Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Amélie CHEKROUN, ERC HORNEAST, IREMAMM, Aix-Marseille University

One of the singularities of Islam of the 14th and 15th centuries was the development and role of Sufis to the consolidation of Islamic powers. Sufis seems to have circulated in the lands of Islam, extending from India to Morocco. That diffusion led to a deepening of the faith in different cities. It then resulted in Islamizing of the countryside. The taking into account of popular religiosity seems to have hastened the conversion into Islam of important sections of the wider populations. The spread of Sufism was totally unknown in the context of Ethiopia at that time. It is well-known that members of Sufi brotherhood resided in Ethiopia. A certain ‘Alī b. al-Ḥasan al-Ḫazrağī transmitted at the beginning of the 15th century in a history of the Rasūlide, the life of a Hanafite jurist well versed in Sufism. It is indicated that he passed almost all his life in Ethiopia in the mid 13th Century. Did Sufism play similar role in consolidating the Islamic powers of the Ethiopian Sultanates? To what extent did Sufism have an impact on the evolution of local Islamic culture? Which tarīqa(turuq) had the most influence? This analysis will be undertaken through the identification, in the sources, of Sufis operating in Ethiopia as well as Sufi books identified in libraries in the area. Currently, the tarīqat-al-Qadiriyya is one of the most prevalent in Ethiopia: many mausoleums are dedicated to 'Abd al-Qādir al-Ǧīlānī, the 12th century founder of this tarīqa, in Baghdad. Such is also the case in Harar, Wallo and Bale. Some current oral traditions consider that this tarīqa was introduced as early as the 13th century by Sheikh Abadir or at the end of the 15th century by a mystic from the Ḥadramawt, Abū Bakr b.'Abdallah al-'Aydarūs, patron saint of Aden. It however seems that the Qadiriyya really imposed itself from the 18th century, a period which can be qualified as that of "third Islamization" of the region. What about the period of the expansion of those that belonged to the Muslim brotherhood in the world and particularly towards the end of medieval times?