In 2014, the city had about 187,000 inhabitants.
The name (ٱلْقَيْرَوَان
) is an Arabic
word meaning "military group" or "caravan",
borrowed early on from the Middle Persian
(modern Persian کاروان
), meaning "military column" (kâr
people/military + vân
outpost) or "caravan
" (see caravanserai
In Berber, the city used to be called Tikirwan تيكيروان,
thought to be an adaptation of the Arabic name.
The Aghlabid Basins
The foundation of Kairouan dates to about the year 670 when the Arab
general Uqba ibn Nafi
of Caliph Mu'awiya
selected a site in the middle of a dense forest, then infested with wild beasts and reptiles, as the location of a military post
for the conquest of the West
Formerly, the city of Kamounia was located where Kairouan now stands. It had housed a Byzantine garrison before the Arab conquest, and stood far from the sea – safe from the continued attacks of the Berbers
who had fiercely resisted the Arab invasion. Berber resistance continued, led first by Kusaila
, whose troops killed Uqba at Biskra
about fifteen years after the establishment of the military post,
and then by a Berber woman called Al-Kahina
who was killed and her army defeated in 702. Subsequently, there occurred a mass conversion of the Berbers
to Islam. Kharijites
or Islamic "outsiders" who formed an egalitarian and puritanical sect appeared and are still present on the island of Djerba
. In 745, Kharijite Berbers
captured Kairouan, which was already at that time a developed city with luxuriant gardens and olive groves. Power struggles continued until Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab
recaptured Kairouan at the end of the 8th century. In 800 Caliph Harun ar-Rashid
confirmed Ibrahim as Emir
and hereditary ruler of Ifriqiya
. Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab founded the Aghlabid
dynasty which ruled Ifriqiya
between 800 and 909. The new Emirs embellished Kairouan and made it their capital. It soon became famous for its wealth and prosperity, reaching the levels of Basra
and giving Tunisia one of its golden ages long sought[by whom?]
after the glorious days of Carthage
built the great mosque and established in it a university that was a centre of education both in Islamic thought and in the secular sciences. Its role can be compared to that of the University of Paris
in the Middle Ages
. In the 9th century, the city became a brilliant focus of Arab
cultures attracting scholars from all over the Islamic World
. In that period Imam Sahnun
and Asad ibn al-Furat
made of Kairouan a temple of knowledge and a magnificent centre of diffusion of Islamic sciences. The Aghlabids also built palaces, fortifications and fine waterworks of which only the pools remain. From Kairouan envoys from Charlemagne
and the Holy Roman Empire
returned with glowing reports of the Aghlabites
palaces, libraries and gardens – and from the crippling taxation imposed to pay for their drunkenness and sundry debaucheries. The Aghlabite
also pacified the country and conquered Sicily in 827.
Gold coin of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mahdi Billah
, minted in Kairouan in 912 CE
Bab Chouhada Street in 1899
In 893, through the mission of Abdullah al Mahdi
, the Kutama
Berbers from the west of the country started the movement of the Shiite Fatimids
. The year 909 saw the overthrow of the SunniAghlabites
who ruled Ifriqiya
and the establishment of the Fatimid dynasty. During the rule of the Fatimids
, Kairouan was neglected and lost its importance: the new rulers resided first in Raqqada but soon moved their capital to the newly built Al Mahdiyah
on the coast of modern Tunisia. After succeeding in extending their rule over all of central Maghreb
, an area consisting of the modern countries of Morocco
, they eventually moved east to Egypt
to found Cairo
making it the capital of their vast Caliphate
and leaving the Zirids
as their vassals in Ifriqiya
. Governing again from Kairouan, the Zirids
led the country through another artistic, commercial and agricultural heyday. Schools and universities flourished, overseas trade in local manufactures and farm produce ran high and the courts of the Zirids
rulers were centres of refinement that eclipsed those of their European contemporaries. When the Zirids
declared their independence from Cairo
and their conversion to Sunni
Islam in 1045 by giving allegiance to Baghdad
, the Fatimid Caliph Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah
sent as punishment hordes of troublesome Arab tribes (Banu Hilal
and Banu Sulaym
) to invade Ifriqiya. These invaders so utterly destroyed Kairouan in 1057 that it never regained its former importance and their influx was a major factor in the spread of nomadism in areas where agriculture had previously been dominant. Some 1,700 years of intermittent but continual progress was undone within a decade as in most part of the country the land was laid to waste for nearly two centuries. In the 13th century under the prosperous Hafsids
dynasty that ruled Ifriqiya, the city started to emerge from its ruins. It is only under the Husainid Dynasty
that Kairouan started to find an honorable place in the country and throughout the Islamic world. In 1881, Kairouan was taken by the French, after which non-Muslims were allowed access to the city. The French built the 600 mm (1 ft 115
in) Sousse–Kairouan Decauville railway
, which operated from 1882 to 1996, before it was regauged to 1,000 mm (3 ft 33
in) gauge.
Between the 9th
centuries AD, Kairouan functioned as one of the great centers of Islamic civilization and gained a reputation as a hotbed of scholarship across the entire Maghreb. During this period, the Great Mosque of Kairouan
became both a place of prayer and a center for teaching Islamic sciences under the Maliki
A unique religious tradition practiced in Kairouan was the use of Islamic law
to enforce monogamy
by stipulating it in the marriage contract.
Local tradition holds that seven pilgrimages to the Great Mosque equals one pilgrimage to Mecca,
which according to some, made Kairouan the fourth holiest city in Islam after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
As of 2004, the city contained 89 mosques. Sufi
festivals are held in the city in memory of saints.
Before the arrival of the French in 1881, non-Muslims were forbidden from living in Kairouan.
A Christian community had existed during the early 11th
alongside Jews who were among the original settlers of Kairouan
. The Jewish community's golden era began in the late 8th
century and lasted until the early 11th
century during which time it played an important role in Jewish history
, having been a world center of Talmudic
scholarship for at least three generations.
The Banu Hilal
conquest of Kairouan in 1057 led to the decline of the medieval community with Jews only returning after Tunisia was established as a French protectorate in 1881. By the 1960s the community had disappeared,
and all that remains is their dilapidated cemetery.
Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba
Façade of the Mosque of the Three Gates with its minaret
The city's main landmark is the Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba
(also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan) which is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa
. Originally built when Kairouan was founded in 670 AD, the mosque currently occupies an area of over 9,000 square metres (97,000 sq ft) and is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world
. The mosque became a center of education both in Islamic thought and in the secular sciences and helped the city to develop and expand.
Mosque of the Three Gates
The Mosque of the Three Gates
was founded in 866. Its façade is a notable example of Islamic architecture
It has three arched doorways surmounted by three inscriptions in Kufic script
, interspersed with floral and geometrical reliefs and topped by a carved frieze; the first inscription includes the verses 70–71 in the sura
33 of Quran.
The small minaret was added during the restoration works held under the Hafsid
dynasty. The prayer hall has a nave and two aisles, divided by arched columns, parallel to the qibla
Mosque of the Barber
Mosque of the Barber
The Mausoleum of Sidi Sahab, generally known as the Mosque of the Barber, is actually a zaouia
located inside the city walls. It was built by the Muradid Hammuda Pasha Bey
(mausoleum, dome and court) and Murad II Bey
(minaret and madrasa
). In its present state, the monument dates from the 17th century.
The mosque is a veneration place for Abu Zama' al-Balaui, a companion
of the prophet Muhammad
, who, according to a legend, had saved for himself three hairs of Muhammad's beard, hence the edifice's name.
The sepulchre place is accessed from a cloister-like court with richly decorated ceramics and stuccoes.
Kairouan is also home to:
- two large water reservoirs called "Aghlabid basins"
- Mosque of Ansar (traditionally dating to 667, but totally renewed in 1650)
- Mosque Al Bey (late 17th century)
- The souk (market place), in the Medina quarter, which is surrounded by walls, from which the entrance gates can be seen in the distance. Products that are sold in the souk include carpets, vases and goods made of leather.
Inside the Medina
- historically attested Berber princess supposedly died there.
In popular culture
- ^ Nagendra Kr Singh, International encyclopaedia of Islamic dynasties. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. 2002. page 1006
- ^ Luscombe, David; Riley-Smith, Jonathan, eds. (2004). The New Cambridge Medieval History, Volume 2; Volume 4. Cambridge University Press. p. 696. ISBN 9780521414111.
- ^ Europa Publications "General Survey: Holy Places" The Middle East and North Africa 2003, p. 147. Routledge, 2003. ISBN 1-85743-132-4. "The city is regarded as a holy place for Muslims."
- ^ Hutchinson Encyclopedia 1996 Edition. Helicon Publishing Ltd, Oxford. 1996. p. 572. ISBN 1-85986-107-5.
- ^ Alk-Khalil ibn Ahmad, Kitab al-Ayn
- ^ "القيروان". أطلس الحكمة (in Arabic). 27 April 2021. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
- ^ MacKenzie, D. N. (1971) , "kārawān", in A concise Pahlavi dictionary, London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press
- ^ "Location and origin of the name of Kairouan". Isesco.org. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- ^ "قيروان" Archived 1 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Dehkhoda Dictionary.
- ^ «رابطه دو سویه زبان فارسی–عربی». ماهنامه کیهان فرهنگی. دی 1383، شماره 219. صص 73–77.
- ^ Al-Nuwayri, Ahmad b. Abd al-Wahhab. Nihayat al-Arab fi funun al-`Arab, Cairo: Dar al-Kutub, p. 25.
- ^ Conant, Jonathan (2012). Staying Roman : conquest and identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439–700. Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 280–281. ISBN 978-0521196970.
- ^ Barbara M. Kreutz, Before the Normans: Southern Italy in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996, p. 48
- ^ "Les normales climatiques en Tunisie entre 1981 2010" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Archived from the original on 19 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
- ^ "Données normales climatiques 1961-1990" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
- ^ "Les extrêmes climatiques en Tunisie" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
- ^ "Réseau des stations météorologiques synoptiques de la Tunisie" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
- ^ "Kairouan Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
- ^ "Klimatafel von Kairouan / Tunesien" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- ^ Henri Saladin (1908), Tunis et Kairouan (in French) (Henri Laurens ed.), Paris, p. 118, One may conceivably compare its role to that of the University of Paris during the Middle Ages.
- ^ Largueche, Dalenda (2010). "Monogamy in Islam: The Case of a Tunisian Marriage Contract" (PDF). Occasional Paper of the IAS School of Social Science. This stipulation gave a woman legal recourse in the case that her husband sought to take a second wife. Although the introduction of the 1956 Code of Personal Status rendered the tradition obsolete by outlawing polygamy nationwide, some scholars have identified it as a "positive tradition for women within the large framework of Islamic law."
- ^ The Middle East and North Africa. Europa Publications Limited. 2003. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-85743-184-1.
- ^ Dr. Ray Harris; Khalid Koser (2004). Continuity and change in the Tunisian sahel. Ashgate. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7546-3373-0.
- ^ Professor Prah, founder and Director of the Centre for Advanced Study of African Societies (11–12 May 2004), Towards a Strategic Geopolitic Vision of Afro-Arab Relations, AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, By 670, the Arabs had taken Tunisia, and by 675, they had completed construction of Kairouan, the city that would become the premier Arab base in North Africa. Kairouan was later to become the third holiest city in Islam in the medieval period, after Mecca and Medina, because of its importance as the centre of the Islamic faith in the Maghrib.
- ^ Robert D. Kaplan (2004). Mediterranean Winter: The Pleasures of History and Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia, and Greece. Random House. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-375-50804-2. With eighty nine mosques it is the fourth holiest city in Sunni Islam, after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem . A tradition holds that seven pilgrimages to Kairouan exempt the faithful from having to journey to Mecca
- ^ "Tunisia News – Sufi Song Festival starts in Kairouan". News.marweb.com. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
- ^ Samuel Marinus Zwemer (1966). The Muslim World: A Quarterly Review of History, Culture, Religions & the Christian Mission in Islamdom. Hartford Seminary Foundation. p. 390. It then became and long remained a seat of Moslem rule, and during centuries, right up to the French occupation in 1881, no Christian or Jew was allowed to dwell in it
- ^ Francois Decret (1 June 2009). "The Final Stages of the African Church". Early Christianity in North Africa. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-55635-692-6.
- ^ Kairouan Jewish Encyclopedia (1906)
- ^ "The Jewish Community of Kairouan". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot.
- ^ Saladin, Henri (1908). Tunis et Kairouan. Voyages à travers l'architecture, l'artisanat et les mœurs du début du XXe siècle. Paris: Henri Laurens.
- ^ Kircher, Gisela (1970). Die Moschee des Muhammad b. Hairun (Drei-Tore-Moschee) in Qairawân/Tunesien. 26. Cairo: Publications de l'Institut archéologique allemand. pp. 141–167.
- ^ Mausoleum of Sidi Sahbi (Qantara Mediterranean heritage) Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ K. A. Berney and Trudy Ring, International dictionary of historic places: Middle East and Africa, Volume 4. Taylor & Francis. 1996. p. 391
- ^ j, fromherz allen (2012), "Suʾda", Dictionary of African Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780195382075.001.0001/acref-9780195382075-e-1949, ISBN 978-0-19-538207-5, retrieved 3 February 2021
- ^ "Kardeş Şehirler". Bursa Büyükşehir Belediyesi Basın Koordinasyon Merkez. Tüm Hakları Saklıdır. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
The Station ID for Kairouan is 33535111.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kairouan
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Qairawān
Last edited on 28 April 2021, at 11:18
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