Ifriqiya

The Roman province Africa Proconsularis (red) to which Ifriqiya corresponded and from which it derived its name
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Prehistory
Ancient history pre-146 BC
Roman era to 640 AD
Islamic rule 640–1510
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Ifriqiya (Arabic: إفريقيةIfrīqya), known professionally as el-Maghrib el-Adna (Arabic: المغرب الأدنى‎), was the area during medieval history comprising what is today Tunisia, Tripolitania (western Libya) and the Constantinois (eastern Algeria) — all part of what was previously included in the Africa Province of the Roman Empire.[1]

The southern boundary of Ifriqiya was far more unchallenged as bounded by the semi-arid areas and the salt marshes called el-Djerid. The northern and western boundaries fluctuated; at times as far north as Sicily otherwise just along the coastline, and the western boundary usually went as far as Béjaïa. The capital was briefly Carthage, then Qayrawan (Kairouan), then Mahdia, then Tunis.[2] The Arabs generally settled on the lower ground while the native population settled in the mountains.[citation needed]

The Aghlabids, from their base in Kairouan, initiated the invasion of Southern Italy beginning in 827, and established the Emirate of Sicily and Bari which lasted until it was conquered by the Normans.

History

The province of Ifriqiya was created in 703 CE when the Umayyads seized "Africa" from the Byzantine Empire. Although Islam existed throughout the province there were still considerable religious tension and conflict between the invading Arabs and the native Berbers. The beliefs and perceptions of people also shifted from area to area, this contrast was at its greatest between coastal cities and villages. Muslim ownership of Ifriqiya changed hands numerous times in its history with the collapse of the Umayyads paving the way for the Aghlabids who acted as agents of the Abbasids in Baghdad. They were then overthrown by the Fatimids in 909 when they lost their capital of Raqqada and the Fatimids went on to control all of Ifriqiya in 969 when they took control of Egypt. The Fatimids slowly lost control over Ifriqiya as their regents, the Zirids, became more and more autonomous until the mid 11th century where they were fully separated. Religious divisions paved the way for the Almohads taking over Western Ifriqiya(Maghreb) in 1147 and all of Ifriqiya by 1160. This empire was to last till the early 13th century where it was then replaced by the Hafsids, who were an influential clan that boasted many of Ifriqiya's governors. The Hafsids in 1229 declared their independence from the Almohads and organized themselves under Abu Zakariya who built the Hafsid empire around its new capital, Tunis.[3]

Records of Arabic oral traditions imply that the Muslims first migrated to Africa feeling persecution in their Arab homeland. However, Muslim military incursions into Africa began around 7 years after the death of the final prophet Mohammad in 632. This campaign into Africa was led by the General Amr ibn al Aas and Muslim control of Africa rapidly spread after the initial seizure of Alexandria. Islam slowly took root in the East African coast due to cross cultural links established between Muslims traders and the natives of the African coast. The political situation in Islamic Africa was like any other, filled with a chaotic and constant power struggle between movements and dynasties. A key factor in the success of any hopeful party was securing wealth to fund a push for dominance. One form of great wealth was the lucrative gold-mining areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. The existence of these gold mines made expansion into Africa a very worthwhile endeavor. The Muslim Empires pushed for influence and control of both the Northern and Southern parts of Africa. By the end of the 11th century Islam had firmly established itself along the Mediterranean. The Muslims, like the Europeans, felt the brutal effects of the Black Death in the 14th Century when it arrived in Western Africa (Maghreb) through Europe. Maghreb and Ifriqiya at large were largely under the rule of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to the 18th Century. Around the end of the 19th Century, Islam accounted for 1/3rd of the religious population of Africa.[4]