Sultanate of Bale

The Sultanate of Bale was a Somali-Sidama Muslim sultanate founded in the Bale Mountains of the southern Ethiopian Highlands and Horn of Africa. It corresponds roughly to the modern Bale Zone of the Oromia Region in Ethiopia.[1]



Bale Sultanate was founded in the 13th century by Sheikh Hussein who came from Merca one of the commercial and Islamic centers in the Indian Ocean[2] He is credited for introducing Islam to the Sidamo people living in the area at the time.[3] Despite the Sultanate being founded by a Somali saint and ruled by his descendants, the kingdom was mostly inhabited by the Sidama people. The Ajuran merchants began settling into the region thus linking the two kingdoms economically as Bale had trade linkages with other Ethiopian kingdoms and would serve as the gateway trade for Ajuran Sultanate.[4]

Along with other sultanates, including Dawaro, Arababni, Hadiya, Shirka, Dara, and Bale became part of the so-called confederation of Zeila.[5]


It bordered the sultanates of Dawaro and Shirka in the north, Hadiya in the west, and Adal in the east and its core areas were located around the Wabe Shebelle River.[6]


During medievial times Bale was known for its production of cotton, while salt brought from El Kere was an important trading item [7]

Military encountersEdit

Bale was conquered by Amde Seyon in the 1320s and would remain under Abyssinian occupation until Adal Sultan Ahmeduddin Badlay's victory over Emperor Yeshaq I in 1429.[8]

Fall of BaleEdit

Bale Sultanate as a result of the wars of Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi between 1529 and 1549 and the subsequent Oromo migration from the 1540s, native Muslims lost their foothold in Bale.[9]


  1. ^ Østebø, Terje (October 2020). Islam, Ethnicity, and Conflict in Ethiopia. p. 52. ISBN 9781108839686.
  2. ^ Beckingham and Huntingford, Some Records, p. lxxxix. Trimingham offers the date of 1780 for Nur Husain's departure from Mogadishu.
  3. ^ Braukamper, Ulrich; Braukämper, Ulrich (2002). Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia: Collected Essays. ISBN 9783825856717.
  4. ^ Østebø, Terje (30 September 2011). Localising Salafism: Religious Change Among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia. BRILL. p. 3. ISBN 978-9004184787.
  5. ^ Islam, Ethnicity, and Conflict in Ethiopia by Terje Østebø Page 52
  6. ^ Islam, Ethnicity, and Conflict in Ethiopia by Terje Østebø Page 52
  7. ^ Islam, Ethnicity, and Conflict in Ethiopia by Terje Østebø Page 52
  8. ^ Marcus, Harold (2002). A History of Ethiopia. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520925427.
  9. ^ Hagmann, Tobias (2011). Contested Power in Ethiopia. BRILL. p. 170. ISBN 978-9004218437.