WHAT'S IN A NAME? THE ALMORAVIDS OF THE ELEVENTH CENTURY IN THE WESTERN SAHARA* BY HUMPHREY J. FISHER (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) I. Introduction The Almoravids were a militant Muslim reform movement, which emerged among the Sanhdja Berbers, particularly the Lam- tuna sub-group, 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 bilad al-sudiin, the land of the blacks. This historical material has in turn given rise to extensive modern discussion and debate, especially during the past thirty years. The present essay seeks to carry further that debate, with specific reference to the movement's name-Almoravids in western sources, al-murabitun, the people of the rib§t, in Arabic. I have tried to fulfil three purposes in particular: Firstly, to include (in English) some of the major relevant passages from the original sources, at some length, supported of course by many lesser
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1992
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