Page 1
Sudanic Africa
, 9, 1998, 1-17
S. R
`In 1928, when the Principe d'Piedemonte came to visit',
amüd Sokorow declared, `the governor ordered the
walls of Mogadishu pulled down'.
For urban Somalis,
known collectively as the Benaadiri (lit. `people of the
ports'), the dismantling of the wall represented the destruc-
tion of the last physical barrier between themselves and the
undifferentiated masses of what they regarded as a rural
pastoral `horde'. Its destruction,
Sokorow and others
contend, led to a sudden and unbridled pastoral invasion of
urban space which constituted a direct threat to what town
dwellers viewed as their distinctive urban way of life.
Deprived of their last physical tool for excluding the
undesirable rural rabble from the town, urbanites were forced
to seek more subtle devices aimed at insulating the urban
community from pastoral influences and, from the 1950s,
creating a space for themselves in the coming post-colonial
state. There existed a number of weapons in the Benaadiri
arsenal aimed at negotiating the boundaries of community.
Interview with
Abukar amüd Sokorow, 5 July 1994. Unfor-
tunately, a search of Italian archival sources has failed to uncover
any conclusive evidence that confirms
Sokorow's account.
However, since the Italian authorities carried out extensive urban
renewal projects in Mogadishu during the 1920s and the Principe
d'Piedemonte did visit the colony in 1928, the
's story is not
without merit.

Page 2
S. R
These included, most notably, exclusionary marriage
practices and political activism embodied in the founding of
the Hamar Youth Club in the mid-1940s.
However, the
most powerful tool deployed by Benaadiri townsmen in
defence of their community was the one over which they
held a virtual monopoly: literacy in the Arabic language.
Using the tools of literacy Somali urban elites sought to
execute at least two agendas. First, they looked to reinforce
their own particular town identity which held them as distinct
from their rural neighbours. In addition to demonstrating their
inherent distinctiveness, however, élite urbanites also hoped
to demonstrate that urban and rural peoples were closely tied
to one another through both their common heritage as
Somalis and their membership in that much more important
community, the community of Muslim believers, or the
This dual agenda is clearly laid out by the Benaadiri
fi lim
fiAydarüs b. fiAli in his history of Somalia,
Bughyat al- m l fi ta rikh al- üm l
published in 1954.
Using the concepts of genealogy, sacred history and the
superiority of the written word, fiAydarüs sought to maintain
control over the definition of boundaries between his own
urban community and the encroaching rural population in an
effort to preserve their identity and social position in the
coming post-colonial state.
The urban communities
The negotiation and re-negotiation of communal boundaries
by Benaadiris in the twentieth century was hardly a new
phenomenon. Since at least the eleventh century,
the towns
`Hamar Youth Club', untitled document [n.p. n.d] detailing the
annual meetings of the Benaadiri political movement from 1952
to 1956.
fiAydarüs b.
fiAli al-fiAydarüs al-Na iri al-fiAlawi,
Bughyat al- m l fi ta rikh al- üm l
, Mogadishu: M al-Id ra al-
waßiya fial üm liy 1374/1954.

Page 3
of the southern Somali coast, known as the Benaadir
(including Mogadishu, Marka and Barawe), were inhabited
by mercantile communities whose lives were centred around
the act of buying and selling. These merchants
middlemen, mediating trade between the southern Somali
interior on the one hand and the broader
world of the Indian
on the other. The Benaadiri regarded themselves as
ahl al-balad
', literally `people of the town', a community
that was culturally distinct from their rural Somali cousins
who they regarded as `
ahl al-b diyya
' (`people of the
countryside') and inherently `other'.
The key to Benaadiri success as a broker community lay
in the careful maintenance of boundaries between themselves
and their trade partners. By playing various social, religious,
cultural or genealogical cards townsmen could either draw
themselves closer to their trade partners or create a discreet
amount of social distance depending upon which served their
immediate needs. Benaadiris in the nineteenth century, for
instance, frequently used bonds of ethnicity, religion,
genealogy and even family, through the marriage of urban
merchants to rural brides, to draw themselves closer to their
rural brethren.
However, while various links with pastoral peoples were
considered integral to the success of their mercantile
ventures, the maintenance of a certain social distance was
considered equally, if indeed not more, vital. This was
especially true within the urban milieu itself, where particular
care was taken to maintain the nomadic population at arm's
length. Oral traditions, as well as the writings of numerous
nineteenth-century travellers, provide us with detailed
accounts of the restrictions placed on nomadic movements
For a fuller discussion of the development of the mercantile
lineages of the Benaadir towns see my doctoral dissertation, Scott
Reese, `Patricians of the Benaadir: Islamic Learning, Commerce
and Somali Urban Identity in the Nineteenth Century', University
of Pennsylvania 1996.

Page 4
S. R
within the towns. Numerous sources from the late nineteenth
century note that nomads were allowed into the towns only
when they had business to conduct in the market.
Furthermore, those who entered were required to leave any
weapons they possessed at the town's main gate as they
entered. In addition, no pastoralist was, in principle,
permitted to remain in any of the Benaadir towns after
nightfall. Traditions as well as early colonial reports indicate
that all rural outsiders were compelled to leave the precincts
of the towns after the
(afternoon) and before the
(evening) prayers at which time the city gates were
closed for the night. As one early twentieth century observer
noted, every evening `after the
prayer, criers would go
throughout the town ordering all those who came from
without to leave. ...'
In order to ensure that no unwanted
rural visitors entered the city after dark, the towns were
patrolled nightly by groups of armed militia drawn from the
ranks of free male townsmen.
Having said this, however, it
is important to note that Benaadiris never sought to cut
themselves off from rural society. Instead, their intention was
to manage the urban­rural relationship in such a way as to
maintain their own social distinctiveness and economic
advantage. And, in fact, there were some notable exceptions
to these restrictions. For example rural business partners and
religious students were frequently allowed to reside in the
towns for varying lengths of time as long as an urban notable
sponsored their residency and vouched for their good
behaviour and accepted responsibility for any difficulties that
See for instance, Giorgio Sorrentino,
Ricordi del Benadir
, Naples:
Francesco Golia 1910, 401 & 433-4; Revoil,
Voyages au Cap des
Paris: E. Dentu 1880, 101, and Gustavo Chiesi
, La
Colonizzazione Europea nell'Est Africa: Italia, Inghilterra, Ger-
, Turin: Unione Tipographico Editrice Torinese 1909, 325.
Interviews with Abukar amüd Sokorow, 5 July 1994; Shaykh
Mu ammad Shaykh Abü Bakr, 2 August 1994;
Shaykh Mu ammad, 9 October 1994, and
Mu ammad
Dheere, 2 July 1994.

Page 5
might arise.
With the advent of the Italian colonial state after 1890,
however, urban Benaadiris lost control over most of these
physical barriers to pastoral migration. With the introduction
of colonial troops, urbanites no longer had the right to patrol
the streets with their own militia, although at least for a time
the Italians continued the custom of prohibiting nomads from
remaining in the town overnight.
Before 1920 it appears that
few pastoralists succeeded in settling within the precincts of
Mogadishu. However, by the middle of that decade what
was only a trickle of rural-urban migration turned into a
flood. From the early 1920s, the fascist administration began
a military build-up, which brought thousands of pastoral
troops to the coastal population centres. Then, in 1927 Italian
authorities forcibly resettled the rulers of two previously
autonomous northern sultanates, along with hundreds of their
followers from the Majeerteen clan in the centre of
Given these sudden influxes it is hardly surprising that
the community of Mogadishu, which at the beginning of the
century was estimated to contain no more than 6,000-7,000
felt itself awash in a pastoral sea. The senti-
ments of the Benaadiri population are probably best summed
up by
Sokorow: `Before the Majeerteen, the people of
Xamer ate their food in bed. After they came we had to sit
up. When the others [e.g. other nomads] came we began to
eat standing. And when the Ogadenis
arrived we began to
Sokorow clearly states, with the town wall-
Ricordi del Benadir
, 433-4.
Cesare Maria de Vecchi,
Orizzonti d'impèro. Cinque anni in
Milan: A. Mondadori 1934, 224.
10 Luigi Robecchi-Brichetti,
Lèttere dal Benadir
Milan: Società
editrice `La Poligrafica' 1904, 58-9.
11 Nomads from the distant interior used extensively as Italian troops
and considered way beyond the pale of civilization.
12 Interview with
amüd Sokorow, May 1994.

Page 6
S. R
the last physical bulwark against this deluge-destroyed,
local inhabitants clearly felt themselves culturally `on the
run'. In response, Benaadiris were forced to turn to what
they may have regarded as their last best defence, the
language of God and the written word: Arabic.
Benaadiris and the language of God
By the 1920s, the Benaadiris of Mogadishu had clearly lost
the ability to control who could and could not live within the
boundaries of the town. However, while they lost the
capacity to determine who could live within Mogadishu, they
still had the power to decide who had a right to claim
membership in the urban community. They accomplished
this through a medium which carried with it the weight of
religious authority and was a virtual urban monopoly, Arabic
Arabic has been the commercial lingua franca of the
western Indian Ocean, including East Africa, since at least
the eleventh century. This was no less true along the
Benaadir coast where, as Tomaso Carletti-an early
twentieth-century Italian official-noted, `Arabic in the
Benaadir is the language of religion, culture and
As Carletti so rightly pointed out, while Arabic
served as both a commercial and liturgical language, it was
also closely associated with urban culture and was viewed by
more educated Benaadiris as the only `proper' mode of
public expression.
More importantly, literacy in Arabic was
considered a virtual urban monopoly.
13 Tomaso Carletti,
I problemi della Benadir
, Viterbo: Agneosti
1912, 63.
14 Aside from Carletti's above statement evidence supporting this is
still rather anecdotal. For instance, minutes for the annual
meetings of the Hamar Youth Club during the 1950s indicate that
all speeches and addresses were delivered in Arabic and then
translated into Somali and Italian; `Hamar Youth Club'.

Page 7
While no statistical data exists, commentators of the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries (as well as local traditions)
indicate that Arabic was virtually unknown in the
interior outside a relatively small circle of religious
practitioners. Within the urban milieu, however,
knowledge of Arabic was disseminated much more
widely. In addition to the religious scholars,
most merchants living in the coastal towns had some
knowledge of Arabic. As men of commerce, most
maintained at least a working knowledge of spoken Arabic
in order to communicate with their overseas associates. At
the same time, many urbanites also studied Arabic as part-
time students of the Islamic sciences under the tutelage of
more experienced, and largely professional, scholars.
Given its comparatively broad dissemination among
urbanites and its relative absence among nomads, Arabic
provided one of the few means of cultural production over
which town dwellers exercised almost complete control. As
such, it provided the perfect venue for the defence of urban
communal boundaries in the face of increasing rural-urban
The wide scale production of Arabic literature in the
Benaadir appears to have occurred in two phases. The first
extended from
. 1917 through the mid-1920s when a num-
ber of hagiographies of the lives of various nineteenth-
century Sufi figures began to circulate among the peoples of
the coast in manuscript form. The second took place between
1950-60 during the so-called UN Mandate period, a
transitional period during which the Italian government was
to prepare the Somali people for independence under UN
auspices. During this latter period a number of new
collections of hagiographies appeared in printed form, as
well as at least one of the manuscripts of the 1920s. At the
same time the first known locally compiled secular history of
15 Interviews with Mu ammad al-H di, 2 July 1994, and
Shaykh Mu ammad, 9 October 1994.

Page 8
S. R
the coast, the
Bughyat al- m l
, was published, ironically,
under the auspices of the Italian Mandate Authority.
Significantly, these two phases of production correspond
with periods of crisis among the urban population. The first
occurred roughly during the same period that the Italian
colonial regime began to exert increasing control over their
Somali colony and Benaadiris were losing control of the
urban sphere. The second phase took place on the virtual eve
of independence when urbanites once again found
themselves struggling, this time for a piece of the post-
colonial pie in a country which both the UN and Somali
nationalists were defining as a pastoral state.
From the Benaadiri perspective these crises posed grave
threats to the existence of their community. Having long
since lost the ability to physically define their urban
boundaries, it appears that the Benaadiris turned to the
written word in order to guard their communal frontiers and
guarantee their place in a soon to be independent Somalia.
fiAydarüs and the creation of `History'
Both the hagiographies of the 1920s and those of the 1950s
served to delineate Benaadiri communal boundaries.
work under scrutiny here,
fiAydarüs b. fiAli's
al- m l fi ta rikh al- üm l
, is of a more secular nature. Its
origins are still rather obscure. Published under the auspices
of the Italian Mandate Administration in 1954, the book itself
provides no indication why it was commissioned by the
authorities, why the language of choice was Arabic or why
there is no Italian translation. It would appear that fiAydarüs,
a businessman, urban communal leader and classically
trained scholar of the Islamic sciences, was chosen as a result
of his close ties with the Italian authorities as well as his
16 For a discussion of these, see Reese, `Patricians'.

Page 9
As the title of the work implies, and the brief Italian
preface flatly states, the
was to be a `book on the
history of Somalia'.
However, even a quick pass through
the pages of the text or a rapid glance at the table of contents
reveals the clear urban bias of the work. The earliest chapters
of fiAydarüs's work dealing with Somalis concentrate on
exclusively urban topics. fiAydarüs provides detailed
accounts of town and clan origins, genealogies, and local
politics covering well over one hundred of the 291 pages of
the book (significantly these also happen to be at the very
beginning of the book, ranging from page 30-130). Only
between fifty and sixty pages are devoted to rural topics and
these are restricted to discussions of clan genealogies and
general geography. Again, significantly, these are among the
last pages of the book, running from p. 235-87, with a few
other odd pages scattered throughout the text. Much of the
rest of the work (including the entire first chapter) is devoted
to various religious topics. These include the life of the
Prophet Mu ammad, the history of the Caliphate as well as
the practice of
s (celebrations of the Prophet's birth)
and Sufism throughout Islamic history and across the Muslim
In terms of raw page numbers, fiAydarüs clearly devotes
far more space to a discussion of his own urban world than
to that of his rural cousins. In addition, he quickly informs
the reader that it is the literate, urbane world of the town
which is the crucible of Somali history as he writes; `this [is
a] historical collection which contains the most important
events and developments which have occurred to the Somali
people. It will not be based on the stories which persist on
the tongue about the history of the Somali people ... Rather,
it will be based on manuscripts and the writings of travellers
17 fiAydarüs,
`Tarjamat al-mu allif',
d l
., `Prefazione'.

Page 10
S. R
and historians about the history of these people.'
these few words, fiAydarüs in effect declared a hegemony of
the written (a primarily urban medium) over the oral. Oral
traditions existed only within the realm of `story', connoting
frivolity, invention and even falsehood. Historical `truth', he
implies, existed only within the written.
With such an ideological bulwark in place, fiAydarüs
sought to establish an urban monopoly over the definition of
the past and to define the boundaries of not only the urban
community but also those of the rural pastoralists through his
own particular literate lens. Through the discussion of topics
such as town origins, the development of Sufi orders and
local urban politics, for example, fiAydarüs carefully
delineates the boundaries of the urban coastal community by
defining exactly who had a long-standing physical presence
or political authority in the towns (and for how long).
However, nowhere does he draw these lines as carefully or
explicitly as in the area of genealogy, where he undertakes to
define not only the lineages and characteristics of urbanites
but those of pastoralists as well.
fiAydarüs devotes a great deal of space to the topic of
clan genealogies in his discussion of local society. However,
while he records the genealogies of both urban and rural
clans with equal detail and apparent rigor, he approaches
each in a significantly different manner. In his discussion of
pastoral genealogies (which occurs in the latter portion of the
work, long after his discussion of urban lineages), fiAydarüs
prefaces this section with a lengthy `declaration', in which he
explains his rationale for devoting space to their ancestry,
that is worth quoting at some length:
In this brief section, I have recorded the genealogies of the Somalis
and the reasons for their migrations to this region. I have collected
these from reliable authorized men [i.e., elders] and from ancient
., 8.

Page 11
books which have never been printed.
I have taken upon myself the recording of their genealogies
because their ancestors and ours propagated together within this
African land of Somalia. ... It is my desire to
render definite
genealogies, providing blessings and teaching them with the science
of genealogy, the learning of which is a duty.
... The science of genealogy is that which examines the
descent of the tribes and clans of peoples, the succession of sons
from fathers and grandfathers and the profusion of branches from
the roots of the human tree in such a way that one knows for any
given successor from what predecessors they are descended and for
a given branch, what was its root.
This knowledge has many
theoretical and practical benefits, [as well as] legal, social and
cultural and material necessities, too numerous to mention
The science of genealogy is not [simply] an ornament for [one
attending] literary gatherings where people learn purely to show
their recondite knowledge; rather, it is a knowledge both
theoretical and practical, because it is necessary in order to
establish inheritance, whose provision to those entitled to them
depends on establishing the degree of the relationship between the
inheritors and the one inherited from. This cannot be, except with
knowledge of genealogy.
From here fiAydarüs proceeds to discuss numerous rural
lineages in considerable detail. However, with this statement,
fiAydarüs lays claim to being the final arbiter of pastoral
descent. Although he notes that his own sources are `reliable
authorized men' and `ancient manuscripts', it is he who
`renders them definite' through the act of writing. His motive
for doing so, he declares, is purely disinterested. He desires,
merely, to prevent them from becoming yet another `literary
ornament', a fate which awaits most other oral genres, and to
bring blessings upon them through the teaching of this noble
science `the learning of which is a duty'. By emphasizing
their place as one of the Islamic sciences, fiAydarüs's
intention is to render them immutable once committed to
paper. As such, the rendering of `definite' rural genealogies
., 235. Emphases mine.

Page 12
S. R
made it difficult, if not impossible, for pastoralists to
claim an urban connection. The emphasis fiAydarüs
places on the importance of genealogy with regard to
inheritance may have been intended to serve a similar
function. As genealogy determines the degree of
relationship between inheritor and inherited it also deter-
mines who has social claims on whom.
However, the codification of such genealogies did not
create a complete firewall between urban and rural clans, nor
was it probably meant to do so. fiAydarüs, as he
demonstrates through many of his genealogical lists, was
well aware that a number of rural clans (such as the Hawiye)
had important urban ties while a considerable number of
urban clans (the Bendawow, for example) could point to
ancestors with pastoral origins. Such links were often
important elements in rural-urban commercial relationships
that were the lifeblood of the community. fiAydarüs's goal
was not to cut urbanites off from the rest of Somali society
but to make them a
part of it; an agenda he reveals
in his discussion of urban genealogies.
In his preface to rural genealogies, fiAydarüs concen-
trates on establishing a basis for the definitive genealogy in
an apparent effort to prevent rural clansmen from laying
claim to unwarranted urban connections. In his discussion of
urban lineages, however, this topic is never even mentioned.
Instead, he focuses on what makes a clan a clan. In a section
entitled `The citizens of the clans of Mogadishu' fiAydarüs
puts forth another declaration, this one detailing the various
elements that a lineage must possess in order to be
considered a true Somali clan.
The provisions of a clan are seven: First, that there must be among
them an
fi lim
knowledgeable in the Sharifia with no need to go to
another clan. Second, they must have among them intellectuals of
some standing. Third, that there must be someone of sufficient
wealth to pay reparations of the clan [bloodmoney] quickly if they
need to do so. Fourth, that they must be peoples of trade and occu-

Page 13
pations. Fifth, there must be among them a doctor who can treat
the people. Six, there must be a spokesman among them to respond
to [provocations] by other clans. Seven, they must have among
them a brave and intrepid [leader].
If a clan does not have these seven it has a defect. And there
are four other things a clan may have which bring it adornment
and honour. First, that there is among them conformity and unity.
Second, their secrets must be kept amongst them, and they do not
reveal them to others. Third, there is amongst them zeal in
religious and worldly affairs. And fourth, their genealogy leads to
a single ancestor and they live within a single boundary.
fiAydarüs indicates that these are the elements that a lineage
requires in order to be an urban clan. Indeed, if they are
found to lack one of the first seven they are `with defect'.
However, his agenda is not simply to isolate urbanites from
pastoral society. Certainly, he cites a number of elements
which distinguish urbanites from their rural cousins.
Stipulations 4: that they must be a people of trades and
occupations, and 5: that there must be among them a
doctor who can treat the people, are attributes found
commonly only among urban clans. Others, however,
are elements common to all clans, rural or urban, such
as 1, 3, 6 and 7 relating to learning, bloodwealth, and
leadership respectively.
fiAydarüs's agenda here is not difficult to discern. Rather
than attempting to separate urban society from the pastoral
majority, his goal is to demonstrate the place of urban society
as an integral, but distinctive, segment of Somali society. As
noted earlier, urban Somalis traditionally followed a pattern
of maintaining close links with the rural community, but at
the same time closely guarding their own spatial and social
boundaries. Here we see an example of the same pattern,
only in a literate format. Within his discussion fiAydarüs
indicates that in many important ways, the social structure of
urbanites is the same as their more numerous rural
21 fiAydarüs,

Page 14
S. R
neighbours (for example, they both possess Islamic learning,
pay bloodwealth, and are represented by articulate
spokesmen and brave leaders). However, he gives equal
weight to factors that are unique to Benaadiri clans including
the following of professions and the practice of `medicine'.
(Stipulation 2: each clan must have among them intellectuals,
may also be meant to distinguish urbanite learning and
scholarship from what were often regarded as less
sophisticated and pseudo-magical practices found in the
Finally, he notes that clans are defined not only by their
genealogical unity but also certain additional bonds. Clans
that present a united front, keep their `secrets' to themselves,
`... live within a single boundary', attain adornment and
honour. Thus, for fiAydarüs a true clan possesses not only
genealogical conformity but also a certain communal unity
that must be closely guarded. By stressing elements such as
these, fiAydarüs is able to put forward the argument that the
people of the Benaadir are fully members of Somali society,
but occupying their own unique position within the wider
fiAydarüs and the
But what about the Islamic chapters mentioned above? At
first glance it might be tempting to dismiss these sections as
extraneous appendages attached to the text by a classically
trained scholar for the sake of form. Certainly, there are
numerous examples of classical Arabic texts which take a
universal approach to history.
In the case of the
however, the purpose of such chapters is more than decora-
tive. Their presence is probably meant to place Somali
history within the context of sacred history and providing
fiAydarüs with yet another way to connect urban and rural
22 The works of Ibn Khaldün and al- abari, for example.

Page 15
fiAydarüs, as we have seen, introduces his work as a
`history of the Somali people'. However, the main body of
the text begins not with a discussion of Somali origins but
with a narrative history of the Islamic world. This starts with
a brief timeline of the most important prophets leading up to
the birth of Mu ammad. He begins, of course, with Adam,
who he notes lived `many centuries' before `our Prophet
Mu ammad',
and proceeds through the most notable
prophets including Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, the
last to emerge before the Seal of the prophets, Mu ammad.
Following this fiAydarüs embarks on a narrative of the life
and mission of the Prophet and a summarized history of the
expansion of Islam and establishment of the Caliphate or
Muslim political empire in the centuries following his death.
In addition, he makes honourable mention of other important
Islamic states, including the Ayyubids of Egypt and the rise
the Ottomans. This discussion extends over the first thirty
pages of text, after which he moves on to an extended
discussion of local history from the founding of the coastal
towns through the colonial period.
However, fiAydarüs's references to the wider Islamic
world do not end here. Some 120 pages later (p. 152), he
returns to a consideration of the larger Muslim community
when he devotes fifty pages to a discussion of
celebrations in various Muslim countries and during different
eras of Islamic history. This is followed by a brief
examination of the roots of Sufism and a narrative of its
development in late nineteenth-century Somalia. With the
exception of this last topic, all of these chapters are largely
straight-forward narratives with virtually no commentary to
tie them to other parts of the text.
By prefacing his discussion of local history with a
lengthy outline of Islamic history, fiAydarüs sets the Somali
23 fiAydarüs,
, 4.

Page 16
S. R
past solidly within the context of the sacred past. For him,
Somali history is defined by, and grows out of, the Islamic
past and cannot exist outside of that paradigm. A similar
agenda may be discerned with his inclusion of descriptions
s and Sufism in the wider Muslim world. By
devoting considerable space to the practice of rituals and
institutions both of which hold a prominent place in Somali
society, fiAydarüs again reinforces their connection to the
. In the case of Sufism his discussion of Somali mys-
ticism is presented (like his discussion of local history) as an
extension of the historical development of Sufi practice in
general. His discussion of
s may be cast in a similar
light. While he does not discuss the practice of
among Somalis, its celebration was an important part of the
religious calendar of most Muslim communities throughout
East Africa. Thus, his discussion of this practice in the rest of
the Muslim world seems designed to demonstrate to Somalis
that their own practice was in line with that of their co-
religionists throughout the world.
It might be tempting to dismiss these chapters as literary
window-dressing included by the author as a display of his
own piety. It appears, however, that fiAydarüs uses these
Islamic chapters towards the same ends as those on local
genealogy; to draw the lines of community. As mentioned,
fiAydarüs uses the science of genealogy to demonstrate that
while urbanites and rural individuals were distinct from one
another in important ways, they were essentially Somali.
fiAydarüs uses Islamic topics to emphasize an even greater
common heritage, their membership in the Muslim
community of believers. This, it can be argued, may have
been for fiAydarüs the most important communal connection
of all. Somalis were linked not only by common blood and
heritage but also by the greater community of a common

Page 17
Concluding remarks
In many ways, fiAydarüs's attempts to define the urban-rural
relationship merely replicates a pattern of cultural interaction
and definition that had long characterized urban-rural
relations. As a result of the realities of colonial occupation,
however, fiAydarüs and others were forced to adopt a new
medium for mediating and defining rural-urban associations.
Through the codification of genealogy they sought to seal
previously porous communal boundaries but without
divorcing themselves from the Somali whole. Since they
could no longer define these boundaries physically, they
chose to do so intellectually.
The need to define themselves as a distinct but integral
part of the so-called Somali nation became particularly acute
in the 1950s with the immediate prospect of independence.
In order to carve out a piece of the post-colonial pie,
Benaadiris needed to lay claim to solid Somali credentials in
a state that was being increasingly identified as pastoral.
However, fiAydarüs was not satisfied with appealing to a
common Somali heritage. Instead, he also sought to evoke a
stronger bond, that of their common membership in the
Islamic community, in his quest to secure the place of
urbanites in the Somali state.