The Masmuda is a Berber tribal confederacy of Morocco and one of the largest in the Maghreb, along with the Zanata and the Sanhaja.[1] They were composed of several sub-tribes: Berghouatas, Ghomaras (Ghomarids), Hintatas (Hafsids), Tin Malel, Hergha, Genfisa, Seksiwa, Gedmiwa, Hezerdja, Urika, Guerouanes, Bni M'tir, Hezmira, Regraga, Haha les Banou Maghus, Gilawa and others. Today, the Masmuda confederacy largely corresponds to the speakers of the Shilha (Tachelhit) Berber variety, whereas other clans, such as Regraga and Doukkala, have adopted Arabic.


The Masmuda settled large parts of Morocco, and were largely sedentary and practised agriculture. The residence of the Masmuda aristocracy was Aghmat in the High Atlas. From the 10th century the Berber tribes of the Sanhaja and Zanata groups invaded the lands of the Masmuda, followed from the 12th century onwards by Arab Bedouins (see Banu Hilal).

Ibn Tumart united the Masmuda tribes at the beginning of the 12th century and founded the Almohad movement, which subsequently unified the whole of the Maghreb and Andalusia.[2] After the downfall of the Almohads, however, the particularism of the Masmuda peoples prevailed once more, as a result of which they lost their political significance.


The author of the book "Mafakhir al-Barbar" (roughly translates as: The prides of the Berbers), cites the sub-tribes of the Masmuda as follows:[3]

  • Hhaha
  • Regraga
  • Ourika
  • Hezmira
  • Guedmiwa
  • Henfisa
  • Hezerga
  • Doukkala
  • Hentata (or Hintata)
  • Beni Magus
  • Tehlawa


  1. ^ Nelson, Harold D. (1985). Morocco, a country study. Washington, D.C.: The American University. p. 14.
  2. ^ Nelson 19-20
  3. ^ Unknown author (1312). كتاب مفاخر البربر. Hassan II university of Casablanca. p. 172.

See also

Abd al-Wahid I

Abu Muhammad Abd al-Wahid 'al-Makhlu' (also known as Abd al-Wahid I, Arabic: أبو محمد عبد الواحد بن يوسف‎ Abū Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Wāhid bin Yūsuf) was the Almohad Caliph of Morocco for less than a year in 1224.

Abd al-Wahid was the son of the great Almohad conqueror Abu Yaqub Yusuf and younger brother of the late Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (d.1199). He had served with distinction on campaign in al-Andalus, was appointed governor of Málaga in 1202, and sheikh of the Masmuda tribe of the Haskura in 1206. He served for some time after that as governor in Sijilmassa, and around 1221, was briefly governor in Seville.Abd al-Wahid was back in Marrakesh in February 1224, when his grand-nephew, the young Almohad caliph Yusuf II, was accidentally killed, leaving no heirs. The palace vizier Abu Sa`id Uthman ibn Jam`i quickly drafted the elderly Abd al-Wahid, then in his sixties, and presented him before the Almohad sheikhs of Marrakesh, who promptly elected him as the new Almohad Caliph. However, the hastiness of the election and the probable unconstitutionality of these proceedings, was disputed by his other nephews, the brothers of al-Nasir, who governed in al-Andalus. Like other leading Almohad family nobles, the brothers had probably hoped for a less-experienced and more pliable candidate, likelier to give them freer rein to carry on autonomously in the provinces, as they had enjoyed during the caliphate of Yusuf II. The succession stunt unbalanced the careful coalition that had been built up over decades, setting different branches of the Almohad family member against each other, and against the palace bureaucrats and the tribal sheikhs.

It was the first serious succession dispute in the Almohad Caliphate. Despite disagreements, the Almohad coalition had hitherto loyally lined up behind the new caliph. Not this time. Instigated by the shadowy figure of Abu Zayd ibn Yujjan, a former high bureaucrat who been disgraced and exiled by al-Jami'i, the brothers decided to elect their own Caliph Abdallah al-Adil in Seville, and set about ferrying troops from Spain to challenge Abd al-Wahid I in Morocco.

The new caliphate did not last long. Ibn Yujjan pulled on his old contacts in southern Morocco, notably Abu Zakariya, the sheikh of the Hintata tribe, and Yusuf ibn Ali, governor of Tinmal, who seized the Marrkesh palace and cleared out Ibn Jami'i and his coterie (Ibn Jami'i was eventually killed, while in exile in the Atlas. The caliph himself, Abd al-Wahid I, was murdered by strangulation in September 1224. The nickname by which he is frequently referred to in the chronicles, "al-Makhlu", means "the Deposed".

Abdelwahid al-Marrakushi

Abdelwahid al-Marrakushi (born 7 July 1185 in Marrakech) was a Moroccan historian who lived during the Almohad period.

Abdelwahid was born in Marrakech in 1185 during the reign of Yaqub al-Mansur, in 1194 he moved to Fes to pursue his studies, but continued traveling back and forth between the two cities for academic purposes. In 1206 he left for al-Andalus where he stayed for nine years before returning to Morocco. In 1224 he completed Kitab al-mujib fi talkhis akhbar ahl al-Maghrib (The pleasant book in summarizing the history of the Maghreb), a history of the Almohad dynasty as well as the preceding dynasty of the Almoravids coupled with a summary of Al Andalus history from the Muslim conquest until 1224. The book was written in a lighthearted spirit with many anecdotes; Abdelwahid explained that his intention was to inform and entertain the students in a summarized way since academic history books tend to be overly lengthy which can sometimes bore the reader. The book contains valuable information about Ibn Rushd (a contemporary of Abdelwahid) as well as information directly taken from the Almohad archives, various princes and accounts of events that the author witnessed.

Although he vowed respect for the Almohad dynasty and its founding tribe the Masmuda, the book was fairly objective as it contained criticism of the actions of some of its kings as well as a neutral account of the dynasty's founder Ibn Tumart and his teachings. Another aspect of this is the account about the Almoravids, who were the rivals of the Almohads, but were properly credited with their good deeds. Additionally events of in-fighting between the Almohad princes were properly reported, contrary to Ibn Abi Zar, writing a century later under the Marinids, who omitted to report about significant plots and revolts that occurred during his lifetime.

Abdelwahid finished his life in Egypt, as he reported in his book that the later events of the Almohads did not reach him in great detail since he was away.

Abu Abdallah al-Qaim

Abu Abdallah al-Qaim bi Amrillah of Tagmadert in the Draa River valley, a claimed descendant of Fatimah, was the ancestor of the Saadi Dynasty of Morocco, who ruled the Sous in Southern Morocco from 1509 to 1517. The Sharifian movement on which the Saadi Dynasty was to be built began when Abu Abdallah, during a visit to Medina, dreamed of two lions entering a tower with a crowd of people close behind. Taking his vision to a Sufi sheikh, he was told that his two sons would have an important future in his country. Upon returning to Morocco he began to broadcast the vision among his people, who believed him, according to Moroccan historian al-Nasiri, because of his reputation for honesty, and he adopted the Mahdist title "al-Qaim bi Amrillah" (the one called by God).

After meeting with the leaders of the Masmuda Berbers at Tidsi near the town of Taroudannt, Abu Abdallah al-Qaim agreed to lead the jihad against the Portuguese at Agadir and other towns along the southern coast. He then sent his two sons Ahmad al-Araj and Mohammed Amghar (later called Mohammed ash-Sheikh) to Fez, where they established themselves as teachers of religion and literature and exhorted the sultan to raise a full jihad in the south. The Wattasid sultan Abu Abdallah al Burtugali gave them full permission to carry out their jihad in the Sous. This enabled the Saadians to transform their moral authority into a military authority. After they had forced the Portuguese out of their coastal positions, they took the power in Marrakech.

Almohad Caliphate

The Almohad Caliphate (British English: /almə(ʊ)ˈhɑːd/, American English: /ɑlməˈhɑd/; Berber languages: ⵉⵎⵡⵃⵃⴷⵉⵢⵏ (Imweḥḥdiyen), from Arabic الموحدون (al-Muwaḥḥidūn), "the monotheists" or "the unifiers") was a Moroccan Berber Muslim movement and empire founded in the 12th century.The Almohad movement was founded by Ibn Tumart among the Berber Masmuda tribes of southern Morocco. Around 1120, the Almohads first established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains. They succeeded in overthrowing the ruling Almoravid dynasty governing Morocco by 1147, when Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi (r. 1130–1163) conquered Marrakesh and declared himself Caliph. They then extended their power over all of the Maghreb by 1159. Al-Andalus soon followed, and all of Islamic Iberia was under Almohad rule by 1172.The Almohad dominance of Iberia continued until 1212, when Muhammad III, "al-Nasir" (1199–1214) was defeated at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in the Sierra Morena by an alliance of the Christian princes of Castile, Aragon and Navarre. Nearly all of the Moorish dominions in Iberia were lost soon afterwards, with the great Moorish cities of Cordova and Seville falling to the Christians in 1236 and 1248 respectively.

The Almohads continued to rule in Africa until the piecemeal loss of territory through the revolt of tribes and districts enabled the rise of their most effective enemies, the Marinids, in 1215. The last representative of the line, Idris al-Wathiq, was reduced to the possession of Marrakesh, where he was murdered by a slave in 1269; the Marinids seized Marrakesh, ending the Almohad domination of the Western Maghreb.

Almoravid dynasty

The Almoravid dynasty (Berber languages: ⵉⵎⵔⴰⴱⴹⵏ, Imrabḍen; Arabic: المرابطون‎, Al-Murābiṭūn) was an imperial Berber Muslim dynasty centered in Morocco. It established an empire in the 11th century that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. Founded by Abdallah ibn Yasin, the Almoravid capital was Marrakesh, a city the ruling house founded in 1062. The dynasty originated among the Lamtuna and the Gudala, nomadic Berber tribes of the Sahara, traversing the territory between the Draa, the Niger, and the Senegal rivers.The Almoravids were crucial in preventing the fall of Al-Andalus to the Iberian Christian kingdoms, when they decisively defeated a coalition of the Castilian and Aragonese armies at the Battle of Sagrajas in 1086. This enabled them to control an empire that stretched 3,000 kilometers (1,900 mi) north to south. However, the rule of the dynasty was relatively short-lived. The Almoravids fell—at the height of their power—when they failed to stop the Masmuda-led rebellion initiated by Ibn Tumart. As a result, their last king Ishaq ibn Ali was killed in Marrakesh in April 1147 by the Almohad Caliphate, who replaced them as a ruling dynasty both in Morocco and Al-Andalus.

Banu Dānis

The Banū Dānis, also known as Banū Abī Dānis or Banū Adānis, were a clan of the Berber tribe of Awsāǧa (also Awsaŷa, 'Awsaja, Aussaya). The 'Awsāǧa, in turn, belonged to the tribal confederation of Masmuda (according to other sources, to the Malzūza). They had come at the beginning of the 8th century during the Islamic expansion with a first Berber immigration from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula and played until the second Berber immigration late 10th century a leading role in the west of al-Andalus, today's southern and central Portugal.

Masmuda Berbers had settled between the rivers Tejo and Douro or in the entire area between Beja and Coimbra. The Banu Dānis settled on the banks of the Sado (near Alcácer do Sal); in Coimbra, in turn, they were next to Mozarabs the largest population group. Also in Lisbon there were Banu Dānis or Masmuda - as well in Porto (Oporto). The power and influence of the Banū Dānis increased when, after the Viking raids in the mid-9th century, the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba developed the port cities on the Atlantic coast into important fortresses, the Banū Dānis became governors of Alcácer and Coimbra. During the rebellions erupting at the end of the 9th century, the Banū Dānis remained loyal to the Umayyads. However, the Mozarabs of Coimbra allied themselves with the Muladí rebels Sāʿḍūn al-Ṣurunbāqī and Ibn Marwan; after fierce battles led by Adānis Ibn 'Awsāǧa, Banu Dānis were expelled from Coimbra in 876. The city then fell to Alfonso III of Asturias.

The expelled Banu Dānis withdrew in 877 first to Lisbon, then to Alcácer do Sal (al-Kasr Abī Dānis, i.e. "castle of Banū Abī Dānis"). Then, in 888, they also revolted against the usurpation of the throne by the Emir Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Umawi (as did the Banū Khalī, another clan of 'Awsāǧa, who rose in the south of Andalusia and joined the rebellion of Umar ibn Hafsun). From Alcácer do Sal, the Banū Dānis under Adānis' son Mas'ūd Ibn Abī Dānis (Mas'ūd Ibn Adānis) were able to expand their power and extend it again over Lisbon. Far away from Córdoba they dominated in the meantime at least the entire Estremadura or approximately the area of today's districts Lisbon and Setúbal.

After the suppression of the rebellions, the Banū Dānis were appointed as governors by the caliph Abd al-Rahman III: Mas'ūd's brother Yaḥyā Ibn Abī Dānis (Yaḥyā Ibn Adānis) became governor of Alcácer in 930 and his nephew 'Abd Allāh Ibn' Umar Ibn Abī Dānis became governor of Palmela or Setúbal. Almanzor eventually dismissed the Banū Dānis governors, and made Alcácer do Sal a base for campaigns to the north, in which 987 Coimbra was recaptured.


The Barghawatas (also Barghwata or Berghouata) were a group of Berber tribes on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, belonging to the Masmuda confederacy. After allying with the Sufri Kharijite rebellion in Morocco against the Umayyad Caliphate, they established an independent state (AD 744-1058) in the area of Tamesna on the Atlantic coast between Safi and Salé under the leadership of Tarif al-Matghari.


Ha-Mim (Arabic: حا میم‎) is the short form of the name Ha-Mim ibn Mann-Allah ibn Harir ibn Umar ibn Rahfu ibn Azerwal ibn Majkasa, also known as Abu Muhammad; he was a member of the Majkasa sub-tribe of the Ghomara Berbers who proclaimed himself a prophet in 925 near Tetouan in Morocco. He was named after a well-known combination of Qur'anic initial letters.His claim was widely accepted among the Ghomara of the time, and he established rules for them. He said that he received a revelation in the Berber language, portions of which historian Ibn Khaldun quotes in Arabic: "O You who are beyond sight, who watches the world, release me from my sins! O You who saved Moses from the sea, You believe in Ha-Mim and in his father Abu-Khalaf Mann Allah..."

He died in 927 fighting the Masmuda Berbers near Tangier, and was succeeded politically by his son Isa, who sent an embassy to the Umayyad Caliph Abd-ar-rahman III an-Nasir. His religion's later history is unclear, but it vanished well before even Ibn Khaldun's time.

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.

Haha (tribe)

The Haha or Iḥaḥan (in Shilha) (Arabic حاحا Ḥāḥā) is a Moroccan confederation of Berber tribes in the Western High Atlas in Morocco. They identify themselves as a tribal confederacy of the Chleuh people, and speak the Shilha language. Their region stretches along from the city of Essaouira south to the Souss Valley, mainly on the Atlantic coast.

History of medieval Tunisia

The medieval era of Tunisia starts with what will eventually return Ifriqiya (Tunisia, and the entire Maghrib) to local Berber rule. The Shia Islamic Fatimid Caliphate departed to their newly conquered territories in Egypt leaving the Zirid dynasty to govern in their stead. The Zirids would eventually break all ties to the Fatimids and formally embrace Sunni Islamic doctrines.

During this time there arose in Maghrib two strong local successive movements dedicated to Muslim purity in its practice. The Almoravids emerged in the far western area in al-Maghrib al-Aksa (Morocco) establishing an empire to as north as modern Spain (al-Andalus) and south to Mauretania; Almoravid rule never included Ifriqiya. Later, the Berber religious leader Ibn Tumart founded the Almohad movement, supplanted the Almoravids, and would eventually bring under the movement's control al-Maghrib and al-Andalus. Almohad rule would be succeeded by the Tunis-based Hafsids. The Hafsids were a local Berber dynasty and would retain control with varying success until the arrival of the Ottomans in the western Mediterranean.

Ibn Tumart

Abu Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Tumart (Berber: Amghar ibn Tumert, Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد ابن تومرت‎, ca. 1080–1130 or 1128), a Muslim Berber religious scholar, teacher and political leader, came from southern Morocco. He founded and served as the spiritual and first military leader of the Almohad movement, a puritanical reform movement launched among the Masmuda Berbers of the Atlas Mountains. Ibn Tumart launched an open revolt against the ruling Almoravids during the 1120s. After his death his followers, the Almohads, went on to conquer much of North Africa and part of Spain.

Ksar es-Seghir

Ksar es-Seghir (Arabic: القصر الصغير‎, al-Qasr al-Seghir), also known by numerous other spellings and names, is a small town on the Mediterranean coast in the Jebala region of northwest Morocco, between Tangier and Ceuta, on the right bank of the river of the same name. Administratively, it belongs to Fahs-Anjra Province and the region of Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima. By the census of 2004, it had a population of 10,995 inhabitants.The city is circular, a design unusual in medieval Moroccan town planning. It is built from brick and ashlar masonry and flanked by semi-circular masonry towers. There are three monumental doors in the wall, each flanked by square towers. The Bāb al-Bahr (door of the sea), has an elbowed entrance for defensive purposes. These doors were used both for communication and trade and for taxation purposes.

Malik ibn al-Murahhal

Malik ibn al-Murahhal or Abu l-Hakam/Abu l-Mayd Malik ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Ali ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn (al-)Faray ibn (al-)Azraq ibb Saad/Munir ibn Salim ibn (al-)Faray al-Masmudi al-Malaqi al-Sabti (13 August 1207, in Málaga – 10 April 1299, in Fez) is considered to be one of the greatest Moroccan poets. He belonged to a Masmudi family and was born in Malaga, but grew up in Ceuta and was the chancellor of Marinid sultans like Abu Yusuf Yaqub. He is the author of 24 books among which a panegyric of the Prophet in popular form.

Mohamed Salah Mzali

Mohamed Salah Mzali (February 11, 1896 in Monastir – November 22, 1984) was a Tunisian educator, historian, and politician. He was Prime Minister of Tunisia for a brief period in 1954 under Muhammad VIII al-Amin.

Mohamed Salah Mzali is a descent of the Ait Mzal clan of the Masmuda tribe of the Sous who had established the Hafsid dynasty, he is also a relative of Mohammed Mzali.


The Regraga are a sub-tribe of the Masmuda Berber tribal confederacy. They are also one of three tribes that formed the population of Essaouira, Morocco. The Regraga came from the Jbel Hadid mountains and introduced Islam to the region; the other tribes were the Berber Haha and the Chiadma. In Tachelhit, the term Regraga refers to those who are imbued with the spiritual force called Baraka. The tribe became known by this name because in pre-Islamic times they held a prominent religious role in the region, and because of it were considered nobility.

In modern times, the term also refers to a pilgrimage made annually by the Chiadma tribes of the Jbel Hadid and the Haha tribes who live southeast of Essaouira. It takes place in spring and lasts 40 days. During those weeks, pilgrims visit a series of local shrines, from the mouth of the Tensift river south of Safi to the northern outskirts of the High Atlas, including the city of Essaouira itself. They join either of two different groups on a tour of the shrines, stopping at each shrine on the way. One group must adorn at every shrine a holy tent made of fan palm fibres and dyed with henna, the other group arrives in a procession with a muqaddim (religious leader) riding a white horse.

Yahya al-Laithi

Abu Muhammad Yahya al-Laithi ibn Yahya ibn Kathir ibn Wislasen ibn Shammal ibn Mangaya (died 848), better known as Yahya ibn Yahya, was a prominent Andalusian Muslim scholar. He was responsible for spreading the Maliki school of jurisprudence in Al-Andalus. Furthermore, he is considered the most important transmitter of Malik ibn Anas' Muwatta.

He was born in the area of Algeciras to a family of Masmuda Berber origin. His grandfather had participated in the Muslim conquest of Iberia by Tariq ibn Ziyad. Later his grandfather was given the governorship of the Algeciras and Medina-Sidonia area by the first emir of Cordoba, Abd al-Rahman. His descendants, the Banu Abi 'Isa, would subsequently rise to power in Andalusi society.

Yahya ibn Yahya traveled to the East at a young age and studied with Malik ibn Anas, becoming an ardent follower of his. Al-Andalus in his time was dominated by the followers of imam al-Awza'i -due to the fact that most Arabic Muslim conquerors came from Syria- beside different other schools of Jurisprudence according to imam al-Dhahabi in his tarikh al-Islam al-Kabir when mentioning Yayha's teacher Shabtun (Zaid ibn Abdarrahman al-Lakhmi). Returning to Al-Andalus, he focused on his scholarly work. As a member of the shura (the advisory board that the emir and judges had to consult), he had an enormous influence on the nomination of legal positions. Still, he himself never accepted a legal position. In his role as member of the shura he became close to the ruler of Al-Andalus, who was apparently impressed with his intelligence and authority on Islamic matters. He thus grew to become the most influential member of the shura, giving him the opportunity to nominate judges who also favored the Maliki school. At the end of his life, the Maliki school was the most important in Al-Andalus.

At one point he was accused of taking part in a rising, after which he fled Cordoba to live amongst the Masmuda tribes near Toledo. He was pardoned by emir Al-Hakam I and allowed to return.

His descendants, the Banu Abu 'Isa, too became powerful players in Cordoban politics.

al-Laith refers to an Arab tribe, members of which were responsible for converting his ancestors in Morocco. Wislasen is a Berber name meaning he who hears/listens.

Yusuf II, Almohad caliph

Yusuf II redirects here. It can also refer to Yusuf II, Sultan of Granada.Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf al-Mustanṣir (also known as Yusuf II, c.1203–1224) (Arabic: يوسف بن الناصر‎ Yūsuf bin an-Nāṣir) was Caliph of Morocco from 1213 until his death. Son of the previous caliph, Muhammad al-Nasir, the ten-year-old Yusuf was unexpectedly appointed heir by his father on his deathbed. He was confirmed as Almohad Caliph in election by the Almohad sheikhs after his father’s death, and took up the caliphal title "al-Mustansir bi-Llah" ("he who seeks the aid of God"). Yusuf’s mother was a Christian slave Qamar.Young and pleasure-loving, Yusuf II left the governing of the Almohad empire to a carefully balanced oligarchy composed of older family members, like his father's brothers in al-Andalus and his grand-cousin Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Abi Hafs in Ifriqiya, Marrakesh palace bureaucrats such as the vizier Abu Sa‘id Uthman ibn Jam‘i and the leading sheikhs of the Almohad Masmuda tribes. But without central leadership, and with the Almohad army having suffered grievous losses at the Battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212, a series of rebellions broke out in the Maghreb which the Almohad oligarchs were hard-pressed to contain, contributing to the eventual breakaway of Ifriqiya under the Hafsid dynasty.

Yusuf II died suddenly in early 1224 – accidentally gored while playing with his pet cows. Lacking heirs, the palace bureaucrats, led by Ibn Jam‘i, quickly engineered the election of his elderly grand-uncle as the next caliph Abd al-Wahid I, as the new caliph in Marrakesh. But the hastiness and probable unconstitutionality of the Marrakesh proceedings upset his uncles, the brothers of al-Nasir, in al-Andalus. They promptly disputed the succession, and elected their own Caliph Abdallah al-Adil.


The Zenata (Berber: Iznaten, ⵉⵣⵏⴰⵜⴻⵏ or Iznasen, ⵉⵣⵏⴰⵙⴻⵏ; Arabic: زناتة‎ Zanātah) were a Berber tribe, who inhabited an area stretching from Algeria to Morocco in antiquity along with the Sanhaja and Masmuda. Their lifestyle was mainly nomadic or semi-nomadic .

Morocco Berber tribes of Morocco
Tribal confederation
Ethnic groups
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