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 area between the High Moulouya Plateau and Khenifra. Abu Bakar (1536-1612), the founder of the lodge and a disciple of the Shadili-Jazuli doctrine, was the first saint in a family that had long been recognized for its moral attributes and religious teaching. The family originated from the Mejjat tribe of the Idrassen, which had settled in the 15th century in the area between Tounfit and Midelt. The Dila had moved to the southwest of Khenifra, where they gained recognition as mediators to tribes and religious teachers.
   In 1557, the Sa`diyin dynasty (1520-1660) granted the family special status for their religious services with exemption from taxes and corvée. The Dila quickly gained influence over the highlands population, and their religious services gave them new roles. In 1630, they extended their authority over the Andalusians of Salé, and in 1638, they defeated the Sa`diyin forces in a battle near Oued al Abid. In 1640, they took over Meknes and soon after Fès, the Sais plain, and the Gharb, and most of the towns of northern Morocco came under their rule. By 1651, they controlled most of the active commercial routes of central Morocco, and a treaty was signed with the Dutch in the same year.
   At the same time, from the southeastern base of the Tafilalet, the Alawite Moulay Rachid had begun to consolidate an economic network that allowed him to challenge the Dila political position. In 1649, the city of Fès tried to overthrow the Dila rule, and the notables had invited the Alawite Muhammad Ibn Sharif to assume leadership. The revolt was suppressed. In 1660, Sale rebelled against the Dila, and by 1663, the Dila power was beginning to crumble. During the same period, the death of the Alawite Moulay Ali Al Sharif in 1659 had set off a succession struggle between two of his sons, Moulay Rachid and Moulay Muhammad. Moulay Rachid won the succession battle, and Moulay Muhammad was killed in1664. Soon he embarked on eliminating his serious rivals, a task he achieved in less than a decade. In 1668, he led an expedition against the Dila in which he defeated them and razed the lodges to the ground. Consequently, the immediate families of the Dila were exiled to Tlemcen, while the rest of the Dila notables took refuge in Fès. In 1671, Moulay Rachid secured the Sous region from al-Samlali heirs of Abu Hassoun.
   See also Middle Atlas Mountains.

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

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