Thursday, September 8, 2011


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.).

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).

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