Aghlabid dynasty
Banū al-Aghlab (بنو الأغلب)
StatusDe facto Independent emirate since 801.[1][2][3]
Common languagesArabic[4]
Sunni Islam (Hanafi, Mu'tazila)
• 800–812
Ibrahim I ibn al-Aghlab ibn Salim
• 903–909
Abu Mudhar Ziyadat Allah III ibn Abdallah
• Established
• Overthrown by the Fatimids
• Disestablished
CurrencyAghlabid Dinar[5]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Abbasid Caliphate
Fatimid Caliphate

The Aghlabids (Arabic: الأغالبة) were an Arab[6] dynasty of emirs from the Najdi tribe of Banu Tamim,[7] who ruled Ifriqiya and parts of Southern Italy, nominally on behalf of the Abbasid Caliph,[8] for about a century, until overthrown by the new power of the Fatimids.


In 800, the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid appointed Ibrahim I ibn al-Aghlab, son of a Khurasanian Arab commander from the Banu Tamim tribe,[9] as hereditary Emir of Ifriqiya as a response to the anarchy that had reigned in that province following the fall of the Muhallabids. At that time there were perhaps 100,000 Arabs living in Ifriqiya, although the Berbers still constituted the great majority.[10]

Ibrahim was to control an area that encompassed eastern Algeria, Tunisia and Tripolitania.[11] Although independent in all but name, his dynasty never ceased to recognise Abbasid overlordship. The Aghlabids paid an annual tribute to the Abbasid Caliph and their suzerainty was referenced in the khutba at Friday prayers.[12]

After the pacification of the country Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab established a residence at a new capital, al-Abbasiyya, which was founded outside Kairouan, partly to distance himself from the opposition of the Malikite jurists and theologians, who condemned what they saw as the luxurious life of the Aghlabids (not to mention the fact that the Aghlabids were mu'tazilites in theology, and Hanafis in fiqh-jurisprudence), and disliked the unequal treatment of the Muslim Imazighen. Additionally, border defenses (ribat) were set up in Sousse and Monastir. The Aghlabids also built up the irrigation of the area and enhanced the public buildings and mosques of[11] al-'Abbāsiyya. It was recorded that 5,000 black Zanj slaves were used which were supplied via trans-Saharan trade.[13]

One unique feature of the Aghlabids is that despite the political differences and rivalry between Aghlabids, who served under the Abbasid Caliphate, and the Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba, the Muslims in Spain also sent a fleet under Asba' ibn Wakil to aid the Aghlabid conquest of Sicily (see Muslim conquest of Sicily). Ibn Kathir recorded that a joint force of 300 Umayyad and Aghlabid ships were present.[14] The Aghlabid garrison at Mineo managed to get into contact with the Andalusian Umayyads, who immediately agreed to the alliance, provided that Asbagh was recognized as the overall commander, and, together with fresh troops from Ifriqiya, they marched on Mineo. Theodotus[who?] retreated to Enna and the siege of Mineo was broken in July or August 830.[15][16][17] The combined Ifriqiyan and Andalusian army then torched Mineo and laid siege to another town, possibly Calloniana (modern Barrafranca). However, a plague broke out in their camp, causing the death of Asbagh and many others. The town fell later, in autumn, but the Arabs' numbers were depleted to the point where they were forced to abandon it and retreat west. Theodotus launched a pursuit and inflicted heavy casualties, and, thereafter, most of the Andalusians departed the island. However, Theodotus too was killed at this time, possibly in one of these skirmishes.[18][19]

Under Ziyadat Allah I (817–838) came a revolt of Arab troops in 824, which was not quelled until 836 with the help of the Berbers. The conquest of Byzantine Sicily from 827 under Asad ibn al-Furat was an attempt to keep the unruly troops under control – it was only achieved slowly, and only in 902 was the last Byzantine outpost taken. Plundering raids into mainland Italy, which included the sack of Rome, Naples and Bari by Muhammad Abul Abbas of Sicily,[20] took place until well into the 10th century. Gradually the Aghlabids lost control of the Arab forces in Sicily and a new dynasty, the Kalbids, emerged there.

The Aghlabid kingdom reached its high point under Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Aghlabi (856–863). Ifriqiya was a significant economic power thanks to its fertile agriculture, aided by the expansion of the Roman irrigation system. It became the focal point of trade between the Islamic world and Byzantium and Italy, especially the lucrative slave trade. Kairuan (Kairouan) became the most important centre of learning in the Maghreb, most notably in the fields of theology and law, and a gathering place for poets. The Aghlabid emirs also sponsored building projects, notably the rebuilding of the Great Mosque of Kairouan and the kingdom developed an architectural style which combined Abbasid and Byzantine architecture.[21]

Decline of the Aghlabids

The decline of the dynasty began under Ibrahim II ibn Ahmad (875–902). An attack by the Tulunids of Egypt had to be repelled and a revolt of the Berbers put down with much loss of life. In addition, in 893 there began amongst the Kutama Berbers the movement of the Shia Fatimids to overthrow the Aghlabids. Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah captured the cities of Qairawan and Raqqada and took an oath of allegiance from the people. By 909, the Aghlabid Dynasty was overthrown and replaced with the Fatimids.[22]


The Aghlabids were major builders and erected many of the oldest Islamic-era monuments in present-day Tunisia, including military structures like the Ribat of Sousse and the Ribat of Monastir, religious buildings like the Great Mosque of Sousse and the Great Mosque of Sfax, and practical infrastructure works like the Aghlabid Reservoirs of Kairouan.[23] They also rebuilt the Great Mosque of Kairouan, whose present form largely dates from this time. Much of their architecture, even their mosques, had a heavy and almost fortress-like appearance, but they nonetheless left an influential artistic legacy.[23][24][25] The Mosque of Ibn Khayrun (also known as the "Mosque of the Three Doors") possesses an external façade featuring carved Kufic inscriptions and vegetal motifs, which some scholars have called the oldest decorated external façade in Islamic architecture[24] and which may contain the oldest foundation inscription crediting a private individual (rather than a ruler) for a mosque's construction.[26] The al-Zaytuna Mosque in Tunis, which was founded earlier around 698, also owes its overall current form to the Aghlabid emir Abu Ibrahim Ahmad (r. 856–863).[27][28]: 38 

Aghlabid rulers

See also


  1. ^ Naylor, Phillip C. (5 September 2006). Historical Dictionary of Algeria. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-8108-6480-1.
  2. ^ Libya. Ediz. Inglese – Anthony Ham
  3. ^ Freeman-Grenville, Greville Stewart Parker; Munro-Hay, Stuart Christopher (26 January 2006). Islam: An Illustrated History. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-4411-6533-6.
  4. ^ Versteegh 1997, p. 209.
  5. ^ Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the Crusades: Proceedings of a Workshop – John H. Pryor, p187 [1]
  6. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, (Columbia University Press, 1996), 31.
  7. ^ Motala, Moulana Suhail (28 February 2019). "The Banu Tamim tribe". Hadith Answers. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Aghlabids and their Neighbors: Art and Material Culture in Ninth-Century". Aghlabids and North Africa. Mariam Rosser Owen and editor Glaire D. Anderson, Corisande Fenwick. 2019. ISBN 9789004356047.
  9. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, 31.
  10. ^ Julien, Histoire de L'Afrique du Nord (Paris: Payor 1931; revised by de Tourneau 1952), translated as History of North Africa (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1970; New York: Praeger 1970) at 42.
  11. ^ a b Goldschmidt, Arthur (2002). A concise history of the Middle East. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. pp. 79. ISBN 0-8133-3885-9.
  12. ^ Laroui, The History of the Maghrib (1970, 1977) at 116.
  13. ^ Lev, Yaacov (1991). State and Society in Fatimid Egypt (Volume 1 dari Arab history and civilization. Studies and texts: 0925–2908 ed.). BRILL. p. 5. ISBN 9004093443.
  14. ^ El Hareir, Mbaye, Idris, Ravane (2011). The Spread of Islam Throughout the World. UNESCO. p. 441. ISBN 978-9231041532.
  15. ^ Bury (1912), p. 304
  16. ^ Treadgold (1988), pp. 273–274
  17. ^ Vasiliev (1935), pp. 127–128
  18. ^ Treadgold (1988), p. 274
  19. ^ Vasiliev (1935), pp. 128–129
  20. ^ Barbara M. Kreutz, Before the Normans: Southern Italy in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991), 26-27.
  21. ^ "Aghlabids". Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. Archnet. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  22. ^ Najeebabadi, Akbar (2001). The History of Islam V.3. Riyadh: Darussalam. p. 235. ISBN 978-9960-89293-1.
  23. ^ a b Bloom, Jonathan M. (2020). Architecture of the Islamic West: North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, 700–1800. Yale University Press. pp. 21–41. ISBN 9780300218701.
  24. ^ a b Binous, Jamila; Baklouti, Naceur; Ben Tanfous, Aziza; Bouteraa, Kadri; Rammah, Mourad; Zouari, Ali (2002). Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia (2nd ed.). Museum With No Frontiers, MWNF. ISBN 9783902782199.
  25. ^ Marçais, Georges (1954). L'architecture musulmane d'Occident. Paris: Arts et métiers graphiques. pp. 9–61.
  26. ^ Salinas, Elena; Montilla, Irene (2018). "Material Culture Interactions between al-Andalus and the Aghlabids". In Anderson, Glaire D.; Fenwick, Corisande; Rosser-Owen, Mariam (eds.). The Aghlabids and Their Neighbors: Art and Material Culture in Ninth-Century North Africa. Brill. p. 442. ISBN 978-90-04-35566-8.
  27. ^ Binous, Jamila; Baklouti, Naceur; Ben Tanfous, Aziza; Bouteraa, Kadri; Rammah, Mourad; Zouari, Ali (2002). Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia (2nd ed.). Museum With No Frontiers, MWNF. ISBN 9783902782199.
  28. ^ Bloom, Jonathan M. (2020). Architecture of the Islamic West: North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, 700–1800. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300218701.