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Shi'ism in the Course of History

Scholars and researchers have expressed different views concerning the birth of Shi'ism and its first appearance. Others too have attempted to evaluate it, approaching it from the point of view of their respective ideological and intellectual predispositions.
Some people believe that Shi'ism arose after the death of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, and that its defining essence took shape when his Companions set about selecting his successor. Thus the historian al-Ya'qubi writes:
"A number of the Migrants and the Helpers refused to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr, inclined as they were to favor 'Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be upon him! al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, al-Fadl b. al-'Abbas, al-Zubayr, Khalid b. Sa'id, al-Miqdad, Salman, Abu Dharr, 'Ammar, al-Bara'a, Ubayy b. Ka'b were part of this group." [1]
al-Mas'udi, also a famous historian, writes:
"Salman al-Farisi was a Shi'i from the very outset, and 'Ammar b. Yasir was known as a Shi'i throughout his life. When 'Uthman was elected to the caliphate, he remarked: 'It is not the first time you have denied the caliphate to the one deserving it!' Abu Dharr was similarly an outstanding proponent of Shi'ism." [2]
Another group of scholars place the emergence of Shi'ism during the caliphate of 'Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be upon him, while others suggest that it began to take root towards the end of the caliphate of 'Uthman. Still others regard Imam al-Sadiq, peace be upon him, as the founder of Sh i'ism. Some people again imagine Shi'ism to be the result of a wish for revenge nurtured by the Iranians, so that its origins may be considered essentially political.
Then there are those who see in Shi'ism a contingent phenomenon in Islamic society and history, without any strong presence or substance. They imagine it to have gradually expanded in Islamic society as the result of certain social and political developments at a relatively advanced point in Islamic history, There are even those who assert this segment of the Islamic ummah to be the brainchild of an imaginary personality by the name of 'Abdullah b. Saba', basing on this assumption all their judgements concerning Shi'ism and concluding that Shi'ism is nothing more than an anomaly. [3]
Theories such as this amount to nothing more than obstinate calumnies, perpetrated to conceal the truth; or at the very best they spring from complete ignorance of the true culture of Shi'ism and its rich heritage.
Dr. Taha Husayn, a well-known Egyptian and therefore Sunni scholar, writes:
"The fact that the historians make no mention of Ibn al-Sawda' i.e., 'Abdullah b. Saba' being present at the battle of Siffin together with his followers proves at the very least that the whole notion of a group of people led by him is a baseless fabrication. It is one of those inventions that acquired currency when the conflict between the Shi'is and other Islamic groups intensified. In order to underline their hostility, the enemies of the Shi'ah tried to insert a Jewish element into the origins of their sect. If the story of 'Abdullah b. Saba' had any basis in historical fact, his cunning and guile could not have failed to show itself at the battle of Siffin.
"I can think of only one reason for his name not occurring in connection with that battle: that he was an entirely fictitious person, dreamed up by the enemies of the Shi'ah in order to vilify them." [4]
Similarly, Dr. 'Ali al-Wardi, professor of history at Baghdad University, writes:
"Did Ibn Saba' actually exist or was he an imaginary personality? For those who wish to study the social history of Islam and draw the appropriate conclusions, this is an extremely important question. It is claimed that Ibn Saba' incited unrest, but no such person ever existed. The whole story is reminiscent of the claim made by the Quraysh at the beginning of the Prophet's mission, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, that he received his teachings from a Christian slave by the name of Jabr and based his preaching on the instruction he received from him." [5]
Muhammad Kurd 'Ali, another Sunni scholar, writes:
"Some of the well-known Companions who at the dawn of Islam followed 'Ali, peace be upon him, became known as the Shi'ah. What can be deduced from the written sources is that certain shortsighted people regarded Shi'ism as a collection of innovations and fabrications stitched together by a person known Abdullah b. Saba' or Ibn al-Sawda'. However, there can be no doubt that this view of things is pure superstition and fantasy, for this Abdullah b. Saba' the Jew exists only in the world of the imagination. Any attempt to link the origins of Shi'ism to him must be regarded as a sign of pure ignorance." [6]
In contrast to all the opinions reviewed so far, one group of scholars believe Shi'ism to have been first expounded by none other than the Prophet himself, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, and that it was established in conformity with his command.
Hasan b. Musa al-Nawbakhti and Sa'd b. Abdullah write:
"The party of 'Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be upon him, was the first to emerge in the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, and it became known as the Shi'ah (partisans) of 'Ali. It was known that they favored, 'Ali for the leadership of the community and that they were his devoted companions. al-Miqdad, Salman, Abu Dharr and 'Ammar belonged to this group, and they were the first to be called Shi'i. Use of the word Shi'ah was not new; it had been applied in the past to the followers of some prophets such as Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and 'Isa." [7]
This view is confirmed by numerous Shi'i scholars, and there are many traditions to the effect that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, applied the name Shi'ah to the companions and followers of 'Ali, peace be upon him.
When discussing the occasion for the revelation of this verse, "Certainly those who believe in the One God and who do good deeds are in truth the best people in the world." (98:7), Sunni exegetes (mufassirin) and traditionists (muhaddithin) report Jabir b. 'Abdullah to have said: "One day I came to the presence of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, 'Ali entered the room, causing the Prophet to remark, 'My brother has come. I swear by God that this man and his Shi'ah (supporters) will be among the saved on the Day of Resurrection.'" [8]
al-Tabari, the well-known Sunni exegete and historian, also remarks in connection with the same verse that the Prophet used the word Shi'ah when referring to the supporters of 'Ali.
There is then prophetic authority for designating the followers of 'Ali, those who were particularly devoted to him, as Shi'ah.
We thus see that the word Shi'ah is essentially coterminous with Islam itself, for the Prophet himself used it If we sometimes use the designation Ja'fari Sh i'ism, this is on account of the exertions made by Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq to disseminate the culture of Islam and Sh i'ism. The struggles for power that were taking place in his lifetime afforded him a suitable opportunity to confront the political conditions of his environment. The various ideas that were gaining currency and the foreign elements such as analogical reasoning and preference that had entered Islamic jurisprudence caused him to embark on a program of teaching and reform.
Muhammad Fikri Abu 'l-Nasr, a well-known Egyptian Sunni author, has the following to say with respect to the essence of Shi'ism:
"In its theological principles, Shi'ism has nothing to do with Abu 'l-Hasan al-Ash'ari, and in its detailed legal provisions nothing to do with any of the four Sunni schools of law. For the school established by the Imams of the Shi'ah is more ancient, and therefore more reliable and more deserving to be followed than the other schools. All Muslims followed their school for the first three centuries of Islam. The Shi'ah school of law is also more worth following because in it the gate of independent reasoning (ijtihad) will remain open until resurrection, and because its formation was totally uninfluenced by political factors and struggles." [9]
Abu 'l-Wafa' al-Ghunaymi al-Taftazani, another Sunni scholar, says the following:
"Numerous researchers of the past and the present, in both the East and the West, have expressed erroneous views concerning Shi'ism. People then unquestioningly repeat these views, without adducing the slightest evidence or proof. One of the reasons that have led to Shi'ism being thus unjustly treated is that those who originate and spread such views are unacquainted with the books of the Shi'ah themselves and rely exclusively on the writings of their enemies. Western imperialism has also played a role in this regard by constantly attempting to sow dissension among Shi'is and Sunnis and propagating unfair and controversial theses in the name of unfettered academic research." [10]
These remarks permit us to grasp well the depth of the distortion that has taken place, the extent of deviation from the truth, as well as the mentality of those who have been inspired by their own impure motives or influenced by political factors. Instead of giving primacy to the interests of the Qur'an, Islam and the unifying qiblah of all Muslims, they compete with each other in sowing dissension and causing disunity; Islam itself is sacrificed to their goals, and the common enemy of all Muslims profits.
It is essential to add the following point, that the designation Shi'ah in the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, did not apply to a group that was seeking to detach itself from the rest of the Muslims. It is simply that a certain number of Muslims in the time of the Prophet considered 'Ali, peace be upon him, superior to all others in his knowledge of the truths of Islam and the values and aims of the Prophet's mission. They were profoundly attached to him on account of his lofty insight and vision, his link to the source of all perfection, and, in short, all his moral and spiritual qualities. He inspired them as a perfect specimen of humanity worthy of their imitation.
It is of course true that the Shi'ah first appeared on the scene as a distinct group after the death of the Most Noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, when the close companions of 'Ali, peace be upon him, refused in the wake of the meeting at the Saqifah to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr and proclaimed themselves as a party among the Muslims dedicated to defending the clear and unambiguous texts providing for the entrusting of rule over the Muslims to 'Ali. [11]
Rejecting the attempt made at the Saqifah to neutralize his claim and the recourse that was had to the thesis of "the welfare of the Muslims," they separated themselves from the majority and formed a group devoted to him.
In this group were to be found such outstanding Companions as Ammar, Abu Dharr, al-Miqdad, Salman and Ibn 'Abbas, whose sincerity, devotion and commitment had been praised by the Prophet Thus he said of Ammar and his parents:
"Be patient and steadfast, O family of Yasir, for Paradise is your destiny." [12] "O Ammar, glad tidings be unto you, for the oppressors will kill you."[13]
He also proclaimed the kindness and favor God had shown to four great personages: "God has enjoined on me the love of four people, and informed me that He himself loves them." When asked who they were, he replied: "'Ali (repeating the name three times), Abu Dharr, Salman, and al-Miqdad." [14]
He spoke as follows of the sincerity and piety of Abu Dharr: "The blue sky has not sheltered, nor has the earth borne, one more honest than Abu Dharr; he lives upon earth with the same ascetic detachment as 'Isa the son of Maryam." [15]
Referring to the station in the hereafter of three persons, he said: "Paradise longs for three persons: 'Ali, Yasir, and Salman." [16]
The Prophet supplicated for Ibn Abbas as follows: "O God, teach him the science of interpreting the Qur'an, make him erudite in all things religious, and establish him as a believer." [17]
These then were the devoted followers of 'Ali, peace be upon him, men convinced that he should have been the immediate successor of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, and that the caliphate was his indubitable right.
That which was a matter of dispute and disagreement after the death of the Prophet was the question of succession to the political leadership, not the Imamate, which included the spiritual dimension of the Prophet's legacy. No one at the Saqifah had anything to say about choosing an Imam, and the question was not even raised. Was this because nobody had the least doubt concerning 'Ali's supremacy in spiritual matters, or was it that because none of the claimants to the caliphate and the succession was qualified for the Imamate no one laid claim to it? The truth of the matter is unclear.
For some time then there was no mention of the Imamate. But after the death of several of the caliphs, the question gradually came to the fore, and some of the caliphs, like Mu'awiyah, for all his lack of commitment to Islam, began calling themselves Imams.
The topic discussed in works of theology is the Imam and the Imamate, while the terms used in books of history and the oral and written statements of Sunni scholars are caliph and caliphate. 'Ali and his descendants, recognized as the leaders of the Shi'ah are however consistently referred to as Imams. This reflects the Shi'i belief that strict and precise adherence to the criteria of religion, unswerving piety, and a whole series of other special qualities, must be present in the person of the Imam.
One of the pupils of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, peace be upon him, Hisham b. Hakam, wrote a book on the subject of the Imamate in which he set forth its theoretical bases. [18]
In addition to the office of prophethood, which comprised the responsibility for receiving and conveying revelation to mankind, the Prophet was the ruler of the Muslims, empowered over all their affairs. From the moment on that the Muslims established a collective existence; all the societal affairs of the people were regulated by the Prophet: the appointment of governors, commanders, and judges; the distribution of booty; the issuance of orders for war and so on. He implemented divine commands and ordinances in accordance with the ruling function that was vested in him, and it was the duty of the people to obey his commands and instructions.
Rulership, the administration of society, and the establishment of public order and security were thus part of his prophetic function; prophethood and spiritual leadership on the one hand and leadership and rule on the other were both combined in a single divinely chosen person.
The dispute that occurred after his death relate only to leadership and rule, so that those people who aspired to the position of rule after the Prophet never advanced any claim of special communication with God or the receipt of revelation, nor did they present themselves as spiritual leaders or guides. Their whole ideal was to seize the reins of power and administer the affairs of the Muslims, paying attention only to the need of preserving the unified society of Islam from disorder and discord by means of careful strategy and plan.
When the people swore allegiance to Abu Bakr after the death of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, Abu 'Ubaydah proposed to 'Ali, peace be upon him: "Abandon this matter to Abu Bakr. If you survive him, you are worthier of the office of caliph than anyone else, for none can doubt your abundant faith, virtue, and intelligence. Furthermore, you preceded others in your profession of Islam, and you enjoy the additional advantage of being related to the Messenger of God by blood and by marriage." 'Ali replied:
"O Migrants! I entreat you by God not to remove governance from the Household of the Prophet, and to establish it in your house; do not deprive the People of Muhammad's House of their station and office." [19]
Notes:
[1] al-Ya'qubi, al-Tarikh, Vol. II, p. 114.
[2] al-Mas'udi, Murujal-Dhahab.
[3] For more details concerning this mythical personality, see Murtada al-'Askari, 'Abdullah bin Saba'.
[4] Taha Husayn, al-Fitnat al-Kubra, Vol. II, p.90.
[5] Cited in Dr. Haykal, Hayat Muhammad, p. 136.
[6] Kurd 'Ali, Khitat al-Sham, Vol. VI, p. 246.
[7] al-Nawbakhti, al-Maqalat wa al-Firaq, p. 15.
[8] Ibn Hajar, al-Sawa'iq, Chapter I; al-Khwarazmi, al-Manaqib, p. 66; al-Hamawini, Fara'id al-simtayn, Vol. I, Chapter 13; al-Qunduzi, Yanabi' al-Mawaddah, Chapter 56; Ibn al-Sabbagh, Fusul al-Muhimmah, p. 105; al-Ganji, Kifayat al-Talib, p. 118.
[9] Cited in al-Muraja'at, p. 10.
[10] al-Radawi, Ma'a Rijal al-Fikr fi al-Qahirah, pp. 40-41.
[11] al-Tabari, Tarikh, Vol. II, p.446.
[12] al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, Vol. III, p. 383.
[13] al-Tirmidh i, Jami' al-Sahih, Vol. V, p. 233.
[14] Ibn Majah, al-Sunan, Vol. I, p. 53.
[15] al-Tirmidhi, Jami' al-Sahih, Vol. V, p. 334.
[16] al-Tirmidhi, Jami' al-Sahih, Vol. V, p. 332.
[17] al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, Vol. III, p. 536.
[18] Ibn Nadim, al-Fihrist, p. 263.
[19] Ibn Qutaybah, al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah, Vol. I, p. 12.

 

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The Shia Idrisid State in Maghrib

Idris bin Abdullah bin al-Hasan al-Muthanna bin al-Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib escaped from the massacre of Fakh and reached Al-Maghrib, the details of which are given in his life-account. He stayed in the town of Walaila with its chief Ishaq bin Muhammad bin Abdul Hamid al-Urbi. This happened on the first of Rabi-ul-Awwal 172 A.H. It was the beginning of the Idrisid Shi'ite State of Maghrib.
During the reign of aforementioned Idris I, a huge army was organized for the state which conquered all the surrounding areas up to the extreme parts of Al-Maghrib, especially those where Islam had not yet reached like Kablad (Tadla), the forts of Fandlawah, Madyutah, Bahlulah, Ghiyathah, Fazar etc. He further advanced and conquered the areas which are known as Al-Maghrib Al-Awsat.
In this way he was able to establish his rule and maintain it and set the rules of government. But he was suddenly poisoned to death and was succeeded by his son Idris bin Idris. What he did and achieved is given in detail in his life-account. In brief, this state continued to be stronger day by day. Idris II became the accepted ruler of Al-Maghrib. His power increased and his armies as well as followers became more and more. His reign is distinguished by the fact that he did not concentrate on Berbers alone, but Arabs from Africa (modern Egypt and Eastern Libya) came to him to join him, e.g. people from Banu Qais, Banu Azd, Banu Mudhhiji, Banu Yahsab, Banu Sadaf etc. They became his ministers and judges. Now the capital of the state Walaili became too small to fulfill the needs of a developing state. Idris II therefore built a new capital and named it Fas. Then he expanded his territory and conquered the cities of Nafis and Aghmat as well as surrounding areas. The Khariji propaganda was very much prevalent among the Berbers at that time. He dealt with them and subdued them. Then he took away Algiers and Morocco from the Abbasid, extending from Sus to the Valley of Shalaf.
He died after a rule of 36 years. His kingdom settled and his leadership firmly established.
He was succeeded by his son Muhammad bin Idris who had eleven brothers. He therefore distributed the whole territory among his brothers and made his viceroys in those regions. He himself remained in Fas. The author of Al-Istiqsa' says, "They controlled the officials, guarded the borders, protected its roads and they were envied for their character.
But the distribution of the territory among the brothers did not prove fruitful. Muhammad bin Idris took that step to give an equal share to his brothers and let them participate in the rule which might improve on account of competition. But the result was quite different from what he had desired. There arose troubles among them which led to mutual fighting sometimes. On the death of Muhammad bin Idris, his son Ali bin Muhammad known as Haydarah came to throne.
According to the author of Al-Istiqsa', his age was the best. Ibn Abi Zara' says about him that he acted upon the ways of his father and grandfather in adhering to justice and therefore, the people lived in his age in peace and order.
He was succeeded by his brother Yahya bin Muhammad about whom Ibn Khaldun says, "His authority extended, his state became grand, his reign became good. The city of Fas developed. Many public baths and hotels ware erected to which people from far off borders came to live. Similarly Ibn Abi Zara says "‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍People from Andulus(Iberian Peninsula), Africa and different parts of Al-Maghrib came to this city.". During his reign the Mosque of Al-Qarwiyyin was built in the city of Fas.
He was succeeded by his son Yahya. Ali bin Uman bin Idris, Yahya bin al-Qasim bin Idris, Yahya bin Idris bin Uman bin Idris, one after another. The author of Al-Istiqsa says about him that he was the joining link between the members of Idris family. He had the most prominent position among them and had the most fame. He was also more just than all of them, more qualified and had wider authority. He was a jurist and had memorized a large number of Traditions. He was an eloquent, conversationalist, brave, patient, considerate and very religious and pious. Ibn Khaldun remarks that none among the Idrisids reached his glory in respect of territory as well as authority.
The Idrisid state was merged into the Fatimids when their first Caliph Ubaidullah al-Mahdi appeared. His commander advanced towards Fas in 503 A.H. and laid siege to it till the Idrisid king Yahya agreed to take the oath of fealty to the Fatimid Caliph.

Idrisids in Al-Maghrib
Cidiuea has said in his book on the History of Arabs, "The Idrisid remained in possession of the territory they had captured from 803 to 949 A.D. They stayed in a country which is greatly indebted to them.
They founded the city of Fas, the Mosque which became the most sacred monument for all the people living in the surrounding areas. It became well known within a very short span of time. The city contained a large number of schools and libraries which carried on the work by the Abbasids in the form of literary and intellectual movement in the East. This city therefore became a huge store-house (of knowledge) between the Arabs of Spain and those of Africa".
The fact is that the establishment of the ldrisid state in Al-Maghrib led to grand consequences due to their efforts. Islam spread to every part of Al-Maghrib. Through their efforts, literary and intellectual movements started there and schools and libraries were set up. Urbanization increased and cities were founded which led to development of civilization and growth of culture.
Had not there been those difficult conditions which they had to face and which limited their activities and paralyzed their efforts, they had been much more than what they appear to us now.
The most glorious work which the Idrisids did was Islam was spread among the Berbers through their efforts and was firmly rooted among them, so much so that they became the staunchest among the tribes of Al-Maghrib in respect to defending Islam. Most of them were non-Muslims. The reason was that the Muslim conquerors before Idrisids gave them a bad treatment. When Idris I reached there, stayed among them, married a Berber woman who gave birth to many children, the Berbers and their grand-children became amalgamated. This fact the unification of the Berbers and grand-children of Idris I is borne out by more than one historian. They thus become one with the Berbers and propagated for Islam in those areas, and consequently founded two famous Islamic states in Al-Maghrib.
One of the most important factor which helped the Idrisids succeed in their mission and convert the Berbers to Islam was the treatment meted out to them by the Umayyad and Abbasid rulers which was nothing but dire cruelty and injustice that negated the spirit of Islam and presented it in most dark colors. This was the reason why the whole territory of Al-Maghrib always remained in continuous rebellion which could never be settled. The freedom-lovers of that area were always in search of a person who could be one with them. Most of them supported the Khariji and joined them in revolts against the government.
The Umayyad as well as the Abbasid ruled over these areas very cruelly and treated the people including the Berbers very badly, which made them run away from Islam and time and again rise in revolt against the rulers. This is just the opposite of what some historian write. As evidence we would like to refer to one incident which could hold us out. Yazid bin Abi Muslim Dinar was a freed slave of Hajaj Thaqafi who had made him his secretary and in-charge of the police. During the reign of Yazid bin Abdul Malik, he was appointed as viceroy in Al-Maghrib. He followed the policy of Hajaj in that area. One of the actions of Hajaj was that he used to levy Jizya on those who had become Muslims and ordered to go back to their villages in the same condition as they had been before their conversion to Islam.
Yazid bin Muslim tried to do exactly like Hajaj and impose his policy on Berbers. But Berbers did not remain patient over it and made a plan to kill him in which they succeeded. Similarly during the reign of Hisham bin Abdul Malik, the governor of Tanjah was Umar bin Abdullah al-Muradi. They ruled the Berbers very badly and tried to levy taxes from them which was usually taken from non-Muslims. Thus, the Berbers started hating and their hearts turned away from Muslims and they thought they were being exploited by the Arabs.
All the governors appointed by the Umayyads and the Abbasids on the whole annoyed the Berbers on account of the unjust demands they made to the Berbers. One example of such demands is that these officials liked the honey-coloured skins and took to extreme in acquiring and collecting them. Sometime a complete herd of sheep was slaughtered just in order to get the skins of their lambs still in the wombs, although they could get only one skin in such an operation. The author of Al-Istiqsa' says, "They appropriated the property of the together and defy such actions."
The honey-colored skins are just one example of the way the rulers played with the people in Al-Maghrib and made strange on them.
When Idris I reached and established the Idrisid state in Al-Maghrib, the Berbers came to know for the first time what real Islam is, and not what was represented by those tyrants. They realized that Islam was all justice, tolerance and mercy. They therefore joined its ranks in increasing numbers through the efforts of the Idrisids who were the descendents of Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and Imam Ali (A.S.).
These Berbers tribes succeeded the Idrisids in Morocco and what was left to the Muslims from Spain and established states other than those of the Berbres, like the Mu'ahhidin, Bani Marin, and Al-Murabitah. Some of these Berber States are famous for their stand in defense of Islam in Spain and against the European tyrants.
These Berbers have inherited their love and devotion for Holy Ahl al-Bait (A.S.) which is manifested even in our own time. Many a family of the Sayyids are still living in Al-Maghrib and enjoy great respect of the people in general.

Idrisids Love for knowledge
There would hardly be a scholar or student working in the filed of geography who does not know Sharif al-Idrisi who is the author of Nazhat-ul-Mushtaque Fi Ikhtiraq-il-Afaq, which is considered to be the best work on geography written by Muslims. Al-Idrisi also made a famous map which has been published in Arabic as well as Latin.
He is also known as Sharif Sagilli and he lived in Sigliyyah (Sicily) . He is also called Qurtabi because of the fact that he had studied in Qurtabah (Cordova) and attached himself to Roger the Great who was the ruler of Cordova and established a vast kingdom on Sicily which included many islands near it, after when the Fatimids and Banu Aghlab had lost their power. This king took care of good qualities of the Muslims and their scholars in order to benefit from their knowledge. One example is Sharif Idrisi.
The Idrisids, called by the name of the Family of As-Saqalli, specialized in medicine. They lived in what is now known as Tunis. They passed on this knowledge on their generations. Most of them are the descendants of Sharif al-Idrisi. This family of the Idrisid originally belonged to Sabtah, from where they migrated to Morocco. Some of them migrated to Sicily and others to Tunis and other parts of the territory which was then known as Al-Maghrib.
A part from the book already mentioned, Al-Idrisi wrote another scientific book relating to botany and named it Jame' Ashtat-un-Nabat. In this book he has collected the names of different plants in various languages, the number of which is more than ten languages, both Eastern and Western. From this book, we can conclude that Al-Idrisi was well-versed in botany, natural sciences and medicine more than his knowledge of geography, This book indicates the depth of his knowledge and keenness of his research. It is counted among rare manuscripts.
Besides Ash-Sharif was a traveler too who has traveled for and wide in the East as well as in the West, as is evidenced by his writing. He was also a poet of great prominence.

Idrisids History yet to be written
Dr. Husain Munis says, "The Idrisid State still needs a person who should write their history and defines its role in the development of Al-Maghrib. Till now, the authors of Islamic History count this state among small kingdoms which rose up at the disintegration of Al-Maghrib in the mid-second century after Hijrah. They treat it as they do the kingdoms of Banu Aghlab or Banu Rustum, and even at par with that Banu Madrar. During this modest exposition, they fail to discuss as how this state reserved a place for Islam and Arabism in Al-Maghrib and to show the great role it played in extending Islam's message to Morocco and Algiers, as well as how they put an end to foreign intrusions which were crushing this area during the last decade of the first century of Hijrah. They do not show what efforts its rulers made in laying the foundations of Islam in this area in the real sense of the word and stamping it permanently with Arabic color, giving this area the Arabic language and culture. Due to the good offices of the Idrisides, this country became an invincible fortress of Islam in the Western wing."

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