Zaouia of Dila

The Zaouia of Dila (Berber languages: Ait Idilla) was a Sufi brotherhood, centred in the Middle Atlas range of Morocco. It was founded by Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad al-Majjati al-Sanhaji (1537–1612),[1] a Sanhaja Berber of the Mjjat tribe,[2] a branch of the Ait Idrassen confederation.[3] He was a follower of the famous mystic Muhammad al-Jazuli. The ruins of the town of Dila are situated just south of the city of Khenifra.

Under the leadership of Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, the brotherhood was able to establish itself in the Berber territory of the Middle Atlas and High Atlas mountain ranges.[4] From 1637 onwards, the brotherhood started with the conquest of large parts of northern Morocco. By 1641, they had conquered Meknes, Fes and the port of Salé; from where a rival marabout, al-Ayachi, was expelled, and assassinated on 30 April 1641.[5][6] In Fes, the Saadi family was expelled and Muhammad al-Hajj (1635–1688) was proclaimed sultan.[7]

The Dila'ites would rule over central and northern Morocco until 1668, when Dila itself was annexed by the shurafa Alaouites and Fes was taken.[8]


  1. Dartois, Marie-France (2008). Agadir et le sud marocain: à la recherche du temps passé, des origines au tremblement de terre du 29 février 1960 (in French). Courcelles. p. 271. ISBN 9782916569307.
  2. Hajji, M. (1988). Al-Zawiya al-Dila'iyya [The Zaouia of Dila] (in Arabic) (2nd ed.). Rabat. p. 28.
  3. Chiapuris, John (1979). The Ait Ayash of the High Moulouya Plain: Rural Social Organization in Morocco. University of Michigan Press. pp. 17. ISBN 978-0-932206-83-1.
  4. Gandini, Jacques (2006). Pistes du Maroc à travers l'histoire (in French). SERRE EDITEUR. p. 1000. ISBN 9782864104391.
  5. Coindreau, Roger (2006). Les corsaires de Salé (in French). Eddif. p. 52. ISBN 9789981896765.
  6. Peyron, Michael (1995). "Dila'". In Camps, Gabriel (ed.). Encyclopédie berbère. 15 | Daphnitae – Djado. Aix-en-Provence: Edisud. ISBN 978-2857448082.
  7. Lugan, Bernard (2016-06-02). Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord: Des origines à nos jours (in French). Editions du Rocher. p. 272. ISBN 9782268085340.
  8. Publications de l'Institut des hautes études marocaines (in French). E. Leroux. 1949. p. 285.
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