The Zirid dynasty (Arabic: زيريون /ALA-LC: Zīryūn; Banu Ziri or الدولة الزيرية: al-dawlat alzayria) was a Sanhaja Berber dynasty from modern-day Algeria which ruled the central Maghreb from 972 to 1014 and Ifriqiya (eastern Maghreb) from 972 to 1148.
Zirid territory (green) at its maximum extent around the year 980
|Status||Vassals of the Fatimid Caliphate (972–1048) |
|Capital||Achir (before 1014), Kairouan (from 1014 to 1057),|
Mahdia (after 1057)
|Common languages||Berber (primary), Maghrebi Arabic, African Latin, Hebrew|
|Religion||Islam (Shia Islam, Sunni, Ibadi), Christianity (Roman Catholicism), Judaism|
|Buluggin ibn Ziri|
|Abu'l-Hasan al-Hasan ibn Ali|
Descendants of Ziri ibn Menad, a military leader of the Cairo-based Fatimid Caliphate and the eponymous founder of the dynasty, the Zirids were Emirs who ruled in the name of the Fatimids. The Zirids gradually established their autonomy in Ifriqiya through military conquest until officially breaking with the Fatimids in the mid-11th century. The rule of the Zirid emirs opened the way to a period in North African history where political power was held by Berber dynasties such as the Almoravid dynasty, Almohad Caliphate, Zayyanid dynasty, Marinid Sultanate and Hafsid dynasty.
Continuing their conquests to Fez and much of modern-day Morocco in 980, the Zirids encountered resistance from the local Zenata Berbers, who gave their allegiance to the Caliphate of Cordoba. Various Zirid branches did however rule the central Maghreb and during their reign the Zirids were able to gain control over territories from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to Ajdabiya in Libya as well as control over territory in Spain and suzerainty over the Emirate of Sicily. One branch of the Zirids, at the beginning of the 11th century, following various family disputes, broke away as the Hammadids and took control of the territories of the central Maghreb. The Zirids proper were then designated as Badicides and occupied only Ifriqiyah between 1048 and 1148. Part of the dynasty fled to al-Andalus and later founded, in 1019, the Taifa of Granada on the ruins of the Caliphate of Cordoba. The Zirids of Granada were again defeated by the expansion of the Almoravids, who annexed their kingdom in 1090, while the Badicides and the Hammadids remained independent. Following the recognition of the Sunni Muslim Abbasid Caliphate and the assertion of Ifriqiya and the Central Maghreb as independent kingdoms of Sunni obedience in 1048, the Fatimids reportedly masterminded the migration of the Hilalians to the Maghreb. In the 12th century, the Hilalian invasions combined with the attacks of the Normans of Sicily on the littoral weakened Zirid power. The Almohad Caliphate finally conquered the central Maghreb and Ifriqiya in 1152, thus unifying the whole of the Maghreb and ending the Zirid dynasties.
The Zirids were Sanhaja Berbers originating from the area of modern Algeria. In the 10th century this tribe served as vassals of the Fatimid Caliphate, defeating the Kharijite rebellion of Abu Yazid (943-947), under Ziri ibn Manad (935-971). Ziri was installed as the governor of central Maghreb and founded the gubernatorial residence (his capital) at Ashir, south-east of Algiers, with Fatimid support. In 959 Ziri successfully conquered Fez and Sijilmasa in Morocco. On his return home he paraded the amir of Fez as well as the “Caliph” Ibn Wasul of Sijilmasa in cages in a very humiliating manner.
When the Fatimids moved their capital to Egypt in 972, Ziri's son Buluggin ibn Ziri (971-984) was appointed viceroy of Ifriqiya. He conquered Fez and held most of Morocco by 980. Most of Morocco which was obtained through the conquest by Jawhar the Sicilian, Ziri Ibn Manad and a Sanhaja army, had already previously been under the rule of the Zirids after the Fatimids left the eastern Maghreb to the Bani Ziri, this lasted until it was taken by an Umayyad general in 973. Buluggin ibn Ziri had also led a successful expedition to Barghawata in which he brought back a large number of Moroccan slaves; when his lieutenant paraded them in the streets the people of Ifriqiya were shocked as they had never seen such a large number of slaves before. In 984 Buluggin died in Sijilmasa from an illness and his successor decided to abandon Morocco in 985.> The removal of the fleet to Egypt made the retention of Kalbid Sicily impossible, while Algeria broke away under the governorship of Hammad ibn Buluggin, Buluggin's son.
The relationship with their Fatimid overlords varied - in 1016 thousands of Shiites lost their lives in rebellions in Ifriqiya, and the Fatimids encouraged the defection of Tripolitania from the Zirids, but nevertheless the relationship remained close. In 1049 the Zirids broke away completely by adopting Sunni Islam and recognizing the Abbasids of Baghdad as rightful Caliphs, a move which was popular with the urban Arabs of Kairouan.
The Zirid period of Tunisia is considered a high point in its history, with agriculture, industry, trade and learning, both religious and secular, all flourishing, especially in their capital, Kairouan. Management of the area by later Zirid rulers was neglectful as the agricultural economy declined, prompting an increase in banditry among the rural population.
When the Zirids renounced Shia Islam and recognized the Abbasid Caliphate in 1048, the Fatimids sent the Arab tribes of the Banu Hilal and the Banu Sulaym to Ifriqiya. The Zirids were defeated, and the land laid waste by the Bedouin conquerors. The resulting anarchy devastated the previously flourishing agriculture, and the coastal towns assumed a new importance as conduits for maritime trade and bases for piracy against Christian shipping, as well as being the last holdout of the Zirids.
After the loss of Kairouan (1057) the rule of the Zirids was limited to a coastal strip with Mahdia as the capital, while several Bedouin Emirates formed inland. In 1087, the Zirid capital, Mahdia, was sacked by the Pisans. According to Ettinghausen, Grabar, and Jenkins-Madina, the Pisa Griffin is believed to have been part of the spoils taken during the sack. Between 1146 and 1148 the Normans of Sicily conquered all the coastal towns, and in 1152 the last Zirids in Algeria were superseded by the Almohad Caliphate.
The Zirid period was a time of great economic prosperity. The departure of the Fatimids to Cairo, far from ending this prosperity, saw its amplification under the Zirid and Hammadid rulers. Referring to the government of the Zirid Emir al-Mu'izz, the historian Ibn Khaldun reports: "It [has] never [been] seen by the Berbers of that country a kingdom more vast and more flourishing than his own." The northern regions produced wheat in large quantities, while the region of Sfax was a major hub of olive production and the cultivation of the date was an important part of the local economy in Biskra. Other crops such as sugar cane, saffron, cotton, sorghum, millet and chickpea were grown. The breeding of horses and sheep flourished and fishing provided plentiful food. The Mediterranean was also an important part of the economy, even though it was, for a time, abandoned after the departure of the Fatimids, when the priority of the Zirid Emirs turned to territorial and internal conflicts. Their maritime policy enabled them to establish trade links, in particular for the importation of the timber necessary for their fleet, and enabled them to begin an alliance and very close ties with the Kalbid Emirs of Sicily. They did, however, face blockade attempts by the Venetians and Normans, who sought to reduce their wood supply and thus their dominance in the region.
The Arab chronicler Ibn Hawqal visited and described the city of Algiers in the Zirid era: "The city of Algiers is built on a gulf and surrounded by a wall. It contains a large number of bazaars and a few sources of good water near the sea. It is from these sources that the inhabitants draw the water they drink. In the outbuildings of this town are very extensive countryside and mountains inhabited by several tribes of the Berbers. The chief wealth of the inhabitants consists of herds of cattle and sheep grazing in the mountains. Algiers supplies so much honey that it forms an export object, and the quantity of butter, figs and other commodities is so great that it is exported to Kairouan and elsewhere".
The regnal dates of rulers are indicated first according to the Islamic calendar and then with the corresponding Gregorian dates in parentheses.
- Ziri ibn Manad d. 360 AH (971 CE)
- Abul-Futuh Sayf ad-Dawla Buluggin ibn Ziri 361-373 AH (972-984 CE)
- Abul-Fat'h al-Mansur ibn Buluggin 373-386 AH (984-996 CE)
- Abu Qatada Nasir ad-Dawla Badis ibn Mansur 386-406 AH (996-1016 CE)
- Sharaf ad-Dawla al-Muizz ibn Badis 406-454 AH (1016–1062 CE) declared independence from the Fatimids and changed the khutba to refer to the Abbasid Caliph in 1048, changed capital to Mahdia in 1057 after Kairouan was lost to the Banu Hilal
- Abu Tahir Tamim ibn al-Mu'izz 454-501 AH (1062–1108 CE)
- Yahya ibn Tamim 501-509 AH (1108–1116 CE)
- Ali ibn Yahya 509-515 AH (1116–1121 CE)
- Abu'l-Hasan al-Hasan ibn Ali 515-543 AH (1121–1148 CE)
Offshoots of the Zirid dynasty
Zirids of Granada
The Zirids were also the ruling dynasty of the Taifa of Granada, a Berber kingdom in Al-Andalus. The founder was the brother of Buluggin, Zawi ben Ziri, a general of the Caliphate of Córdoba under Caliph Hisham II.
After the death of Almanzor in Medinaceli on 12 August 1002 (25 Ramadan 392), a civil war broke out in Al-Andalus, and General Zawi ibn Ziri destroyed several cities, such as Medina Azahara in 1011 and Córdoba in 1013. He founded the Taifa of Granada and the city of Granada itself, and then declared himself its first emir. He died of poison in Algiers in 1019.
In 1013 the Zirids founded the Albaicín District in Granada which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. During the rule of Zawi, an Umayyad pretender al-Murtada attempted to conquer Granada, however he was defeated.
During the reign of Badis Ibn Habus he defeated the Abbadids of Seville one of the strongest taifas and also defeated the taifa of Almeria and took control of it’s territory. He also defeated the Hammudids and conquered the Taifa of Malaga.
The arts and civil construction under the rule of the Zirid governors and emirs in Al-Andalus, mainly in the Taifa of Granada, were very important. An example is the Cadima Alcazaba in Albayzin, Granada, and part of the old wall surrounding Granada.
— Royal house —
|Direct Fatimid rule over central Maghreb and Ifriqya|| Emir of Maghreb
vassal of the Fatimids
972 – 1048
|Independence from the Fatimid Caliphate|
|Maghreb under Zirids (972-1048)|| Emirs of Ifriqiya
(loss of central Maghreb to the benefit of Hammadids)
1048 – 1148
|Secession from the Zirid Emirate of Ifriqiya|| Emirs of central Maghreb
1014 – 1152
|New title|| Emirs of Granada
1013 – 1090
| Emirs of Malaga|
1058 – 1090
- Phillip C. Naylor (15 January 2015). North Africa, Revised Edition: A History from Antiquity to the Present. University of Texas Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-292-76190-2.
- "Zirid Dynasty | Muslim dynasty". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- Idris H. Roger, L'invasion hilālienne et ses conséquences, in : Cahiers de civilisation médiévale (43), Jul.-Sep. 1968, pp.353-369. 
- Julien, Charles-André (1 January 1994). Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord: des origines à 1830 (in French). Payot. p. 295. ISBN 9782228887892.
- محمد،, صلابي، علي محمد (1998). الدولة العبيدية في ليبيا (in Arabic). دار البيارق،.
- "Qantara - Les Zirides et les Hammadides (972-1152)". www.qantara-med.org. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- Hrbek, Ivan; Africa, Unesco International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of (1 January 1992). Africa from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century. J. Currey. p. 172. ISBN 9780852550939.
- Meynier, Gilbert (1 January 2010). L'Algérie, coeur du Maghreb classique: de l'ouverture islamo-arabe au repli (698-1518) (in French). La Découverte. p. 158. ISBN 9782707152312.
- Simon, Jacques (1 January 2011). L'Algérie au passé lointain: de Carthage à la régence d'Alger (in French). Harmattan. p. 165. ISBN 9782296139640.
- Trudy Ring; Noelle Watson; Paul Schellinger (5 March 2014). Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-134-25986-1.
- The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3 - J.D. Fage
- Excavations at Surt (Medinat Al-Sultan) Between 1977 and 1981 Géza Fehérvári Department of Antiquities, 2002
- The Zīrids of Granada Andrew Handler University of Miami Press, 1974
- Idris, Hady Roger (1968). "L'invasion hilālienne et ses conséquences". Cahiers de civilisation médiévale. 11 (43): 353–369. doi:10.3406/ccmed.1968.1452.
- Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1 January 2004). The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 37–38. ISBN 9780748621378.
- Ettinghausen, Grabar & Jenkins-Madina 2001, p. 188.
- Heinz Halm (1996). Der Nahe und Mittlere Osten. BRILL. p. 399. ISBN 90-04-10056-3.
- Messier, Ronald A.; Miller, James A. (2015). The Last Civilized Place: Sijilmasa and Its Saharan Destiny. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292766655
- Pellat, Charles (1991). "Midrār". In Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E. & Pellat, Ch. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VI: Mahk–Mid. Leiden: E. J. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-08112-3
- North Africa, Revised Edition: A History from Antiquity to the PresentBy Phillip C. Naylor
- Page 3 - The Almoravids and the Meanings of JihadBy Ronald A. Messier
- A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Periodedited by Jamil M. Abun-Nasr
- Hady Roger, Idris (1962). La berbérie oriental sous les Zirides (PDF). Adrien-Maisonneuve. pp. 57 58.
- Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong; Henry Louis Gates (2 February 2012). Dictionary of African Biography. OUP USA. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-19-538207-5.
- Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Placesedited by Trudy Ring, Noelle Watson, Paul Schellinger
- Tibi 2002, p. 514.
- Berry, LaVerle. "Fatamids". Libya: A Country Study. Library of Congress. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Brill, E.J. (1987). "Fatamids". Libya: Encyclopedia of Islam. Library of Congress. ISBN 9004082654. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Ettinghausen, Grabar & Jenkins-Madina 2001, p. 210.
- Ettinghausen, Grabar & Jenkins-Madina 2001, p. 302.
- Sénac, Philippe; Cressier, Patrice (10 October 2012). Histoire du Maghreb médiéval: VIIe-XIe siècle (in French). Armand Colin. p. 150. ISBN 9782200283421.
- "Islamic art from museums around the world". Arab News. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- Talbi, M. (24 April 2012). "Ibn S̲h̲addād". Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition.
- Idris, H.R. (1962). Le berbérie orientale sous les Zīrīdes: Xe-XIIe siècles. Paris: Librarie d'Amérique et d'Orient. pp. 831–833.
- Breve historia de al-Ándalus Ana Martos Rubio Ediciones Nowtilus S.L.,
- Crónica de la España musulmana p.35 Leopoldo Torres Balbás Instituto de España
- El Albaicín: paraíso cerrado, conflicto urbano p.178 Antonio Malpica Cuello Diputación Provincial de Granada
- Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors: Faith, Power, and Violence in the Age of Crusade and Jihad Brian A. Catlos Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
- España musulmana: hasta la caída del Califato de Córdoba, 711-1031 de J.C., Volume 4
- The Zīrids of Granada - Andrew Handler University of Miami Press, 1974
- Ibn ?azm of Cordoba: The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker
- Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain
- "Zirid Dynasty - Muslim dynasty". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- Tibi, Amin (2002). "Zirids". The Encyclopaedia of Islam. XI. Brill.
- Ettinghausen, Richard; Grabar, Oleg; Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn, eds. (2001). Islamic Art and Architecture, 650-1250. Yale University Press.
- Zirid Dynasty Encyclopædia Britannica
- Historical map showing location of Zirid Kingdom c. 1000