The People of Gibraltar
1622 - Mohammed al-Makkarí  - The Straits of Gibraltar

Ahmed ibn Mohammed al-Makkarí was a Moorish writer and historian. He was born in a village near Tremecén in Algeria in the latter half of the sixteenth century.  He was educated by his uncle, who held the office of Mufti but left home for good in 1618. Soon after he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and finally settled in Cairo.

In his later life he wrote his History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain which was published in two volumes. At the start of the first book of the first volume, al-Makkari writes about a Moorish myth concerning the creation of the Straits of Gibraltar. It is a curious alternative to the rather well-known version  involving Hercules and his famous Pillars.
 

Here is al-Makkari's account as taken from an 1840 English translation of an older version by the Spanish historian, Pascual de Gayangos.
The Creation of the Straits of GibraltarIn the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful! Praise be to God, the Lord of Kingdoms; and his benediction be upon his messenger Mohammed, our refuge from perdition; the favour of God be likewise on the family of the Prophet and on his Companions, whose radiant lights illumine the shadows of the deep . . . . . . . 

. . .  If we are to believe the ancient traditions, Iskhander (Alexander the Great) must also have resided in Andalus; the remains, too, of a bridge erected by him, between Tangiers and Algeciras, are reported by Idrisi    (11th century Muslim geographer) as still existing in his time.



Al-Idrisi's map of the world - south is at the top, the straits have already been created and he seems to have forgotten the bridge. 
The building of the bridge originated thus:  It is generally asserted that, in times of old, the Mediterranean was a lake surrounded by land on every side, like the sea of Tabaristan (the Caspian Sea), whose waters have no communication whatsoever with those of other seas, and that Andalus and the opposite land of Africa were joined together so as to form only one continent, owing to which the people of the Maghrebu-l-aksa (North African north west) were continually making incursions into Andalus, and visiting its inhabitants with destruction and war. 
On the arrival of Iskhander in Andalus, the people appeared before him, and humbly besought him that he would put a stop to the hostile incursions of their neighbours, upon which Iskhander, having taken the subject into consideration, called together his architects and geometricians, and bid them appear in his presence on the spot now occupied by Bahru-z-zokak (Straits of Gibraltar).

A Muslim representation of Isksander

He then commanded them to measure the level of the two seas (the Atlantic and Mediterranean), which being done, the first ( the Atlantic ) was found to be a little the higher. This being reported to Iskhander, he issued immediate orders for the demolition of all the cities which stood on the coast of the Mediterranean, enjoining at the same time that they should be rebuilt farther into the country on more elevated situations.


Old Arab map of Europe where the Mediterranean is shown as an enclosed sea ( Unknown - in the Calahorra in Cordoba )

He next caused a deep trench or canal to be dug between Tangiers and Andalus, and the digging was carried so deep into the earth that the crests of the mountains of the lower world became visible. When the excavation was completed, a wharf,  of great dimensions, and built with stone and mortar, an admirable work of art, was erected all along the coast of Andalus, measuring in length twelve miles, the distance which then separated the two seas.
Another wharf of similar dimensions was constructed along the coast of Tangiers, and the space left between the two was six miles, which is exactly the width of the straits at that spot.  
This being done, he caused another great excavation to be made on the side of the Ocean, and, when everything was ready, the waters of the great sea (Atlantic) were let into the excavated space between the two wharfs, but with such a fury did they rush into the Mediterranean that its bed was filled, the neighbouring countries were inundated, many cities were submerged, and thousands of people perished in the waves.  
The waters covered both the wharfs, and rose to a height of eleven ells. The wharf nearest to Andalus is sometimes visible at low water, when it looks like a great parallel line; the inhabitants of the two islands (Algeciras and Tarifa) call it Al-kantarah ( the bridge ). As to the African one, it is no where visible, having been completely swallowed up by the waves, which inundated on both sides a piece of ground measuring twelve miles, and were only checked in their progress by the mountains on either side. 
The ports in this strait are, on the side of Africa, Kasru-l-majaz (Alcasar), Tangiers and Ceuta; on the side of Andalus, Jebel Tarik (Gibraltar), Jezirah Tarif (Tarifa), Jeziratu-l-kadhra (Algesiras), and others.