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Idrisid dynasty

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

The Idrisids (Arabic: الأدارسةal-Adārisah, Berber: Idrisiyen) were a Zaydi-Shia[1][2][3][4][5] dynasty of Morocco,[6] ruling from 788 to 974. Named after the founder Idriss I, the great grandchild of Hasan ibn Ali, the Idrisids are traditionally regarded as the founders of the Moroccan state.[7]


  • History 1
  • The dynasty 2
    • Rulers 2.1
    • Timeline 2.2
    • Offshoots 2.3
  • See also 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • Sources 5
  • External links 6


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

The founder of the dynasty was Idris ibn Abdallah (788–791), who traced his ancestry back to Ali ibn Abi Talib and his wife Fatimah, daughter of the 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 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.

Under his son and successor Muhammad (828–836) the kingdom was divided amongst eight brothers, whereby nine Idrisid statelets formed in Morocco and Algeria. 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.

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 language 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 the Prophet 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)



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
Succeeded by

Annexed to the Taifa of Seville
Preceded by
Marinid dynasty

Succeeded by
Wattasid dynasty

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Ibn Abī Zarʻ al-Fāsī, ʻAlī ibn ʻAbd Allāh (1340),  
  2. ^ Introduction to Islamic theology and law, By Ignác Goldziher, Bernard Lewis, pg.218
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 24, By James Hastings, pg.844
  4. ^ The Idrisids
  5. ^ Shi'ah tenets concerning the question of the imamate
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mahjoob Zweiria & Christoph Königb, "Are Shias rising in the western part of the Arab world? The case of Morocco", Journal of North African Studies, Volume 13, Issue 4, 2008, pages 513–529.


  • Ibn Abi Zar, Rawd al-Qirtas (contains a chronicle of the dynasty).
  • Charles-André Julien, Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord, des origines à 1830, Payot 1994.

External links

  • (English) (2008)qantara-med.orgY. Benhima, "The Idrisids (789- 974)" in
  • (French) (Edisud 2001)Encyclopédie berbère, vol.24C. El Briga, "Idrisides", in
  • (English) (2007)Encyclopædia BritannicaB. Duignan, "Idrīsid dynasty", in
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