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Idrisid Dynasty
De facto independent part of the Abbasid Caliphate

Idrissid Empire, 788–974 CE, showing modern boundaries
Capital Fez
Language(s) Classical Arabic, Berber languages
Religion Shi'a Islam
Government Monarchy
Historical era Mediæval
 - Established 780
 - Disestablished 974
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The Idrisids (Arabic: الأدارسة‎) were a Zaydi Arab [1] Shia[2][3][4][5][6][7] dynasty in the western Maghreb ruling from 788 to 985, named after its first sultan, Idriss I.



The founder of the dynasty was Idris ibn Abdallah (788–791), who traced his ancestry back to Ali ibn Abi Talib and his wife Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. As a sharif Shiite he was persecuted by the Abbasids and fled to the Maghreb in 786, where he was taken in by the Berbers. Since the Maysara uprising against Arab rule (739–742), the authority of the Caliphate in North Africa had been compromised; the new kingdom of Idris I represented the second autonomous Islamic state in Morocco, and the first in Iberia.

Idrisid coin, minted at al-'Aliyah, Morocco, 840 CE.

His son Idriss II (791–828) developed the area of Fez, already colonised by his father, as a royal residence and capital. Through the settlement of refugees from Kairouan and Andalusia the city quickly became the focus for the Islamification of North Africa: compare the rise of Islam in North Africa. At about the same time, an alternate summer capital Basra was constructed and named after the famous city in southern Iraq.

The realm was also extended through campaigns into the high Atlas Mountains and against Tlemcen, with the result that the Idrisid state became the most significant power in Morocco, ahead of the principalities of the Bargawata, the Salihids, the Miknasa and the Maghrawa of Sijilmasa.

Under Muhammad (828–836) the kingdom was divided amongst eight brothers, whereby several Idrisid statelets formed in northern Morocco. This led to intensified power struggles and the weakening of the Idrisids. Even when the realm was reunified under Yahya IV (904–917), it still lost significance through internal strife and attacks from the Fatimid dynasty aided by their local Miknasa allies.

After defeats by the Fatimids in 917–920 the Idrisids were driven from Fez and control given to the Miknasa. Hassan I al-Hajam managed to wrest control of Fez for a couple of years but he was the last of the dynasty to hold power there.

Only with the support of the Caliphate of Cordoba could the dynasty subsequently hold out against the Fatimids and their allies. After 926 the Idrisids abandoned Fez for good and withdrew to the valleys of the Rif mountains, where they had a stronghold in the fortress of Hajar an-Nasar. They were also protected to some extent by the reluctance of tribal elders to wipe out entirely the local descendants of the Prophet Muhammad's family.

The last Idrisid made the mistake of switching allegiances back to the Fatimids, and was deposed and executed in 985 by the Caliphate of Córdoba


Notes and References

  1. ^ Hodgson, Marshall (1961), Venture of Islam, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 262  
  2. ^ Ibn Abī Zarʻ al-Fāsī, ʻAlī ibn ʻAbd Allāh (1340), Rawḍ al-Qirṭās: Anīs al-Muṭrib bi-Rawd al-Qirṭās fī Akhbār Mulūk al-Maghrib wa-Tārīkh Madīnat Fās, ar-Rabāṭ: Dār al-Manṣūr (published 1972), pp. 38  
  3. ^,  
  4. ^ Introduction to Islamic theology and law, By Ignác Goldziher, Bernard Lewis, pg.218
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 24, By James Hastings, pg.844
  6. ^ The Idrisids
  7. ^ Shi'ah tenets concerning the question of the imamate


See also

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