SUFISM IN SOMALIA LEWIS
Sufism in Somaliland: a Study in Tribal Islam - Although Somaliland has attracted the attention of a distinguished body of Italian scholars it has not yet been subjected to a specifically social anthropological study such as the present writer hopes to make. Excellent studies notably by Puccioni (1919-1937), Cerulli (1918-1943), and Colucci (1924,1943) have elucidated the sociology of the Somali and created a sound corpus of knowledge for future investigations. Colucci's Principi di diritto consuetudinario della Somalia Meridionale (1924) provides a penetrating analysis delineating with great clarity the general framework of Somali social organization and the political structure of the Sab tribes of Somalia in terms of lineage organization. Cerulli's studies of tribal custom and social organization are also of great value; his ' Note sul movimento musulmano nella Somalia ', published over 30 years ago, is at present the foundation of all studies of Islam amongst the Somali. The present paper attempts to set this and other material on Somali religion in the context of the sociological investigation of the literature of the Somali which I have made elsewhere (Lewis, 1966), and in which I have been guided by Somali informants in London. It is hoped that the procedure adopted here may be of vague in suggesting the lines along which field studies of Islam amongst the Somali might profitably be conducted, and also that it may make some contribution to studies of Islam amongst tribal societies generally. (1) Introduction A DESCRIPTION and analysis of religion have now come to be regarded as essential components in any satisfactory study of society. In no case, probably, is this more necessary than in that of an Islamic people where the study of Islam tends to throw as much light on the social structure as the study of the social structure does upon religion. This close interdependence has always been particularly clear in Muslim societies with a state-like structure where the Shari'a (the religious law in the widest sense) has had a wide field of application, although, of course, with the progressive Westernization of the Islamic world the gap between the spiritual and temporal realms is again widening (cf. Gibb, 1947; Milliot, 1949; Falkhry, 1954). But the conformity of social and religious structure is equally far-reaching in a tribal Muslim society although it may not at first sight appear so (2). Somali society is a case in point. This essay sets out to examine the role of Sufism in the social structure of the Somali and is designed to elucidate the nature and function of Somali genealogies. It is unnecessary here to justify the ethnic classification "South-Eastern Cushites" which embraces the Somali, Afar, Saho, Galla, and Beja, and which rests upon similarities in material and social culture, including religion, and upon traditions of common origin (3). I assume here that the pre-Islamic religion of the Muslim structure of Somali society owes much to the interpretation of Islam in terms of Cushitic belief. It follows that it should be possible to relate the social functions of present-day Somali Sufism to syncretism between the two religions. There are still a few tribes (e.g. some of the Dir and Hawiye) upon whom Islam has as yet made little impression and whose Cushitic culture is correspondingly little modified. Again among some of the southern tribes of Somalia, especially those of the shown, and much of the terminology and beliefs of Cushitic religion persists and are applied to Islam. In interpreting Cushitic belief and practice in their present form among the Somali, the wider literature describing the religion of the Afar, Saho, and Galla has been drawn upon, but I do not deduce from Cushitic religion in general any belief or custom for whose independent existence among the Somali there is not ample evidence. It is not implied that all those features of Somali social structure whose interaction with Islam is considered are necessarily typically Cushitic, but simply that in the pre-Islamic state of Somali society they were related to Cushitic institutions. We shall deal particularly with Sufism and examine the way in which its social organization, political and religious structure are associated with the baraka of Sufi sheikhs and their personal genealogies which trace religious power to the lineage of the Prophet Mohammed. It will be argued that the genealogical canalization of divine grace (baraka) dependent upon connexion with Mohammed's clan of Quraysh finds close parallels in the social and religious functions of Somali tribal genealogies (abtirsiinyo). These similarities in function between Arabian genealogies in Sufism and genealogies in the traditional (pre-Islamic) social order account for the ease with which the genealogies of Sufi sheikhs are absorbed amongst the Somali and underlie the Somali claim to descent from the Prophet. Such an interpretation, it will be noticed, does not depend upon the validity of the preceding assumptions on the nature of Cushitic religion, but, since these seem well established it is relevant to consider in the incorporation of Sufi genealogies (4) into the Somali lineage structure in relation to them. The religious functions of Somali genealogies which centre in sacrifice at the tombs of eponymous ancestors are, in the pre-Islamic state of Somali society intrinsically a part of Cushitic religion and knowledge of the larger hierarchy of Cushitic spirit-refractions does, I think, throw light upon the nature of sacrifice to the dead and leads to some elucidation of the religious concepts attached to Somali genealogies. Thus it is proposed that Sufi genealogies are adopted due to the close resemblances in their religious and political functions to Somali tribal genealogies, and that this assimilation corresponds to underlying similarities in the Cushitic and Sufi religious concepts which attach to genealogies. I. Preliminary Some 2,000,000 in number, the Somali occupy the territories of French, British, and ex-Italian Somaliland (the United Nations Trusteeship Territory of Somalia administered by Italy), the south-east dependencies of Ethiopia, and the Northern Frontier Province of Kenya. They are essentially nomadic pastoralists owning in abundance sheep, goats, cattle, and camels used for milking and the transport of the nomad's hut and possessions. In some parts of southern Somalia oxen replace camels as burden animals. Some temporary cultivation is practised, but as a whole, there is little permanent cultivation in the barren pastureland of the north. In the south, however, arable land occurs along the courses of the two rivers which water Somalia (the Shebelle and the Juba), and in the hinterland between them. Here enclaved settlements of Negroes, Bantu and others, are engaged in permanent cultivation, and some Somali tribes, especially those of the Sab family, have adopted a sedentary mode of life. Mixed farming is characteristic of this region, and, under the stimulus of administrative development, there is an increasing tendency for nomadism and transhumance to give place eventually to fixed cultivation. The Somali nation comprises two main subdivisions, the ' Soomaali ' and the ' Sab (5) The Sab tribes form an extensive wedge of cultivators between the rivers of Somalia and separate the nomads of northern Somaliland from those of the south. The ' Soomaali ', who are numerically superior, despise the ' Sab ' for their sedentary way of life, for their obscure origins (Galla and Negroid admixture is pronounced), and for their mixed genealogies. Nevertheless, Sab are included in the designation ' Soomaali ' by outsiders, in much the same way as the inhabitants of the British Isles are frequently indiscriminately referred to as ' English '. Within the Somali nation, Soomaali and Sab are differentiated although there is an increasing tendency for the Soomaali/Sab cleavage to be ignored in the rising tide of Somali nationalism. Urbanized and westernized Somali maintain that discrimination is "old-fashioned", that it is contrary to the injunctions of the Prophet, and that it undermines the unity of the Somali people. In practice and actual social relations, however, these ideals are often betrayed, which serves to indicate how deeply engrained the traditional Somali social order is. Still, within Somaliland, the cleavage remains the primary subdivision of the Somali nation. and in the rest of this paper (3). I shall use the term ' Somali ' t to include the Sab except where a distinction is expressly stated. Each comprises a vast segmentary system of units which may be classified as: tribal families (of which there are seven: Dir, Hawiye, Pre-Hawiye, Isaaq, Daarood, Digil, and Rahanwiin), confederacies, sub-confederacies, tribes, and tribal sections. This terminology which I have elsewhere described (Lewis, 1955, pp.14-40) is illustrated in the accompanying chart. Condensed genealogy of the Somali nation, representing segmentation into social groups, with specimen segmentation of one tribal family, the Daarood (Lewis, 1955, p.15). Qurayshitic lineage Aqil Ibn Abi Talib Hill Samaale Irir PreHawiye Sab Digil * Tunni (1) Rahanwiin Irir Daarood Dir Hawiye Gadabuursi (2) Isaaq Daarood (Tribal family) Harti (Conferacy) Majeerteen (Sub-Conferacy) Usman Muhamuud (Tribe) * Somali tribal families. (1) The Tunni are a tribal confederacy rather than a tribal family (2) The Gadabuursi are of uncertain affiliation, they may belong to the Dir tribal family The tribe stands out as a clearly defined unit which embraces the most generally effective social solidarity. Cattle-theft and war characterize the relations between tribes, and intertribal hostility is frequently of long standing. Internally the tribe tends to be divided by feud amongst its fractions. Within the tribe, however, homicide is normally settled peaceably by payment of blood compensation. With the extended enforcement of the European administrative system tribes are now also, whenever possible, obliged to settle their differences by payment of compensation in place of further fighting. The obligations entailed by tribal membership are clearly formulated in the procedure for the adoption of strangers (10), who undertake to share tribal responsibility in payment and receipt of blood-price and in other matters. In essence the tribe is of one blood, and it is, in short, a social, territorial, political, and to some extent religious unit closely similar to that of the Nuer (Evans-Pritchard, 1940) or of the Arab Bedouin (Jaussen, 1948). It is not, however, entirely exogamous (11). Like the total Somali society of which it is the microcosm, the tribe constitutes a balanced system of sections of various orders of segmentation. In some cases there may be no more than three orders of segmentation within the tribe, but in most cases there are at least four, for some tribes boast as many as 100,000 members. The average. however, seems to be about 20,000 tribesmen. It will be seen that the Somali tribe is a relatively large unit, with a fairly high degree of internal segmentation. In each political unit from the basic group of closely related families to the tribal confederacy, the elders constitute a council representative of the group's interests and convened by a political figurehead. In the tradition of the medieval period when the petty Muslim sultanates of southern Eritrea and north-western Ethiopia engaged (Christian Ethiopia in war, chiefs are styled both by the Somali and by the Administrations as ' Sultan'. But this title does not imply that its incumbents wield authority over a centralized state and is not to be understood in the classical Muslim sense (12). Normally the tribe recognizes a chieftain (called variously boqor, garaad, ugaas), as president of the tribal council. Yet not every tribe owns a common chief. In effect, a chief's authority derives from the structural situation - from the circumstances of tribal allegiance - and fluctuates with it. His power depends largely upon his personality. Thus the position of the Somali chief is closely similar to that of an Arabian sheik (Montagne, 1947, p. 59). Considerable religious power attaches to a chief. In the past chieftaincy seems to have been connected with rainmaking, and there is evidence that this function is still retained amongst the less Islamized tribes of the north-west corner of British Somaliland and of certain parts of Somalia. In many cases, the chief still conducts periodical rainmaking ceremonies (roobdoon ' seeking water') and the great rite (lak) performed in Somalia to mark the onset of the main rains. The chief's glance is referred to as "the burning eye" (il kulul ) and his person is so strongly endowed with power that among some closely related tribes it is usual for a visiting chief to avoid a face to face encounter with his equivalent and to be greeted indirectly by a representative. Consequent upon his special relation with God, a chief can call down blessing or misfortune upon his people and their stock. From the structural point of view, his most important function is to preside at the ceremonies which are held at the tombs of the eponymous tribal ancestors in commemoration of them. Each tribal section celebrates its founder at his shrine, offering up its own particular form of sacrifice (13). (Cerulli, 1913. p.7). Where a hereditary chief is recognized members of his family (called Gob) represent him at sacrifices performed by the heads of subsidiary tribal fractions. In the case of tribal confederacies with a chiefly lineage the same procedure is followed in the ceremonies of component tribes. It is this duty more than any other which establishes the sanctity of a hereditary chief, for, when he represents his people in sacrifice at the eponymous ancestor's shrine, it is his own lineal ancestor whom he commemorates before God. He, the living representative of the founding ancestors, is the closest descendant of those whom he celebrates on behalf of his tribe. Generations later, he in his turn will be regarded as an eponymous founder and will be commemorated in sacrifice by his descendants on behalf of their tribesmen. In the traditional accounts of war and migration it is always the religious aspects of leadership which are signalled out and held to be responsible for the success of one group at the expense of another. The fortunes of war are to some extent regarded as a reflection of ritual efficacy. On the political side again, there is no specifically constituted police organization to enforce the decision which are arrived at by the chief in council, except of course in the pseudo-sultanates which have remained a legacy from earlier times, in some parts of Somalia (Cerulli, 1919, pp 16 ff.). The Somali Lineage System The emphasis placed by Somali upon descent has already been indicated. In fact, the key to an understanding of Somali social structure lies in the functions exercised by genealogies (abtirsiinyo). Corresponding to the segmentary tribal system described is an equally highly segmented lineage system, different orders of fragmentation and aggregation in which are coordinate with equivalent levels of segmentation in the tribal system. The total genealogical tree of the Somali nation represents the unity of all its component parts: tribal families, confederacies. sub-confederacies, tribes, and tribal sections. Social propinquity is expressed in terms of agnatic kinship. The relations between groups of every order are in genealogical idiom expressed as relationships between eponymous ancestors. At a higher level than the tertiary tribal section, or, perhaps in some cases the secondary, such postulated kinship is largely fictitious, of course. Nevertheless it is the principle which Somali assume to underlie social relationship. The basis of political action is the agnatic lineage system - it's religious significance relates to the eponymous ancestors to which it refers, and who are celebrated in the sacrifices performed at their tombs. Such is the traditional social system associated with nomadism and preserved where nomadism still prevails. In the south, however, where sedentary cultivation is replacing nomadism, the relations between territorial groups cease to be always expressible in terms of descent. Here the lineage system is disintegrating. The process of change is gradual; at first territorial units form having a mixed clan or lineage structure in which the political unit is co-ordinate with a dominant clan or lineage. With subsequent development and the continued settlement in the same territorial unit of increasing numbers of immigrants of heterogeneous clan origin, the agnatic lineage structure becomes so distorted and confused that the segmentation of the dominant lineage no longer represents territorial distribution and ceases to have political functions. The principle that neighbours must be agnatic kinsmen. that territorial proximity implies genealogical propinquity, no longer holds. Such disorganization is particularly characteristic of the agricultural tribes of the Sab family. It is important, however, to observe that although the characteristic social unit of these regions is an agricultural settlement or ' mixed-village' (Lewis, 1955. p. 95) with a rudimentary state-like political organization in which lineages have no political significance, agnatic kinship may still be applied at a higher level to describe the relations between larger territorial aggregates such as tribes or tribal confederacies. It is certainly in terms of agnatic kinship, for example, that the relations between tribal families are described although relations among the component units within the Sab family are not at all levels represented genealogically. There is thus a certain inconsistency in the organization of political relations at different levels of the political structure. The lineage system which is the fundamental principle is superseded amongst the smaller units of the Sab, but retains its functions amongst those of a higher order and referring to the tribal families knits the Somali people together as the issue of the Prophet's lineage. There are, . as has been mentioned, seven tribal families - Dir, Pre-Hawiye, Hawiye, Daarood, and Ishaaq of the ' Soomaali ' group; and Digil and Rahanwiin of the ' Sab '. To-day there are few Dir tribes and their importance lies rather in having given rise, through the intermarriage of Dir's daughters with immigrant Arabs, to the great Ishaaq and Daarood tribal families. Ishaaq and Daarood reached the Somali coast at a date which has not yet been historically established but which tradition places between the Hejira and the 15th century (Lewis, 1955, pp. 15-9, 23-4). Traditions of Arabian descent are especially strong amongst the Ishaaq and Daarood. but are held independently by the Hawiye and Dir and even by many of the Sab tribes who, as it happens, have as good claims to Arabian descent as their northern Somali neighbours (the Dir, Ishaaq, Daarood, and Hawiye), who hold them in such contempt. All tribal families can establish connexion with each other without going as far back as the Prophet's lineage, but the breach between ' Soomaali ' and ' Sab ' is only bridged by tracing descent to the Qurayshitic line of Mohammed. Only at this level of inclusiveness are the Soomaali and Sab joined as the Somali nation, and it is in this context especially that the Somali consider themselves the children of the Prophet. For this solidarity transcends all sectional interests and divisions, including that between Soomaali and Sab and represents a real consciousness of common nationality and religion. Individual genealogies (abtirsiinyo) trace ascent through the hierarchy of social units from the smallest tribal section to the tribal family, through the primary bifurcation of Soomaali/Sab, through the Prophet's descendants, and culminate finally in Mohammed, although they often extend beyond this to include the Prophet's ancestors and resemble typical Arabian genealogies (cf. Wustenfeld, 1853). Usually Somali genealogies are imperfectly Arabized (Islamized) and contain a mixture of Cushitic and Arabic names indicative of the absorption of Arab genealogies. Unless, however, Somali wishes to emphasize their exclusiveness with respect to other peoples, that is when only relations between Somali are in question, the genealogies given stop at Soomaali or Sab and comprise between 22 and 30 names. At their greatest extension, genealogies representing political and religious connexion are drawn out to embrace the Prophet and his lineage. II. ISLAM Relations with Arabia: the Introduction of Islam The historical foundations for the contemporary claim to descent from the Prophet lie in the existence of relations between Somaliland and Arabia from the earliest times. Immigration from and to Arabia has always been and still is a constant feature of Somali life. There has always been a considerable floating population of Arabs in various stages of absorption among the Somali. Moreover, there is little doubt that Islam reached Somaliland shortly after the Hejira and its establishment is recorded by Arab writers of the 9th and 10th centuries. The coastal commercial colonies which had been founded by the Himyarite Kingdom before Islam eventually developed into the small Muslim states of Zeila (in its widest extension known as Adal) in British Somaliland, and of Mogadishu in Somalia. These were ruled by local dynasties of Somalized Arabs or Arabized Somalis. The history of Zeila has been adequately described by Trimingham (1952, pp. 58 ff.) and need be no more than summarized here. Cerulli's research (Cerulli, 1994, 1996, 1927) shows that from the beginning of the 10th until half-way through the 13th century Mogadishu was functioning as a trading colony which comprised a federation of Arabian tribes. Persians also played some part in its early history. The Arab settlers had elected chiefs and acknowledged the religious and jural authority of one lineage, the Qahtan ibn Wa'il. In the course of time Somali influence increased and from a loose federation of Arab-Somali peoples, a sultanate with a local dynasty (the Muzaffar) emerged in the 13th century. The Muzaffar sultanate flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries and by this time Shangani and Hamarwein, the two halves of the town of Mogadishu, were firmly established and Hamarwein was dominant. This dynasty survived into the 16th century when the sultanate declined as a commercial centre and reverted to a hegemony of small townships. At the same time Mogadishu was under pressure from tribes of the Hawiye tribal family who were advancing southwards through Somalia. By the second half of the 18th century Somalis had gained control of Shangani and imposed their imam as ruler of Mogadishu. Portuguese and British colonization contributed to the final collapse of the sultanate. In the 17th century the town had been occupied by the Imam of Oman for a short space, and remained after his withdrawal in vague dependence to him. With the division of the Muscat State early in the l9th century, Mogadishu was allotted to the Sultan of Zanzibar, who attempted to secure a more binding dependence by establishing military garrisons along the coast. Almost immediately after, these were sold to Italy and Mogadishu became part of the former Italian colony of Somalia. Southern Ethiopia supplied Zeila with its trade and the town reached its greatest heights in the 14th century, but began to decline after Ahmad Granhe's celebrated campaigns against Christian Ethiopia in the 16th century. Its history was from the beginning the chronicle of a series of wars against the Ethiopian infidels waged in alliance with the other petty Muslim states of southern Eritrea and north-eastern Ethiopia. Mogadishu, as we have seen, had a shorter period of prosperity in the 11th century and then declined fairly rapidly under the joint pressure of nomadic incursions from the interior and the influence of external colonization. Such centres as these had an important effect in the development of Islam among the Somali. With the Arabian colonies firmly entrenched in the other trading ports they provided a foothold from which Mohammedanism spread amongst the nomads of the interior.(14) Sufism among the Somali The Somali are orthodox Sunnis and adherents of the Shafi'ite rite of the Shari'a. Sufism is well developed and the remainder of this paper will deal with the role of Sufism in Somali society. As is well known, this revitalizing current arose in Islam between the 9th and 10th centuries, attaining in its classical form its aesthetic and theological climax in the l1th and 13th centuries. True Sufism is now considered by some authorities to be in decadence (Arberry, 1950). In Somaliland after a period of great activity and general expansion up till the 1930's, the Dervish movement seems to be on the wane, although it is extremely difficult to assess its true importance at the present day. Tribal Sufism has always tended to form a conservative barrier against European administration and many of its adherents have strongly opposed the extension of education lest it should undermine their authority. Administrative hostility, real or imagined, has reinforced the esoteric and clandestine character of Sufi practice and made it all the more difficult to estimate its true significance. However, it is not difficult to study its functional importance as a movement in the social structure of Somali society, for whatever its present number of adherents, it has left an indelible impression as will be seen. The adherents of Sufism belong to the congregations or communities, in many Muslim countries known as zawiya, in Somaliland as jama'a, of the various Orders (tariqa,'The Way ') into which the movement is divided according to the doctrines and services (dhikr) ordained by the founders of Orders. Tariqa means 'path' in the sense of the Way to follow in the search for righteousness and the Way to God. The end of the tariqa is ma'rifa, absorption in God (gnosis). Those who have travelled furthest, through virtue, the practice of devotion, and the grace which God has vouchsafed them are nearest Him. As the Path is traversed successive steps of the way are demarcated as ' stations ' or ' states '. These are discussed below. For his godliness and virtue the founder of each Order is held to be closer to God and to exemplify in his teaching and life the True Path which it behooves the zealous to follow. The founder is a guide who through his particular qualities of devotion. and by his special virtue including the grace (baraka) bestowed upon him by God leads his disciples towards God. His baraka passes to those who follow in his Path and dedicate their lives to his example. Each Order is distinguished by the specific discipline which its founder has established as the True Path. Since there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet, religious prestige is a function of connexion with the Prophet's Qurayshitic lineage. Thus those in whose blood (recorded in personal genealogies) the Prophet's grace (baraka ) flows are eminently suitable for election to the office of head (khalifa) of an Order or of a congregation (Sheik). Sheiks and khalefas, as also the founders of the Orders themselves, have personal genealogies tracing descent from ancestors connected with Mohammed. To what extent such claims are historically true is in the present context irrelevant. The tradition is that descent from Quraysh entitles to religious office and that to be a Sufi sheik or khalifa implies such descent. Thus in their furthest extension the personal genealogies of the founders of Orders and of their local representatives, sheiks and khalifas, reach back to the Prophet's lineage. According to the lineage principle in terms of which relationships in Somaliland are understood each jama'a is identified with the genealogy of its khalifa or sheik. The consequences of this in the total genealogical structure of Somali society will shortly be seen. Within each tariqa the authority of the incumbent of the office of regional khalifa is founded upon a chain of tradition which has two branches. Unlike his personal genealogy, these attach to the office, not to the person. The silsilat al-baraka (chain of benediction) traces the chain of grace which unfolds from the founder of the Order through his successive disciples down to the present incumbent of the office of khalifa. The silsilat al-wird, the other branch, connects the founder with the Prophet and, through his mediation, with Allah. The silsila (lit. 'chain ' ) consists of a list of names through which spiritual affiliation is traced and in some ways resembles a genealogy. It is quite separate, however, from the sheik's personal genealogy although that also is regarded as endowed with power. In initiation (wird), the covenant ('ahd) of the tariqa is administered to the novice by the head of the community in a formal ceremony at which the service (dhikr) pertaining to the Order is celebrated (for a description, see Robecchi-Bricchetti, 1899, p. 423; Trimingham, 1952, p. 237). The novice swears to accept the khalifa as his guide and spiritual director through the baraka of the founder. He is then instructed in the performance of prayer tasks (called variously awrad, ahzab, and rawatib), and is provided with a prayer-mat to carry upon his shoulder, a vessel for ablution, and a rosary (tusbah) to finger as he recites his prayers. Somali tariqas are characterized by fewer stages in the novice's progress towards illumination than were customary in classical Sufism (see on this point, Arberry, 1950, pp. 74- ff.). At first the novice is styled 'aspirant' (murid) but also referred to by his brethren ('ikwan') as ' brother '. The majority of initiates never proceed beyond this stage. Qutb, which is the next step, requires a certain degree of mystical perfection but is not comparable to the qutb of literary Sufism. Each successive step becomes increasingly difficult, and al-wasil the next grade, signifying union with God after long strife (i.e. the attainment of gnosis), corresponds to induction to the leadership of a fraternity. Al-maddad, the final goal, is attained by few pilgrims indeed, for it is that reached usually only by the founders of the Orders themselves. Membership of the community does not imply celibacy; adherents live with their families in the community. Women have their own tariqas where they participate in the services in the name of the Prophet's daughter, Fatima, whom they regard as the founder of women's Orders. Female adherents are veiled (the veil is not normally worn by women in Somaliland), and are generally more amply clad than other Somali women. But for them also there is no embargo on marriage. There are always many people who although not formally admitted to an Order and not living in the community, follow the public ceremonies while ignorant of their esoteric content. Acknowledging the piety and religious powers of the founder whom they venerate as a saint, they regularly call upon his followers whom they regard as similarly endowed to act as mediators in disputes. Many of the brethren thus fulfil the functions of qadis and this is one of the many ways in which the sphere of interest of the Sufi community encroaches upon that of the tribal structure. Tribesmen turn to the head of the jama'a for assistance and counsel, to the neglect of the tribal authorities This is one instance of a wide and far-reaching conflict between Sufism on the one hand and the tribal organization on the other which we shall consider in some detail below. SOMALI TARIQAS The three most prominent tariqas in Somaliland are in the order of their introduction, the Qadiriya, the Ahmediya, and the Saalihiya. The Rifa'iyya tariqa is represented amongst Arab settlers but is not widely distributed or important. In the south the Order's main centres are the coastal towns of Mogadishu and Merka: there are also some adherents in the British Protectorate. The Qadiriya, the oldest Sufi Order in Islam, was introduced into Harar in the 15th century by Sharif Abu Bakr ibn 'Abd Allah al-'Aydarus (known as al-Qutb ar-Rabbani, ("The Divine Axis"), who died in 1508-9 (A.H.91 1 ) . Abu Bakr is probably the best-known Shai'ite saint in southern Arabia - where he is called al-'Adani (15) and his mosque is the most famous in Aden (16). The Qadiriya became the official Order of Harar and has considerable influence in the surrounding country. To the south the Order does not appear to have acquired much importance in the interior of Somalia until the beginning of the l9th century when the settlement of Bardera, known locally as jamaha, was founded on the Juba river. The Qadiriya has a high reputation for orthodoxy, is on the whole literary rather than propagandist, and is said to maintain a higher standard of Islamic instruction than its rivals. The Ahmediya, and the derivative Saalihiya, were both introduced into southern Somalia towards the close of the last century, although the Ahmediya may have entered British Somaliland somewhat earlier. This Order was founded by Sayyid Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi (1760-1837) of Mecca and brought to Somalia by Sheik Ali Maye Durogba of Merka. Muhammad ibn Salih, in 1887, founded the Saalihiya as an offshoot of the Rashidiya founded by Ahmad ibn Idris's pupil Ibrahlm al-Rashid (Cerulli, 1923, pp. 11, 12; Trimingham, 1959, pp. 235 6). The principal Saalihiya proselytizer in Somalia was Sheik Muhammad Guled, a former slave, who launched the Order there by the foundation of a community among the Shidle (a Negroid people occupying the mid-reaches of the Shebelle river, see Lewis, 1955, p. 41). Muhammad Guled died in 1918 and his tomb is at Misra (named after Cairo, Misra in Somali), one of the communities which he had established among the Shidle. The Order's stronghold is in Somalia but there are some communities in British Somaliland. According to Cerulli (op. cit., pp. 14, 18) the Saalihiya is strongly propagandist and inferior to the Qadiriya in mysticism and teaching. In the past it has been closely associated with Somali nationalism and the two rebellions of this century have taken place under its mantle and in its name. The more important rising was that led by Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah (born about 1865) of the Habr Suleemaan Ogaadeen tribe, who made several pilgrimages to Mecca (1890-9), and joining the Saalihiya, sought to attract the northern Somali to this Order. He founded several communities and in 1895 proclaimed himself khalifa-designate in Somaliland. In 1899 he assumed the title of Sunni Mahdi and initiated the jihad against all infidels. He was repudiated by the leader of the Saalihiya in Mecca and from 1900 to 1904 British forces, with from time to time half-hearted Ethiopian and nominal Italian support, conducted four major campaigns against him. His power was continually diminished but the rebellion was never decisively crushed and dragged on until 1920 when the Mahdi died. The Ahmediya with the smallest number of adherents of the three Orders is said to concentrate more on teaching than the Saalihiya (Cerulli, 1923, pp. 12 ff.). Both Orders are for the most part distributed in cultivating villages along the two rivers of Somalia and in the fertile land between them. Qadiriya congregations, on the other hand, are more usually dispersed amongst tribes and do not form autonomous settlements of cultivators. This, naturally, is particularly the case in the north where there is little arable land. Where the congregation forms a stable cultivating settlement, the land, which has been acquired through adoption into a host tribe, is the collective property of the community and is divided among the affiliates by their sheik. Continuity of tenure depends upon the maintenance of satisfactory relations with the tribe of adoption and the regular fulfillment of the various obligations which adoption imposes. Tenure is precarious and is in theory at any time revocable by the ceding tribe. It follows that the individual holdings obtained by affiliates are not automatically inheritable; absolute rights to land or crops are never obtained by members of the community. If a member leaves he relinquishes all rights to his holding and probably his crops also, although he may sometimes be allowed a portion of the harvest. The fields are worked collectively so that the harvest in each brother's holding represents the collective labour of the community. Part of the harvest is used to maintain the funds of the jama'a, which also depend upon gifts made by tribesmen and payments for ritual or religious services performed by affiliates. Liabilities met from these general funds consist of aid to the poor, assistance of pilgrims to Mecca, and expenses connected with missionary work and the various dues payable to the tribe of adoption. As far as the host tribe is concerned the jama'a acts as a tribal section subject to the same privileges and duties as are other sections of the tribe. Congregations act as training centres for the devouts (wadaad), (17) usually described as ' bush teachers ' or ' bush preachers ', who wander from camp to camp through the bush stopping now and then to hold classes where at least some rudimentary knowledge of theology is imparted. In these transitory bush schools children are taught prayers and verses from the Koran and generally acquire the ability to read and write Arabic. Children receive a thorough grounding in the Koran and their familiarity with Koranic texts remains with them throughout their lives. Wadaad are also important as acting in the capacity of unofficial qadis administering the Shari'a to the extent to which its competence is recognized by tribal authorities, i.e. in matrimonial affairs, inheritance of property, contract. mortgage, etc., and assessment of the requisite compensation for injuries (18). In intertribal politics they have little authority to award decisions, and where their recommendations conflict with tribal interests they are normally ignored for Wadaad here act as mediators rather than as arbitrators. It is probably through the Wadaad who issue from the jama'a communities that Sufism exerts its greatest influence in Somali social structure. The parent communities themselves are essentially centres of mystical devotion and have produced a considerable Arab-Somali religious literature written mainly in Arabic but in some cases in Somali transcribed in an adaptation of Arabic script (19). It is probable also that Sufi works are to be found in Somali oral literature and research should be directed to discovering to what extent this is the case. Mysticism is adopted as a means to union with God (gnosis); Somali Sufistic literature treats of divine ecstasy and is similar to Sufi writing in general. An interesting example is an unpublished manuscript called tawassul ash- shaikh Awes written by Sheik Awes, (20) which consists of a collection of songs for dhikr. Where such works are biographical, as for example in the autobiography of Sheik 'Ali Afaye Durogba, (21) they contain an account of the author's justification to claim descent from Quraysh. Almost all such works include a section in which the author's claims to Qurayshitic descent are set forth. Perhaps the most important of Somali Sufi literature is a collection of works by haaji 'Abdullahi Yusif published under the title al-majmu'at al-mubaraka (22). Haaji 'Abdullahi of the Qadiriya tariqa was a member of a group of sheiks (known as Asheraf), (23) attached to the Majeerteen tribes of the Daarood tribal family; his work is analysed by Cerulli (1923, pp. 13-4, 92-5). THE CULT OF SAINTS An important feature of the Sufi communities lies in the extent to which their founders are venerated. The local founders of Orders and congregations ( jama'a) are often sanctified after their death. Their veneration gives rise to cults which overshadow the devotion due to the true founder of the tariqa and even of the Prophet Mohammed. Their tombs become shrines (gashin in Somalia), tended by a small body of followers or the descendants of the sheik and those who have inherited his baraka. To the shrines come the members of the Order as well as local tribesmen who are not initiates, to make sacrifice as occasion demands, and to take part in the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of the saint on the anniversary of his death. Outstanding events in his life are similarly celebrated. Muslim saint-days which have no connexion with indigenous saints are unpopular especially in the interior. But to the extent to which the Qadiriya Order is followed emphasis has been given to the saint-day (mawlid ) of the founder al-Jilani, although even this festival enjoys only limited observance. Saints are not always associated with a particular congregation or Order. Many are ubiquitous, and common to several Orders, share the same veneration within the religion of the country. They are venerated for particular qualities. One of the most popular in Somalia, Saint Au Hiltir (a name suggestive of non-Islamic origin) is regarded as the protector of man from the attacks of crocodiles; another, Saint Au Mad, is recognized by tribes of the Rahanwiin tribal-family as the guardian of the harvest. Tombs are scattered all over Somaliland and many, certainly, commemorate pre-Islamic figures who have been assimilated in Islam. Some of the families acting as the custodians of their ancestors' shrines have developed into small clans, usually dispersed; others have lost all autonomy and are scattered as holy men (wadaad ) proselytizing and teaching. Others again remain attached to a particular tribe as the holders of a hereditary office of qadi. Such, for example, is the case with the seven lineages of the Gasar Gudda tribe of Lugh-Ferrandi in Somalia, where-the office of tribal chief rotates among six lineages, while that of qadi is invested in the seventh, the Rer Dulca Mado (Ferrandi, 1903, pp. 213, 262 ff.; Lewis, 1953, p. 115). This represents one of the possible conclusions in the history of a saintly family attached initially to a tribe in clientship, where the religious group has worked its way into the lineage structure of the tribe and established a permanent position. A good example of a dispersed clan venerated for their baraka are the Rer Sheik Mumin whose ancestor's shrine is at Bur Hakaba among the Elai of southern Somalia. Their influence extends throughout the entire Rahanwiin tribal family and tribute is paid to them on account of their reputation as sorcerers (Ferrandi, 1903, pp. 138-9, 942-3). Ferrandi describes them unflatteringly as a gang of robbers implicated in cattle raiding and profiting by their ancestor's sanctity to impress and exploit ignorant people. A similar dispersed sheikly group are the Au Qutuh of the British Protectorate whom Burton (1894, I, P. 193) described as the descendants of Au Qutb ibn Faqih 'Emar who was then claimed to have crossed from the Hejaz ' ten generations ago ' and to have settled with his six sons in Somaliland. The Au Qutub are widely scattered and are found as far south as the Ogaden. They have the title ' Shaykash ' which Burton translates ' reverend '. In fact, such families of Arabian origin are found all over Somaliland and are often rapidly assimilated in the Somali social structure where their members enjoy high prestige (cf. Cerulli, 1926). THE ROLE OF SUFISM IN THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE We may now consider the position held by Sufi tariqas and congregations or communities in the social structure. It is obvious that for the total social structure the fraternities provide potential channels of alliance amongst warring tribes separated by the very nature of the tribe. For the communities, economic and political entities though they may be, and often themselves at enmity even within the same Order, are bound together through community of religious purpose. They aim at the development and diffusion of Islam. Such were the ideals so successfully translated into a transcendental movement ignoring the narrow bonds of tribalism by the Saalihiya Mahdi haaji Muhammad b. Abdallah. His campaign is an illustration of the potentialities which the tariqa organization offers for the extension of national unity when a sufficiently great figure emerges to inspire such feeling. Now, as elsewhere in Islam, the new urban political parties seem to have their roots in the tariqa organization and to be a development from it (24). Trans-tribal nationalist aspirations which previously found some outlet in it are now promoted by political associations, the strongest of which is at the moment the Somali Youth League (S.Y.L.). Within the tribal structure individual communities exercise considerable influence, and it is this aspect of their social functions which I wish particularly to consider. As we have seen, among the nomads and especially in the north of Somaliland where there is little or no arable land, communities cannot generally form cultivating settlements as they do in the less barren south. They cannot therefore so easily exist as independent autonomous local groups. Among the southern cultivating tribes (the Sab) settled cultivating communities occupy an interstitial position on the ground. As social entities they are accordingly in a better position to develop into units independent of tribal allegiance and to play an interstitial role in the social structure. This naturally has important consequences in the lineage structure. To take an example. The Qadiriya community of Bardera (known locally as the jamaha) was founded on the Juba River at the beginning of the l9th century by Sheik Ali Kurre, a Rahanwiin tribesman. New settlements quickly sprang up round the mother community. The affiliates were faced with considerable hostility from the surrounding tribes. They fought the Galla Boran, the Gasar Gudda (Somali Rahanwiin) who were successfully defeated and their centre Lugh-Ferrandi destroyed, and, finally, the people of Bardera extended their sway to the coast subjecting the villages of Baidoa, Molimat, and the coastal town of Brava. Thus they established dominion over all tribes of the Rahanwiin tribal family. Retribution, however, was to follow. The Rahanwiin recovered strength under the leadership of the Sultan of the Geledi (then a powerful Rahanwiin tribe), and after a series of battles besieged and destroyed Bardera in 1843. For some years Bardera lay deserted but began to rise again with the foundation of a new community by Sheik Muhammad Eden of the Elai. By 1924 it was possible for Colucci (1924, p. 264) to describe the new centre in the following terms: ' The settlements of Bardera constitute a truly independent territorial group freed from all adherence to the tribes from whom the original grants of land were obtained '. ADOPTION All communities originally enter the tribal structure through an act of adoption. Genealogically this implies incorporation into a lineage. Colucci (1994, pp. 78 ff.) has drawn attention to the frequent occurrence in tribal genealogies of names signifying ' holy ', ' religious ', ' saintly ', etc., which denote the attachment to tribal units of Sufi communities or groups of holy men celebrated for their baraka. Such titles are:sheikal, asheraf', faqir , fogi, 'faqih ', 'haaji ', ' hashya ', and other synonyms not noticed by Colucci. The fact that some tribal families, especially those with particularly strong traditions of Arabian descent such as the Ishaaq and Daarood of northern Somaliland are often referred to as 'haaji ' or ' hashya (25) indicates that they are in some sense regarded as sanctified. This is an illustration of the extent to which religion is identified with tribal structure among the northern nomads. We shall return to this point later. In the genealogies of the southern cultivating tribes (the Sab), however, such words tend to occur in the lower portions of tribal genealogies. Sometimes their occurrence indicates fairly feeble ties of attachment between adopting tribe and priestly section. In other cases where the attachment is more tenuous these titles represent extraneous aggregates often of long standing. As examples of dispersed clans of holy men we have already considered the Rer Sheik Mumin among the Rahanwiin and the Rer Au Qutub of British Somaliland. Both are typical representatives of this class. The Sheikal Lobogi section of the Herab tribe of Somalia are, on the other hand, a good example of a religious group or community firmly assimilated to the tribe of adoption (see genealogy above, p. 588). Sheik Lobogi, the eponymous ancestor of the group, is a descendant of Sheik Saad whose tomb is at Geledi in Somalia. Groups which have not achieved such firm integration in the tribal structure or assimilation in the lineage structure, are the Asheraf among the Saraman tribal cluster, (26) the Walamoji among the Elai, (27) and the Waaqbarre among the Dabarre tribe. The Asheraf rose to power in a manner typical of such groups, they acted as mediators in a series of disputes amongst the Saraman tribes which concluded in the expulsion of one, the Harau, and the division of another, the Lisan, into two new tribes, the Lisan Horsi and the Lisan Barre. At Saraman, the Asheraf are known as the ' Three Feet ' and take part in tribal councils as arbitrators and peace-makers. There are many religious clans known as Asheraf in Somaliland, and no doubt some of them derive ultimately from immigrant Ashraf. In view of the importance of Mogadishu as a centre in the diffusion of Islam it may well be that the Sharifs at present living in the Shangani quarter of Mogadishu who are of the Ba 'Alwi clan of Hadramaut,(28) and who settled in Somaliland in the 17th century, may constitute one of the original nuclei from which Ashraf blood has spread. The Walamoji wield considerable influence in Elai politics through the high prestige which they enjoy as men of religion. They claim to have accompanied the Elai in their wanderings before they reached their present territory, but they only recently became the official sheiks of the Elai after they had ousted another religious group - the 'Rer Fogi'. The founder is said to be of Galla Arussi origin, but as in the case of all religious sections they have vague traditions of descent from Quraysh which they exploit to the full. The Walamoji have
- ► January (25)
- What Richard Burton Said about the Dir
- Jenaraladii Somalia :Wasiiro iyo Derjedah iyo Qabi...
- Tariikhdii hore ee Awdal iyo Axmed Guurey
- Abdulqadir Jilaani's History patron Saint of Dir C...
- Darood History accourding to the Darood
- HOW ISLAM CAME TO SOMALIA AND ROLE DIR PLAYED
- Dir MPs Ministers and other Somali MPS
- Beelah Dir iyo Boqortoyoyinkii Hore --Suure
- Richard Burton on Gadabuursi Issas Isaaq and Daaro...
- Origins Of Somali
- sufism in Somalia
- History Of Hobio City Mentioning Suure Dir Imams Q...
- Mandaluug Dir AND THEIR TERRITORIAL AREAS
- SHEIKH YUSUF AL KOWNIIN SHEIKH SUURE DIR AH
- The Oromo Worship Of Waaq (waako) Same as Somali W...
- ▼ May 10 (15)
- ► September (87)
- ▼ May (125)
- ► February (94)
- ► May (96)
- ► June (37)
- ► July (50)
- ► August (100)
- ► September (15)
- ► October (24)
- ► November (52)