Idrisid dynasty

For the dynasty that ruled Asir, see Idrisid Emirate of Asir.
Idrisid Dynasty
Ruling dynasty of Morocco


Idrisid state, around 820 CE, showing its maximal extent.
Capital Walilli (789–808)
Fez (808–927)
Hajar an-Nasar (927–985)
Religion Zaidi Islam
Government Monarchy
Historical era Mediæval
   Established 788
   Disestablished 974
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Abbasid Caliphate
Caliphate of Cordoba

The Idrisids (Arabic: الأدارسة al-Adārisah, Berber: Idrisiyen) were an Arab[1][2] Zaydi-Shia[3] dynasty of Morocco,[4] ruling from 788 to 974. Named after the founder Idriss I, the great grandchild of Hasan ibn Ali, the Idrisids are believed by some historians[5] to be the founders of the first Moroccan state.[6]


Idrisid coin, minted at al-'Aliyah, Morocco, 840 CE.

The founder of the dynasty was Idris ibn Abdallah (788–791),[7] who traced his ancestry back to Ali ibn Abi Talib[7] and his wife Fatimah, daughter of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. After the Battle of Fakhkh, near Mecca, between the Abbasids and a Shiite party, Idris ibn Abdallah fled to the Maghreb. He first arrived in Tangier, the most important city of Morocco at the time, and by 788 he had settled in Volubilis.

The powerful Awraba Berbers of Volubilis (or Walili as the Berbers called it) took him in and made him their 'imam' (religious leader). The Awraba tribe was originally from the Tlemcen region and had supported Kusayla in his struggle against the Ummayad armies in the 670s and 680s. By the second half of the 8th century they had settled in northern Morocco, where their leader Ishak had his base in the Roman town of Volubilis. By this time the Awraba were already Muslim, but lived in an area where most tribes were either Christian, Jewish, Khariji or pagan. The Awraba seem to have welcomed a Sharifi imam as a way to strengthen their political position. Idris I, who was very active in the political organization of the Awraba, began by asserting his authority and working toward the subjugation of the Christian and Jewish tribes. In 789 he founded a settlement south east of Volubilis, called Medinat Fas. In 791 Idris I was poisoned and killed by an Abbasid agent. Even though he left no male heir, shortly after his death, his concubine Lalla Kanza bint Uqba al-Awrabi, bore him his only son and successor, Idris II. Idris' loyal Arab ex-slave and companion Rashid brought up the boy and took on himself the regency of the state, on behalf of the Awraba. In 801 Rashid was killed by the Abbasids. In the following year, at the age of 11 years, Idris II was proclaimed imam by the Awraba.

Even though he had spread his authority across much of northern Morocco, as far west as Tlemcen, Idris I had been completely dependent on the Awraba leadership. Idris II began his rule with the weakening of Awraba power by welcoming Arab settlers in Walili and by appointing two Arabs as his vizier and qadi. Thus he transformed himself from a protégé of the Awraba into their sovereign. The Awraba leader Ishak responded by plotting against his life with the Aghlabids of Tunisia. Idris reacted by having his former protector Ishak killed, and in 809 moved his seat of government from the Awraba dominated Walili to Fes, where he founded a new settlement named Al-'Aliya. Idriss II (791–828) developed the city of Fez, established earlier by his father as a Berber market town. Here he welcomed two waves of Arab immigration: one in 818 from Cordoba and another in 824 from Aghlabid Tunisia, giving Fes a more Arab character than other Maghrebi cities. When Idris II died in 828, the Idrisid state spanned from western Algeria to the Sous in southern Morocco and had become the leading state of Morocco, ahead of the principalities of Sijilmasa, Barghawata and Nekor.

The dynasty would decline following Idriss II's death and under his son and successor Muhammad (828–836) the kingdom was divided amongst seven of his brothers, whereby eight Idrisid statelets formed in Morocco and Algeria.[8] Muhammad himself came to rule Fes, with only nominal power over his brothers. During this time Islamic and Arabic culture gained a stronghold in the towns and Morocco profited from the trans-Saharan trade, which came to be dominated by Muslim (mostly Berber) traders.

Fountain at Place Nejjarine, Fez, dating from the Idrisid dynasty.

Even so, the Islamic and Arabic culture only made its influence felt in the towns, with the vast majority of Morocco's population still using the Berber languages and often adhering to Islamic heterodox and heretical doctrines. The Idrisids were principally rulers of the towns and had little power over the majority of the country's population. The Idrisid family in turn was heavily berberised, with its members aligning itself with the Zenata tribes of Morocco. Already in the 870s the family was described by Ibn Qutaybah as being berberised in customs. By the 11th century this process had developed to such an extant, that the family was fully integrated in the Berber societies of Morocco. In the 11th century the Hammudid family arose among these Berber Idrisids, which was able to gain power in several cities of northern Morocco and southern Spain.

In 868 the Berber Khariji tribes of Madyuna, Ghayata and Miknasa of the Fes region formed a common front against the Idrisids. From their base in Sefrou they were able to defeat and kill the Idrisid Ali ibn Umar and occupy Fes. His brother Yahya was able to retake the city in 880 and establish himself as the new ruler. The Idrisids attacked the Kharijis of Barghawata and Sijilmasa, and the Sunnis of Nekor multiple times, but were never able to include these territories in their state.

In 917 the Miknasa and its leader Masala ibn Habus, acting on behalf of their Fatimid allies, attacked Fes and forced Yahya ibn Idris to recognize Fatimid suzerainty, before deposing him in 921. Hassan I al-Hajam managed to wrest control of Fez from 925 until 927 but he was the last of the dynasty to hold power there. From Fes, the Miknasa began a violent hunt across Morocco for members of the Idrisid family, seeking to exterminate them. Most of the Idrisids settled among the Jbala tribes in North-west Morocco where they were protected by the reluctance of tribal elders to have the local descendants of Muhammad's family be wiped out. In the Jbala region they had a stronghold in the fortress of Hajar an-Nasar, from where they tried to restore their power base, until the last Idrisid made the mistake of switching allegiances back to the Fatimids, and was deposed and executed in 985 by the Cordobans.

The dynasty


Idrisid dynasty
Country Morocco
Parent house Sharifian
Titles Emir
Founder Idris ibn Abdellah
Cadet branches Asiri Idrisids
Hammudid dynasty
Senussi dynasty

Fatimid overlordship – (917-925)


Al-Hasan ben Kannun Abu l-Aish Ahmad Al Qasim Guennoun Fatimids Hassan I al-Hajam Fatimids Yahya ibn Idris ibn Umar Yahya ibn Al-Qassim Ali ibn Umar Yahya ibn Yahya Yahya ibn Muhammad Ali ibn Idris Muhammad ibn Idris Idriss II Idriss I


Royal house
Idrisid dynasty
Preceded by
Emirs of Morocco
Succeeded by

Umayyad overlordship
Preceded by
Umayyad dynasty
Caliphs of Cordoba
Hammudid branch

Succeeded by
Umayyad dynasty
Preceded by

Disintegration of the Caliphate of Cordoba
Taifa kings of Malaga
Hammudid branch

Succeeded by

Annexed to the Taifa of Granada
Preceded by

Disintegration of the Caliphate of Cordoba
Taifa kings of Algeciras
Hammudid branch

Succeeded by

Annexed to the Taifa of Seville
Preceded by
Marinid dynasty
Sultans of Morocco
Joutey branch

Succeeded by
Wattasid dynasty

See also

Notes and references

  1. Idrisids, Brian A. Catlos, Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, ed. Josef W. Meri, (Routledge, 2006), 381.
  2. Moroccan Feminist Discourses. Fatima Sadiqi. 2014, page 46.
  3. According to:
  4. Hodgson, Marshall (1961), Venture of Islam, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 262
  5. Per:
    • Mahjoob Zweiria & Christoph Königb, Are Shias rising in the western part of the Arab world? The case of Morocco, in: Journal of North African Studies, Volume 13, Issue 4, 2008, pages 513–529
    • Ch.-A. Julien, Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord, de la conquête arabe à 1830 - Tome II, p.44 (éd. Payot, 1961) : "Idriss Il n'était pas seulement un fondateur de villes, il fut le fondateur du premier État marocain"
    • G Joffe, Morocco: Monarchy, legitimacy and succession, in : Third World Quarterly, 1988 : "tradition (...) reaches back to the origins of the modern Moroccan state in the ninth century Idrisid dynasty which founded the venerable city of. Fes"
    • Moroccan dynastic shurfa’‐hood in two historical contexts: idrisid cult and ‘Alawid power in : The Journal of North African Studies Volume 6, Issue 2, 2001  : "The Idrisids, the founder dynasty of Fas and, ideally at least, of the modern Moroccan state (...)"
    • Ruth Cyr, Twentieth Century Africa, iUniverse, 2001 (ISBN 9780595189823), p.345: "In 788 Idris, the first Arab ruler of the whole of Morocco, united the Berbers and Arabs under his rule, creating the first Moroccan state. He founded the Idrisid dynasty that reigned for almost two hundred years."
  6. John G. Hall; Chelsea House Publishing (2002). North Africa. Infobase Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7910-5746-9.: "Some historians believe that this was the beginning of the first Moroccan state, but it did not encompass the entire area of modern-day Morocco. Certain territories remained under the control of the Umayyad emirs in southern Spain or the Fatimid empire, as well as several Berber confederacies that maintained autonomous rule in neighbouring territories"
  7. 1 2 Idris I, D. Eustache, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. III, ed. B.Lewis, V. L. Menage, C. Pellat and J. Schact, (Brill, 1986), 1031.
  8. Idrisids, D. Eustache, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. III, 1035.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Idrisid dynasty.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/15/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.