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hudhud
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Andalusi terminology
09:54:40 PM Friday Oct 28, 2005


A friend once asked me what mozarab means and we fell into a long conversation on the roots of various Andalus-related terms. Here are some commonly thrown-about terms and their meanings that I gave her as a reference. Most relate to architecture or sociology. To most of us north africans these terms are self-explanatory, we know what they mean since most of them are of Arabic origin. But to an American who's never studied Arabic, she said this was really helpful, so I'm posting here to share with others. If you can think of other important terms that aren't here, please post along with the definition.

**
Alcazaba - Alqasbah: central part of town

Alcazar - Alqasr: the castle

Alhambra - Alhamraa: the "red" fort/palace in Granada built by the Nasrids, named after the red brick material used in the exterior walls

Almohads - Almuhajireen: Berber dynasty following the Almoravids and before the Nasrids, took charge of a crumbling Al-Andalus after the decline of the Almoravids,
literally means the immigrants

Almoravids - Almurabitteen: Berber dynasty called from North Africa to aid some of the Taifa kingdoms in their disputes with each other, ended up taking control and re-unifying Al-Andalus, literally means the strugglers

Atalaya - Attalayah: the watch tower of a fort

Boabdil - Abu Abdillah: last Moorish ruler of Al-Andalus, surrendered Granada to Castilian rulers Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492

Lindaraja - Ain dar Aisha: an elaborately decorated room in the Alhambra with an excellent view, literally means the eye of Aisha's room, possibly referring to a concubine by that name

Madinat al-Zahra: city of flowers, ruined more rapidly than most other Andalusi city-palaces because it was situated on a low-lying plain, geographically vulnerable

Maqsura: section of the prayer hall in a mosque reserved for the emir

Moriscos: mixed Arab, Berber, and native Iberian, also refers to those Iberian Muslims who stayed behind after the Reconquest and were forced to convert to Christianity

Morros - Moors: mixed Arab and Berber, also used interchangeably to refer to the Muslims of Iberia and North Africa

Mozarabs: Iberian Christians who lived under Muslim rule, also refers to the unique dialects they spoke heavily influenced by Arabic and Hebrew

Mudejar: Muslims who lived under Christian rule, from "mudakhar" meaning saved or kept, also refers to the style of Islamic arts that the Christian kings continued to patronize after the Reconquest

Muladies - Muwalladun: Iberians born into Muslim families, either from native Iberian families that converted, or children of mixed Muslim-Christian marriages

Nasrid: the Nasiri dynasties, last rulers of a rapidly shrinking Al-Andalus, final stronghold was Granada, home of the Alhambra

Sahn: courtyard, flat open area in central part of mosque/building

Taifa - also Muluk attawaif: the kings/emirs of the many different competing parties/groups, a period in Andalusi history when the Iberian peninsula was shattered into various fighting factions, oftentimes in alliances with some of the Christian rulers. Taifa rulers heavily patronized artists and musicians, arts gained ground as symbolic of power, wealth, and prestige. "Taifa" is sometimes used as synonymous with extravagance.

Tiraz: embroidered textiles often with gold and/or silver

Zulejas, or zulejos: ceramics/earthenware especially tiles, from "zlaj" tiles, "zalij" meaning wet or slippery underfoot


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6:23 pm    December 1, 2005

hudhud message
6
lots of history and more! here's what my prof had to say:

"An interesting question. We don't know what the word means. Only one ancient source offers an etymology, the Roman historian Sallust in his Jugurthine Wars (chapter 18). You may want to look this passage up. He gives a brief account of the peoples of North Africa. it is not necessarily reliable. He claims the easterners with the army of the god Hercules settled in Africa, the Persians, Armenians and Medes. This is before the migrations of the Phoenicians, which he mentions later. He says that the one of the native populations, the Libyans, called the Medes in their own language, Mauri by confusion.
No one believes that this is right - ancient authors are often
inventing etymologies which are nothing more than a guess.

Ancient Mauretania, as you may know, was a famous kingdom in the Roman times. It was once ruled by Juba II, the son of an enemy of Julius Caesar whom he pardoned as a young boy of five when his father was killed. He was later married to Cleopatra Selene, the only surviving child of Antony and Cleopatra. Their son Ptolemy succeeded them but was later executed by the mad emperor Caligula who was jealous of his parentage."

·

6:57 pm    November 3, 2005
K M A
5
i just wanna say that almohads are al mouwahidoun not al muhajiroun.
no dynasty in the history of morocco was known as al muhajiroun and not even in other arab or muslim countries( i guess the reason would be not to confound them with the real mouhajiroun, who are those who migrated from mecca to medina when the prophet 'salla allahou 3alayhi wa salam' permitted it')
·

11:56 am    October 30, 2005

Rasta Gnawi message
4
3
Almoravids are al murabiton, founded by youssef ibn tachafine

Almohads are al muwahidonm founded by ibn tumart.

Both berbers, almohads succeeded almoravids.

As for the moors, I must insist that the appelation comes from the arabic word umara' (princes) due to the subdivision of andalusia into little fiefdoms ruled by princes. The again you bring up the word Mauritania and the similarity throws a monkey wrench in my thinking. So I need to research this a little more.

I heard the German relation as well. In Figuig they claim some old scholar who settled there was from Germany or something like that (Sidi Abdel Jabbar.)

·

3:54 pm    October 29, 2005

hudhud message
3
I have never heard/read that explanation of almohads before, that's interesting. in my mind it doesn't differentiate them from the almoravids, since they also "wahadou"/unified al-andalus. from what I learned the main difference was that the almoravids helped fight many battles as merceneries if you will, before finally taking over and ruling Iberia, while the almohads migrated and moved in more quickly as a ruling group.

Here's what Wikipedia says about the word "moor" though it doesn't tell us what it really meant in ancient Roman..I'll ask my former classics prof, he might know..my hunch is that it may be derived from the name of a native king or chief before the Romans annexed their lands and became the rulers..this will be a fun quest...
Wiki says:
"The name derives from the old Berber ("barbarian") tribe of the Mauri and their kingdom, Mauretania. It became a Roman province after its last king Bocchus II willed it to Caesar Augustus in 33 BC. Mauretania lay in present-day Morocco and Western Algeria, and must not be confused with the country of Mauritania, which lies more to the south. The name of Mauri was applied by the Romans to all African natives of North Africa who were still ruled by their own chiefs, until the 3rd century AD"

Arabs typically do not use the term moor/morisky as much - I think it's a very recent arabicization, but have historically referred to the many different native groups simply as "alqaba'il" the tribes, which is where the French term kabyle originates. The term amazigh (or imazighen/tamazight) literally means THE people.. I used to feel that was arrogant, but recently I heard from a Guatemalan friend that the ancient Maya used to refer to themselves in the same way, as "the" people. Could that be perhaps b/c they didn't mix much with other groups at that time? Or is it really arrogance, each group thinking itself better/more civilized than anyone else?

As for the term "berber" some people find it offensive since it's a European term that referred to our people as barbarians, savages, mainly in reference to the "pirate" activity along the shores of north africa, then called "the barbary coast". I met an English woman who thought berber meant carpet, maybe that was all they cared to know about us. I had an old German professor in college who tried to convince me that we are descendants of the Vandals. I told him, no way, we existed before the Vandals. he didn't like that very much :P
I still wonder, where did the ancient moors come from? they are supposed to be of caucasian descent, but from what region did they migrate before settling north africa? any ideas?

·

8:16 am    October 29, 2005

Rasta Gnawi message
2
I remember having studied andalusian history in secondary school, but we never used the word moor to describe people of the era. I think we had called the age of princes, 3ahd al umaraa', or 3ahd al umayrat (not sure which one.) It was only when I cam to the US that I discovered thw word moor. But now, even in Arabic they use the word moor (al moriskyun!) Does anyone have any idea what happened to the word. Wikipedia and google both failed to give any satisfactory explanation of the proper origins of the word moor.
·

8:03 am    October 29, 2005

Rasta Gnawi message
1
Almohads = Al mouwahidoon
·

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