Abdallah al-Ghalib

Abdallah al-Ghalib Billah (1517 – 22 January 1574, reigned 1557–74) was the second Saadian sultan of Morocco. He succeeded his father Mohammed ash-Sheikh as Sultan of Morocco.

Abdallah al-Ghalib
Sultan of Morocco
PredecessorMohammed ash-Sheikh
SuccessorAbdallah Mohammed
Died22 January 1574
ReligionSunni Islam
Abdallah al-Ghalib built the Ben Youssef Madrasa.

With his first wife, Mohammed ash-Sheikh had three sons, but the two oldest had died while he was still alive (in 1550 and in 1551). Abdallah, the third, was 40 years old when he became sultan and received the name al-Ghalib Billah. Before that he had been vice-king of Marrakesh and governor of Fes.

Shortly after Abdallah came to power, three of his younger brothers fled the country and joined the Ottoman Turks. Abd al-Malik and Ahmad, both future Sultans of Morocco, spent 17 years in exile in the Ottoman Empire, moving between Algiers and Constantinople, where they were trained by the Ottomans.[1]

During a relatively peaceful reign Abdallah succeeded in warding off both the Spanish and the Turks and in consolidating the sovereignty of the Saadians over Morocco.

He fought the invading Turks in 1558 at the Battle of Wadi al-Laban, the Ottomans had to retreat because the Spaniard were launching an expedition on Oran.[2] The Moroccan ruler formed an alliance with the Spanish against the Ottomans.[2] After his victory he even occupied Tlemcen for a short period. The Spaniard, and the Moroccans were destroyed at the expedition of Mostaganem in 1558 by the Ottomans. In 1568 he supported the insurrection of the Moriscos in Spain.

Abdallah al-Ghalib Billah died on 22 January 1574 of an asthma attack. After his reign a period of civil war was to follow that lasted four years.

During his reign, Abdallah al-Ghalib Billah resided in Marrakesh. He was a prolific builder who is responsible for building, among other projects, the Mouassin Mosque, a maristan (a hospital usually attached to a mosque), and the Ben Youssef Medrassa. He repaired and restored the originally Almohad-built Kasbah Mosque and he is also believed to have also begun the first mausoleum of the Saadian Tombs located behind that mosque.[3][4]

He was succeeded by his son Abdallah Mohammed, despite a Saadian inheritance rule that decreed that the throne pass on to his eldest surviving brother, the exiled Abd al-Malik.


  1. The last great Muslim empires: history of the Muslim world by Frank Ronald Charles Bagley, Hans Joachim Kissling p.103
  2. Abun-Nasr, Jamil M. (1987-08-20). A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521337670.
  3. Deverdun, Gaston (1959). Marrakech: Des origines à 1912. Rabat: Éditions Techniques Nord-Africaines.
  4. Salmon, Xavier (2016). Marrakech: Splendeurs saadiennes: 1550-1650. Paris: LienArt. ISBN 9782359061826.

See also

Preceded by
Mohammed ash-Sheikh
Saadi Dynasty
Succeeded by
Abu Abdallah Mohammed II

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