Posted by: Randall Niles | July 1, 2009

Abd-ar-Rahman III – Caliph of Cordoba

During much of the 10th century AD, Abd-ar-Rahman III reigned as the most powerful prince of the Ummayad dynasty in Spain. He was known as the Emir of Cordoba from 912 to 929, and later as the Caliph of Cordoba from 929 to 961. 

Abd-ar-Rahman III was a mighty ruler who unified a people plagued by tribal warfare and outside influence. First, he successfully established a centralized government in Spain and built a powerful army and navy. Then, through military action, he successfully broke ties with the aristocracy of the Arab world, the Fatimids of Egypt and North Africa, and the Christian kings of León. 

After nearly 20 years of dramatic success, Abd-ar-Rahman III snubbed the caliphate tradition of Mecca and Medina and declared himself as caliph in Spain. Although rejected by some, this title gave Abd-ar-Rahman tremendous power and prestige throughout much of the Muslim world. He spent the next 32 years as a revered ruler of a peaceful and prosperous region. 

When all was said and done, Abd-ar-Rahman III reflected on his life like other rulers before him. Remarkably, he came to the same basic conclusion as other mighty men of history:  

“I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to Fourteen: – O man! place not thy confidence in this present world!” 

Like Gilgamesh, Nebuchadnezzar, Solomon, and Alexander the Great before him, the mighty Caliph of Cordoba conquered all the world had to offer. In the end, he shared the same eternal epiphany… 

Something to Think About as we reflect on the definitions of meaning, purpose, success, and happiness in our own lives, 

Randall Niles


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