Localising Salafism: Religious Change Among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia 9789004184787, 9004184783

With a particular focus on the role of situated actors, this book sheds light on the emergence and expansion of Salafism

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Localising Salafism: Religious Change Among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia
 9789004184787, 9004184783

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Localising Salafism Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia

By

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved.

Terje ØstebØ

LEIDEN • BOSTON 2012 steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved.

Localising Salafism

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Islam in Africa Brill’s Islam in Africa is designed to present the results of scholarly research into the many aspects of the history and present-day features of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa. The series will take up issues of religious and intellectual traditions, social significance and organization, and other aspects of the Islamic presence in Africa. It includes monographs, collaborative volumes and reference works by researchers from all relevant disciplines.

Editors

John Hunwick Rüdiger Seesemann Knut Vikør

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved.

VOLUME 12

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.nl/isaf

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Cover illustration: Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl Ḥ ajj Muḥammad, grandson of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Shaykh Yūnus (photo: Terje Østebø). Brill has made all reasonable efforts to trace all rights holders to any copyrighted material used in this work. In cases where these efforts have not been successful the publisher welcomes communications from copyright holders, so that the appropriate acknowledgements can be made in future editions, and to settle other permission matters. This book is printed on acid-free paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Østebø, Terje. Localising Salafism : religious change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia / By Terje Østebø. p. cm. — (Islam in Africa ; v. 12) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-90-04-18478-7 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Islam—Ethiopia—History. 2. Salafiyah— Ethiopia. 3. Oromo (African people)—Ethiopia. I. Title. BP64.E8O78 2011 297.8’3—dc23 2011021403

ISSN 1570-3754 ISBN 978 90 04 18478 7

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Copyright 2012 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Global Oriental, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and VSP. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Ummataa Baaleef

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To the people of Bale

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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CONTENTS Acknowledgements ............................................................................ List of Acronyms ............................................................................... List of Illustrations ............................................................................ Note on Transliteration .................................................................... Summary .............................................................................................

xi xiii xv xvii xix

Chapter One Introduction ............................................................ Objectives ........................................................................................ Setting the Scene ............................................................................ Telling a Story ................................................................................

1 2 5 11

Chapter Two Salafism, Localisation and Religious Change .... The Concept of Religious Change .............................................. Approaching Religious Change .................................................. The Genealogy of Religious Change .......................................... The Impetus for Change .............................................................. Localising Salafism ........................................................................ Identity and Ethnicity ...................................................................

13 14 15 20 22 28 40

Chapter Three The Islamisation of South-east Ethiopia and Bale ........................................................................................... The Introduction of Islam to South-east Ethiopia .................. Agents of Change: Religious Preachers ..................................... The Islamic Sultanates .................................................................. The Oromo of Bale ........................................................................ The Amhara Conquest and Islam ..............................................

43 45 50 56 60 77

Chapter Four The Religious Universe of the Oromo in Bale ... Key Concepts ................................................................................. Key Rituals ...................................................................................... Key Institutions ............................................................................. Knowledge, Karaama and Authority .........................................

83 84 93 104 118

Chapter Five The Emergence of Salafism in Bale ..................... Fascist Italy and Islam in Bale ....................................................

125 125

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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viii

contents

The First Emergence of Salafism in South-east Ethiopia ....... Changes of a Locality ................................................................... The Arrival of Salafism in Bale ................................................... Encountering Salafism ..................................................................

131 134 141 150

Chapter Six Responding to Salafism ........................................... Demarcating Salafism ................................................................... The Basic Features of Salafism in Bale ...................................... Contesting Authority .................................................................... Convictions and Customs: Debating Religious Symbols ....... Literacy and Change ..................................................................... Salafism, Politics and the Bale Rebellion ...................................

157 157 158 163 170 175 186

Chapter Seven The Derg and Processes of Change .................. The Revolution ............................................................................... The Derg and Islam ...................................................................... Revolution and Religion in Bale ................................................. Armed Insurgency ......................................................................... Repression ....................................................................................... The Process of Modernisation .................................................... Modernisation and Religious Change .......................................

195 195 197 200 206 211 222 230

Chapter Eight Democratisation and Daʿwa ............................... The Political Transition ................................................................ The Resurgence of Salafism ......................................................... Radicalisation and Ahl al-Sunna ................................................ The Content of the Teaching ...................................................... Attracting Followers ..................................................................... Conflict and Controversy ............................................................. Fragmentation ................................................................................

237 237 241 244 250 259 263 269

Chapter Nine Salafism, Politics and Ethnicity .......................... Political Islam: Old Prejudices and New Fear .......................... Salafism and Ethnicity .................................................................. Creating Meaning ..........................................................................

275 275 287 297

Chapter Ten Concluding Discussion .......................................... The Dialectics of Religious Change ............................................ The Continuous Process of Religious Change ......................... Localising Salafism ........................................................................

311 311 320 322

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

contents

ix

331 335 341

Index ....................................................................................................

363

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Appendix Glossary ........................................................................................... List of Informants ......................................................................... References ...........................................................................................

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This study would never have been completed without the contributions of numerous individuals in Bale. The present text belongs, in this manner, to them. First of all I wish to thank all my informants in Bale as well as in other parts of Ethiopia for trusting me and for welcoming me into their lives. I am thankful for their willingness to share from their memory, knowledge and thoughts. I am in particular grateful to Auwwal ʿAbd al-Laṭīf, my research assistant and a dear friend, whose help and guidance have been invaluable for this study. Further, I want to thank Ḥ ajj Abādīr Ḥ usayn for sharing his ideas in long conversations. I am, moreover, thankful to Idrīs Obsa for introducing me to the Oromo language, culture and history, and want to express my gratitude to him and his family for their generous hospitality. Furthermore, I am also indebted to many good friends in Ethiopia, who in different ways have contributed to this study. I first wish to mention the late Ḥ usayn Aḥmad from the Department of History, Addis Ababa University, for his continuous encouragement. His passing away was a great loss to the academic study of Islam in Ethiopia. Also, I want to thank Idrīs Muḥammad, Ḥ asan Muḥammad, Ḥ asan Taju, Samīr Yūsuf, Bauer Oumer, ʿUmar Nūre, Daniel Deressa, Dereje Feyissa, Ibrāhīm Mulushewa, Aḥmadīn Jabāl and Nega Kediro. I am, moreover, grateful to Qäññazmačč ʿAbd al-Qādir Qāḍī Aḥmad, Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Adam and General Jagama Kello for providing me with photographs from a bygone era. An earlier version of this book was written under the supervision of David Westerlund, who has been an invaluable asset to me throughout this study. I am grateful to him for believing in this project, and for his relentless encouragements during the different phases of the work. I also want to thank my assistant supervisor, David Thurfjell, for his constructive criticism and valuable comments. Thanks go also to PerArne Berglie, the chair of the Department for the History of Religions, Stockholm University for his continued assistance. My thanks are also due to NLA University College in Bergen for providing me with office space during the initial phase of the project. Similarly, I wish to thank Christian Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen for including me as an affiliated researcher. I want to thank the

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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xii

acknowledgements

colleagues there and the library staff for their continuous support. In particular, I am indebted to Johan Helland and Siegfried Pausewang for their support and comments on earlier drafts. Furthermore, I wish to thank my former colleagues at Södertörn University College and the participants in the Higher Seminar in the Study of Religions: Susanne Olsson, Gunilla Gunner, Jenny Berglund, Björn Skogar, Simon Sorgenfrei, Göran Ståhle and Ann af Burén. In particular, I want to thank Anne Kubai, Tabona Shoko and Jonas Svensson for their constructive comments during some of these seminars. I moreover would like to express my gratitude to people who in various ways have contributed to this study, either by offering their support or by acting as readers of earlier drafts: Kjetil Tronvoll, Lovise Aalen, Günther Schlee, Samuli Schielke, Thomas Hegghammer, Bruce Lawrence, Michael Kleiner, Alessandro Gori, Roman Loimeier, Anne Bang, Tekeste Negash, Cedric Barnes, Jeannie Miller and Patrick Desplat. My thanks go also to my colleagues at the University of Florida, Hashem Zanaty and Sean Hanretta, for their assistance in finalising the text. I am also grateful to the Norwegian Lutheran Mission for the financial support enabling me to carry out the fieldwork. For providing me with travel-grants, I want to thank the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala and the Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture in Oslo. My thanks are also due to the people at Brill: To the editors of the Islam in Africa Series, Knut Vikør and Rüdiger Seesemann, to Brill’s anonymous reviewers and Nicolette van der Hoek for making the publishing process so smooth. I am also grateful to Valerie Joy Turner for making the index and for final proof-reading of the text. Lastly, my truly felt gratitude goes to my family. To my daughters, Victoria and Julia, for their patience during their father’s periods of absence and for being such sources of inspiration. To my wife, Marit, for sharing with me her findings and ideas from her own fieldwork in Bale, and for diligent reading of the many drafts of this text. Most of all, I wish to thank her for her relentless support, patience, love and for always being there.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

LIST OF ACRONYMS Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council Eritrean People’s Liberation Front Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia Macha Tulama Welfare Association Muslim World League Peasant Association Provisional Military Administrative Council Oromo Liberation Front Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation Somali Abbo Liberation Front Somali Youth League Transitional Government of Ethiopia Tigray People’s Liberation Front World Association of Muslim Youth Western Somali Liberation Front

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EIASC EPLF EPRDF IFLO MTWA MWL PA PMAC OLF OPDO SALF SYL TGE TPLF WAMY WSLF

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

LIST OF MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS Maps 1. Ethiopia, with Bale zone highlighted ...................................... xxv 2. Districts and main towns in Bale ............................................ xxvi Illustrations 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

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11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

The central highlands of Bale ................................................... The remnants of Balla mosque ................................................ The Shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn in the 1960s ........................... The Sof ʿUmar caves .................................................................. Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl Ḥ ajj Muḥammad, grandson of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Shaykh Yūnus ............................ Soddu from a grave in Kokossa ............................................... Some of the main balabbatočč of Bale, assembled sometime during the 1950s ................................... Warra fuqra at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn in the 1960s ............................................................................................. Shaykh ʿAbd al-Jabbār Shaykh Aḥmad Mame, the current leader of the shrine of Sof ʿUmar ....................... Emperor Haile Sellassie visiting the shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn in 1964 ............................................................ Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo ....................................................................... Handwritten Qurʾān from Bale, dating from ca 1814 ......................................................................................... Waqo Gutu .................................................................................. Imām Maḥmūd Muḥammad Sayyid ....................................... The main street in today’s Robe .............................................. The present Nūr mosque in Robe ........................................... Communal prayer during ʿīd al-Fiṭr in Robe ........................ Shaykh ʿUmar, a leading figure at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn ...........................................................................

9 53 69 72 76 102 109 115 121 136 166 177 189 217 221 243 255 309

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NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION

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As this text contains terms and names from different languages, the issue of transliteration has been challenging. At the outset, since this book is not primarily a textual study, I have opted for a flexible and relatively simplified approach. All Arabic terms and names, except common names such as Mecca and Saudi Arabia have been transliterated according to the system used by Encyclopaedia Islam (Brill, 3rd ed.). While I in most cases have transliterated both the singular and plural forms, some few words, like imām and qāḍī have been spelled out by using the English “s” in non-italics for the plural form (imāms, qāḍīs). There are also cases of “Oromosised” Arabic names (like Aliyeh), and in such cases I have chosen not to transliterate them. Amharic and Oromo terms are written in italics, with the former transliterated in accordance with Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (Harrassowitz) and the latter according to standard Oromo spelling. Personal and geographical names, such as Gamachu, Bale or Robe are written in a simplified form in accordance with common English spelling. This has been done for the sake of readers not familiar with Amharic and Oromo, and I believe that my pragmatic approach to the issues of transliteration and spelling have made the text more accessible for a wide range of readers.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

SUMMARY

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There is no Islam without tawḥ īd. Through time this [the teaching of tawḥ īd] expanded. It is like a child. He was a child before, but now he has grown, he has become tall. Nobody knows how long time it takes, how much he grows in a month or a week. All we see is that he is growing. The expansion of tawḥ īd is like this. Over time, we saw that it expanded. This is the work of Allah.1

Whether or not one agrees with this informant’s suggestions for why Salafism grew, it remains a fact that it has become the dominating Islamic movement in today’s Bale. It has penetrated into all corners of the region and into every segment of society. Following this development, this study has argued for the need to understand Salafism in its particularity, in which the different features of an increasingly heterogeneous phenomenon are recognised. The second chapter, addressing this issue, has also conceptualised religious change, arguing for the need to apply a localised approach and to recognise the important role of human agency in such processes. It has emphasised the religious change as complex dialectic interactions between impetus and response, between agents and audiences. Underscoring the issue of localisation, the chapter moreover points to de-localisation and localisation as two complementary processes in the emergence and development of Salafism in Bale. I have also critically discussed Asad’s “discursive tradition” of Islam as a relevant approach, arguing for the need to view this “discursive tradition” in a more inclusive manner, recognising the discourses about traditions particular for the locality. The expansion of Salafism is a demonstration of Islam’s persistent continuity in Bale. Dating back to the Bale sultanate in the 13th century, Islam has—in spite of many setbacks—managed to sustain its presence in the area. As discussed in chapter three, the decline of the sultanate and the arrival of the Oromo from the middle of the 16th century nearly eradicated Islam from Bale. It managed, however, to retain its presence in small pocket-areas and experienced, as of the late 18th century, a new revival as the Oromo gradually started to embrace 1

Ḥ ajj Amān Muḥammad, interview 19 July 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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xx

summary

the new religion. This process continued through the 19th century and was largely spurred by influences from neighbouring areas. It benefited from the general Sufi revival, which was brought to Bale from Hararge as well as from Wollo. Of particular importance in the expansion of Islam among the Oromo were the shrines and, especially, the restitution of the pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s shrine in the early 19th century. The Islamisation of the Oromo is characterised by both continuity and change. Many aspects of the former religion were, as pointed out in chapter four, reshaped within an Islamic framework, while Islamic rituals at the same time were Oromosised. The pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s shrine became an alternative to the pilgrimage to the abbaa muuda of Dello, while other rituals, such as the mortuary rituals, were transfused and embedded with Islamic symbols. The transition to Islam also brought a differentiated religious leadership. It was represented by the guardians of the shrines and those involved in more esoteric practices as well as by an indigenous group of ʿulamāʾ, emerging in the early 20th century. It is important to note, however, that in comparison to other Muslim areas, such as Wollo and Harar, Islamic scholarship and Islamic literary traditions remained rather weak in Bale. The ʿulamāʾ were few, and there was a general scarcity of Islamic texts. As I have discussed in chapter five, the Italian occupation (1936– 41) was an important factor for the arrival of Salafism in south-east Ethiopia. Due to the Italians’ efforts in facilitating and subsidising the ḥ ajj to Mecca, the number of Ethiopian pilgrims increased dramatically during this period. Across the Red Sea, the campaigns of ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Saʿūd and the establishment of Saudi Arabia had secured the presence of Salafism in the Hijaz, which in turn was making lasting impacts on the pilgrims. Returning pilgrims brought the new ideas back to their home areas, most notably to the town of Harar. With the expansion of khat as a cash-crop, also an increasing number of Oromo Muslims found their way across the Red Sea, becoming instrumental in disseminating Salafism among their kinsmen in Hararge in Arsi. An important precursor for religious change in Bale was Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba, a graduate from al-Azhar University in Cairo. Returning to Bale in the 1940s, he embarked on a campaign of reforming certain aspects of the pilgrimage to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn. The reform attempts were met with much resistance and made little or no

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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xxi

lasting impact. It was not until the 1960s, when an emerging group of merchants in the town of Robe organised themselves in a jamāʿa in the Nūr mosque that the actual process of change commenced. Socioeconomic developments in the 1950s and 1960s enabled this group of merchants to increasingly interact with neighbouring areas where they became exposed to the Salafi teaching. Worried by Gamāl ʿAbd al-Nāṣir takeover in Egypt and his pan-Arab policy, the Saudi Arabian leadership embarked on a strategy of balancing ʿAbd al-Nāṣir’s influence in the Muslim world. The establishment of the Muslim World League and several institutions of higher Islamic learning contributed to the export of Salafism beyond the boundaries of the monarchy. The impact was felt in Bale through “the journey of the 80”, a group of pilgrims who were enrolled in these institutions and who later returned to disseminate the Salafi teaching in their home area. Among these was Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad, a figure becoming pivotal for the early expansion of Salafism in Bale, and who, in contrast to the members of the jamāʿa in the Nūr mosque, was resolute in his criticism of the prevailing religious practices. When he publicly voiced his opinions in the Nūr mosque in 1971, the reactions were, as expected, highly negative. Conflicts soon erupted and resulted in a large meeting the following year, where attempts were made to resolve the problem. Although the two factions were unable to find an agreement, the meeting was an important occasion as it granted the Salafis official recognition and opportunities to further spread their ideas. The Salafi movement was, however, at this stage unable to gain much support beyond the town of Robe, where it was represented by the new group of merchants. Dislocated from inherent cultural structures and loyalties, they represented a new stratum in the Oromo society and were seen as a challenge to the traditional leadership. The status of the merchants as economically independent was also important as it provided the Saudi-educated ʿulamāʾ with needed financial support, hence managing to secure the continuation of the Salafi movement. As discussed in chapter six, the early Salafis were opposed to the pilgrimage to the shrines, the celebrations of mawlid al-Nabī and the mortuary rituals. As these practices were defining elements of Muslim identity in Bale, they were not easily abandoned by the people. The Salafi quest for change was also accompanied by a different understanding and approach to Islamic literacy. Literacy, which had been shrouded in esotericism, was now said to contain concrete directives

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for correct ritual practices and seen as something that had to be understood in order to be obeyed. The Salafis’ acquaintance with Islamic (Salafi) scholarship and proficiency in Arabic were important in their controversies with the opposition. A major thesis of this study is that a less developed literary tradition and a lack of Islamic scholarship in a given locality are factors that enhance change. When the Salafis underscored the written word and called for textual evidence in legitimising religious practice, the lack of such in the context of Bale made the locals less able and prepared to resist the changes. The early emergence of Salafism in Bale coincided with a growing political awareness, manifested through the so-called Bale rebellion (1963–1970). It was a reaction to the ethno-religious discrimination and the socio-economic hardship brought by the Imperial Government and connected to ethno-nationalist movements in Harar and Somalia. Whereas Islam remained an intrinsic dimension of the conflict, Salafism was not, as some have argued, a defining element of the movement. Salafism and the rebellion were separate movements, influenced by different ideological currents. This clearly demonstrates the importance of determining the actual influx informing a particular process of change and illustrates the insufficiency of only focusing on social changes as a cause for religious change. The further expansion of Salafism in Bale was checked by the revolution in 1974 and the Derg’s policy on religion. At the same time, the movement was during this period able to consolidate its position, mainly through the control of the Nūr mosque and the Salafiyya Madrasa in Robe. As I have pointed out in chapter seven, these two institutions became pivotal for creating a deeper understanding of the Salafi doctrines and contributed to securing control over religious knowledge. This process of institutionalising religious change coincided with a distinct process of modernisation that evolved during the Derg period. With the increase of schools and the underscoring of an academic rational philosophy, the immanent and concrete reality was increasingly emptied of its religious content. This development corresponded to the Salafis’ emphasis on tawḥ īd, which led to a particular de-mystification of reality and the perception of the deity as more abstract. The modernisation process also made a lasting impact on the younger generation, in the sense of dislocating them from the past and alienating them from inherent traditions and values. It produced a generation in search for meaning and an audience receptive to the Salafi teaching in the post-Derg period. Another important aspect of

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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the Derg period was the weakening of traditional institutions. In addition to the restructuring of society through the introduction of new and bureaucratic institutions, the situation in Bale was exacerbated by the regime’s repressive measures towards the civilian population. These measures were a response to the armed insurgency, the sowra, and caused the marginalisation of the traditional Oromo elite as well as the disintegration of the traditional structures of society. Through the villagisation programme and the enforced participation in various activities introduced by the Derg, it became increasingly difficult to continue performing religious rituals such as the mawlid al-Nabī and the pilgrimage to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn. The shrine was, because of its role in the insurgency, discredited in the eyes of the regime and was, moreover, haunted by internal conflicts and competition for authoritative leadership. The political transition in 1991 paved the way for the resurfacing of Salafism in Bale, as discussed in chapter eight. The new regime reversed many of the former restrictions on religious activities and brought a political climate advantageous to the Salafi movement. Because of the experiences of the Derg period, which had impinged on traditional religious practices and institutions, the Salafi movement was met with relatively little opposition. It therefore managed, remarkably rapidly, to position itself as the dominant Islamic trait of Bale. The post-Derg period also saw the emergence of what I have called the Ahl al-Sunna, a movement dominated by, and recruiting its followers, from the younger generation. Lacking a coherent leadership and organisational structures, it evolved through the activities of certain young individuals, locally trained ʿulamāʾ, and qawettis—Oromo Salafis returning from exile in Somalia. Although adhering to the same Salafi views as the senior Salafis of the initial movement, the Ahl al-Sunna members were more zealous in their underscoring of personal piety and sought a more clear-cut break away from Oromo customs and practices. As the Ahl al-Sunna gained a large number of followers and started to criticise the seniors for corruption and doctrinal laxity, it spurred concern among the latter. They accused the youngsters of rigidity and extremism, and soon the disagreements led to open conflicts. When the situation turned violent, the local authorities intervened in the middle of the 1990s, leading to the arrest of several prominent Ahl alSunna members, causing others to flee the country and to dispersing the movement to the rural areas. There they managed to regroup and infiltrate the web of jamāʿat, rural centres for religious teaching.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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summary

It would be wrong to see the Ahl al-Sunna as an exponent of a more radical politicised form of Salafism. The new political situation, which has reversed certain aspects of the historical imparity between Christians and Muslims and made Islam more visible, has produced concern among the Christian part of the population, who accuse the Muslims of aspiring for political power. My suggestion is, however, that Ethiopian Islam in general, and Salafism in particular, has been devoid of a political agenda. The Salafis, in Bale as well as in other parts of the country, have remained congruent to the purist trend, in which ritual purity, piety and ritualism are the main features. As I have discussed in chapter nine, also other Islamic reform movements in Ethiopia, such as the Jamāʿat al-Tablīgh and the so-called Intellectualist movement, have held a low political profile. Only the latter has been inclined to express views of a political nature, arguing for a better representation of Muslims in public life and working for increased parity with the Christians. The Salafis in Bale have, on the other hand, clearly subscribed to the ethno-nationalist current which gained strength in the 1990s. They, like the rest of the Muslim population in Bale, demonstrated their support for the Oromo Liberation Front in the beginning of the post-Derg period. The development of Oromo ethno-nationalism also paved the way for a distinction between ethnicity and religion as sources of identity. The reconfiguration and demarcation of both ethnic and religious boundaries have produced a peculiar situation where ethnic affiliation and religious adherence are seen as distinct yet at the same time having a reinforcing effect upon each other. This has generated developments where ethnicity and religion remain deeply interwoven in inter-religious conflicts as well as impinging on the unanimity of the Muslim population. The concept of religious change is revisited through a concluding discussion in chapter ten. Underscoring the role of agents of change, I also point out how my findings led to the perception of religious change as a dialectic process. I argue that the emergence of Salafism in Bale included the remoulding of its tenets within the locality: through the arrival of a new stimulus, the response this generated and the reciprocal process of negotiations embedded in the interactions between the agents and their audience. It involved the transformation of inherent local practices and a process in which the Salafi teaching was reinterpreted, reconfigured and altered within the locality.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Map 1. Ethiopia, with Bale zone highlighted

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Map 2. Districts and main towns in Bale

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

CHAPTER ONE

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INTRODUCTION Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb was born in 1703 in the village of al-ʿUyayna in the remote region of Najd on the Arabian Peninsula. Coming from a lineage of Islamic jurists and trained within the same discipline, his life took a decisive turn in 1739 when he embarked on an extensive campaign of reforming the religious practices of his contemporaries. As captured in his seminal treatise, Kitāb al-Tawḥ id (The Book of God’s Unity), the core point in Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s teaching was the return to a total and exclusive worship of God alone. Embedded in this was the rejection of veneration at physical sites such as shrines or graves and other practices generally considered as bidaʿ (innovations). The alliance formed between him and the tribal leader Muḥammad ibn Saʿūd in 1744 provided Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb with the necessary political backing and was the starting point for the political and ideological unification of the Arabian Peninsula. The area was, however, haunted by internal strife and by repeated conflicts with the Ottoman (Egyptian) forces during the larger part of the 19th century, and it was not until 1932 that a lasting polity was established—the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This political entity became pivotal for the dissemination of religious teachings that would later have a deep impact on numerous localities. Whereas I will return to the issue of Salafism more in detail in the next chapter, some remarks on my understanding and usage of the term are in order. The word itself is derived from the Arabic al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ , “the pious ancestors”,1 and refers to a theological trait within Islam emerging during the Abbasid Caliphate. Although I in this study use the term in connection with the teaching Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, it does not mean that I equate Salafism with Wahhabism.2 The reason for my avoidance of the term Wahhabism is

1

This refers to the Prophet, his immediate companions and their successors until the third century of the Islamic calendar. 2 My understanding of the term Salafism and the distinction between Salafism and Wahhabism is largely informed by the views of Meijer (2009) and Haykel (2009).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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2

chapter one

its pejorative connotation, consequently rejected by all my Salafi informants. Also, even if the Salafi movement in Bale was much indebted to Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s teachings, it also incorporated ideas from a wider array of Salafi thinkers, something which became evident during the 1990s when the movement became increasingly fragmented (discussed in chapters eight and nine). Salafism should furthermore not be confused with the 19th-century modernist movement in Egypt often referred to as Salafiyya, based on the ideas of Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghāni (d. 1897), Muḥammad ʿAbduh (d. 1905) and Rashīd Riḍā (d. 1935). This movement emerged, as I will elaborate on in the next chapter, under different circumstances, and would later in the 20th century evolve into a more political oriented current, commonly known by its denominator Islamism. At the time of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, the Oromo of Bale had yet to embrace Islam. While Islam was firmly rooted among peoples along the Somali littoral and in the eastern Ethiopian hinterland, it was not until the end of the 18th century that the process of Islamisation commenced in Bale. Adapting the new faith to their religious and cultural universe, the religious ideas and practices that emerged in Bale differed a great deal from what Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb would have considered as authentic or true Islam. However, Bale and the Arabian Peninsula remained at this stage far apart. In his enlightening study of Islam in 19th century Wollo (northeastern Ethiopia), Hussein Ahmed observed that although indigenous Ethiopian Islam was an overtly dynamic phenomenon affected by winds of change in the wider world of Islam, “it is interesting to note that Ethiopian Islam did not respond to the Wahhabi call” (2001: 73). The intention of this study is not to show Hussein Ahmed wrong. Yet, looking more than a century ahead, we witness a completely different situation, in which Salafism has appeared as one of the strongest impetuses for religious change in Muslim Ethiopia. Objectives Focusing on the locality of Bale, this study tells the story of the emergence of Salafism in this part of Ethiopia and follows the movement’s development from the late 1960s, its rapid expansion in the 1990s until 2006. Viewing Salafism from the angle of Bale does not mean that the local-translocal is treated as a “binary world-map”, in which every-

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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introduction

3

thing beyond the locality is abstracted into vague macro-historical processes. Rather, this study sees localities as interacting and layers of contexts as intersected. The work thus seeks to demonstrate how different localities have influenced each other in dialectic processes and how they have been shaped by each other. Localities are, to paraphrase the Comaroffs, “locked in historical embrace” (1992: 45). The main purpose of the study is to analyse the multifaceted factors involved in the initial appearance of Salafism in Bale and of the movement’s development until the present (2006). More precisely, the objectives can be said to be threefold. The work will first of all bring out much-needed empirical data on the Salafi movement in this part of Ethiopia. Discussing local factors in relation to developments on a translocal level, and paying particular attention to the role of agents of change, my intention is to contribute to a broad understanding of the early emergence of Salafism in Bale. I will, moreover, follow the Salafi movement’s rapid expansion in the 1990s, with particular attention to the pattern of increased fragmentation in this period. This discussion will apply a relatively broad perspective, and the analysis will forward suggestions on how Salafism was related to discourses on politics and ethnicity. Furthermore, the study intends to present a more nuanced and diversified understanding of Salafism as a phenomenon. Focusing on the emergence of Salafism as an ideology coming from the outside, as well as on its developments within Bale, I will analyse the dialectics involved for its remoulding in the locality. Concentrating on factors and actors within different localities, or within different layers of contexts, an important task will be to discern the parallel processes of de-localisation and localisation in such a development. Finally, the study will contribute to the debate on religious change in Africa. My intention is not to forward yet another overriding theory, but rather to move beyond one-sided approaches and too stringent structuralist perspectives. The study will seek to redress notions of the African subject as victimised by processes of change, and acknowledges the creative capacity of situated actors in constructing meaning and coherency in changing circumstances. In sum, I argue in favour of a bottom-up approach, which sees locality as a point of departure and through which I seek to forward some suggestions for a localised conceptualisation of religious change. The findings of this study are based on an extensive and continuous fieldwork carried out in the period 2005–2007. While I have

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

4

chapter one

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consulted official records, Ethiopian newspapers, files from Islamic organisations and various other written documents, most of the data are drawn from oral sources.3 I have chosen to treat the informants anonymously, which means that all the names appearing in the text are fictitious. The diachronic perspective of the study has caused me to employ relevant source criticism to these oral data. Drawing from the ideas forwarded by Jan Vansina (1965; 1985),4 this means that I have tried to find independent narrators, relied as much as possible on informants with a close intimacy to the relevant events as well as juxtaposing the different sources with each other, or, if available, with written accounts.5 Any attempt at interpreting the data in a study like this will inevitably be reductionistic to some degree. My contribution cannot be a comprehensive analysis of religious developments in Bale, and as the production of knowledge does not take place independent of the researcher, this study will not capture the objective “truth” about the process of religious change. Knowledge is rather produced through interactions between the researcher and the informants. This constitutes a form of hermeneutic endeavour, where the aim has been to clarify the conditions in which understanding takes place. Therefore, awareness of the researcher’s biases and presuppositions and about his or her role in the production of knowledge is important. In spite of the numerous attempts to tackle the problems of neutrality, empathy, objectivity and engagement through approaches such as epoché, methodological agnosticism or methodological conversion, I believe

3 I also did some preliminary fieldwork while living in Bale in the period 2000– 2003. Altogether I made 257 interviews with 119 different informants. Most of the interviews were conducted individually, with the addition of some few more or less organised focus-groups. They were mostly carried out in Robe (or in the vicinity of Robe)—the centre for the Salafi movement and the main focus of my fieldwork. For more details on the informants, see the Appendix. 4 Vansina’s rigid approach to oral traditions, as note by his critics (Cohen 1980; Tonkin 1986) has led me to treat his suggestions with caution. His somewhat narrow definition, his strict approach to the issue of transmission and to the evaluation of sources is problematic. In contrast to Vansina, who deals with oral traditions in relation to a longue duré perspective, my data are from a relatively recent past. The study has thus benefited more from Stephen Ellis’ (2002) suggestions on how to deal with sources in a more contemporary historical perspective. 5 On several occasions, the different narratives contradicted each other. Through the application of relevant criteria for source-criticism, I was in most cases able to reach a conclusion. When this has not been the case, it is made clear in the text.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

introduction

5

the researcher simply has to cope with the tensions between disengagement and partiality. I do think that the length of the fieldwork, together with my proficiency in the Oromo language, helped me to critically evaluate the data and to assess my own position and relations in the field. It also enabled me to be immersed in the daily life of my informants and provided me with an invaluable opportunity to continuously reflect on the complexity inherent in the area.

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Setting the Scene The study of Islam in Ethiopia owes much to the early contributions of Enrico Cerulli (1941) and John Spencer Trimingham (1952). Yet, in spite of their initial and seminal works, Islam in Ethiopia has in general remained an under-studied topic within Ethiopian studies. This is arguably a reflection of how earlier Ethiopian historiography, “flawed by the illusion of orientalism” (Tronvoll 2009), has imagined the Abyssinian kingdom as the core, subsequently treating other localities as mere peripheries. Such a representation has proven particularly strong in relation to Islam in Ethiopia, and is clearly seen by the fact that Islam mainly has been dealt with in relation to conflicts with the Christian kingdom (Hussein Ahmed 1992: 17). Seeking to redress this centrist perspective, there has been an increase of studies focusing on the various localities of Ethiopia, both from historical and anthropological perspectives. Much of this research contests the idea of Ethiopia as an ancient political entity, and sees it instead as a recent construction, guilty of subjugating and even colonising the peoples of the south. Although I subscribe to the criticism of earlier scholarly works on Ethiopia, it seems, however, that some of the new writings are characterised by other biases, where scholarly investigations risk being overshadowed by polemic rhetoric. More attention to the cultural variety of Ethiopia has also led to an increase in studies on Islam and Islamic cultures as indigenous to Ethiopia. Among these we find some early contributions by Richard Caulk (1972), Asa J. Davis (1963; 1964), Abraham Demoz (1972), Alessandro Triulzi (1975), Mordechai Abir (1980), Chernet Tilahun (1990), Frank A. Dombrowski (1983), and more recently studies made by Hussein Ahmed (2001), Abdussamad H. Ahmad (1992), and

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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6

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Guluma Gemeda (1993).6 There has, moreover, been an increase in studies of Islam in contemporary Ethiopia, seen through the works by scholars such as Jon Abbink (1998; 2007), Abebe Kifleyesus (1995), Tim Carmichael (1996), Eloi Ficquet (2006), Camilla Gibb (1999; 1998) Minako Ishihara (1993) as well as the various studies by Hussein Ahmed (1994b; 1998a; 1998b; 2006). Increased religious diversity has also spurred attention on Salafism in various localities of Ethiopia (Abbink 2007; Desplat 2002; Desplat 2005; Ishihara 1996; Østebø 2008b).7 Although only a few of them provide much in-depth information, they remain relevant in a comparative perspective. Of particular interest is the recent study by Erlich (2007). His elaborate analysis of Ethiopian-Saudi Arabian relations on a macro-level has been important in terms of rendering complementary information for this study. Despite the new focus on various localities, Bale remains to a large extent an area ignored in the scholarly literature on Ethiopia. The most noticeable exceptions are the works by the anthropologist Ulrich Braukämper, which this study has benefited greatly from.8 While Braukämper focused mostly on the area of Arsi and on earlier historical periods, this contribution complements his studies by widening the scope to cover the Bale area and by including a more contemporary perspective. Of similar importance are the works by Bogumil W. Andrzejewski (1972; 1974; 1975) and Alessandro Gori (1997), writing on various aspects of the Shaykh Ḥ usayn shrine, as well as the contributions by Gebru Tareke (1977; 1991; 2000), who has written about the modern political history of Bale, with particular reference to the armed insurgencies in the 1960s and 1970s. Situating the locality of Bale in a wider frame of Oromo history and culture, this study has drawn from a variety of studies from different disciplines (Asmaron Leggese 1973; Braukämper 1980b; Haberland 1963; Leus and Salvadori 2006; Mohammed Hassan 1994a; Schlee 1989). With reference to the indigenous Oromo religion, the works by Karl Eric Knutsson (1967), Lambert Bartels (1983) and Thomas Zitelmann (2005) have been particularly relevant. Also worth mentioning

6 For more details on the historiography of Islam in Ethiopia, see Hussein Ahmed (1992). 7 For an overview over recent works on Islam in Ethiopia, see Hussein Ahmed (2007). 8 His latest publication on Ethiopia (2002) is a re-edition of earlier works from the 1970s and 1980s.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

introduction

7

are the contributions found in the anthology Being and Becoming Oromo (Hultin, et al. 1996). The few studies dealing explicitly with the issue of religious change in Ethiopia have focused mostly on the Orthodox Church (Crummey 1972; Kaplan 1984; Taddesse Tamrat 1972) and the expansion of Protestantism (Arén 1973; Eide 2000; Rønne 2002; Tolo 1997).9 Whereas some of these works would be relevant in a comparative perspective, the historical and religious contexts in which they are situated have limited their significance. Among the contributions which have touched upon the issue of religious change within an Islamic context (Abir 1980; Cerulli 1969; Mohammed Hassan 1994a; Trimingham 1952), I find the views of Hussein Ahmed (2001), who elaborates on the role of Muslim scholars and mystics, to be of special interest for a study such as this.10 The study has obviously drawn from works on a wide array of topics, which are intersected with the area of investigation. This includes works on Saudi Arabia and Salafism, on more general historical processes in the Middle East and on traits of developments in various parts of the African continent relevant for comparison.

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Research Area Home to around 74 million people, to more than 80 linguistic groups and to a number of different religions, Ethiopia is a highly complex country.11 This inherent multitude has, in contrast to earlier periods, currently been recognised in the political makeup of the country. Following the political transition in 1991, the new government implemented a system of ethnic federalism, and the country was divided into nine different regional states on the basis of ethno-linguistic criteria. The names of these states, such as the Tigray National Regional State, Amhara National Regional State, or Somali National Regional State,

9 For an overview of contributions and a discussion of this topic, see Kaplan (2004). 10 In addition to published works, the study has benefited much from different theses submitted to the Addis Ababa University. Though the analytical level varies a great deal, they contain valuable empirical data on relevant topics. 11 The main ethno-linguistic groups are the Oromo (34 %), Amhara (26 %), Tigray (6 %), Somali (6 %) and Sidama (4 %) (“The 2007 Census: Preliminary Report” 2008).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

8

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are each said to reflect the ethnic affiliations of the inhabitants.12 The reality is, however, far more complex. The main two religions in Ethiopia are Islam and Christianity. According to the census from 2007, 33.9 per cent of the population are Muslim, whereas 62.8 per cent are Christian, in turn divided into 43.5 per cent Orthodox and 18.6 per cent Protestant. 2.6 per cent are classified as adherents of traditional religions (“The 2007 Census: Preliminary Report” 2008). Official statistics should, however, always be read with caution, particularly when it comes to the figures of ethnic and religious groups. Although we lack sufficient statistical evidence, it seems likely that the Muslim population counts for a higher percentage than what is stipulated in the official records. Bale covers an area of more than 67,000 square kilometres, containing mountains, highlands, semi-highlands and dry lowland areas and has a population (2007) of around 1.4 million (“The 2007 Census: Preliminary Report” 2008).13 Organised into 18 districts, with Robe as the capital, it was until recently the second largest zone within the Oromia National Regional State. Through administrative restructuring at the end of 2006, it lost some of its western districts to the newly established West Arsi Zone and saw the addition of new districts through the divisions of already existing ones.14 As my fieldwork was conducted prior to this reorganisation, I will in this study refer to the previous administrative makeup. The Oromo usually divide Bale into four parts, a division which is also applied in this study. The western part is called Gedeb and consists of Dodola and Adaba districts. The second part, often called Bale, refers to the central highlands, which include Agarfa, Sinana-Dinsho, Goba as well as parts of Goro, Gasera, Gololcha and Ginir districts.

12 The other states are the Afar National Regional State, Oromia National Regional State, Benishangul-Gumuz National Regional State, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State, the Gambela People’s National Regional State and the Harari People’s National Regional State. The towns of Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa are, due to their diverse ethnic populations, separate political units. 13 The lowland areas range from an altitude of c. 300 to 1500 meters above sea level, whereas the highlands range from c. 2000 to 3500. Bale is also home to Ethiopia’s second highest peak (4307), located within the Bale National Park (“Statistical Abstract” 1994). 14 The districts which were transferred to the West Arsi Zone are Kokosa, Nensebo, Dodola and Adaba. The newly added districts are Harena Buluk, Dinsho, Sinana (these two latter used to be one district), Dawe Kachen, Dawe Serer, Goba town and Robe town.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

introduction

9

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Illustration 1. The central highlands of Bale (photo: Marit Tolo Østebø)

The third part, Alaba, is located in the south-west and contains Kokosa and Nansebu districts, while lastly, the eastern/southern lowland areas consist of Beltu, Sawena, Raytu, Goro, Guradhamole, Mena Angetu and Medda Welabu districts. The dominant ethnic group in Bale is the Oromo, counting for around 90 per cent of the population, and which further can be divided into the Arsi Oromo (ca 80 %) and the Shoa Oromo (ca 10 %). The latter sub-group migrated into Bale in the 1950s and 1960s. The largest non-Oromo group is the Amhara (8 %). Religious affiliations correspond much to the ethnic landscape, with approximately 78 per cent Muslims and 19 per cent Orthodox Christians. The rest are Protestants, Catholics and followers of the indigenous Oromo religion.15 The majority of Muslims are found in the rural areas, while Orthodox Christians dominate in many of the urban areas. Followers

15 These figures are based on the census from 1994 (“The 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Results for Oromiya Region” 1994), as there are no published figures from the latest census from 2007.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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10

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of the indigenous Oromo religion are found basically in the Alaba area. The overwhelming majority of the population is rural (87,6%), engaged in agriculture, with some involved in cattle rearing, particularly in Alaba and in the lowland areas. The urban dwellers (12,4%) are active mostly in various forms of trade and crafts, in addition to being employed in the local government administration and in the few NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) present in Bale. Industry is virtually non-existent. The population of Robe, the centre of my fieldwork, is said to be around 38,000 (“The 2007 Census: Preliminary Report” 2008), whereas the real figure may be higher. Although recent figures on religious and ethnic distribution are lacking, it can be estimated that the Muslims count for 44 per cent of the population and the Christians for 55 per cent. The Arsi Oromo is the dominating group with 44 per cent while the Shoa Oromo are 22 per cent and the Amhara 25 per cent of the population.16 Divided into four administrative sub-units, or qäbäläwočč (sing. qäbälä), the town’s religious and ethnic landscape is largely reflected in this administrative setup. Whereas qäbälä 01 holds a mixed population, qäbälä 02 is dominated by the Christian Amhara. Qäbälä 03, located around the main mosque, is dominated by Arsi Oromo Muslims, and qäbälä 04, which is also referred to as Donsa, is home to many of the Christian Shoa Oromo who migrated into Robe in the late 1970s. The Arsi Oromo, who are the focus of this study, are organised in a complex clan-system. The two main moieties are the Mendo and Siko, which furthermore are divided into seven and five sub-groups, respectively.17 Each of these sub-groups is divided into numerous clans ( goosa), which in turn are divided into sub-clans or lineages (balbala). The balbala consists of several families, with origins traced genealogically back five to seven generations. Below the balbala we find the

16 These estimates are based on the 1994 Housing and Population Census. According to oral statements by officials in the Robe Municipality, the town’s population was divided into 60 per cent Muslims and 40 per cent Christians. It was also said that the Oromo (including both Shoa and Arsi Oromo) counted for 70 per cent of the population, followed by the Amhara at 27 per cent (interview with officials, 30 March 2006). 17 Based on their routes of expansion, the Weyb River became the dividing line for the two moieties. The Mendo is currently dominating the areas west of the river, and Siko the eastern and northern parts.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

introduction

11

aanaa, which comprises several warra or extended families, the smallest kinship units. Whereas the clans had their specific dwelling-areas, and the system was intrinsically linked to the gadaa organisation, recent history has diminished the relevance of the former and caused a complete disappearance of the latter. Nevertheless, clan affiliation remains important for social identity and belonging.

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Telling a Story A story needs to be told in a way that includes the necessary details and which is clear and understandable. It could be told by focusing on selected themes, paying less attention to the sequence of unfolding events. A story could also be told chronologically, treating the material and topics as they evolve through the course of time. My choice of opting for a historical approach is based on two main considerations. The first is the theme of religious change in itself. It appears that an analysis which follows the developments chronologically would engender a more encompassing picture of change. Secondly, as much of the empirical data presented here are new, I have come to the conclusion that a diachronic perspective historical approach would do most justice to the richness of the data. The study is divided into nine chapters and a summary. The second chapter contains discussions on the main concepts and perspectives of the study, followed by two chapters which situate the area of research within a historical and a cultural-religious framework. Chapter three outlines the expansion of Islam in southern Ethiopia in general, and in Bale in particular, while chapter four discusses the religious universe of the Oromo of Bale, with a particular focus on aspects affected by the process of religious change. Chapters five and six revolve around the initial arrival of Salafis into south-eastern Ethiopia and to Bale, and discuss the main factors and actors relevant for this emergence. This discussion is related to the wider societal and political developments in Bale and in the surrounding areas. Chapter seven focuses on the Derg period in Bale.18 Even though Salafi activities were very limited during this period, this chapter will demonstrate how the development during this period made a lasting impact on the locality and was important 18 The word Derg literally means committee, and signifies the military junta governing Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991.

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chapter one

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for the rapid expansion of Salafism in the 1990s. This growth is treated in chapters eight and nine, where the former discusses the general process of change within the period from 1991 to 2006, and the latter pays particular attention to the expansion and fragmentation of the Salafi movement, and to how it related to the issues of politics and ethnicity in Bale. A concluding discussion is found in chapter ten, where the study’s main findings are related to the concept of religious change.

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CHAPTER TWO

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SALAFISM, LOCALISATION AND RELIGIOUS CHANGE “Nowhere in the history of religion is the danger of interpretative generalisation becoming reductionist or simplistic more acute than in the study of the Islamic religion” (Graham 1993: 495). Developments over the last decades, with events on the global arena catching the attention of the world at large, have certainly confirmed this tendency. It has spurred an increase in the use of terms such as reformist Islam, scripturalist Islam, radical Islam, Islamism and fundamentalism, too often becoming representations of a seemingly homogeneous phenomenon, in which evaluative presumptions hinder us from qualified analysis. Tensions have also led to a distinction between the “good” and the “bad” Muslim (Mandani 2004), largely based on one’s view on terrorism. In an African setting, a similar dichotomy between local and foreign Islam has gained considerable ground as a conceptual map. This map marks out the former as tolerant and peaceful and the latter as radical and violent. A major objective of this study is, however, to show that mutually exclusive and binary categories such as “pragmatic” versus “exclusivist” or “indigenous” versus “foreign”, encumber us from grasping a social reality which is far more complex.1 Before embarking on a thorough discussion of this complexity in relation to the empirical data, this present chapter will dwell on and discuss the dynamics inherent in the concept of religious change, explore the features of Salafism and forward some suggestions relevant for the localisation of religious reform. The overall objective is to point to how these issues remain important in order to discern the complexity and heterogeneity of contemporary Islamic movements appearing in particular localities.

1 For critique of such dichotomies in relation to African contexts, see Otayek and Soares (2007) and the contributions in the volume edited by Loimeier and Seesemann (2006).

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The Concept of Religious Change How can religious change be understood? Often the concepts of conversion and religious change have been discussed simultaneously, both signifying changes within a given religious tradition and exchange of one religion for another. My own understanding follows Håkan Rydving’s conceptualisation, which distinguishes between two forms of religious change (religious change 1 and religious change 2). The first, which corresponds to the German word Wandel, refers to changes within a given religious tradition, while the second, corresponding to the German Wechsel, means the exchange of one religious tradition for another (for example, conversion from Islam to Christianity) (Rydving 1993: 9f.). I have chosen to distinguish between the two, referring to the former as religious change and the latter as conversion. This study is only concerned with the first category, changes occurring within the Islamic tradition among the Muslim Oromo in the context of Bale. Seeing religion as inherently dynamic, one may ask whether religious change can be distinguished as a separate phenomenon for enquiry. The process of religious change has in this regard been related to the concept of religious acculturation introduced by Åke Hultkrantz and understood as “the process by which two cultures are brought into close contact with one another and as a result of this show increasing similarities” (Hultkrantz 1960: 19; Hultkrantz 1973: 210). Elaborating on this, Rydving (1993: 11f.) has further distinguished between religious deculturation, “the process by which the indigenous religion is weakened”, and reculturation, “the process by which the foreign religion is strengthened”. It would obviously be possible to extrapolate this notion to include similar developments within the same religious tradition. Although this would be a question of emphasis and perspective, a too open-ended approach such as this clearly impinges on our possibilities of construing religious change as a distinct category.2 It would be possible to use the term religious reform for a more clear-cut understanding. When I nevertheless have opted for the concept of religious change, it is because I believe this term in a more encompassing manner captures the dynamics embedded and related 2

Another dilemma of the concept of acculturation is that it has largely been situated in a colonial scheme of subject-object relations, where the latter are perceived as a passive object of causation. See Fabian (1979: 13f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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to concrete agendas and strategies for alteration in a religious sphere, and that it recognises the longue duré perspective of reform. My own usage of the term religious change is based on two presumptions. First, rather than seeing change as two cultures showing “increasing similarities”, I have chosen to underscore the intentional aspect. In contrast to slow processes of remoulding and acculturation, it is then seen as explicitly implemented by agents of change with an intention and with a strategy for bringing change. Secondly, my suggestion is to see the rapid pace within a relatively limited period of time as a defining aspect of religious change. The word relatively is important here, as it avoids limiting the time-frame within a too narrow scope.3 Approaching Religious Change I am hesitant to use the word theory, or model, for my own thinking on religious change, and would rather raise some points that should be considered as suggestions derived from my findings in the field. My intention is therefore to provide a more specific approach dependent on the local context. For a study dealing with Islamic reform in an African context it would be relevant to integrate a critical reading of perspectives treating the process of change with reference to Africa as well as those discussing change with an Islamic point of departure. This reading is meant to clarify my own arguments for the sake of forwarding points of view relevant for this particular study.

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Religious Change in Africa The debate about religious change in Africa has during the latest decades been shaped largely by Robin Horton’s pioneering work (1971), commonly labelled the intellectualist approach. Depicting a two-tiered spiritual arrangement of lesser spirits and the Supreme Being, the former linked to the local community (microcosm) and the latter concerned with the wider world (macrocosm), Horton’s argument is that when the boundaries of the microcosm were weakened— as a consequence of the process of modernisation—the lesser spirits

3 For a more elaborate discussion of the concept of religious reform and change, see Loimeier (2003).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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lost their relevance and subsequently paved the way for a more elaborate cult of the Supreme Being. This development was said to coincide with expansions of Islam and Christianity, each underscoring the notion of the Supreme Being, in which the roles of the missionaries were reduced to catalysts or “accelerators of changes that were in the air anyway” (Horton 1971: 104). Rather than conversion, in the sense of change of religious affiliation, what happened was merely an adjustment of indigenous beliefs. Horton’s thesis received much attention and sparked numerous responses. The initial critique came from Humphrey Fisher (1973), who argued that religious change should rather be seen as a continuous process. With particular reference to Islam in Africa, he then suggested a model consisting of three stages. The first, the quarantinestage, was when Islam first arrived in a locality, and Muslim foreigners (Arab traders, artisans and preachers) remained isolated with little interaction with the indigenous communities. The second stage, called the mixing-stage, occurred when the indigenous people, as a result of interaction with the foreign Muslims, embraced Islam, thus paving the way for a symbiosis, or mixture, of local and Islamic traditions. The final stage, the reform-stage, brought an end to this mixing stage— mainly through the activities of reformist movements or individuals.4 It would be beyond the scope of this study to review all the numerous contributions to the debate stemming from Horton, and I will here only give a brief overview of the main models, using the categorisation made by André Droogers (1985). The first category is the functionalist model, which sees religious change as attempts to restore order in times of crises caused by social change.5 The second, the neoMarxist model, views religious change in close relation to economic systems. By modifying the Marxist presumption of economic factors as ultimately determinant, the model has come to acknowledge the existence of religion as an expression of material reality.6 The third category, labelled the African model, emphasises the need for the

4 Levtzion has in similar veins, but far more vaguely, depicted conversion to Islam as “a long process towards greater conformity and orthodoxy (1979: 21). Both he and Fisher display a rather evaluative and biased view of what Islam is—related to different degrees of orthodoxy. 5 For representatives of the functionalist model, see Ifeka-Moller (1974), Trimingham (1955; 1959), Wilson (1971) and Barkun (1974). 6 For representatives of the neo-Marxist model, see van Binsbergen (1976; 1981), van Binsbergen and Buitenhujis (1976).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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researcher to immerse him- or herself in interpretative discourses of letting indigenous African images, symbols and concepts regain precedence,7 while the last model, the semantic one, gives priority to human activity in creating, sustaining and structuring meaning. It emphasises human agency in constructing meaning through symbols and representations.8 In addition to Droogers’ categories, we may add what can be characterised as the psychological model, represented by Ogbu U. Kalu (1977).9 Although the ideas of Horton surely served an important purpose as midwife for many enlightening studies, the succeeding debate has, however, remained stuck since the 1970s. Still today, case studies apply Horton’s theory as a point of departure, while both the empirical data and the arguments forwarded end up discharging it. Attempts made to suggest other alternative conceptualisations remain unconvincing. The pertinent dilemma with such approaches are their sweeping generalisations, in which I believe it is highly difficult, if not impossible, to formulate an overriding theory of religious change, encompassing both Christianity and Islam, without regard to specific historical circumstances or for the huge contextual differences in a continent like Africa.

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Modernisation, Social Change and Islamic Reform The issue of Islamic reform has similarly been related to social changes, in which socio-economic and political change are portrayed as important determinants for processes of religious change. Concerning the genesis and growth of Islamism, factors such as the failure of modernisation (Dekmejian 1995; Faksh 1997), socio-economic strains like poverty and illiteracy (Ansari 1984; Munson 1986) as well as the influence of Western culture (Keddie 1994) have been suggested, as well as the issue of alienation from both traditional virtues and modern life (Waltz 1986). There has moreover been a tendency to single out modernisation as the very cause of religious change. With reference to Africa, Ronald W. Niezen has argued that the failure to include modernisation (as embedded with secularisation and Westernisation) in

7

For representatives of the African model, see Fabian (1979) and Fernandez (1978). 8 For representatives of the semantic model, see Sahlins (1976) and Crick (1976). 9 For a supplementary list of contributors to the debate, see Hallencreutz (1988).

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accounts of religious change and Islam in Africa “is almost as absurd as trying to explain heresy without reference to the Christian Church” (1991: 248). The concept of modernisation—entangled with those of post-modernism and globalisation—is at the outset an elusive concept. It is often connected to developments in the Western world and characterised by technological innovations, scientific rationalism, social differentiation, improved means for communication as well as linked to the emergence of the nation-state, capitalist structures and the emancipated secularised individual. Whereas technological innovations, industrialisation, bureaucratisation and division of labour were unequally experienced in Africa, and clearly less apparent in many localities, factors such as the introduction of mass education, literacy, improvement of translocal communications and the emergence of modern health care may seem to be of greater importance—affecting traditional structures, values and institutions. Drawing upon Foucault’s concept of the episteme,10 Louis Brenner (2001) has argued that the process of modernisation and the expansion of Western-oriented education that started in the colonial era facilitated a development from an esoteric to a rational episteme and that such a de-mystification of reality paved the way for Islamic reformism with a stronger emphasis on scripture (1993b). Clearly rooted in a Weberian paradigm, and teleological in its essence, such a development has largely been construed as a indispensable decline of “traditional” practices and the augmenting of “rational” practices (Eickelman 1976; Geertz 1968; Gellner 1981; Gilsenan 1982). There are, however, certain limitations to the proposed causal links between increased rationalisation of religion and society and religious change. As noted by Benjamin Soares (2005: 3f.), it would be difficult to claim that modernisation inevitably causes the decline of “traditional” or “popular” Islam in the face of so-called fundamentalist, reformist or scripturalist versions of Islam. The crucial point is that it confines change in a too stringent teleological perspective and that

10

In his discussion of knowledge, Foucault distinguishes between connaissance, savoir and episteme, where the latter is “something like a worldview” (1986a: 191). It can be said to sum up knowledge in a given locality, constituting the rationale for prevailing inter-subjective conceptions and practices.

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it serves to maintain a dichotomy of traditional/popular/rural Islam versus scripturalist/orthodox/urban Islam.11 The problem with both the perspectives forwarded by Horton (and by his critics) as well as those presuming causal linkages between modernisation and religious change is that they overemphasise the role of social change as determinant for changes within the religious sphere. Such structuralist approaches represent what André Droogers has called black-box models; “it is only clear what is put into it—e.g. social and economic change—and what comes out e.g. religious change—but what happens inside the black box is not clear” (1985: 107). This has also been noted by other writers, both in relation to Muslim Africa (Kaba 1974; Kane 2003; Westerlund 1997) and to changes within Islam in general (Gilsenan 1973; Wiktorowicz 2002). Lansine Kaba points out, for instance, that relationship between religious- and socioeconomic change would not be as direct or simple as one may think, and claims that the effects of socio-economic change would not be unilateral in the sense that it “does not necessarily lead to the growth of new religious rituals and sects” (1974: 71f.). A more serious flaw with such approaches is that they overstate the issue of “crisis” produced through structural and social change, and that religious change constitutes a way out of such crises. Intrinsic to Horton’s notion of the “shattered microcosm” is that of discontinuity and socio-cultural disruption, and that religious change consequently is understood as a reaction to such a precarious situation. Michael Gilsenan (1982: 15) has moreover claimed that Islamic traditions, as reread in the “contemporary condition of crisis” comprise a refuge and an evasion for the disenchanted modern Muslim. Such a narrow understanding which confines religious change as an answer to a crisis is similarly noticeable in the view that sees the intersection of modernisation and Islamic reform as producing increased rationalisation of religion; as an inevitable and irrevocable process in which Islamic reformism is the only possible outcome. The production of new religious orientations is thus sort of a last-solution for the uprooted, insecure and the alienated, and falls short of being what Marx called the “opium for the people”. 11

A similar teleological perspective has been forwarded by Taylor (2001), who in his cultural theory describes the transition to modernity through a set of cultureneutral processes; that all cultures basically will go through the same changes—and with similar results.

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This relates to another dilemma—the way the perspectives which give preference to structural changes and portray religious change as a last-solution to crises leave little room for the subject. In fact, such approaches reduce the individual to someone who is caught in between increased marginalisation, alienation and lack of coherent meaning, and for whom new religious orientations constitute refugee and the way out of insecure situations. With particular reference to an African context, this contributes, moreover, to the reproduction of a colonial subject-object relationship, in which Africans are located at the subaltern end of a power pendulum—as “mere symbols of extreme otherness” (van Binsbergen and Gewald 2004: 35). Whereas representations of contemporary Islamic reform as a reactionary force in general implies that there have been no agency left for those involved, such movements have in Africa moreover been seen as a foreign phenomenon, as a force from the outside—well-equipped with resources— imposed on the tolerant, pragmatic, yet alienated African Muslim. He or she is left with no other choice than to succumb to forces beyond his or her control. This is not to say that the rapid and wide-ranging social changes taking place have not made deep impacts on African society, or that the notion of crisis is irrelevant. My suggestion is, rather, to treat issues of social change and modernisation as represented in different manners, with reference to different layers of the social reality, and, moreover, that religious change would constitute a process which in a far more complex manner is intersected with these. It entails a perspective which underscores the dynamics of processes like modernisation; experienced and appropriated differently at any point in time by locally situated actors. And furthermore, that one needs to keep an eye on other factors affecting the production and formation of new religious orientations. The Genealogy of Religious Change An important point of departure for this study is to see religious change as a subject in itself—in the sense that such processes should not merely be viewed as subservient to changes within other sectors of society. This means that it becomes pertinent to say something about what actually happens in processes of religious change. Inspired by suggestions forwarded by Samuli Schielke (2007), yet developing my

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own arguments, a relevant concept for capturing and conceptualising religious change would then be, I believe, the concept of genealogy. Discussing the concept of tradition, Schielke distinguishes between tradition as heritage; “the imagined and explicit reference to an authoritative past” (2007: 323) and tradition as genealogy—construed as being connected to discourses and customs which form conditions for the emergence of a certain way of thinking and acting in a given setting. Whereas the tradition-as-heritage emphasises coherence and continuity, genealogy refers to alteration and change, and is thus of pertinent relevance for a study such as this. It constitutes a concept which both acknowledges religious change as a subject for enquiry and which recognises the social realities in which such processes remain embedded. It would be important to stress that genealogy in this case is not used as an account for ancestry, i.e. for a particular history of a phenomenon, but rather as a method and a mode of enquiry. Genealogy represents, as formulated by Schielke, an enterprise “of examining the formation of discourses and practices”—and, I would add, the trajectory of such discourses and practices—and “implies a research programme of intellectual history that is constantly looking at the interplay of intellectual developments and social and political changes” (2007: 323). The genealogy of religious change is in this study seen to consist of two major components, namely the discussion of the emergence and the trajectory of new religious orientations, as well as the analysis of how these arrive and are appropriated within a particular locality. The present study is in other words well-situated within a tradition that examines the encounter between translocal or global forces and the local, yet forwards, at the same time, more nuanced perspectives on this interaction. Regarding the first component, my suggestion is to develop an analysis which specifies the outside influences—which I refer to as the impetus. This notion of outside influences needs to be related to the view of localities as interconnected, and that the dynamics generated through reciprocal interactions between different localities would produce circumstances in which influences are not always easily demarcated. Anyhow, connected with the present process of globalisation, outside influences have often been labelled as flow, i.e. the movement of ideas imprinting and transforming localities on a scale and at a pace unprecedented in history (Bauman 1998; Schreiter 1997). Whereas the metaphor of flow has been depicted as something “patently visible yet hard to define” (Schreiter 1997: 87), I argue that an understanding of processes of religious change very much depends

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on the degree of accuracy applied in identifying the origin, determining the content and analysing the trajectory of the so-called flow. The second component refers to the transcendence of physical and symbolic boundaries and to the appropriation of the impetus. Moving beyond the obvious fact that an evolving globalisation has enhanced interconnectedness, my approach is to analyse the actual ways novel ideas were brought from one locality to another, and not the least— by whom.12 Intersected with this is the investigation of the response to this impetus by the actors of a locality, which means paying attention to the strategies applied by such actors in appropriating and localising the impetus, and which moreover entails an enterprise which integrates the factors and conditions, both local and translocal, relevant for its appropriation within the particular locality.13 Such an approach implies that the processes of change should be seen as embodied through situated actors, it recognises the active participation of such actors and the creativity of human agency in transmitting and appropriating outside influences. The Impetus for Change

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Delineating the impetus means to situate the impetus in time and space, and entails the task of tracing it back to its spatial and historical origin, to specify major aspects of the content, as well as to examine its dynamic development, referring both to internal intellectual discourses and to intersecting factors in the social reality. Failing to do so often leads to inaccurate presumptions on the nature of outside influences and hampers our understanding of the content and direction of processes of religious change. 12 In his review of The History of Islam in Africa, edited by Levtzion and Pouwels (2000), Hanretta (2005) has duly noted how the contributions to the volume pay minimal attention to how technological developments, improved infrastructure and means of communications have affected transformations of Muslim societies in Africa. 13 In relation to religious change, impetus represents a set of ideas different from those existing in the given locality. It can moreover represent a qualitatively different religious tradition or can remain in conjunction with the one already in place. Response signifies the reactions, either rejection or acceptance, of the impetus by actors within the locality where it is introduced. I am aware of the “technical” connotation embedded in the term impetus, and its linkage to behaviourist theories. One option could have been to use the word message, but my objective has been to point to something that is coming from the outside, disseminated in the new context and which is intrinsically linked to reaction.

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Delineating the Impetus for Change Too often one finds that outside influences are depicted through the rather uncritical usage of terms such as “Islamism”, “Fundamentalism” or “Radical/Political Islam”. Often portrayed as monolithic forces, they are seldom situated in a historical context, nor are the precise ideological content analysed. A more nuanced perspective has been forwarded by Oliver Roy. Introducing the term neofundamentalism, described as a “common intellectual matrix” and as a new “form of religiosity”, he argues that neofundamentalism represents a phenomenon different from the politically oriented Islamism. Rather than emphasising partisan politics and the issue of an Islamic state, neofundamentalists focus on personal religious purity, condemn shirk and underscore religious piety and the salvation of the individual (Roy 2004: 232). Although his attempt to understand contemporary Islamic movements as far more heterogeneous is laudable, the problem of the term neofundamentalism is, however, that it conceals important differences among the movements it sets out to comprise. The Salafi (or Wahhabi) label has similarly been applied to Islamic reformers in quite indiscriminate ways, which consequently has produced inaccurate analyses and erroneous conclusions. One relevant example is Lansine Kaba’s acclaimed study of the Islamic reform movement in West Africa during the 1940s and 1950s. Discussing the influence of African graduates from the al-Azhar University of Cairo, he claims that the teaching “may be considered as the resurgence of a special form of the Wahhabiyya adapted to the needs of the Egyptian society” (1974: 79). However, these reformers were more informed by the Egyptian Salafiyya movement, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Society of Young Muslims (Jamʿiyyat al-Shubbān al-Muslimīn), than by the teachings of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (Amselle 1987; Brenner 1993a: 59f.; Otayek 1988; Soares 2005: 181f.).14 Another example is the views presented by Haggai Erlich (2007) in his book on EthiopianSaudi relations. He interprets Saudi Arabian Salafism, or Wahhabism, as he writes, as an exclusively politicised movement. Failing to clarify

14 British colonialists in India even dubbed Sufi reformers Wahhabis (Sirriyeh 1999: 13), while the French in West Africa applied the term to the anti-colonial movement (Brenner 2001: 131f., 166). A similar, and more recent labelling has been noted by Bangstad: some Tablīgh reformers in present-day South Africa are called Salafis (2007: 191f.). See Otayek and Soares (2007) for some enlightening views on this issue.

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his understanding of the term and not fully considering Salafism’s ideological development, his otherwise brilliant study suffers from some important deficits. Statements claiming that Ibn Taymiyya “was the spiritual founder of Sunni fundamentalism” (2007: 31) and that the objective of Ethiopia’s “Wahhabis” is the “political victory of Islam” (2007: 176) are inaccurate, and lead, in my view, to unqualified conclusions.15

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The Impetus for Change: Salafism The term Salafism is in this study largely used as an etic term. Although some of my informants, particularly those within the group of ʿulamāʾ (sing. ʿālim, Islamic scholar) occasionally referred to themselves as Salafis, the most commonly used term was tawḥ īd (God’s unicity). A Salafi in Bale described himself as nama tawhiid, “a person of tawḥ īd”, and labelled the movement as warra tawhiid, “people or followers of tawḥ īd”. When I in this study have opted for the word Salafism, it is to clarify that although the focus is on the particularity of a religious movement within a distinct locality, this movement remains intrinsically linked to religious ideas with roots beyond this locality. The term al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ (“the pious ancestors”) signifies a link back to what is perceived as the pure and authentic Islam. As every Muslim would uphold and value this continuance and thus claim to be a Salafi, any attempt to extrapolate its meaning into a contemporary setting and to define it becomes overtly difficult.16 This has been exacerbated by recent developments where Salafism has become increasingly heterogeneous, encompassing a variety of actors, groups and movements and, moreover, by the manner in which it has caught the attention of the media. Consequently, the concept remains shrouded with ambiguity, which calls for a cautious approach when trying to define it. Recognising that Salafism represents a broader tradition than Wahhabism, I have nevertheless chosen to apply this term when referring to the teaching of Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb. This is, as noted, because of the pejorative connotations of Wahhabism, and due to the fact that the Salafis in Bale were to include ideas other than those of only Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb. An important element in Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s teaching was al-da‘wa ila al-tawḥ īd (the call to the doctrine of the Oneness of God) aimed at calling the Muslims back 15

For a review of Erlich’s book, see Østebø (2007b). For an enlightening discussion on the complexity connected with the term, see Hegghammer (2007: 53f.). 16

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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to the pure Islam.17 This was related to the core point in Salafism; the absolute focus on tawḥ īd, understood as the Oneness of Lordship (tawḥ īd al-rubūbiyya), Oneness professed through worship (tawḥ īd al-ulūhiyya) and the Oneness of God’s attributes (tawḥ īd al-ṣifāt),18 which has given rise to an elaborate theology of refuting what is considered bidaʿ (innovations) in Islam, particularly pilgrimage to shrines, the veneration of awliyyāʾ (sing. walī),19 rituals performed in conjunction with tombs, and more in general, practices connected to Sufism.20 Also important has been the notion of bypassing Islam’s century-old juridical interpretive legacy (taqlīd), and applying independent legal interpretation (ijtihād) based solely on the Qurʾān and the Sunna; collections of aḥ ādith (sing. ḥ adīth)—which in turn points to Salafism as a teaching underscoring the Qurʾān and the Sunna as the only legitimate sources of Islam. As these are considered the only true guides for religious conduct—said to be uncritically accepted—Salafism is therefore often conceived as literalist and anti-rationalist. Also, Salafism places a particular emphasis on the individual’s observance of ritual practice and moral behaviour, as outlined in the Sunna. The 19th century Egyptian Salafiyya movement surfaced in the colonial era, at a time and in a context where the Muslim world found itself confronted with increasing domination by the Western world, spurring the thinkers of this movement to actively seek out ways to meet the new challenges and to accommodate Islam to Western (“modern”) influences.21 Their ideas were, to some degree, ideologically linked to those forwarded by Abū l-Aʿlā Mawdūdī (d. 1979) in Pakistan, and would give rise to the Muslim Brotherhood founded in

17 For works on the life of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, see for example Delong-Bas (2004) and Cook (1992); for works on Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s teaching, see for instance Delong-Bas (2004); for studies on the ideological and political developments of Saudi Arabia, see for example Steinberg (2002), Commins (2006), Kechichian (1986), Piscatori (1983) and the volume edited by al-Rasheed (2008); for the history of Saudi Arabia, see for instance Al-Rasheed (2002), Vassiliev (2000) and Kostiner (1993). 18 For a discussion on the concept of tawḥ īd, see Haykel (2009); for remarks on its relation to the Salafi perception of unlawful practices, see Peskes (1999). 19 Walī signifies a person who is near to, or loved by, God (from Arabic—to be near). In the Sufi tradition it has often constituted a certain holy person, and usually been translated into English as “saint”. 20 The categorisation of rituals performed at shrines and graves as bidaʿ was not introduced by Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, but represents a longer genre within fiqh, discussing such un-Islamic innovations. See Fierro (1992). 21 The main figures behind the Egyptian Salafiyya movement were, as noted in the previous chapter, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghāni (d. 1897), Muḥammad ʿAbduh (d. 1905) and Rashīd Riḍā (d. 1935).

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Egypt in 1928. Although Muḥammad ʿAbduh, and to a greater extent Rashīd Riḍā, eventually came to harbour favourable views of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s teachings (Commins 1990: 133; Sirriyeh 1999: 86f.), the points of departure for the Egyptian and Saudi Arabian movements were clearly different. Whereas the former emerged in response to an increasing Western presence in the Islamic world, and has, through its many offshoots, given rise to the increasingly heterogeneous movement commonly labelled Islamism, Salafism in Saudi Arabia was initially of a different character.22 Certainly, Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb and the 19th century Muslim reformers in the Peninsula had clear and unambiguous views of Islam and politics—seeing the sharīʿa as the only legitimate law—yet, surfacing in the relatively remote region of Najd and expanding in an area with little or no contact with Western powers, the Salafis on the Peninsula were not faced with similar challenges as their co-religionists in Egypt. Occupied with the notion of purity, and subject to exacerbating political turmoil during the 19th century, the reformist ʿulamāʾ, who by then were expanding their ideological grip over the area, turned the movement in a more exclusive direction. Figures such as Sulaymān ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn Muḥammad (d. 1818), ʿAbd al-Laṭīf (d. 1876) and Ḥ amad ibn ʿAtīq (d. 1884) formulated doctrines restricting true Muslims from residing in and travelling to areas controlled by idolaters—understood to be both non-Muslims and non-Salafis (Commins 2006: 33f., 46f.).23 This isolationist stand, interlinked with the concern for purity, consequently turned Islamic reform in the Arabian Peninsula in the direction of increased protective conservatism.

22 A similar distinction is also made by Halldén (2007). It would be beyond the scope of this study to embark on an extensive discussion of the numerous attempts made to categorise the contemporary Islamic movement labelled Islamism, fundamentalism or political Islam. It may be sufficient to mention Roy (1994), who has also distinguished between what he calls fundamentalists (including Salafis) and Islamists, and Hodgkin (1990), who in an African context differentiates between a movement of Islamic resurgence, and Islamism as a modern and intellectual movement aimed as Islamising all aspects of life. I am also aware of the limitation of my own distinction, as there obviously would be overlapping concerns and ideological similarities between Salafism in Saudi Arabia and Islamism. 23 It needs to be noted that this idea was subject to a lasting debate between conservative and more accommodating ʿulamāʾ on the Arabian Peninsula. For further details on this, see Al-Fahad (2004).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Developments in the 20th century, and in particularly in the 1960s, contributed to modify this stand as well as producing a more diversified movement. Gamāl ʿAbd al-Nāṣir’s effort at alienating the Muslim Brotherhood from Egyptian politics, and the latter’s flight to Saudi Arabia, was the precursor to a major schism within the kingdom’s Salafi movement. Assuming positions at Saudi Arabia’s Islamic universities, members of the Brotherhood gradually managed to disseminate their politicised views, which in turn paved the way for an increased politicisation and diversification of Saudi Arabian Salafism. This led, at the next junction, to the gradual emergence of movements exposing, to a varying degree, radical political views, where the use of violence was included in their programmes. David Commins has, in his treatment of this development, consequently made a distinction between Salafism as stemming from Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb and the 19th century Salafi scholars on the one hand and later influences coming from the Muslim Brotherhood on the other. Referring to the latter as Islamic Revivalism, Commins claims that it represents a qualitatively different tradition and argues that groups such as al-Qāʿida, Ṭ alibān or those surfacing in various parts of Central Asia should not be considered Salafis (2006: 130f.). The dilemma with this claim is, however, that Salafism, or religion or religious movements more in general are portrayed as relatively static phenomena where issues of adaptation and transformation are overlooked.24 Quintan Wiktorowicz’s (2006) approach, in which he distinguishes between the purist, politico and jihadi trends within Salafism, is more nuanced.25 The purist trend, represented by the Salafi establishment of Saudi Arabia, the Council of ʿulamāʾ, is seen as focusing mainly on the moral and ritual practices of one’s surroundings and as concerned

24 It would be relevant to mention Abu-Rabi’ (2004: 65f.), who on his part, operates with a broader understanding, in which he includes all contemporary Islamist movements in the concept of Salafism. He does, however, distinguish between four different kinds of Salafism: The first is classical Salafism, represented by Aḥmad ibn Ḥ anbal and Ibn Taymiyya; the second is the pre-colonial Salafism linked to Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb; while the third, colonial Salafism, is associated with Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghāni and Muḥammad ʿAbduh; the fourth is referred to as the post-colonial and is represented by Sayyid Quṭb and others; whereas the fifth, labelled as the post-1967 Salafism, refers to figures such as Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, Ḥ asan al-Turābī and Muḥammad Baqir al-Ṣadr. 25 A similar categorisation has been forwarded by Hegghammer and Lacroix, who differentiate between the rejectionist, reformist and jihadist trends of contemporary Salafism (“Saudi Arabia Backgrounder: Who Are the Islamists” 2004).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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with “maintaining the purity of Islam as outlined in the Qurʾān, Sunna, and the consensus of the Companions” (Wiktorowicz 2006: 217). It needs to be noted that the purist trend is rather heterogeneous, represented by figures within the Council and those harbouring more radical views.26 The second trend, the politico, which could also be labelled reformist, is represented by the so-called Sahwa movement (al-Ṣaḥ wa al-Islāmiyya), “the Islamic Awakening”. It is this trend which is the most directly ideological heir to the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia. The third trend, the jihadi, represented by figures like Usāma bin Lādin, Muḥammad al-Maqdisī and by the al-Qāʿida network, is characterised by the call for a relentless violent struggle against the USA and the devastating forces of the West.27 Even if Wiktorowicz elsewhere (2001) has referred to Salafism as a transnational movement, his typology is largely situated within a Saudi Arabian context. The inclusion of empirical material from other relevant areas would certainly have strengthened his arguments and perhaps spurred other categories. Even though this study is situated in a completely different context, the direct connection between the process of religious change in Bale and the developments of Salafism in Saudi Arabia makes it relevant to apply his typology as an analytical tool. This does not mean that the ambiguity inherent in the term Salafism has been solved. The way it is used in this study is based on my own considerations and understanding outlined in the discussion above.

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Localising Salafism Determining and identifying the precise ideological content of various voices contesting, condemning and undermining existing practices needs to be seen as interrelated with the second component embedded

26 The most extreme faction was that of Juhayman al-ʿUtaybi, responsible for the 1979 take-over of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. For a highly enlightening study about the incident, see Hegghammer and Lacroix (2007). 27 As derivations, terms like Jihadi Salafism or Salafi Jihadism were first used in the academic literature by Gilles Kepel (1998), although they allegedly were used in radical circles in the early 1990s before appearing in the London-based al-Anṣār magazine in 1994 (Hegghammer 2007: 55). Wiktorowicz’s tripartition could be related to Luhman’s (1977: 54f.; 1982: 238f.) concepts of function and performance, where the politico and jihadi trends relate to that of performance, and the purist trend to the issue of function.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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in the concept of the genealogy of change. This entails the task of specifying the manners in which the impetus transcended local boundaries, exploring the nature of interactions between different localities and to examining the local conditions relevant for the appropriation of such outside influences.

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Transcending Boundaries The issue of increased interactions between localities has become more relevant in light of an increasing globalisation and with a renewed focus on the transnational character of Islam (Ahmed 1992; Ahmed and Donnan 1994). It would be important, however, to recall the historical trajectory of Islam, in which Islam has been viewed as a proto-globalising project (van Binsbergen 1999), and be reminded that African societies historically did not constitute isolated islands—or “microcosms” as depicted by Horton—devoid of any translocal interactions across their boundaries.28 The important point is that globalisation, understood as a process, or a mode of temporality, and as characterised by the development of infrastructure and improved means of communication, has led to the blurring of national and local boundaries, increased the movement of ideas and reduced spatial and cultural distances in ways incompatible with other historical periods.29 Globalisation has also produced a clearcut dichotomy between the global and the local, where the former is seen as abstract, unbounded, general and all-encompassing and the latter is understood as real and concrete. However, just as much as the global is as concrete as the globe itself and as much as the local in all its disparity is found on this globe, such a global-local dichotomy remains an artificial construction. As long as the so-called global is represented in the local, so would also the local inevitably be globalised. Therefore, rather than seeing the global as an abstract sphere, and as conceptually and empirically distinct from the local, it should be understood as 28 This is not least true for African Muslims’ engagement in trade, in the search for religious education and in pilgrimages—enhancing communications with a wide spatial and cultural area. With particular relevance for this context, Bang (2003) has amply demonstrated the wide range of translocal contacts between different Muslim communities in East Africa. 29 The process of globalisation has spawned a vast literature on how to construe locality related to the global and to globalisation. For some relevant contributions, see van Binsbergen (1997), Foucault (1986b), Korff (2003), Gupta & Ferguson (1992), Cooke (1990) and Gille & Ó Riain (2002).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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linked to the local and to local discourses.30 I thus opt for a perspective that sees globalisation as the increased interaction between localities, and between actors within these localities. With globalisation characterised by increased interactions between localities, a pivotal aspect of this study will be to specify the nature and direction of this interaction. It means to explore the ways actors in different localities relate, how means of communications create meetingpoints as well as examine the positioning and nature of situated actors involved in these translocal interactions. Equally important would be to underscore how the blurring and overriding of boundaries of locality and the augmenting of outside impetuses enhance the availability of new and alternative ideas, produce a situation of increased pluralism. Whereas this has been referred to as structural availability,31 the crucial point would be, however, that it is not the structural changes which enhance the availability of alternative ideas; increased plurality is brought by the agency of the actors. Rather than perceiving flow as disembodied and dislocated, either in the form of networks (Castells 1997; Hannerz 1992) or “scapes” (Appadurai 1990), my suggestion is to pay attentiom to the issue of agency.

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Embodied Religious Change The study challenges the notion of the African as merely a victim of external forces, and pays due attention to how locally situated actors actively carried processes of change. It brings back the African subject as an active agent, and by recognising the purposive, intentional and transformative character of human nature, it explores the different strategies of agency among members of a society; the ways rapid changes are domesticated and appropriated by their creative responses. A nuanced reading of the concept of crisis in relation to the active subjects would not completely discharge it. The notion of crisis spurring changes in an individual’s life has been amply discussed in conversion theories, and it is clear that different kinds of emotional stress, painful experiences or sudden events often pave the way for

30 This relates to the concept of glocalisation forwarded by Robertson (Robertson 1992b). For similar perspectives, see Appadurai (1996), Kivisto (2002) and Schuerkens (2003). 31 The term is often used by sociologists (Snow, et al. 1980), but has also been applied in relation to religious change (Rambo 1993).

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new religious orientations (Rambo 1993: 44f.). The crucial point and a main perspective for this study is, however, to view the individual as an active agent in the creation of meaning and the selection of religious options (Richardson 1985). Faced with difficulties and feelings of disillusion, the actor harbours the creativity, resilience and determination to seek out new orientations, applies strategies for appropriating them and enacts in this manner the process of change. It should moreover be noted, with reference to the already discussed notion of availability, that an individual’s sense of crisis, of inadequateness, would not necessarily be a result of rapid social change, but possibly spurred by a situation of plurality and a wider range of options available.32 Actors would obviously not easily be put into clear-cut categories, yet for analytical purposes I have distinguished between actors as agents of change and actors representing the audience for these agents. Agents of change are of particular interest for this study, and it is my suggestion that unless there is an arrival of agents of change bringing new and alternative ideas, it is difficult to talk about religious change, and unless we pay particular attention to the agents of change, it would be difficult to determine the direction, content and success of religious change. Agents of change have, however, received little attention in the main theories of religious change in Africa. This is most noticeable in the intellectualist approach, where agents are reduced to “catalysts” and seen as irrelevant in the processes of change. Such deficits have been noted by Peter B. Clarke, who criticises Horton for reducing the role of the agents of change (1987: 136f.), as well as by Thomas O. Beidelman, who claims that in studies of Christianity in Africa consideration was mainly in terms of the relations of the convert to his traditional society, to the process of social change or sometimes to the development of native separatist churches. It never included the missionaries who made the conversions (1977: 31).33

32 Roald (2004: 79f.) has contributed with a relevant discussion of the issue of crisis and the different theories on conversion. Here she demonstrates how the notion of crisis needs to be seen in relation to a range of circumstances, and points to how social interactions often precede feelings of crisis. 33 Certainly, there has been a tendency among Western church-historians and Christian missionaries to emphasise the role of the missionaries. Anthropologists such as Comaroff and Comaroff (1997) have, however, linked mission activities to colonialism and reduced the role of the agents to questions concerning power and structural

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The actual process of religious change is constituted through the dynamic interactions between agents and audience. To put it in a simple manner, religious change remains embodied in the encounter between various actors, and is enacted in the dialectics between impetus and response. It is a process when a new and alternative message is introduced in a given context and when the audience responds to this in a manner that alters the prevailing religious worldview, symbols, concepts and rituals. The process could at the outset follow a number of trajectories as it would lead to the “addition of new elements, the discharging of old ones, or the modification of existing ones” (de Waal Malefijt 1968: 355). It is directly related to the issue of availability, which produces increased pluralism and leaves the individual with a wider range of options. One crucial aspect of this process is that increased availability often would have a reciprocal effect. In addition to creating awareness of other alternatives—and thus redirecting the individual’s religious orientation—it would also incite disenchantment with the existing one and thus generate a desire for change. This does not mean, however, that actors are perceived as islands detached from social structures and forces. Seeing the human and the structural as interlocked in a duality, my perception of the agencystructure relation, as inspired by the ideas of Anthony Giddens (1984), means that the human agent structures, as well as is being structured by society. This means that the ways actors produce, transmit, receive, accept, reject and appropriate the impetus would be related to their socio-economic and cultural background, to their positions in the locality and to the trajectory of their translocal interactions.

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Locality and Local Islam Locality refers, in this study, to the area of Bale.34 Yet, denoting it merely as a spatial category would be meaningless unless it is related to social space, to human agency and to cultural organisations. Constituted by both physical and social space, as intersected with each other, locality

changes. Seeking to redress this perspective, several interesting findings and nuanced suggestions can be found in Journal of Religion in Africa, 38 (2), 2008. 34 The concept of locality has received much attention in the social sciences, where writers such as Sayers (1984), Savage et al. (1987) and Urry (1987) have forwarded various conceptual considerations. Most of these are, in my view, too vague, and of little or no relevance to this study.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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is then perceived as the ways in which humans, through their cultures and social relations, experience, define and give meaning to space.35 Or, as suggested by Peter Dickens (1990: 3), locality is “the ways in which people interact with one another, with the physical environment and how they articulate their experiences”. Locality is thus spatially limited and at the same time bounded by the particularities generated by social interactions, which in turn are dialectically produced by a broad array of circumstances of a particular history.36 As an important concern for anthropologists, locality was initially seen as cultural units or sub-units where interrelations with the wider world were largely neglected (Schlee 1989: 1) or as entities where “contacts took place at the edges and change hardly happened” (Korff 2003: 4). Gradually, however, localities came to be seen as products of interactions between several localities (Leach 1964) and as products of a structural differentiation between interacting groups (Barth 1969b). This means that localities are intrinsically dynamic entities, where processes of change remain an embedded characteristic. Manifested through movements of people and ideas, and through various forms of pressures impinging on the locality, these dynamics surely affect the composition of a locality, the demarcation of its boundaries and the ways it is experienced by the members. The study of Islam saw since the 1970s a growing awareness of the heterogeneity of religious expressions found within numerous localities. Seeking to redress earlier perceptions of local Islam as deviations from the “true” scripturalist Islam, the trend was to understand the ways such expressions could be related to Islam as a general concept. One such attempt was made by Dale Eickelman (1982), who by contesting the notion of several Islams (El-Zein 1974; El-Zein 1977), and who tried to come to terms with the heterogeneity of religious expressions found within different Muslim localities, argued that the 35 This is clearly seen in the case of the Oromo of Bale, where clan-ship was intrinsically linked to land, in the sense that dwelling area and clan-identity were linked to control over designated space. 36 Although Appadurai (1995) also underlines the relational aspects of localities, I find it difficult to concur with the way he neglects the spatial dimension. Focusing on movements of people and ideas that transcend territorial borders, he claims that this spurs the formation of new communities where imagination replaces actual space. I would argue, however, that communities such as migrant ones, in as much as they imagine “home place”, constitute themselves spatially, and that it would be difficult to consider communities, such as the internet community, as local.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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many incongruent local expressions of Islam remained intrinsically linked to what he called the “universalistic principles of Islam”. The dilemma with this concept is that it fails to account for the long history of, and presently increasing, ideological plurality within the socalled universalistic principles of Islam. It is also insufficient in the way it ignores the fact that such principles always have been coloured by, and subject to, constant negotiations within a myriad of localities. Another perspective was forwarded by Talal Asad (1986), who claimed that seeing Islam as “a discursive tradition” constituted the most fruitful approach to the matter. He argued that the proper starting-point would be the instituted practice “into which Muslims are inducted as Muslims” (1986: 15, italics in original ), and that the focus should be placed on the Islamic discursive tradition which “seek to instruct practitioners regarding the correct form and purpose of a given practice” (1986: 14). There are, however, several limitations to Asad’s concept of the discursive tradition. At the outset, to depict Islam as a discursive tradition is, as noted by Schielke “as equally accurate as it is to say that Islam is a religion” (Schielke 2007: 349). Any religion would posses its own discursive tradition—claimed to be authoritative and normative by the adherents. Moreover, it is difficult to speak of a discursive tradition in the singular. Salafism constitutes I would argue, one of many within a wider conglomerate of Islamic traditions; often antagonistic of, and in competition with other ones. A more pertinent dilemma with Asad’s approach is that the emphasis on the discursive tradition of Islam produces a unilateral focus which excludes other possible traditions that inform Muslims about their religious practices. Whereas it is clear that “not everything Muslims say and do belongs to an Islamic discursive tradition” (Asad 1986: 14), his one-sided focus on religious practices as “Islamic because it is authorized by the discursive traditions of Islam” (1986: 15), provides us with limited analytic grounding for understanding the plurality of traditions available for Muslims practitioners. The point is that Muslims may perform rituals or religious practices that are, consciously or unconsciously, drawn from other sources, and which are not necessarily authorised with reference to any scholarly tradition of Islam. Yet, they are practiced, perceived and legitimised as integrated to the local religious universe by the adherents, who, moreover, are less concerned with sanctioning them with reference

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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to either an Islamic or a non-Islamic tradition.37 The issue of orthodoxy and the question of correct or incorrect practices, which Asad relates to relationships of power, would then not only be limited to discourses denoted strictly as Islamic. As the following chapters clearly will demonstrate, debates and encounters are very much between what is conceived as Islamic and un-Islamic. It means that while some may condemn certain practices with reference to an Islamic tradition (i.e. scriptural evidence), others would, as we will see, just as much refer to tradition as embedded in a particular local history and meaningful to that locality. This situation refers to the relatively obvious fact that no religious tradition, either we call it the “universalistic principles of Islam” or the “discursive tradition of Islam”, occurs, emerges, or develops in isolation from the rest of the social reality of that particular locality. Agreeing with Asad and not seeing Islam as a “determinate social blueprint” (1986: 14), it is nevertheless clear that socio-economic, political and social conditions will influence the trajectory of a religious tradition. It moreover means that any Islamic tradition emerges and develops in dynamic dialogue with other religious traditions existing in a given locality, in the sense that the situated actors would invoke, reproduce and integrate them, and that they all are reciprocally influenced by each other, and through this emerges what we can call the localised discursive tradition of Islam. The genealogy of religious change thus entails an integrated perspective that considers the local conditions relevant for the process of change and which particularly examines how the arrival of a novel and alternative religious impetus influences and is influenced by the religious traditions existing in a given locality. This process refers to a core concept of this study, namely that of localisation. Whereas it in this context is related to the emergence of Salafism, it should be stressed that the concept has a wider range, and that it encompasses all complex encounters between any Islamic tradition and those of the locality at any point in history. In other words, there can be no discursive tradition of Islam except for the localised discursive tradition of Islam.

37

This is also noted by Loimeier and Seesemann (2006: 7f.) who in connection to the Swahili terms dini (religion) and mila (local customs) argue that such terms are more interwoven than previously assumed. See also Launay (1992: 108).

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Localisation of outside impetuses as intersected with the posited global-local dichotomy would be related to the processes of homogenisation and heterogenisation (universalism versus particularism), often seen as disparate in a distinct polarity. In line with the perception of the local in relation to the global forwarded above, I would prefer to use the concepts of de-localisation and localisation as corresponding to homogenisation and heterogenisation, respectively. Moreover, rather than seeing the two as mutually exclusive, they would consequently best be understood as parallel and complementary processes (Appadurai 1996; Friedman 1990; Robertson 1992a). This study seeks to move beyond what David Held and Anthony MacGrew (2002) have characterised as “the transformalist school” in globalisation studies, which only focuses on the impacts globalisation processes have on local societies, and shift this perspective by pointing to agency, highlighting African actors as creative and strategic actors in integrating such forces to their immediate surroundings. Far from being passive recipients and victims, they would be deeply involved in dialectically enacting processes of de-localisation and localisation—in turn affecting the input, the output and the locality itself. Such a conceptualisation would free us from any unwarranted teleological and one-dimensional perspectives and open up for an understanding of locals as interlocked in constant negotiations with de-localising and localising forces.38 A movement of religious reform, such as Salafism, can be seen as a local reaction against Westernising forces, but it can also be interpreted as a de-localising trend, seen to threaten the particularities of a given locality, and thus spark reactions and opposition. This is, obviously, a consequence of the fact that different localities are unevenly interrelated to larger contexts through unequally distributed means of communication, and that actors within a locality would be differently positioned—determining the degree and the range of their contacts with contexts beyond the locality.

38 As ideas in the global era increasingly transcend spatial and cultural boundaries, the outcome is likely to be twofold. On the one hand, the use of similar symbols can produce cultural homogeneity, whereas on the other hand, imitation, creativity and construction of the symbols within a particular context pave the way for increased heterogeneity and the formation of local hybrids (Otterbeck 2000: 63). This latter aspect has often been neglected in the study of contemporary Islamic movements, but will be underscored in this study.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Modernisation Revisited The genealogy of religious change as examining the relevant conditions for the emergence and trajectory of change, intersected with the concept of localisation, entails an analysis of particular social processes relevant for the appropriation of religious impetus. In this case, dealing with religious change in recent history, it means a closer look at the issue of modernisation. Modernisation needs to be seen as representing a dynamic process, locally situated, in which a discussion of its main features and trajectory have to consider the complex manners in which processes of modernisation and religious change are related, i.e. the ways they coincide, contest and reinforce each other. Such an attempt has been made by Ousmane Kane in his study of the Yan Izala movement in Nigeria. Kane audaciously claims that the Yan Izala movement “had a modernising agenda” and that its members “aimed to articulate an ideology of modernity” (2003: 2). Although Kane’s thesis and analysis are intriguing, it would be important to notice Bruce Lawrence’s remark that “fundamentalists are modern but . . . not modernists” (1989: 1). The main agenda for Islamic reform movements would in most cases be, I argue, to bring change that is religiously motivated, while at the same time often becoming interwoven into processes of modernisation. Although Lawrence (1989: 6) speaks of such movements as “parallel socioreligious movements in the modern world” (italics in original), Salafism surely did not emerge in a modern context and was not always exported, as in the case of this study, to areas distinctively modern. With particular reference to the different ways actors are entangled with a process like modernisation, I believe the concept of multilogue (Comaroff and Comaroff 1993) to be of relevance. Challenging the notion of modernisation as equated with colonialism and Westernisation, and demonstrating its persistence in a number of post-colonial localities— producing a rich flora of incongruent processes—the concept of multilogue rectifies the subject-object relationship between the Western and the non-Western parts of the world, and provides crucial analytic grounding for recognising how actors actively engage in negotiations over change, whether they are called processes of modernisation or religious change.39 39 Similar perspectives has been forwarded by Chakrabarty (2000), Appadurai (1996), Gilroy (1993) as well as in the volume edited by Gaonkar (2001b).

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In conjugation with the term multilogue, the concept of “vernacular modernism”, as introduced by Donald Donham represents a fertile point of departure for this study’s understanding of modernisation.40 In his study of Maale in south-western Ethiopia, where the material underpinnings of modernity remained less apparent, Donham amply demonstrates—in congruence with Berger’s (1974) notion of the altered consciousness—that “what has been altered are peoples’ imaginations—their sense of their place in the world and the shape of their pasts and their future” (Donham 1999: xviii). The concept acknowledges modernisation as part of a locality and recognises both internal and external developments as relevant for its emergence within a locality. One of the main arguments is to view modernisation from below, as well as from above. This means that actors would relate to transformations and changes in different ways, that they will be active in appropriating such changes and in reconstructing meaning to their immediate reality, and, moreover, that such processes will vary according to both the dynamic character of modernisation and to the actors’ historic and social positioning. It entails local narratives which separate the past from the present and reorient expectations toward the future, and which positions societies according to an evolutionary axis; seeing some as lagging behind the more “developed ones”.

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Literacy and the Power of Knowledge In examining the conditions for localising impetuses for change, the case of Bale calls for particular attention to the issue of Islamic literacy. As one of the first to explicitly dwell on the relationship between literacy and religious change in Muslim Africa, Fisher argued that in cases where literacy “has fallen into disuse, an appeal to literature revives it”, the result would be revolutionary (Fisher 1973: 35). His point is important in the sense that literacy both “preserves the proper standards of the faith” and that it is ready to be re-interpreted as a corrective standard for prevailing religiosity in a given locality. Muslim literacy in black Africa, Fisher (1973: 35) noticed, “condemned the present to renew the past”.41

40

Although Donham actually uses the word modernism, I prefer the term modernisation as it points to the processual aspect embedded in it. 41 Although all Islamic reformists would trace themselves back to and work to recreate the so-called Golden Age (i.e. the time of the four first Caliphs), their ideologies

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Claiming that “texts by themselves are silent”, Michael Lambek (1990: 23) argues that it is only through reading, interpretation and enactment of texts that they gain meaning and relevance. Therefore, merely focusing on texts and their content would be insufficient. Rather, he says, “we need to examine how texts are used and by whom” (Lambek 1990: 23). As this study amply will demonstrate, Islamic texts were invoked, interpreted and transmitted in a manner that contributed to maintaining conformity to Islamic literary traditions, yet at the same time embedded with and related to a local universe, in which the esoteric dimension and so-called magical usage remained an intrinsic aspect (Brenner 1985; Goody 1968).42 The role of literacy in enhancing change in contemporary Muslim Africa has been related to the process where Islamic scriptures increasingly are perceived as containing a “sacred message [that] must be understood in order to be obeyed” (Niezen 1991: 229). It is also claimed that an emerging “new awareness of the scriptural message is a key element in the promotion of the reformed faith” (Niezen 1991: 225). Sacred texts, deliberately referred to by agents of change and conceived of as divine and fixed among an audience, can in a process of religious change be understood as a corrective to individual and societal religiosity. It is reasonable to think that the range and success of the process of religious change depend on the degree of literacy within the locality, the availability of texts, the existence of readers who actually understand them and the presence of a class of scriptural specialists.43 However, my suggestion is rather the opposite, i.e. that religious change faces better chances in a locality with a less developed literary tradition. Literacy can constitute a pivotal resource in the resistance to change; texts are something that the audience can actively refer to or utilise in contesting the impetus brought by the agents of change. In cases when a tradition of scholarship based on literacy is less developed,

stem from thinkers in relatively recent history, be it Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, Rashid Riḍā, Sayyid Qutḅ or Ayatollah Khomeini. For an extensive discussion on this phenomenon, see Voll (1982). 42 “Magical” usage of literacy is here understood as seeing the physical texts as being inhabited with a distinct spiritual power, having diagnostic and curative power and where the texts are used as talismans of different kinds. 43 The creation of readers is something which has marked the Protestant missionary movement in Africa. For an informative contribution to this phenomenon, see Harries (2001).

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actors within the receiver context will have a lesser potential in mobilising resistance to change, thus furthering the process of religious change. The role of literacy in facilitating religious change has also been related to the force of secular (“Western”) educational systems and the influence they had upon prevailing perceptions of Islamic literacy. In line with Brenner’s notion of an emerging rationalised episteme, Robert Launay argued that Western education “furnished another model for acquiring literacy” (1992: 93) and led to an emphasis on the cognitive aspects of scripture. Although there may be limits as to how far Brenner’s argument can be generalised, it seems reasonable to suggest connections between the emphasis on “scientific” explanations and the process of underscoring the cognitive aspects of sacred texts. This relationship is, however, of a complex nature, and needs to be analysed with care and accuracy. This brings us to the relationship between religious change, literacy and knowledge. Rather than seeing knowledge as objectified and separate from human agency, this study is informed by the perspective of knowledge as a social construct. Using the concept of the meta-narrative, Lambek speaks about knowledge as the shared subjectivity of concepts and practices understood as a locality’s worldview (1990: 25; 1993: 11). Being a product of different traditions, localised religious (Islamic) knowledge would be unevenly distributed within a society, in most cases restricted to the domain of some “knowledgeable” specialists, distinguished by sub-categories and ascribed to different groups or individuals. The introduction of a new impetus entails, as already discussed, the challenging of certain aspects of the shared knowledge, and will in turn lead to questions such as “what is knowledge, what are the sources for knowledge, who possesses knowledge” and “how can knowledge be assessed”. Identity and Ethnicity As duly noted by Sindre Bangstad (2007: 45), Asad’s “Anthropology of Islam” seems to “suggest that Muslims are primarily defined through their religious affiliation and adherence”. However, the reality is often more complex, as groups and individuals may deploy (or be ascribed) categories from various sources, which in turn create identities that are perceived and presented as overlapping, disparate or distinct. An

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analysis of religious change would thus need to include a broader discussion of factors affecting constructions of identity, which in this case calls for a closer look at one particular aspect, namely that of ethnicity. Since 1991, ethnicity has overtly dominated the Ethiopian public debate, becoming increasingly politicised under the present system of ethnic federalism. Though the ongoing debate on ethnicity in many ways is important, there has been a general tendency to ignore the religious dimension. As will be demonstrated in the following chapters, the process of religious change and the emergence of Salafism in Bale remain in different ways related to the question of identity in general and to the question of ethnic identity in particular. Trying not to get entangled in an extensive discussion of the complex and elusive concept of identity and seeking to see through the haze of various perspectives and conceptualisations, I will try to formulate a few points on how to conceptualise ethnicity and religion as sources of identity.44 At the outset, it would be relevant to ask whether ethnic and religious identity can be separated as two distinct categories. On the one hand, religion might be considered as one of the factors constituting ethnicity (Nash 1988), while, on the other hand, ethnic and religious boundaries can be distinguished with reference to social relations and religiously motivated evaluations. In the former we mean social exchange and interactions between different ethnic groups, while in the latter, communication of an ideological nature; the issue of ideological-based view of the other and a reference to some spiritual being(s) or reality.45 Identity is in this study treated in the sense that an individual’s social identity varies from situation to situation, that he or she can belong to (or be seen as belonging to) several groups, that it is likely to change over time and that membership of a group may be interpreted and experienced differently by individuals. Ethnic identity is similarly seen as a dynamic category and as intrinsically relational. I also subscribe to the critique of Fredrik Barth’s (1969a) “boundary approach”, in which 44 There would obviously be a number of sources relevant to the construction of identity. The choice of religion and ethnicity is made because of their particular relevance to this case. 45 My own understanding of religion draws from definitions that include both substantive and functionalist elements. I believe that a definition of religion should include a reference to a transcendent reality, as suggested by Flood (1999), a definition which sees religion as a “system” of meaning (Berger 1969) as well as a definition which acknowledges the creative agency of human beings in the formulation of such “systems” (Sahlins 1976).

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it is argued that it needs to be amended with the inclusion of content, form and substance as constituting ethnic groups (Eriksen 2002: 135; Jenkins 1996; Vaughan 2003: 42).46 Anthony P. Cohen (1994) has, on his part, sought to redress the tendency to view societies as the individual at large and called for the recognition of the individual’s consciousness in the construction of identity. Arguing against the trend of seeing individual attitudes of others as organised into social or group categories, persistent within social anthropology, he claims that this leads to a neglect of the individual as such. Henri Tajfel (1978) has, along the same lines, forwarded some relevant perspectives on how to link the self-definition of the individual to the category of social identity.47 He distinguishes between the cognitive component (knowledge of belonging to a group), the evaluative component (negative or positive value assumptions about one’s group membership) and the emotional component (feelings about one’s group and about others). In addition to these, I would argue for the inclusion of the embodiment component, comprising the aspect of ritual practice and outward identity markers. Social identity then becomes “that part of an individual’s self-concept which derives from his knowledge of his membership of a social group (or groups) together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership” (Tajfel 1978: 63). An important aspect in relation to the process of religious change is that the introduction of new alternatives will affect the interpretation and presentation of identity. This means that new alternatives can lead to the discharging of former representations for social identity and to the production of new orientations. It may in turn intensify the issue of symbolic boundaries, affect the demarcation of new boundaries as well as the creation of new categories of belonging.

46

This criticism led Barth to adjust some aspects of his earlier position. See Barth (2000). 47 My usage of Tajfel’s approach is inspired by Jacobsen’s (1998) application of the ideas in her study of Pakistani Muslims in Britain.

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CHAPTER THREE

THE ISLAMISATION OF SOUTH-EAST ETHIOPIA AND BALE It was not the regular khuṭba, it was not a part of the weekly programme and it was not announced to the congregation. Instead, it was an unprompted move as Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad rose to his feet this Friday in 1971:

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It is forbidden to go on muuda,1 it is also forbidden to perform the mawlid. The awliyyāʾ cannot bring you children, the awliyyāʾ are dead. If you call a dead man, he will not answer; he is dead. You say that the awliyyāʾ are close to Allah and that they bring your prayers to Allah. But all these are dead. If you call the dead, will they answer you? On this matter you are wrong.2

Shaykh Abū Bakr would soon rise as the most uncompromising advocate of the Salafi teaching and his words during this jumʿa prayer in the Nūr mosque, as recorded here by one of the attendees, sparked immediate feelings of anger and outrage. This was the first time someone publicly had attacked the prevailing practices in such a clear and direct manner. As expected, the reactions were swift and uncompromising: “We don’t accept this teaching. This has been our practice from the time of our forefathers”.3 Whereas both Shaykh Abū Bakr and his opponents explicitly referred to the past when defending their positions, there was a stark disagreement over the very nature of this past and how it was to inform the people about legitimate religious practices. While Shaykh Abū Bakr’s opponents made references to a localised past and to traditions transmitted from past generations, Shaykh Abū Bakr condemned this past and called for the return to past fixed in the literary traditions of Islam. Seeking to understand the meaning embedded in terms like “the past”, “history” and “tradition”, we are soon faced with the complexity

1 The word muuda has several interrelated meanings. As a verb it means to make pilgrimage, to anoint and to sacrifice. As a noun it similarly refers to pilgrimage and anointment (Jeylan W. Hussein 2005: 29). 2 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005. 3 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005.

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inherent in these terms. The past would not obviously be the same as history. Whereas the past refers to occurrences of yesterday, last year, history is the constructed narrative of the past. The limited knowledge we have of the past (in the form of texts, oral narratives, material objects, etc.) makes the construction of the past something which is very much linked to expectations, experiences and imaginations of the contemporary setting. The narratives of the past, i.e. the history, will at a certain juncture be identified with heritage, as traditions which serve to produce an authoritative past. Traditions are then, as narratives of the past, to a varying degree inventions (Ranger and Hobsbawm 1983) or imaginations (Ranger 1993) of the past. One of these imaginations, and which has proven particularly forceful, is the image of the modern. Framed within an evolutionistic narrative, the modern is conceived as a result of progress from a state of being that is characterised as primitive and backward, yet often at the same time exotic. It is also related to geographical imaginations measuring certain parts of the world as less developed than others. Whereas scholars working on African societies today would limit themselves against such a too obvious evolutionistic framework, and while we all seek to underline the dynamic character of social developments and juxtapose the intermittent pattern of continuity and change, the study of Islamic reform contains a pertinent risk of continuing the same evolutionistic pattern of thought. In our quest of representing the indigenous, in bringing out the emic view, we too often uncritically apply conceptualisations forwarded by contemporary Islamic movements themselves, seeing the world through binary sets like “impure versus pure” or “syncretistic versus unadulterated”, and end up portraying pre-reformist Islam as ancient, traditional and short of something static. Islamic reformism, on the other hand, becomes unconsciously framed with an evolutionary paradigm, constituting a novel phenomenon, a stage in a development that surpasses and corrects “traditional Islam”. When we thought we had surpassed the dichotomy of “the saint and the scholar” (Gellner 1981), or of the “greater and smaller tradition” (Redfield 1971), we are, in other words, at risk of constructing a narrative of the past which largely is that of the reformist themselves. The inherent paradox is that while Islamic reformism in Africa seeks to move forward through the call for a return to the “true tradition” of Islam, something which at the outset would be part of a Muslim identity, such a turn represents something

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different and new in relation to the Islam that has evolved within the locality. This has been noticed by Victoria Bernal (1994), who, in a study of religious change in a Sudanese village, claims that while such movements see themselves as returning to the golden age of Islam, they do represent a break with tradition. Intersected with the genealogy of religious change, any reconstruction of the past, such as this present chapter, duly needs to consider and integrate the different perceptions of the past. This entails carefully examining the discourses produced through particular circumstances, and listening to the various voices within the locality. It also needs to be conscious about the expectations, experiences and imaginations which inform the narrator.

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The Introduction of Islam to South-east Ethiopia The introduction of Christianity to Axum in the 4th century and the first contact between the kingdom and Islam in 615 had little or no impact on the southern areas.4 The Axumite kingdom remained confined to the northern highlands with no direct contact southward, and the incident of the first Muslim refugees constituted an isolated episode without any relevance to the Islamisation of the areas in the south. A commonly held position is that the rise and expansion of the Islamic empire (and its dominance of the Red Sea trade) was decisive for the decline of Axum as a regional power. As observed by Franz Amadeus Dombrowski (1983: 61), the power vacuum that followed further enabled Islam to enter the Horn of Africa through the northern inlet via the Dahlak Island on the coast of present-day Eritrea as well as through the inlets along the Gulf of Aden and the coastal line of Somalia.5 Islam’s expansion into the northern hinterland was, however, insignificant. Although gaining followers among the pastoralist Cushitic-speaking Beja tribe (Trimingham 1952: 49), the impermeable

4 For more details on the emergence and early history of Axum, see Sergew Hable Sellassie (1972), Taddesse Tamrat (1972: 21f.) and Trimingham (1952: 32f.). For details on the Axumite Hijra, see Trimingham (1952: 44f.). 5 Weakened due to loss of trading-routes and internal problems, the Christian kingdom continued its presence in the northern interior, where the so-called Zagweera (1137–1270) constitutes an important period.

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mountainous features of the Ethiopian northern hinterland and the presence of the Christian kingdom have been suggested as reasons for Islam’s slow progress (Dombrowski 1983: 59). Haggai Erlich has, on the other hand, argued that the Muslim gratitude towards the Axumite king for granting asylum to the Prophet’s first followers led them to deliberately ignore the Ethiopian mainland. Accordingly, Muḥammad was said to have uttered the following: “Leave the Abyssinians alone, as long as they do not take the offensive”, a statement later to be included in the ḥ adīth collections. Axum was consequently recognised as a sovereign entity, respected and exempt from military campaigns.6

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Ethno-linguistic pattern The coastal areas in the south, the adjacent lowlands and the highlands east of the Rift Valley were in ancient times home to numerous linguistic groups, many of whom are today extinct. In the Arab sources there are references to people such as Habasha inhabiting the interior, Berber (not to be confused with those in North Africa) found along the Horn and the Zanj found in the areas south of the Horn (Hiskett 1994: 151f.; Taddesse Tamrat 1977: 134). On the Harar plateau (Hararge) there is clear evidence of a presence of peoples speaking an Ethio-Semitic language, and Taddesse Tamrat has argued that they “formed the dominant section of the population” in this area (1977: 147). Belonging to this group were the Argobba, who say that the name is a derivation of the Amharic arab gäbba (“Arab entered”) and who claim to descend from the Arab Quraysh tribe. In addition to the Argobba, there are also traits of the Gaturi and the Harala. The Harala inhabited the northern escarpment of the Carcar and Harar mountains, possessing a tradition of stone architecture—where remnants of store pits, houses and mosques are ascribed to them (Braukämper 2002: 17). Similar structures are also found in the northern parts of Bale, particular in the vicinity of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, which in turn has clear resemblances to what is known about architectural features in the northern parts of Shoa (Braukämper 2002: 17; Chernet Tilahun 1990; Insoll 2003: 68f.). Local traditions from Bale refer to a people known as Sharalla, inhabiting the eastern lowland of Bale prior to the Oromo arrival. 6 For a detailed discussion of this, see Erlich (1994: 11f.). Trimingham also mentions this ḥ adīth (1952: 46).

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The word Sharalla could easily be a corruption of the word Harala, and it is claimed that the Sharalla used to build their houses from stone. Remains of such buildings, together with jewellery and cookingutilities are found at Oda Roba, the main site for the Oromo gadaa (generation-set system) ceremonies in Bale, and in the vicinity of the Galbi Mountain in Raytu district in the eastern lowlands.7 There are traditions from Bale which concur with stories from Hararge describing these pre-Oromo inhabitants of Bale as “giants”, said to have vanished from the area as a result of a hunger sent upon them from God (Braukämper 2002: 17; Chernet Tilahun 1990: 304).8 It could thus be assumed that a Semitic-speaking population constituted an important stratum in the northern parts of Bale. The south-eastern areas were, moreover, home to a Cushiticspeaking nomadic population. Among these we find the Somali, originally inhabiting the coastal areas, who started their migration into the interior probably from the 12th century onwards (Braukämper 2002: 37; Trimingham 1952: 209). More complex is the category both referred to as the Cushitic-speaking Sidama (Braukämper 2002: 16) or as the Eastern Cushitic (Taddesse Tamrat 1977: 134). Recognising the many ethno-linguistic problems related to this category, Braukämper (2002: 16) has persuasively argued for historical and genealogical relations between the Sidama and groups currently inhabiting the Rift Valley and refers to the Hadiya-Sidama as a linguistic cluster inhabiting large parts of the Harar plateau, the highlands of Arsi and Bale as well as the Rift Valley areas. Bale was thus, in addition to a Semiticspeaking population in the north, inhabited by this Cushitic-speaking cluster. However, due to inter-ethnic fighting, the expanding Christian kingdom and, in particular, the Oromo expansion, the whole southeastern part of Ethiopia saw numerous migrations, amalgamations between groups and assimilations of newcomers from the 13th century onwards.9 This consequently led to the vanishing of the HadiyaSidama peoples from Bale.

7

Nūrī Muḥammad, interview 13 July 2005. Shaykh Rashīd Ḥ asan, interview 16 February 2002; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Muḥammad, interview 11 June 2005. 9 For more details on this subject, see Merid Wolde Aregay (1974b). 8

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Patterns of Islamisation The presence of Muslim trading communities along the Somali littoral played a decisive role in the early dissemination of Islam into our area of concern. Muslim trading settlements were found along the Gulf of Aden and the Somali coastal areas from the 8th century onwards, including Mogadishu, Merca, Brava, Berbera and Zeila. In the course of time, intermarriages with the indigenous population produced a population of mixed local and foreign origin. While there may have existed a stratum of more “pure” Arab traits, there is no evidence of hierarchical societies based on ethnicity, like the ones of the Swahili further south. In these south-eastern areas there were few obstacles blocking Islam from penetrating deep into the interior. The movement benefited from the control the Muslims held over trade into the hinterland, and as Islam thus followed the trade routes westward, permanent settlements emerged “situated on the hills of the Ogaden and Danakil desert plains and along the Arusi [Arsi] and Harar highlands” (Insoll 2003: 67). Additional ones were found in Shoa and southern parts of Wollo, and these settlements became important points of contact between the new religion and the peoples inhabiting these areas. The Semitic-speaking Harala, Gaturi and Argobba, who probably were products of intermarriages between the Arab migrants and the indigenous population, are said to have been Muslims “as long as their history can be traced back in the literary sources” (Braukämper 2002: 107). With regard to the Hadiya-Sidama cluster, very little is known about their adoption of Islam. Most likely the process of Islamisation made an impact on some of them, leaving others untouched. Moreover, the emergence of the Islamic principalities, their conflicts with the Christian kingdom and the subsequent population movements all contributed to rather diverse and complex patterns of Islamisation, in the sense that affiliation to available religions altered in conjunction with the struggles for power in the region. In addition to trade, the movements of different nomadic groups created meeting points across spatial and cultural boundaries—facilitating the dissemination of the new faith. This was already felt in the north by the movements of the Beja, whereas the movements of the Afar and the Somali from the coastal areas between the 10th and 13th century paved the way for a similar process of Islamisation of Afar and Somali clans in the interior. This is in Somali traditions associ-

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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ated with the arrival of two figures, Shaykh Darod Ismāʿīl and Shaykh Isḥāq, said to be of Arab origin and the ancestors of two of the major Somali clans, the Darod and Isaq. Whereas these traditions surely are of a legendary nature, the dating of these two figures coincides with the period when Zeila and Berbera gained importance as tradingcentres and as bridgeheads for the expansion of Islam (Lewis 1960: 32f.; Taddesse Tamrat 1977: 138). Islam was thus from the beginning associated with trade and nomadism, as has been noted as important aspects of Islamisation in a range of areas (Levtzion 1979). And it was the patterns of mobility that paved the way for further expansion of Islam. Although spices, hides and precious metals were important, Trimingham has underlined the role of the slave-trade as particularly significant for the spread of Islam into the Ethiopian hinterland (1952: 142). Elaborating on this, Mordechai Abir (1985: 125) has introduced an interesting thesis on the slave-trade in relation to the spread of Islam. He claims that this trade eventually produced a class of emancipated Ethiopian slaves— educated in Arab areas and converted to Islam, who later returned to the Horn. Here they became engaged in long-distance trade, and at the same time involved in the spread of Islam. Seen in relation to Fisher’s theory on religious conversion, we have a case that undermines his proposed three-stage model. If we accept Abir’s argument about the emancipated Ethiopian slaves’ participation in the trade, thus facilitating the expansion of Islam, the ethnical and cultural boundaries between the “foreign” traders and the surrounding population would be less demarcated. This would consequently contribute to a stronger degree of cultural integration rather than a situation of Islam in “quarantine”. Moreover, the case of already Islamised, emancipated Ethiopian slaves would imply a stage of “mixing” prior to their arrival in the Horn, in the sense that interactions between the Ethiopian slaves and the Arabs would have impacts on the development of Islamic symbols and practices. While traders have often been referred to as the very agents of Islamisation in the Horn of Africa (Taddesse Tamrat 1972: 43; Taddesse Tamrat 1977: 103; Trimingham 1952: 139), Hussein Ahmed put forward some clarifying points with regard to the relationship between trade and the spread of Islam. Acknowledging the link between the traders and the preachers, he claims that the real agents of change were not traders, but Islamic preachers. His main point is that the

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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relationship should be construed as more indirect: The “former contributed to the material sustenance of the latter”, thus “creating conducive objective conditions” for Islamisation (2001: 46).10

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Agents of Change: Religious Preachers Elaborating on the arguments forwarded by Hussein Ahmed, I will in the following draw further attention to the role of these preachers— underscoring both their role as agents of change and the legacy they left behind in the process of Islamisation. In south-east Ethiopia, the most notable figures in the dissemination of Islam are, according to local traditions, said to be Ḥ ajj Abādīr in Harar (13th century), Sharīf Yūsuf Barkhadle (b. 1266) in Somalia and, as I will return to, Shaykh Ḥ usayn of Bale.11 The traditions describe them as scholars of Islam who, besides providing religious education, also were pivotal in propagating the new faith. They were, moreover, instrumental in securing support for Islam by functioning as diviners with skills in performing miracles. This combination of Islamic scholarship and esotericism was decisive for the Islamisation process in our area of concern. Their status as Islamic scholars and as having abilities of a “magical” nature enhanced their mythical legacy after their death, contributing to enlarging their religious reputation and to the transformation of their tombs into shrines where large-scale pilgrimage served to secure the faith among the converted and facilitate further expansion of Islam. This indicates an early presence of Sufi traditions, which in the south-eastern parts of Ethiopia over time became increasingly heterogeneous—intersected with local cultures.12 It is important to underline the fact that the shrines were not merely centres for the performance of Sufi rituals; they were also defined centres for teaching. As observed by Hussein Ahmed, they “fostered a tradition of literacy

10 Similar arguments have been forwarded by Levtzion (1979: 16f.) with regard to the Islamisation of Africa in general, while Kaplan (2004: 378), writing on the Ethiopian context, remains convinced that traders were the principal actors. 11 For a general discussion on the role of early Islamic scholars in Ethiopia, see Martin (1975). For more details on Ḥ ajj Abādīr, see Foucher (1994) and Wagner (1978; 1983). For more details on Shaykh Yūsuf Barkhadle, see Lewis (1998: 89f.). 12 The word Sufi, in relation to the context of Bale, is used both as an etic and an emic term. The word was not commonly used by those adhering to rituals drawn from Sufi traditions, but was, on the other hand, frequently applied by the Salafis as a pejorative term.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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and conformity to Sunni Islam, . . . served as a point of contact between orthodoxy and the mass of the believers, and fulfilled the desire of the people to have a direct and active personal experience of the faith by participating in the rituals and collective acts of worship” (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 94).

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The Light of Bale: Shaykh Ḥ usayn All oral traditions from Bale concur on this point: Shaykh Ḥ usayn was the one who brought Islam to Bale. Referred to as Shaykh Nūr Ḥ usayn, he was the very light of Bale, seen as a pious man, a scholar and an emissary sent by God especially to Bale. He held, until the more recent decades, an undisputed position among the people of Bale, where his shrine and the legacy he left behind—were to prove pivotal for a continued Islamic presence in Bale. Much of the actual history concerning this figure is still obscure, and the numerous legends ascribed to him have made it very difficult to reconstruct the biographical details of his life. Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s father, Ibrāhīm al-Malkāy, was allegedly of either Arab or Somali origin. Some say he settled in Anajina13 near the Wabe Shebelle River in Bale, where Ḥ usayn ibn Ibrāhīm al-Malkāy was born. Other traditions claim that Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s grandfather ʿAbdallāh emigrated from Arabia and settled in Mogadishu, before moving into Bale. With him was his son Ibrāhīm, who had three sons in Anajina. Further, Ḥ usayn’s mother is said to be Makida,14 while Shaykh Ḥ usayn himself reportedly had four sons: Nūrallāh Aḥmad, Muḥammad Temām, Sulaymān and ʿAbdallāh as well as one daughter. Establishing the date of birth for Shaykh Ḥ usayn is also difficult, and divergent suggestions have been made. Summarising the various opinions, Braukämper (2002: 130f.) has presented the most convincing arguments. Comparing the genealogy from the book Rabī al-Qulūb15 with a genealogy collected by

13 Anajina is the original name for the site of the shrine. The name is now seldom used; instead people refer to the place as Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, or only Dirre (meaning: an open field). 14 Some sources claim her name to be Shamisa (Jeylan W. Hussein 2005). See Braukämper (2002: 132) for a discussion about the discrepancy. Makida is moreover mentioned in the Kəbrä Nägäśt as a name for the Queen of Sheeba, and demonstrates how a Christian narrative infiltrates the Muslim traditions of southern Ethiopia. 15 Rabī al-Qulūb, which means the “Springtime of the Hearts”, is a collection of legends about Shaykh Ḥ usayn, first published in Cairo in 1926/27. For an enlightening discussion about the text, see Gori (1997).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Andrzejewski in Merca in 1973, he argues for a time span of nearly 800 years, which would lead to the end of the 12th century.16 This dating corresponds with other sources informing us of an increased Islamic expansion in the south-eastern areas at that time. The chronicle of Fatḥ , for instance, says that a company of missionaries under the leadership of Ḥ ajj Abādīr entered Harar in 1216 (Wagner 1978: 41). The oldest mosque found in Bale, the Balla mosque, is ascribed to Shaykh Ḥ usayn, and was according to local traditions constructed in 1067. It is located two to three kilometres south of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, where its ruins can still be observed. Another mosque is the Zuktum mosque, found in Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, and said to have been constructed in the second half of the 11th century.17 Although the dates suggested in the local traditions may be inaccurate, they nevertheless indicate an Islamic presence at least back to the 12th century. This is supported by the findings of gravestones with Arabic inscriptions along with traditions of other prominent missionaries (Huntingford 1955: 231). As Shaykh Ḥ usayn started his activity of teaching in Anajina, he allegedly attracted a number of students from various parts of the Bale highlands. According to local traditions, the darasoota (sing. darasa, religious students)18 stayed at Anajina for a six-month term before returning to their respective areas, where they subsequently built mosques and embarked on teaching the new religion. In this way, Anajina became an important centre for the diffusion of Islam in Bale whereby the religion spread into the various corners of the province. The same traditions claim that soon after the death of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, his grave became subject to widespread pilgrimage, and the common

16 While Rabī al-Qulūb’s genealogy consists of 29 generations, listing Shaykh Ḥ usayn as the 12th descendent of the Prophet’s uncle, Abū Ṭ ālib, Andrzejewski has presented a similar genealogy—except for five names. Rendering an average duration of a generation to be 28 years, this would lead us to the early 13th century. For more details, see Braukämper (2002: 130f.) and Andrzejewski (1975: 140). Schlee (1994a) has questioned the proposed average length of a generation of 28 years, and has argued for a time-span of 40 years. Using this figure would, however, bring us to the middle of the 9th century, a dating which surely does not correspond with other relevant sources. 17 In contrast to the Zuktum mosque, which originally was rather small, the Balla mosque is of a considerable size: 40 × 40 meters and with the remains of fourteen stone columns within its walls. Two other mosques are attributed to Shaykh Ḥ usayn: the Sakate mosque in Hararge and the Hero mosque in Beltu district of Bale. 18 The word is an Oromisation of the Arabic dāris (pl. dārisūn).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Illustration 2. The remnants of Balla mosque (photo: Terje Østebø)

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understanding is that the shrine “has been the centre of Islamic diffusion and the rallying point for all the Muslims in southern Ethiopia” (Mohammed Hassan 2007). However, when juxtaposing these narratives with other written sources, a more nuanced picture of the role of the shrine and the scale of the pilgrimage emerges. Whereas Rabī al-Qulūb claims that the pilgrimage started already during Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s lifetime, none of the 14th and 15th centuries Arab sources (al-ʿUmarī and al-Maqrīzī) give any reference to him, and neither is the pilgrimage mentioned in the Futūḥ al-Ḥ abasha.19 This would, however, not necessarily prove that the pilgrimage was nonexistent, but could rather point to the fact that the shrine was one of the many objects for localised patterns of pilgrimages. This is supported by the manner the name of Shaykh Ḥ usayn survived throughout the centuries, and, as I will return to, by the way it could be re-invoked through the restoration of the pilgrimage at the end of the 18th century. The oral traditions of Bale also refer to names such as Sof ʿUmar, ʿAbd al-Qāsim, Shaykh Ibrāhīm Dhamole, Abū Nāṣir, Shaykh Logomo, Abū Koye and ʿAlī Baḥr. Some traditions depict them as students of Shaykh Ḥ usayn while others regard them as missionaries accompanying him. The most important figure among these is Sof ʿUmar, whose shrine still attracts a large number of pilgrims. Some traditions say he originated in Tigray and died in Hamarra, Gasera district, whereas the legends claim that he was a walī who did not die but vanished into the caves at Sof ʿUmar in Goro district. Braukämper (2002: 132) suggests that he was a contemporary of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, his uncle and favourite student. According to some genealogies, he lived around 20 generations ago, i.e. in the 15th century.20 Whether this is accurate can only be determined by further research. Also important is ʿAbd al-Qāsim, a figure associated with the birth of Shaykh Ḥ usayn. ʿAbd al-Qāsim is said to have visited the births of 114 awliyyāʾ all named Ḥ usayn before finding the true Shaykh Ḥ usayn. A reference to the Qurʾān’s 114 chapters seems obvious. Yet the correspondence to traditions of Harar is interesting, where there is a

19 Futūḥ al-Ḥ abasha, which means “Conquest of the Habasha (Ethiopia)”, is the chronicle of Aḥmad Gragn’s conquest written by Shihāb ad-Din, a Yemeni, shortly after 1559. The text was first translated to Italian and published in 1891, then published in French in 1898 before being published in English in 2003. 20 Shaykh Rashīd Ḥ asan, interviewed 16 January 2002; Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAlī, interviewed 8 October 2002.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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listing of 114 awliyyāʾ in connection with the town’s celebration of mawlid al-Nabī21 (Foucher 1994: 78; Umer Nure 2006: 54). Another interesting remark about ʿAbd al-Qāsim has been made by Alessandro Gori, who by referring to a conversation recorded in Rabī al-Qulūb between Shaykh Ḥ usayn and Sof ʿUmar about the latter’s intention to visit ʿAbd al-Qāsim, have suggested that the visit could best be characterised as an initiatory ritual and that ʿAbd al-Qāsim is no other than Abū al-Qāsim Junaīd, one of the most known and venerated Sufis in the Islamic world (1997: 67f.). This argument seems persuasive, given the fact that although ʿAbd al-Qāsim is highly regarded in Bale, local traditions are devoid of any biographical data concerning his life.22

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The Seven Ḥ ajjs The above-mentioned Shaykh Ibrāhīm Dhamole brings us to the traditions about the hajii torbaan—the seven ḥ ajjs. The scarcity of sources, their contradictory nature and the way they are clothed with numerous legendary stories have made it difficult to reconstruct their actual history. It is interesting to note, however, that my own collections of oral traditions largely correspond to the findings of Temam Haji (2002: 4f.) from Arsi. The seven ḥ ajjs were sons of a certain ʿālim, Shaykh Dāwd, a contemporary of Shaykh Ḥ usayn. Some claim they were students of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, while another tradition argues that they came from Somalia. Braukämper has (2002: 158), on the other hand, suggested that one of them, Ḥ ajj Shale, was one of Aḥmad Gragn’s officers. Although some informants claimed they were Oromo, it seems clear that they preceded the Oromo arrival in Bale, and could be seen as contemporaries of Shaykh Ḥ usayn or as belonging to the time of Aḥmad Gragn in the 16th century. There is also a certain degree of discrepancy regarding their names:23

21

The birthday of the Prophet Muḥammad. For more information on Abū al-Qāsim Junaīd, see Arberry (1999). There are similar legends constructed around ʿAbd al-Qādir Jīlānī, the founder of the Qādiriyya order, and Seidana Khaḍir (or Sayyid Khaḍir), the legendary al-Khaḍr (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 105, n. 72)—both said to have lived in Bale. 23 The lists are according to Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh Khadīr (the first list, from the left), interviewed 5 June 2006; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal (the second list), interviewed 26 May 2005; Ḥ ajj Khālid ʿAlī (the third list), interviewed 25 May 2005 and Temam Haji (the fourth list) (2002: 5). 22

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Ḥ ajj Shabe Ḥ ajj Shale Ḥ ajj Sadiq Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Ḥ ajj ʿAlī Baḥr Ḥ ajj Naṣir ?

Ḥ ajj Shabe Ḥ ajj Shale Ḥ ajj Sadiq Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Ḥ ajj ʿAlī Baḥr Ḥ ajj ʿAlī Seyfata Ḥ ajj Sabir

Ḥ ajj Shabe Ḥ ajj Shale Ḥ ajj Amīn Ḥ ajj Amīr Ḥ ajj Amīn Talata Ḥ ajj Amīr Habo ?

Ḥ ajj Sha’abuddin Ḥ ajj Sādiq Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Ḥ ajj Alibar Ḥ ajj ʿAlī Ḥ ajj Ṣabr Ḥ ajj Nūr

All traditions regard the seven ḥ ajjs as pivotal in disseminating Islam in Bale and their legacy as important in the later Islamisation of the Oromo. As we will return to, certain Oromo clans regarded them as their own awliyyāʾ—performing pilgrimages to their shrines.

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The Islamic Sultanates Although the expansion of Islam is often associated with the emergence of the Islamic principalities in south-eastern Ethiopia, the discussion above shows that Islam was introduced as a religion and a culture rather than as a political force. As rightly observed by Taddesse Tamrat (1972: 50), Islam as a political factor was a post-10th century phenomenon, a factor to be reckoned with in the centuries to come. References to the Islamic sultanates occur in many of the available written sources, both Arabic and Ethiopian, although very little research has been done on their origin and historical development. In fact, the only elaborate study available is that of Braukämper (1977).24 A great deal of uncertainty thus exists with regard to historical sequences, the size and location of the sultanates and their cultural and ethnic composition. Some of the sultanates appear only occasionally in the sources, while others are referred to as important political entities. It was the Muslim control of trade and trade routes which eventually resulted in the establishment of these political entities from the 9th century onwards. The first to emerge was the sultanate of Shoa, founded by a dynasty called Maḥzūmī in 897 AD. Probably located in the northern parts of Hararge, the sultanate retained its existence for almost four hundred years. Eventually torn by internal divisions and weakened by feuds with neighbouring Muslim dependencies, its decline paved the way for its annexation by the Ifat sultanate in 1285 (Taddesse Tamrat 1977: 140). Ifat was probably located at the 24

This has later been included as a chapter in his collection of essays (2002).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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north-eastern foothills of the Shoa plateau—controlling the important trade-routes coming from Zeila—and is mentioned by the Arab geographer al-ʿUmarī as belonging to the confederation of Zeila, which also comprised the Islamic principalities of Dawaro, Arababni, Hadiya, Sharka, Bale and Dara. The people of Ifat spoke either “Abyssinian” or Arabic and were mostly followers of the Shafi’ite school of law, but also the Hanafi’ite school is said to have gained ground among them (Braukämper 2002: 25). As I will return to, increasing strife with the expansionist Christian kingdom in the north eventually led to the vanishing of Ifat and the surfacing of another, the sultanate of Adal. From the latter part of the 14th century, Adal became the leading Muslim principality in the south-eastern areas, with its capital Harar as the significant Islamic centre for the whole region.

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The Sultanate of Bale The first mentioning of the name Bale appeared as early as in the Zagwe period. Bordering the Islamic principalities of Dawaro and Sharka in the north, Hadiya in the west and Adal in the east, Bale was viewed as a mysterious province, said to be ruled by queens who succeeded each other, summoned by demons (Braukämper 2002: 76). It was not governed by a hereditary dynasty, but the mentioning of a ruler named “ ʿAlī”, confirms the presence of Islam in the province. During medieval times, Bale was known for its production of cotton, but because of its southern location, long-distance trade was not much developed (Pankhurst 1997: 71). Salt, however, was already at that time important as a trading item, as it still is brought from El Kere in the presentday Somali Region and transported westward. Suggestions on the sultanate’s exact location usually situate it in the areas around the Wabe Shebelle River—some territories said to be north of the river, but with the largest proportion located to the south.25 Others have been even more specific, situating it in the former Mendeyu awraǧgǎ (pl. awraǧgǎ wočč, administrative unit) and the north-eastern part of Wabe awraǧgǎ (Aman Seifedin 1987: 7). This would correspond to the present-day districts of Goba, Sinana-Dinsho, Agarfa, Gasera and Goro. The concentration of Muslim shrines in this area certainly supports this notion. The name Zellah, which is 25 Merid Wolde Aregay (1974a: 617) claims that it reached south to the Genale Doria River and westward to the lakes of Abaya and Chamo.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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mentioned in the Futūḥ al-Ḥ abasha as a place where the forces of Aḥmad Gragn defeated the Christians in Bale (2003[1559]: 113), could be the same as Zullah, a hill a few kilometres north of Robe, depicted as the capital of the sultanate by local traditions. As already indicated, the sultanate of Bale probably consisted of both a Semitic- and a Cushitic-speaking population. The Hadiya-Sidama traits can still be identified among several Oromo clans in the Gedeb area (Doda, Wege, Chatimanna, Adamonye, Woshermine), whose names are similar to those found in today’s Hadiya area (Braukämper 1980a: 142f.; Braukämper 2002: 83). Futūḥ al-Ḥ abasha also refers to the “sharifs and the Arabs who lived in Bale” (2003[1559]: 114), a reference which could correlate to claims made by some of the present-day Oromo clans of an Arab origin. Certain clan names, such as Sheidama and Sheikhmarra, are apparently corruptions of Shaykh Adam and Shaykh ʿUmar, respectively. But some caution is needed here as we know that people would claim noble Arab ancestry as a means of upgrading their status. Finally, there are clans in Bale that trace their roots back to early Christian settlements there, probably at the time of emperor Dawit I and Zar’a Yacob. These are today the Sabro, Fankal, Koiye, Daiyu and Fasil clans (Braukämper 2002: 84). The establishment of Islam as a political factor was conducive to the further religious expansion in this region. As already discussed, the 14th century saw increased Islamic activities in the south-eastern areas of Ethiopia, where also the settling of a thousand Muslim families in Bale by the Adal ruler, Shihāb al-Dīn Badlāy (d. 1433), undoubtedly made a notable impact on the religious landscape (Braukämper 2002: 77). However, while the rulers of the sultanate of Bale (when it was under Islamic control) were Muslims, it is likely that the population consisted of both Muslims and adherents of indigenous religions. Islam, Bale and Aḥ mad Gragn With the so-called restoration of the Solomonic dynasty in 1270, the new ruler, Yekunno Amlak (1270–1285) and succeeding Christian kings sought to extend their influence over the trade routes leading to Zeila and Berbera. Campaigns against the Islamic sultanates sparked general unrest in the area, where the 13th and 14th centuries saw recurrent confrontations between the Christian kingdom and the sultanates (Taddesse Tamrat 1977: 144). In 1332, Bale was conquered by Amda Siyon and put under direct rule by the king. During this

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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period of Christian rule, the area became the target of a number of attacks by the neighbouring Islamic Ifat and Adal sultanates. Except for the amīr of Adal, Shihāb al-Dīn Badlāy, who conquered Bale in the first part of the 15th century, none of the Muslim rulers managed to establish lasting authority over Bale, leaving the area to remain under Christian control. After the Christians defeated Ifat by killing Sultan Saʿd al-Dīn in Zeila in 1415 (Trimingham 1952: 74), Adal rose to power and rebelled against the Christian kingdom, eventually becoming the centre for the anti-Christian movement. The rebellion was led by the new leader Aḥmad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Ghāzī, better known as Aḥmad Gragn, who assumed power in Adal at the beginning of the 16th century. While the earlier confrontations between the Christian empire and the Muslim states were more of an economic character, the emergence of Aḥmad Gragn accentuated the religious aspects of the conflicts. The preceding Muslim leaders had held the title of amīr, “commander”, but by referring to himself as imām, Aḥmad Gragn was able to give the impression that he was the leader of a jihād—holy war.26 He kept close contacts with the Arabian Peninsula, from where he received emissaries offering him arms and trained soldiers (Trimingham 1952: 83). Described as a pious man, he also initiated several reforms among his co-religionists in an attempt to strengthen their observance of Islam. Securing power in Adal, Aḥmad Gragn’s first expedition in 1529 was directed towards the province of Bale, which by that time was ruled by King Lebna Dengel’s brother-in-law, Azmach Deglehan. Entering Bale, the members of the expedition were met by a number of Christians eager to convert to Islam (Pankhurst 1997: 197f.). The imām’s soldiers pillaged the area, taking slaves and considerable booty. Since this intrusion was not more than a raid, the Christian rulers remained in power, putting up continued resistance to succeeding attacks by the Muslims. The final blow to Christian rule in Bale came in the form of Simu and Sabbaru: two Christian noblemen of Bale who, encouraged by the imām’s strength, decided to transfer their allegiance to Islam and fight for Aḥmad Gragn. Conspiring with Wazīr Addole, one of Aḥmad Gragn’s generals, they mounted war against the Christians; and in the summer of 1532 the two armies encountered each other

26

For a more detailed discussion on this, see Martin (1975).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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in the battle of Zellah (Zullah), said to be one of the bloodiest of the whole war (Pankhurst 1997: 200). According to Futūḥ al-Ḥ abasha, thousands of soldiers were killed, and 200 Christian nobles were captured by the Muslims. These nobles were left with the option of either embracing Islam or being killed (2003[1559]: 318). Aḥmad Gragn led his forces deep into the core Christian areas. Nearly defeated by the Muslim forces, the tide turned in 1541 when the Christian king, with the help of the Portuguese, fought back the Muslim army and killed Aḥmad Gragn in a battle by Lake Tana in 1542. This consequently led to the demise of Islam’s political and military power—further weakened by the Oromo expansion in the middle of the 16th century. The Oromo expansion also severely weakened Islam’s position in Bale. Yet, the impact of the conquest and, particularly its legacy, would, as we will see, prove important in the Islamisation process that was to commence in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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The Oromo of Bale There are few ethnic groups in Ethiopia whose origin has been as widely discussed as the Oromo. This must be seen in relation to the perceived havoc created by the Oromo expansion, producing accompanying pejorative stereotypes in the eyes of the northerners, and in connection to the discourse on ethnicity and ethnic nationalism in contemporary Ethiopia. The Oromo have consequently come to represent contested ground in the discourse about Ethiopian history—a discourse which contains competing narratives over what Ethiopianess means, all coloured by primordialist sentiments. Although any attempt of reconstructing the origin and history of the Oromo inevitably would be part of this ongoing discourse, it is my intention to carve out some middle ground and present more nuanced perspectives. This calls for a careful approach when juxtaposing the different sources, and requires a certain deal of caution before reaching too elaborate conclusions. It was previously assumed that the Oromo inhabited most of the eastern Ethiopian lowlands, including the present-day Somali Region, before being pushed southward by the expanding Somali (Cerulli 1957–64; Huntingford 1975; Paulitschke 1889). Subsequent studies have invalidated this thesis, situating their place of origin in the southern areas of Ethiopia, either around present-day Guji (Braukämper

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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1986; Herbert S. Lewis 1966) or in the highlands of Bale (Haberland 1963; Mohammed Hassan 1994a).27 This latter suggestion does not, however, concur with my findings from Bale where all local traditions refer to an area of origin south of Bale. The earliest written account of the Oromo is found in Bahrey’s Yä Galla Tarik (“History of the Galla (Oromo)”), composed in 1593.28 Bahrey was an orthodox monk from the southern province of Gamo and can hardly be regarded as a neutral historian, detached from the political and religious discourse of his time. His intentions were made clear by the first lines in the book: “I have begun to write the history of the Galla in order to make known the number of their tribes, their readiness to kill people, and the brutality of their manners” (Bahrey, et al. 1993: 44). Nevertheless, his account, when juxtaposed with other available sources, remains important for the reconstruction of the early history of the Oromo expansions. According to Bahrey, the Oromo “came from the west and crossed the river of their country, which is called Galana, to the frontier of Bali, in the time of Atse Wanag Sagad”, at the eve of Aḥmad Gragn’s conquest (Bahrey, et al. 1993: 44).29 The river referred to here is the Genale River, currently constituting the border between Bale and Guji. The Tulama and the Macca branches of the Oromo moved directly northward through Sidamaland, on the eastern escarpment of the Rift Valley, while the ancestors of the Arsi settled in the southern areas of Bale. According to Braukämper, they here met with the Hadiya, “entering into a cultural and racial symbiosis with them” (2002: 85).30 The first wave of expansion was probably 27 Based on etymological and linguistic analyses, Mohammed Hassan (1994b) has also argued for Oromo presence within the confines of the Christian kingdom and the Islamic sultanates prior to the 16th century. His thesis is based on the existence of various personal, clan and geographical names—allegedly having Oromo etymological roots—in these areas. However, Mohammed seems to ignore the fact that the Oromo expansion was accompanied by a process of accommodation, thus making it plausible that the terms with alleged Oromo roots followed an opposite development; that they in fact were pre-Oromo terms amalgamated into the Oromo language. 28 This book was first translated into English and published by Beckingham and Huntingford (1954). The text was later reprinted as a separate publication (Bahrey, et al. 1993). 29 In the text, the river is called Galana, which has led to some confusion concerning its translation. Sometimes Galana is translated as ‘river’, other times as ‘sea’. In the Oromo language, the word for river is laga while galaana means sea. However, when a river is overflowed, the word galaana can be used. 30 This points to a crucial aspect of the Oromo expansion. It was common for the expanding Oromo to incorporate or assimilate other peoples into their own stock

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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limited, and the movement seems to have occurred through several stages. By that time the forces of Aḥmad Gragn had defeated the Christian rulers of the area, and Wazīr Addole, the Muslim governor of the sultanate, moved to its northern parts, thus avoiding confrontations with the Oromo. As soon as the Oromo were firmly established in southern Bale, this area became important as a base for expansions further into the region. The gadaa of Mudana (1530–1538) was a period of farreaching expeditions, during which they penetrated the central highlands of Bale, establishing a firm grip over the sultanate. Thus, by the time Aḥmad Gragn’s conquest reached its climax, they had formed strong bases for expansions into the northern parts (Bahrey, et al. 1993: 61; Mohammed Hassan 1994a: 23), and as a result of the devastation caused by the war between Aḥmad Gragn and the Christians and the loose grip the Muslim rulers held over the area, the Oromo managed to secure control over larger parts of south-eastern regions. After the defeat of Aḥmad Gragn, the Barentu branch easily moved into Adal/ Harar, while the Arsi remained behind and occupied the areas of the sultanates of Bale, Hadiya, Sharka and Dawaro.

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The Islamisation of the Bale Oromo In an attempt to construe the Islamisation of the Oromo of Bale, Davis has argued that as the Oromo penetrated Bale and met with the already Muslim Hadiya-Sidama, they were soon Islamised (1963: 588). This argument, however, is not supported by other sources saying that the Oromo by and large remained unconverted to Islam. Constant feuding among the Oromo clans moreover led to the disruption of communication with the neighbouring areas, in turn leading to a spiritual isolation and eventually to the erosion of Islam in Bale. As the native inhabitants were driven out, conquered or assimilated, the religion of the Oromo came to dominate the former sultanate. The Oromo expansion did not, however, completely eradicate Islam. It is likely that a small minority, probably descendants of the early population of Bale, remained Muslim, and, as we will return to, that certain groups or clans of the Oromo embraced Islam at a relatively early stage. The early relationship between the Oromo and through a process of adoption called mogaasuu, through which the others were fully accepted as Oromo. For more details, see Blackhurst (1996).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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these Muslims seems to have been of a quite antagonistic character, in which the Oromo at the outset were overtly negative to Islam.31 The Muslim minority was despised and isolated by the Oromo majority, and in some cases they were forced by the Oromo to leave the area (Aman Seifedin 1987: 14). It is difficult to provide a detailed and chronological outline of the Islamisation of the Oromo in Bale. In addition to the scarcity of sources and their contradictory nature, present-day informants have an explicit propensity to assimilate the pre-Oromo history of Islam in Bale into their own ethnic and cultural history. Historical figures such as Shaykh Ḥ usayn are attired within Oromo legendary material, Aḥmad Gragn is claimed to be of Oromo origin and concrete incidents of the pre-Oromo period are reread as part of the informants’ own history. Moreover, genealogies are corrupted, attributed with sharifian origin, and non-Oromo ancestors are ascribed to whole clans. My findings as presented in the following, largely depending on oral traditions, should therefore not be considered conclusive, but rather be seen as an inducement for further research. To be sure, the Islamisation was a complex process consisting of several stages, with the new faith unevenly penetrating into the vast geographical areas and into the various clans. Genealogies I collected in the central highlands area include Muslim names several generations back, while in those I collected in Gedeb and in the eastern lowland, such names disappear after two to three generations. Of course, there is the already mentioned problem of corruption of genealogies, where converted Muslims may claim Arab ancestry in order to increase their prestige. However, the genealogies from the central highlands, when juxtaposed with other sources, indicate that the Islamisation of this area started at the end of the 18th century, gained momentum by the middle of the 19th century and continued until the end of that century. The eastern lowlands and the western areas of Gedeb were, broadly speaking, Islamised during the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. In addition, it should be noted that in the south-western parts of Bale, a process of Islamisation is still going on.

31 Fisher (1973: 32) refers to the Oromo as an example of groups ardently resisting conversion to Islam.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Islamisation and Outside Influences The Islamisation of the Oromo of Bale must be related to religious and political changes occurring in the surrounding areas and in the wider world of Islam. Developments in 19th and 20th century Ethiopia were to have lasting impacts on the socio-economic structures, culture as well as on religious affiliation. And similarly, currents from across the Red Sea and the Sahara would also prove pivotal for changes within the locality of Bale. Many parts of the Islamic world were by the turn of the 18th century marked by a general Sufi revival, largely represented by reformers such as Aḥmad al-Tījānī and Aḥmad ibn Idrīs.32 Although these reformers never set foot in eastern Africa, their teaching contributed to the founding of a number of ṭuruq (sing. ṭarīqa, brotherhoods), which paved the way for a general expansion of Islam into the Horn of Africa and along the coast of East Africa (Martin 1976: 152f.). Marked by a distinct propagandist zeal, the Sufi preachers sought both to propagate the new faith among non-Islamic peoples and to combat what they perceived as decayed religious practices. The impact of this revival was clearly felt along the Somali coast and in Wollo, where in the latter case the opening of a trade-route to the port of Tajura in the early 19th century increased the contacts between Wollo and the Hijaz and enhanced the influences from the Sufi revival (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 76). A new class of Sufi ʿulamāʾ consequently emerged during the 19th century, soon to become pivotal in both reforming and expanding Islam in Wollo. A similar influence came through Sudan, resulting in the surfacing of different ṭuruq in Eritrea and Jimma (Trimingham 1952: 235f.). The Sufi revival had an indirect impact on Bale, notably from the direction of Wollo and Hararge. The influence stemming from Wollo was exacerbated by the harsh policy of Emperor Yohannes (1872– 1889), who at the council of Boru Meda in 1878 had forced all Muslims of Wollo to embrace Christianity (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 167f.). The upheaval caused by this policy created a wave of refugees fleeing into Sudan and the southern areas, from where some eventually found their way to Bale. The most well-known among these was Shaykh Aḥmad Wollo, who probably arrived in Bale during the 1880s and settled in

32

For more details on these reformers, see O’Fahey (1990) and Abun-Nasr (1965).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Hachacha in Gololcha district. Others were Grazmačč (Amhara feudal title) ʿAlī Wollo, the first qāḍī (judge in a sharīʿa court) of Bale, and Shaykh Muḥammad Sirāj, who came to Bale in 1916, succeeding Grazmačč ʿAlī as qāḍī.33 Also from Wollo, Shaykh Maʿrūf Guddi was said to have settled in Agarfa as early as at the end of the 18th century, where he became important in establishing the mawlid al-Nabī celebration in Agarfa.34 The other set of impulses came from the direction of Hararge. A diffusion of Islam among the Oromo of Hararge had started when the Somali gradually pushed westward on the Harar plateau in the 18th and 19th century. Abandoning their nomadic lifestyle and becoming sedentary farmers, the Somali were assimilated with the existing Oromo population, an amalgamation which led to the birth of a group known as the Warra Qallu. Constituting a bilingual Muslim group, this group became important in the propagation of Islam within and beyond the boundaries of Hararge.35 More decisive, however, were the contacts with the Harari community of the town Harar, where intermarriages and political alliances contributed to the conversion of the rural Oromo elite in Hararge (Waldron 1984: 32). By the end of the 18th century, Amīr ʿAbd al-Shakūr (1783–94) embarked on a strategy establishing Harar as the radiant centre for religious propagation among the Oromo (Ahmed Zekaria 1997), subsequently bringing him to Bale where, as we will see, he participated in restoring the pilgrimage to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn. The pace of the Islamisation reached its peak during the (Ottoman) Egyptian occupation of Harar (1875–85), when the new rulers embarked on a campaign of forcing the rural Oromo clans to convert. Consequently, by the eve of the 19th century, the majority of the Oromo population of Hararge had accepted Islam. The religious development in Hararge had decisive consequences for Bale. Among the Muslim minority in Bale there existed an awareness of Harar as a centre of Islamic learning, who also through established 33 Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Qādir, interview 6 June 2006; Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Aliyeh, interview 1 April 2006. See also Aman Seifedin (1987: 17) and Mindaye Abebe (2005: 102). 34 Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 4 July 2006. 35 The Warra Qallu is probably equivalent to the Sheikhal, a Somali clan claiming sharifian origin. The Sheikhal is still considered to have certain religious qualities (Braukämper 2002: 111; Lewis 1998: 15, 17; Schlee 1998: 139; Schlee and Abdullahi A. Shongolo 1995).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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trade links remained in contact with their co-religionists in the town. As Islam expanded among the Oromo in Hararge, this soon affected the areas closest to this region. Local traditions confirm this, stating that the areas bordering the Hararge region were the areas first affected.36 From the second half of the 19th century, the new faith was actively spread into other parts of Bale as religious teachers went “west of Harar and beyond Wabe Shebelle” (Caulk 1973: 11). It was during this period that Islam gained foothold in the lowland district of Sewena and Raytu.37

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Shaykh Ḥ usayn and the Role of the Shrines In a survey of shrines in Harar and its vicinity, Ewald Wagner (1973) has come up with an incomplete list of 107 shrines. Although the number in Bale would have been less, veneration at shrines has been an essential feature of the religious practices and decisive for the expansion of Islam in the area. Functioning as arenas where social, cultural, religious and, as we will return to, political dramas were enacted, they became important for the teaching of rudimentary Islamic dogmas, in providing help for the individual’s mundane problems and, probably most important, in the construction of a collective Muslim identity. These shrines moreover played a definite role in accommodating the old practices to the new faith. Rather than destroying existing places of worship, the propagators of Islam often started their activities at, or in the vicinity of, such places, transforming them into sites for the veneration of Muslim holy-men. Several of the pre-Islamic rituals were fused with the new ones, modified and given new meaning. This is clearly seen in relation to Shaykh Ḥ usayn, where pre-Islamic worship places like Mume Ilka in Kokossa district and Karjul in Medda Welabu district became attributed to him. The same is true for the site for the veneration of Sof ʿUmar which used to be a place for jurisprudence under the Oromo seera (law).38 Another distinct feature among the Arsi Oromo is the association of shrines to particular clans. In some cases the shrines are ascribed to the ancestor of the clan; in

36

Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 15 August 2005. Nūrī Muḥammad, interview 11 June 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006. 38 Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAlī, interview 29 May 2006. 37

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other cases they are attributed to individuals who brought Islam to that particular clan. In addition, there are a number of shrines associated with the campaigns of Aḥmad Gragn, and attributed to individuals such as Nūr Amīn, Aṣḥāb ʿUthmān, Faqīh l-Dīn, Faqīh Sirāj, Faqīh Abonye and Shaykh Kimming who are remembered as officers in Aḥmad Gragn’s army or as ʿulamāʾ brought by him to Bale. Nūr Amīn, who is venerated several places in Bale and in Arsi is probably equivalent to Amīr Nūr bin Mujāhid (d. 1568), Aḥmad Gragn’s successor, while Asa ʿUthmān, whose grave is found in Ticho, Arsi, may refer to Aṣḥāb ʿUthmān, a religious leader and a contemporary of Aḥmad Gragn (Braukämper 2002: 83, 109, 158; Temam Haji 2002: 51f.). Until recently the shrines of these figures were venerated by the following clans in Bale:

Faqīh l-dīn

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Aminya Amalama Jiddo Walle Abbabikr

Faqīh Sirāj

Nūr Amīn

Shaykh Kimming

Ashāb ʿUthmān

Faqīh Abonye

Karmamida

Walashe Dawa-Dina

Waladanye Ataba

Abarussa

Abonye

The most important and renowned shrine in Bale is nevertheless that of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, which is also the shrine that has received most attention in research on Islam in Bale. Jeylan W. Hussein has in a recent study credited Braukämper for his efforts in shedding light on the shrine’s history, yet claimed at the same time that his accounts are interwoven with certain contradictory reflections. Suggesting that the cult of Shaykh Ḥ usayn was a result of a long process of cultural assimilation, Jeylan W. Hussein (2005: 47f.) proceeded by raising questions about how the Oromo could be connected to the shrine and what role it played in the Islamisation of the Oromo of Bale (and Arsi). Addressing these questions, I hope that the following discussion can contribute with some answers. The shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn is still one of the most important Muslim sanctuaries in the Horn of Africa. It is located in Gololcha district in the northern part of Bale, not far from the Wabe Shabelle River. Although it is difficult to assert to which extent the pilgrimage

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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to the shrine continued after Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s death, it is clear that his legacy survived and that this secured an Islamic presence at the shrine. It is at the same time reasonable to assume that the commemoration of the Islamic tenets and rituals were largely altered by the Oromo. Oral traditions support this notion by depicting how the mosque of Zuktum was gradually turned into a place for performing Oromo religious rituals.39 The site also functioned as an important station for the traders travelling between Bale and Hararge, where the name Karra Milki (the gate of success) indicates that it was a place for rest and thanksgiving after crossing the vicious Wabe Shebelle gorge. It has also been suggested that the place was a site for arbitration between feuding Oromo clans, thus declared as sacred land.40 This situation was to last until the end of the 18th century—when changes boosted the shrine’s importance as a distinct Islamic site of worship among the Oromo. This change was attributed to the arrival of a certain Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn. Braukämper has claimed that Shaykh Muḥammad, or Aw Muḥammad as he calls him, was of Somali origin, sent to Bale by Amīr ʿAbd al-Shakūr of Harar (Braukämper 2002: 138). This notion is not supported by any of the traditions in Bale, which all claim that Shaykh Muḥammad originated from Bale. Local traditions further argue that he spent time in Harar and that he, inspired by the veneration of Ḥ ajj Abādīr in Harar, moved back to Bale to restore the pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn.41 The oral traditions concerning Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo’s arrival and activities at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn are contradictory, yet most of them agree to the following: While living in Harar, Shaykh Muḥammad had a dream in which Shaykh Ḥ usayn called him to restore the shrine and to propagate Islam among the people of Bale.42 At the same time, the imaama torbaan, the seven imāms (see below),

Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 30 May 2006. This is discussed in detail by Umer Nure (2006: 47f.) and Aman Seifedin (1987: 14). See also Bale Zone Cultural and Information Department (“Natural and Cultural Properties to Be Inscribed in the World Heritage List from Bale Zone” 1998: 16). 41 The exact origin of Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo is very much shrouded with uncertainty. Some traditions claim that he was of the Wawu clan in Arsi and that his mother was from the Sebro clan, in whose land he also is buried (Umer Nure 2006: 23). 42 For a more general discussion of dreams in relation to processes of Islamisation, see Fisher (1979). 39 40

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 3. The Shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn in the 1960s (photo: unknown)

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received a similar dream about a man who would come and revive Islam and the pilgrimage. Arriving at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, Shaykh Muḥammad started the reconstruction of the shrine, called people to embrace Islam and encouraged them to take up the pilgrimage. Erecting the main dome and fencing the gamo (shrine), he also built other cupola-shaped monuments attributed to ʿAbd al-Qādir Jīlānī (the founder of the Qādiriyya order), to Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s sons and to others of his close relatives. He moreover constructed a mosque and the Harro Lukko—a pond containing holy-water.43 Coinciding with the arrival of Shaykh Muḥammad was the appearance of Shaykh ʿAbbās from Arsi, also called to Dirre by Shaykh Ḥ usayn in a dream. Shaykh ʿAbbās belonged to the Argobba group, probably from the Argobba enclaves in northern Arsi. Shortly after his arrival, disagreement over the leadership of the shrine erupted between him and Shaykh Muḥammad. Shaykh Muḥammad defeated his opponent and emerged as the designated imām of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, leaving Shaykh ʿAbbās and his descendents with a subsidiary position at the shrine.44 Shaykh ʿAbbās was, however, to become crucial in the expansion of Islam into Arsi. Touring the area with news of the re-established pilgrimage, collecting sacrifices for the shrine and providing rudimentary teaching of Islam, he managed to disseminate Islam in several parts of the region and establish a lasting connection between Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and Arsi. The pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn soon gained momentum, and for nearly two centuries it constituted the most significant collective ritual for the Oromo Muslims of Arsi and Bale.45 An important reason for this, as pointed out by Braukämper, was the continuation of the veneration of the abbaa muuda in Dello (Medda Welabu district) with the new pilgrimage.46 The clear resemblance between the shrine’s rituals 43 While Braukämper argued that Amīr ʿAbd al-Shakūr of Harar initially constructed a shrine dedicated to ʿAbd al-Qādir Jīlānī (2002: 138), there are few references to ʿAbd al-Qādir in the oral traditions and his shrine is of less importance at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn. 44 Allegedly, it was the seven imāms that gave the leadership to Shaykh Muḥammad (Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 30 May 2006). 45 I find it difficult to agree with Braukämper (2002) who argues that the pilgrimage expanded at the turn of the 20th century as a reaction to the political and economic changes following the Amhara conquest. Rather, I suggest that the pilgrimage gradually expanded in the course of the Islamisation process throughout the 19th century. 46 The word Dello creates associations with the town Dello-Mena, found in the Mena Angentu district. The location of the abbaa muuda was, however, further south, in the district of Medda Welabu.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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and those performed in Dello, such as the offering of gifts, the recitation of prayers and the singing of litanies, indicates the early agents’ deliberate efforts in assimilating traditional cults into a new religious framework as well as the Muslims’ capacity to absorb existing religious elements (Braukämper 2002: 144; Haberland 1963: 470f.). The shrine was in other words pivotal for the further expansion of Islam into Bale, and the shrine’s role as a centre for teaching was strengthened by the appointment of teachers and a differentiated religious leadership. Most of the teaching and leadership positions went to the family of Shaykh Muḥammad who appointed his eldest son, Shaykh ʿAbdallāhi, as imām (leader of the shrine), Shaykh Bushra al-Karīm, Shaykh Aḥmad as the main ʿālim and Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm as qāḍī.47 These positions were passed on to descendants of their respective lineages. Name Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo

Date In power at the end of the 18th century

Shaykh ʿAbdallāhi

In power in the middle of the 19th century

Shaykh Imām Muḥammad Shāfiʿi

In power during the reign of Menelik— before the conquest reached Bale

Imām ʿAbd al-Qādir

In power during Menelik’s conquest of Bale (1891–92)

Imām Muḥammad Sayyid

In power during the Italian occupation

Imām Maḥmūd

In power during the post-Italian period. Fled to Somalia in 1975

Imām Muḥyī al-Dīn

Never actually in power. Resides in Addis Ababa

Another shrine that was renovated during the 19th century was the one of Sof ʿUmar at the caves by Weyb River in Goro district. As already indicated, Sof ʿUmar is said to have been a contemporary of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, yet it was not until the late 19th century that his shrine became the object of popular veneration. The pilgrimage was initiated by a certain Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale (b. circa 1857) and was further expanded by Sayyid Roba Garbi (b. circa 1890), who also constructed the main 47 Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006; Miller (2005). I am grateful to Jeannie Miller for providing me with transcripts from her interviews and for sharing valuable information on both the history and contemporary discourse around Shaykh Ḥ usayn.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Illustration 4. The Sof ʿUmar caves (photo: Terje Østebø)

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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square (gamo) where the sacrifice ritual was performed.48 Sayyid Roba is said to have played an important role in establishing shrines both in Arsi and Bale.49 The Seven Imāms

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Some studies from Arsi have made references to a distinct group of clans—the Qalliča shan (the five Qalliča),50 the Awan shan (the five Aw) (Braukämper 2002: 161) or the Awa clans (Temam Haji 2002: 3). Said to have sharifian origin, these clans were widely respected and feared among the Oromo of Arsi. Whereas some of my informants from Bale were familiar with the terms, they unanimously repudiated the existence of these clans in Bale. Instead there was frequent mentioning of the imaama torbaan, or the seven imāms, allegedly pivotal in the spreading of Islam in Bale. The seven imāms are said to have lived “a long time ago”, yet were, as already noted, mentioned in connection with Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo’s arrival at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn. None of my informants were able to provide any further details about their origin and who they actually were. While the information on the initial seven imāms remains obscure, local traditions depict them as an institution being represented by seven different clans, each said to “have an imām”, which in turn would be associated with a particular balbala (sub-clan) and attributed to a specific lineage within this balbala. However, the traditions are not in agreement over which clans the imāms belonged to:51 Gurdama Kalcama Qito Adarsho Sheidama Abrahama Shafafo

Gurdama Allasata Qito Dande Sheidama Abrahama Bamo

Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAlī, interview 8 October 2002. See also Fekado (1996). Sayyid Roba Garbi was allegedly born in Hararge in the 1870s before migrating to Bale. He was highly regarded as a man with great karaama: able to perform miracles and foretell the future. He is said to have died in Kenya in 1972. See Temam Haji (2002: 34f.). 50 Qalliča is used both in Amharic and Oromo, with the possible meaning magician or conjurer. In Oromo the word has etymological links to qallu, a ritual expert within the Oromo religion. In Bale, the word can also be an honourable title for an elderly man. 51 The first column from the left is according to Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 25 May 2005, while the second is from Anonymous, interviewed by Jeannie Miller (date unknown). 48 49

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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It would be reasonable to suggest that the seven imāms as individuals are a construction, and that it points to a part of the population which at an early stage had turned to Islam. They could be remnants of the early population of Bale, assimilated by the Oromo, or they could be converted Oromo clans. Some of the clan names, such as Sheidama and Abrahama, have clear Arabic etymological roots. Yet hosting an imām would not mean that the respective clan had embraced Islam as a whole. In the case of the Gurdama clan, it was only the balbala of Shabbasa, from which the imām came, that was Muslim.52 Although my informants claimed that the imāms were scholars of Islam and crucial for its expansion, it remains clear that proselytising activities were largely restricted to the 19th century. Through teaching activities in their surroundings, encounters with neighbouring clans as well as through migrations, they managed to gradually disseminate Islam throughout the region. Even today, most of the Oromo clans have a clear awareness of “their imām”—in the sense of who brought Islam to them. The last imām of the Gurdama, for instance, Shaykh Mūsā Shaykh Ḥ usayn, is said to have been responsible for converting the Addo clan (in the vicinity of Robe) during the 1880s.53

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The Emergence of ʿulamāʾ in Bale While Braukämper has referred to Agarfa as a significant centre for Islamic teaching, it needs to be noted that this was only due to a particular lineage of shaykhs allegedly descending from a figure called Ḥ ajj Naṣir. Described as a Sufi holy-man born in the Hijaz, Ḥ ajj Naṣir first moved to Libya before crossing the Sahara desert. He then wandered around in Ethiopia region, before settling in Bale.54 Although such stories need to be treated with caution, this particular case remains interesting. First, when comparing his genealogy with other genealogies from Bale, which often have a combination of Arab and Oromo names, the genealogy of Ḥ ajj Naṣir contains only Arab names—as far

52

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006. Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006; Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 19 June 2005. 54 The informant claimed that Ḥ ajj Naṣir embarked from the Hijaz at the time the Umayyad Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān (685–705) and when al-Ḥ ajāj Yūsuf al-Thaqafī was governing Iraq (d. 694). This must be seen as an attempt to construct an association with the larger history of Islam (Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 30 May 2006). 53

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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back as to the 16th century. Moreover, Temam Haji (2002: 3) refers to traditions about a certain Shaykh Naṣrallāh bin ʿAbd al-Salām, who arrived from Libya to Arsi at the time of Aḥmad Gragn, accompanying his warring forces.55 Thirdly, the lineage of Ḥ ajj Naṣir produced over time several renowned figures, imbued with religious knowledge and karaama (spiritual power),56 whose graves gave rise to a cult of worship. It would thus be reasonable to assume that Shaykh Naṣir actually was a historical figure, who established an early Islamic presence in Agarfa. During the time of Shaykh Ismāʿīl Shaykh ʿAbdallāhi (ca 1790– 1860), a descendent of Ḥ ajj Naṣir, the importance of Agarfa as an Islamic centre increased. Aligned with the already mentioned Shaykh Maʿrūf Guddi from Wollo, Shaykh Ismāʿīl became important in the establishment of the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations at Harro, a hilltop outside Agarfa. Most remembered, however, is his son Shaykh Yūnus (ca 1810–1870) and even more: his grandson Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (ca 1839–1942), who has earned a reputation as one of the greatest ʿulamāʾ in 19th century Bale. Trained by Shaykh Aḥmad Wollo and Shaykh Aḥmad in Indato in Arsi, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Shaykh Yūnus soon attracted students from Arsi, Bale and Hararge, and played moreover an important role in expanding the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī in Agarfa. Following the deaths of Shaykh Ismāʿīl Shaykh ʿAbdallāhi and Shaykh Yūnus Shaykh Ismāʿīl, their graves were made into shrines at the end of the 19th century. These shrines soon attracted a number of pilgrims, which enhanced the popularity of the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations and contributed to the expansion of Islam in the surrounding areas. With the graves of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Shaykh Yūnus and his son Ḥ ajj Muḥammad added to the site, the shrines continued to attract pilgrims from the central highlands of Bale during the 20th century. Besides being respected as scholars of Islam, these figures were moreover venerated because of their possession of karaama. Appearing with Shaykh Ismāʿīl Shaykh ʿAbdallāhi, the karaama was to become a hereditary attribute for this particular lineage. Numerous stories of

55 Braukämper has, on the other hand, identified Shaykh Naṣir with Abd al-Naṣir, one of Aḥmad Gragn’s commanders (2002: 158). 56 While karaama in Arabic signifies miracles performed by those who possess baraka, the word is commonly used in Bale as the very ability or power to perform miracles (cf. Ishihara (1996)).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Illustration 5. Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl Ḥ ajj Muḥammad, grandson of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Shaykh Yūnus (photo: Terje Østebø)

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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miraculous deeds have been recorded, enhancing their status both during their lifetime and after. Another figure largely remembered for his karaama was Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale (ca 1857–1927) of Goro district.57 Already mentioned as the initiator of the pilgrimage to Sof ʿUmar, his grave in Rowda was later to be venerated by his faithful followers. Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale studied under Shaykh Aḥmad Wollo and Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Shaykh Yūnus and allegedly went to Wollo and to Merca in Somalia for further studies.58 The Amhara Conquest and Islam

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The conquest of the Amhara and the incorporation of Bale into the Christian Kingdom in 1891–92 would prove to have lasting consequences for the Oromo of the area.59 Besides having direct influence on the political and socio-economic structures, it also affected the religious life in Bale. Under the command of Ras (prince) Darge Sahle-Sellassie, the paternal uncle of emperor Menelik, Däǧgǎ zmačč Gobena Dache, himself an Oromo of Shoa, and Däǧgǎ zmačč Wolde Gabriel, the Amhara forces marched into Bale in October 1891 (Bairu Tafla 1975: 30; Gebru Tareke 1977: 241). In contrast to Arsi, where the Oromo set up a fierce resistance, the people of Bale were quickly pacified. The conquest was largely achieved through diplomatic persuasion and political pressure, although sporadic fighting occurred.60 The defeat is explained by the 57 In a short reference to Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale, Ishihara (1993) claims that he was born around Harar and that he belonged to the Somali Sheikhal clan. She moreover argues that his son, Sayyid ʿAbdallāhi, arrived in Negelle Borana, where he earned the reputation as spiritually gifted. Sayyid ʿAbdallāhi’s son, Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Qādir (d. 1970), earned a similar reputation, and a shrine erected on his grave later became the target for pilgrims in southern Ethiopia. The biographical data provided by Ishihara are remarkably similar to information I gathered from my informants. None of them ever referred, however, to Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale as a Somali. 58 ʿAbd al-Raḥman Sayyid Ḥ usayn, interview 30 April 2006. 59 Although I refer to the conquest as an Amhara conquest, I am fully aware of the complexity intrinsic to this label. Emperor Menelik belonged to the Amhara group, but he descended from a lineage from Shoa—rising to power and challenging the position of the Tigray and the Amhara elites further north. Moreover, within the Shoa kingdom, there existed a significant presence of Oromo, belonging to the elite as well as constituting an important part of Menelik’s leading generals and army. See Merera (2003: 102f.) and Darkwah (1975: 6) for more details. 60 For a review of the conquest of Bale, see Østebø (2005: 32f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Oromo by the fact that the Amhara possessed firearms, but they also refer to the actions of a certain Shaykh Bushra, who was sent to Bale by the Amhara to evaluate the strength of the Oromo prior to the conquest. Posing as a religious teacher, he is said to have provided clothes infected with poison to his students, as well as poisoned the water-points for the cattle. Consequently, the people became sick and died; the cattle became infected and subsequently had to be slaughtered. Even today the phrase warrandomsa (meaning a knife that has become dull, signifying this large-scale slaughtering), is remembered among the people.61 As the people were pacified and the land conquered, the Amhara established Goba as the new capital of Bale. The governorship was given to Ras Asfaw (d. 1906), the son of Ras Darge Sahle-Sellassie, who in turn was succeeded by Ras Nadew Däǧgǎ zmačč Haile Sellassie (1906–1917). The province was divided into four districts: Goba, Dodola, Dello and Ginir, where army officers were granted estates of land and assigned as local administrators. These new Amhara landholders, called mälkäññawočč (sing. mälkäñña), were given a certain number of tenants, gäbbäročč (sing. gäbbär) forced to pay tribute to their landlords. The Amhara also initiated a system of indirect rule, with traditional Oromo leaders (warra abbaa boku)62 appointed as their representatives—the balabbat (pl. balabbatočč). The balabbatočč and moreover the burqawočč (sing. burqa) were subordinate to the Amhara governors and co-operated with the rulers in administrating the area and assuring that the obligations of the gäbbäročč were fulfilled.63 Land was regarded among the pastoralist Oromo as common property accessible to all. However, each clan had its own dwelling area, where the land was considered as belonging to the respective clan. Some plots close to the homesteads could be used individually for 61 Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 1 June 2005. See also Sintayehu Kassaye (1985: 7) and Mindaye Abebe (2005: 45). Some writers use this case as an example of Amhara biological warfare (Gadaa Melbaa 1988: 54; Temam Haji 2002: 17), but they overlook the fact that the same period saw the outbreak of a large-scale rinderpest throughout the southeastern areas (Sanderson 1985: 655). 62 Some Oromo words lack plural form. The only way is to insert warra—meaning “people”. In this case the meaning becomes “the abbaa boku people”. 63 The balabbat was responsible for administrating the farmers: collecting tax, keeping law and order and rendering assistance to the Amhara administrators. The burqa, which otherwise is known as the čəqa šum (lit. the commander of the mud), assisted the balabbat in the same duties.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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agricultural production, but land was never subject to transactions. As a result of the Amhara conquest, a new form of property-regime was introduced, which was to have an enduring impact on the socioeconomic structures in the area. Although land was allocated as fiefs to the Amhara, this was, in contrast to other occupied areas in the south which experienced wide-scale confiscation of land, not as widespread in Bale, where most of the land remained under the control of the Oromo clans. The major difference was that in the early decades of the 20th century, land was gradually becoming categorised as privately owned. It was defined as the property of individual Oromo, Amhara settlers or the Orthodox Church. Each of the land-owners were recognised by the state as tax-paying subjects, and the scale of the taxes and the corruption soon emerging in connection with the collection of the taxes created heavy burdens on the peasant population. In other words, the direct economic effects of the conquest of Bale were not so much the loss of land, but rather the hardship created by the system of taxation (Ketema Meskela 2001: 29f.).

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Continued Islamisation By the middle of the 19th century, Islam had been firmly established in the central highlands of Bale. Clans like Agarfa, Shafila, Koloba, Ali, Qaso and Madarsho had already embraced Islam, whereas clans like Saidmanna, Abba Karra, Farachu and Ambentu remained unconverted. The northern districts of Gasera and Gololcha, the areas around Robe and Goba as well as the eastern areas towards Goro and Ginir were now completely Islamised, while the eastern lowlands from Raytu and south to Medda Welabu were inhabited by a mix of Muslims and adherents of the Oromo religion.64 It is interesting to note that the Islamisation of the eastern lowlands occurred later than in the highlands. In spite of living alongside the Muslim Ogaden and other Somali clans for centuries, the Oromo clans of the lowlands remained rather unaffected by Islam until the last decades of the 19th century. Meanwhile, the Oromo in the western area of Gedeb were relatively late in accepting Islam. Although an Islamic presence was established during the latter part of the 19th century by the migration of Oromo clans from the central Bale highlands, such as the Sheidama, the larger 64 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006; Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 30 May 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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population of Gedeb remained loyal to the Oromo religion. It was not until the first decades of the 20th century that the new religion would secure its grip on the Oromo clans of this area. Both Trimingham (1952: 101) and Braukämper (2002: 163) have indicated that the Amhara conquest facilitated the expansion of Islam, in the sense that people turned to Islam as an outlet for expressing their opposition to the intruders. This thesis has been further elaborated by Mohammed Hassan, who refers to Islam as an “ideology of resistance” (1992). I would argue, however, that such a generalised notion does not render full justice to the complexity of the development. We have to consider the chronological outline of the Islamisation, relevant geographical differences, as well as other factors decisive for Islam’s expansion.65 Religion did obviously constitute an important aspect of the emerging antagonistic relationship between the Oromo and the new rulers. The Oromo viewed the conquest not only as an attack by a foreign army, but also as an attack by a Christian army, directed against them as Oromo and Muslims. Yet, there is not enough historical evidence to claim that conversion was an explicit expression of resistance. As I have already demonstrated, Islam’s expansion in the central highlands of Bale predated the arrival of the Amhara, and had even made some progress in the eastern lowlands by the time of the conquest.66 It would be more correct to understand the expansion of Islam during this period as a reciprocal process. The Amhara prohibited many of the established cultural practices, forced the people into an alien political framework, framed their lives within a centralised legal system and introduced new socio-economic structures. In turn, this led to a gradual deterioration of Oromo culture, which led the people to search for new cultural and religious orientations.67 The

65 In Braukämper’s discussion, a certain degree of ambiguity is noticeable. He says that “although empirical data are hardly to be obtained in this field, it may be assumed that this attitude [antipathy towards the Amhara] led many Arsi to give preference to Islam” (2002: 163). 66 This is clearly seen in a story referring to the fighting between the Raytu clan and the Amhara soldiers. In their encounter with Däǧgǎ zmačč Wolde Gabriel’s men in 1893, the people were urged by a qallu (Oromo ritual expert) to wave their tasbīḥ (Muslim prayer-chain) and shout the shahāda (Islamic creed) as they ran toward the enemy. The qallu had prophesised that this would bring them victory (ʿAbd al-Qādir Muḥammad, interview 7 October 2002). 67 The Amhara rulers, for example, prohibited the gadaa rituals in Gedeb, and Däǧgǎ zmačč Wolde Gabriel established a military camp at Oda Roba (Temām Muḥammad, interview 22 October 2002; Mindaye Abebe 2005: 39).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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arrival of the Amhara should thus be seen as a process creating a need for alternative cultural orientations and as contributing to, and accelerating conversions to Islam. In the first decades of the 20th century, Islam continued to gain terrain in the western part of Bale. The incorporation of Bale into the Ethiopian empire ended the feuds between the Oromo clans, which paved the way for increased communication with neighbouring areas (Aman Seifedin 1987: 20). The Islamisation process in Gedeb is particularly associated with the cult of Ḥ ajj Shale, entering via Bale in the 1930s (Braukämper 2002: 158). During this period, Muslims from Arsi, such as the renowned scholars Sultan Sude (Shaykh Ḥ usayn Kimo) and Shaykh Muḥammad Jeju, were increasingly travelling to Jimma for further studies. According to my findings, there was only one ʿālim from Bale, Shaykh Juneydin Oborra (Shaykh Juneydin Kabīr Bulbula), who went to Jimma for further training in the same period. In sum, starting from the early 19th century and continuing until the 1930s, Islam had made steady progress in Bale. The process was related to the general Sufi revival starting from the late 18th century, yet its impact on Bale came via the neighbouring areas, where the new faith was moulded within these localities before again being moulded within the boundaries of Bale. As the next chapter will demonstrate, this pattern, along with the cultural background of the area, the short time-span of the Islamisation process and socio-political developments, would prove crucial for the particular localised discursive traditions of Islam that evolved in Bale.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved. steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

CHAPTER FOUR

THE RELIGIOUS UNIVERSE OF THE OROMO IN BALE The dichotomy between modernity and tradition has usually led us to consider the former as elusive and dynamic, while the latter is positioned as static and monolithic. Too often, says Paulin Hountondji,

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we ignore, or pretend to ignore, the fact that African traditions are no more homogenous than those of any other continent, that cultural traditions are always a complex heritage, contradictory and heterogeneous, an open set of options, some of which will be actualized by any given generation, which by adopting one sacrifices all the others. We ignore, or pretend to ignore, the fact that cultural traditions can remain alive only if they are exploited anew . . . What we must recognise today is that pluralism does not come to any society from outside but is inherent in every society (1983: 160f.).

As this chapter will demonstrate, the religious universe of the Oromo Muslims prior to the arrival of Salafism was neither static nor homogeneous. Muslim communities are often dissected by distinguishing religious concepts, practices and institutions as stemming from either Islamic or pre-Islamic traditions (Ibrahim 1989). Rather than doing so, and rather than talking about African “survivals” in Islam, a more fruitful approach would be to see local manifestations of Islam as a “dynamic amalgam of many traditions” (Lambek 1990: 25). In the case of Bale it would, however, be more relevant to speak about “cultural elements which are post- rather than pre-Islamic” (Lewis 1983: 59). Islam was the dominant religion in Bale prior to the Oromo expansion, and the Islamisation of the Oromo contained two parallel processes of Oromo elements being Islamised and pre-Oromo Islamic elements undergoing a similar process of Oromisation. Concentrating on the period from the 19th century until the 1940s, I will obviously not be able to reflect on all aspects of religious life in Bale. Rather, I will discuss the main aspects of Oromo religiosity representing localised Islam in Bale and, with particular reference to the process of religious change, focus on those aspects which in particular were affected by the changes to come.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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It is similarly difficult to provide an exhaustive outline of all major concepts connected with the religious life of the Oromo of Bale. Even the task of deciding what to consider as key concepts would be attached with ambiguity. The following discussion is hence related to concepts, symbols and themes related to Oromo perceptions of deities and phenomena interwoven with the divine reality. The Concept of the Divine

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The core point of both the Oromo religion and Islam is God. For the Oromo this was represented in the concept of Waaqa or Waaqa Gurrachaa, the Supreme Being and creator, who should be worshipped, obeyed and feared (Bartels 1983: 89f.).1 Although the Oromo Muslims of Bale came to distinguish between Waaqa as the God of the Oromo and Allah, or Rabbi as was commonly used in Bale, there are several conceptual correlations between the two. Seen as the creator and sustainer of all life, as omnipotent, omnipresent, righteous, just, pure and as benefactor of human wellbeing, Waaqa could easily be related to the deity of Islam. Although Waaqa could be described with anthropomorphous features, there was a clear concept of the deity as transcendent, dwelling in a sphere remote from human beings, “which resembles the elevation and inaccessibility of the sky above the earth” (Knutsson 1967: 52f.). As Waaqa also can mean sky, God’s transcendence was linked to his holiness and purity, and both his very essence and the sphere he was dwelling in, were set apart from humankind. The deity was the one providing the human being with conditions and resources for survival, success and prosperity, both mundane and spiritual—as expressed in this Oromo blessing: Ol bobaasi Gad bobaasi Roobaa nu roobsiisi Bobaan amba naghayaan Haara gogdee nuu guuti Laga gogee nuu yaasi

1 Waaqa Gurrachaa means literally the ‘black god’, but clearly the term also refers to the sky (the black sky at night). It was believed that the dwelling-place for Waaqa was the sky.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Jaarsa barchumaa irrati nuu bulchi Mooti algaa irrati nuu bulchi

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Give pasture (good, fertile land) over us Give pasture (good, fertile land) under us Let there be rain over us Let the people live in peace Let the dry pond be full for us Let the dry river flow for us Let the elders on their chairs rule for us Let the king on his throne rule for us2

Obviously, the pastoral lifestyle of the Oromo contributed to a religious worldview and a perception of the deity which underscored the aspect of fertility, both for humans and animals. In general, it seems that the transition to Islam had little effect on the idea of God among the Oromo. Lambert Bartels even argued that “whether they [Oromo] became Christians or Muslims, the Oromo traditional modes of experiencing the divine have continued almost unaffected” (1983: 15). In the early decades of the last century there was a clear overlapping in the references made to God in Bale, and the names of Waaqa and Allah would be invoked interchangeably.3 The idea of Waaqa as the sustainer of all life in the sense of upholding a cosmic order remained integrated within an Islamic framework. As Waaqa was part of the Oromo religious universe and intrinsically linked to being Oromo, one would assume that transference to the cult of Allah would have led to a transcendence of this basically ethnicbased conception of the deity. It certainly did, to some degree, but there followed a development of the term Islaama. This was a label that first of all had an ethnic connotation, used as a self designating term which signified the Oromo distinctiveness in relation to other groups, as well as having clear religious overtones, pointing to their religious adherence and marking the boundary towards other nonMuslim groups.4 Derived from the word Waaqa, the adherents of the Oromo religion have been referred to as Waqeffata. Yet in Bale, as in other areas Collected at Sof ʿUmar 9 October 2002. See also Andrzejewski (1974). Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 15 August 2005. 4 The process of Islamisation never involved the surrender of one’s identity, like “becoming” Somali or assuming other ethnic categories, which has more been the case of Borana converting to Islam (Schlee 1994b; Schlee and Abdullahi A. Shongolo 1995). For a broader discussion of this topic, see Schimmel (1975) and Qureshi (1962). 2 3

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with an Islamic influence, the term commonly used was awaama. Whereas attempts have been made to distinguish between the two as representing separate religions (Temam Haji 2002: 7f.), others have forwarded a far more persuasive argument claiming that the term awaama originated from the Arabic al-ʿawwām, meaning commoners or uneducated people. In the area around Harar, the word reportedly referred to groups within the Islamic community, who in contrast to the Muslim community in Harar town, were seen as illiterate, ignorant and backward (Zitelmann 2005: 91).5 Among my informants there was no consciousness about such a meaning: awaama was simply a label for a person outside of Islam and depicted a person eating meat slaughtered in a non-Islamic way. Turning to Islam meant turning away from being an awaama and the creation of a new religious identity and affiliation.

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Spirits and Spirit Possession It has been argued that this strong emphasis on a single deity qualifies the Oromo religion for being categorised as monotheistic and that the idea of spirits was something developed through later interactions with Christianity and Islam (Schmidt 1937). This notion has been dismissed, and the argument is that it was the contact with these religions which led to the understanding of Waaqa as a singular deity (Haberland 1963: 567f.). Intrinsically linked to the concept of God is the existence of spirits, called ayaanoota (sing. ayaanaa). Although conceptually distinguishable from Waaqa, they remain at the same time equated with him, in the sense that they constitute the same. The ayaanoota are thus seen as “many but they all belong to waka as beings, and are all waka in their quality” (Knutsson 1967: 81). The numerous ayaanoota or jaaroota (sing. jaari), as they sometimes are called, have been understood holistically as something “which causes something to come into being and becomes that which it causes to come into existence” (Gemechu Megersa 2005: 69). Perceived as the spiritual essence of created things, as a manifestation of Waaqa and as deriving from him, the ayaanaa was feared, invoked and manifested through rituals, prayers, or by certain human mediators. An interesting perspective has been forwarded 5 For an interesting discussion of Arabic loan-words in the Oromo language, see Schlee (1994c).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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by Thomas Zitelmann (2005), who etymologically and conceptually links the Oromo concept of ayaanaa to the Arabic aʿiyyān (sing. iyan), commonly used within Sufi circles. The concept has within this tradition been understood as the creative capacity of the deity and as manifestations of him. A pivotal role of the ayaanaa was to guide the Oromo morally and spiritually, uphold a legal and cosmological order and mediate between human beings and Waaqa. It was only through this order that Waaqa through his benevolent nature sustained his creation and the wellbeing of human beings. Moreover, the spiritual beings of Waaqa and ayaanoota were intrinsically linked to the concept of wayyuu. Highly complex, this concept could best be translated as sacred, or as something set apart to be respected. Besides referring to the deity and the divine sphere, it involved various moral codes embedded in a composite system of taboos and avoidance relationships. Whereas all created things were said to be inhabited by ayaanaa, wayyuu represented an additional quality to certain individuals, spaces and items: a certain spiritual quality, a greater sacredness.6 The presence of ayaanaa signified a modifying aspect of God’s transcendence, and their manifestations contributed in bringing the deity within the reach of human beings. The introduction of Islam to Bale and the underscoring of monotheism in the cult of Allah impinged on this notion, on the perception of God’s simultaneous unicity and multiplicity, on the idea of spirits derived from the deity and, moreover, on their veneration. Following the expansion of Islam, references to the ayaanoota became less frequent, although mediation and intercession continued, as we will see, in an altered form. The concept of ayaanaa was to some degree sustained through cross-religious negotiations situated within an Islamic Sufi tradition.7 Several writers have argued that for many peoples in the Horn of Africa, the process of Islamisation caused such pre-Islamic spirits to be assimilated into 6 Recent studies have shown that Oromo women have traditionally been considered to be more wayyuu than men. Women were said to possess a distinct religious power, which was usually attributed to institutions such as the qallu. For an elaborate discussion on gender in relation to Oromo religion and the concept of wayyuu, see Østebø (2007). 7 By comparison, the Gujji Oromo were said to distinguish between the indigenous Waaqa spirits (Waaqa sinbirra (bird), Waaqa boro (household), Waaqa mendisu (lightning)) and a new type of spirit arriving in the Gujji territory at the time of the Italian invasion. This latter type was sub-divided into ayaanaa, jinn and shetana. The ayaanaas were moreover said to be “Muslim spirits” associated with the cult of Shaykh Ḥ usayn of Bale (Hinnant 1990: 70f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Islam in the form of jinn (Aguilar 1995a; Lewis 1998: 27). Although the jinn, as we will see, received greater attention among the Oromo subsequent to the Islamisation, I would rather argue that ayaanaa as a benevolent force found its continuity in the concept of karaama. Construed as a force inhabiting space, such as shrines, graves, hilltops or other spaces designated for worship, the concept was also perceived as a quality or as an ability held by certain individuals, as a gift provided by God. It was, however, never seen as an attribute of God and was thus never regarded as a separate divine entity. The karaama was also linked to the spirits of ancestors. Although ancestral veneration was not much elaborated in the Oromo religion, there were, nevertheless, references to the ayaanoota of the forefathers, which would be invoked through sacrificial offerings, and to the “ayaan-abbaa” (the spirit of the father), acting as a guardian spirit of the lineage group (Bartels 1983: 114f.; Knutsson 1967: 139). In Bale, the spirit of the forefather could be linked to the immediate father or grandfather, yet it was usually associated with the founder of the goosa (clan) or the balbala (sub-clan). Subsequent to Islam’s expansion, the forefather was not directly venerated; rather it was his karaama which brought him closer to God and enabled him to mediate between human beings and God.8 However, there was also the belief that the karaama of the ancestor could haunt the living, causing them misfortune.9 The daily-life conception of ayaanaa seemed to be less elaborate than what is described above. Represented through a system where the spirits on occasions would be hierarchically organised, the different ayaanoota were both said to be uncountable as well as given individual names, often in a seemingly inconsistent manner. The ayaanoota were largely perceived as equivalent to spirits “acting as they do as agents of Waka and as mediators in the affairs of men” (Morton 1975: 75). This would occur through the possession of a human being by the ayaanaa, in which the possessed functioned as a mediator between the human being and the divine sphere. Most often this was managed by certain ritual experts, like the qallu (pl. qalluwwan, see below). Categorised as regularised possession, Alice L. Morton (1975: 75) contrasts this with another form of possession: the un-regularised possession in which a

8 9

Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 26 August 2005. Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 15 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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person was involuntarily possessed by an evil spirit, often referred to as shetana.10 Far more ambiguous is the concept of ateetee, understood “as a divinity, spirit, or cult” (Baxter 1979) or as a “female spirit” (Cerulli 1922; Knutsson 1967). Among the Oromo of western Ethiopia, ateetee was performed as a ritual devoted to the female spirit of Maram, equivalent to the Virgin Mary (Bartels 1983: 124f.), whereas in Bale, ateetee was interpreted within the framework of Islam, yet with ritual elements resembling those found within the ireecha ceremony (Knutsson 1967: 57). Ateetee was, moreover, considered both as a ritual and as an institution of female solidarity, from which men were excluded (Østebø 2007).11 The underscoring of Islamic monotheism gradually led to the development of involuntary possessions by malevolent spirits. Generally speaking, involuntary spirit possession rests on the idea that a spiritual being is capable and desirous of seizing human bodies for its own purpose. Initially invisible, the spirit often appears in numerous forms, seducing or forcing themselves on the individual. Some scholars have suggested that different sorts of deprivations were the basis for spirit possession, in which women and disenfranchised males are the most involved actors (Lewis 1971; Messing 1958). The participation of women is clearly discernable in the above-mentioned phenomenon of ateetee, whereas my findings contradict the notion of a prevalence of disenfranchised males.12 Not surprisingly, malevolent spirits were usually referred to with the Arabic term jinn, and explicit references to a personified devil were also common.13 In studies on spirits and veneration of spirits in the Horn of Africa, much attention has been paid to the zar (or sar in Somalia) and the possession of zar spirits. Although the zar cult exists among the orthodox Shoa Oromo and Amhara of Bale, I came across very few

10 This is drawn from Luc de Heusch (1962) who distinguishes between involuntary possession which is exorcised and voluntary possession which is incorporated into a cult of divination. 11 For some details on ateetee among Ethiopian Christians, see Maskal H. Fisseha (1959). 12 See Reeves (1995) for a more nuanced discussion of pilgrimage and venerations at shrines. 13 The jinn was said to appear in the form of a human, seducing and inflicting diseases, madness and even death upon the victim.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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references to the zar among the Muslim Oromo during my fieldwork.14 More prevalent than the zar was the buda (evil eye) usually inflicting mental disorder on the victim.15 The general perception was that certain identified persons would have the buda and that such people could inflict torment on the victim by looking at him or her. This idea is clearly associated with the notion of the ayaanaa being perceptible and transmitted through the eyes (Knutsson 1967: 59). The buda, seeking beauty and innocence, often attacked small children or beautiful girls, but could also set houses ablaze and cause diseases to domestic animals. An interesting aspect of this phenomenon is that my informants claimed that the buda was previously unknown among the Arsi Oromo and that it arrived together with the Christians. The most known buda was thus called Gojamee—referring to the Amhara province of Gojam, and moreover, when the buda was “speaking”, it would make references to Christ and to the saints of the Orthodox Church.

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Intercession and Sacrifice Although the Muslim Oromo of Bale could approach God through direct prayers, there was a strong emphasis on intercession through certain media, both living and dead. In the case of dead media, interaction was perceived as being of a reciprocal character, where the living could intercede for the dead (the walī or the ancestors) and where the dead could intercede for the living. In the latter case, there was a general emphasis on making requests to the dead on matters related to the people’s everyday needs. In the case of living media, there existed different ritual experts said to possess a distinct ability, either inherited or obtained, enabling them to communicate with the supernatural. The issue of intercession was intrinsically linked to the aspect of karaama: seen as a necessary precondition for the deity to hear and respond to the prayer of humans. “They [the people] saw themselves 14 The zar cult has been common all over the Horn of Africa, in Sudan, Egypt and in other areas around the Red Sea. Natvig (1987) has convincingly argued that the cult originated among the Oromo, making it even more surprising that it seems nonexistent among the Oromo of Bale. For more details on the zar cult in Ethiopia, see Messing (1958), Tubiana (1991) and Torrey (1966). 15 Buda is in Amharic associated with a sorcerer or a witch (Tubiana 1991: 20). In contrast, the term is in the Oromo language understood as the evil eye. It is interesting to note that, in both languages, the buda is said to “eat” people. See Leus & Salvadori (2006: 82).

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as weak, they needed someone to bring their prayers to God, and these were the awliyyāʾ. Through them, they could pray with power”.16 Both the shrine as a spatial entity and Shaykh Ḥ usayn as walī were said to be inhabited by karaama. Interchangeably, the term wayyooma was used, referring to the already mentioned concept of wayyuu, in the sense that both the site and the walī were wayyooma—set apart as sacred and possessing spiritual power. Among those informed about the doctrines of Islam, intercession was referred to as tawassulat (Arabic: tawasul), interchangeably used as a term for the act of intercession itself, for the person or object that interceded and for the prayer for intercession. Ritual experts, like the guardians of a shrine or shaykhs, would emphasise that the object of worship was God, and that Shaykh Ḥ usayn or any other media were merely bridges to him.17 Yet the common perception was that it was the media and the karaama that acted in their lives, answering their prayers, bringing healing or intervening in other miraculous ways. As seen from my own observations, the pilgrims at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn more often referred to Shaykh Ḥ usayn as the acting subject, than to God. Related to intercession we find the idea of sacrifice, wareega. The actual meaning of the word wareega is vow, or to make a vow, referring to the promising, and to the bringing of a gift to a shrine. Similar to the practice among the Oromo in western Ethiopia (Knutsson 1967: 97f; Lewis 1990), the ritual of the wareega in Bale consisted of three elements: the vow, the public confession of the vow and the sacrifice. By making a vow, the confessant entered into a contract with the walī, promising to bring an offering upon the fulfilment of his or her request.18 There is a clear correspondence between the wareega and the Arabic concept of nadhr.19 Constituted by the same elements of vow in relation to sacrifice, the nadhr also emphasises the binding relationship between a human being and Allah.20

16

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 29 August 2005. Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006. 18 Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 18 November 2005. See also Umer Nure (2006: 56) and Foucher (1994: 75). 19 In Ethiopia the word nazr is used. 20 Within Islamic traditions, there is a stronger underscoring of vows of piety, pious deeds and abstention and a focus on spiritual asceticism than found in Bale. See Petersen (1999). 17

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The phenomenon of sacrifice has also been categorised as symbolic exchange, by which a human being brings offerings in return for blessings, healings and other benevolent gifts (Eade and Sallnow 1991). Moreover, it also has the character of “delayed exchange” in the sense that the venerator is making a vow to bring an offering only after his or her request has been fulfilled (Pankhurst 1994: 935). This ritual must be seen as interwoven with the issue of blessing (eebaa), which—contrasted with curse (abaarsaa)—constitutes a pivotal aspect of Oromo culture. The blessing is seen as something bestowed upon the human being by God, and signifies first of all an encompassing dependence upon God. Blessing is, moreover, practically experienced through God’s gifts, in the form of rain, abundance of food, the wellbeing of the livestock, prosperity and fertility of the women.21 According to Oromo customs, blessings could be given by anyone, but would be more effective when enacted by figures such as elders or the qallu (Baxter 1990).22 The sacrifices at the shrines could have a number of forms, in cash or kind, where the latter was represented by animals, animal-products or products from the harvest. The most common, however, was the animal sacrifice, and its core aspect was the shedding of blood. Like many other African peoples, the Oromo viewed the blood as constituting life. The shedding of blood was related to fertility (in the case of the bleeding of a virgin during sexual intercourse) and generally seen as a “condition for procreation” (Bartels 1983: 208, 229; Knutsson 1967: 59). In relation to sacrifice, the shedding of blood could similarly be seen as upholding life, as constituting a moral balance and as creating a bond between human beings and the medium. Another relevant example from Bale is the pouring of blood into the holes for the soddu23 by the grave—an act that was perceived of as bringing life, prosperity and fertility to the deceased’s descendants. In contrast, sacrifices offered to a malevolent spirit had the character of appeasing the evil, submitting to its will and negotiating release from its possession. In such cases, the blood of the sacrifice was often

21 The ritual of blessing has often a simple form. Once, when I received a blessing from the Raytu qallu, it was merely in the form of short imperatives, such as “guddadhuu!” (be great or strong) and “horrii!” (be prosperous). 22 It is interesting to note that because of their religious power, women’s blessings are said to be particularly effective (Østebø 2007: 45). 23 Flat stones circumscribing the grave and erected by the deceased’s sons.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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sprinkled over the victim. The blood then had a cleansing function, purifying the person from all contact with the evil.24 Offerings for a malevolent spirit were also in the form of cinca—meaning smoke or smell. The smell or the smoke was from the burning of cattle meat, usually the head. There is some ambiguity in relation to this: Some say that the evil spirit demanded the smoke, while others say that the smoke forced the possessing spirit to leave the person.25 Anyhow, the smoke was directed to cover the possessed by being blown over his or her body parts.

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Key Rituals Conversion to Islam involved, as noted, a dialectical process of continuity and change, of Islamisation and Oromisation. It led to the abolishing of certain rituals and the adding of new ones, to accommodations and reinterpretations of meanings. By the turn of the 20th century, the main rituals in connection with the gadaa system seem to have vanished. Subsequently, the rituals that gained support were those explicitly associated with Islam. The main calendrical rituals were the ʿīd al-Fiṭr, ʿīd al-Aḍḥ a, mawlid al-Nabī and the regulated pilgrimages to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and other shrines. In addition, there were the occasional rituals performed in times of crises, such as the ateetee. Even if the Islamic connotations became more obvious, the main religious obligations for the individual were more randomly observed. While the fasting was observed, it was not common to pray (ṣalāt) regularly.26 Aman Seifedin’s observations, stating that in the first half of the 20th century, “most of those who performed the prayers were the old men (and also some few women), the shaykhs and those who had been to Mecca” (1987: 27f.), very much corresponds with my findings. There was a general absence of mosques, few centres for learning and limited teaching of the literary traditions of Islam. On the other hand, there were various ceremonies and rituals that were highly regarded

24 Similar rituals have been observed by Schlee (1999) among Oromo-speakers in northern Kenya. 25 Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Muḥammad, interview 3 June 2005. 26 According to many of my informants, prayers were only performed once a year: during the ʿīd al-Fiṭr (Ḥ ajj Farīd Aḥmad, interview 2 March 2006; Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 19 August 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 15 August 2005).

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and which were of great importance in producing a Muslim identity in Bale.

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Pilgrimage and the Veneration of Awliyyāʾ As discussed in the previous chapter, shrines and the veneration of awliyyāʾ played a decisive role in the expansion of Islam in Bale, in which Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn attracted the highest number of pilgrims. Several studies have pointed to the correspondence between this pilgrimage and the pilgrimage to the abbaa muuda of Dello (Andrzejewski 1974; Braukämper 2002; Haberland 1963; Jeylan W. Hussein 2005; Mohammed Hassan 2005; Umer Nure 2006). The structures of the litanies (baaro)27 sung, the material symbols such as the Y-fork shaped stick (dhanqe), the ring (quube mulki) and the cloak worn by the leading imām and the arrangement of the main shrine as a sanctified space have clear resemblances to the cult of the abbaa muuda. The practice of collecting and offering sacrifices (wareega) to Shaykh Ḥ usayn is probably also a continuation of the practice from the abbaa muuda, where the presentation of animal sacrifices was a core aspect of that cult. Certain individuals and groups of people, like the geriboota (sing. geriba) from Jimma, were famous for roaming around in the rural areas collecting cattle as the time of pilgrimage approached.28 The ethical requirements for the pilgrimages of Shaykh Ḥ usayn also correspond to the abbaa muuda cult. The pilgrims were in both cases required to adhere to prescribed moral standards, such as humbleness, asceticism, honesty, and spiritual and physical cleanness (Knutsson 1967: 144; Umer Nure 2006: 59f.). Yet, some caution is needed when comparing the two cults. The interceding role of Shaykh Ḥ usayn is clearly situated in a Sufi tradition, and the moral standards required from the pilgrims also correspond to those found in the ḥ ajj to Mecca. Moreover, while the pilgrimage to

27 For a more detailed discussion of the baaro, see Andrzejewski (1974) and Jeylan W. Hussein (2005). 28 The word geriba which in Arabic means “something peculiar” or “something strange”, is the term used for individual devotees of Shaykh Ḥ usayn covering wide distances in their pilgrimage. Jimma’s status as a centre for these pilgrims comes from the belief that one of the descendent clans of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, the Awalini, migrated to the Jimma area. They are easily recognised by their dhanqe, symbolising their devotion to the shrine (Ḥ ajj Farīd ʿAbdallāh, interview 2 March 2006; Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006; Knutsson 1967: 150; Ishihara 1996: 209; Aman Seifedin 2006).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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the abbaa muuda was confined to people of Oromo stock, the pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn soon superseded ethnic boundaries, attracting pilgrims from a variety of groups. While Braukämper (2002: 143) argues that the pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn was a continuation of the pilgrimage to the abbaa muuda, it seems more accurate to talk about an alternative. Until the abbaa muuda himself embraced Islam, the two pilgrimages existed side by side, and there was a clear conception that the pilgrimage to the abbaa muuda was for the Waqeffata and not for the Muslims.29 Similarly, the kings of the Gibe states, who had sent pilgrims to the abbaa muuda, ended this practice when they embraced Islam (Mohammed Hassan 1994a: 153). In an enlightening study on pilgrimage in Ethiopia, Alula Pankhurst (1994) has listed five distinct features in his definition of pilgrimage. First, it involves a journey and, secondly, a designation for the journey. Thirdly, the pilgrimage is set at a particular time. Fourthly, the people engage in pilgrimages for specifically and intentionally spiritual purposes. Finally, the pilgrimages involve groups of people travelling (1994: 935). He has also argued that pilgrimages constituted occasions when spatial, ethnic and even religious boundaries could be transcended, thus having an integrating function in Ethiopia and becoming instances where diverse religious traditions mutually influenced each other. In Bale, the issue of mutuality was more limited, as attendance of Christians in Muslim pilgrimages did occur, yet not the other way around. Obviously, this needs to be seen in relation to the ethno-political and religio-political legacy of the late 19th century. Comparing Pankhurst’s list with my findings from Bale, these features are only partly fitting. Obviously, the pilgrimage involved a journey, a defined destination and a prescribed period set aside for the pilgrimage. However, pilgrimages could also be performed outside the fixed time, conducted individually. Moreover, while the main purpose of the pilgrimage was of a spiritual character, the shrines were also important arenas for social interactions, as well as venues for trading, both of religious texts and of more mundane items. In addition, one important aspect of the pilgrimage was the issue of charity and provisions of alms for the poor. A pilgrim with even a minimum of wealth was obliged to contribute with either cash or kind, which in turn would be redistributed to the poor. Labelled ṣadaqa, this distribution of alms

29

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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benefited those permanently poor or those who had been struck by a sudden misfortune. Yet, it was not only the poor who benefited from these alms. A certain amount remained in the hands of the shrine’s guardians, whose livelihood depended on these gifts, and a substantial amount was collected for the ʿulamāʾ and other religious leaders attending the pilgrimage.30 The pilgrimages to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn were performed twice a year, and were all-encompassing events where “everybody” participated.31 The first coincided with the ḥ ajj to Mecca, in the month of Dhū l-Ḥ ijja, and the second, known as zahara, occurred in the month of Jumād al-Thānī, the time of Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s birth, and was in the Oromo language this referred to as zahara galgala goobanaa (the night the moon is full). The main objective of the pilgrims was to visit the copola-covered grave of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, circumambulate it, uttering thanksgivings and various entreaties. On this occasion, the pilgrims would both eat the soil (jawara) covering the floor of the tomb and smear it over their bodies—believing it to have healing and felicific effects. In addition, tombs of other prominent figures were venerated, such as the nearest of Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s kin and ʿAbd al-Qādir Jīlānī. At night time the pilgrims gathered in front of the main gate, Dhoqo Karra, or at Dinkure32 for the celebration known as waare. Here, the pilgrims spent hours singing litanies in praise of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, either in the form of Oromo prayer-poems (baaro) or as Arabic poems or prayers of intercession (manẓūma or ṣalawāt).33 This was also an occasion when the faithful were given the opportunity to

Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 19 August 2005. Braukämper claims that 100,100 pilgrims visited the shrine in 1971, coming from both Bale and outside of Bale (2002: 141), while Hylander (1972: 4) argues for 120,000. Comparing this with the estimated population size of 159,800 in 1970, we are left with a good picture of the popularity of the shrine. See “Statistical Abstracts 1970” (1971: 26). 32 A field located to the south of the main gate. 33 In Bale there are a number of terms used for prayers, songs and poems with a religious character. Manẓūma, known as qaṣida in Arabic, is found all over Ethiopia. It is poem-stories usually with a mix of Arabic and vernacular languages. Ṣalawāt belongs to the concept of tasliya, signifying the invocation of God’s blessings upon the Prophet, usually in Arabic. Baaro is, in contrast, only found in the Oromo language and is exclusively dedicated to Shaykh Ḥ usayn. More peculiar is the usage of zekera, an Oromisation of the Arabic term dhikr, meaning remembrance. The zekera in Bale were songs used in connection to ecstatic dancing and in the ḥ aḍra rituals. Other terms used are saarmadee and tawhidaa. The latter term means singing the first part of the shahāda. 30

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31

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give personal testimonies (hikma) about miraculous events ascribed to Shaykh Ḥ usayn, such as healings, childbirths or success in business. A distinctive ritual performed at Shaykh Ḥ usayn was the ḥ aḍra. Stemming from the Arabic ḥ udūr, “presence”, the term is commonly used in Sufi traditions to denote the arena for performing Sufi rituals.34 In Bale, however, besides constituting the arena and the ritual, the ḥ aḍra signified the ritual of spirit exorcism as well as being part of the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations (see below). The ḥ aḍra ceremony has a relatively short history at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, and was initiated by Ḥ ajj Adam Zikrī, a native of Wollo, born at the end of the 19th century. When he died, responsibility of the ceremony was transferred to his son, Ḥ ajj Temām Adam, who again was succeeded by his son, Awarudin Temām, the current leader of the ritual.35 The ḥ aḍra at Dirre is now performed under a roof of corrugated iron-sheets, often for hours. It has an ecstatic character with dancing, clapping and singing—accompanied by drums. The leader is seated on an elevated platform, which is covered with curtains. Beneath this platform is a place for cinca, the burning of offerings—in this case the head of a cow. There were, however, different and partly contradictory perceptions of the nature of the pilgrimage, reflected in the usage of terms such as ziyāra and muuda. Whereas the former was framed within an Islamic context, understood as visiting the shrine and asking God to intercede for the salvation of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, the latter, focusing on sacrifices, must be seen in relation to former Oromo pilgrim practices and as clearly embedded within the already mentioned notion of symbolic exchange. Controversies on the issue of sacrifices could erupt on occasions, but it is clear that the localised understanding prevailed.

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The Celebration of Mawlid al-Nabī Compared with the rest of the Horn, and with East Africa, it seems that the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī was introduced rather late into Ethiopia. In Wollo, the celebration was not commenced until the last quarter of the 18th century, where it was initiated by a certain Shaykh Muḥammad Shāfī bin Asqāri Muḥammad. He probably learned about

34 For comparison, see Ishihara’s (1996) description of a ḥ aḍra ceremony in the Jimma area. 35 Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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the celebration during his stay in the Hijaz, before including it as part of the rituals of the Jama Negus shrine (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 83, 100).36 This information is of particular interest to our context, as we know that the mawlid al-Nabī celebration was brought to Bale from Wollo. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the ceremony was first initiated in Harro (Agarfa) by a certain Shaykh Maʿrūf Guddi of Wollo, before being expanded by Shaykh Ismāʿīl Shaykh ʿAbdallāhi and his descendants—becoming the largest mawlid al-Nabī celebration in Bale.37 The celebrations in Bale seem to resemble the general features of the ceremony. A communal ritual, it would last for about a week in which reciting the Qurʾān and the performance of Sufi litanies such as manẓūma and zekera (dhikr) were conspicuous elements. There were also readings from the Burda (Qaṣidat al-Burda), a collection of mawlid al-Nabī poems composed by Muḥammad bin Sayyid al-Bushīrī.38 The celebration moreover saw the staging of communal meals alongside the collection and the distribution of ṣadaqa to the poor. Similar ṣadaqa ceremonies would be performed on designated occasions, like the tenth night of Ramaḍān (Laylat al-Qadr) and on ʿīd al-Fiṭr, but could also be held in times of crises, when there was lack of rain, unrest between clans, or when people had special needs for assistance from their forefathers.39 In addition to feasting and consumption of food, the ṣadaqa involved singing of baaro and recitations from the Qurʾān (usually the first sūra). In addition to celebrations attached to the shrines, there were mawlid al-Nabī ceremonies conducted in private homes, particularly among more wealthy families.40 Such celebrations started with communal gatherings at the graveyards where porridge (marqa) made from barley would be distributed as ṣadaqa to the participants. During this time zekera and baaro would be sung, together with readings from the Qurʾān. The latter readings

36 Seesemann (2006: 238) has pointed out that the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations along the coast of Kenya were caused by influences from Yemen. 37 Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 4 July 2006. 38 Muḥammad Ḥ asan, interview 18 May 2005. 39 The ṣadaqa ritual was in such cases usually performed in private homes or under certain trees. It would often be connected to expectations of bad omens, communicated through dreams or ritual experts (Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 5 July 2006). 40 One of the largest private celebrations around Robe was conducted in the Dawa Dina area. According to my informant, this was commenced in the beginning of the 20th century (Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 5 July 2006).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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were usually performed by the shaykhs or darasoota. Late in the afternoon, the people retreated to the houses, received additional food and continued the singing of different litanies. In one house manẓūma and ṣalawāt were performed, led by the shaykhs or someone familiar with Arabic, and where the participants often consumed khat.41 While this ceremony was of a rather calm nature, the main ceremony of the ḥ aḍra was more expressive, with ecstatic dancing and singing of zekera. This was mostly frequented by women and by the younger generation—the latter seeing it as an opportunity to engage with the opposite sex during the dancing.42 Similar to the pilgrimage to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī was important in preserving and maintaining an Islamic identity in Bale. Connected to the Prophet Muḥammad, and where one important prerequisite was proficiency in Arabic, it came to be perceived as an explicit Islamic ritual by the people. The central role played by the shaykhs in leading the rituals further enhanced the Islamic nature of the celebration, and it constituted, moreover, an important occasion for the ʿulamāʾ to actually teach the basic tenets of Islam to the people.

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The Spirit Possession Cult As already mentioned, the spirit possession cult involved regularised or voluntary possession as well as involuntary possessions. The latter was to be avoided through a range of precautious measures or would, if it occurred, be subject to rituals of exorcism. The precautious measures involved the avoidance of areas and situations likely to cause possession. Thus, walking alone after dark, visiting graveyards at night or being alone in forests or on river banks should be evaded. Moreover, one should not respond to invitations from strangers or interact with them. Another precautious measure, with particular reference to the buda, was the usage of talismans and amulets. Necklaces with writings from the Qurʾān sewed into a piece of hide were hung around the necks of children. A woman who had recently given birth was to keep a knife or a piece of iron with her, or place it under her bed at night. A skull of an animal was placed on the roof of a house—to distort its

41 Khat is a mild narcotic plant widely consumed in the Horn of Africa, as well as in Yemen. 42 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 5 July 2006. See also Temam Haji (2002: 66f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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appearance, whereas scarecrows were placed in the field to protect the crop from being destroyed by the buda. Exorcism involved the aspect of voluntary possession and was performed by ritual experts perceived to have certain (often inherited) powers enabling them to obtain contact with the possessing spirit. A person afflicted by an evil spirit would consult such an expert, who in turn instructed the victim about the required measures (like what kind of animal should be sacrificed) and ordered the possessed to gather people for the exorcism ritual.43 During the ceremony, the ritual expert became voluntarily possessed, and in a state of trance he or she communicated with the spirit, asking forgiveness on behalf of the victim and pleading with the malevolent spirit to leave him or her (Lewis 1984: 421). The ritual also involved the honouring and invocation of the spirit through singing, drumming and the presentation of appropriate gifts (Morton 1975: 76). In the case of the buda in Bale, gifts were represented by a bowl of ash presented to the victim, and which he or she was supposed to sniff, before it was snatched away.44 If the victim was possessed by a jinn, blood was often used as a remedy:

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The sacrifice would be killed beside the sick person, or above his head. Then the blood of the animal would drip on the head of the person, and that would have a healing effect. The sacrifice was made in the name of Shaykh Ḥ usayn or other awliyyāʾ, and during the ceremony, such sayings would be repeated: Hoola sii qala, bunna sii qala, dhiiga sii dhangale (I slaughter a sheep for you, I roast (slaughter) coffee for you, blood is shed for you).45

The exorcism ritual performed at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, in the form of the ḥ aḍra ritual, has several similarities to collective possession rituals found among other groups in Ethiopia (Dahl 1989) and to the dallaga ritual of the qallu (Knutsson 1967: 92; Lewis 1984: 423). Whereas the qallu sought contact with the ayaanoota through voluntary possession, involuntary possession could occur and was regarded as unwelcome and as caused by evil forces. The task of the qallu would then be to act as an exorcist relieving the victim from his or her possession and restore the order of the ritual. The ritual of the ḥ aḍra at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn was, however, different from other rituals in the sense that the 43

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 18 November 2005. At this point the victim will fall unconscious, and appears “normal” when he or she wakes up (Field log, 11 June 2005). 45 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 18 November 2005. 44

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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victim did not show any symptoms of spirit possession. The purpose of the ritual, i.e. the ecstatic dancing, was to provoke the evil to manifest itself, so that it could be exorcised by the ritual expert through the burning of the cinca: The meaning of ḥ aḍra is to express love for the Prophet and for Shaykh Ḥ usayn—and also to heal those who have jinn. The songs sung are in praise of the Prophet and Shaykh Ḥ usayn and the jinn will identify itself during the ḥ aḍra. Then the person with the jinn will come to the leader of the ḥ aḍra, and the jinn will promise to leave the person.46

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Mortuary Rituals Subsequent to their acceptance of Islam, the Oromo of Bale started to bury their dead with the body facing Mecca, either placing it in the main grave or in a separate grotto excavated in connection to the main grave. Surrounding the grave, there were the soddu, and the sons of the deceased had to pour blood of a sacrificed animal into the holes for the grave’s four main soddu. The word soddu is derived from soda, fear, and besides having the meaning of remembering the dead, the ritual was also to placate his or her ayaanaa (Leus and Salvadori 2006: 597). This was of great importance, and neglecting this was seen as denying kinship to the dead. The funeral was followed by a prescribed period of mourning and feasting. The most extensive feasting occurred on the day of the funeral and on the following fifteen days. There was a special feast on the seventh day after the funeral, on the fortieth day and on the anniversary of the person’s death. An intrinsic part of these occasions was the ṣadaqa ritual, which involved the consumption of food; meat or porridge—provided to the participants gathered to commemorate the deceased, as well as to the poor. Framed within an Islamic tradition, the linkage with the Oromo tradition of offering sacrifice to the ayaanaa of the deceased is obvious. Similar to Harold B. Barclay’s observations in the Sudan (1964: 264–6), the ṣadaqa in Bale constituted a continuation of a former practice, interpreted as a memorial service for the dead.47 The mortuary rituals also involved a ceremony similar to the wareega, called illaata. The

46

Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006. Ṣadaqa has, moreover, been connected to divination with healing purposes, being an important part of the remedy prescribed by the divinatory. See Graw (2005). 47

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 6. Soddu from a grave in Kokossa (photo: Marit Tolo Østebø)

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participants would utter a prayer, make a vow and uphold the promise by bringing illaata in the form of food to be shared and consumed at the gravesite. The funeral was also one of the few occasions when ṣalāt was performed (ṣalāt al-mayyit); and in the absence of mosques, the graveyard became the place where ṣalāt was performed during the main Muslim holidays. The influence of Islam on the veneration of ancestors in Africa often had the effect of the ancestor ceasing to “be prayed to, but rather prayed for, or through” (Ioan M. Lewis 1966: 62). Such a development is also discernable in Bale, where prayers phrases uttered for the dead, like isa fayisuuf (“save/heal him”), embedded within an Islamic frame, signified the intercession of the deceased with God.48 The son of the dead could receive dreams informing him if the deceased father lacked forgiveness, thus urging his kin to intercede for him.49 Yet in the case of the Oromo who, like other Cushitic groups in the Horn of Africa, held lineage ancestors in high esteem, there were also prayers directed to God through the karaama of the deceased, with the purpose of seeking assistance for various mundane needs. There was, furthermore, the more ambiguous notion of the need to appease the dead, so that their karaama would not haunt the living. My informants were unable to elaborate much on this last point, indicating that the fusion with an Islamic framework had emptied much of its meaning. There are clear linkages between this ancestor cult and the veneration at shrines. As observed by Ioan M. Lewis, “strongly developed indigenous ancestor cults would seem to offer conditions propitious to the development of a Sufi interpretation of Islam, with emphasis on the development of saints as mediators between man and the Prophet” (1966: 63). Thus, with their strong emphasis on clans, lineages and the clans’ founding fathers, the veneration of saints became a prolongation of an already existing perception; the pilgrimage to the shrines and the veneration of the saints were an elaboration of the practice of visiting the graves of the forefathers.

48

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 29 April 2006. Baxter (1966: 235) has, on the other hand, argued that the traditional believers among the Borana (Oromo) have always prayed for the dead, rather than to them. 49 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 5 July 2006.

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The differentiation of leadership found in Bale was partly related to the gadaa system, which had its separate offices of authority, and partly to the expansion of Islam. The latter clearly caused the decline of some institutions as well as bringing new ones into existence. Even if, in the following, I have differentiated between secular and religious institutions, boundaries were not always clearly demarcated. Religious overtones were inherent in secular institutions, and religious figures could assume political roles. Secular Institutions The political system of the Oromo was based on what is called the gadaa system. Rather than being a hierarchical system with a single ruler on top, it was a relatively egalitarian system based on generation groups. Asmarom Legesse, the scholar who has dealt most extensively with the topic, has provided the following definition:

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The gada system is a system of classes (luba) that succeed each other every eight years in assuming military, economic, political, and ritual responsibilities. Each gada class remains in power during a specific term (gada) which begins and ends with a formal power transfer ceremony (1973: 8).50

As the Oromo spread over a vast geographical area, the gadaa system became increasingly heterogeneous and weakened. Being virtually non-existent in most Oromo-speaking areas today, it is obviously very difficult to reconstruct its main features. Unfortunately, many of the attempts made to recapitulate the gadaa system have often been guided by primordial and essentialist notions, portraying it as a homogeneous and rather static phenomenon. Too often, evaluative preferences from the present are extrapolated into the past, creating the picture of the gadaa system as an elaborate democratic and liberal institution. My own approach would be to see the gadaa system as interlinked with

50 This is not to say that the gadaa system necessarily was an Oromo invention. Schlee (1989) has, by summarising the findings of Jensen (1942), Haberland (1963) and others, argued that systems similar to the gadaa system may have been common to various Cushitic-speaking groups in the south-eastern parts (and northern parts of Kenya) of Ethiopia.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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each particular context, as highly heterogeneous, as dynamic and as shaped by temporal and territorial differences. Similar to other Oromo groups, the Oromo of Bale saw a period of forty years as cyclical, divided into five gadaa periods—the birmajii, bultuma, waraata, roballee and baharaa—each lasting eight years. Accordingly, authority was exercised by the gadaa class, which a man could enter at the age of 40. This class ruled in the form of an assembly for 8 years, and when their time was up, a new group of men (who had turned 40) entered the gadaa class. In contrast to other Oromo groups, where the authority of this assembly extended to the whole society, it seems that the gadaa organisation in Bale was fragmented into a number of gadaa systems, each functioning at the clan level (Haberland 1963: 784).51 Certain clans were clustered in what can be categorised as confederacies, having authority over a defined territory (Ketema Meskela 2001: 15). There is a general lack of consistency in the oral traditions concerning these confederacies, particularly regarding the member clans of the confederations and which clans held the leading positions. In the central highlands, most informants agree upon Wanama, Karmamida, Agarfa and Raytu as the main confederations, while others also include Sebro, Sheidama, Kajawa and Wayu.52 The area of Gedeb was organised into a confederation called the Samu, which consisted of the Abiyu, Babo, Geeneta, Bidhiqa, Beramu, Hole, Hodhitu and Futtalle clans. The highest office within each confederation was that of the abbaa boku (the father of the sceptre). Next in rank was the bahira, or hooka, as he was called in Gedeb. In the central highlands, the abbaa boku belonged to a certain clan within the respective confederation, whereas in Gedeb, he was recruited from the first five of the Samu clans.53 Mindaye Abebe (2005: 31) and Ketema Meskela (2001: 17) have claimed that the abbaa boku was elected every eight years, while the office of the bahira was hereditary. They have moreover argued that the bahira gradually assumed more power, leading to the usurpation of the office of the abbaa boku and subsequently leaving the bahira the sole ruler of the respective confederation. This is to some

51 A similar decentralised gadaa system with four-year intervals was found among the Oromo of northern Ethiopia. See De Salviac (1901) for more details. 52 Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 7 December 2002 & 8 June 2005; Sirāj MuḥammadAmīn, interview 19 November 2005. 53 Temām Muḥammad, interview 23 October 2002.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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extent contradictory to my findings. I have found no indication of any growth of the power of the bahira. Rather, I would suggest that it was the office of the abbaa boku that was hereditary, belonging to certain lineages within a particular clan. In Gedeb, it is clear that when authority was transferred to one of the five clans of the Samu upon the arrival of its prescribed gadaa period, it was a member of a particular lineage that would assume the role as abbaa boku. In the central highlands, it seems that the selection of the clan to hold the abbaa boku was a one-time event, and that the office would be transferred within a given lineage of that clan.54 In addition, within each of these confederations there existed a gadaa council, known as saddeeta (the eight), which had a legislative function. At the clan level, the office of the shannoo (the five) was responsible for announcing the decisions of the saddeeta. The main centre for the gadaa institution in Bale was Oda Roba,55 established in the early 17th century.56 Rather than after an eight year interval, the Arsi Oromo assembled at Oda Roba every fourth year with the main purpose of issuing new regulations (murtii) for the clans, solving pending conflicts and passing verdicts on major crimes. It is not clear how far the jurisdiction of the Oda Roba meeting reached, but we can assume that it covered the eastern/southern lowlands and the central highlands of Bale. Another site, secondary to Oda Roba, was Hora Boka, 2–3 kilometres outside Robe. This was the place where the rulings from Oda Roba would be disseminated to the wider populace in the central highlands.57

54 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 8 June 2005; Temām Muḥammad, interview 22 October 2002; Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 2 April 2006. One informant gave information about hereditary rule which could be traced back to the 16th century (Shaykh Rashīd Ḥ asan, interview 16 December 2002). 55 Oda Roba is located in the eastern part of present-day Ginir district. By comparison, the Macca and the Tulama branches made their assembly at Oda Nabi, about 30 km south of Addis Ababa, later to become the site for the Tulama (Ibsa Gutamaa 1997). The Macha subsequently formed their own assembly in the west, Oda Bisil. See Knutsson (1967: 179); Mohammed Hassan (1994a: 18, 42). 56 One of my informants mentioned Ilu Dhabu as participating in the establishment of Oda Roba. Another informant said he lived six generations before Dadhi Terre (Raytu), which means that he was born ca. 1600. From this it is possible to conclude that Oda Roba as a gadaa institution was established in the first decades of the 17th century (Shaykh Rashīd Ḥ asan, interview 16 December 2002; Nūrī Muḥammad, interview 13 July 2005). 57 Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 1 June 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Change and Continuity From the middle of the 19th century onwards, the gadaa system was loosening its position in Bale; a development caused by the growing influence of Islam and exacerbated by the coerced incorporation of Bale into Ethiopia. As much of the ritual practice of the gadaa system was interwoven in the Oromo religion (Asmaron Leggese 1973: 50f.), they were seen as incompatible to Islam. Invocation of Waaqa as God, ritual prayers, offerings and blessings were discouraged by the shaykhs and rejected as paganism and ḥ arām (Mindaye Abebe 2005: 41). The expansion of Islam did not, however, lead to the complete eradication of the gadaa system. Modified, and with its range and influence inhibited, it continued—receiving its final blow with the arrival of the Amhara. As indicated in the previous chapter, the Amhara actively discouraged the practice of the gadaa system by, for instance, prohibiting the butta ceremony and disrupting the site of Oda Roba.58 Instead, power became vested in the hands of the Amhara nobility acting as provincial administrators. Within this new political and legal framework, there was little room for alternative or competing structures. However, the incorporation of the warra abbaa boku and other local dignitaries into the structures as low-ranking officials, as balabbatočč and burqawočč, contributed to some degree of continuity. This was initiated already during the military conquest, and in setting up their administration, the Amhara actively exploited traditional structures in securing control over the conquered area (Markakis 1974: 107). In a list of balabbatočč provided by Ketema Meskela (2001: Appendix 1), we see names such as Fitawrari Shemo Kimo from the Walashe clan, Qäññazmačč Ḥ usayn Abdurro of the Agarfa clan, Fitawrari Nuho Dadhi of the Raytu clan—all belonging to the abbaa boku lineages in their respective areas. During the first decades of the 20th century, the influence of the Oromo balabbatočč was relatively strong; they could act as mediators between the political administration and the populace. The changes brought by the Amhara conquest and the transfusion of the abbaa boku into the balabbat thus enabled them to gain access to large estates of land, having their own tenants, and to accumulate wealth. The deterioration of the gadaa system thus paved the way for

58 The butta festival signified the transfer from one gadaa to another and was celebrated every eighth year.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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wealth as a category that accompanied their inherent status and contributed to maintaining their authority to a certain extent.59 The power of the traditional Oromo elite declined from the latter part of the 1940s, when Haile Sellassie expanded central control over the regions through state-appointed administrators and civil servants. A few Oromo held lower positions at the district level, yet were subordinate to the provincial leadership which remained in the hands of the Amhara. The crumbling of the “formal” gadaa institutions and the weakening of the office of the abbaa boku caused the development of the institution of elders, the manguddo (pl. manguddoota). The elders were appointed on a rather informal basis, where age, oratory skills and acquaintance with traditional customs were the main criteria. In addition to its informal character, the institution was highly decentralised, with manguddoota representing different sub-clans, families, villages or urban neighbourhoods. Functioning as arbitrators in disagreements between individuals or groups, the manguddoota came to constitute a parallel system to both the formal judicial and political structure. In fact, their status was formalised in 1960, when elders were recognised as arbitrators in the new Civil Code. It is important to notice that this institution was clearly a-religious. Although overlapping could occur, the manguddoota’s realm and decisional basis were qualitatively different from that of religious figures.60

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Religious Institutions The growth of Islam and the subsequent dwindling of the gadaa system were interlinked with the emergence of new institutions gaining considerable influence. Although these institutions were situated within an Islamic framework, the process of reciprocal fusions of various traditions affected their features and the roles they played. The diversified religious leadership clearly points to the heterogeneous character of Islam in Bale. While Islam certainly was a symbiosis of disparate traditions, moulded within the particularity of the locality, this leadership managed, to some degree, to make this symbiosis

59

A similar development was observed by Blackhurst (1978) among the Oromo in the Shoa area. 60 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 8 June 2005; Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Muṣt ̣afā interview, 1 April 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 7. Some of the main balabbatočč of Bale, assembled sometime during the 1950s (photo: unknown)

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apparent. The roles, functions and responsibilities of each category of actors within the religious leadership were defined, and so were also the boundaries between them. Although controversies seldom erupted, it does not mean that the relationships were always harmonious. There were, among the religious leadership, different opinions on what Islam was all about and on the boundaries for correct Muslim praxis. The most well-known ritual expert within the Oromo religion has undoubtedly been the qallu, a figure believed to possess a special relationship with Waaqa. It was at the outset intrinsically linked to the gadaa system as the “final authority” sanctioning the system itself and the decisions made therein (Asmaron Legesse 1973; Knutsson 1967: 27; Lewis 1984). A distinctive variant of the qallu, linked to the cult of spirit possession, emerged in western Ethiopia during the 19th century (Knutsson 1967: 68). Whereas Asmaron Leggese has argued that also this variant was connected to the gadaa system (1973), my findings concur with Lewis’ position that the qallu of western Ethiopia was “growing out of the relatively recent diffusion and elaboration of spirit possession throughout Ethiopia” (1990: 59) and moreover, that the connections between the qallu and cults of spirit possession remained absent among the Oromo of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia. In southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, the qallu was the object for annual pilgrimage (jila), where the adherents brought sacrifices in return for blessings beneficial for their individual and communal wellbeing, and functioned as an integrator creating a certain sense of commonality among the various Oromo branches. He has interchangeably been referred to as the abbaa muuda, while the people of Bale used the word qallu. As discussed in preceding chapters, the abbaa muuda was located in Medda Welabu (said to be the cradle of the Oromo), considered to be the core centre of the Oromo religion and venerated far beyond the boundaries of Bale. The first reference to the pilgrimage is from the early 17th century, but there is very little information about those holding the position of abbaa muuda (Mohammed Hassan 2005: 146). Oral traditions from Bale refer to two distinct qalluwwan, one in the area of Dello Guddo (the large Dello, the southern lowland including the current districts of Mena Angentu and Medda Welabu) and another in Dello Tiqqo (the small Dello, the north-eastern lowlands comprising Raytu, Sewena and Beltu districts). The former corresponds geographically to the site of the abbaa muuda of Dello, whereas the latter was located in Raytu district. Both qalluwwan belonged to the

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Doyyo lineage of the Raytu clan.61 Currently the descendants of the abbaa muuda in Dello are referred to as the warra gadaa qallu, and one interesting detail is that Waqo Gutu, the famous leader of the Bale Rebellion, belonged to this lineage.62 The pilgrimage to and the rituals performed at the galme (sanctuary) of the qallu of Raytu are remarkably similar to general descriptions of the abbaa muuda (Knutsson 1967: 147f.; Mohammed Hassan 2005). Whereas the pilgrimage to the qallu in Dello stopped some time during the 19th century, the pilgrimage to the qallu in Raytu seems to have continued until the 1930s. Yet, even today the present qallu in Raytu is respected and feared in the Muslim community.63 While the emergence of the particular qallu possession cult in western Ethiopia is said to have been a result of the coming of the Amhara (Knutsson 1967: 207; Lewis 1984: 423), changes in Bale were more linked with the expansion of Islam. Rather than the emergence of a cult of possession in relation to the qallu, Bale saw a general decline of the qallu-institution and the appearance of other ritual experts— not associated with ayaanaa but with karaama. As the term karaama reveals, this development came to be framed within an Islamic setting, and again the fusions of diverse traditions produced a complex picture, where the perception of authority and the diversification of leadership are not easily construed. In the following I will discuss the main components of this picture as well as the developmental patterns contributing to shaping the religious institutions in Bale. Mystics The religious leadership that crystallised at the turn of the 19th century was represented by different figures and held separate functions, but there was also a certain degree of overlapping. The leadership can roughly be divided into two categories: the first labelled “mystics”, covering the Muslim Oromo categories of darga (pl. warra darga), ulee baaro (pl. warra ulee baaro) and fuqra (pl. warra fuqra) and the

61

Khālid Adam, interview 26 September 2006. Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006; Shaykh Ḥ usayn ʿAbdallāh, interview 17 July 2001. 63 The present qallu is called Adam Qamale, aged ca 60 (Khālid Adam, interview 26 September 2005). 62

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second consisting of religious teachers linked to the scholarly Islamic tradition. The darga community, or the guardians of the shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, inhabited the village in adjunction to the shrine.64 Asserting direct authority over its spatial area, their symbolic power also reached far beyond the shrine. They were perceived of as having a mediating ability through their karaama and were consequently highly respected and feared by the Oromo throughout Bale. The community was a clearly stratified entity, where the main leadership was attributed, as noted, to the descendants of Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo, the warra imaama (the family of the imām), while the descendants of Shaykh ʿAbbās held subordinate positions. In addition to descendants of these two figures, the community at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn consisted of people from various clans and lineages, commonly referred to as the sakina, who settled there from the late 19th century. Although none of them had any genealogical relations to the families of Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo or Shaykh ʿAbbās, they were considered to possess karaama.65 The main leader of Shaykh Ḥ usayn and other shrines could also be referred to as abbaa karra (the father of the gate)66 or alternatively as wambara. At some shrines there would be several leaders—representing different clans or lineages and having different roles and duties.67 Also related to the Shaykh Ḥ usayn shrine were the warra ulee baaro, with the duty of composing the baaro and leading the singing of these litanies. Whereas Andrzejewski and Lewis (1964) claimed that the Muslim Oromo did not have a class of professional poets, like the Somalis, my findings from Bale clearly state that they did. When the time of pilgrimage approached, these warra ulee baaro often appeared at the local markets, calling people to participate in the pilgrimage:

64 Within a Sufi context, darga usually refers to a Sufi gathering or assembly and can also mean a site for Sufi rituals. 65 Anonymous, interview by Jeannie Miller (date unknown). 66 Lit. Meaning ”the father of the gate”. The term is connected to the pastoralist economy of the Oromo, signifying a man who possesses a certain amount of cattle. 67 For example, at Sof ʿUmar the wambara consist of the following: that of Aymaro clan, that of Wayu Sole (an individual), that of Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale, that of Sayyid Roba Garbi, that of warra Qallu Sheka (the people of the qallu shaykhs), that of the Gerjeda clan, that of Qachen Abba Dawe (the people of that lineage), that of Robe Konto (the people of her lineage) and the wambara shananii (the people of the five wambara) (Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAlī, interview 9 October 2002).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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They used to come to the market here in Robe, calling the people to come and hear their singing. They would stand shouting, holding their dhanqe in the air, and the people would stand around in a circle. They would say: come near, give money, and you will get blessing . . . Their singing was very beautiful, and the people were very attracted to them. Many cried during their singing.68

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The warra ulee baaro also claimed to possess karaama, and were seen performing healings of various kinds and providing blessings upon the people’s requests. Although the warra fuqra would invoke the name of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, they operated more independently and claimed to possess their own personalised karaama.69 Whereas they in some areas could be venerated as saints (Abebe Kifleyesus 1995: 34), others have described them as “exorcists” (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 111) or equated fuqra with the term qalliča (Knutsson 1967: 66). Easily identifiable by their extraordinary appearance, often with long hair, colourful clothes and ornaments, long wooden tasbīḥ wrapped around them and carrying the dhanqe, the warra fuqra actively participated in the rituals at the shrines, yet also moved around in the rural areas, appearing at the different mawlid al-Nabī and ṣadaqa ceremonies. They acted as fortune tellers, prophesised the future, provided healing from diseases and from spirit possession and brought messages from deceased forefathers. The people in Bale had an ambivalent perception of the warra fuqra. While many of them were seen as counterfeits, others, like Sayyid Roba Garbi (see preceding chapter), the most renowned fuqra of Bale, was by many considered to be a walī. Nonetheless, because of their alleged karaama, their ability to curse and inflict suffering upon those who refused to obey them, they were shrouded with a distinct sense of awe and fear: Once he [Sayyid Roba Garbi] came to my father and saw all the nice oxen my father had. He then ordered my father to give him one of the oxen. My father simply kept quiet, and by that saying that he wouldn’t give him any. The next morning Sayyid Roba returned, but my father ignored him and went to work. Sayyid Roba then acted like crazy, put his stick into the ground, ran around on the compound and shouted wildly. He then said that we should just wait and see; something bad would happen to our oxen. My mother got very frightened. All our

68

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal interview, 12 March 2006. Not be confused with fuqahāʾ (sing. faqīh), Muslim jurisprudent, fuqra is a derivation from fuqarāʾ (sing. faqīr), Sufi ascetics. 69

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Along with the geriboota, who merely acted as begging pilgrims, the warra fuqra and the warra ulee baaro constituted a group with a mobile lifestyle, constantly wandering around in the rural areas and frequenting the shrines at the time of pilgrimage. They had denounced worldly life and material wellbeing and had turned pilgrimage into “a sort of vocation” (Pankhurst 1994: 946). Usually, this lifestyle was a result of a distinct calling, either in the form of a direct spiritual message from Shaykh Ḥ usayn (or another walī) or as a dream.71 In addition, there were certain individuals scattered around in the rural areas, said to have the ability to perform healing from various diseases and disorders as well as the power to cast out jinn. Among these we find Shaykh Ḥ asan Shaykh Ḥ usayn, Shaykh Hassana Gurre in Gasera district and the already mentioned Ḥ ajj Adam Zikrī. While the latter two had their own ḥ aḍra ceremonies, the former was widely known for their power to heal people from various illnesses, using both traditional medicine and esoteric practices. The group of mystics had a distinct degree of authority, through which the system of symbolic exchange was maintained. The authority embodied in these figures was of a hidden character and thus inaccessible for the people. Through the provision of blessings and promises in return for votive gifts, they held an elevated position in the community. This position was moreover secured by the power to pass on curses and inflict suffering at will. Religious Teachers and ʿulamāʾ Although the warra fuqra sometimes were referred to as shaykhs, they were distinctively different from the religious teachers. The warra fuqra had little or no proficiency in Arabic and were never engaged in actual teaching. The shaykhs, on the other hand, or the sheekoota, as they were called, trained in Islam and providing teaching in the

70

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 17 November 2000. For more details on dreams in relation to Shaykh Ḥ usayn, see Carmichael (2003). 71

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 8. Waraa fuqra at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn in the 1960s (photo: unknown)

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religion, became increasingly influential from the early decades of the 20th century. The largest segment of this group was the Qurʾān teachers. Scattered around in the rural areas, providing their teaching to children, their knowledge was often limited to the basics of the Qurʾān. Teaching was a trade inherited from the father, and was usually on such a rudimentary level that the cognitive meaning reached only a few. These teachers moreover served as their locality’s imām, they conducted the nikāḥ (marriage) ceremony, led the funeral services and played an active part during the ʿīd al-Fiṭr and mawlid al-Nabī rituals. In addition to teaching, these shaykhs were engaged in the production and provision of talismans and fortune telling, something which counted for a substantial amount of their income.72 Drawing from books on Islamic numerology and astrology, a specialist could diagnose and prescribe the necessary remedies for the patient, remedies which often were in the form of a piece of paper containing writings from the Qurʾān or slate-water that the patient would drink.73 In the absence of mosques, teaching of the Qurʾān was usually conducted in the shade of a tree or around nightly bonfires. Yet, the number of teachers was far from abundant, and up to the first decades of the 20th century, Islamic education remained a scarce commodity. I have already mentioned Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and Agarfa as important centres for Islamic education in the 19th century, but those who wished to pursue their religious education further were forced to leave the province for areas such as Hararge, Arsi, Jimma and Wollo. The incorporation of Bale into the Ethiopian Kingdom, and the subsequent pax Amharica—curbing clan-based feuding and providing a general state of security, established conducive conditions for travels (Aman Seifedin 1987: 31). Translocal travelling in the pursuit of knowledge eventually led to the increase in Islamic centres of learning and to the emergence of indigenous ʿulamāʾ in Bale. As already mentioned, the previous ʿulamāʾ in Bale were represented by those from the outside, whereas the indigenous element was restricted to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and

72 The word used by my informants was the Amharic asma which corresponds to “magic”, witchcraft and charms (Leslau 1976). In an Islamic setting, astrology is called ʿilm al-raml, while numerology is called ʿilm al-ḥ urūf or ʿilm al-awfaq (Brenner 1985). 73 Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 21 September 2005.

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Agarfa. The teaching at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn remained rather rudimentary until the arrival of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman “Adare” Ismāʿīl from Harar in the 1920s, organising the teaching more formally in a madrasa (pl. madāris; Islamic school) with distinct subjects and textbooks.74 As Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman “Adare” Ismāʿīl returned to Harar in 1942, the responsibility for the madrasa was assumed by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ṣamad Muḥammad, who remained in charge for nearly seventy years. In the eastern parts of Bale, a place called Harawa (in Ginir district) emerged as an important centre. This was probably due to the fact that Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman “Adare” Ismāʿīl brought one of his students, Shaykh Aḥmad Sagiru from Harar, to teach there. Eventually, ʿulamāʾ such as Shaykh Jalīl Harawa, Ḥ ajj Khadīr Ḥ ajj Hisu and Shaykh Ḥ asan Shaykh Muḥammad Tāhir boosted the reputation of the area.75 In the central highlands, a distinct group of ʿulamāʾ appeared in the early 1930s. Most notable among these were Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Tigri, Shaykh Aliyeh Galchota, Shaykh Aliyeh Garado, Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Abosera, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Qito, Shaykh Ismāʿīl Walashe (Shaykh Ismāʿīl Ebu) and Shaykh Juneydin Oborra. Shaykh Ibrāhīm was not a native of Bale; he belonged to the Warji and came from Dawwey in Wollo. Shaykh Aliyeh Garado studied under Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Yūnus of Agarfa and became in turn the teacher of Shaykh Aliyeh Galchota. Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Abosera conducted his teaching west of Ginir town and studied under Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Yūnus and Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba, whom we will return to in the next chapter. With the exception of Shaykh Ismāʿīl Walashe and Shaykh Juneydin Oborra, who remained active until the 1960s and 1970s, these ʿulamāʾ were teaching in the 1940s and 1950s.76 In spite of the growth of an indigenous ʿulamāʾ, it would be difficult to talk about established centres for learning. With the exception of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and Agarfa, where teaching by the turn of the 20th century had become an ongoing activity, it was otherwise attached to the particular ʿālim 74 Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman “Adare” Ismāʿīl was a native of Harar and had studied under Shaykh ʿAlī ʿAbd al-Raḥman (ʿAlī al-Sufi), who was the headmaster of the first modern madrasa in Harar, called the Jamʿiyya (Shaykh Muḥammad Ṣafi Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Qādir, interview 6 June 2006; Erlich (2007: 26). 75 Ḥ ajj Amān Muḥammad, interview 19 July 2006; Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006; Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 12 June 2005. 76 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 17 November 2005; Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 19 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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offering his service at a particular point in time. Neither was there any sufficient number of ʿulamāʾ that would contribute to the maintaining of permanent sites. The main discipline of ʿilm in Bale at that time was fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), taught exclusively according to the Shafi’ite school of law, with its influence stemming from the Hijaz and Yemen (Reichmuth 2000: 428). Other subjects, like naḥ wī (Arabic grammar), were brought to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman “Adare” Ismāʿīl, who also introduced geography, history and natural science to the madrasa.77 Similarly, naḥ wī was introduced to the central highlands by Shaykh Juneydin Oborra, who had received his training in Arsi under Sultan Sude and Shaykh Muḥammad Jeju and in Jimma under Shaykh Jowar Qorre.78 Other subjects, like tafsīr al-Qurʾān (commentary on the Qurʾān), tawḥ īd (doctrines) and ḥ adīth were virtually non-existent. In general, the teaching followed the pattern found elsewhere in Ethiopia, where the ʿulamāʾ depended on voluntary contributions from the local community and on income from their waqf land (land of revenue) (Haile Gabriel Dagne 1971; Hussein Ahmed 1988). The students of each ʿālim ranged from fifty to several hundred, with accommodation and food provided by the local community—something which was not always easy. The hardship caused by the mälkäñña system clearly impinged on the people’s ability to provide assistance to the darasoota. Moreover, due to a combination of religious prejudice and a fear that the support for the darasoota would shorten their income, the Amhara governors and nobility did not look with favour on the Islamic teaching. Thus, prior to the Italian occupation, it was not uncommon for religious teachers to constantly move from village to village—something which obviously reduced the number of darasoota.79 Knowledge, Karaama and Authority The composition of the religious leadership described above seems to fit the frequently used dichotomy of the saint and the scholar, distinguishing between “hidden” knowledge and that based on exoteric references. However, such a dichotomy would not, as I intend to

77 78 79

Shaykh Muḥammad Ṣafi ʿAbd al-Qādir, interview 6 June 2006. Shaykh Rashād Muḥammad, interview 31 May 2006. Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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demonstrate, render full justice to the actual picture of the religious institutions of Bale. The notion of “hidden knowledge” in an African context would be situated within a rather elaborated Sufi tradition (Brenner 1985; Brenner 2000). Such an elaborate Sufi tradition was not evident in Bale, where the ordinary Muslim was unfamiliar with the term Sufism. Instead, there were references to karaa karaama, the way of the karaama. My findings largely correspond to the situation of West Africa depicted by Robert Launay, who amply demonstrates how the religious landscape, although containing references to Sufi concepts and symbols, was devoid of clear references to Sufi doctrines and that there was a general lack of a manifest consciousness of being Sufi. The main ṭuruq were present, yet the Muslim population within the respective localities did not necessarily define themselves as members of any particular ṭarīqa (Launay 1992: 182f.). Whereas connections to the wider ṭuruq through the chain of silsila were evident among the ʿulamāʾ in East Africa (Constantin 1988: 72), this was less obvious among the Islamic scholars in Bale. Of the few that were associated with any of the Sufi ṭuruq, was Shaykh Juneydin Oborra, who during his stay in Jimma was initiated into the Rashādiyya order. He was, however, prohibited from issuing ijāza (certificate) to this order in Bale.80 Some informants also claimed that Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Yūnus belonged to the Aḥmadiyya ṭarīqa, which was said to have been brought to Bale by Shaykh Ḥ usayn.81 The term karaama is the one which most clearly corresponds to the Sufi idea of “hidden knowledge”. The karaama of the darga, ulee baaro and fuqra was founded on a combination of genealogy, divine calling and initiation. In the case of Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo

80 The Rashādiyya order should not be confused with that of the Sudanese Ibrāhīm al-Rāshīd (1813–74), but was an order initiated by Muḥammad Rashād in Jimma, who combined wird from the Qādiriyya and Tījāniyya orders (Shaykh Rashād Muḥammad, interview 31 May 2006; Muḥammad Ḥ asan, interview 7 March 2007). 81 The reference to Aḥmadiyya indicates the influence from Aḥmad ibn Idrīs, which was also recognised by the informants. Yet, the claims that the ṭarīqa came with Shaykh Ḥ usayn and, moreover, that the Qādiriyya emerged out of the Aḥmadiyya demonstrate the restricted knowledge about Sufism and Sufi traditions (Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 30 May 2006; Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 May 2006). Some writers have made references to the Ḥ usayniyya ṭarīqa found in areas such as Borana, southern Ethiopia and in northern Kenya (Dahl 1989; Ishihara 1993; Schlee 1999). This ṭarīqa is said to stem from Shaykh Ḥ usayn, yet the word Ḥ usayniyya is virtually unknown in Bale.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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and his descendants, the issue of inherited karaama was most obvious, whereas inheritance in other cases had to be supplemented by a ritual of initiation, as can be observed from the initiation ritual of the current leader of the Sof ʿUmar shrine: The karaama is not transferred when the father is alive, but after he is dead. It is always the eldest son who receives the karaama. But at the same time, the eldest son will follow his father while he is alive, watch him and learn from him. When the father dies, a ceremony called ṣadaqa will be held, and then the karaama will be transferred. During all these ceremonies prayers will be conducted. The prayer is called tawhida [the first part of shahāda], and is prayed over 100 000 times. This is done by dividing the prayers among the people. One person is given the task of praying 1000 times, another person 500 times, and so forth. While praying they use the tasbīḥ to keep track of the praying . . . After the 15th day [after the father’s funeral] they will wait until the 40th day. This is the final ṣadaqa. On this day all the relatives of the dead, shaykhs and elders from far away will be called. They will slaughter a fat cow or a camel, and the meat will be eaten by the people present. After this meal, the people and the relatives will leave, and only the elders and the shaykhs will remain. The next day they will prepare black coffee and call the relatives of the dead. The clothes of the dead will be displayed on a mat before the coffee, and the coffee will be sprayed over the clothes. Then the elders and the shaykhs will distribute the clothes and the belongings of the dead to the relatives, according to the regulation of the culture.82

Moreover, inheriting a certain office and receiving the karaama were perceived of as an obligation, and refusal could have severe implications:

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I am the fourth youngest of my brothers, and I didn’t receive the karaama freely. I refused many times. Because I refused, I was sick for a long time. I didn’t eat or drink for nine months, I was just lying in bed. I even went to Addis Ababa, to Black Lion Hospital.83

While the issue of karaama as being inherited is found in other parts of the Islamic world and among other Muslim groups in Ethiopia (Gibb 1999: 95; Lewis 1998: 29), it had in Bale clear links to the elevated status of genealogies and lineages among the Oromo. This is similar to Somali Islam, in which baraka (or karaama) was assimilated through the merging of lineage genealogies and Sufi genealogies (silsila), with the veneration of saints as a meeting-point (Lewis 1998: 30). As 82 83

Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAlī, interview 8 October 2002. Shaykh Ziyād Shaykh Ḥ asan, interview 6 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Illustration 9. Shaykh ʿAbd al-Jabbār Shaykh Aḥmad Mame, the current leader of the shrine of Sof ʿUmar (photo: Terje Østebø)

already noted, karaama was moreover interwoven with the concept of wayyuu. A person who had karaama was considered as wayyooma, meaning that such a person was inhabitated by a distinct sacredness and extraordinary qualities. Numerous stories are still told to confirm this: “I remember when I was a student of Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Tigri, my mule went and ate of his crop. A person told this to him, and Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm cursed the animal. Just shortly after, the mule died.”84 The possession of karaama enabled the mystics to intermediate indirectly with the divine sphere. The warra darga facilitated the mediation between humans and God through and by the walī, who in turn would bring God’s benevolent response to the humans’ request. Although

84

Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 26 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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the same could be true for the warra fuqra, there was a more explicit emphasis on their own karaama, and their ability to communicate independently with the divine. The former were, moreover, oriented towards the benevolent responses to the humans’ requests, whereas the latter were more directed towards checking the effects of the evil, in the form of exorcism of jinn. By contrast, the ʿulamāʾ explicitly referred to their Islamic scholarship, proficiency in Arabic and theological learning—rather than to the issue of karaama. However, the boundary between the two was not always clearly demarcated, and it was a widely held conception that the ʿulamāʾ also possessed karaama. This was the case in connection with the already discussed figures of Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale and Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Shaykh Yūnus, as well as for the ʿulamāʾ that emerged in the first decades of the 20th century. Their karaama was, in contrast to the ʿulamāʾ from the 19th century, not perceived of as being transferred along genealogical lineages; rather, it was more explicitly kept within an Islamic framework, obtained in a way similar to that of the Sufi orders. First, it came as a result of religious exercises, in the form of solitary prayers and recitations of Sufi litanies. My informants repeatedly stressed that those of the ʿulamāʾ who had karaama usually spent their nights in devotional prayers to God. Secondly, and in addition to this aspect of piety, it had to do with morality or “moral vividness” as expressed by Geertz (1983). The one with karaama was a person “who doesn’t speak false, who doesn’t hate others, who helps others and who doesn’t steal”.85 This was further reflected in the economy of karaama, particularly by the guardians of the shrine and those receiving contributions for services rendered. Whereas wealth was looked upon as a blessing from God, there were clear expectations that the gifts to a shrine or to an individual had to be further redistributed and that accumulation of wealth could have a negative impact for one’s karaama: I can receive the gift, or if the person wants, I can bring it to the awliyyāʾ, like Dirre. But I don’t keep anything for myself; I will give all to the poor. If I didn’t give this to the poor, when the people are starving and are poor, this would be wrong according to the religion.86

85

Shaykh Ziyād Shaykh Ḥ asan, interview 18 August 2005. Shaykh Ziyād Shaykh Ḥ asan, interview 18 August 2005. See also Constantin (1988: 76f.). 86

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Yet their karaama never made the ʿulamāʾ objects of veneration, and it was not actively used for any explicit purpose; it never became part of the ʿulamāʾ’s activities to heal or to act as diviners. They would never engage in exorcism rites nor make references to any personified karaama; it was rather the karaama of the word that was enacted through their activities. Authority based either on the esoteric notion of karaama or on acquaintance of texts was differentiated across the spectre of religious “offices”. It remained hierarchically distributed, but was nonetheless subject to relations restricting authority itself. For example, the dramas of miraculous acts had to be enacted in consistency with the accepted cultural universe, and the ʿulamāʾ could, as representatives of an explicitly Islamic tradition, voice their objection towards some of the excessive popularised rituals. Yet being part of the same community and subject to the existing social structures embedded in a distinct social context, they were restricted from articulating too strong criticism. Careful advices could be forwarded, but taking a stringent stand would alienate them from the rest of the population and from the tradition they were part of. The authority of the ʿulamāʾ thus had to be negotiated within the particular locality in which they existed. Situated in a context where Islam had appeared relatively late, and where other traditions remained strong, this consequently restricted their authority and augmented the mystics’ influence. In sum, Muslim identity in Bale was a product of the moulding of several religious traditions, communicated, reproduced and maintained by a diversified religious leadership. While one category functioned as transmitters of Islamic knowledge fixed in a written corpus, seeking to maintain correspondence to Sunni Islam, another category played the role of mediators between human beings and God in a more direct manner, displaying God’s concrete benevolence in the human being’s life. At the same time, the two could benefit from each other: The ʿulamāʾ’s participation in the pilgrimage legitimised the status of the guardians and the shrines, while the guardians and the warra fuqra, as they defined themselves within the framework of Islam, would make use of the knowledge of the written corpus of Islam held by the ʿulamāʾ. This obviously served to create a form of balance and contributed to maintaining the heterogeneity of Islam in Bale. The synthesis of religious traditions constituted a meaningful complexity for Oromo Muslims, in which both continuity and change were incorporated.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved. steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

CHAPTER FIVE

THE EMERGENCE OF SALAFISM IN BALE As any observant reader would have noticed; what usually would be called traditional Bale had over the past centuries undergone encompassing changes. It had demographically been transformed by the arrival of the Oromo, religiously altered by the expansion of Islam and seen a dramatic political makeover when the region was incorporated in the Abyssinian kingdom. Change would characterise the development in the 20th century as well—at a more rapid pace than before and with more far-reaching consequences. New groups of actors emerged as a result of structural transformations, and the improvement of infrastructures paved the way for increased translocal interactions. Becoming acquainted with other currents and bringing new ideas within the reach of the Oromo Muslims of Bale, it is important to notice how this process was coloured by the particularities of the actors and by the manners in which an ideology like Salafism was introduced to Bale. Observing events from the Italian period until the late 1960s, the present chapter will draw a broad picture of the religious development, interweaving it with wider political, economic and social processes evolving during this period.

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Fascist Italy and Islam in Bale The Italian invasion in 1936 marked the start of a short, yet important interlude for Ethiopia’s Muslim population in general, and for the Muslims in Bale in particular. Attempting to counterweight and alienate the ruling Christians, the Italians proclaimed their allegiance to Ethiopia’s suppressed peoples and issued promises of land redistribution to tenants and the restoration of equal rights for the Muslims. This latter point was also meant for consumption in the Arab world, where Mussolini was actively seeking to gather Arab support for his colonial enterprise. The Arab world, which already had expressed concern for the Ethiopian Muslims, whom they saw as subjugated by the Christians, was being assured that past injustices would be redressed by the fascists (Erlich 1994: 95f.). In provinces with a substantial Muslim

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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population, the Italians made Islam into the principal religion, legalised the use of Arabic and formalised a system of sharīʿa courts. They moreover contributed to the construction of hundreds of mosques all over the country, facilitated the establishment of Islamic newspapers and allowed airing of radio programmes in Arabic (Sbacchi 1985: 161f.). The Italians reached Bale from the east coming through Imi (Somali National Regional State), through the lowland districts of Raytu and Goro, before reaching the highland. In Raytu they won the support of Fitawrari Dadhi Terre, the balabbat of the district, who subsequently urged his compatriots in the highlands to refrain from fighting the Italians. Combined with Italian propaganda reaching the area, the Muslim Oromo thus responded negatively to the provincial administration’s call for resistance against the Europeans.1 This caused the governor of Bale, Beyene Merid (1934–1935),2 to threaten to brand all males on their forehead with a scorching iron unless they joined his ranks.3 Swiftly defeating the Ethiopian resistance, the Italians took control over Bale, which together with Hararge, the southern parts of Afar region and Arsi was organised as one province under the name of Harar. They established their local administration in Goba, built a strong garrison in Megalo, now Goro district, and divided Bale into two commissariati (districts), which in turn were separated into six residenze (sub-districts): Goba, Dodola, Dello, Ginir, Magalo and Shaykh Ḥ usayn (Mindaye Abebe 2005: 72). The colonisers then quickly issued edicts of reform to gain the support of the local Oromo. Land was granted to the tenants, many of the former tribute obligations were lifted and a capo office was created with the purpose of facilitating good relations between the occupants and the people. In the provincial administration, the Italians included two well-known ʿulamāʾ: Ḥ ajj Ismāʿīl Walashe, who was given the title wazīr, and the qāḍī of Bale, Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Sirāj (originally from Wollo).4 Another gesture was the establishment of two sultanates and one imamate in 1937. One of the sultanates was located in Sude (Arsi), where Shaykh Ḥ usayn Kimo was renamed Sultan Sude and made 1 Leaflets in Arabic and other languages were dropped from Italian airplanes prior to the attacks (Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006; Greenfield 1965: 230). 2 Beyene Merid was married to the Emperor’s daughter and later killed by the Italians (Greenfield 1965: 239). 3 Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006. 4 Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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ruler. He was by that time a respected ʿālim, both in Arsi and in the neighbouring areas. The second sultanate was located in Raytu, with Fitawrari Nuho Dadhi, the son of the above-mentioned Fitawrari Dadhi Terre installed as Sultan. Fitawrari Nuho Dadhi was not a scholar, but belonged to the prominent abbaa boku lineage of the Raytu clan. At Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, the Italians elevated Imām Muḥammad Sayyid, from the family of Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo, to the position of leader of the Bale Imamate.5 These three individuals were also among the prominent Muslims sent to Rome and granted audience by Mussolini (Temam Haji 2002: 48). The Italians also played an active role in the further expansion of Islam in Bale, particularly in the western parts of the province. There they hired and paid local shaykhs who actively toured the area seeking converts among the local Oromo. The people around Dodola and Kofale were turned to Islam by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman Ḥ ajj Luigi and Shaykh Ibrāhīm Shāfiʿi, who both were brought from Shirka in Arsi and paid regular salaries by the Italians.6 In the central highlands, religious teachers were brought in from various directions and employed by the occupants. When students in the Qurʾān schools were provided with an allowance by the Italians, attendance increased and contributed to a general expansion of religious learning. The Italians also supported the construction of mosques, and during this period the first mosques were constructed in Bale: in Goba, Ginir, Dello-Mena and Dodola.7 Besides these, and thatch-roofed zawaya (sing. zāwiya) in the rural areas, there were at this stage hardly any mosques in Bale. While higher religious education was, as already noted, limited to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, Agarfa and a few other rural centres, the Italians, by seeking to enhance the position of the dynastic rulers of the Jimma kingdom, built institutions of higher Islamic learning there and encouraged Muslims from Arsi and Bale to attend these institutions (Sbacchi 1985: 137; Temam Haji 2002: 46).

5 Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006; Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006; Temam Haji (2002: 40f.). 6 Ḥ ajj Farīd Aḥmad, interview 2 March 2006; Shaykh ʿAbd al-Rāshed Qāsim, interview 3 March 2006; Temam Haji (2002: 42f.); Braukämper (2002: 159). 7 Whereas the zāwiya in Sufi traditions referred to a Sufi centre and a venue for performance of various rituals, the usage in Bale was mostly related to private and individual prayers (Ḥ ajj Farīd Aḥmad, interview 3 March 2006; Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Aliyeh, interview 1 April 2006; Aman Seifedin 1987: 20; and Mindaye Abebe 2005: 73).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Even if the Italian period contributed to strengthening the position of Islam in Bale, it had somewhat limited effects on the people’s compliance with its obligatory requirements. The regular prayer was not generally observed, and usage of alcohol was not uncommon. On the other hand, it had a clear effect in enhancing the self-esteem of the Muslims in Bale. In contrast to the discriminatory treatment by the Imperial Government, Islam was now granted an improved status, and the Italian occupation was seen as a historic opportunity to gain parity with the Christians. This consequently made the Oromo of Bale look upon the Italians with great benevolence, as clearly expressed in the following poem: Allah’u marham Nūr Ḥ usayn Waa imamootani’oo Goba, siree kaafiiraa Masgiida gootanii

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May Allah have mercy on Nūr Ḥ usayn You [Italians] ruled the country In Goba, the town [bed] of the kāfir You built a mosque8

Another and pivotal aspect of the Italian period was development of infrastructure. The construction of roads and bridges alleviated the hardship of travelling and contributed to bringing the Oromo of Bale into closer contact with neighbouring provinces, with Addis Ababa and, as we will see, with the wider world of Islam. Better opportunities for travelling also enabled religious scholars and students to pursue their education beyond the boundaries of Bale and contributed to an increase of religious texts in Bale. Books in various disciplines were brought back by both students and traders, in turn stimulating Islamic scholarship in Bale. The statement “bara xaaliyaanii ijaa banaannee” (we opened our eyes during the Italian period), put forward by one of Temam Haji’s informants, is a clear indication of how the Muslims of the region perceived the new situation (2002: 47). Increased contacts with the outside world broadened the sense of Muslim brotherhood and made other alternative religious ideas available. However, the restoration of the monarchy in 1941 signalled not only a continuation of the emperor’s “policy of guarded tolerance” (Hussein Ahmed 2006: 6) but also a rectification of the achieved influ8

Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006.

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ence of Islam. Attempts to castigate those who had aligned themselves with the Italians were clearly felt in Bale when Abunä Baseleyos, the bishop of Harar, arrived and arranged a mass baptism of about 20,000 Oromo in the western districts of Dodola and Kokossa (Braukämper 2002: 159). The bishop also assembled the local Oromo dignitaries in Goba and demanded that they should renounce Islam and embrace Christianity (“Do You Know Hajj Adam Saddo” 2005). These efforts had, however, little impact. Most of those baptised in Dodola and Kokossa returned to their prior religion, and none of the dignitaries in Goba chose conversion.

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The Ḥ ajj and the Italian Factor The ḥ ajj to the Hijaz is for obvious reasons of particular interest for this study. Unfortunately, very little is known about the early pilgrimage from Ethiopia in general and from Bale in particular. What seems apparent, though, is that in spite of its proximity to the Arab Peninsula, Ethiopia’s Muslims remained relatively isolated from the rest of the Muslim world, with the ḥ ajj performed mostly by those in the coastal areas and in Harar.9 The opening of the trade route to the port of Tajura by the end of the 19th century clearly contributed to an increase in the number of pilgrims from Wollo, whereas it must be assumed that other areas remained largely unaffected (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 76). The absence of the title Ḥ ajj from all the genealogies I collected in Bale, as well as a lack of concrete references to individuals said to have performed the ḥ ajj in any of the local traditions, has led me to conclude that pilgrimage from Bale to the Hijaz remained uncommon until the 20th century. Instead, the ḥ ajj was in Bale substituted by pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s shrine. Easily accessible and financially less demanding, this pilgrimage has consequently been labelled the “ḥ ajj of the poor” (Temam Haji 2002: 55). As part of their efforts to enhance their image as protectors of Ethiopia’s Muslims, the Italians actively encouraged and subsidised the pilgrimage to the holy cities, which in turn led to a dramatic

9

There is, on the other hand, a long-standing tradition of Ethiopians attending religious education at al-Azhar in Cairo and in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus. In both places there were well-established sections (riwāq) for Ethiopian students (Trimingham 1952: 62).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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increase in the ḥ ajj during the latter part of the 1930s. In 1933, there were, according to Erlich (2007: 73f.), only 11 Ethiopian pilgrims to the Hijaz (out of a total of 19,500 registered pilgrims), a number which rose to somewhere between 1,600 and 1,900 in 1936. By contrast, the figure plunged to only 57 after the restoration of the monarchy in 1941. In Mecca, the Italians built houses and a dispensary to care for the wellbeing of the Ethiopian pilgrims. Previous hardships of the ḥ ajj journey were alleviated by providing the pilgrims with a bus connection to Massawa, where ships would take them across the Red Sea (Temam Haji 2002: 48). These efforts had, however, limited impact on Bale, where there was no significant increase in the number of pilgrims during the Italian period. Instead of organising travel parties on a wide scale, the Italians gave the opportunity to a few individual ʿulamāʾ.10 More important, however, was the facilitation of further education, both secular and religious, in the neighbouring Hararge region. There is no reliable information as to how many actually went, but references to names such as Kamāl Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Sirāj, Qäññazmačč Khadīr Hanu and Fitawrari Nuho Dadhi reveal that they all belonged to the local Oromo elite.11 In the meantime, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Saʿūd had (in 1902) initiated extensive diplomatic and military campaigns on the Arabian Peninsula and spent the next thirty years securing political control over an increasingly larger area—which culminated in the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. These campaigns also led to the rooting of Salafi hegemony in the area and to the making of Salafism into the defining state ideology. However, the rise of the monarchy limited at the same time the influence of the Salafi ʿulamāʾ, something which became noticeable in the king’s pragmatic handling of the Hijaz, captured in 1924–25. In contrast to previous occasions when the Saudis had controlled the two holy cities (the Salafis had then destroyed most of the domes and shrines, banned smoking and ordered attendance of the congregational prayers), the king now blocked the enforcement of a strict Salafism. Certainly, Salafi ʿulamāʾ and imāms were appointed, and the pilgrims were obliged to comply with the basic principles of Salafism. Yet, on the other hand, Sufi orders and practices

10

Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006. Kamāl Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Sirāj was son of Qāḍī Muḥammad Sirāj of Wollo (Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006). 11

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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were allowed to continue their presence in both Mecca and Medina (Commins 2006: 77f.). King ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz also sought to soften the prevailing Salafi xenophobic doctrine by taking a far more pragmatic stance towards interactions with and travels to the lands of “idolaters”, which in turn would constitute an important precursor for the later export of Salafi doctrines beyond the boundaries of the kingdom. In sum, the establishment of the 20th century kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided the Salafi establishment with much needed political backing, yet forced at the same time the ʿulamāʾ to accept a role as guardians of ritual correctness and public morality and to accede to the monarch’s right to pursue what he deemed necessary for the welfare of his kingdom (Kechichian 1986).

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The First Emergence of Salafism in South-east Ethiopia The religio-political developments in the Hijaz obviously had clear impacts on the pilgrims arriving from various parts of the Islamic world. The efforts made by the new Saudi rulers to improve the administration of the two holy cities not only proved conducive for the pilgrimage, but also affected the pilgrims’ perceptions of the Salafi teaching (Ochsenwald 1981: 279). The initial appearance of Salafism in Ethiopia, most notably in the town of Harar, was directly linked to the increase of Ethiopian pilgrims. Allegedly pivotal for introducing Salafism to the town was Shaykh Yūsuf ʿAbd al-Raḥman, who already had completed his religious education in Mecca between 1928 and 1938, and Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Ibrāhīm. During the Italian period the former met with a group of Harari pilgrims and managed, through his teaching, to turn them into adherents of the Salafi doctrines, which they in turn disseminated upon their return to Harar in 1941. Soon also Shaykh Yūsuf ʿAbd al-Raḥman moved back to Ethiopia, first to Addis Ababa and then to Harar, where he remained the undisputed Salafi leader until his return to Saudi Arabia after the Ethiopian revolution in 1974 (Desplat 2005: 496f.; Erlich 2007: 81f.).12 The new ideas eventually gained access in the Jamʿiyya School, founded

There are some disagreements on Shaykh Yūsuf ʿAbd al-Raḥman’s return to Ethiopia. Erlich (2007: 81) claims he arrived in 1939, while according to Desplat (2005: 496), he was still in Saudi Arabia at that time. Desplat has also questioned Shaykh Yūsuf ʿAbd al-Raḥman’s role as a prominent Salafi (2008: 296f.). 12

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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in 1933 under the management of the renowned Harari scholar, Ḥ ajj ʿUmar Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Raḥman and with Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Ibrāhīm as the main teacher (Erlich 2007: 26, 81f.).13 Although Shaykh Yūsuf ʿAbd al-Raḥman has remained actively involved in discourses over Salafism in Ethiopia from his current residence in Medina,14 Erlich (2007: 81) arguably overemphasises his role when saying that he was the main figure in spreading Salafism to Ethiopia. Clearly, the story contains other important actors linked to their respective localities. In Bale, there is no recollection of Shaykh Yūsuf ʿAbd al-Raḥman as the harbinger of Salafism. Instead, there are frequent references to personalities belonging to the rural Oromo population of Hararge. Although Harar admittedly was important as a bridgehead for the introduction of Salafi Islam, the expansion of khat as a cash-crop in Hararge was important in generating resources for and enabling the surrounding Oromo to perform the ḥ ajj, through which they got acquainted with Salafism, and which, upon their return, they disseminated among their kinsmen.15 Centres for Salafi teaching emerged in the vicinity of the town, for instance, in the villages of Balbaletti and Fadis, where important figures such as Shaykh ʿUmar Balbaletti and Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Tuqo, respectively, were teaching. Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Tuqo who had studied in Mecca, is by some informants claimed to be the main instrument of Salafism among the Oromo in Hararge, a claim that is substantiated by his early involvement in conflicts with the local religious leaders, subsequently leading to his arrest and imprisonment.16 From Hararge the new teaching spread to the neighbouring area of Arsi in the late 1950s. Figures such as Shaykh Aḥmad ʿAbdallāh, Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Gamada and Shaykh Amān Lode were pivotal in introducing Salafi ideas to their respective localities. Shaykh Amān Lode, a former student of Shaykh Juneydin Oborra in Bale, was allegedly a graduate 13 The Jamʿiyya School was initially part of the Islamic Voluntary Association, formed in 1933 under the direction of a Shaykh ʿAlī ʿAbd al-Raḥman, better known as Shaykh ʿAlī Sufi. Combining religious education with secular subjects, the school was the first modern madrasa in Ethiopia (Erlich 2007: 26). 14 For more details on the discourse on Salafism emerging from Harar, see Erlich and Kabha (2006). 15 Aḥmad Zekeria, personal communication, Addis Ababa 25 September 2006. This view is substantiated by the findings of Ezekiel Gebissa (2004), who in an enlightening study on the development of khat production and consumption amply demonstrated how the Oromo were involved in a trade prospering during the 20th century. 16 Shaykh ʿAlī Yūsuf, interview 3 March 2006; Shaykh Bashīr Jamāl, interview 11 June 2005.

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from the Islamic University in Riyadh, whereas Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Gamada had studied at the Dār al-Ḥ adīth al-Khaīriyya University in Mecca (Temam Haji 2002: 74).17

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Bale: Antecedents of Change The first noticeable attempts at reforming religious practice in Bale were made as early as in the 1940s and are attributed to a certain Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba (Muḥammad Thanī Wadama), born at the beginning of the 20th century in the Qatiba area of Gololcha district.18 He was of a lineage of ordinary farmers and started his religious education in his home village and in Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, before pursuing his studies in Harar and in Dawway in Wollo. At one point he left Ethiopia, continuing his study in Zabid in Yemen before entering al-Azhar University in Cairo. In the early decades of the 20th century, that university was attracting an increasing number of African and Ethiopian Muslims in search of religious knowledge (Kaba 1974: 73f.; Muhammed Ali 2005: 14; Trimingham 1952: 62). Presumably, the majority of the Ethiopian students came from Wollo and Harar, with Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba probably the first Oromo from Bale to be enrolled at al-Azhar. Returning home in 1942, Shaykh Muḥammad took up teaching, mostly of fiqh, and gathered around fifty students from his immediate surroundings. Simultaneously, he embarked on a campaign to reform many of the Sufi practices of his contemporaries. It was first of all the use of drums accompanying the singing of Sufi litanies he targeted, arguing that it stimulated unlawful dancing of males and females together. This idea was not unique; the use of drums was already prohibited at the shrine of Abū Koye in Bale and was being rebuked also by reformers in Wollo and Arsi (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 90, 110).19 Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba’s new ideas soon led to fierce conflicts within his locality. Although gaining some supporters, the majority turned against him, and the custodians of Shaykh Ḥ usayn ardently condemned and cursed him. As the situation grew worse, Shaykh

17 Shaykh Ḥ usayn Ḥ abīb, interview 2 March 2006; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Mubārak, interview 3 April 2006. 18 The biographical data of Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba are mostly based on an interview with one of his former students: Ḥ ajj Abdi Ḥ usayn, interview 7 June 2006. 19 Ḥ ajj Ebu Megersa, interview 5 April 2006; Muḥammad Ḥ asan, interview 23 May 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Muḥammad Qatiba collected his students and performed around 1945 a voluntary hijra (migration) to the lowland areas of Gololcha. There he continued teaching and took up farming to support himself. This did not ease the conflict; and soon the custodians of Shaykh Ḥ usayn, led by Ḥ ajj Maḥmūd Guddo, filed a case against him with the local administrator, Däǧgǎ zmačč Mekuria Bante Yirgu in Goba. The case was, however, never settled as Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba died shortly after. His followers dispersed and his attempts at reform withered away. There are certain similarities between Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba and the 19th century reformers of Wollo. Although they all were attacking rituals performed in connection with the shrines and criticising indigenous practices which they considered to be deviations from Islam, neither Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba nor the reformers of Wollo denounced Sufism as such. They did not oppose the position of the awliyyāʾ, nor did they challenge the notion of intercession and remained positive to performing the ziyāra at the shrines. Yet in contrast to Wollo, where Islam had been firmly established centuries ago, and where the reformers were struggling to “bring about a reconciliation between mysticism and the rigidity and barrenness of dogmatic Islam” (Hussein Ahmed 2001: 98), the reforms in Bale were initiated in a setting where Islam was a relatively recent phenomenon, with indigenous traditions forming a strong distinctive aspect. This inevitably both affected the nature of the reforms and encumbered their general acceptance. The case of Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba is a clear illustration of the intrinsic heterogeneous character of the existing religious universe. Although Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba became an isolated figure in his time, his ideas represented a segment in an ideological disparate setting where different conceptions of Islamic dogmas and divergent evaluative perceptions of religious praxis both could exist alongside each other, and at the same time, also spark disagreement and calls for change. It also demonstrates the dynamic nature of Ethiopian Islam, where a relatively isolated area such as Bale was influenced by movements in the wider Islamic world, influences that were moulded into the local context through dialectic negotiations among different actors within this locality. Changes of a Locality The notion of an erupting crisis has, as discussed in chapter two, in Africa often been seen as interlinked with the era of colonisation. An implicit aspect of the shattered microcosm, as introduced by

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Trimingham (1955; 1959) and elaborated by Horton (1971), is that the arrival of Western colonial powers led to the collapse of traditional political, economic and social structures, in turn serving as important precursors for the process of religious change. In the case of Ethiopia, where the Italian colonisers actively supported the Muslim population and where the latter saw the former as instrumental in alleviating an already existing sense of alienation, the issue of crisis is less obvious. Moreover, changes in the areas of political infrastructure, economic development and communication, initiated during the Italian occupation and continued by the returning emperor, could, rather than provoking a crisis, alternatively be seen as stimulating developments facilitating the process of religious change.

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Socio-Economic Transformations A process of cautious modernisation was initiated by the emperor already prior to the Italian invasion. Seeking to address the rampant regionalism that had haunted the kingdom for centuries, efforts were made to modernise the political administration, manifested, for example, by the issuing of the country’s first written constitution in 1931. Any reform had, however, to be balanced against the powerful nobility, who managed to block most of the emperor’s attempts, and to keep the traditional form of feudal rule intact. This bipartite stalemate was largely ended by the Italian occupation, which literally eradicated much of the nobility. Aided by British advisors, the returning emperor was thus in 1941 enabled to accelerate his process of modernisation. The provincial administration was in 1946 amended by the formation of twelve provinces (täklay gәzatočč, sing. täklay gәzat),20 and the post-war period saw the transformation of the financial and political systems, with the appointment of officials dependent on the monarch, the creation of a professional army and the streamlining of tax-collecting procedures (Clapham 1969: 17f.). Five-year plans for economic development were introduced, and in 1955 a revised constitution was promulgated. Bale remained an awraǧǧa under Harar Teklay Gәzat before becoming a separate teklay gәzat in 1960, subdivided into Genale, Fasil, Wabe, Dello and El Kere awraǧǧawočč (Henze 2000: 238).21 Accompanying 20 A täklay gәzat was, moreover, subdivided into awraǧǧa, wäräda and mәkәtәl wäräda. 21 Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 10 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 10. Emperor Haile Sellassie visiting the shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn in 1964 (photo: unknown)

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this development was the expansion of government institutions and bureaucracy, the increase of salaried provincial officials and a subsequent curbing of the feudal landlords’ power. The administrative reforms did not, however, involve the indigenous population in Bale, as only a few Muslim Oromo were appointed as officials at district level (Gebru Tareke 1977: 273).22 In terms of government investments, the province clearly lagged behind. Until the late 1960s, it remained without sufficient infrastructure, telephone service, electricity and proper health care.23 Bale was considered a remote area, and the government’s policy was “one of benign neglect” (Gebru Tareke 1977: 274). This obviously created a great deal of grievance among the population of Bale—something which was expressed in a petition local Oromo dignitaries presented to the emperor on his first visit to Bale in 1964.24 The expansion of a bureaucratised state apparatus and a subsequent increase of taxation of land strengthened the perception of land as a commodity and as privately owned (Gebru Tareke 1977: 249).25 Transactions of land boosted with the arrival of the Shoa Oromo from the early 1950s, initially settling as sharecroppers under the Arsi Oromo before gradually purchasing land for themselves. The arrival of the Shoa Oromo, who were already accustomed to an agricultural lifestyle, paved the way for a large-scale and rapid expansion of an agricultural economy in Bale.26 The increase of agricultural products, which the Arsi Oromo landowners could exchange in cash, was highly

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22

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 April 2005. The situation in Bale corresponded to that at the national level, where people from the southern regions were excluded from holding political positions (Clapham 1969: 78). Some improvement came, however, in the late 1960s, when six out of eight parliament representatives from Bale were Muslims (Aberra Ketsela 1971: 13). 23 While there was on average one hospital bed per 3,400 and one doctor for 100,000–250,000 persons in Ethiopia, the ratio was one bed per 60,000 and one doctor per 700,000 in Bale (Gebru Tareke 1977: 276). 24 Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 10 August 2005. 25 The expansion of bureaucratic institutions and the introduction of systems of taxation also paved the way for increased corruption and economic subjugation from the side of the local administrators. This consequently aggravated the hardships of the peasant population and led to an increment of land alienation and poverty (Gebru Tareke 1977). 26 The majority of the Shoa Oromo population in Bale originated from northern Shoa (north of Addis Ababa). Lack of land and harsh treatment from the local nobility in Shoa forced them to migrate to the more fertile areas of southern Ethiopia. Being sedentary agriculturalists, Orthodox Christians and newcomers to the area, the Shoa Oromo came to constitute a group caught between the Amhara rulers and the Oromo Muslims (Blackhurst 1974; Blackhurst 1980).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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welcomed as it enhanced their opportunities to meet their fiscal obligations towards the government. The agrarian changes in turn contributed to an increase of a surplus of agricultural products and of cash-crops, to the expansion of a money-based economy, the development of local markets and, furthermore, to a process of urbanisation (Blackhurst 1980: 58f.; Knutsson 1969: 91f.). The process of urbanisation in Ethiopia was, in general, a late phenomenon, with towns being connected to political centres and market places in the north, situated along the railroad in the east or serving as garrisons in the south. The first major towns in Bale were of the latter category, with Goba established in 1893 as the administrative centre of Bale and with Ginir founded in 1894 (Sintayehu Kassaye 1985: 9; Østebø 2005: 34). As a prolongation of the Amhara conquest, they were dominated by a Christian population, something which was common for most of the emerging towns in southern Ethiopia (Markakis 1974: 170). The urbanisation process was exacerbated by the development of a money-based economy and a more elaborate system of tax collection which increased the number of peasants unable to meet the state’s fiscal demand, who then, evicted from their land, found their way into the towns (Gebru Tareke 1977: 251f.; Ketema Meskela 2001: 54f., 68, 94).27

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Trade and Translocal Contacts Whereas trade in Ethiopia historically was an enterprise monopolised by Muslims, the Muslim Oromo in Bale had little tradition of mercantile activities. Their involvement was limited to trade in connection with local markets, while translocal trade was controlled by non-Oromo traders from Harar, Wollo, Jimma, Gurage and Yemen. There were established trade routes between Bale and the neighbouring Hararge (through Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn) and Sidamo, with import of textiles, beads and sorghum from the former and bulukko (cotton blanket), coffee and pottery from the latter (Aman Seifedin 1987: 32;

27 Out of an estimated population of 159,000 in 1966, 20,000 were categorised as urban dwellers (“Statistical Abstracts” 1967–1968: 26). By comparison, the total Ethiopian population in 1957, 1961 and 1966 was estimated to be 23.2, 24.6 and 25 million, respectively (Mesfin Wolde Mariam 1961: 15f.). Moreover, by the end of the 1960s, only 40 towns had had a population exceeding 5,000. The majority, including those in Bale, had a population ranging from a few hundred to a couple thousand (Markakis 1974: 164).

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Pankhurst 1968: 417, 435). The pax Amharica brought by the conquest, the expansion of infrastructure during the Italian period and the growth of urban centres, stimulated the surfacing of communities of petty traders in towns such as Goba and Ginir. The trade remained, however, under the control of outsiders: Warji, Amhara and Yemenis (Aman Seifedin 1987: 33).28 The post-war period saw a gradual increase of local Muslim Oromo becoming part of the translocal trade, establishing themselves in Goba, Ginir and, most notably, in Robe (Aman Seifedin 1987: 33). The town of Robe, which already had a significant Muslim Oromo population, was never associated with the Amhara conquest. The area itself had traditionally held an important position as the core area for the Walashe clan (claiming the abbaa boku) and was connected to the gadaa system (Hora Boku) as a place for toga, that is, executions of criminals.29 Traditionally hosting a large market, and strategically located at the junction between Goba and the southern and eastern lowlands, the town’s status as a commercial centre was now augmented by the surfacing of this group of local Muslim merchants. Rather than being involved in wholesale and itinerant trading, most of them established themselves as shopkeepers involved in petty trade. This was related to the diminishing of the caravan trade to the south and the east and the redirecting of the translocal trade to Addis Ababa (Manger 2006: 36). From the end of the 1940s, an increasing number of shops appeared in Robe, filling the growing demands of the local market. The first shops belonged to Ahmado Kabīr Faqīh (1947), Ḥ ajj Korme Kimo (1947), Ḥ ajj Amān Ḥ asan, Ḥ asan Kabīr Abda (1948) and Ḥ ajj Abādīr Ḥ usayn (1952), with additional ones being added during the first part of the 1950s. A major cause for the surfacing of an indigenous Muslim mercantile class was, according to my informants, the community of Yemeni traders. Arriving at the turn of the 19th century, this community represented the largest group of expatriate traders in Ethiopia, where they, besides being shopkeepers and itinerant traders, were engaged as tailors, butchers, masons and exporters of grain, hides and coffee. The Yemenis were also the ones with the most intimate interactions with 28

Before the Italian period, fifteen of Goba’s eighteen shops were owned by Yemenis, while the rest were owned by Amhara (Muḥammad Aḥmad, interview 1 April 2006). 29 Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 19 November 2005; 2 April 2006.

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the indigenous, and particularly the Muslim population in the areas where they settled.30 The first Yemeni trader arrived in Bale at the end of the 19th century, while the main immigration started around 1910. By the end of the Italian period, there were ten and twenty Yemeni families living in the towns of Ginir and Goba, respectively.31 Also in Bale, the Yemenis were relatively easily integrated into the local community—learning the local language, marrying local women and, moreover, employing locals in their businesses. The Yemeni traders thus served both as important role models and as teachers for the surfacing Oromo traders.32 Only a few of these Oromo merchants originated from Robe, the rest were migrants from the rural parts of the central highlands. Establishing themselves as self-reliant urban dwellers, this class of urban merchants constituted a new entity in the social structure of Bale, a development that signified a growing differentiation of the Oromo society. Urban migration was a determinant factor which distanced them from the social pressure of clan and kin, and as they soon accumulated a certain degree of wealth; they attained an elevated status within the Oromo society. Inevitably, the development of trade enhanced Bale’s contacts with the surrounding localities—with Hararge, Arsi and with Addis Ababa. The absence of roads in Bale forced the traders to bring the merchandise by car from Addis Ababa to Assella in Arsi, before being loaded on mules and brought to Robe via Agarfa district. Yet, in spite of the hardship of travelling, the local merchants made frequent journeys to Addis Ababa. The establishment of airstrips in Goba, Ginir, DelloMena, Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and El Kere created another option; yet travels by air were restricted to the more wealthy merchants. The construction of the first all-weather Goba-Robe-Shashmane road in 1962, linking Bale to the capital and the start of a bus service the next year were of course pivotal for bringing the translocal world closer to Bale.33

30 The number of Yemenis moving to Ethiopia increased markedly just before and during the Italian occupation, partly due to the recruitment of 10,500 Yemeni (and Sudanese) laborers for the colonial project in 1937 (Pankhurst 1981: 36). For a general discussion about the Yemeni community in Ethiopia, see Hussein Ahmed (1997), Manger (2006) and Samson Abebe Bezabeh (2008). 31 Aḥmad Muḥammad, interview 1 April 2006. 32 Aḥmad Muḥammad, 1 April 2006; Field log, 12 October 2005. 33 The first road in Bale was built by Däǧǧazmačč Nasibu Zamanuel in 1932, between Dodola, Goba and Sof ʿUmar (Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 10 August

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Some of the traders even established themselves permanently in Addis Ababa. Most of these were located around Mercato, the main market in the capital and a Muslim-dominated area, where they established relations to other Muslim traders, both Ethiopian and foreign (Temam Haji 2002: 68f.). The Arrival of Salafism in Bale The new class of urban merchants in Robe, who lived close together by the market place, did not only form a new social segment of Oromo society in Bale but also represented a new group of actors in the religious drama about to unfold. Frequent travels and interactions with those from other localities contributed to make political, cultural and religious currents of that time available. Such influences were pivotal in shaping their perceptions which eventually would develop into a shared ideological outlook. The Jamāʿa in Nūr Mosque

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In 1959, members of the merchant class took the initiative and financed the construction of the Nūr mosque, the first mosque in Robe. Refraining from participating in some of the popular religious practices and observing each of the mandatory daily prayers, their display of piety added to their distinctiveness as there were few others of their age regularly attending the prayer sessions in the mosque.34 Whereas they initially did not perceive themselves as ideologically different from the remaining population, this self-perception was, however, soon to change. The appointment of Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Muṣtạ fā35 as a new qāḍī of Bale in 1963 became pivotal in shaping the merchants’ view of the prevailing religious practices: 2005; Ketema Meskela 2001: 46). Gebru Tareke (1977: 275) has dated the construction of the Goba-Robe-Shashmane road to 1969, a date which does not correspond with my findings. 34 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 18 August 2005; 4 November 2005. 35 Originally from Dirre Dawa in Hararge, Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Muṣtạ fā was a graduate from al-Azhar in Cairo. He stayed in Bale as a qāḍī until 1969, when he moved to Addis Ababa, where he became involved in teaching at the al-Anwar mosque. I have not been able to obtain further biographical details on his further career, but according to local sources from Bale, he was killed by an accidental shot in Addis Ababa a few years later (Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 31 March 2005; Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Aliyeh, interview 1 April 2006).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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chapter five Every Friday Shaykh Muḥammad came from Goba to teach [in the Nūr mosque]. On these Fridays we asked him different questions. We said to him: ‘You say that Allah is one, but what about muuda to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn? Is it correct to go there to get a child, to get money or healing?’ He said: ‘No, all this is the work of Allah, no man can do this.’ We said: ‘What about mawlid?’ He said: ‘Mawlid is not correct . . . why do you need to celebrate mawlid? That which is not written in the Qurʾān or in the aḥ ādith is not necessary’.36

Moreover, in 1963/4 the group of merchants was joined by a certain Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa. Born in Arsi, he had spent part of his childhood in Bale, studying under Shaykh Juneydin Oborra, before pursuing his religious education in Hararge, where he studied under Shaykh ʿUmar Balbaletti, through whom he became familiar with Salafi doctrines. After completing his studies, Shaykh MuḥammadAmīn Chaffa returned to Bale and established himself as a trader in Robe. Although he refrained from teaching in the traditional way, he did not, however, completely abandon it. Shortly after his arrival in Robe, he gathered a group of merchants for the study of the Qurʾān and established a jamāʿa (pl. jamāʿat)37 in Nūr mosque.38 The group had the following founding members:

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Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa Ḥ ajj Abādīr Ḥ usayn Ḥ ajj Amān Ḥ asan Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Raḥman Ḥ asan Ḥ ajj Korme Kimo

Ḥ ajj Adam Buse Ḥ asan Tiko Ḥ ajj Aḥmad Abba Nada Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ghafūr Adam

Consequently, the merchants not only constituted a distinct social segment within the locality of Bale but gradually also a new religious alternative. The ideological content of this emerging new alternative was, however, still not clarified. Although Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa was an explicit adherent of Salafism, he initially made minimal efforts to promote such views in the jamāʿa in the Nūr mosque: We didn’t use the word tawḥ īd; we didn’t see ourselves as a tawḥ īd movement. But we knew that the Islam that was practised [in Bale] was

36

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005. Literal meaning in Arabic is a gathering of people or a congregation. In Bale it refers also to a traditional Qurʾān school. 38 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 27 August 2005; Ḥ asīna Ḥ asan interview 4 July 2006. 37

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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not the true Islam, and we wanted to correct that. We talked about the true way, the karaa haqqa.39

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The main concern was the existing religious practice, where in particular the pilgrimage to the shrines, the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī and prayers at graveyards were questioned in view of tawḥ īd. Yet, both the concepts of the new teaching and its practical derivations remained ambiguous and elusive. There was a general uncertainty regarding the implications of the new ideas in relation to existing practices, clearly seen by the continued participation in the muuda by some of the jamāʿa’s members.40 Neither were the members of the jamāʿa actively propagating the alternative ideas. Rather than actively seeking adherents through preaching, the members of the jamāʿa held a low profile, largely restricting their activities to the scrutiny of religious texts within the Nūr mosque. In addition to advising the members of the jamāʿa, Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Muṣtạ fā and Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa conducted their daʿwa activities with care, mostly through private discussions. The members were familiar with similar developments in the surrounding areas, particularly in Arsi, where news about Shaykh Amān Lode’s agitation against the muuda to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and his opposition to the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations had reached Robe. As the Salafi ideas more explicitly surfaced in various localities in southeast Ethiopia and as the condemnation of the muuda became more vocal, it eventually sparked reactions among the guardians of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn—as seen from this baaro composed at this time: Wahhabiin nan dubbisee Ani Wahhabii hin dubbisu Hanga Sheekni Baalee dhufee Hidhaan buqisu The Wahhabis came and visited me But I will not visit the Wahhabis, Until the Shaykh of Bale comes41 And jerks out their roots [from Bale]42

39

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 18 November 2005. Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 18 November 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 21 November 2005. 41 The venereated Shaykh Ḥ usayn of Bale. 42 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 4 November 2005. 40

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The development of a more conflictual pattern inevitably contributed to strengthening the identity of the new group in Robe. Being labelled “Wahhabis”, their awareness of being set apart from the rest of the society grew. Yet, their criticism of the existing practices remained restricted; they concentrated rather on individual religiosity and personal piety. From the latter part of the 1960s, the jamāʿa gained some more adherents, bringing the total number up to 24 members. Most of these were recruited from the same group of merchants, which in other words means that the first Salafi followers in Robe throughout the 1960s remained a small and secluded group.43

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Exporting Salafism: Saudi Arabia and King Faīṣal A series of events in the wider Islamic world would, however, soon contribute to further the process of religious change in Bale. Of particular relevance were the developments within the Saudi kingdom, where the adoption of a new policy signalled the emergence of Salafism as a transnational movement. Assuming power in 1953, King Saʿūd ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz was confronted with a current that the Saudis viewed as not only as repudiating the power balance in the Arab world, but also as weakening the position of Islam. Assuming power a year before, General ʿAbd al-Nāṣir of Egypt embarked on a path to promote a programme of internal reform and the unity of all Arabs. His ideology of “Arab Socialism” constituted a merger between socialism and nationalism, with ʿAbd al-Nāṣir as “the most successful anti-imperialist leader in the Arab world and . . . the chief spokesman of Arab nationalism” (Voll 1982: 175f.). ʿAbd al-Nāṣir’s attacks on what he considered archaic Arab rulers, his socialist-inspired ideology, Egypt’s connections to the Soviet Union and, in particular, his involvement in Yemen’s civil war in 1962 soon sparked concern in Saudi Arabia (Al-Rasheed 2002: 116f.).44 Seeking to combat ʿAbd al-Nāṣir’s growing influence, the Saudis issued a policy of internal reform and of strengthening their position in the Arab world. King Saʿūd’s younger brother, Faīṣal, who was serving as prime minister before acceding to the throne in 1963, embarked on a campaign of promoting the kingdom as a major player in the Arab

43

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005. For a discussion of ʿAbd al-Nāṣir’s policy in relation to Africa, see Westerlund (1982) and for a discussion with regard to Ethiopia, see Erlich (1994). 44

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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world, underscoring Islam and Islamic unity. This involved “convincing” the Salafi ʿulamāʾ in Saudi Arabia to adjust their exclusivist position in relation to the outside world, which in turn actually meant the promotion of Salafism beyond the kingdom’s borders. The new policy was formally inaugurated at a conference in Mecca in 1962, which saw the establishment of the Muslim World League (MWL), soon to become the kingdom’s main instrument for exporting Salafi doctrines (Commins 2006: 152f.; Sindi 1980: 186). The League soon sent “missionaries” to areas such as West Africa, funded schools and distributed Salafi literature and grants for various projects (Hunwick 1997; Kane 2003: 66, 123f.; Sirriyeh 1999: 158f.). The League’s impact on Ethiopia at this stage was, however, limited, and was largely restricted to supporting the Awwalīya School in Addis Ababa with funds and some teachers.45 In addition to the MWL, the new Saudi policy also involved the founding of several institutions for higher Islamic learning, designed to enhance Saudi and Salafi influence in the Arab world and beyond. The first and most prominent of these was the Islamic University in Medina, established in 1961, which was specially designated to offer religious education in order to curb the influence of the Arab world’s secular universities. Accepting and housing a large number of foreign students, who were offered scholarships from the Saudi state, this Islamic University was to play a pivotal role in the dissemination of Salafi ideas into various parts of the Islamic world.46

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The “Journey of the Eighty” The expansion of infrastructure during the 20th century was decisive for the increase in travels across the Red Sea. In 1929, the railway to Djibouti was completed and, the construction of new roads and improved bus services during the 1950s and 1960s, consequently led to a further increase in the number of Ethiopian pilgrims to the Hijaz.

45 Established by Ethiopian Muslims in 1961, the Awwalīya School was attended mainly by children of wealthy Arab expatriates in Addis Ababa. From 1966 onwards the school started receiving funds from the MWL, which also provided manpower from the 1970s. This inevitably led the school in a more Salafi direction, and from 1993, the Awwalīya School came under the direct auspices of the MWL (Bauer Oumer 2006: 79; Erlich 2007: 187; Nega Aba Jebel 1986: 10f.). 46 In fact, its regulations called for 75 per cent of its students to be recruited from overseas (Commins 2006: 112; Layish 1984: 36f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The development of infrastructure also facilitated a general growth in the number of students from Bale pursuing further religious education in the neighbouring areas, the majority travelling to Hararge and Arsi, and a few to Jimma. Although general figures are lacking, there seems moreover to have been a gradual increase of pilgrims from Bale to Saudi Arabia as well in this period. Then in 1962, a journey which I have labelled the “journey of the eighty”, became decisive for boosting the contacts between Saudi Arabia and Bale and for redirecting those in search of religious education, spatially as well as ideologically. Those participating in the “journey of the eighty” were young males from various parts of southern Ethiopia. Their intention was to perform the ḥ ajj, and none of them anticipated spending more time than required. Many of them, like my informant, were already pursuing their religious education in Hararge. When the time of the pilgrimage approached, they met just outside of Harar, and started their journey eastwards:

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We went to Jijiga and stayed three days there. From there we went north to Goronka; that was on the border to Somalia. All the way we went on foot, but from Tullu Guled we got transport. We were five persons; three from Arsi . . . We had a letter asking the people to support us . . . We were looking for a particular person to help us. We reached Hargeisa and found that person. We stayed with him for twenty-six days during Ramaḍān. Our idea for going this way was to go for ḥ ajj. We had got some support at Macara, where we also sold some coffee—getting income. Also, during Ramaḍān in Hargeisa we got zakāt from the people. The transport to Djibouti was cheap at that time.47

The majority came from Bale, Arsi and Hararge, with additional ones from Harar, Wollo and from the Gurage areas. In Djibouti they met others with similar plans, and together the group now counted eighty persons. They then divided themselves into two groups, crossing the sea in two boats. When we reached Yemen, we didn’t go straight to Saudi. We were on our way, but we changed our minds; we wanted to go to Laḥej. There we planned to work for some time. We wanted to save money and go by boat to Saudi. But there we were arrested and spent four days in prison. They said we were there illegally . . . and they said they would send us back to Ethiopia. But we said: ‘We will not go back; you have to send our dead bodies back’. Then they said: ‘If you have money, you can go to Saudi’. We were happy and said we had money . . . Then we went to

47

Shaykh Abū Bakr Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm, interview 3 July 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Saudi on foot. It took us twenty days to reach the border and twenty-five days again. We went by car to Tahif [Al-Ṭ āʾif ].48

Having missed the opportunity to perform the ḥ ajj, they were instead given a chance to continue their studies. Due to their lack of prior learning and of proficiency in Arabic, most of the Ethiopians were obliged to spend three years at a lower-level institution, before being eligible to enrol at one of the newly established Islamic universities. After acquiring the needed language skills, they were either sent to Umm al-Qurā in Mecca, which was specially designed to host nonArabic speakers, or to the Islamic University in Medina. Tuition was free, and the scholarships offered by the Saudis covered all their expenses. A detail worth mentioning reveals the special treatment they received from Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ʿAbdallāh bin Bāz, the later muftī of Saudi Arabia, who at that time was the President of the Islamic University in Medina:

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The people from other countries came to Saudi in a legal way, which means they had passports from their countries. But we were illegal, so we had to go to bin Bāz to get permission to stay. He then communicated with the Saudi government, and then we got permission to stay. Bin Bāz did this because he knew Ethiopia wouldn’t give visas to go to Saudi. He supported the Ethiopian Muslims.49

Many of these students stayed in Saudi for many years, some even up to twenty years. After completing their studies, some of them returned to Ethiopia, while others, due to the Marxist takeover in Ethiopia in 1974, opted to stay until the fall of the Derg regime in 1991. The expenses for their return were covered by the Saudis, who moreover graciously provided the graduates with religious books to bring back. Those from Bale participating in the “journey of the eighty” became the first to attend higher Islamic education in Saudi Arabia and came to be crucial precursors for others to come. News about the possibilities for higher religious education soon spread in Bale, and during the 1960s and 1970s an increasing number of Bale Muslims crossed the Red Sea in search for knowledge. Most of the prospective students stated pilgrimage as the reason for going and applied for entrance at the various universities after their arrival. There are no reliable data on how many from Bale actually attended higher education in Saudi

48 49

Shaykh Abū Bakr Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm, interview 3 July 2006. Shaykh Abū Bakr Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm, interview 10 June 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Arabia, but his list of teachers from the Salafiyya Madrasa in Robe gives some indications of the number, where they studied and the year of graduation:50 Table 1. Teachers at Salafiyya Madrasa Name

Education

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ʿAbd al-Raḥman Adam Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Raḥman Abū Bakr Ismāʿīl Khadīr Ḥ amīd Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh Ḥ amīd ʿUmar ʿAbdallāh ʿAbd al-Laṭīf Muḥammad Thanī Muḥammad Ibrāhīm Aliyeh ʿAbd al-Qādir Aḥmad Qanku Maḥmūd Adam Ḥ usayn Sufyān Juneidin Bulbula Adam Aliyeh Mūsā Sultan ʿAbdallāh Wario Muḥammad Aliyeh Ḥ usayn Muḥammad Kāmil ʿAbdallāh Adam Ismāʿīl Adam ʿAbd al-Rafī Aliyeh ʿAbd al-Karīm ʿAbd al-Ṣabūr Muḥammad Amān ʿAbd al-Mannān Khadīr ʿAbd al-Jalīl Adam ʿAbd al-Qādir Gababa ʿUthmān Aḥmad Mami Muḥammad Ṭ āhā Ḥ asan

The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) The Islamic University (Medina) Dār al-Ḥ adīth (Mecca) Dār al-Ḥ adīth (Mecca) Dār al-Ḥ adīth (Mecca)

Year of graduation 1971 1980 1972 1972 1981 1982 1985 1985 ? ? 1989 1986 ? ? ? 1977 ? ? ? ?

Returning to Bale, the graduates were determined to spread their new knowledge among their compatriots. This was also underscored by the Saudis, who provided them with continued support after their arrival in Bale: They [the Saudis] gave us an assignment to teach, to open madāris when we got home. They sent us books we were supposed to teach . . . some got salaries when they returned, others had saved some money in Saudi . . . The Derg didn’t know about our salaries. Every month we sent someone to Addis Ababa to pick up the salary at the Saudi Embassy.

50 Most of these were employed at Salafiyya Madrasa a few years after or the same year as their graduation. From this, one can assume that they returned to Bale approximately at the same time. Source: Salafiyya Madrasa, 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Later there were funds for the construction of mosques, but that was not during the Derg.51

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Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥ ammad One of those departing on the “journey of the eighty” was Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad, whose role in the Salafi movement calls for special attention.52 Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad was a native of Shaya, a village a few kilometres west of Robe, where his father, Muḥammad Ḥ usayn, was the village’s Qurʾān teacher. Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad received his initial education in Bale, studying under Shaykh Juneydin Oborra, and later at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn before pursuing his education in Arsi and subsequently in Dirre Dawa (Hararge). After arriving in Yemen, he parted from the other eighty and remained in Aden for two years. Reaching Saudi Arabia in 1964, he allegedly failed the entrance-exam to the Ṣawlatiyya University. Upset by the result, Shaykh Muḥammad then refused to seek acceptance in any other institution and left Medina for Abhā in the region of ʿAsīr. There he remained under the guardianship of Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Wābile, studying tafsīr (commentary on the Qurʾān) and devoting himself to learning the techniques of daʿwa. 53 In 1969 he returned to Bale and settled in his home village of Shaya. Although he was informed about the jamāʿa in Nūr mosque, his contact with the group was only sporadic. Even the members of the jamāʿa remained suspicious of him; they took him for an adherent of Shaykh Ḥ usayn.54 This was, however, to change when he held his first sermon in the Nūr mosque in 1971. Still today, Shaykh Abū Bakr is considered to have been the main instrument for planting Salafism in Bale. Referred to as Shaykh Muftī, he is frequently mentioned in every corner of the region and credited for relentlessly purging Islam in Bale from unlawful innovations. Although the nature of his teaching generated hostile reactions, his character was certainly not an extenuating factor. Those close to him describe him as a stubborn, hot-tempered man with a wilful personality.

Shaykh Abū Bakr Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm, interview 10 June 2006. Unfortunately, Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad was one of the very few who refused to talk to me. The biographical data are therefore collected from informants close to him. 53 Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 2 July 2006; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 31 March 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 7 March 2006; Aliyeh Shaykh Aḥmad, interview 29 September 2006. 54 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005. 51 52

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Bold and with little or no regard for others’ opinions of him, he remained devoted and unyielding in his efforts to bring change. This direct and sometimes quite insulting approach soon sparked grudges and even hostility which augmented the conflict. His tenacious and controversial character also affected the Salafi movement, initially through an increasingly strained relationship to the rest of the Salafi ʿulamāʾ: He looked down on the rest of the ʿulamāʾ, thinking their knowledge was less than his. The ʿulamāʾ didn’t like this. He said: ‘I don’t want to receive their salaries or their benefits’. He adapted the character of his own teacher—moving around from place to place . . . He wanted to spend time with the people; he didn’t want to spend time in the school teaching. The ʿulamāʾ also gave him the chance to become imām in Nūr mosque, but he also refused this. He only wanted to make daʿwa.55

Unlike the other returnees from the Saudi universities, he did not have a formal diploma but only an ijāza from his teacher, Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Wābile, which must partly be seen as the reason why he never became directly involved in teaching. He never had any darasoota of his own, and he refused to teach at the Salafiyya Madrasa. As the Salafi movement become more established during the 1980s and 1990s, his relations with the rest of the Salafis also deteriorated. This was partly due to disagreements over religious matters and sometimes even over political issues, where Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad in many cases held views in sharp contrast to the rest of the movement.56 Today, Shaykh Abū Bakr, an old man, can be seen daily strolling up and down the main street of Robe, usually alone or sometimes accompanied with some of his few remaining devotees.

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Encountering Salafism Although the jamāʿa in the Nūr mosque, representing a new alternative within the locality of Bale, retained relatively smooth relations with the rest of the society, conflict was inevitable. The arrival of Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad and his famous speech in 1971 came to be the point

55

Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 2 July 2006. Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 4 November 2005; Ḥ asīna Ḥ asan, interview 4 July 2006; Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 April 2005; Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 14 August 2005; Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 2 July 2006. 56

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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of departure of tensions which have characterised the religious landscape until today.

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The Sermon in Nūr Mosque His words could not be misinterpreted, and came as a shock to those present in the mosque. It stirred up strong feelings that Friday, and the sermon was, as noted in chapter three, seen as a direct and uncompromising attack on the existing practices. The outrage it caused must be seen in relation to the nature of the words themselves, yet also to the arena and the context for the speech. The fact that it was held in the mosque during the jumʿa prayers clearly exacerbated the situation. Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo, whom I will return to later, assumed the leadership of the opposition against Shaykh Abū Bakr, and seeking a settlement, he called for a meeting the following Friday, to which ʿulamāʾ from the surrounding area were invited to rebuke the teaching of Shaykh Abū Bakr. A similar mobilisation was found on the other side, as Shaykh Abū Bakr was joined by the members of the jamāʿa as well as by a few ʿulamāʾ who supported his ideas: Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Sido and Shaykh Khadīr Shekmarra. Yet the meeting did not enable the two parties to reach any agreement.57 A clear-cut division and two opposing parties had now surfaced in Robe: between the Salafis and what I have chosen to label the muuda party.58 The Salafis constituted a tiny minority, all of them residents of Robe, whereas Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo was able to rally broad support in his opposition against the Salafis. People were told to discontinue their relations with the Salafis, not to greet or visit them and to refrain from attending their or their families’ funerals. Some informants claim that Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo instigated the people to beat up and even kill the Salafis. Stakes ran high in the weeks and months that followed. Although no incidents of violence occurred, the Salafis felt compelled to bring the case to the court, filing charges against Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo and six of his compatriots.59

57

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005. The term muuda is partly an emic term, as those attending the pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn are referred to as warra muuda, “the people of the muuda”. After the arrival of the Salafis, the term has received an additional meaning: those in opposition to the Salafi teaching and those participating in “unlawful practices”. 59 Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 9 August 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005; Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 19 August 2005. 58

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Another attempt at reconciliation was made, this time in Goba. Tensions ran similarly high during this meeting, where sober arguments had to yield to mutual insults. The characteristics assigned to Aliyeh Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm, the son of the renowned ʿālim Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Tigri, may serve as an example of the prevailing atmosphere: You don’t know anything about religion. Your father was a learned man, but when he died, you buried his books in a box, not reading them. You did not learn. You came here from Shoa with a mäsob on your head.60

The two parties were at this point on the verge of literally fighting each other, and as tensions rose, the meeting had to be aborted. Outnumbered by their opponents, the Salafis barely made their way back to Robe: They were picking up stones to throw at us, and they wanted to beat up Shaykh Jamāl and Shaykh Abū Bakr. Some elders and police came, and the situation cooled off . . . When we started to walk to the bus station, they followed us with stones in their hands. We couldn’t fight them; we were too few. We gathered around Shaykh Abū Bakr and protected him this way and took the bus back to Robe.61

Inevitably, the conflict caught the attention of the local government, where the governor of Bale, General Jagama Kello, summoned the two parties to Goba.62 Listening to their arguments, the general decided to arrange a larger meeting, inviting all the ʿulamāʾ of Bale.

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The Meeting in Goba, 1972 The meeting was held under the auspices of Fitawrari Bokra Gebre-Medhin, the next-in-rank to General Jagama Kello and with Qäññazmačč Azmach Adamsu representing the authorities of Goba district. Qäññazmačč Muḥammad-Amīn Sheimo, the balabbat of the Walashe clan and Abba Jabal Tahiro from Dodola were chosen to act as arbitrators and as interpreters into Amharic.63 Expectations 60 A mäsob is a traditional table made of basketry and used for eating the traditional Amhara food әnǧära. The reference to the mäsob had a clear pejorative connotation, referring to the fact that Aliyeh Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm belonged to the Warji—an ethnic group known for making the mäsob (Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 9 August 2005). 61 Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 9 August 2005. 62 General Jagama Kello was a Christian Oromo from Shoa sent to Bale to quell the rebellion in the 1960s (see next chapter). 63 Sirāj Muḥammad-Amīn, interview 11 June 2006; Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 19 August 2005.

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were high before the meeting, and the two parties were preparing and mobilising support for their cause.64 Attended by more than 400 people, both from the two rival parties and from curious spectators, the meeting in Goba came to be a major event. At this stage the Salafis allegedly consisted of a group of forty persons, all present at the meeting. Although incomplete, the following is a list of the most prominent Salafis attending the meeting in 1972:65 Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa Ḥ ajj Amān Ḥ asan Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Raḥman Ḥ asan Ḥ ajj Adam Buse Ḥ ajj Abdo Wado Ḥ ajj Khadīr Wado Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ asan Ḥ ajj Khadīr Adam Shaykh Qāsim Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Ismāʿīl Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Aliyeh Aki Ahmedo Kabīr Faqīh

Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Sido Ḥ ajj Korme Kimo Ḥ ajj Aḥmad Abba Nada Ḥ ajj Abādīr Ḥ usayn Ḥ asan Tiqo Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ghafūr Adam Ḥ ajj Aḥmad Shalo Shaykh Mudesir Khadīr Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ usayn Shaykh Jamāl Aḥmad Shaykh Kadu Aḥmad Shaykh Muḥammad Gishe Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Nago Shaykh Khadīr Shekmarra

The discussion during the meeting revolved largely around two main issues: the pilgrimage to Shaykh Ḥ usayn and the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī. Speaking for the Salafi party, Shaykh Abū Bakr continued his attacks on the existing practices:

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I don’t see anything written about muuda in the books; it is not commanded by Allah. Also, visiting the graves, celebrating mawlid al-Nabī and offering wareega are not found in Islam . . . According to sharīʿa there are only three places to do pilgrimage: that is, Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. When you make muuda to Shaykh Ḥ usayn, this becomes the fourth place, and that is not according to Islam.66

The main concern of the local authorities was to settle the dispute of the two parties and prevent unrest from escalating. Shaykh Abū Bakr was therefore probed to find out if he was instigating a conflict

64 The Salafis even went to Arsi and to Hararge in search of Shaykh Amān Lode, hoping he would speak for them. But when he heard the government was involved in the meeting, he declined (Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 9 August 2005). 65 According to Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 9 August 2005. 66 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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in the Muslim community. In spite of his clear doctrinal stand, it is interesting to note the degree of pragmatism he showed when he answered the question: I said that going to Shaykh Ḥ usayn and doing mawlid are not good. But I didn’t hinder anybody by force. If someone wants to go, you are free to go. If you want to believe, you can stop. This is my daʿwa.67

The other party had brought ʿulamāʾ such as Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Harsadi, Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ usayn Abba Bule, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Mame Bune, Shaykh Khadīr ʿAbd al-Qādir Qito, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ghafūr Shafile, Shaykh Idrīs Tilmo and, most importantly, Shaykh Juneydin Oborra to represent them. The muuda party largely depended on the latter to speak their case. But he remained silent during the meeting:68 Nobody knew the opinion of Shaykh Juneydin Oborra; he didn’t speak at the meeting. Still today we don’t know his opinion . . . At the meeting the people elected him to speak for the side of the muuda. But Shaykh Muḥammad Gishe stopped him saying: ‘He is our Shaykh, we learned from him. But the evidence is only in the Qurʾān’.69

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Instead, it was Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Mame Bune and Shaykh Idrīs Tilmo who voiced a univocal and relentless defence of the practices of muuda and the mawlid al-Nabī and, moreover, argued for the interceding power of Shaykh Ḥ usayn.70 However, it seems that the debate in general never reached an advanced doctrinal level, and the arguments forwarded by both parties were of a rather unpretentious character. Thus, neither the Salafis nor the muuda party were able to convince the other group, and the meeting ended with no final conclusion. The arbitrator, Abba Jabal Tahiro, who clearly sympathised with the Salafis, was not in a position to reconcile the two. He simply called for them to respect and not attack each other. Thereafter, he reported to the local authorities that the matter was solved.71

Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad, interview 19 August 2005. There is no agreement among my informants on this matter. Some say Shaykh Juneydin fiercely challenged Shaykh Abū Bakr, while others claim he remained silent. Juxtaposing the different sources and critically evaluating their closeness to the event and their ideological stand, I have come to the conclusion that he probably did not speak. 69 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Mubārak, interview 3 April 2006. 70 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006. 71 Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 9 August 2005. 67 68

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The meeting marked, however, a watershed in the history of Salafism in Bale. It was the first chance for the Salafis to freely and publicly elaborate and explain their stand, and although no binding agreement was made, it prevented the feud between the two warring parties from escalating. The meeting also provided the Salafis with an official recognition that legitimised their presence in Bale, which enabled them to freely propagate their views among the people. In sum, the emergence of the Salafi movement in Bale was facilitated by societal changes which locally situated actors could benefit from. Disruptions and fragmentation—caused by these changes—was less obvious; the changes rather enabled the actors to actively seek out alternative routes for religious orientation. It was moreover a homegrown movement, in the sense that it was introduced by indigenous agents and not by expatriate missionaries. It was the Muslim Oromo who crossed the borders and brought the new ideas into their own locality, and it is interesting to note that even at the translocal level, the Salafi doctrines were very much moulded by the Oromo people, among those of Hararge, Arsi and Bale. Situated within a relatively similar cultural universe, these agents were arguably in a better position to negotiate the Salafi message in a way that enhanced its reception in their respective localities.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved. steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

CHAPTER SIX

RESPONDING TO SALAFISM The early emergence of Salafism in Bale followed an intricate pattern with the involvement of various and disparate characters. The movement’s development reveals a gradual awareness of the basic tenets, an articulation of the doctrinal positions and a more clear-cut demarcation of symbolic boundaries. This latter point was inevitably strengthened by the eruptive encounter between the Salafis and their opponents. Although the story of Salafism in Bale does not end with this early period, some more attention to this formative epoch is needed. This chapter aims at enhancing our understanding of the main ideological features of early Salafism in Bale, how they were moulded within this particular locality, and will, through a discussion of the positions and arguments of the controversy, forward some suggestions on why the new teaching was both accepted and rejected. The chapter is divided into six main sections. The first two sections focus on the general features of Salafism and the tenets of doctrines as they evolved in Bale before continuing with a more detailed analysis of the erupting conflict. Sections three to five will deal with the aspects related to religious symbols, the question of authority and the issue of literacy. Finally, I will connect the development of Salafism to the political developments in the 1960s, notably the so-called Bale rebellion.

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Demarcating Salafism Still today, Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba is honoured as an icon by Bale’s Salafis. He is seen as the first authentic follower of tawḥ īd and as a true combatant for a pure and undefiled Islam. The Salafis’ exaltation of this early reformer as distinctively Salafi, subsequently framing his attempts at reform in a dichotomy of a popular or unorthodox version of Islam versus a reformist Islam narrowly categorised as Salafism should not, however, be uncritically accepted. The fact that he refrained from opposing the very nature of the existing practices could arguably point in a different direction: a resemblance to similar reformers denouncing certain aspects of Sufi practice yet not contesting Sufism as such.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Muṣtạ fā, the qāḍī arriving in Bale in 1963, clearly played a more decisive role in shaping the ideology of what would become the Salafi movement in Bale. Although the lack of data has made it difficult to reconstruct the details of his theological views, his stay at al-Azhar University was apparently formative. There were during the same period graduates from the same university advocating similar views in Addis Ababa.1 As discussed in chapter two, graduates from al-Azhar made an impact in other parts of the continent too, particularly in West Africa (Amselle 1987; Brenner 2001; Kaba 1974; Soares 2005). In the same chapter, I argued for the need to differentiate between the influx coming from the Salafiyya movement (and others) in Egypt and from the Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb inspired teaching in the Arabian Peninsula. This is crucial for two reasons. The first reason is already dealt with: establishing the ideological genealogy of a particular movement saves us from treating Islamic reformism as a monolithic phenomenon and provides us with a certain degree of accuracy. Unless we can determine what actually informs these localities, our understanding of religious change remains incomplete. The second reason for discerning the ideological tenets of the particular movement is related to the political dimension. In the case of West Africa, the ideological connections between the Islamic reformers and the movements in Egypt can clearly be seen through the merger of an anti-Sufi campaign and the anticolonial struggle. The development in Ethiopia, where the movement lacked any political agenda, must be seen in relation to the inherently complex relationship between Islam and politics in Ethiopia, yet also, as will be demonstrated in the current and following chapters, to the specific nature of the impetus brought from Saudi Arabia. The Basic Features of Salafism in Bale Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Muṣt ̣afā served as an important precursor for a more ardent condemnation of existing practices in Bale. Although the early Salafis did not expound their doctrinal points of view in any detailed manner, the ideological linkage to Salafism was becoming increasingly

1 Ḥ ajj Sayyid Yūsuf, interview 11 February 2005. The informant mentioned a certain Shaykh Idrīs (Muḥammad?), a graduate from al-Azhar University, who was pivotal for reforming Sufi practices in the capital.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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apparent, which at this early stage can be captured in the opposing concepts of tawḥ īd and shirk (associating other beings with God).

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Re-interpreting Shirk Intrinsic to the very nature of Islam and professed by all Muslims, the concept of tawḥ īd would at the outset not indicate the emergence of a new teaching. However, the increasing focus on this concept was clearly embedded in the ideology of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, whose interpretation of tawḥ īd was interwoven with a stringent rejection of associating anything, living or dead, with the singular God. Comprised in this concept was anything perceived to be contrary to the veneration of the one God and which moreover had the potential of diverting the believer from an unequivocal adherence to tawḥ īd. Whereas there were recurring references to tawḥ īd as a core idea, there were few indications, however, that the jamāʿa members developed any elaborate conceptions of the doctrine of tawḥ īd. By contrast, the theological debate on tawḥ īd among the Salafis in Hararge was more sophisticated and included a heated controversy on the understanding of sūra 20:5 in the Qurʾān, describing God as sitting on a throne. When the Salafis in Hararge, led by Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Tuqo, argued for a literal interpretation of this verse, their opponents accused them of assigning anthropomorphic attributes to God.2 Rather than expounding on the doctrinal maze, the concept of tawḥ īd was by the early Salafis in Bale intrinsically linked to religious practice and the condemnation of unlawful practices as shirk. The muuda, the ḥ aḍra ceremony, the ṣadaqa ritual performed at the graves and the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations were all rejected. The mawlid al-Nabī was seen as an innovation, and the Salafis argued that it was not practised during the time of the pious ancestors and that it was not referred to in the Qurʾān or the Sunna. Most attention was, however, given to the pilgrimage to the shrines in general and to Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s grave in particular—which soon came to symbolise the very incarnation of shirk. This was, of course, linked to the fact that the muuda was a

2 Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 12 August 2005. This debate about God being literally seated on a throne and having hands (sūra 38: 75) has been recurrent in controversies between Salafis and their opponents, which in turn demonstrates the Salafi underscoring of a literal reading of the texts (Kaba 1974: 99–100; Wiktorowicz 2006: 210–211).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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main collective ritual in Bale. In a similar vein, the Salafis refuted the idea of the awliyyāʾ harbouring divine and interceding power. Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s status as a renowned ʿālim was recognised, yet he was seen as not more than a mortal human being. Any form of veneration or appeal to the awliyyāʾ was thus condemned.

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Creating Space for Change The emergence of contemporary reform movements has often been seen as interrelated with the surfacing of a new class of “intellectuals” or “new ʿulamāʾ ” as opposed to the established hierarchy of religious authorities, both in Islam in general (Eickelman and Piscatori 1996; Roy 1994) and in Africa in particular (Chande 2000; Constantin 1993; Coulon 1987). However, describing the landscape through two binary and opposing categories of traditional and “new ʿulamāʾ ” arguably conceals much of the complexity of the picture, as it is evident that the Salafis in Bale represented a far more compound group. This can clearly be seen through the high representation of merchants in the initial movement. The importance of commercial communities in initial Islamisation processes in Africa has been noted by, among others, Horton (1975) and Trimingham (1959). Using the dubious concept of the “urban mind”, Trimingham has argued that the character of the urban merchant was more “individualistic and wide-visioned” than that of his rural co-religionist (1959: 25). Similarly, Horton talks about the merchants who “had broken away to a great extent from [their] microcosms”, thus being more receptive to new ideas (1975: 376f.). The role of merchants has also been noted in relation to more recent Islamic movements of reform in West Africa, where extensive translocal trade and large diasporic trading communities were crucial for making new ideas available (Brenner 2001; Kaba 1974; Soares 2005; Warms 1992). Without ignoring the inherent translocal character of Islam, in which communications between disparate Muslim localities have a long history, the pivotal point in more recent history is, however, the expansion of such contacts and the inclusion of novel actors.3 It was no longer only ʿulamāʾ or long-distance traders who partook in crossing

3 For some interesting perspectives on this development, see the contributions by Ould Ahmed Salem, Renders, Abbink, Kaag and Sadouni in the volume edited by Soares and Otayek (2007).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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local boundaries; it gradually came to involve a wider range of others. In Bale, the development of infrastructure enabled new actors, such as the emerging group of merchants in Robe who made their ways to the capital, or the young students who crossed the Red Sea, to interact with people and ideas to an extent different from before. Representing new social categories, and more ready to embrace other alternatives, these actors’ involvement thus enhanced religious pluralism as an initial stage in the process of change. Religious change moreover had the character of a dialectical process, generated through the manners in which the outside impetus corresponded with the merchants’ growing dissatisfaction with the existing religiosity, as well as reciprocally fuelling this:

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In my childhood, when all the people were going to muuda, I went with them . . . but I didn’t go because I believed in it, but because everybody else was going. When I got to Dirre and saw the way of the people there, I didn’t like it. I understood that the only motive of these people was to take the money from the people. The second time I went I was thirty years old. At that time I was sick, and the people pressured me to go to Shaykh Ḥ usayn . . . yet I didn’t believe I would get well. All the people around me believed in the muuda. I was the only one that didn’t believe. This was my character. I heard the darga speak to the people with force, but I was not afraid of them. It was not due to any learning I got, it was my nature; I just didn’t like it.4 Ḥ ajj Amān Ḥ asan and Ḥ ajj Korme Kimo didn’t believe in Shaykh Ḥ usayn, but they went there for trading. They also went there because it was the culture of the people, but they didn’t believe Shaykh Ḥ usayn could give them anything.5

Although these expressions, seen in retrospect, are most likely coloured by the informants’ present adherence to the Salafi ideology, they nevertheless demonstrate that within the Muslim community there existed incongruent perceptions and attitudes. The existence of such attitudes clearly illustrates how the localised discursive tradition of Islam in Bale was informed by disparate sources. While this localised discursive tradition was, as in any society, learned, valued, construed, transmitted and reproduced in different ways, there were, at the same time, demarcated boundaries protecting a certain degree of collective adherence

4 5

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 18 August 2005. Ḥ ajj Hassen ʿAbdallāhi, interview 18 November 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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to core values, and a certain degree of social pressure which clearly suppressed too vocal an expression of alternative attitudes. These sentiments were hardly more than indistinct feelings of dissatisfaction, yet they were nevertheless accompanied by a compulsion to replace disillusion with meaning. Living closely together around the marketplace and in adjunction to the Nūr mosque, the merchants were provided with the needed space for further elaboration of this discontent and the gradual shaping of an ideology. Urban migration was a determinant factor as it both distanced them spatially from the social pressure of clan and kin and detached them from loyalty to the prevailing cultural norms. They soon developed quite intimate relations, both professional and personal, and came to exercise a distinct pressure on each other. Yet the shaping of an ideology was determined by outside influence, indirectly by currents surfacing in the neighbouring areas and directly by such individuals as the aforementioned Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Muṣtạ fā and Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa. The establishment of the jamāʿa gave these entrepreneurs a safe ground for further deliberation of their questions and provided them with the necessary space for the Salafi agents to propagate their new teaching. With reference to the concept of the “urban mind” and to the growing dissatisfaction among certain individuals, it might be relevant to ask whether they would have been open to any kind of ideological influence. Was the change in a Salafi direction a sheer coincidence, and could other ideologies have made just as much impact? To some extent it was coincidental; Salafism being the expanding ideology in south-eastern parts of Ethiopia at that particular point in time. However, it needs to be stressed that the success of this particular process of religious change was due to the dynamic character and the gradual development of Salafism as an ideology in Bale, in which two aspects are important. The first refers to the nature and tactics of the agents. As they were all of Oromo stock, they had a broad understanding of local conditions. This was arguably a deciding factor in the tactics they applied. Although Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Muṣtạ fā was clear in his criticism of the religious practices, these were for the most part voiced in conversations and teaching among the merchants in Robe. Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa, on his part, was said to refrain from explicitly criticising the pilgrimage to the shrines and other aspects of local Islam; rather, he focused on textual studies of Islam.

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The people understood that he [Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa] had good knowledge, and they wanted to learn from him. But he didn’t teach fast. He taught the people about tawḥ īd slowly and tactically. In the beginning he didn’t interfere with the muuda; he didn’t talk about this. After some time, when people started to trust him, he started to speak openly about muuda and mawlid.6

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It is clear that the limited criticism, or lack of such, voiced against the existing religious practices by either of these must be understood in relation to the dominating position such beliefs and practices held at that time. It is moreover clear that this strategy prevented the eruption of unrestrained conflicts with the remaining Muslim community and secured the early Salafis with much-needed space for the time to come. When Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad chose the opposite tactic in his daʿwa, conflict was inevitable. However, by that time the new ideas had already found their resonance in one segment of the population, providing the needed supportive base for maintaining the process of change. The second aspect revolves around the content of the teaching. What is important to note is that the agents of change did not seek a total purification of Islamic practice in Bale. This was a process that would unfold in the decades to come. At this stage they limited their attacks to the muuda, to the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations and, to some degree, to rituals performed at the graves. This was most probably not deliberately done with the purpose of gaining a receptive audience; it was rather a reflection of the dominant position of these practices and the evidently antagonistic character of the Salafi ideology. Nevertheless, both the impetus and the response coincided in such a way as to release a distinct dialectic process that was to produce lasting changes. Contesting Authority It was not only the Salafi message which caused tension and conflict; it was also linked to the fact that its advocates posed a challenge to established authority. The Salafis in Bale, constituting a new socioreligious category, were clearly different from the traditional religious authorities. Exposed to new ideas through residence abroad or through religious education of a different character than the “traditional” one— 6

Ḥ asīna Ḥ asan, interview 4 July 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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sometimes in combination with a secular one, they were seen as a threat to those in power. Socio-cultural factors At the outset, the lack of any established lineages of ʿulamāʾ in Bale made this category relatively fluid, in the sense that it is difficult to talk about an established group of Islamic scholars. Whereas the first Salafi propagators in Bale were not aimed at challenging the position of the ʿulamāʾ, the establishment of the jamāʿa in Nūr mosque signified a clear departure from established structures. Rather than following the teaching manuals used for fiqh or any other of the subjects of ʿilm, the teaching had more the character of a study circle. Furthermore, the students attending the sessions were different from the regular darasoota. As adults, and established businessmen, they were not seeking a career as teachers of Islam, but were instead conjoining with the purpose of carving out meaning for themselves through the reproduction of religious symbols:

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We were twenty persons that used to meet after ʿaṣr every day. There we read and studied the Qurʾān . . . There was no calling to this jamāʿa, we simply started going there. We brought the Qurʾān and sat there discussing. Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa was with us, and he had more knowledge.7

Although Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa had received his training in a recognised setting, his reputation was not comparable to that of renowned scholars such as Shaykh Juneydin Oborra. Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa’s credentials as an ʿālim were debilitated by his profession as a trader and by the fact that he was never engaged in teaching in a conventional manner. Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad was similarly dismissed. His theological training was quite limited, and he operated as an independent daʿwa activist rather than as an ʿālim. Constituting a new social segment in the Oromo society, the Salafi merchants were, to paraphrase Pierre Bourdieu, at this initial stage struggling to convert their economic capital into capital sufficient for effecting changes on a broad scale (cf. Kane 2003: 20f.). None of the members of the jamāʿa, with the exception of Ḥ ajj Abādīr Ḥ usayn, who was the descendant of one of the seven imāms (of the Gurdama), could claim legitimacy on the basis of having authority according to 7

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005; 18 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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traditional Oromo structures.8 Moreover, as controversies erupted, the members of the jamāʿa were, as dislocated urban migrants, not in a position to rely on assistance from the traditional authority figures in their localities of origin and could not rally support from a clanbased constituency. As noted in similar studies from West Africa (Brenner 2001: 149; Kaba 1974: 70f.), there was also the aspect of age, a factor that was not to their advantage. At the time the conflict erupted, Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad and the members of the jamāʿa were only in their thirties. They were thus dismissed as immature heretics and rebellious fanatics disrespectful of established customs and accused of insulting the socio-cultural and religious leadership. In particular, Shaykh Abū Bakr was the one targeted: “When the people heard his daʿwa, they said: ‘Isn’t this person one of us? Didn’t his family used to go to muuda? How can he now after learning in Saudi Arabia come with this different teaching?’ ”9 Appearing in a setting where authority was hierarchically structured along genealogy, inherited positions and age—embodied through a diverse and complementary elite—the early Salafis were perceived as something foreign and as a disruptive element. One noticeable feature of the resistance to the Salafis is the way it was spearheaded by figures of a political character. The leader of the opposition, Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo was a man who enjoyed immense respect among the Oromo in Bale. He was born in 1884 in the vicinity of Goba, was the son of a burqa in the vicinity of Goba, had received his religious education in his home area and was a devoted pilgrim to Shaykh Ḥ usayn. During the 1950s and 1960s he served as a qāḍī in Goba, Dodola and Mena Angentu and as a district administrator of Mena Angentu and Gasera in the 1960s. Yet his reputation was mostly earned from his staunch support of the Oromo cause and his contributions to the Bale Rebellion (see below).10 Aligned with other influential individuals such as Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Ṣamad Tura, a wealthy landowner from the area around Goba, his leading role in the controversy demonstrates, on the one hand, a conceptual continuity and the prolonged relevance of a traditional leader taking responsibility for the

8 The imāms of the Gurdama clan discontinued with Shaykh Kabīr Mame, who died around 1963 in Shaya just outside of Robe. However, due to the growth of indigenous ʿulamāʾ during the 20th century, the imāms had no real significance at this stage (Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 2 April 2006). 9 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 4 November 2005. 10 Adam Ḥ ajj Adam, interview 20 September 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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wellbeing of society, and reveals, on the other hand, how a disruption of traditional structures and institutions had led to changes within such leadership. People could now assume individualised authority based on merit and wealth. In a capricious situation, embedded in such a reconfiguration of authority, keeping that authority became overtly quintessential.

Illustration 11. Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo (photo: unknown)

Socio-economic aspects The debate about religious symbols was besides being linked to questions of legitimate authority, also affected by the prevailing socioeconomic relations. This was noticeable in the ways the discourse about religious symbols and legitimate authority, both symbolic and concrete, was interwoven with conflicting economic interests and the reproduction of new economic relationships.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The religious establishment in Bale, as in the rest of Muslim Ethiopia, depended entirely on contributions from the population. The guardians of the shrines secured their income from the sacrifices of the pilgrims, and the warra fuqra from the production of talismans and from managing various rituals. The status of Dirre as sacred space prevented the guardians from engaging in farming and other kinds of labour, who moreover were prohibited from participating in trade during the pilgrimage festivals. The warra fuqra, who in most cases did not have permanent settlements, were in a similar vein prevented from supporting themselves independently. The fear the people harboured towards such figures, compelled them to pay their respects through offerings, both to gain their blessing and to avoid their curses. It was said, for example, that “if the Shaykh passed the night in a particular house, the family head should give the Shaykh a cow, sheep or a certain amount of grain to get his blessing”. Failing to do so was believed to “result in [a] catastrophe” (Aman Seifedin 1987: 25; cf. Andrzejewski 1972: 9).11 As the livelihood of the mystics depended entirely on the pilgrimage and other indigenised Islamic practices, they obviously had an unequivocal self-interest vested in the continuation of such practices. Although the wareega presented at the shrines were motivated by the giver’s wish for benevolent divine intervention, the offerings were also framed within a larger system for securing the wellbeing of the community’s poor. Presented to the guardians of the shrines, it was never acceptable to keep the offerings without sharing some part with the less fortunate. This sharing with others was, as noted, construed as one important criterion for maintaining karaama, and neglecting to do so could have fatal consequences. The offerings were thus distributed as alms at the pilgrimage festivals or in relation to other rituals, which in turn became important occasions for a large number of poor people to get relief from the hazards of poverty. The tax burdens, confiscation of land and subsequently deteriorating economic conditions for the rural population during the 1950s and 1960s must be seen as boosting the importance of this welfare system, obviously contributing to the resistance against the Salafis’ condemnation of the practice.12

11 See also Hinnant’s discussion of curses in relation to the qallu institution among the Gujji Oromo (1978). 12 The Oromo elite also benefited materially from the muuda. As a sign of respect, they were offered gifts during the ceremonies (Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 31 May 2006; Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 2 June 2006).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The situation for the ʿulamāʾ was, however, more ambiguous. Their income was, as noted, drawn from voluntary contributions from their students and from their waqf land, with additional income secured through conducting nikāḥ and funeral ceremonies. Moreover, occasions such as the festivals at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn or the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī were important for collecting contributions from the people, either in cash or kind: [During the mawlid al-Nabī] they were given special attention. They received more food than others, and they were seated in a good place. Also, some would give them special gifts. This would not be done formally but by placing some money in their hands. In some cases, they could be given larger gifts—like mules.13

Authority, at the outset an ambiguous concept, is never autonomous and always related to an audience, and is constituted by a relationship that remains dependent on the performance of the one in power and on the response of the subordinate.14 The authority of the ʿulamāʾ in Bale was constrained by a situation in which they were entirely dependent on the benevolence of the people. This dependency made it imperative for the ʿulamāʾ to entertain good relationships with their constituency, which in turn restricted their opportunities to question the existing religious practices—knowing that open criticism would turn the people against them. That would, as narrated by this informant, interrupt the material foundation for their livelihood:

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I myself didn’t believe in Shaykh Ḥ usayn, as if he could bring me anything. Only Allah could do such things. But I wanted to live in peace with the community and that is why I didn’t oppose it. I had few darasoota, and if I opposed the pilgrimage, I would lose them all; meaning I would lose my income. I couldn’t have lived here, if I opposed this.15

13

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 5 July 2006. Rather than seeing authority as an attribute of a state, a group or an individual, this study is informed by the perspective of authority as both a function and feature of the interaction of a social collective, as a “total structure of actions brought to bear upon possible actions [and] a way of acting upon acting subject or acting subjects” (Foucault 1982: 219f.). This implies that certain groups yield power to others and that power as unequally distributed is preceded by patterns of knowledge as legitimising power, which all involved actors are informed of (Barnes 1993). 15 Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 14 July 2005. 14

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The result of this was that the established socio-economic relationships contributed to maintaining the status quo, and obviously formed an intrinsic part of the resistance to the emerging Salafi teaching. The merchants, on their part, saw the transactions made at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn as being part of a disgraceful system of exploitation and laggardness, and were instead emphasising the value of hard work and economic self-reliance as true Islamic virtues.16 Even Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba’s voluntary hijra to the lowlands is today interpreted as an effort in seeking economic emancipation and is understood as crucial for his attempts to bring religious reform.17 The same reason was furthermore forwarded by my informants as to why Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa took up trading rather than hosting students. Only through avoiding being dependent on contributions from the people could he voice criticism without this affecting his livelihood.18 The condemnation of existing religious practices and their focus on self-reliance must obviously be seen in relation to the socio-economic status of these merchants. As upwardly mobile and ambitious—where each man had the responsibility for providing for himself—they criticised the guardians of the shrines for shunning honest labour. Admonishing excessive expenditure, the attacks on the rituals performed at the shrines were thus partly motivated by a desire to eradicate this system of economic abuse. It was linked to the development of an individualistic ethic in which the rituals performed at the shrines were seen as deviant from the Islamic message of social justice. The increasing Salafi influence enabled them to frame their individualistic ethic within a set of doctrinal justifications, which soon paved the way for perception of the shrines as bidaʿ (innovation) and to the questioning of the power of the awliyyāʾ. It would, however, be misleading to think of the merchants’ attitudes as an expression of niggardliness. Their wealth was shared and spent for the reinforcement of Islam: through public endowment in financing a religious infrastructure, most notably the construction of the Nūr mosque in 1959 and, subsequently, the establishment of the Salafiyya Madrasa. Of similar importance were

16 Similar observations have been made in other parts of Africa, where Islamic reformers have emphasised the aspect of labour and economic autonomy (Brenner 2001: 67, 148f.; Kaba 1974: 70f.; Masquelier 1999; Umar 1993: 176f.). 17 Ḥ ajj Abdi Ḥ usayn, interview 7 June 2006. 18 Ḥ asīna Ḥ asan, interview 4 July 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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their contributions in providing financial support for Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad and other returnees from Saudi Arabia. Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad, who left for Saudi Arabia as a student, did not seek recognition as a teacher upon his return. Not hosting any students, he was thus without any income-earning work. As he started his campaign of change, he immediately became ideologically and economically dislocated from the locality. Both he and the rest of the Saudi-educated ʿulamāʾ who returned later were stigmatised and isolated and clearly in a susceptible economic position. The forming of an alliance with the group of merchants broke this ideological isolation. The alliance had, moreover, a direct economic dimension, through which Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad and the other ʿulamāʾ directly benefited from the merchants’ financial support. Thus the reproduction of a new socio-economic relationship became interwoven with religious change, in the sense that a new emerging economic structure both contributed to enhance and sustain the new movement. In light of persistent allegations against the Salafi movement for extensively being funded by the Saudi kingdom, this aspect is important. Although there was support coming in from Saudi institutions, this seems to have been insignificant and of a random nature.19 Moreover, there was at this stage no Saudi-funding available for the construction of mosques or schools. There were no signs of an accumulation of wealth, extravagance or lavish spending of money among those returning from Saudi Arabia. Financially, they were no better off than the rest of the urban population of Robe.

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Convictions and Customs: Debating Religious Symbols The development of Salafism as an ideology was in the long run produced by growing influence of the local merchants, the expansion of Salafi scholarship in Bale and through an exacerbating debate on religious symbols and practices. Yet for the population at large, the new

19 This has been a highly sensitive issue among my informants, making it almost impossible to receive much detailed information. It seems that the Saudis were providing support through their embassy in Addis Ababa and that some of the Salafis would travel to Addis to collect this. The actual size of the support remains undisclosed, but it is clear that none was able to earn any wealth. It corresponds, however, to the efforts made by King Faīṣal at that time, actively seeking to promote Muslim communities in Africa through financial support. For more details, see Sindi (1980).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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teaching was conceived as strange and foreign, as they conceived the muuda and the veneration of awliyyāʾ as integrated to the established Muslim religiosity in Bale. Cursing the Change The denunciation of practices such as the muuda was by the people not only seen as a rejection of an established tradition, but also felt to be an attack on their Muslim identity, suggesting that they were not Muslims. Added to this, and of arguably greater importance, was the aspect of fear. The power of the shrines and their symbolism, embodied in the guardians with their capacity to cause malevolent retributions, were powerful mechanisms that secured a continued adherence to the established practices. Kept under the sway of such structures of power, the people were not ready to accept the new ideas. Drawing from sources of an esoteric nature, which were firmly established in the religious Oromo Muslims’ universe and enclosed within a mysticism containing a potential menace, the guardians of the shrines actively applied religious symbols which created a distinct sense of trepidation. This fear was manifested in the general perception of the guardians’ ability to curse (abaarsuu) people at will. It made a deep impression on the people of Bale when Kabīr Faqīh, a member of the Salafi movement in Robe, was cursed during a ceremony at Dirre: Yaa Sheeki’o Sheeki’o kiyya’oo Nūr Husaynii wayyooma kiyya Kabīr Faqīh lafa irra haqii

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Oh, you are my shaykh Nūr Ḥ usayn my wayyooma (my respected) Let Kabīr Faqīh be deleted from the face of the earth20

This dimension of fear was also the basis for continued social pressure. The muuda was a defining collective ritual requiring the participation of all Muslims. Disregarding the practice could have untold consequences, both for the individual and the collective. The one who went the other way would not only be a victim of divine wrath but also face social isolation and mundane punishment:

20

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 21 November 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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chapter six Most people went to muuda. Had I opposed it, I would have caused a great disagreement. The people could even have killed me. The great geriboota could have killed me. They used to sing a baaro; ‘Wanni Wahhabiin namati qaraatuu, asiin gama jriti, haga mana shanii ambatti hin tariinii fixaan jara sanii’ This means; ‘what the Wahhabis teach is found near you. But they don’t count for more than five households. Let them and their descendants disappear from the surface of the world’.21

As also noted by Marco Bassi in his studies of the Borana, curses implied “the exclusion from the community” (1994). While Bassi refers to the word abaarsuu, the Oromo in Bale used the term fansuu, which meant the exclusion from the rest of society. It involved the total marginalisation of the individual which denied him or her from having any relations with any member of the family, clan or society. Nobody would ever set foot in his or her house as he or she was banned from visiting others. Paul Baxter similarly reported that a cursed person would be “excluded from blessings, prayers and greeting”, and would be “treated as he was dead” (1990: 238).

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Muuda and Ziyāra The group most deeply concerned with the existing practices was the mystics and in particular the guardians of the shrines. Although vocal in their condemnation of the emerging Salafism, they were, however, never directly involved in actual confrontations with the Salafis. No representative from Dirre nor any fuqra, geriba or ulee baaro is reported to have participated in the meeting in Goba. My informants from the Salafi side claim that they remained passive simply because they could not provide any justifiable reasons for their stand—being ignorant of Islamic scholarship and lacking any proficiency in Arabic. Although this may have been the case, another crucial aspect was that they looked upon themselves as unique and as set apart from the rest of the society. Drawing on sources of an esoteric character in legitimising this status, the role they played in managing the muuda rituals, the very nature of the shrine, situated them beyond the reach of objective scrutiny and doctrinal debate. As discussed in chapter four, they had,

21

Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 14 July 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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at least at the outset, a demarcated conception of Shaykh Ḥ usayn as being merely an intercessor, of the issue of tawasul and of Allah as the beneficial actor. However, the blurring of these boundaries in practice, as reflected in the performed rituals and in the baaro, evidently left them in an awkward position as the Salafis accused the practices of being shirk and the veneration of Shaykh Ḥ usayn of positioning him as a deity. The attitudes of the local ʿulamāʾ were, however, of a more complex nature. It is clear that their views were somewhat different from that of the mystics and the wider populace of Bale. One reason may have been the indirect impact of the earlier reform attempt by Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba. Besides making direct impacts on his students, there are reports that Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Abosera, who himself allegedly had around 500 students, consulted him frequently (Yitbarek Muluneh 1970: 13). It is also clear that Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba had relations to Shaykh Juneydin Oborra.22 Although the vast majority of the ʿulamāʾ participated in the muuda, they were opposed to the veneration of the awliyyāʾ as deities.

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There are two groups at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn: those who see him as God and those who don’t. We don’t see him as God—that is not correct. We also don’t believe in tawussulat. But we believe in going there as ziyāra, to visit the graves and ask forgiveness for the dead.23

The choice of the term ziyāra rather than muuda is significant. First, it illustrates a clear reference to an Islamic legacy, distinguished from a conceptual understanding of the ritual framed in an Oromo narrative. The ʿulamāʾ ’s understanding of pilgrimage and the shrine itself was more in line with broader Sufi traditions although there are few traces of elaborate thinking on these matters. As teachers of fiqh, with some few involved in teaching naḥ wī, they were less acquainted with Sufi scholarship. Yet, they unequivocally embraced the notion of ziyāra, in the sense of praying for the walī’s salvation and believing that God could be approached through his interceding powers. Secondly, it signifies the perception of the walī as merely an intercessor between humans and God, and denies the juxtaposition of the walī with the deity. They also remained critical of the issues of presenting sacrifices

22 Shaykh Rashād Muḥammad, 31 May 2006; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005. 23 Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl, interview 30 May 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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at the shrine. Although rarely voicing such points of view, they themselves “didn’t load their donkeys with food and different things”— meaning that they never brought any offerings to the shrine.24 Visiting the shrine, uttering their prayers, the ʿulamāʾ avoided participating in the ḥ aḍra or any other of the nightly ceremonies. Instead, the ceremonial gatherings at Dirre were important occasions for interaction with other ʿulamāʾ, either from Bale or the surrounding areas.

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They [the ʿulamāʾ] used to teach here, but they also came for ziyāra. They sat in this mosque and taught, and they also visited the gamo. There was one Shaykh Khadīr ʿAbd al-Jalīl from Sebro, he used to sit and teach in this mosque . . . when he heard the baaro he was silent—listening to the baaro. But they didn’t make baaro themselves; they didn’t participate in the ḥ aḍra—they were different.25

Representing a distinct ideological stratum and harbouring views incongruent with those of the general population, it would be relevant to ask why they were not more vocal in their criticism. Although far from being in agreement with the Salafis, my argument is that they were in fact in favour of change—yet lacked the needed resources to implement actual reforms. As the differentiation of the religious elite in Bale was embodied in groups drawing from disparate sources of authority—the mystics from the esoteric notion of karaama and the ʿulamāʾ depending on their scholarly knowledge—the ʿulamāʾ were in no position to challenge the mystics. The popular adherence to the shrines and rituals, partly due to the intimidating force of the mystics, deprived the ʿulamāʾ of the needed constituency to embark on campaigns of change. As Islam was a relatively recent phenomenon in Bale, where the Islamisation constituted an inclusive process allowing many of the preceding practices to continue, the ʿulamāʾ clearly found themselves caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, they belonged to the same locality and were shaped and bound by the same structures, but on the other hand, they harboured a stronger allegiance to religious ideas stemming from beyond the boundaries of the locality. Aware of the fact that by voicing too stark a criticism, the people could easily be turned against them, they opted for a more subtle approach of teaching the basic tenets of Islam and overlooking the most indigenised and popularised aspects of religious practice.

24 25

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 18 August 2005. Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Maḥmūd, interview 6 June 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Another dilemma was caused by the Salafis’ undifferentiated critique of existing practices and their total rejection of the pilgrimage as such. Even if the Salafis did make a conceptual distinction between muuda and ziyāra, it had little practical relevance—as both notions were denounced. The idea of tawasul was rejected alongside the belief in the karaama of the shrine. The ʿulamāʾ, who at the outset could have provided support for a more moderate programme of change, thus found the Salafi teaching to be too radical and as disturbing the unity among the people.

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Literacy and Change A recurrent theme among my informants has been that of Islamic scriptures, interlinking it with both the emergence of Salafism and their repeated references to the scriptures and with the debate that erupted about religious symbols and practise in Bale. The significance of authoritative scripture among Islamic reform movements in Africa and elsewhere—as important correctives and as legitimising change— has been noticed by several scholars (Masquelier 1999; Niezen 1991; Soares 2005: 181f.; Sperling 1993; Westerlund 1997). The reverence for the content of scripture has been a core aspect of Salafi Islam, where the religious reforms of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb were intrinsically linked to the return to the fundamentals of Islam, i.e. the Qurʾān and the Sunna, and where scriptural studies, particularly of the latter, received renewed emphasis with the emergence of Salafism on the Arabian Peninsula (Delong-Bas 2004: 42f.; Wiktorowicz 2006: 214f.). Embedded within this focus on scripture was the opposition to rational interpretation, categorised as bidaʿ, and the promulgation of a strict literalist approach to the text. The true faith and accepted forms of worship thus had to be based on the written word, which in turn had to be read and understood.26 Simply memorising and reciting the text was rendered insufficient; unlawful practices could not be avoided unless the believer actually acquired the necessary knowledge to do so. It was in this vein the doctrines of Salafism were brought to Bale. The condemnations of existing practices and the call for changes were 26 For an enlightening discussion about Salafi methodological principles for interpretation of scripture, see Delong-Bas (2004: 49f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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all done with references to the authoritative scriptures of Islam. As already argued, the lack of a literary tradition in Bale did not thwart the process of religious change; it rather contributed to enhancing it. As I will demonstrate in the following, the lack of a literary tradition influenced the early Salafis’ discernment of the new teaching, thus being conducive to the initial adaptation of Salafism, and, moreover, enfeebled the opponents’ resistance to the new teaching.

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The Literary Tradition in Bale Religious texts were in general a scarce commodity in Bale. At the turn of the 19th century, books were only in the hands of a few; they were lent from one to the other and copied by hand. As trading with neighbouring areas increased from the time of the Italian occupation, texts became increasingly available, usually brought from Hararge and disseminated at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn.27 In contrast to other areas, like Wollo, Harar and Arsi, where the indigenous ʿulamāʾ were authoring books on different religious subjects, this was not the case for the ʿulamāʾ in Bale.28 Their activities were restricted to reproducing the knowledge from the few texts they had. As discussed in chapter four, scriptural knowledge was largely inaccessible to the population and was replicated by a hierarchy of religious specialists, who also were seen as inhabiting distinct mystical qualities. Although my informants distinguished between karaama and knowledge, the two were nevertheless perceived as having an intrinsic relationship. Knowledge was in general characterised as exoteric, associated with the literary tradition of Islam and with the Islamic sciences, all acquired through studies of the written word. But there was also a perception that karaama would “bring knowledge”, meaning that it would enhance the learning process.29 The same idea can also be found in other areas, both outside and inside Ethiopia, demonstrating the intimate synthesis between “intellectual learning and spiritual experience” (Abebe Kifleyesus 1995: 29).

27 Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 12 July 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 17 November 2005. 28 In Arsi, scholars such as Shaykh Muḥammad bin ʿAlī (Shaykh Muḥammad Jeju), Muḥammad Thanī Wada and Sultan Sude (Shaykh Ḥ usayn Kimo) composed several religious texts: books on grammar, poetry and commentaries (Muḥammad Ḥ asan, interview 23 May 2005; Hassan Muhammed Kawo (2008: 29f.)). 29 Shaykh Ziyād Shaykh Ḥ asan, interview 18 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 12. Handwritten Qurʾān from Bale, dating from ca 1814 (photo: Terje ØstebØ)

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This created, moreover, the perception of the ability to read and of the book as embedded in a particular spiritual dimension. Knowledge was thus not necessarily perceived of in a cognitive manner; rather, it was associated with a distinct mysterious sphere, as can be seen from this story about the village imām of Shaya: By Shaya there was . . . a big stone and a tree . . . My grandfather used to sit by this stone reading the Qurʾān. He didn’t teach, but only read the Qurʾān to himself. He was a learned man and the people thought that it was the karaama that had taught him to read. In addition, the Qurʾān was also said to have karaama. It was like the Qurʾān and prayer were magical things. They [the people] believed that if one person in the village prayed, that would be enough—he would pray for them also.30

A pivotal aspect of this phenomenon is that of esoteric sciences, affecting the perception of the written word. Through processes of Islamisation in many parts of Africa, such “written apparatus of magical and astrological Islamic lore” often accompanied the introduction of the scriptural corpus of Islam, which also contributed to the production of and trade of amulets and talismans (Lewis 1983: 67). The nature of this production in Bale and religious teachers’ engagement in the trade reveal a concept of knowledge that can be characterised as semi-esoteric. This “esoteric science” was not something inherited or obtained through initiation—it was at the outset available to anyone with proficiency in Arabic:

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The book was written in Arabic and I bought it at Dirre. Still today you can buy this book at Dirre. It was not difficult to do this; everything was explained in the book. Only to translate the names of the roots [to be used as medicine] was difficult.31

The consumption of these talismans, where pieces of paper with writings from the Qurʾān were kept in the house, worn as protective ornaments or eaten, clearly illustrates how the word in its physical form was viewed as sacred. Rather than the meaning or the message of the word, it was the word itself, the ink and the paper upon which it was written that had both a protective and curative effect. This was not something unfamiliar to the Oromo of Bale, who had a clear idea of objects having a certain spiritual quality. Cultural objects such as the dhanqe, halange (whip), boku (sceptre), as well as spears and the knives 30 31

Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 15 August 2005. Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 21 September 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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used for ritual slaughtering were commonly used by the guardians at the shrines and by several of the warra fuqra.32 The guardians at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn were in similar ways drawing attention to the written word, presenting it as a physical representation and embodiment of their authority: At Dirre the darga showed the books to the people and asked for contributions. The people had respect for Arabic, and they thought that any book in Arabic had a special status. They also used the Qurʾān to make magic; writing different things after looking in the Qurʾān.33

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The word, in the form of the Qurʾān and books on jurisprudence, texts on “esoteric science”, poetry, mawlid al-Nabī manuals or legends attributed to Shaykh Ḥ usayn (Rabī al-Qulūb), was put into one category, as the word of God. At the same time, the disparate usage of the scriptures largely complemented each other in a symbiosis responding to the various needs of the people. Neither did the groups within the differentiated religious leadership explicitly challenge the other’s texts, nor their use of them. This limited access to scriptural knowledge, restricted to the hierarchy of religious specialists situated in an illiterate society, corresponds to what Bourdieu (1993) has labelled “linguistic inequality” and contributed to augmenting the reverence for literacy. Acquaintance with the traditions of both Christianity and Islam had created a certain degree of awareness of the written word among the Oromo in general, where they saw those in custody of the book as being at a higher evolutionary stage. This is clearly demonstrated in the story narrated by de Salviac in 1901: The Whites have a book: God gave it to them. The Arabs have a book, the Abyssinians have a book: God gave it to them. But the Oromo have no book. Our fathers told us that Waaqa, in the beginning, gave also a book to us. A cow swallowed it. Waaqa got angry and did not want to give us a second book. Now we are compelled to look for the lost book in the intestines of the cows, what we do to see the futures. That’s why the Oromo don’t do anything bad but out of ignorance.34

32 Many of these objects can be traced back to the institution of the qallu, and an important aspect of the transference of karaama was to take possession of these objects, either through inheritance or through presentation. See Umer Nure (2006: 67f.). 33 Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 4 November 2005. 34 Translated and quoted by Zitelmann (2005: 92).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Captured by the Word The Salafis’ approach to scripture did not only entail an emphasis on the cognitive comprehension of the text, it moreover signified an altered conceptualisation of the word itself. Although most of the members of the jamāʿa had attended Qurʾān schools during their childhood, only a few had received any further Islamic education. Through their travels to Hararge, Arsi or to the capital, they found themselves exposed to— and soon captured by—the Salafi books. Highly respective of the Salafi teachers in Hararge—well equipped with books and arguments based on the Qurʾān and the Sunna, they rapidly and readily accepted the Salafi message. As expressed by one of my informants from Hararge: “when these people from Bale were presented with a book by Ibn Taymiyya where the cover read shaykh al-Islam, they immediately embraced it”.35 A pivotal reason for this immediate acceptance was their limited knowledge of the variety of Islamic scholarship, which in turn came to impinge on their capacity to critically evaluate traditions that differed from those of their own locality. Being situated in a context with a largely restricted tradition of Islamic scholarship and in a reality dominated by a particular indigenised Islam, they were in no position to juxtapose the Salafi ideas with other traditions within the scholarly corpus of Islam. Neither were they able to establish the ideological links between this teaching and Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb or Saudi Arabia. Salafism was by them rendered an integrated part of mainstream Islamic theology and the standard for the reformers’ quest in rectifying religious practices and deepening Islamic piety among their compatriots. By contrast, areas like Wollo and Harar, vested in a long history of Islam which had produced a strong class of ʿulamāʾ, a tradition of indigenous Islamic literacy and more elaborate knowledge of Sufi traditions, were far more prepared to critically evaluate the Salafi dogmas. The ʿulamāʾ of these areas were aware of existing doctrinal differences and thus better prepared to avoid and resist the Salafi teaching. Contesting the Word Reviewing the points of view and arguments forwarded in the debate during the meeting in Goba in 1972, it becomes apparent that the actors were referring to sources of a fundamentally divergent nature which subsequently impeded the whole discussion. The Salafis were

35

Shaykh Aḥmad Ilyās, interview 3 December 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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on their side exclusively referring to the written corpus of Islam, to the Qurʾān and the Sunna. Emphasising the doctrine of tawḥ īd, they sternly argued that the muuda and the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī lacked the required legitimacy in the scriptures, and that it consequently had to be prohibited. It is not clear what passages from the Qurʾān or which ḥ adīth they referred to, and one has to assume that the heated debate gave only limited room for a thorough exegesis of the scriptures. Those defending the existing practices had never before been forced to articulate the very sources sanctioning the legitimacy of this world; it had been sufficiently embodied in the Muslim rituals everybody adhered to. Initially there was hardly any mentioning of written sources. Instead, they made reference to aadaa (culture, way of life) and established traditions, saying the muuda and the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī were intrinsic parts of the forefathers’ culture, something which had been practised for generations. What the Salafis were bringing was a foreign teaching, alien to the Oromo culture and unsuitable for the people in Bale. This particular response reveals a world shaped by traditions and customs—all framed within the particular locality of Bale. In his study of the Dyula in the Ivory Coast, Launay (1992: 118) suggests that the people had compartmentalised ritual into two mutually exclusive domains: religion and tradition (customs). Although such compartmentalisation would be sustained in most circumstances, Launay argues that it, nevertheless, broke down during major “lifecrisis rituals”. One may be tempted to interpret the position of the muuda party in similar veins, where they perceived the pilgrimage as belonging to aadaa, i.e. the “cultural” realm, and where the accentuation of inherited customs was an attempt to delineate the rituals from any Islamic connotations and to free themselves from the accusations of being mushrikūn (those conducting shirk). This has certainly been the interpretation forwarded by my Salafi informants. Yet, the clear Islamic overtones of both the muuda and the mawlid al-Nabī suggest otherwise. The rituals were intrinsically part of the localised discursive tradition of Islam in Bale, authorised by the actors involved, and which was conceived as an integrated and meaningful whole. Moreover, this orthodoxy of localised Islam represented a repertoire which the various segments of society could actively choose from, and which they could apply in accordance with their cultural and social location. The two parties were thus forwarding two sets of arguments drawn from two different traditions; one referring to a divine law frozen in written form, the other to oral traditions and established customs.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Similar to the Salafis, who were formulating explicit challenges against the established practice, those defending themselves against the attacks were also compelled to provide grounds and sources legitimising a practice embodying the meaning of being Muslim in Bale. Such an undertaking can be construed with reference to what Eickelman and Piscatori (1996: 38f.) have labelled the process of objectification, where “basic questions come to the fore in the consciousness” and where reasons for believing have to be articulated and objectified. The process of objectification has initially been seen as a feature of Islamic reform movements in the modern era and as a new discourse involving a broader array of actors seeking severance from established religious traditions. Although there are certain limitations to the concept of objectification, often seen as “a universal modern process” (Mahmood 2005: 56), it has a relevance in this particular case where we see a process in which those defending themselves against the Salafis started to reflect upon their practice, and were forced to formulate and articulate dogmas explaining practices all had taken for granted—both to the Salafis and to themselves. The Salafis’ repeated references to scripture and their constant fretting about scriptural evidence also forced the muuda party to formulate textual arguments to meet the Salafi charges. Yet, the subsequent discourse over texts and understanding of texts would in turn augment their discrepancies. First of all, the Salafis’ reference to scripture as possessing a “power of certainty” (Lambek 1990: 28) in their quest for change not only led to a discourse about orthodoxy, but also about the legitimate sources of that orthodoxy—most notably seen by the drawing of a boundary between legitimate and illegitimate texts. Not surprisingly, the first to be rejected were texts on Islamic numerology and astrology, mawlid al-Nabī poems and stories revolving around Shaykh Ḥ usayn, the Rabī al-Qulūb. Previously perceived and respected as part of the Islamic legacy, they were suddenly no longer valid. Not only were the Salafis demanding textual evidence for accepting established customs—they were at the next junction nullifying the very nature of these evidences. The following account from the meeting in Goba, where the muuda party tried to legitimise their position, may serve as an illustration: The muuda people elected Shaykh Juneydin Oborra [to speak for them]. He rose, took a book and walked to the front. But before he could start reading from that book, Shaykh Muḥammad Gishe from the tawḥ īd side said; ‘we don’t agree that this person should make a decision. His book

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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is not a true book, it is not the Qurʾān. If the judgement is based on the Qurʾān, or another book of Islam, we will accept his decision. But if he reads from that book we will not accept it’. The book Shaykh Juneydin had was just like Rabī al-Qulūb—it was like any other history book, and it was not a book of Islam.36

Secondly, by underscoring the written corpus of Islam—and applying it to the very context of religious life in Bale, the Salafis introduced an altered perception of scripture, challenging its esoteric dimension and “magical” usage. Rather than having a hidden meaning and being embodied in protective or curative talismans, it contained a readable message applicable in the real world and a corrective for religious life. Through this altered perception of scripture, the Salafis contributed to their particular way of de-mystifying the reality, in the sense of introducing an episteme which underscored a divine objective message accessible to all through a cognitive approach. Arguably, there were those among the ʿulamāʾ who knew that the esoteric and legendary texts were not part of an Islamic scholarly tradition and thus aware of their insufficiency. However, their focus on the legal technicalities of fiqh and theoretical aspects of Arabic through naḥ wī made them ill prepared to respond to the applied textual arguments of the Salafis. Moreover, they were not in possession of any Sufi texts, and neither was there a developed tradition of indigenous writing that could have served as resources in resisting the Salafis. There was, later on, a gradual dissemination of anti-Salafi books being sold at Dirre. Most important were the Ad-Durar al-Saniyya fī ar-radd ʿala al-Wahhābiyya by Sayyid Aḥmad ibn Zainī Daḥlān (1816–1886) from Mecca and Ṣawāhid al-ḥ aqq fi ʿl-istigāṭa bisaiyid al-ḥ aqq by the Palestinian ʿālim Yūsuf ibn Nabhānī (1849–1932) (Brockelmann 1938: 763). The Salafis in Bale were also, like similar movements in other parts of Africa, discharging the established discipline of fiqh (Brenner 2001: 144). Although not very much elaborated on at this early stage, the Salafis propagated the principle of ijtihād—giving preference to the fundamentals of Islam over the various madhāhib (sing. madhhab).37 The focus on the Qurʾān and tafsīr al-Qurʾān as well as the gradual emergence of the study of tawḥ īd and ḥ adīth, thus replaced much of the traditional fiqh teaching. In line with established Salafi teaching

36 37

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 10 August 2005. Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 14 July 2005.

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and framed within a Salafi narrative, the study and application of the ḥ adīth would eventually become an intrinsic and pivotal dimension of the further development of Salafism in Bale. Another and somewhat curious issue was the surfacing of a disparate perception of the Qurʾān. The Salafi preference for the written word was accompanied by the increase of printed Qurʾāns. These new books were, however, soon considered by the people to be different from the older handwritten Qurʾāns. A subsequent dichotomy was established between the kitaaba diima (the red book) and the kitaaba adii (the white book). The former was dubbed red due to the aging of the paper of the book, whereas the white colour of the latter was simply because of the bright white printed paper. This, moreover, led to the categorisation of the Salafis as warra kitaaba adii (the people of the white book) and those opposing as warra kitaaba diima (the people of the red book). It was widely believed that the book of the former was not the true Qurʾān but rather a distortion of the divine message.38

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The Question of Modernisation The issue of literacy in relation to accompanying processes of modernisation has, as noted, often been seen as paving the way for a rationalisation of religion, construed as inevitable—a necessary decline of “traditional” practices and the augmenting of “rational” practices. My argument is that this conceals much of the inherent complexity, and would call for an approach which takes the social reality of the locality as a point of departure. None of the early Salafi reformers in Bale were at this stage particularly “modern”. Nor was their quest for change rooted in, or occurring in, a proliferated process of modernisation. Education, for example, which has often been seen as indicative of the process of modernisation, was at this point of time still in its infancy. The first school in Bale was an interesting project. Established in Goba in 1942 by Christian priests and Qurʾān teachers, it offered the teaching of Amharic and Arabic, as well as religious subjects taught separately to Christian and Muslim children (Aman Seifedin 1987: 25; Assefa Teshome 1990: 7; “Education in Bale” 2005). A few years later the school was turned into a government school and named Azmach Deglehan School. From 38 ʿUthmān Aliyeh, interview 12 June 2005; ʿUthmān Rashid, interview 26 June 2005; Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi, interview 12 July 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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1946 onwards, primary schools were opened in Ginir, Dodola, Adaba and Kokosa. Yet until 1959 the total number of schools was limited to 25, with a student population of only 2007 (Assefa Teshome 1990: 14; “Education in Bale” 2005). In spite of efforts to develop the education sector in the 1950s, there were in 1960 still not more than 72 schools and only 18,330 enrolled students (“Education in Bale” 2005). The Muslim population was, however, reluctant to send their children to the government schools (Aman Seifedin 1987: 35; Gebru Tareke 1977: 277; Markakis 1974: 156f ). The schools’ attachment to the Orthodox Church, the teaching of religious subjects disguised as moral education, compulsory attendance of celebrations of Christian holidays and the use of Amharic created a fear among the Muslims that the education would drive their children away from their faith:

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I was the first from my balbala . . . who received modern education. At that time all the people in our area objected to my father’s decision to send me to school. They complained and said that ‘he will be like an Amhara’, meaning he will be a Christian. The main reason for this was that the teaching was conducted in Amharic. Before, when an Oromo spoke Amharic, he was considered an Amhara, a Christian.39

Although the Salafis’ scripturalist approach did signal a certain demystification of reality and an emerging process of standardisation of religious practice, the esoteric episteme did at this stage not yield to a rational one. The popular adherence to the practices remained largely intact, the people’s perception of what it meant to be a Muslim prevailed, and so did the established structures for cultural and religious authority. The new teaching did not manage to gain an encompassing acceptance, nor did it permeate deep into society. However, the emergence of Salafism did signify the starting-point for changes that were intersected with local and translocal political, socio-economic and ethno-cultural developments in the succeeding decades. It can thus be interpreted as a sort of precursor to a later and intensified process of modernisation. This would have its own peculiarities during the period of the Derg when the continued process of religious change and the accelerating process of modernisation would be enacted in partly reinforcing, partly contradictory ways.

39

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 1 September 2002.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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chapter six Salafism, Politics and the Bale Rebellion

The relationship between ethnicity and the process of religious change was, as discussed in chapter two, of a complex nature. The emerging process of religious change in Bale coincided with turbulent political developments and with a period of armed resistance to the regime, in which religion and ethnicity were deeply immersed. Too often, however, conflicts in Ethiopia are interpreted either as religious or as based on ethnicity. Such oversimplifications arguably overshadow the complicated relationship between these two issues. I will thus end this chapter with a brief discussion of the early Salafi movement and its relations to the ethnic question and the political development in Bale at this stage. This brings us to the issue of Christian-Muslim relations in Ethiopia, an aspect of Ethiopian history that has received little attention in the historiography.40

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Christian-Muslim Relations in Ethiopia Whereas the peaceful relationship between Christians and Muslims in Ethiopia has often been celebrated by both Ethiopians and foreign observers, I concur with Hussein Ahmed’s (2006) call for a reappraisal of the notion of Christian-Muslim relations in Ethiopia as a more or less unique case for inter-religious tolerance and co-existence. On the micro-level, the relations between Christians and Muslims have been of a seemingly harmonic character, in which friendly coexistence and mutual tolerance have been more common than interreligious conflicts. As Christians and Muslims have shared the same localities, have spoken the same languages and participated in each others’ life-cycle rituals, a clear sense of commonality has developed. Even in some areas, like Wollo, a certain degree of religious mobility has been possible. The situation of inter-religious tranquillity has, nevertheless, been coupled with clear boundaries for accepted interactions. In certain periods, when Christians met Muslims “they greeted the Muslims with the left hand—a sign of contempt—and called them, pejoratively, näggade (merchant)” (Kapteijns 2000: 231). Another distinct feature is the avoidance of each other’s meat. All over the country, Christians and Muslims strictly observe this taboo, and only 40 For some recent contributions to Christian-Muslim relations in Ethiopia, see Abbink (2007), Ficquet (2002), Hussein Ahmed (1994a; 2006) and Østebø (2008a).

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animals slaughtered by a member of the same faith are allowed for consumption. There are, in addition, a number of stereotyped perceptions of the other’s food as unhygienic and not properly prepared. Consequently, the eating of the other’s meat has also become a sign for denouncing one’s faith.41 On the macro-level, the relationship between Christians and Muslims has been of a more antagonistic character. On this level, the inter-religious relationship in Ethiopia was shaped by recurrent conflicts and enmity between Christians and Muslims, climaxing in the so-called conquest of Aḥmad Gragn. From the Christian side, this enmity in turn laid the foundation for pejorative and hostile attitudes towards Islam. Introducing the term Aḥ mad Gragn Syndrome, Erlich (1994: 31f.) has argued that the experiences of Aḥmad Gragn’s conquest led to the construction of a religious fault-line, where the perception of Islam as a possible external threat, compelled the increasingly hegemonic Christian rulers to constantly question the loyalty of the country’s Muslim population. This subsequently paved the way for distinct alienation and subjugation of the Muslim population by the Christian rulers and contributed to an articulation of policies determined by religious preferences.42 The expansionist policy of Menelik at the end of the 19th century, leading to the incorporation of a large Muslim population under Christian rule, forced the ruler to apply a “policy of guarded tolerance” (Hussein Ahmed 2006: 4). Guided by the notion of a unitary Christian state, Menelik and even more, Haile Sellassie strengthened the policy of cultural dissemination, where the Christian Orthodox faith and the Amharic language came to constitute major components.43 This policy also meant that the Muslims were denied representations in the form of organisations. The first attempt to form a national Islamic organisation was made in 1962 with the establishment of Sälam Yämuslim Mahaber, but already in 41 For more details on the role of meat in Ethiopia’s inter-religious relations, see Ficquet (2006). 42 Such policies were most notable during the reign of Yohannes I, passing an edict compelling Gondar’s Muslims to live in separate quarters and banning them from owning land, and under Yohannes IV, issuing a decree in 1878 requiring all Muslims to accept Christianity. For more details, see Trimingham (1952: 102f.) and Hussein Ahmed (2001: 167f.). 43 While Markakis (1974: 251, 255) has argued that Muslims were denied positions in the civil administration and excluded from holding higher ranks in the army, Clapham reports that one Muslim minister was appointed in 1966 and that out of 138 senior central government officials since 1942, six of them were Muslims (1969: 83).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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1966, the organisation was closed down by the regime. The Muslim Student Association, formed in 1967 at the Haile Sellassie I University, fell victim to the same policy—being closed down a few months after its establishment (Markakis 1974: 181).44 In congruence with Margery Perham, who describes the relationship between Christians and Muslims as a symbiosis of “fierce hostility and practical co-operation” (1969: 377), it is my argument that the peaceful inter-religious coexistence to a large degree was made possible because of an asymmetric relationship between the two, in which the former controlled the main political institutions and defined the latter as second-class. Seeing themselves as the group constituting the very core of Ethiopianness, the Christians could tolerate the Muslims as neighbours but never include them into this notion of nationhood.45 This means that at the grass-root level there has never been a situation of equality and religious parity. Alongside practical cooperation, the two groups’ positions and statuses were clearly defined, contributing to shaping the identity of each group and to demarcating the boundaries between them. As long as this asymmetric relationship was upheld, an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence could prevail.

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The Bale Rebellion The political atmosphere in 20th century Bale was marked by a clear antagonism between the Oromo population and the Amharadominated authorities. The sense of being conquered and subject to general ill-treatment contributed to a persistent feeling of repugnance towards the Amhara and led to repeated incursions against the regime, which eventually culminated in the so-called Bale Rebellion from 1963 to 1970. The actual fighting was mostly concentrated to the lowlands, but for a limited period the rebels were able to assume control over much of the rural highlands. The leadership of the rebellion was initially loosely organised under local dignitaries such as Ḥ usayn Bune, Aliyeh Dadhi, Isme Abba Washe, Waqo Lugo, Aliyeh Chirre and Waqo Gutu. Yet it was the last-mentioned that emerged as the main

44

Ḥ ajj Sayyid Yūsuf, interview 11 December 2005. This has been noted by Clapham, who argued that Islam has played an important role which “implies a rejection of assimilation into the dominant [Christian] culture of the core” (1975: 77). See also Clapham (2002). 45

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Illustration 13. Waqo Gutu (photo unknown)

leader of the movement.46 Some of these individuals had received military training in Somalia, where the regime was pivotal in sustaining the rebellion with financial and military support. Gebru Tareke, who has contributed with the most substantiated study of the rebellion so far, has unilaterally focused on issues such as land tenure, taxation and alienation of land (1977; 1991). Although

46 Waqo Gutu, who died in February 2006, has gained a legendary status among Oromo nationalists. He remained involved in the nationalist movement throughout his life, spending many years in exile, in Somalia and Kenya (Anonymous 2006).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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recognising aspects of religion and ethnicity, i.e. the religious and ethnic prejudices harboured by the Christian Amhara rulers, his discussion remains fixed in a too stringent class-struggle paradigm.47 According to my findings, the rebellion was part of a much broader narrative, in which religion and ethnic affinity remained intrinsic. The rebellion in Bale was indirectly linked to the development in Harar in the 1940s. When Haile Sellassie returned to Ethiopia in 1941, the former Italian colony of Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia were still under the control of the British (Markakis 1974: 368f.). The undecided fate of Somalia had contributed to the formation of the Somali Youth League (SYL), working for the independence of Somalia, and the uncertainty concerning the future of the eastern provinces of Ethiopia gave rise to a similar movement in Harar, the KulubHannolatto movement (hereafter the Kulub).48 Linked to the SYL, this nationalist movement sought Harar’s severance from Ethiopia and unification with Somalia. In an interesting discussion of the Kulub incident, Erlich (2007: 80f.) has explicitly linked the political developments to Salafi Islam. Although his recognition of the religious aspect is laudable, his conclusions are in my view somewhat hasty and inaccurate. First, it appears that he overemphasises the role of Salafism in the political discourse, and secondly, the maintaining of a dichotomy between “traditional” Muslims and those adhering to imported Salafi doctrines is unfounded; the former seen as moderate and bound on peaceful co-existence with the Christians, while the latter is perceived as embarking on a campaign of politicising Islam and working for the establishment of an Islamic state. Although the merger between the National Islamic Association (al-Jamʿiyya al-Waṭaniyya al-Islāmiyya), consisting of graduates from the Salafi-influenced Jamʿiyya school established in 1933, and the Kulub (SYL) in 1947 strengthened the Islamic dimension, the main driving force was the antagonism towards the Ethiopian state and a

47 Andargachew Tiruneh has in contrast denied any connections to class-struggle, arguing that it was “based more on ethnic and religious considerations than anything else” (1993: 54). 48 Kulub is a derivation from the English word “club” and was taken from the name of SYL’s predecessor, the Somali Youth Club (1943–1947). Hannolatto is a Somali catch-word or a slogan literally meaning “long live”, and was used in demonstrations against the political authorities. In Ethiopia, SYL was referred to as Kulub (Rahji Abdella 1994).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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yearning for self-determination based on ethnic preferences.49 Salafism was certainly not an issue for the Kulub movement, which was purely a nationalist movement. Acknowledging the ambiguity inherent in concepts such as ethnicity and identity, it is clear that they were ready to be transformed, reproduced and accentuated under changing circumstances. For the Harari, Somali and Oromo peoples in southeast Ethiopia—all religiously homogeneous—Islam was a defining identity-marker, with ethnicity and religion converging to become what I have labelled the ethno-religious sentiment of self-designation. It constituted a clear unifying resource among the disparate ethnic groups in the area (Gebru Tareke 1977: 293; Rahji Abdella 1994: 37), and represented moreover a force which could be invoked in the struggle against rulers who not only represented a different ethnic entity, but who as Christians moreover formed an opposite religious category, perceived to be subduing and discriminating the Muslim population. The struggle could thus be framed both within an ethnic and a religious narrative. The latter had its prologue in the 16th century war between the Christian kingdom and the sultanates in the east, from which Aḥmad Gragn could be called upon as the campaigner for Muslim rights against the oppressive Christian state.50 However, the idea of establishing an Islamic state based on sharīʿa and on the basis of a Salafi teaching was not prominent in the opposition to the Ethiopians (Rahji Abdella 1994: 42).51 Consequently, a reading of this event as being a Salafi attempt to politicise Islam or to introduce a so-called fundamentalist Islam thus becomes misleading. The developments in Bale were characterised by an increasing complexity in the interrelation between politics, ethnicity and religion. The Somali nationalists were not only campaigning for the establishment of an independent state; they also saw themselves as advocates

49 This antagonism dates back to the year 1887 when Emperor Menelik conquered the town. Through an agreement with the town’s dignitaries, Harar was granted a certain degree of autonomy. However, the gradual expansion of Amhara provincial rule led to a political and cultural alienation of the local population—in turn enhancing the enmity towards the new rulers (Caulk 1973; Rahji Abdella 1994: 4f.). 50 Aḥmad Gragn has by the Muslim population, regardless of ethnic affiliation or ideological position, always been considered a hero and an unrelenting champion of Islam in Ethiopia (Touval 1963: 49f.). 51 For a discussion about the formation, history and ideological character of SYL, see Lewis (2002: 121f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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for all suppressed groups in the south (Gebru Tareke 1977: 293), and during the 1940s the Kulub had, in addition to Harar, managed to establish branches in both Arsi and Bale. In Bale it was Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn which became the centre for the Kulub movement, where Qāḍī Aḥmad Imama, a member of the Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo family, assumed a leading role. As early as in the 1930s, he met with Shaykh ʿAlī ʿAbd al-Raḥman (“ ʿAlī al-Ṣufī”), the first headmaster of the Jamʿiyya school in Harar, Ḥ ajj Isḥāq Dadhi of Raytu and Ḥ ajj Sirāj, a well-known scholar from Wollo, at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, where they made plans for armed resistance against the Ethiopian regime. The plans never materialised, and Qāḍī Aḥmad Imama was arrested for conspiring against the state and placed under house arrest in Addis Ababa in 1942.52 In a similar development in southern Bale, Muḥammad Gada Qallu, the uncle of Waqo Gutu, rebelled against the local authorities in Medda Welabu. The government took immediate action, but it took them eight months before the leader was captured and the rebellion quelled. Muḥammad Gada Qallu was sentenced to life imprisonment in Goba, where he later died (Gebru Tareke 1977: 249; Ketema Meskela 2001: 56).53 An interesting detail is the story of Waqo Gutu receiving the qubee meetaa from his uncle while in prison (Umer Nure 2006: 44). This was a ring reserved for the Qallu, and the story of this handover is clearly meant to signify Waqo Gutu’s and the subsequent rebellion’s intrinsic linkage to core Oromo values. Another important figure was the already mentioned Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo. Although not directly involved in the armed struggle during the 1960s, he played a pivotal role in collecting moral and material support for the rebels. This was also the reason why he, Qāḍī Aḥmad Imama, Grazmačč ʿUmar Ḥ usayn and Qäññazmačč Abū Bakr Darga were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment and deportation in 1967 (Ketema Meskela 2001: 88). They were, however, pardoned by the emperor. Ḥ ajj Adam was also involved in the Macha Tullama Welfare Association (MTWA), the first Oromo nationalist organisation founded in 1963.54 He was the (informal) leader of the Bale branch

Khadīr ʿAbduh, interview 7 December 2006. Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Muṣt ̣afā, interview 14 March 2006. 54 The association was established by an emerging class of Oromo intellectuals in the capital, largely from a Christian background. Among the main leaders we find several high-ranking army officers, such as the already mentioned General Jagama Kello, General Taddesse Birru, General Dawit Abdi and Colonel Alemu Kitessa. MTWA managed to generate support from various parts of the country and established infor52 53

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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and coordinated the activities in Bale through communications with the association’s leaders, particularly General Taddesse Birru (Asafa Jalata 2005: 182; “Do You Know Hajj Adam Saddo” 2005; Mohammed Hassan 2006: 252f.). Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn was the main meeting place for exchanging news and for collecting support for the movement. Here, activists from various parts of Bale, from Harar and from Somalia could maintain contacts and coordinate the anti-government activities (Lewis 1980; Umer Nure 2006: 77). This was also one of the reasons why Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo rejected the Salafi teaching. For him, Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn was not only a shrine to be venerated, it also symbolised the cultural and national heritage of the Bale Oromo—a heritage fervidly politicised by an emerging nationalist movement. This story about an encounter between Ḥ ajj Adam and Shaykh Abū Bakr is illustrative:

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Once Shaykh Abū Bakr asked Ḥ ajj Adam why he kept going to Dirre, why he continued his muuda. Ḥ ajj Adam then said: ‘Shut up, you don’t know about our doings. We don’t believe in stones or trees, we don’t say that Shaykh Ḥ usayn is God. But we have to meet other Oromo. We don’t have any office, we don’t have any written records, and we don’t have any other way to communicate. We need to meet at Dirre’.55

What remains clear is that involvement in the struggle was not determined by adherence to a particular religious ideology, neither Salafi nor otherwise. Rather, it was rooted in a localised ethnic affinity in which being Muslim constituted an intrinsic dimension. Rejecting the pejorative name Galla, the Muslim Oromo of Bale instead referred to themselves by the term Islaama, both marking their religious affiliation and defining them as an ethnic group within the locality of Bale.56 Religion and ethnicity thus formed coinciding aspects of identity, which a local elite could refer to in mobilising opposition against the Christian Amhara. In contrast to other non-Muslim Oromo groups, where religious antagonism was less decisive, and where local elites coopted with the Amhara (Chanie 1998; Hultin 2003), Bale saw the surfacing of leaders such as Waqo Gutu and Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo who were able to translate the ethno-religious symbols into practice. It would at

mal branches in provinces such as Bale (Markakis 1974: 178; Mohammed Hassan 2006). 55 Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Muṣt ̣afā, interview 14 March 2006. 56 Similar to other Islamised areas, like Jimma and the Gibe states, the term Oromo was resented by the Muslims of Bale and associated with “paganism” (Lewis 1996; Zitelmann 1996).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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this stage be impossible to talk about any pan-Oromo nationalism, but the insurgency in Bale was arguably an important antecedent for the later development of Oromo ethno-nationalism, which I will return to in the succeeding chapters. Although the Salafis shared the same negative feelings towards the regime, Salafism as a movement did not play a determinant role in the struggle. Certain individuals became involved in clandestine activities, such as Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa, who, according to those close to him, remained a resilient supporter of the Oromo nationalist movement throughout his life.57 In contrast to the “Wahhābiyya” movement in West Africa or to Islamic reformists in certain parts of East Africa, who sought political representation in parity with the Christian population (Chande 2000), the agenda for the Salafis in Bale was explicitly apolitical, focused on the quest to purify Islam from what they saw as unlawful innovations. The issue of Salafism and politics in Bale is interesting from yet another perspective, in the sense of refuting the alleged teleological link between socio-political change and religious change. As also argued by Droogers (1985: 112f.), the disorder and calamity created by sociopolitical changes may be construed as contributing factors, yet never sufficient for an encompassing understanding of religious change. The socio-political, as well as the economic changes that occurred in Bale, did spark a movement of reaction, but it was not religious. It was a largely secular reaction, influenced by a nationalist sentiment in both Somalia and Addis Ababa and was directed against the Amharadominated political leadership, with the aim of seeking emancipation based on ethnical preferences. Although the early Salafis were affected by the same local socio-political and economic changes, Salafism emerged as a movement independent from the ethno-nationalist. Even though the process of change was interwoven with social changes, the pivotal point is that they were influenced from another direction in a way that would prove determinative for the very process of religious change. Consequently, the emergence of Salafism as a movement apart from the ethno-nationalist movement in Bale underscores the need to consider the nature of the impetus informing a locality and the motives of the agents bringing religious change.

57 His involvement in the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) forced him to flee from Bale, and he later died in Borana in 2003. Ḥ asīna Ḥ asan, interview 4 July 2006.

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CHAPTER SEVEN

THE DERG AND PROCESSES OF CHANGE Further expansion of Salafism was seriously checked by the 1974 revolution, and the new Marxist regime’s (1974–1991) policy made the Salafis to remain marginalised throughout the 1970s and 1980s. They attracted a relatively small audience but became, like all religious movements during this period, subject to the regime’s repressive policy on religion. The Derg period could, thus, be seen as an intermezzo in the history of Salafism in Bale. When I, nonetheless, have chosen to pay attention to the period of the Derg, it is done for two reasons. First, the years of the Derg constituted a period when the Salafi movement managed to consolidate its position in Robe. Through control of the town’s mosque and the establishment of an educational institution, the movement was able to strengthen the Salafi orientation among its members and consolidate the movement spatially. Secondly, the Derg period is important as it brought a number of changes which became decisive for the development of Salafism in the 1990s. The political transition, the new ideology and the regime’s policy had significant impacts on existing institutions, traditions and practices, in the sense of causing a rupture with the past and affecting the minds of a whole generation.

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The Revolution The revolution in 1974 meant not only the demise of Emperor Haile Sellassie’s regime but also the end of a centuries-long tradition of monarchical and feudal rule.1 A deteriorating economic situation, increased unemployment and a serious drought led to mounting opposition from radicalised university students against the Imperial

1 For more details on the revolution and the political developments during the Derg era, see Andaragachew Tiruneh (1993), Clapman (1988), Lefort (1983) and Ottoway (1978).

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Government.2 Protests also surfaced among the armed forces, which paved the way for an alliance between them and the students. Events intersected and succeeded one another like a “snowball out of control” (Donham 1999: 16). And on 12 September 1974, the Emperor was taken from the palace in a Volkswagen Beetle, never to be seen again alive (Henze 2000: 286; Lefort 1983: 68f.). The Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC), which was the official name of the Derg, assumed control over the state, and on 20 December it published the document “Ethiopia First!” (Ityopia Tikdem!), outlining the new regime’s policies. Wrapped in a Marxist rhetoric, the emphasis was on issues such as land distribution, equality, the indivisibility of the nation and state control over the economy. The main objective of the revolution was to implement a radical break with the feudal past, from inherent poverty and underdevelopment. Under the slogan “Land to the Tiller”, the Derg aimed at improving the situation for the peasantry, manifested through a sweeping land reform in April 1975. The Derg effectively managed to eliminate any potential competition to its power. From the beginning of 1977 to January 1978, it embarked on a campaign known as the Red Terror, in which all real and imagined opposition was crushed.3 The cruelty orchestrated during the Red Terror was efficient enough to deter further opposition, and the coerciveness and violence of the regime caused a deep and encompassing state of fear among the people, which probably no outsider is able to fully comprehend. These experiences, which I here call the trauma of the Derg, have arguably remained persistent in the Ethiopian mentality. Linked to the stringent hierarchical and stratified structures of the traditional Ethiopian society, they have contributed to augmenting a deep-seated fear of authorities.4

2

For an enlightening study about the Ethiopian student movement, see Rønning Balsvik (2005). 3 The two main opposition parties were the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and the All Ethiopian Socialist Movement, known by its Amharic acronym, MEISON. The Derg initially used MEISON, which had chosen to cooperate with the regime, against the EPRP—using armed MEISON cadres as death-squads. After EPRP was eliminated by mid-1977, the regime turned against MEISON, which after an intense period of killings and assassinations, was destroyed by early 1978. It has been suggested that as many as 32,000 were killed during the Red Terror (Andargachew Tiruneh 1993: 211). See also Clapman (1988) and Lefort (1983). 4 For enlightening discussions of hierarchy, elite ideology and domination in traditional Ethiopia, see Donham (1986) and Tronvoll (2009: 29f.).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Within the Derg itself, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam eventually assumed full political power. Through carefully organised assassinations of leaders and other key figures in the Derg, any competition was eliminated, and by early 1978 Mengistu Haile Mariam held unquestioned power.5 Through the formation of the Workers Party of Ethiopia in 1984 and the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, where Mengistu assumed the positions of chairman and president, respectively, his power was both extended and formalised.6 Wrapped in Leninist rhetoric about the revolutionary vanguard, power became personalised in one sole leader. The parallel to Imperial Ethiopia is obvious, where authority always was personal and powerfully exerted from above. In the context of revolutionary rituals, Mengistu was the “monarch who destroyed monarchy” (Donham 1999: 146).

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The Derg and Islam The Derg’s initial attitudes and policy towards religion contained a certain degree of ambiguity, consequently leaving both Christians and Muslims with a sense of uncertainty about what to expect from the new rulers. In the early public statements of the Derg we find favourable remarks concerning religion. Some of its members even went as far as condemning “those who spread the malicious rumour that the philosophy of socialism was anti-religious” (Hussein Ahmed 1994b: 785). In the policy document of 20 December 1974, it was furthermore stated that its political philosophy “emanates from our great religions which teach the equality of man” (“Ethiopia Tikdem” 1974).7 The revolution would, however, soon have a devastating impact on the Orthodox Church. Associated with the ancién regime, the church found all her property confiscated as part of the land reform and had

5 Initially, Colonel Mengistu held the position of the first vice-secretary of the Derg. His quest for control over the Derg was initiated by the killing of General Amān Andom, the first leader of the Derg, in November 1974, and was sealed by the execution of Atnafu Abate, his most ardent rival, in November 1977. 6 The Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) was preceded by the Commission to organise the Party of the Working People in Ethiopia (COPWE) in December 1979 (Clapham 1988: 70f.). 7 This policy of ambiguity has been duly noted by Bonacci (2000), who has contributed with an enlightening study of the Derg’s relation to religion, in particular the Orthodox Church.

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all her privileges withdrawn as she lost her status as a state-church. Depriving her of important political and economic resources, the Derg went a step further by executing Patriarch Tewoflos and replacing the clergy with more cooperative elements.8 For the Muslims, the revolution gave signals of a new era when the country’s religious diversity would be acknowledged. The Muslims’ expectations were manifested already on 20 April 1974, when around 100,000 Muslims took to the streets of Addis Ababa in the largest Muslim demonstration seen in the country’s history. The demonstrators forwarded 13 demands, including the recognition of Muslim festivals as public holidays, financial support for the construction of mosques and permission to establish a national Islamic organisation. Another demand, which clearly illuminates the position of Muslims in Ethiopia, was the call for the official term for the country’s Muslims to be changed from “Muslims living in Ethiopia” to “Ethiopian Muslims”. Only three of the demands were met, notably the official acceptance of Islamic festivals as public holidays, the recognition of the term “Ethiopian Muslims” and the permission to establish the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC), the first of its kind in the country’s history. These concessions contributed to a certain degree of initial collaboration between the new regime and the Muslim community. While the Derg’s early policy towards Islam could be seen as a combination of indefiniteness and the need for building alliances in the revolutionary struggle, more hostile attitudes towards religion became gradually apparent.9 As the regime consolidated its position and more explicitly turned towards scientific socialism as proclaimed through

8 Teweflos was replaced by a new patriarch, Takla Haymanot II, a quietist monk who remained loyal to the Derg regime (Bonacci 2000). 9 Some remarks need to be made on a document appearing in 1981. Entitled “Religious belief is pernicious to the Revolution”, the five-page document was said to be issued by the Ministry of Information and National Guidance and had “Top Secret” written on the front-page. It contained a detailed plan of how to eradicate religion (Christianity and Islam) from the Ethiopian society, and the required measures to be taken ranged from transforming churches into halls of art to having “female cadres who pose as nuns infiltrate the various monasteries and sexually seduce the monks” (art. 9). The document was soon published in Horn of Africa (vol. 4, no. 4, 1981) and in Frankfurter Allgemeine (14 November 1981). The government persistently denied the authenticity of the document, and Eide (2000: 163) and Bonacci (2000) have in their discussions concluded that the document is a fake. One rumour said that it originated from an American missionary intending to stir concern about the Derg’s religious policy. This was contested by Sven Rubenson (Lund University) who suggested that it could have been produced as a position-paper by anti-religious elements within the state-apparatus (Øyvind Eide, personal correspondence, 3 March 2008).

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the National Democratic Revolutionary Program of Ethiopia (NDRPE) on 21 April 1976, religion was increasingly perceived negatively. A policy of secularism was explicitly formulated, where religion was seen as incompatible with the project of building a new and prosperous Ethiopia. The country’s backward and reactionary past was associated with religious forces of apathy and fatalism. These words from some young enthusiastic cadres teaching farmers may be illustrative: Why are you asking God for rain? Don’t look up in the sky for help; look down at the earth. God will not bring you rain, and neither God nor rain will bring you prosperity. Don’t spend your time praying. We, under the new state, can control the nature. All you need to do is listen to the guidelines of Comrade Mengistu Haile Mariam, and the country will soon be on the road to new prosperity (Dawit Wolde Giorgis 1989: 123f.).

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The Derg was, however, caught between its secularist policy and the promulgation of bringing equality for the country’s religious and ethnic groups and had, moreover, to recognise the strong religious sentiment among the populace. Thus, in practice, while the regime’s policy of marginalising religion hit hard on both Christians and Muslims, the regime was nevertheless forced to co-opt the religious groups.10 Mengistu, therefore, paid lip service to the different religious communities and was, for instance, seen with Christian and Muslim dignitaries seated beside him on revolution parade days. As in the case of the Orthodox Church, the regime extended its influence to the main Muslim institutions, most notably the newly formed EIACS.11 The first president of the council and the renowned imām of the al-Anwar mosque, Shaykh Muḥammad Thanī Ḥ abīb, was targeted in particular. One of his sons was arrested, and another was killed and thrown at the imām’s doorstep (the family was prohibited from removing the body). The imām consequently declared: “They killed my son. They

10 For an enlightening study on the Derg’s policy towards the Protestant churches, see Eide (2000). 11 In March 1978, the regime organised a so-called Inter-Religious Seminar, in which representatives from the Muslim community, the Orthodox, the Catholic and the main Protestant Churches took part. The aim of the Derg was to secure the allegiance of the respective communities, and any attempts to criticise the regime were quickly suppressed by the government cadres. It is interesting to contrast the seminar’s official Statement (Common Declaration of the Seminar, 30 March 1978) with the account of an eyewitness (Lorenz 1978). It should also be noted that the seminar forwarded a petition to the regime, complaining of the Derg’s policy on religion (Petition to the PMAC of Socialist Ethiopia, 4 April 1978).

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threatened to kill my second son. They may have killed me as well. I have to be soft with them” (Eide 2000: 113). The Derg regime wavered between the universalism of Marxism, on the one hand, and the particularity of the national legacy, on the other. As rightfully noted by Donham, “the revolution never created a new notion of the nation”, thus forcing the new rulers to actively draw on the country’s past history in order to define the essence of Ethiopian identity: The old symbols of nationality were centered on aspects of Amhara and Tigrean culture that had distinguished it as a “civilisation,” as “higher” than others: that is, writing, the Ethiopic script, monumental architecture like the rock churches of Lalibela; and the glory of the Ethiopian emperor (Donham 1999: 149).

Heavily focusing on the Amhara-Christian heritage, this notion of nationality, which left little space for the country’s ethnic and religious diversity, contributed to sustain the inherent alienation of the Muslim population. While participation in politics was formally said to be free of any religious preferences, the vast majority of the Derg’s members and cadres were of a Christian Orthodox origin, harbouring inherent pejorative attitudes towards the Muslims.12 As tensions rose in connection to the Ogaden war (see below), the ancient perception of an external Islamic threat was combined with the revolutionary notion of global imperialism, where the Muslim population again was seen as a potential fifth column and a threat to national security and territorial sovereignty. This, in turn, caused the regime to restrict Ethiopian Muslims’ contacts with the wider Muslim world, issuing clear restraints on the performance of the ḥ ajj and on import of religious literature.

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Revolution and Religion in Bale The revolution was almost exclusively an urban phenomenon, led by students, civil servants, army personnel, and saw hardly any involvement from farmers in the provinces (Andargachew Tiruneh 1993: 54).

12 Clapham, who has examined the composition of the main political institutions of the Derg, the Derg itself, COPWE and WPE, has demonstrated a clear dominance of people with a “centrist” background, i.e. people from Christian or Amhara-Tigray background. The Derg had merely one Muslim member, whereas the COPWE leadership consisted of four Muslims (Clapham 1988: 72, 86f.). The Derg moreover continued providing an annual budget for the Orthodox Church (Bonacci 2000: 22).

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The people of Bale were obviously well aware of the developments in the capital but took no part in the movement. Neither the army nor police forces in Bale played any active role; in fact, they expressed their unconditional loyalty to the Emperor (Andargachew Tiruneh 1993: 46). The only skirmishes that took place were prior to the revolution, when students at the Azmach Deglehan high school in Goba boycotted classes and clashed with the school’s management and the police in 1968 and 1973:

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Even the girls participated; they were collecting stones to us carrying them in their skirts. Then the military were called from Goro, and later the same day they came and surrounded the school. But the parents of the students came in-between and negotiated for us, and the military let us go. We were dismissed from class for fifteen days.13

The actual transition of power was peaceful. Most of the landlords had already fled before the new regime arrived, and those remaining were arrested, together with the local administrators. There are no reports of any acts of popular vengeance towards the previous elite. The Muslim Oromo, on the one hand, welcomed the fall of the feudal system and the removal of the local Amhara administration, while they, on the other hand, remained expectant of what the new era would bring. The revolution reached the provinces with the dissemination of more than 50,000 high school and university students sent to the various regions in August 1974. Through the National Development Through Cooperation Campaign, the zämäča, the Derg aimed at making the farmers familiar with the basics of the revolution and bringing them into the fold of loyal revolutionaries. Seeking to produce a new narrative for the country and trying to enforce a distinct ideology upon the people, the Derg was rapidly introducing a new set of symbols that were systematised through numerous bureaucratic structures and enacted through new-founded rituals, all being displays of the victorious revolutionary forces. The people were called to attend regular meetings and were forced to partake in various communal activities for the development of society (Lefort 1983: 94.). There were few, if any, explicit policy statements regarding Islam in Bale during the Derg period, something which obviously has made it difficult to interpret the practical consequences of the regime’s policy. In general, the political transition did not seem to have any immediate

13

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 14 August 2005.

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impact upon the Muslims in Bale, where none of the ʿulamāʾ, guardians of the Shaykh Ḥ usayn shrine or any other religious figures were ever approached or consulted by the arriving representatives of the new regime. News about the Muslim demonstration in the capital had reached Bale, creating the same guarded optimism there as in other places. The inherent respect for authority prevailed, however, and nobody was making any quick moves. The regime’s intensive campaign to restructure society, and the efforts made in inducing the new ideas on the population, demanded the full attention of the farmers. Through daily meetings, the increasingly omnipresent state was effectively drilling the farmers in Marxist-Leninist rhetoric and left religion with only marginal space:

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At one meeting I raised my hand and asked permission to pray. They refused me, but I went and prayed anyway. Another time the government called the qäbälä leaders from twenty-four qäbäläwočč to a large workshop in Robe. Also there we were not allowed to pray . . . I said to one of the cadres: ‘From the start of the Derg we have been losing our horses, our cattle and we have become poor. Now we are even losing our religion’ . . . In the meeting, one person from the people spoke against me: ‘This is a religious man, he is not good for the revolution, he is a contra-revolutionary’ . . . Then they fired me from my position, and after a few days ʿAlī Mūsā and his soldiers came to my village. They threw me into the qäbälä prison. Inside the prison I did duʿāʾ (prayers) with my hands lifted . . . A few days later I was taken to Robe prison; there were seven or eight persons there, but I was not with them. These others were shot that night. I was afraid but I prayed.14

For those Muslims who chose to join the Derg, either as officials pledging the allegiance to the local military authorities or as party members, something close to an outright denunciation of Islam was expected. Daily prayer was out of the question, and observance of the fast was viewed with suspicion.15 There was similarly little room for attending religious ceremonies, such as the mawlid al-Nabī or participating in the muuda. Although there are no available figures, all my informants agree that there was a marked decline in the number of pilgrims to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn during the Derg period. There were also restrictions on the construction of mosques. Applications were met with

14

Ḥ ajj Ismāʿīl Amān, interview 7 March 2006. Tāhir Ḥ usayn, interview 13 August 2005; Ḥ usayn Maḥmūd, interview 7 May 2005. 15

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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ill-concealed resistance, and the case would be dragged around in the bureaucracy for years before being rejected. When a merchant in Goba provided support for constructing a mosque in the vicinity of Robe, he was promptly told by the local authorities that this would not be tolerated.16 No mosques were, however, closed or destroyed by the regime. A branch of the EIASC was set up in Bale already in 1975, with the coordination of the ḥ ajj as its sole duty. Nationwide, the regime officially granted annually a maximum of 2000 exit-visas for the pilgrims, but Hussein Ahmed (1994b: 791) has claimed that the number of pilgrims never surpassed 1000 per year throughout the Derg period.17 The lack of reliable statistics from Bale makes it difficult to estimate the number of pilgrims, but the time-consuming and costly process for obtaining permission makes it likely to assume that they remained very few.18 These efforts made to marginalise religion and remove it from the public sphere had clear implications for daʿwa—the propagation of religion. Religious gatherings (except the celebrations of the main ʿīd) were prohibited, governmental meetings were exempt from religious statements and any form of religious propaganda in public was strictly forbidden. People gradually refrained from discussing religion privately amongst themselves, out of fear of being reported to the authorities.

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The Consolidation of Salafism The Salafis, spatially confined to Robe, were together with the rest of the population keeping a low profile. Although there are reports of Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad continuing his daʿwa in a relentless manner, open and explicit recruitment became overtly difficult. Religious propagation was thus restricted to designated arenas: the Nūr mosque and the Salafiyya Madrasa. In the general state of crisis and fear, the mosque was seen as a place of refuge. There are no actual figures available, but there is a 16

Aḥmad Muḥammad, interview 1 April 2006. The Derg allowed for the departure of 3000 pilgrims to the Hijaz in 1974–75, in an attempt to establish good relations with the neighbouring Saudi kingdom (Erlich 2007: 137). 18 Each applicant had to produce a supporting letter from the qäbälä, wäräda, awraǧǧa, province and central level, and to submit applications to the EIASC at each level—to each of which he or she had to pay a certain fee. The applicant had to prove that he or she had no outstanding debt and no pending court cases (Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh, interview 2 June 2006; Shaykh Azhar Waliyeh, interview 13 October 2005). 17

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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general consensus among my informants that the attendance grew evenly throughout the Derg period. As early as in 1979, it was said that the mosque was full during the Friday prayers.19 The mosque thus became important for sustaining the Salafi movement, and enabled it to exercise its influence upon the community. Yet a complete escape from the omnipresent regime was never achieved, and the preachers in the mosque had to choose their words carefully to avoid being accused of conspiring against the revolution. The other, and probably most important arena was the Salafiyya Madrasa. It initially started as a Qurʾān school in connection to Nūr mosque, with Ḥ ajj Adam Ḥ ajj Khadīr and Shaykh Jilo (?) as teachers. None of them was particularly Salafi-oriented, and the former was well-known for his production of talismans and for foretelling of the future. When the madrasa was formally established in 1976, it saw the addition of two new teachers: Shaykh Khadīr Ḥ amīd and Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman Adam. They were both graduates from the Islamic University in Medina and had returned to Bale in 1972 and 1971, respectively. With the expansion of staff, the teaching became more structured and gained a more explicit Salafi colour. Moving away from a traditional teaching of the Qurʾān, the new teaching was organised in a system of three grades, with subjects like fiqh and tawḥ īd added to the curriculum.20 These changes soon sparked conflicts between the former and the new teachers. Ḥ ajj Adam Ḥ ajj Khadīr was charged with being a devotee of Shaykh Ḥ usayn and with using khat and was subsequently forced to leave the school.21 At the request of the community, Amharic was also added to the curriculum. The mosque committee approached the local Derg authorities, who provided and financed two (Christian) teachers, giving Amharic education to the adult population. A few years later Amharic was integrated in the madrasa’s curriculum, and two more (Christian) teachers were added. The school had until that time been located in the courtyard of the Nūr mosque, but as the number of students grew, there was an urgent need for new facilities. Again the Derg authorities were forthcoming, granting land for the school, and in 1980 the Salafiyya Madrasa moved to new premises consisting of an office, eight

19 20 21

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 31 March 2006. Shaykh Aḥmad Aliyeh, interview 28 May 2005. Ḥ ajj Khālid ʿAlī, interview 30 May 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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classrooms, a mosque and a teahouse. All the construction costs were covered by the local Muslim community in Robe.22 The help from the government, however, did not come without conditions. Soon after the new school was constructed, the local authorities demanded that the buildings should also be used for regular teaching. Protests from the Muslim side were ignored, and soon the school was divided into two educational structures, one Muslim and one governmental, with two directors, and with religious and regular students studying in two separate shifts.23 In contrast to the more traditional venues for religious education, the Salafiyya Madrasa represented something new and different. With its various grades, classrooms, curriculum, books and staff, it was a modern madrasa, the first of its kind in Bale. Juxtaposed with the increasing number of governmental schools, which were perceived as intrinsic to the accelerating modernisation process, the Salafiyya Madrasa was similarly imbued with a distinct reverence. This is also reflected in the number of students attending the school. As the main objective was to propagate the Salafi teaching among the people of Bale, this high attendance clearly demonstrates the impact the school was making on the coming generation of Muslims in Robe.24 1000 800 600 400

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200 0

76 977 978 979 980 981 982 983 984 985 986 987 988 989 990 991 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

19

Figure 1. Number of students at Salafiyya Madrasa, 1976–1991

22

Shaykh Aḥmad Aliyeh, interview 28 May 2005. Shaykh Aḥmad Aliyeh, interview 28 May 2005. 24 Estimates based on figures from the Population and Housing Census from 1984 indicate that the 546 enrolled students that year made up 36% of the Muslim children aged 5 to 14 (“Population and Housing Census 1984: Analytical Report on Bale Region” 1989). 23

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700 600 500 400 300

Male

200 100 0 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991

Female

Figure 2. Number of male and female students at Salafiyya Madrasa, 1976–1991

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The Salafiyya Madrasa became instrumental in sustaining the early Salafi movement in Bale. At the outset, it secured a livelihood for an increasing number of graduates returning from Saudi Arabian universities (in the 1970s and 1980s the madrasa hosted fifteen of these graduates), by providing them with employment. The school, moreover, gave them the needed space for the propagation of Salafi doctrines and thus played a pivotal role in broadening the base for the movement and securing its control over religious knowledge. As the jamāʿa in Nūr mosque ceased to exist, the Salafiyya Madrasa became the arena for the further elaboration of the new teaching, which consequently provided the movement with increased strength and confidence in the quest for change. Through a curriculum framed within a Salafi logic, as well as through the dissemination of religious literacy and through teachers with degrees from Saudi institutions, the school became decisive in the process of standardising religious knowledge and demarcating doctrinal boundaries. Armed Insurgency In addition to land reforms, another area of concern for the revolutionary forces was the so-called question of nationalities (i.e., the question of ethnicity). Framed within a Marxist terminology, the Derg argued that the feudal rule had led to the suppression of the country’s numerous ethnic groups and that the rights of these groups were to be recognised by the revolution. However, in spite of frequent references

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to concepts such as equal rights and self-determination, the national question remained unresolved throughout the Derg period.25 The 1970s and 1980s also saw the emergence of a range of regional and ethnic-based opposition movements engaged in armed struggle against the regime.26 Among these movements was also the Oromo ethno-nationalist movement. The establishment of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in 1973–74 gave the signal for more organised efforts, but the Oromo movement remained highly fragmented during much of the Derg period. The Derg’s response to any such opposition was to violently suppress any secessionist and irredentist attempts. The Sowra

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Due to the fighting in the 1960s, Bale had earned a reputation as yäšәfta agär, “the land of outlaws”. The unstable situation during the early phase of the revolution encouraged the veterans of the rebellion to again take up arms against the government. The new insurgency was commonly referred to as the sowra, a term that designates both the movement and the fighting itself.27 Whereas it is clear that it was a continuation of the earlier rebellion, the opposition to the Derg was clearly augmented by the new politico-economic situation brought by the revolution. The scope of this study does not allow for an extensive discussion of the insurgency, and I will in the following limit myself to a short outline of its major features. The sowra was instigated by Waqo Gutu, who returned to Somalia in 1975 and established a new organisation—the Somali Abbo Liberation Front (SALF).28 This happened only six months after the Somali

25 As part of the COPWE, the Derg established the Department of Nationalities’ Affairs and the Institute of Nationalities, which were to gather information about the country’s ethnic diversity. Neither of the two institutions had any real and practical significance (Andargachew Tiruneh 1993: 266f.). Although other languages were included in radio broadcasting and in the literacy campaign, Amharic remained the official language and the language of instruction in the schools throughout the country. 26 The movements which have received most attention are the Eritrean People’s Front, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The former two had been fighting for Eritrea’s independence since the 1960s, whereas the latter commenced its armed struggle in the latter part of the 1970s, becoming decisive for the downfall of the Derg in 1991. 27 Sowra is an Oromofication of the Arabic term al-thawra, meaning revolution, rebellion, upheaval or riot. 28 The word Abbo means literally “you” in Oromo and has by some been seen as a signifier for common Somali-Oromo identity (Lewis 1980). Others have charged the

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regime had reorganised the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF), a movement dominated by Ethiopian Somalis engaged in insurgencies in the Ogaden region.29 Although clearly linked to the Somali regime, the rank and file of SALF consisted largely of Oromo from Bale. While the Muslim Oromo of Bale clearly saw it as an Oromo movement— fighting for bliisumma, freedom for the Oromo30—the Somali connection represented a dilemma for the SALF leadership. They were clearly dependent on the Somalis, who provided them with the necessary financial and military support, yet were at the same time cautious about the political objectives of the Somalis. The Somali connection also created tensions between SALF and other Oromo groups, most notably the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).31 SALF was a compound movement, highly fragmented and disorganised. Moving around in small groups, more or less independently, the fighters lacked sufficient military training, they were ill-equipped and had difficulties in communicating with each other (Gebru Tareke 2000: 639f.).32 It also attracted people with disparate motives. Many joined the movement in order to gain refuge from private disputes, others because of problems with the political authorities. A significant part of those who joined SALF were, however, disgruntled Muslim Oromo land-owners who had lost their property in the 1975 land reform. The land-owning class was in general labelled adhari (Amharic: whole movement with being a Somali attempt to mislead the Oromo for their own ends (Gadaa Melbaa 1988). There are also those who have claimed that SALF was a movement for those “who asserted a dual identity (Oromo and Somali)” (Gebru Tareke 1990: 143). 29 These developments were intrinsically linked to the ideas of General Siad Barre, who had assumed power through a coup in 1969. He saw the instability caused by the Ethiopian revolution as an opportunity to realise the idea of “Greater Somalia”. This idea was first formulated by the SYL, and was based upon the notion that the formation of a Somali nation could only be made possible by the unification of the former Italian, British and French colonies and the Somali-inhabited portions of Ethiopia and Kenya (Touval 1963: 2, 86f.). 30 The word literally means freedom. None of my informants were, however, able to elaborate on the meaning in this context (Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 9 October 2005; Shaykh Aḥmad Maḥmūd, interview 14 July 2005). 31 Ever since the formation of OLF, the relationship between the two has been difficult (“Ethiopia II: Abo and Oromo Movements” 1978; Gadaa Melbaa 1988: 133). Gebru Tareke (2000: 639) similarly underscores the Somali linkages and argues that SALF had the intention to counteract OLF. One of my informants, by contrast, claims that individuals who later would rise to leading positions within OLF were initially key-figures within SALF and that a general agreement was reached between the two factions (Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Muṣtạ fā, interview 5 August 2005). 32 Aliyeh Jamāl, interview 2 April 2006.

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reactionary), feudalists and contra-revolutionaries—for which SALF became instrumental in their quest for retribution and revenge for the perceived mischief of the new regime (Lefort 1983: 111).33 The Derg came to take the Oromo property, and they started to kill people. At that time I had much land and they called me adhari. They accused me of sending money and food to the sowra . . . One day ʿAlī Mūsā sent his soldiers and surrounded my village, but I had heard about this in advance. The day before they arrived, I took my family to the mountains around Goba, where I had stored some guns . . . Instead of me they took my brother and one from my clan, Amano Khadīr—who both were brought to Robe. They released Amano Khadīr, but my brother, together with seven others from around Robe was killed. This was on a Tuesday, and I heard the news on Wednesday. I then left for the forest.34

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The insurgency started in the eastern lowlands, before reaching the central highlands. The Derg, which was still consolidating its position in Bale, found itself confined to the main towns, whereas SALF was able to assume control over large parts of the rural areas (Gebru Tareke 2000: 641). The Somali invasion in July 1977, and their defeat in March 1978, turned out to have devastating results for SALF. Due to their cooperation with the regular Somali forces, accompanying them as they crossed the vast Ogaden region and entering Bale from the southeast, the SALF members inevitably became victims of the massive Ethiopian offensive launched in February 1978.35 Heavily supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba, the Ethiopian army forced the Somalis to retreat from all fronts. When the eastern lowlands of Bale were captured on the 16th and 17th of March, the army of Siad Barre was effectively crushed, as was also the greater part of SALF (Gebru Tareke 2000: 660). Without the support of the Somalis, the lion’s share of the SALF soldiers dispersed and returned to Somalia, where they remained as refugees throughout the Derg era.36

33 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 25 August 2005. For a more general discussion about the situation for local landowners in the south, see Lefort (1983: 108f.). 34 Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Muṣt ̣afā, interview 5 August 2005. 35 Based on estimations made by Ethiopian military officials, the manpower of SALF and WSLF combined was said to be around 34,000 in July 1977, increasing to around 63,000 in the course of the war (Gebru Tareke 2000: 640). 36 Wolde Aseffa, interview 18 August 2006.

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Class, Religion and Ethnicity The insurgency of the 1970s is an interesting illustration of how concepts such as ethnicity, religion and class can be activated, manipulated and submerged as forces for mobilisation, and how they serve as points of references that both coincide and counteract in either uniting or dividing social actors under given historical circumstances. I find it hard to agree with Gebru Tareke, who argues that due to the land reform in April 1975, religion and ethnicity as social forces were losing ground to a stronger consciousness of class. Claiming that “ethnicity competed with class loyalty”, his point is that the land reform had distanced the population from the objectives of SALF, making them favourable to the Derg and argues moreover that the struggle failed because of “the incongruity between class and ethnic politics” (1990: 145). Although the economic development during the 1950s and 1960s, with its taxations, evictions and commoditisation of land, had augmented social divisions, the Oromo society remained a clan-based society, where the clan had even gained increased relevance due to the precarious circumstances.37 Access to land was an intrinsic aspect of the clan system. A significant portion of land remained under the control of a clan or sub-clan, and clan-membership was important in gaining access to land. It provided social security for the less fortunate, and more importantly, it required loyalty. Clanmembership was in this manner a vital force for social and political mobilisation, through which prominent clan or sub-clan leaders could rally the people—either in support of the regime or to resist it. The issue of class was, on the other hand, more prominent among the Shoa Oromo, who were by far the largest landless group in Bale and hence the ones who benefited most from the land reform. Provided with both land and livestock, which were largely confiscated from the Arsi Oromo land-owners, they found their situation dramatically changed by the reform. Only in this regard did class play any important role, distancing the Shoa Oromo from the uprising and making them side with the government. The Arsi and Shoa Oromo were divided not only over the issue of land but also by disparate religious affiliation. Inherent inter-religious antagonism, which was reinforced as a result of the increasing violence, inevitably cemented relations of mutual 37 Similar developments have been discussed by Ranger (1983), who argues that ethnicity could be invoked as a secure base in the midst of colonial pressure, leading to the strengthening and invention of certain customs and traditions.

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suspicion and enmity.38 Concerned about the Islamic dimension and the links with Somalia, a fear that was fuelled by the local authorities’ propaganda, the Shoa Oromo were becoming outright hostile to the insurgents. As the majority of them were living in the rural areas, this in turn made them easy targets for the SALF soldiers. When “inter-religious” violence increased, the Shoa Oromo’s allegiance to the regime, which armed them and deployed them as militias, became more explicit (Clay 1988a: 139).39 In other words, the religious antagonism was buttressed by the class aspect, thus surpassing the ethnolinguistic union and dividing the Muslim Arsi and the Christian Shoa Oromo. This was exacerbated by the lack of discipline and coordination among the SALF forces, which paved the way for a great deal of brutality and assaults on the civilian population (Gebru Tareke 2000: 641). In some areas, the attacks were directed against those who were perceived to be cooperating with the regime, regardless of religious affiliation, whereas in other areas there were random killings and looting.40 The civilian population, both Christian and Muslim, caught up between bands of SALF fighters, local militias and government forces, were becoming increasingly wary of the fighting. The Muslims were afraid of the Salale (Shoa Oromo), the government and the sowra. It was complicated. If they joined the sowra, the government or the Salale could take action upon them. If they joined the government, the sowra could take action upon them. Many couldn’t decide on which way to turn. They didn’t know. Also, they didn’t know who was who, who to trust . . . Even just being a Muslim meant you could be attacked by the Salale.41

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Repression The lack of organisational and ideological coherency, and the devastating Ogaden war, prevented any form of maturation of the sowra movement. The Derg viewed the Somali invasion in 1977, together with the 38 This was apparent already during the rebellion in the 1960s, when the religious aspect drove the Shoa Oromo into cooperation with the authorities. 39 Inter-religious violence is said to have started due to one particular incident: In the beginning of 1976, a Muslim school-boy was killed by Shoa Oromo farmers around Sahlu in Gasera district (Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal, interview 7 March 2006; Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 March 2005). 40 Ḥ usayn Maḥmūd, interview 2 August 2005; Wolde Aseffa, interview 18 August 2006. 41 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 25 August 2005.

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Eritrean insurgency, as a serious threat to the country’s sovereignty, which the regime was determined to defend. The insurgency was also weakened by the harsh repressive measures the regime directed against the civilian population. Not only did these measures eradicate SALF; they also proved to have severe long-lasting consequences for the Muslim population of Bale. The repressive measures undertaken by the Derg are generally described by my informants as “the time when ʿAlī Mūsā started to kill people”. ʿAlī Mūsā, a native of Wollo and the only Muslim in the Derg’s central committee, arrived in Bale as head of security in the early phase of the Derg period (Clapham 1988: 72). He was thus given the responsible for curbing the insurgency, which he sought to achieve by directly targeting the civilian population. The aim was to force the people to hand over insurgents and to intimidate the villagers from rendering support to SALF. The means used ranged from threats, imprisonments, torture and killings, and made a deep impression on this informant, who then was just a small boy: In Robe there was a pole at the marketplace, where the Derg would kill criminals or opponents by shooting or hanging. This would happen in front of the people, so as to warn them that if they got involved in similar things, this would happen to them. I remember seeing two persons being hanged. I couldn’t sleep that night.42

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Recalling ʿAlī Mūsā’s actions, my informants underscored how the killings were done randomly and without any thorough investigation, which obviously led to the deaths of numerous innocent people: If there was some suspicion on someone, he could immediately be killed. The informer would bring some untrue information, and based on this information, the person would be killed. If someone was not good for the party, or if he was suspected of bringing support to the sowra, he would be killed.43

After defeating the Somali forces, the Ethiopian armed forces initiated in 1979 a new campaign in Bale and most of the south-eastern areas with the aim of eradicating the remnants of the insurgent movement and assuming control over the people.44 The Derg saw the whole popu-

42

Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 9 August 2005. Tāhir Ḥ usayn, interview 6 August 2005. 44 The offensive included poisoning water holes, gunning herds of cattle, napalm bombing fleeing refugees and destroying crops. As a result, half of the population in 43

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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lation as a potential threat, leaving all of them subject to the regime’s measures. The scale of the terror, where an unknown number of people were killed, imprisoned or simply vanished, led to a massive wave of refugees into neighbouring Somalia. Whereas the Oromo had initially left for Somalia in order to obtain arms and join SALF, the Somali defeat in March 1978 and the repressive measures taken by the Ethiopian forces meant that they now crossed the Somali borders as refugees (Clay 1988a).45 The number of refugees was estimated to have increased from around 220,000 in mid-1979 to more than 800,000 by the end of 1980. Although the larger proportion was from Ogaden, it has been claimed that as many as 200,000 were Oromo, mainly from Hararge and Bale.46 The Villagisation Programme

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A particularly important aspect of the regime’s policy was the villagisation programme. The programme was implemented in most regions of the country, but it was first initiated in Bale already in late 1978.47 Officially, it was said to create communes for the introduction of “integrated basic services”, such as schools, sanitation facilities, health care as well as to enhance agricultural production through the establishment of cooperatives (Clapham 1988: 174f.; Clay 1988a: 136). The reason Bale was chosen as the first area for implementing the programme was said to provide protection for a population struck by insurgency and drought. In his survey of the programme, Jason W. Clay (1988a: 137, 151) has, however, persuasively demonstrated that the villagisation occurred in parts of Bale “that were untouched by the invading forces from Somalia”. This clearly shows that the real reason behind the villagisation programme was not the calamity created by

Ogaden is said to have fled into neighbouring Somalia (“Evil Days: Thirty Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia” 1991: 82f.). The offensive culminated in the so-called Operation Lash in 1980, when WSLF, SALF, OLF and other groups were severely weakened (Gebru Tareke 2002). 45 This clearly corresponds to the accounts of my informants, who claimed that it was the violent repressions of the Derg that caused them to flee (Shaykh Aḥmad Maḥmūd, interview 14 July 2005; Shaykh Aliyeh Hunde, interview 6 February 2005). See also Braukämper (1982–83: 4) and Melander (1980). 46 My informants claimed that in the Oromo camps, 90–95 per cent of the refugees came from Bale (Shaykh Aḥmad Maḥmūd, interview 14 July 2005; Ḥ ajj Sulaymān Shukrī, interview 30 June 2006). See also Clay (1988a: 137) and Human Rights Watch (“Evil Days: Thirty Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia” 1991: 84). 47 The nationwide villagisation programme was formally initiated in 1984. For more details, see Clay (1988b), Taddesse Berisso (2002) and Cohen & Isaksson (1987).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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the Ogaden war; rather, it was an instrument in the regime’s efforts to curb the insurgency and assume control over the people. By forcefully moving people into new settlements, the regime was able to control their movements, isolate bands of insurgents and effectively pacify any attempt at popular resistance. In 1978, Bale had an estimated population of nearly one million, and in the years that followed, 880,000 people were resettled.48 By 1982, the government claimed that nearly 100 per cent of the population of Bale had successfully been moved to 280 new villages (Clay 1988a: 151; “Evil Days: Thirty Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia” 1991: 84, 89).49 This web of new settlements became a distinctive feature of the geography of Bale during the Derg. Because of poor planning and hasty implementation, the settlements lacked sufficient water and sanitation facilities and were in dire need of food supply, which subsequently led to malnutrition and starvation. Schools and health care, which had been promised by the government, remained scarce (Alemayehu Seyoum 1989: 37). The villagisation programme proved, however, effective for the regime’s efforts in disseminating its policy of shaping the population in its own image. This project of encadrement (Clapham 2002), and the incorporation of structures of control, would make lasting impacts on the social organisation of the Oromo in Bale as well as on traditional structures of authority. First, the grouping of different Oromo clans into one settlement was disruptive for the clan system as a spatial arrangement. Each clan in Bale had previously been attached to a certain geographical area with its own designated boundaries. The land of each clan was not only the actual resource of the clan, it also represented a cultural asset and an identity-marker. As the villagisation programme dislocated the various clans from their home areas, it impinged on the whole clan system. Grouped together with people of different clans, and together with the Christian Shoa Oromo, the settlements became instrumental in weakening past loyalties and in the reconfiguration of reality in line with a narrative guided by Marxist ideas of class interest. Secondly, the new settlements were followed by the establishment of a

48 In addition, 15,000 people from the northern provinces were resettled in Bale during the same period. These were subsequently armed by the regime and used to secure the rural areas (Clay 1988a: 154). 49 The resettling continued until 1984, when the army had managed to eradicate the remaining insurgents in the north-eastern parts of Bale, particularly the district of Beltu, where OLF was active until 1984 (Clay 1988a: 151; Gadaa Melbaa 1988: 140).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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new administrative structure through the Peasant Associations (PA), which, together with the Urban Dwellers Associations (qäbälä), was first established in 1975, then restructured in 1977.50 Formally elected, the PA leadership was in reality handpicked by the regime, largely from the lower stratum of society, the landless class and the poor, and which in Bale came to have a particular ethno-linguistic dimension. As one of the criteria for the PA leaders was to speak Amharic (Clay 1988a: 147), it was the Shoa Oromo, who were mostly bi-lingual, who came to dominate this position.51 The Shoa Oromo, appointed as PA leaders and armed as militias, thus became pivotal for securing peace and in enabling the Derg to stretch its tentacles into each village. This reorganisation of society through the structure of PA leaders and committees, as well as through the formation of women, youth and various professional associations, created a serious break with the traditional power structures.52 Rather than rendering loyalty to leaders of their own clan, the people were now supposed to obey the orders of individuals whose authority was based upon political appointments and who were part of a larger and alien centralised system. The traditional authorities, the local Oromo elite represented by the former balabbatočč, dignitaries and landlords, were, as we have seen, perceived as the antithesis of the revolution. Whereas the zämäča campaign often resulted in antagonising the local elite in various parts of southern Ethiopia (Lefort 1983: 114f.), the case of Bale was different in that it was coupled with the ongoing insurgency. Those who were not killed or forced to flee to Somalia, collectively became targets for the regime’s repressive measures. Seen as representatives of a feudal past and the incarnation of the separatist forces, they were stigmatised and marginalised. Thus, during this period of resistance and repression, the Oromo society in Bale was effectively reorganised; spatially through the villagisation programme and structurally by the reconfiguration of authority. The former impinged on the people’s possibility to adhere to and maintain inherent traditions and customs, while the latter left no room for the local Oromo elite to hold or exercise power. The

50 In December 1977 the All Ethiopia Peasants’ Association (AEPA), counted for more than 15,000 member associations (Clapham 1988: 131f., 157f.). 51 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 29 April 2006. 52 The Revolutionary Ethiopian Women’s Association (REWA), the Revolutionary Ethiopian Youth Association and the various unions were established in 1980 in connection with the creation of COPWE (Clapham 1988: 136f.).

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encompassing process of encadrement effectively captured the peasantry, making them subject to an increasingly omnipresent state. This policy of reconfiguration and repression furthermore induced a deepseated fear among them. Through the armed forces, police, loyalist militias, zealous party cadres and a wide network of informants, the Derg created a reign of terror which eventually brought a whole population mentally to its knees. Targeting Religion

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The Derg’s antipathy to religion in general was in Bale clearly intensified by the insurgency. As SALF was overtly dominated by Muslims, the Derg’s repressive measures came to be especially directed towards the Muslim population and thus having clear implications for Islam in Bale. This obviously affected the Muslims’ self-image, creating a sense of being victimised and stigmatised as a religious group, which inevitably caused them to embark on a strategy of quietism, protective selfrestraint and of downplaying their religious affiliation.53 A decade of unrest also impinged on the muuda practice. The general state of insecurity made travelling hazardous, reducing the numbers of pilgrims. Movements were restricted as a result of the villagisation programme, which was accompanied by a range of time-consuming compulsory activities. Besides various kinds of communal work required of the members of the settlements, they were forced to attend numerous committee or plenary meetings and obliged to attend ideological training. Such meetings or training would often last for hours, if not for days: Everybody was a member of something. And all the time there were meetings. They called the people for meetings, to propagate their ideas to the people . . . The people hated the meetings; there were always meetings. Sometimes the cadres came and spent the nights in the safara (settlement), and the people were ordered to discuss different matters. The topics were about military service, socialism, cooperatives and the literacy campaign. The people became restless. Always there was some programme from the government. There were more meetings than work.54

53 A similar situation developed in the 1980s in Wollega, western Ethiopia, where the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus was accused of rendering support for OLF. This consequently led to the closing of thousands of churches and the imprisonment of hundreds of clergy (“Ethiopia: The Oromo Factor” 1984). For more details on the situation in Wollega, see Eide (2000). 54 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 25 August 2005.

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Illustration 14. Imām Maḥmūd Muḥammad Sayyid (photo unknown)

The Derg also attacked the wandering mystics. This was partly because of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s legacy as a centre of anti-government activities and due to the fact that the SALF guerrillas sometimes disguised themselves as warra fuqra or geriboota. Therefore, these wandering mystics were frequently imprisoned and harassed. The local officials would break their dhanqe (Y-forked stick), cut off their hair and beat

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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them.55 Their lifestyle was seen as contrary to the ideals of the revolution, which had its emphasis on productive labour. Consequently, the fuqra, geriba and ulee baaro became a less common sight in the towns and villages. The regime also kept Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn under close surveillance. During the pilgrimage, the presence of soldiers would increase, surrounding the area and keeping a close watch on the people’s movements. More serious was the discontinuation of the imām institution at Dirre. At the time of the revolution the position was held by Imām Maḥmūd Muḥammad Sayyid, the fifth descendant of Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo. In 1975 he joined SALF and was engaged in armed resistance for about a year before fleeing to Somalia where he remained in exile until 1991.56 The vacant chair of the imām soon paved the way for an internal power struggle which in turn would have lasting impacts. The power vacuum initially created an opportunity for Shaykh ʿAbbās’ family to ascend to power. Yet they were not the only ones wanting positions. In the turmoil that followed, several individuals of the darga community, who had no blood relation with either of the two families, joined the rivalry. As a result the shrine was left without a designated and unifying leadership throughout the Derg period (Miller 2005: 6). The situation was further complicated when the regime organised the shrine-village into a PA and appointed their own loyalist leadership (Umer Nure 2006: 33). Authority was consequently structured along two separate and mutually disparate lines, one based on inherent karaama and situated within the religious universe of the shrine and the other exclusively secular and derived from the centrist structures of an outside political body. Under these circumstances, the pilgrimage, the offering of sacrifice and the whole system of symbolic exchange deteriorated. The power struggle and the lack of any authoritative and coherent leadership opened up for a certain degree of “corruption”—individuals or groups of individuals were constantly feuding to use the income of the offerings for their own accumulation of wealth. As the number of pilgrims dwindled, this even led the darga to start ploughing the land of Dirre—an activity which had been forbidden as the area was considered sacred space (Umer Nure 2006: 86). In sum, the combination of contested authority and deteriorating Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 7 June 2005; Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi, interview 7 March 2006; Shaykh Aḥmad Aliyeh, interview 22 November 2005. 56 In 1991 he returned and settled in Ginir, where he died in 2003 (Khadīr ʿAbduh, interview 25 September 2006). 55

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economic resources inevitably led to a process of reconstruction of symbols and traditions, in turn affecting the position of the shrine as legitimised in a particular traditional universe. The ʿulamāʾ were indirectly affected due to the weakening of the local Oromo elite. Through the disruption of traditional structures of authority, the ʿulamāʾ lost the elite’s protective guardianship, which made them more vulnerable to the government’s measures.57 The situation was worsened by the enforced drafting of young boys to military service. The demand for new soldiers increased as the war in Eritrea intensified, particularly around the middle of the 1980s.58 In the last campaigns, prospective soldiers were rounded up wherever they were found. Young boys were picked up from their homes, from the streets or when coming out of school. The darasoota in the rural jamāʿat became similarly targets for the drafts. Individual darasoota moving around in the rural areas would often be picked up from the roads and sent to the front. On other occasions the recruiting soldiers would directly attack centres for learning, taking the students away with force. In some places the ʿulamāʾ withdrew with their students to more remote places—beyond the reach of the regime. In Oborra, the site of Shaykh Juneydin Oborra, teaching discontinued completely after his death in 1979.59 Based on a survey of the trajectory of the main sites for religious learning in Bale, it is clear that the teaching discontinued for most of them.60 With their position already shaken due to the weakening of the local Oromo elite, the ʿulamāʾ now found themselves without income and devoid of support from the general constituency which was tied up by the activities of the regime. Losing the very foundation of their livelihood, the Derg period thus reduced the ʿulamāʾ numerically, left them without students and severely weakened their strength.

57

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 14 August 2005. National military service was announced in May 1981, and major recruitment campaigns were launched in 1984, 1985 and 1986, which together raised more than 250,000 conscripts (Clapham 1988: 110). 59 It was not until 1991 that Oborra again became a centre for religious education (Shaykh Rashād Muḥammad, 31 May 2006). 60 From a comparative perspective, Ishihara’s remarks on the situation in Jimma area are of particular interest. She reports that the Derg policy severely affected local pilgrimage and caused the discontinuation of Islamic teaching, and moreover claims that religious leaders “were either arrested or executed” (1996: 214). 58

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chapter seven The Salafiyya Madrasa Incident

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Although subject to the Derg’s restriction of religious practice, the Salafis were less affected by the regime’s counter-insurgent campaign. Located in the town of Robe, where their movements were already monitored, they posed less of a threat to the authorities and were not directly associated with the insurgency. However, there was one unexpected incident which came as a shock to the Muslim community in Robe, namely the regime’s confiscation of the Salafiyya Madrasa. Seen as a direct attack on Islam, it effectively served to alienate the Muslim population from the ideals of the revolution. In 1983, three years after the regime had forced the Salafiyya Madrasa leadership to include a regular primary school on their premises, the situation worsened as the primary school students one morning occupied the classrooms on the shift assigned for the religious students. The leaders of the madrasa immediately protested, but the director of the school, Kassu Kidana, and the Mendeyu awraǧǧa leader, Fisaha Hindato, ignored the complaint and referred them to the provincial authorities in Goba. The vice-administrator came to Robe to attend to the case, but neither he was very accommodating. The officials argued that because the madrasa had already allowed regular education to take place on the premises and since the government had provided them with land and teachers, they had the right to confiscate the school. The reason for the confiscation may have been a general lack of school buildings, or it could have been part of the regime’s campaign to nationalise private property. Yet by the Muslim community it was interpreted as an unequivocal attack on Islam: The Derg didn’t like Islam to grow. When they saw that Salafiyya Madrasa was growing, they didn’t like that. They wanted to stop us. They hated Islam, just like during the time of Haile Sellassie . . . At the beginning of the Derg, there was more equality; land was given to the farmers, schools were constructed. But on the other hand, the Derg was interfering in religious affairs.61

In return, the madrasa was provided with an adjoining piece of land and some corrugated iron sheets and nails to construct new buildings. After eight new classrooms and a mosque had been erected, again with only

61

Shaykh Aḥmad Aliyeh, interview 28 May 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 15. The main street in today’s Robe (photo: Terje Østebø)

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local contributions, the local authorities argued that they had only given permission to build four classrooms and ordered the rest to be dismantled.62 Although the number of students dropped by 88 in 1983, there was a steady growth of students in the subsequent years. The setback the madrasa and the Salafi movement faced was in other words temporary, which shows the strength the movement had gained. In addition, Salafism was spatially concentrated in qäbälä 03, an area known as the Maskiid Safer; the mosque neighbourhood. In contrast to other neighbourhoods, which had a mixed population of both Christians and Muslims, qäbälä 03 was predominantly Muslim. It was home to the Nūr mosque, still the only mosque in Robe, to the Salafiyya Madrasa and to the marketplace around which the merchants lived. This spatial dimension provided much needed protection against the regime’s interference. Houses in qäbälä 03 were seldom sold or rented out to non-Muslims, consequently securing continuity and close relations among the qäbälä’s dwellers. The area thus gradually earned a reputation for being distinctly Muslim, protective and cautious to any outside intrusion. The Salafi movement had, in other words, consolidated itself with the human resources, capital, institutions and space necessary for maintaining its presence through the hardships of the Derg.

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The Process of Modernisation The policy of the Derg was, however, to make a more lasting impact on the religious and cultural landscape—contributing to a situation where Salafism and religious change were to be interwoven with the process of modernisation in a rather complex manner. The overreaching aim for both the Imperial and the Derg governments’ programmes of modernisation was to bring Ethiopia out of a perceived economic backwater and reach the level of the more prosperous countries of the world. Whereas the material aspects of the modernisation process may have remained less apparent, Donham has, by what he calls the “metanarrative of modernism”, argued that a new reckoning of time emerged—“it was linearized as the past was separated from the

62 Ḥ ajj Auwwal Ḥ usayn, interview 29 August 2005; Shaykh Aḥmad Aliyeh, interview 28 May 2005.

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present, and expectations reoriented toward the future” (1999: 2).63 Change was thus conceived of as an evolutionary development toward a higher and more prosperous stage, a development that was not to be cramped in the hands of fate but to be decided by the hard work of human beings. Although the Imperial Government’s and the Derg’s ideological sources had diametrically opposite roots—capitalism versus Marxism—modernisation remained a common political goal, and represented a programme largely introduced and induced from the outside. Yet, even if it originated outside Ethiopia, its implementation saw a stronger involvement of indigenous actors than in other parts of the continent. As Ethiopia was never colonised by any European power (except for the Italian interlude), it appears that this higher participation of Ethiopian actors made it a process more subject to internal control and to a larger extent appropriated to local conditions. From this perspective, the process of modernisation in Ethiopia is an illustrative case in redressing the presumed subject-object relations and the preferential position of the Western in contrast to the non-Western. It demonstrates how modernisation “interacted in diverse ways with local conditions and contingencies, giving rise to a wide range of cultural practices, spatial arrangements, material circumstances” (Comaroff and Comaroff 1993: xiii). Whereas Comaroff and Comaroff recognise the rich ensemble of local discourses intersected with the vaguer notion of the global, they are less explicit about different layers, the centre-periphery dimension, the variety of subject-object relations as well as the social location of actors within a particular locality. My argument is that much of the dialectics and dilemmas produced through the interplay between the global and the local, or better, between outside forces and local responses, in fact were reproduced within the locality. Unequally perceived, understood, experienced and responded to by the social actors, the process of modernisation in the locality produced its own centre-periphery, its own subject-object relations and reactions—all being coloured by its disparate historical, cultural, economical and political circumstances.

63 This is similar to Habermas’s (1987) thesis, in which he argues that modernism opened up for a new conceptualisation of history and a new consciousness about the future.

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Although the revolution came from the outside, was framed within an ideology alien to and basing itself on circumstances different from those of Ethiopia, the Derg made explicit references to the immediate context and the historical circumstances of Ethiopia. It tried, in other words, to literally translate the Marxist terminology into the vernacular language. This, in turn, paved the way for complex discourses where the members of the localities applied different strategies to reorder a reality that had been touched by developments on a wider spatial and temporal context. With reference to Donham’s concept of vernacular modernism and his usage of it in the context of Maale, one important factor there was the arrival of Protestant missionaries in the 1950s and the manner in which modernisation surfaced through their presence. Introducing modern health care, education and bureaucratic structures, this served as a “pre-revolution” for the one to come: After thirteen years, after thousands of classes and meetings, after what must have been millions of micro-encounters—sitting at a desk, voting for a church candidate, learning the Amharic alphabet, listening to the Ethiopian radio—evangelists had produced a small but committed vanguard in Maale (Donham 1999: 120).

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Modernisation in Bale When seeking to apply the concept of vernacular modernism to a locality like Bale, it would be necessary, as the word vernacular implies, to consider factors, actors and features particular for this locality. Whereas Donham situates his narrative within the triangle of Marxist vanguards at the centre, Protestant missionaries (and local Christian converts) and traditionalists seeking to maintain the traditional Maale religion, the forces and actors involved in the context of Bale produced other processes, other juxtapositions and other results. The locality of Bale remained largely devoid of any alternative modernising forces preparing it for the arrival of the revolution.64 The revolution erupted in and arrived from the centre, without any involvement from the people of Bale and was perceived as something foreign. When the zämäča arrived, the people were left with limited appreciation of its tenets:

64 Whereas there were some Protestant missionaries present in a few towns in Bale from the 1950s, most of these left in the mid-1970s and made no significant impact on the Muslim population.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The campaign was a strange thing for the people, but they took the instruction from the students. The people were confused; they didn’t know what to think. The students were sent to areas where there were no schools. There they taught the people how to read, constructed the safara and taught socialism. The students didn’t know much about building, and in Oborra it was one farmer who took control. The campaign lasted for one year. In the beginning the students were happy to participate, but as time went by, they hated it.65

The composition of the Derg, dominated by individuals of Amhara and Tigray origin and with a Christian background, caused the Muslim population to perceive the new regime in ethno-religious terms and as a continuation of the previous one. As their alienation was surpassed by active resistance to the regime and exacerbated by the subsequent counter-insurgency, an overtly hostile environment became dominant—entrenching the Muslims’ antagonism. In this situation, the new policy had to be implemented with a high degree of force, which in turn contributed to sustain the subject-object relationship and which left the people with few other options but to accept the regime’s ideas. Through the villagisation programme and the formation of PAs, with their officials, committees, offices, courts, prisons and militias as well as with the surfacing of numerous associations, the increasing omnipresent state made a marked impact on the people’s daily life. Agricultural production was structured through the establishment of cooperatives within each settlement, regulating and formalising the farmers’ access to land, enforcing their participation and designating the productive outcome. From being based on a system of clan-based communal work, the mode of production was replaced by an organisation crisscrossing clan and kin boundaries. Formal and bureaucratic in their structures, leadership was to be based on skills, on the ability to read and write and required loyalty to an entity beyond the cultural locality and inherent traditions. Furthermore, the Derg period saw a gradual development of infrastructure: roads, telecommunication and electricity. By the mid-1980s, there were roads connecting most of Bale’s districts and electricity and telephone services available in the major urban centres in the central highlands (“Population and Housing Census 1984: Analytical Report on Bale Region” 1989: 290f.). Although modern health care was said 65

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 25 August 2005.

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to accompany the villagisation process, there was, however, a general scarcity of clinics and health centres in the rural areas.66

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Education and Literacy Campaign The Derg’s rapid and extensive introduction of mass education deserves particular attention. Seen as intrinsic to the process of the development of the country, the Derg embarked on an extensive educational programme. The country saw a dramatic increase in the number of schools and in the enrolment of students: aimed at boosting the knowledge of science and technology and of course cultivating Marxism in the minds of the younger generation.67 The Derg’s underscoring of education as secular, dislocating it from any church affiliation, was well received among the Muslim population. Although the coercive aspect needs to be recognised, it is clear that the new educational policy enhanced Muslim attendance. In fact, I came across only a very few cases of Muslim parents refusing to send their children to school. The subjects taught were largely a continuation from the previous system yet with the addition of yäpolitika tәmhәrt, political education. This meant the teaching of Marxist-Leninist ideology, emphasising the contributions made by the Ethiopian revolution and Comrade Mengistu Haile Mariam (Tekeste Negash 2006: 18).68 Through the provision of education to the masses, the regime was determined to transcend the perceived constraints inherent in the traditions of the locality and to enhance the people’s participation in the country’s move towards a better future. As society became increasingly diversified, with the arrival of new opportunities for social mobility, in particular through the ever-increasing public sector, modern education became a way to escape the hardship of rural life and to gain access to new modes of life. On the eve of the revolution (1974) there were only 73 schools and a student population of around 19,000 in Bale. Already in 1976, the

66 There is a general lack of reliable statistics, but from the fragmentary sources available it is clear that only a few settlements had their own health care services (Alemayehu Seyoum 1989: 33; Clay 1988a: 149). 67 As a result, enrolment grew at a rate of 12 % annually between 1975 and 1989, and the number of students increased from about 800,000 in 1974 to 3 millions nationwide in 1984 (Clapham 1988: 150; Tekeste Negash 2006: 19). 68 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 14 August 2005.

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Table 2. Number of schools and students in Bale, 1980–1988 Year

No. of schools

No. of students

1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988

195 220 232 262 246 333 359 376 369

85,814 91,203 96,761 110,095 120,342 116,127

number of schools and students had reached 149 and 31,452, respectively. However, because of the insecure situation in the following years, both the number of schools and the attendance dropped. Subsequent to the villagisation process, the number of schools gradually increased, particularly in the 1980s. Although the villagisation programme secured a general access to education for people in the highlands, the number of schools remained few in the eastern lowland areas. In Raytu district, for example, there was only one primary school throughout the Derg period. Also to be noted is that the school at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, which was constructed in 1971, was closed down by the Derg, leaving the area without any access to education until 1991.69 Moreover, the Derg underscored the teaching of the adult population and launched its acclaimed national literacy campaign in 1979.70 Both men and women were obliged to attend classes organised in towns and rural settlements. Priority was given to Amharic, but teaching in the Oromo language was allowed too—using Amharic script. The programme was furthermore accompanied by the production of reading material, again giving priority to Amharic (nearly 60 per cent), which included topics such as hygiene, farming techniques and nutrition (Clapham 1988: 153). The nationwide campaign was organised

69

Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006. In 1980 Ethiopia was presented with the prestigious International Reading Association Annual Award by UNESCO, and in 1987 the government claimed that the illiteracy rate had dropped to 40% (Keller 1988: 220). 70

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through thousands of literacy centres and with more than 200,000 instructors offering twice-yearly courses. The campaign lasted for years and, according to official figures, about 40 per cent of the population had been enrolled by the year 1985 (Clapham 1988: 152). In Bale there was a similar rate of attendance, where it was reported that the literacy rate went from 7 per cent in 1981 to 34 per cent in 1984 (“Report on the Results of the 1981 Demographic Survey” 1985: 183).71 The compulsory nature of the programme was a significant factor in its success: It was an obligation to learn, it was not their free will. If someone was absent, he would be punished. Because of the fear from the people, they were afraid to be absent. But the people got a good chance to learn, they learned to read and write, in almost all the safara. I was teaching at that time. The teachers were elected to organise the teaching together with the PA leader, and there were also other teachers.72

The literacy campaign was initially well-received in Bale. Yet as the years went by, the people became tired of the tedious teaching—being added to the variety of other activities requiring their participation.

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“Dergiin hunduma cuufee” Literally translated as “the Derg closed everything”, my informant was trying, in retrospect, to point to the overreaching and clear-cut rupture caused by the Derg.73 The statement signifies the way in which the Derg period was instrumental in dislocating a whole generation from a past that was explicitly denounced as feudal, reactionary and backward. Both in correspondence with Marxist dialectics and with the particularities of the Ethiopian revolution, inherent traditions, practices and structures were ill-fitting in the new, modern meta-narrative. As I have demonstrated in earlier chapters, the Oromo Muslims held a relatively open attitude to diverse traditions which were integrated and moulded into their cultural locality. This corresponds to Terence Ranger’s thesis, in which he, by challenging the notion of

71 The statistics from 1984 show, moreover, a clear discrepancy between rural and urban areas. The literacy rate was 30 % in the former and 73 % in the latter. One should also note that a certain degree of caution is needed when dealing with official statistics from this period (“Report on the Results of the 1981 Demographic Survey” 1985: 114). 72 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 7 August 2005. 73 Abdi Mukhtār, interview 11 August 2005.

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pre-colonial African societies as closed, static and unitary, sees them as complex, dynamic and multi-layered as well as prone to a “remarkable adaptability” (1987a: 151). The important point is that the arrival of Marxist modernisation effectively brought an end to such pragmatism and flexibility, over-riding the inherent plurality by claiming universal applicability for itself. Exclusive in its character, the regime’s modernisation could not be integrated alongside other traditions—as being an optional alternative. The result was inevitably one of rupture from a flexible and dynamic past.74 This is not to ignore the relationship between sameness and difference staging a mutual contest in the course of modernisation and globalisation (Appadurai 1996: 43). The core point is that, although modernisation causes simultaneous processes of homogenisation and heterogenisation, its references to progress, development and change imbeds it in a certain exclusivist dimension. The school, becoming instrumental in socialising the new generation, was focused on enlightening the new generation according to academic standards and in line with Marxist doctrines. As noted by Donald Levine as early as in 1965, modern education was in Ethiopia “establishing a structure of secondary socialisation separate from traditional structures and thereby transmitting new beliefs, skills and values to the youth” (1965: 146). Surpassing the role and influence of the family as a transmitter of knowledge as well as contesting the content of this knowledge, the Derg regime effectively managed to exert its influence on the coming generation. Similar points have been made by Tekeste Negash (1990), who argues that the rupture caused by modern education left the younger generation with limited awareness and consciousness of local traditions, values and virtues. Dawit Wolde Giorgis (1989: 68) has eloquently described this, saying that: The powerful relationships between old and young, tradition and newer values, past and current history that are vital parts of Ethiopian identity and strength were completely ignored; the dogmatists were attempting to create a new history, new values, and new cultures totally unrelated to the traditions and attitudes that have made us what we are.

74

Westerlund has in a recent study discussed this issue in relation to changing concepts of health and disease causation in Africa (2006: 191f.). Subscribing to Westerlund’s ideas, I moreover believe this perspective would be relevant for other aspects in construing change.

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Whereas this situation was more or less the same all over the country, the circumstances in Bale were again affected by the insurgency. References to and statements about inherent Oromo traditions could easily be interpreted as expressions of ethno-nationalism, which in turn would be connected to anti-governmental activities. The result was, thus, that people consciously refrained from discussing such topics, even in their own houses. This situation was described in the following proverb (mamaksa): Waan warrii waarii dhubbatu, ijooleen waaree dhubbati, which means: “What the family speaks about in the evening, the children will speak about the next day”.75 The metanarrative of modernity thus became the narrative the people had to adhere to and which they quietly acquiesced to. This is, however, not to say that they accepted it, and herein lays the complexity. Clearly alienated and hostile to a repressive regime that was perceived as a disruptive force, they harboured a negative attitude to the ideological tenets. Yet the totalitarian character of the state, and the prevailing sense of fear and insecurity it had created, effectively managed to subdue and suppress the population in an encompassing manner. Silence and survival became the mechanisms for seeing the day through.

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Modernisation and Religious Change Although I agree with Soares’ (2005: 3f.) rejection of modernisation as an inevitable process causing the decline of “traditional” or “popular” Islam, it would be hard to ignore the fact that the emergence of contemporary Islamic reform movements have often coincided with processes of modernisation. Rather than applying a teleological perspective of rationalisation of religion as an inevitable consequence of modernisation, I concur with Cathrine Bell who says that it “does not entail the progressive demise of religion, but a transformation of its form” (1997: 199). The question would then be: In what ways was the development of Salafism in Bale connected to the process of modernisation? Secularisation The resurgence of religion in recent years has generated a growing awareness among secularisation theorists, and it is being acknowledged that “a straightforward narrative of progress from the religious 75

Abdi Mukhtār, interview 13 June 2005.

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to the secular is no longer tenable” (Asad 2003: 1). This beckons us to be more precise when we talk about secularisation and to locate it within concrete historical, social and cultural contexts (Chaves 1994: 757; Martin 1990). Clearly, the process of Marxist-inspired modernisation led to a marginalisation of religion and to the weakening of religious identity in Bale. Described as a time when Muslims started to “eat Christian meat”, the period of the Derg saw the erosion of religious boundaries and a gradual decline in adherence to religious practices and rituals.76 Whereas secularism was included as part of the regime’s political theory, the actual effects of the process of secularisation were, however, unequally experienced by the members of a locality and did moreover entail complicated and even contradictory situations. First of all, the school was instrumental in the Derg’s secularist policy, whereby its academic teaching, with matter-of-fact descriptions based on a cognitive rationale, inevitably was making an impact upon the minds of the younger generation. The abrupt introduction and rapid expansion of modern education from 1974 created circumstances where the younger generation was ill-prepared to digest and contest the scientific narrative:

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We were discussing about religion, about the next life. There were no proofs, and we didn’t know what to think. For the young people, they wanted proof for everything, and it was difficult to accept the religious ideas . . . The philosophy of the Derg entered the minds of the young people, especially the teenagers and those in their twenties.77

The second and interrelated aspect was that of power. The “new” knowledge was forcefully presented as a representation of an elevated, modern world, intended to emancipate the students from their state of backwardness. Founded on “scientific evidence” in written form, it was made authoritative in the most compelling sense among recipients seeking a point of orientation under confusing circumstances. The issue of power was even more important as education remained attached to the regime, an instrument of enforcing encompassing changes in the minds of the people: “Religion was rejected . . . there was no God, they said. When the government says there is no God, how can you oppose

76 As mentioned earlier, a deep-seated tradition among both Christians and Muslims is that of only consuming meat that has been slaughtered by one of their co-religionists and in accordance with prescribed rituals. 77 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 March 2005.

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this? It was the government that had all the power, nobody could speak against it”.78 Whereas few actually denounced their faith and accepted the atheist tenets of Marxism, there were few other options than to silently acquiesce to the ideas forwarded. As stated by one of my few Christian Orthodox informants: I hid my religion, I didn’t deny it. In order to save your life, you did what they said. I remember one prominent cadre teaching us about socialism. During the day he was teaching, in the evening he celebrated a Christian holiday. Myself, I didn’t believe in socialism, and I didn’t deny God.79

Within the myriad of contributions to secularisation theory, José Casanova has made the distinction between “secularization as differentiation of the secular spheres from religious institutions and norms [1], secularization as decline of religious beliefs and practices [2], and secularization as marginalisation of religion to a privatised sphere [3]” (1994: 211). Related to the social reality of Bale, each of these propositions seems fitting, where the process of secularisation was also buttressed by “the sequestration by political powers of the property and facilities of religious agencies” (Wilson 1982: 149). It is clear that the enforced marginalisation of religion led to its privatisation and to the demise of religious adherence and decline of religious practice. But, seen in retrospect, the resurfacing of religion in the post-Derg period is a clear indication of a far more complex picture.

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Reinforcing Patterns The coinciding processes of modernisation and religious change during the Derg came to involve a distinct form of negotiation and involvement of disparate forces and actors. On the surface, it is interesting to note how the policy of the Derg corresponded with the objectives of the Salafis for religious change. Although drawing from opposite sources, both the Salafis and the Marxists were agitating against the pilgrimage and the veneration of Shaykh Ḥ usayn. At least this was how it was interpreted by the guardians of the shrine. For them, the Derg and Salafism were two collaborating forces, seeking to curb the

78 79

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 March 2005. Negash Mulugeta, interview 20 August 2005.

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pilgrimage and destroy the shrine.80 Whereas it obviously would be incorrect to talk about any form of cooperation, the concurrence is interesting in particular with regard to the notion of change apparent within both movements. Both the cadres of the Derg and the Salafis were labelling past practices and rituals “backward” and “primitive”. Seeking a rupture with the past, reforms were framed within a narrative of progress with defined goals for change. The two movements were, moreover, of a clearly exclusivist character, and by demanding unequivocal adherence from their audiences, they both impinged upon the “creative pluralism” (Ranger 1987a) inherent in the Muslim locality of Bale. In contrast to Kane, who claims that the Yan Izala movement in Nigeria “had a modernising agenda” and that “they aimed to articulate an ideology of modernity” (2003: 2), I would argue that the coincident processes of modernisation and religious change in Bale produced a situation of reinforcement. It was, in particular, the former that informed the latter. Although the Derg’s efforts to dismiss previous assumptions and systems explaining reality and to disseminate a more rational narrative were never wholeheartedly accepted, the “traditional” worldview was inescapably modified in tune with more rationalised sentiments, paving the way for a certain degree of de-mystification of reality. This process, which contributed to emptying the concrete from a religious contingency, paradoxically corresponded to a changed perception of the divine, which moved it from concrete representations and figurations to becoming more abstract. The Salafi underscoring of tawḥ īd and rejection of any representations of the divine other than the One God resulted in a far narrower concept of the divine. This altered conceptualisation of religious symbols has also been noted by Hefner (1998: 156f.), who, in his study about changes in Islam in Indonesia argues that Islamic reformers were shifting the focus from “the concrete in favour of an abstraction of the divine” (i.e. from veneration of shrines, spirit and ancestor cults to an observance of a monotheistic ideal). Hefner further says that the conception of God “in less manipulate, more abstract terms” resonated with “more empirical vehicles of explanation and control”— represented by modern science. This is not to say that religion in the

80

Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006.

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form of symbols, rituals or institutions lost its power in everyday life. Rather, the focus on tawḥ īd meant a transfiguration in the sense that it distanced religious agency from being connected to the concrete and immanent. Recognising the inherent complexity and seeking to avoid too simplified causal linkages, modernisation nevertheless buttressed the process of religious change in the way that the former generated notions about reality the latter would benefit from. The rationalising discourse impinged on the popular adherence to the divine as materialised in concrete reality, making the veneration and offering to concrete manifestations less relevant. It affected the perception of karaama as embodied in shrines, rituals, authoritative figures or concretised in objects and artefacts. It affected the concepts of misfortune, illness or suffering, which, rather than being seen as the enactment of malevolent spirits, became abstracted and framed within concepts of biomedical causation. Obviously, the Salafis remained antagonistic to the secularised modernisation of the Derg, but the content of the teaching was perceived to be related to the notion of the modern:

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It [Salafism] was in line with Islam, it was not a new religion that they brought. Also, they had more knowledge than the others, and their teaching was in line with modern education. That means that religion in a way became scientific, it was not in the old way. It was something more like modern.81

The key point is the informant’s emphasis on the new teaching as “scientific”. This obviously relates to the structure of the Salafiyya Madrasa, with its classes and curriculum; yet it also signifies how religious knowledge was departing from inherent and concrete references to being made available through the study of the text. The Salafi stress on the text as containing an objective message attainable by cognitive scrutiny was now coinciding with, and was reinforced by modern education and empirical evidence. Literacy, both secular and religious, diminished the need for face-to-face communication (Appadurai 1996: 28) and moved the focus to an abstract sphere. Consequently, the “generation of the Derg” came to constitute a generation dislocated from the inherent traditions and values of the locality and influenced, yet also antagonised, by the modernising ideology of the Derg. Coinciding with this development, Salafism was 81

Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 21 November 2005.

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able to retain and consolidate its position, where the movement also benefited from the modernisation process. Augmented by the Derg’s repressive policy towards the former cultural institutions, these circumstances paradoxically created, as we will see, a fertile ground for the resurgence of Salafism in the post-Derg period. With the fall of the regime, the “generation of the Derg” found itself deeply disenchanted with their immediate history and in search for new and alternative points of orientations.

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CHAPTER EIGHT

DEMOCRATISATION AND DAʿWA The development of Salafism in the post-Derg period1 can be characterised as the second phase in the movement’s history in Bale. After the downfall of the Derg in 1991, the movement experienced a remarkably rapid expansion throughout the region and has, as a consequence, become the dominant Islamic trend in Bale. This chapter, as well as the next, follows the development from 1991 until 2006 and discusses how new circumstances contributed to intensifying and altering the process of religious change. As this period saw the emergence of new actors as well as new discourses and disparate currents, this period paved the way for new contradictory and even conflictual patterns within the process of religious change and led, moreover, to an increased fragmentation of the Salafi movement in Bale. Again, it was a process that was produced, directed and sustained by a range of situated actors, who, by forwarding, appropriating and reacting to reform, sought to carve out coherent meaning for themselves.

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The Political Transition The regionally and ethnically based resistance movements, which Mengistu had fought hard to suppress, were to be the ones causing his downfall. From the latter part of the 1980s, the Derg was losing the war to the insurgent forces, the strongest of which were the northern-based Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). With the Cold War coming to its end, Mengistu was deprived of his most important supporters, thus making his fall only a matter of time. TPLF, which together with other movements had created the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in 1989, entered Addis Ababa on 28 May 1991, bringing

1 For lack of a more appropriate word, I have chosen to use the term post-Derg period when referring to the period from 1991 to the present.

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the Derg to its end.2 OLF, which at that time was allied with EPRDF, mounted its attacks from the south. EPRDF also saw the inclusion of various ethnic-based parties, of which the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO)—said to represent the Oromo people—is of particular relevance for this study.3 Through the Addis Ababa Conference in July, the victorious forces formed an interim government facilitated by the Transitional Period Charter for Ethiopia. This new government, known as the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), consisted of representatives from all of the main resistance movements, yet was overtly dominated by EPRDF.4 However, the two main factions within the TGE, EPRDF and OLF, were soon at loggerheads, subsequently leading to armed clashes between the two. Attempts to establish a truce between the two parties were in vain, and in February 1992, after boycotting the local and regional elections, OLF withdrew from the TGE. After OLF’s withdrawal, EPRDF continued its strategy of gradually eliminating all opposition. This was done by making small ethnicallybased political organisations subordinate to EPRDF and by excluding other parties from the TGE. By the time of the election to the Constitutional Assembly in 1994, EPRDF had effectively assumed control over all political institutions and was thus able in the May 1995 national election to claim an overwhelming victory. The ruling party has since then remained in power, and has manoeuvred all the four elections held to date in a manner that has prevented other political parties from accessing power. It was not until the 2005 election that 2 Mengistu Haile Mariam fled the country and was granted asylum in Zimbabwe, where he still lives. 3 OPDO was said to be a construction of EPRDF, with Oromo POWs constituting the initial core of the party. OLF, on their part, saw the creation of the party as a direct manoeuvre to buttress its influence among the Oromo population. For more details, see Vaughan (1994). 4 The July Conference was attended by numerous smaller ethnic organisations, many of which had been created by EPRDF/TPLF overnight. EPRDF/TPLF took the lion’s share of the 87-seat Council of Representatives (COR), with 32 seats, OLF gaining 12 and the rest given to more than two dozen minor political groups. Interesting to note is that several veterans of the Bale rebellion in the 1960s and the SALF-led insurgency in the 1970s attended the conference, now representing different parties: Ḥ usayn Bune represented IFLO (Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia), Mohammed Sirāj OALF (Oromo Abbo Liberation Front; a re-naming of SALF) and Jamāl Robale (aka Gutuma Hawas) OLF (“Ethiopia: The Process of Transition to Democracy” 1993: Appendix 1). Excluded from the conference were parties associated with the Derg, like EPRP and MEISON, which had regrouped through the establishment of the Coalition of Ethiopian Democratic Forces (COEDF). For more details on the July Conference, see Vaughan (1994).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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the opposition managed to challenge the ruling party. This success was soon drowned in post-election unrest, arrests of opposition candidates and parliamentary reforms that restricted the opposition’s influence.

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Recognising Ethiopia’s Diversity The early policy of the TGE emphasised the rule of law, the need for a true and thorough democratisation process and was committed to abiding by the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The TGE moreover made a point of recognising the ethnic and cultural diversity of the country. By reversing the centralist policies of past regimes, it affirmed the “right of nations, nationalities and peoples to self-determination” (“Transitional Period Charter of Ethiopia” 1991: Art. 1). This was formalised under the structure of ethnic federalism, by which the country was organised into twelve regional states (later reduced to nine) according to ethno-linguistic boundaries. These states were later granted self-determination and autonomy “up to the point of secession” (“The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia” 1995: Art. 39).5 Most analyses of the post-Derg period have focused on the effect the new policy had on the country’s ethnic landscape (Leenco Lata 1999; Merera Gudina 2003; Tronvoll 2000; Vaughan 2003; Vestal 1999), and largely ignored the situation for the various religious groups. This is quite remarkable, given the fact that the new policy of reversing previous restrictions on religious expressions and recognising the religious diversity has had clear impacts on both the Christian and the Muslim communities. For the Muslims, the new policy brought an end to confinements on the construction of mosques, to the limitations on the ḥajj and removed the ban on importing religious literature. This was welcomed with much enthusiasm and boosted Muslim activities all over the country. In the early years of the 1990s, a number of Islamic magazines appeared, such as Bilal, al-Risāla, Daʿwa, Naǧaši, al-Manār, Sälam and Adhān. Most of these were rather short-lived and have later been succeeded by other publications. Different privately owned printing presses were also established, which were engaged in importing and translating religious texts from Arabic as well as publishing works

5 Although this right has been legalised, it needs to be noted that its implementation would in practice be far more difficult.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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by indigenous Muslim writers (Hussein Ahmed 1998a). Similarly, numerous mosques were constructed all over the country. The same period saw the establishment of a number of Islamic organisations. The early ones, such as the Ethiopian Muslim Unity Association and the Ethiopian Muslim Democratic Movement, were short-lived, and hardly anything is known about them (Hussein Ahmed 1994b: 792). More important was the restructuring of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council in October 1992. A new leadership was elected and the council was given legal recognition for the first time (Hussein Ahmed 1994b: 789f.; Nuredin Jemal 1998). Other organisations, of direct relevance for this study were the Ethiopian Muslim Youth Association and the Islamic Daʿwa & Knowledge Association, both established in 1992. The former was led by Shaykh Sayyid Aḥmad Muṣt ̣afā and Muḥammad ʿUthmān, whereas the latter was founded by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir Tāhir from Bale. Both organisations were heavily focused on reviving Islam and played decisive roles in making religious literature available, in the construction of mosques as well as in supporting various forms of daʿwa (Østebø 2007a). The new political climate and the consequent activism resulted in a renewed self-consciousness among the Muslim population. The liberal religious policy was not only a break with the Derg period, but it was also seen as a historical break with past religious discrimination. The political transition thus gave expectations of parity with the Christian population and the reversal of the former asymmetric inter-religious relationship (Østebø 2008a). Seeking to carve out public space for themselves, thousands of Muslims took to the streets in several large public demonstrations in the capital in the first part of the 1990s. The demonstrations addressed internal affairs within the Muslim community as well as issues concerned with Islam in relation to society and politics. A large demonstration in November 1994 demanded, among other things, the inclusion of sharīʿa laws as one of the foundations of the Ethiopian constitution6 and challenged the ban on head-scarves for girls in high schools (Hussein Ahmed 1994b; Østebø 2007a).7

6 The Ethiopian Muslim Youth Association was important in organising the demonstration, which also included several other demands forwarded to the prime minister. See Ethiopian Register (“Muslims Stage Huge Demonstration” 1995) and Addis Tribune (“Muslims Stage Mammoth Rally” 1995). 7 The concern over this issue surfaced in early 1994 when students during Ramaḍān appeared with “Muslim clothes” in class. This was immediately interpreted as the expansion of “Muslim fundamentalism” among high school students, as was noted in

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The post-Derg period also saw the emergence of several more or less well-organised Islamic reform movements. The first of these was the Jamāʿat al-Tablīgh, allegedly introduced to Ethiopia during the Derg period by Kenyan and South African Indian missionaries. Their activities were facilitated by a certain Shaykh Mūsā, resulting in the expansion of the movement within the Gurage community in Addis Ababa. The Tablīgh’s activities remained limited during the Derg period, before emerging with increased strength after 1991. The other movement, here labelled the Intellectualist movement, is somewhat difficult to categorise. Highly informal and devoid of any organisational structure, it evolved around certain individuals advocating a set of ideas rather than initiating a particular movement. Surfacing in the campuses of Addis Ababa University and at other institutions of higher learning in the early 1990s, it soon attracted students in large numbers, and acted unofficially as the Muslim Student Movement. Organised in small jamāʿat led by individual figures referred to as amīrs, offering lectures and initiating study circles, this movement became important in fighting for the rights of Muslim students. Outside the campuses, it was able to exert influence through public lectures and contributions to the Bilal magazine, as well as by publishing literature through the Najashi publishing house. Although individuals within the movement are still disseminating their ideas through lectures and seminars in Addis Ababa and its surroundings, the movement has lost much of its strength in the campuses. It has continued as an elitist phenomenon, where its leaders and followers are mainly university graduates and urban intellectuals.8

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The Resurgence of Salafism The movement of reform dominating Bale was the Salafi movement. The new political climate created favourable conditions for the Salafis to actively and publicly promote their teaching, and soon after the removal of the Derg regime, “Muslim clothes” appeared, public prayers

a small notice in the Amharic newspaper Et-El (23 March 1994), and led to the proscription of wearing (Muslim) head-scarves in schools throughout Ethiopia. Demands for repealing this ban have repeatedly been forwarded by the Muslim community in many parts of the country. For a discussion on the particular situation in Robe, see Nezifa Ahmed (2005). 8 For a more detailed discussion about these movements, see Østebø (2007a).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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were made possible and religion became a subject for daily conversation. The adhān (the call to prayer) and the Friday sermons were broadcasted by loudspeakers from the Nūr mosque, as were repeated appeals for change: The changes came with this government. At that time daʿwa started, and I was free to listen. From my house I could listen to the daʿwa from the mosque. They talked about what Islam was, and about the criteria for being a Muslim. My house was near the Nūr mosque and they had a loudspeaker . . . I started going to the mosque and heard many daʿwa messages about tawḥ īd, about how to be a Muslim.9

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New mosques were constructed too: the ʿUmar al-Fārūq mosque in 1991 and the Bilal mosque in 1992. These were financed by both local and foreign contributions. The Salafiyya Madrasa, which was allocated new land in 1989, was also gradually expanded. With the help of the local community as well as with the support of foreign donors, like the African Muslim Agency and the International Islamic Relief Organisation, new buildings were constructed, enabling the school to increase its enrolment of students.10 Since the end of the 1980s, the faculty of the school had expanded with eleven new members—all graduates from Islamic institutions in Saudi Arabia.11 Whereas the Salafi movement had, as noted, previously been active in areas such as Arsi and Hararge, it was during the 1990s that it emerged with renewed strength in these areas as well as surfacing in other parts of the country.12 In the capital, the Salafi movement evolved in connection with the already mentioned Ethiopian Muslim Youth Association and the Islamic Daʿwa & Knowledge Association. Although the former had initially only loose connections with Salafi Islam, increased funding from Saudi Arabia and the establishment of links with the World

9

Tāhir Ḥ usayn, interview 13 August 2005. The African Muslim Agency is a Kuwait-sponsored organisation with activities in various parts of Africa. The International Islamic Relief Organisation is part of the Saudi-based Muslim World League. Salafiyya Madrasa seems to have been supported by other foreign Islamic organisations, but my informants have been reluctant to provide any further details (Shaykh Amān ʿAbdul, interview 3 April 2005; Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 3 July 2006). The Ethiopian regime has in the aftermath of the 9/11 incident curbed much of Saudi Arabian activities in Ethiopia, and in 2004 it closed the Addis Ababa office of the Saudi-based al-Ḥ aramaīn charity (Shinn 2005). 11 Source: Salafiyya Madrasa, 2005. 12 For some details on its developments in Wollo, Addis Ababa, Harar and Jimma, see respectively Abbink (2007), Bauer Oumer (2006), Desplat (2005) and Ishihara (1996). 10

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 16. The present Nūr mosque in Robe (photo: Terje ØstebØ)

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Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in Riyadh made the Salafi affiliation more obvious. The Ethiopian Muslim Youth Association offered courses on Islam, had a large library, organised training and camps for the youth and had representatives actively recruiting followers through frequent visits to the capital’s mosques.13 The Islamic Daʿwa & Knowledge Association was from its establishment ideologically and financially linked to the Salafi establishment in Saudi Arabia. The founder, Shaykh Tāhir ʿAbd al-Qādir, was a graduate from the Islamic University in Medina with good connections with wealthy Saudi donors. The association played a decisive role in translating and publishing religious literature, constructing mosques and supporting various forms of daʿwa.14 Another institution was the Awwalīya School & Mission Centre. Supported by the World Muslim League since 1966, the formal ownership of the school was in 1993 transferred to the International Islamic Relief Organisation (Bauer Oumer 2006: 79; Nega Aba Jebel 1986). Besides these organisations, the Salafi movement was represented by a group of Oromo ʿulamāʾ who had returned from Saudi Arabia in the early 1990s and settled in Aiyr Tena, one of the suburbs of Addis Ababa. Individuals such as Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman Ḥ asan, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Lat ̣īf Ḥ asan, Dr Jeylan Khadīr Gamada, Shaykh ʿUmar Wollo and Shaykh Qāsim Hajji, all originally from Bale or Arsi, soon established themselves as unofficial Salafi leaders of Ethiopia (Bauer Oumer 2006: 75f.).15 They were highly respected in Salafi circles throughout the country and exerted substantial influence on the young Oromo residing in Addis Ababa.

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Radicalisation and Ahl al-Sunna Situated in the Nūr mosque and in the Salafiyya Madrasa, the champions of the initial Salafi movement in Bale were making an increasing impact on their surroundings. In the following I will refer to these as the senior Salafis—the Saudi-educated ʿulamāʾ and the class of Salafi merchants. This is because they were to be challenged by the emergence

13 14 15

Ṭ āhā Ḥ usayn, interview 17 June 2006. Shaykh Tarīq Aliyeh, interview 26 September 2006. Ghaffar Qāsim, interview 2 December 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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of a movement here referred to as the Ahl al-Sunna.16 I am aware of the ambiguity embedded in the term Ahl al-Sunna—“the people of the Sunna”—which all Sunni Muslims of the world would claim to belong to. It is, consequently, difficult to apply the term to a particular movement within Islam. However, different terms and labels, appearing in a particular context, can be carriers of a distinctive meaning. This is clearly the case in Ethiopia, and in Bale, where the term Ahl al-Sunna increasingly has become a common designation for the younger generation of Salafis, used both by themselves and by their opponents.17 Another possible term could be muṭawaʿ, but this is a pejorative label used by their opponents and never by themselves.18 Although the followers of this movement adhered to the same Salafi ideology as the senior Salafis, they increasingly distinguished themselves from the senior Salafis, both intensifying and radicalising the propagation of Salafism in Bale. And it was the Ahl al-Sunna movement that would come to dominate much of the Salafi movement, thus becoming decisive in this second round of religious change in the post-Derg period.

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The Daʿwa of Shaykh Aḥ mad ʿUthmān It is important to note that the Ahl al-Sunna was not an organised movement with a distinctive bureaucratic structure or leadership. Rather, it was loosely organised around certain individuals operating relatively independently from each other. They were, however, largely adhering to, as well as promoting, many of the same ideas. A key figure in the early emergence of the Ahl al-Sunna movement was Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān, commonly referred to by his nickname, Shaykh Aḥmad Zagiro (“the short one”). Born in the district of Guradhamole in the eastern lowland, he arrived in Robe in the latter part of the 1980s. He enrolled as a student at the Salafiyya Madrasa

16 Not to be confused with the Sufi-oriented Ahl al-Sunna wa Jamāʿa in today’s Somalia. 17 One representative of the Ahl al-Sunna movement listed other labels that were used: the Ahl al-Ḥ adīth (the people of ḥ adīth), Ahl al-Anṣār (the helpers of the prophet Muḥammad), Firqān Nājḥa (the party of the goal) and Firqān Manṣura (the party of the winners). Shaykh Ḥ usayn Ḥ abīb, interview 5 March 2006. 18 None of my informants related this to the Saudi “religious police”—the Committee for Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong (Commins 2006: 94f.; Cook 2001). In fact, nobody was ever able to give a precise meaning of the word.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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but left after a few years—due to a quarrel with some of the teachers.19 As early as in 1988, he initiated his daʿwa activities using the Nūr mosque in Robe as a base. When the Derg regime fell, he expanded his activities, and in 1992 he set up a daʿwa “office” in the mosque. Money was collected, and more than fifty activists were recruited and sent to different parts of Bale.20 It was in particular the younger generation in Robe which was targeted. Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān organised daʿwa activities at the high school by recruiting student activists who propagated the new ideas among their fellow students and who managed to induce an intense state of fervour at the school. These students were also touring the rural areas teaching the farmers about daily prayers and strict observance of the notion of tawḥ īd.

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In 1992–93 all the young people belonged to Ahl al-Sunna . . . we went around to different places doing daʿwa; to Hamida, Hora Boka and even up to Gasera. We went on the road and if we met a farmer we greeted him, ʿas-salām ʿalaīkum. We then asked about his life, whether he was on the right way, if he prayed or fasted. We reminded him about the five pillars of Islam. Then we tried to make an appointment to meet again. We said: ‘Death is near for all Muslims. If you do the wājib, you are on the way to paradise. If not, you are on the way to hell’.21

In addition, the Ethiopian Muslim Youth Association established a branch in Robe in 1992, which became active in making daʿwa in the early 1990s. The association had its own daʿwa group and was primarily focusing on the Muslim students at the Robe Teacher Training Institute, for whom they were arranging lectures and study circles. Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān was also active in this group, although most of his daʿwa was done separately.22 Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān was also accompanied by several young activists from the town of Dello-Mena, in southern Bale. Most of these had no or only rudimentary Islamic training but were active in propagating Salafi ideas in Dello-Mena as well as establishing important links between this lowland town and the highlands.23 There are several reasons why Dello-Mena became an important centre for the 19 Khadīr Faīṣal, interview 14 March 2006; Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 8 October 2005. 20 Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 14 August 2005. 21 Abdi Mukhtār, interview 6 October 2005. 22 Ibrāhīm ʿAbd al-Ḥ akīm, interview 30 March 2006. 23 Abdi Mukhtār, interview 12 October 2005; Khadīr Faīṣal, interview 14 March 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Ahl al-Sunna movement. One was the early influx of Salafi ʿulamāʾ cum activists. Already in 1991, Shaykh Isḥāq Aga arrived from Negelle Borana, in the southern region of Borana, and agitated forcefully for the use of niqāb (veil covering the face) among the women.24 In fact, many of my informants claim that he was the main source for its introduction to Bale. Another figure was Shaykh Aḥmad Buluga. Originally from Ginir district, he had started his religious education in his native area before leaving for Hararge, where he studied under Shaykh Adam Chaffe Anani in Fadith and Galamso. It was there he became acquainted with Salafism. Shaykh Aḥmad’s nickname, “Buluga”, is an Oromisation of the word Bulūgh, which refers to the Bulūgh al-Marām, a compilation of different aḥ ādith Shaykh Aḥmad was specialised in teaching. The study of the ḥ ādith is said to have been introduced to Bale by Shaykh Ḥ usayn Fadith (Shaykh Ḥ usayn Ḥ ajj Zubayr), another native of Bale. He completed his studies in Fadith in Hararge, under Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Tuqo, whom I referred to in chapter five as the main disseminator of Salafism among the Oromo in Hararge. Shaykh Ḥ usayn Fadith also spent several years teaching in Fadith before returning to Bale in the middle of the 1980s and establishing a jamāʿa in Gololcha district. He subsequently became an important source of inspiration for many of the members of the Ahl al-Sunna until his death a few years ago. The young Ahl al-Sunna protagonists were of a different character than the earlier Salafis. In contrast to the senior Salafi ʿulamāʾ, who were graduates from Islamic universities in Saudi Arabia, they were mostly auto-didactics with little or no formal religious education. This indicates, as I shortly will return to, that the Salafi institutions for learning were rendered less attractive, and that the young generation was more ready to embark on their own path of reform—distancing them from the earlier Salafis. It is moreover important to note that neither Shaykh Aḥmad Buluga, Shaykh Ḥ usayn Fadith, Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān nor any other of the key figures of the Ahl al-Sunna movement had ever attended institutions of higher learning in Saudi Arabia. Those who had received some religious training had done so within the locality of Bale or in neighbouring areas. This is an important reminder of how ideology is constantly remoulded as it transcends spatial and cultural boundaries. Contacts with Saudi Arabia would expand, as well

24

Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 9 August 2005.

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as take a new character, during the 1990s, seeing an increasing number of “ordinary Muslims” crossing the Red Sea. These Muslims were, in contrast to those in earlier periods, not necessarily in search for religious knowledge, but were migrants looking for employment in the different sectors of the Saudi Arabian economy. It illustrates how an evolving globalisation was enabling new and disparate groups to transcend local boundaries, to be exposed to alternative ideas and points, moreover, to the production of agents of change as a more compound category. As migrants and as workers, they often attended classes for religious education, and could in this way independently seek out and appropriate ideas which would serve as important impetuses for change as they returned. Some would, like Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān, take up permanent residence in Saudi Arabia, and served as points of connections across the Red Sea.

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The Qawetti In addition to the individuals mentioned above, the qawetti as a group played moreover a decisive role. The word qawetti means refugee in Somali and refers to the large number of Oromo who left Ethiopia for Somalia during the Derg period and who started to return from their exile after 1991. Although most of my qawetti informants claim that their move towards Salafism was caused by propagators from their own stock, it is clear that it was linked to the process of religious change taking place within Somalia. It would be beyond the scope of this study to embark on an extensive discussion of these changes, and I will here limit myself to a brief outline. Somalia’s geographical location, its long coastline and old tradition of foreign trade had always made it subject to influence from the wider Islamic world. As of the 1960s, new religious sentiments inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood emerged within Somali Islam.25 During the 1970s, Salafism was, moreover, acquiring a greater body of adherents, largely brought by the influx of Somalia migrant workers and students returning from Saudi Arabia. This spurred the formation of several Salafi groups during the 1980s,

25

These include the Waxda al-Shabab al-Islami, the Jamāʿat al-Ahl al-Islāmī (known as the al-Ahli group) and the Ḥ arakat al-Iṣlāḥ. Only the last-mentioned, which argued for the introduction of a liberal democracy in Somalia, survived the repressions of Siad Barre.

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most noticeable the al-Jamāʿa al-Islāmiyya in Mogadishu. Whereas Salafism at the outset constituted an apolitical movement vehemently challenging Somalia’s Sufi orders and existing religious practices, the merger between the al-Jamāʿa al-Islāmiyya and a Muslim Brotherhoodoriented group in northern Somalia subsequently led to the formation of the al-Ittiḥād al-Islāmiyya, a political movement which during the 1990s increasingly became engaged in armed insurgencies. The direct impact these different organisations made on the process of religious change in Somalia is yet to be investigated, but it is clear that increased religious pluralism has proved pivotal in reshaping the religious landscape of Somalia.26 The Oromo qawetti lived in various refugee camps with a mixed Somali and Oromo population, yet tended to seclude themselves in their own quarters. The camps were administratively structured in a manner that surpassed former clan and kinship relations, which undermined traditional structures of authority. This situation, together with the psychological stress of camp-life—idleness, dependency and lack of security—created fertile ground for the dissemination of new religious ideas. Among the Oromo refugees were individuals adhering to the Salafi teaching, who started to disseminate their ideas and to recruit adherents.

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We were living in refugee camps, and we had the time to study. There were no jobs or other things to do, and we were studying in the mosques . . . In Somalia I studied under Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Amān, who is now in Ginir. The teachers were all Oromo, and we learned from each other. Some very few living in Mogadishu learned from the Somalis, but most of us learned from other Oromo.27

Most of the qawetti were originally from the eastern lowland areas, where they resettled when the Derg fell. The district of Raytu, the areas around Dello-Mena and even the eastern fringes of the highland areas, such as the town of Ginir, saw a clear influx of these returning refugees. The arrival of the Salafi qawetti was, however, particularly conspicuous in Dello-Mena, where several vocal activists formed an alliance with Shaykh Aḥmad Buluga in making the town a bastion for Salafism in the early 1990s. Similar developments were seen in Ginir,

26

For more details on the religious developments in Somalia, see Menkhaus (2002), International Crisis Group (“Somalia’s Islamists” 2005), Marchal (2004) and Le Sage (2004). 27 Shaykh Aḥmad Maḥmūd, interview 11 June 2005.

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where the case of the above-mentioned Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Amān serves as an illustration of a Salafi teacher cum activist returning from Somalia. Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Amān was a native of Raytu and pursued his religious studies in Raytu and the neighbouring areas. At the end of the 1960s, he spent one year studying under Shaykh ʿAbdallāh Abosera, who in turn had been a student under Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba. In 1978, Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Amān left for Somalia, and after receiving some additional ḥ adīth training, he started teaching his compatriots in the refugee camp. Returning to Ethiopia in 1991, he settled in Ginir, where he became active in disseminating Salafi ideas, teaching in the mosque as well as touring the neighbouring lowland areas.28

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The Content of the Teaching Describing the ideological content of the Ahl al-Sunna and establishing the genealogy of its influence is somewhat difficult. On the one hand, the ideology represented a continuation of the initial Salafi movement in Bale. Themes such as the muuda, mortuary rituals and the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī, which were vigorously challenged and opposed, remained on the agenda. On the other hand, there was an accentuation of other and new issues receiving far more attention now than they had been by the senior Salafis. This indicates that the old ones had lost some of their momentum and that new circumstances and the emergence of new and disparate audiences were paving the way for a more complex discourse on religious change. Due to the lack of any organisational structure, individual interpretations made the movement highly heterogeneous, and its ideology came to contain a certain degree of contradiction. This is particularly discernable in the innovative practice of ijtihād, which sometimes produced peculiar results. Some of the members of the Ahl al-Sunna believed, for instance, that a Muslim was allowed to take more than four wives, an idea that allegedly stemmed from the teaching of Shaykh Ḥ usayn Fadith.29 This lack of ideological coherency was also caused by their random selection of fragmentary sources. Although books and audio-cassettes were available, the internal discussion among members of the movement was more important in shaping their ideology. Ideas 28 Ḥ ajj Amān Muḥammad, interview 8 July 2006; Shaykh Aḥmad Maḥmūd, interview 14 July 2005. 29 Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 8 October 2005.

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were transferred orally and became consequently remoulded and altered in the process. One relevant example is when Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān on one occasion entered the Nūr mosque wearing shoes—arguing that this was accepted in Islam.30 This idea had earlier been forwarded by Muḥammad Naṣr al-Dīn al-Albānī, but neither Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān nor anybody else seemed to be aware of the source of it.31 At the outset, the Ahl al-Sunna, like the senior Salafis in Bale, framed its ideas within the framework of Saudi Arabian Salafism. However, through the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s and the emergence of other more political movements in the 1990s, Salafism within the kingdom had become increasingly heterogeneous. This has in turn made the task of specifying the ideological links to Saudi Arabia more difficult. It is no longer sufficient to say that the Salafis in Bale adhered to Saudi Arabian Salafism—we need to ask: what kind of Saudi Salafism? To start with, it seems clear that the ideas of the Ahl al-Sunna resembled those of the purist trend, which, according to Quintan Wiktorowicz (2006) is characterised by their focus on ritual purity, personal piety and an apolitical stand. As also noted by Thomas Hegghammer, the purists are characterised as seeking “to improve the moral and ritual practices in the society around them” (2007: 76). Discussing the main features of the Ahl al-Sunna teaching, I will use Hegghammer’s characterisations as a point of departure. He highlights three key features: being pietistic and isolationist and attracting people from the lower classes (2007: 79). The question of class remains irrelevant to the issue of ideology and will be dealt with in the next chapter. Moreover, I will modify Hegghammer’s characterisation by adding the aspects of “ritualism” and “purism”.

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Pietism A key feature of the teaching of the Ahl al-Sunna was that of personal piety (cf. Roy 2004: 265). The daʿwa was overly concerned with the younger generation’s religious laxness and indifference to the requirements of Islam. Seeking to rebuke the youngsters’ liberal attitudes towards associating with the opposite sex, the Ahl al-Sunna was fiercely calling for a stricter separation of boys and girls and for the avoidance

30 31

Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 8 October 2005. For some notes on the life and teaching of al-Albānī, see Lacroix (2008).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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of pre-marital sex. Issues like smoking, chewing khat, listening to popmusic and watching TV were also vehemently condemned. Ethiopian pop-music and Western movies, which were becoming increasingly available during this period, were—due to their immoral sexual references—seen as incompatible with a true Muslim life and as distracting the believer from observing the duties of Islam. This conversation I had with an informant may be illustrative: Do you think it is ok to watch TV? This is according to the programme. There is no problem to watch things like news. What about watching videos? If what is shown is ḥ arām, then this is not good. Films may stimulate to bad things, when you are watching things like sex. Also, going there make you lose ṣalāt. Is it all right to watch movies containing violence? That is no problem; it may even teach you how to protect yourself. But it is again according to when the film is shown. If it is during ṣalāt, that is not right. But if it is after ṣalāt, then there is no problem.32

Isolationism

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The issue of isolationism is of less relevance for the context of Bale. The multi-lingual and multi-religious context made withdrawal and isolation practically difficult. Although the Ahl al-Sunna members tended to stick mostly to their own, their relations with the Christians did not differ much from the rest of the Muslim population. There were few, if any, who advocated seclusion from the Christians. At work I communicate with all kinds of people, both Muslims and Christians. Also, my neighbours are both Muslim and Christian. But my close friends are the Ahl al-Sunna . . . Islam says: ‘Don’t push the others, but make friends with them’. We have fellowship with the Christians, we visit them, we help them, we are together with them in funerals and when they are sick. There is no difference between the Ahl al-Sunna and others on this issue.33

It is, however, clear that inter-religious relations became increasingly strained during the 1990s, and, moreover, apparent that the Ahl alSunna movement held more negative views towards other sections within the Muslim community. This obviously included those who

32 33

Naṣrallāh Muḥammad, interview 11 August 2005. Naṣrallāh Muḥammad, interview 11 August 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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adhered to the earlier religious practices yet came also to include Muslims belonging to the Salafi strait. The exclusivist stand was underlined by repeated references to the ḥ adīth saying that the Muslim society is divided into 73 factions, and that only one of them will be saved from the punishment of hell. It was commonly understood by the members of the Ahl al-Sunna that they were the ones belonging to this righteous faction and that the Sufis and the Shiites were among those to be lost. This touches upon the question of takfīr, an issue that has caused controversies in Islam in general and within the wider Salafi movement in particular. Takfīr refers to the question of declaring a fellow Muslim an apostate and is broadly speaking related to whether an individual’s belief and actions are in compliance with Islam.34 In contemporary Ethiopia, the issue of takfīr has a somewhat peculiar history. The question first appeared with the emergence of a group referring to themselves as the Takfīr wa al-Hijra in 1994–95.35 Introduced by a Shaykh Muḥammad Amīn, returning from exile in Sudan in 1992, the movement grew strong in the northern town of Gondar in the years 1994–1997—before it spread to Addis Ababa, gaining a foothold in the mosque in Terro, a northern suburb of the city.36 The Takfīr wa al-Hijra was soon able to attract quite a number of followers among the capital’s young residents, and for a period the issue of takfīr was on everybody’s lips. Distancing themselves from Christians, they also severed their connections with other Muslims, refusing to pray with them. In accordance with the principles of takfīr in general, they even rejected other Salafis as kufār (sing. kāfir, non-believers), including the leading Salafi ʿulamāʾ of Addis Ababa. Moving in an increasingly exclusivist direction, the Takfīr wa al-Hijra consequently found themselves cut off from the rest of the Salafi movement. As the Salafi

34 The two opposing poles in the debate over takfīr are held by the Khawārij and the Murjiʿa. The difference in opinion is about the criteria for denouncing someone as an apostate, the former taking the most radical position and the latter saying that takfīr is not permissible for a Muslim. 35 Takfīr wa al-Hijra first emerged in Egypt in 1977, where its leader, Shukrī Muṣt ̣afā, advocated a radical interpretation of Islam, denouncing any Muslim except his own followers as kufār. In Sudan there are reports that the group was behind several attacks on mosques in the 1990s and that they tried to assassinate Usāma bin Lādin in 1994. Most of the Takfīr wa al-Hijra activists were subsequently killed in confrontations with Sudanese security forces, as was their leader. See Carney (2005: 122). Also Somalia saw the emergence of small Takfīr wa al-Hijra communities in the early 1990s, but hardly anything is known about them (“Somalia’s Islamists” 2005: 12). 36 The leader of the Takfīr wa al-Hijra in Addis Ababa is said to have been Jamāl Bashīr (Bauer Oumer 2006: 101).

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ʿulamāʾ of Aiyr Tena publicly denounced the movement, and a young scholar named Ḥ asan Taju in 2002 published a book fiercely criticising the Takfīr wa al-Hijra, the group’s popularity plunged, and when its main leader passed away in 2004, it lost its real strength.37 There are some unconfirmed reports saying that it reached Robe, in the towns of Dello-Mena and Ginir. In any case, the impact must have been negligible, and the question of the Takfīr wa al-Hijra group was no one’s concern during my fieldwork. However, the issue of declaring someone an apostate has remained an ambiguous one. Most of the followers of Ahl al-Sunna, together with some of the senior Salafis, regarded those who adhered to the previous rituals as being outside Islam. Some of the Ahl al-Sunna members moreover denounced those who did not pray regularly as Muslims. None of my informants from the Ahl al-Sunna would, however, declare any of the senior Salafis as an apostate, and there were never any public statements of denunciation.

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Ritualism A pivotal aspect of the teaching of the Ahl al-Sunna movement is the focus on the observance of the duties of Islam, particularly the regular observance of the daily prayers, ṣalāt. Prayer was, as already noted, not equally adhered to among the Muslim Oromo, and the performance of prayer declined during the Derg period. Seeking to reverse this, the Ahl al-Sunna protagonists fiercely advocated the need to perform the daily prayers as the defining criterion of being a Muslim. With the increase in mosques, they championed the notion that prayers should be done there, rather than in private. In the early 1990s, members of the Ahl al-Sunna roamed the streets of Robe at dawn, shouting and calling people to come to mosques for the ṣalāt al-fajr—the Morning Prayer. The Ahl al-Sunna movement, and therefore its name, was similarly committed to the issue of the Sunna—the practice of following the example of the Prophet in all aspects of life. It would be impossible to list all the detailed practices this entailed. Rather, I will focus on the most conspicuous aspects and those which were of particular relevance for the process of change.

37

Unconfirmed reports say that Takfīr wa al-Hijra reemerged with renewed strength a few years later, playing a decisive role in the clashes between Christians and Muslims in Jimma in 2006, and that it currently has a large body of adherents in that area, as well as in Addis Ababa.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Illustration 17. Communal prayer during ʿīd al-Fiṭr in Robe (photo: Terje ØstebØ)

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Much attention was given to additional prayer and fasting. For many it became common to add additional rukūʿ (sing. rakʿa, prostrations): the witr after both the ẓuhr (noon prayer) and the ʿishāʾ (evening prayer). Additional prayers were also said during the night; ṣalāt al-layl, which often was combined with recitation of the Qurʾān.38 The members of the Ahl al-Sunna also stressed the significance of Shawwāl—the addition of six consecutive fasting days in the months of Shawwāl, following Ramaḍān. There were also those who regularly fasted every Monday and Thursday, days on which all deeds should be “offered” to God (Berg 1999). Whereas the members of the Ahl al-Sunna repeatedly stressed the inward aspect of practising the Sunna, they nevertheless focused much on certain conspicuous outward issues. It became common for men to grow their beards while trimming their moustaches. They also used to shorten their trousers (to above the ankles), something referred to as isbāl. Among the women, the usage of a black veil, the niqāb, to cover their face, was equally stressed. These outward practices soon constituted important markers of identity among the members of the Ahl al-Sunna, demarcating boundaries with non-Salafis as well as with other Salafis. While there was a general agreement that most of these practices adhered to were of a voluntary character, i.e. belonging to the Sunna, there were many who saw the growing of a beard, the isbāl and the niqāb as compulsory, meaning that they belonged to the wājib. It was clearly stated that “if you have long trousers, both your trousers and your body may end up in the fire”.39 My informants claimed that this was stated in the ḥ adīth collection of Abū Dāwūd, but nobody was able to give a more precise location.40 Interwoven with the issue of rituals was the teaching’s explicit eschatological orientation, another characteristic of the purist strand within Salafism. In addressing the youngsters, the preachers were constantly emphasising the prospects of after-life salvation or damnation. My informants always recalled the preachers’ doomsday-telling about the eternal suffering in hell, the fire and the divine wrath for those who neglected the duties of Islam:

38

Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 9 August 2005. Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 9 August 2005. 40 Shaykh Bashīr Jamāl, interview 3 August 2005. The issue of isbāl is in fact mentioned several times in the ḥ adīth collection of Bukhārī. 39

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They were talking about paradise and hell, and they were drawing a detailed picture of hell—that entered into the minds of the people. They were comparing the joy of heaven with the suffering in hell. They said that the fire we have on this planet is nothing compared to the fire in hell . . . When the people heard this, they got afraid and were crying. This was their way of teaching, and the young people would cry in fear.41

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Purism In addition to denouncing the muuda, the mortuary rituals and the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī, the Ahl al-Sunna movement held a far more negative attitude towards the Oromo culture. A large portion of Oromo traditions and customs were seen as incompatible with Islamic virtues. This aspect has also been discernable in other movements of a similar character and represents what Oliver Roy (2004) has labelled “deculturation”. Culture is accordingly seen as the enemy of Islam, and the objective becomes to jettison local customs and detach Islam from any cultural context. It affected, among other things, the funeral ceremonies, where outward and loud crying was condemned and where excessive spending and feasting in connection with the funeral were opposed. Far more noticeable was the criticism of the wedding ceremonies. The followers of the Ahl al-Sunna were against all forms of singing and dancing commonly performed during Oromo weddings and agitated against the payment of gabara, the dowry. This latter point had earlier been raised by the senior Salafis but was now receiving renewed attention. Another aspect, which in particular created a heated debate, was the arrangement of the wedding ceremony. Traditionally, the Oromo weddings, with feasting and the presentation of the gabara, were conducted at the home of the bride (with her being secluded in her house). The bride was by the end of the day brought home to the bridegroom by himself in company with a band of his friends and family called the hamamoota. Referring to a particular ḥ adīth, the Ahl al-Sunna followers opposed this practice, saying that the bride should be brought to the bridegroom’s house by her friends and that a more modest ceremony should be conducted at his house.42 This issue may seem to be of a trivial nature, but in Dello-Mena there were those who 41

Abdi Mukhtār, interview 12 August 2005. Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 21 August 2005; Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 19 November 2005. 42

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even divorced their wives because their marriage was based upon the “wrong” ceremony.43 The question of “correct” wedding ceremonies would, as we will see, remain controversial throughout the 1990s. Localising the Purist Trend Another noticeable aspect congruent to the ideas of the purist trend is the Ahl al-Sunna’s underscoring of daʿwa and religious education through peaceful means.44

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The only way is to teach and make daʿwa. We don’t want to forbid anything by force . . . Force is not the way; there is no force in religion. Daʿwa is made from the mosque, and those who hear may change their ways . . . If you see the battles of the Prophet Muḥammad; he only killed a few. People were made to believe through teaching.45

However, even if the ideology of the Ahl al-Sunna seems to fit Wiktorowicz’s purist type, the movement harboured ambiguous attitudes towards the scholars associated with the purist trend. Although figures such as ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ʿAbdallāh bin Bāz (d. 1999), Muḥammad bin Ṣāliḥ al-Uthaymīn (d. 2001) and the Syrian-based Muḥammad Naṣr al-Dīn al-Albānī (d. 1999) were held in great respect, the Ahl al-Sunna followers were, in contrast to the senior Salafis, far more critical to the Saudi Salafi establishment. Many of its ʿulamāʾ were accused of laxity and for being in league with the corrupt Saudi regime, a regime which was overtly discredited in the eyes of the Ahl al-Sunna. Their concessions to the United States and the excessive lifestyle and overindulgence of the royal family were lamented. There were also those who referred to groups within the Saudi kingdom which represented the true Ahl al-Sunna. They refrained, however, from identifying who these groups were. Another issue refers to the Madkhaliyya group, which in recent years has appeared in Addis Ababa. Organised around a radiologist in the Mercato area, the group sought to establish their own organisation, Nājiyya (salvation), at the end of 2006.46 The Madkhaliyya has been advocating the views of Rabīʿ ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī, a purist Saudi 43

Ḥ ajj Nūr al-Dīn Khadīr, interview 11 October 2005. Hegghammer (2007: 63f.) argues that this may be violent in the form of vigilantism. I will return to this issue in the next chapter. 45 Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 29 April 2006. 46 According to information given to me in an interview the 13th of October 2006, the Madkhaliyya group was working on establishing this organisation. I have not been able to verify if it has in fact been established. 44

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scholar with close connections to the kingdom’s Salafi establishment.47 Very little is known about the Madkhaliyya group in the capital, other than that it advocates a stricter version of Salafism. To be noticed is that while the Salafi establishment adhered to the views of al-Madkhalī, there are indications that the Madkhaliyya group in Addis Ababa saw itself in opposition to the rest of the Salafi movement—as being more in line to the true tenets of Salafism. In sum, the teaching of the Ahl al-Sunna movement might best be construed as a product of dynamics within Salafism in Ethiopia. Initially introduced by Ethiopians trained in Saudi Arabia, the remoulding of its ideas within various localities and the infusion of new interpretations by certain individuals, together with limited contacts with the wider Salafi movement, facilitated a clearly independent development of the movement. Its de-institutionalised character thwarted the emergence of an effective and coherent leadership, in turn impinging on the ideological coherence.

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Attracting Followers The Ahl al-Sunna movement was rapidly recruiting an increasing number of followers in the early 1990s. As indicated by one informant, in the years of 1992–93 “all the young people belonged to Ahl alSunna”.48 They actively participated in the daʿwa, visited the mosques and expressed a distinct religious zeal. This relates to the fact that the leaders of the Ahl al-Sunna belonged to the same generation. Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān and his co-activists were all in their early twenties when the Derg fell. Being of the same age, they spoke the “same language” and were familiar with the reality of young people’s lives. The choice of topics captured the minds of the youth and the style in which the message was presented clearly attracted the youngsters. As observed by Eickelman (1992: 648), the expansion of education and mass media “have altered the style and content of authoritative religious discourse” and have consequently reduced the relevance of

47 Shaykh Rabīʿ ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī is a mainstream, quietist scholar close to the Salafi establishment in Saudi Arabia. Through his writing, he has gained an important position among followers of the purist trend and is an ardent critic of politicising Islam and the use of violence. 48 Abdi Mukhtār, interview 6 October 2005.

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messages embedded in a more traditional context. Acceptance is thus connected to the context and style of presentation. Certainly, the Ahl al-Sunna activists were conscious of how to draw attention from the youngsters:

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First I start with a loud voice, speaking about the punishment of hell. I describe this . . . After that I speak with a softer voice, about how to enter paradise . . . The young people like to listen to a young person. They like the way I approach them. They don’t like the approach of the old shaykhs; people go away when they do daʿwa. But they listen to me . . . Also I don’t sit still while I am talking, I walk around in the room. It is like Muḥammad: they said his face was red, on fire, when he did daʿwa.49

Yet, even if the Ahl al-Sunna activists belonged to the same generation as their audience and were presenting the message in an appealing manner, we still need to ask why this generation accepted such a radical message so readily. Exposed to the policy of secularism during the Derg, this generation certainly had few points of reference to which such a distinct religious teaching could relate. The attraction of the new message must be construed as a consequence of the particular impact the process of secularisation had on the “generation of the Derg”. As indicated in the preceding chapter, this generation was both influenced by its ideology and antagonised by the coercive character of the regime. Thus, the youngsters were caught between a rupture with their cultural past and the tenets of secularisation forced upon them. When the Derg fell, a generation in dire need of a point of orientation surfaced. Directly addressing this reality, the Ahl al-Sunna movement provided the youngsters with a narrative they could respond to. This demonstrates how religion came to constitute a compelling force “correcting” the world view and self-image of the audience, and that it clearly enabled the respondents to shape their reality, whereby Islam became an integrated factor. It moreover demonstrates how the introduction of a new religious teaching dialectically interacted with their history and immediate circumstances. Questions of a religious character were created in the forefront of the individuals’ minds through the preaching of a new message. It provided the individuals with a new religious reference and affiliation, which could be articulated and distinguished from past references.

49

Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 20 August 2005.

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One friend came to me giving advice about ṣalāt . . . He knew I was not praying, and told me I should pray . . . Because of his saying, I started thinking: I have to do ṣalāt; something was created inside me. From my family I was a Muslim, I knew that I was a Muslim, and I was saying that I was a Muslim. When my friend said that a person who didn’t pray was not a Muslim, I asked myself: Who am I? I also started to think about death, what would happen to me when I died, if I was not a Muslim. I became afraid of God and death.50

This statement clearly indicates that the perception of a living and active deity had not been submerged during the Derg. It moreover points to the arrival of a new understanding of being a Muslim, which again supports Bell’s (1997) notion of modernisation and secularisation as forces altering the form of religion. Again it relates to my arguments about the de-mystification of reality and the accompanying process of abstraction of religious concepts and symbols; a movement away from religious symbols as represented in the concrete and immanent. This may be illustrated by the way traditional rituals have been modified to meet these new circumstances. In the village of Shallo, a few kilometres east of Robe, one of the few remaining traditional healers is still rendering his service. Inheriting the karaama of his father, who cured people through blessings (by spitting) and through hitting people with his karaama-induced whip, the present practitioner has been forced to apply other methods:

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Today I make use of additional traditional medicine. The understanding today is not as before. Before the people were easier, now they are confused. Before there were no questions, their minds were simpler. Today, if you say that someone is healed, the people are more suspicious. This is because they don’t follow the seera aadaa (the laws of the culture). They are more exposed to knowledge and education and are therefore more sceptical.51

The process of abstraction was certainly discernable in the teaching of the Ahl al-Sunna activists. Underscoring ritual purity, personal piety and eternal life, we clearly see stronger attention given to existential questions where belief is related to fundamental questions of existence, life and death. This leads to the knotty question of religious motives for acceptance. My informants repeatedly referred to motives of a clearly 50 51

Naṣrallāh Muḥammad, interview 8 June 2005. Shaykh Ziyād Shaykh Ḥ asan, interview 6 August 2005.

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religious character when asked why they had changed their ways. I have, unfortunately, been unable to investigate in depth the individuals’ religious motives as part of the process of religious change. I do believe, however, that ignoring this aspect would make any explanations of religious change reductionistic (Rambo 1993: 11). In particular, it was the prospect of eternal suffering and the profound fear this created that gained most attention. As the Ahl al-Sunna activists preached that failure to comply with the duties of Islam would deprive them of entering paradise and as they were given a vivid description of the other alternative, a deep sense of fear coupled with guilt was induced in the young ones’ minds. The following excerpt of an interview may be illustrative:

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How does it make you feel when you don’t pray? I don’t feel good, I feel sorry. I feel like someone who has a great debt. I become confused, and I promise myself that I will start to pray the next day. But then again I fail . . . The Ahl al-Sunna people are staying in the mosque, and it is easy for them to pray. They also have a great imān (faith), which is a gift from God.52

Connected with this was the issue of “religious reward” which would be granted in return for the performance of acts considered to be part of the Sunna and seen as enhancing the believers’ chance to enter paradise or the higher stages of paradise. It was also said that performing the Sunna not only gave extra credits; it also covered past sins. For many of the followers of Ahl al-Sunna, the embedded fear of death was sought to be rebuked by actively performing acts of Sunna. This was arguably shaped through the dialectic negotiations between the agents and the audience, in which the former’s accentuation of Islam’s eschatology found a clear resonance among an audience weighed down by a sense of uncertainty regarding the future. Caught up as they were in a fragmented reality and searching for an overreaching narrative, they actively appropriated the message provided by the Ahl al-Sunna agents as a means to reorder this complex reality. On the other hand, this new discourse on the meaning of being Muslim can also be seen as part of a continuous process of Islamisation or a process of re-Islamisation. In connection to what I have already said about the abstraction of religious symbols and the weakened posi-

52

Muḥammad ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, interview 19 July 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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tion of earlier religious practices and institutions, the teaching of the Ahl al-Sunna constituted the sole alternative with regards to Muslim orientation. The ideas forwarded represented not only a substitute for the Marxist-inspired secularisation but also informed the individual about the basic tenets of Islam. The ideas advocated by the Ahl alSunna were never explicitly articulated as Salafi ideas; they were merely presented and construed as Islamic. This was largely a result of a lack of awareness of the diversity of Islamic doctrinal positions and limited knowledge of the basic principles of Islam. Prepared by the foothold the movement had gained in Robe town during the 1970s and 1980s and because of the impact the Derg regime had made on traditional structures and institutions, the emergence and appeal of the Ahl alSunna can thus be perceived as mending the discontinuity in religious change created by the Derg. In other words, Salafi Islam managed to secure a continuum of Islam in Bale as well as to deepen the people’s attachment to the religion.

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Conflict and Controversy From 1991 onwards, Salafism managed in a remarkably short period to secure a general adherence to the doctrine of tawḥ īd and an equal denunciation of earlier practices among the Muslim population in Bale, where veneration at the shrines plunged abruptly and celebrations of mawlid al-Nabī disappeared. A great deal of social pressure was exercised on members of society: on regular prayer and fasting, and on discouraging the continuance of former practices. This does not mean, however, that former practices were completely abandoned. Some were still performed, in an altered manner, as well as shrouded with secrecy. It should also be noted that there are regional differences both within and beyond Bale, meaning that there are areas where earlier practices are to a lesser degree affected by Salafism. Neither does it mean that the process of expansion went unchallenged or that there were no forces of opposition. Although resistance was present, the important point is that the relatively weak nature of the opposition to the Salafis was pivotal for the growth of the movement. Such hostility was almost completely absent in Robe but erupted in other localities of Bale as the Salafi teaching expanded beyond the borders of Robe town.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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As the young activists of the Ahl al-Sunna were the ones most active in carrying out the daʿwa and represented the most zealous trend within post-Derg Salafism, their rigid approaches soon led them into conflicts with the local communities. The people were often offended by these youngsters’ arrogant and hard-nosed character and considered them too unbending in their quest for change. Yet, in spite of their uncompromising approach, the encounters between the activists and their audiences seldom turned violent. There are some few reports of young Ahl al-Sunna activists harassing pilgrims on their way to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn by stealing their animals and of others burning down mosques used for the celebration of mawlid al-Nabī.53 Yet there were also occasions when attempts were made to solve disagreements in a more peaceful manner, as in Dello-Mena in 1992 when Shaykh Aḥmad Buluga invited the adherents of Shaykh Ḥ usayn to settle their controversy through a debate in the mosque.54 One particular incident which may be illustrative of the encounters between the Ahl al-Sunna activists and those adhering to previous practices is the one I have labelled the “ateetee rebellion”.55 Ateetee, as described in chapter four, refers to a ceremony held at certain sacred places in which women mobilise collectively in approaching God in times of crisis (Østebø 2007: 41). It is exclusively for women, making any interference from a male to cause for strong reactions. This particular “ateetee rebellion” occurred in Dodola district, western Bale on 12 December 2001 when a group of women were going to the river to perform the ateetee ceremony. While performing the rituals, they were interrupted: He came when we were praying by the melka (river ford), asking us what we were doing there. He insulted our sinqee, calling us kufār. He asked why we didn’t go to the mosque and pray. He said that the sinqee

53

Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr, interview 5 June 2006. Adam Mukhtār, interview 10 March 2006. 55 I am grateful to Daniel Deressa for lending me his recordings of interviews made in connection with this particular case. The interviews were made in March 2003. 54

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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was ḥ arām, qanafa was ḥ arām, boku was ḥ arām and that the oda was ḥ arām.56 Because of this we became afraid and ran from the river.57

The women then complained to the local elders, but they were reluctant to get involved in the case. The accused perpetrator denied any wrongdoing, and the elders argued that they lacked substantial proof to charge him. Unwilling to give up, sixty women went and surrounded the man’s house, making a quiet sit-down protest. After being chased away, all sixty of them, each carrying their sinqee, proceeded to the district police station where they filed a case against the man. After a period of investigation, the case went to court, where the women won the case and the accused was sentenced to prison.58 The “ateetee rebellion” is interesting for several reasons. The way the women took the matter into their own hands and actually filed a case against the man is in itself remarkable. Another noticeable aspect is that the elders were unable (or unwilling) to solve the case in accordance with Oromo customs for conflict-solving. They claimed that they had become powerless to act in such cases and subsequently sent the women to the authorities.59 This clearly shows how traditional institutions and structures of authority had been severely weakened. Through the policy of the Derg and its enforced reorganisation of society, little space had been left for alternative structures. The insurgency in the 1970s, the villagisation programme and the counter-insurgency campaigns had, as already noted, radically reduced the strength of the Oromo elite. In the post-Derg period, the governmental structures for administering and controlling the grass-roots were continued and even expanded. This weakening of traditional institutions and authorities was hence crucial in enabling the Salafi movement to expand rapidly in the postDerg period. Remnants of traditional institutions were still present, but with their power clearly reduced. Subject to pressure from government institutions and legislation, they had been unable to maintain their 56 All these are cultural items known to the Oromo of Bale. The sinqee refers to a special sacred stick reserved for women; qanafa refers to a decoration carried on the forehead during pregnancy as a sign of respect (wayyuu); boku is the sceptre used by the abbaa boku and oda refers to the sacred tree used in connection with various rituals. 57 Sāra Biftu, interviewed by Daniel Deressa, n.d. 58 Tadesse Alemo, interviewed by Daniel Deressa, n.d.; Banti Mamo, interview 1 March 2006. 59 Sāra Biftu, interviewed by Daniel Deressa, n.d.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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position. This had obviously led to the further erosion of their authority in the eyes of the people, who saw them as weak and incapable of catering for their needs. This was in particular noticeable among the younger generation. Explicitly influenced by the ideological currents of the Derg, the youngsters were largely unfamiliar with past traditions, less loyal to traditional leaders and more ready to openly dismiss their opinions. In other words, when the Salafis, and in particular the Ahl al-Sunna activists, disseminated their teaching throughout Bale, nobody was really in a position to pose any substantial opposition towards them.

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Contested Authority and the Transfiguration of Symbols As already noted, the Derg period had clearly taken its toll on the pilgrimages to the many shrines of Bale. The pilgrimages to most of the shrines stopped, leaving the shrines of Shaykh Ḥ usayn and Sof ʿUmar the only ones still attracting pilgrims in the post-Derg period.60 But even at these sites the situation was precarious. At Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, the question of leadership remained unsolved. Even though Imām Maḥmūd during the Derg period continued claiming authority from his exile in Somalia, the various actors at Dirre opposed him and kept on competing for power.61 Together with the repression of the Derg, which had weakened the fuqra, geriba and ulee baaro institutions, this lack of coherent leadership made the guardians of the shrine ill-prepared to meet the challenge of the expanding Salafi movement. These circumstances moreover affected the discourse on religious symbols, paving the way for altering the meaning of a concept like karaama. Whereas the karaama was traditionally seen as an intrinsic aspect of the shrine and essential to the practice of symbolic exchange, the concept became increasingly intersected with the ongoing conflict with the Salafis. From my own observations, I noticed that during the ceremonies at Dirre, both the leading figures and the pilgrims were actively referring to the karaama of Shaykh Ḥ usayn as a force assisting them in their struggle against the Salafis. On one occasion, the nightly 60 A few shrines, like that erected over the grave of Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale in Rowda (Goro district), attracted small bands of pilgrims. But also here the pilgrimage has gradually been shrinking. 61 “Giving recognition for the ṭarīqa of Shaykh Hussein of Bale”. Letter from the Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs, Democratic Republic of Somalia. No DIIN/ III/9–691/87, 3 August 1979.

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ceremony was initiated by the leader cursing the Salafis by shouting “Wahhabiin haa baduu” (may the Wahhabi disappear). During the same ceremony there were different testimonies revealing how the pilgrims were being insulted and harassed by the Salafis but that the karaama of Shaykh Ḥ usayn had come to their rescue. Leading figures moreover told stories of how the karaama inflicted suffering upon the Salafis, in turn causing them to come to Dirre for healing.

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Once there was a shaykh from Robe. This shaykh was well educated in the Qurʾān and even had training from Saudi Arabia. This shaykh used to be a fierce enemy of Shaykh Ḥ usayn and his followers. After some time this person became mad and is now wandering around like a geriba. This was caused by Shaykh Ḥ usayn.62

This indicates how the conflict with the Salafis was construed as a spiritual battle, which the followers of Shaykh Ḥ usayn were destined to win. Moreover, it demonstrates how a concept like karaama could be accommodated under difficult circumstances, obtaining a new and accentuated meaning. It could provide the vulnerable pilgrims with comfort as well as constitute a compelling force that could be used by the guardians of the shrine in securing continued support for the pilgrimage. The enactment of the karaama in the debate with the Salafis showed that God remained on their side. A similar discursive pattern has been noted by Minako Ishihara (1996), who has analysed the production of Islamic poetry (manẓūma) in the Jimma area. Highly defensive of the practice of pilgrimage and the role the awliyyāʾ as intercessors between human beings and the deity, the poetry has assumed a clear propagandistic overtone against what is perceived as the Salafi (in this case labelled Wahhabi) threat. There are in particular two aspects of Ishihara’s findings which are of interest. The first is the poetry’s harsh tone. The Salafis are denounced as kufār, as being against the Prophet and unequivocally cursed. Secondly, the composer makes explicit references to the written corpus of Islam, the Qurʾān and the Sunna—bringing evidence for the legitimacy of pilgrimage to the shrines and the power of the awliyyāʾ. Whereas many of the citations from scriptures were in fact from oral sources, it may be that the textual references were attempts to defend themselves against the Salafis’ scriptural-based arguments.

62

Fieldlog, 22 February 2002.

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Yet, the transformation of religious symbols was also something clearly noticeable on the part of the Salafis, as can be discerned from the story I have called “the revenge of the jinn”. This story was collected from a small village called Gamorra, some twenty kilometres east of Robe. I will here include the story as a whole:

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The jinn were living at Guracha at the Melka Silmi, in the gorge of Weib River. The leader of the jinn there was called Yūsuf Ferfer. The other leader was living on the way to Dinkiti at a place called Babore. He was called ʿAbdallāhi Mersham. The third was living in the Weib gorge on the way to Ballee, and he was called Biter. In 2003 the jinn were meeting and travelled from village to village to discuss the current situation. They were talking about their work, and how people refused to believe in them, and refused to give offerings to them. There was no blood, there was no coffee offered. This offering of coffee is called either tiliitee or bunna qalaa. The beans are fried together with honey and butter—and have a very sweet taste. Then the beans are eaten and thrown on the ground around the persons—in different directions. At that time the people say ‘Waadaa, waadaa.’ This means: don’t come to me, keep away from me, don’t touch me.63 Due to this difficult situation, the jinn decided to hold a meeting. The first meeting of the jinn was at Gamorra, Sinana wäräda. This place is considered to be a stronghold of tawḥ īd followers, and the jinn complained that the people there in particular had refused to accept them. They said; ‘Kanafu tarkanfii fudhachuu qabna’—meaning; we need to take action. They all agreed to this, and started to attack the people. After this a lot of people at Gamorra got sick, especially the women. They started shouting and acting like crazy. But the people didn’t bring offerings to the jinn. Instead they invited the darasa to read the Qurʾān over the sick people. And they all got healed.64

The story can be understood in various ways. At the outset it gives the rationale behind the perceived decrement of the jinn, explained by the discontinuation of the practice of bringing offerings to them. Furthermore, the story is explicitly situated in the ongoing encounter between Salafism and other perceptions of Islam in Bale, serving both to accentuate the power of the Salafi version of Islam and the insufficiency of the opposing forces. To be noted is the reference to the scriptures of Islam, credited with a curative power. Whereas the existence of jinn would not be alien to the Salafi teaching, it is interesting to observe how the more traditional world of jinn, with each of them 63 64

For more details on this ritual, see Aguilar (1995b). Fieldlog, 7 August 2005.

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individualised by local names still remained relevant.65 The jinn being seen as mobilising in an area where Salafism had gained marked support illustrates that the Salafis recognised their continued power and the fact that the process of change had its spiritual side. In sum, the story is a clear demonstration of the process of negotiation and the remoulding of former perceptions and symbols that takes place through the encounter with new ideas.

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Fragmentation More conspicuous than the conflict with the adherents of former Islamic practices was the growing controversy within the Salafi movement itself. When the Ahl al-Sunna movement gained increased momentum, contention, rivalry and even hostility between the Ahl al-Sunna and the senior Salafis erupted. As the growing of a beard and having short trousers were said to be decisive criteria for being a true Muslim man, the leaders of the Ahl al-Sunna explicitly criticised the senior Salafis for not complying with these demands. The senior Salafis were perceived as religiously lax, corrupt and compromising. Because of their good connections with wealthy Saudi Arabian donors, it was claimed that they were keeping grants for themselves rather than distributing them to the Muslim community. This consequently reduced their status in the eyes of the younger generation. The most outspoken critic was Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān, who “embarrassed the old shaykhs, saying that they were too fat and that this was due to their lack of thinking about the last day”.66 Many of the senior Salafis retorted that while issues like growing a beard and wearing short trousers or a niqāb were commendable, it was incorrect to categorise them as wājib. Another matter that caused great controversy was the relationship between Islam and local Oromo customs, in particular customs related to wedding ceremonies and funerals. Whereas the “generation of the Derg” was more ready to discard such practices, the disagreement over Oromo practices also demonstrates how the adherents of the initial Salafi movement,

65 Similiar understandings are found in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa. See, for example, Olsson’s (2000) descriptions from rural Mali. 66 Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 14 August 2005.

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belonging to an era when cultural structures and inherent traditions were more intact, remained attached to the traditions of the locality. The senior Salafis were becoming increasingly discontent with the Ahl al-Sunna, their daʿwa and the attraction the movement found among the younger generation. Consequently, they embarked on a campaign of smearing the reputation of the Ahl al-Sunna leaders and warning the youngsters about the dangers of the movement. Some followed their advice, and gradually two factions surfaced within the Salafi movement. This development took a decisive turn in 1993, when an unsigned letter addressed to the leading Salafi ʿulamāʾ was found in the Nūr mosque. Accusing them of hampering the spread of Islam, the letter contained direct threats to particular members of the ʿulamāʾ group as well as a threat to blow up the mosque.67 Only a month later, a prominent merchant and senior Salafi was stabbed in the Nūr mosque during the afternoon prayer. Whereas the victim survived the incident, and the attacker escaped, Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān and his associates were held responsible for the incidents, which gave the senior Salafis the opportunity to close down Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān’s daʿwa office in Nūr mosque. These events caused the local authorities to intervene, and in a roundup of suspects, five leading Ahl al-Sunna members were arrested and imprisoned, leaving the rest of the Ahl al-Sunna leadership to flee the town. Many of the leading activists, such as Shaykh Aḥmad ʿUthmān, left Ethiopia for countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.68 It is important to see the local government’s intervention in relation to developments and events on the national level that were causing the regime to perceive Ethiopian Islam as becoming increasingly radicalised. I will return to these developments in the next chapter. Shocked by the violence and intimidated by the local government’s measures, the large majority of the Ahl al-Sunna’s followers became disenchanted and distanced themselves from the movement. The campaign from the senior Salafis and the regime’s crackdown moreover made the movement withdraw to the rural areas, where it, by infiltrating the existing rural jamāʿat as well as establishing new ones, managed to attract a large number of students from the countryside. This 67

Abdi Mukhtār, interview 6 October 2005; Khadīr Faīṣal, interview 14 March 2006; Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 14 March 2005. 68 The circumstances around these incidents are not very clear as there are a number of rumours and accusations going in all directions.

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network of jamāʿat, some of them hosting several hundred students, became pivotal for the maintenance of the movement in Bale. The teachers in the rural areas largely belonged to a younger generation than those of the Salafiyya Madrasa; they were usually trained domestically and advocated the Ahl al-Sunna version of Salafism. With the arrival of Aḥmad Sulaymān (a pseudonym) to Robe in 1997, the Ahl al-Sunna made another attempt to return to the town. Born in 1962 in the district of Gasera, Aḥmad Sulaymān had attended the Salafiyya Madrasa and had also been tutored by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman Adam, the former director of the madrasa. In 1991 he earned a degree in management from a university in northern Ethiopia, a place where he also became exposed to Salafism through a fellow student from Eritrea.69 After graduation, he worked for a short period as a civil servant in Dello-Mena before leaving for Saudi Arabia in November 1991. He stayed in Saudi Arabia until 1997, mainly working in construction while attending religious classes at night.70 Returning to Robe, Aḥmad Sulaymān came with a clear agenda. News about the conflicts between the Ahl al-Sunna movement and the senior Salafis had reached him during his stay in Saudi Arabia, and he was determined to redress the situation.

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When I came back I started collecting the young people in the Nūr mosque for daʿwa. All kinds of people were coming: shoe-shiners, students, government workers, police and so on. We made this group every Saturday and Sunday after ʿaṣr (the afternoon prayer) . . . and soon the people got adapted to my preaching every Saturday and Sunday. Every week more people started coming. There were also some who went around inviting people. I didn’t do that.71

As he was collecting up to two hundred youngsters and addressing subjects similar to the earlier Ahl al-Sunna activists, the senior Salafis became increasingly uneasy with Aḥmad Sulaymān’s preaching. And eight months later, the leadership of Nūr mosque banned him from speaking in the mosque. The senior Salafis even reported him to the authorities, saying he was mixing religion with politics. Barely escaping the police, he fled to Addis Ababa where he stayed for 25 days.

69

It was this student who later would be the organiser of the Madkhaliyya group in Addis Ababa. 70 Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 8 August, 9 August 2005 and 14 March 2006. 71 Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 14 August 2005.

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chapter eight After that I went to the Ḥ amza mosque and did my daʿwa there. Those who were listening to me in the Nūr mosque came with me there. But the imām of the Ḥ amza mosque at that time was a teacher at Salafiyya Madrasa. He got information from Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥman Adam about me, saying that I was banned from the Nūr mosque. After two months I was also banned from the Ḥ amza mosque. At that time I became famous all over Robe, and I was going around doing daʿwa in different mosques. Still I am doing this.72

The Ḥ amza mosque, which was constructed in Robe in 1997, gradually became the stronghold of the Ahl al-Sunna movement in Robe. The mosque was soon controlled by the younger generation and staffed with locally trained imāms affiliated to the Ahl al-Sunna movement. The mosque also hosted a school for the teaching of the Sunna, the Dār al-Ḥ adīth, which in turn became crucial for the dissemination of their version of Salafism. In the late 1990s the school had around three hundred students, mostly from the rural areas.73 The teaching of Aḥmad Sulaymān also sparked renewed fervour among the high school students in Robe. Their zeal was, however, soon quelled by the local authorities. As a direct result of a student demonstration in January 1997, which demanded the right to pray at the school’s premises and opposed the ban on hijāb for female students, the authorities embarked on a campaign of arresting the main daʿwa activists, causing an even greater number to flee the area and furthering the dissolution of the Ahl al-Sunna movement.

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Struggle for Power It would be possible to construe this internal conflict within the Salafi movement from various angles. Obviously the controversy had a religious side to it, not in the sense of divergence over ʿaqīda (creed), but rather over manhaj (method). It needs to be noted that such controversies never reached a very advanced theological level. Another perspective is the generational dimension embedded in the quest for authority, positions and resources which has created similar controversies among Salafis in general (Wiktorowicz 2006) and in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa in particular (Brenner 2001). The Ahl alSunna activists’ brash approach was condemned by the senior Salafis,

72 73

Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 14 August 2005. Amān ʿUmar, interview 31 March 2006.

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who saw the youngsters’ disregard of age as insulting and as a breach with Oromo customs. The senior Salafis also feared that the growing support of the Ahl al-Sunna could jeopardise their connections and support from their Saudi counterparts, and that it would diminish their position in the eyes of the Saudis, leading them to redirect their funding to the other party. The issue of authority remains intrinsically linked to the aspect of confidence that the audience ascribes to those holding power. As observed by Lambek (1990), religious authority in Islam is a relative phenomenon as it is granted both to texts and to people (ritual and textual experts). The religious leader’s authority is never autonomous but remains very much constrained by his or her performance and the response of the audience. Authority can thus be challenged and contested in situations where “we see people engaged in dialogue in which personal and scriptural authority each play a part, both as subjects of debate and as the means by which positions in the debate are staked out and evaluated” (1990: 35). While Lambek and others have related performance to ritual duties and the ability to perform miraculous acts, all enshrined in an esoteric episteme (cf. Constantin 1988), performance was in the case of Salafism in Bale overtly linked to outward practices of the Sunna, purity, integrity in financial matters and personal piety. The issue of performance backfired on the Ahl al-Sunna, becoming decisive in weakening the movement. While the actions of the Ahl al-Sunna activists as described above could be construed as miscalculations on their part, it nevertheless left them bereft of much needed confidence. In the eyes of the youth and of the larger Muslim community, their doings were seen as contrary to the very principles of Islam, a perception that was accentuated by the agitation of the senior Salafis. Where personal and textual forms of authority continue to coexist in dynamic tensions, it is clear that individual references to and interpretations of Islamic virtues found in texts and used in an evaluative discourse not only hamper the moral autonomy of the texts but also seriously impinge on the issues of coherency and uniformity. In a situation where everyone is evaluated and found unworthy, the road to disillusionment and a search for alternatives of a different character becomes short.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved. steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

CHAPTER NINE

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SALAFISM, POLITICS AND ETHNICITY The post-Derg period was characterised by disparate currents and rapid, encompassing developments and represents an era when religious changes at the regional, national and global level were making impacts in a wide array of localities. Not only did this affect the ways Salafism was practised and adhered to, but the movement’s increased strength, coupled with regional and global tension, also contributed to shaping the Ethiopian regime’s and the rest of the population’s perceptions of Salafism. For them, Salafism represented a radical and militant movement seeking political power. In the following, I will draw a more nuanced picture by presenting some of my findings from the context of Bale. The first part of the discussion focuses on the relationship between Islam and politics in connection with the main Islamic reform movements operating at the national level and then turn to the more specific question of Salafism. The discussion on religion and politics inevitably leads to the issue of ethnicity, which has, as indicated, become increasingly politicised in the post-Derg period. My intention is to demonstrate how religion was intertwined with the question of ethnicity and how the two represented strong forces that made their impact on the question of national unity, religious affiliation and religion in relation to politics. Seeing the post-Derg period as an era in which contradicting sets of influences impinged on the lives of people, the last section of this chapter provides some perspectives on the different strategies applied by various groups in their quest for meaning and coherency in these circumstances. Political Islam: Old Prejudices and New Fear The political changes in the 1990s which boosted the activities of the Muslims, enhanced their representation in public life and led in general to a greater visibility of Islam have spurred concern from the side of the Christians. With reference to the growth in the number of mosques all over the country and the increasing number of Muslims holding governmental and public positions, Ethiopian Muslims

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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are accused of aspiring for political power based on radical religious ideas.1 For instance, madāris are charged with being “brain washing sessions and jihad factories nurturing potential bin Ladens”. It is also claimed that “innocent Ethiopian kids are taken to various countries in the Middle East for military training, and then return home to participate in the meticulously planned and widely coordinated jihad” (Alem Zele-Alem 2003). Although such statements refer to changes within contemporary Ethiopia, they must arguably be seen in relation to ancient pejorative attitudes. Claims that Ethiopia’s “contemporary religious equilibrium is collapsing very quickly”, and that “contemporary religious militancy should be seen as a wholly new phenomenon and a threat to peace, stability and independence” (Medhane Tadesse 2003), clearly echo sentiments from the past. Such sentiments were discernable in the wake of the large Muslim demonstration on the 20th of April 1974, when representatives from the Addis Ababa Orthodox Churches already the next day submitted a petition to the authorities saying that the demands of the Muslims “undermined the historical position of Christianity and threatened the unity of the country” (Hussein Ahmed 1994b: 780). The important point is that the current situation is exacerbated by the issue of “Islamic fundamentalism” being added to an already existing phobia, thus augmenting the hostile sentiments. Although such attitudes can be found among different groups, they have been most noticeable among Amhara-centrists, to whom national unity under Orthodox Christianity, the Amharic language and a unitary state remains the repeated credo. Several foreign observers have also expressed concern over the current situation, seeing the developments within Ethiopian Islam to have a severe negative impact on the country’s Christian-Muslim relations (de Waal 2004; Erich 2005; Shinn 2004; Shinn 2005). Such perceptions have also informed international policy-makers, who due to Ethiopia’s strategic position in the Horn of Africa and by making references to “international terrorism” and its consequences for “regional stability”, are expressing increasing concern over recent developments. It has also activated the unwarranted dichotomy between “foreign” and indigenous Islam, clearly seen in the way Erlich (2007) claims that Ethiopian Salafis, in cooperation with the Saudi Arabian Salafi estab-

1 For some other examples of the public Ethiopian debate, see Hibret Selamu (2004), Johannes Sebhatu (2004) and Ephrem Eshete (2008).

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lishment and the Saudi regime, are working relentlessly to disseminate militant Islamism within Ethiopia. Such influences are contrasted with the more “traditional” Muslims, who “have remained loyal to their own apolitical traditions” (2007: 179).2 Drawing unfounded boundaries between the local and translocal and applying such a dichotomy arguably conceals much of the complexity of the situation and ignores the fact that indigenous Ethiopian Islam in periods has been overtly “political”. One needs only think of the wars of Aḥmad Gragn and the Islamic-inspired resistance towards the policy of Emperor Yohannes in 19th century Wollo. The Islamic Reform Movements

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Juxtaposing the claims that Islam in Ethiopia is becoming increasingly politicised with the current Islamic reform movements, the picture becomes somewhat different. The Jamāʿat al-Tablīgh has in general claimed to be an apolitical movement. Rather than engaging in political affairs, Tablīgh has argued for the Islamisation of society through the efforts of Muslim individuals, to lead others to Islam and uphold the Islamic virtues.3 However, the movement’s networks have in many areas been exploited by other groups, creating a situation where it has often been equated with Islamism (Kepel 2002: 45). In both Somalia and Uganda, such groups have managed to develop Tablīgh in a more politicised direction (Chande 2000: 355–358; “Somalia’s Islamists” 2005: 18). In Ethiopia, Tablīgh has overtly operated in compliance with the general principles of the movement and has through its history been devoid of political engagement. Maintaining a low profile and withdrawn to its markaz and to selected mosques in Addis Ababa, it has remained rather imperceptible and secluded from any involvement in public life.

2 This view has been repeated in the Ethiopian public debate, most recently by Ephrem Yishak, a Harvard educated scholar and prominent elder, who says that “all the sources of all religious conflicts in the history of Ethiopia and current clashes under the guise of religion have been external” (VOA-Amharic Service, 18 January 2008) and by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, who in an interview with The Guardian, 25 January 2008 blamed un-named Arab Sunni Muslim states for financing the radicalisation of Ethiopian Muslims (“To Impose Democracy from Outside Is Inherently Undemocratic”). 3 For an enlightening discussion on Tablīgh’s relations towards political activity, see Sikand (2006).

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The Intellectualist movement is, on the other hand, the one with the most elaborate view on politics. The movement has had a clear ideological attachment to the Muslim Brotherhood, where the views of Ḥ asan al-Bannā, and in particular those of Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, are disseminated among its followers. It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood was never formally established in Ethiopia. Rather, it is the ideas of the movement that were introduced, selectively chosen and interpreted within the particular Ethiopian context. Of particular interest is how these ideas are remoulded within a Sufi narrative, which both includes the reconstruction of general Sufi traditions and the re-reading of indigenous Ethiopian Sufi scholars. One of my informants, a graduate from Addis Ababa University, expressed this in the following way:

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I want to live Islam. There is the wājib—but it should not only be mechanical worship. Sufism helps you see inside yourself . . . I want to be a good Muslim. I want to have good ʿaqīda, good morality. At the same time I want to live in the 21st century. Sufism is a way to combine modern life and religion. With Sufism I can live close to Allah, it gets personal.4

The Intellectualists have repeatedly emphasised their view of Islam as a comprehensive religion, relevant to all aspects of life. Hence Muslims are expected to be active in all sectors of societal and political life. The believer should participate in his or her capacity as a member of society, and the religiously inspired conduct will form a society influenced by Islamic virtues. Referring to past discrimination, the Intellectualists have also been concerned with earlier injustices, worked for equal representation of Muslims in public life and argued for the creation of a political environment facilitating mutual respect and co-existence between the two religions. What is of particular interest is the Intellectualists’ opinion on the nature of the environment best suited to meet the needs of the Muslims of Ethiopia. Rather than voicing the classical views of the Muslim Brotherhood and advocating that Islam be infused into politics, they argue that the rights of the country’s different religious groups can only be safeguarded by a secular government.5

4

Ṭ āhā Ḥ usayn, interview 17 June 2006. Ṭ āhā Ḥ usayn, interview 17 June 2006; Maḥmūd Idrīs, interview 5 December 2005. 5

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The question of politics in relation to Salafism clearly shows the domination of the purist trend among Ethiopian Salafis, for whom rhetoric of a political nature in general has been absent. Although an expansion of the sharīʿa courts’ jurisdiction would be welcomed by most Salafis and the more radical elements would see the inclusion of corporal punishment, the common understanding is that incorporating the sharīʿa in the governing system would be impossible in Ethiopia. Recognising the religious plurality of Ethiopia, the argument is that religious freedom for all could only be secured under a secular government. My suggestion is then that contemporary Ethiopian Islam has remained disengaged from politics and not moved in a so-called radical direction. This is, in light of the historical legacy, quite interesting. As Ethiopia’s Muslims in general see themselves as victims of Christian domination and subjugation, one could expect the level of political engagement to be higher, with more acute inter-religious tensions. Tensions between Christians and Muslims have undoubtedly risen during the 1990s, notably seen in relation to contestation over public space; largely revolving around the construction of new mosques and churches as well as the celebrations of religious holidays.6 Whereas such incidents have remained local and had few lasting implications, developments took a new turn when Christians and Muslims in the Jimma and Begi (Wollega) areas clashed in October 2006. The conflict was immediately connected to local Salafis and spurred renewed focus on Salafism as a political movement. Both the scale of the conflicts and the level of violence were surprisingly high. There were reports of a group referred to as the Khawārij,7 said to have connections to radical groups in other parts of the country and to Sudan and Yemen, torching

6 Some of these incidents were reported in small unsigned notices in Ethiopian newspapers (Andebet 8, October 1994; Maebel, 25 December 1994; Walwal, 27 December 1994; Etiop, 12 April 1995). The sources are, however, fragmentary, and sufficient investigation is clearly lacking. It should also be remembered that the same period saw skirmishes between Protestant and Orthodox Christians in various parts of the country. For a more analytic approach to Christian-Muslim relations in Ethiopia, see Hussein Ahmed (2006) and Abbink (2009). 7 Literally; “those who go out” or “outlaws”. The Khawārij were originally a group supporting ʿAlī in his struggle for the caliphate and have been characterised as extremist, rejecting any form of illegitimate authority. The term has among Muslims often been applied as a derogatory label for groups considered “fanatics”.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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churches and trying to convert Christians to Islam by force.8 Other reports from Jimma claimed that the conflict was exacerbated by the activities of adherents of a Takfīr wa al-Hijra group in Jimma. The conflicts in Jimma and Begi were more coordinated than previous ones and spanned a wider geographical area, yet could hardly be construed as political. Rather, the skirmishes are a clear demonstration of how purist groups may enter into acts of vigilantism, seeking to retain religious purity versus other Muslims or non-Muslims (Hegghammer 2007: 62). In accordance with the general Salafi notion of exclusiveness, both towards Christians and non-Salafi Muslims, groups such as the already mentioned Takfīr wa al-Hijra and others advocating a stricter separation from the Christians have emerged. It is important to observe, however, that such sentiments have gained meagre support among the Salafis at large. Neither the main Salafi ʿulamāʾ in Addis Ababa, nor Salafis in general, champion views of segregation and enmity towards Christians. Although there has been an increase in inter-religious tensions, one should not see this as the dominating pattern. Conflicts may often be a part of a more complex picture, in which many of the presumed inter-religious clashes, particularly in the southern areas, remain intrinsically linked to a broader history of inter-ethnic enmity. The long-standing religious plurality and the tradition of relatively peaceful co-existence in Ethiopia have undoubtedly hindered the escalation of inter-religious conflicts. The pattern of shared commonality at the grass-root level, a degree of mutual respect and even, in some areas, transgressions of religious boundaries in the form of cross-religious marriages and conversions have served as important resources in preventing conflicts. This tradition has also influenced the Islamic movements, making them less likely to embark on a path of a more conflictual character. Their confidence to explicitly voice their opinions in accordance with their respective ideologies has also been affected by the asymmetric character of the inter-religious relationship in Ethiopia. Centuries of Christian dominance, when the Muslims were positioned as second-rate, excluded from participating in political life, denied any 8

Reports in the media about the number of casualties and wounded are overtly inconsistent, ranging from five to fifteen killed. See reports by Nursefa Kemal in the Islamic newspaper al-Quds (6 October 2006), by Tedla Yeneakal (2006) and in an unsigned article in The Reporter [Amharic] (“Sectarian Violence in Aggaro” 2006).

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representation in the form of organisations and stigmatised, left the Muslims secluded from the public sphere and protective of their limited space.9 Seen in relation to the notion of social identity, the distinction between group identification and social categorisation is of particular interest here. Whereas the former constitutes the internal and collective identification process and the latter signifies the external categorisation of and by others, the dialectics between the two has a clear reciprocal effect in the construction of social identities ( Jenkins 1996: 80f.). In Ethiopia, the Christian politico-cultural hegemony has naturally made an impact on the Muslims’ self-image, whereby the internalising of categories issued by the others has made the Muslims’ internal self-image a reflection of their stigmatisation by the Christians. This has, consequently, deprived the Muslims in general and the Islamic movements in particular, of much-needed resources and confidence in their quest for increased parity and for carving out public space for themselves. Moreover, it has had clear implications for the agenda of the reform movements making them more reluctant to challenge the status quo and causing them to refrain from articulating political views in a radical direction. An increased number of mosques and higher representations of Muslims in public life can hardly qualify as evidence for a politicisation of Islam in Ethiopia. It has not been uncommon, however, to equate Muslim demands of better representation with a politicisation of Islam. This could be a reflection of how current trends within contemporary Islam, accompanied with geopolitical tensions, may lure us into applying rather narrow categories which unfortunately limit our understanding of a dynamic and heterogeneous phenomenon.10 The case of Ethiopia clearly demonstrates how contemporary Islam consists of several ideological trends manifested in a variety of movements, and where their local manifestations are products of constant negotiations between translocal ideological impetuses and the particularities of the locality.

9 This has, according to Markakis created “a very low sense of community involvement outside their own group” (1974: 168). Cf. Clapham (2002). 10 A relevant example is Chande’s discussion of various Islamic movements in East Africa (2000). Even though these movements forward many of the same views and demands as those discussed in this chapter, Chande ends up applying the tendentious label of radicalism.

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The Ruptures in 1995 Another and pivotal factor for the Muslims’ disengagement in politics was the regime’s increasing interference in religious affairs. Whereas the developments within the Muslim community in Ethiopia went relatively unchecked in the first half of the 1990s, the years 1995 and, to some degree, 1996 became a watershed for organised Muslim activities. The regime’s concern grew by the end of 1994, when thousands of Muslims in the capital took to the streets in the huge demonstration in November. On 21 February 1995, worshippers at the al-Anwar mosque in Addis Ababa clashed with the police, leaving nine people killed and over one hundred wounded.11 The incident seems to have been spurred by internal rivalry within the EIASC, leading to skirmishes at the mosque and causing the police to interfere (Abbink 1998: 118; Hussein Ahmed 2006: 17). The violence provided the regime with a much needed excuse to curb the movements within the Muslim community. In the following days, hundreds of Muslims were imprisoned suspected of involvement, and on the 22nd of February, armed police surrounded the offices of the Ethiopian Muslim Youth Association. All those present were arrested, and the offices closed. Shaykh Sayyid Aḥmad, the main leader, managed to escape and fled to Saudi Arabia.12 The association had by then become the main instrument for the Salafi movement in Addis Ababa and was hence particularly targeted by the regime. The government also called for a re-election of the EIASC—a process that was overtly monitored and controlled by the ruling party (Schröder 1996: 83). The situation worsened after a failed assassination attempt against the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak during his visit to Addis Ababa on the 26th of June the same year. Five of the attackers were killed on the spot, and it was later learned that the Egyptian organisation al-Jamāʿa al-Islamiyya, allegedly with the assistance of Sudan, was responsible for the incident.13 The incident led to continued arrests and the extra-

11 This was according to official figures reported in the Amharic government newspaper Addis Zemen (24 February 1995). 12 This was reported in a unsigned article in the Amharic newspaper Tobia (8 March 1995) 13 This was according to reports in Addis Zemen (27 June and 5 July 1995) and in Africa Confidential, 7 June (“Calling the Shots after Addis Ababa” 1995).

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dition of Egyptian and Sudanese nationals.14 In addition to this, from May 1995 to April 1996, the Somali-based al-Ittiḥād al-Islāmiyya carried out several bomb attacks in Addis Ababa and in the town of Dirre Dawa, prompting the Ethiopian government to crush al-Ittiḥād’s bases inside Somalia in August 1996. Coupled with the regime’s efforts to extend its realm of control was the perceived threat of “Islamic fundamentalism” and the ancient Islamophobia. Most of the members of the ruling elite had a Christian background and were from the outset harbouring the same ancient pejorative attitudes towards the Muslims. These attitudes were arguably important in shaping the regime’s measures against the Muslim community. The regime’s reactions deprived the Muslims of much of the public space they had acquired since 1991. With the closure of Islamic organisations, EIASC soon emerged as the sole actor, claiming to represent the Muslim population as a whole. The council’s close links with the regime and its vast apparatus effectively enabled the government to monitor and control developments within the Muslim community. The council proved to be a loyal instrument in curbing un-wanted developments and has in recent years particularly targeted the Salafi movement. In January 2004, EIASC voted to remove all the executive members of the council, replacing them with staunch anti-Salafis. Interesting to note is that the voting session was attended by a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.15 The hegemonic position of the EIASC has also impinged on the possibilities of forming alternative organisations,16 which in turn has contributed to the highly

14 A prominent figure among the arrested was Sirāj Muḥammad Ḥ usayn, a Sudanese national. He was said to be affiliated to the Addis Ababa branch of Muwaffaq Foundation, a Sudanese agency. See Africa Confidential, 7 July (“Calling the Shots after Addis Ababa” 1995). 15 See http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35355.htm (accessed February 2008). The reshuffling of the council was presented to the public by a well-orchestrated media campaign, where former members of the council were accused of intending to spend four million Saudi riyals to influence the council. The executive members of the council were consequently dismissed on charges of corruption. See The Monitor, 9 January [Amharic] (“Members of the Majlis for Ethiopia’s Islamic Affairs Have Been Dismissed” 2004) and The Reporter [Amharic], 29 December (“Wahhabis Have Been Active in Ethiopia Using 4 Million Riyals for the Majlis Elections” 2003). According to informants close to the council, the ghost of Salafism has repeatedly been used as an excuse in settling various quarrels among its members (Maḥmūd Idrīs, interview 8 December 2005; Ṭ āhā Ḥ usayn, interview 20 May 2006). 16 For a comparison to situations in other countries in East Africa, see Constantin (1993: 49f.).

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informal and de-institutionalised character of contemporary Ethiopian Islam. This increasing de-institutionalising of Ethiopian Islam has, as a consequence, enhanced the importance of the mosque, which paradoxically has reduced the regime’s ability to monitor the movements of the Islamic community. The mosques represent to a certain degree a closed space and have proven conducive to the emergence of a variety of independent figures promoting disparate ideas, which have obviously contributed to augment the fragmented situation.

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Salafism and Politics in Bale The Salafis in Bale were, like the rest of the Muslim population in Ethiopia, conscious of past injustices and discriminations by previous governments and welcomed the new policy recognising the religious diversity of the country. They have refrained, however, from issuing statements about political affairs and remain conscious of the limits of their engagement in secular politics. Opinions forwarded to me, through interviews and private conversations, were all in favour of a political system that would secure the rights of the different groups. Religion was seen as private and not to be mixed with politics and the affairs of the state. This would arguably be related to the traditional perception of differentiated authority in Bale. In contrast to the secular Oromo elite, the religious leadership of Bale was not directly involved in past conflicts with the political regimes. Not that the ʿulamāʾ of that time were indifferent to the political situation, but they saw themselves, and were seen by the people, as beyond the realm of secular politics. As religious leaders their area of authority was restricted to the spiritual sphere, and their contribution to the struggle consisted of prayers for the fighters and moral support. This clearly points to the aspect of continuity in the status of religious authorities, where they, just as the qallu, were exempt from direct involvement in wars. Compared to the situation in 19th century Wollo (Hussein Ahmed 2001), where the ʿulamāʾ played a leading role in the resistance to the Christian state’s direct attack upon the Muslim population, it is interesting to note this particular difference. It can partly be explained by the distinct ethnic character of the conflict in Bale, whereas in Wollo it was interpreted as a Christian attack on Islam. The senior Salafis have, nevertheless, found themselves entangled in political affairs. On the one hand, they co-opted the regime for their own ends, when they involved the local authorities in their controversy

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with the Ahl al-Sunna movement. Accusing the Ahl al-Sunna activists of harbouring radical political views and of having connections with OLF, they consciously fed into the regime’s Islamophobia and thus used it to marginalise the movement.17 On the other hand, the regime has been active in interfering in the Salafi community. This has been most clearly seen in relation to the local branch of EIASC, which after its re-organisation in 1991, and again in 1995, has expanded its presence with representations down to the district level. As the various sub-councils are intrinsically linked to the local authorities and as the council’s main office is located in one of the governmental buildings in Robe, EIASC is widely seen as an institution under the regime’s domain and the main leaders regarded as cadres of the ruling party.18 Also the qāḍīs seem to be under the same influence. Here the formal links with the official judicial structure are more obvious, as the sharīʿa courts in Ethiopia received legal recognition as early as in 1942.19 A dilemma was created with the passing of the Civil Code of 1960, which repealed previous rules pertaining to family laws and succession. This effectively curtailed the jurisdiction of Islamic law, as well as implicitly abolishing the sharīʿa courts. Responding to the widespread protests from the Muslims, the Imperial Government issued a circular allowing the sharīʿa courts to de facto function in accordance with the proclamation of 1944. No additional legislation was introduced, and during the period of Imperial rule, as well as throughout the Derg period, the sharīʿa courts constituted a quasi-legal entity. In 1999, the House of Peoples’ Representatives issued a proclamation formalising the role of sharīʿa courts in Ethiopia, while at the same time integrating them into the formal judicial structures. Defining its areas of jurisdiction, the courts were made accountable to the Federal Juridical Administration Commission (Art. 3), which also was to approve the appointment of qāḍīs (Art. 17).20 As in many other countries with a substantial Muslim

17

Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 20 August 2005. The validity of this perception was clearly confirmed during the EthiopianEritrean war (1998–2000), when the council used the public celebration of ʿīd al-Fiṭr to propagate the views of the government, and in connection to the national election in 2005, when EIASC was actively engaged in campaigning for the ruling party. For more details, see Østebø (2011). 19 “Proclamation to Establish Kadi Courts “ 1942; “Proclamation to Provide for the Establishment of Naiba and Kadis Councils” 1944. 20 See “Federal Courts of Sharia Consolidation Proclamation No 188–1999”. Available from Ethiopian Law Nettwork, (http://www.ethiopian-law.com/federal-laws/ 18

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population, the jurisdiction of the sharīʿa courts is restricted to matters related to family law: marriage, divorce, inheritance and guardianship of minors.21 In Bale, the sharīʿa courts are organised with a higher court in Robe and with lower-level courts in six of the districts. With their offices located in the governmental court buildings and funded by government grants, the sharīʿa courts remain firmly integrated within the governmental judicial structure. As loyalty to OPDO is one of the criteria for becoming a qāḍī, the general perception is similar to that of the EIASC: the sharīʿa courts are part of the regime’s political apparatus, and the qāḍīs belong to the party’s cadres. The regime has, on the other hand, remained suspicious of the senior Salafis. Unable to safeguard the unconditional loyalty of the Salafi ʿulamāʾ, they are consequently viewed as a possible security threat; supporters of OLF and promoters of “Islamic fundamentalism”, and perceived as potential instigators for either religiously or ethnically motivated popular resistance. Seeking to exert their control over the religious establishment, the regime has therefore deployed informants listening to what is spoken in the mosques.

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One time I was preaching in Bilal mosque, saying that according to the ḥ adīth every Muslim is a brother of a Muslim. The meaning of this is that the Muslims should live in peace with each other . . . But after that the wäräda administrator called me to his office. I asked them why they had called me. He said: ‘You said that every Muslim is the brother to other Muslims. Does this mean that the Christians are not the brothers of the Muslims?’ He then said: ‘From today we will not hear such things in the mosque. We have a person in the mosque watching you.’22

In comparison to the senior Salafis, the Ahl al-Sunna movement has held somewhat more ambivalent attitudes towards politics. While sharing many of the anti-Western and, in particular, anti-American ideas with the wider Islamist movement, they have explicitly distanced themselves from the views of movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, which they despise and call Sufi. They are also critical of figures like Usāma bin Lādin, in their view another “Sufi”.

federal-justice-institutions/federal-courts/338-federal-courts-of-sharia-consolidationproclamation-no-188–1999.html, accessed 4 October 2010). 21 For more details on the situation for the sharīʿa courts in Ethiopia, see Idris Ibrahim (1994) and Abdul Wasie Yusuf (1971). 22 Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 9 June 2005.

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They [the Ṭ alibān] are not the followers of Ahl al-Sunna. They originated in Pakistan, and they are Sufis. Also the leaders of Sudan are Sufis; a person like al-Turābī is not even an ʿālim. The only pure Islamic society was in the times of the caliphs.23

Still, the Ahl al-Sunna did during its heyday in the early 1990s raise the issue of (violent) jihād and criticised the senior Salafi ʿulamāʾ for omitting it from their teaching.24 The Ahl al-Sunna argued that, as an intrinsic part of the teaching of Islam, it should be included as a daʿwa topic. Yet, the issue was never elaborated in detail, nor were targets for, or the nature of a possible jihād articulated. Also interesting to note is the limited attention the 9/11 incident gained in Bale. My informants were in general critical to the attacks yet at the same time harboured a negative attitude towards American politics, particularly with regard to its involvement in the Muslim world.25 Rather than societal or political changes, the focus was on the religiosity of the individual and the need for personal piety and zeal. Secular political affairs were of little interest, and neither did the Ahl al-Sunna promoted a programme for political activism. In sum, the Salafis constituted a group of actors seeking to stay out of politics while at the same time caught up by the political developments. Indeed, the relationship between the Salafis and the political authorities is of a complex nature, determined not only by the actors’ ideological preferences but also by the issue of ethnicity—a factor which surfaced with renewed strength in post-Derg Bale.

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Salafism and Ethnicity In Bale, the political transition in 1991 was initially of a peaceful character. The Derg administrators left quietly, and the only sign of the Derg army was defecting soldiers from Addis Ababa passing through Robe selling weapons from two stolen trucks. The first representatives of what would become the new regime arrived in the form of TPLF cadres in early June 1991, followed by a small contingent of armed 23

Aḥmad Sulaymān, interview 29 April 2006. Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 8 October 2005; Khadīr Faīṣal, interview 14 March 2006. 25 The 9/11 incident spurred, on the other hand, an increase in arrests in Bale. Several followers of the Ahl al-Sunna were rounded up and imprisoned. The actual charges were not clear, and the captives were released after some months in jail. 24

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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personnel. TPLF subsequently established an office which they staffed with OPDO people. OLF also sent their representatives in June, with Wolde Yohannes Hunde and Gutama Hawas ( Jamāl Robale) assessing the situation. In July, a limited number of OLF soldiers arrived in the highlands, encamping beside Shaya River, a few kilometres outside Robe.26 News about their arrival soon reached the town, and “all” the (Muslim) Oromo in Robe were on their feet cheering them as they marched through the streets of Robe. This first presence of OLF stirred up an intense fervour among the Oromo population. OLF-banners appeared everywhere, slogans were written on walls and even the Nūr mosque was decorated with OLF flags.

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The emotions were indescribable at that time. Everybody was so happy, from the young ones to the elders. People were bringing porridge to the [OLF] soldiers; everybody was happy. I feel sorry today when I think about it (the informant was weeping at this point). It is better to say that God did not allow us to succeed. I remember in one meeting when an old man was called to bless the meeting. He was old and could not hear properly. He said: ‘Let us all fight the TPLF. I am old, and I cannot go all the way, but I will go as far as to Shaya’. At that meeting I was not normal. It was freedom that was on everybody’s mind, freedom from the Amhara. Or better to say, independence and having our own country.27

Bale was in the first months after the fall of the Derg governed by so-called Peace and Stability Committees. TPLF/OPDO and OLF had their own separate offices and kept their respective armed forces intact. The relationship between the two was dominated by mutual suspicion, and as they were unable to reach an agreement on how to administer the area, the two parties inevitably found themselves at loggerheads. The south-eastern parts of Ethiopia were in general contested areas, and both TPLF and OLF claimed to be the liberating forces (Tronvoll 2000: 16). The (Muslim) people of Bale were increasingly becoming discontent with TPLF/OPDO, and already in the early fall of 1991, sporadic conflicts between the locals and TPLF/OPDO erupted. In September of that year, representatives from the central leadership of OLF arrived in Robe trying to calm down the situation, organising a mass-meeting at the sports stadium.

26 Aliyeh Jamāl, interview 2 April 2006; Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 8 October 2005. 27 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 1 June 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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In that meeting Gutama Hawas took up his pen, saying: ‘This is our weapon now. It is not the time to fight with guns, we have to wait. We will not go to the forest, because the Oromo people are our forest’. But the young people didn’t accept him, and they called him and the other leaders Gobena.28

All attempts to cool down the situation failed, and in November 1991, the farmers around Robe took up arms in a quest to oust TPLF/OPDO from Bale. Bands of people arrived from other districts, encircled the town and prepared for battle. The farmers were poorly organised, insufficiently armed and clearly overconfident. The OLF soldiers, already outnumbered by TPLF/OPDO forces and thus opposed to any armed confrontation, were inevitably forced to render support to the farmers. The battle of Robe lasted three days. Outmanned by the well-equipped TPLF forces, the uprising was swiftly and brutally quelled.29 The TPLF soldiers followed the insurgents as they fled into the surrounding rural areas, hunting them down in sporadic clashes.30 Subsequently, TPLF/OPDO started a more rigorous campaign in securing control over the area. As part of a strategy to create a national army and reduce the presence of the fronts’ forces prior to the local elections in 1992, the TPLF and OLF factions within the TGE made an agreement in April 1992 to garrison their forces.31 It soon became apparent, however, that TPLF kept its forces intact and that the agreement was part of a strategy to weaken OLF. This was clearly seen in the case of Bale, where the OLF troops were garrisoned in Shawe, a former Derg military camp near Dello-Mena:

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In the camp we got clothes and food, given by the transitional government. But there were no guns and ammunition . . . All together we were 4000 soldiers in the camp—2000 from Bale and 2000 from Borana. In

28 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 8 October 2005. The name Gobena refers to Gobena Dache, one of Menelik’s Oromo generals, and has later become the word representing traitor. 29 Aliyeh Jamāl, interview 2 April 2006; Chala Kamāl, interview 27 June 2005; Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 8 October 2005; Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 1 June & 8 October 2005. 30 In a letter to the TGE, elders from Bale and Arsi claimed that the TPLF forces had killed 266, wounded 38, displaced 39,000 and burned down 8,700 houses in November 1991 (Asafa Jalata 2005: 212). 31 Africa Confidential, 8 May 1992 (“Ethiopia: Power-Struggle and the Ethnic Weapon” 1992). The number of OLF forces were according to OLF 40,000, while international observers claimed the figure was between 10,000 and 15,000 (The Indian Ocean Newsletter, 29 February 1992).

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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chapter nine the camp we got political training. After three months and twenty days there was a disagreement between the transitional government and OLF. The government wanted to disarm OLF, but OLF refused. They [OLF leadership] called us in the camp, saying that we should be ready— day or night—to leave the camp. Then, two-three days later they called us in the night and told us to leave the camp . . . When they called us they knew that TPLF commandos were on the way.32

The campaigns launched by TPLF effectively defeated the different OLF contingents and consequently ended the military strength of OLF in Bale.33 Local OLF offices were closed and the cadres subject to outright harassment. In order to root out any support for the movement, the regime turned against the local population—initiating a “cleansing” process which lasted with uneven strength until 1997, when the regime in November launched a last major offensive against the remnants of OLF.34 An unknown number of people were killed, detained and tortured, which deprived OLF of its much needed local support.35 It also left a distinct mark of fear upon the population:

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They called the people and the government workers [in the district] for a meeting. Before that, the cadres and their supporters among the people had a separate meeting, where they agreed on who to accuse . . . At the meeting they asked the people to reveal who belonged to OLF. The people were quiet. They repeated the question, and again the people were quiet. The third time, one of their supporters raised his hand, and gave some names—my name together with some others. We were told to stand up, and were seated in a separate place. We were not given the chance to speak. After that we were taken to the police station. At that time six persons were arrested, another day nine persons . . . . . . All the prisons and police stations in Bale were full. We were ninety-three persons in the cell. The toilet was a bucket in the same room. During the two years I was there, three persons died. The reason the government arrested us at that time was to get rid of the last support for OLF.36

32

Kamāl Maḥmūd, interview 12 October 2005. By the middle of 1993, OLF’s southern front in Bale and Sidamo was said to have been crushed (Lycett 1993). 34 The Indian Ocean Newsletter, 15 November 1997; Wolde Aseffa, interview 22 July 2006. 35 One report claims that over 1000 persons were arrested only in the first months of 1994 (Union of Oromo Students in Europe. “Press-release”, 2 May 1994). Amnesty International claimed that a total of 25,000 OLF soldiers and supporters were imprisoned after June 1992. By March 1993, all but 1000 had been released (Amnesty International. “Legal Concern/Fear of Torture or Ill-treatment”. Urgent Action Call, No. 369/93, 15 October 1993). 36 Wolde Aseffa, interview 22 July 2006. 33

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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With the ousting of OLF, OPDO has remained the sovereign powerholder in Bale, claiming victory in the national elections of 1995 and 2000. Obviously, the circumstances under which both these elections were held, with no real opposition present, and the outright use of intimidation from the regime upon the electorate, have all been factors securing the power of OPDO.37 The political transition and the subsequent tensions produced division among the Oromo in Bale, and once more it was religion that was the dividing line. As the Muslim Oromo rallied behind OLF, the Shoa Oromo remained reluctant, giving their support to OPDO. This was partly a result of TPLF’s active campaign in recruiting cadres from among the local population, a strategy which was common in the southern areas (Vaughan 2003: 186f.). It was, moreover, a continuation of past perceptions, as the inherent suspicion of the Shoa Oromo towards any Muslim-dominated movement caused them to turn to OPDO. Attempts made by the central leadership of OLF, who sent prominent elders from Shoa to meet the Shoa Oromo in Bale, were not enough to win their trust.38 The Shoa Oromo’s support for OPDO has consequently made them dominate the political administration of Bale. Since 1991, they have staffed the main zonal and district administrations, where half of the six zonal administrators of Bale since 1991 have been Shoa Oromo—a high number given the fact that they only constitute ten percent of the population. The political development in recent years has, however, brought many Shoa Oromo to OLF, thus narrowing the gap between the two Oromo sub-groups. This ethno-religious dimension of Bale refutes the oversimplified picture drawn by Oromo ethno-nationalists. Not surprisingly, many Oromo nationalist writers, and their foreign supporters, have applied a primordialist approach, where they have tended to overemphasise the notion of inherent unity among the Oromo branches. Without

37 The current situation in Bale corresponds to the findings of Human Rights Watch, which describes a general pattern of human rights abuses and political repressions in the whole of Oromia (“Suppressing Dissent: Human Rights Abuses and Political Repression in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region” 2005). Through an extensive network of informants, and infiltration of civil, cultural and religious institutions, the government has kept its grip on the population. Whereas mass arrests were more common in the early 1990s, the regime is today using sanctions of a more economic nature (layoffs from work, loss of salaries, confiscation of property, etc.). This leads to a situation where fear and lack of predictability are prevailing in the minds of the people. For an updated survey of the human rights situation in Ethiopia, see Tronvoll (2008). 38 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 April 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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ignoring the fact that the ethno-nationalist movement is vibrant and has strong support among the Oromo, I would claim that the situation is far more complex, in which the issue of religion (i.e. Islam and Christianity) is a complicating factor.39 The Salafis’ Attitudes

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Several other Oromo-based organisations established themselves in Bale during the transition period, most noticeably the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia (IFLO), which opened an office in Goba during the summer of 1991.40 IFLO, which sought the independence for Muslim-populated areas of Oromia, was originally an offshoot of OLF, formed in the early 1980s by Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Karīm Ibrāhīm Ḥ amīd, aka Shaykh Jarra Abba Gada, a veteran of the insurgencies in Hararge during the 1970s (Erlich 2007: 208f.; Halliday and Molyneux 1981: 197). Neither IFLO nor any of the other Oromo organisations gained much support from the population in Bale, where “the support for OLF was like 98 to 100 per cent”.41 The senior Salafis, together with the rest of the population, unequivocally welcomed the arrival of the OLF troops. As the soldiers entered the town, one of the Salafi shaykhs of Robe uttered: “Had it not been for the laws of Islam, we would have behaved like the warra fuqra— dancing and singing”.42 This clearly demonstrates that the senior Salafis’ political viewpoints were more primarily framed within an ethno-nationalist narrative, rather than within a religious one. Hence, instead of the idea of the umma—a community based on religious exclusiveness—the senior Salafis were adhering to that of Oromumma, a community based on ethnic exclusiveness.43 When asked about the

39 For some more nuanced and balanced perspectives on ethnicity and ethnonationalism in Ethiopia, see Merera Gudina (2003), Georg Haneke (2002), Paulos Chanie (1998) and, in particular, Schlee (2003). 40 The other organisations were Oromo Abbo Liberation Front, led by Ḥ ajj Isḥāq Dadhi, and United Oromo People’s Liberation Front, led by Waqo Gutu. 41 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 1 June 2005. 42 Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 March 2005. 43 Oromumma can best be translated as “Oromoness’, signifying belonging to the Oromo people. A long-time student of Oromo groups in southern Ethiopia, Schlee (2003) reports that the term was never used by his informants and claims that it is a neologism introduced by Mekuria Bulcha (1996) and Gemetchu Megersa (1996). The term was, however, actively used by my informants in Bale. Whether this was a result of the larger ethno-nationalist discourse is yet another question.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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relationship between ethnic affiliation and religion, one of the senior Salafi ʿulamāʾ in Bale gave the following account: We fight for the Oromo cause, where all religions should live together in peace. This means that if we have to fight other Muslims to get freedom, this would be permissible. This is a war of ethnicity, not of religion. And in that case it is ok to fight other Muslims. We are not fighting for an Islamic government. Ethnicity is the problem for Ethiopia today. What we want is a government based on nationality—the Oromo nation. If you don’t respect your nation and get freedom, you will not respect your religion.44

Yet, at the same time, the interrelationship between religion and ethnicity has remained complex. Until the last years of the Derg, the Muslim Oromo of Bale commonly referred to themselves as Islaama, a term which clearly indicated the pertinent role of religion in the marking of symbolic boundaries. Today, Islaama is replaced by the word Oromo, revealing both that identity has transcended the boundary of locality and the introduction of a conceptual distinction between religious and ethnic affiliation.

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Before the Oromo were known by the word Galla, but during the Derg the word Oromo came. I remember when I was a high school student I was talking to my father-in-law, saying that we were Oromo. At that time I was getting more aware of being Oromo. But he didn’t accept being called Oromo. According to him, Oromo meant awaama—a person who would eat all kinds of meat, even dead beasts. He referred to himself as Islaama.45

As this citation illustrates, the accentuation of religious identity as different from ethnicity was not always a straightforward process. On the one hand, the ongoing process of religious change had created a stronger Muslim identity among the Oromo, while the ethnonationalist sentiment, on the other hand, led to a reconstruction of the idea of ‘being Oromo’. Through the political development in the 1990s and fuelled by the growing ethnic fervour, the notion of being an ethnic group—which was religiously heterogeneous—and simultaneously adhering to Islam gradually gained ground among the people. Today, both among the religious leadership and the rest of the Muslim community, faith is considered an individual matter by which human

44 45

Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 6 March 2006. Obse Ibrāhīm, interview 15 April 2005.

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beings identify themselves in relation to God, whereas ethnicity is the collective identity marker by which the individual identifies himself or herself in relation to the group: first as an Arsi Oromo, secondly as an Oromo in the wider sense and thirdly, as distinguished from other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Today my religion and my ethnicity are two different things. One is faith, the other is nation. Religion is about reaching Allah, but it is my nationality that I am proud of. Oromo was before Islam, it is from my forefathers, it is my belonging and my background. Religion is different.46

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Framed within the politicised discourse of OLF, the concept of Oromumma involved the re-production, construction and “invention” of Oromo cultural values and principles necessary for the creation of this imagined community. Even if religion was an important source for the disparity between the Oromo population and the rulers, and much of the discrimination the Muslim Oromo were subject to during the previous regimes in fact was determined by religion, this injustice was, and still is, largely interpreted along ethnic lines, i.e. Oromo versus Amhara. In contrast to the senior Salafis, the Ahl al-Sunna followers have had a more ambivalent attitude towards the question of ethnicity. OLF, which has claimed to represent the whole Oromo population and which promotes secular ideas devoid of any religious references, was initially received with unease by the followers of the Ahl al-Sunna. This account of an Ahl al-Sunna member, describing his first encounter with OLF in the late 1980s, may be illustrative: When we were studying, OLF came to teach us afaan Oromo (the Oromo language) and the Latin letters. We saw the women soldiers wearing trousers, and they were beating the darasoota . . . They didn’t pray and they never spoke about Islam. This made us look negatively on them. In general, OLF was following the Oromo culture, not the religion.47

Yet, as Oromo ethno-nationalism gained momentum in the succeeding years, the same informant expressed quite a different opinion: Today the Ahl al-Sunna support OLF, they are their strongest supporters . . . Now we understand that the question of nation is different from that of religion. It is possible to love your nation and follow the religion.48

46 47 48

Tāhir Ḥ usayn, interview 13 August 2005. Khadīr Faīṣal, interview 14 March 2006. Khadīr Faīṣal, interview 14 March 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The process of religious change and the concurrent boosting of ethnic identity have inevitably paved the way for contradictory patterns. Whereas Salafis and non-Salafis remained at loggerhead over religious practices, the support for OLF was irrespective of religious affiliation. The ethno-nationalist struggle thus demonstrates how religious disagreement can be temporarily bracketed, and how disparate religious groups find their common cause under the Oromo banner.

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Ethnicity and Muslim Unity While religion as a force for mobilisation may have gained momentum in the last decade and the notion of Islamic unity in Ethiopia on occasions can be invoked particularly with reference to the Christian community, the current debate on ethnicity in Ethiopia has both impinged on the unanimity of the Muslim population and affected existing ideological differences among the country’s Islamic movements. Religious affiliation in Ethiopia, as in many other parts of Africa, often corresponds with membership of a particular ethnic group, where also affiliation with the different reform movements has to some degree coincided with that of ethnic affinity. In the case of Tablīgh, the links to the Gurage community clearly demonstrates how religious and ethnic boundaries overlap, contributing to restricting the movement to a particular ethnic group. The Salafi movement—although it has managed to attract followers from a variety of ethnic groups—remains largely an Oromo-dominated movement. The Intellectualist movement is by contrast not confined to any specific ethnic group. Its ethnic composition is difficult to determine, as the movement seemingly attracts followers from a variety of ethnic groups. The majority is, however, drawn from Amharic-speaking areas: Wollo, Gondar and other parts of northern Ethiopia. Membership of a given reform movement and of a certain ethnic group can be seen as part of a process of identification, in which the religious and ethnic aspects have a reciprocal and reinforcing effect. This is clearly detectable among the (Oromo) Salafis, who forward self-representations of a clearly primordialist nature, emphasising the quality of the Oromo as a whole for discovering and upholding the true tenets of Islam (i.e. the Salafi doctrines). This intrinsic relationship between religion and ethnicity has, moreover, enhanced the antagonism among the different reform movements. Categorisation of a religious and ethnic character consequently leads to the reinforcement of both religious and ethnic boundaries.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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The derogatory labels the different Muslim groups apply to each other, such as those applied to the Tablīgh by the Salafis, are interchangeably drawn from religious terminology and characteristics with clear ethnic connotations. The Gurage are equated with the Tablīgh and are labelled, both as an ethnic group and as a religious movement, as deviators from the true Islam, as Sufis and mushrikūn (those who commit shirk). Similar derogatory labels are applied to the Intellectualists, who, because of their attachment to the Muslim Brotherhood, are criticised for being detached from the true Islam and repeatedly labelled both Sufis and Shiites—the favourite insults of the Salafis. They are also despised for being in league with the Amhara and are collectively seen as neglecting Islam’s doctrines. The Salafis are, on the other hand, characterised, particularly by the members of the Intellectualist movement, as backward literalists. Here too, the ideological judgements remain coupled with prejudice of a clearly ethnic nature. This in turn leads us to the question of Islam as a force in transcending ethnic and local boundaries. So far, it is apparent that the lack of trans-ethnic and trans-regional cooperation has impinged on the potential Muslims have in entailing unanimity across ethnic boundaries. It is clear that the question of ethnicity in Ethiopia has managed to supersede the notion of umma, revealing the recognition of diversity among the Muslim population which not even a translocal movement like Salafi Islam has managed to replace. Illustrating the recurrent strength of locality in an overriding process of globalisation, the case of Ethiopia certainly demonstrates how the power of inherent boundaries can be re-invoked and reinterpreted for the purpose of constructing new identities. While some writers have predicted that the prevailing strength of ethnic diversity would hinder the future growth of a transnational politicised Islam in Ethiopia (Abbas Haji Gnamo 2002: 114; Abbink 1998: 123), I would claim that such a conclusion may be premature.49 Although ethnicity has surfaced with increased strength as a marker for identification, this should not lead us to ignore the fact that religion has also increasingly gained attention as a separate force, augmenting the Muslims’ consciousness of religious affiliation

49 The views of Abbas Haji Gnamo are clear reflections of Oromo ethno-nationalist sentiments, and this position has unfortunately left his discussion with ill-conceived biases in which he overlooks several important aspects and presents too premature a conclusion regarding the relationship between religion and ethnicity among the Oromo in contemporary Ethiopia.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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and religious boundaries. The relationship between ethnic and religious currents has thus created a contradictory situation, where each current’s relative strength remains untested. Moreover, the post-1991 period, marked by increased communication with the wider Islamic world, has created a potential for the strengthening of translocal and transnational Islamic movements. Their impact would be determined by actual currents within the locality linked with events at the translocal level. Creating Meaning Situated in an increasingly fragmented reality, the social actors in the locality of Bale were all left with the task of applying strategies that would enable them to establish meaningful points of orientation. Informed by disparate currents, drawn in different directions and subject to conflicting loyalties, the task of constructing meaning became critical, yet complicated. In this last section I will focus on the three groups for which this task was particularly relevant: the rural Ahl alSunna followers, the urban youth and those situated at the Muslim shrines.

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Rural Salafism The withdrawal of the Ahl al-Sunna movement from the towns (Robe in particular) subsequent to the conflicts in the middle of the 1990s marked the end of its heyday. The re-establishment of the movement in the rural areas moreover signified a new chapter in the Ahl al-Sunna’s history, with the courting of a new audience, the accentuation of teaching and a less aggressive approach. The resurfacing of the movement in the countryside was not merely a result of a forced withdrawal from the urban areas—there was also the perception of the towns as defiling the pure faith, as places where “there are many bad things like music, alcohol and women in trousers”.50 The Ahl al-Sunna movement kept a far lower profile in the rural areas and was largely concentrated around a web of rural teaching centres. Some were, as noted, a continuation of already established sites, now staffed with teachers from the Ahl al-Sunna movement,

50

Amān ʿUmar, interview 31 March 2006.

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while additional ones emerged throughout the 1990s. It is interesting to note that compared with the Salafiyya Madrasa and the few other urban madāris found in Bale,51 the teaching at these rural jamāʿat was quite different. In contrast to the madāris, which had their classrooms as well as a schedule and fixed curriculum, the teaching at the jamāʿat was organised in a rather traditional manner, with the students grouped around one main teacher.

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There is a time to start [teaching] every year. The new darasa must come at that time. If he is late, I will not accept him. In the beginner stage, there may be 200 students, but for the most advanced, maybe only two or three. They learn in the morning, at six o’clock. We don’t have any lesson plan, the length depends on the book, how much time they need to finish. All students start with Arbaʿīn and Bulūgh, they are books from the Sunna . . . We have oral testing of the students. Then we ask about one ḥ adīth, about a meaning of one word. But some people don’t remember too clearly, so we need to repeat it. But the most important is to understand, not only to memorise . . . We are also different in structure. They [at the Salafiyya Madrasa] follow a good structure, but we have another structure. When some study the Qurʾān, they are in one group. If they study Arbaʿīn, they are in one group. If they study Bukhārī, they are in one group.52

Although my informants from these rural jamāʿat were careful not to forward too negative remarks on the Salafiyya Madrasa, they generally felt that the teaching it provided was inferior to their own. It was in particular the inclusion of secular subjects that was criticised, which together with the fixed schedule was seen as making the teaching superficial. The relative expansion of the Ahl al-Sunna movement and the recruitment of followers in the rural areas would seemingly contradict what I have already said about modernisation and the accompanying process of secularisation as intersected with the movement’s growth in the post-Derg period. Seeing the success of the Ahl al-Sunna movement in relation to the rupture created by the Derg period, in which the young generation was dislocated from past cultural traditions and values, the youths from the rural areas were allegedly less exposed to

51 The other madāris in Bale are found in the towns of Goba, Agarfa, Gasera and Adaba. Two small madāris are found in the villages of Lajo and Haqo in western Bale. In addition, there is a large madrasa called Mujamaʿ al-taʿlīm al-Namudhajī in Asasa, an Arsi town close to Bale. 52 Shaykh Bashīr Jamāl, interview 10 August 2005.

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these circumstances. Nevertheless, even if the population in the countryside was more bound by inherent traditions and values, the effects of modernisation in the countryside should not be underestimated. I have already discussed the villagisation programme, the discontinuation of traditional structures of authority and the omnipresence of the state through its bureaucratic structures. The number of schools was lower in the rural areas, but those that existed made their impact. However, in order to fully grasp the movement’s growth in the rural areas, I will add another perspective, in which two particular factors need to be highlighted. The first relates to how the Ahl al-Sunna movement became intrinsic to the continued Islamisation process, discussed in chapter eight. Through the web of rural jamāʿat, it became pivotal in mending the discontinuity of religious education caused by the policies of the Derg. Framing the teaching of the Qurʾān and the main Islamic subjects in a Salafi ideology, it is interesting to note how Salafism inevitably became the only alternative point of orientation in this continued process and a channel for a renewed focus on religious virtues. Secondly, the rural jamāʿat were also important as pathways for social mobility. Population growth and increased scarcity of land had already made rural life more arduous and paved the way for urbanisation.53 This pattern was, moreover, stimulated by an increasing social differentiation of the rural areas, due, for instance, to the arrival of teachers and development agents as well as the rapid crumbling of local boundaries. As this was creating a new awareness of possibilities other than being a farmer, the younger generation began looking beyond the horizon of locality. Amān ʿUmar, one of my informants, was originally from a small village in the eastern lowlands and had after several years in Robe come to view his background quite differently: My family have been farmers, going back for many generations. But they never had the chance of doing anything else. Today they don’t even have an iron-sheet roof on their house. I don’t want to be like them, I want change. My family has never been to another area—they have always stayed at the same place. Now, when I have got more knowledge and seen other areas, I see that my family is following a simple way.54

53 The average size of farming land per household was 2,5 hectare in 2006 (Bale Zone Agricultural and Rural Development Office, 2006). 54 Amān ʿUmar, interview 31 March 2006.

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The dilemma facing the rural youth was, however, the general lack of opportunities for change. In contrast to the urban youth, those in the rural areas had limited access to higher education, something which thus reduced their opportunities for employment in alternative sectors.55 For youngsters from the rural areas, such as Amān ʿUmar, religious education became almost the only channel for social change:

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Initially, we wanted to be famous shaykhs. We wanted to be respected in our village. Our local shaykh was a respected man . . . The darasoota were working for him, and he was only sitting and eating. He was respected and we wanted to be like him . . . We would go from village to village to learn, and then return home as good shaykhs.56

With rural students becoming the backbone of the Ahl al-Sunna movement, it has lost much of its initial zeal. These students are preoccupied with their studies and less focused on daʿwa activities. Many maintain their Ahl al-Sunna “identity” during the period of learning, which is manifested by their code of conduct and dress (beard, short trousers, etc), and those who take up teaching in the villages continue this affiliation. However, a significant number of students end up engaged in petty-trading, migrate to urban areas or even take up farming. In such cases it is not unusual for them to distance themselves from the ideas of the movement, which indicates a relatively high degree of turn-over in the recruitment. Many of those who migrate to the towns shift their allegiance to the mainstream Salafi movement (i.e. the senior Salafis), while others who move to Addis Ababa usually find their settlement in areas already dominated by Salafis, which in turn enables them to maintain their religious affiliation. The rural Ahl al-Sunna members’ efforts to create a sense of belonging and coherence were in other words complicated by their proximity to the local Oromo cultural universe and the currents of Oromo ethno-nationalism. Although vehemently opposed to previous Islamic practices, their rural upbringing and spatial location in the countryside made them more closely attached to their cultural and religious heritage. The ʿālim of a large jamāʿa in Shaya was, for instance, convinced that the renowned 19th century scholar Shaykh ʿAbd al-Wahhāb Yūnus 55 In the end of the 1990s, there were still only thirteen high schools in Bale, and all of them were located in the urban areas (Bale Zone Education Office, 2006). Economic constraints and the poor quality of the rural secondary schools inhibited children from the countryside from enrolling in these urban high schools. 56 Amān ʿUmar, interview 31 March 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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of Agarfa was in possession of karaama. While he challenged the narratives of the traditional Oromo religious universe, he simultaneously drew from the same legendary stories of how the karaama was enacted in mysterious ways.57 Nevertheless, the Ahl al-Sunna movement’s quest for religious purity inevitably led them to denounce a large part of Oromo customs and values. This process of deculturation accelerated at the end of the 1990s and eventually made the issue of culture and religion the major controversy between them and the senior Salafis. As tensions rose, the Bale branch of EIASC, in cooperation with the local authorities of Sinana-Dinsho and Goba districts, called the different factions to a meeting in Robe on 16 August 2000. The main points of disagreement were related to wedding and funeral ceremonies, and the objective was to determine whether the Oromo customs were reconcilable with Islamic law or not.58 Outnumbered by the senior Salafi ʿulamāʾ and intimidated by the presence of the political authorities, the views of the Ahl al-Sunna movement were effectively suppressed. Accordingly, there was “no discussion among the ʿulamāʾ. It was only beating the table, and saying that we should agree to what the government said”.59 Subsequent meetings were held in the main towns throughout Bale, where the local ʿulamāʾ were “taught” about the decisions made. However, the two main opponents in the initial meeting, Shaykh Ḥ usayn Fadith and Shaykh Aḥmad Buluga, showed no sign of relinquishing their positions.60 As a result, new meetings were held in 2003, arranged by an association called Walda Milki (The Association of Success),61 where Dr. Jeylan Khadīr Gamada from the Salafi ʿulamāʾ in Addis Ababa participated. Although these discussions were more open, the disagreement remained intact.62 The situation was later exacerbated by the local government’s policy of putting the issue of gender on the agenda and their attempt to combat so-called harmful

57

Shaykh Bashīr Jamāl, interview 17 August 2005. Other issues on the agenda were the question of how many adhān should be made prior to the jumʿa prayer and which portion of the Qurʾān should be read during the prayer (Letter from EIACS, Bale branch, No. 31/92, 5 September 2000). 59 Shaykh Bashīr Jamāl, interview 4 July 2006. 60 Nūr al-Dīn Khadīr, interview 11 October 2005. 61 Walda Milki is a local welfare association established in 1999 and focused on relief- and development-related activities among the Muslims of Bale. 62 Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad, interview 12 March 2006; Shaykh Azhar Walieh, interview 31 March 2006; Nūr al-Dīn Khadīr, interview 3 April 2006. 58

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traditions. Once again, in September 2004, EIASC called the ʿulamāʾ for a meeting, this time in cooperation with Bale Zone Woman Affairs Office and a local NGO called Rift Valley Children and Women Development Association. In addition to these previous topics, the question of women’s rights in relation to the sharīʿa and, in particular, the issue of female circumcision were added to the agenda, which indicates that the religious controversy was being placed in a debate about modern development.63 Once again the views of the senior Salafis prevailed, while “there were seven persons that disagreed. They were the Ahl alSunna, young people from different places”.64 The question of Oromo culture has in relation to the ethnonationalist current become even more complicated for the Ahl al-Sunna followers. While they, on the one hand, subscribe to the views of OLF, they remain, on the other hand, critical of OLF’s upgrading of Oromo cultural values and traditions. In addition, they hold a more ambiguous attitude towards the issue of umma versus Oromumma, which consequently has paved the way for constant negotiations among the Ahl al-Sunna followers and to a great deal of divergence within the movement. The question of ethno-nationalism has also complicated the people’s perception of the Ahl al-Sunna, and strong advocates for the Oromo movement largely see them as opposed to their cause.

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The Urban Youth Besides being attracted to the zeal created by the Ahl al-Sunna movement, the urban youth of Bale were also caught up by the ethnic fervour of the 1990s. The politicised ethno-nationalism which sought to reverse the injustices of the past, demarcate ethnical and spatial boundaries and fight for self-determination became essential in mending a feeling of being subjugated and in inserting a sense of pride. Ethno-nationalism also provided the youth with points of orientation, in the sense of establishing a link to a lost past. Consequently, the ethno-nationalist sentiment in Bale, and in the rest of the Oromo-

63 Letter from EIASC, Bale Zone, n.d. As of 2003, the Bale Zone Woman Affairs Office embarked on an extensive campaign combating so-called harmful traditions, where much emphasis was placed upon female circumcision. An interesting curiosity in this regard is the cooperation between representatives from this office, senior Salafi ʿulamāʾ and missionaries from the Norwegian Lutheran Mission giving workshops on the topic. 64 Mumina Ḥ asan, interview 4 April 2006.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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speaking areas, involved a process where inherent Oromo traditions, customs and symbols to a certain degree had to be “learned”. This inevitably included the re-construction and “invention” of traditions and symbols (Ranger and Hobsbawm 1983), which were consciously put to the forefront of the individual’s mind. In school [during the Derg period] I was asked to write about my background: my name, my family and my forefathers. When they asked about nationality, I said Ethiopian. When they asked about ethnic group, I said Islaama. At that time we didn’t know about Oromo, we said Islaama. We didn’t think about Oromo nationalism, which is something that came during this period, when OLF came.65

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In addition to the religious and ethnic currents, the post-Derg period also saw the continued yet somewhat altered process of modernisation. Moving away from being pedagogic and enforced as during the Derg, modernisation became increasingly “experimental and less disciplinary”, thus creating a situation where the certainty of development was “punctuated, interrogated, and domesticated” by a variety of inputs arriving from the outside (Appadurai 1996: 10). The optimism induced by the Derg’s modernising project has in the post-Derg period been replaced by a distinct sense of disillusionment, where promises of prosperity and progress are fettered by continued poverty. The opening up of Ethiopia to the wider world in 1991, bringing Hollywood and “Bollywood” into Bale, has led the younger generation to define modernity in a different manner—informed by their exposure to other and contradicting sets of influences. This informant’s points of view may serve as a point in case: What are the signs of being modern? What kind of job you have, what clothes you wear. It is also about the hobbies you have—like watching TV, internet and dealing with computers. Modern clothing is to wear only a t-shirt and trousers. There is also modern haircut. What are the most modern areas in Ethiopia? The towns, and in particular Addis Ababa. And in the world? America.66

65 66

Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 13 June 2006. Muḥammad ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, interview 19 July 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Instrumental in exposing the youth to such sets of influences were the mass media, in which the concept of modernity was mirrored in the fashions, movements and ideas of the Western world. Mass media consumption boomed among the youngsters of Bale throughout the 1990s, when so-called video- and DSTV-houses were screening both Indian and American movies, thus giving the children and youths fragmented glimpses of different worlds, which became micro-narratives informing the spectators’ immediate reality.67

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I watch TV, films and I listen to radio. I watch romances and action. I know this is not right according to Islam, but I am at a stage in life where I want to follow my own wishes. I am young and I have to live according to my youth. I know that I can leave this tomorrow or the day after, and that is what I intend . . . The Prophet said: ‘A young man who is not married cannot focus on religion a hundred per cent’. That is me now. I am not married, and I have to follow my desires.68

Several writers have underlined the role of Islam as a force alleviating the sense of alienation created by circumstances of fragmented modernity (Dekmejian 1995; Keddie 1994; Kepel 2002; Waltz 1986). This has certainly been discernable in the capital, where the message of the Intellectualist movement has found a receptive audience among the youth. The picture in Bale is, by contrast, of a different kind. Here, the youngsters’ initial attraction to the Ahl al-Sunna movement was abruptly discontinued by the skirmishes in the middle of the 1990s. Disillusioned by the direction of the movement and remaining distanced from the teaching of the senior Salafis, the religious point of orientation has lost much of its appeal among the young generation. With the regime’s repression of the OLF-coloured ethno-nationalism, this path was also becoming troubled and has consequently left the younger generation in want of an orientation providing coherence in their daily life. Living under circumstances where poverty, limited opportunities for higher education and mass unemployment prevail, many young67 Video- and DSTV-houses (referring to a South African-based satellite-TV company) function as local cinemas. The first video-house came in the end of the Derg period—operating in secret. The number of houses expanded from 1991, with currently (2006) four DSTV-houses and six video-houses operating in Robe. In addition to international sports, Indian and American movies are screened several times a day. An average-size video-house will have around two hundred visitors every day; aged from six to thirty (interview with video-house owner, 8 August 2005). 68 ʿUthmān Nūr, interview 25 May 2005.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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sters of Robe spend their days in the local coffee-shops or strolling up and down the main street—or gathering in private houses for the consumption of khat.69 While this drug was traditionally connected to religious rituals, it has recently become common among a large part of the young male population in Ethiopia. For many it has led to an outright addiction, and the drug has become a way to cope with a precarious and insecure reality: We get up in the morning, chew [khat], eat and don’t think about tomorrow. When you chew, you become careless, you don’t think about your problems. Khat makes you cover the problem; it is about of dhoksaa, meaning that you can hide yourself by khat. When you chew, you escape from your worries. When you don’t chew, you have many worries—you are afraid of the future, about what will happen when you are living without hope. But when you chew, you forget about all this, you just live in the moment.70

The use of khat has, moreover, a clear impact on the youngsters’ lifestyle in general and the performance of religious duties in particular. As expressed by one of my informants, nightly chewing-sessions make it “difficult to get up early in the morning to pray”.71

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After chewing you go for cabsii, to destroy the effects of the khat. You go to the bunna-bet (bar), and you drink and get drunk. There are prostitutes there, and you end up with one of them. You are drunk, and you don’t care about using a condom. When the girl asks you for a condom, you start fighting. When the noise attracts the other people—then you are in trouble.72

The youngsters know that this conduct is irreconcilable with Islam, and it has consequently dissociated them even further from practically adhering to the tenets of Islam. Not only has it augmented the sense of living in a fragmented reality, but it has also increased the feeling of being torn between contradicting sets of norms and between different sets of loyalties.

69 During 1990–2004 it was estimated that Ethiopia earned over 413 million US$ from exporting more than 86,000 tons of khat. For more details on the production and consumption of khat, consult http://www.undp-povertycentre.org/pub/IPCO nePager40.pdf (accessed 5 February 2008) and Ezekiel Gebissa (2004). 70 ʿUthmān Nūr, interview 10 June 2005. 71 Adam Maḥmūd, interview 28 May 2005. 72 ʿUthmān Nūr, interview 10 June 2005.

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chapter nine When people are going to the mosque for prayer, I am going the other way. I am not ready for ṣalāt, I don’t care about what they think. Most people think I don’t pray. But when I am at home alone and I don’t pray I will feel bad. On the last day, God will ask why I didn’t pray. I fear what will happen when I die.73

Antagonised by the current regime, alienated from their cultural heritage and deprived of any meaningful orientation for identification, the youngsters find themselves in a limbo and carry with them a strong sense of concealed discontent. The question that remains is how this discontent will be manifested in the future. What remains clear, though, is that it will be manifested.

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The Shrines: Negotiating Legitimacy Coming close to the end of this story of Salafism in Bale, some final remarks on the situation around the shrines are needed. Marginalised and spatially confined, the religious communities of both Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and Sof ʿUmar have refused to relinquish to surrounding pressure and are seeking new strategies to survive in the inhospitable religious landscape. As a part of this, they have placed much prestige on the alliance formed with the local and regional authorities. Both the local and regional government are concerned with the shrines as part of Bale’s cultural heritage and their potential for tourism. Several attempts have been made to include both Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and Sof ʿUmar on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and to obtain funding from the central government for upgrading the sites.74 Shaykh ʿAbd al-Jabbār Shaykh Mame, the main religious leader at Sof ʿUmar, has consequently been appointed as a tourist guide to the caves, and the much-needed income gathered from the increasing number of visitors has become important for the shrine’s community. The Regional Culture and Tourism Bureau has issued extensive development plans, which among others include bringing electric lights into the caves. The pilgrimage ceremonies have, moreover, become important occasions for the local authorities to disseminate information on HIV/Aids and other health- and development-related issues.

73

Abdi Mukhtār, interview 10 June 2005. “Natural and Cultural Properties to Be Inscribed in the World Heritage List from Bale Zone” 1998; Wondifraw Tolossa and Abel Gezahegn 2003. 74

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The government has also constructed a new all-weather road to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn, facilitated bus services for the pilgrims and set up road-signs along the way, wishing them a safe journey. Further, in 2004–2005, the regional authorities installed a generator, provided potable water to Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn and has in recent years started a large project of constructing a road through the village, connecting Bale with Hararge (Miller 2005).75 Higher government officials, such as the former presidents of the Oromia National Regional State, Juneydin Saddo and Abba Dula Gamada, have attended the annual pilgrimage ceremonies and are thus viewed as loyal devotees of Shaykh Ḥ usayn by the guardians of the shrine. For the guardians and the communities of the shrines, this development is perceived as a confirmation of the shrines’ continued relevance. The policies of the local and regional authorities are clearly part of the regime’s clientelist strategy, whereby the government seeks to extend its control over the shrines. Much of the investments mentioned above were directly related to the national election in 2005. Only a month prior to that election, the president of Oromia Regional State made a high-profiled visit to Dirre—arriving with a procession of thirty cars (Miller 2005).76 The authorities still believe the guardians of the shrines have substantial influence, and through cooperating with them, they hope to extend their control over the pilgrimage population. The regime’s involvement in the affairs of the shrines must also be related to the government’s efforts to construct a state-controlled Oromo consciousness, whereby Oromo institutions, practices and sites are re-configured to fit this particular narrative. In this regard, the shrines of Bale are celebrated as symbols of the true indigenous Islam of Bale, portrayed as tolerant and pragmatic. This aspect has a direct polemical twist against the dominating Salafi Islam of Bale. Whereas the authorities officially remain non-aligned in the intrareligious conflicts, it is clear that they harbour clear biases against the Salafi movement. This is certainly the prevailing interpretation among

75 Interesting to note is that the US embassy in Ethiopia in 2005 issued a grant of $25,600 for the preservation of the shrine (http://ethiopia.usembassy.gov/pasnews01 .html (accessed February 2008). 76 The election results from 2005 showed that the ruling party received around 75 per cent of the votes in Jarra constituency, where the shrine is located (http:// electionsethiopia.org/oromia.aspx, accessed 6 February 2008).

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the communities of the shrines, which consequently have come to see the government as a crucial ally in their battle against the Salafis. However, the regime’s involvement does not come without costs. As the main concern of the authorities is to preserve the shrines as historical sites, the religious aspect (i.e. as pilgrimage centres) has received less attention. Though the guardians of the shrines are forced to accommodate to the wishes of the authorities, it has sparked clear controversies.

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On the one hand, this government is good. They focus on Sof ʿUmar, they try to make it known and to protect it. On the other hand, they focus on tourism. They want to build hotels, bring electric light into the cave and widen its paths. That is not good. This will bring many modern things to Sof ʿUmar. There may be a big town here, and alcohol may come. I fear that the culture will be swallowed by this . . . We want to keep the site as it is; we don’t want to turn a single stone inside the caves.77

The question of the imamate at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn caused the eruption of a major disagreement at Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn in June 2005. The descendants of Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo and in particular Qäññazmačč ʿAbd al-Qādir Aḥmad Imama, the son of Qāḍī Aḥmad Imama, had for years lobbied the regional government for their support in the restoration of the imamate. The last imām, Imām Maḥmūd Muḥammad Sayyid, who fled to Somalia in the beginning of the Derg period, had passed away in 2003, and it was his son, Imām Muḥyī al-Dīn Maḥmūd, the lobbyists sought to bring to power. When the regional government made the announcement of the restoration of the imamate, the presiding leadership and the family of Shaykh ʿAbbās openly contested the decision, and soon the whole community found itself divided into two factions. Although the government denied any direct interference, arguing that the decision was to be taken by the local community, documents issued by the Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau contain clear orders that Muḥyī al-Dīn Maḥmūd was to be authorised as the imām of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn.78 Whether or not the authorities anticipated the opposition from the people of Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn is hard to ascertain. It is also difficult to say what consequences this will have. One curiosity is the rumour Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAlī, interview 29 May 2006. Letter from the Oromia Regional Government, Cultural & Tourism Bureau, no. P-S-M-D-S-H/6/1669/98, 17 June 2006; Letter from the Oromia Regional Government, Cultural & Tourism Bureau, no. 5/M/2/D/6101/99, 24 November 2006. 77 78

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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Illustration 18. Shaykh ʿUmar, a leading figure at Dirre Shaykh Ḥusayn (photo: Terje Østebø)

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that appeared in July 2006, saying that Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad, the Salafi veteran of Robe, had been invited by the local community of Dirre to mediate in the conflict. Shaykh Abū Bakr allegedly turned down the request.79 It is not easy to imagine how the imamate could be restored after more than twenty years of absence. What is clear, however, is that the question of authority will exacerbate the power struggle at the shrine, and potentially weaken its position even further. If the situation also leads to the deterioration of the relationship with the political authorities, the religious community will find itself possibly further marginalised and isolated.

79

Aḥmad Auwwal, interview 2 July 2006.

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CHAPTER TEN

CONCLUDING DISCUSSION

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The preceding chapters have demonstrated the complexity built-in to the process of religious change in Bale. The discussion has pointed to the involvement of different actors, the multitude of determinant factors and the interwoven forces and processes. I have also shown how religious change had its particular trajectory—undergoing different phases. With its antecedents back in the 1940s and connected with developments in the neighbouring areas, the emergence and expansion of Salafism in Bale was an uneven process, characterised by growth and resistance, success and setbacks as well as by internal controversies and fragmentation. This chapter aims to pull together the various threads and provide an overall discussion of the process of religious change in Bale. The first part discusses the dialectics of religious change and forwards some concluding perspectives on how a localised approach to religious change relates to the particular findings from Bale. This discussion is divided into three, dealing firstly with the impetus, secondly with the question of agents of change and their interaction with the locality and, thirdly, with the aspects involved in the continued process of religious change. The second part of the chapter revisits the issue of localising Salafism and, through a discussion of its particular features in relation to the case of Bale, provides some suggestions on how the heterogeneity of Salafism could be captured. The Dialectics of Religious Change Through the genealogy of change, applied as a core concept in this study, the process of religious change has shown to be intrinsically dialectical. Specifying the nature and content of the impetus informing the locality of Bale, discussing the manners in which it arrived in Bale, analysing the conditions pertinent to the appropriation of this impetus as well as paying attention to how this process was embodied in the interaction between agents of change and their audience, the preceding chapters have amply demonstrated the complexity of this

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process. In particular, the dialectics was evidently played out by the manners in which the locally situated actors acted and reacted; how the impetus initially was construed, how it was presented and how it was received upon. It also involves the dynamic aspect of such interactions—having a reciprocal character and being subject to changing circumstances over time.

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Impetus Determining the precise nature of the impetus has been pivotal for this study. Failing to do so would blur our understanding—as has been the case for studies of Islamic reform in West Africa, where virtually any reform movement was labelled Wahhābiyya. As I have pointed out, the reformers’ involvement in the anti-colonial struggle in West Africa was a result of influences from more politically oriented movements in Egypt, rather than exposure to the teachings of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb. As the preceding chapters have demonstrated, establishing the links to Saudi Arabia and to Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb has enabled us to gain an accurate understanding of the actual content of what the agents brought to Bale. Specifying the origin, main content and the trajectory of the impetus in such a manner has proven important in determining the motives, the issues raised and the objectives in the quest for change. Rather than applying too generalised categories, such accuracy has also enabled us to construe the real effects the impetus had in the given locality. One noticeable aspect in the Oromo Muslims’ exposure to Saudi Arabian Salafism is their persistent focus on religious issues rather than on political reform. This moreover illustrates the relevance of the typology forwarded by Wiktorowicz (2006) in delineating the particular version of Salafism making its impact upon Bale. The fact that the impetus brought across the Red Sea remained devoid of any political overtones and that it was untouched by influences of the Muslim Brotherhood gaining ground within the kingdom’s Salafi institutions, reveals that, even if Salafism as a transnational movement became increasingly fragmented—with the emergence of a more politicised faction, Salafism in Bale remained congruent to what he has referred to as the purist version of Salafism. It has been said that the success of religious change depends on the impetus’ “compatibility with existing patterns” (de Waal Malefijt 1968: 355). With reference to Islam’s initial expansion in Africa, it has been argued that this should be ascribed to the religion’s inherent

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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flexibility (Horton 1971), while those concerned with contemporary Africa have stressed the transforming agents’ “desire to break entirely with the pagan past” (Clarke 1987: 138). Although the Salafi teaching was initially introduced tactically, its main tenets were certainly of a character to cause a clean break with the past. Underscoring the adherence to tawḥ īd and directly targeting the muuda to Shaykh Ḥ usayn, the impetus contained clear imperatives for the purification of Islam in line with the tenets of Saudi Arabian Salafism. Purity was largely related to the issue of rituals as well as individual piety. It was, however, introduced by peaceful means. Violent confrontations were avoided, and the Salafis continuously emphasised teaching and daʿwa as the only legitimate approaches.

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Agents of Change Another major concern of this study has been to underline the role of human agency in the process of religious change. Seeking to redress a too unilateral subject-object relationship which situates the individual as merely a victim of external forces and rectifying the notion of religious change as a refuge for the powerless and alienated ones, the preceding chapter has amply demonstrated the creative capacity of humans and their active participation in processes of change. Recognising the purposive, intentional and transformative character of human nature, the discussion has pointed to the different strategies among members of the locality; the ways the impetus was perceived, presented and appropriated. The transformative capacity was clearly noticeable among the agents of change, who, embedded in with their respective contexts, remained pivotal for the emergence as well as expansion of Salafism in Bale. In order to obtain a thorough understanding of the agents’ role in the process of religious change, I have leaned on the ideas forwarded by Beidelman (1977),1 who underlines the need to enquire about the country of origin, ethnicity, economic and socio-cultural background of the agents of change. Entwined with this, it has been important to determine whether the agent was a “missionary” belonging to another locality or indigenous to the locality in which change occurred. 1 Beidelman’s ideas are related to a context of Christian mission, which has made it difficult to uncritically convert them into an Islamic setting. My reading has thus been rather selective.

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As we have seen, developments in Saudi Arabia and the larger Islamic world had from the 1960s instigated the export of the teaching beyond the borders of the Saudi kingdom, an export that clearly benefited from Saudi Arabian petro-dollars. One conspicuous aspect is, however, that all the agents seeking to bring change were all indigenous to the locality of Bale. Either as graduates from Saudi Arabian universities or as leaders of the jamāʿa in the Nūr mosque, they all originated from and were accustomed to the same locality. The fact that they spoke the same language, and were familiar with the customs and codex of their audience, was crucial for the process of change. They were not, or considered to be, foreign to the context where they were attempting to bring change.2 This enabled them to translate the new message in a manner that recognised the potential resistance inherent in the locality of Bale. Clearly seen by the tactical approaches chosen by Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa and other members of the jamāʿa as well as by the early Salafi ʿulamāʾ, the agents remained careful not to forward too harsh a criticism of existing religious practices. The pertinent issue is that the new ideas were gradually introduced and expounded in a manner which secured the necessary initial support. By the time Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad held his famous sermon in the Nūr mosque, the new teaching had gained enough access and acquired a sufficient base for further expansion. The dominant role played by indigenous agents demonstrates that the introduction and expansion of Salafism was made with little outside support. The Salafis in Bale did not have abundant financial resources for their task to bring change. Those who left for Saudi Arabia were awarded with scholarships for their studies but had limited funds for the dissemination of Salafism in their home area. They were, however, provided with the necessary ideological impetus to motivate them. The role of indigenous agents became, as discussed in chapters eight and nine, even more important in the continued process of religious change. The new generation of indigenous activists, emerging in the post-Derg period, were to a large degree auto-didactics and prone to subscribe to independent interpretations of the Salafi tenets. This was

2 Such relationships have been discussed by Cohen (1990), who, from the perspective of Christian missions, has made some interesting suggestions about the role of the missionary as “stranger”.

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determinant for the further development of the movement and the increased conflictual pattern emerging within Salafism in Bale. Although agents of change have transformative capacity, as pointed out in chapter two, there are limits as to how far humans can act independently of social structures. Seeing the human and the structural as interlocked in a duality, an important aspect of the study has been to demonstrate how structural changes created opportunities for the actors to engage in alternative and novel discourses. Structural changes, most notably seen by the improved means of communication, were not only important in facilitating the movement of people, but spurred, moreover, the inclusion of a wider array of actors actively transcending local boundaries and who would become decisive in making new ideas available in Bale. It has therefore been important to explore who these agents were and the ways they interacted with different localities—if he or she was moving among different localities as a student or as a migrant-worker or, with particular relevance to an Islamic setting, as a pilgrim to Mecca.3 Translocal contacts expanded, as seen in chapter five, as a consequence of the policy of the Italians in the 1930s—facilitating the ḥ ajj of Ethiopians—and by the expansion of trade which led to the emergence of a class of merchants in Robe, who, by actively moving beyond local boundaries, found themselves influenced by the new ideas available in the surrounding areas. The conditions for translocal contacts were, in contrast to the Derg period, augmented by a conducive political climate emerging in 1991. Redressing the policies of past regimes, the policies of EPRDF, which lifted many of the restrictions for the Muslim population, enabled the Salafis in Bale to increase their contacts with the outside as well as to freely disseminate their teaching among the Oromo in Bale.

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Response Intrinsically linked to the impetus as the other pole in the dialectics of change, the response can rudimentarily be divided into acceptance and rejection. The latter option is not of interest here, since religious 3 It could be argued that a study such as this would have benefit from the insights of the expanding literature on transnationalism. Although some scholars operate with a broad definition of the term (Kearney 1998; Schiller 1997), transnationalism has usually been linked to the activities of immigrants, migrants and transnational entrepreneurs (Portes, et al. 1999). It could also be questioned whether we see here a new social development worthy of a novel term.

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change would depend on some sort of acceptance. Acceptance has often the form of a partial acceptance, both in terms of accepting parts of the impetus and of the impetus being accepted by parts of the audience. The issue of partial acceptance has been discussed by, among others, Trimingham (1968: 43), who wrote about a three-step process, differentiating between acceptance of external and internal aspects of Islam. A similar idea was forwarded by Fisher, who, informed by Arthur Nock (1933), distinguished between adhesion, i.e., “adopting new forms of worship as useful supplements”, and conversion, “the deliberate turning from indifference or from an earlier form of piety to another” (Fisher 1973: 33).4 Such generalised distinctions are, I believe, clearly problematic as findings from the field have led me to conclude that the issue of acceptance is far more complex. The new impetus first gained access among the emerging class of merchants in Robe. Within this group, which may be labelled entrepreneurs, there were individuals who already harboured a certain degree of ambiguity towards the existing religious practices. Spatially concentrated around the market place and dislocated from their rural homeareas as well as less subject to pressure from their respective clans, they gradually exerted a certain degree of social pressure upon each other, a pressure that brought them into a new religious direction. The merchants in Robe were moreover decisive for the continuous process of change. Representing a new social stratum in the Oromo society and generating wealth in ways outside the pastoralist economy, they found themselves independent of existing socio-economic structures and soon earned the respect of the people. They possessed resources and provided access to attractive benefits as well as served as channels for social mobility.5 The wealth also became crucial as they formed and maintained viable alliances with those arriving from Saudi Arabia.

4

This aspect was elaborated by Ikenga-Metuh, who distinguished between conversion with and without conviction and claimed that “religious factors tend to predominate the stage of a change of conviction” (1987: 25). A similar distinction was made by Travisano (1970), who distinguished between conversion, as change of belief, and alternation, as change of religious affiliation for some other motives. In a highly generalised survey of conversion to Islam and Christianity in Ethiopia, Kaplan (2004) separates real conversions from those driven by more secondary and mundane motives. Such distinctions should be treated with a great deal of care, as conversions usually contain a sum of motives. 5 Rambo has categorised such benefits as: system of meaning, emotional gratifications, techniques for living, charisma and power (1993: 81). I find it sufficient, however, to distinguish between symbolic and material benefits; the former signifying

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The role of the merchants clearly demonstrates how response and the issue of acceptance were inequitably manifested in the locality. Just as much as Islam was differently adhered to, perceived and practised by the members of society, so did also the responses to the new impetus depend on the position of the actors. Gender, age, social status and individual characteristics were all significant factors affecting the acceptance of the impetus. Both Horton (1975: 376f.) and Trimingham (1959: 25), who discussed conversion to Islam in a “pre-modern” setting, concluded that certain groups, such as pastoralists and traders, were, because of their continuous communication with the outside world, more prone to accept changes. This was certainly also the case with the merchants in Robe, who, as exposed to a wider spatial and cultural array, were more ready to be affected by and respond positively to currents of change. Similar attitudes were later found among the younger generation, qawettis returning from Somalia in the early 1990s as well as among migrant workers moving to and from Saudi Arabia during the post-Derg period. It is important to note, as I have discussed in chapters five and six, that the availability of new impetuses also affected their views of the existing religious traditions. It means that the arrival of such new and alternative ideas furthered and aggravated their sense of disillusion to these traditions. This has also been observed by Lewis R. Rambo, who argues that increased mobility and the exposure to new alternatives make “the potential convert to more readily leave behind old pattern of social relationships that may feel constricting, and to find new options” (1993: 31).6 In determining the degree of acceptance, some writers have pointed to the character of the indigenous religion or tradition and its degree of tolerance and pragmatism (Peel 1978: 445; Rydving 1993: 15; Ubah 1988: 87). Although this may be of relevance in some cases, I would, however, relate tolerance and pragmatism within religions to the issue of how prevailing religious traditions are perceived as meaningful among the members of a locality under changing circumstances. This a system providing meaning in daily life, and the latter signifying opportunities for power, social mobility and wealth. 6 Even Horton (1993: 222f.) has argued that “the absence of any awareness of alternatives makes for an absolute acceptance of the established theoretical tenets and removes any possibility of questioning them”. His intention was not, however, to see the agent of change as important. It was rather a continuation of his view of African cosmologies as closed systems.

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study has amply demonstrated how long-term political and socio-economic changes contributed to the transformation of locality—having clear impacts on the existing religious worldview. The incorporation of Bale into the Ethiopian state in the late 19th century drew this locality into a wider political discourse, affected its ethnic dimension, generated the production of more heterogeneous communities, enforced closer interactions between diverse cultures and religions and gave rise to new demarcations and categories. This situation was exacerbated in the Derg period, when, as discussed in chapter seven, the ethnic-driven resurgence, the subsequent repressive measures of the regime as well as the state-driven process of modernisation largely destroyed the cultural and religious institutions as well as reshaped the socio-political landscape. The expansion of secular education, based on a rational episteme, created a certain degree of alienation from former religious practices, particularly affecting the younger generation. Through a process in which shared religious understanding and religious organisations were weakened, favourable conditions for the acceptance of alternative impetuses were created. Related to the issue of acceptance and embedded in the interaction between impetus and response is the aspect of resistance. This means that a process of religious change almost inevitably would lead to conflict, which in this case was seen after Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad’s sermon in the Nūr mosque in 1971. The issue of resistance was obviously most notable among those who rejected the impetus, yet was also intrinsic to the appropriation of the new ideas among the agents of change and in the interactions between these agents and the receptive audience. Intrinsic to the dialectics of change in Bale, the issue of resistance had the character of negotiation, and entailed a two-stage process of negotiations among the actors involved: first among the agents of change and then among their audience. Among the former, there appeared an initial resistance and a round of negotiations, through which the agents’ interpretation was brought into the impetus. This was clear both among those studying in Saudi Arabia and those exposed to Salafism through contacts with neighbouring areas of Bale. Already at this stage the form and content of the impetus were likely to be modified and remoulded, in the sense that certain aspects would be emphasised over others. The next round of resistance was found among those responding positively to the impetus, leading to a process of negotiations between the agent of change and the audience.

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This involved, first of all, a selective reading of the impetus by the audience, to choosing some aspects, while dismissing or downgrading others. The response also had a reciprocal effect upon the impetus, whereby the agent of change was inclined to downplay, modify or even change certain aspects of the impetus in order to enhance support. Such processes of negotiations were discernable in the initial introduction of the Salafi teaching among the members of the jamāʿa. Although determined to bring change, the early agents, familiar with the cultural context in which they operated, had a clear understanding of how the impetus should be presented. This is seen in the case of Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa, who paid more attention to the notion of tawḥ īd, rather than attacking the muuda or the mawlid al-Nabī celebrations. Even Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad, who was far more uncompromising, was, to some degree, forced to modify his position. As discussed in chapter six, the debate during the meeting in Goba and the resistance he met, forced him to modify his views and say that “if someone wants to go [to Shaykh Ḥ usayn], you are free to go”. Similar processes have also been discussed in much of the literature on Christian mission activities in various parts of the world (Cohen 1991; Frase 1981; Kaplan 1986). Robert Strayer (1976) has argued that Christian missionaries in Africa from the outset adjusted their message to their audience, while Steven Kaplan (1986) noted that the response to the missionaries could cause the latter to adjust their message. Kaplan thus categorised these changes as tolerance, translation, assimilation, Christianisation, acculturation and incorporation (cf. Ranger 1987b). Furthermore, and in correspondence with the latter stage of negotiations, Peel argued that converts in Africa were prone to select and “make their own decisions about what is important and what is not” (1978: 447). The pragmatism of Christian missionaries should not, however, be overestimated, and there is also a need for some caution when transferring these processes to another religious context. The consequences this process had for the existing religious tradition is another important issue. While the new impetus was accepted by some people in the locality, those who rejected the new ideas and maintained their earlier religious affiliation were also involved in a process of negotiation. Thus, modifications were also seen to occur within the inherent religious traditions—clearly discernable in the

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altered conception of karaama among the guardians of the Shaykh Ḥ usayn shrine.7 As they gradually became marginalised by the growth of Salafism, Shaykh Ḥ usayn’s karaama was increasingly seen as a force that would eventually defeat the reformers. Numerous stories were told of the injuries and damages the karaama was inflicting on their opponents. The guardians furthermore emphasised their own adherence to tawḥ īd and downplayed in this manner some aspects of the shrine’s inherent traditions. However, the people’s veneration of the shrine seems to have been less affected by this. They continued addressing Shaykh Ḥ usayn as an active subject, almost like a deity; one that directly engaged in their lives.

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The Continuous Process of Religious Change Whereas most models of religious change in Africa have been preoccupied with the genesis of change, Fisher’s (1973) three-stage model remains the one that most explicitly acknowledges the continuity aspect. Fisher’s model is, however, problematic in the way that it treats religious change as a largely unvarying linear development with only a few optional outcomes. A model restricting the development of religious change to only three stages leads to the omission of an undefined number of cases of religious change. When I, nevertheless, in the following discuss the development of Salafism in Bale as going through three main phases, it needs to be underlined that these suggestions are derived from my findings in the field and are meant to serve as conceptualisations of the process in this particular locality. Other processes in other contexts would have produced other patterns. The first phase was the marginalisation of change, referring to the initial emergence of Salafism in Bale. In this phase, the early agents of change gained some support and managed to penetrate parts of the society and certain aspects of the prevailing religious tradition. Yet, resistance remained intact, and the Salafis, represented by the members of the jamāʿa and some few ʿulamāʾ returning from Saudi Arabia, maintained their presence as an alternative. Salafism constituted a competing or even opposition movement, similar to what Bruce Lincoln (1985) has labelled as a religion of resistance. The new movement 7 This issue has been discussed in several studies. See for example Bhebe (1979), Launay (1992), Geertz (1992) and Donham (1999).

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remained on the periphery, marginalised by existing structures and institutions. The second phase was the institutionalisation of change. It can be characterised by what Peel (1978: 447) has labelled the “adjustment process”, or by what Lincoln (1985) has called the shift from a religion of revolution (or resistance) into a religion of the status quo—in which opposition is quelled and the new religious alternative becomes the majority religion. Although the meeting in Goba in 1972 reduced some of the initial resistance towards the Salafis, provided them with recognition and with an increased freedom to disseminate their teaching, they continued to constitute an alternative, subject to the dominant role played by the existing institutions. Further expansion was, moreover, checked by the political transition in 1974 and by the inhospitable political environment evolving during the Derg period. This period was, on the other hand, a period when the movement consolidated its position, most notably through the institutions of the Nūr mosque and the Salafiyya Madrasa. This corresponds to the views of Hefner (1993: 19), who sees institutionalisation of change as the ability to link “transcendental imperatives to institutions for propagations and control of religious knowledge and identity over time and space”. As I have discussed in chapter seven, these two institutions became decisive for a continued dissemination of Salafism during a period when public daʿwa was prohibited. They also became pivotal for the expansion of Salafi doctrines, in which particularly the Salafiyya Madrasa played an important role in augmenting the status of Salafi teaching, thus securing control over religious knowledge. Consolidating Salafism ideologically, these institutions also provided the needed space for the maintenance of the movement. Both the mosque and the madrasa were located in qäbälä 03 in Robe, controlled by a group of Salafi ʿulamāʾ and under the protection of the Salafi-adhering merchants. The consolidation of Salafism in Robe, which became the bridgehead for later expansion, also indicated a shift in the religious geography of Bale. Up to now, the sanctuary at Dirre had represented the uncontested symbolic capital of Bale, with the shrine as the centre from where pilgrims, prayers and the people’s devotions emanated. As the Salafis carved out their space in Robe, a new religious map emerged, which had two opposite poles contesting each other’s legitimacy. Both symbolically and physically, these two spaces came to represent the growing chasm within the Muslim population, and the outcome of the

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power struggle between the two was to determine the very outcome of the process of religious change. The fact that Robe surfaced as a place for religious teaching, and for the scrutiny of Islam’s literary tradition, is of no coincidence and signifies the Salafis’ emphasis on textual evidence for legitimising their views. The third phase was the fragmentation of change, which can be described as a period of growing opposition to the institutionalised religion; from multiple groups challenging the establishment as well as competing against each other. The initial agents of change may be accused of betraying, modifying or altering the original objectives and of compromising the whole movement of change. This phase occurred subsequent to the rapid growth of Salafism in the early 1990s and with the arrival of the Ahl al-Sunna movement clashing with the senior Salafis. Accused of doctrinal laxity, the latter were charged with neglecting what the Ahl al-Sunna followers perceived as crucial for a true Islamic lifestyle. As discussed in chapter eight, this involved issues such as isbāl and the growing of a beard for men and the wearing of a niqāb for women. It is important to notice that the senior Salafis were not charged with changing the original impetus but seen as not being zealous enough. This points to the fact that the initial impetus brought by the early Salafis had lost much of its appeal, as the result of changing circumstances and the appearance of new actors such as a new generation. The period of the Derg, with its process of modernisation, had produced both new agents and a new audience who were more clearly dislocated from indigenous traditions. Less bound by inherent customs and defined loyalties, the Ahl al-Sunna activists and their followers were thus advocating a version of Salafism that sought a more clear-cut departure from Oromo customs and practices. The increased fragmentation was also related to developments in the translocal context, the increased communication with the wider Islamic world and the growing influence of less coherent impetuses throughout the 1990s. Localising Salafism Through the dialectics between impetus and response, religious change became a two-way development, in which the localisation of the translocal and the de-localisation of the local were parallel aspects. Though changes in former religious traditions and practices are here

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labelled as de-localisation, it is important to note that this should not be construed as a process towards an undefined abstract sphere—as the global often has been understood. Surely, the process of religious change entailed a movement away from and the delegitimising of practices particular to the locality of Bale as well as a renewed focus on generally accepted practices and Islam’s commonly accepted scriptures, i.e., the Qurʾān and the Sunna. Yet, the aspect of de-localising Islam in Bale involved a process in which a particular variant of Islam, stemming from Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb and evolving in the socio-political and cultural environment of the Arabian Peninsula, was introduced to and expanded in Bale. The process of localisation points to the way this teaching was transformed through its arrival in Bale. It involved the reinterpretation, remoulding and alteration of the impetus, carried out through the interactions of the actors involved in the process of change. The localisation of the impetus was interwoven with other processes, with political changes, socio-economic changes and the particular features of translocal contacts. The remoulding took place largely within the boundaries of an Oromo cultural universe, and for a long time, Salafism in Ethiopia was an Oromo-dominated movement. The issue of ethnicity and Oromo ethno-nationalism have been themes accompanying my discussion, and it is important to underline the complex relationship between religious and ethnic affinities. Not least has this been relevant as the growth of Salafism and the surfacing of a public and politicised discourse about ethnicity have been two parallel processes. Another particular aspect of the localisation process was the apolitical character of the Salafi movement in Bale. Though it was related to the purist aspect of the impetus, it was also shaped by the particular circumstances within the locality. The Salafis had to relate to the shifting political climate and to the inherent legacy of Christian-Muslim relations, which contributed to their cautious approach and to downplaying the political aspect of Salafism. Subject to the dominance by the Christians and considered second class, the Muslims were deprived of the needed resources for involvement in political affairs. The image of being secondary remained internalised in their minds, impinging on their confidence to broaden their quest for change to include addressing the political situation. The inter-religious relations also directly informed the political authorities, who were cautiously monitoring any movement among the Muslims. The government’s concern about

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religious development was seen as early as in 1972, when they sought to end the intra-religious conflict; it continued during the Derg period, through confiscation of the property of the Salafiyya Madrasa, and was even more conspicuous in the post-Derg period, when the regime actively intervened to crush the Ahl al-Sunna movement.

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Modernisation Rather applying a direct causal link between modernisation and religious change—seeing the former as determining the latter—this study has amply demonstrated that connections are far more complex. Overtly dynamic, the process of modernisation was interpreted, shaped, adhered to, contested, refuted and even practised differently by the actors involved. Through this, each sought to formulate a meaningful narrative and at the same time contest that of the others. Although the initial emergence of Salafism was preceded by the expansion of secular education, often perceived as a pivotal feature of the process of modernisation, the links between the school and the Orthodox Church alienated the Muslim population, leaving only a few Muslims to be found in the classrooms. This makes it overtly clear that the initial process of religious change in Bale was not caused by, nor introduced in an increased rationalised episteme. Modernisation in Bale had the character of being an uneven and dialectic process, intrinsically related to Ethiopia’s political development. The emperor’s modernising attempts were replaced by the Derg’s policy of enforced modernisation, which framed the process within a Marxist narrative and sought to introduce a break with what was perceived as a reactionary and feudal past. EPRDF has, on its part, tried to redress the policy of the Derg, opening up to Western influences, which has created more diversity. An overriding aspect of this complex development was, as Donham (1999) has noted, the concept of the past as “backward” and the idea of a prosperous future to be shaped by hard labour. The notions of the “primitive” and the “backward” were also, as I have demonstrated in preceding chapters, actively, yet differently, applied by those involved in the process of religious change. Instead of succumbing to the recessive policy of the Derg, which sought to combat religion in general, the Salafis managed to construct their own dialectics of modernisation. Although their objectives were incongruent with those of the regime, they applied many of the same concepts, defining themselves in opposition to those whom

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

concluding discussion

325

they labelled “backward” and “primitive”. For them, the veneration of shrines, the notion of karaama as possessed by individuals and objects as well as the belief in the interceding power of the awliyyāʾ were all representations of an outdated and bygone era. The imperatives for change found within Salafism were thus seen as bringing the Muslim society out of this “backwardness” and into a future purified by the true actions of the believers. Another important issue was how perceptions and interpretations of modernisation changed over time. Affected by the policies of the Derg, the young urban generation who adhered to the Ahl al-Sunna after 1991, gradually found itself alienated from the movement. This was obviously caused by the conflicts in the middle of the 1990s, yet was also brought about by the arrival of contradicting influences from the outside. Attracted by what they saw as Western “fashion” and exposed to the entertainment industry, both from Hollywood and “Bollywood”, their perception of what it meant to be modern became more porous and generated the view of the Ahl al-Sunna as representing an antithesis to this. The pivotal aspect is that the people were not merely victims of the process of modernisation. Whether modernisation was introduced by the political regime or as a result of Western influences, the actors of society became active participants in the process and deliberately sought to benefit from it. It was more than “taming the tiger”, to paraphrase Robert Lee (1997: 7). Modernisation represented a complex process which the different actors contributed in shaping, while at the same time being caught up by it, and corresponds to what Gaonkar (2001a) has called the process of creative adaptations, in which he rightly recognises the actors’ role in producing processes of modernisation.

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Literacy and Religious Change The complex relationship between processes of modernisation and religious change becomes even more obvious with regard to the issue of literacy. As this study has demonstrated, it was not a developed literary tradition that facilitated the initial emergence of Salafism in Bale. It was the lack of it. Islam’s short history in Bale, a limited knowledge of Islamic scholarship and a general shortage of religious texts affected local actors’ ability to resist the new impetus. This was first of all seen in the quick and favourable response by the early Salafis, who were exposed to the new teaching in the neighbouring areas or

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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chapter ten

in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, as the adherents of the established version of Islam in Bale were confronted by the Salafis, who repeatedly demanded scriptural “evidence”, the former immediately found themselves in a susceptible position. Drawing from indigenous traditions, from concepts not found within the written corpus of Islam and focusing on the esoteric aspect of the written word, they were seen as unable to provide scriptural justifications for their practices. The Salafis, who also underlined the cognitive approach to the texts, dismissed both the inherited “magical” usage of the books and rendered a large part of them illegitimate. The broad and rapid expansion of secular education, brought by the Derg regime, made a lasting impact on the existing worldview. As discussed in chapter seven, the expansion of education led to a certain degree of rationalisation and to matter-of-fact descriptions of reality. What is significant is that this process coincided with the institutionalisation of Salafism and the expanded teaching of its doctrines. Although overtly disparate, both the education brought by the government schools and that of the Salafiyya Madrasa placed the focus upon textual evidence, thus creating a situation the Salafis could benefit from. Books were in both the schools and the madrasa meant to be read and understood. They were not inhabited by a hidden meaning but contained “true” descriptions of reality. As the “generation of the Derg” was made familiar with studies based on texts, this contributed to a degree of abstraction and to emptying the concrete of immediate and inherent spiritual content, and created the necessary fertile ground for the Salafis’ emphasis on authoritative texts and conditions in which the youngsters could relate to the abstracted notion of tawḥ īd. It is important to notice that a process of rationalisation in the Weberian sense was relatively limited in Bale. Secular education, the focus on a textual, academic discourse, did not lead to the omission of religious belief, symbols or practices. Rather, it was a process whereby the religious agency was disconnected from the concrete and immanent and a development which elevated the cognitive aspect in the veneration of God. On the other hand, the underscoring of scripture has also led to the continued, although altered, importance of personified authority. It is generally accepted that the erosion of traditional religious authorities in the wake of an omnipresent process of modernisation has transformed knowledge in contemporary Islam from being linked to face-to-face interactions, attributed to personalised authorities,

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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concluding discussion

327

to becoming more impersonal and more widely accessible (Brenner 2001; Eickelman 1992; Eickelman and Piscatori 1996; Lambek 1990). In contrast to previous authorities, where esoteric knowledge remains embodied and fixed in certain figures, it is now the text that is seen as the final authority, as impersonal, objective and certain. Yet, in order to gain access to the word, to read and understand it, the literary expert is given more importance. In a situation like that in Bale, where literacy was “restricted” (Goody 1977), in the sense that Arabic was understood only by the few, and where the vast majority of Muslims remained unable to follow advanced theological debates, the underscoring of literacy inevitably boosted the dependency on the literary expert, the one proficient in Arabic and acquainted with the scholarly traditions of Islam. The emerging paradox is thus that the importance of personified authority is boosted—at the expense of the written word. The dialectical relationship between the experts and the audiences, in which the former are competing for adherents and the latter remains dependent on those who actively engage in the discourse of disparate interpretations, all contribute to such a development. In contrast to personified authority in a more traditional sense, the distinctive character of this phenomenon in a contemporary setting is that of diversity and fragmentation. The focus on the written word, as it is emphasised in Salafism and other contemporary Islamic movements, has included a wider array of participants with a different background to that of leaders with classical religious training. In the religious developments in post-Derg Bale, most of the Ahl al-Sunna activists were, as we have seen, auto-didactics and had only limited knowledge of alternatives within Islam’s scholarly traditions. Although Jack Goody (1987: 133), by underscoring Muslims’ resistance to innovative writing, argues that this actually hinders a process of fragmentation, we should note that although innovative writing is not prominent in Islam, innovative reading of texts has certainly existed. As the participants are framed within the same process of objectification, this inevitably leads to an increased variety of interpretations of the word, causing increased fragmentation. In contrast to the initial debate on Salafism in Bale between its agents and adherents of localised Islamic practices, which revolved around scriptural “evidence” versus references to existing practices and customs, the continued discourse was framed within a Salafi ideology, where individual understandings of its facets and disparate interpretations of the texts eventually produced a multitude of alternatives.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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chapter ten

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In sum, Salafism as a phenomenon has increasingly found its way into various localities beyond the boundaries of the Saudi kingdom. It has paved the way for the perception of Salafism as a transnational movement, and the increased fragmentation of the movement seen in the wake of this process has made it far more difficult to conceptualise Salafism. Although it may be necessary to identify common denominators and characteristics in order to obtain an unambiguous understanding of Salafism as a phenomenon, it would, as this study has demonstrated, be just as important to delineate and understand Salafism as it appears in a locality. Certainly, there are important traits in Bale which can be traced back to Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb and which can be found in other localities with similar influences. However, the particularities intrinsic to each locality make the focus on the locality more pertinent. Not only does it bring out the dynamic and heterogeneous character of Salafism, it moreover rectifies the presumed dichotomy between “indigenous” and “foreign” Islam in Africa. Through the process of localisation, Salafism has proven to be just as African as any other representation of Islam found on the continent.

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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APPENDIX

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GLOSSARY Aadaa Abbaa boku Abbaa karra Abbaa muuda

Abaarsaa Abunä ʿĀlim Amīr Ateetee Aw Awraǧǧa Ayaanaa Baaro Bahira

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Balbala Balabbat Bidaʿ Buda Burqa Cinca Dhanqe Darasa Darga Daʿwa

(Oromo) Culture, tradition, custom. A fundamental word for the Oromo cultural universe (Oromo) Literally: father of the sceptre, a leader in the gadaa system. In Bale: a leader of a clan confederation (Oromo) Literally: father of the gate, a leader of a shrine (Oromo) A religious office within the gadaa system, or the shaman-like figure in Dello venerated by the Oromo (Oromo) Curse (Amharic) Bishop, patriarch (Arabic) Islamic scholar (Arabic) Commander, a political leader (Oromo) Ritual restricted for females An honorary title among the Harari (Amharic) Administrative unit within a province during the period of Haile Sellassie and the Derg (Oromo) Spirit (Oromo) Prayer poem dedicated to Shaykh Ḥ usayn (Oromo) An office in the gadaa system; the secondin-command after the abbaa boku (Oromo) Literally: door, gate. Refers to a sub-clan (Amharic) Local (indigenous) chief appointed by the Amhara (Arabic) Innovation, associating something with God (Oromo & Amharic) evil eye (Oromo) The next-in-rank to the balabbat (Oromo) The burning of meat used as offerings for malevolent spirits (Oromo) Y-forked stick used by pilgrims to Shaykh Ḥ usayn (Arabic / Oromo) Student of religion (Islam) (Oromo) The guardians of the shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn (Arabic) The Islamic call

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

332 Däǧǧazmačč Derg Eebaa Fitawrari Fuqra Gäbbär Gadaa

Galla Gamo Geriba Goosa Grazmačč Ḥ aḍra Hikma Ijāza

Ijtihād

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Illaata Isbāl Jamāʿa

Jawara Jinn Jum’a Karaama

glossary (Amharic) Feudal title, commander of provincial headquarter (Amharic) Literally meaning committee, and used as a term for the Marxist regime in Ethiopia (1974–1991) (Oromo) Blessing (Amharic) Feudal title, commander of the vanguard (Oromo) Sufi ascetic, wandering mystic (Amharic) Tenant (Oromo) Generation-set system and a key-concept for the structure of the traditional Oromo society. The concept has both political and religious connotations (Amharic) Pejorative word used for the Oromo until the 1980s (Oromo) Shrine, or a secluded sacred space (Oromo) Devotee to Shaykh Ḥ usayn or pilgrim travelling long distances (Oromo) Clan (Amharic) Feudal title, commander of the left flank (Arabic/Oromo) Ecstatic ritual, often performed in connection with exorcism (Oromo) Testimony about the deeds of Shaykh Ḥ usayn (Arabic) A certificate given to student by his teacher, acknowledging his capability in teaching a particular subject (Arabic) independent juridical interpretations from the Qurʾān and the Sunna (Oromo) Offerings performed at gravesides (Arabic) Signifying the short trousers (above the ankle) worn by Salafis (Arabic) A gathering of people, or a congregation. In Bale the word also refers to a traditional Qurʾān school (Oromo) The soil within the shrine of Shaykh Ḥ usayn (Arabic) Spirit (Arabic) Friday, also used as the name for the Friday prayer (ṣalāt al-Jum’a) (Arabic / Oromo) A miracle performed by the Prophet or other saintly persons. In Bale, the word is commonly used as the very ability or power to perform miracles

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

glossary Qäbälä Madhhab Madrasa

Manguddo Manẓūma Mawlid al-Nabī Mälkäñña Mogaasuu Murtii Niqāb Odaa Qāḍī Qalliča Qallu Qawetti Qäññazmačč Ras Ṣadaqa Seera Sharīf

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Sunna Tafsīr Taqlīd Ṭ arīqa Tawassulat/ tawasul Tawḥīd Täklay gəzat

333

(Amharic) Urban association, neighbourhood (Arabic) School of Islamic jurisprudence (Arabic) Islamic school. In this context: schools with a clear curriculum and organised with a teaching-schedule (Oromo) Elder (Arabic) Religious poem (Arabic) The birthday of the Prophet Muḥammad (Amharic) Landlord, sometimes local governor (Oromo) Adoption of an individual or a group by the Oromo (Oromo) Decision, regulation according to the seera, Oromo law (Arabic) Veil used by women to cover their face (Oromo) Sycamore tree, venerated in the Oromo religion (Arabic) The judge of a sharīʿa-court (Amharic) Seer, diviner often connected to possession cults (Oromo) A shaman-like ritual expert in the Oromo religion (Somali) Refugee (Amharic) Feudal title, commander of the right flank (Amharic) Prince (Arabic) The voluntary giving of alms (Oromo) customary law (Arabic) Persons descending from the line of the Prophet (Arabic) Collections of aḥ ādith / the practice of the Prophet (Arabic) Commentary on the Qurʾān (Arabic) Reliance on the tradition of Islamic jurisprudence (Arabic) Sufi brotherhood (Oromo / Arabic) intercession, entreaty (Arabic) God’s unicity, in Bale often used with reference to the Salafi movement (Amharic) Province

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334 Ulee baaro Walī (pl. awliyyāʾ)

Wambara Wareega Waaqa Waqeffana Wayyuu Zar (sar) Zāwiya

Zekera / dhikr

(Oromo) The composers of prayer poems (baaro) (Arabic) Signifies a person that is near to, or loved by God. In the Sufi tradition it has often constituted a certain holy person, usually translated “saint” in English (Oromo) The leader of a shrine (Oromo) Sacrifice (Oromo) God (Oromo) Oromo religion (Oromo) sacred, respected and set apart (Oromo / Amharic) Spirit (Arabic) A centre for Sufi activities. In Bale, thatch-roofed mosque used by individuals for private prayer (Oromo / Arabic) Recollection or remembrance, the repletion of formulas in praise of God (Arabic) Pilgrimage, or veneration of a holy person

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Ziyāra

glossary

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LIST OF INFORMANTS The whole group of informants represents a wide spectrum of the Muslim Oromo society in Bale. Their age ranges from the early twenties to the eighties; they belong to different social categories and represent a variety of opinions, preferences and perceptions with regard to religion and culture. It is difficult to place the vast variety of the informants into clear-cut categories. However, one group includes those who have been directly involved in the process of change, both those advocating change and those opposing it. Such informants include the Salafis who first introduced the teaching to Bale and those actively engaged in the current religious discourse. Another group of informants are those opposed to the Salafis, both those who actively resisted the movement at the initial stage and those who still remain persistent and vocal in their opposition. Then there is the broad and heterogeneous group of people interacting with the process of religious change; those not directly involved in the discourses over change, but who followed the development at a distance. This also includes a variety of youngsters, both formerly active participants in the Salafi movement and those who were more reluctant or opposed to it. Another group of informants are those who could be labelled oral historians, providing information on local Oromo history and culture. Lastly, we find individuals who through their positions were able to provide me with information on subjects within their domains. Such informants include former and current leaders within the Muslim society, government officials as well as important figures within the Salafi movement and the Muslim community in Addis Ababa. The following is a list over the informants with their pseudonyms, approximate age, place of living and some basic biographical data.

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336

list of informants

Pseudonym

Age

Place

Biographical data

Ḥ ajj Abdi Ḥ usayn

Ca 70 years old

Jarra

Former student of Shaykh Muḥammad Qatiba

Abdi Mukhtār

Ca 30 years old

Robe

Student, participating in the daʿwa in the 1990s

ʿAbd al-Qādir Muḥammad

Ca 45 years old

Raytu

Oral historian

ʿAbd al-Raḥman Sayyid Ḥ usayn

Ca 60 years old

Robe

Merchant and descendant of Ḥ ajj Sayyid ʿAlī Wale

Shaykh ʿAbd al-Rāshed Qāsim

Ca 70 years old

Asasa

Salafi scholar

Shaykh Abū Bakr Ca 75 years old Shaykh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm

Robe

Participated in the “journey of the 80”

Adam Ḥ ajj Adam

Ca 55 years old

Addis Ababa Relative of Ḥ ajj Adam Saddo

Adam Maḥmūd

Ca 35 years old

Robe

Government employee

Adam Mukhtār

Ca 40 years old

Dello-Mena

Merchant and witness to the religious changes in the 1990s

Shaykh Aḥmad Aliyeh

Ca 70 years old

Robe

One of the early Salafi scholars in Robe

Aḥmad Auwwal

Ca 35 years old

Robe

Witnessing the religious changes in the 1990s

Shaykh Aḥmad Ḥ ajj Khadīr

Ca 50 years old

Dirre Shaykh Religious leader at Dirre Ḥ usayn Shaykh Ḥ usayn

Shaykh Aḥmad Ilyas

Ca 50 years old

Addis Ababa Teacher at a madrasa in Addis Ababa

Shaykh Aḥmad Maḥmūd

Ca 40 years old

Raytu

Qurʾān teacher and qawetti

Aḥmad Muḥammad

Ca 70 years old

Goba

Merchant and oral historian

Shaykh Aḥmad Shaykh ʿAlī

Ca 35 years old

Sof ʿUmar

Belonging to the religious leadership of Sof ʿUmar

Aḥmad Sulaymān

Ca 40 years old

Robe

Ahl al-Sunna activist

Shaykh ʿAlī Yūsuf

Ca 60 years old

Asasa

Salafi scholar

Shaykh Aliyeh Hunde Ca 80 years old

Ginir

Oral historian

Aliyeh Jamāl

Robe

Government employee

Ca 50 years old

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

list of informants

337

Table (cont.)

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Pseudonym

Age

Place

Biographical data

Aliyeh Shaykh Aḥmad Ca 35 years old

Addis Ababa Relative of Shaykh Abū Bakr Muḥammad

Shaykh Amān ʿAbdul

Ca 60 years old

Robe

Salafi scholar

Ḥ ajj Amān Muḥammad

Ca 75 years old

Ginir

Salafi scholar and qawetti

Amān ʿUmar

Ca 30 years old

Robe

Ahl al-Sunna follower

Shaykh Azhar Waliyeh Ca 55 years old

Robe

Salafi scholar

Banti Mamo

Ca 50 years old

Dodola

Oral historian

Shaykh Bashīr Jamāl

Ca 45 years old

Shaya

Teacher and Ahl al-Sunna activist

Chala Kamāl

Ca 60 years old

Robe

Government employee

Ḥ ajj Ebu Megersa

Ca 75 years old

Goba

Oral historian

Ḥ ajj Farīd Aḥmad

Ca 70 years old

Dodola

Oral historian and renowned elder

Dr. Ghaffar Qāsim

Ca 60 years old

Addis Ababa Salafi scholar

Ḥ asīna Ḥ asan

Ca 60 years old

Robe

Relative of Shaykh Muḥammad-Amīn Chaffa

Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan ʿAbdallāhi Ca 70 years old

Robe

Merchant and one of the first Salafis in Robe

Ḥ ajj Ḥ asan Faqīh

Ca 60 years old

Goba

Oral historian and long-time government official

Shaykh Ḥ usayn ʿAbdallāh

Died in 2004, ca 75 years old

Gomorra

Oral historian

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Auwwal

Ca 75 years old

Robe

Oral historian, merchant and one of the first Salafis in Robe

Shaykh Ḥ usayn Ḥ abīb Ca 35 years old

Dodola

Ahl al-Sunna activist

Ḥ usayn Maḥmūd

Ca 45 years old

Robe

Merchant, witnessing the religious changes in the 1990s

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Mubārak Ca 70 years old

Robe

Religious teacher

Ḥ ajj Ḥ usayn Muḥammad

Shaya

Oral historian

Ca 70 years old

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338

list of informants

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Table (cont.) Pseudonym

Age

Place

Biographical data

Ibrāhīm ʿAbd al-Ḥ akīm

Ca 30 years old

Robe

Formerly involved in the Ethiopian Muslim Youth Association in Robe

Ḥ ajj Ibrāhīm Muṣt ̣afā Ca 70 years old

Robe

Oral historian and qawetti

Ḥ ajj Ismāʿīl Amān

Ca 70 years old

Robe

Former Qurʾān teacher

Khadīr ʿAbduh

Ca 70 years old

Addis Ababa Member of the Shaykh Muḥammad Tilma Tilmo family

Khadīr Faīṣal

Ca 35 years old

Robe

Former Ahl al-Sunna activist

Shaykh Khadīr Muḥammad

Ca 55 years old

Robe

Salafi scholar

Kamāl Maḥmūd

Ca 35 years old

Info withheld Former OLF soldier

Khālid Adam

Ca 70 years old

Raytu

Oral historian

Ḥ ajj Khālid ʿAlī

Ca 80 years old

Robe

Former teacher at the Salafiyya Madrasa

Maḥmūd Idrīs

Ca 35 years old

Addis Ababa Student and leading member of the Intellectualist movement

Muḥammad ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz

Ca 26 years old

Ginir

Merchant

Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAbdallāhi

Ca 65 years old

Raytu

Former Qurʾān teacher

Ḥ ajj Muḥammad Aliyeh

Ca 60 years old

Goba

Oral historian and opponent of the Salafis

Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj Maḥmūd

Ca 50 years old

Dirre Shaykh Imām in a mosque at Dirre Ḥ usayn Shaykh Ḥ usayn

Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Jalīl

Ca 75 years old

Agarfa

Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Qādir

Ca 50 years old

Dirre Shaykh Teacher in a madrasa at Ḥ usayn Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn

Muḥammad Ḥ asan

Ca 35 years old

Addis Ababa University student

Oral historian and involved in the mawlid rituals in Agarfa

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list of informants

339

Table (cont.)

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Pseudonym

Age

Place

Biographical data

Shaykh Muḥammad Ca 65 years old Ṣafi Ḥ ajj ʿAbd al-Qādir

Dirre Shaykh Teacher in a madrasa at Ḥ usayn Dirre Shaykh Ḥ usayn

Mumina Ḥ asan

Ca 45 years old

Robe

Government employee

Naṣrallāh Muḥammad Ca 40 years old

Robe

Ahl al-Sunna follower

Negash Mulugeta

Ca 55 years old

Robe

Teacher in a government school

Ḥ ajj Nūr al-Dīn Khadīr

Ca 55 years old

Robe

Salafi scholar

Nūrī Muḥammad

Ca 60 years old

Raytu

Oral historian and qawetti

Obse Ibrāhīm

Ca 55 years old

Robe

Oral historian and government teacher

Shaykh Rashād Muḥammad

Ca 60 years old

Oborra

Religious teacher

Shaykh Rashīd Ḥ asan

Ca 75 years old

Ginir

Oral historian

Sāra Biftu

No information

Dodola

Interviewed by Daniel Deressa

Sirāj MuḥammadAmīn

Ca 70 years old

Robe

Oral historian

Ḥ ajj Sulaymān Shukrī Ca 55 years old

Raytu

Farmer and qawetti

Tadesse Alemo

No information

Dodola

Interviewed by Daniel Deressa

Ṭ āhā Ḥ usayn

Ca 35 years old

Addis Ababa Info withheld

Ḥ ajj Tāhir ʿAbd al-Ṣamad

Ca 70 years old

Goba

Leading member of the muuda-party in the early 1970s

Tāhir Ḥ usayn

Ca 40 years old

Robe

Merchant

Shaykh Tarīq Aliyeh

Ca 60 years old

Addis Ababa Salafi scholar

Temām Muḥammad

Ca 70 years old

Dodola

Oral historian

ʿUthmān Aliyeh

Ca 50 years old

Raytu

Witnessing the religious changes in the 1990s

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

340

list of informants

Table (cont.) Pseudonym

Age

Place

Biographical data

ʿUthmān Nūr

Ca 30 years old

Robe

Unemployed, participating in the daʿwa in the 1990s

ʿUthmān Rashīd

Ca 70 years old

Raytu

Oral historian

Wolde Aseffa

Ca 50 years old

Info withheld Info withheld

Shaykh Ziyād Shaykh Ḥ asan

Ca 55 years old

Robe

Copyright © 2011. BRILL. All rights reserved.

Traditional healer

steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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REFERENCES Abbas Haji Gnamo. “Islam, the Orthodox Church and Oromo Nationalism”, Cahiers d’Études africaines 165, 42–1 (2002): 99–120. Abbink, Jon. “An Historical-Anthropological Approach to Islam in Ethiopia: Issues of Identity and Politics”, Journal of African Cultural Studies 11, 2 (1998): 109–124. ——. “Transformation of Islam and Communal Relations in Wallo, Ethiopia”, in Benjamin F. Soares and René Otayek (eds). Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). ——. “Religion and Politics in Ethiopia: Emerging Muslim-Christian Polemics in a Historical Perspective”, Paper presented at the Third European Conference of African Studies (ECAS), Leipzig, 3–7 June 2009. Abdul Wasie Yusuf. “Sharia Courts in Ethiopia: Their Status, Organisation and Functions”, BA-thesis in Law, Haile Sellassie I University, Addis Ababa, 1971. Abdussamad H. Ahmad. “Popular Islam in the Twentieth-Century Africa: The Muslims of Gondar, 1900–1935”, in Said S. Samatar (ed). In the Shadow of Conquest, Islam in Northeast Africa (New Jersey: The Red Sea Press, 1992). Abebe Kifleyesus. “Sufism and the Rural and Urban Reality of Argobba Mysticism”, Islam et sociétés au sud du Sahara 12 (1995): 27–46. Aberra Ketsela. “The Rebellion in Bale”, BA-thesis in History, Addis Abeba University, Addis Ababa, 1971. Abir, Mordechai. Ethiopia and the Red Sea: The Rise and Decline of the Solomonic Dynasty and Muslim-European Rivalry in the Region (London: Frank Cass, 1980). ——. “The Ethiopian Slave Trade and Its Relation to the Islamic World”, in John Ralph Willis (ed). Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa (London: Frank Cass, 1985). Abu-Rabi’, Ibrahim M. Contemporary Arab Thought: Studies in Post-1967 Arab Intellectual History (London: Pluto Press, 2004). Abun-Nasr, Jamil. M. The Tijaniyya: A Sufi Order in the Modern World (London: Oxford University Press, 1965). Aguilar, Mario I. “African Conversion from a World Religion: Religious Diversification by the Waso Boorana in Kenya”, Africa 65, 4 (1995a): 525–543. ——. “Recreating a Religious Past in a Muslim Setting: ‘Sacrificing’ Coffee-Beans among the Waso Boorana of Garba Tulla, Kenya”, Ethnos 60, 1–2 (1995b): 41–58. Ahmed, Akbar S. Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise (London: Routledge, 1992). Ahmed, Akbar S. and Hastings Donnan (eds). Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity (London: Routledge, 1994). Ahmed Zekaria. “Some Notes on the Account Books of Amir Abd Al-Shakur B, Yusuf (1783–1794) of Harar”, Sudanic Africa 8 (1997): 17–36. Al-Fahad, Abdulaziz H. “From Exclusivism to Accomodation: Doctrinal and Legal Evolution of Wahhabism”, New York University Law Review 79, 2 (2004): 485–519. Al-Rasheed, Madwai. A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). —— (ed). Kingdom without Borders: Saudi Arabia’s Political, Religious and Media Frontiers (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008). Alem Zele-Alem. “Saudi Arabia’s Whahabism and the Threat to Ethiopia’s National Security” 2003 [cited 25 October 2007]. Available from www.ethiomedia.com/press/ wahabism_threat_to_ethiopia.html. Alemayehu Seyoum. “Impact of Villagisation in Sinana Worreda (Bale)”, BA-thesis in Geography, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, 1989.

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342

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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steb, Terje. Localising Salafism : Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia, BRILL, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nyulibrary-ebooks/detail.action?docID=783308. Created from nyulibrary-ebooks on 2020-07-19 12:39:26.

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