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[PANEL] 1304 REVISITING ISLAM IN ETHIOPIA: THE DYNAMICS OF ITS HERITAGE, HISTORY AND CULTURE
AHMED Hassen, Director, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
AHMED Hassen; Lindsay RANDALL; KEFYALEW Tessema Semu; Amélie CHEKROUN; TEREFE Mitiku;
JEMILA Adam; Avishai BEN-DROR; KAMIL Abdu; MOHAMMED Idriss Moussa
Islam and Muslim communities in Ethiopia have registered a history of about one and half millennium. Nevertheless, this long presence has not been properly documented. On the one hand, if documented while some output is with specific details others, on the other hand, wallow in generalities. It is a research terrain not only with specific characteristics of discontinuities but also a terrain where Islamic heritages are far away from proper analysis, Islamic history in distance from proper documentation and the Islamic culture and civilization from proper preservation. The basic reason is not because it is neglected but for the field did not either have strong researchers or that it did not properly attract researchers of characteristic devotion and courage. Understanding that the Ethiopian regions have rich heritage, history and culture of Islam, this panel is intended to work on the long history of Islamic heritage, history and culture by taking into consideration its close interaction with other diverse Ethiopian religions, cultures and traditions; with an ultimate goal of further pushing the frontiers of our knowledge in many directions and in several ways.
EARLY ARRIVAL IN THE SAFE LAND: LOOKING INTO THE RECTANGULAR SPACE OF ISLAM IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL ETHIOPIA TO 1543. [Abstract ID: 1304-07]
The objective of this abstract is to look into the early history of Islam in Ethiopia from four angles. The designed chronological fact to be treated will be from Islam’s arrival in Ethiopia in the 7th century, the earliest safe land of refuge for this religion, and until the year 1543. All angles are genuinely rectangular in space to be qualified as equal ones: religious space, role in socio-cultural space, the significant position in the political and economic space and finally reconstruction of Islamic space with respect to its heritage and historical developments of those days. The methodology to be employed, in this effort, will be a critical look at historical texts by early Arab geographers and historians of medieval times: Abul Fida, Ibn Seid, Ibn Hawqal, Al-Yaqubī, Al-‘Umarī, Al-Maqrizī, Ibn Kaldun and finally Arab Faqīh alias Chihab edDīn Ahmed ben Abd-Al Qadīr. What did they state and what did they perceive about Islam and the Ethiopian setting of the time? How contemporary Ethiopian sources will also be compared and the two sides carefully treated? Such an approach of comparison and contrast though the topic seems to be quite a vast topic will be condensed and put under one big umbrella. This should be the very umbrella that will lay down a systematic handling of this subject which hitherto has not been properly documented and which still need young but qualified scholars to engage and present themselves into this old terrain. This will generate new ideas and contribute to an established area of research in Ethiopian studies.
GROWING UP UNDER THE GAZE OF SAINTS: YOUNG PEOPLE AND ISLAM IN HARAR, ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1304-18]
This paper, based on long-term ethnographic research conducted in Harar, Ethiopia, examines how ‘modern’ Muslim youth is constructed and enacted admist global and local debates about the place and practice of Islam. To date, studies of religious self-cultivation of adults in spaces delineated specifically for the task of religious growth has been a common focus of current anthropological studies of Islam (cf. Mahmood 2005; Hirschkind 2009). This paper hopes to build upon these lessons by exploring religiosity among young people in a broad range of contexts, specifically within contexts that are not isolated for the sole purpose of crafting religious subjects. Thus, this paper, seeks to also understand how religion exists within the everyday of Harar and to the fabric of the city itself – both within and without explicit spaces of religious cultivation – and understand how religion may permeate the ordinary. By analytically foregrounding Muslim children and youth, this research enriches, broadens, and challenges anthropological scholarship on the crafting of ‘modern’ Islamic selves, gender in Islam, and how young people construct, resist, adapt, or craft (non)secular cultural futures. This includes how (non)secular cultural futures may be imposed, resisted, crafted, and re-adapted by young people during the process of growing up.
HISTORY AND CULTURE UNDER SHADOW OF A NATURAL WONDER: ISLAMIC HERITAGES OF SOF OMAR CAVE SHRINE OF BALE, ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1304-04]
This article investigates Islamic history, culture, social ties that embedded in the cult associated with outstanding natural features of Sof Omar Cave. The emerging threats against it will also be treated. Our understanding of the cave is based on few studies only by emphasizing on its geographical and hydrological features. As a result, scenic qualities of the cave overshadowed its cultural heritages. This in turn has created a wide knowledge gap on its historical, religious and contemporary dynamism that are either less studied or not well hitherto disseminated. Recent developments reveal that the local cult is marginalized by extremists to divert the role of the shrine as center of Salafist teachings. In trying to examine such issues, oral, observational, archival and secondary data are crucially important. It seems that Sof Omar, an Islamic wali who lived about 20 generations ago at cave sanctuary named after him, among most celebrated saints of Bale. He taught Islam in the cave, which he seems to have seized by defeating autochthonous population of the area in battle by the help of Allah. This led to his veneration in a cult after his death. The cave is a natural shrine of over fifteen kilometers long with eight specialized underground chambers used for the cult practices. The shrine has played and still playing a vital role in the life of its custodians known as Dargaa, The Dargaa claim to have descendents from Sof Omar. The cult consists of pilgrimages, baaroo, dances, rituals and strong social interactions with immense potential for tourism. The cultural and natural values of the shrine fulfill UNESCO’s requirements for permanent heritage of humanity and deserve recognition on that scale. Thus, Community based conservation schemes, capacity building of the Dargaa, promoting tolerance embedded in the cult and studies to support these objectives are required to sustain its presence and tap tourist activities that will contribute towards the development of Ethiopian economy.
MADHHAB, SOUFISM AND TARĪQA : WHICH ISLAM FOR MEDIEVAL ETHIOPIA? [Abstract ID: 1304-11]
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?
OROMO CULTURAL PRACTICES PRESERVED IN ISLAMIC SHRINES: THE CASE OF ARSII AND JIMMAA [Abstract ID: 1304-05]
The Oromo people are the numerically strongest in the Horn of Africa. Oromo people have their own indigenous religion known as Waaqeffannaa. With the introduction of Christianity and Islam into the Oromo areas, many Oromo customs and beliefs including Waaqeffannaa seems to have been overwhelmed by newly arrived ones. However, in some areas the Oromo people resisted both the new religion and their traditions. Scholars argue that foreign religion has negative impact on the indigenous cultures in many ways. The existing literature concludes that a foreign religion is hazardous for local knowledge. Indeed, this paper identifies some unnoticed roles Islamic shrines have played in preserving Oromo cultural practices. Accordingly, the paper further identifies that he Oromo customs have preserved in Shrines cultural practices of the Oromo may have been undertaken in shrines and sacred places. This illustrates that Islamic shrines are homes for different Oromo material culture. The data will be collected from Islamic shrine in Arsi and in Jimmaa. The paper will focus on the heritages of Oromo culture. Qualitative data collection techniques such as interview, observation, and FGD and document analysis will be employed.
REVISITING THE "MUSLIMS OF THE PASHA": TURCO-EGYPTIAN (RE)ISLAMIZATION OF THE OROMO PEOPLE, 1870S-1880S [Abstract ID: 1304-02]
The paper deals with the Turco-Egyptian Islamization in Harar and among the neighboring Afran-Qallu Oromo peoples during the 1870s-1880s .It presents new perspectives regarding its historical contexts, motivations, its immediate implications, and also reevaluates its religious, social and political long term consequences. Afran-Qallu's elites around Harar occasionally and partially adopt Islam (in addition to their traditional animistic religious beliefs) during the 17th-19th centuries, as part of their political and economical reciprocal relationships with Harar's Emirs. However, the Egyptians were the first in the history of region to force from their colonial hub in Harar what they termed as "the right Islam" among the neighboring Oromo. The paper analyzes the Egyptian Islamization not only through narrow religious and regional prisms, but as a part of a wider Ottoman and Turco-Egyptian colonial contexts at that time. These non–European colonial visions perceived Islamization and re-Islamization of "black and savages" Muslims and others in the Nile Valley, the Red Sea Basin and the Horn of Africa as a main instrument for "civilizing mission", which was intended for creating "modern" and "civilized Muslim" subalterns. The paper reexamines the Egyptian Islamization as an integral part of the Egyptian colonial praxis which included, among others, ceremonies of public circumcision of Oromo political and military elite, establishment of new colonial urban and rural spheres in Arabic and Arabization of some Oromo functionaries' names. These Oromo functionaries were also utilized by the Egyptians as political, cultural, religious and commercial colonial agents among their own societies. The Egyptians occupiers termed the Oromo Muslims "Basha Muslimin" ("the Muslims of the Pasha"),and the paper demonstrates how they shaped the images of the Oromo around Harar as "human raw material" during the following 1880s-1890s colonial scramble for the Horn of Africa. Thus, European powers, which used the Egyptian colonial knowledge, perceived the Oromo around Harar as an "easy-going" population to convert to Christianity, mostly due to their former "colonial" Islamization. The paper is based on a variety of unpublished and published sources in European languages as well as in Amharic, Adari, Turkish and Arabic.
THE GENESIS AND CONTENTS OF HANAFI SCHOOL OF ISLAMIC LAW IN ETHIOPIA, CASE STUDY IN BORENA OF SOUTH WOLLO ZONE [Abstract ID: 1304-13]
Islamic law in Ethiopia is as old as Islamic law itself as Islam in Ethiopia is as old as Islam itself. But, little research works are available on the genesis and the contents of the law that has been taught in the country. Among the four schools of thought/Medhhabs/, Hanafi and Shafi schools are widely known in Ethiopia for long period of history. In the northern part of the country in general and Wollo in particular, the dominant school has been the Hanefi school. This article examines the genesis of the teaching and its contents in western Wollo particularly in Borena. Using field visits, review of the six text books of the Hanafi Fiqih curriculum, interviews and secondary sources, the research concludes that the Hanafi school has been taught in Borena since the second half of the 17th century even if it went back to the 8th century in other parts of the country. Content wise, it encompasses, among others, family laws, contract& commercial laws, public international law, penal law and different moral codes.
THE MUSLIM SCHOLARS’ CONTRIBUTION OF KADITO CLAN (FAMILY) AT DALE TRADITIONAL SCHOOL: THE CASE OF AWSA SULTANATE [Abstract ID: 1304-09]
In this presentation, Arabic MSS from the ʽAfar-speaking part of Ethiopia, particularly MSS copied or written by the Kādīto family (main clan of the Đālé al-Šarīfa tribe) will be studied. This family was a leading contributor to Islam in the Awsa Sultanate through its Đālé traditional school. A branch of the family settled in the Tajorra Sultanate in the northern part of the Republic of Djibouti over several centuries. Many manuscripts and documents of this scholarly family have been lost, as informants recount, above all during the Derg regime. The elderly people in the locality assert all in all that a history of this family can be handled by oral sources that have come down from generation to generation. This paper deals with this famous scholarly clan of Kādīto and their well-known traditional school at Đālé. In particular, this study focuses on the manuscripts of the Kādīto family originating in the library of Ɖāle traditional school. As the first step of my research, four MSS in Addis Ababa brought from Ɖālé by ʽAli Aḥmad Kādī who himself belongs to the Kādīto clan. Further, my research pursued to locate more MSS during my three field trips to the area of Đālé. In the library at Đālé it is succeeded in finding many manuscripts by Kādīto scholars as well as some MSS from outside Đālé. All available sources and particularly key informants will support the preparation of this paper.