World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


The Maqil (Arabic: المعقل‎) were an Arabian nomadic tribe that emigrated to the Maghreb region, with the Banu Hillal and Banu Sulaym tribes, in the 11th century. They mainly settled in and around Morocco's Saharan wolds and oases; in Tafilalet, Wad Nun (near Guelmim), Draa and Taourirt. Despite their originally small number (less than 200) they later played a regionally significant role in fighting the Merinids, whereas they were forced to subjugate themselves to their authority at times when the central power of this dynasty was strong. They were also influential in altering the culture of these regions. This, today, mainly manifests in the Hassaniya language which was named after one of their sub-groups.


  • Origins 1
  • Sub-tribes 2
    • Beni Ubayd Allah 2.1
    • Beni Mansour 2.2
    • Beni Hassan 2.3
    • Thaaliba 2.4
  • Emigration to the Maghreb 3
    • Evolution under the Almohads 3.1
    • Evolution under the Abdelwadid and Merinids 3.2
  • Today 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


The exact origin of the Maqil tribe is unknown.[1] They claimed for themselves a prestigious Hashemite descent from Jaafar ibn Abi Talib, son of Abu Talib and brother of Ali ibn Abi Talib. Arabian genealogists categorized them as Hillalians.[1] Ibn Khaldun wrote that both of these versions are false, since the Hashemites lived in urban cities and weren't nomadic nor ever wandered in desert wolds.[1] He added that the Maqil is a name only found in Yemen.[1]

Ibn Khaldun speculated that they were likely an Arab nomadic group from Yemen, and this is supported by Ibn al-Kalbi and Ibn Said.[1][2]


Beni Ubayd Allah

The Banu Ubayd Allah descended from Ubayd Allah ibn Sahir (or Saqil), son of the Maqil forefather.[2] They were the biggest sub-group of the Maqil and lived as nomads in the southern hills between Tlemcen and Taourirt.[3] In their nomadic travel they reached as far as the Melwiya river in the north and Tuat in the south.[3] The Beni Ubayd Allah later divided into two sub-tribes: The Haraj and The Kharaj[4]

Beni Mansour

The Banu Mansour descended from Mansour ben Mohamed, the second son of the Maqil forefather.[5][6] They lived as nomads between Taourirt and the Draa valley.[6] At one time they controlled the area between the Moulouya River and Sijilmasa, in addition to Taza and Tadla.[6] They were the second most numerous Maqil sub-tribe after the Beni Ubayd Allah.[5]

Beni Hassan

The Banu Hassan descended from Hassan ben Mokhtar ben Mohamed, the second son of the Maqil forefather.[2] They were thus the cousins of Beni Mansour. The Banu Hassan sub-tribe is, however, not limited to the descendents of Hassan, they also include the Shebanat (sons of Shebana the brother of Hassan) and the Reguitat who descended from the other sons of Mohamed; namely Jalal, Salem and Uthman.[2][7] They wandered in the Sous and the extreme-Sous (present-day southern Morocco)[6] but they had originally lived as nomads near the Melwiya river neighboring their relatives; the Banu Ubayd Allah and Banu Mansour.[7] Their coming to the Sous was a result of the Almohad governor of this region who invited them to fight for him when a rebellion broke during the agonizing period of the Almohad dynasty.[7]


The Thaaliba were the descendents of Thaalab ben Ali ben Bakr ben Sahir (or Saqir or Suhair) son of the Maqil forefather. This group was less fortunate than their relatives as they gave up on nomadism and sedentarized in a region close to Algiers. They lived there for four centuries and were severely oppressed and defeated by the successive Berber kings and eventually lost major influence after suffering multiple heavy losses in the wars that opposed them to the Abdelwadid leader Yaghmurasan Ibn Zyan. They still live in and around Algiers and there descendants inhabit the city of Algiers.

Emigration to the Maghreb

The Maqils entered the Maghreb during the wave of emigration of the Arabian tribes (Banu Hillal and Banu Sulaym) in the 11th century.[6] Their original number was extremely small and has been reported as less than 200 individuals.[6] The Banu Sulaym opposed their arrival and fought them off. They later allied with the Banu Hillal and entered under their protection,[6] which enabled them to wander in the Moroccan Saharan wolds between Moulouya River and the Tafilalet oases.[6] A tiny group of them however stayed in Tunisia, during their westward transit in the Maghreb, and briefly worked as viziers of the victorious Hillalians and Banu Sulaym, who had freshly defeated the powerful Zirids.[6]

The Maqils quickly grown in numbers, this is due to the fact that parts of many other Arabian tribes joined them, which included:[1]

  • The Fezara of Asheja
  • The Chetha of Kurfa
  • The Mehaya of Iyad (or Ayad)
  • The Shuara of Hassin
  • The Sabah of al-Akhdar
  • Some of The Banu Sulaym

Once in Morocco, they allied with the Zenata nomadic groups that neighbored them in the wolds. After the decline of the Almohad authority, the Maqil took advantage of the civil war between the different Zenata groups and seized control of various Ksours and oases in the Sous, Draa, Tuat and Taourirt upon which they imposed taxes, while giving a certain amount of the collected money to the local competing Zenata kings.[1]

Evolution under the Almohads

Under the strong Almohad authority, the Maqils stayed loyal, paid taxes and neither looted nor attacked any villages, Ksours or passing trading Caravans.[1] As the power of the Almohads declined, the Maqils took advantage of the lack of central state authority and the civil war between the Zenata, and seized the control of many Ksours around Tafilalet, the Draa Valley and Tawrirt.[1]

Evolution under the Abdelwadid and Merinids

The various sub-groups of the Maqils behaved differently towards the competing dynasties of Banu Merin and Banu Abdelwad (both of these were Zenata). The Kharaj of Banu Ubayd Allah initially opposed the Zenata Abdelwadids,[3] but later allied with them when they were severely defeated by Yghmoracen, the first Abdelwadid Sultan.[3][4] When the Merinids replaced the Abdelwadids the Kharaj remained faithful to the Abdelwadids since those, at the decline, had given them tax collection privileges.[4] The Merinid Sultan, Abu al-Hassan then stripped them of these acquired advantages and gave them instead to the Berber Beni Iznassen tribe.[4] Unhappy with this treatment, the Kharaj rebelled, killed the Merinid governor of the Saharan Ksours, Yahya ibn Al-iz, and escaped far eastwards to the remote desert in fear of the Sultan's retaliation.[4]

The second group of Beni Ubayd Allah - the Haraj - who lived west of Taourirt, subjugated themselves to the Merinids and remained their allies.[8]

Similar to the Kharaj of Beni Ubayd Allah, the Banu Nassr fought the Merinid authority but eventually lost even when they tried to ally with the declining Abdelwadids;[5] they hosted the escaping and defeated Abdelwadid Sultan, Abu Hammu II, something for-which they were severely punished.[5]

The Beni Hassan also fought the Merinids when the latter were away in Tlemcen fighting the Abdelwadids; the Beni Hassan rebelled and killed the Merinid governor of the Sous.[7] Once the eastern front was secured, the Merinid Sultan sent an army that severely defeated the Beni Hassan.[7][9] Additionally, he imposed a heavy tribute on the Beni Hassan for their betrayal. They remained under the Merinid firm authority, in a state of servitude, until the decline of this dynasty.[9]


Populations of south-western Algeria, Mauritania, southern-Morocco and Western Sahara speak a unique variety of Arabic called the Hassaniya, which is named after the Beni Hassan sub-group of the Maqils.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i  
  2. ^ a b c d  
  3. ^ a b c d  
  4. ^ a b c d e  
  5. ^ a b c d  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i  
  7. ^ a b c d e  
  8. ^  
  9. ^ a b  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.