I am very much interested if you have any information about an anicient Moslim leader called GiraGne Mohammed in east Africa. There is a tell about a fight between this leader and a warior prince called Yodit Gudit. Yodit Gudit, a black Jew. I have also heard of many Churches burned by Mohammed and Mosques by Gudit. It seems that it was a religious war but my knowledge of history in this direction is very much limited. I would very much appreciate if any one up there could expound.
If you want to read up on Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim (Gran) start with the chronicle of his campaigns, Chihab ed-Din Ahmed ben Abd El-Qader (Arab Faqih) *Histoire de la Conquete de L'Abyssinie* (trans. Rene Basset), and with the most comprehensive study of the subject, Takla Tsadiq Makwariya's *YaGran Ahmad Warara* (Addis Ababa, 1966 E.C.). All accounts rely on Arab Faqih, but you might also look at Cerulli *Studi Etiopici: I. La Lingua e la Storia di Harar* (plus tons of articles published all over the place), Trimingham *Islam in Ethiopia* and Cuoq *L'Islam en Ethiopie*
I would like to know how present day Somalis regard the Imam, and if his reputation around Harar as a Somali (both Somali nationalist and pan-Islamic) leader is more widely spread. Also, how well known is he among Muslims elsewhere in Africa?
This sounds like a distorted version of an already questionable historiography i.e. the so-called Falashas of Ethiopia and the "Queen Judith" from whom they are supposed to be descended. The Muslim conflict sounds like a very modern addition and, as far as I understand this from my colleague Don Levine, the very notion of the Falasha as Jewish is now very much in doubt among historians (but don't tell tht to the people objecting to recent Israeli policies concerning bloood donations from Ethiopian immigrants-- another story very similar to ones we had on this net some months ago).
Ralph A. Austen
History/African and African-American Studies
University of Chicago
5828 S. University
Chicago IL 60637
312-702-8344 (fax: 702-2587)
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 1996 10:27:21 -0600 (CST)
From: email@example.com (Ralph Austen)
To: "NUAFRICA: Program of African Studies Mailing List" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Giragn / Yodit
Ralph Austen writes:
This sounds like a distorted version of an already questionale historiography i.e. the so-called Falashas of Ethiopia and the "Queen Judith" from whom they are supposed to be descended. The Muslim conflict sounds like a very modern addition and, as far as I understand this from my colleague Don Levine, the very notion of the Falasha as Jewish is now very much in doubt among historians (but don't tell tht to the people objecting to recent Israeli policies concerning bloood donations from Ethiopian immigrants-- another story very similar to ones we had on this net some months ago).
There is a University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) PhD by Carolyne Anne Orwin (1992 0r 1993) titled 'Yodit', which is apparently about an 11th century Ethiopian princess. I can't say anything more about it as I haven't read it, but it was joint winner of the 1994 ASA (UK) dissertation prize (but might still be of absolutely no use at all to our colleague who posted the original enquiry......).
Immam Ahmed ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (1506-43) nicknamed Gran "the left-handed" embarked on a conquest which brought three-quarters of Abyssinia into the power of the Muslim (mostly Somali) Kingdom of Adal from 1529-43. Gran (known as Gurey to Somalis) is well known Somali hero and there are large body of literature available about him and the Kingdom of Adal. Gran was killed and his army defeated by the Abyssinians, supported by the Portuguese, at Wayna Daga near Lake Tana. Not only is he a Muslim hero, but he is hero that most of the Somalis believe stood up to nemesis of the Somalis--Ethiopians and their European fair-weather friends. There are some l [Elipsis in original]
For further reading see, J.S., Islam of Ethiopia, 1952, pp.84-90.
In 1994, I published *A History of Ethiopia* with U of California Press. It was based on materials read as late as 1993. I like to think that I conculted what was out there. On Gudit, the only solid information out there led to the following footnote on the botton of p. 11: "One persistent tradition tells of the Agew Queen Gudit, who persecuted Christians and fought their kingdom. In light of subsequent events, the tale suggests that an inland Agew people led by a women destroyed or turned out the Axumite ruling class. Most active at the end of the tenth cetnury, Gudit was nonethless so long lived that she must be a composite of individuals."
As for the Beta Israel, my reading of the existing scholarship led me to conclude that these jews have their origin in the persecutions of the Sabbatarian Movement of Abba Ewostatewos (c. 1273-1352). I write on p. 23 of my *History*. "The zealots retreated into remote areas of northwestern Ethiopia, where they formed isolated communities. A few settlements in Begemdir might have "purified" their Christianity to the point of returning to a form of Judaism. No other explanation accounts for the unique pre-Talmudic faith of the Beta Israel, in which Ethiopian Christian borrowings abound." For further information, see the books written by James Quirin, Steve Kaplan, and Kay Shelemay.