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Iznasen territory
Izasen flag

The Iznasen (in Berber : ⴰⵜ ⵉⵣⵏⴰⵙⵙⵏ, in Arabic : بني يزناسن) is an Arabized tribe of Zenati Berber origin, originally from northeastern Morocco, province of Berkane, the north of province of Oujda, and the north of province of Taourirt. In Arabic, the name « Nhara (نهارة) » is used too to designate the Iznasen people.

Iznassen - Maroc.png

History[change | change source]

The first mention of the Iznasen in this area is from 11th century sources when they speak of the conquest of Oujda by the Almoravids. The Almoravids initially hesitated to attack Oujda, because the Iznasen would be too strong an obstacle there. The tribe belonged to the Zenata tribes, where the name Iznasen also comes from, just like the masters and founders of Oujda, the Maghrawids. They played an important role under the Merinids because they were entrusted with the governorship of large parts of eastern Morocco. Later, in 1908, they were the first Moroccan people to successfully revolt against the French colonizer. Although the French were initially forced to leave the area, they were able to pacify the tribes with great force in January 1909.

Etymology[change | change source]

Iznasen in the Berber Zenati language is the plural of “Aznas” which is composed of “Azn” meaning “Send” and “As” meaning “The Day”. Iznasen literally means "Those who send (during) the Day".

Layout[change | change source]

The territory of the Iznasen

The Iznasen are divided into 8 tribes including 4 Arabized Berber tribes (which contains a minority of Arab-Berber tribes) and 4 Arab tribes :

4 Arabized Berber tribes :

  • Beni Khaled or At Khaled
    • Oulad el Ghazi (Aghbal)
    • Ahl Taghejirt
    • Beni Drar
  • Beni Menqouch or At Menqouch
    • Labsara
    • Beni Khellouf
    • Beni Mimoun
  • Beni 'Atiq or At 'Atiq
    • Tghasrout
    • Ouled 'Ali ben Yassin
    • Beni Amiyer
    • Beni Hammad
    • Tazaghine
    • Beni Moussi La'tach
    • Beni Moussi Rwa
    • Ouled Mimoun
    • Beni Bouya'la
  • Beni Ourimech or At Ourimech
    • Ouled Bou 'Abdoussayed
    • Ouled 'Ali Chbab
    • Ouled Abbou
    • Ahl Tagma
    • Beni Nouga
    • Beni Mahiou

4 Arabes tribes :

  • Beni Mansour
  • Houara
  • La'tamna
  • Oulad Sghir

Language[change | change source]

The east of Morocco, like many other areas in Morocco, is a very varied area in terms of language. Beni Iznasen contains both Arabic-speaking and Berber-speaking political groups. Bilingualism sometimes occurs, especially in the older generations. The younger generations usually only speak Arabic.

Arabic[change | change source]

The Arabic dialect of eastern Morocco is a so-called Hilali dialect, which shows similarities with the dialects of, for example, Marrakech and Casablanca, in contrast to the urban (pre-Hilali) dialects of, for example, Fes and the north of Morocco. Furthermore, this Arabic dialect shows strong similarities with the dialect of western Algeria (Tlemcen), which borders the Beni Iznasen area.

Berber[change | change source]

Those who speak the most the Iznasen Berber are the older generations of Iznasen people. The Berber dialect of eastern Morocco shows similarities with East Riffian and the Berber of Beni Snous tribe near Tlemcen in Algeria.

Since the officialization of the Berber language in Morocco in 2011, a reberberization process is underway because the language is again taught to new generations in Moroccan schools.

References[change | change source]