Samlali Al-, Abu Hassoun `Ali
(?-1659)
   He was popularly known as Abu Hassoun of the Illigh zawiya in the Sous, and he was also called the emir of the Sous region. He was one of the most prominent saints of in the last years of the Sa`diyin dynasty (1520-1660). He was a member of the Samlala clan-one of the branches of the Jazula tribe, the same from which had come forth two centuries earlier the great mystical teacher al-Jazuli-and was born in the coastal town of Massa in southern Sous.
   There is little information about al-Samlali's early life and career. When his name appears in history, he had already gained spiritual and political authority in the Sous region. Abu Hassoun's respected lineage, coupled with clever political maneuvering, gained him a large number of followers against his two main rivals: Abu Mahalli of the Drâa valley and Yahya al-Hahi, a marabout of the Sous in alliance with the Sa`diyin dynasty. By 1630, he became the undisputed ruler of the south, with Illigh the capital of a principality replacing Sa`diyin authority. His dominance was based on the control of the caravan trade, the gold trade, and a military force supplied with arms by European traders, especially the Dutch.
   After he eliminated his rivals in the Sous and established his power, Abu Hassoun carried his preaching and jihad deep into the Drâa valley and occupied Sijilmassa. His attempt to take hold of the Tafilalet oases brought him into collision with the Dila zawiya and the Alawite family who had settled there since the middle of the 13th century and refused to give ground. The conflict was appeased through intervention of the Dila brotherhood but broke out and ended with al-Samlali's departure from the Tafilalet and Drâa oases. His adversary, the Alawite Moulay `Ali al-Sharif, who soon afterward fell into his hands, was kept for some time in honorable captivity and was finally released for a significant ransom. In 1641, Moulay Ali al Sharif's son, Muhammad, had himself proclaimed sultan and chased Abu Hassoun from Tafilalet. Al-Samlali built up territories and formed a body politic extending over the greater part of the Anti-Atlas and the plain of Sous. He sustained a strong caravan trade with Sudan and the Senegal and was also engaged in profitable overseas commercial relations from the port of Massa with England and Holland. By 1670, Moulay Rachid managed to put an end to the Samlali independent kingdom of the Sous, paving the way for the ascendance of the Alawite dynasty.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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  • Sijilmassa —    This is the name of the medieval trans Saharan trade entrepôt, founded near what is Rissani today in southern Morocco. This name, though, used in scholarly and literary works, fell out of common currency and was replaced by Tafilalet. The Banu …   Historical dictionary of the berbers (Imazighen)

  • Dila —    Known as the Aït Iddila in Tamazight, the Dila zawiya, or lodge, was the base for the political aspirations of the Idrassen and other Sanhaja groups of the Middle Atlas Mountains in the 16th century. The brotherhood was found in 1566 in the… …   Historical dictionary of the berbers (Imazighen)

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