Sheikh Hussein (saint)

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Sheikh Hussein
Sheikh Hussein.jpg
Sheikh Hussein's shrine in the town of Sheikh Hussein.
Born Ethiopia
Died 13th century
Nationality Ethiopian
Occupation scholar
Title Sheikh

Sheikh Hussein was a 13th-century Muslim proselytizer from the Red Sea coast, who lived in Ethiopia. He is now honored as a saint.[1]


Sheikh Hussein is credited with having introduced Islam to the Sidamo people living in the area at the time. He is also said to have performed many miracles. A number of these feats have been recorded in a hagiography published in Cairo in the 1920s, entitled Rabi` al-Qulub. He gave his name to the town of Sheikh Hussein, which is now within the homelands of the Oromo people. The city is a popular destination for approximately 50,000 Muslim pilgrims from various parts Ethiopia, who congregate there twice a year during the Islamic months of Hajj and Rabi' al-Awwal.[2] The first pilgrimage in February–March is to celebrate Sheikh Hussein's birth; the second in August–September is to commemorate his death.[1] The pilgrims traditionally carry cleft sticks known as "Oulle Sheikh Hussein", which are too small to serve as walking sticks and are not utilized for any practical purpose. Once they arrive at the shrine, the pilgrims take their turn entering the saint's tomb by crawling through a small doorway.[3]


  1. ^ a b Gish, Steven; Thay, Winnie; Latif, Zawiah Abdul (April 2007). Ethiopia. Marshall Cavendish. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-7614-2025-5. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  2. ^ J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), pp. 253-256.
  3. ^ "Local History in Ethiopia" The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 2 November 2011)