Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti
Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti, also known as Darod or Dawud, is the man traditionally held to be the common ancestor of the Somali Darod clan. According to early Islamic books and local tradition, Abdirahman is believed to have descended from Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, a member of the Banu Hashim and the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad.
Authors such as Ibn Hawqal, Al-Muqaddasi and Ibn Said have confirmed the early presence of Arabian tribes in municipalities such as Berbera, Zeila, Jabarta (an old metropolis now in ruins), and Massawa in the northern Horn of Africa.
Al-Masudi wrote about the specific Arabian families and tribes that lived in Jabarta and Zeila in his 9th century book Aqeeliyoon. This book sheds light on one individual, a Sufi Sheikh of the Qadiriyyah order called Isma'il ibn Ibrahim al-Jabarti, who fathered several children, one of which was named Abdirahman.
According to such early Islamic books and Somali tradition, Muhammad ibn Aqil's descendant Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti (Darod) fled his homeland in the Arabian Peninsula after an argument with his uncle. During the 10th or 11th century CE, he is believed to have then settled in northern Somalia just across the Red Sea. He subsequently married Dobira, the daughter of Dagale (Dikalla), the Dir clan chief, which is said to have given rise to the Darod clan family.
According to the British anthropologist and Somali Studies veteran I.M. Lewis, while the traditions of descent from noble Arab families related to the Prophet are most probably expressions of the importance of Islam in Somali society, "there is a strong historically valid component in these legends which, in the case of the Darod, is confirmed in the current practice of a Dir representative officiating at the ceremony of installation of the chief of the Darod family."
A similar clan mythology exists for the Isaaq, who are said to have descended from one Sheikh Ishaq ibn Ahmad al-'Alawi, another Banu Hashim who came to Somalia around the same time. As with Sheikh Isaaq, there are also numerous existing hagiologies in Arabic which describe Sheikh Darod's travels, works and overall life in northern Somalia, as well as his movements in Arabia before his arrival. Besides historical sources such as Al-Masudi's Aqeeliyoon, a modern manaaqib (a collection of glorious deeds) printed in Cairo in 1945 by Sheikh Ahmad bin Hussen bin Mahammad titled Manaaqib as-Sheikh Ismaa'iil bin Ibraahiim al-Jabarti also discusses Sheikh Darod and his proposed father Isma'il al-Jabarti, the latter of whom is reportedly buried in Bab Siham in the Zabid District of western Yemen.
Sheikh Darod's own tomb is in Haylaan, situated in the Hadaaftimo Mountains in northern Somalia, and is the scene of frequent pilgrimages. Sheikh Isaaq is buried nearby in Maydh, as is Sheikh Harti, a descendant of Sheikh Darod and the progenitor of the Harti Darod sub-clan, whose tomb lies in the ancient town of Qa’ableh.
According to many medieval and modern Islamic historians, Darod is descended from Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of the Prophet and brother of Ali ibn Abi Talib. An ancient Islamic history book, called Aqeeliyoon by Al-Masudi, talks in detail about the descendants of Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, wherein Darod is also mentioned. The book gives Sheikh Darod's lineage as Abdirahmaan Bin Ismaa'iil Bin Ibraahim Bin Abdirahmaan Bin Muhammed Bin Abdi Samad Bin Hanbal Bin Mahdi Bin Ahmed Bin Abdalle Bin Muhammed Bin Aqail Bin Abu-Talib Bin Abdul-Mutalib Bin Hashim Bin Qusaya.
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- I.M. Lewis, A pastoral democracy: a study of pastoralism and politics among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa, (LIT Verlag Münster: 1999), pp.128-129
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- I. M. Lewis, A pastoral democracy: a study of pastoralism and politics among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa, (LIT Verlag Münster: 1999), p.131.
- I.M. Lewis, "The Somali Conquest of the Horn of Africa", Journal of African History, 1 (1960), p. 219