Banu Hillal

For the oral epic describing the Banu Hilal's journey, see Taghribat Bani Hilal.

The Banu Hilal (Arabic: بنو هلال‎) were a confederation of Arabian Bedouin[1] tribes from Hejaz and Najd on the Arabian Peninsula.

They were part of the revolt of the Qarmatians against the Abbasids. They then settled in the Egyptian desert. Their fellows Banu Sulaym settled in the Eastern Libyan desert. They both settled in Mahdia in Tunisia, and raided Algeria from time to time, pushing the Hammadid dynasty from the Beni Hammad Fort in M'Sila to Bejaia. They were led by Abu Zayd al-Hilali. Their story is recounted in fictionalized form in Taghribat Bani Hilal. Their "saga" is still recounted in form of poetry in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

According to some authors, they migrated from Upper Egypt[2] into North Africa in the 11th century, having been sent by the Fatimids to punish the Berber dynasty of the Zirids for abandoning Shiism. Others suggest that the tribes left the grasslands on the upper Nile because of environmental degradation accompanying the Medieval Warm Period.[3]

The Banu Hilal quickly defeated the Zirids and deeply weakened the neighboring Hammadids. Their influx was a major factor in the linguistic, cultural and ethnic Arabization of the Maghreb, and in the spread of nomadism in areas where agriculture had previously been dominant.[4] Ibn Khaldun noted that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert.[5]

Nevertheless their destruction and devastation of North African civilization, economy and social life, is considered as exaggerated regarding the historiographical prejudice.

See also



  • Almsaodi, Abdulaziz. Modern history of Yemen
  • Power and Interest News Report
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