Ifriqiya or Ifriqiyah (Arabic: إفريقية Ifrīqya) or el-Maghrib el-Adna (Lower West) was the area during medieval history comprising what is today Tunisia, Tripolitania (western Libya) and the Constantinois (eastern Algeria) — all part of what was previously included in the Africa Province of the Roman Empire.
The southern boundary of Ifriqiya was far more unchallenged as bounded by the semi-arid areas and the salt marshes called el-Djerid. The northern and western boundaries fluctuated; at times as far north as Sicily otherwise just along the coastline, and the western boundary usually went as far as Béjaïa. The capital was briefly Carthage, then Qayrawan (Kairouan), then Mahdia, then Tunis. The Arabs generally settled on the lower ground while the native population settled in the mountains.
The province of Ifriqiya was created in 703 CE when the Umayyads seized "Africa" from the Byzantine Empire. Although Islam existed throughout the province there were still considerable religious tension and conflict between the invading Arabs and the native Berbers. The beliefs and perceptions of people also shifted from area to area, this contrast was at its greatest between coastal cities and villages. Muslim ownership of Ifriqiya changed hands numerous times in its history with the collapse of the Umayyads paving the way for the Aghlabids who acted as agents of the Abbasids in Baghdad. They were then overthrown by the Fatimids in 909 when they lost their capital of Raqqada and the Fatimids went on to control all of Ifriqiya in 969 when they took control of Egypt. The Fatimids slowly lost control over Ifriqiya as their regents, the Zirids, became more and more autonomous until the mid 11th century where they were fully separated. Religious divisions paved the way for the Almohads taking over Western Ifriqiya(Maghreb) in 1147 and all of Ifriqiya by 1160. This empire was to last till the early 13th century where it was then replaced by the Hafsids, who were an influential clan that boasted many of Ifriqiya's governors. The Hafsids in 1229 declared their independence from the Almohads and organized themselves under Abu Zakariya who built the Hafsid empire around its new capital, Tunis.
Records of Arabic oral traditions imply that the Muslims first migrated to Africa feeling persecution in their Arab homeland. However, Muslim military incursions into Africa began around 7 years after the death of the final prophet Mohammad in 632. This campaign into Africa was led by the General Amr ibn al Aas and Muslim control of Africa rapidly spread after the initial seizure of Alexandria. Islam slowly took root in the East African coast due to cross cultural links established between Muslims traders and the natives of the African coast. The political situation in Islamic Africa was like any other, filled with a chaotic and constant power struggle between movements and dynasties. A key factor in the success of any hopeful party was securing wealth to fund a push for dominance. One form of great wealth was the lucrative gold-mining areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. The existence of these gold mines made expansion into Africa a very worthwhile endeavor. The Muslim Empires pushed for influence and control of both the Northern and Southern parts of Africa. By the end of the 11th century Islam had firmly established itself along the Mediterranean. The Muslims, like the Europeans, felt the brutal effects of the Black Death in the 14th Century when it arrived in Western Africa (Maghreb) through Europe. Maghreb and Ifriqiya at large were largely under the rule of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to the 18th Century. Around the end of the 19th Century, Islam accounted for 1/3rd of the religious population of Africa.
A hundred years after the Prophet's death the Arab world had expanded as far as the Indus River, thus stretching their empire across Asia, Africa and Europe. Arab merchants and wayfarers, along with clerics, began spreading Islam along the coast and in regions such as Sudan. Islam first took root with Sudanese merchants due to their increased interaction with Muslims. They were then followed by several rulers who in turn converted entire countries, such as Ghana, in the eleventh century and Mali in the thirteenth century. Due to the way in which Islam entered the African world, a large part of the rural population remained outside the Muslim realm. The spread of Islam was given new life in the eleventh century when an Islamic fundamentalist group of Berber nomads known as the Almoravids took control of the Western Islamic Empire. While Islam did spread throughout most of Africa it is important to note that it was a highly erratic process that occurred over a long period of time and was not constant or rapid.
Islamic influences on African Societies:
In some areas such as Ghana, the presence of the Muslims led to the founding of several mosques. It is believed that the Sudano Sahelian style of building was engineered by Malian king Mansa Musa, who brought back an architect from his pilgrimage to Mecca who's name was Al-Sahili. Musa's brother was instrumental in the construction of new mosques throughout the empire and established religious centres of learning to aid new and old converts in their empire. Timbuktu was one such religious centre that was responsible for a significant part of commercial and intellectual advancement in the Mali empire. In the 16th century a significant portion of Muslim scholars in Timbuktu hailed from Sudan. Arabic seeped into Africa and merged with Bantu to create Swahili. It is also believed that conversion was a useful way to avoid being captured and sold as slaves in the lucrative market between Lake Chad and the Mediterranean. For African leaders conversion was more of a political tool that was employed to gain support and legitimacy from the powerful Arabs who's endorsement would be useful in stamping out their enemies. However not all tribes readily accepted Islam and the Arabs as their superiors. The Mossi who resided in modern day Burkina Faso along with the Bamana empire in Mali expressed fierce resistance to Islam. Eventually, exposure to Islam led to the creation of an African strain of Islam with its own unique practices and rituals.
Islamic influence on African Art:
Islamic prohibition on the depiction of people and animals was one that was accommodated and integrated into African culture. The charisma of early Muslim clerics in Africa drew swathes of people to Islam. These clerics who were known as marabouts, began producing amulets that contained verses from the Quran. These amulets gradually replaced the role of talismans in African cultures. The emphasis on avoiding representations of living beings reinforced reliance on geometric designs to create intricate patterns for textiles and other crafted goods. Masquerading was another art form that existed in an Islamic Africa and was performed in royal courts in countries such as Mali. However, the most noticeable Islamic impression was left on the architecture of Africa, mosques especially. Islamic civilization crashed into Africa and morphed into a hallmark of cultural diversity and this is reflected nowhere better than in the multitudes of mosques all across Africa.
Constantine the African:
Constantine was a scholar who was born in Carthage and migrated to Sicily in the 11th century. Constantine had traveled through places such as Cairo, India and Ethiopia and as a result had knowledge of numerous languages that helped him interpret many different academic works. His greatest work came when he joined the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino. At the monastery, he translated over 30 books including a few works from Isaac the Jew, one of the most accomplished physicians in the Western Caliphate. He translated Muslim books on Greek medicine from Arabic to Latin, opening up Europe to a wave of medical knowledge they had little access to before. His book "The Total Art" is based off "The Royal Book" by Persian physician Ali ibn al Abbas.
Ibn Khaldun was a historian born in Tunis and one of the most prolific academics in the Middle Ages. Ibn Khaldun's book Muqadimmah would influence waves of writers in Egypt, Turkey, and France through the 15th-19th century. Ibn Khaldun served in numerous political positions in al Andalus and Al Maghreb. He fell in and out of favor of the many different powers that rose and fell in Ifriqiya. In the latter parts of the 14th century Ibn Khaldun took refuge with a tribe in Algeria and began his 4 year long endeavor to write an introduction to history, Muqadimmah. Volume I laid the groundwork for sociology, while the two volumes that followed explored the world of politics, subsequent books explored many different themes such as urban life, economics and the study of knowledge. He spent his later years as a judge of the Maliki fiqh in Egypt where he took his work very seriously, evaluating each case on its merits and constantly trying to eradicate flaws that he discovered in the judicial system. His somewhat strict approach to Islamic laws made some Egyptians uneasy and so he eventually left his position and traveled through the eastern reaches of the Arab world. In 1400, he parleyed with Timur outside Damascus who was in awe of his wisdom. He managed to secure safe passage for many of the inhabitants of Damascus but could not save the city or its mosque from being sacked. After this, he headed to Cairo to spend the remainder of his years in relative peace and quiet. He died in 1406 and was buried outside Cairo.
(Ifriqiyan coast annexed by Norman Sicily (1143–1160))
Abd al-Rahman ibn Habib al-Fihri (died 755) was an Arab noble of the Oqbid or Fihrid family, and ruler of Ifriqiya (North Africa) from 745 through 755 AD.Abu Yazid
Abū Yazīd Mukhallad ibn Kayrād al-Nukkari (Arabic: أبو يزيد مخلد بن كيراد; 873 - 19 August 947), nicknamed Ṣāhib al-Himār "Possessor of the donkey", was a Ibadi Berber of the Banu Ifran tribe who led a rebellion against the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia and eastern Algeria) starting in 944. Abū Yazīd conquered Kairouan for a time, but was eventually driven back and defeated by the Fatimid Caliph al-Mansur Billah.Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Othman
Abu Al-Hasan 'Ali ibn 'Othman (c. 1297 – May 24, 1351) (Arabic: أبو الحسن علي بن عثمان) was a sultan of the Marinid dynasty who reigned in Morocco between 1331 and 1348. In 1333 he captured Gibraltar from the Castilians, although a later attempt to take Tarifa in 1339 ended in fiasco. In North Africa he extended his rule over Tlemcen and Ifriqiya, which together covered the north of what is now Algeria and Tunisia. Under him the Marinid realms in the Maghreb briefly covered an area that rivaled that of the preceding Almohad Caliphate. However, he was forced to retreat due to a revolt of the Arab tribes, was shipwrecked, and lost many of his supporters. His son Abu Inan Faris seized power in Fez. Abu Al-Hasan died in exile in the High Atlas mountains.Aghlabids
The Aghlabids (Arabic: الأغالبة) were an Arab dynasty of emirs from the Najdi tribe of Banu Tamim, who ruled Ifriqiya, nominally on behalf of the Abbasid Caliph, for about a century, until overthrown by the new power of the Fatimids.Al-Mu'izz ibn Badis
Al- Muʻizz ibn Bādīs (Arabic: المعز بن باديس); 1008–1062) was the fourth ruler of the Zirids in Ifriqiya, reigning from 1016 to 1062.Al-Qa'im bi-Amr Allah
Abu'l-Qasim Muhammad ibn al-Mahdi (Arabic: أبو القاسم محمد بن المهدي القائم بأمر الله; April 893 – 17 May 946), better known by his regnal name al-Qa'im bi-Amr Allah or bi-Amri 'llah (القائم بأمر الله, "He who carries out God's orders"), was the second caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriqiya and ruled from 934 to 946. He is the 12th Imam according to the Isma'ili faith.Asad ibn al-Furat
Asad ibn al-Furat (Arabic: أسد بن الفرات; 759–828) was a jurist and theologian in Ifriqiya, who began the Muslim conquest of Sicily.
His family, originally from Harran in Mesopotamia, emigrated with him to Ifriqiya. Asad studied in Medina with Malik ibn Anas, the founder of the Malikite school, and in Kufa with a disciple of Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafite tradition. He collected his views on religious law in the Asadiyya, which had great influence in Ifriqiya.
After his return to Ifriqiya he became a judge in Kairouan, where he soon came into conflict with the Aghlabid Emir Ziyadat Allah I (817-838) after criticising his luxurious and impious lifestyle. In order to get rid of this unwelcome critic, Ziyadat appointed Asad the leader of an expedition to Byzantine Sicily. In 827 Asad landed with a force of Arabs in Sicily and following a defeat of Byzantine troops proceeded to besiege Syracuse. However, the city could not be taken and Asad soon died of plague.
Asad was prominent in establishing the Malikite Madh'hab in Ifriqiya.Hafsid dynasty
The Hafsids (Arabic: الحفصيون al-Ḥafṣiyūn) were a Sunni Muslim dynasty of Berber descent who ruled Ifriqiya (western Libya, Tunisia, and eastern Algeria) from 1229 to 1574.Ibrahim II of Ifriqiya
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim II ibn Ahmad (Arabic: أبو اسحاق ابراهيم الثاني) (27 June 850 – 23 October 902) was the ninth Aghlabid emir of Ifriqiya. He ruled from 875 until his abdication in 902.Ibrahim I ibn al-Aghlab
Ibrahim I ibn al-Aghlab (Arabic: إبراهيم بن الأغلب; 756-812) was the first Emir of the Aghlabids in Ifriqiya (800-812)
He was the son of al-Aghlab, who successfully quelled the revolt of the Khawarij in Ifriqiya at the end of the 8th century. In 800 Ibrahim became Emir of Ifriqiya and founded the Aghlabid dynasty, and was recognised as the hereditary ruler by Caliph Harun al-Rashid.
After the pacification of the country he established a residence at al-Abbasiyya to keep his distance from the restless Maliki jurists of Kairouan, who were always ready to incite the people into revolt. Specially since, Ibrahim was a Mu'tazili Muslim, he named at the higher religious authority, Qadi Qayrawan (cadi of Kairouan), Abu Muhriz, a Mu'tazili imam in 806. A guard of 5000 Zanji slaves was set up to avoid total dependence on Arab troops, the necessity of which measure was proven by the revolts of Arab soldiers in 802, 805 and 810. Ibrahim built up a strong administrative framework for the state which lay the foundations for the prosperity of Ifriqiya in the following century.
He was succeeded by his son Abdallah I (812-817).Muhallabids
The Muhallabids (Ar. al-Muhaliba) were an Arab family who became prominent in the middle Umayyad Caliphate and reached its greatest eminence during the early Abbasids, when members of the family ruled Basra and Ifriqiya.
The founders of the family's fortunes were al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra (c. 632 – 702) and his son Yazid ibn al-Muhallab (672–720), governor of Khurasan and Iraq, who led an unsuccessful anti-Umayyad rebellion in Basra in 720. Despite his defeat and death, the family remained influential in their power base of Basra, and at the time of the Abbasid Revolution they rose up in their support. Despite the support of some Muhallabids to the abortive Alid revolt of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, the new Abbasid regime rewarded their support with governorships at Basra ad the Ahwaz, but most prominently in Ifriqiya, where the family ruled in uninterrupted succession from 768 to 795. Ifriqiya under their rule enjoyed a period of prosperity, above all agriculture was reinvigorated by the expansion of irrigation systems. The Muhallabids of Ifriqiya enjoyed a great deal of autonomy and were able to maintain Arab rule in the face of revolts by the Berbers. They were unable however to prevent the formation of the kingdoms of the Idrisids in Morocco and the Rustamids in central Algeria.
The family fell from power during and after the Fourth Fitna, when the traditional Arab families began to be increasingly sidelined by Caliph al-Ma'mun's Turkish and Iranian generals. One of the few members of the family who rose to prominence after that was Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Muhallabi, the capable vizier of the 10th-century Buyid emir Mu'izz al-Dawla.Muhammad II of Ifriqiya
Abu 'l-Gharaniq Muhammad II ibn Ahmad (Arabic: أبو الغرانيق محمد الثاني بن أحمد) (died 875) was the eighth Emir of the Aghlabids in Ifriqiya (864–875).
He succeeded his uncle Ziyadat Allah II (863–864), inheriting from his predecessors a stable and prosperous state. An aesthete fond of wine and hunting, he felt able to devote himself to extravagance and displays of pomp. His reign saw the conquest of Malta and raids into mainland Italy were sufficient to force tribute from Pope John VIII.
Towards the end of his reign a caravan of pilgrims from Mecca introduced the plague into Ifriqiya - this, and an ensuing famine led to severe depopulation and the weakening of the kingdom.
He was succeeded by his brother Abu Ishaq Ibrahim II (875–902).Muhammad al-Nasir
Muhammad al-Nasir (الناصر لدين الله محمد بن المنصور, an-Nāṣir li-dīn Allah Muḥammad ibn al-Manṣūr, C. 1182 - 1213) was the fourth Almohad caliph from 1199 until his death. Contemporary Christians referred to him as Miramamolin.
On 25 January 1199, al-Nasir’s father Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur died; al-Nasir was proclaimed the new caliph that very day. Al-Nasir inherited from his father an empire that was showing signs of instability. Because of his father’s victories against the Christians in the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus), he was temporarily relieved from serious threats on that front and able to concentrate on combating and defeating Banu Ghaniya attempts to seize Ifriqiya (Tunisia). Needing, after this, to deal with problems elsewhere in the empire, he appointed Abu Mohammed ibn Abi Hafs as governor of Ifriqiya, so unwittingly inaugurating the rule of the Hafsid dynasty there, which lasted until 1574.Musa ibn Nusayr
Musa bin Nusayr (Arabic: موسى بن نصير Mūsá bin Nuṣayr; 640–716) served as a governor and general under the Umayyad caliph Al-Walid I. He ruled over the Muslim provinces of North Africa (Ifriqiya), and directed the Islamic conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom in Hispania (Spain, Portugal, Andorra and part of France).Nukkari
The Nukkari (also Nakkari or Nakkariyah; in Latin sources named Canarii) are one of the main branches of the North African Ibadi, founded in 784 by Abu Qudama Yazid ibn Fandin al-Ifrani. Led by Abu Yazid al-Nukkari, they revolted against the ruling Fatimids in Ifriqiya (today's Tunisia and eastern Algeria), conquering Kairouan in 944 and laying siege to Sousse, but were ultimately defeated in 947. Remnants of the Nukkari are thought to have survived on the island of Djerba.Tamim ibn al-Mu'izz
Tamim ibn al-Mu'izz (died 1108) was the fifth ruler of the Zirids in Ifriqiya (1062–1108).
Tamim took over from his father al-Mu'izz ibn Badis (1016–1062) at a time when the Zirid realm found itself in a state of disintegration following the invasion of the Banu Hilal. Only the coastal towns were under control, and a reconquest of the hinterland from the Bedouin failed. Even on the coast the Zirids were not unchallenged - Tunis was lost to the Khurasanid dynasty (1063–1128). The capital, Mahdia, was attacked by the city-states of Genoa and Pisa in 1087 and forced to pay a high ransom - a sign of the growing dominance of Christian powers in the Mediterranean which also manifested itself in the Norman conquest of Sicily (1061–1062).
Tamim's son Yahya ibn Tamim inherited what was left of the Zirid kingdom in 1108.Tripolitania
Tripolitania (Arabic: طرابلس Ṭarābulus, Berber: Ṭrables, from Vulgar Latin *Trapoletanius, from Latin Regio Tripolitana, from Greek Τριπολιτάνια) is a historic region and former province of Libya.
Tripolitania was a separate Italian colony from 1927 to 1934. From 1934 to 1963, Tripolitania was one of three administrative divisions within Italian Libya and the Kingdom of Libya, alongside Cyrenaica to the east and Fezzan to the south.
The region had been settled since antiquity, first coming to prominence as part of the Carthaginian empire. Following the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars, Rome organized the region (along with what is now modern day Tunisia), into a province known as Africa, and placed it under the administration of a proconsul. During the Diocletian reforms of the late 3rd century, all of North Africa was placed into the newly created Diocese of Africa, of which Tripolitania was a constituent province.
After the Fall of Rome in the 5th century, Tripolitania changed hands between the Vandals and the Byzantine Empire, until it was taken during the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb in the 8th century. It was part of the region known to the Islamic world as Ifriqiya, whose boundaries roughly mirrored those of the old Roman province of Africa Proconsularis. Though nominally under the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate, local dynasties such as the Aghlabids and later the Fatimids were practically independent. Native Berber people, who had inhabited the area locally for centuries before the arrival of the Arabic peoples, established their own native Hafsid dynasty over Ifriqiya in the 13th century, and would control the region until it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, who established Ottoman Tripolitania as a distinct province.Zirid dynasty
The Zirid dynasty (Berber languages: ⵉⵣⵉⵔⵉⴻⵏ Tagelda en Ayt Ziri, Arabic: زيريون /ALA-LC: Zīryūn; Banu Ziri) was a Sanhaja Berber dynasty from modern-day Algeria which ruled the central Maghreb from 972 to 1014 and Ifriqiya (eastern Maghreb) from 972 to 1148.Descendants of Ziri ibn Menad, a military leader of the Cairo-based Fatimid Caliphate and the eponymous founder of the dynasty, the Zirids were Emirs who ruled in the name of the Fatimids. The Zirids gradually established their autonomy in Ifriqiya through military conquest until officially breaking with the Fatimids in the mid-11th century. The rule of the Zirid emirs opened the way to a period in North African history where political power was held by Berber dynasties such as the Almoravid dynasty, Almohad Caliphate, Zayyanid dynasty, Marinid dynasty and Hafsid dynasty.Continuing their conquests to Fez and much of modern-day Morocco in 980, the Zirids encountered resistance from the local Zenata Berbers, who gave their allegiance to the Caliphate of Cordoba. Various Zirid branches did however rule the central Maghreb. This branch of the Zirids, at the beginning of the 11th century, following various family disputes, broke away as the Hammadids and took control of the territories of the central Maghreb. The Zirids proper were then designated as Badicides and occupied only Ifriqiyah between 1048 and 1148. Part of the dynasty fled to al-Andalus and later founded, in 1019, the Taifa of Granada on the ruins of the Caliphate of Cordoba. The Zirids of Granada were again defeated by the expansion of the Almoravids, who annexed their kingdom in 1090, while the Badicides and the Hammadids remained independent. Following the recognition of the Sunni Muslim Abbasid Caliphate and the assertion of Ifriqiya and the Central Maghreb as independent kingdoms of Sunni obedience in 1048, the Fatimids reportedly masterminded the migration of the Hilalians to the Maghreb. In the 12th century, the Hilalian invasions combined with the attacks of the Normans of Sicily on the littoral weakened Zirid power. The Almohad caliphate finally conquered the central Maghreb and Ifriqiya in 1152, thus unifying the whole of the Maghreb and ending the Zirid dynasties.Ziyadat Allah I of Ifriqiya
Ziyadat Allah I (Arabic: زيادة الله الأول) (died June 10, 838) was the third Aghlabid Emir in Ifriqiya from 817 until his death.
Abu Muhammad Ziyadat Allah I succeeded his brother Abdallah I (812–817) to the Emirate of Ifriqiya. During his rule the relationship between the ruling dynasty on the one hand and the jurists and Arab troops on the other remained strained. When Ziyadat Allah I attempted to disband the Arab units in 824, it led to a great revolt at Tunis, which was only put down in 836 with the help of the Berbers.
Ziyadat had already begun campaigns in Italy in an attempt to divert the restless Arab troops, and so in 827 there began the gradual conquest of Sicily from the Byzantine Empire, under the jurist Asad ibn al-Furat. Although initially repulsed by the Byzantines, they managed to conquer Palermo in 831. Power struggles on the Italian mainland afforded further opportunity for conquest and plunder - a call for aid from the Duke of Naples enabled them to establish a foothold in southern Italy and begin extensive raids against the Christians.
The economic health of the kingdom, in spite of the political unrest, enabled a substantial building programme. The mosque of Uqba ibn Nafi in Kairuan was renovated and refurnished, and more city defenses were erected. Ziyadat Allah I wasn't the first of the Aghlabids to convert to mu'tazilism, but he appointed, with his mu'tazilite qadi of Qairawan Abu Muhriz al Kilabi (appointed by Ibrahim I in 806), Assad ibn al Furat considered as one of the most important sunni leaders of his time in Ifriqya. The majority of the Aghlabids rulers stayed loyal to mu'tazilism until their end in 909, so even after it was rejected by the Abbassids in 848.
After the death of Ziyadat Allah I his brother Abu Iqal (838–841) became Emir.
Historical rulers of Algeria
|Zayyanid rulers of|
the Kingdom of Tlemcen
|Ottoman governors of|
the Regency of Algiers
of French Algeria
|Presidents of the |
Republic of Algeria
Timeline of the Maghreb dynasties