Today in Middle Eastern/North African history: the Battle of Fakhkh (786)

There were so many minor Alid uprisings (the term “Alid” simply refers to descendants of Ali, and is often used to describe early revolts made in the name of his family, because the conceptual framework of Shiʿism wasn’t really in place yet so it’s a little confusing to apply that term to these events) against the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphates that it would drive you all crazy if I tried to catalogue each one of them. The uprising that was quickly dispatched at the Battle of Fakhkh, a valley near Mecca, on (give or take) June 11, 786, was no different from any of the others, except in one respect: one of the rebel leaders, a great-great grandson of Ali named Idris b. Abdullah (d. 791), survived the battle and fled west, as far west as he could go.

I can practically hear you all saying “so what” at this point, but here’s what: Idris b. Abdullah, once he’d fled all the way to the westernmost part of North Africa, established a new city, married the daughter of a Berber chieftain, and became the founder and namesake of a brand new dynasty, the Idrisids, which conquered much of western North Africa. Through the dynasty he fathered, Idris is credited with founding, and Islamizing, the region we know today as the kingdom of Morocco.

Idrisid Dynasty at its largest extent (Wikimedia | Omar-Toons)

There’s really little to say about the Battle of Fakhkh, it was apparently a complete rout and the attempted revolt was quashed when the rebels were defeated there. And going into detail about Idris and the dynasty that bears his name would be too far out of the scope of something like this–plus I don’t have the time to write that piece today. But the idea that a suppressed rebellion in Arabia could lead, more or less, to the establishment of modern Morocco is one of my favorite bits of randomness in the entire course of Islamic history, so I thought I’d share.


Author: DWD

writer, blogger, lover, fighter

One thought

  1. Thanks for this. I’m rather fond of Lixus, on the Atlantic Coast, so I think that history is much richer and more deeply rooted in the West than people commonly realize.

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