Muwahhid Abdul Yusuf, later to be the first Grand Sheikh of the Almohad kingdom, was a strong willed, though bad tempered, character to whom the collapse of the Almoravid Empire can be almost entirely attributed. His short rule enabled him to lay the foundations for a strong Algerian state, which was brought to greatness by his successors of the Muwahhid Dynasty.


Muwahhid Abdul Yusuf was born of atheist Berber parents in Dimmidi in 1115. A carpenter by trade, Abdul travelled to Bougie in 1130, as an apprentice to a shipbuilder.

The first rebellion of 1131

Abdul was still in residence at Bougie in 1131, the year of the famous rebellion against Grand Sharif Yusuf Tariq II. Disgusted by the corruption rife in Algeria at the time, Abdul joined the forces of Sheikh Merin, the financier of the shipbuilder's guild. The young Abdul was immediately noticed by the rebel generals during his daring fight against the Almoravid governor of Bougie - and after professing his loyalty to Sheikh Merin, he was given command of a small force of light troops. By 1132, however, Sheikh Merin had been expelled from Bougie by the new Almoravid monarch Murabit Yusuf Tariq Abdullah and Abdul and his force were defeated at the battle of Bomika. The rebels were forced to flee into Berber hinterland.

Rise to power - The Second Rebellion

Abdul's spirits noticeably dropped over the first years of Tariq Abdullah's reign; the monarchy seemed to be strengthening again and the golden opportunity for rebellion seemed to have passed. However, the Songhai attack of 1133 broke this illusion. Abdul's raiders mobilised against both the Almoravids and the Songhai - shattering the integrity of both forces. When the Byzantines invaded the Eastern provinces, Abdul made up his mind to move against the Almoravid hinterland. In 1136, he arranged a meeting with his fellow rebel leaders Sheikh Merin and his brother, Sheikh Abu Wad. The assembled armies met up at Dimmidi where, after a night of drinking and revelry, Abdul had Merin and Wad assassinated and took complete control of the rebel armies and marched against Murabit Abdul Hossman - a junior member of the Murabit line, who was all that could be spared to defend the central provinces. Having defeated Hossman at Qawa in 1137, Abdul then marched on Bougie in 1138. The city fell in a matter of days, betrayed to Abdul by his supporters in the city. In 1139, his newly enlarged armies moved out across Algeria, taking Constantine in 1139. All of the other Algerian cities (including Ceuta and Mellila in Morocco) had fallen to the newly formed Almohad State. A force sent to Tunisia was repulsed by the combined forces of Murabit Abu Saed and Nicodemus III of Carthago outside Kairuoan and Abdul decided not to provoke the Almoravids of Marrakesh. By 1140, the Almohad empire had been securely established in Algeria.

Abdication and Death

Muwahhid Abdul Yusuf reigned his empire for a further 2 years, until his abdication in favour of his cousin Muwahhid Jeheba Ali. The pressure being too much for him even after his abdication, Abdul died in the January of 1145 of a burst blood vessel.

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