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By: Anwaar Ahmad, Multan

They had arrived at their destination and were standing on shore looking at their fleet of ships when all of a sudden the cry was head,

“Burn the boats! Burn the boats!” 

A wave of uneasiness arose among the army. There was great confusion among the soldiers. Tariq had ordered his men to burn their boats. The young and old were all stunned at the order. There was a disturbance among the troops. The soldiers were hesitant, for if they lost the battle, there would be no way of retreat.

However, the order was carried out. They could see their boats burn and sink in the water in front of them. Tariq had expected such a response, for he knew what burning the boats meant, he said,

 “Now we fight with our backs to the sea. To retreat is out of the question. For us, there is no way out except to attack the enemy. If we die, we shall have immortal glory. Let every brave man among you follow us.”

The speech had a magical effect on the soldiers. It seemed as if some heavenly power had come for their help and rescue. Not one of them hesitated for a moment. They all shouted with one voice, “Allah-O-Akbar! Allah-O-Akbar!”.

This battle took place in Spain in 711 C.E between the Christians and the Muslims. The Christians had been the masters of Spain for nearly 200 years. The ruler of the time was King Roderick. It is said that he was cruel and his subjects and courtiers were not pleased with him.

Once, it so happened, that Roderick disgraced one of his courtiers, Count Julian, who along with many other leading persons made an appeal to Musa-bin-Nusair, the governor of Morocco, to overthrow King Roderick. Musa-bin-Nusair sent one of his finest generals, Tariq-bin-Ziad along with seven thousand men. 

Tariq and his army reached a hilly point in southern Spain which later came to be known as Jabal-ul-Tariq or the Hill of Tariq, nowadays known as Gibralter. After fortifying Jabal-ul-Tarqi, he advanced towards the capital and reached the river.

There had been a rebellion in the northern part to the King Roderick’s Kingdom. He was in the north of Spain when Tariq and his army landed. King Roderick at once came southwards. He had a large army, while the Muslims were small in numbers. It was not surprising that the Muslims were taken aback by the force which stood before them. Tariq, however, did not show any signs of fear. He ordered his men to move forward.

The two armies met on the banks of a little river near the main river Guadalete, which runs into the straits of Cape Trafalgar. For a long time the two armies fought and King Roderick and his companion fought bravely. But the leadership of Tariq and the valour of his army proved more than a match for them. Tariq had unwavering determination. He believed that the enemy could not harm him and his companions, as Allah was with them. 

Eventually, the Muslims were victorious. King Roderick fled the battle field. The gates of the cities were opened for the Muslims and they marched victoriously through Spain.

This was the beginning of the Muslim rule in the Spain where they ruled for nearly eight hundred years. The Muslims made Spain a land of learning and culture. It became beautiful and rich in architecture. New laws were introduced. Taxation rules were revised. The minorities were allowed to worship undisturbed. All subjects were treated equally.

Tariq’s brave deeds brought about an end to the misery and poverty of the Spaniards, and ensured for them a lasting glory. Tariq’s heroism has been commemorated thus in the English phrase, “To burn your boats behind you” meaning thereby to leave no way to retreat.

Tariq’s firm attitude, his resoluteness, his power of decision, his intelligence and his valour are all a source of inspiration for the Muslims. He set an example for us, through his determination, that is, “die for the cause of Islam and never to think of retreat.” (May Allah Subhanahu-wa-ta'ala be pleased with them).