Hawwara (Berber: Ihuwwaren, Arabic: هوارة), also spelled Huwwara, Howwara, Hewwara or Houara, was a large Berber tribal confederation spread widely in the Maghreb and has descendants in Upper Egypt and Sudan. Hawwara are amongst the most prominent tribes in Upper Egypt, with branches found mainly in Qena. In Sudan, they are labelled as Hawwaweer (Arabic: هواوير) (plural of Hawwara), and have a significant political presence.[1]

Tribal confederation
BranchesAddasa, Andara, Awtita, Baswa, Gharyan, Haragha, Banu Irmazyan, Kaldin, Kamlan, Karkuda, Lahan or Lahana, Maghar, Malila, Maslata, Mindasa or Mindas (Mandasa, Mandas), Misrata, Razin, Satat, Tarhuna, Wannifan, Warfalla, Wargha, Warsatifa, Washtata, Yaghmorasen, Zakkawa and Zanzafa


The Hawwara were composed of numerous tribes and clans. Some of them are: the Addasa, the Andara, the Awtita, the Baswa, the Gharyan, the Haragha, the Banu Irmazyan, the Kaldin, the Kamlan, the Karkuda, the Lahan or Lahana, the Maghar, the Malila, the Maslata, the Mindasa or Mindas (Mandasa, Mandas), the Misrata, the Razin, the Satat, the Tarhuna, the Wannifan, the Warfalla, the Wargha, the Warsatifa, the Washtata, the Yaghmorasen, the Zakkawa and the Zanzafa.[2]


The Hawwara's original homeland was in Tripolitania, 8th century accounts mention an ard Hawwara (country of the Hawwara). From the 8th century to 12th century, the eastern boundaries of their land ran through Tawergha, Waddan, and Zella. Hawwara's territory was bordered to the east by the Mazata tribe.[2]

A fraction of the Hawwara were part the Fatimid army that conquered Egypt in 969. After the conquest, they were given land grants by the Fatimid caliphs.[2] The Hawwara tribe became dominant in al-Buhayra in Egypt. In 1380/1381, Barquq, Sultan of the Mamluks, established some Hawwara groups in Upper Egypt and granted the Iqta' of Girga to the Hawwari chief, Isma'il ibn Mazin. Isma'il was succeeded by Umar, the eponymous of the Banu Umar clan.[3] After sacking al-Fayyum in 1485, the Hawwara tribes became the true rulers of Upper Egypt.[4]

In Egypt's history, the whole southern region is the cradle of tribal settlements. By the 19th century, Upper Egypt was completely ruled by the Hawwara tribe. Governance had become decentralized as the Hawwara spread their sovereignty over ten provinces and parts of the other remaining twenty-one provinces in Upper Egypt.[5] The Hawwara tribe were deemed to be the de facto rulers of Upper Egypt and their authority spanned across North Africa, up until the campaigns of Ibrahim Pasha in 1813, which finally crushed their dominant influence.[6]

During the Mamluk rule in Egypt, the Hawwara were the most dominant tribe in Upper Egypt under the leadership of Sheikh Hammam.[7] Sultan Barquq made relationships with the Hawwara in order to keep the Arab tribes from becoming powerful.[8] Towards the end of the Mamluk dynasty, the Hawwara and Arabs began cooperating to kill Mamluks. Due to their cooperation, the Mamluks labelled the Hawwara as being Arab. Although they are originally Berber, the term "Sheikh of the Arabs" is usually bestowed upon their leaders.

Notable Hawaris

  • Sheikh Hammam, leader of the Hawwara tribes during the 18th century of Egypt.


  1. "الهواوير".
  2. Lewicki, T. (1986) [1971]. "Hawwāra". In Lewis, B.; Ménage, V. L.; Pellat, C.; Schacht, J. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. III (2nd ed.). Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. BRILL. p. 296. ISBN 9004081186.
  3. Holt, P.M. (1986) [1971]. "Hawwāra". In Lewis, B.; Ménage, V. L.; Pellat, C.; Schacht, J. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. III (2nd ed.). Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. BRILL. p. 299. ISBN 9004081186.
  4. Levanoni, Amalia (2010). Fierro, Maribel (ed.). The New Cambridge History of Islam. Volume 2, The Western Islamic World, Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries. Cambridge University Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-1-316-18433-2.
  5. Zaalouk, Malak (2006). The pedagogy of empowerment : community schools as a social movement in Egypt. American University in Cairo Press. ISBN 9789774160264.
  6. Baer, Gabriel. "Studies in the Social History of Modern Egypt." (1969).
  7. Petry, Carl F., ed. The Cambridge History of Egypt. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  8. Petry, Carl F. "A Geniza for Mamluk Studies? Charitable Trust (Waqf) Documents as a Source for Economic and Social History." Mamluk Studies Review 2 (1998): 51-60.
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