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MAURITANIA. The place of Mauritania in the Islamic history of the Maghrib dates at least from the birth of the Almoravid dynasty, but it was the gradual southward migration of the Hilalian Banu Maghfar group, the Bani Hassan, that accounts for the arabization of nomadic populations in the territory by the sixteenth century. The traditional guardians and interpreters of Islamic culture in Mauritania are the zawiyah lineages ("marabouts" in French colonial literature). They are said by tradition t ...more

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