Ethiopian Treasures

Harar

Picture of old City Wall, Harar Harar was established by Sultan Abu Beker Mohammed in 1520. Harar, the Holy City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, is believed to be the forth-holiest city after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The old City Wall of Harar is the main attraction and symbol of Islamic architecture. Harar has approximately 90 mosques, which form the largest concentration of mosques in the world. One of Harar's main attractions is the hyena man who feeds hyenas on the outskirts of the town every night.

Harar is known for its turmoil and bloodshed. Ahmed Gragn killed Abu Beker Mohammed who was the ruler of Harar. Ahmed Gragn was a militant Muslim leader and used Harar as his base to launch his jihad and raids against the Ethiopian Christian Empire in 1528. He destroyed many churches and threatened the complete distruction of Ethiopian Christendom. He was killed by Emperor Gelawdewos in a Battle near Lake Tana in 1543. The raids continued against the Christians led by Ahmed Gragn's widow Bati Del Wambara. In 1559, Emperor Gelawdewos marched on Harar with the aim to eradicate the constant religious sectarianism taking place. Gelawdewos was killed in a battle and his head was paraded around the city on a stake.

In 1647, Emir Ali ibn Daud took control the city and established an autonomous administration. Despite the continuous fighting with Oromo tribes, Harar expanded; it became well populated, an important city for trade and a centre of Muslim scholarship. It issued its own currency. After 250 years of autonomous rule, Egypt occupied Harar and killed the Emir in 1875. The Egyptian action created a strong resistance in the Muslim community of Harar. Emir Abdullah took control and led a campaign against the Egyptians, which ended in 1885.

In 1887, Harar lost its autonomy when Menelik, Prince of Shewa, who later became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889, waged war against the army of Emir Abdullah. Menelik defeated the Emir at the Battle of Chelenko in 1887. Menelik then established a new administration, including several members of the emir's family to prevent renewed religious sectarianism, headed by Ras Mekonnen, the father of Emperor Haile Selassie.

Harar then began to disintegrate and lost its status as a trade centre in the end of nineteenth century when the railway line was built between Addis Ababa and Djibouti through Dire Dawa. From 1902, Dire Dawa became the main commercial centre of Ethiopia.

However, Harar remained as the spiritual City of Ethiopia's Muslim community, the political capital of Hararge Province until 1994 and has become a federal city-state since 1995.



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Historical Attractions