As in the case
of the Almorabids, the Almowahids dynasty had its inception in a
politico-religious movement founded by Mohammed Ibn Toumert, a Berber belonging
to the Masmouda tribe, born in Ourghan (Souss) in 1094. Brought up in a
traditional religious family, Ibn Toumert grew to manhood in a confused society.
His ambition for learning drew him as far as the Middle East, where he wandered,
for ten years, between Egypt, Iraq and Iran, attending classes of eminent
scholars of these countries and enriching his theological and rhetorical
knowledge. Back to Morocco, Ibn Toumert, now a learned fundamentalist scholar,
began preaching a new ascetic doctrine of “Tawhid”, or Unicity, inspired from
the teachings of the grand Savant and Sufi, the Persian Imam, Al Ghazali.
Ibn Toumert preached the restoring of Islam to its pure original orthodoxy. He led and austere life of an ascetic and reproved the people's tendency to sin and vice. He condemned music, drinking of alcohol and other manifestation of laxity. One day he insulted, in public, the sister of the Almorabid Sultan, Ali Ibn Youssef, because she walked unveiled in the streets of Marrakech. Ibn Toumert roamed in every district of al-Maghreb, admonishing the people, and censuring the moral deviation and the abuses of the Almorabid ruling family. Afterwards, he retired, in company of his disciple Abdelmoumen Ibn Ali, to Tinmal, a district of the High Atlas, where he established the siege of his brotherhood. Once there, Ibn Toumert assumed the symbolic title of “Mehdi”,
El Mehdi Ibn Toumert organized his state according to the Prophet's procedure, which he had as a model. He attached to his person a group of ten people (el Jema'a), selected from his closest trustworthy disciples, who acknowledged him, first, as "Mehdi", such as Abdelmoumen and Omar Al-Joutey, among others. This group constituted the executive organ. Then there was the group of the fifty, who formed the consultative council, representing the main allied tribes of Al Mehdi. Ibn Toumert's military expeditions were called "Ghazouat”, his proclamation as "Mehdi" had lieu "under a tree" like the Prophet's "Beïat a'Rridouan", his retreat to Tinmal was named "hijra", and the group of ten represented "the Prophet's ten Companions".
Once the Almowahid's power was well organized, El Mehdi begins his military offensives against the Almorabids' authority. El Mehdi passed away and was succeeded in 1133 by his friend and disciple Abdelmoumen.
In 1133, after long and slow deliberations, Abdelmoumen, son of
a potter of the Z'nata tribe, was finally proclaimed Khalif to El Mehdi by the
sheikhs of the Masmouda tribes. Abdelmoumen, the real founder of the Almowahid's
dynasty, secured his authority among the Masmouda clan, before marching with his
troops against the Almorabid’s bastions. The Almowahid’s military raids were
disastrous to the Almorabid power. The so-called Unitarian Muslims now carried
fire and sword through Morocco and adjacent lands. In 1145, the gross of the
Almorabids army was annihilated by the troops of Abdelmoumen near Tlemecen. The
Almorabid emir, Ali Ben Youssef was killed, and his successor, Tachfin, perished
accidentally near Oran.
In 1145, Abdelmoumen’s troops stormed against the city of Fes, which they captured, after a siege of nine months. Abdelmoumen made destroy the ramparts of the city and the Almorabid Kasbah of Boujloud, exclaiming, "the sole ramparts are our sword and our Justice". After Fes, the Almowahids reduced the cities of Meknass, Sale and Tangier. Abdelmoumen attacked Marrakech on July 1146, just on time to prevent the city be supplied with the grains of Doukkala. The troops of Abdelmoumen besieged Marrakech, which was reduced in 1147, after an eleven months siege. The inhabitants of the city were massacred, and the last of the Almorabid line, a boy, named Is'haq Ibn Ali, grandson of Youssef Ibn Tachfin, was executed.
Abdelmoumen entrusted Marrakech to his son, Abou Hafss Omar, and proceeded towards Algeria and Tunisia, where the Banu Hilal and Banu Souleiman Arab hordes have poured out of Egypt. Knowing no home but a tent and abhorring every lasting structure, the Banu Hilal, on their way, pillaged, systematically, towns and villages of Algeria and Tunisia, and terrorized its population. Banu Hilal was a menace to the stability of North Africa, and Abdelmoumen aware of this menace charged against them and pushed them far back to Tunisia. There the Almowahids’ troops clashed with the Arab hordes. The encounter concluded with a total disbanding of Banu Hilal in the battle of Settif (1152). Abdelmoumen’s victory was total, but he refrained from taking any reprisals against the Banu Hilal. He expected to ally the Arab hordes to his side and take advantage of their hardiness in his further campaigns.
Years later, Abdelmoumen hurried his offensives against the Norman garrisons of North Africa. Some of these strongholds were well shielded and hard to reduce. But Abdelmoumen was determined to drive the Norman off the continent. In 1160 he set out an important ground and naval military offensive against these strongholds. The Norman’s where overwhelmed and terrorized by a strenuous Almowahid army, and were dislodged, respectively, from Soussa, Mehdiya, Sfax and Tripoli, and expelled definitely from North Africa. Abdelmoumen concluded his campaigns of North Africa by subduing the petty states, which had established in Algeria and Tunisia, after the dislocation of the Ziride dynasty. His next objective was al Andalouss, which he was planning to conquer.
The Almowahid’s expeditions of al Andalouss were aimed, first, against the army of Ibn Mardanich (Martinez) in Murcia, then against Alphonse III of Castile. In 1163 the Khalif, Abdelmoumen passed away in Sala, where he was preparing an important offensive against Castile.
The Almowahids realized, for the first time, and under the brilliant leadership of the emir Abdelmoumen, the political unity of North Africa with al-Andalouss, and became masters of an Empire, which extended from the South of Spain to the borders of Egypt. Abdelmoumen deported the Arab tribes of Banou Hilal and Banou Riyah from Tunisia and Algeria to Morocco. These tribes were recruited, later in the Almowahids’ army and took part in their Andaloucian military campaigns. In compensation for their backing, the Arab tribes were given the fertile plains of the west of Morocco, and were granted the rights to levy tax on the neighboring tribes. The Banou Hilal tribe was implanted in the plains of the Atlantic. The Khlot, Sefian and Beni Malek established in al-Gharb (the west), Beni Amer and Beni Moussa established in the plains of Tadla. Oulad Saïd, Bni Mguilda, and Ahmmar, of the Banou Riyah clan, established in the southwest.
Abou Yaâcoub was governor of Seville, when he was called to succeed his father Abdelmoumen in 1163. Abou Yaâcoub spent most of his ruling term in battlefields. He made an end to the uprising, in al Andalouss, of Ibn Mardanich, who was killed in battle, captured his capital, Murcia, and besieged many other cities of Castile and Portugal. In 1184, while he was engaged in a military campaign against the Portuguese army of Don Sancho, the Sultan Abou Yaâcoub made the terrible mistake of ordering his son, Aba Is'haq, to charge against Lisbon the next morning. Without notifying his father, Aba Is'haq left the camp by night, leading the gross of the army to attack Lisbon, leaving Abou Yaâcoub defenseless, and with a reduced military effective. Youssef’s camp was invested, early in the morning, by the army of Don Sancho, which counted around fifteen thousand soldiers. Youssef had to face the huge Portuguese army with his small military effective. His pride impeded his retreat, and he had to fight to death.
Youssef Yaâcoub Al-Manssour was considered as the most glorious
of the Almowahids’ Sultans. He came to power in 1184, and he carried out with
his father’s policy, securing the boundaries of the Empire, both in North Africa
and in al-Andalouss. It was to Al-Manssour's court that Salah Ed'din (Saladine)
sent, with costly presents, an embassy, led by the nephew of Oussamah Ibn Al
Munqid, to seek the Almowahids’ military assistance. Salah Ed'din, who
acknowledged the Abbasside’s spiritual khalifat, accredit the embassy to "Amir
al Mouslimine", instead of "Amir Al Mouminine", and this annoyed Al-Manssour,
who hesitated to acquiesce in the request of Salah Eddine. Later, however, Al
Manssour dispatched a naval fleet of 180 vessels to back Salah Eddine in his
campaigns against the Christian Crusades conflict, aroused by the Pope Urban the
II (Hubert Crivelli), and commanded by the British king, Richard the Lion’s
Heart, and by the French king, Louis Philips. The Almowahid’s fleet got also
involved in Mediterranean naval fights against the Christians Crusaders. The
Almowahid’s naval fleet succeeded in barring the seaway to many a Western fleet,
reducing the Christian pressure on the Middle East. In one of their naval
assaults, the Almowahid’s armada blocked the passage and destroyed the Austrian
fleet of Frederick Red-beard, which was composed of naval contingents of Genes,
Sicilian, Austrian and Pizan.
The other Almowahids’ military glorious achievement had lieu in al-Andalouss, where in 1192, Yaâcoub Al Manssour led a strong military expedition against the Castilian troops of King Alphonso VIII. The body of the Almowahids’ Masmouda army was composed of the Arab tribes of Riyah and Banou Hilal, supported by Zenata and Ghomara berber tribes. The Almowahids troops camped near the fortress of los Arcos, (Ciudad Real) in the vicinity of Toledo, just in face of the Castilian army of Alphonse VIII. The battle, which ensued afterwards, was fatal to the Castilian troops. During this battle, which was know by "al aqwas" or the arches, the Almowahids army defeated the Castilian army, and captured the fortress of los Arcos, where hundreds of Muslims were held captives. Ten thousand Christian prisoners were captured by the Almowahid troops and set free by the khalif, Al Manssour. The Almowahid army carried its expeditions far beyond Cordoba; capturing Toledo, Madrid and reached the borders of the River Duero.
To stop the Almowahid's military menacing advance, king Alphonse VIII had to negotiate a peace treaty with Al Manssour. The two kings, after reaching an agreement, signed a peace treaty, which warranted the ceasing of all hostilities, between the two sides, for four years.
The khalif, Yaâcoub Al Manssour passed away in 1198, after a short glorious reign. The Almowahid dynasty, falling in lethargy, began to weaken, and its Empire to dispel. Exploiting the situation and the popular anxiety spread in Christian territories, after the terrible defeat of "Alarcos", the archbishop of Toledo, Rodrigo Ximenez de Rada, called for a Crusades war against the Islamic State of al Andalouss. The archbishop incited other Christian kingdoms to join in the conflict against the Muslims.
The new Almowahid khalif, Mohammed Annacir, aware of the Christian danger that threatened the Andaloucian boundaries; commanded personally the Almowahid’s army, which he led to victory against the Castilian troops of Alphonse VIII, before his glorious return to Seville. This second defeat of the Castilian troops induced the king Alphonse to ally other European kingdoms to his side. France, Genoa, Portugal and Normandy supplied thousand troops of cavalry to ally in what they considered a holy Crusades War. In 1212, the Almowahids troops, outnumbered by a Christian army, ten times stronger, suffered a defeat in the battle of al Oqab (the hills) in las Navas de Tolosa, near Jaen. This was the first defeat of a Muslim army in front of a Christian force in al Andalouss, and was to mark the decline and fall of the Islamic provinces of Spain. Jaime I of Aragon initiated the reconquista, which, later, was carried on by Ferdinand the III of Castile, after uniting, in 1233, the kingdoms of Castile and Leon. The Muslim Spain fell again in the confusion of the “Tawaïf petty states”. Valence was ruled by an offspring of Ibn Mardanich, Murcia was ruled by a prince of the Bani Houd who succeeded in dominating Seville. The Nassrides pushed far south and established in Granada. Their kingdom resisted the Christian offensives for two centuries, and was the last of the Andaloucian Muslim states to be reduced, later, by Ferdinand the Catholic in 1492.
The Almowahids dynasty did not last long; and after a reigning of hundred years, it had fallen into ruins. From the chaos that followed its fall there emerged sundry dynasties of the Hafssids of Tunis, the Abd Al-Wadids of Tlemecen, and the Merinids of Fes. The later, backed by the Hafssids of Tunisia, hastened the fall of the Almowahids, bringing their power to an end. The Beni Merin pressed their offensive against Marrakech, the Almowahids capital, which was the last to resist the Merinids blows. Marrakech was defended by the troops of the Sultan, Idriss Ibn Mohammed Ibn Omar Ibn Abdelmoumen, nicknamed Abou Dabbous, last sovereign of the Almowahids. The city was reduced by the Merinids in 1269.
that the Moroccan might and glory reached its apogee between the 12th and the
13th centuries, that is, during the Almowahids and Merinids epoch. The extent of
the Empire, and the ever-growing comfort reached by its people, contributed in
the edification and rise of its glorious civilization. The constant flow of
people and ideas across the Straits kept the population of North Africa abreast
to the great achievements of the Middle East and al-Andalouss. After all,
Morocco was a vital link between the East and the West, from where scholars,
merchants and craftsmen, coming from the East, crossed to the West, in quest of
profits or learning, in al Andalouss. From al-Andalouss there was a ceaseless
flow of the oppressed, victims of political and religious persecution, and
fugitives from justice. Most of these folk who made their way to Morocco were
skilled agriculturists and erudite
Thus was al Maghreb al-aqsa nourished by two converging streams of fresh and invigorating blood. How richly their influence blessed the country is strikingly illustrated by the city of Fes. Around 2.000 families from Kairawan settled, early in the ninth century on the east bank of Oued Fes. Years later, 8,000 families expelled from Cordoba established in the opposite bank of river Fes. These two communities, the Kairaouani and the Andaloucian, made of Fes and important intellectual and economic center of al Maghreb.
Earlier, most of the merchants of the empire were Christians and Jews, superseded, later, by Muslims, who despised trade as well as farming, and ventured for trade as far as China. At that time, the ports of Baghdad, al-Basrah, Cairo, Alexandria, Genoa and Normandy traded with the ports of Sebta, Tangier, Larache and Sala. Morocco did also draw great benefits from the kingdom of Ghana. This shadowy kingdom, in spite of its remoteness, was carrying on with Morocco a trade on which both countries grew rich. The northern enrepôt of this trade was Sijilmassa in the Oasis of Tafilalet; just southeast of the Atlas Mountains, where most of Ghana's gold ended. But no commercial activity could have reached such dimensions had it not rested on extensive home industry and agriculture. Hand industry flourished in cities and oasis of the Moroccan Empire. The damascene was made in Sebta, linen in the Rif, cotton fabric in Larache, drapes and pottery in Assafi, wool fabric, leather and horse saddles in the Haskoura and Sijilmassa (Tafilalet), black-wool cloaks in the Tadla, jewelry and fine weaving in Fes, Figuig, Souss and Sijilmassa. Morocco imported silk, rugs, tapestry, brocade (Dibaj), kitchen utensils, glass and metal vases, and other articles of furniture from the Middle-East and from Europe. Fes, despite the political changes, grew more prosperous. The city dominated the economic subsistence of Morocco by its strategic position and by its ever-growing commercial and industrial potentials. Much more than Marrakech, the city of Fes was the country's warehouse, where most of the imported merchandise was stored before being re-distributed or exported, reserving a substantial part for local consuming. Its workshops produced arms and pottery, cords and canvas made of cannabis or linen, objects made of copper and glassware, silk, wool, and cotton weaving. Its links extended from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara and from the West to Cairo.
The economic activity stimulated the growth and prosperity of many cities of the Kingdom, a number of which grew bigger, during the Almowahid's epoch, with the emerging of large palaces, mosques, medersas, parks and baths. Some of these cities became actively populated, experiencing an important intellectual and artistic blooming. Fes, Marrakech, Tangier and Sebta were provided with watering networks, and a system of piping fed mosques, palaces, baths, houses, public and private basins with running water. A number of these cities became a diffusing pole of a culture impregnated with Andaloucian and Oriental influences.
The inhabitants had no other occupation except trade, and they traveled far beyond their districts to exchange their products for others. Surmised and disciplined in Marrakech, the population was, on the other hand, rebellious in Fes and in Sijilmassa, where the trade roads brought the discontents from everywhere. Others, living in luxury and ease, rivaled with each other in the number of slaves and serving-women they owned.
Artisans drew part of their raw material from certain cultures; but minerals abounded a lot underground. Gold was mined in Taza, in Todrha and Tiznit, as it was brought by caravans from the kingdom of Ghana. Other mines produced enough minerals to use in the local industry. Silver was extracted from Tamedoult in the Souss and from the High Atlas, iron ore was extracted from the Rif, and lead and copper from the High and the Anti Atlas. Copper export constituted the main base of the commercial traffic with Ghana and with Europe. Three industries were dominant in Marrakech, where a number of Andaloucian artisans established, leather; refined sugar and pottery. But it is in Fes where an important diversified industry was concentrated. Besides the industry of paper and glassware, the city was and is still overcrowded with workshops and factories of weavers, tanners, dyers, iron and coppersmiths.
More important were the shipyards that worked for the Almowahids. There were those of l'Oudaya and Maâmora in the Atlantic west, Tangier and Sebta in the north, Oran in the east, and another number in al-Andalouss. Sijilmassa, in the southeast, constituted one of the most important trade posts of the Sahara. The city commanded leading trade routes of the oases and of the Sahara, through which the merchandise of Sudan transited. Marrakech, with its safe outlets of the Atlas, overshadowed Aghmat whose wealthy merchants controlled the economic activity and organized the most important camel caravans of the province.
Fes was by excellence, the pole of attraction to all the trading roads. Trade traffic was maintained with the European ports of Pizza, Genoa, Marseilles, Venetia and Catalonia. According to trade records, the shipping ports of Morocco were those of Sebta, Sala, Assilah, Azemour and Tangier. Foreign merchant communities constituted their own fortified quarters, called foundaks (Inns), on every major Moroccan city. This foundaks were walled quarters, equipped with storage rooms, shops, bakeries, houses, basins, baths, chapels, and were placed under Consular authority.
The merchandise exported from Morocco was diverse. Genes, for instance acquired wool for its industry of textile, besides copper, olive oil, leather, wax and dry fruits. Moroccan leather was another product, highly prised since the 12th century, in Normandy and in England. Venice and Flander imported raw sugar, weaving and arms. Moroccan tincturing substances were also appreciated in Europe, specially the indigo and the white alunite of Sijilmassa. Goods imported from Europe to the local markets consisted in arms of Lombardy and Germany, glasses of Venice, haberdashery (goods of Milan), drapes, fabrics and wine of Spain, France and Greece. Oriental merchandise was drawn mainly from the markets of Syria, Persia and Iraq. Arms, tapestry, silk, satin and brocade were imported from Basra, Damascus and al-Koufa. Baghdad furnished a fine renown striped fabric known as "Attâbi", after the name of an Omeyade prince, al-Mawsil furnished a fine fabric named Mawsily (muslin). Rugs, embroideries and robes of honor, know as (tiraz), were imported from Persia. Spices, incense and perfumes were drawn from Jur and Firuzabad.
Another important economic activity was farming. This activity received an important impulse under the Almowahids’ dynasty, and the growing of olive-trees was object of special attention. These trees were planted everywhere in Morocco; particularly in the regions of Marrakech, Fes, Meknass and Taza.
Muslim Spain wrote one of the brightest chapters in the intellectual history of the medieval Europe. The Arabic-speaking peoples were the main bearers of the torch of culture and civilization throughout the world. Moreover they were the medium through which ancient science and philosophy were restored, supplemented and transmitted in such a way as to make possible the renaissance of Western Europe. The Almowahid's sovereigns patronized the intellectual activity, and courted intellectuals and philosophers, some of which were magnanimously compensated. The khalifs encouraged jurists, scientist and theologians, whom they drew near. Some scholars reached important positions in the Almowahid's court, such as the two eminent physicians, Ibn Tofaïl (1110-1185), and Ibn Rochd "Aberroés" (1126-1198), known for their philosophical works.
Grand erudite of Islamic sciences, El Qadi Ayyad was the most eminent authority among scholars of the Malekit rite Morocco ever had. Named Ayyad Ibn Moussa Ben Amroun, he was born in Sebta in 1087, where he received his theological education. Later, he left for al-Andalouss to achieve his theological high education, provided with high recommendations from the prince Ali Ibn Youssef to the Qadis and savants of that State. Back to Sebta, Ayyad was appointed judge of the city and later in 1139, he was assigned judge of Granada. With the arrival of the Almowahids to power, el Qadi Ayyad was deported by the khalif Abdelmoumen from Granada to Marrakech where he was assigned to a forced residence for life till he passed away in 1145.His mausoleum is located at Bab Aïlan in Marrakech.
Mohammed Ibn Abdelmalek Ibn Tofaïl, born in 1110 in Oudiax, province of Granada. Ibn Tofaïl studied theology, medicine, astronomy and philosophy. Remarkable man of sciences and Philosophy, he was called to Marrakech where he became the personal physician and minister to the Almowahid khalif Abou Yaâcoub. One of his major works was the philosophical treatise called "Hay Ibn Yakdan", a novel which inspired the Robinson Crusoe story.
Al Oualid Mohammed Ibn Rushd is considered as the greatest Muslim philosopher of
the West. Born in Cordoba in 1126, Ibn Rush belonged to a distinguished family
of learning, which generated theologians and cadis (judges). Ibn Rush was
initiated and tutored in theology by his father. Medicine, he studied with the
eminent physician, Ibn
In 1153, Ibn Rush, the Hispano-Arab astronomer, physician and philosopher was invited by the khalif, Abdelmoumen, to the Almowahid’s court of Marrakech. Back to Cordoba, Ibn Rush was invited again to Marrakech, where he was introduced, by Ibn Tofaïl, to the new Almowahid’s khalif, Yaâcoub Ibn Abdelmoumen, a fervent addict to science and philosophy. While in Marrakech, Ibn Rush was requested by the khalif to elucidate the Aristotelian philosophy. In 1169 Ibn Rushd was appointed cadi (judge) of Seville, and then of Cordoba by the Almowahid’s khalif, Abou Yaâcoub Youssef.
In 1182, Ibn Rushd was called by the khalif, Abou Yaâcoub Youssef, to Marrakech, to substitute Ibn Tofaïl as court physician and minister. Accused of heresy by some jealous who vied his position, Ibn Rushd was banned in 1194, by the khalif Yaâcoub Al-Manssour, and all his writings burned. Graced, Ibn Rushd was recalled to his office in Marrakech, where he died, afterwards, on December 10, 1198. His remains were transferred to Cordoba.
Ibn Rushd's main contribution to medicine was an encyclopedic work entitled al kulliat fi al-Tibb (generalities on medicine), where he states the fact that, no one is taken twice with smallpox, and where he explained the function of the retina. But Ibn Rushd, the physician, was entirely eclipsed by Ibn Rushd the philosopher and commentator. His main philosophical achievements were his Tahafout al-Tahafout (the incoherence of the incoherence), and his comment on the Aristotelian philosophy.
after Ibn Rushd, as the most eminent philosopher of his epoch, Abou Imram Moussa
Ibn Maïmon, the famous Jewish physician and philosopher, was born in Cordoba in
1135.His family was forced to leave al Andalouss as a result of the Almowahid’s
severe policy, and went to Egypt where she settled in Cairo about the year 1165.
There, Ibn Maïmon became the court physician to the glorious Salah Ed'din
(Saladine) and to his son Al Malik Al Aziz. Ibn Maïmon distinguished as
astronomer, theologian, physician and philosopher. His medical science was the
standard Galenism of his time, derived from the schools of Al-Razi, Ibn Sina and
Ibn Maïmon improved the method of circumcision, ascribed hemorrhoids to constipation and proscribing for them light diet, predominantly vegetarian. His most popular medical work was al Fusul fi al-Tibb (aphorisms of medicine). His leading philosophical work bore the title Dalalat al-Ha'irin (the guide of the perplexed) where Ibn Maïmon tried to reconcile Jewish theology with Muslim Aristotelianism, or in other words, faith with reason. Ibn Maïmon passed died in Cairo in 1204 and was buried in Tiberias were his tomb is still visited by throngs of pilgrims.
Abdellah Ben Ahmed Ibn Al-Baytar Al Malaqi, best-known physician and pharmacist
of al-Andalouss and of the Muslim World. Born in Malaga in 1183, Ibn Al-Baytar
roamed through Spain, North Africa and the Middle East gathering plants’ data.
He studied medicine in Cordoba, and the Science of the plants in Seville, with
the eminent herbalist, Abou Al-Abbas Annabathie. Ibn Al-Baytar established in
Fes, Marrakech and Athens where he expanded his knowledge of the plants. Ibn
Al-Baytar end-up in Cairo where he entered the service of the Ayoubid Sultan,
Al-Malek Al-Kamel as chief herbalist (1218-1238). From Egypt he made several
trips to Syria and Asia Minor.
Ibn Al Baytar passed away in 1248, in Damascus, leaving two celebrated works dedicated to the Sultan, Assalih Ayyoub. One of these works, al-Moughni fi al-Adwiyah al-Mufradah, is on materia medica; the other, al-Jami fi al-Adwiyah al-Moufrada, is a collection of "simple remedies» of the animal, vegetal and mineral realms, embodying Greek and Arabic data. These compilations were enriched by his own experiments and researches combined in is work called "Moufrad al-Baytar”, or "Simplicia of al-Baytar", which stands out as the foremost medieval treatise of its kind. Some 1,400 items were considered, of which 300 items, including about 200 plants, were novelties. Ibn Al-Baytar is considered as the scientist who organized the pharmacy and dissociated it from medicine.
The Sufi movement emerged in Morocco when the Almorabids introduced the Malekit religious reforms to the country; spreading quickly in the country. Sufism is the form which mysticism has taken in Islam as a new mode of spiritual thinking. Muslim mysticism represents a reaction to the intellectualism, and formalism of Islam. Psychologically its basis should be sought in the human aspiration to a personal, direct approach to, and more intense experience of, the deity and religious truth. Sufism traces its origin to the Koran and the Hadith. Beginning simply as an ascetic life, mainly contemplative, such as commonly practiced by the Christian monks, Sufism, or Muslim asceticism, became mystical in the second Muslim century; that is, it began to be regarded by its devotees as an emotional means of purifying the human soul, so that it may know and love God and be united with Him, rather than as a means for winning His Reward in a future world. This Sufi knowledge (ma'arifa) of God is a form of gnosis achieved by the Inner Light of the individual soul. The movement produced many ascetic Sufis in al-Maghreb, especially during the 12th century, like Sidi Ali Mohammed Ben Hrazem, boon companion of Ali Ibn Youssef, and who died and was buried in Fes in 1163, and Abou Chouaïb Senhaji who died in 1165 and was buried in Azemmour. These two scholars were the first guides and Paragons of the Sufi Movement during the Almorabid period, followed, not far, by many others guides who led the Sufi movement in the country during the Almowahid’s period and later, founding their own orders, such as Abou Madiyan Al-Ghaout, Abdessalam Ibn Machich and Abou l'Abbas Sebti.
Abou Madiyan Chouaïb Al Ansari Al Ghaout: born in Seville in 1142, he established both in Tangier and in Sebta. Later he traveled to Marrakech and to Fes where he became respectively disciple to Sheikh Sidi Ali Ben H’razem in Fes and to the Sheikh Abi l'Hassan Ben Ghaleb in Marrakech. To attend the audiences of Ben H’razem, Abou Madiyan dwelled in a ruined house in Zalagh, and made his living on weaving. Abou Madyan acquired the fundamental principles of Al Ghazali from Ben H'rasem, then he set forth to other horizons, seeking for wisdom among the known eminent sages and Sufis of his time. While in Mecca, Abu Madyan met the Iraqi Grand Sufi, the Sheikh Abdelkader Jilani, to whom he became disciple. Al-Ghaout died in Tlemecen where he was buried.
Moulay Abdessalam Ibn Machich Ibn Abou Bakre Ibn Ali:
A descendant of the Sharifian Idrissid lineage. Moulay
Abdessalam was brought up in the schools of the Sheikh Ali ben H'razem, and Abi
Madiyan El Ghaout. Grown up, Ibn Machich became an eminent scholar, and sheikh
to eminent scholars like Al-Imam, Abou l'Hassan Chadily. Soon afterwards, the
Sheikh Moulay Abdessalam gave up the pleasures of the temporal life, and retired
to the mountains of Ghomara, in the North of Morocco, where he led an hermit
ascetic life of prayer and meditation. Invested with divine powers; the Eminent
Sheikh reached a level of sanctity by the mystical prodigies he
During the ruling of Idriss el Mamoun (1226-1231), a rebel, called el-Ktami Ibn Abi Tawajin, established his camp near the refuge of the Holy man, disturbing his lectures and his ascetic life of contemplation, to end up plotting against his life and assassinate him in 1228. The Mausoleum of Moulay Abdessalam, is located in Jbel Allam in Ghomara.
Ahmed Ben Jaafar el Khazraji Abou l'Abbas Sebti:
He was born to a poor family in Sebta in 1147. Orphan at
the age of ten, his mother interrupted his schooling to have him work as an
apprentice with a wool-weaver. Not withstanding his situation, the boy used to
desert the workshop to go attend the teaching circle of Sheikh Abi Abdellah
Al-Fakhar friend of Al Cadi Ayyad, who have taken the boy and his mother in
The intelligence and sensibility of the boy were not to deceive Al-Fakhar. One day the boy insisted on having his Master explain him the meaning of the verse of Koran that says: "God advises Justice and charity", verse which he made his ideal. At the age of sixteen, he was roaming from a place into another, seeking for the Light of Reason and Truth. Finally he settled in Marrakech where he began teaching grammar and mathematics. Later he revealed his doctrine, which recommend the action of “Charity and Welfare”, and roamed in the streets of Marrakech, imploring the acts of charity. Sidi Ben Abbas, was the protector of the blind and the mendicants. His tomb is located in Marrakech.
Rabat became the Kingdom's Capital when Morocco fell under the
French protectorate in 1912. General Lyautey, the first French administrator
over Morocco made of Rabat the administrative center of the protectorate and the
set of his official residence. The Sultan, Moulay Youssef followed suit by
taking up residence in Rabat, in the Palace built by his ancestor Sidi Mohammed
Ben Abdellah. Lyautey set the plans of the European City in 1912, in
collaboration with the French urban architect, Leon Henry Proust. The city was
traced in such a way as to not converge with the Medina or the Old city,
following an urban style as to maintain a distinction between the European
enclaves and the old.
Today, the prefecture of Rabat-Sale extends over an area of de 14.200 Km2, and its population is of about two millions people mainly of Andaloucian origin. The outskirts of the city is inhabited by the Zeaïr and the Arabs Ma'akil; a population leading a pastoral and farming way of life.
During the 6th century BC a small settlement called Sale was founded by the Jazoula Berbers (Getules) on the estuaries of the river Bouregreg, later used by the Phoenicians as a trade center and by the Carthaginians as a port of call. During the Roman occupation, the city became known as Sala Colonia. During the 11th century, Sale became the capital to the Berghouata Berbers tribe.
The foundation of Rabat dates back to the 12th century, when Abdelmoumen Ibn Ali erected first in 1155, a fortified monastery or Ribat from where he launched his expeditions of al-Andalouss, and where he finally died. His grandson Yaâcoub Youssef Al Manssour converted the Monastery of Bouregreg in "Ribat al-Fath" or the Stronghold of Victory, to commemorate that victory he had over the Christian Spanish army of Alphonse VIII, king of Castile during the battle of "Alarcos". Al Manssour built many walled fortifications which where accessed through big gates. Bab Oudaya and Bab Rouah are the only gates that still stand to our days.
In 1260, the Spanish fleet of Alphonse X took advantage of the Almowahids and the Merinids conflicts, and attacked Sale, which was reduced and occupied by the Spanish Castillian. The Merinid Sultan Abou Youssef Yaâcoub recaptured the city in 1261, and began its restoration, building a fortified wall around the city. Inside the walls he built a Medersa, a medical school and the Arsenal (Dar Assinâ'a), which consisted on a shipbuilding dock, constructed by the engineer Abdellah Al Ichbili Al Mecaniqui, to which, thanks to the improved mechanic engineering, sea-water was made to flow through a shallow duct on its northern gate inlet, to a basin, and out through another gate that faced south and opened to the river, in order that, when a shipbuilding was finished, the gate of the north basin was open to let the sea-water in, and once the basin was full, the north gate was closed and the ship was made afloat and slid through the south gate of Bab Mrissa outlet to Bouregreg river where the ship sailed to the sea. Years after the fall of Grenada and the surrender of the Nassrid Emir, Abou Abdellah Al- Moatassim in 1492, Rabat became the refuge for the Moors who were expelled from Spain by the Catholic kings Ferdinand 1st Isabelle. The Moors were persecuted by the Holy Inquisition, which was dictated by the Cardinal Ximénes de Cisnèros. The Moors were oppressed and chased by the Jewish converted inquisitor, Thomas de Torquemada, who coerced them to abjure their Islamic or Jewish faith, accept baptism, or suffer martyrdom. The first Moorish emigrants crossed to Morocco in 1502 and established in Tangier, Tetouan, Chaouen, Fes, and Marrakech.
The final expulsion of the Moors from Spain followed when, in 1609, king Philip of Spain decreed the banishing of all the Moors from Spain. The result was a forcible deportation en mass of practically all Muslims and Jews of Spain. About half million are said to have suffered this fate and landed in the shores of North Africa or sailed to more distant Muslim countries. Hundreds of Moors settled in Tangier, Fes, Rabat, Sala and in Marrakech. The Hornachons were among these moorish fugitives. They were wealthy skilled people who came from Hornachuelos; a small Spanish town located at 50 Km from Merida and Cadiz, and made their home in Sala. Experts in the manufacturing of firearms and shipbuilding, they soon became masters of Sala and the Kasbah of Oudaya.
In 1624, Sala became a strong independent Corsairs Republic, owning a strong and well organized naval fleet, which they used in their Jihad against the Christians both at sea and ground. They brought terror in the waters of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean waters, harassing Christian boats and cities of Spain and Portugal. Their galleons were commanded by experienced chief corsairs, such as the famous Youssef Viscaïno. Sale counted many known brave captains or Raïs as Ali Al Hakam, Kandil, Fennich, Mourad Raïs, famous for his raids against the Canary Islands, Raïss Mourato who organized two daring expeditions against Ireland in 1627 and 1631, and Raïs Abdellah Ibn Aïcha, who distinguished as Ambassador of the Alaouite Sultan, Moulay Ismaïl to the court of Louis XIV of France.
In 1626, the Saâdian Sultan, Zaïdan Ibn Al Manssour, recruited the Moors of Sala for his military expeditions against Abi Hassoun Semlali in the region of Daraa. England was the first country to recognize the sovereignty of the new republic of Sale. In an attempt to stop the piracy of the Moors, foreign powers like France, Holland and England were forced to negotiate with the new republic, maintaining diplomatic relations with Sala. Rabat emerged much wealthier from this process, but piracy drew evil on the country. In reprisal, Spain set out important punitive expeditions against Morocco, ending in the capture of al-Maâmora, in the Atlantic west, in 1614. The Spanish colonial maneuvers incited brave men to stand against their hegemony. One of these men was Mohammed Al Malki E’zzayani, known by El Ayachi. A Moroccan brave heart, El Ayachi called the population to rise in a holy war or Jihad against the Christian invasion of Morocco.
The Hornachons constituted and important mighty independent clan in Sala. And one time they rebelled against the Sultan, Zaïdan Essaâdi, refusing to supply in arms the warrior, Mohammed Al Malki El Ayachi, who, as mentioned above, was leading a Jihad in the south of the country against the Spanish and the Portuguese, in an attempt to drive them out of the occupied al- Maâmora, Mehdiya and el Jadida (Mazagan). In retaliation, El Ayachi charged against the Moors of Sala in 1631, reducing and occupying their capital for a short period. El Ayachi had to leave Sala, because of his constant military movement against the Spanish and Portuguese garrisons, established along the southwestern Atlantic coastlines.
During the 17th century, Rabat and Sale were administered successively by Mohammed Ben Abdelkader Cérona (Governors of Sale), Brahim Ben Chouaïb Vargas and Abdellah Ibn Ali al Kassri (Governor of Rabat), assassinated in Rabat in 1638.
Following the capture by the Saletan corsairs, in May 8, 1625, of three British galleons, the Weymouth, the Dartmouth and the Plymouth, in the Manch Channel, hundreds of their crew were made captives and driven to the prisons of Sala, where they remained till ransomed or exchanged for Muslim captives. It is said that more than 2,000 British were among the captives of Sale, and whose wives went to cry the misfortune of their husbands to the House of Lords, requesting the interceding of king Charles I with the king of Morocco, to negotiate the rescuing of their husbands from the prisons of Sale. During the ruling of the Saâdien Sultan, Moulay Zaïdan, a trade's treaty of goods and captives was signed in Rabat by Mohammed Ben Abdelkader Cérona, governor of Sale and John Hopkins, delegate of England. This treaty allowed the British to rescue their people, and their boats to access freely the port of Sale. In 1786, the Sultan, Moulay Mohammed Ben Abdellah, built new quarters in Rabat, and endowed them with the required facilities. He made build several mosques, among them the Sunna mosque, Ah'le Fes, Ah'le Marrakech and Ah'le Souss. While in Rabat, the Sultan, Moulay Mohammed made build the Royal Palace or Dar el Makhzen. The project was entrusted to the architects Biron, Ahmed El-Alje Al-Englizy and Al Manssour El-Alje.
Hassan Minaret: (1196)
Hassan Mosque, whose building began in 1196, at the end of the Almowahid Sultan Yaâcoub Youssef Al-Manssour’s reign. The project was supervised by the architect and engineer, Ahmed Ibn Hassan Al Kodaïe. The structure of the mosque extended over an area of 19,321 m2 and was built on trimmed granite stones. Its ceilings were supported by 365 granite pillars, and it was equipped with 16 gates. The standing minaret dominates the ruins of the mosque from its 44 meters height. Al Manssour was projecting to make of this mosque the largest of the Islamic world of his time, unfortunately he died before accomplishing his wish. The prayer hall of the mosque was destroyed on January 1, 1755 by the same earthquake that hit Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. According to chronicles of the time, the prayer hall accommodated around forty thousand worshippers.
Kasbah of Oudaya (1155)
The Kasbah of Oudaya, which was built in 1155, by the Almowahid khalif Abdelmoumen Ibn Ali, was named after a garrison of mercenaries from the Oudaya Arab tribe who settled here during the 13th century. Abdelmoumen built the fortification and the mosque, which today bears the name of al Atiq (the old). During the 17th century it became a pirate's refuge. The south bastion was built in 1665, by the Alaouite Sultan, Moulay Rachid, and was fortified with bronze cannons, some of which are still visible. The terraced Andaloucian garden was laid in 1918, just in front of Moulay Mohammed’s royal residence, built in 1782. The garden was planted with orange trees, bougainvillea, Volubilis, cypresses, daturas and other species of flowers and trees. The royal residence was converted into a Medersa and later it was transformed into a museum of popular art.
This mausoleum, which is a project of His Majesty the King Moulay El Hassan II, was built to commemorate the Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef, his father, who enabled Morocco to achieve independence. The mausoleum was planned by the Vietnamese architect Vu Twan, according to his anti-seismic building technique. The Mausoleum is a relish of the Moorish architecture. Hundreds of skilled craftsmen made emerge, through their inspiration, the shining ornament of this Masterpiece. Beauty emerges from its walls, decorated with polychrome terracotta mosaic and fine stucco carved traceries. A green-tiled pyramidal roof surmounts the necropolis. The Impressive burial chamber houses the tombs of Sultan Mohammed V, whose corps was transferred there, in October 30, 1973, and that of His son the Prince, Moulay Abdellah, who passed away in 1983.This chamber is paved with red granite of Ankara and with a highly polished Colorado black marble, on which the tombs seems as floating in a quicksilver pool. A magnificent twelve-sided mahogany carved cupola crowns over the chamber, with its stained-glass windows and its bronze-chiseled chandelier weighting one and half tons. Its outer walls are lined with white marble.
During the 8th
century BC a small settlement called Chella was founded by the Jazoula Berbers
(Getules) on the estuaries of the river Bouregreg, later used by the Phoenicians
as a trade center and by the Carthaginians as a port of call. During the first
century AD, the city became a prosperous Roman city known by Sala Colonia.
During the 10th century Sala became for a while the capital to the Berghouata
Berbers who deserted it in the 12th century, after the expeditions of the
Almorabids against this tribe.
Chella was converted to a monastery and necropolis by the Merinid Sultan, Abou Youssef Yaâcoub on the 13th, who made build its mosque and Medersa. Abou Youssef was the first of the Merinid Sultans to be buried in Chella. Abou l'Hassan Ali Ibn Othman, the Black Sultan, walled the necropolis in 1335 and built the Zawiya or monastery. When Abou l’Hassan passed away, his body was transferred in 1351 from Marrakech to this necropolis where his tomb and that of his andalucian wife, Shams Ed’doha, are still visible. Adjacent to the monastery is the mystical spring, which, as per the legend, has the power of curing from sterility. The spring is populated by a colony of eels, which are object of deference and respect, and are fed on egg-yolk by sterile women who come to seek the favor of Aïn M'dafa (spring of cannons). According to local legend, the spring is said to be the dwelling of djinns who guard a hidden treasure. The remains of the ancient Roman colony were uncovered in 1931. The site, which consists of a series of terraces, shows vestiges of a fountain, a market, a bath and some shops.