Kairouan

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Kairouan (Arabic: القيروان‎) (an aa kent as Kirwan, Al Qayrawan), is the caipital o the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisie. Referred tae as the Islamic Cultural Caipital, it is a UNESCO Warld Heritage site. The ceety wis foondit bi the Arabs around 670. In the period o Caliph Mu'awiya, it became an important center for Islamic an Quranic learnin, an thus attractin a lairge number o Muslims frae various pairts o the warld, next anerlie tae Mecca an Medina. The holy Mosque o Uqba is situatit in the ceety.[1][2] It is considered bi mony Muslims tae be Islam's fowert holiest ceety.[3]

Etymology[eedit | eedit soorce]

The oreeginal name wis derived frae Arabic kairuwân, frae Persian Kâravân, meanin "military/civilian camp" (frae Kâr, "war/military," an van/wan, "ootpost"), "caravan", or "restin place" (see caravanserai).[4]

History[eedit | eedit soorce]

Kairouan wis foondit in aboot the year 670 when the Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi o Amir Muauia selectit a site in the middle o a dense forest, then infestit wi wild beasts an reptiles, as the location o a military post for the conquest o the Wast. It wis locatit far frae the sea whaur it wis safe frae continued attacks o the Berbers who haed fiercely resistit the Arab invasion. Berber resistance continued, led first bi Kusaila whose troops killed Uqba at Biskra aboot fifteen years efter the military post wis established, an then bi a Berber woman cried Al-Kahina who wis killed an her airmy defeatit in 702. Subsequently, there wis a mass conversion o the Berbers tae Islam. Kharijites or Islamic 'ootsiders' which formed an egalitarian an puritanical sect appeared an are still present on the island o Jerba. In 745, Kharijite Berbers captured Kairouan, which wis awready at that time a developed ceety wi luxuriant gardens an olive groves.

Pouer struggles remained till Kairouan wis recaptured bi Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab at the end o the 8t century. In 800, Ibrahim wis confirmed Emir an hereditary ruler o Ifriqiya bi Caliph Harun ar-Rashid in Baghdad. Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab foondit the Aghlabid dynasty that ruled Ifriqiya atween 800 an 909. The new Emirs embellished Kairouan an made it their caipital which suin became famous for its weel an prosperity reachin the levels o Basra an Kufa an givin Tunisie ane o its gowden ages lang sought efter the glorious days o Carthage.

The Aghlabites built the great mosque an established in it a university that wis a centre o education baith in Islamic thought an in the secular sciences. Its role can be compared tae that o the University o Paris in the Middle Ages. In the 9t century, the ceety became a brilliant focus o Arab an Islamic culturs attractin scholars frae aw ower the Islamic Warld. In that period Imam Sahnun an Asad ibn al-Furat made o Kairouan a temple o knawledge an a magnificent centre o diffusion o Islamic sciences. The Aghlabids an aa built palaces, fortifications an fine waterworks o which anerlie the puils remain. Frae Kairouan envoys frae Charlemagne an the Holy Roman Empire returned wi glowin reports o the Aghlabites palaces, libraries an gardens – an frae the cripplin taxation imposed tae pay for their drunkenness an sundry debaucheries. The Aghlabite an aa pacified the kintra an conquered Sicily in 827[5].

Gowd coin o the Fatimid Calif al-Mahdi, mintit in Kairouan in 912 CE.

In 893, through the mission o Ubaydalla Said, the Kutama Berbers frae the wast o the kintra stairtit the muivement o the Shiite Fatimids. The year 909 saw the owerthrow o the Sunni Aghlabite that ruled Ifriqiya an the creation o the Shiite Fatimid dynasty. Durin the reign o the Fatimids, Kairouan wis neglectit an lost its importance as the new rulers residit first in Raqqada but suin moved their caipital tae the newly built Al Mahdiyah on the coast o modren Tunisie. Efter succeedin in extendin their rule ower aw o central Maghreb, an aurie consistin o the modren kintras o Morocco, Algerie, Tunisie an Libie, they eventually moved east tae Egyp tae foond Cairo makin it the caipital o their vast Caliphate an leavin the Zirids as their vassals in Ifriqiya. Govrenin again frae Kairouan, the Zirids led the kintra through anither airtistic, commercial an agricultural heyday. Schools an universities flourisht, owerseas trade in local manufactures an farm produce ran hie an the courts o the Zirids rulers wur centres o refinement that eclipsed those o their European contemporaries.

When the Zirids declared their unthirldom frae Cairo an their conversion tae Sunni Islam in 1045 bi givin allegiance tae Baghdad, the Fatimid Caliph Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah sent as punishment hordes o troublesome Arab tribes (Banu Hilal an Banu Sulaym) tae invade Ifriqiya. These invaders so utterly destroyed Kairouan in 1057 that it niver regained its umwhile importance an their influx wis a major factor in the spread o nomadism in auries whaur agricultur haed previously been dominant. Some 1,700 years o intermittent but continual progress wis undone athin a decade as in maist pairt o the kintra the land wis laid tae waste for nearly twa centuries. In the 13t century unner the prosperous Hafsids dynasty that ruled Ifriqiya, the ceety stairtit tae emerge frae its ruins. It is anerlie unner the Husainid Dynasty that Kairouan stairtit tae fynd an honorable place in the kintra an throughoot the Islamic warld. In 1881, Kairouan wis taken bi the French, efter which non-Muslims wur alloued access tae the ceety.

Releegion[eedit | eedit soorce]

The Great Mosque o Kairouan an aa kent as the Mosque o Uqba (Great Mosque o Sidi-Uqba).

The maist important mosque in the ceety is the Great Mosque o Sidi-Uqba also kent as the Great Mosque o Kairouan. It haes been said that seiven pilgrimages tae this mosque is considered the equivalent o ane pilgrimage to Mecca.[6] Efter its establishment, Kairouan became an Islamic an Quranic learnin centre in North Africae. An airticle bi Professor Kwesi Prah[7] describes hou durin the medieval period, Kairouan wis considered the third holiest ceety in Islam efter Mecca an Medina.[8] The day, mony consider the ceety as the fowert holiest in Islam.[3]

Judaism, nae langer prevalent in the ceety, haes an illustrious history in Kairouan, particularly in the early Middle Ages. Rabbeinu Chushiel, his son Rabbeinu Chananel, an R. Nissim Ben Jacob (R. Nissim Gaon) wur aw frae Kairouan an Rabbi Isaac Alfasi studied there, as did mony ither great rabbis. Kairouan wis thus the first major centre o Jewish learnin ootside o Babylonie an Eretz Yisrael. In memory o Sufi saints, Sufi festivals are held in the ceety.[9]

Twin touns[eedit | eedit soorce]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. Europa Publications “General Survey: Holy Places” The Middle East and North Africa 2003, p. 147. Routledge, 2003. ISBN 1857431324. “The city is regarded as a holy place for Muslims.”
  2. Hutchinson Encyclopedia 1996 Edition. Helicon Publishing Ltd, Oxford. 1996. p. 572. ISBN 1-85986-107-5. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dr. Ray Harris; Khalid Koser (30 August 2004). Continuity and change in the Tunisian sahel. Ashgate. p. 108. ISBN 9780754633730. Retrieved 17 October 2010. 
  4. "Location and origin of the name of Kairouan". Isesco.org. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  5. Barbara M. Kreutz, Before the Normans: Southern Italy in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996, p. 48
  6. Europa Publications Limited (30 October 2003). The Middle East and North Africa. Europa Publications. p. 150. ISBN 9781857431841. Retrieved 17 October 2010. 
  7. Director, Centre for Advanced Study of African Societies, Cape Town, South Africa.
  8. This wis oreeginally a paper submittit tae the African Union (AU) Experts’ Meetin on a Strategic Geopolitic Veesion o Afro-Arab Relations. AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, 11–12 May 2004 Towards a Strategic Geopolitic Vision of Afro-Arab Relations. "Bi 670, the Arabs haed taken Tunisie, an bi 675, they haed completit construction o Kairouan, the ceety that wad become the premier Arab base in North Africae. Kairouan wis later tae become the third holiest ceety in Islam in the medieval period, efter Mecca an Medina, acause o its importance as the centre o the Islamic faith in the Maghrib".
  9. "Tunisia News – Sufi Song Festival starts in Kairouan". News.marweb.com. 2010-02-25. Retrieved 2010-04-12.