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Abdallah al-Ghalib

Abdallah al-Ghalib
Sultan of Morocco
Reign 1557–74
Successor Abdallah Mohammed
Born 1517
Died 22 January 1574
Religion Islam
Abdallah al-Ghalib built the Ben Youssef Madrasa.

Abdallah al-Ghalib Billah (1517 – 22 January 1574, reigned 1557–74) was the second Saadian sultan of Morocco.

He came to power to the throne as the legal heir of Mohammed ash-Sheikh. From his first wife this first Saadian sultan, Mohammed ash-Sheikh had had three sons, but the two oldest had died (in 1550 and in 1551). Abdallah, the third, was 40 years old when he became sultan and received the name al-Ghalib Billah. Before that he had been vice-king of Marrakesh and governor of Fes.

Shortly thereafter three of his younger brothers fled the country and joined the Ottoman Turks: Abd al-Malik and Ahmad, both future Sultans of Morocco, spent 17 years in exile in the Ottoman Empire, between the Regency of Algiers and Constantinople, where they received Ottoman training.[1]

During a relatively peaceful reign Abdallah succeeded in warding off both the Spanish and the Turks and in consolidating the sovereignty of Saadians over Morocco.

He fought the invading Turks in 1558 at the Battle of Wadi al-Laban and drove them out of the country.[2] The Moroccan ruler had formed an alliance with the Spanish against the Ottomans.[2] After his victory he even occupied Tlemcen for a short period.

In 1568 he supported the insurrection of the Moriscos in Spain. Abdallah al-Ghalib Billah died on 22 January 1574 of an asthma attack. After his reign a period of civil war was to follow that lasted four years. Marrakech had been his residency. He gave the city the Muassin mosque, a maristan (a hospital usually attached to a mosque) and the Ben Youssef Medrassa. He also reconstructed the al-Mansouria mosque.

He was succeeded by his son Abdallah Mohammed, despite a Saadian inheritance rule that attributed the throne to his younger brother next in line, the exiled Abd al-Malik.


  1. ^ by Frank Ronald Charles Bagley, Hans Joachim Kissling p.103The last great Muslim empires: history of the Muslim world
  2. ^ a b ff by Jamil M. Abun-Nasr p.157A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period

See also

Preceded by
Mohammed ash-Sheikh
Saadi Dynasty
Succeeded by
Abu Abdallah Mohammed II

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