The Alaouite dynasty, or Alawite dynasty (Arabic: سلالة العلويين الفيلاليين, Sulālat al-ʿAlawiyyīn al-Fīlālīyn), is the current Moroccan royal family. The name Alaouite comes from the ‘Alī of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin, whose descendant Sharif ibn Ali became Prince of Tafilalt in 1631. His son Mulay Al-Rashid (1664–1672) was able to unite and pacify the country. The Alaouite family claim descent from the Arab prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad مــحمــد – صلي الله عليه وسلم, through his daughter Fāṭimah az-Zahrah and her husband ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib.
According to tradition, the Alaouites entered Morocco at the end of the 13th century when Al Hassan Addakhil, who lived in the town of Yanbu in the Hejaz, was brought to Morocco by the inhabitants of Tafilalet to be their imām. They were hoping that, as he was a descendant of Muhammad, his presence would help to improve their date palm crops thanks to his barakah (“blessing”), an Arabic term meaning a sense of charisma. His descendants began to increase their power in southern Morocco after the death of the Saadi dynasty ruler Ahmad al-Mansur (1578–1603). In 1659, the last Saʻadī sultan was overthrown before the conquest of Marrakesh by Mulay al-Rashid (1664–1672). After the victory over the Zaouia of Dila, who controlled northern Morocco, he was able to unite and pacify the country.
The organisation of the sultanate developed under Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672–1727), who, against the opposition of local tribes, began to create a unified state. Because the Alaouites had difficult relations with many of the country’s Berber and Bedouin-Arab tribes, Isma’īl formed a new army of black slaves, the Black Guard. However, the unity of Morocco did not survive his death—in the ensuing power struggles the tribes became a political and military force once again.
During Muhammad III’s reign (1757–1790) the kingdom was once again united and the administration reorganised. A renewed attempt at centralisation was abandoned, and the tribes were allowed to preserve their autonomy. Under Abderrahmane (1822–1859) Morocco fell under the influence of the European powers. After Morocco supported the Algerian independence movement of Emir Abd al-Qadir, it was attacked and defeated by the French in 1844 at the Battle of Isly and made to abandon its support.
European contact and the French protectorate
During the reigns of Muhammad IV (1859–1873) and Hassan I (1873–1894), the Alaouites tried to foster trading links, above all with European countries and the United States. The army and administration were also modernised to improve control over the Berber and Bedouin tribes. With the war against Spain (1859–1860) came direct involvement in European affairs. Although the independence of Morocco was guaranteed at the Treaty of Madrid (1880), the French gained ever greater influence. German attempts to counter this growing influence led to the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905–1906 and the Second Moroccan Crisis of 1911.
Eventually, the Moroccans were forced to recognise the French protectorate through the Treaty of Fez, signed on December 3, 1912. At the same time, the Rif area of northern Morocco was raised under Spanish control.
The protectorate regime faced opposition from the tribes. In 1930, the Berbers were placed under the jurisdiction of French courts, marking the beginning of the independence movement. In 1944, the Istiqlāl Party was founded and was supported by Sultan Muhammad V (1927–1961). Morocco achieved independence on 2 March 1956.
List of Alaouite rulers
From 1631 to 1666 the Alaouite dynasty ruled as princes of Tafilalt:
- Al-Rashid (1666–1672)
- Mawlay Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672–1727)
- Abu’l Abbas Ahmad II (1727–1728) (first time)
- Abdalmalik (1728)
- Abu’l Abbas Ahmad II (1728–1729) (second time)
- Abdallah (1729–1734) (first time)
- Ali (1734–1736)
- Abdallah (1736) (second time)
- Mohammed II (1736–1738)
- Al-Mostadi (1738–1740) (first time)
- Abdallah (1740–1741) (third time)
- Zin al-Abidin (1741)
- Abdallah (1741–1742) (fourth time)
- Al-Mostadi (1742–1743) (second time)
- Abdallah (1743–1747) (fifth time)
- Al-Mostadi (1747–1748) (third time)
- Abdallah (1748–1757) (sixth time)
- Mohammed III (1757–1790)
- Yazid (1790–1792)
- Slimane of Morocco (1792–1822)
- Abderrahmane (1822–1859)
- Mohammed IV (1859–1873)
- Hassan I (1873–1894)
- Abdelaziz (1894–1908)
- Abdelhafid (1908–1912)
Under the French protectorate (1912–1956):
- Yusef (1912–1927)
- King Mohammed V (1927–1961), changed the title of ruler from Sultan to King in 1957. Deposed and exiled to Corsica and Madagascar (1953–1955).
- Mohammed Ben Aarafa, installed by France (1953–1955)
From independence (1956 onwards):