Qayrawan, Al

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Al Qayrawan (äl kīräwän´) or Kairouan (kīrwän´, Fr. kĕrwäN´), city (1994 pop. 102,600), NE Tunisia. It is a sacred city of Islam. Founded in 670 by Uqbah bin Nafi, an Arab leader, it was the seat of Arab governors in W Africa until 800. Under the Aghlabid dynasty (800–909), it remained the chief center of commerce and learning. It was the first capital (909–21) of the Fatimids. When the city was ruined (1057) by invaders, it was supplanted by Tunis. Of Al Qayrawan's 150 mosques, the most celebrated is the Great Mosque, started by Uqbah bin Nafi and completed in the 9th cent. The city is noted for its carpet industry.