History, Medieval Islamic Dynasties
Almoravids, Fatimids, Bejaia, Almohads, Tlemcen
Justinianís dream was short-lived. In the 7th century the Arabs invaded North Africa, bringing with them a new religion, Islam. In Algeria they were resisted by the Berber leaders Kusayla and Kahina, a supposed prophetess of a tribe that some scholars believe had been converted to Judaism. Eventually, however, the Berbers submitted to Islam and Arab authority, and Algeria became a province of the Umayyad caliphate. The Arabs, however, remained largely an urban elite.
The Abbasids seized the caliphate from the Umayyads in the 8th century. In the ensuing disorder, Algerian Berbers, many of them members of the Kharijite sect of Islam, founded their own autonomous Islamic kingdoms. One of the most prominent was that of the Rustamids at Tahert in central Algeria. Tahert prospered in the 8th and 9th centuries. In the early 10th century Tahert was captured by the Fatimids, who adhered to the Shia branch of Islam. Between the 11th and 13th centuries two successive Berber dynasties, the Almoravids and the Almohads, brought northwest Africa and southern Spain under a single central authority. Tlemcen became a city of fine mosques and schools of Islamic learning, as well as a handicrafts center. Algerian seaports such as Bejaia, Annaba, and the growing town of Algiers carried on a brisk trade with European cities, supplying the famed Barbary horses, wax, fine leather, and fabrics to European markets.
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