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It was on the 13th century that came to the light, in Horn of Africa, one of the strongest Empire that existed in East Africa. Adal Empire had its origine in the city of Zeyla, situated until today in the northern region of the former Democratic Republic of Somalia. The father of that State was King Omar D. Ahmed (nicknamed Aw-Barkhadle). The king who had a long life, occupied the throne for many years. When he passed away, he left behind him many children, mainly males. Among them, the successors to the throne who inherited the kingdom. Later, Adal Empire became an Islamic Empire that expanded the religion of Islam with determination, into the entire Horn of Africa.





Adal Empire was composed of seven (7) States. According to the size of their land and the military forces of each state, here is their names: Ifaad, Dawaaro, Araabiini, Hadaya, Sharqa, Baali and Daara, where each of them had its own government. The largest and strongest State Ifaad, known from Egypt and "Shaam" as Zeyla's land, became later the dominant and the central one with its capital city of Zeyla. Ifaad will lead the entire Empire and will face many challenges. According to the historians of that period, Ifaad was large as 20 days of walk from North to South and 15 days of walk from East to West. Its military force was composed of 15000 cavaliers and 20000 of infantries


In a book titled "Masaalikal-Absaar"(this is in Somali spelling), the Egyptian author, Subhul Ahsha mentioned that Zeyla was the nucleus city of Adal Empire. Continuing into the description of this city, he added that Zeyla was "The City of Light", which had many Mosques and many schools, where all kind of subjects were taught. In fact, Mr. Ahsha described Zeylac as "The Place" where one can acquire any kind of knowledge that may be taught in that period of time. The author added in his description that the people were 100% Muslim. Mr. Ahsha said that they were gathering in large number into the Mosques of the city, as faithful believers to Islam. According to this writing, these Mosques could be compared to the municipal libraries that can be found today in big cities of our century. In addition of that, schools were places where people use to enjoy meeting, share knowledge, discuss about social issues and debate intellectually. As a matter of fact, Zeyla was known as the place where the knowledge was at the merci of everyone.





Remarked by its faithful actions, other Islamic States in the world called Adal Empire "Diraasal-Islaam".




The Walashma dynasty was a Muslim noble family who ruled parts of what is now eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti, southern Eritrea and western Somalia. The earliest known member of this family was Umar ibn Dunya-huz (died 1275), whose son Ali ibn Wali Ashma conquered the Muslim kingdom of Shewa.



List of rulers of the Walashma dynasty


Haqq ad-Din I


Sabr ad-Din I


Jamal ad-Din I


Ali ibn Sabr ad-Din


Ahmad ibn Ali


Haqq ad-Din II


Sa'ad ad-Din II


Sabr ad-Din II


Mansur ad-Din


Jamal ad-Din II


Badlay ibn Sa'ad ad-Din


Muhammad ibn Badlay


Shams ad-Din ibn Muhammad


Muhammad ibn Azhar ad-Din


Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad


Umar Din


Ali ibn Umar Din


Barakat ibn Umar Din


Muslim-Christian relations soured during the reign of the aggressive Negus Yeshaq (ruled 1414-29). Forces of his rapidly expanding empire descended from the highlands to despoil Muslim settlements in the Valley East of the ancient city of Harer. Having branded the Muslims "enemies of the Lord," Yeshaq invaded the Muslim Kingdom of Ifat in 1415. He crushed the armies of Ifat and put to flight in the wastes along the Gulf of Tadjoura (in present-day Djibouti) Ifat's king Saad ad Din. Yeshaq followed Saad ad Din to the island off the coast of Saylac (which still bears his name), where the Muslim king was killed. Yeshaq compelled the Muslims to offer tribute, and also ordered his singers to compose a gloating hymn of thanksgiving for his

victory. In the hymn's lyrics, the word Somali appears for the first time in written record.


a century later the Muslims had recovered sufficiently to break through from the east into the central Ethiopian highlands. Led by the charismatic Imam Ahmad Guray (1506-43),

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Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (c.1507 - February 21, 1543) was a Somali Imam and General who defeated several Ethiopian emperors and wreaked much damage on that nation. He is also known as Ahmad Gragn (or Gurey), "Ahmed the left-handed".




He was born near Zeila, a port city located in northwestern Somalia, and married Bati del Wambara,




the daughter of governor Mahfuz of Zeila. When Mahfuz was killed returning from a campaign against the Ethiopian emperor Lebna Dengel in 1517, the Adal sultanate lapsed into anarchy for several years, until Imam Ahmad killed the last of the contenders for power and took control of Harar.




In retaliation for an attack on Adal in 1527-8 by the Ethiopian general Degalhan, Imam Ahmad invaded Ethiopia in 1529. Although his troops were fearful of their opponents, and attempted to desert upon news that the Ethiopian army was approaching, Imam Ahmad relied on his elite company armed with matchlocks, and defeated emperor Lebne Dengel at Shimbra Kure that March.1




Imam Ahmad campaigned again in Ethiopia in 1531, breaking Emperor Lebna Dengel's ability to resist in the Battle of Amba Sel on October 28, then marched north to loot the island monastery of Lake Hayq and the stone churches of Lalibela. When the Imam entered the province of Tigray, he defeated an Ethiopian army that confronted him there, and on reaching Axum destroyed the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, in which the Ethiopian emperors had been coronated for centuries.

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The Adal empire had robust commercial and political relationship with the Ottoman empire


the Ottoman Turks, themselves actively engaged in wars against European kingdoms,




did not pay much attention to Ethiopia


Things changed when the Portuguese paid a visit to the court of Emperor Lebne Dengel, in 1492 -




However, the Emperor did not see much advantage in befriending the Portuguese or how he could form an alliance that would have benefited Ethiopia. The motive of the Portuguese was to 1) spread Catholicism and 2) form an alliance with this mysterious and powerful Christian empire, which they hoped would eventually enable them to fight the Turks. The visit of the Portuguese did not go unnoticed by the Turks, who were promptly informed by their spies in Denkaz.


the Turks, who were in contact with Adal, found Gragn to be a formidable military person with a fanatic zeal for Islam. They made a deal with Gragn: he was to subjugate the Christian empire and convert it to Islam while they would thwart any possible alliance between Ethiopia and Europe, which would have dangerously out-flanked the Turks in the indian ocean.



the Ottoman soldiers


The Turks provided the Adal and Gragn 900 Bombardiers, or what would be considered in today's military terminology, artillery men. The war was, needless to say, a disaster to Ethiopia. Ethiopians were armed with only swords and spears while their enemies had guns and experienced Turkish troops under their command.

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the King of Adal marched out of his trenches to enter those of the Portuguese. Mohammed's forces entered the camp, and hit the Christians to the spear. The Portuguese General (Christopher) escaped the slaughter with ten men and retreated to a wood, where they were discovered... (and killed).


... Mohammed Gragne improved his victory by chasing the young Claudius (king of Ethiopia) over Abyssinia, where nothing opposed the progress of his arms. At last the few Portuguese survivors repaired to the Christian Emperor, who was persuaded to march an army against the King of Adel (Mohammed Gragne). Resolved to revenge their general, the harquebusiers demanded the post opposite Mohammed, and directed all their efforts against the part where the Moslem stood. His fellow religionists still relate that when Gragne fell in action, his wife Talwambara, the heroic daughter of Mohfuz, to prevent the destruction and dispersion of the host of al-Islam, buried the corpse privately, and caused a slave to personate the King, until a retreat to safe lands enabled her to discover the stratagem to the noble.


thus after a 30 yr jihad the King of Adal perished


Mohammed was succeeded on the throne of Adel by Amir Nur,


son of Majid, and, according to some, brother to the 'left-handed'. He proposed marriage to Talwambara, who accepted him on condition that he should lay the head of the Emperor Claudius at her feet. In AD 1559, he (Amir Nur) sent a message of defiance to the Negush (Ethiopian Emperor Claudius) who, having saved Abyssinia almost by a miracle, was rebuilding on Debra Work, the 'Golden Mount', a celebrated structure which had been burned by the Muslims. Claudius despising the eclipses, evil prophecies, and portents which accompanied his enemy's progress, accepted the challenge.





Claudius, supported by a handful of Portuguese, were soon slain around him, and he fell covered with wounds.


Amir Nur cut off his head, and laid it at the feet of Talwambara, who, in observance of her pledge, became his wife. Talwambara suspended the trophy by its hair to the branch of a tree opposite her abode that her eyes might be gladdened by the sight; after hanging for two years, it was purchased by an American merchant, who interred it in the sepulcher of St. Claudius at Antioct.


The untimely death of Mohammad Gragne was a very great blow to the Somalis. His wife and her new husband Amir Nur continued fighting for seven years with the Ethiopians, but they were in fact pushed from Addis Ababa to the border near river Haiwaish ('Awash') because of the Portuguese help to the Ethiopian Guerillas.


After seven years of fighting. Amir Nur and his wife withdrew to their previous headquarter at Harar and again Harar became the principal Somali city. When she died, her son Amir Abdullahi succeeded. His dynasty ruled Harar till 1884,




The Adal empire became a protectorate of the Ottoman empire in the 17th century ruled by local somali chiefs

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Thanks for the info man. Does anyone have recent pictures of Zaylac town? I would love to see how it looks.

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Do you know that the troops from Portugal first landed in Somalia around the coast of Sanaag. Theirs were handed the first defeat since Mait was at the time in the hands of the army of Garaad. Ahmed Ibrahim (Ahmed Gran)



It was a Muslim Kingdom we can all relate to its achievement but its power grip and popularity accelerated after the pacification of the Somali nomads by the Imam, dissolving the power of the countless Amirs that used to pay tributes to the Adel Empire to maintain a semblance of their own rule over a few defined domains and further tripute to the Abyssinia. All tributes were halted after the rise of Imam Ahmad.



The father of that State was King Omar D. Ahmed (nicknamed Aw-Barkhadle).

What source can i find this? Or Is it a later fabrication.


I have come across all these sources and I couldn't locate the statement above. Please note the history in these sources extend their reserach to the whole kingdom and its rulers.


Futuh al-habasa,



J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), p. 173.



Whiteway, The Portuguese Expedition, p. 51.


Whiteway, The Portuguese Expedition, p. 53.



Lewis, I.M. "The Somali Conquest of Horn of Africa." Journal of African History, I 2

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Thanks for that, I suggest the Conquest of Abasynia translation of Futuh al Habasha. By Sihab ad Din hmed bin Abdal Qader, also known as Arab Faqih... There is a French and English translatio of the original Arabic text.


Imam Ahmed is also the first major Somali figure in the world. While some claim him to be, Arab or even Oromo. I belive if you read the text deeply you will find that it indicates his origin to be Somali. He has clear influance over the major Somali clans, leading them thousands of miles deep into Abasynia, which no other Adal leader before or since ever had. The fact that Garad Mattan Osman Khalid one of the powerful Chiefs of the day is his brother in law, Married to Fardousa Ibrahim and that his first cousin is another Somali clan chief Known as Sultan Mohamed.


The man is comparable to the great millitary leaders of the past, at 21 years of age he brought down one of the most powerful Kingdosms in the history of Africa....

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general duke the people that say he wasn't a somali have personal issue's with somali's in general so don't take them serious


it's all recorded in futuh al habash


it's ironic that the people{ethiopians) who should be hating Ahmed Gran and try to cover up anything triumphant about him are the ones who acknowlegdes him being a somali and that the Walashma dynasty were somali's


and the song of victory by the emperor YESAQ as an ode to the somalis of The Kingdom of IfaaT


some say he was a harari because he spent the last yrs of his life in Harar


but that's like saying Alexander was a persian just because he spent his last yrs there

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Mohammed was succeeded on the throne of Adel by Amir Nur

The great Amir Nuur Iis's descendents are still flourishing. My grandmother is a direct descendent mashallah.

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Emperor, many thanks for that.


Imam Ahmed's conquest to me is the foundation of the current Somali republic, for if it was not for Adal the Abasynian Empire would have swallowed us up....


When did the Adal decline and was it to do with the Oromo incursions into the area?

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adal itself was build somewhere in the late 7th century as a small city


but according to european sources it became an independant kingdom in 1000 A.D and then became an Empire in 13th century by forming aliances with other kingdoms


like the most powerfull of them all Kingdom of Ifaad who had conquered kingdom of Shewa but Ifaad was sacked by abbyssinia in the 1400's


the Ifaad kings left for Yemen and then came back a few yrs later and called themself Kings of Adal they fought against the abbyssian empire for a century untill Ahmed Gurey arrived on the scene and conquered abbyssinia and destroyed it's 200 thousand infantry and 16 thousand calvary with only 20 thousand infantry and 15 thousand cavalry on his side


Ahmed was the first to use cannon's on african soil


adal declined because of oromo expansion and because rivalry between kings of the adal empire


it's political power ended in the 1700's and became a protectorate of the ottoman empire


the ottoman only gave protection and appointed local somali chiefs as leaders


they only had to give small tribute like every other protectorate of the ottoman empire had to give



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