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Abu, al-Qasim  

Allen J. Fromherz

Egyptian author and historian, was born in Cairo. A famed historian and writer of the Futuh Misr, or the Conquest of Egypt the oldest preserved work on the subject Abu al Qasim ʿAbd al Rahman bin ʿAbd Allah Ibn ʿAbd al Hakam is also known for his description of the Muslim conquest of North Africa and Iberia Abu al Qasim was a member of a prominent Egyptian family of legal scholars His father ʿAbd Allah wrote a refutation of al Shafiʿi the famed founder of the Shafiʿi school of Islamic law and was brought to Baghdad to swear to the createdness of the Qurʾan He refused and was sent back to Egypt by the caliph al Maʾmun Indeed despite their wealth and initial prominence the ʿAbd al Hakam family was often persecuted for standing up for their principles especially for the preservation of traditional Maliki law an early ...


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 ...



Stuart Munro-Hay

“Pride of the entire universe and jewel of kings,” Aksum ruled an ancient Ethiopian kingdom in a time remembered as a golden age of African civilization. This was true in a very literal sense: Aksumite kings issued a splendid gold coinage at a time when few other economies needed such a sophisticated currency or could have afforded it. The kings also marked their tombs with magnificent stone pillars, or stelae. The tallest of these stelae were the largest stone monuments erected in the ancient world, surpassing in height even the obelisks of the Egyptian pharaohs.

The site of Aksum offered access to important international trade routes, as well as to the basic essentials of water and agricultural land. The city rose to power by using wealth gained from the control of trade to conquer other peoples who lived on the Ethiopian plateau, as far as the seacoast in Eritrea ...



The origin of the movement is traced to Muhammad ibn Tumart, an Arab reformer in Morocco who preached moral reform and the doctrine of the unity of divine being. He gathered a large following of Arabs and Berbers and in 1121 was proclaimed Al Mahdi (“The Rightly Guided”). The founder of the dynasty was the Berber Abd al-Mumin, who succeeded Ibn Tumart and took the title of caliph. He conquered Morocco (1140–1147) and other parts of North Africa, thus putting an end to the previous dynasty of the Almoravids By 1154 he also ruled Islamic Spain and part of Portugal Notable among successive Almohad rulers was Yakub al Mansur who ruled in Spain from 1184 until his death He aided the sultan Saladin against the crusaders and was responsible for the construction of numerous architectural monuments such as the the Hassan Tower a 55 m 180 ft ...



Between 1053 and 1061 a large part of northwestern Africa was under the rule of a dynasty that began as an Islamic religious movement espousing a return to a more ascetic form of Islam Leadership of the movement in the western Maghreb passed to Yusuf ibn Tashfin a Berber chieftain ...


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 ...



Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd, more commonly known as Averroës, was born in Córdoba, Spain. His father, a judge in Córdoba, instructed him in Muslim jurisprudence. In his native city he also studied theology, philosophy, and mathematics under the Arab philosopher Ibn Tufayl and medicine under the Arab physician Avenzoar. Averroës was appointed judge in Seville in 1169 and in Córdoba in 1171; in 1182 he became chief physician to Abu Yaqub Yusuf, the Almohad caliph of Morocco and Muslim Spain. Averroës's view that reason takes precedence over religion led to his being exiled in 1195 by Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur; he was restored to favor shortly before his death.

Averroës held that metaphysical truths can be expressed in two ways: through philosophy, as represented by the views of Aristotle and through religion which is truth presented in a ...



Roy E. Finkenbine

a former slave who achieved renown in the era of the American Revolution by laying claim to a portion of the wealth of her former master's estate, was born in the region of West Africa known as the Gold Coast (later Ghana). Her early years were spent in a village on the Volta River. According to her later memories, it was an Edenic existence. However, when she was about age twelve, the Atlantic slave trade shattered this bucolic world. She was captured in a slaving raid, permanently separated from her parents, marched overland to the coast, and sold to European slave traders. For several weeks she endured the horrific Middle Passage with some three hundred other Africans in chains, who were “suffering the most excruciating torment” (Carretta, 143).

In about 1732, after six or seven years in North America, Belinda became the slave of Isaac Royall Jr. a ...


Burzuli, Abu al-Qasim al-  

Russell Hopley

jurist, was born in al-Qayrawan in southern Tunisia to a family that originated among the Banu Birzal tribe of Zenata Berbers. His full name was Abu ʾl-Qasim b. Ah.mad b. Muh.ammad al-Balawi al-Qayrawani al-Burzuli.

Burzuli received his early education in al Qayrawan where he pursued a traditional course of study in the Islamic sciences and showed considerable promise in the field of Islamic law Central to his training in jurisprudence was the eminent theologian Ibn ʿArafa d 1401 who played a significant role in the elaboration of the Maliki school of Islamic law in North Africa in the fourteenth century Burzuli likewise received a firm grounding in the various fields of Islamic learning at the hand of several influential scholars from al Qayrawan among them Abu Muh ammad al Shabibi d 1380 an important jurist with whom Burzuli served a lengthy apprenticeship and from whom he learned the skill of ...



Robert Fay

Cleopatra VII was the second daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes, the king of Egypt. Although born in Alexandria, Egypt, she was a member of the dynasty of the Ptolemies. Ptolemy Soter, the dynasty’s founder, had come from the Greek-speaking region of Macedonia with Alexander the Great and established a kingdom in Egypt after Alexander’s death in 323 b.c.e. Upon her father’s death, Cleopatra became queen in 51 b.c.e., at the age of eighteen, ruling with her fifteen-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII. Fluent in Egyptian, unlike previous Ptolemies, Cleopatra sought to strengthen her support among Egyptians by claiming she was the daughter of Ra, the Egyptian sun god.

Encouraged by his advisers Ptolemy XIII exiled Cleopatra and claimed the throne as his own Cleopatra assembled an army from Syria but could not assert her claim to the throne until the Roman ruler Julius Caesar arrived Cleopatra aimed to restore ...


Cleopatra: An Interpretation  

Mary Hamer

“Cleopatra was an Egyptian woman who made herself into an object of gossip for the whole world,” or so Boccaccio, the Renaissance humanist, wanted his readers to believe. But Boccaccio formed his opinion of her from classical Roman writers, and Cleopatra was the enemy of Rome. She was the last pharaoh of Egypt, but when Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 b.c.e. she was living in great state in Rome. Cleopatra was Caesar’s lover and she had a son by him. Twenty years later she would join Mark Antony in his opposition to Octavian (later known as Caesar Augustus). Together they would make a bid to establish an eastern empire to rival Rome.

Issues of politics and desire are at stake in representing Cleopatra In her image they are fascinatingly entwined and collapsed into each other which is one reason why the figure of Cleopatra has survived so strongly ...


Fasi, Abu ʿImran al-  

Russell Hopley

, North African jurist, was born in the city of Fez to a prominent Arab family known as the Banu Abi Hajj. His full name was Abu ʿImran Musa bin ʿ Isa bin Abi Hajj Bubuj al-Ghafajumi al-Fasi.

Al Fasi undertook his early education in al Qayrawan at the hand of a number of prominent scholars of Islamic law including the eminent Maliki jurist Abu ʾl Hasan al Qabisi d 1012 Upon the death of al Qabisi it is said that al Fasi spent the following month mourning over the grave of his former teacher during which time he appeared to al Fasi in a dream enjoining him to return to al Qayrawan to take up a career in teaching He subsequently traveled to Cordoba in Muslim Spain to pursue his studies with several Andalusian luminaries including Jafar al Asili d 1001 a legal scholar who had earlier played a ...


Ghana, Early Kingdom of  

Ancient Ghana was important in the ninth century c.e.. when it controlled the Wangara area (between the upper Niger and Senegal rivers), which produced great quantities of gold for trade across the Sahara. Slaves were also traded with the gold, in return for salt from Teghaza in the desert and cloth from North Africa.

In the eleventh century the kingdom of Ghana was described by the Islamic historian al Bakri c 1000 Raised in Muslim Spain al Bakri wrote historico geographical surveys of West African kingdoms and empires in Arabic albeit from a distance He never traveled south of the Sahara but instead contented himself with the reports of trans Saharan traders and explorers Nonetheless Ghana was at the apex of its power during the years al Bakri performed most of his investigations and it was he who claimed that it was so rich in gold that dogs ...


Hadrami, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Muradi al-  

Russell Hopley

North African Islamic theologian and jurist, was born in the city of al-Qayrawan to an Arab family with origins in the Hadramawt region of southern Arabia. His nisba al-Muradi further suggests a lineage among the Madhij Bedouin of Maʾrib in the Yemen. Al-Hadrami received his early education in al-Qayrawan, where he was able to study with a number of luminaries, including the influential jurist Abu ʿImran al-Fasi (d. 1039). He quickly drew the notice of his teachers for his formidable intellect and impressive command of the Arabic language. Al-Hadrami subsequently departed al-Qayrawan, possibly prompted by the Bedouin invasions of the mid-eleventh century, and took up residence in the Moroccan city of Aghmat, southeast of Marrakech. Here, he embarked on a career teaching the Islamic sciences, and he is known to have produced at least one student of note, the theologian Abu al-Hajjaj Yusuf bin Musa al-Kalbi al-Darir (d. 1126).

It ...


Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani  

Russell Hopley

Tunisian jurist, was born in the Tunisian city of al-Qayrawan to a wealthy family originally from the large tribal confederation of the Nafzawa. His full name was Abu Muhammad ʿAbd Allah ibn Abi Zayd ʿAbd al-Rahman al-Nafzawi ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani.

Ibn Abi Zayd undertook his early studies in al-Qayrawan, where he quickly gained the recognition of his peers for his intelligence, generosity, and piety. He was fortunate to be able to study with a number of luminaries in a variety of fields, among them Ibn al-Labbad (d. 944) in the area of Islamic jurisprudence, and al-Kanishi (d. 958), from whom he received an extensive education in classical Arabic poetry and adab Ibn Abi Zayd undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca while still a young man and it was during his travels in the cultural capitals of the Islamic east that he came into contact with several important intellectual currents ...


Ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili  

Russell Hopley

historian and jurist, was born in Tadla in the region north of the Moroccan High Atlas. His full name was Abu Yaʿqub Yusuf ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili. As a young man, al-Tadili was a follower of the venerated twelfth-century Moroccan mystic Abu ʾl-ʿAbbas al-Sabti (d. 1204). He received an education in the various fields of Islamic law, and he subsequently accepted the position of qadi among the Ragraga Berbers west of Marrakesh. Al-Tadili is best known for the hagiographical collection he authored, the Tashawwuf ila rijal al-tasawwuf, that includes biographical notices on 279 holy men and mystics who lived in North Africa from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. Most of the mystics dealt with in the Tashawwuf were active in southern Morocco; however, there are several notices concerning prominent holy men from Fez, Meknes, Ceuta, Tlemcen, and Bijaya. Al-Tadili remarks in the prologue to the Tashawwuf that his ...


Ibn Battutah  

Barbara Worley

Like the majority of North Africans, Ibn Battutah (whose full name was Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn’Abd Allah al-Lawati at-Tanji ibn Battutah) was ethnic Berber, and his family traced its ancestry to the nomadic Luwata ethnic group originating in Cyrenaica west of the Nile Delta. Born into the Muslim religious elite in Tangier, Morocco, he would have received a classical literary education in addition to rigorous studies in Islam.

Ibn Battutah wrote poetry in addition to traveling across Africa, Arabia, Asia Minor, India, and China. Most important of his works are his descriptions of the life and culture of peoples of the Niger Basin and Central Sahara, among the earliest and by far the most detailed. After Ibn Battutah returned from his voyages he recounted his observations to Ibn Juzayy, who recorded and edited them at Fès, in Morocco.

At the age of twenty-one, Ibn Battutah set out on ...


‘Iyad, Musa ibn ‘Amrun al-Yahsubi al-Sabti  

Russell Hopley

jurist, historian, and litterateur, was born in the city of Sabta (present-day Ceuta) to an Arab family with origins in the Yemen. ‘Iyad's training in the various branches of Islamic learning was remarkably thorough. He undertook his early education in Sabta at the hand of several scholars, including the jurist ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Isa and the faqih ‘Ali Abu Ishaq al-Fasi. He then traveled to al-Andalus, and there exists notice that he studied there with no fewer than a hundred scholars, among them several leading figures of the age, including the traditionist Abu ‘Ali al-Sadafi of Murcia (d. 1120/21), the jurist Abu al-Walid ibn Rushd of Cordoba (d. 1126), and the religious scholar and jurist Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi of Seville (d. 1148).

Unlike many of his fellow North Africans it appears that Iyad never made the journey to ...


Kaabu, Early Kingdom of  

Eric Young

Founded by Tiramakhan Traoré, a general of the Mali empire, the Mandinka kingdom of Kaabu ruled the area that is presently known as northeastern Guinea-Bissau and southeastern Senegal from 1250 to 1867 For six centuries Kaabu dominated small chiefdoms throughout the region and enslaved their inhabitants Initially the kingdom remained a dependency of Mali Kaabu expanded slowly many groups fled to the coastal lowlands while others resisted Mandinka dominance The kingdom was an important source of salt gold and slaves for Mali The kingdom was socially stratified with royal succession by matrilineal descent In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries Songhai assaults on Mali enabled Kaabu to assert its independence At the same time the Portuguese and other European slave traders demanded an increasing volume of slaves for the transatlantic slave trade Kaabu expanded considerably through warfare that was intended to capture slaves for export At its ...



Elizabeth Heath

The kingdom of Kong originated as a small trading settlement in the eleventh or twelfth century c.e.. It eventually became the center of a kingdom whose influence reached as far as Djenné in present-day Mali. It reached its pinnacle in the eighteenth century. Warfare between the Malinke empire builder Samory Touré and the French destroyed the city and its kingdom at the end of the nineteenth century.

Kong emerged as a trading center when Mande merchants began trading in the territory of the surrounding Senufo people. In the late fifteenth century a wave of Dyula traders moved to the area and brought with them their trading skills and connections Kong became an increasingly important market for the exchange of northern desert goods such as salt and cloth and southern forest exports such as kola nuts gold and slaves As Kong grew prosperous from trade its early rulers ...