Unlike the indigenous Maghrawa of today's Morocco, the Miknasa Berbers originated in southern Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia), but migrated westwards into central Morocco and western Algeria in pre-Islamic times. The modern Moroccan city of Meknes, which took its name from them, bears witness to their presence, as does the Spanish town of Mequinenza.
After defeat by the Umayyads, many of the Miknasa converted to Islam. In 711, members of the tribe took part in the conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom under Tariq ibn Ziyad. They settled north of Córdoba and in the 11th century founded the Aftasid dynasty in Badajoz.
Another group of the Miknasa took part in the successful massive Berber Revolt led by Maysara Amteghri in 739-742 against the Umayyad Arabs, and managed to wipe out the Umayyad Arab presence in Morocco and Algeria. The Berber principality Banu Midrar is named after Abul-Qasim Samku ibn Wasul, nicknamed Midrar, a Miknasa Berber who was said to take part in the Berber Revolt. The Miknasa adopted Kharijism-Islam and established the Emirate of Sijilmasa, under the Midrarid dynasty, on the northern edge of the Sahara in 757. This became very wealthy as the western end-point of the Trans-Saharan trade route with the Sudan. In alliance with the Caliphate of Córdoba, it was able to fight off the attacks of the Fatimids. However, when the Miknasa chief Al-Mutazz allied himself with the Fatimids, the Miknasa were driven out of Sijilmasa by the Maghrawa, who were allies of the Umayyads.
A further group of Miknasa were allied with the Fatimids against the Umayyads, and overthrew the Rustamids of Tahert in 912 and drove the Salihids from northern Morocco in 917. But they could not maintain their resistance to the Magrawa in northern Morocco permanently, and, weakened by the struggle, they were subdued by the Almoravids in the 11th century.
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