Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Moulay Idris the Second

Idris the Second was born on Monday the 13th of Rajab or the third 175/791 or 177/792. It was said that he was born with the declaration of faith and ‘there is no strength or might except through God’ written between his shoulder blades. Raashid took him under his wing. He memorized the Quran by the age of 8. Raashid then taught him the sciences of Hadith, Islamic law, language, poetry, literature, horse riding, archery and other forms of the art of war. At the age of 11, he was ready to take up the responsibility of leadership. The Berbers pledged allegiance to him on Friday 7th Rabee’ al-Awwal 804/188; he addressed the people with a powerful speech calling them to God and His obedience. Raashid had been killed two years before Idris became leader. Berbers who had been paid off by Ibrahim al-Aghlab, the ruler of Tunisia at the time, killed him. They carried his head to Tunisia. Haroon Rasheed had appointed Ibrahim al-Aghlab over Tunisia in 184/800.

Idris was fair in complexion with a touch of rose to his skin with straight black hair. His nose was aquiline in shape and his eyebrows were set far apart. His had large beautiful eyes, which were black, and his figure was full with broad shoulders. His teeth were set apart and his hands were large. He was known later as ‘Fadl’.

People flocked from near and far to be in the presence of this new leader. Many Arabs came to live under his rule. He made the Arab migrants his courtiers and the Berbers became a little marginalized. ‘Umair b. Mus’ab al-Azdi was made his minister, Amir b. Muhammad b. Sa’eed al-Qaisi his judge, who had studied with Malik and Sufiyan al-Thauri, and Abdullah b. Malik al-Khazraji was made his secretary. ‘Umair b. Mus’ab brought the Muwatta of Imam Malik with him and Idris ordered the people to study it. He was heard to he said, “We have more right than anyone to this book and its study because Malik was from amongst the supporters of the Prophets family.” Before this, Morocco followed the school of al-Awzaa’i. He soon began to suspect that Ishaq b. Muhammad al-Awarbi had leanings towards Ibrahim al-Aghlab, so he had him killed in 192/810.

Walili soon became overcrowded. He felt the need to establish a city for himself and his notables. They went out to find a suitable place until they arrived at Mount Zalagh in 805/190. Here the air was good and its soil fertile.

He first tried to build houses and a surrounding wall on the mountainside, but floods came down at night and destroyed them, killing many and ruining the crops. He chose to build in another area close to the Sabu River where Sidi Harazim is today, but soon realised that it would be too hazardous there in the winter due to floods from Sabu. He returned to Walili.

Soon after, he sent ‘Umair to go out and look for a suitable place; he arrived in the valley of Sais. They prayed Dhuhr there and asked God to ease their affair. It was here that he discovered over 60 springs. On tasting the water, he found it to be sweet. He followed the springs until he arrived at Wad Fez. Between the two mountains there, he was captured by the lush area, which was covered in trees and filled with rivers and springs. This is where Fez is today. He found Berber tribes there who lived in tents made of hair. Some tribes were Zoroastrian in religion, some Jewish and some Christian. There were 2 main tribes: Zanata known also as Zawagha and Banu Yarghush. They were known to always fall into conflict amongst themselves. He went back to Idris to tell him of his find. Idris brought the tribes to Islam and bought the land from them for 6000 dirhams.

It is related in a weak tradition of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, related by Darras b. Ismail through Malik b. Anas and al-Zuhri to Sa’eed b. al-Musayyab to Abu Huraira:

“There will be a city in the west named Fez, whose people will be the most precise in their direction of prayer in the west and the most abundant in their prayer. Its people will be followers of my way (Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama’a) and upon the truth. They will hold tight to it undeterred by their opponents. God will not afflict them with anything they would detest up until the Day of Judgment.”

Fez was known for its sweet water, moderate air and fertile soil. It was surrounded by thick woods and gardens, which prevented any enemy from being able to make a feasible attack on the city. There were numerous springs and rivers that ran through the city. The water was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It was said that the water of Fez is good for digestion, could cure gallstones and soften skin. It was even said that it could rid you of lice, increase your sexual appetite and remove stains from clothing without the need of soap.

There are different relations regarding the reason for the naming of Fez:

When Idris was planning the foundations, a 150 year old monk came to him and asked him what he was doing. Idris explained that he was planning to build a city here for himself and his children where God would be worshipped, His scripture recited and His laws upheld. The monk exclaimed, “I bear you good tidings. A monk who passed away 100 years ago and lived here in this monastery told me that he had found a manuscript; this manuscript explained that there was a city here before called Saf, which collapsed 1700 years ago and a man from the progeny of Prophet-hood called Idris would restore it. He will live a great life and God’s religion will prevail there until the end of time.” Idris decided to turn around the letters of the original city name and call it Fez.

When they were digging the foundations, they fell upon a pickaxe of gold and silver. Idris took it and completed the foundations with it.

Some say the name comes from the word horseman (‘faris’) in Arabic because of the horsemen or Iraq that had come to pledge allegiance to Idris. Then later on the word was shortened to Fez.

On a Thursday morning in Rabee’ al-Awwal 192/808, the foundations were built on the Andalusia bank in the Garwawa area. Before commencing the work, he lifted his hands and prayed for the city and its people:

“Oh God, You know that I do not intend in establishing this city any ostentation or pride; rather I want that You be worshipped, Your scripture recited, and that Your Law and the practice of Your prophet will be followed as long as it remains. Oh God grant its people the ability to follow good and aid them therein, and protect them from their enemies and any tribulation and trial and grant them their provision with ease.”

There was an area filled with trees near a spring called ‘Aloon. A black slave lived there who was ferocious and robbed any passerby. The area was also filled with wild boar and thick foliage. People only went through it in groups. When Idris heard about this man, he ordered his arrest. Horsemen went out in search of him. He was caught and taken to Idris who ordered him to be crucified and hung in ‘Aloon.

He started the walls from the ‘Aloon which is now the gate that leads to ‘Tarrafeen.’ He called it ‘Bab Ifriqia’. He built it up to the incline between ‘Ashshabeen’ and Bab al-Geesa where Sidi Bin Yahya is buried. It was called ‘Aqba Za’tar’ at the time. He built a gate there called ‘Bab Hisn Sa’doon’, which is in the ‘Haffareen’ quarters. Then he kept building to where the ‘Funduq al-Yahood’ is and ‘Baleeda’, where he built ‘Bab al-Faras’. Then he continued until he got to the river separating the banks and built ‘Bab al-Fasil’, which is ‘Bab al-Naqba’ today. Then he took the wall alongside the river up until were ‘Bab Silsila’ is today and built ‘Bab al-Faraj’. He continued along the riverbank up until where ‘Bab al-Hadid’ is now until he joined the wall with ‘Bab Ifriqia’. Other gates were also built around the Andalusian quarters. There was ‘Bab al-Fawara’ where ‘Bab Zaitoon’ (Bab al-Hamra) is, and he built along until the neighborhood of Sidi ‘Awad where another gate was built facing ‘Bab al-Faraj’. He then built a gate facing ‘Bab al-Fasil’ called ‘Bab al-Shaibuba’. He built another gate called ‘Bab Abu Sufiyan’ facing the North and then took the wall to Garwawa and built ‘Bab al-Kanisa’, which later fell in 546 and was rebuilt in 602 and named ‘Bab Khukha’. At that time, the lepers were located outside the gate there to avoid them contaminating the river as it was at the bottom of the river flow.

He built a mosque called al-Ashyakh where he prayed the Friday prayer. Later on he moved to the Qarawiyeen bank in an area called Maqramda and built al-Ashraf Mosque where he prayed the Friday prayer and built his house there, called al-Qaitoona. Later on the Friday prayer was moved to the Qarawiyeen. He then built a covered market space. He ordered people to build next to the market and said, “Whoever builds their house before the wall is completed it is his to keep.” Many Iraqi migrants came and settled in an area called ‘Ain. Soon Arab settlers moved from Qairawan in 210/825. There were some 300 families. More than 8000 families came from Andalusia in 202/818, who had fled after an attempted overthrow of al-Hakm in Cordoba. Idris had encouraged them to move to Fez. Many Jews came to settle from Cordoba, too. He put them in Bab Guisa.

The city was traditionally divided into two by a river and there is a bridge that connects them today called Bain al-Mudun.T

here are other sources that suggest Fez was built by his father in 172/788, and that Idris al-Azhar built the Qarawiyeen bank in 193/809.

In 197, Idris went out to fight renegade Kharajite Berber tribes and continued to do so in 199. Then he returned to Fez to take rest and in the same year headed for Tilimsan. He stayed there for three years. He wrote his name on the pulpit there just as his father had done. Then he fought on until he was able to wipe out any remaining trace of the Kharijite teachings in Morocco.

Al-Aghalib and the Abbasids were unable to move him. He passed away on the 12th of Jumada 213/828 at the age of 36. He died choking on a grape seed. Some say he was poisoned. He was buried in his mosque. Before, it was believed by some that he was buried next to his father until the left wall of the Qibla was being restored and they came across his untouched body in Fez in Rajab 841. He left 12 sons: Abdullah, Muhammad, Isa, Idris, Ahmed, Ja’far, Yahya, al-Qasim, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Dawud, and Hamza. Kenza in accordance with an old Berber tradition divided up the country for her grandchildren. Each son had an area to rule under the authority of the eldest son Muhammad. Kenza is buried in Walili next to her husband, Moulay Idris 1st.

Ibn Zakari: “Let no-one doubt neither this man’s special station nor his closeness to God….There is consensus amongst the people of divine knowledge and understanding that he is from among the elite in the eyes of God just like his father.”

Mesnawi: “Our teacher ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Fessi, may God have mercy on his soul, would point to the fact that there was consensus among the people of deep understanding that Moulay Idris b. Idris was buried in Fez and was among those who God had given permission to act as he wishes in the creation…This man was one of the spiritual poles who acts as he wishes alive and dead in the material and angelic world.”

Ahmed Tijani: “If the people knew of the station of Moulay Idris they would sacrifice their children for him.”

It has been said that whoever visits him for forty days in a row praying Subh in congregation there in his mosque and then asks after the prayer to bring him and the Qutb together or asks for any need, God will grant him it.



Yassin said...

''Then he fought on until he was able to wipe out any remaining trace of the Kharijite teachings in Morocco.''

Thats not true, Kharijism remained strong in Morocco for hundredsof years after Idris (the Barghouata, the Midrarids)..It wasnt untill the rise of the Almoravids in the 11th century that Kharijism was ended.

Also, the name of Fes ismost probably of Berber origin and most likely comes from Fazzaz, the Berber name for that region of the Middle Atlas where Fes is situated. The name was also the name of a Jewish-Berber tribe living there, called Ait Fazzaz.

A well written piece, but I think that we tend to overrate the importance of the Idrisids in Moroccan history. They had some importance, but they were prinicipally Berber tribal clansmen, who did little in terms of urbanization and centralization. Just like the Maghrawa leaders of Fes. The Almoravids, Almohads, Merinids and Alaouis were much more important!

Yassin said...

Also the number of Arabs settled there by Idris is exagerated: the sources tell us that 2000 families from Kairouan were setted there and 800 more from Andalus.

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