A Brief History of Yusuf Ibn Tashfin (d.500 AH) رحمه الله
The al-Murabitun (Almoravids) were a Berber dynasty whose primary motivate was to rid their society of innovations and folkloric practices that were antithetical to orthodox Islam. They followed the Malikite school of jurisprudence and made it the backbone of their judicial policy, spreading it across the regions under their reign.
The Almoravid movement developed early in the eleventh century among the Sanhaja of the western Sahara, whose control of trans-Saharan trade routes was under pressure from the Zenata Berbers in the north and the state of Ghana in the south.
The Almoravid movement shifted from promoting religious reform to engaging in military conquest after 1054 and was led by Lamtuna leaders: first Yahya, then his brother Abu Bakr, and then his cousin Yusuf ibn Tashfin.
At the leadership of this awesome army of veiled desert sage-warriors was Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, also known as Abou Ya’qub. He was the first Almoravid Amir and was a Lamtuna Sanhaja Berber, belonging to the nomadic Berbers of the Banu Turgut, a branch of the Sanhaja confederation of tribes whose historical homeland encompassed the vast desert expanses of Northwest Africa, a region roughly comprising present-day upper Senegal and Mauritania.
The Almoravids began their military conquests in a region of modern day Senegal but continued to acquire new territories along the way up towards Morocco, which they also conquered and subsequently founded the famous city of Marrakesh, which they consecrated as the Empire’s new capital, in 1062.
Led by Yusuf ibn Tashfin, the Almoravids entered al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) after the fall of Toledo in response to the Ta’ifa leaders’ pleas for help in repelling the Christian armies of northern Spain.
Yusuf Ibn Tashfin successfully defeated many Christian armies in Al-Andalus and was able to reunify it under his rule after a period of internal fragmentation known as “Muluk Al-Tawaif”.
Under the Almoravids, the Maghrib and Spain acknowledged the spiritual authority of the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad (much like the Seljuks, they were outsiders who served the Abbasid Caliph military at a time of weakness).
Together with his army of Berber warriors, Yusuf Ibn Tashfin recovered control of al-Andalus in 1090 but the central seat of government remained in Marrakesh, the disparate Emirates of Al Andalus would seek his assistance time and time again until he decided to extend his rule to cover that region. The Almoravids reigned over vast territories encompassing regions across the Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Spain and several strategic Mediterranean ports connecting Europe to Africa. They also controlled the lucrative Trans-Saharan trade routes.
The Abassid Caliphate in Baghdad was still regarded as the head of the Muslim world and it’s Caliph retained the title of Ameerul Mumineen. Yusuf Ibn Tashfin was by that point the defacto Caliph of the Maghrib and of the Muslim regions on the Iberian peninsula, yet despite this he didn’t accept the title of Ameerul Mumineen out of respect for the Abbasid Caliphate, instead he came to be known as “Ameerul Muslimeen”.
Yusuf Ibn Tashfin died at around 100 years old and was feared by the Christian adversaries throughout his reign, the Muslims of Europe owed a great debt to him for having saved them on many occasions. He was a righteous leader and a great military general.
North Africa benefited economically and culturally during the Almoravid period.
Authored by; AZHistorian
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