” ‘abid al-bukhari. The Moroccan term ‘abid al bukhar derives from a 17th-century requirement that on induction into the army the soldiers had to swear an oath of allegiance to the sultan on the Sahih (a compilation of Hadith renowned for its scrupulous accuracy) of Muhammad bn ismail abu abd allah ak jufi al-bukhari (810-870). Once begun, the army was maintained by a core population raised in a settlement at Sidi Slimane (near Meknes) who were separated by gender at maturity and sent to the army or as servants to the royal household.”

“The army of black soldiers built by sultan mawlay ismail (1672-1727) was drawn from black residents of Morocco and in part from new slaves imported from the Sahel. The majority of the 50,000-150,000 thousand ‘abid probably were indigenous to Morocco and may were drawn from the populations that had worked in the sugar cane fields until these progressively were abandoned due to competition from the Carribbean.”

“During mawlay isma’il reign half were stationed at the captial, Meknes, and the other half were distributed in the other major urban centers, Technically, the ‘abid al-bukhari held jaysh status, but in practice few had significant landed resources or other wealth to back up their military salaries. The ‘abid al-bukhari took over the government at the death of mawlay isma’il (1727) and ruled through various puppet sultans until the advent of mawlay muhammad bn’ abd allah in 1757 who reduced the size of the abid al-bukhair contingents to around 15,000 (Meyers 1974).”

“By the the time of Mawlay Sulayman (1792-1822) the abid al-bukhari were regularly outnumbered in battles by the regular troops (na iba) levied for particular campaigns from tribes allied with the sultan. Toward the end of his reign, they split into factions supporting the sultan and his dynastic rivals in the south. The abid al-bukhari were finally disbanded in the reign of mawalay ‘abd al-rahman (1822-1859). “

Source: Historical Dictionary of Morocco By Thomas K. Park, Aomar Boum

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