Islam

   This Arabic word means "submission to God," and it refers to submission to the will of God (Allah in Arabic). Whoever submits is called Muslim. These words occur in the holy book of Muslims, the Qur'an. The Qur'an is the word of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (570-632) in Mecca, beginning in 610 by the angel Gabriel. Before the Muslim conquest, the religion of the Berbers appears to have been composed of three major practices: local cults and veneration of a whole host of natural objects, Judaism, and Christianity. Although there is no precise information as to how the Berbers accepted Islam, it is believed that they seceded 12 times and finally accepted Islam only in the 12th century. In spite of their conversion to Islam, they have retained numerous pre-Islamic and pagan practices, some of which have been adapted to Islam. These survivals are evident in the agricultural rites and festivals, which include, for instance, harvest and rain rituals (taghanja), lighting bonfires (l`ansart), and the importance of saint or the zawiya-minded Islam.
   At the beginning of the conquest, the converted Berbers practiced the orthodox doctrine, but they soon professed a puritan form of Islam called Kharijism, which emphasized equality and justice among Muslims. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the strict Sunni Almoravid and Almohad rulers put an end to the remaining Christian or Shiite communities, with the exception of a few Kharijite communities that found refuge in the mountains, desert, or seaside. Among revolts against orthodox Islam, two attempts must be noted that sought to establish a new religion in Morocco: the revolt of Ha-mim in the Rif in the 10th century and that of Salih Ben Tarif of Barghwata along the Atlantic coast.

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

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