The Berbers And Islam

The Berbers and Islam Today in America many new followers of Islam experience confusion when choosing which area to examine first. Many devout Muslims believe that the true basis for understanding Islam begins and ends with the study of Mohammeds life and his creation and writing of the Quran under Allahs direction and spirit. However, the understanding and study of any religion (that will become your way of life) must include the close examination of peoples, history and the influence or spread into other countries. One paramount area of Islam that must be examined is the influence of Islam in other countries. We must consider: With the mass spread of Islam in parts of Africa, exactly how did that occur? Or who was responsible for the transformation of government, politics, and this religion in such an important continent of Africa? Abdullah ibn Yacin was a Muslim leader and scholar. He was also the leader of the Almoravids. His influence on Islam was great indeed, in that he converted believers beyond just practice, he transformed them into the militant force, which came to be known as the Almoravids.

Through Abdullah ibn Yacins rule and his successor Abu Bakrs drive the Almoravids influenced Islam greatly. The modern history of the Almoravids and the history traced by the Berbers themselves begin with their conversion to Islam by the Arabs, who began to move into North Africa in 640 CE. Over the years Arab invasions forced many Berbers out of the coastal regions and into the mountains and desert. Others were absorbed into the Arab population (Hourani, 190) In 1054, a confederation of Muslim Berber groups formed a new and powerful dynasty in the west, in what is now southern Morocco and Western Sahara. They were known as the Almoravids. The whole of Morocco was under Almoravid rule by 1069.

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In 1086, they invaded Spain and had conquered much of its south by 1106. The Almoravids, who came from the desert fringes of Maghrib, brought an austere temper of strict adherence to Maliki law and suspicion of free rational speculation. The power of their successors, the Almohads, was also created by an impulse of revival of piety, with an emphasis on the unity of God and observance of the law; but it drew its sustenance from the religious thought of the eastern Muslim world, where its founder, Ibn Tumart, had studied and formed his mind, and those who carried it throughout the Maghrib and to Andalus came from the settled Berber peoples of the Atlas mountains (Giles, 50) The Almoravids essentially overcame the most powerful empire in Western Africa. By taking over commercial routes; gaining control of the economic power the Ghanaian king was forced to divide his capital city into two distinct districts, one for non-Muslims and a more powerful district one for Muslims. The district eventually declared holy war or jihad against Ghana and weakened the Ghana Empire until it collapsed.

The effect the Almoravids had on Islam was great indeed. The purifying of the religion was sped up by the holy wars. The Almoravids created a fervor in Africa that transformed the spread of the religion. Now, native Africans who had converted from traditional religions were spreading the teachings of Islam. By examining the powerful group, the Almoravids we are able to understand why and when Islam was transformed from a religion based in the Middle East to an indigenous religion of Africa.


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