Sheikh Aweys Ibn Mohamed Al – Barawi Al-Qadiri, was born in the coastal city of Brava in the spring of 1847. He was born to family of the Tuni clan of Digil & Mirifle. His background has been described as being from ‘client agricultural communities rather than powerful nomadic clans” He apparently was a brilliant student in Koranic school in Brava and studied Arabic, religious subjects and Islamic science with two local Sheicks. One of his teachers was Sheick Mohamed Zayini A-Shanshi, was member of the Qadiriya, and he encouraged Uweys to continue his Sufi studies in Baghdad, Iraq.
In 1870 Uweys arrived in Baghdad where he studied under the Qadiri master Sayid Mustafa Ibn Al-Sayid Salaman Al- Kaylani, the son of principle Sheick of the order, Salaman Al-Kaylani, who was a descendent of the prophet. This relationship was to be very important in Aweys’s development as a pan-Islamic leader.
The Baghdad saint Sayid Abd Al-Qadir Jeylani who died in AD 1166 founded the Qadiriya tariqa. This was the first order in Islam. Being older and more established, the Qadiriya had a larger membership in Somalia. It also tended to be less puritanical than the other Sufi orders in Somalia. Records indicate that the Qadiriya was established in Harrar before 1508. In Somalia it has long been educational institution devoted to Islamic literacy than propagandist tradition.
The Qadiriya is split into two powerful branches, which reflect the North/South division in Somali society. The north branch was the Zeyli’ia founded by Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Zeyli’ from Disow clan of Digil & Mirifle. And the Southern branch was leaded by Sheick Aweys was the most important leader in southern Somalia.
The Qadiriya seems to have made a transition from just being primarily a Sufi order to that of converting large sections of East Africa to Islam. In 1880, the two leaders Muslim brotherhoods were making progress in East Africa. The larger and more influential was The Uweysia group of the Qadiri order named for its Somali leader.
Sheick Uweys accounted for a considerable expansion of Islam in Tanganyika, Southern Somalia, Eastern Congo (former Zaire), parts of Mozambique and Malawi, the Comoro Islands and Northwest of Madagascar.
Sheikh Aweys made the required Hajj to Mecca and Medina and visited various important saints tombs in the Hijaz and Yemen. After his studies he stopped as the British enclave on Aden and then returned to Somalia 1881. He returned to the coast city of Banadir and become the most important religious in the Southern Somalia, his main settlement was at Biyoley, Tiyeglow where he is buried now, every year more than a million people from East African and Somalia, and Comoro Islands visited his grave.
Sheick Aweys was a man who against the colonialism and trading the black people as slaves, his fought the infidels with a strong word which caused many slaves to became free and converted to Islam, The Germans of Tanganyikan and the Italian was worried the expansion of the Islam in East Africa, Also many Arabian who was trading the slaves in Zanzibar and East Congolese was stopped the trading when the Sheick and his fellows arrived there.
Sheikh Aweys was murdered in 1909 by the soldiers of Mohamed Abdullah Hasan known as (Mad Mullah) for revenge. After he was traveling near Tieglow and later was buried at Biyoley, Tiyeglow.
This article was compiled by Ahmed A Farkeeti
sheikh Uways al-Barawi
Sheikh Uways Al-Barawi (1847-1909) was a Somali scholar credited with reviving Islam in 19th century East Africa. He was born in Barawe on the Benadir coast. His father was a minor religious teacher.
Sheikh Uways obtained a simple elementary education in basic religious sciences and only later furthered his studies with eminent scholars. He studied the Qur’an, Qur’anic exegesis, syntax and grammar, legal principles and basic Sufism under the tutelage of one Shaykh Muhammad Tayini al-Shashi in his local vicinity.
Journey to Baghdad
Being a devout student of Islam and excelling in piety the young Sheikh Uways caught the attention of his teacher who then introduced him to the Qadiriyya doctrines and took him to the Birth place of Qadiriyya, in Baghdad, in approximately 1870. This journey completely changed his spiritual search and religious credibility. He studied with the eminent Qadiri, Sayyid Mustafa b. Salman al-Jilani and later claimed to receive an ijaza from his teacher, thus boosting his reputation. Despite this, B. G. Martin described his training and education as “relatively provincial, mildly uninspired, and above all conservative and conventional.” He also made Hajj to Madinah and Makkah during this spell, which normally marks a spiritual milestone for Muslims. And truly so, his life took a drastic turnaround.
In 1883, he made his way back to his hometown to settle their for good, a very important journey in enhancing his reputation as a scholar was when he passed through the Hejaz, Yemen and northern Somalia. Northern Somalia in particular, Choi Ahmed claimed through oral tradition that Shaykh Uways met the renowned Somali Qadiri Shaykh Abd al Rahman al-Zayla’i near Qulunqul right before his death to be given complete control of the Qadiriyya in Somalia. On the other hand, S. Samatar claims that Shaykh Uways merely visited his tomb and received a symbolic ijaza to preach. Whether or not the former or latter claims were correct , both Choi Ahmed and Samatar imply that Shaykh Uways successfully established himself as the successor to the much revered Shaykh Abd Al-Rahman bin Ahmad al-Zayla’i.
Shaykh Uways brought huge reputation as he returned to his hometown of Baraawe. Elevated as a leader of the Qadiriyya in southern Somalia (which later became a sub-branch named after him, the Uwaysiyya), Shaykh Uways began missionary works throughout East Africa. His prominence was met with envy by the rival brotherhoods of Ahmadiya and Saalihiya (B. G. Martin), even his family members (S. Samatar). The intense clash for influence led Shaykh Uways to seek greener pastures, perhaps in emulation of the holy Prophet Muhammad’s hijra from Makkah to Madinah.
This decision made room for further proselytization that increased his influence. He moved inland and founded Beled al-Amin (translated by Samatar as “Town of Peace”) which flourished into an agricultural town. Bearing testimony of his mass appeal, Samatar mentions that “nomad and farmer flocked to his community, bringing with them gifts in vast amounts of livestock and farm produce”. Freed from external pressure, Shaykh Uways and his followers were able to devote time towards proselytizing the Qadariyya threatening the influence of the Sahiliyya led by Sayyid Muhammad Maaruf from the Comoros Islands, the Salihiyya of Sayyid Muhammad Abdallah Hassan in northern Somalia and Christian missionaries from inland Ethiopia.
The struggle of Shaykh Uways against the Salihiyya was so intense that he was resolute to being a martyr (Martin). Moving north to curb the influence of radical nationalist and puritanical teachings of Salihiya neo-sufis, Shaykh Uways was tragically murdered by Salihiyya followers in 1909. His death was a shock to even Salihiyya adherents, where Choi Ahmed writes them feeling remorseful. The Sayyid, however, composed a poem to celebrate his brotherhood’s victory, although Choi Ahmed mentions a differing view of the Sayyid’s reaction from northerners.
The tragic ending of the Uwaysiyya leader was compounded with the death of all but one disciple who later carried on the Uwaysiyya legacy (Martin). This remaining disciple composed a moving qasida that eventually became a liturgy of the Uwaysiyya order. Uways’s house was later bought by Shaykh Sufi and turned into the main headquarters of the Uwaysiyya.
His influence pervades throughout East Africa, from islands surrounding Zanzibar to as far west as the Eastern Congo and as far south as the Tanganyika(Choi Ahmed). His influence in Zanzibar was attributed to his close relationship with the Sultanate, two of whom he took as his Khalifah. This close relationship was established as a result of the Zanzibar Sultan’s encouragement. His widespread appeal is also attributed to the present circumstances of the Benaadir coast where foreign migration robbed local economic domination. The locals thought their calamity correlated with their lack of spiritual strength rather than external circumstances. Sufi orders then “provided a context for exploring these failings and proposing solutions by means of a renewed moral framework” (Reese). This phenomena elevates the status of wadaads (Choi Ahmed) where merchants subsidized activities of the wadaads (Reese). Due to the Qadiriyya’s popularity, of which Shaykh Uways led, his elevated status was most felt.
Choi Ahmed, Christine, 1993. God, Anti-Colonialism and Dance: Sheekh Uways and the Uwaysiyya, in : Gregory Maddox (ed.), Conquest and Resistance to Colonialism in Africa. New York: Garland Publishing, 145-67.
artin, Bradford G., 1993. Shaykh Uways bin Muhammad al-Barawi, a Traditional Somali Sufi, in: G. M. Smith and Carl Ernst (eds.), Manifestations of Sainthood in Islam. Istanbul: ISIS, 225-37.
Reese, Scott S., 1999. Urban Woes and Pious Remedies: Sufism in Nineteenth-Century Benaadir (Somalia). Indiana University Press.
Samatar, Said S., 1992. Sheikh Uways Muhammad of Baraawe, 1847-1909. Mystic and Reformer in East Africa, in: Said S. Samatar (ed.), In the Shadows of Conquest. Islam in Colonial Northeast Africa. Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, 48-74.
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Scott Steven Reese – Urban Woes and Pious Remedies: Sufism in Nineteenth-Century Benaadir (Somalia) – Africa Today 46:3/4 Africa Today 46.3/4 (1999) 169-192 Urban Woes and Pious Remedies: Sufism in Nineteenth-Century Benaadir (Somalia) Scott S. Reese Abstract In the Benaadiri region of southern Somalia, saint stories contained within locally compiled hagiographies provide valuable insights into aspects of social history that would otherwise remain unrecoverable. In this article I draw upon these familiar but underused written sources to challenge some commonly held assumptions about the relationship between urban commercial life and Sufism in Somalia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. First I explore the complex linkages between urbanites and Sufi organizations during this period. Then I examine the nature of locally perceived social crises as they were understood within the hagiographical works, particularly the Qadiri work Jawhar al-Nafis and the Ahmadi collection Manaqib Nurayn Ahmad Sabr, and their suggested paths of remedy. And [Shaykh Uways] settled down to the task of bringing God’s worshippers to the rightly guided path by land and sea, [both] male and female. Because of this he traveled to dis-tant towns in the land of the Swahili. . . and the land of the Benaadir, [to] its villages, hinterland and towns. If he wished to travel, a great crowd of men, women and children, both free and slave, would accompany him. (Ibn
ogeysiis waxaad kaheeso taariikhda culimadaan soodir halaga faa’iideestee walaal culimadana waa sidaan:
1- shiikh qaasim baraawe
2- shiikh xasan barsane
3- shikh yuusuf al-jowneen iyo culimadakale