12 km from El-Jadida, Village of Mulay ‘Abdallah, El-Jadida, Morocco
Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century
Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad, religious and military leader, venerated to this day as ‘Mulay ‘Abdallah Amghar’.
Between the AH 2nd / AD 8th and the AH 6th / AD 12th centuries, the central Atlantic plain of Morocco was under the control of a proto-state, the Barghwata, whose founder Salih ibn Tarif proclaimed himself to be the new prophet and promoted a religion based on a deformed and berberised version of Islam and local ancestral practice.
The Almoravids and then the Almohads waged war incessantly against this heresy, and built a number of fortresses and ribat to defend Muslim cities and bring jihad to the infidels.
The ribat of Tit, founded in the mid AH 6th / AD 12th century is one such fortified building, also intended to protect the region from maritime attack by the Christians, and its creation is attributed not to a head of state in defence of his country, but to an ascetic defender of the faith, Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad. He was a descendant of Isma‘il Amghar, a religious man originally from Medina who came to reignite the faith of the Berber tribes, and who was the founder of the first town of Tit (‘spring' in Berber, present day Mulay ‘Abdallah).
This seafront burj, constructed on a hemispherical base, was surrounded by a trapezoid-shaped rampart.
The curtain wall facing the sea is punctuated by six square towers with cant or semi-round walls built using ashlars and consisting of two levels of firing rooms.
Stone is the main material used in this architectural ensemble, both for the ramparts and the towers and facings of the three gateways that open into the enclosure.
These gateways are flanked by towers, two of which have a simple corridor while the third, Bab al-Kabli, has a bent passageway leading to a square room covered with a stone cul-de-four with pendentives, the centre of which is pierced by a circular aperture.
This passageway leads to the inside of the ribat, where there is a minaret with no lantern whose prayer room has not survived.
This minaret, constructed of carefully assembled freestones, is decorated on two faces with a gemeled semi-circular arch crowned with two five-lobed arches, and on the remaining two faces with a blind arcature in the form of a pointed horseshoe arch crowned by a serrated muqarnas (honeycomb-work) arch. It appears to be one of the oldest minarets in Morocco.
The ribat also contains another freestone minaret whose original prayer room has also disappeared and that is currently connected to the recently constructed mosque of the Mulay Isma'il zawiya (religious teaching establishment)
The proportions and decoration of this minaret make it a precursor to the Kutubiya. Its ornamentation draws from the Almohad repertoire of knotwork and muqarnas arches. Its lantern, pierced with pointed arch apertures, is decorated on each face with a poly-lobed arch crowned with geometric knotwork.
The ribat remained intact until the AH 10th / AD 16th century, when the Wattasid sovereign Muhammad al-Burtuqali (r. AH 911–31 / AD 1505–24) demolished it to punish its inhabitants for their submission to the Portuguese. The fortress was rebuilt by the 'Alawid Sidi Muhammad ibn ‘Abdallah (AH 1171–1204 / AD 1757–90) who was responsible notably for the zawiya.
Founded in the AH 6th / AD 12th century on the Atlantic coast to the south of Rabat to defend the territory against attacks by Christians from the sea and by heretics from the land, this ribat has a semi-circular base and trapezium-shaped rampart. The wall overlooking the sea has three gateways and six square towers with two firing rooms each. There are two minarets on the inside, one of Almoravid origin, with no lantern or prayer room, and one of Almohad origin, with lantern and adjoining zawiya, which was built recently.
The ribat was demolished in the 10th / 16th century and restored in the 12th / 18th century.
The minaret without a lantern proves the town has existed since Almoravid times, while the minaret with a lantern clearly dates the ribat to the Almohad period. Furthermore Leo Africanus mentions the fortress as a vestige of the Almohad era.
Basset, H. et Terrasse, H., “Sanctuaires et forteresses almohades”, Hespéris, 1932, pp.337–76.
El Khatib-Boujibar, N., “Moulay Abdallah-Tït”, Maisons du Maroc, no. 7, Casablanca, 1996.
Leo Africanus, Cosmographia Del Africa 1526; Histoire d'Afrique, Epaulard, trans. Paris 1956.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954, p.222.
Kamal Lakhdar "Tit Ribat" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022. 2022. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;ma;Mon01;33;en
Prepared by: Kamal LakhdarKamal Lakhdar
Linguiste et sociologue de formation, c'est en autodidacte que Kamal Lakhdar s'est adonné aux études d'histoire du Maroc et du monde arabo-musulman, en axant tout spécialement ses recherches sur l'histoire de Rabat.
Sa carrière de haut fonctionnaire l'a conduit à occuper des fonctions de premier plan auprès de différents ministères. Il a notamment été membre du cabinet du ministre de l'Enseignement supérieur, conseiller du ministre des Finances, conseiller du ministre du Commerce et de l'Industrie, directeur de cabinet du ministre du Tourisme, chargé de mission auprès du Premier ministre et directeur de cabinet du Premier ministre.
Parallèlement, Kamal Lakhdar mène des activités de journaliste et d'artiste peintre – il a d'ailleurs été membre du Conseil supérieur de la Culture.
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: MO 42