Almoravid dynasty

Almoravid dynasty

ⵉⵎⵔⴰⴱⴹⵏ, Imrabḍen
المرابطون, Al-Murābiṭūn
Flag of Almoravids
The Almoravid empire at its greatest extent, c. 1120.
The Almoravid empire at its greatest extent, c. 1120.
StatusRuling dynasty of Morocco
Common languagesBerber, Arabic, Mozarabic
Islam (Sunni); minority Christianity (Roman Catholic), Judaism
GovernmentHereditary monarchy
• 1040–1059
Abdallah ibn Yasin
• 1146–1147
Ishaq ibn Ali
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Taifas period
Barghawata Confederacy
Zenata kingdoms
Almohad Caliphate
Second Taifas period
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The Almoravid dynasty (Berber languages: ⵉⵎⵔⴰⴱⴹⵏ, Imrabḍen;[citation needed] Arabic: المرابطون‎, Al-Murābiṭūn) was an imperial Berber Muslim dynasty centered in Morocco.[1][2] It established an empire in the 11th century that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. Founded by Abdallah ibn Yasin, the Almoravid capital was Marrakesh, a city the ruling house founded in 1062. The dynasty originated among the Lamtuna and the Gudala, nomadic Berber tribes of the Sahara, traversing the territory between the Draa, the Niger, and the Senegal rivers.[3]

The Almoravids were crucial in preventing the fall of Al-Andalus to the Iberian Christian kingdoms, when they decisively defeated a coalition of the Castilian and Aragonese armies at the Battle of Sagrajas in 1086. This enabled them to control an empire that stretched 3,000 kilometers (1,900 mi) north to south. However, the rule of the dynasty was relatively short-lived. The Almoravids fell—at the height of their power—when they failed to stop the Masmuda-led rebellion initiated by Ibn Tumart. As a result, their last king Ishaq ibn Ali was killed in Marrakesh in April 1147 by the Almohad Caliphate, who replaced them as a ruling dynasty both in Morocco and Al-Andalus.


The term "Almoravid" comes from the Arabic "al-Murabitun" (المرابطون), which is the plural form of "al-Murabit"—literally meaning "one who is tying" but figuratively meaning "one who is ready for battle at a fortress". The term is related to the notion of Ribat, a frontier monastery-fortress, through the root r-b-t (ربط "Rabat": to tie to unite or رابط "Raabat": to encamp).[4][5]

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 Sous and 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."[6]

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 Yasin[7] because, 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).[8] 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.[9][10]

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. It was worn in remembrance of the Sanhajas' escape from Yemen disguised as women, thus making it simultaneously an indication of their faith.[11] 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.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Almoraviden
aragonés: Almorabet
asturianu: Almorávides
azərbaycanca: Əlmürabilər
تۆرکجه: مرابطایلر
башҡортса: Әл-Мурабиттар
български: Алморавиди
brezhoneg: Almoravided
čeština: Almorávidé
Deutsch: Almoraviden
Ελληνικά: Αλμοραβίδες
español: Almorávides
Esperanto: Almoravidoj
euskara: Almorabide
فارسی: مرابطون
français: Almoravides
hrvatski: Almoravidi
Bahasa Indonesia: Murabithun
italiano: Almoravidi
עברית: מוראביטון
Latina: Almoravides
lietuvių: Almoravidai
Lingua Franca Nova: Dinastia almoravide
Bahasa Melayu: Al-Murabitun
Nederlands: Almoraviden
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Al-Murobitun
polski: Almorawidzi
русский: Альморавиды
sicilianu: Almoravidi
Simple English: Almoravid dynasty
slovenščina: Almoravidi
српски / srpski: Алморавиди
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Almoravidi
svenska: Almoravider
Türkçe: Murâbıtlar
українська: Альморавіди
Tiếng Việt: Nhà Almoravid