Qallu is a common name known in Oromo, Somali, Harari, Afar traditions because there is a clan called “Qallu’’ within each of these ethnic groups. However, it is the Oromos or the Somalis who enthusiastically refer to the name. It is said[who?] that “Qallu” to mean "people of the religion", and it describes the Qallu’s main occupation in their societies. That means in the past, most of the persons who belong to Qallu clan were dominantly the teachers of Islam in the areas that they reside.
Variations in the Descriptions of Qallu
The Qallu inhabit Hararghe, Somali Region, and Dire Dawa as well as the Republics of Somalia and Djibouti. The Qallu’s in Ethiopia trace back their genealogy mostly to a man called “Aw Omar Ziyad”, and then to “Aw Qutub”, and Aw Abadir Umar Ar-Rida, a scholar to whom the Harari’s refer as the Patron Saint of Harar. And all Qallus in Ethiopia claim they have the same blood with Sheekhaal, a clan whom Sir Richard Burton repeatedly mentioned in his book titled First Footsteps in East Africa. However, in Somalia, there is a little bit unclear tradition of the Qallus. Some people categorize them under the well known Sheekhaal clan. Others group them under Fiqi Omar clan.
Geographical Dispersions of the Qallu
Richard Burton describes that Qallu (Sheekhaash) is dispersed among its brothers (other clans) and they can be found from Ifat up to Ogaden. This is an exact description of the highly reverend clan of Qallu. Today, as Burton witnessed 150 years ago, the Qallu inhabit an area from Somlia up to Wello. However, the highly concentrated communities of the Qallu can be found in the following areas.
- in Babille, Deder, Jarso and Gursum in East Hararghe;
- in the Walled City of Harar;
- in Shinile Zone and in Dire Dawa chartered city;
- in Jijiga woreda of the Somali Region;
- in Habro, Gubba Qoricha, Qunni, Chiro, Boke and Mieso woredas of West Hararghe, Zone.
- Ulrich Braukämper: Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia. Collected Essays, Göttinger Studien zur Ethnologie 9, 2003, ISBN 978-3-8258-5671-7, pp.112-123, 117
- Richard Burton, First Footsteps in East Africa, 1856; edited with an introduction and additional chapters by Gordon Waterfield (New York: Praeger, 1966), p. 165