Al-Mu'izz ibn Badis

Al-Muʿizz ibn Bādīs (Arabic: المعز بن باديس; 1008–1062) was the fourth ruler of the Zirids in Ifriqiya, reigning from 1016 to 1062.

Political career

Al-Muizz ascended the throne as a minor following the death of his father Badis ibn Mansur, with his aunt, Umm Mallal, acting as regent. In 1016 there was a bloody revolt in Ifriqiya in which the Fatimid residence Al-Mansuriya was completely destroyed and 20,000 Shiites were massacred. The unrest forced a ceasefire in the conflict with the Hammadids of Algeria, and their independence was finally recognized in 1018.

Al-Muizz took over the government in 1022 following the overthrow of his aunt. The relationship with the Fatimids was strained, when in 1027 they supported a revolt of the Zanatas in Tripolitania which resulted in permanent loss of control of the region. His son Abdallah shortly ruled Sicily in 1038-1040, after intervening with a Zirid army in the civil war that broke out in the island.

The political turmoil notwithstanding, the general economic wellbeing initially made possible an extensive building programme. However, the kingdom found itself in economic crisis in the 1040s, reflected in currency devaluation, epidemic and famine. This may have been related to the high level of tribute which the Zirids were compelled to pay annually to the Fatimids (one million gold dinars a year).

When al-Muizz (under the influence of Sunni jurists in Kairouan, growing Sunni public pressure in his realm and a violent backlash against the Shi'ite minority) recognised the Abbasids in Baghdad as rightful Caliphs in 1045 and adopted Sunni orthodoxy, the break with the Fatimids was complete. He even denounced the Fatimids and their followers as heretics in newly minted coinage.

The Fatimids then sent a military campaign composed of Bedouin tribes of the Banu Hilal and the Banu Sulaym from Egypt to Ifriqiya. The invasion of the Bedouin (1051–1052) led to great hardship after the defeat at Jabal Haydaran, severely impacting agriculture in Ifriqiya. The Fatimids dispatched Makin al-Dawla to rally the Bedouin invaders and duly besiege al-Muizz in Kairouan and conquer Gabes and much of Ifriqiya’s hinterlands in 1053–1054. The conquest of Kairouan in 1057 resulted in further anarchy. The Zirids lost control over the hinterland and were only able to retain the coastal areas, the capital being moved to Mahdia. With the growth of Bedouin Emirates and the continuing insecurity inland, the economy of Ifriqiya looked increasingly towards the Mediterranean, with the result the coastal cities grew in importance through maritime trade and piracy.

Al-Muizz was succeeded by his son Tamim ibn Muizz.

Literary career

He is usually thought to be the author of the famous Kitab `umdat al-kuttab wa `uddat dhawi al-albab (Staff of the Scribes). It is divided into twelve chapters, writing, amongst other things, on the excellence of the pen, on the preparation of types of inks, such as colored and metallic inks (including ones prepared from silver filings and alcohol), the coloring of dyes and mixtures, secret writing, the making of paper and Arabic gum and glue.

Ibn Sharaf and Ibn Rashīq were rival poets at his court. He is said to have stoked their rivalry.

This page was last updated at 2023-01-04 15:32 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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