The Military of Adal (Arabic: سلطنة عدال) was the core of the Adal Sultanates during the 16th century. The Sultanates Military, the bulk being the Somalis[1] is reported to have equipped a high level of discipline, strategic prowess and Organization, granting them successive victories in their various campaigns in the Conquest of Abyssinian. In its time in the 16th century Adal Sultanates Military was a very powerful and an effective force. The most successful generals of Adal's military were Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi and his right hand and brother in law Garad Matan ibn Al Somali.[2] The Conquest of Abyssinian led to the Islamisation of nearly half of Ethiopia. The Chronicle of Adal's Conquest of Abyssinian is depicted in various Arabic, Abyssinian and other foreign sources an example being "Futuh Al Habesh" by Arab Faqih.

Military of Adal
سلطنة عدال
AllegianceAdal Sultanate
TypeLand Force
Motto(s)أشْهَدُ أنْ لا الهَ الاّ الله
Ceremonial chief

Historical Overview edit

In the 16th century the Adal Sultanate embarked on a Conquest of Abyssiniathe troops were recruited from all over Adal. The vast majority of the Adals military were Somalis with some Harla tribes, the list of Adalite generals who participated in the conquest are mentioned such as Matan ibn Uthman Al Somali and his brother in law Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi. Despite the enormous size of the Abyssinian Army the Adalite forces was able to inflict a devastating defeat on the Abyssinian Christians and routed them completely, Richard Pankhurst an Ethiopianist attributed Adal's victory to the use of firearms which the Ethiopians were not accustomed to. This battle was probably the first time Ethiopian forces had to fight against a force equipped with firearms.

Battle of Shimbara Kura edit

The Battle of Shimbara Kura was one of the bloodiest battles in Adal Sultanates Military History. In this battle the Adalites were significantly outnumbered. One of the informants of the Imam who went by the name "Haibi" was revealed later on the amount of forces Lebna Dengel had, it was 16,000 cavalry with 200,000 foot soldiers while the Adalites were a total of 12,000 troops with Somalis making the large majority in this Battle.[3]

Arab faqih notes:

"Each of the infidel lines was five times bigger than that of the Muslims who were like the white birth mark on the hide of a black bull"[4]

The Imam before the battle organised his battle formation and the Muslim Adalites prayed two Rak’at prayers 2 fold prostrations The imam right before the battle organised his formation he split the Adalites into three The right flank was held by the Harla tribes The left flank which was the largest  was held by the Somali Adalites under the brother in law of the imam, Garad Matan bin uthman the Somali who was married to his sister fardawsa The middle flank was the elite malasay troops being led by the imam Ahmed while Hamaza Al Jufi  lead the imams infantry he later was martyred in the battle. One of the Muslims gave the adalites a fiery speech encouraging the adalites to fight[5]

O band of Muslims, paradise is beautifully ornamented  and Hell-fire is shut tight. The angels are gazing down, The Houris with wide black eyes are preening themselves rejoice at this prospect[6]

Lebna Dengel charged his troops they began attacking the Muslims it was bloody battle, they began attacking the right flank but the Muslims managed to resist them On the left flank the Somalis were hugely outnumbered they fought a bloody battle against the Abyssinians but were overwhelmed due to the left flank being outnumbered, Some of Somalis retreated but 3000 of them were killed. Holding Firm & not retreating was Garad Matan Bin Uthman  & Ahmed Gerri Bin Hussein The battle intensified went on until cloud dusts formed no one could see each other some of Abyssinians mistakenly attacked each other. The fighting continued until The Adalites managed to ambush them & push them out[7]

Arab Faqih credits the Somalis for fighting a fine jihad

Their chieftains, however, stood firm: Mattan bin 'Utman the Somali,brother-in-law of the imam Ahmad, may the Most High God have mercy upon him, fought a fine jihad. Holding firm with him was Ahmad Girri and Ali Garad, Mattan's brother and Farasaham Tal, brother of Beara; and 'Ali MadJira from the tribe of Mattan; and Husain Musa Bin *Abd Allah Makida; and Yussef Latahia, from the tribe of Ahmad Girti. Their achievements this day truly are God's doing.[8]

Battle of Antukyah edit

In 1531 the Adalites was able to inflict a crushing defeat on the Abyssinians during the Battle of Antukyah which allowed the Adalites to Conquer Fatager and Shewa. Adalite forces killed and captured Elite patricians, Among the famous patricians was the governor of Begmeder Azmac Yeshaq who was killed by a Somali called Ali Madajir who was from the tribe of Matan ibn uthman the Somali,[9] The number of patricians killed was staggering, the futuh reports exactly 130 Amhara and Tigrayan patricians were killed[10] Then the Imam dispatched his right-hand man and brother in law Garad Matan Al Somali who then conquered Eastern Shewa then General Matan Al Somali drove his adalite forces and conquered Bete Amhara ( House Of Amhara ) by the end of the year Dawit II fell back behind the Abay River to seek refuge in Gojjam much deeper into the highlands.

Battle of Badeqe edit

Badeqe was the residence of king wanag sagad, after the Muslims had burnt the church of the king the Muslims wanted to proceed to conquer the town of they entered the city they were met by the kings patricians under them were an army. the imam instructed his troops to not hasten, he commanded wazir addoli to find a suitable place for calvary and battle.

As they drew closer to the city they a met river crossing which split the Muslims and Christians, the imam split his forces into three. the middle passing of the river was under the imam. in the right passing he put his brother in law, Garaad Matan on the left was the Somali archers whom were the marehan. the Muslims under the unit of Matan fought a bloody battle

Arab faqih explains

The unit under Mattan fought a bloody battle at the right-hand crossing.Sometimes they attacked the infidels, and sometimes the infidels attacked the Muslims who drove them back. They were tireless in this,from the time of the forenoon prayer, until the afternoon prayer time.[11]

The Muslims continued fighting but the nomadic harla tribes proved to be unreliable as they fled from battle the imam after went after them with the help of is generals until the night separated, in the following morning some of the forces fighting with the imam in the middle flank fled from battle the imam subsequently delt with them by chasing after them, while the imam was chasing the deserters. some of the abyssians suggested to go after them but king assumed that it was ploy by them. the Muslims had surrounded and occupied a mountain the abyssinans charged towards the Muslims, they ambushed and encircled the Abyssinians killing them all. Arab faqih describes

Some of the infidel forces,when they saw the rout of the Muslims, outdistanced them and occupied a mountain along their route. The Muslims arrived at the mountain and saw the infidels on its summit. Immediately they encircled it, and killed the infidels, all of them. Not one of them escaped.

Battle of Dakan Dur edit

They had arrived at the Gurage gates after not spending the night there and they engaged in conventional engagements with some idol worshipping Abyssinians, after the events the imam proceeded to go Canopus on route to Dakan Dur to look for the king of Abyssinia. when the imam and his army arrived they came across three gates with thorns decorated around them

When the imam arrived there he found three gates, into which trees and briars had been squeezed until they were blocked up. He ordered some of his foot-soldiers, commanded by Samsu, to place their shields over the trees and thorns and to walk on top of the shields, thus passing through the gate, and entering the place they so dearly sought. After they had opened the gate, they moved aside all the trees that had been blocking it, and then the imam and all his army went through.

after the Muslims had passed the gate suddenly the king of Abyssinia told the people of tegre to stop the Muslims from advancing past the gate, they set out after the Muslims. Approaching them from the side, the imam and his army went through. the Muslims made a sudden change and u turned to charge at the Abyssinians. Arab faqih writes

When the latter saw them, some of the Muslim cavalry headed in their direction, among them the sheikh Mika'el son of the sheikh Dajnah, Mattan the Somali, Saidi Muhammed, 'Abd an-Nasr, Ura'i Abun, the emir Abu Bakr, Ura'i 'Utman bin 'Ali and Kabir Muhammad, and about forty other horsemen of their ilk They galloped through a valley there and met up with the Christians.The Muslims charged into the idol-worshippers and the ferocious battle that the troops ensued was unprecedented.[12] the Adalites engaged in a conventional battle killing and capturing the patricians most of them were taken as prisoners.

Battle Of Wofla edit

The Battle of Wofla was a decisive battle fought in 1542 August near a lake called Ashenge in Wofla. The Portuguese under Cristóvão da Gama and the forces of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi. Reinforced with a superiority not only in numbers but in firearms, Imam Ahmad was again victorious which resulted in the Portuguese, along with Queen Seble Wongel to flee their fortified encampment and leave their weapons behind.

While fleeing the battlefield with 14 soldiers, Cristóvão da Gama had broken his arm from a bullet in battle, he was shortly then was captured at night by the adalite soldiers of Imam Ahmad. However other accounts differ and state Gama had stayed behind to look for a woman he had captured at the Battle of the Hill of the Jews with whom he became infatuated. Nonetheless, he was brought to the Imam Ahmad whom he tortured and then shortly executed De Gama this served as huge blow for the Portuguese.[13]

Demographics edit

Writer and historian Arab faqih describes how easily the Somalis joined the jihad against the abyssinians, the imam before the jihad rallied his Somali army to war the imam had discussed with Somali clan leaders rallying them to jihad. Arab faqih articulates the large quantity of Somalis joining the jihad. scholars have all attributated the victories of imam ahmed to the Somalis who made up the bulk of the adalite army. notably enough the Somali clan named habar maqdi brought the largest army to battle numbering 2000 men Arab faqih goes on to describe them as ' ferrcious lions raveging'

Arab Faqih describes

Two of the messengers returned from their journey bearing good news about the arrival of the Somali tribes. No oneread your letter read out,' the two of them said,without responding obediently to the Most High God.They have responded to your plea. Great numbers of them have equipped themselves with armour made from chain rings with overlapping tiers. The tribes have followed one another, kinsfolk in the footsteps of kinsfolk, tribe in the footsteps of tribe.[14]

out of the 7000 soldiers the imam

Hamaza Al Jufi argubly one of the most bravest adalites for the imam was an Arab and was the infantry leader during the battle of shimbara kura. the writer Arab faqih attributes him as brave character. in the battle of shimbara kura Hamza al Jufi couldn't contain himself from battle until the adalites had to hold him back telling him to ' be patient ', Arab faqih goes on to describe the Somalis just like Hamaza al jufi recognizing the bravery of the Somalis.

Arab faqih writes:

Now, about Hamzah al-Jufi: when he saw the infidels he could not have restrained himself from doing battle, had it not been for two of the Muslims foot-soldiers who held on to him. He became as excited as a camel in heat, craving for battle and for the jihad, and for the pleasure of the Lord of mankind, that he might grant him his heart's desire. The whole tribe of Harti was like him. The Muslims had to hold them back, saying to them, 'Be patient until the infidels get closer to you'.

Contmemporary writers have also noted that the biggest support imam ahmed received were from the Somalis, notably the Geri koombe, a Somali clan who were his immidiatede in laws had supported the imam heavily. famously his right-hand man and brother Garad Matan married his sister, her name being fardowsa. Garad matan also styled as ' Garad Matan the Somali ' was described as the imam ahmed al Ghazi most capable general by I.M Lewis[2]

Documented Somali clans rallying the imam in futuh al habesh with the size of their army along with the nomadic tribe called zarba

Hassan Ali Jama Writes

Imam Ahmed Garan overthrew the "Sa'daddin dynasty in Berbera on religious reform terms prior to launching his Islamic rebellion against the Christian monarchies reign over Abyssinia. Somali tribes, especially the Geri Amlaleh of the Darod clan who became his immediate in-laws, were lined up behind him[15]

Oxford history of Islam explains the demographics of the Adalite military, the Adalite military consisted mainly Somalis who formed the majority of Adals military. the sultanate also recruited nomadic tribes such as zarba. many contemporary writers have all agreed that adal military was mainly Somalis.[1]

Oxford history of Islam writes

the principalities became tributary to Ethiopia. The sultanate of Adal, which emerged as the major Muslim principality from 1420 to 1560, seems to have recruited its military force mainly from among the Somalis. In its wars with the Christian state of Ethiopia[1]

I.M Lewis writes

Somali forces contributed much to the Imām’s victories. Shihāb ad-Dīn, the Muslim chronicler of the period, writing between 1540 and 1560, mentions them frequently (Futūḥ al-Ḥabasha, ed. And trs. R. Besset Paris, 1897). The most prominent Somali groups in the campaigns were the Geri, Marrehān, and Harti – all Dārod clans. Shihāb ad-Dīn is very vague as to their distribution and grazing areas, but describes the Harti as at the time in possession of the ancient eastern port of Mait.[16]

David Hatcher has also articulated the imams ethnicity verifying that the imam was Somali

popularly known in Ethiopia as Ahmed Gragn (the left-handed) who was a Somali imam and general of the Adal Sultanate. Several times Ahmed Gragn left his fortress town of Harar and marched his Muslim army north[17]

Raphael Chijioke writes

Leader Imam Ahmed Gurey and his Somali armies defeat the Ethiopians. The Portuguese come to Ethiopia's aid[18]

Abdullahi Haji writes

The first movement was led by Ahmed Gurey (Somalis call him Imam Ahmed Gurey; Gurey means left-handed). In then sixteenth century, he led the Somali army during the ongoing regional wars between Somalis and Ethiopians[19].

John Maszka writes

With the aid of the Ottomans, the Somali imam, Ahmed ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (also known as Ahmed Guray in Somali which means “Ahmed the left-handed”), captured nearly three quarters of the Abyssinian Kingdom[20]

Edmond J Keller writes

Led by the charismatic Somali leader Ahmad Gran or known as Imam Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El - Ghazi a coalition of Muslim invaders consisting mainly of Somali pastoral warriors waged a jihad ( holy war ) in 1527 against the Christian solomonics,[21]

Etymology edit

Adal is believed to be an abbreviation of Havilah an ancient Somali civilisation mentioned in the bible.[22] In the thirteenth century an Arab explorer and writer al-Dimashqi documents about a northern Somali city called Zeila,[23] and actually referred it by its Somali name "Awdal" (Somali: "Awdal").[24] The modern Awdal region of northern Somalia, which served the capital city of the Adal Sultanate. Sultan Sa'ad ad-Din II had his administrations in zeila name. Locally the empire was known to the Muslims as Bar Sa'ad ad-din meaning "The country of Sa'ad ad-din" in reference to the Sultan Sa'ad ad-Din II, who was killed in Zeila while fighting the Ethiopian Emperor Dawit I.[25]

Weaponry edit

The Adal soldiers wore elaborate helmets and steel armour made up of chain-mail with overlapping tiers. The Horsemen of Adal wore protective helmets that covered the entire face except for the eyes, and breastplates on their body, while they harnessed their horses in a similar fashion. In siege warfare, ladders were employed to scale buildings and other high positions such as hills and mountains.among the calvary, The Somalis were renowned and skilled in their calvary

Arab faqih states Somalis were renowned horsemen

The storyteller, may God have mercy upon him, says: On the left was the Somali tribe of Harti, from the people of Mait; a people not given to yielding. There were three-hundred of them, famous among the infantry as stolid swordsmen. In the same way there was the tribe of Yibberi, around four-hundred infantrymen, archers. So the imam attached them to the five-hundred who held the centre, saying to them, 'Hold your positions; don't budge, anyone of you.' The tribe of Girri were all horsemen, renowned as riders.[5] arab faqih was very explicit in explaing the wide range of weapons used by adalites for exapmple arab faqih further goes on to describe Ahmed Girri Bin Hussein al somali and his habar maqdi army arab faqih writes

The first of the tribes to reach the imam was Habr Maqdi with their lord and chieftain Ahmad Girri bin Husain, the Somali. They encamped in a place called Qasa in the heights above the valley of Harar. They showed off their equipment and their weapons, and paraded their horses. They were knights, and what knights! And they were foot-soldiers; and what foot- soldiers! The imam rejoiced at their arrival exceedingly. They met the imam face to face, and he welcomed them with the warmest of welcomes. He gave them gifts of apparel, and provisions, and treated them graciously, garbing their chieftain, Ahmad Girri Bin Hussein, in particularly exquisite clothing.[26]

Malassay edit

Elite unit of military warriors in the Adal army was branded with the title Malassay or Malachai these were special adalite troops,notoble malassay troops among them was Garad Dhaweyd Al Bartirre and Absame Nur who was listed among the renowned and elite honorable knights. The term often became synonymous with Muslims in Adal to outsiders, but it did not denote to a tribe, a Malasāy is not born He is given this title of malasai after demonstrating his military abilities in short you will have to qualify yourself into a malasai

Arab faqih writes

Ten knights renowned for their courage, went on to the land of Sarkah Del Sagad, Takla, Ura'i Nür bin Där 'Ali, Abjad bin Abun, Garad Dawit al-Bartirri, Jinah Satut from the people of Sim, Yussef, Saidi Muhammad bin 'Ali al-Bagari whose father was an Arab - he had been the treasurer for the Imam, and was lord of Dawaro - and Abu Bakr bin Yamag Ahmad[27]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Oxford History of Islam. p. 501. ISBN 9780199880416.
  2. ^ a b I.M, Lewis. A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. LIT. p. 16. ISBN 9780852552803.
  3. ^ arab faqih, sihab adin. Conquest of Abyssinia. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-9723172-5-2.
  4. ^ futuh Al Habash. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-9723172-5-2.
  5. ^ a b adin arab faqih, sihab. Conquest Of Abyssinia. p. 76. ISBN 9780-9723172-5-2.
  6. ^ conquest of Abyssinia. p. 80. ISBN 9780-9723172-5-2.
  7. ^ arab faqih, sihab adin. Futuh al habesh. ISBN 9780-9723172-5-2.
  8. ^ Arab Faqih, Sihab Din. Conquest of abyssinia Futuh Al Habasa. pp. 81–82. ISBN 9780-9723172-5-2.
  9. ^ conquest of abyssinia. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-9723172-5-2.
  10. ^ ʿArabfaqīh, Šihāb ad-Dīn Aḥmad Ibn ʿAbd al-Qādir; Stenhouse, Paul Lester; Pankhurst, Richard; ʿArabfaqīh, Šihāb ad-Dīn Aḥmad Ibn ʿAbd al-Qādir (2003). Futūḥ Al-Ḥabaša: the conquest of Abyssinia (16th century). Tsehai. pp. 150–152. ISBN 978-0-9723172-5-2.
  11. ^ sihab din, arab faqih (2003). conquest of abyssinia. tshai. p. 65. ISBN 9780-9723172-5-2.
  12. ^ sihab din, arab faqih. conquest of Abyssinia. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-9723172-5-2.
  13. ^ Whiteway, The Portuguese Expedition, p. 68
  14. ^ Arab faqih, Sihab din (2003). Futuh Al Habesh. tshai. pp. 43–44. ISBN 9780-9723172-5-2.
  15. ^ Hassan, Ali Jama (2013). Who Cares about Somalia. Schiler. pp. 86–88. ISBN 9783899300758.
  16. ^ lewis, i.m. A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. LIT. p. 15. ISBN 3825830845.
  17. ^ hatcher, David. Ark Of God. Adventures Unlimited Press. ISBN 1939149606.
  18. ^ Chijioke Njoku, Raphael (2013). The History of Somalia. ABC-CLIO. p. 15. ISBN 978-0313378584.
  19. ^ Haji, Abdullahi. Critical Realism, Somalia and the Diaspora. Taylor & Francis. p. 30. ISBN 9781317928072.
  20. ^ Maszka, John. Guerrilla Insurgency Or Strategic Terrorism?. Scientific Publishing Company. p. 49. ISBN 9781786344007.
  21. ^ Edmond, J Keller. Revolutionary Ethiopia From Empire to People's Republic. r:Indiana University Press. p. 19. ISBN 9780253206466.
  22. ^ Gifford, William (1844). "Forster on Arabia". The Quarterly Review. 74: 338.
  23. ^ Lewis, I. M. (1999). A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. James Currey Publishers. p. 17. ISBN 0852552807.
  24. ^ Tamrat, Taddesse (1977). "Ethiopia, the Red Sea and the Horn". In Oliver, Roland (ed.). The Cambridge History of Africa. Volume 3: from c. 1050 to c. 1600. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-521-20981-6.
  25. ^ The "Futuh al-Habasa" : the writing of history, war and society in the "Bar Sa'ad ad-din" (Ethiopia, 16th century)
  26. ^ arab faqih, Sihab adin (2003). Conquest Of Abyssiia. tshai. p. 43. ISBN 9780972317269.
  27. ^ Shihāb al-Dīn, ibn ʻAbd al-Qādir ʻArabfaqīh. The Conquest of Abyssinia 16th Century. p. 141. ISBN 9780972317252.