Ethnic identity of the Walashma dynasty is still an unsolved mystery

The medieval walashma dynasty has produced a great number of rulers who controlled much of northeastern somalia and Eastern Ethiopia.
Their ethnicity though is still disputed, some sources mention them as light skinned arabs while other scholars have suggested they were ethiosemitic speakers.
There are two main problems with this narrative.
1) arab may have settled in northern somaloa but there is absolutely ZERO remains of their presence both genetically and historically. The areas of Somalia which had a cristal clear arab presence like Mogadishu, Merca and Barawe still have sizable arab admixed minorities but northern somaliland and Ethiopia have nothing of this nature. This leads me to the conclusion that the Walashma were native Africans. Ibn battuta also described the Adal capital Zeila as being inhabited by black skinned peoples which reinforces my conclusion.
2) the real dispute is wether they were somalis or not. Unfortunately there's not much to indicate that the walashma were ethnic somalis, the names of the rulers are arabic and there's no written documents that identify them as somalis on the other hand though there's zero evidence they were ethiosemitic speakers. The only thing that links the Walashma with the somali nation is Aw barkhadle who is regarded as a founding father of the dinasty, Aw barkhadle has a connection with many northern somali clans. The Walashma also claimed to be descendants of Aqeel ibn abu taleb which is the same claim that darood clans have.
I've read that the Walashma have been also linked to the argobba muslim habeshas but this seems unlikely since the Walashma territory is in the heart of somali and harari speaking areas .
My conclusion is that the Walashma may have been a mixed somali+arab+harari group which could explain why they were never refered to as being somali, harari or arab.
I completely dismiss the hypothesis that they were Arabs because as i said there is not many traces left by arabs in that part of Somalia.
What do you think?
 

Factz

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The term "Somali" has never been used tho. Whether Somalis did in fact identify themselves as such or had another name like "Samaale" or whatever isn't important but everyone needs to be clear when we use the term Somali because that word holds no significance to the Somali culture of that time since there was no concept of nationalism. People of that time identified strictly based on their clan even if they shared a common language or culture. For example, whenever foreign travelers visited the Somali coast they would mention Somali clans but never their ethnicity.

Now with that out of the way. If you want to know the truth about Hararis, they're said to be a confederation of Semitic speakers and Cushitic speakers on the Harar plateau such as the Harla, Argobba, Gatturi, Hargaya, Gidaya, and also incorporated various Somali clans. The Harari ethnicity came to be in the time of Nur Ibn Mujahid when he ordered everyone to abandon their lineage in order to prevent tribalism and unite the people against a common enemy (Oromos and Abyssinians).

Speaking of Harari. According to the Harari historian named Sheikh Abibakr Ba-Alawi Ashanbali. Umar Walashma, the founder of Ifat Sultanate was a descendent of Aw Barkhaadle a native Somali saint. The Walashma rulers were accepted because they were a native family.

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Aw Barkhaadle was not only regarded as the Somali saint father but also the founder of the Wadaad script.

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The Wadaad script should be a strong proof that he was indeed Somali and on top of that if the Hararis claim he was the forefather of the Walamsha Dynasty then everything falls into place. Walashma were clearly Somali and that's the end of it.
 
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The term "Somali" has never been used tho. Whether Somalis did in fact identify themselves as such or had another name like "Samaale" or whatever isn't important but everyone needs to be clear when we use the term Somali because that word holds no significance to the Somali culture of that time since there was no concept of nationalism. People of that time identified strictly based on their clan even if they shared a common language or culture. For example, whenever foreign travelers visited the Somali coast they would mention Somali clans but never their ethnicity.

Now with that out of the way. If you want to know the truth about Hararis, they're said to be a confederation of Semitic speakers and Cushitic speakers on the Harar plateau such as the Harla, Argobba, Gatturi, Hargaya, Gidaya, and also various Somali clans. The Harari ethnicity came to be in the time of Nur Ibn Mujahid when he ordered everyone to abandon their lineage in order to prevent tribalism and unite the people against a common enemy (Oromos and Abyssinians).

Speaking of Harari. According to the Harari historian named Sheikh Abibakr Ba-Alawi Ashanbali. Umar Walashma, the founder of Ifat Sultanate was a descendent of Aw Barkhaadle a native Somali saint. The Walashma rulers were accepted because they were a native family.

View attachment 206844

Aw Barkhaadle was not only regarded as the Somali saint father but also the founder of the Wadaad script.

View attachment 206845

The Wadaad script should be a strong proof that he was indeed Somali and on top of that if the Hararis claim he was the forefather of the Walamsha Dynasty then everything falls into place. Walashma were clearly Somali and that's the end of it.
This exactly what i was thinking.
The Aw barkhadle connection makes the somali hypothesis very strong. The Wadad script thing though makes me skeptical, we have no evidence of somali written in arabic before the first wadaad script texts in the 1800s, if wadaad script was invented by Aw barkhadle it seems weird it was never used for centuries. We also have very little written evidence produced by the Walashma themselves which makes me think they were local horn Africans of nomadic oral tradition who rose to power. If the Walashma were arab they would have left more written evidence as the arabic society was much more involved in litterary works.
 
The term "Somali" has never been used tho. Whether Somalis did in fact identify themselves as such or had another name like "Samaale" or whatever isn't important but everyone needs to be clear when we use the term Somali because that word holds no significance to the Somali culture of that time since there was no concept of nationalism. People of that time identified strictly based on their clan even if they shared a common language or culture. For example, whenever foreign travelers visited the Somali coast they would mention Somali clans but never their ethnicity.

Now with that out of the way. If you want to know the truth about Hararis, they're said to be a confederation of Semitic speakers and Cushitic speakers on the Harar plateau such as the Harla, Argobba, Gatturi, Hargaya, Gidaya, and also incorporated various Somali clans. The Harari ethnicity came to be in the time of Nur Ibn Mujahid when he ordered everyone to abandon their lineage in order to prevent tribalism and unite the people against a common enemy (Oromos and Abyssinians).

Speaking of Harari. According to the Harari historian named Sheikh Abibakr Ba-Alawi Ashanbali. Umar Walashma, the founder of Ifat Sultanate was a descendent of Aw Barkhaadle a native Somali saint. The Walashma rulers were accepted because they were a native family.

View attachment 206844

Aw Barkhaadle was not only regarded as the Somali saint father but also the founder of the Wadaad script.

View attachment 206845

The Wadaad script should be a strong proof that he was indeed Somali and on top of that if the Hararis claim he was the forefather of the Walamsha Dynasty then everything falls into place. Walashma were clearly Somali and that's the end of it.
What makes this whole topic difficult is the lack of clan references. I believe the futuh al habasha never mentions the Walashma by their clan or ethnic identity while being very detailed in other occasions while describing harlas and somali troops.
I think the Walashma may have been a section of the somali people that rose to power , as aristocrats they probably adopted a different identity than nomadic somalis because of their high status.
 
The term "Somali" has never been used tho. Whether Somalis did in fact identify themselves as such or had another name like "Samaale" or whatever isn't important but everyone needs to be clear when we use the term Somali because that word holds no significance to the Somali culture of that time since there was no concept of nationalism. People of that time identified strictly based on their clan even if they shared a common language or culture. For example, whenever foreign travelers visited the Somali coast they would mention Somali clans but never their ethnicity.

Now with that out of the way. If you want to know the truth about Hararis, they're said to be a confederation of Semitic speakers and Cushitic speakers on the Harar plateau such as the Harla, Argobba, Gatturi, Hargaya, Gidaya, and also incorporated various Somali clans. The Harari ethnicity came to be in the time of Nur Ibn Mujahid when he ordered everyone to abandon their lineage in order to prevent tribalism and unite the people against a common enemy (Oromos and Abyssinians).

Speaking of Harari. According to the Harari historian named Sheikh Abibakr Ba-Alawi Ashanbali. Umar Walashma, the founder of Ifat Sultanate was a descendent of Aw Barkhaadle a native Somali saint. The Walashma rulers were accepted because they were a native family.

View attachment 206844

Aw Barkhaadle was not only regarded as the Somali saint father but also the founder of the Wadaad script.

View attachment 206845

The Wadaad script should be a strong proof that he was indeed Somali and on top of that if the Hararis claim he was the forefather of the Walamsha Dynasty then everything falls into place. Walashma were clearly Somali and that's the end of it.
I found some very rare references of a possible Ethiosemitic language being spoken by somalis in the zeila area. Cerulli mentioned this somewhere while talking about some ethiosemitic loanwords in somali
 

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What makes this whole topic difficult is the lack of clan references. I believe the futuh al habasha never mentions the Walashma by their clan or ethnic identity while being very detailed in other occasions while describing harlas and somali troops.
I think the Walashma may have been a section of the somali people that rose to power , as aristocrats they probably adopted a different identity than nomadic somalis because of their high status.

You need to be careful when you subscribe to Arab ties to the Walashma. I've even clarified that with you before. Claims of descent from Arabia were mainly for legitimacy reasons such as the Gobroon Dynasty that ruled large parts of southern Somalia in the early modern period.

Somalia: Nation in Search of a State - Page 11:

Ifat's rulers , the Walashma ' dynasty , claimed a fictive descent - much like the Somali myth of Arabian ancestry from noble Arab forebears .

Somalia: Storia della Somalia. L'Islām in Somalia. Il Libro degli Zengi - Page 147:


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It is most likely the latter two. The rulers of Zeila and Mogadishu were Somalis with strongly influenced Arabic culture.

I like bringing up Sada Mire because she's just more than a "historian" but also a notable archaeologist and has written books for her evidence. She clarifies with archeological and textual evidence showing how they were founded and ruled by indigenous local Somalis and not the Arabs.

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Factz

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I found some very rare references of a possible Ethiosemitic language being spoken by somalis in the zeila area. Cerulli mentioned this somewhere while talking about some ethiosemitic loanwords in somali

One thing you have to understand is Zeila was sometimes interpreted to be a region. Read at the "By the fourteenth century" to the end. From there we can all agree Ethio-Semitic languages were spoken in eastern Ethiopia but not the people of Zeila who were said to be predominantly Somalis.

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The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3 - Page 147:

This linguistic factor may have provided another dimension for the basic cleavage between the sedentary Muslim communities in the Ethiopian interior and the nomadic peoples of the vast lowlands between the plateau and the coast, who were predominantly speakers of Eastern Cushitic.

Al-Umari made descriptions of the people Zeila and their language.

“they cultivate two times annually by seasonal rains … The rainfall for the winter is called ‘Bil’ and rainfall for the ‘summer’ is called ‘Karam’ in the language of the people of Zayla" . It appears that the historian was referring, in one-way or another, to these still used terms, Karan and Bil. This indicates that the ancient Somali solar calendar was very similar to the one they use today.

It appears they were using the Somali calendar and Somali traditional farming which is still used to this day.

Have a read for yourself: https://web.archive.org/web/20130921053608/http://wardheer.startlogic.com/public_html/Articles 2012/Dec/31_Somali_calendar_Said.pdf
 
@Factz

I’m not disputing your sources here, May Allah bless you since you contributed enough on here and I’ll use your sources as i’m further researching.

However, do you have any definite proof (not scholarly opinions) that Walashma dynasty were Somalis or Ahmed Gurey was a Somali? I’ve heard opinions out there that Walashma were Arab sultans or they were Ethio-semitic speaking Muslims. If you have any definite proof (irrefutable manuscripts, archeological evidence etc) that Imam Ahmed was a Somali or Walashma sultans were Somali, that would be very helpful.
 

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@Factz

I’m not disputing your sources here, May Allah bless you since you contributed enough on here and I’ll use your sources as i’m further researching.

However, do you have any definite proof (not scholarly opinions) that Walashma dynasty were Somalis or Ahmed Gurey was a Somali? I’ve heard opinions out there that Walashma were Arab sultans or they were Ethio-semitic speaking Muslims. If you have any definite proof (irrefutable manuscripts, archeological evidence etc) that Imam Ahmed was a Somali or Walashma sultans were Somali, that would be very helpful.

For Walashma Dynasty? No, because if you read what I was saying earlier Somalis at that time strictly identified based on their clans and not with their ethnicity which is why scholarly opinions are important. The only strongest claim we have for Walashma was they themselves claim to be a descendent of Aw Barkhaadle who was a renowned Somali saint which in my opinion is more than enough.

And the Arab or Ethio-Semitic claims can easily be debunked.

Somalia: Nation in Search of a State - Page 11:

Ifat's rulers , the Walashma ' dynasty , claimed a fictive descent - much like the Somali myth of Arabian ancestry from noble Arab forebears .

The Cambridge History of Africa: From c. 500 B.C. to A.D. 1050 - Page 139. Zeila, the city and the original seat of the Walashma Dynasty also claimed Arab lineages.

There is no doubt that Zeila was also predominantly Somali, and al-Dimashqi, another thirteenth-century Arab writer, gives the town its Somali name Awdal (Adal), still known among the local Somali. By the fourteenth century, the significance of this Somali port for the Ethiopian interior had increased so much that all the Muslim communities established along the trade routes into central and southeastern Ethiopia were commonly known in Egypt and Syria by the collective term of 'the country of Zeila'. Zeila was certainly the point of departure for the numerous Muslim communities and political units in the Ethiopian region, most of which, just like the Somali clan families of Darod and Ishaq, had persistent traditions of Arab origin.

The sources make it clear that it was one of Walashma's mythical claims just like the rest of Somali clans. They only did it for legitimate reasons. The Hararis claim to be a descendent of Abadir Umar ar-Rida just like the Fakr Ad Din dynasty in Mogadishu which I explained to @Som. I know I might go a little off topic but I am trying to help you understand.

For example, Ibn Battuta met with the ruler of Mogadishu called Sultan Abubakar who was a member of the Fakr Ad Din dynasty. When Ibn Battuta met him he mentioned his dark skin complexion, his native tongue (Somali) and made reference to his ethnicity "Barbar" which was a medieval term by Arab geographers to describe the Somali people of that time.

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It's now widely accepted that there were pre-existing African communities on the Somali coast that allowed these Muslim immigrants to settle. However, the immigrants faced assimilation and the local Africans still retained their political control.

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The nobles within the Geledi claim descent from Omar al-Din. He had 3 other brothers, Fakhr, and 2 others of whom their names are given differently as Shams, Umudi, Alahi, and Ahmed. Together they were known as Afarta Timid, 'the 4 who came', indicating their origins from Arabia. If we go by this logic then we can say Geledi Sultanate was an Arab kingdom.
:deadrose: :heh:

The Ethio-Semitic claim is more complicated and perhaps even worse. The scholars do not use actual historical evidence or genealogies or anything written from the time or even accounts from modern descendants of this family (if they exist) but are based on pure conjecture from one author by the name of Ulrich Braukamper; if you read his original work, you will find that he shares no actual evidence for his claims nor do any others.

Ulrich Braukamper who is cited by this source for example merely entertains the idea that the Walashma were possibly Argobbas [1] in a book of his but then shortly after does not hold to this view [2] and uses the usual view about their Qurayshi & Hashemite genealogical origins suggesting that they were Arabians. He does not then tie this dynasty to the Argobba at all but even cites sources such as Ibn Khaldun who touch upon their Aqeeli genealogy.

A source Braukamper often cites on the history of the Walashma (Enrico Cerulli). This document also contradicts the statement that this group was Argobba. Enrico Cerulli’s views on them if I recall were not honestly removed from that of Braukamper and he even acquired a historical genealogy. [3] shared by another author who cites Cerulli as his source) that tied them to this Somali saintly figure as their ancestor, a figure who has nothing to do with Argobbas and ultimately claims an Arabian genealogy.

And then there’s finally Ioan Lewis, and his views on the Walashma were:

"According to I.M. Lewis, the polity was governed by local dynasties consisting of Somalized Arabs or Arabized Somalis, who also ruled over the similarly-established Sultanate of Mogadishu in the Benadir region to the south. Adal's history from this founding period forth would be characterized by a succession of battles with neighbouring Abyssinia." [4]

The problem with Taddesse Tamrat and few other Ethiopian historians is that they're quoting the Argobba theory from Ulrich Braukamper who himself does not support the idea the Walashma were Argobbas. He mostly leaned to the mainstream view that they were Arabians that migrated to Horn.

As for Ahmed Gurey, it's also the same because the only reference we accept is Futuh Al-Habasha that made no mention of his ethnicity or clan but there is another source of Ahmed Gurey time that guessed his ethnicity based on his actions. His name is Miguel de Castanhoso who narrated "The Portuguese expedition to Abyssinia in 1541-1543" and this is what he said:

Of the early history of the Imam Ahmad but little is known. He was the son of one Ibrahim el Ghazi, and both he and his father were common soldiers in the troop of Garad Aboun. Nothing even is said as to his nationality. He was certainly not an Arab: probably he was a Somali, for we find him closely connected with many who were Somalis.
 
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The medieval walashma dynasty has produced a great number of rulers who controlled much of northeastern somalia and Eastern Ethiopia.
Their ethnicity though is still disputed, some sources mention them as light skinned arabs while other scholars have suggested they were ethiosemitic speakers.
There are two main problems with this narrative.
1) arab may have settled in northern somaloa but there is absolutely ZERO remains of their presence both genetically and historically. The areas of Somalia which had a cristal clear arab presence like Mogadishu, Merca and Barawe still have sizable arab admixed minorities but northern somaliland and Ethiopia have nothing of this nature. This leads me to the conclusion that the Walashma were native Africans. Ibn battuta also described the Adal capital Zeila as being inhabited by black skinned peoples which reinforces my conclusion.
2) the real dispute is wether they were somalis or not. Unfortunately there's not much to indicate that the walashma were ethnic somalis, the names of the rulers are arabic and there's no written documents that identify them as somalis on the other hand though there's zero evidence they were ethiosemitic speakers. The only thing that links the Walashma with the somali nation is Aw barkhadle who is regarded as a founding father of the dinasty, Aw barkhadle has a connection with many northern somali clans. The Walashma also claimed to be descendants of Aqeel ibn abu taleb which is the same claim that darood clans have.
I've read that the Walashma have been also linked to the argobba muslim habeshas but this seems unlikely since the Walashma territory is in the heart of somali and harari speaking areas .
My conclusion is that the Walashma may have been a mixed somali+arab+harari group which could explain why they were never refered to as being somali, harari or arab.
I completely dismiss the hypothesis that they were Arabs because as i said there is not many traces left by arabs in that part of Somalia.
What do you think?
Try this:


A short History of the Argobba

pp 178-179


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I don't understand why some people can accept somalis with arab names as somalis.

By the logic some of y'all are using i must be arabic. But my ethnicity is somali. This very same logic can be used on previous rulers of the somali peninsula.


The rule is very simple, if there is a foreign ruler there need to be an foreign army ensuring the survival of that foreign monarchy. Since we can't find the historical documentation nor anything in the grounds. We can safely say the rulers belong the the largest ethnic group or they are documentated as foreigners but still noble.


Stop beating this dead horse.
 
The Harlaa language?
Maybe. Harlaa was never identified, some scholars say it was semitic others say it was cushitic.
According to some scholars the Yibir dialect "af harlaad" may be related to harlaa. Yibir and madhibaan minorities among somalis used to have a "secret" language that somalis from noble clans couldn't understand
 
I don't understand why some people can accept somalis with arab names as somalis.

By the logic some of y'all are using i must be arabic. But my ethnicity is somali. This very same logic can be used on previous rulers of the somali peninsula.


The rule is very simple, if there is a foreign ruler there need to be an foreign army ensuring the survival of that foreign monarchy. Since we can't find the historical documentation nor anything in the grounds. We can safely say the rulers belong the the largest ethnic group or they are documentated as foreigners but still noble.


Stop beating this dead horse.
Nah. The presence of arab names isn't my issue.
The point is that almost all the names of the Walashma rulers are arabic in origin and are even not much common among Somalis. I agree with you though, if they were foreign they would have certainly brought some foreign soldiers and a foreign ruling class that would have survived to this day. The fact they didn't shows that they were probably native horn Africans
 

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Nah. The presence of arab names isn't my issue.
The point is that almost all the names of the Walashma rulers are arabic in origin and are even not much common among Somalis. I agree with you though, if they were foreign they would have certainly brought some foreign soldiers and a foreign ruling class that would have survived to this day. The fact they didn't shows that they were probably native horn Africans

Over 70% of Somalis have Arabic names that's not a definitive proof. I've already shown a couple of sources asserting that Walashma only claimed Arabian origins for legitimate reasons just like the rest of Somali clans and dynasties. It's nothing unique.

It's agreed upon by scholars that they were a native dynasty due to the longevity of the two prominent kingdoms they produced.

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Adal Sultanate was predominantly inhabited by "northern Somalis".

Political Conflict on the Horn of Africa - Page 24:

Although nominally an Arab state , the population of Adal consisted largely of northern Somali , a considerable number of whom fought in the armies of Adal that faced the Ethiopians .

Even Ethiopians themselves agree during the conquest of Abyssinia, it was mostly Somali fighters. [1]

Though Gragn’s ethnicity is disputed by historians, Ethiopians know his army was overwhelmingly manned by ethnic Somalis, and that stings.

The Argobba claim, however, is ridiculous because there is no evidence they were not associated with Adal Sultanate. A few notable scholars have shared their oral traditions but have rejected their claims and mostly leaned towards the Arabian migration or the native claim like descending from Aw Barkhaadle (Somali saint) or a combination of Somali-Arab joint rule.

What's even funnier is the few known Ethiopian historians were quoting a German historian who himself did not agree with the oral traditions. What's even more interesting is Argobba were mostly associated with the Shewa/Shoa Sultanate.

The Origin of Amharic - Page 49: [2]

In fact , the Makzumite sultanate , the first Muslim sultanate founded in Ethiopia around the 9th century , was established in the heartland of Argobba . The " Mahzumi dynasty , which is said to have reigned on a sultanate of Shoa

If you know then you know. Ifat Sultanate conquered Shewa Sultanate to control all trade routes in central Ethiopia that were reaching Somali ports.

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Ethnographic Survey of Africa - Part 4 - Page 143: [3]

in the Shoan highlands , which included the settlement of Northern Argobba , was converted to Islam in 1108 A.D. Thus Argobba country in the twelfth century was either a tributary or an extension of the Sultanate of Ifat

They were basically conquered subjects to the Walashma dynasty and as for Harla/Harala. They were one of the well-established clans living in the eastern Ethiopian highlands. It's more likely they were related to northwestern Somalis or possibly another Somali clan.
 
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If walashma claim to be descendants from Aw baraakhadle is it possibly that they were also Isaaq GX cuz he's shrine is always protected by Ciidagale and Habar Yoonis ?

All this is confusing cuz in Isaaq oral tradition Aw baraakhadle never had offsprings but yet you have an old Somali royal family claiming to be descendented from the dead saint
 

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