Fihrids

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The Fihrids (also known as Oqbids) were an illustrious Arab family and clan, prominent in North Africa and Muslim Iberia during the 8th century.

The al-Fihri were originally an Arabian clan Banu Fihr attached to the Quraysh, the tribe of the Prophet. Probably the most illustrious of the Fihrids was Oqba ibn Nafi al-Fihri, the Arab Muslim conqueror of North Africa in 670-680s, and founder of Kairouan. Several of his sons and grandsons participated in the subsequent conquest of Hispania in 712.

As spearheads of the western conquest, the al-Fihris were probably the leading aristocratic Arab family of Ifriqiya and Al-Andalus in the first half of the 8th century. They produced several governors and military leaders of those provinces. After the Berber Revolt of 740-41, the west fell into a period of anarchy and disorder. The Umayyad Caliph in Damascus, facing revolts in Persia, did not have the resources to re-impose their authority in the west. In the vacuum, the Fihrids, the pre-eminent local Arab family, seized power in the west. Abd al-Rahman ibn Habib al-Fihri in Africa (745-755) and Yusuf ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri in Al-Andalus (747-755) ruled their dominions virtually independently of the Caliphate.

For a moment, it seemed as if the Fihrids might succeed in turning the western half of the Islamic world into a private family empire. The Fihrids greeted the fall of the Umayyads in 749-50 with delight, and sought to reach an accommodation with the new Abbasid Caliphs of the east to allow them to continue. But when the Abbasids rejected their offer of nominal vassalship and demanded full submission, the Fihrids broke with the Abbasids and declared independence.

In a decision that would prove fatal, Abd al-Rahman ibn Habib invited the remnants of the fugitive Umayyad clan to take refuge in his dominions. He soon regretted his decision. The arriving Umayyad princes, as the sons and grandsons of caliphs, were of more illustrious blood than the Fihrids themselves, and became a focal point of conspiracies among the Arab nobles of Kairouan, resentful of Ibn Habib's autocracy. Ibn Habib set about persecuting the exiles. One of them, the young Abd al-Rahman, would flee to Al-Andalus, depose the Fihrids there and erect the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba in 756.

While the Iberian branch was eclipsed by the Umayyads, the African branch of the Fihrids descended into a bloody family quarrel in 755, that threw Ifriqiya into chaos, and ended with them being overrun and extinguished in a Kharijite Berber uprising in 757-8.

The al-Fihri name continued to have a magical effect in Al-Andalus, and pretenders drawn from that family continued to challenge Umayyad rule until the end of the century.

The genealogy of the Fihrids:[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ H. Fournel, 1857, Étude sur la conquête de l'Afrique par les Arabes, Paris, Impermerie Imperiale, p.95