with completely different goals. In such cases, it is necessary to speak very carefully about the motivation of the parties.

The example of the Banu Hajjaj family may also be at the center of the upcoming discussion. We have already seen that an adequate understanding of the events of Fitna is possible only if we analyze the actions of all the rebels - Muwallads, Christians, and Muslims (Arabs and Berbers). In a later work, Hacienne Almansa extends his theory to the Arab-Berber nobility, 12 but then the question immediately arises: were the orders for which the rebels fought inherited from Visigothic times, or did their establishment occur later, during the period of Arab domination? The participation of the Arab and Berber aristocracy in the revolt is evidence in favor of the second alternative, which undermines the idea put forward by M. Hacienda Almanza of preserving the old Visigothic order in the Andalusian village.

The question of the population and its attitude to the rebels is also debatable. M. Asien Almansa, as shown, believes that the rebel leaders robbed the population and imposed exorbitantly high taxes on it. However, the one-sided nature of this interpretation is obvious. Yes, the sources say a lot about the robberies and outrages of the rebels, but we should not forget that most of the texts that have come down to us go back to the reports of the court historians of Cordova. For them, the actions of the rebels obviously could not represent anything other than a continuous series of atrocities. Without taking the position of those specialists who see traces of pro-Umayyad propaganda in literally every line of sources, 13 it is nevertheless necessary to maintain a critical approach to medieval texts. It should also be noted that in the anarchy that characterized the Andalusian fitna, looting was common on both sides. Reports by Muslim authors of the campaigns of the emir's troops against the regularly rebellious inhabitants of Toledo indicate that devastation and looting were an integral part of the fighting. The same can be said about nalo-

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gah. An Andalusian source detailing the events of Fitna reports that the Emir of Cordoba, Abd ar-Rahman III (912-961), used to impose heavy non-Koranic taxes on the territories he occupied (Magarim sakila) Thus, upon careful consideration, looting and high taxes cease to be the exclusive "attribute" of the rebels, and this is exactly what M. Hacienne Almanza sees as the restoration of the old order by them.

According to M. Asien Almanza, the riotous actions of the rebels caused a spontaneous protest of the population. The arguments adduced by the scientist in support of this thesis are by no means indisputable. He refers to a well-known fragment of a traveler of the tenth century. Ibn Haukal on the peasant revolts in Andalusia, stating without any evidence that Ibn Haukal "repeats what he was told about the uprisings of the ninth century." 15 Meanwhile, according to the text of the relevant fragment, a traveler who visited Andalusia during the time of Abd ar-Rahman III speaks about contemporary events. 16 Consequently, the peasants took refuge in fortresses not from the excesses of the rebels, but from the abuses of the Muslim authorities. To prove the opposite, you need strong arguments.

M. Asien Almansa's statements about the rebels themselves are not indisputable either. The Spanish scholar, as shown above, created a whole feudal hierarchy headed by Umar Ibn Hafsun. M. Fierro, however, reasonably notes that the epithet "Lord most high", which Ibn Hafsun once called himself, is not a title, but a borrowing from the Koran 17 and is not of an official nature. It is also doubtful whether the concept of askhab is given an official character: in this context, these are supporters, companions of Ibn Hafsun, who came to him in different ways; it is hardly legitimate to deduce from the word usage any regularities regarding the nature of their relationship. In general, the ties between the ashabs were never very strong, and a sudden termination of the union or treason was possible at any time. Relations between askhab appear to be a complex conglomerate of political alliances of rebel leaders rather than a feudal hierarchy.

The stated critical comments on the work of M. Asien Almansa should not be understood as a call to follow his opponent, M. Fierro. M. Fierro's constructions are also not perfect. The question of what the Muwallads were trying to achieve during the Fitna period remains to be discussed: equal status with the Arabs, as M. Fierro believes, or the destruction of the Arab-Berber state and its replacement with a new one that met the interests of the indigenous Spanish population. In her article, M. Fierro chose not to discuss this issue (p. 311), but a correct understanding of the nature of the Spanish struggle during the Fitnah period is unthinkable without understanding their political goals.

So, the analyzed works of M. Haciena Almanza, R. Marina Guzman and M. Fierro are probably the beginning of a new interesting and fruitful discussion about the civil war in Andalusia in the late ninth and early tenth centuries.I think that its potential participants should pay attention to the lessons that should be learned from the analysis of these works. The main one is that it is hardly possible to put forward a single interpretation that explains everything for such a complex, multifaceted and ambiguous phenomenon as the Andalusian fitna. It is necessary to move in several directions, specifically studying the goals and motivations of each group of rebels, each social or ethno-cultural stratum. In addition, a new detailed study of the entire body of information about fitnah is required, because it is around their interpretation that the discussion is likely to unfold. I hope that a comprehensive analysis of historical facts, as well as flexibility and multivariance of interpretations, will ultimately help to come to an adequate understanding of the events of the civil war in Muslim Spain.


1 See, for example, classic works on the history of Muslim Spain: Dozy R. Geschichte der Mauren in Spanien bis zur Eroberung Andalusiens durch die Almoraviden. Bd. 1. Leipzig, 1874. S. 360, 379-380, 393, 452, 460-461; Levi- Provencal E. Histoire de l' Espagne musulmane. T. 1. Paris- Leiden, 1950. P. 338-342.

Aden Almansu М. 2 Entre el Feudalismo у el Islam. 'Umar Ibn Hafsun en los historiadores, en las fuentes у en la historia. Jaen, 1994.

Marin Guzmun R. 3 The Causes of the Revolt of 'Umar Ibn Hafsun in al-Andalus. A Study in Medieval Social History // Arabica. P. T. XLII, fasc. 2. Juin 1995. P. 180-221.

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Fierro M. 4 Four Questions in Connection with Ibn Hafsun // The Formation of al-Andalus. P. 1. Aldershot, Singapore, Sydney, 1998. P.291-328.

5 According to the Muslim calendar.

6 Histoire de l' Afrique du Nord et de l' Espagne musulmane intitulee Kitab al-Bayan al-Mughrib par Ibn 'Idharri al- Marrakushi et Fragments de la Chronique de 'Arib. V. 2. Leyde, 1948. P. 114.

Aden Almansa M. 7 Op. cit. P. 65.

Fierro M. 8 Op. cit. P. 312-313.

Aden Almansa M. 9 Entre el Feudalismo у el Islam. 'Umar Ibn Hafsun en los historiadores, en las fuentes у en la historia. 2 ed. Jaen, 1997. P. XXI-XXIV.

10 See: Ihn-Haiyun. Al-Muktabis. Tome troisieme. Chronique du regne du calife umaiyade Abd Allah a Cordoue. Ed. M.M. Antuna. P. 1937. P. 10. " Ibid. P. 67.

Aden Almansa M. 12 Settlement and Fortification in Southern al-Andalus: the Formation of a Land of Husun // The Formation of al-Andalus. P. 1. Aldershot - Singapore - Sydney, 1998. P. 375.

13 See: Martinez Gros. L' ideologie omeyyade. La construction de la legitimite du Califat de Cordoue (Xe-XIe siecles). Madrid, 1992.

14 Akhbar Majmu'a fi Fath al-Andalus wa Dhikr Umar'i-ha... (Collection of news about the conquest of Andalusia and its emirs). Ed. by I. al-Abyari. Beirut, 1981. p. 135.

Aden Almansa M. 15 Entre el Feudalismo... (1994). P. 122.

Ibn Hawkal. 16 Kitab Surat al-Ard (The Book of the Image of the Earth). Beirut, 1979. p. 106.

Fierro M. 17 Op. cit. P. 326.


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