The mosque tower turned cathedral bell tower visited and commented on by al-Miknasi during his trip to Spain

Al-Miknasi's Mediterranean Mission

Negotiating Moroccan Temporal and Spiritual Sovereignty in the Late Eighteenth Century

The mosque tower turned cathedral bell tower visited and commented on by al-Miknasi during his trip to Spain

Al-Miknasi's Mediterranean Mission

Negotiating Moroccan Temporal and Spiritual Sovereignty in the Late Eighteenth Century

Abstract

In 1779 the Sultan of Morocco, Muḥammad bin ‘Abdallah (Muḥammad III r. 1757-1790), sent an ambassadorial delegation to Spain to ransom Ottoman-Algerian prisoners. The delegation was led by Muḥammad bin ‘Uthman al-Miknāsī (d. 1799) who left a detailed account of the mission in his extant text Al-Iksīr fī fikāk al-asīr (The Elixir that will Liberate the Prisoner). When juxtaposed on the historical record, al-Miknāsī’s travelogue illustrates how Muḥammad III and the Moroccan religio-political elite navigated the complex Mediterranean web of religious identity, political allegiance, and ethnicity. Positing a division between ‘temporal’ and ‘spiritual’ sovereignty, increases our understanding of how Muḥammad III substantiated his authority on multiple levels in relation to Spain, Ottoman-Algeria, and the Sublime Porte in Istanbul. While previous scholarship has focused on a religio-political aggression against the Christian Europeans, this article employs al-Miknāsī’s travelogue to demonstrate how Muḥammad III halted religio-political aggression against Dār al-Kufr (Abode of Infidelity) and questioned the unity within Dār al-Islām (Abode of Islam).

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Peter Kitlas
Graduate student in Near Eastern Studies

My research interests include Mediterranean diplomacy, bureaucratic networks, and comparative early modern politics.