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(869 words)

Author(s): Norris, H.T.
, the name given to a part Saharan, part-Sahelian tribe or people, who inhabit parts of the Republics of the Sūdān and Chad. They appear in the mediaeval Arabic sources and in more recent travel and anthropological literature in three distinct contexts: (a) A pagan, albeit superficially Islamised, divine monarchy, which held sway within the existing territories of Wadai (Wādāy) and Kanem. E.W. Bovill, in his Caravans of the Old Sahara , Oxford and London 1933, remarked (264) that “Probably no event in the history of the Western Sudan had more …


(8,593 words)

Author(s): Norris, H.T. | Chalmeta, P.
(a.), known in European usage as the Almoravids , a dynasty of Berber origin which ruled in North Africa and then Spain during the second half of the 5th/11th century and the first half of the 6th/12th century before being replaced by another Berber dynasty, that of the Almohads or al-Muwaḥḥidūn [ q.v.]. The Almoravids are mentioned in the anonymous 12th century Troubadour song Chevalier , mult estes guariz: “Quant Deu a vus fait sa clamur Des Turs e des Amoraviz”, “Knights, your salvation is assured since God has appealed to you to take Hi…

Māʾ al-ʿAynayn al-Ḳalḳamī

(3,682 words)

Author(s): Norris, H.T.
is the name consistently given in Mauritania and Morocco to the greatest scholar and religious and political leader of the Western Sahara during the latter half of the 19th century. Uncertainty remains as to the significance of his sobriquet Māʾ al-ʿAynayn, “water of both eyes”, but it is not unlike ḳurrat al-ʿayn , “coolness of the eye”. Māʾ al-ʿAynayn was born on the day of the death of his brother, Abu ’l-Fatḥ, and of his paternal grandmother K̲h̲adīd̲j̲a. His father Muḥammad Fāḍil regarded his birth as a blessed consolat…


(2,437 words)

Author(s): Norris, H.T.
(The Republic of Niger, La République du Niger, Ḏj̲umhūriyyat al-Nayd̲j̲ar), a modern state of West Africa, formerly the French colony of that name. The Niger Republic is, to quote Djibo Mallam Hamani (though specifically of the Ayar Massif, which fills the north of it), a “carrefour du Soudan et de la Berbérie”. Its geographical position on the map, and the multi-ethnic character of its societies, has had a profound effect on the Islamic life of the Nigériens throughout their history. 1. Geography and peoples The Niger Republic covers an area of some 1,267,000 km2. However, 800,000 of …


(749 words)

Author(s): Norris, H.T.
( Sīd ) Aḥmad b. al-Amīn (b. 1280/1863 or 1289/1872, d. 1331/1913), Mauritanian scholar and author, whose reputation in the Muslim World principally rests upon his written description of Mauritania and the Western Sahara and his appreciation of the poetic masterpieces of the Moors in Classical Arabic and in their colloquial dialect, Ḥassāniyya. He was born into a scholarly family of the Īdaw ʿAlī Zwāya who were resident in al-Mad̲h̲ard̲h̲ra in the Trārza [see mūrītāniyā ]. His mother, a pious and well-educated lady, stemmed from the Ag̲h̲lāl of S̲…


(19,518 words)

Author(s): Norris, H.T.
, Mauritania (now officially named the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, al-D̲j̲umhūriyya al-Islāmiyya al-Mūrītāniyya ), an extensive region of the Western Sahara and the western section of the Sahel. It is the homeland of the Arab-Berber people who speak the Ḥassāniyya dialect of the Arabic language. In times past, and to some degree today, these people were called “the Moors” [ q.v.], although this term was also used for other North Africans and, hence, gave Mauritanians no special identity. The “Moors” of the former Spanish Sahara call themselves Ṣaḥrāw…