North African Study Day: “Al-Muhallabiyyat and More”, July 27, 2023
The Muhallabids (al-Mahāliba) played a remarkable role in early Islamic history. They rose to power in the service of the Umayyads even though al-Muhallab himself was once an adherent of Ibn al-Zubayr and though the family as such, especially the women, had strong Ibāḍī connections
In 720 CE, they were crushed, but staged a spectacular come-back under the ʿAbbāsids, remaining politically prominent until the reign of al-Maʾmūn even though a fair number of them supported the revolt of Muḥammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and Ibrāhīm b. Abd Allāh.
Under the Abbasid regime, the Muhallabids were rewarded with governorships at Basra and the Ahwaz, but most prominently in Ifrīqiya. In 768 CE, Umar b. Ḥafṣ b. ʿUthmān b. Qabīṣa b. Abī Ṣufra, known as Hazārmard, was appointed to North Africa (Ifrīqiya), where he fell in action against Ibāḍīs in 770 CE. He was followed by Yazīd b. Ḥātim b. Ḳabīṣa b. al-Muhallab who moved to North Africa in 771/772 CE.
Since this time, the Muhallabids ruled in uninterrupted succession from 768 to 795 CE. Under their rule, Ifrīqiya enjoyed a period of prosperity, above all agriculture was reinvigorated by the expansion of irrigation systems. While the Muhallabids of Ifrīqiya enjoyed a great deal of autonomy. They were able to maintain Arab rule in Ifrīqiya despite revolts by the Berbers, while several kingdoms e.g. of the Arab Idrisids in Morocco and the Persian Rustamids in central Algeria formed during their reign.
The Study Day will focus the transformation, changes in as well as the integration of North Africa into the Islamic Empire with a particular focus on regional and transregional elites, especially the Muhallabids and Aghlabids. How was their rule displayed in the region and how were previous structures affected by their reign.
Amongst the speakers: Abigail Balbale (NYU), Corisande Fenwick (UCL), Kristina Richardson (University of Virginia) and Chokri Touihri (INP Tunis).
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