HISTORY abounds with lessons on how countries change from one situation to another, and how a ruler should protect his country against dangers. The story of Al-Mu’tamid Ibn Abbad, ruler of Seville and Cordoba, is probably a lesson needed by some Arab nations that seem to be striving for self-destruction due to the wrong choices of their rulers.
In the 11th century (Fifth Hijrah), a small sectarian country sprang up in Andalous under the control of King Al-Mu’tamid Ala Allah Ibn Abbad. He indulged in power intoxication and arrogance that pushed him towards considering expansion at the expense of the remaining Arab kingdoms, even if it would be at the expense of King Alphonso who was trying to expel Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula. This prompted him to seal a deal with his foes for assistance in this project in exchange for capitation and allowing Alphonso to take over Toledo.
After Alphonso invaded that emirate, his interest in expansion and demand for money intensified; so the only means through which Al-Mu’tamid could rescue himself from self-affliction was to request for assistance from the ‘marabouts’ in Morocco. He had only two options – succumb to the demands of King Castile or get help from Arabs from behind the sea.
Responding to his son that day, he said, “The breeder of camel is better than the breeder of pig.” This means he was better off breeding camel as a hostage under the government of Yusuf Ibn Tashfin than breeding pig as a hostage under Alphonso. He requested for assistance from Ibn Tashfin and he got it in 1085, so the soldiers went into the Battle of Zallaqa during which Alphonso’s forces were defeated and Ibn Abbad was stabilized for a while.
However, the battle opened the door for the interest of the ‘marabouts’ in Andalous, especially since the Arab kings were not united and were easy to control. The main mission of the ‘marabouts’ was based on expansion – an absolute replica of the current situation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Consequently, Ibn Tashfin refused when Ibn Abbad demanded them to leave Seville. He then started preparing for the takeover, so he engaged the latter in a battle.
In response, Ibn Abbad attempted to enlist the service of Alphonso, but the latter ignored him until the Seville Kingdom fell and Ibn Abbad became a hostage of the ‘marabouts’. He was taken to Aghmat in Morocco in 1091 where he spent the rest of his life in exile.
Throughout the years of hostage, Ibn Tashfin rejected entreaties to lessen restrictions on the former king. He responded to everyone: “This is the commandment of Allah for whoever forces his rule on people and enlist the service of non-believers against Muslims. This captive spent State money lavishly to buy alliances and pleasure, while bragging about his alliance with King Castile.”
This story clearly portrays the condition of the former king which he summarized in a poem he wrote in prison after the visit of his daughters on the day of Eid Al-Fitr:
“You thought the feast will bring happiness but it increased your sorrows in jail,
You see your daughters starving and dressed in rags that reflect their severe poverty,
They lead a life of humiliation and after they had enjoyed glory and honor, here they are weaving to earn food and they are broke,
They approached submissively to say hello breaking your heart.”
The life of humiliation he led in prison was one of the most tragic ends, especially after the death of his wife, E’etamad Al-Rumaikiya, who could not bear such a harsh life. She was buried in the yard of the prison where she and the rest of the family lived. This tragic end is suitable for those who cannot protect their nations and their rule. Therefore, he said also in the same poem:
“You used to give orders and the world submits to your orders and fulfills them,
For so long, you judged proudly but you ended up humiliated and the subject of orders.”
In 1970, the late King Hassan II of Morocco decided to establish a tomb and a museum for Al-Mutamid Bin Abbad on the same spot where he spent his last days. The building keeps the story as a vivid lesson and eyewitness to the tragic end of one of the ‘states of communities.’ This lesson must be studied well by rulers who do not work in favor of their people and nations.
The story can be a lighthouse for those who are not aware of the meaning of seeking help from some groups which serve their own interests rather than the entire nation, just like those who opened their countries to the Muslim Brotherhood that worked against Arab countries and plotted against them, similar to what the ‘marabouts’ have done.
Those who opened their countries to the Muslim Brotherhood are apparently searching history in order to revive the memory of the ‘marabouts’ that were the reasons behind the fall of the then Islamic Caliphate. They also seek help from the traditional enemies of their nations and those who adopted imperial projects like the current Othman project.
They think this will help them defeat their own people and their neighbors who are supposed to be their strong and honest supporters in hard times. They should understand the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “The hand of God supports the united group.”
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times