North African Arabs

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North African Arabs (Arabic: عرب شمال أفريقيا‎‎ "‘Arab Shamal Ifriqiya") or "Maghrebi Arabs" (Arabic: :العرب المغاربة‎‎ "al-‘Arab al-Maghariba") is a term that denotes the inhabitants of the North African Maghreb region whose native language is a dialect of Arabic and identify as Arab.[1][2][3][4][5][6] This ethnic identity is a product of the Arab conquest of North Africa during the Arab–Byzantine wars and the spread of Islam to Africa.[7] The migration of Arab tribes to North Africa in the 11th century was a major factor in the linguistic and cultural Arabization of the Maghreb region, mainly Beni Hassan, Banu Hilal[8][9] and Banu Sulaym.

The descendants of the original Arab settlers who continue to speak Arabic as a first language currently form the single largest population group in North Africa.[10]



The Shasu people were a Semitic-speaking group of nomads in the Levant from the late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age or Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. They were organized in clans under a tribal chieftain, and were described as brigands active from the Jezreel Valley to Ashkelon and Sinai.[11] Herding and livestock of camels, cows and sheep comprised their main livelihood, but they also engaged in hunting and limited agriculture. They were hostile towards Egypt, and served as mercenaries in armies that waged war against the Egyptians. The Shasu people guided the soldiers of Assyrian ruler Esarhaddon into the Nile delta in the 7th century BC and provided his armies with camels for the transport of water.[12]

Shasu men had trimmed beards or beards clipped into a tip and wore long gowns with geometric motif embroideries. The women wore mid-calf dresses with one shoulder bare. The dresses were white, decorated with red figures and coloured stripes. Their footwear was made out of dyed leather. The ancient Egyptians described them as light-skinned, with a yellow-ish skin tone.[13][14]

The earliest known reference to the Shasu is in a 15th-century BCE inscription found in Transjordan. The inscription is found on the column bases at the temple of Soleb built by Amenhotep III, and lists peoples considered enemies of Egypt. Copied later by either Seti I or Ramesses II at Amarah-West, the list mentions six sub-groups of Shasu: the Shasu of S'rr, the Shasu of Rbn, the Shasu of Sm't, the Shasu of Wrbr, the Shasu of Yhw, and the Shasu of Pysps. The Libyans and the Nubians were also present on the list.[15][16]

Historic dynasties[edit]

Umayyad dynasty[edit]

Idrissid dynasty[edit]

Nasrid dynasty[edit]

Hammudid dynasty[edit]

Abbadid dynasty[edit]

Fatimid dynasty[edit]

Saadi dynasty[edit]

Alaouite dynasty[edit]

The Alaouite dynasty (Arabic: سلالة العلويين الفيلاليين‎‎, Sulālat al-ʿAlawiyyīn al-Fīlālīyn) is the current royal family of Morocco. The name comes from ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, whose descendant, Sharif ibn Ali, became prince of Tafilalt in 1631. His son Mulay Al-Rashid (1664–1672) is credited with uniting and pacifying the country during a turbulent period of Moroccan history. The Alaouite family claim descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fāṭimah az-Zahrah and her husband ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib.


Main article: Arab culture


Moroccan women traditionally wear copious amounts of jewelry on their neck, arms, head and ears. Preferably the jewelry should be made from pure gold as this signifies that the family is economically well-off. The jewelry tends to be decorated with different jewels like rubies, olivines, Andalucian beads, pearls and diamonds. The olivines and the pearls are traditionally used in most Maghrebi jewelry. The olivine represents female beauty, and was historically associated with the pre-Islamic goddesses of the Arabian pantheon. The pearls used in the jewelry represent wealth and fortune.


Brides in Morocco adorn themselves in extensive amounts of jewelry, the amount of jewelry depends on the economic status of the family. Different regions in Morocco have different types of traditional jewelry. Brides in the region of Tanger-Tetouan add pearls to their traditional jewelry, whereas brides in the region of Fes add pheridot jewels and gold. In the Sahara, gold and coloured beads are added to the outfit. Families that can't afford to buy jewelry rent it for the occasion.

The headdresses used in the ceremony also tend to differ depending on the region. The northern region of Morocco, (Tanger-Tetouan), use a striped and glittery fabric to cover the bride's head. A headpiece in either silver or gold (depending on the region) is placed over the fabrics and is sometimes decorated with jewels. In the central region, Fes-Meknes, a decorated dark green and golden fabric is used, over it a golden headpiece is placed, decorated with dark green pheridot jewels and pearls hanging down over the face. In the southern region, Western Sahara, the women wear a headpiece decorated with gold pieces and coloured beads that differ from tribe to tribe. The bride's head is covered with a black fabric.


Main article: Maghreb cuisine





List of tribes[edit]


  • Azwafit, a tribe of Bedouin Arab origin, part of the greater Tekna confederation. Historically the tribe would escort and protect caravans for the payment of a fee known as "Ztata" or "Zfata", whence the name Azwafit. Because they became part of a bigger Berber tribe, the Arab sub-tribes are partially Berberised and speak Berber today. The writer La Chapelle noted that Azwafits counted the following five branches: Ait Ahmed Ou Ali, Ahl Hayin, Mhamd Ait Ait El Khennous, Ait Messaoud Ait Boukko and Ida Ou Louggan.[17]
  • Ahl Rachida, an Arab tribe, also referred to as Ouled Sidi Yaakoub. The tribe can trace its lineage to the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandson, Hasan ibn Ali.
  • Hyayna
  • Hamyane
  • Rhamna
  • Chiadma
  • Abda, an Arab tribe whose origin dates back to the arrival of the Beni Maqil tribe at the end of the Merinid era. Historian Eugene Aubin wrote: "The Abda are a powerful tribe, consisting of thirty-thousand cind lights, Arab purment race, they occupy a fertile territory, rich in horses and cattle. It is one of five quasi-Makhzen tribes of Morocco." It consists of three branches, Bhatra, Rabiaa and Ouled Amer.[18]
  • Beni Ahsen, an Arab-Moroccan tribe, part of Beni Maqil. They settled in the Missour and Almis area around the 16th century, and migrated northwest of the Sefrou region in the 17th century. In the 18th century they were pushed west by the Zemmour tribe, which had migrated north from the south. Today they are located in the region of Rabat and the Atlantic coast.[19]
  • Beni Amir
  • Beni Guil, an Arab tribe that can trace its lineage to the prophet's grandson, Hasan ibn Ali. In the 10th century their ancestors were given the right to graze in eastern and western Morocco by the Fatimid ruler Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah.
  • Beni Mathar
  • Beni Hassan
  • Maqil
  • Beni Khirane

Notable people[edit]

Historical governors


  • Idriss I, ruler of Morocco and founder of the Idrisid dynasty
  • Idriss II, ruler of Morocco from the Idrisid dynasty



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Skutsch, C. (2013). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Taylor & Francis. p. 119. ISBN 9781135193881. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  2. ^ Juergensmeyer, M.; Roof, W.C. (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. p. 935. ISBN 9781452266565. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  3. ^ Suwaed, M. (2015). Historical Dictionary of the Bedouins. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 145. ISBN 9781442254510. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  4. ^ Brown, R.V.; Spilling, M. (2008). Tunisia. Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. p. 74. ISBN 9780761430377. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  5. ^ Bassiouni, M.C. (2013). Libya: From Repression to Revolution: A Record of Armed Conflict and International Law Violations, 2011-2013. Brill. p. 18. ISBN 9789004257351. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  6. ^ Simon, R.S.; Laskier, M.M.; Reguer, S. (2003). The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times. Columbia University Press. p. 444. ISBN 9780231507592. Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  7. ^ Christides, Vassilios (2000). Byzantine Libya and the march of the Arabs towards the west of North Africa. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, Publications. pp. 44–64. ISBN 978-1841711331. 
  8. ^ Weiss, Bernard G. and Green, Arnold H.(1987) A Survey of Arab History American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, p. 129, ISBN 977-424-180-0
  9. ^ Ballais, Jean-Louis (2000) "Chapter 7: Conquests and land degradation in the eastern Maghreb" p. 133
  10. ^ Shoup, John (2011). Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Publishers. p. 16. ISBN 978-1598843620. 
  11. ^ Miller (2012), p. 94
  12. ^ Redford, Donald B. (1992). Egypt, Canaan and Israel In Ancient Times. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  13. ^ Astour, Michael C. (1979). "Yahweh in Egyptian Topographic Lists." In Festschrift Elmar Edel, eds. M. Gorg & E. Pusch, Bamberg.
  14. ^ Dever, William G. (1997). "Archaeology and the Emergence of Early Israel" . In John R. Bartlett (Ed.), Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation, pp. 20–50. Routledge.
  15. ^ Sivertsen (2009), p. 118.
  16. ^ Hasel (1998), p. 219
  17. ^ Azwafit. Historical dictionary of the bedouins. Muhammad Suwaed. 2015
  18. ^ Historical dictionary of the bedouins. Muhammad Suwaed. 2015
  19. ^ Historical dictionary of the bedouins. Muhammad Suwaed. 2015