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Encyclopedia > Mzab

The M'zab, or Mzab is a region of the northern Sahara, in the Ghardaïa wilaya, or province, of Algeria, around 500km south of Algiers. Ghardaïa (Arabic: ولاية غرداية ) is a town and wilaya in eastern Algeria, the city being the capital of the wilaya. ... A wilaya is an administrative subdivision of several countries, including Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, and Oman. ... Map of Algeria showing Algiers province Algiers (French Alger, (Arabic: ولاية الجزائر) El-Jazair, The Islands) is the capital and largest city of Algeria in North Africa. ...


The M'zab is a limestone plateau, centred around the Wadi M'zab (Oued M'zab). The valley has been inhabited since the 11th century, when it was settled by the M'zabite Berbers, a group of Ibadi Muslims. The Ibadis, a fiercely independent sect originating from the Rustamids, came to the M'zab as it was a defensible location. France annexed the M'zab in 1882, as part of their North African colonies. Upon Algerian independence in 1962 the territory became part of Algeria. Limey shale overlaid by limestone. ... A wadi is a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain. ... As a means of recording the passage of time, the 11th century was that century which lasted from 1001 to 1100. ... The Berbers (also called Imazighen, free men, singular Amazigh) are an ethnic group indigenous to Northwest Africa, speaking the Berber languages of the Afroasiatic family. ... Al-Ibadhiyah is a form of Islam distinct from the Shiite and Sunni sects. ... A Muslim (Arabic: مسلم) (sometimes also spelled Moslem) is an adherent of Islam. ... The Rustamid (or Rustumid, Rostemid) dynasty of Ibadi Kharijite imams ruled the central Maghreb for a century and a half from their capital Tahert, until destroyed by the Fatimids. ... 1882 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ...


There are five walled vilages (ksour) located on rocky outcrops along the Wadi M'zab, collectively known as the Pentapolis. They are Beni Isguen, Ghardaïa, the principal settlement today, Melika, Bounoura and Elateuf. The functional purism of the M'zabites faith led to a strict organisation of land and space. Each citadel has a fortress-like mosque, whose minaret served as a watchtower. Houses of standard size and type were constructed in concentric circles around the mosque. The architecture of the M'zab settlements was designed for egalitarian communal living, with respect for family privacy. Ghardaïa (Arabic: ولاية غرداية ) is a town and wilaya in eastern Algeria, the city being the capital of the wilaya. ... // Mosque; Aswan, Egypt. ... Minarets (Arabic manara منارة, but more usually مئذنة, and Urdu minra pl. ...


In the summer, the M'zabites migrated to 'summer citadels', centred around palm grove oases. This is one of the major oasis groups of the Sahara Desert, and is bounded by arid country known as chebka, crossed by dry river beds.


The M'zab Valley was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, as an intact example of traditional human habitat perfectly adapted to the environment. The insular nature of the Ibadis has preserved the area, and Ibadi imams continue to dominate the life of the area. A federal council, Majlis Ami Said unites representatives of the five ancient settlements, as well as three more recent towns: Guerara, Berriane and Ouargla. This council forms an Islamic local government, and all details of life are ruled by Islamic law. UNESCO logo The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, commonly known as UNESCO, is a specialized agency of the United Nations system established in 1945. ... World Heritage Site #86: Memphis and its Necropolis, including the Pyramids of Giza (Egypt). ... 1982 (MCMLXXXII) is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Imam (Arabic: إمام) is an Arabic word meaning Leader. The ruler of a country might be called the Imam, for example. ... Ouargla is a city and wilaya in southern Algeria. ... Sharia (Arabic شريعة also Sharia, Shariah or Syariah) is traditional Islamic law. ...


This federal council represents an “Islamic government” unique today. All the details of the Ibadites’ daily life are ruled by this Islamic government, from the weight of gold given as a dowry to a woman (maximum 60 grams) to the length of wedding celebrations (three days). The council makes decisions on details such as dowries, celebrations, dress, and can impose punishments including exile, and a form of quarantine where the offender may not interact with his fellow citizens. A dowry (also known as trousseau) is a gift of money or valuables given by the brides family to that of the groom to permit their marriage. ... Exile is a form of punishment. ... Quarantine, a medical term (from Italian: quaranta giorni, forty days) is the act of keeping people or animals separated for a period of time before, for instance, allowing them to enter another country. ...


The local language of the M'zab is Tumzabt, a branch of the Zenati group of Berber languages. The Zenati languages include 12 (SIL estimate) languages and dialects spoken in Africa and western Asia; this language group is a part of the Northern Berber language family. ... The Berber languages (or Tamazight) are a group of closely related languages mainly spoken in Morocco and Algeria. ...


References

  • UNESCO Advisory Body Evaluation
  • The changing world of Mzab

See also

The Maghreb (المغرب العربي ; sometimes also rendered Moghreb), meaning western in Arabic, is the region of the continent of Africa north of the Sahara desert and west of the Nile — specifically, the modern countries of Morocco, Western Sahara (annexed and occupied by Morocco), Algeria, Tunisia, Libya — and to a much lesser extent...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Mzab (239 words)
L'oued M'zab traverse ce plateau du nord-ouest vers le sud-est.
M´zab est aussi une région du Maroc, qui se trouve au milieu du plateau du Chaouia à une soixantaine de kilomètres de Casablanaca, dont la capitale est la ville de Ben Ahmed.
En tout, le Mzab a vu naître 25 cités aujourd'hui disparues.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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