Biography of Muhammad Ibn Tumart (1084-1130)

Moroccan religious leader, born in Igilliz (in the region of the Sous, in the Anti-Atlas, in the South of Morocco) in 1084, and died near Tinmal in 1130. Real name Abu Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Tumart. He/She was the founder of a broad movement of religious reformation in the Maghreb which resulted in the creation of the Almohad Empire and who ended up replacing another great empire in the area: that of the Almoravids.

Member of the masmuda Berber tribe, his father was in charge of lighting lamps in the mosque of the village, by what the young Ibn Tumart received a religious education full since his early childhood. On the occasion of expanding their knowledge, moved a long season to Córdoba, where he/she continued his trip eastward, to Alexandria, Baghdad and other cities, staying outside their region about ten years, until 1116. During that time, Ibn Tumart acquired a deep animosity for anthropomorphism and deviations from Orthodox or Sunni Islam. In al - Andalus watched with disappointment how the works of the great philosopher Al-Ghazaaliwere burned. In the East he/she met the teachings of most important Jurists and theologians, with particular emphasis on the teachings of the followers of Al - Ashari and referred to Al - Ghazaali, primary responsibility for the formulation of Islamic Orthodox theology. He/She also came into contact with religious as al - Turtushi leaders and next to the mutazilismo ideas.

Completely changed in religious concept, on the way back to Morocco he/she began to preach to all the main cities that passed, as Alexandria, Tripoli, Al - Mahdiyah, Fez and Marrakesh, attacking the religious practices and customs of the time. His passionate preaching and defense of tawhid (unity of God) made him to quickly gain a good number of die-hard followers, who started them known with the nickname al - muwahhidun (Spanish form, 'the Almohads'), and also powerful enemies. Several Governors of the provinces where passed him expelled Contemplations, circumstance that was not discouraged you much less, but on the contrary, since turned into body and soul in their particular cross. It was in this return was joined by one of their more addicts and valid followers of the movement, which later became the first emir of the dynasty, Abd al-Mu'min.

In Morocco, Ibn Tumart conducted a tough propaganda campaign of denunciation against the Almoravids, who accused religious apathy and moral relaxation. After being expelled from Marrakech, Ibn Tumart took refuge in his native region, where he/she built a mosque at a place called Tinmal, which could teach and preach his doctrine with tranquility, away from the threat of the almoravides authorities. His eloquence and devotion won the respect and loyalty among his followers, who sent to spread the new faith among other tribes and to impart justice and righteousness. In the year 1121, with the full approval of his followers, Ibn Tumart proclaimed himself Al - Mahdi to el-masum ('the infallible Mahdi'), in addition to trace their genealogy to the Prophet. Ibn Tumart exposed their doctrine in two major works, in which defended the concept of tawheed and condemned taqlid (the authority blind acceptance) doctrine, while insisting on a return to the early days of Islam and study revealed texts. Making use of religious fanaticism, he/she made a clear distinction between those who believed in Allah and the Prophet himself, and those who did not believe, whereas his followers as "people's paradise", while their enemies were the "people of hell".

Once he/she had gained to settle its role in the spiritual and secular leader, Ibn Tumart began his political and military career which was initially hampered by strong opposition. The small group of his followers, called each other-muminun ('the faithful'), was structured in a Council of ten members who worked closely with Ibn Tumart. As it increased the number of these, Ibn Tumart organized them by way of a governmental hierarchy and added to the advice of ten of fifty representatives of the various Berber tribes.

In 1122, Ibn Tumart began to assert their claims in a violent way, using the force of weapons, defying several times or tending skirmishes to the almoravides armies. Five years later, with important contingent of disgruntled Highlanders won accession, Ibn Tumart began a first siege of Marrakech and the Almoravid capital Aghmat, and immediately retreated to the mountains. In the year 1130, finally Ibn Tumart decided to attack frontally to the Almoravid power instructing his Lieutenant Abd al - Mumin in front of an army of about 40,000 men to conquer Marrakesh, objective failed thanks to the excellent defense deployed the Almoravid emir Ali Ibn Yusuf. Before his death, that same year, Ibn Tumart was appointed as his successor to Abd al-Mumin, who do not would culminate the work undertaken by the latter until the year 1147, when it took Marrakech and drove out the last Almoravid.


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HUICI MIRANDA, Ambrosio: Political history of the Almohad Empire. (Tetuán: Ed. Moroccan, 1959).