Algerian History: Banu Ifran

The Kingdom of Banu Ifran existed in Algeria from 790 AD to 1068 AD and the city known today as Tlemcen was the capital. It was ruled by a Berber Tribe known as the Ifranid Dynasty, which was also referred to as Banu Ifran. They were a very significant tribe during the early Islamic and pre-Islamic times in the country. This tribe is especially noted for their role as brave and courageous warriors that fought with other tribes to protect their land against occupation and foreign invaders.

The tribe’s heroism and eagerness to aid various other tribes in the common goal to fight off invasion is legendary, such as during the seventh century to ward off the Umayyad, the Arab Umayyad during the eighth century and opposing numerous dynasties, including the Fatimids and Zirids in the tenth century. They are also recognised as the only dynasty that was prepared to step in and protect the people of Maghreb. There were four notable tribes in the Zenata confederation, of which the Banu Ifran was one of the major communities. As a tribe that specialized in warfare and cavalry, they were continuously called upon to assist in revolts. The Justinian reigned between the years of 547 and 550. Armed forces of the Banu Ifran took it upon themselves to provoke the Byzantine into a war. Tlemcen was rebuilt by the Banu Ifran chief, Abu Qurra, in 765, and in 945, they joined forces with the Maghrawa tribe to fight off the Egyptian Fatimids. The Fatimids decided to regroup and retaliate, destroying the city of Ifgan that was constructed by Ya’la ibn Muhammad. The Banu Ifan once again survived by going back to their nomadic roots, but in the eleventh century they again assisted the Maghrawa, who eventually won Fes in 993. Fes was recaptured in 1033, which led to the slaughter of thousands of Jewish Berbers, but the Maghrawa fought back again from 1038 to 1040, taking back control of Fes.

The Almoravids eventually came into power and destroyed both the tribes of Maghrawa and Banu Ifran. Before Islam was introduced to the Banu Ifran, they placed great emphasis on myths, rites and the appeasing of gods and goddesses. It is believed that after 711, the tribe gradually became converted to accept the Islamic religion, and most were believers and practitioners of Islam.