The region included today in Tunisia, colonized by the Phoenicians on the coast and inhabited by the Numidians, was partly dominated by Carthage before 146 BC. C. Conquered by the Romans, it formed the province of Proconsular Africa; with the diocletian order, it was divided into two parts: one kept the old name, the other was the Bizacena (v.). After being of the Vandals and the Byzantines, it was invaded by the Arabs.

The Arab invaders commanded by the governor of Egypt ‛Abd Allāh ibn Sa‛d, a few thousand in all, later reinforced by‛ Abd Allāh ibn az-Zubair, arrived in the 27th of Hegira (647-648 AD) in territory of modern-day Tunisia, then ruled by the Byzantine Gregory, and after various feats of arms fantastically narrated by Arab authors, they defeated Gregory at Suffetula (Sbeiṭlah), then returned to the East, contenting themselves with the loot and the imposition of the tribute. In the years immediately following the attention of the Arabs was distracted by the political and religious disputes of Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia. In the year 45 (665-666) the Arab expeditions began again: the exploits of the leader ‛Oqbah ibn Nāfi‛ were decisive for the conquest,ī qiyah, comprising present-day western Algeria, Tunisia and Tripolitania. In 50 eg. (670-671) ‛Oqbah founded the city of al-Qairawan (Kairouān, v.), Which was originally a simple military camp, but later became a city with civil and religious buildings and was for a few centuries the main center from which Islamic religion and culture radiated throughout the Ifrīqiyah.

‛Oqbah was killed in Tehūdah (modern day Algeria) in the year 683 in a Berber attack after carrying the Muslim insignia to the Atlantic. In the twenty years that followed, the Berbers, led by Kusaylah and, after he died, by al-Kāhinah, stood up to the Arabs in a violent struggle that caused the destruction of a large part of northern Africa; also killed al-Kāhinah in 86 (705-706) in the territory of Tunisia, Islām was firmly implanted in Ifrīqiyah. For Tunisia 2000, please check

For another century the Arab domination in the Ifrīqiyah was jeopardized by the uprisings of the Berbers, now all Muslims but mostly adhering to the heterodox doctrines of the Khārigiti (Ibāḍiti and Ṣofriti); the capital al-Qairawān itself was taken by the insurgents; the governors sent by the Umayyad caliphs of Damascus (up to 750) and then by the ‛abbāsid caliphs of Baghdād had to continually fight against the Berbers, who found refuge in the mountains, and solicit the sending of Arab reinforcements. Yazīd ibn Ḥātim (772-787) and the descendants of his family (Mohallabite) succeeded in re-establishing the authority of the caliphs in the province; Ibrāhīm ibn al-Aghlab then imposed himself more firmly, who quelled the agitations of the Berbers and of the regular militias themselves (giund) Arabs and, supported by the favor and trust of the Caliph Hārūn ar-Rashīd, restored order and justice. He gave rise to a dynasty (the Aghlabites), which ruled the Ifrīqiyah for more than a century (800-909) and led the Arabs and Berbers to the conquest of Malta and Sicily (started 827 AD): al-Qairawān was then a great Muslim political and cultural center; the progress of civil and military systems was accompanied by a flowering of studies, which still had their roots in the East, but began to develop independently also on African soil. Asad ibn al-Furāt, who commanded the expedition to Sicily and died at the siege of Syracuse in 828, had been q ā ḍ īby al-Qairawān; his pupil Abū Sa‛īd ibn Ḥabīb Saḥnūn (died 854) propagated in the Ifrīqiyah the juridical doctrines of Anas ibn Mālik (Mālikite rite) which, except for the ‛obaidita parenthesis, have remained there until today. South-west of alQairawān the Emir Ibrāhīm (II) al-Aghlabī built the city of Raqqādah in 877, which was the emirate’s residence and place of pleasure for many years; Tunis too was for some time the seat of the Aghlabite emirs.

At the beginning of the century X a propagandist of the Ismā‛īlite Shiites, Abū ‛Abd Allāh ash-Shī‛ī, stirred up a movement of revolt among the Berber tribe of the Kutāmah, based in the territory of present-day Algeria, which depended on the Aghlabite emirate, and prepared the ground for the coming of the awaited Mahd ī, the man “guided” by God. The Mahd ī was recognized in the person of ‛Obaid Allāh, coming from Syria; all the Ifrīqiyah was conquered by his followers, who were called ‛Obaiditi (or Fāṭimiti) in the year 909; the last Aghlabite emir, Ziyādat Allāh (II) fled to Tripoli and then to the East.

‛Obaid Allāh and his son Abū’l-Qāsim al-Qā’im bi-amr Allāh ruled over Ifrīqiyah and Sicily and preferably resided in the new fortified city of al-Mahdiyyah, finished building in the year 308 (920- 921). A descendant of theirs, al-Mu‛izz li-dīn Allāh, through the Sicilian general Giawhar, conquered Egypt and built the city called al-Qāhirah (Cairo); he himself went to settle in the new capital founded on the Nile (973) and left the Berber Bulukkīn ibn Zīrī to govern Tripoli, Tunisia and eastern Algeria.

A descendant of these, al-Mu‛izz ibn Bādīs, denied obedience to the Fatimite ruler of Egypt, stopped the mention of his name in the khu ṭ bah(sermon) on Friday and recognized the sovereignty of the Sunni caliph of Baghdād. Then the ruler of Egypt sent the Arab tribes of Banū Hilāl and Banū Sulaim against the Ifrīqiyah, which upset and devastated the country, leaving the only cities of the coast from Gabes and al-Mahdiyyah to the emirs Zīrīdi; the territories of the interior and the cities of al-Qairawān and Tunis were occupied by the Arab leaders. After the year 1000, relations between the Ifriqiyah and the European coasts of the Mediterranean were re-established, with the prevalence of Christian states. The seat of the Zīrīdi, al-Mahdiyyah, was attacked by Christian ships in 1088. Shortly after the Normans put an end to the Muslim domination in Sicily and set out to conquer the African coasts; Djerba, Gabes, Sfax and al-Mahdiyyah (in 1148) fell into their power.

Tunisia Early History

Tunisia Early History
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