Al-Kahina (d. 701) Lamtuna (Mauritania, Morocco) A half-legendary, half-historic Berber heroine and queen. Originally named Zaynab alNafzawiya, she became known as Dahia al-Kahina, “the prophetess.” According to legend, al-Kahina directed the most determined resistance to the seventh-century Arab invasion of North Africa. Around 690, she assumed personal command of the North African armies. Under her leadership, the North Africans were victorious, and the Arabs were briefly forced to retreat. However, the Arabs were relentless, and in 701 the North Africans were defeated. Al-Kahina took her own life. Before she did so, she instructed her sons to go to the Arab camp, accept Islam, and join with the Arabs.
According to one legend, the emir Abu Bakr ibn Umar married al-Kahina when she promised to give him great wealth. (The historical Abu Bakr lived in the 11th century.) Al-Kahina blindfolded Abu Bakr and by magical means took him into an underground chamber, where he saw rooms filled with gold, silver, and gems. Other legends say that al-Kahina had jinn (evil supernatural beings) for her servants and that she was a witch.