Tunisia & Sicily

As we move westward, we enter into territories that claimed a looser connection with the heartlands of ‘Abbasid power. The name “Ifriqiyya” appears in Arabic sources to refer to modern Tunisia (in modern Arabic, it just means “Africa,” which can be confusing). Ifriqiyya was conquered under the Umayyads, but it was a slow and difficult process. The city of Qayrawan was the main center for early Muslim communities. The Umayyads faced a number of revolts, sometimes called the “Berber Revolts” and other times called the “Kharijite Revolts”: the two main revolts occurred in the 690s and in the 730s-early740s. These destabilized the province. When the ‘Abbasids took over, their governors made treaties with the Kharijites to keep the peace, but at the time of the fourth fitna they assigned a dynastic gubernatorial family over Ifriqiyya. Like the Tahirids in Khorasan, the Aghlabids were ‘Abbasid governors from the early 9th century, before the Decade of Anarchy. However, they rule as independent emirs like many of the other regional powers we’ve seen so far.

Early Islamic Ifriqiyya



Undated Inscription

This inscription is undated, but it was certainly written after the arrival of Islam in North Africa. It reads “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficient” in Berber. It was found in the Acacus Mountains, Libya. You can read more about the Tifinagh inscriptions here.