The Emirate of Ibiza

The Byzantines withdrew from the island of Ibiza in the 8th Christian century[1] and left the concern of settling there to the Muslims of Andalusia from the year 233 AH (848). Tombs of Muslims have been found, while the island was still under Byzantine influence. These finds are the earliest evidence of an early Muslim stay on the island, which was completely unknown until now. In principle, it seems that the first Arabs (Berbers) to arrive on the island must have lived in a different cultural and political context than their origin (non-Islamic), which does not guarantee that the individuals found represent an isolated fact, but on the contrary, that they are the first to bear witness to a broader and more permanent human contribution that kick-started the process of Muslim occupation of the island in the late seventh or early eighth century.

The historical ignorance of the 8th and 9th centuries (Christian era) is mainly due to the lack of documentary data, as Arabic sources do not provide any news about Ibiza. The earliest chronicles refer to the expeditions made by the Ifriquiya fleet to the islands of the central and western Mediterranean in the early eighth century. The raid of 707 against the islands of Mallorca and Menorca, commanded by “Abd Allâh ibn Mûsa, is also known, but these sources never refer to Ibiza. It seems that these expeditions did not reach the Pitiüses Islands[2], despite their geographic location, closer to the African coast, with which they maintained regular contacts in ancient times.

Beyond the political motives of the time, it is worth noting the situation of instability in the maritime space of the Mediterranean in general and the east of the peninsula and islands in particular. This situation may have favored a gradual occupation of the coastal areas, and the islands in particular, as refuges and bases for sailors engaged in piracy and dissidents not under any control of Córdoba. The Caliphate of Córdoba did not exercise effective control over the Mediterranean region of Al-Andalus until Abd al-Rahman III came to power. Cordovan authority over the eastern islands, as the Balearic Islands were called, was imposed after the political or fitna crisis that took place at the end of the ninth century and the beginning of the tenth century. al-Andalus was in a state of declared or actual disagreement, as is the case in the eastern peninsula, where the restoration of the power of Córdoba will not be effective until after the military campaigns that the caliphate in the years 928-930 BC. j. has conducted.

Forgotten island, sparsely populated and without any political significance, Ibiza became a prosperous and dynamic entity under the auspices of the Emirate of Córdoba (10th century BC). Occupied by many Christian farmers and now some Muslims, Ibiza – Yaabisa in Arabic – is experiencing its agricultural revolution, like all Andalus, through the contribution of techniques brought by Muslim engineers and scholars of the continent. Irrigation channels, wells and artificial lakes are constructed there by means of hydraulics to grow the fauna that the island still knows today. For example, they introduced sugar cane and kaffircorn or sorghum as cultivable crops. Scholars live and die on this island, a part lives in the area called Al-Jzaa’ir sharkiyya; such as Al-Sabbini who died in 469H (1077), one of the most influential poets of the Andalusian era.

The presence of Muslims in Ibiza will last almost 400 years. It passed into the hands of the Umayyads[3] of Córdoba, Slavic and Arab emirs of the Taifa era respectively, until the island came under the rule of the highly orthodox Berbers of the Almoravid dynasty, and finally of the famous Almohads descended from the Atlas Mountains. Military base used for marine attacks on European ships attempting to cross the Mediterranean from the coasts of Italy. Quickly becoming a target of the Christian Reconquista, the Muslim Ibiza ceased to exist in 626H (1229) when the Aragons arrived, who in a few masterful strokes returned the island to the Catholic fold. On the historic date August 8, 1235, James I of Aragon took the island. This ended the Moorish presence, and all Muslims were deported from Ibiza.


Magazine Sarrazins n° 5 blz. 132-133 1441H

Enciclopèdia d’Eivissa I Formentera : Eivissa-Història-Època andalusina (1989)

[1] Archaeological discoveries confirm the permanent presence of Muslims in Ibiza since the 8th century. Finally, monetary findings also provide data of great importance for this period. The study of the Arabic coins found on the island, published in 1995, includes two interesting copper specimens found by chance in the Sa Coma area, only one of which is legible, corresponds to a fulus that looks like it was struck in the first quarter of the eighth century. Its appearance is related to the military expedition of Tariq that ended with the conquest of Hispania in 711. In any case, it is an important testimony to the presence and political and fiscal presence of the island in the mid-8th century. Dated to the following century, another specimen from the Puig des Molins is known, it is a silver coin of Al-Hakam I, struck in 196 H (811).

[2] or the ‘islands covered with pine trees’

[3] the islands were formally brought under the rule of the Umayyads by Isam al-Khawlâni in the year 902 BC.