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AGHLABIDS (known as Banū al-Aghlab ), Arab Muslim dynasty that ruled Ifriqiyya (modern-day *Tunisia and eastern *Algeria) from 800 to 909. Its rulers were princes commonly referred to as amīrs. It was subject to the *Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad but was in fact independent. The capital city was *Kairouan (al-Qayrawān) in Tunisia. During the ninth century Kairouan civilization flourished, its capital becoming one of the largest Maghrebi commercial centers. Theamīrs invested funds in public works to conserve and distribute water, contributing to the prosperity of their country. Their fleet was supreme in parts of the Mediterranean and their corsairs captured ships at sea. Captured persons and property were subsequently redeemed for profit. The Aghlabids also gained temporary control over Sicily, Malta, and Corsica.

The data on the Jews of this principality are scant. It is known, however, that the Jews of Kairouan began to expand and prosper under the Aghlabid amīrs. They fostered and preserved intimate and strong bonds with the Babylonian geonim and the Jewish communities of Palestine and Egypt. A medical school existed in Kairouan. One of its noted teachers was Isaac *Israeli, the physician to the last Aghlabid amīr Ziyādat Allah iii.


P.K. Hitti, History of the Arabs (1958); Nissim b. Jacob, Ḥibbur Yafeh min ha-Yeshuʿah, ed. H.Z. Hirschberg (1954); I.M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (2002).

[Michael M. Laskier (2nd ed.)]