Alaouite dynasty

This article is about the current Moroccan royal family. For the former ruling dynasty of Egypt and Sudan, see Muhammad Ali dynasty.
Alaouite Dynasty
Country Morocco
Founded 1631
Founder Moulay Ali Cherif
Current head Mohammed VI

The Alaouite or Alawite dynasty (Arabic: سلالة العلويين الفيلاليين, Sulālat al-ʿAlawiyyīn al-Fīlālīyn) is the current Moroccan royal family. The name Alaouite comes from the ‘Alī of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib , whose descendant Sharif ibn Ali became Prince of Tafilalt in 1631. His son Mulay Al-Rashid (1664–1672) was able to unite and pacify the country. The Alaouite family claim descent from Muhammad through his daughter Fāṭimah az-Zahrah and her husband ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib.


According to tradition, the Alaouites entered Morocco at the end of the 13th century when Al Hassan Addakhil, who lived then in the town of Yanbu in the Hejaz, was brought to Morocco by the inhabitants of Tafilalet to be their imām. They were hoping that, as he was a descendant of Muhammad, his presence would help to improve their date palm crops thanks to his barakah "blessing", an Arabic term meaning a sense of charisma. His descendants began to increase their power in southern Morocco after the death of the Saʻdī ruler Ahmad al-Mansur (1578–1603). In 1669, the last Saʻdī sultan was overthrown in the conquest of Marrakesh by Mulay al-Rashid (1664–1672). After the victory over the zāwiya of Dila, who controlled northern Morocco, he was able to unite and pacify the country.

Centralized state

The organization of the sultanate developed under Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672–1727), who, against the opposition of local tribes began to create a unified state. Because the Alaouites had difficult relations with many of the country's Berber and Bedouin-Arab tribes, Isma'īl formed a new army of black slaves, the Black Guard. However, the unity of Morocco did not survive his death—in the ensuing power struggles the tribes became a political and military force once again.

Only with Muhammad III (1757–1790) could the kingdom be pacified again and the administration reorganized. A renewed attempt at centralization was abandoned, and the tribes were allowed to preserve their autonomy. Under Abderrahmane (1822–1859) Morocco fell under the influence of the European powers. When Morocco supported the Algerian independence movement of Emir Abd al-Qadir, it was defeated by the French in 1844 at the Battle of Isly and made to abandon its support.

European contact and the French Protectorate

During the reigns of Muhammad IV (1859–1873) and Hassan I (1873–1894), the Alaouites tried to foster trading links, above all with European countries and the United States. The army and administration were also modernised to improve control over the Berber and Bedouin tribes. With the war against Spain (1859–1860) came direct involvement in European affairs. Although the independence of Morocco was guaranteed at the Conference of Madrid (1880), the French gained ever greater influence. German attempts to counter this growing influence led to the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905–1906 and the Second Moroccan Crisis of 1911.

Eventually the Moroccans were forced to recognise the French Protectorate through the Treaty of Fez, signed on December 3, 1912. At the same time the Rif area of northern Morocco fell under Spanish control. Under the protectorate (1912–1956), infrastructure was invested in heavily in order to link the Atlantic coastal cities to the hinterland, thus unifying Morocco into a single economic region.

Independence Movement

The Protectorate regime faced opposition from the tribes. In 1930, the Berbers were placed under the jurisdiction of French courts, marking the beginning of the independence movement. In 1944, the Istiqlāl was founded and was supported by Sultan Muhammad V (1927–1961). France was obliged to grant Morocco independence on March 2, 1956, leaving behind a legacy of urbanization and industrial economy in some cities—on the one hand—and destruction and isolation in the areas that hosted the Berber resistance against France and Spain on the other.

List of Alaouite rulers

From 1631 to 1666 as princes of Tafilalt.

Sultan Mulay al-Rashid bin Sharif, the 1st Alaouite Sultan of Morocco, etc., b. at Sijilmasa (Rissani), Tafilalt, 1631, second son of Prince Moulay Ali Cherif of Tafilalt, educ. privately. Proclaimed at Taza, on the death of his elder half-brother as Sultan of Tafilalt, 2 August 1664. Proclaimed as Sultan of Morocco, etc. at Fez, 1666.

Under French Protectorate (1912–1956):

Restored Independence (1956 onwards):


Mohammed VI of Morocco Hassan II of Morocco Mohammed V of Morocco Mohammed Ben Aarafa Mohammed V of Morocco Yusef of Morocco Abdelhafid of Morocco Abdelaziz of Morocco Hassan I of Morocco Mohammed IV of Morocco Abderrahmane of Morocco Slimane of Morocco Yazid of Morocco Mohammed ben Abdallah Abdallah of Morocco Abdallah of Morocco Abdallah of Morocco Abdallah of Morocco Abdallah of Morocco Abdallah of Morocco Abu'l Abbas Ahmad II of Morocco Abdalmalik of Morocco Abu'l Abbas Ahmad II of Morocco Ismail Ibn Sharif Muhammad ibn Sharif Moulay Ali Cherif Kings of Morocco Tafilalt

Family tree

Moulay Ali Cherif
Mohammed I
Abdul Malek
Abdallah II
Mohammed II
Zin al-Abidin
Mohammed III
Abd al-Rahman
ibn Hicham
Mohammed IV
Hassan I
Abd al-Aziz
Abd al-Hafid
Ben Aarafa
Mohammed V
3° spouse
Lalla Bahia
1° spouse
Lalla Abla bint Tahar
Fatima Zahra
Hassan II
2° spouse
Lalla Latifa Hammou
Mohammed VI
Lalla Salma
Crown Prince

See also


    Further reading

    External links

    Royal house
    House of Alaoui
    Preceded by
    Saadi Dynasty
    Ruling house of Morocco
    1666 – present
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