Beni Ḥassān

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Beni Ḥassan (Arabic: بني حسان "Children of Ḥassān") is a nomadic group of Arabian origin, one of the four sub-tribes of the Maqil Arab tribes who emigrated in the 10th century to the Maghreb with the Bani Hilal and Banu Sulaym tribes.[1]

In Morocco, they first settled, alongside their Maqil relatives, in the area between Tadla and the Moulouya River. The Sous Almohad governor called upon them for help against a rebellion in the Sous, and they resettled in and around that region.[2]

They later moved to Mauritania,[3] and from the 16th century onwards, they managed to push back all black Mauritanians southwards to the Senegal Valley river.[4] The Beni Hassan and other warrior Arab tribes dominated the Sanhaja Berber tribes of the area after the Char Bouba war of the 17th century. As a result, Arabian culture and language came to dominate, and the Berber tribes underwent some Arabisation. The Bani Hassan dialect of Arabic became used in the region and is still spoken, in the form of Hassaniya Arabic.

The hierarchy established by the Beni Hassan tribe gave Mauritania much of its sociological character.[4] That ideology has led to oppression, discrimination and even enslavement of other groups in Mauritania.[5]

In Western Sahara, unlike other areas where they mixed with Berbers, their descendants are considered among the clean-blooded Arab tribes.[6]

Beni Hassan sub-tribes[edit]

  • The descendants of Hasan ben Mokhtar ben Mohamed, son of the forefather of the Maqils
  • The Shebanat: descendants of Shebana, brother of Hassan, and son of Mokhtar ben Mohamed
  • The Reguitat: descendants of Jallal, Salem and Uthman, brothers of Mokhtar and sons of Mohamed

Several other Arab tribes joined the Maqils and became part of the Beni Hassan tribe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ahmed Annaçéri's Handwritten "Talaàt Al Mouchtari" (died in 1717)
  2. ^ de Moraes Farias, Paulo Fernando; Rossi, Benedetta (2018-07-18), "Interview. Landscapes, Sources, and Intellectual Projects", Landscapes, Sources and Intellectual Projects of the West African Past, BRILL, pp. 498–516, doi:10.1163/9789004380189_026, ISBN 978-90-04-38018-9, S2CID 201566131
  3. ^ Muhammad Suwaed (2015). Historical Dictionary of the Bedouins. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4422-5451-0.
  4. ^ a b Anthony G. Pazzanita (2008). Historical Dictionary of Mauritania. Scarecrow Press. pp. 6–97. ISBN 978-0-8108-6265-4.
  5. ^ *AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, 7 November 2002, MAURITANIA, "A future free from slavery?" The formal abolition of slavery in 1981 has not led to real and effective abolition for various reasons, including a lack of legislation to ensure its implementation.!Open Archived 2005-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
    • : "The practice of slavery in Mauritania is most dominant within the traditional upper class of the Moors. For centuries, the so-called Haratin lower class, mostly poor black Africans living in rural areas, have been considered natural slaves by these Moors. Social attitudes have changed among most urban Moors, but in rural areas, the ancient divide is still very alive.
    There have been many attempts to assess the real extension of slavery in modern Mauritania, but these have mostly been frustrated by the Nouakchott government's official stance that the practice has been eliminated. In 1994, Amnesty International claimed that 90,000 Blacks still live as "property" of their master. The further estimated that some 300,000 freed slaves continued to serve their former masters because of psychological or economic dependence."
  6. ^ Besenyő János (2009). Western Sahara. Besenyő János. p. 28. ISBN 978-963-88332-0-4.