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Arab Invasion of North Africa—639

Arab Invasion of North Africa—639

Situation before invasion • • • Decades long wars between Persian Empire and Eastern Roman (Byzantine)

Situation before invasion

Situation before invasion • • • Decades long wars between Persian Empire and Eastern Roman (Byzantine)

Decades long wars between Persian Empire and Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire Muslim Empire led by Umar al-Khattab.

Military governor Amr ibn al-As (ex-trader who knew Egypt’s highways and byways) persuades Umar to invade Egypt.

Invasion • • • • After Amr set out, Umar had second thoughts, and wrote to

Invasion

Invasion • • • • After Amr set out, Umar had second thoughts, and wrote to

After Amr set out, Umar had second thoughts, and wrote to Amr ordering a halt, but letter made its way late.

Amr conquered Pelusium, Bilbies and then Babylon with 12000 men. After Heraclius refused to surrender, Amr marched on Alexandria invaded the after 6 months siege.

Instead of putting the city’s defenders to the sword, Amr gave them a year during which they could leave— taking their possessions with them—or stay and live under the new political reality of Arab-Muslim rule. Amr deliberately kept in place the city’s tax collectors and other administrators. As these officials knew best how to run the city, it was a wise decision indeed.

• • • • • • • • • • • • Africa during Arab rule

Africa during Arab rule

Fustat became new capital of Egypt.

Amr then marched into Libya, 1000 miles along the Mediterranean coast from Alexandria to Tripoli and Sabratha.

During the third caliph Uthman, arabs army moved through Libya and into southern Tunisia, whwere it defeated a Byzantine force.

Afterwards, arabs fought the indigenous Berber tribes.

Meanwhile in Arabia, Uthman and his successor Ali was killed, leading to a war for the caliphate.

After, Muawiya had established himself as caliph in Damascus, he appointed Uqba – nephew of Amr ibn al-As, as governor for all North Africa.

In 670, he founded the city of Kairouan on the site of an established camp and crossroads.

Uqba then went for his ultimate goal of Morocco – the lands that no Muslim had seen.

In 694 Arabs decided to remove Byzantine presence in Carthage, and control Ifriqiya. However, for many years Berbers revolts continued.

The most serious Berber uprising was led by legendary female al-Kahina in 680.

In 710 North Africa conquest was completed by taking the city of Tangier.

Arabs divided the region into provices of Egypt, Ifriqiya (Tunisia, Tripolitania (western Libya) and the Constantinois (eastern Algeria)) and the Maghreb.

Conclusions 1. As the British-American historian Bernard Lewis put it, the conquered peoples of North Africa

Conclusions

  • 1. As the British-American historian Bernard Lewis put it, the conquered peoples of North Africa found “their new masters less demanding, more tolerant, and above all more welcoming than the old.” For one thing, the new Muslim overlords were far more religiously tolerant than had been the Byzantine emperor Heraclius.

  • 2. Caliph Umar forbade Arabs from owning agricultural land in the newly conquered territories, insisting instead that they restrict themselves to living in the new military garrisons (these garrisons would themselves grow into cities, as the Arabs moved from occupiers to settlers (Fustat for Cairo, Qairouan in Tunisia, and with Fes in Morocco).

  • 3. It’s important to understand that the Arab invasion of North Africa was about Arab conquests much more than it was about converting locals to Islam. Over conversion, the Arab invaders preferred the payment of a tribute by non-Muslims, the jizya.

  • 4. While the conquest of North Africa was swift, conversion to Islam and the adoption of Arabic as the state language was much slower. But when it finally happened, it was permanent