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Ab af Umar al-Hintt(481 words)

Fromherz, Allen J.
Ab af Umar b. Yay al-Hintt (c. 482571/10901175 or 1176) was a chief architect of the
Almohad (al-Muwaidn) empire and a close companion of the Mahd of the Almohads, Ibn Tmart,
and his successors. His original Berber name was Faskt -Mzl nt. Ibn Tmart changed his name to
Ab af, the name borne by one of the Companions of the prophet Muammad. Ab af had
established his family as one that was consistently loyal to the original Almohad unitarian doctrine
(tawd) of Ibn Tmart. Ab af's grandson Ab Zakariyy Yahy b. Abd al-Wad broke away from
Ibn Tmart's Muminid successors, who had altered elements of the original Almohad doctrine, and
founded the afid dynasty (r. 627982/12291574), in the region of modern-day Tunisia.
Ab af was chief of the powerful Hintt tribe of the Anti-Atlas, whose warriors he commanded in
battle against the ruling Almoravids (al-Murbin). Realising the need to unify the tribes of the Atlas,
Ibn Tmart trusted Ab af's loyalty and elevated his tribe to pre-eminence in the Almohad hierarchy,
which consisted of tribes, scholars, and councils, which were ranked by the Mahd Ibn Tmart and his
advisers according to their loyalty. Ab af was one of the few shaykhs allowed to lead his own tribe
into battle. It is doubtful that the seemingly unstoppable Almohad wave against the Almoravids would
have arisen so quickly without the military support of the large and unified Hintt tribe and without the
leadership and unshakeable loyalty of Ab af.
According to al-Baydhaq, his contemporary and the most direct, if not unbiased, source, Ab af was
a member of the leading council of ten, the highest level of the Almohad hierarchycomprising those
who first expressed their loyalty and submission to the Mahdand was called Shaykh of the
Almohads, holding a position directly below the caliph Abd al-Mumin (r. 52758/113363). Ab
af first met Ibn Tmart in the year 514/11201, when he was about thirty years old. He had a
reputation for political expertise and was deeply involved in the unification of the largely dispersed
Almohad corps. He died at an advanced age, in 571/11756, having maintained a crucial link between
the original, revolutionary doctrine of Ibn Tmart and the more sedate, hereditary caliphate founded by
Abd al-Mumin. Even as the later Muminids slid increasingly toward doctrinal division, the
successors of Ab af maintained the original doctrine and the original Berber tribal aristocracy of the
Almohad Empire.
Allen J. Fromherz

E. Lvi-Provenal, Documents indits d'histoire almohade, Paris 1928
Ibn al-Qan al-Marrkush, Nuum al-jumn, ed. Mamd Al Makk, Beirut 1990
Abd al-Wid al-Marrkush, al-Mujib, Spanish trans. Ambrosio Huici Miranda, Tetun 1955.