The tomb of Sheikh Isaaq, the founding father of the Isaaq clan, in Maydh, Sanaag.
|Regions with significant populations|
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|Dir, Darod, Hawiye, Rahanweyn, and other Somali people|
The Isaaq (also Isaq, Ishaak) (Somali: Reer Sheekh Isaxaaq, Arabic: إسحاق) is a Somali clan. It is one of the major Somali clans, with a large and densely populated traditional territory. Members principally live in Somaliland, the Somali Region of Ethiopia, and Djibouti, as well as Kenya where they are known as the Isahakia community.
According to some genealogical books and Somali tradition, the Isaaq clan was founded in the 13th or 14th century with the arrival of Sheikh Isaaq Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Hashimi (Sheikh Isaaq) from Arabia, a descendant of Ali ibn Abi Talib in Maydh. He settled in the coastal town of Maydh in modern-day northwestern Somaliland, where he married a local Magaadle clan.
There are also numerous existing hagiologies in Arabic which describe Sheikh Isaaq's travels, works and overall life in modern Somaliland, as well as his movements in Arabia before his arrival. Besides historical sources, one of the more recent printed biographies of Sheikh Isaaq is the Amjaad of Sheikh Husseen bin Ahmed Darwiish al-Isaaqi as-Soomaali, which was printed in Aden in 1955.
Sheikh Isaaq's tomb is in Maydh, and is the scene of frequent pilgrimages. Sheikh Isaaq's mawlid (birthday) is also celebrated every Thursday with a public reading of his manaaqib (a collection of glorious deeds). His Siyaara or pilgrimage is performed annually both within Somaliland and in the diaspora particularly in the middle east among Isaaq expatriates.
The Isaaq have a very wide and dense traditional territory. They live in all 5 regions of north-western Somalia such as Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag and Sool. They have large settlements in the Somali region of Ethiopia, mainly on the eastern side of Somali region also known as the Hawd and formerly Reserve Area which is mainly inhabited by the Isaaq sub-clan members. They also have large settlements in both Kenya and Djibouti, making up a large percentage of the Somali population in these 2 countries respectively.
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.
Sheikh Isaaq descended from Prophet Mohammed's daughter Fatima. Hence the Sheikh belonged to the Ashraf or Sada (titles given the descendants of the prophet).
Sheikh Isaaq married two local women in Somalia that left him eight sons. The descendants of the those eight sons are the what is known as Isaaq clan at the present time. However, the Shiekh left other descendants in Yemen as well.
The origin of Sheikh Isaaq was traced back to Iraq. Researcher and groups such as AlAshraf concluded beyond doubt the origin and the history of Sheikh Isaaq. This research was based on the old books and scripts as well as DNA tests carried out randomly on some his descendants.[unreliable source?]
The Isaaq clan played a prominent role in the Abyssinian-Adal war (1529–1543, referred to as the "Conquest of Abyssinia") in the army of Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi, I. M. Lewis noted that only the Habar Magadle division (Ayoub, Garhajis, Habar Awal and Arab) of the Isaaq were mentioned in chronicles of that war written by Shihab Al-Din Ahmad Al-Gizany known as Futuh Al Habash.
I. M. Lewis states:
The Marrehan and the Habar Magadle [Magādi] also play a very prominent role (...) The text refers to two Ahmads's with the nickname 'Left-handed'. One is regularly presented as 'Ahmad Guray, the Somali' (...) identified as Ahmad Guray Xuseyn, chief of the Habar Magadle. Another reference, however, appears to link the Habar Magadle with the Marrehan. The other Ahmad is simply referred to as 'Imam Ahmad' or simply the 'Imam'.This Ahmad is not qualified by the adjective Somali (...) The two Ahmad's have been conflated into one figure, the heroic Ahmed Guray (...)
The first of the tribes to reach Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi were Habar Magādle of the Isaaq clan with their chieftain Ahmad Gurey Bin Hussain Al-Somali, the Somali commander was noted to be one of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi's "strongest and most able generals". The Habar Magādle clan were highly appreciated and praised by the leader Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi for their bravery and loyalty.
After the collapse of Adal Sultanate the Isaaq split into 3 Habar Sultanates known as Garhajis Sultanate, Habar Awal Sultanate and Habar Jeclo Sultanate. These 3 Habar Sultanates were unique in their own way and had their own chiefs, sultans & police authority.
After the Isaaq clan along some northern Somali tribes were under British protectorate administration from 1884-1960. On gaining independence the majority Isaaq Somaliland protectorate decided to form a union with Italian Somalia. The Isaaq clan spearheaded the greater Somalia quest from 1960-1991. After the failed greater Somalia quest the majority isaaq Somaliland reverted back to their 1960 status as a separate nation.
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 an Ethiopian woman – the Habar Habuusheed – and those descended from sons of Sheikh Isaaq by a woman of the Magaadle clan – the Habar Magaadle. Indeed, most of the largest clans of the clan-family are in fact uterine alliances hence "habar" which in archaic Somali means " mother". This is illustrated in the following structure.
A. Habar Magaadle
- Ismail (Garxajis)
- Ali (Arab)
- Abdirahman (Habar Awal)
B. Habar Habuusheed
- Ahmed (Tol-Ja’lo)
- Muuse (Habar Jeclo)
- Ibrahiim (Sanbuur)
- Mahammad (‘Ibraan)
There is clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures that has not changed for centuries the oldest recorded genealogy of a Somali in Western literature was by Sir Richard Burton in 1853 regarding his Isaaq host the Sultan of Zeila Sharmarka Ali Saleh, the most famous nineteenth century Somali.
- Habr Awal
- Sa'ad Musse
- Isse Musse
- Habar Yoonis
- Habar Jeclo
- Musse Abokor
- Mohamed Abokor
- Samane Abokor
- Habr Awal
One tradition maintains that Isaaq had twin sons: Ahmed or Arap, and Ismail or Gerhajis.
Nineteenth century Isaaq notables
Little is known how Sharmaarke ( Shirmarke or Sharmarkay) took over the administration of Berbera. But by 1843 when lieut. Curttenden visited somaliland Sharmaarke was the governor of Berbera. A decade earlier when Frederic Forbes visited Berbera in 1833 Sharmaarke was well established on the Somali coast.
" In 1842 the Sheriff of Mocha subjected himself and his possession including Zeila, to the Porte; he was made Ottoman pasha of western Arabia, and Zeila theoretically returned to Turkey. On the spot however, the situation was more complex for in 1843 Haji Shirmarke from Berbera sized Zeila, imprisoned the Shariff's garrison and offered to put the port under British protection ; the government of India rejected the offer on the ground that Aden was merely a depot for coals and that any intervention in the affairs of the African coast would be expensive and unprofitable and might excite the jealousy of other European powers. Shirmarke object seems to have been to make himself ruler of the Somali coast; finding that the British would not serve his purpose he apparently submitted as a governor of Zeila to the Turks who dismissed Shariff's Hussain and occupied Mocha in 1849. He intrigued with the Turks to get Berbera placed under the Turkish flag, but with no result.".
“The Governor of Zaila, El Hajj Shermarkay bin Ali Salih, is rather a remarkable man. He is sixteenth, according to his own account, in descent from Ishak El Hazrami, the saintly founder of the great Garhajis and Awal tribes. Originally the Nacoda, or Captain of the native craft, he has raised himself, chiefly by British influence, to the chieftainship of his tribe (a clan of the Habr Garhajis). As early as May 1825, he received from Captain Bagnold, then our Resi- dent at Mocha, a testimonial and a reward for a severe sword wound in the left arm, received whilst defending the lives of English seamen. He went afterwards to Bombay, where he was treated with consideration; and about fifteen years ago he succeeded the Sayyid Mohamud El Barr as Governor of Zaila and its dependencies, under the Ottoman Pasha in Western Arabia.“The climate of Zaila is cooler than that of Aden, and the site being open all round, it is not so unhealthy. Mand spare roomand enclosed by the town walls. Zaila commands the adjacent harbour of Tajurrah, and is by position and northern part of Aussa (the ancient capital of Adel)and Harar, and of southern Abyssinia. It sends caravans northwards to the Dankali, and south-westwards throand the Easa and Gadabursi tribes, as far as Efat and Gurague. It is visited by Kafilas from Abyssinia, and the different races of Bedouins extending from the hills to and sea-board. The exports are valuable slaves, ivory, hides,honey, clarified butter and gums: the coast aboundsthe sponge, coral, and small pearls, which Arab divers coabout in the fair season. In the harbour I found about native craft, large and small; of these, ten belonged to the Governor. They trade with Berbera, Arabia, and Western India and are navigated by “Rajpoot” or Hindoo pilots."
One of the greatest Somali nineteenth century poet. A composer of over 300 poems spanning a period of over 60 years. His poetry can be summarized as a history in verse of all major tribal politics of the 19th century in northern Somali regions , his poetic duel with Somali poets such Hassan Dalab and Raghe Ugaz in addition to numerous Sufi poetry composed at end of his life is among his classics.
"The Somalis in general have a great inclination to poetry; a particular passion for the stories, the stories and songs of love. The poets are called gabajàh.It happened many times that gabajàh with their songs maybe stirred wars, long and bloody, between tribe and tribe.
The best of these bards s 'encounter between Merehan and on the' Ogaden plateau where I could glean more. It is celebrated the memory of ROGHE Ugaz Ogaden that he apparently was not only a good poet, but. a brave soldier, because he died fighting, about ten years ago.
Aden Achmed Dubba of Isaak, Habr-Junis tribes, still lives, although so old at Meth and is known under the name of Gabbaj hogg, ie " strong poet". " In his youth his great poems aroused envy in Raghe Ugaz, and infrequently, bloody wars and irreconcilable enmity.
Hassan Dallab of isaak still a young poet, but already enjoys a reputation for good gabajah. Mohammed Liban Isaak tribe of Habr Auwal, who died three or four years ago, was an eloquent and witty improviser, and even better known under the name of Mohammed Liban Giader.
Dervish leaders 1899-1920
- Haji Ahmed Warsama/Sudi (1857-1920). One of the founders of the Somali Dervish movement and the movement right hand man till its demise
- Sultan Nur Ahmed Ammaan 1841-1907
A founding member of the Dervish movement the first agitator against The French Catholic Mission at Berbera.
Sheikh Isaaq manuscripts
Manuscripts on Sheikh Isaaq include:
- Al-Dur Al Muntakhab Fi Alaqab Wal-asab - 12th-century manuscript by unknown author
- Al Casjad Al-Manduum Li-Taariikh Wal-culuum - 12th-century manuscript by Maxamed Hasan Al-Basri (50 pages, Al-Zahiriyah Library, Al-Hamidiyah Souq, Damascus Syria)
- Al-3asjad Al Manduum - by Sharif Ahmed Muhammad Qaasim Al Gheribaani, a Hashimi historian of Yemen (1910)
- Thamrat Al-Mushtaaq Fi Manaaqib/Nasab al-Sheekh/Sayid Is'haaq - by Sharif Aydarus Sharif Ali Al-Aydarus 1947 (d 1347 H.A.); also the author of Bughyat Al-Amaal Fi-Taariikh Al Soomaal
- Adhwaa 3alaa Taariikh Al-Soomaal - by Shariif Maxamed 3aydarus (1932-1999), the ex-mayor of Mogadishu during the 1968 election in Somalia
- Kitaab Fatx Al-Baab Fi Al-Ansaab Wal-Alaqaab - by 3abdialma3alim Ibn Yuusuf
Notable Isaaq people
- Abdirahman Ahmed Ali Tuur,Last Somali National Movement Chairman and First President of Somaliland
- Abdillahi Suldaan Mohammed Timacade, known as 'Timacade', a famous poet during the pre- and post-colonial periods
- Abdirahim Abbey Farah, former United Nations Under-Secretary General
- Abdullahi Qarshe, Somali musician, poet and playwright; known as the "Father of Somali music"
- Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Somaliland and the Chairman of Wadani political party
- Ahmed Guray, commander of the Isaaq Habar Magadle troops during the Abyssinian-Adal war.
- Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, President of Somaliland as of June 2010, fourth and longest-serving Chairman of the Somali National Movement, and former Chairman of the Kulmiye Party
- Amina Moghe Hersi (b. 1963), Award-winning Somali entrepreneur who has launched several multimillion-dollar projects in Kampala, Uganda
- Ali Abdi Farah, Minister of Communication and Culture in Djibouti
- Ali Feiruz, popular musician in Djibouti and Somalia
- Bashir Yussuf, Somali religious leader
- Edna Adan Ismail, first female Foreign Minister of Somaliland, has been called “The Muslim Mother Teresa” for her charity work and activism for women and girls
- Faysal Ali Warabe, Chairman of the For Justice and Development party of Somaliland (UCID).
- Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Adan, former Foreign Minister of Somalia and MP in Federal Parliament
- Gaarriye (born Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac; 1949 – 30 September 2012), poet
- Haji Yusuf Iman Guled, former Defense Minister of Somalia and a Business Magnate
- Hanan Ibrahim, gender activist and first Somali British to be awarded Member of British Empire (MBE) for community work in UK
- Hussein Arab Isse, the Minister of Defence and the Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia from July 20, 2011 to November 4, 2012
- Hussain Bisad, is one of the tallest men in the world, at 2.32 m (7 ft 7 1⁄2 in). He has the largest hand span of anyone alive
- Ismail Mahmud Hurre, foreign minister of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia from mid-2006 to early 2007
- Hadrawi, poet and philosopher; author of Halkaraan; also known as the "Somali Shakespeare"
- Ismail Ali Abokor, former Vice-President of the Somali Democratic Republic
- Jama Musse Jama (b. 1967), prominent Somali ethnomathematician and author.
- Mo Farah, British 4 time Olympic gold medalist and the most decorated athlete in British athletics history.
- Mohamed Hasan Abdullahi, former Chief of Staff of Somaliland Armed Forces.
- Mohamed Omar Arte, former Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia.
- Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, former Prime Minister of Somalia 1960, 1967-1969; former President of Somaliland
- Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, former Foreign Minister of Somalia
- Mohammed Ahamed, Norwegian-Somalian association footballer currently playing in the Tippeligaen for Tromsø IL. He plays as a Center Forward
- Mohamed Hasan Abdullahi, former Chief of Staff of Somaliland Armed Forces
- Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame 'Hadrawi', poet and philosopher; author of Halkaraan; also known as the "Somali Shakespeare"
- Mohamed Mooge Liibaan, Mooge is regarded by many Somalis to be one of the greatest Somali musicians to have ever lived
- Nuh Ismail Tani, current Chief of Staff of Somaliland Armed Forces
- Rageh Omaar, Somali-British journalist and writer. He used to be a BBC world affairs correspondent, In September 2006, he moved to a new post at Al Jazeera English, and as of 2017 is currently with ITV News
- Umar Arteh Ghalib, former Prime Minister of Somalia 1991-1993. Brought Somalia into the Arab League in 1974 during his term Foreign Minister of Somalia from 1969-1977. Former president of UN Security Council, teacher and poet
- Ethnic Groups (Map). Somalia Summary Map. Central Intelligence Agency. 2002. Retrieved 2012-07-30. Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection - N.B. Various authorities indicate that the Isaaq is among the largest Somali clans , .
- Gitonga, By Antony. "Community takes over 'ancestral land'". The Standard. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
- Tekle, Amare (1994). Eritrea and Ethiopia: From Conflict to Cooperation. The Red Sea Press. ISBN 9780932415974.
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Somalia: Information on the ethnic composition in Gabiley (Gebiley) in 1987–1988, 1 April 1996, SOM23518.E [accessed 6 October 2009]
- Rima Berns McGown, Muslims in the diaspora, (University of Toronto Press: 1999), pp. 27–28
- I.M. Lewis, A Modern History of the Somali, fourth edition (Oxford: James Currey, 2002), p. 22
- I.M. Lewis, A Modern History of the Somali, fourth edition (Oxford: James Currey, 2002), pp. 31 & 42
- Roland Anthony Oliver, J. D. Fage, Journal of African history, Volume 3 (Cambridge University Press.: 1962), p.45
- 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.
- "Sheikh Isahaq". Isaaq Clan. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Lewis, I. M. (1999). A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. James Currey Publishers. ISBN 9780852552803.
- The Galla in Northern Somaliland, I. M. Lewis, p. //dspace-roma3.caspur.it/bitstream/2307/4913/1/The%20Galla%20in%20northern%20Somaliland.pdf;jsessionid=F28E001218E0DFF229E2CBFF6E361652
- "مخطوطات > بهجة الزمان > الصفحة رقم 17". makhtota.ksu.edu.sa. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
- Lewis, I. M. (1999). A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. James Currey Publishers. ISBN 9780852552803.
- "مخطوطات > بهجة الزمان > الصفحة رقم 16". makhtota.ksu.edu.sa. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
- "History". Archived from the original on 2017-08-20. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- 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. 157.
- "From fine to a failed state". Africa Review. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
- Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p. 55 Figure A-1
- Country Information and Policy Unit, Home Office, Great Britain, Somalia Assessment 2001, Annex B: Somali Clan Structure Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine., p. 43
- Laurence, Margaret (1970). A Tree for Poverty: Somali Poetry and Prose. Hamilton: McMaster University. p. 145. ISBN 1-55022-177-9.
Then Magado, the wife of Ishaak had only two children, baby twin sons, and their names were Ahmed, nick-named Arap, and Ismail, nick-named Garaxijis .
- The Visit of Frederick Forbes to the Somali Coast in 1833 R Bridges. Int J Afr Hist Stud 19 (4), 679-691. 1986.
- Travels In Southern Abyssinia Through The Country Of Adal To The Kingdom Of Shoa. by Charles Johnston, Volume 1. 1844
- First footsteps in East Africa : or, An exploration of Harar by Burton, Richard Francis, Sir, 1821-1890; Burton, Isabel, Lady, Published 1894
- Marston, Thomas E. Britain's Imperial Role In the Red Sea Area, 1800-1878. Hamden: Conn., Shoe String Press, 1961.
- Britain's imperial Role....pp.108-9. Ibid, p .149 ibid, p.161
- Bollettino della Società geografica italiana By Società geografica italiana. 1893.
- Somalia e Benadir: viaggio di esplorazione nell'Africa orientale. Prima traversata della Somalia, compiuta per incarico della Societá geografica italiana. Luigi Robecchi Bricchetti. 1899.
- Bollettino della Società geografica italiana. ... 1893 (ser.3, vol. 5). p.372
- Islam in Somali History Fact and Fiction revisited , the Arab Factor
- Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, Roberto Balducci (ed.) (1993). Somalia: le radici del futuro. Il passaggio. p. 33. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- "Mo Farah's family cheers him on from Somaliland village". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2014.