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KĀHINA (feminine form of the Ar. Kāhin, "soothsayer," sometimes incorrectly thought to be derived from Cohen), the surname given by the Arabs to the *Berber queen of the mountainous Aurès region in southeast Algeria. According to Arabic authors, the powerful Jerawa tribe of Berber converts to Judaism, to which Kāhina belonged, was led by her during the final resistance to the Arab invasion. She defeated the armies of Hasān ibn al Nuʿmān and took prisoners, one of whom, Khālid b. Yazīd, she kept and adopted. Allegedly, Khālid betrayed Kāhina who died in combat (698 or 702). The Arabs then poured into Africa and invaded Spain with Berber troops. Arab authors' accounts of Kāhina are partly legendary, but they nevertheless contain some historical facts such as the historical personage of the Queen of the Aurès. Her opposition to the Muslim Arabs was not religiously inspired; some authorities deny that she was Jewish. The history of Kāhina remains controversial.


Basset, in: eis2, s.v.al-Kāhina; N. Slouschz, Etude sur l'Histoire des Juifs et du Judaïsme au Maroc, 1 (1905), 66; 2 (1906), 11–18; idem, Travels in North Africa (1927), 309–16; G. Marçais, La Berbèrie Musulmane (1946), 34–35; E.F. Gauthier, Le Passé de l'Afrique du Nord (1952), 225, 267, 270–80; A. Julien, Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord, 2 (19522), 21–22; Hirschberg, in: Tarbiz, 26 (1956/57), 370–83; idem, Afrikah, index.

[David Corcos]