Al-Jaghbūb, the Libyan Holy City of the Ṭarīqa al-Sanūsīya: A Photographic Reconstruction

Autore: Federico Cresti
In: Africa. N.S. IV/1, 2022
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After the end of Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhāfi’s regime, the destruction of Muslim/Sūfī places of worship widely spread in Libya. This phenomenon, and the definitive disappearance of a part of the country’s historical and architectural heritage of the Islamic age, must be included in a longer-lasting political-religious conflict that already manifested itself in the first decades of the Jamahiriyya. It was the case, in 1984, of al-Jaghbūb. Only the documentary traces of the archives and historical writings remain today of the ancient walled village, which arose as a zāwiya by the will of Muhammad b. ‘Alī al-Sanūsī, gaining the role of ‘Holy city’ after the construction of a mausoleum enclosing his remains. Particularly important is the photographic documentation of the colonial period brought to light by a recent research on the photographic collections of the Biblioteca nazionale centrale in Rome: this documentation allows a visual reconstruction of al-Jaghbūb, a rare example of ‘new town’ in Libyan history before the Italian conquest.

keywords: Libya; Al-jaghbūb; Ṭarīqa al-sanūsīyya; Sufism; Zawiya