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I am Tariq, Hear Me Roar

I am Tariq ibn Ziyad, chief of my quarter, Tangiers, in the furthest land of the setting sun, which is known to my children's children as Morocco. I am a loyal Defender of the Faith. The year is 711 AD, and under Allah's protection, I set forth with my army across the meeting-point of the waters, where the Mediterranean Sea joins the cold Atlantic Ocean. I go to conquer the land to the north, insha'allah, if God wills it. I say goodbye to Africa, to my homeland, as I cross the straits between the two continents. I look back longingly over the waters.

Vocabulary Box

Minaret - the decorative tower of a mosque
Castillian - person from the region of Spain called Castile. It is also the name for dialect of Spanish spoken there.

Skirmish - minor battle

Wane - to fall gradually from power, prosperity, or influence

Autonomous - self-ruling

The waves are strong and the winds rough today, and my thoughts turn back to the familiar shapes of Morocco. The minaret of the mosque disappears into the fog. But then something else captures my attention: something grand, something powerful. A great Rock rises to my right. It is a mountain, and I will take it. I land at this point and launch my campaign to invade the entire Iberian Peninsula. I name this great Rock after me: "Jebel Tariq", Tariq's mountain.

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At the docks in Morocco, I ponder the upcoming voyage
Future generations will change the sounds and call it Gibraltar, but the meaning is clear. It is mine. I control it. Five kilometers long and one kilometer wide, this Rock looms over the southernmost tip of the new country, Spain. Made of limestone, it is 426 meters high, standing like an anchor to this new continent, Europe. Some say this Rock was a pillar, placed there by the ancient god Hercules, to mark one end of the world. My armies advance throughout Spain: we bring Islam, we bring our architecture and our food, our clothing and music, our culture and our writing to this new place.

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Goodbye Africa
The mighty Rock of Gibraltar looms in the distance.
We control parts of Spain for seven hundred years. But I see into the future, and all changes. In the year 1462 the Castillians take Gibraltar away from my descendants. My Moroccan influence wanes and is replaced with Spanish influence. In 1704, another army, of Britons and Dutch, fight for the Rock: these British continue to battle with Spain over control of Gibraltar. Spanish influence wanes and is replaced by the British. Spain eventually gives up the Rock to Britain in 1713, but does not give up the fight: they continue to skirmish until a Great Siege is laid for four years, from 1779 to 1783.

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Hello Spain!
I look further into the future, and see even more changes. More than twelve hundred years after my passing, in the year 1999 AD, the inhabitants of Gibraltar number 30,000. They are a mixture of Gibraltarian, Genoese, Jewish, Spanish, British, and Moroccan, and speak a curious blend of Spanish and English, different from the Arabic to which my ears are accustomed. They have had thirty years of self-rule under British sovereignty. They have created their own constitution and government and consider themselves an autonomous region.

I am Tariq ibn Ziyad. My influence remains in southern Spain, in places like the Alhambra, in Granada. My name also continues to hold, although the language, the customs, and the culture have changed. Remember, o my children's children, that this Rock was once my mountain: Jebel Tariq. It is now Gibraltar, the Rock of Gibraltar.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

Monica - Hijab, the Muslim Woman's Head Covering
Team - Henna: Patterns Woven through Time
Team - A Culture Rich in Tradition: The Jews of Morocco
Making a Difference - Abeja gets M.A.D.-- She's Making a Difference

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