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Habr Awal

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Habar Awal
هبر أول
Flag of Somaliland.svgFlag of Ethiopia.svgFlag of Djibouti.svgFlag of Kenya.svg
Regions with significant populations
Somali, Arabic
Islam (Sunni, Sufism)
Related ethnic groups
Ayub, Arap, Garhajis, Habar Jeclo and other Isaaq groups

The Habr Awal (Somali: Habar Awal, Arabic: هبر أول‎, Zubair Abdirahman (Awal) Shiekh Isaaq ibn Ahmad al-Hashimi; also spelled Zubeyr Awal, or Subeer Awal)[1] is a major Somali clan in horn of Africa and which is divided into eight sub-clans of which the two largest and most prominent are the Issa Musse clans and the Sa’ad Musse clans. Its members form a part of the Habar Magaadle confederation.They contstitute the largest sub-clan of the Isaaq. The Habar Awal traditionally consists of farmers, nomadic pastoralists, merchants and coastal people. They are viewed as the richest Somali clan.[2] They politically and economically dominate Somaliland and reside in the most economically strategic and fertile lands in Somaliland, as well as dominating the national capital Hargeisa where they make up the majority.[3][4]

The major cities and towns of Hargeisa, Berbera, Gabiley, Sheikh, Wajaale, Arabsiyo, Bulhar, Kalabaydh, Daarbuduq and Hart Sheik are all predominantly inhabited by the Habar Awal sub-clan of the Isaaq.


The Habar Awal clan make up the majority in Maroodi Jeex region which is considered the most populous region in Somaliland, forming a majority in the national capital Hargeisa as well as exclusively dominating in the cities and towns of Gabiley, Wajaale (Somaliland Side), Arabsiyo, and Kalabaydh. The Habar Awal also dominate in Sahil region, principally in the regional capital and port city of Berbera, and the historic town of Sheikh as well as Daarbuduq. The clan also partially inhabits the northern portion of the capital city of Burao in Togdheer region as well. The Habar Awal also partially inhabit the neighbouring region of Awdal, namely in eastern Lughaya. Outside of Somaliland, the Habar Awal also have large settlements in the Somali region of Ethiopia, specifically in Fafan Zone where they respectively make up the majority in Harshin, Hart Sheik, and Wajaale (Ethiopian Side) towns. They also settle and border Kebri Beyah and Jigjiga in the Fafan Zone. They also have a large settlement in Kenya where they are known as a constituent segment of the Isahakia community.[5] Finally they have a large presence in Djibouti as well, forming a large percentage of the Somali population in Djibouti and within Djibouti they have historically dominated in Quartier 3 which is one of the 7 major districts in Djibouti.[6][7][8]


Sheikh Isaaq Bin Ahmed was one of the Arabian scholars that crossed the sea from Arabia to the Horn of Africa to spread Islam around 12th to 13th century. He is said to have been descended from Prophet Mohammed's daughter Fatimah. Hence the Sheikh belonged to the Ashraf or Sada, titles given to the descendants of the prophet. He married two local women in Somalia that left him eight sons, one of them being Abdirahman (Awal). The descendants of those eight sons are the what is known as Isaaq clan today.

The grave of Zubeyr Awal, the eponymous ancestor of the Habar Awal subclan of the Isaaq, is located in Jidali in Sanaag which is about 100 km east of the tomb of his grandfather and founding father of the Isaaq clan Sheikh Isaaq Bin Ahmed Al Hashimi, whose tomb is located in the coastal town of Maydh.

Medieval Period (Conquest of Abbysinia)

Historically the Habar Awal were part of the Adal Sultanate and are mentioned in the famous "Futuh Al-Habash" for their major contributions in the Abyssinian-Adal war as the Habar Magaadle along with the Garhajis, Arap and Ayub clans against the Abyssinian empire, and also for producing a historical figure known as Ahmad Girri bin Husain who was the righthand partner of Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi and a chieftain for the Habar Magaadle forces during the Abyssinian–Adal war.[9]

Early Modern Period

The Habr Awal have a rich history of trading around the world for centuries in their major port city of Berbera which was the capital of Habar Awal Sultanate during the early modern period.[10]

19th century engraving of Berbera

With the strongly centralized ports of Berbera, Bulhar, Ceel-Sheekh and Siyara, as well as the productive agricultural centres of Gabiley, Arabsiyo and Wajaale, the Habar Awal merchants began to experience a golden age where their realm became prosperous and influential. Habar Awal merchants developed new systems for agriculture and deriving taxation from their trading ports, which were their major sources of income. It also had a strong standing army that successfully repelled many expansionist nomads with ease as they managed to purchase enough advanced weapons through imports from Berbera and Bulhar.[11]

Berbera, being the chief port of the Habar Awal, became the most important place of trade in the entire Horn of Africa during the early modern period, and influential merchants of the city traded as far as Arabia, Persia, India and the Far East. The Habar Awal of Berbera had many contacts with foreign traders around the world, and also acted as their agents and brokers when foreign traders frequented Berbera and Bulhar. Habar Awal merchants were involved in both the exports and imports of the Somali interior and beyond. Goods imported includes: trinkets, glass, metals, firearms, cloth and silks, dates, rice, sugar, and tea. Exported goods includes: livestock, coffee, frankincense, myrrh, acacia gum, saffron, feathers, ghee, hide (skin), gold, and ivory.[12][13][14][15]

The Somalis from the deep interior, principally those from the Ogaden also gained most of their resources from the Habar Awal merchants were they would be called "Idoor" meaning merchant or trader, a reference to the aristocratic nature of the Habar Awal traders at the time.[16]

British Protectorate Period

The Habar Awal Sultanate came under the British Protectorate by signing a treaty with the British Empire on 14 July 1884. The Habar Awal clan continued a lucrative trading agreement with the British Empire and thus the British colonials established the capital of the British Somaliland protectorate at Berbera.[17]

Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, legendary Somali politician. First Prime Minister of Somalia: 1960, 1967–1969. President of Somaliland, 1993–2002.

Somali Civil War and the Somali National Movement

The Somali National Movement (SNM) was a 1980s–1990s rebel group. The SNM at 1981 founding in London it elected Ahmed Mohamed Gulaid from the Habar Awal clan as its first chairman, who stated that the group's explicit purpose was to overthrow the Siad Barre military regime.[18] The SNM gathered its main base of support from members of the Isaaq clan, who formed and supported the movement in response to years of systematic discrimination by the Siad Barre government.

Members of the Habar Awal clan made up a significant portion of leaders and soldiers of the SNM. Habar Awal Commanders carried out many successful operations that led to the decisive victory of the group and to the downfall of the Siad Barre regime.

In western Somaliland, this group was prominently represented in the 99 division of the Somali National Movement which was founded in Gabiley with the majority of the divisions troops consisting of militia fighters hailing from the Jibril Abokor section of the Sa'ad Muuse sub-clan of the Habar Awal that dominates the Gabiley region. The 99 division was Commanded by General Mohamed Hasan Abdullahi (Jidhif) of the Jibril Abokor who successfully conquered Awdal region and completely erased the presence of Somali National Army forces within Gabiley and Awdal and forced the local Gadabursi inhabitants of Awdal to pledge loyalty to Somaliland. As commander of the 99 division, General Mohamed Hasan Abdullahi (Jidhif) also established a Somali National Movement military base in Zeila where the SNM occupied the Awdal region for 4 years and successfully defeated attempts by USF militia forces loyal to Djibouti who tried to take advantage of the fall of Siad Barre's Military Junta in 1991 and annex the city of Zeila.[19]

In central Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi and his Hussein Abokor section of the Sa'ad Muuse sub-clan of the Habar Awal successfully liberated Hargeisa from the brutal communist regime and played a preeminent role for the SNM where they liberated Hargeisa, and Faraweyne. Simultaneously, the Isse Muuse Division commanded by Colonel Ibrahim Dhagaweyne liberated the strategic port city of Berbera and the historic town of Sheikh. After the establishment of Somaliland in 1991. Habar Awal businessmen funded the most money where they donated millions of dollars to provide SNM fighters with food, supplies and military grade equipment. The Habar Awal commercial cities like Berbera and Wajaale is where gained most of the weapons were imported through from and with the wealthy Habar Awal businessmen the SNM forces were able to gain enough weapons.[20]

The Habar Awal clan played a predominant role with SNM and were one of the respected founders. They also built Somaliland's political institutions from the ground under the consequential rule of Somaliland's 2nd president Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal. During his 9-year tenure as President of Somaliland, Egal managed to disarm local rebel groups, stabilized the northwestern Somaliland region's economy, and established informal trade ties with foreign countries. He also introduced the Somaliland shilling, passport and a newly redesigned flag. In addition, Egal created the Somaliland Armed Forces, the most effective Somali armed forces since the disbandment of the Somali National Army in 1991.[21]

List of prominent Habar Awal SNM Commanders (Mujahids).[22]

Clan Tree and Lineage

In the Isaaq clan-family, component clans are divided into two uterine divisions, as shown in the genealogy. The first division is between those lineages descended from sons of Sheikh Isaaq by a Harari woman – the Habar Habuusheed – and those descended from sons of Sheikh Isaaq by a Somali woman of the Magaadle sub-clan of the Dir – the Habar Magaadle. Indeed, most of the largest clans of the clan-family are in fact uterine alliances hence the matronymic "Habar" which in archaic Somali means "mother".[23] This is illustrated in the following clan structure.[24] DNA analysis of Isaaq clan members inhabiting Djibouti found that all of the individuals belonged to the EV32 subclade of the Y-DNA E1b1b paternal haplogroup.[25]

A summarized clan family tree of major Habar Awal subclans is presented below.[26]

  • Sheikh Isaaq Bin Ahmed Al Hashimi (Sheikh Isaaq)
    • Habar Habuusheed
      • Ahmed (Tol-Ja’lo)
      • Muuse (Habar Jeclo)
      • Ibrahiim (Sanbuur)
      • Muhammad (‘Ibraan)
    • Habar Magaadle
      • Ismail (Garhajis)
      • Ayub
      • Muhammad (Arap)
      • Abdirahman (Habar Awal)
        • Sa'ad Muuse
          • Abdirahman Sa'ad
          • Abdalla Sa'ad
          • Hassan Sa'ad
            • Abdalla Hassan
          • Isaaq Sa'ad
            • Makahil Isaaq
            • Mohammed Isaaq (Abbas)
            • Isse Isaaq (Ciise Carab)
            • Musa (Ase) Isaaq
            • Yeesif Isaaq
            • Abokor Isaaq
              • Ugaadh Abokor (Ugaadhyahan)
              • Abdalla Abokor
              • Hussein Abokor
                • Osman Hussein (Cismaannada)
                • Jibril Hussein
                  • Ismail Jibril
                    • Nuh Ismail
                      • Yonis Nuh
                        • Shirdoon Yonis (Reer Shirdoon)
                        • Hoosh Yonis (Reer Hoosh)
                        • Gadid Yonis (Reer Gadid)
                        • Mohammed Yonis
                      • Ahmed Nuh (Reer Ahmed)
                    • Said Ismail
                    • Abdalla Ismail
                    • Ali Ismail
                    • Idris Ismail (Bah Gobo)
                    • Muhumed Ismail (Waran'ad)
                    • Yonis Ismail (Bah Gobo)
                    • Yusuf Ismail
              • Jibril Abokor
                • Adan Jibril (Bahaabar Adan)
                • Ali Jibril
                  • Omar Ali
                    • Abeeb Omar (Baha Omar)
                    • Abtidon Omar (Baha Omar)
                    • Adan Omar
                    • Hussein Qawa Omar (Baha Omar)
                    • Sahal Omar (Baha Omar)
                    • Yonis Omar (Dugeh)
                    • Ismail Omar
                      • Barre Ismail
                        • Hareed Barre (Reer Hareed)
                      • Dalal Ismail (Reer Dalal)
                      • Geedi Ismail 'Gheedi Shide' (Baha Omar)
                      • Hoosh Ismail (Baha Omar)
                      • Higgis Ismail
                      • Idris Ismail
                      • Ollow Ismail
                      • Samatar Ismail
                      • Qayaad Ismail (Baha Omar)
                • Hassan Jibril
                • Mohamed Jibril (Deriyahan)
                • Yonis Jibril (Reer Yonis)
                  • Urkurag Yonis
                    • Adan Urkurag
                      • Omar Adan
                      • Ali Adan
                      • Ahmed Adan
        • Issa Muuse
          • Adan Issa
            • Jibril Adan
              • Mohamoud Jibril
              • Hassan Jibril
              • Ibrahim Jibril
              • Ismail Jibril
          • Abokor Issa
            • Hassan Abokor
              • Balle Hassan (Reer Baale)
              • Musa Hassan
          • Idarys Issa
          • Mohamed Issa
            • Mukhtar Mohamed
            • Hassan Mohamed
            • Jibril Mohamed
              • Omar Jibril
              • Abokor Jibril
              • Yonis Jibril
              • Muuse Jibril
                • Ali Muuse
                  • Sahal Ali (Reer Sahal)
                  • Wa'ays Ali (Reer Wa'ays)
                  • Abane Ali (Reer Abane)
                  • Had Ali (Reer Had)
                  • Hildid Ali (Reer Hildid)
              • Abdirahman Muuse
              • Abdulle Muuse
                • Abdalle Abdulle (Abdalle Qoyan)
                • Hassan Abdulle
                  • Ahmed Hassan (Dhogori)
                  • Deriyahan Hassan
        • Abdi Muuse
        • Abdalla Muuse
        • Afgab Muuse
        • Egalle Muuse
        • Eli Muuse
        • Omar Muuse

Prominent and Influential figures

Mo Farah, British four-time Olympic gold medalist and the most decorated athlete in British athletics history.
Rageh Omaar, Somali-British journalist and writer; former BBC world affairs correspondent; moved to a new post at Al Jazeera English in 2006; as of 2017 is with ITV News

The clan has produced some of the most prominent and influential Somali figures in history, who are listed below.


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  11. ^ Publication, issue 157, US Hydrographic Office, p. 403
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  15. ^ Hunter, Frederick (1877). An Account of the British Settlement of Aden in Arabia. Cengage Gale. p. 41.
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  17. ^ D. J. Latham Brown (1956). "The Ethiopia-Somaliland Frontier Dispute". International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 5 (2): 245–264. doi:10.1093/iclqaj/5.2.245. JSTOR 755848.
  18. ^ Helen Chapin Metz, Somalia: a country study, Volume 550, Issues 86-993, (The Division: 1993), p.xxviii.
  19. ^ Jama, Hassan Ali (2005). Hassan Ali Jama, Who cares about Somalia. ISBN 9783899300758.
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  25. ^ Iacovacci, Giuseppe; et al. (2017). "Forensic data and microvariant sequence characterization of 27 Y-STR loci analyzed in four Eastern African countries". Forensic Science International: Genetics. 27: 123–131. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2016.12.015. PMID 28068531. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  26. ^ http://isaaq.webs.com/habrawal.htm
  27. ^ https://books.google.ca/books?id=Mu0MAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA248&lpg=PA248&dq=the+royal+race+is+the+ayyal&source=bl&ots=fvtY7ZzikW&sig=Nk4RnVjm_ZTcVcZKthn22tFUBKQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi3kKnLsffZAhUCvVkKHWNiAiYQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=the%20royal%20race%20is%20the%20ayyal&f=false, Sir Richard Francis Burton, First Footsteps in East Africa, Or, An Exploration of Harar, Volume 2, p. 52.
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  31. ^ https://www.worldremit.com/en/about-us/management-team
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  33. ^ "Mo Farah's family cheers him on from Somaliland village". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2014.