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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:What's in a Name? The Almoravids of the Eleventh Century in Western Sahara
Author:Fisher, Humphrey
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic terms:Morocco
Western Sahara
Subjects:Islamic movements
Almoravid polity
traditional polities
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1581237.pdf
Abstract:The Almoravids were a militant Muslim reform movement, which emerged among the .Sanh¯aja Berbers, particularly the Lamt¯una subgroup, of the southwestern Sahara in the mid-eleventh century. They went on to conquer northwestern Africa and Muslim Spain, before being overthrown themselves by the succeeding dynasty, the Almohads, in the mid-twelfth century. Because of this intense northern involvement, a large amount of evidence about the Almoravids has survived, including a good deal about the movement's origins in the southwestern desert, adjacent to the 'bil¯ad al-s¯ud¯an', the land of the blacks. This historical material has in turn given rise to extensive discussion and debate. The present essay carries that debate further, with specific reference to the movement's name - Almoravids in Western sources, 'al-mur¯abi.t¯un', the people of the 'rib¯a.t', in Arabic. The paper includes (in English) some of the major relevant passages from the original sources. It advances, against the primarily military explanations of the name Almoravid which are now current, the claims of another specific hypothesis, the 'rib¯a.t' as a kind of religious and educational network. In conclusion, the essay considers some of the wider implications, for Islamic and African historiography, of the uncertainty which pervades much of the data. Notes, ref.