Saadi dynasty

The Saadi dynasty or Saadian dynasty (Arabic: السعديون as-saʿdiyyūn) was an Arab[3] Moroccan dynasty, which ruled Morocco from 1549 to 1659.

Saadi dynasty of Morocco

Extent of the Saadian empire during the reign of Ahmad al-Mansur[2]
StatusRuling dynasty of Morocco
CapitalTaroudant, Marrakesh
Common languagesArabic Language, Berber languages
Sunni Islam
1554–1659: Sultanate
Abu Abdallah, Prince of Tagmadert
Mohammed Sheikh, first Sultan (1554)
Ahmad al-Abbas, last Sultan
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Wattasid dynasty
Songhai Empire
Alaouite dynasty
Segou Empire
Pashalik of Timbuktu

From 1509 to 1549, they had ruled only in the south of Morocco. Although still recognizing the Wattasids as Sultans until 1528, Saadian's growing power led the Wattasids to attack them and, after an indecisive battle, to recognize their rule over southern Morocco[4] through the Treaty of Tadla.

Their reign over Morocco began with the reign of Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh in 1554, when he vanquished the last Wattasids at the Battle of Tadla. The Saadian rule ended in 1659 with the end of the reign of Sultan Ahmad el Abbas.


The Banu Zaydan claimed descent from the prophet Muhammad through the line of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima Zahra (Muhammad's daughter). They came from Tagmadert in the valley of the Draa River. The family's village of origin in the Draa was Tidzi (a qsar, some 10 km north of Zagora).[5] They claimed Sharifian origins through an ancestor from Yanbu and rendered Sufism respectable in Morocco. The name Saadi or Saadian derives from "sa'ada" meaning happiness or salvation. Others think it derives from the name Bani Zaydan or that it was given to the Bani Zaydan (shurafa of Tagmadert) by later generations and rivals for power, who tried to deny their Hassanid descent by claiming that they came from the family of Halimah Saadiyya, Muhammad's wet nurse. Their ancestor is Zaydan Ibn Ahmed a Sharif from Yanbu.[6] The most famous sultan of the Saadi was Ahmad al-Mansur (1578–1603), builder of the El Badi Palace in Marrakech and contemporary of Elizabeth I. One of their most important achievements was defeating the Portuguese at the Battle of Ksar El Kebir, and defending the country against the Ottomans. Before they conquered Marrakech, they had Taroudannt as their capital city.

The Saadian Tombs were rediscovered in 1917 and can be seen in Marrakech.



1509–54: Saadian princes of Tagmadert

1554–1659: Saadian sultans of Morocco

1603–27: Succession war

1627–59: Reunified rule


After the fall of the banu zaydan dynasty, their last sultan Abdullah ibn Muhammad retired with his family in the Draa desert, the very place from where, many years ago his Great-grandfather Mohamed Al Qaim had raised as the chief leader of the sultanate. Nowadays, his descendants live in the region of Draa, far from the glory of their prestigious ancestors who ruled Morocco.


See also


  1. "Trade and empire in Africa, 1500–1800", Times Books 2007, on Archived 2013-10-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Trade and empire in Africa, 1500–1800", Times Books 2007, on Archived 2013-10-02 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Muzaffar Husain Syed, Syed Saud Akhtar, B D Usmani (2011). Concise History of Islam. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. p. 150. ISBN 938257347X. Retrieved 22 September 2017.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. H. J. Kissling, Bertold Spuler, N. Barbour, J. S. Trimingham, F. R. C. Bagley, H. Braun, H. Hartel, The Last Great Muslim Empires, BRILL 1997, p.102
  5. The Saadian sultan Mohammed esh Sheikh es Seghir wrote in a letter to a member of the Alaouite family (Moulay Mohammed ould Moulay Cherif): "We are from Tidsi, one of the qsour of the Draa." (Nozhet el Hadi, p. 15). The geographical position of Tidzi is: Latitude: 30° 59' 52 N, Longitude: 7° 24' 49 W.
  6. The use of Analogy and the Role of the Sufi Shaykh in Post-Marinid Morocco, Vincent Cornell, International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 15, no. 1 (Feb. 1983), pp. 67–93

Further reading

  • Rosander, E. Evers and Westerlund, David (1997). African Islam and Islam in Africa: Encounters Between Sufis and Islamists. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 1-85065-282-1
  • S. Cory, Reviving the Islamic Caliphate in Early Modern Morocco, Ashgate Publishing (2014). ISBN 9781472413987
  • Morocco in the Sixteenth Century. Problems and Patterns in African Foreign Policy by Dahiru Yahya, Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne des Études Africaines, Vol. 18, No. 1 (1984), pp. 252–253
Royal house
House of Banu Zaydan
Preceded by
Wattasid dynasty
Ruling house of Morocco
Succeeded by
Alaouite dynasty
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