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Taghribat Bani Hilal (تغريبة بني هلال, also known as Sirat Abu Zeid Al Hilali سيرة ابي زيد الهلالي) is an Arabic epic recounting the Banu Hilal's journey from Najd to Tunisia & Algeria via Egypt and conquest of the latter. It is built around historical events that took place in the 11th century. The epic is folkloric and oral, not having been committed to writing until relatively recent times, and doesn't have a well-defined date of creation. It was declared one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.
Early sources describe how the Fatimid Caliph sent the Banu Hilal to the Maghreb lands to punish the Zirids for rebelling.
The epic has come to represent a foundational myth for Arab identity in North Africa and the spread of Islam across the Sahara effecting the cultural heritage of countries as far south as Sahel states such as Mali and Niger.
This crude political act had two major effects, one cultural, and the other literary.
The epic was inspired by these historic events.
In it the Hilali leader Abu Zayd al-Hilali's rival is Khalifa al-Zanati, the hero of the tribe of Zenata. The war between the Arab Banu Hilal and the Berber Zenata is the main theme of the Sira named after Abu Zeid. Another character featured in the epic is Shehta (شحتة).
The epic was narrated by storytellers in cafés well into the 20th century, much like the Baibars biography.
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