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Harar or Harrar (both: häˈrər), city (1994 pop. 76,378), capital of Harar region, E central Ethiopia, at an altitude of c.6,000 ft (1,830 m). It is the trade center for a region where coffee, cereals, and cotton are produced. Harar was probably founded in the 7th cent. After 1520 the Somali conqueror Ahmad Gran made it the capital of a considerable Muslim state, but an Oromo invasion brought an end (1577) to its political power. The city maintained a precarious independence until its occupation (1875–85) by Egypt. In 1887 it was incorporated into Ethiopia by Menelik II. The Harari inhabitants of the city are a distinctive Ethiopian group who speak a Semitic language, but whose written literature is Arabic. A walled city, Harar was long a center of Islamic learning, and has many mosques and shrines. It also is the site of a military academy and of teacher-training and agricultural schools. It is also spelled Harer.
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Harer (Ethiopia)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Harer, a small city in eastern-central Ethiopia, is the primary Islamic pilgrimage site on the continent of Africa. As a settlement, it appears to date to the seventh century CE. The entrance of Islam into Harer is attributed to Shaykh Abadir, who in the tenth century established Islam with the assistance of forty-four saints. In 1520 the city was captured by Ahmad Gran (1506–1543), a Somali empire builder, who made it the center of a large Muslim state. Somali rule ended after only half a century, but the new rulers from the Ethiopian Oromo people were also Muslims. Following Ahmad Gran’s death, his widow built the distinctive large walls around the city, which allowed it to maintain some independence until Egyptian forces invaded the region in 1875 and occupied Harer. In 1887 it was incorporated into Ethiopia by Menelik II (1844–1913).

The largest mosque in Harer is al-Jami, and part of the building dates to the eleventh century, making it possibly the oldest building in the city. However, possibly the most interesting site is the tomb of Abadir, which several times weekly is the scene of Sufi ceremonies.


Munro-Hay, Stuart. Historical Ethiopia: A Book of Sources and a Guide to Historical Sites. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, 2000.
Trimingham, John Spencer. Islam in Ethiopia. London: Oxford University Press, 1952.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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