Imam Ahmad was born near Zeila, a port city located in northwestern Somalia (then part of Adal, a Muslim state tributary to the Christian Ethiopian Solomonic dynasty), and married Bati del Wambara, the daughter of Mahfuz, governor 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 the previous year 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 maintained the discipline of most of his men, defeating Emperor Lebna Dengel at Shimbra Kure that March
The chronicle of Imam Ahmad's invasion of Ethiopia is depicted in various Somali, Ethiopian and other foreign sources. Imam Ahmad campaigned in Ethiopia in 1531, breaking Emperor Lebna Dengel's ability to resist in the Battle of Amba Sel on October 28. The Muslim army of Imam Ahmad then marched northward 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. On reaching Axum, he destroyed the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, in which the Ethiopian emperors had for centuries been crowned.
The Ethiopians were forced to ask for help from the Portuguese, who landed at the port of Massawa on February 10, 1541, during the reign of the emperor Gelawdewos. The force was led by Cristóvão da Gama and included 400 musketeers as well as a number of artisans and other non-combatants. Da Gama and Imam Ahmad met on April 1, 1542 at Jarte, which Trimingham has identified with Anasa, between Amba Alagi and Lake Ashenge. Here the Portuguese had their first glimpse of Ahmad, as recorded by Castanhoso:
While his camp was being pitched, the king of Zeila [Imam Ahmad] ascended a hill with several horse and some foot to examine us: he halted on the top with three hundred horse and three large banners, two white with red moons, and one red with a white moon, which always accompanied him, and [by] which he was recognized.
On April 4, after the two unfamiliar armies had exchanged messages and stared at each other for a few days, da Gama formed his troops into an infantry square and marched against the Imam's lines, repelling successive waves of Muslim attacks with musket and cannon. This battle ended when Imam Ahmad was wounded in the leg by a chance shot; seeing his banners signal retreat, the Portuguese and their Ethiopian allies fell upon the disorganized Muslims, who suffered losses but managed to reform next to the river on the distant side.
Over the next several days, Imam Ahmad's forces were reinforced by arrivals of fresh troops. Understanding the need to act swiftly, da Gama on April 16 again formed a square which he led against Imam Ahmad's camp. Although the Muslims fought with more determination than two weeks earlier -- their horse almost broke the Portuguese square -- an opportune explosion of some gunpowder traumatized the horses on the Imam's side, and his army fled in disorder. Castanhoso laments that "the victory would have been complete this day had we only one hundred horses to finish it: for the King was carried on men's shoulders in a bed, accompanied by horsemen, and they fled in no order."
Reinforced by the arrival of the Bahr negus Yeshaq, da Gama marched southward after Imam Ahmad's force, coming within sight of him ten days later. However, the onset of the rainy season prevented da Gama from engaging Ahmad a third time. On the advice of Queen Sabla Wengel, da Gama made winter camp at Wofla near Lake Ashenge, still within sight of his opponent, while the Imam made his winter camp on Mount Zobil.
Knowing that victory lay in the number of firearms an army had, the Imam sent to his fellow Muslims for help. According to Abbé Joachim le Grand, Imam Ahmad received 2000 musketeers from Arabia, and artillery and 900 picked men from the Ottomans to assist him. Meanwhile, due to casualties and other duties, da Gama's force was reduced to 300 musketeers. After the rains ended, Imam Ahmad attacked the Portuguese camp and through weight of numbers killed all but 140 of da Gama's troops. Da Gama himself, badly wounded, was captured with ten of his men and, after refusing an offer to spare his life if he would convert to Islam, was executed.
The survivors and Emperor Gelawdewos were afterward able to join forces and, drawing on the Portuguese supplies, attacked Ahmad on February 21, 1543 in the Battle of Wayna Daga, where their 9,000 troops managed to defeat the 15,000 soldiers under Imam Ahmad. The Imam was killed by a Portuguese musketeer, who was mortally wounded in avenging da Gama's death.
His wife Bati del Wambara managed to escape the battlefield with a remnant of the Turkish soldiers, and they made their way back to Harar, where she rallied his followers. Intent on avenging her husband's death, she married his nephew Nur ibn Mujahid on condition that Nur would avenge Imam Ahmad's defeat.
Nur ibn Mujahid ibn 'Ali ibn 'Abdullah al Dhuhi Suha (Somali: Nuur ibn Muujahiid, Arabic: نور بن مجاهد) (literally, "the morning star"; died 1567), of the Ahl Suhawyan division of the Marehan branch of the Somali Darod clan, was Emir of Harar in the 16th century. Marrying the widow of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (also known as Ahmed Gurey and Ahmad Gragn), he also succeeded Imam Ahmad as leader of the Muslim forces fighting Christian Ethiopia.
Considered the patron saint of Harar, Mujahid was called the Sahib al-Fath at-Thani, or "Master of the Second Conquest". When Imam Ahmad, who had led the Muslim conquest of the Ethiopian highlands, was killed in 1543, the Muslim forces fell back in confusion to Harar. Nur, the dead leader's sister's son, married Ahmad Gragn's firebrand widow, Bati del Wambara, and undertook to renew the fortunes of the Muslim city, which had been sacked in 1550. Promoted to Emir around 1550-51, he spent the next two years reorganizing his forces, and constructing the wall which still surrounds the city.
In 1554-55, Nur departed on a Jihad, or Holy War, in the eastern Ethiopian lowlands of Bale, and Hadiya. In 1559, he invaded Fatagar, where he fought against the Ethiopian emperor Galawdewos, and killed him in battle. Nur continued fighting for 12 years until, according to legend, at Gibe he said "Kaffa!", or "Enough!", and returned to Harar. Some believe the province is called Kaffa for this reason.
During Nur's absence, Harar witnessed internal power struggles, and the unlucky city was disturbed by encroaching Oromo clans. It was at this time that the walls of Harar were built; tradition attributes them to Nur ibn Mujahid with the help of two chiefs, Ahu Abadir and Ahu 'Ali. By 1567, repeated Oromo raids had brought famine to the city. Nur left the city for three months on a punitive raid against the invaders. On his return he found an epidemic afflicting Harar, and he himself died of typhus that year.
Sa'id left Mogadishu as a teenager to study in Mecca and Medina, where he remained for 28 years gathering knowledge and gaining many disciples. His reputation as a scholar earned him audiences with the Amirs of Mecca and Medina.
Sa'id is said to have afterwards travelled across the Muslim world and visited Bengal and China. During his stay at a mosque on the westcoast of India, he encountered fellow Muslim traveller Ibn Battuta to whom, according to scholar Peter Jackson, he might have divulged accounts of his travels in China and detailed the political landscape and succession of the Yuan Dynasty, information which Battuta would eventually add in his own chronicles.
Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti (1753-1825) was a Somali-Egyptian Muslim scholar and chronicler who spent most of his life in Cairo.
While little is known of his life, according to Franz Steiner, al-Jabarti was born in the village of Tell el Gabarti in the northern Delta province of Beheira, while Abdulkader Saleh states that al-Jabarti was born in Cairo. According to al-Jabarti's writings, his name comes from his "seventh-degree grandfather," Abd al-Rahman, who was the earliest member of his family known to him. Abd al-Rahman was from the al-Jabart region in Zeila, modern Somalia and visited the Jabarti communities in Mecca and Medina before making it to Egypt where he became Sheikh of the Riwaq there and head of the Jabarti community.
Trained as a shaykh at al-Azhar University, al-Jabarti began keeping a monthly chronicle of events in Cairo. This chronicle, which is generally known in English simply as al-Jabarti's History of Egypt, and known in Arabic as Aja'ib al-athar fi al-tarajim wal-akhbar (عجائب الاَثار في التراجم والاخبار), became a world-famous historical text by virtue of its eyewitness accounts of Napoleon's invasion and Muhammad Ali's seizure of power. The entries from his chronicle dealing with the French expedition and occupation have been excerpted and compiled in English as a separate volume entitled Napoleon in Egypt.
Les vestiges les plus importants de cette ancienne civilisation, qui sont encore debout, mais en train de s'effondrer, se trouvent au nord de l'Éthiopie, dans la région du Tigré. Le royaume axoumite fut établi dans cette région dès le premier siècle de notre ère. Au cours du IVe siècle, il accepta le christianisme comme religion officielle et, à l'apogée de son pouvoir, il constituait l'un des quatre grands royaumes du monde (Axum, Rome, Chine, Perse).
L'empire dominait une vaste région (de la Corne de l'Afrique au sud de la péninsule arabique) ; ses marchands entretenaient des relations commerciales avec le monde gréco-romain ainsi qu'avec l'Inde. Les vestiges les plus importants sont des stèles monolithiques pré-chrétiennes, quelques ruines de palais et la tombe du roi Khaleb, dont les fouilles sont en cours. Les stèles furent érigées à l'origine comme des monuments funéraires et actuellement 200 ont été mises au jour. Elles sont de tailles différentes. Six d'entre elles portent des décorations qui représentent des maisons à plusieurs étages. Celle qui fait 21 mètres de haut est toujours debout mais penche dangereusement.