|Common languages||Berber languages, Arabic, Mozarabic|
|Religion||Islam (Sunni); minority Christianity (Roman Catholic), Judaism|
|Abdallah ibn Yasin|
|Ishaq ibn Ali|
|1120 est.||1,000,000 km2 (390,000 sq mi)|
|History of Morocco|
|History of Mauritania|
The Almoravid dynasty (Arabic : المرابطون, romanized: Al-Murābiṭūn, lit. 'those from the ribats ' ) 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 Abu Bakr ibn Umar, the Almoravid capital was Marrakesh, a city the ruling house founded circa 1070. The dynasty originated among the Lamtuna and the Gudala, nomadic Berber tribes of the Western 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. Their rulers never claimed the title of caliph and instead took on the title of Amir al-Muslimīn ("Prince of the Muslims") while formally acknowledging the overlordship of the Abbasid Caliphs in Baghdad. 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, which replaced them as a ruling dynasty both in Morocco and Al-Andalus.
The term "Almoravid" comes from the Arabic "al-Murabit" (المرابط), through the Spanish : almorávide. The transformation of the b in "al-Murabit" to the v in almorávide is an example of betacism in Spanish.
In Arabic, "al-Murabit" literally means "one who is tying" but figuratively means "one who is ready for battle at a fortress". The term is related to the notion of ribat رِباط, a North African frontier monastery-fortress, through the root r-b-t (ربط "rabat": to tie , to unite or رابط "raabat": to encamp).
The name "Almoravid" was tied to a school of Malikite law called "Dar al-Murabitin" founded in Sus al-Aksa, modern day Morocco, by a scholar named Waggag Ibn Zallu. Ibn Zallu sent his student Abdallah ibn Yasin to preach Malikite Islam to the Sanhaja Berbers of the Adrar (present-day Mauritania). Hence, the name of the Almoravids comes from the followers of the Dar al-Murabitin, "the house of those who were bound together in the cause of God."
It is uncertain exactly when or why the Almoravids acquired that appellation. al-Bakri, writing in 1068, before their apex, already calls them the al-Murabitun, but does not clarify the reasons for it. Writing three centuries later, Ibn Abi Zar suggested it was chosen early on by Abdallah ibn Yasinbecause, upon finding resistance among the Gudala Berbers of Adrar (Mauritania) to his teaching, he took a handful of followers to erect a makeshift ribat (monastery-fortress) on an offshore island (possibly Tidra island, in the Bay of Arguin). Ibn Idhari wrote that the name was suggested by Ibn Yasin in the "persevering in the fight" sense, to boost morale after a particularly hard-fought battle in the Draa valley c. 1054, in which they had taken many losses. Whichever explanation is true, it seems certain the appellation was chosen by the Almoravids for themselves, partly with the conscious goal of forestalling any tribal or ethnic identifications.
The name might be related to the ribat of Waggag ibn Zallu in the village of Aglu (near present-day Tiznit), where the future Almoravid spiritual leader Abdallah ibn Yasin got his initial training. The 13th-century Moroccan biographer Ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili, and Qadi Ayyad before him in the 12th century, note that Waggag's learning center was called Dar al-Murabitin (The house of the Almoravids), and that might have inspired Ibn Yasin's choice of name for the movement.
Contemporaries frequently referred to them as the al-mulathimun ("the veiled ones", from litham , Arabic for "veil"). The Almoravids veiled themselves below the eyes with a tagelmust, a custom they adapted from southern Sanhaja Berbers. (This can still be seen among the modern Tuareg people, but it was unusual further north.) Although practical for the desert dust, the Almoravids insisted on wearing the veil everywhere, as a badge of "foreignness" in urban settings, partly as a way of emphasizing their puritan credentials. It served as the uniform of the Almoravids. Under their rule, sumptuary laws forbade anybody else from wearing the veil, thereby making it the distinctive dress of the ruling class. In turn, the succeeding Almohads made a point of mocking the Almoravid veil as symbolic of effeminacy and decadence.[ citation needed ]
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The Berbers of the Maghreb in the early Middle Ages could be roughly classified into three major groups: the Zenata across the north, the Masmuda, concentrated in central Morocco, and the Sanhaja, clustered in the western part of the Sahara and the hills of the eastern Maghreb. [ citation needed ]</ref> The eastern Sanhaja included the Kutama Berbers, who had been the base of the Fatimid rise in the early 10th century, and the Zirid dynasty, who ruled Ifriqiya as vassals of the Fatimids after the latter moved to Egypt in 972. The western Sanhaja were divided into several tribes: the Gazzula and the Lamta in the Draa valley and the foothills of the Anti-Atlas range; further south, encamped in the western Sahara, were the Massufa, the Banu Warith; and most southerly of all, the Lamtuna and Gudala, in littoral Mauritania down to the borderlands of the Senegal River.
The western Sanhaja had been converted to Islam some time in the 9th century. They were subsequently united in the 10th century and, with the zeal of new converts, launched several campaigns against the "Sudanese" (pagan peoples of sub-Saharan Africa). [ citation needed ]Under their king Tinbarutan ibn Usfayshar, the Sanhaja Lamtuna erected (or captured) the citadel of Awdaghust, a critical stop on the trans-Saharan trade route. After the collapse of the Sanhaja union, Awdagust passed over to the Ghana empire; and the trans-Saharan routes were taken over by the Zenata Maghrawa of Sijilmassa. The Maghrawa also exploited this disunion to dislodge the Sanhaja Gazzula and Lamta out of their pasturelands in the Sous and Draa valleys. Around 1035, the Lamtuna chieftain Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Tifat (alias Tarsina), tried to reunite the Sanhaja desert tribes, but his reign lasted less than three years.
Around 1040, Yahya ibn Ibrahim, a chieftain of the Gudala (and brother-in-law of the late Tarsina), went on pilgrimage to Mecca. On his return, he stopped by Kairouan in Ifriqiya, where he met Abu Imran al-Fasi, a native of Fes and a jurist and scholar of the Sunni Maliki school. At this time, Ifriqiya was in ferment. The Zirid ruler, al-Muizz ibn Badis, was openly contemplating breaking with his Shi'ite Fatimid overlords in Cairo, and the jurists of Kairouan were agitating for him to do so. Within this heady atmosphere, Yahya and Abu Imran fell into conversation on the state of the faith in their western homelands, and Yahya expressed his disappointment at the lack of religious education and negligence of Islamic law among his southern Sanhaja people. With Abu Imran's recommendation, Yahya ibn Ibrahim made his way to the ribat of Waggag ibn Zelu in the Sous valley of southern Morocco, to seek out a Maliki teacher for his people. Waggag assigned him one of his residents, Abdallah ibn Yasin.[ citation needed ]
Abdallah ibn Yasin was a Gazzula Berber, and probably a convert rather than a born Muslim. His name can be read as "son of Ya Sin" (the title of the 36th Sura of the Qur'an), suggesting he had obliterated his family past and was "re-born" of the Holy Book. [ citation needed ]Ibn Yasin certainly had the ardor of a puritan zealot; his creed was mainly characterized by a rigid formalism and a strict adherence to the dictates of the Qur'an, and the Orthodox tradition. (Chroniclers such as al-Bakri allege Ibn Yasin's learning was superficial.) Ibn Yasin's initial meetings with the Gudala people went poorly. As he had more ardor than depth, Ibn Yasin's arguments were disputed by his audience. He responded to questioning with charges of apostasy and handed out harsh punishments for the slightest deviations. The Gudala soon had enough and expelled him almost immediately after the death of his protector, Yahya ibn Ibrahim, sometime in the 1040s.
Ibn Yasin, however, found a more favorable reception among the neighboring Lamtuna people. [ citation needed ]Probably sensing the useful organizing power of Ibn Yasin's pious fervor, the Lamtuna chieftain Yahya ibn Umar al-Lamtuni invited the man to preach to his people. The Lamtuna leaders, however, kept Ibn Yasin on a careful leash, forging a more productive partnership between them. Invoking stories of the early life of Muhammad, Ibn Yasin preached that conquest was a necessary addendum to Islamicization, that it was not enough to merely adhere to God's law, but necessary to also destroy opposition to it. In Ibn Yasin's ideology, anything and everything outside of Islamic law could be characterized as "opposition". He identified tribalism, in particular, as an obstacle. He believed it was not enough to urge his audiences to put aside their blood loyalties and ethnic differences, and embrace the equality of all Muslims under the Sacred Law, it was necessary to make them do so. For the Lamtuna leadership, this new ideology dovetailed with their long desire to refound the Sanhaja union and recover their lost dominions. In the early 1050s, the Lamtuna, under the joint leadership of Yahya ibn Umar and Abdallah ibn Yasin—soon calling themselves the al-Murabitin (Almoravids)—set out on a campaign to bring their neighbors over to their cause.
From 1053, the Almoravids began to spread their religious way to the Berber areas of the Sahara, and to the regions south of the desert. After winning over the Sanhaja Berber tribe, they quickly took control of the entire desert trade route, seizing Sijilmasa at the northern end in 1054, and Aoudaghost at the southern end in 1055. Yahya ibn Umar was killed in a battle in 1057,but Abdullah ibn Yasin, whose influence as a religious teacher was paramount, named his brother Abu Bakr ibn Umar as chief. Under him, the Almoravids soon began to spread their power beyond the desert, and conquered the tribes of the Atlas Mountains. In 1058 they crossed the High Atlas and conquered Aghmat, a prosperous commercial town near the foothills of the mountains, and made it their capital. They then came in contact with the Berghouata, a Berber tribal confederation, who followed an Islamic "heresy" preached by Salih ibn Tarif three centuries earlier. The Berghouata resisted. Abdullah ibn Yasin was killed in battle with them in 1059, in Krifla, a village near Rommani, Morocco. They were, however, completely conquered by Abu Bakr ibn Umar, and were forced to convert to orthodox Islam. Abu Bakr married a noble and wealthy Berber woman, Zaynab an-Nafzawiyyat, who would become very influential in the development of the dynasty. Zaynab was the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Houara, who was said to be from Kairouan.
In 1061, Abu Bakr ibn Umar made a division of the power he had established, handing over the more-settled parts to his cousin Yusuf ibn Tashfin as viceroy, and also assigning to him his favourite wife Zaynab. Ibn Umar kept the task of suppressing the revolts that had broken out in the desert. When he returned to resume control, he found his cousin too powerful to be superseded.Abu Bakr ibn Umar founded the new capital of Marrakesh around this time. Historical sources cite a variety of dates for this event ranging from 1062, given by Ibn Abi Zar and Ibn Khaldun, to 1078 (470 AH), given by Muhammad al-Idrisi. The year 1070, given by Ibn Idhari, is more commonly cited by modern historians. Some writers cite the year 1062. In November 1087 Abu Bakr was killed in battle – according to oral tradition by an arrow – while fighting in the historic region of the Sudan.
Yusuf ibn Tashfin had in the meantime brought the large area of what is now known as Morocco, Western Sahara, and Mauritania into complete subjection. In 1080, he conquered the kingdom of Tlemcen (in modern-day Algeria) and founded the present city of that name, his rule extending as far east as Oran.
According to Arab tradition, the Almoravids conquered the Ghana Empire sometime around 1076 CE.An example of this tradition is the record of historian Ibn Khaldun, who cited Shaykh Uthman, the faqih of Ghana, writing in 1394. According to this source, the Almoravids weakened Ghana and collected tribute from the Sudan, to the extent that the authority of the rulers of Ghana dwindled away, and they were subjugated and absorbed by the Susu, a neighboring people of the Sudan. Traditions in Mali related that the Soso attacked and took over Mali as well, and the ruler of the Soso, Sumaouro Kanté, took over the land.
However criticism from Conrad and Fisher (1982) argued that the notion of any Almoravid military conquest at its core is merely perpetuated folklore, derived from a misinterpretation or naive reliance on Arabic sources.According to Professor Timothy Insoll, the archaeology of ancient Ghana simply does not show the signs of rapid change and destruction that would be associated with any Almoravid-era military conquests.
Dierke Lange agreed with the original military incursion theory but argues that this doesn't preclude Almoravid political agitation, claiming that the main factor of the demise of the Ghana Empire owed much to the latter.According to Lange, Almoravid religious influence was gradual, rather than the result of military action; there the Almoravids gained power by marrying among the nation's nobility. Lange attributes the decline of ancient Ghana to numerous unrelated factors, one of which is likely attributable to internal dynastic struggles instigated by Almoravid influence and Islamic pressures, but devoid of military conquest.
This interpretation of events has been disputed by later scholars like Sheryl L. Burkhalter (1992), who argued that, whatever the nature of the "conquest" in the south of the Sahara, the influence and success of the Almoravid movement in securing west African gold and circulating it widely necessitated a high degree of political control.
The traditional position says that the ensuing war with the Almoravids pushed Ghana over the edge, ending the kingdom's position as a commercial and military power by 1100. It collapsed into tribal groups and chieftaincies, some of which later assimilated into the Almoravids while others founded the Mali Empire.
The Arab geographer Al-Zuhri wrote that the Almoravids ended Ibadism in Tadmekka in 1084 and that Abu Bakr "arrived at the mountain of gold" in the deep south. After the death of Abu Bakr (1087), the confederation of Berber tribes in the Sahara was divided between the descendants of Abu Bakr and his brother Yahya, and would have lost control of Ghana.Sheryl Burkhalter suggests that Abu Bakr's son Yahya was the leader of the Almoravid expedition that conquered Ghana in 1076, and that the Almoravids would have survived the loss of Ghana and the defeat in the Maghreb by the Almohads, and would have ruled the Sahara until the end of the 12th century.
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In 1086 Yusuf ibn Tashfin was invited by the Muslim taifa princes of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula to defend their territories from the encroachment of Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile. In that year, Ibn Tashfin crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Algeciras, and defeated Castile at the Battle of az-Zallaqah (Battle of Sagrajas). He was prevented from following up his victory by trouble in Africa, which he chose to settle in person.
He returned to Iberia in 1090, avowedly for the purpose of annexing the taifa principalities of Iberia. He was supported by most of the Iberian people, who were discontented with the heavy taxation imposed upon them by their spendthrift rulers.Their religious teachers, as well as others in the east (most notably, al-Ghazali in Persia and al-Turtushi in Egypt, who was himself an Iberian by birth from Tortosa), detested the taifa rulers for their religious indifference. The clerics issued a fatwa (a non-binding legal opinion) that Yusuf was of sound morals and had the religious right to dethrone the rulers, whom he saw as heterodox in their faith. By 1094, Yusuf had annexed most of the major taifas, with the exception of the one at Saragossa. The Almoravids were victorious at the Battle of Consuegra, during which the son of El Cid, Diego Rodríguez, perished. Alfonso, with some Leónese, retreated into the castle of Consuegra, which was besieged for eight days until the Almoravids withdrew to the south.
After friendly correspondence with the caliph at Baghdad, whom he acknowledged as Amir al-Mu'minin ("Commander of the Faithful"), Yusuf ibn Tashfin in 1097 assumed the title of Amir al Muslimin ("Commander of the Muslims"). He died in 1106, when he was reputed to have reached the age of 100. The Almoravid power was at its height at Yusuf's death: the Moorish empire then included all of Northwest Africa as far eastward as Algiers, and all of Iberia south of the Tagus and as far eastward as the mouth of the Ebro, and including the Balearic Islands.
In 1108 Tamim Al Yusuf defeated the Kingdom of Castile at the Battle of Uclés. Yusuf did not reconquer much territory from the Christian kingdoms, except that of Valencia; but he did hinder the progress of the Christian Reconquista by uniting al-Andalus. In 1134 at the Battle of Fraga the Almoravids were victorious and even succeeded in slaying Alfonso I of Aragon in the battle.
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Under Yusuf's son and successor, Ali ibn Yusuf, Sintra and Santarém were added, and he invaded Iberia again in 1119 and 1121, but the tide had turned, as the French had assisted the Aragonese to recover Zaragoza. In 1138, Ali ibn Yusuf was defeated by Alfonso VII of León, and in the Battle of Ourique (1139), by Afonso I of Portugal, who thereby won his crown. Lisbon was conquered by the Portuguese in 1147.
According to some scholars, Ali ibn Yusuf represented a new generation of leadership that had forgotten the desert life for the comforts of the city.He was defeated by the combined action of his Christian foes in Iberia and the agitation of the Almohads (Muwahhids) in Morocco. After Ali ibn Yusuf's death in 1143, his son Tashfin ibn Ali lost ground rapidly before the Almohads. In 1146 he was killed in a fall from a precipice while attempting to escape after a defeat near Oran.
His two successors were Ibrahim ibn Tashfin and Ishaq ibn Ali, but their reigns were short. The conquest of the city of Marrakech by the Almohads in 1147 marked the fall of the dynasty, though fragments of the Almoravids continued to struggle throughout the empire.Among these fragments, there was the rebel Yahya Al-Sahrāwiyya, who resisted Almohad rule in the Maghrib for eight years after the fall of Marrakech before surrendering in 1155. Also in 1155, the remaining Almoravids were forced to retreat to the Balearic Islands and later Ifriqiya under the leadership of the Banu Ghaniya, who were eventually influential in the downfall of their conquerors, the Almohads, in the Eastern part of the Maghrib.
The Almoravid movement started as a conservative Islamic reform movement inspired by the Maliki school of jurisprudence.The writings of Abu Imran al-Fasi, a Moroccan Maliki scholar, influenced Yahya Ibn Ibrahim and the early Almoravid movement.
Amira Bennison describes the art of the Almoravid period as influenced by the "integration of several areas into a single political unit and the resultant development of a widespread Andalusi–Maghribi style," as well as the tastes of the Sanhaja rulers as patrons of art.Bennison also challenges Robert Hillenbrand's characterization of the art of al-Andalus and the Maghreb as provincial and peripheral in consideration of Islamic art globally, and of the contributions of the Almoravids as "sparse" as a result of the empire's "puritanical fervour" and "ephemerality."
At first, the Almoravids, subscribing to the conservative Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, rejected what they perceived as decadence and a lack of piety among the Iberian Muslims of the Andalusi Ta'ifa kingdoms.However, monuments and textiles from Almería from the late Almoravid period indicate that the empire had changed its attitude with time.
Artistic production under the Almoravids included finely constructed minbars produced in Córdoba; marble basins and tombstones in Almería; fine textiles in Almería, Malaga, Seville; and luxury ceramics.
A large group of marble tombstones have been preserved from the first half of the 12th century. They were crafted in Almería in Al-Andalus, at a time when it was a prosperous port city under Almoravid control. The tombstones were made of Macael marble, which was quarried locally, and carved with extensive Kufic inscriptions that were sometimes adorned with vegetal or geometric motifs.These demonstrate that the Almoravids not only reused Umayyad marble columns and basins, but also commissioned new works. The inscriptions on them are dedicated to various individuals, both men and women, from a range of different occupations, indicating that such tombstones were relatively affordable. The stones take the form of either rectangular stelae or of long horizontal prisms known as mqabriyyas (similar to the ones found in the much later Saadian Tombs of Marrakesh). They have been found in many locations across West Africa and Western Europe, which is evidence that a wide-reaching industry and trade in marble existed. A number of pieces found in France were likely acquired from later pillaging. Some of the most ornate tombstones found outside Al-Andalus were discovered in Gao-Sané in the African Sahel, testament to the reach of Almoravid influence into the African continent.
Two Almoravid-period marble columns have also been found reused as spolia in later monuments in Fes. One is incorporated into the window of the dar al-muwaqqit (timekeeper's house) overlooking the courtyard of the Qarawiyyin Mosque, built in the Marinid period. The other is embedded into the decoration of the exterior southern façade of the Zawiya of Moulay Idris II, a structure which was rebuilt by Moulay Isma'il.
The fact that Ibn Tumart, leader of the Almohad movement, is recorded as having criticized Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf for "sitting on a luxurious silken cloak" at his grand mosque in Marrakesh indicates the important role of textiles under the Almoravids.
Many of the remaining fabrics from the Almoravid period were reused by Christians, with examples in the reliquary of San Isidoro in León, a chasuble from Saint-Sernin in Toulouse, the Chasuble of San Juan de Ortega in the church of Quintanaortuña (near Burgos), the shroud of San Pedro de Osma, and a fragment found at the church of Thuir in the eastern Pyrenees.Some of these pieces are characterized by the appearance of Kufic or "Hispano-Kufic" woven inscriptions, with letters sometimes ending in ornamental vegetal flourishes. The Chasuble of San Juan de Ortega is one such example, made of silk and gold thread and dating to the first half of the 12th century. The Shroud of San Pedro de Osma is notable for its inscription stating "this was made in Baghdad", suggesting that it was imported. However, more recent scholarship has suggested that the textile was instead produced locally in centres such as Almeria, but that they were copied or based on eastern imports. It's even possible that the inscription was knowingly falsified in order to exaggerate its value to potential sellers; Al-Saqati of Malaga, a 12th-century writer and market inspector, wrote that there were regulations designed to prohibit the practice of making such false inscriptions. As a result of the inscription, many of these textiles are known in scholarship as the "Baghdad group", representing a stylistically coherent and artistically rich group of silken textiles seemingly dating to reign of Ali ibn Yusuf or the first half of the 12th century. Aside from the inscription, the shroud of San Pedro de Osma is decorated with images of two lions and harpies inside roundels that are ringed by images of small men holding griffins, repeating across the whole fabric. The chasuble from Saint-Sernin is likewise decorated with figural images, in this case a pair of peacocks repeating in horizontal bands, with vegetal stems separating each pair and small kufic inscriptions running along the bottom.
The decorative theme of having a regular grid of roundels containing images of animals and figures, with more abstract motifs filling the spaces in between, has origins traced as far back as Persian Sassanian textiles. In subsequent periods, starting with the Almohads, these roundels with figurative imagery are progressively replaced with more abstract roundels, while epigraphic decoration becomes more prominent than before.
In early Islamic manuscripts, Kufic was the main script used for religious texts. Western or Maghrebi Kufic evolved from the standard (or eastern) Kufic style and was marked by the transformation of the low swooping sections of letters from rectangular forms to long semi-circular forms. It is found in 10th century Qur'ans before the Almoravid period.Almoravid Kufic is the variety of Maghrebi Kufic script that was used as an official display script during the Almoravid period.
Eventually, Maghrebi Kufic gave rise to a distinctive cursive script known as "Maghrebi", the only cursive script of Arabic derived from Kufic, which was fully formed by the early 12th century under the Almoravids.This style was commonly used in Qur'ans and other religious works from this period onward, but it was rarely ever used in architectural inscriptions. One version of this script during this early period is the Andalusi script, which was associated with Al-Andalus. It was usually finer and denser, and while the loops of letters below the line are semi-circular, the extensions of letters above the line continue to use straight lines that recall its Kufic origins. Another version of the script is rounder and larger, and is more associated with the Maghreb, although it is nonetheless found in Andalusi volumes too.
The oldest known illuminated Qur'an from the western Islamic world (i.e. the Maghreb and Al-Andalus) dates from 1090, towards the end of the Taifas period and the beginning of the Almoravid domination in Al-Andalus. : 304 : 224 It was produced either in the Maghreb or Al-Andalus and is now kept at the Uppsala University Library. Its decoration is still in the earliest phases of artistic development, lacking the sophistication of later volumes, but many of the features that were standard in later manuscripts are present: the script is written in the Maghrebi style in black ink, but the diacritics (vowels and other orthographic signs) are in red or blue, simple gold and black roundels mark the end of verses, and headings are written in gold Kufic inside a decorated frame and background. : 304 It also contains a frontispiece, of relatively simple design, consisting of a grid of lozenges variously filled with gold vegetal motifs, gold netting, or gold Kufic inscriptions on red or blue backgrounds. : 224
More sophisticated illumination is already evident in a copy of a Sahih dated to 1120 (during the reign of Ali ibn Yusuf), also produced in either the Maghreb or Al-Andalus, with a rich frontispiece centered around a large medallion formed by an interlacing geometric motif, filled with gold backgrounds and vegetal motifs. : 225 A similarly sophisticated Qur'an, dated to 1143 (at the end of Ali ibn Yusuf's reign) and produced in Córdoba, contains a frontispiece with an interlacing geometric motif forming a panel filled with gold and a knotted blue roundel at the middle. : 304
The Almoravid conquest of al-Andalus caused a temporary rupture in ceramic production, but it returned in the 12th century.There is a collection of about 2,000 Maghrebi-Andalusi ceramic basins or bowls (bacini) in Pisa, where they were used to decorated churches from the early 11th to fifteenth centuries. There were a number of varieties of ceramics under the Almoravids, including cuerda seca pieces. The most luxurious form was iridescent lustreware, made by applying a metallic glaze to the pieces before a second firing. This technique came from Iraq and flourished in Fatimid Egypt.
The Almoravid minbars — such as the minbar of the Grand Mosque of Marrakesh commissioned by Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (1137), or the minbar for the University of al-Qarawiyyin (1144) —expressed the Almoravids' Maliki legitimacy, their "inheritance of the Umayyad imperial role," and the extension of that imperial power into the Maghreb. Both minbars are exceptional works of marquetry and woodcarving, decorated with geometric compositions, inlaid materials, and arabesque reliefs.
The Almoravid period, along with the subsequent Almohad period, is considered one of the most formative stages of Moroccan and Moorish architecture, establishing many of the forms and motifs of this style that were refined in subsequent centuries.Manuel Casamar Perez remarks that the Almoravids scaled back the Andalusi trend towards heavier and more elaborate decoration which had developed since the Caliphate of Córdoba and instead prioritized a greater balance between proportions and ornamentation.
The two centers of artistic production in the Islamic west before the rise of the Almoravids were Kairouan and Córdoba, both former capitals in the region which served as sources of inspiration.The Almoravids were responsible for establishing a new imperial capital at Marrakesh, which became a major center of architectural patronage thereafter. The Almoravids adopted the architectural developments of al-Andalus, such as the complex interlacing arches of the Great Mosque in Córdoba and of the Aljaferia palace in Zaragoza, while also introducing new ornamental techniques from the east such as muqarnas ("stalactite" or "honeycomb" carvings).
After taking control of Al-Andalus in the Battle of Sagrajas, the Almoravids sent Muslim, Christian and Jewish artisans from Iberia to North Africa to work on monuments. : 114 The central nave of the expanded Qarawiyyin Mosque notably features the earliest full-fledged example of muqarnas vaulting in the western Islamic world. The complexity of these muqarnas vaults at such an early date – only several decades after the first simple muqarnas vaults appeared in distant Iraq – has been noted by architectural historians as surprising. : 64 Another high point of Almoravid architecture is the intricate ribbed dome in front of the mihrab of the Great Mosque of Tlemcen, which likely traces its origins to the 10th-century ribbed domes of the Great Mosque of Córdoba. The structure of the dome is strictly ornamental, consisting of multiple ribs or intersecting arches forming a twelve-pointed star pattern. It is also partly see-through, allowing some outside light to filter through a screen of pierced and carved arabesque decoration that fills the spaces between the ribs. : 116–118The Great Mosque in Algiers (c. 1097), the Great Mosque of Tlemcen (1136) and al-Qarawiyyin (expanded in 1135) in Fes are important examples of Almoravid architecture. The Almoravid Qubba is one of the few Almoravid monuments in Marrakesh surviving, and is notable for its highly ornate interior dome with carved stucco decoration, complex arch shapes, and minor muqarnas cupolas in the corners of the structure.
Aside from more ornamental religious structures, the Almoravids also built many fortifications, although most of these in turn were demolished or modified by the Almohads and later dynasties. The new capital, Marrakesh, initially had no city walls but a fortress known as the Ksar el-Hajjar ("Fortress of Stone") was built by the city's founder, Abu Bakr ibn Umar, in order to house the treasury and serve as an initial residence. : 116 Elsewhere, the archaeological site of Tasghimout, southeast of Marrakesh, and Amargu, northeast of Fes, provide evidence about other Almoravid forts. Built out of rubble stone or rammed earth, they illustrate similarities with older Hammadid fortifications, as well as an apparent need to build quickly during times of crisis. : 219–220 The walls of Tlemcen (present-day Algeria) were likewise partly built by the Almoravids, using a mix of rubble stone at the base and rammed earth above. : 220Eventually, circa 1126, Ali Ibn Yusuf also constructed a full set of walls, made of rammed earth, around the city in response to the growing threat of the Almohads. These walls, although much restored and partly expanded in later centuries, continue to serve as the walls of the medina of Marrakesh today. The medina's main gates were also first built at this time, although many of them have since been significantly modified. Bab Doukkala, one of the western gates, is believed to have best preserved its original Almoravid layout. It has a classic bent entrance configuration, of which variations are found throughout the medieval period of the Maghreb and Al-Andalus.
In domestic architecture, none of the Almoravid palaces or residences have survived, and they are known only through texts and archaeology. During his reign, Ali Ibn Yusuf added a large palace and royal residence on the south side of the Ksar el-Hajjar (on the present site of the Kutubiyya Mosque). This palace was later abandoned and its function was replaced by the Almohad Kasbah, but some of its remains have been excavated and studied in the 20th century. These remains have revealed the earliest known example in Morocco of a riad garden (an interior garden symmetrically divided into four parts). : 71 : 404 In 1960 other excavations near Chichaoua revealed the remains of a domestic complex or settlement dating from the Almoravid period or even earlier. It consisted of several houses, two hammams, a water supply system, and possibly a mosque. On the site were found many fragments of architectural decoration which are now preserved at the Archeological Museum of Rabat. These fragments are made of deeply-carved stucco featuring Kufic and cursive Arabic inscriptions as well as vegetal motifs such as palmettes and acanthus leaves. : 219–223 The structures were also featured painted decoration in red ochre, typically consisting of border motifs composed of two interlacing bands. Similar decoration has also been found in the remains of former houses excavated in 2006 under the 12th-century Almoravid expansion of the Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fes. In addition to the usual border motifs were larger interlacing geometric motifs as well as Kufic inscriptions with vegetal backgrounds, all executed predominantly in red. : 195–197
The Almoravid movement has its intellectual origins in the writings and teachings of Abu Imran al-Fasi, who first inspired Yahya Ibn Ibrahim of the Godala tribe in Qayrawan. Ibn Ibrahim then inspired Abdallah ibn Yasin to organize for jihad and start the Almoravid movement.
Moroccan literature flourished in the Almoravid period. The political unification of Morocco and al-Andalus under the Almoravid dynasty rapidly accelerated the cultural interchange between the two continents, beginning when Yusuf Bin Tashfiin sent al-Mu'tamid Bin Abbad, former poet king of the Taifa of Seville, into exile in Tangier and ultimately Aghmat.
The historians Ibn Hayyan, Al-Bakri, Ibn Bassam, and al-Fath ibn Khaqan all lived in the Almoravid period. Ibn Bassam authored Dhakhīra fī mahāsin ahl al-Jazīra, Al-Fath ibn Khaqan authored Qala'idu l-'Iqyan, and Al-Bakri authored al-Masālik wa ’l-Mamālik (Book of Roads and Kingdoms).
In the Almoravid period two writers stand out: Ayyad ben Moussa and Ibn Bajja. Ayyad is known for having authored Kitāb al-Shifāʾ bīTaʾrif Ḥuqūq al-Muṣṭafá.Many of the Seven Saints of Marrakesh were men of letters.
The muwashshah was an important form of poetry and music in the Almoravid period. Great poets from the period are mentioned in anthologies such as Kharidat al Qasar, Al Mutrib, and Mu'jam as-Sifr.
The Moroccan historian Muhammad al-Manuninoted that there were 104 paper mills in Fes under Yusuf Ibn Tashfin in the 11th century.
Abdallah ibn Yassin imposed very strict disciplinary measures on his forces for every breach of his laws.The Almoravids' first military leader, Yahya ibn Umar al-Lamtuni, gave them a good military organization. Their main force was infantry, armed with javelins in the front ranks and pikes behind, which formed into a phalanx, and was supported by camelmen and horsemen on the flanks. They also had a flag carrier at the front who guided the forces behind him; when the flag was upright, the combatants behind would stand and when it was turned down, they would sit.
Al-Bakri reports that, while in combat, the Almoravids did not pursue those who fled in front of them.Their fighting was intense and they did not retreat when disadvantaged by an advancing opposing force; they preferred death over defeat. These characteristics were possibly unusual at the time.
After the death of El Cid, Christian chronicles reported a legend of a Turkish woman leading a band of 300 "Amazons", black female archers. This legend was possibly inspired by the ominous veils on the faces of the warriors and their dark skin colored blue by the indigo of their robes.
|Almoravid family tree|
History of human habitation in Morocco spans since Lower Paleolithic, with the earliest known being Jebel Irhoud. Much later Morocco was part of Iberomaurusian culture, including Taforalt. It dates from the establishment of Mauretania and other ancient Berber kingdoms, to the establishment of the Moroccan state by the Idrisid dynasty followed by other Islamic dynasties, through to the colonial and independence periods.
The Almohad Caliphate was a North African Berber Muslim empire founded in the 12th century. At its height, it controlled much of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa.
Medieval Muslim Algeria was a period of Muslim dominance in Algeria during the Middle Ages, roughly spanning the millennium from the 7th century to the 17th century. Unlike the invasions of previous religions and cultures, the coming of Islam, which was spread by Arabs, was to have pervasive and long-lasting effects on North Africa. The new faith, in its various forms, would penetrate nearly all segments of society, bringing with it armies, learned men, and fervent mystics; in large part, it would replace tribal practices and loyalties with new social norms and political idioms.
Abd al Mu'min was an prominent member of the Almohad movement. Although the Almohad movement itself was founded by Ibn Tumart, Abd al-Mu’min was the founder of the Almohad dynasty and creator of the Empire. As a leader of the Almohad movement he became the first Caliph of the Almohad Empire in 1133, after the death of the movement's founder, Ibn Tumart, in 1130, and ruled until his death in 1163. Abd al-Mu'min put his predecessor's doctrine of Almohadism into practice, defeated the Almoravids in present-day Morocco, and extended his rule across Al-Andalus and as far as Tunis in Ifriqiya, thus bringing the Maghreb in North Africa and Al-Andalus in Europe under one creed and one government.
Azougui was a town in north western Mauritania, lying on the Adrar Plateau, north west of Atar. In the eleventh century it was the first capital of the Almoravid dynasty, who conquered a territory stretching from the Ghana Empire to Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula.
Abu Bakr ibn Umar ibn Ibrahim ibn Turgut, sometimes suffixed al-Sanhaji or al-Lamtuni was a chieftain of the Lamtuna Berber Tribe and commander of the Almoravids from 1056 until his death.
The Marinid Sultanate was a Berber empire from the mid-13th to the 15th century which controlled present-day Morocco and, intermittently, other parts of North Africa and of southern Spain around Gibraltar. It was named after the Banu Marin, a Zenata Berber tribe. The sultanate was ruled by the Marinid dynasty, founded by Abd al-Haqq I.
Yusuf ibn Tashfin, also Tashafin, Teshufin, was leader of the Berber Almoravid empire. He co-founded the city of Marrakesh and led the Muslim forces in the Battle of Sagrajas. Ibn Tashfin came to al-Andalus from Africa to help the Muslims fight against Alfonso VI, eventually achieving victory and promoting an Islamic system in the region. In 1061 he took the title “amir al-Muslimin” recognising the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate whom he became a vassal of. He was married to Zaynab an-Nafzawiyyah, whom he reportedly trusted politically.
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Tumart was a Muslim Berber religious scholar, teacher and political leader, from the Sous region in 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.
This is a timeline of notable events during the period of Muslim presence in Iberia, starting with the Umayyad conquest in the 8th century.
Abdallah ibn Yasin was a theologian and spiritual leader of the Almoravid movement.
The Lamtuna are a nomadic Berber tribe belonging to the Iẓnagen / Sanhaja (Zenaga) confederation, who traditionally inhabited areas from Sous to Adrar Plateau. During the Almoravid period, many Lamtunas emigrated northwards. Currently, the Lemtuna Tribe is based in the South of Mauritania. The chief of this Tribe is Mr. Limam Ould Teguedi (former Minister of Justice, former Minister of culture and former Attorney General of Mauritania. Among notable families, the family of Ehl Aly Ibn Ibrahim and the family of Ehel Sidelemine, Ehl Abdawa, Ehl Mohamed El-Emine, Ehl Mohammed Ghali. Sahrawi Tajakant as well as Messouma tribes are of the most recognisable offshoots of the Lamtunas. They inhabit the area between disputed " Western Sahara " and non-disputed lands in Morocco.
Maghrebiscript refers to a loosely related family of Arabic scripts that developed in the Maghreb, al-Andalus (Iberia), and Biled as-Sudan. Maghrebi script is influenced by Kufic letters, and is traditionally written with a pointed tip, producing a line of even thickness.
Ali ibn Yusuf was the 5th Almoravid emir. He reigned from 1106–1143.
Abu Zakariyya Yahya ibn Umar ibn Talagagin ibn Turgut ibn Wartasin, commonly suffixed al-Lamtunial-Sanhaji, was a chieftain of the Lamtuna, a tribe in the Sanhaja confederation. Yahya ibn Umar was the first emir of the Almoravids in the mid-11th century, a movement he constructed in collaboration with the religious leader Abdallah ibn Yasin. Yahya led the Almoravid armies in their first campaigns, including captures of Sijilmassa and Awdaghost in 1054/55, but was himself killed in battle against a dissident Berber faction in the Adrar. Yahya was succeeded as Almoravid emir by his brother, Abu Bakr ibn Umar.
The Ben Youssef Mosque, is a mosque in the Medina quarter of Marrakesh, Morocco, named after the Almoravid emir Ali ibn Yusuf. It is arguably the oldest and most important mosque in Marrakesh.
Abu Muhammad Mazdali ibn Tilankan was a Berber military commander and diplomat for the Almoravid empire. Once Yusuf ibn Tashfin decided to become independent, he chose Mazdali, his second cousin and made him one of his most effective collaborators, to subdue and pacify the Maghrib and al-Andalus.
Syr ibn Abi Bakr ibn Tashfin was a Berber military commander for the Almoravid empire. He is considered one the greatest military tacticians that Ibn Tashfin had.
The Minbar of the Kutubiyya Mosque is a minbar produced in Cordoba, Spain, in the early 12th century by order of the Almoravid amir Ali ibn Yusuf. The minbar was commissioned for the main mosque of Marrakesh, the Almoravid capital in Morocco. After the Almohad conquest of Marrakesh in 1147, the minbar was moved to the new Kutubiyya Mosque built by Abd al-Mu'min. It remained there until 1962, when it was moved into storage and then to the El Badi Palace for public display, where it remains today. Made primarily of wood and decorated with a variety of techniques, the minbar is considered one of the high points of Moorish, Moroccan, and Islamic art. It was enormously influential in the design of subsequent minbars produced across Morocco and the surrounding region.
The Battle of al-Buhayra was a battle between the Almoravid and the Almohad armies in May 1130 CE just outside Marrakesh, Morocco.