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Ibn al-Qūṭiyya

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Title: Ibn al-Qūṭiyya  
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Subject: Charlemagne, Moors, Battle of Guadalete, List of Muslim historians, 10th century in literature, Muladi, Andalusian people, Casarabonela
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Ibn al-Qūṭiyya

Ibn al-Qūṭiyya (died 8 November 977), born ‘Muḥammad Ibn ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abd al-Azīz ibn Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Isa ibn Mazāhim, was an Andalusian historian whose chief work, the Ta'rikh iftitah al-Andalus (History of the Conquest of al-Andalus), is one of the earliest Arabic Muslim accounts of the Islamic conquest of Spain. The name "Ibn al-Qūṭiyya" means "the son [i.e. descendant] of the Gothic woman", and the author claims to descend from Wittiza, the last king of the united Visigoths in Spain, through his granddaughter, Sara the Goth, who had traveled to Damascus and married an Arab client of the Caliph Hisham.

Ibn al-Qūṭiyya was born and raised in Seville. His family, known by the surname Abū Bakr, was under the patronage of the Qurayshi tribe, and his father was a judge in Seville and Écija. The Banu Hayyay, also of Seville, were close relatives of his family, also claiming descent from Visigothic royalty. Ibn al-Qūṭiyya's student al-Faraḍī composed a short biographical sketch of his master for his biographical dictionary, preserved in a late medieval manuscript discovered in Tunis in 1887. According to him, Ibn al-Qūṭiyya studied first in Seville,[1] then in Córdoba.[2] Al-Faraḍī calls him the most learned grammarian of the time. He wrote two famous grammars: Book on the Conjugation of Verbs and Book on the Shortened and Extended Alif. His biographer cautions that his histories were written from memory, not following the hadīth and the fiqh, and they lacked original sources, literal truth, and verification. He heard the Kāmil of Muḥammad ibn Yazīd al-Mubarrad from Sa‘īd ibn Qāhir and transmitted it from memory. He died at Córdoba.

Due to his pride in his royal ancestry, al-Qūṭiyya's highly anecdotal history differs considerably from other Arabic chroniclers', like that of Rhazes. Al-Qūṭiyya defends the importance of the treaties made between the conquerors and the secular and ecclesiastical Gothic aristocracy, which secured the possession of their estates for their descendants. Al-Qūṭiyya stresses the rôle such treaties played in establishing Islamic control and marginalises the effect of military action. In this respect he also differs from Rhazes. He also denies that the Umayyad emirs of Córdoba retained the fifth (quinto or khums, a tax) for the Caliph of Damascus. He also distorts the traditional, but legendary, rôle played by "the sons of Wittiza" at the Battle of Guadalete. The Ta'rikh is found in only one manuscript, No. 1867 at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Another copy may have been kept in Constantine, Algeria, in the rich collection of Si Hamouda, but recent scholarship makes this seem unlikely.


  • Christys, Ann. 2002. Christians in Al-Andalus, 711–1000. Routledge.
  • Collins, Roger. 1989. The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710–97. London: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Ibn al-Qutiya, Muhammad, 2009. "Early Islamic Spain: The History of Ibn Al-Qutiya: A Study of the Unique Arabic Manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris," London: Routledge.


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