Earlier this week, I had the chance to visit Almuñécar…a very small town on the southern coast, directly south of Granada. For many, this town is relatively unknown and probably unimportant. However, it was actually the landing spot of ‘Abd al-Rahman I, founder of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain. The town actually has erected a statue of ‘Abd al-Rahman to commemorate the 1250th anniversary of his landing in Spain. It was an incredibly nice memorial to a man who essentially forged Islamic Spain…he established its borders, built the mosque of Cordoba, adopted the Maliki madhab, and encouraged the policy of tolerance towards Jews and Christians in the peninsula. In so many ways, this dedication to his memory is very fitting. (Although, ofcourse, many Muslims may take issue with the figurative representation).
Many may know him by his title “Saqr Quraysh” (The Falcon of Quraysh). Here is what his primary enemy, Abu Ja’far al-Mansur (Abbasid caliph) had to say about him:
“The falcon of Quraysh is indeed Abd al-Rahman, who escaped by his cunning the spearheads of the lances and the blades of the swords, who after wandering solitary through the deserts of Asia and Africa, had the boldness to seek his fortune without an army, in lands unknown to him beyond the sea. Having naught to rely upon save his own wits and perseverance, he nonetheless humiliated his proud foes, fought rebels, organized cities, mobilized armies, secured his frontiers against the Christians, founded a great empire and reunited under his scepter a realm which seemed already parcelled out among others. No man before him ever did such deeds. Mu’awiya rose to his stature through the support of Umar and Uthman, whose backing allowed him to overcome difficulties; Abd al-Malik, because of previous appointment; and the Commander of the Faithful [i.e. al-Mansur himself] through the struggle of his kin and the solidarity of his partisans. But Abd al-Rahman did it alone, with the support of none other than his own judgment, depending on no one but his own resolve.”
The town was also one of the last strongholds in Islamic Spain, holding out until the very end. It’s fortress and the Mediterranean coast were some of its other attractions. All in all, one of the more tranquil experiences of the trip.