Ibn al-Qūṭiyya

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Ibn al-Qūṭiyya (Arabic: ابن القوطية‎, 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 descent from Wittiza, the last king of the united Visigoths in Spain, through a supposed granddaughter, Sara the Goth, who allegedly had travelled 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 manuscript collection of Si Hamouda ben Cheikh el-Fakoun, but recent scholarship makes this seem unlikely.


  • Christys, Ann (2002). Christians in al-Andalus (711–1000). London: Routledge. ISBN 9780700715640. OCLC 474323475.
  • Collins, Roger (1989). The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710–97. London: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9780631159230. OCLC 898276874.
  • James, David; Ibn 'Umar Ibn al-Qūṭīyah, 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. ISBN 9780415475525. OCLC 241304594.
  • Nichols, James Manfield (1975). The History of the Conquest of Al-Andulus by Ibn al Qútiyya. PhD dissertation. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


  1. ^ His teachers there were: Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Qarn, Ḥasan ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Zabārī, Sa‘īd ibn Jābr, and ‘Alī ibn Abī Shība.
  2. ^ His teachers there were: Tāhir ibn ‘Abd al-Azīz, Ibn Abī al-Walīd al-Arj, Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahāb ibn Mughīth, Muḥammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Lubāba, ‘Umar ibn Ḥafṣ ibn Abī Tamīm, Aslam ibn ‘Abd al-Azīz, Aḥmad ibn Jild, Muḥammad ibn Masūr, Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Ayman, ‘Abd Allāh ibn Yūnis, Aḥmad ibn Bashīr ibn al-Aghbas, and Qasīm ibn Aṣbagh.