Banu Ifran

The Ifranids, also called Banu Ifran, Ifran, or the children of the Ifran (Arabic: بنو يفرن, Banu Yifran), were a Zenata Berber tribe prominent in the history of pre-Islamic and early Islamic North Africa. In the 8th century, they established a kingdom in Central Maghreb, Algeria with Tlemcen as its capital.

The Banu Ifran resisted or revolted against foreign occupiers—Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines—of their territory in Africa. In the seventh century, they sided with Kahina in her resistance against the Muslim Umayyad invaders. In the eighth century they mobilized around the dogma of sufri, revolting against the Arab Umayyads and Abbasids.

In the 10th century they founded a dynasty opposed to the Fatimids, the Zirids, the Umayyads, the Hammadids and the Maghraoua. The Banu Ifran were defeated by the Almoravids and the invading Arabs (the Banu Hilal and the Banu Sulaym)[1] to the end of the 11th century. The Ifranid dynasty [2] was recognized as the only dynasty that has defended the indigenous people of the Maghreb, by the Romans referred to as the Africani.[3] In 11th century Iberia, the Ifrenid founded a Taifa of Ronda since 1039[4] at Ronda in Andalusia and governed from Cordoba for several centuries.[5]


Tlemcen, a capital of Banu Ifran

The Banu Ifran were one of the four major tribes of the Zenata or Gaetulia [6] confederation, and were known as expert cavalrymen. According to Ibn Khaldoun, "Ifrinides" or "Ait Ifren" were successfully resisting Romans, Vandals and Byzantines who sought to occupy North Africa before the arrival of the Muslim armies. According to Corippus in his Iohannis,[7] during the reign of Justinian I between 547 and 550, the Banu Ifran challenged the Byzantine armies under John Troglita to war.[8][9][10][11] Their chief Abu Qurra rebuilt the city of Tlemcen in Algeria in 765 (formerly, it was a Roman city named Pomaria). They opposed the Egyptian Fatimid Caliphate, aligning themselves with the Maghrawa tribe and the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba, although they themselves became Kharijites. Led by Abu Yazid, they surged east and attacked Kairouan in 945. Another leader, Ya'la ibn Muhammad captured Oran and constructed a new capital, Ifgan, near Mascara. Under the leadership of their able general Jawhar, who killed Ya'la in battle in 954,[12] the Fatimids struck back and destroyed Ifgan, and for some time afterward the Banu Ifran reverted to being scattered nomads in perpetual competition with their Sanhaja neighbours. Some settled in regions of Spain, such as Málaga. Others, led by Hammama, managed to gain control of the Moroccan province of Tadla. Later, led by Abu al-Kamāl, they established a new capital at Salé on the Atlantic coast, though this brought them into conflict with the Barghawata tribes on the seaboard.

The dynasty of the Ifrinids, Ibn Khaldoun, Histoire des Berbères, section Banou Ifran

During the 11th century, the Banu Ifran contested with the Maghrawa tribe for the control of Morocco after the fall of the Idrisid dynasty. Ya'la's son Yaddū took Fes by surprise in January 993 and held it for some months until the Maghrawa ruler Ziri ibn Atiyya returned from Spain and reconquered the region.

In May or June 1033, Fes was recaptured by Ya'la's grandson Tamīm. Fanatically devoted to religion, he began a persecution of the Jews,[13] and is said to have killed 6000 of their men while confiscating their wealth and women, but Ibn Khaldoun says only persecution without killing.[14] Sometime in the period 1038-1040 the Maghrawa tribe retook Fes, forcing Tamīm to flee to Salé.

Soon after that time, the Almoravids began their rise to power and effectively conquered both the Banu Ifran and their brother-rivals the Maghrawa.


The name of the Berber dynasty "Ifran" is the plural form of the Berber language word "ifri" or "afri" which means "cave / tunnel". Other possibilities are that their name is derived from one of the major gods of the pagan Berbers, Ifru or Ifrou, or that the name is derived from the region of Yifran in present-day north-west Libya[15] where they may have originated.

The name of the Ifran tribe has many alternative spellings, such as Ifuraces or Afar in Latin, or Ifrinidi, Iforen, Fren, Wafren, Yefren, Yafren, or Yafran, but all of the names mean simply "The Sons of Ifri". The Arabic prefix banu- was added by the Muslim writers and is equal to the Berber prefix "ayt" which means: "the sons of" or "those of".


Before Islam

As of Hadrian (136), representing Africa

Among the Ifran, animism was the principal spiritual philosophy. Ifri was also the name of a Berber deity, and their name may have an origin in their beliefs.[16] Ifru rites symbolized in caves were held to gain favor or protection for merchants and traders. The myth of this protection is befittingly depicted on Roman coins.[17][18]

Ifru was regarded as a sun goddess, cave goddess and protector of the home.[19][20] Ifru or Ifran was regarded as a Berber version of Vesta.

Dehia, usually referred to as The Kahina was the Dejrawa Berber queen, prophetess, and leader of the non-Muslim response to the advancing Arab armies. Some historians claim Kahina was Christian,[21] or a follower of the Judaic faith,[13][22][23] though few of the Ifran were Christians, even after more than half a millennium of Christianity among the urban populations and the more sedentary tribes. Ibn Khaldun simply states that Ifran were Berbers, and says nothing of their religion before the advent of Islam.

During Islam

The Banu Ifran were opposed to the Sunnis of the Arab armies. They eventually converted, but summoned under the Kharidjite movement within Islam. Ibn Khaldun claimed that the "Zenata people say they are Muslims but they still oppose the Arab army.".[24][25] After 711, the Berbers were systematically converted to Islam and many became devout members of the faith.


Preceded by
Rustamid and Umayyad Dynasty
Ifrinid Dynasty
950- 1066
Succeeded by
Almoravid dynasty

Ifran in Spain

Ronda was built by Abu Nour in 1014

The Banu Ifran were influential in Spain in the 11th century AD. The Ifran house of Corra ruled the Andalusian city Ronda in Spain. Yeddas was the military leader of the Berber troops who were at war against the Christian king and El Mehdi. Abu Nour or Nour of the house of Corra became lord of Ronda and then Seville in Andalusia from 1023 to 1039 and from 1039 to 1054. The son of Nour bin Badis Hallal ruled Ronda from 1054 to 1057, and Abu Nacer from 1057 to 1065.[26]


  1. Histoire des BerbYres et des dynasties musulmanes de l'Afrique ... - ʻAbd al-Raḥman b. Muḥammad Ibn Khaldчn - Google Livres. 1856. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  2. Histoire politique du Maroc: pouvoir, légitimités, et institutions, ʻAbd al-Laṭīf Aknūsh, Abdelatif Agnouche,p.85, Afrique Orient, 1987 book on line
  3. Compleḿent de l'Encycloped́ie moderne: dictionnaire abreǵe ́ des sciences, des ... - Noel̈ Desverges, Lжon Renier, Edouard Carteron, Firmin Didot (Firm). - Google Livres. 1857. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  4. Histoire Des Musulmans D'espagne ,Reinhart Pieter et Anne Dozy, p.238 Book on line
  5. Rachel Arié (199O). Études sur la civilisation de l'Espagne musulmane [Studies on the Civilization of Muslim Spain]. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 154. ISBN 90-04-09116-5 via Google Books.
  6. Recueil des notices et mémoires de la Société archéologique de la province , Société archéologique
  7. Corpus scriptorum historiae byzantinae , Barthold Georg Niebuhr
  8. Corripus, la Johannide
  9. Monographie de l'aurès , Delartigue
  10. The Golden Age of the Moor, Ivan van Sertima,
  11. Itineraria Phoenicia , Edward Lipiński
  12. So says the Rawd al-Qirtas. But according to Ibn Khaldun, Yala died assassinated by a member of the Fatimides in 958.
  13. Relations judéo-musulmanes au Marocperceptions et réalités , Michel Abitbol
  14. Ibn Khaldoun, Histoire des Berbères
  15. A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, edited by Jamil M. Abun-Nasr, p43
  16. Archives des missions scientifiques et littéraires , France Commission des missions scientifiques et littéraires, France,
  17. Recueil des notices et mémoires de la Société archéologique, historique, du département de Constantine , Arnolet, 1878
  18. Recueil des notices et mщmoires de la Sociщtщ archщologique, historique, et ... - Google Livres. 1878. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  19. Les cultes païens dans l'Empire romain , Jules Toutain, page 416, p635 and p636
  20. Toutain, Jules (1920). Les cultes paяens dans l'Empire romain - Jules Toutain - Google Livres. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  21. Gabriel Camps, Berber encyclopaedia
  22. The FalashasA Short History of the Ethiopian Jews , David Kessler
  23. Ibn Khaldoun, Histoire des Berbères et des dynasties musulmanes de l'Afrique septentrionale, traduction de William McGuckin de Slane, éd. Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1978, tome 1, pp. 208-209 .
  24. Ibn Khaldun, Histoire des berberes, Traduction Slane, édition Berti
  25. La Berbérie et L'Islam et la France , Eugène Guernier, party 1, édition de l'union française, 1950
  26. list of leaders in arabic


  • Ibn Abi Zar, Rawd al-Qirtas. Annotated Spanish translation: A. Huici Miranda, Rawd el-Qirtas. 2nd edition, Anubar Ediciones, Valencia, 1964. Vol. 1 ISBN 84-7013-007-2.
  • C. Agabi (2001), article "Ifren" in Encyclopédie Berbère vol. 24, p. 3657-3659 (Édisud, Aix-en-Provence, ISBN 2-85744-201-7)
  • Ibn Khaldun, Kitab el Ibar, French translation (ISBN 2-7053-3638-9)
  • Le passé de l'Afrique du Nord. Écrit par E.F. Gautier. Édition Payot, Paris
  • Ibn Khaldoun Les prolégomènes El Mokadima
  • Gisèle Halimi. Title: La Kahina.
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