The Idrisid dynasty Of Morocco

    On the dispersion of the family of the Imám Mohammed bin ‘Abd Allah, fifth in descent from the so-called prophet, -in consequence of their unsuccessful rivalry with the Abbási khalifas Abu Jaafar el Mansûr and El Mehdi- one of the Imám Mohammed’s brothers, Idrees or Enoch, fled into Egypt.

    He was accompanied by a faithful follower named Rasheed, and the two, forced by emissaries of the khalifa to flee yet further, struck across North Africa, until they reached Morocco at Tangier, then its chief city.

    Volubilis, the ancient Moroccan city, six days inland, was at that time under a certain Abd el Majid of the Aûrábà tribe, a partisan, we are told, of the Muâtazila or Shiâ sect, to which the Persians belong.

    This sect upholds the direct succession of Mohammed’s family through Ali ibn Abu Táleb, in opposition to the Turks and other Sunnis who accepted the ‘Abbási khalifas.

    Therefore to Volubilis the fugitive Idrees repaired, finding there not only a home but a kingdom. Within six months of his arrival Abd el Majid proclaimed him king, with the support of his own clan and that of the Zanátà and other surrounding Amazigh tribes, of whom few were really Mohammedans, the greater part being still Jews, Christians, or idolaters.

    Then commenced the usual religious warfare, the jehad, in which successively the provinces of Támsná, Tádla, and the East of the Maghrib became involved.

    The cityof Salli, or Shella, whichever was the one then in existence, soon fell before Idrees, and thus was provided a centre round which those fierce Berber tribes could rally. As each fresh district succumbed, its strength was added to the overwhelming torrent of the Idrisid party, which in a short time became irresistible.

    Mulai Idrees himself was not fated to rule for long. Three years later he suddenly breathed his last, and was buried on the mountain of Zarhôn, where sacred town known only by his name has grown around his shrine.

    Rumour of the period ascribed his unexpected death to jealousy upon the part of the khalifa of Baghdad, the great Hárûn er-Rasheed hero of the Thousand Nights and One, who was believed to have despatched a messenger to do his business secretly. The wily emissary, posing as a fellow-refugee and partisan, obtained the confidence and friendship of Idrees, but only to abuse them on the earliest occasion.

    It is said that, to relieve the toothache from which the prince was suffering, he provided some poisonous drug, though this after all may only have been misapplied. But his immediate flight was regarded as proof positive of guilt, and in hot haste Rasheed successfully pursued him.

    To understand the object of the Abbási khalifa “Haron the Upright” it must be remembered that Idrees, as an Aláwi, or descendant of Fátima, Mohammed’s daughter, and Ali, the last orthodox khalifa, was a rival both of the preceding dynasty of the Ummeyyà and of their Abbási successors in the East, whose star had risen only forty years before.

    The Idrisid dynasty was therefore, like the Fátimi in Egypt, Shia, not Sunni. So also have been the last two Moorish houses of shareefs or nobles, though in all doctrinal matters the Moors are Sunni, that is, they accept the “Traditions” -Sunna- as well as the Korán, as, indeed, do the Shias also.

    Thus there can never be among them the absurdities to which the Persian party, in its hatred of the Turks, has given rein, and Morocco is free from this great religious, or, more strictly speaking, racial, dissension. It was as a claimant to the khalifate that Mulai Idrees was received by the Morocco Berbers, weary of the treatment they had met with from the Sunni Arabs, and thenceforward they were able to appeal against fanaticism to fanaticism.

    With a direct descendant of Mohammed at their head, they were protected from the inflaming charge of rebelling against the faithful, for in future they were the faithful, who have ever since maintained their independence.


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