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ʿAbd al-Muʾmin  

Allen J. Fromherz

builder of the Almohad Empire and great Moroccan military leader and able administrator, led the Almohad movement for tawhid, absolute monotheistic unity, after the death of the Mahdi Ibn Tumart, the Almohad founder, in c. 1130. His full name was ʿAbd al-Muʾmin ibn ʿAli ibn ʿAlwi bin Yaʿla al-Kumi Abu Muhammad.

After defeating the Almoravid Empire at Marrakech, he established the administrative and military foundations of the Almohad state while securing a caliphal succession for his descendants, the Muʾminid dynasty. In a matter of decades ʿAbd al-Muʾmin and his followers transformed the Almohads from a vigorous but vulnerable ideological movement in the small Atlas Mountain town of Tinmal to one of the largest and most successful Islamic empires in North African and Andalusian history.

Effectively an outsider ʿAbd al Muʾmin s ancestry was different from the noble Masmuda ethnic groups that made up the core of the Almohad ...


Abd Allah ibn Yasin  

Elizabeth Heath

The Almoravids movement of Abd Allah ibn Yasin conquered parts of northwestern Africa and later Spain during the eleventh and twelfth centuries and converted the defeated populations to Malekite (Maliki) Sunni Islam. Little is known of Abd Allah ibn Yasin's life prior to 1035, when as a student he was visited by a Sanhadja Berber chieftain and invited to return home with him to teach his people the true faith of Islam A devout Muslim Abd Allah ibn Yasin was scandalized by the lax and immoral practices of the Sanhadja Berbers He encouraged them to convert to Malekite Sunni Islam imposing a strict interpretation of Qur anic law Eventually he even restructured the Berber s military to conduct jihads holy wars in accordance with the Qur an By 1041 however the Berber chieftains resented the religious scholar s rule and sent him away Abd Allah ibn Yasin and ...


Abu, Bakr ibn ʿAbd al-Rahman al-Khalwani  

Russell Hopley

Islamic jurist born to an Arab family with origins in the region of Jazira Sharik present day Cap Bon Tunisia A close companion and later rival of the North African jurist Abu ʿImran al Fasi d 1039 Abu Bakr ibn ʿAbd al Rahman was fortunate to receive his early education in al Qayrawan under two eminent scholars of Islamic law Ibn Abi Zayd al Qayrawani d 996 and Abu al Hasan al Qabisi d 1012 Abu Bakr was considered to be among the most talented of al Qabisi s many pupils and it was under his tutelage that Abu Bakr learned to compose Islamic legal opinions otherwise known as fatwas He subsequently embarked on the journey eastward in 987 both to undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca and to further his education with established scholars in the cultural capitals of the Islamic east Abu Bakr is reported to have spent time ...


Abu, Madyan  

Stephen Cory

Sufi leader who has been referred to as “the Junayd of the West,” played an important role in the early development of Sufism within North Africa. One of his disciples, ʿAbd al-Salam ibn Mashish, was later the spiritual master for Abu al-Hasan al-Shadili, founder of one of the most influential North African Sufi movements.

Abu Madyan was born in the town of Cantillana near Seville in Muslim Spain He lost his parents early in life and was raised by his older brothers who regularly mistreated him The Moroccan biographer al Tadili d 1229 30 included biographical comments from Abu Madyan s writings such as the shaykh s explanation of how he finally escaped from the control of his brothers Abu Madyan relates that he fled from his home only to be captured by a brother who intended to kill him because of his many escape attempts His brother attacked him ...


Abu, Salih the Armenian  

Kurt J. Werthmuller

Egyptian Christian author, was a patron of Copto-Arabic historical literature, long presumed to be the author of Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighboring Countries, a twelfth-century topographical survey of Christian sites and traditions in and around Egypt. The original author of the majority of that work was, in fact, Abu al-Makarim Saʿdallah Ibn Jirjis Ibn Masʿud, an elder of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Despite confusion regarding its authorship, Churches and Monasteries has proven to be a crucial text for the study of Coptic tradition, Christian-Muslim relations, and the twelfth-century Egyptian state and society in general and was in turn an important source to later medieval chroniclers and topographers.

Although little is actually known about the specifics of the life of Abu Salih his patronage of this important piece of medieval Egyptian historical literature suggests that he was of a well to do socioeconomic class and ...


Adrian, of Canterbury  

Ness Creighton

Christian saint, North African–born abbot active in England, was a well-known scholar and the abbot of St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury, England. Another form of his name is “Hadrian.”

According to the medieval English writer the Venerable Bede Adrian was a Berber native from a Greek speaking family in North Africa likely in Libya Cyrenaica who had fled the Arab invasions into the region when he was about ten years of age evacuating to Naples which was then controlled by the Byzantine Empire At an unknown age though still quite young Adrian joined one of the Benedictine monasteries in the area and would eventually become abbot of a monastery near Naples called Monasterium Hiridanum also given as Niridanum and both may be errors for Nisidanum the Niridian monastery on the Isle of Nisida in the Bay of Naples Bede describes Adrian as being by nation an African well versed in ...



Donald B. Redford

pharaoh of Egypt during the Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1377–1359 BCE; Low date: 1352–1334 BCE), was the son of Amenhotep (Amenophis) III and Queen Tiye (Teya). He was named after his father and succeeded to the throne initially as Amenophis IV.

Akhenaten was one of six children born to the royal couple four girls and two boys His older brother Thutmose destined for the throne as heir apparent and his older sister Sat Amun claimed their father s affection from an early age and as was customary for a crown prince Thutmose took up duties as high priest of Ptah in Memphis Perhaps because of his unsightly appearance Akhenaten was deprived of the attention his parents might have shown and little care was taken in assigning an entourage of companions His main tutor was an otherwise unknown Parennefer who hailed from a small town rather than the capital When the court ...


ʿAli, ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin  

Russell Hopley

emir of the Almoravid dynasty from 1106 to 1143, was born in the Moroccan city of Ceuta to a mother who was a Christian captive from Spain. ʿAli inherited rule of the Almoravid state upon the death of his father, Yusuf ibn Tashfin, in 1106. Almoravid rule at the time of ʿAli’s accession to power was at its zenith and encompassed a considerable portion of territory of the Islamic west, including Andalusia, the western region of North Africa, and portions of the bilad al-Sudan Indeed it is a commonplace of the classical Arabic chronicles that ʿAli s name was invoked from some two thousand pulpits at the outset of every Friday sermon However his rule was beset with a host of serious problems almost from the outset ranging from quarrels among the various tribal factions that formed the backbone of the Almoravid regime to doctrinal disputes the ...


Alypius, of Thagaste  

Eric Fournier

Christian bishop. What we know about Alypius of Thagaste comes mainly from Augustine’s Confessions and Letters Born into a curial family in the Roman town of Thagaste present day Souk Ahras Algeria in the province of Numidia Alypius whose name seems to indicate Greek origins was younger than Augustine born in 354 CE Augustine was also Alypius s teacher first in Thagaste around 374 376 then in Carthage around 380 But Alypius was soon captivated by the Roman games the gladiators and the chariot races in particular and stopped attending Augustine s lessons because of an undisclosed argument between his father and his teacher Alypius quickly resumed attending despite his father s injunction however and one day as he entered the classroom Augustine used the example of someone attending the games to make a point which convinced Alypius to change his ways Among the group of students who studied ...


Amda, Seyon I  

Steven Kaplan

emperor of Ethiopia (1314–1344), whose regnal name was Gebre Meskel (“Servant of the Cross”), was one of the outstanding rulers of the early Solomonic period (1270–1527) in Ethiopia. While his grandfather, Yekunno Amlak (r. 1270–1284), is credited with establishing a new dynasty, Amda Seyon (“Pillar of Zion”) can be said to have established the medieval Ethiopian state.

Amda Seyon is generally believed to have succeeded his father, Wedem Re’ad, as emperor in 1314. The first years of his reign were devoted to wars against Muslim populations in the southwest of Ethiopia. Around 1320 he turned his attention to the northern parts of Ethiopia particularly to Tigray province in the north and the areas around the ancient capital of Aksum where his dynasty s claim to be the legitimate successors to the Solomonic kings of Aksum had not been accepted Amda Seyon s victories ...


Amenemhat, I  

Lawrence M. Berman

Egyptian pharaoh (reigned c. 1991–1961 BCE), was the founder of the Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty, the heart of the Middle Kingdom Period of Egyptian history (c. 2040–1640 BCE). The first of a new line of kings, Amenemhat (an alternative form of the name is Amenemhet) was of nonroyal birth. He was probably the vizier (chief minister) Amenemhat who in c. 1997 BCE led an expedition of ten thousand men to the Wadi Hammamat, between the Nile and the Red Sea, to procure stone for the sarcophagus of Mentuhotep IV, the last king of the Eleventh Dynasty, as recorded in inscriptions at the quarry site.

The Eleventh Dynasty kings had begun the process of reuniting Egypt after the period of political fragmentation known as the First Intermediate Period (c. 2100–2040 BCE Amenemhat I took this process a step further Like his predecessors Amenemhat was of southern origin Mentuhotep means Mentu is ...


Anthony, the Great  

Stacey Graham

is widely considered the first anchoritic monk to be influential throughout the Christian Mediterranean world. The Life of Anthony, written by Alexandrian bishop Athanasius (d. 373 CE), became a model both for late antique hagiography and for the anchoritic lifestyle that subsequently flourished in the eastern Roman Empire. Anthony’s fame also had a significant impact on the spread of monasticism in the western Roman Empire, where the Life was read by such patristic writers as Jerome and Augustine.

The main source for Anthony’s life is Athanasius’s Life of Anthony written in Greek between the years 356 and 362 The influence of this work on the genre of Christian hagiography cannot be overestimated It was quickly translated into Latin by Evagrius of Antioch as well as into Coptic Arabic Syriac and other languages of the eastern empire Jerome was directly inspired by it to write the first hagiographies in ...


Asham, of al-Habasha, al-  

Gianfranco Fiaccadori

Christian king (negus) of Aksum, was contemporary to the Prophet Muhammad, who is said to have recited the ritual prayer (salat) for al-Asham upon his death. The original Ethiopic (Geez) form of his name is Elle Seham or, by approximative rendering of the latter’s pronunciation, Ille Tsiham. The Arabic Chronicle of al-Tabari (d. 923) gives the text of two letters allegedly exchanged between the Prophet and al-Asham(a), called here al-Najashi, from Ethiopic negasi, an alternative form of negus that became specific for the ruler of Aksum linked to the so-called first hijra (emigration). In and after 615 two streams of early followers of the Prophet, including such prominent Islamic figures as the later caliph ʿUthman ibn ʿAffan and Muhammad’s daughter Ruqaya, fled to al-Habasha (Abyssinia). They went possibly to Aksum, the Najashi’s capital city, named also Zar(a)f(a)r(a)ta by al ʿUmari d 1348 ...


Athanasius, of Alexandria  

Stacey Graham

bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, theologian, author, and doctor of the Church, is significant for his staunch opposition to Arianism, his prolific theological works, and his exile-ridden episcopate during a tumultuous time for Church and imperial politics. His most influential work is the seminal hagiography of Western monasticism, Life of Anthony.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria Egypt probably in the year 296 though possibly as late as 300 At an early age he came to the attention of Alexander the patriarch of Alexandria who ordained him as a priest and brought him into the patriarch s service Alexandria in the fourth century cultivated a mixture of intellectual philosophical and religious schools of thought from its long standing pagan Jewish and Christian communities The city was economically vital as the main grain supplier for the imperial capital at Constantinople and it ranked third among the four patriarchates in the early ...


Augustine of Hippo, Saint  

Louis Munoz

Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagaste (modern Souk Ahras, Algeria) in 354 and died almost seventy-six years later in Hippo Regius (modern Annaba, Algeria) in 429 on the Mediterranean coast. Only four of his seventy-five years were spent outside Northern Africa. However, those few years would influence considerably his thought and his work.

Augustine s Africa had been part of Rome s empire since the destruction of Carthage five hundred years before his birth The language of business and culture throughout Roman Africa was Latin Yet some distinctly African character continued to mark life in the province Some non Latin speech either the Berber tongue of the desert or Punic which ancient Carthaginians had spoken continued to be heard The dominant religion of Africa had become Christianity a religion opposed to the traditions of old Rome but that could not have spread without the unity that Rome had brought ...


Augustine, of Hippo  

James J. O'Donnell

Christian bishop and theologian, was born Aurelius Augustinus on 13 November 354 CE in Tagaste (mod. Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa, the son of Patricius and Monnica. The names of father and son are marked by emphatic affiliation with Rome (echoing the imperial title of Augustus and the high dignity of “patrician”), while the mother’s name echoes the traditional Punic culture of Africa and one of its leading deities. Augustine died as bishop of Hippo Regius (mod. Annaba, Algeria) on 28 August 430. He never ceased to surprise his contemporaries, and he has astonished many more to this day.

As the older son in a family of some social pretensions but limited resources Augustine should have grown to manhood as a country squire of narrow horizons But his parents were ambitious and found the money from an influential friend to send him away for education He studied first at ...


Augustine, Saint  

Eric Bennett

One of the most famous theologians of his time, Augustine was raised in a mixed household: his mother was Christian but his father, an official of the Roman empire, was pagan. He spent his early years in what is today called Souk-Ahras, in Algeria Despite the piety of his mother Augustine abandoned Christianity at an early age attracted instead by Manichaeism a system of material dualism that claimed the human soul was like light imprisoned by darkness A precocious learner Augustine considered Christian scripture intellectually crude Inspired by Hortensius a now lost text by Cicero he mastered rhetoric and while still in his teens held a professional chair of rhetoric in Carthage Ever questioning the nature of things Augustine discarded Manichaeism for Academic Skepticism and later Neoplatonism At the age of twnenty eight he left Carthage for the Roman capital of Milan in search of better disciplined students In ...



A. K. Vinogradov

earliest of the rulers of Kush (Ancient Sudan) so far attested in written sources. The form of the name is conjectural.

Awaw is briefly referred to as an enemy in the Egyptian “Execration Texts,” compositions of magical spells meant to protect the unnamed “customer(s)” (most likely a royalty, perhaps a pharaoh) from any sort of harm made by, or expected from, any potential adversary anywhere in Egypt and/or beyond it. Exorcisms of this kind would be written in black ink on certain ritual objects (pottery vessels of various forms—bowls, platters, etc., or figurines of clay, alabaster, or limestone, representing bound prisoners), which, in the course of a mass ceremony, would be ritually broken up or otherwise damaged and buried afterward.

As several groups of finds show the Execration Texts were composed of almost stereotypes for the given group of objects formulae The variant of the text reconstructed from the sherds ...



Joyce Tyldesley

influential Egyptian courtier who served under the late Eighteenth Dynasty kings Amenhotep III, Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), and Tutankhamen. Following Tutankhamen’s untimely death, he claimed the throne, reigning for no more than four years (c.1327–1323 BCE). After his death, his name was erased from Egypt’s official history.

Ay’s parentage is unconfirmed. However, there is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that he was the brother of Queen Tiy, the commoner-born consort of Amenhotep III (reigned c. 1390–1352 BCE), and the father of Nefertiti, the commoner-born consort of Akhenaten (reigned c. 1352–1336 BCE Queen Tiy s father Yuya routinely used the title god s father which if it is to be read literally rather than as a priestly title translates as father in law of the king Ay too routinely used this title and while he makes no mention of any relationship with Nefertiti his wife claims to have been ...


ʿAziz, al-  

Christine D. Baker

fifth Fatimid caliph of Egypt, was the first of the Fatimid caliphs to begin his rule in the newly founded Fatimid capital in Cairo. Born in Mahdiyya in North Africa, he traveled to Cairo in 974 with the Fatimid court when his father, the fourth Fatimid Caliph al-Muʿizz, moved the Fatimid capital from the Maghrib to Egypt. His full name was Al-ʿAziz billah, Nizar Abu Mansur.

Al-ʿAziz became the Fatimid caliph in 975 but, as the third son of al-Muʿizz, his succession was far from assumed. Al-Muʿizz’s oldest son, Tamim, had been passed over for the succession because he was suspected of intriguing against his father with dissident members of the Fatimid court. Al-Muʿizz’s second son, ʿAbdullah, was the favored heir. But ʿAbdullah died unexpectedly in 975 and al-Muʿizz formally recognized al-ʿAziz as his successor. Al-ʿAziz came to power in December 975 when he gave the khutba Friday sermon ...