Sultanate of Ifat

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Sultanate of Ifat
1285–1415
(130 years)
The Ifat Sultanate in the 14th century.
Capital Zeila
Languages Somali, Harari, Arabic, Afar
Ethio-Semitic
Religion Islam
Government Monarchy
History
 •  Established 1285
 •  Disestablished 1415
(130 years)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Sultanate of Showa
Adal Kingdom
Adal Sultanate
Today part of Horn of Africa

The Sultanate of Ifat was a medieval Muslim state in the eastern regions of the Horn of Africa between the late 13th century and early 15th century.[1][2][3] Led by the Walashma dynasty, it was centered in ancient city of Zeila and Shewa. The kingdom ruled over parts of what are now eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and western Somaliland.

Location

According to Al-Omari, Ifat was a state close to the Red Sea coast, 15 days by 20 days "normal traveling time". The state had a river (Awash River), was well peopled and had an army of 20,000 soldiers and 15,000 horsemen. Al-Omari mentioned seven cities in Ifat: Belqulzar, Kuljura, Shimi, Shewa, Adal, Jamme and Laboo.[4] While reporting that its center was "a place called Walalah, probably the modern Wäläle south of Šäno in the Ěnkwoy valley, about 50 miles ENE of Addis Ababa", G.W.B. Huntingford "provisionally" estimated its southern and eastern boundaries were along the Awash River, the western frontier a line drawn between Medra Kabd towards the Jamma river east of Debre Libanos (which it shared with Damot), and the northern boundary along the Adabay and Mofar rivers.[5] The Al-Omari territorial account of Ifat Sultanate implies a size of 300 kilometers by 400 kilometers, which may be an exaggeration, according to Richard Pankhurst.[6]

According to Taddesse Tamrat, Ifat's borders included Fatagar, Dawaro and Bale. The port of Zeila provided an entry point for trade and served as the most important entry point for Islam into Ethiopian lands. Ifat rulers controlled Zeila, and it was an important commercial and religious base for them.[7]

It was the northernmost of several Muslim states in the Horn of Africa, acting as a buffer between Christian kingdom and the Muslim states along the coastal regions.[1]

History

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Ifat first emerged when Umar ibn Dunya-huz, later to be known as Sultan Umar Walashma, carved out his own kingdom and conquered the Sultanate of Showa (located in the highlands of Eastern Shewa province in Tegulat).[8][1][9] Taddesse Tamrat explains Sultan Walashma's military acts as an effort to consolidate the Muslim territories in the Horn of Africa in much the same way as Emperor Yekuno Amlak was attempting to consolidate the Christian territories in the highlands during the same period.[10]

According to the Arab historian Maqrizi, known for his pro-Islamic version of history written around 1435, Umar was the first Known ruler of Ifat and was appointed by the Emperor of Ethiopia, almost certainly by Emperor Yukuno Amlak.[11] Umar died around 1275, stated Maqrizi, and was succeeded by "four or five sons" with each ruling a short period.[12] Finally, Sabr ad-Din I came to power and he ruled Ifat till the turn of the century. He was succeeded by Sultan Ali, according to Maqrizi, who was the first to revolt against the customary allegiance to the Ethiopian emperor.[12][9]

Conflict with Christians

In 1320 a conflict between the Christian monarch and Muslim Ifat leaders began. The conflict was precipitated by Al-Nasir Muhammad of Egypt.[13] The Mamluk ruler Al-Nasir Muhammad was persecuting Christian Copts and destroying Coptic churches. The Ethiopian Emperor Amda Seyon I sent an envoy with a warning to the Mamluk ruler that if he did not stop the persecution of Christians in Egypt, he would retaliate against Muslims under his rule and would starve the peoples of Egypt by diverting the course of the Nile.[12][14] According to Pankhurst, of the two threats, the diversion of Nile was an idle threat and the Egyptian sultan dismissed it because he likely realized this to be so. The fear that the Ethiopians might tamper with the Nile, states Pankhurst, was nevertheless to remain with Egyptians for many centuries.[12]

As a result of the threats and the dispute between Amda Seyon and Al Nasr, the Sultan of Ifat, Haqq ad-Din I responded,[12] initiating a definite war of aggression.[14] He invaded the Christian Abyssinian territory in the Amhara kingdom, burnt churches and forced apostasy among Christians.[14] He also seized and imprisoned the envoy sent by the Emperor on his way back from Cairo. Haqq ad-Din tried to convert the envoy, killing him when this failed.[14] In response, the irate Emperor raided the inhabitants of all the land of Shewa, much of it inhabited by Muslims at that time, and other districts of Ifat Sultanate.[15] The historical records of that time, depending on which side wrote the history, indicate a series of defeat, destruction and burning of towns of the opposite side.[12] According to the Christian chronicles, a son of the Sultan Ali named Dadader was killed by the Emperor's forces, who was the leader of the Midra Zega and Menz people who were then Muslims.[15][12][14]

In 1332, Sultan Sabr ad-Din, successor and brother of Haqq ad-Din, repeated his predecessor action, blocked Amda Seyon's goods moving in from the coast, confiscated it and arrested the traders interacting with the Emperor. Sabr ad-Din purportedly had decided on a major insurrection against the Christians to "destroy the churches", and rule all the land of Ethiopia.[12][16] He nominated two dozen new governors in anticipation of this rule including for provinces such as Damot, Amhara, Gojjam and others. Sabr ad-Din also proclaimed threats to "convert churches into mosques", convert the Emperor into a Muslim, grow all over Ethiopia a stimulant Khat (Catha edulis) loved by Muslims in his sultanate. This is known as the "Ifat rebellion" in historical documents and was conceived as a jihad or Holy war. The rebellion by Ifat sultanate was joined by several Muslim states in the Horn of Africa such as Dawaro and Hadeya.[12][9]

Ifat was defeated by the troops of Emperor Amda Seyon I in 1332, Ifat was looted by the monarch's soldiers, who then moved to attack the Muslim state of Dawaro. Sabr ad-Din escaped, and realizing the hopelessness of the mission sent a message declaring his willingness to surrender, but finally appeared in person to apologize. The emperor jailed Sabr ad-Din and appointed his brother Jamal ad-Din, previously arrested by Sabr ad-Din, as the king of all the Muslim land. However, state the Christian records of that time, Jamal ad-Din rejoined the alliance of seven Muslim districts: Adal, Mora, Tiqo, Paguma, Labakala, Wargar and Gabala. They re-attacked the Christian monarch's forces. The troops of the Emperor prevailed again, Jamal ad-Din of Ifat sultanate deposed, and Amda Seyon appointed his brother Nasr ad-Din as the new governing sultan.[12][17]

After the era of Amda Seymon, the Muslim rulers of Ifat continued their campaign against the Christian Emperor. His son, Emperor Sayfa Arad appointed Ahmad, also known as Harb Arad ibn Ali as the sultan of Ifat, and put Ali's father and relatives in prison.[18] Sayfa Arad was close to Ahmad and supported his rule, however Ahmad was killed in an Ifat uprising. Ahmad's son Haqq ad-Din II then came to power in Ifat. Internal ruling family struggle in Ifat expelled grandfather Ali's son named Mola Asfah who gathered forces and attacked Ahmad's son. A series of battles affirmed Sultan Haqq ad-Din II position of power.[18] The new Sultan moved away from previous capital of Ifat, to a new town of Wahal. From there, he ceaselessly fought with the Emperor, in over twenty battles through 1370, according to Maqrizi's chronicle written in 1435. The Ifat Sultan Haqq ad-Din II died in a battle in 1376.[18]

According to historian Mordechai Abir, the continued warfare between Ifat Sultanate and the Ethiopian Emperor was a part of the larger geopolitical conflict, where Egypt had arrested Coptic Church's Patriarch Marcos in 1352. This arrest led to retaliatory arrest and imprisonment of all Egyptian merchants in Ethiopia. In 1361, the Egyptian Sultan al-Malik al-Salih released the Patriarch and then sought amicable relations with Ethiopian Emperor. The actions of the Ifat Sultanate and Muslim kingdoms in the Horn of Africa, states Abir, were linked to the Muslim-Christian conflicts between Egypt and Ethiopia.[19]

The end of Ifat sultanate

In 1376, Sultan Sa'ad ad-Din Abdul Muhammad, also called Sa'ad ad-Din II, succeeded his brother and came to power, who continued to attack the Abyssinian Christian army. He attacked regional chiefs such as at Zalan and Hadeya, who supported the Emperor.[20] According to Mordechai Abir, Sa'ad ad-Din II raids against the Ethiopian empire were largely hit-and-run type, which hardened the resolve of the Christian ruler to end the Muslim rule in their east.[19] In the early 15th century, the Ethiopian Emperor who was likely Dawit collected a large army to respond.[20] He branded the Muslims of the surrounding area "enemies of the Lord", and invaded Ifat. After much war, Ifat's troops were defeated. Sultan Sa'ad ad-Din subsequently fled to Zeila.[20][21] The Ethiopian Emperor's soldiers pursued him there, where they slayed him. The sources disagree on which Emperor conducted this campaign. According to the medieval historian al-Makrizi, Emperor Dawit I in 1403 pursued the Sultan of Adal, Sa'ad ad-Din II, to Zeila, where he killed the Sultan and sacked the city. However, another contemporary source dates the death of Sa'ad ad-Din II to 1415, and credits Emperor Yeshaq with the slaying.[22]

The Sultanate of Ifat eventually disappeared as the Christian kingdom expanded. Adal Sultanate with its capital of Harar emerged in the southeastern areas as the leading Muslim principality in latter part of the 14th century.[23] Several small territories continued to be ruled by different Walasma groups up to the eighteenth century.[24] By eighteenth century several Christian dynasties named Yifat and Menz, which were the province names of Ifat sultanate, were established.[25] Presently, its name is preserved in the modern-day Ethiopian district of Yifat, situated in Shewa.

People

Ifat or Yifat, once the easternmost district of Shewa Sultanate, is located in a strategic position between the central highlands and the Sea, and includes diverse population.[9][26] It's predecessor state Shewa Sultanate is believed to be the first inland Muslim state and by the time it was incorporated into Ifat much of the inhabitants of Shewa land were Muslims.[26][12] According to the chronicle of Shewa Sultanate converting the inhabitants in the area begun in 1108, and the first to convert were the Gbbh people whom Trimingham suggested them being the ancestors of Argobbas.[27] A few years later after the conversion of the Gbbh people, the chronicle of Shewa sultanate mentions that in 1128 the Amhara fled from the land of Werjih people. The Werjih were a pastoral people, and in the fourteenth century they occupied the Awash Valley east of Shewan Plateau.[28]

By mid fourteenth century, Islam expanded in the region and the inhabitants north of Awash river were the Muslim people of Zaber and Midra Zega (located south of modern Merhabete); the Gabal (or Warjeh people today called Tigri Worji); and much of the inhabitants of north Shewa Amhara such as Tegulat, Ankober, Yifat and Menz people were Muslims at that time.[29][30][31] Tegulat, previously the capital of Shewa Sultanate, is situated on a mountain 24 km north of Debre Berhan and was known by Muslims as Mar'ade.[32][33][8] The chronicle of Amda Tsion even mentions Khat being widely consumed by Muslims in the city of Marade.[34] Tegulat, later became the seat of Emperor Amde Tsion, thereby, making it the capital of the empire. The emperor then appointed the descendants of Walasmas as the king of all the Muslim lands.[35]

Ifat's inhabitants, according to Nehemia Levtzion and Randall Pouwels, includes nomadic groups such as Afars, Somalis and Werjih people whom were most likely Muslims by thirteenth century, and some of these nomadic Cushitic-speaking groups and the sedentary agriculturalist Semitic-speaking people such as the no-longer-extant Harala and the Harari were the population of the leading principality of Ifat.[36][9] Other scholars, based on Al Umari's account stating the inhabitants of Ifat spoke Abyssinian, suggest that the inhabitants spoke Ethiopian Semitic languages likely Amharic.[37][27]

Language

According to the 14th-century historian Al-Umari, the people of Ifat spoke "Abyssinian and Arabic". J. D. Fage suggests that the 'Abyssinian' in this assertion denotes an Ethio-Semitic language.[38]

However, the 19th century Ethiopian historian Asma Giyorgis suggests that the Walashma themselves spoke Arabic.[39]

See also

Notes

References

  1. ^ a b c The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (1998). Ifat: historical state. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-01-16. 
  2. ^ J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, Religions of the World, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, page 2663
  3. ^ Asafa Jalata, State Crises, Globalisation, And National Movements In North-east Africa page 3-4
  4. ^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The Glorious Victories of Ameda Seyon, King of Ethiopia (Oxford: University Press, 1965), p. 20.
  5. ^ G.W.B. Huntingford, The historical geography of Ethiopia from the first century AD to 1704, (Oxford University Press: 1989), p. 76
  6. ^ Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 46
  7. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (1270–1527) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 83-84.
  8. ^ a b Niall Finneran The Archaeology of Ethiopia - Google Books" Routledge, 2013. p. 254.
  9. ^ a b c d e David H. Shinn, Thomas P. Ofcansky Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia - Google Books" Scarecrow Press, 2013. p. 225.
  10. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State, p. 125
  11. ^ Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 48
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 40-45.
  13. ^ Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 40.
  14. ^ a b c d e J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia - Google Books" (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), p. 70-71.
  15. ^ a b Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. pp. 41
  16. ^ Edward Ullendorff (1966), The Glorious Victories of 'Amda Ṣeyon, King of Ethiopia, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Cambridge University Press, Vol. 29, No. 3 (1966), pp. 600-611
  17. ^ The Glorious Victories, p. 107.
  18. ^ a b c Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 49-50
  19. ^ a b Mordechai Abir (2013). Ethiopia and the Red Sea: The Rise and Decline of the Solomonic Dynasty and Muslim European Rivalry in the Region. Routledge. pp. 25–27. ISBN 978-1-136-28090-0. 
  20. ^ a b c Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 50-52
  21. ^ Ewald Wagner (1991), The Genealogy of the later Walashma' Sultans of Adal and Harar, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Vol. 141, No. 2 (1991), pp. 376-386
  22. ^ J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952), p. 74 and note explains the discrepancy in the sources.
  23. ^ Terje Østebø (2011). Localising Salafism: Religious Change Among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia. BRILL Academic. p. 57. ISBN 90-04-18478-3. 
  24. ^ John T. Hinnant Proceedings of the First United States Conference on Ethiopian Studies - Google Books" Michigan State University, 1975. p. 191.
  25. ^ John T. Hinnant Proceedings of the First United States Conference on Ethiopian Studies - Google Books" Michigan State University, 1975. p. 191.
  26. ^ a b Nehemia Levtzion, Randall Pouwels The History of Islam in Africa - Google Books" Ohio University Press, 2000. p. 228.
  27. ^ a b J. D. Fage, Roland Oliver The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3 - Google Books" Cambridge University Press, 1975. p. 107.
  28. ^ J. D. Fage, Roland Oliver The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3 - Google Books" Cambridge University Press, 1975. p. 107.
  29. ^ Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission Perspectives Des Études Africaines Contemporaines: Rapport Final D'un Symposium International - Google Books" 1974. p. 269.
  30. ^ Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 41-42.
  31. ^ S. L. Seaton, Henri J. Claessen Political Anthropology: The State of the Art - Google Books" Walter de Gruyter, 1979. p. 157.
  32. ^ George Wynn Brereton Huntingford The Historical Geography of Ethiopia: From the First Century Ad to 1704 - Google Books" British Academy, 1989. p. 78.
  33. ^ George Wynn Brereton Huntingford The Historical Geography of Ethiopia: From the First Century Ad to 1704 - Google Books" British Academy, 1989. p. 80.
  34. ^ Maurice Randrianame, B. Shahandeh, Kalman Szendrei, Archer Tongue, International Council on Alcohol and Addictions The health and socio-economic aspects of khat use - Google Books" The Council, 1983. p. 26.
  35. ^ Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 44.
  36. ^ Nehemia Levtzion, Randall Pouwels The History of Islam in Africa - Google Books" Ohio University Press, 2000. p. 228.
  37. ^ Richard Pankhurst The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century - Google Books" The Red Sea Press, 1997. p. 45-46.
  38. ^ Fage, J.D (2010). "The Cambridge History of Africa: From c. 1050 to c. 1600". ISIM Review. UK: Cambridge University Press (Spring 2005): 146–147. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  39. ^ Giyorgis, Asma (1999). Aṣma Giyorgis and his work: history of the Gāllā and the kingdom of Šawā. Medical verlag. p. 257. ISBN 9783515037167. 
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