Ali ibn Yusuf

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Ali ibn Yusuf
Amir Al-Muslimin
Gold dinar minted by Ali ibn Yusuf
Amir of the Almoravids
PredecessorYusuf ibn Tashfin
SuccessorTashfin ibn Ali
Bornc. 1084
Died28 January 1143
IssueTashfin ibn Ali
Syr ibn Ali
Ishaq ibn Ali
Zaynab bint Ali[1]
Ali ibn Yusuf
FatherYusuf ibn Tashfin
MotherZaynab an-Nafzawiyyah or Qamar

Ali ibn Yusuf (also known as "Ali Ben Youssef") (Arabic: علي بن يوسف) (c. 1084 – 28 January 1143) was the 5th Almoravid emir. He reigned from 1106 to 1143.

Early life[edit]

Ali ibn Yusuf was born in 1084–1085 (477 AH) in Ceuta.[2] He was the son of Yusuf ibn Tashfin, the fourth Almoravid ruler. According to some sources, his mother was Zaynab an-Nafzawiyyah.[3][4][dead link] According to some others, his mother was Qamar or Qamra, surnamed Fadl al-Hasan,[2][5] a Christian captive from al-Andalus who became Yusuf's concubine.[2] A woman Qamar is also cited by some sources as Ali Ibn Yusuf's own concubine[6][7] and the mother of his son Syr.[6]


At the time of his father's death, in September 1106, he was 23 years old. He succeeded his father on 2 September 1106.[8][9] Ali ruled from Morocco and appointed his brother Tamim ibn Yusuf [ar] as governor of Al-Andalus. Ali expanded his territories in the Iberian Peninsula by capturing the Taifa of Zaragoza in 1110 but eventually lost it again to Alfonso I, King of Aragon, in 1118. Córdoba rebelled against the Almoravids in 1121.

In 1139, he lost the Battle of Ourique against the Portuguese forces led by the count Afonso Henriques, which allowed Afonso to proclaim himself an independent King.

Ali died on 28 January 1143 and was succeeded by his son Tashfin ibn Ali.[10]


The Almoravid minbar, commissioned by Ali ibn Yusuf in 1137 and built in Cordoba.
Internal view of the Almoravid Qubba, inscribed with Ali's name.[11]

He commissioned a minbar now known as the Minbar of the Kutubiyya Mosque from a workshop in Córdoba to furnish his grand mosque, the original Ben Youssef Mosque (destroyed under the Almohads), in the imperial capital, Marrakesh.[12] The Almoravid Qubba also bears Ali's name.[11]

At the advice of Abu Walid Ibn Rushd (grandfather of Averroes), Ali built walls around Marrakesh as Ibn Tumart became more influential.[13][14] There had been walls around the mosque and the palace, but Ali ibn Yūsuf spent 70,000 gold dinars on the city's fortifications, doubling the city's size, and told the amirs of Al-Andalus to fortify their walls as well.[15]

He also established an irrigation system in Marrakesh, a project managed by Obeyd Allah ibn Younous al-Muhandes.[16] This irrigation system made use of qanawat (قناة, p. قنوات).[16] Ali also had the first bridge over the Tensift River built.[16]

A manuscript of Kitāb as-Siām from Muwatta al-Imam Malik as read by Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi, written for Ali ibn Yūsuf.[17]

Sargasso Sea[edit]

According to the Muslim cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, the Mugharrarin (also translated as "the adventurers") sent by Ali ibn Yusuf, led by his admiral Ahmad ibn Umar, better known under the name of Raqsh al-Auzz reached a part of the ocean covered by seaweed, identified by some as the Sargasso Sea,[18] which stretches into the Atlantic from Bermuda.


Ali was the son of Yusuf ibn Tashfin. He had at least two sons:


  1. ^ Gordon, Matthew S.; Hain, Kathryn A. (2017). Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History. Oxford University Press. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-19-062220-6. Zaynab bint Ali ibn Yusuf
  2. ^ a b c Messier, Ronald A. (2010). The Almoravids and the Meanings of Jihad. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-313-38590-2.
  3. ^ LA PEZA SU HISTORIA IN VESTIGADA CON EL CARBONERO ALCALDE- 1859 (in Spanish). Manuel Rodríguez Garrido. 2022-01-17. pp. 45–46. Yusuf ibn Tasufin,... , married Zaynab an-Nafzawiyyah with whom he had three children: Ali ibn Yusuf, Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Aisa and Tamima bint Yusuf ibn Tashfin
  4. ^ Robinson, Marsha R. (2006). "CROSSING THE STRAIT FROM MOROCCO TO THE UNITED STATES: THE TRANSNATIONAL GENDERING OF THE ATLANTIC WORLD BEFORE 1830". p. 76-77. Zeineb and Yusef ibn Tashfin had a son, Ali ibn Yusef ibn Tashfin, who is described as having an excellent character. He ruled until 1142–3 CE/537 AH. He was succeeded by Tashfin ibn Ali ibn Yusef ibn Tashfin. Legitimacy still passed through her even though her name was no longer affixed to his, at least in this account...Ghania's sons were raised under the patronage and supervision of Ali Ibn (Zeineb and) Yusef Ibn Tashfin
  5. ^ al-Fāsī, ʻAlī ibn ʻAbd Allāh Ibn Abī Zarʻ; al-Gharnāṭī, Ṣāliḥ ibn ʻAbd al-Ḥalīm (1860) [14th century]. Roudh el-Kartas: Histoire des souverains du Maghreb (Espagne et Maroc) et annales de la ville de Fès (in French). Impr. impériale. p. 224.
  6. ^ a b Bennison, Amira K. (2016). Almoravid and Almohad Empires. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN 978-0-7486-4682-1. one example of a powerful concubine was Qamar, the mother of Sir, one of 'Ali b. Yusuf's sons
  7. ^ Azar, Henry A. (2008). The Sage of Seville: Ibn Zuhr, His Time, and His Medical Legacy. American Univ in Cairo Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-977-416-155-1. Qamar, 'Ali's favorite concubine...
  8. ^ Lévi-Provençal, E. (1986) [1960]. "ʿAlī b. Yūsuf b. Tās̲h̲ufīn". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. I (2nd ed.). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 389. ISBN 9004081143.
  9. ^ Bennison, Amira K. (2016). The Almoravid and Almohad Empires. Edinburgh University Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-7486-4680-7.
  10. ^ Reilly, Bernard F. (1998). The Kingdom of León-Castilla Under King Alfonso VII, 1126-1157. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-8122-3452-7.
  11. ^ a b الإسبانية, دورية قنطرة. "حول القبة المرابطية في مراكش". المراكشية : بوابة مراكش (in Arabic). Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  12. ^ Bloom, Jonathan; Toufiq, Ahmed; Carboni, Stefano; Soultanian, Jack; Wilmering, Antoine M.; Minor, Mark D.; Zawacki, Andrew; Hbibi, El Mostafa (1998). The Minbar from the Kutubiyya Mosque. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Ediciones El Viso, S.A., Madrid; Ministère des Affaires Culturelles, Royaume du Maroc. pp. 3–4.
  13. ^ كتاب الحلل الموشية في ذكر الأخبار المراكشية (in Arabic). مطبعة التقدم،. 1811. p. 71.
  14. ^ Deverdun, Gaston (1959). Marrakech: Des origines à 1912. Rabat: Éditions Techniques Nord-Africaines. pp. 108–109.
  15. ^ "دولة الإسلام في الأندلس • الموقع الرسمي للمكتبة الشاملة". 2017-02-13. Archived from the original on 2017-02-13. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  16. ^ a b c Viollet, Pierre-Louis (2017). Water Engineering inAncient Civilizations: 5,000 Years of History. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-203-37531-0.
  17. ^ IslamKotob. المسالك شرح موطا مالك لابن العربي - 2 (in Arabic). IslamKotob.
  18. ^ Fromherz, Allen James, ‘The Near West’, p. 133, 2016, Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-1474426404
  19. ^ Extrait de la Chronique intitulée Kamel-Altevarykh par Ibn-Alatyr, RHC Historiens orientaux I, p. 413.
Preceded by Almoravids
Succeeded by