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WAQQĀṢA (or Ruqqasa), Moroccan family known in *Ceuta and *Fez from the 13th century. The Waqqāṣa family maintained contacts with the first *Merinid princes, particularly with the future sultan Abū-Yaʿqūb Yūsuf, whose private affairs they managed. According to the historian Ibn Khaldūn (14th century), the family encouraged the ruler's desire for wine. The Waqqāṣas' influence grew within the retinue of the prince, and when Abu-Yaʿqūb ascended the throne in 1286, he chose KHALIFA BEN ḤAYUN BEN WAQQĀṢA, known as Khalīfa al-Kabīr (Khalifa the Elder), first as qahramān al-dār (palace intendant) and then officially as chamberlain with very extensive powers. From then onward the Waqqāṣas dominated the viziers and other Muslim officials of the government and provided a growing number of intendants and stewards. Khalīfa al-Kabīr, who was very favorably looked upon by the sovereign and had amassed an immense fortune, acted as a dictator with unlimited powers. He was assisted by his brother ABRAHAM, his brother-in-law Moses Sebti, and his cousin KHALĪFA AL-ṢAGHĪR (Khalifa the Younger), who shared their relative's powers in every sphere. The vizier Abdallah ben Abu-Medyen, who was jealous of their position, plotted against them, succeeded in slandering them before the sovereign, and suggested a method of striking out at them. They were suddenly disgraced and arrested near *Tlemcen, which was besieged at the time by the Merinid army. Khalīfa al-Kabīr and all his relatives were executed in 1302, the only exception being Khalīfa al-Ṣaghīr. The latter subsequently entered the service of another sultan, Abu Rabīʿa, and became an all-powerful chamberlain. The kings of Aragon flattered this great personality and sent emissaries to him to assist them in inducing the sultan to join in an alliance against the kingdom of Grenada. Prior to this, Khalīfa al-Ṣaghīr found the opportunity to take vengeance against the vizier Abu-Medyen, who was put to death on the basis of the former's accusations. New intrigues subsequently resulted in the execution of Khalīfa al-Ṣaghīr and his entire retinue in 1309.


D. Corcos, in: JQR, 56 (1964), 137–50; Hirschberg, Afrikah, 281–2, 389; C.E. Dufourcq, L' Espagne Catalane et le Maghreb aux XIII et XIV siècles (1966), 392–5.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.