Marrakesh - Religious Minorities In Almoravid Times


Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
Just reading a book on the Almoravids by Maria Marcos Cobaleda (the Almoravids - Architecture of an Empire) - quoting all previous authors - and, bearing in mind various discussions about religious minorities, jews and fundamentalism this passage struck me as interesting. Clearly exhibits the more 'tolerant' approach of the Almoravids compared with their successors, the Almohads. I had also read in the past (Historia de Valencia??) of at least 2 Christian churches allowed to 'practice' under Almoravid rule. Page 82 p 2:

With respect to religious minorities it's worth noting that in the era of Ali Ibn Yusuf, jews were prohibited from living in the city (Marrakesh), although they were allowed to work in it. This leads us to the following possible conclusion: it's possible that the formation of the Al Mallah district (jewish quarter) came about under Almoravid rule as a consequence of the order dictated by Ali Ibn Yusuf. Regarding the Christians, their arrival at the Almoravid capital took place after the recruitment by Yusuf Ibn Tashufin of a militia from Catalonia and France (ref Reverte of course) . It's more than probable that they had their own district , near al Qasr al-Hayar - because of the military character of this group - where could be found their church dedicated to Saint Eulalia - saint of great veneration in Barcelona - , which was destroyed after the Almohad conquest of 1147, but who's name stayed at least until 1155 in the gardens of 'Suntululya'.

My note - of course the Almohads themselves would come to use Christian mercenaries and militias, even with their own church. In other conflicts of realism and fundamentaism there was a Papal mission to a (more tolerant) Almohad Caliph and, at the height of Almohad power, the Count of Barcelona himself attended the Marrakesh funeral of Ali B Reverter, great servant to the Almohads and son of the Almoravid militia leader Reverter, nobleman of Barcelona (ref Huici Miranda). Christian militias aside, the Almohads did ban any religious practice other than islam, throughout the entire empire, including Morocco, Ifriqiya, part of now-Libya and Al Andalus