Zayaani Al-, Abu Al-Qasim ibn Ahmad

   He was a Moroccan statesman and a historian, born in Fès of a family descended from the Zayan, a Berber tribe in the Middle Atlas in the area of Khenifra. He traveled extensively in and outside Morocco, and he is considered one of the greatest premodern Moroccan historians. He studied theology and accompanied his parents on pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. On his return-and after being imprisoned by Sultan Moulay Yazid-he spent much of his life in high public service as an imperial secretary, peace envoy to rebellious Berber tribes, ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, governor first of Taza then of Sijilmassa, vizier, and chamberlain.
   Al-Zayaani authored 20 books on history and geography. His historical opus consists of seven works. The most important is a general history from the creation of the world to the 19th century, al-Turjumaan al-Mur`ib `an Duwal al-Mashriq wa al-Maghreb (The Lucid Interpreter of the States of the Orient and the Occident), the latter section of which (Le Maroc de 1631-1812) was translated by O. Houdas (1969). He deals with the entire history of the world of Islam and in detail with the Ottoman Empire and the dynasties of the Maghreb and al-Andalus. This work follows al-`Ifrani's Nuzhat al-Hadi but includes data from his own firsthand accounts and observations based on painstaking research. His other, less known works include a history of the Alawite dynasty, al Bustan al-Darrif fi Dawlat awlad Moulay `Ali al-Sharif, also titled al-Rawda al-Sulaymaniya fi Muluk al Dawla al-Isma`iliya wa man Taqaddamaha min al-Duwal al-Islamiya; a genealogy of the Shofa in the Maghreb, Tuhfat al Hadi al-Mutrib fi Raf`I Nasab Shoraf' al- Maghreb; two works dealing with conspirators against Sultan Moulay Sulayman (ca. 1821), Tuhfat al-Nubaha'fi Tafriqa Bayn al-Fugaha' and Maqama fi Dhamm al-Rijal; a history of the reign of Moulay Sulayman, al-Taj wa al-Iklil fi Ma'ithir al-Sultan al-Jalil Sulayman Ibn Mohammed Ibn `Abd Allah Ibn Isma'il; and an addendum as well as a "map of the seas" drawn by himself were added to his al-Turjmaan, Takmil al-Turjmaan fi Khilafat Moulana `Abd al-Rahman.
   Al-Zayaani also wrote three geographical works of particular interest. The first, Rihlat al-Hudhdhaq li-Mushahadit al-Buldan wa al-Afaq, was a general geography account. The second, al-Turjumaan al-Kubra allati jama`ati Akhbar Mudun al `Alam baran wa bahran, relates his travels outside Morocco. The third, Ibahat al al-Udaba' wa al-Nuhat li al-Jam` bayn al-Akhwat al-Thalat, tells of his third voyage. Of interest also is a treatise on politics, Risalat al-Suluk fi ma Yajibu `ala al-Muluk.

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

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