The Zirid dynasty ruled present-day Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya from 973 until 1148. They belong to the Talkata tribe, a sedentary Sanhaja group. In the contest for power in the Maghrib between the Umayyad of al-Andalus and the Fatimids, they were Fatimid supporters, while their enemies, the Maghrawa of the Zanata confederation, took the side of the Umayyad. When the Fatimids left the Maghrib, they appointed Bulluggin Ibn Ziri as their viceroy. After his death in 984, civil strife ensued, resulting in the partition of the Zirid dynasty into two distinct provinces, one ruled by Hammad Ibn Bulluggin in the central Maghrib and the other one in Ifriqya, or present-day Tunisia, as well as Tripolitania.
   Prior to civil war, they maintained ambiguous relations with their previous masters, the Fatimids who left to Egypt. After it, they distanced themselves from the Fatimids. In contrast to their Shiite overlords, the Sunni Zirids cultivated the Maliki religious doctrine and practices. Emir al-Mu`izz renounced obedience to his Fatimid sovereigns by assuming secular authority and recognizing the spiritual leadership of the Abbasid caliph, further suspending the dynasty's links to the Fatimids in 1045. At the same time, by the middle of the 11th century, deteriorating economic conditions precipitated the final Fatimid-Zirid split. Caravan routes were also shifting toward a terminus in Egypt of the Fatimids and toward the western Maghrib, where the Almoravids were establishing new trade centers. As a consequence, the Zirid traditional commercial hub of Qayrawan experienced serious economic crises that had an impact on the region. Al-Mu`izz became convinced that only a break with Egypt, ending Ifriqya's status of vassal of the Fatimids, would enable him to restore a measure of stability in his province.
   In response to Al-Mu`izz's posturing, the Fatimids sent groups of Arab nomadic tribes, the Banu Hilal. The Zirids first did not understand the potential threat of this invasion. Rather than pushing them back, they used the tribes to police rural areas. After several attempts at dealing with this threat, in 1049, al-Mu`izz was beaten and withdrew to al-Mahdiya, leaving the city of Qayrawan defenseless to be plundered. In 1159, what remained of the Zirid dynasty was incorporated in the Almohad Empire. A significant consequence of the Arab migrations was the implantation of a substantial Arab population in North Africa, leading to a process of Arabization that intensified with the subsequent arrival of similar Arab nomadic groups, the Banu Sulaym and Ma`qil.

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

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