Abadir ibn Musa ibn Warwa’Jecle (Somali: Abaadir Muuse Warwaaqjecle) dubbed as the principal patron saint and first Emir of Harar, was the most celebrated Somali figure and one of the earliest propagators of Islam in the city of Harar. He introduced Islam at a very early period, before the Abyssinians (Ethiopians) first gained a footing there.
Abadir with a group of companions entered Harar in the mid-13th century with the primary purpose of proselytizing the local inhabitants. After marrying a Harari woman, he subsequently built the famous mosque, known as the Jamia site, which until this day stands tall albeit renovated.
After years of preaching, he instructed the converted local tribes to elect one of his companions as their leader, a direct instruction that agitated and ignited the non-Muslim tribes to take up arms, due fear of Islam’s rapid expansion.
Abadir crushed the rebellion with the aid of his followers and after the final victory; he transferred the control of the conquered land to this companions, whilst staking a claim to the town of Harar for himself. According to oral tradition it was Abadir who created the five district neighbourhoods associated to the five city gates from which their names are derived
Abadir used his influence to revamp the region’s social structure. Abadir renamed the land to “Harar” or “Bander Abadir” and its inhabitants “Hararis”. This was in an effort to unite the local Muslim ethnic populace in to a single umbrella identity, the “Harari Muslim”. Abadir was instrumental in forming the confederation of Muslim states called Zayla, which stretched from Shoa (south of Wello) to Somalia (including Djibouti), and had Harar as its capitol.
In 1234/35, Abadir and several of his companions left Harar for a pilgrimage to Mecca, where they stayed until 1279. Prior to his departure, Abadir handed the emirate over to his brother Abdurahim Musa WarWaje’le (Somali: Cabdiraxiin Muuse Warwaajecle) and some of his companions to govern the region in his absence.
Upon his return, he found the region devastated by the Portuguese and its inhabitants engulfed and weakened by internal strives. Some of his companions including his brother fell in the wars against the “Portuguese” or died in other ways. Abadir re-united and re-organized the demoralised Harari troops and pushed the Portuguese back beyond the boundaries of Zayla.
There is some uncertainty about his death. Local accounts dictate that he died the natural death whilst other reports mention that he was assassinated. However, what is indisputable is that Abadir achieved a fame and status that extended far beyond the Harar region in Muslim Ethiopia. In Harar, several songs in veneration of Abadir are still extant.
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2. P. Paulitschke, “Harar Forschungsreise nach den Somâl- und Galla-Ländern Ost-Afrikas”, Leipzig Brockhaus 1888
3. S. Uhlig, “Encyclopaedia Aethiopica”, Harrassowitz, 2003
4. Società geografica italiana, “Bollettino della Società geografica italiana”, 1891
5. Goverment publications, “Nuova antologia”, 1894