The society of Al-Andalus was made up of three main groups: Muslims, Christians and Jews.
Though united on the religious level, they had several ethnic divisions, the main being the distinction among the conquerors between the Arabs and the Berbers.
- Arabs settled in the south and in the Ebro Valley in the northeast. They seized the best lands and the most powerful posts. They became the nobility in Al-Andalus.
- Berbers, who made up the bulk of the invaders, lived in the mountainous regions of what is now the north of Portugal and in the Meseta Central. They organized several rebellions in demand of equality for every Muslim living in Al-Andalus, as Arabs marginalized them.
- But the bulk of Muslim population in Al-Andalus was compound by Muladies. These were Hispanic-Visigoths who converted to Islam in order to enjoy the same rights other Muslims enjoyed (e.g. they did not pay as many taxes as non-Muslims did).
2. Non-Muslims (Dhimmi).-
Al- Qur’an demands respect for The Book peoples, that is to say, for those religions based on The Bible; that’s why Muslims let Christians and Jews live among them with their own customs, laws and religion, but paying high taxes in exchange. Anyway, the Caliphate treated non-Muslims differently at different times, being the 10th century the longest period of tolerance with the reigns of Abd-ar-Rahman III and his son, Al-Hakam II.
- Mozarabs were Christians that had long lived under Muslim domination and so had come to adopt many Arabic customs, art and words, while holding onto old Christian rituals and their own Latin-derived languages. Each of these communities inhabited a separate part of the cities. Christians had to pay taxes but they were protected by the muslims.
- The Jews worked mainly as tax collectors, in trade or as doctors or ambassadors. At the end of the fifteenth century there were about 50,000 Jews in Granada and roughly 100,000 in the whole of Islamic Iberia. Jews of Al-Andalus prospered, devoting themselves to the service of the Caliphate of Cordoba, to the study of the sciences, and to commerce and industry, especially to trading in silk and slaves, in this way promoting the prosperity of the country. Southern Iberia became an asylum for the oppressed Jews of other countries.