Portrait of Sultan Abdillahi Sultan Deria, the grand Sultan of Isaaq clans.
Ughaz: Authentic Somali term for "Sultan". Used throughout the northern and western Somali territories; particularly in the Somali region of Ethiopia and the far northwestern area of the Somali penunsila, but also in central Somalia and southern Somalia. The Gadabuursi in particular is the only clan with a longstanding tradition of Sultan. The Gadabursi gave their sultan the title of "Ughaz".
Boqor: Literally denotes King. However, in practice, it is the primus inter pares or "King of Kings". The title is etymologically derived from one of the Afro-AsiaticSomali language terms for "belt", in recognition of the official's unifying role within society. According to Kobishchanow (1987), Boqor is also related to the stylePaqar, which was employed by rulers in the early Nile Valley state of Meroe. Various Somali honorifics and designations have Boqor as their root. The latter include Boqortooyo, signifying "monarchy", "kingdom" or "empire"; Boqornimo, meaning "royalty", "nobility" or "dignitaries"; and Boqortinnimo, denoting "kingship". Historically, the title was mainly used by rulers in the northeastern Puntland region of Somalia. The most prominent Boqor in recent times was Osman Mahamuud, who governed the Majeerteen Sultanate (Majeerteenia) during its 19th-century heyday. Also used among the Gadabuursi as the law of the King and the 100 men' (heerka boqorka iyo boqolka nin).
Gerad/Garad: Often employed interchangeably with "Suldaan" to denote a Sultan. Etymologically signifies "wisdom", "mind" or "understanding". According to Basset (1952), the title corresponds with the honorific Al-Jaraad, which was used during the Middle Ages by Muslim governors in the Islamic parts of Ethiopia. Gerad was historically employed throughout northern Somalia. Notable Gerads include Gerad Dhidhin, the founder of the Warsangali Sultanate, and Gerad Lado, who built the sturdy wall around the ancient northern port city of Zeila.
Emir: Used by leaders in the Adal Sultanate. Also employed by commanders in the Ajuran Sultanate's armed forces and navy. Prominent Emirs include Nur ibn Mujahid, the Emir of Harar who built the great wall (Jugol) around the city.
Wazir: Minister and/or tax and revenue collector. Title used in the northern Majeerteen Sultanate and Sultanate of Hobyo, as well as the southern Ajuran Sultanate. Wazirs were also quite common at the royal court of the medieval Sultanate of Mogadishu. When the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta visited Mogadishu in 1331, he indicated that the city was ruled by a Somali Sultan originally from the northern Barbara region, who had a retinue of wazirs, legal experts, commanders, royal eunuchs, and other officials at his service. Other notable wazirs include the maternal grandfather of the Somali General Abdullahi Ahmed Irro, who was part of the Sultanate of Hobyo's aristocratic contingent in the southern town of Kismayo.
Wakiil-Boqor: Alternate court title designating a Viceroy.
Na'ib/Naïb: Deputy or representative of the Sultan. Duties included the administration of tribute, which was collected by court soldiers. Style was used in the Ajuran Sultanate, Majeerteen Sultanate and Sultanate of Hobyo.
Sharif (pl. Ashraaf): Historically used to distinguish descendants of Hassan 'Ali Abuu Taalib (Hasan ibn Ali). Often reserved for early Islamic leaders such as Sharif Yusuf Barkhadle (popularly known as Aw Barkhadle or the "Blessed Father"), a man described as "the most outstanding saint in northern Somalia".
Haji: Honorific reserved for distinguished individuals who have performed the hajj, or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
Below is a list of the titles traditionally employed by leaders and officials within the Somali customary law or xeer.
Islan: Clan chief. Title evolved after the fragmentation in the 18th century of the great Harti confederation that dominated the northeastern Horn region since at least the 14th century. A general process of decentralization ensued, with new leaders known as Islaan assuming at the local level some of the power that was previously solely commanded by the Sultan of Majeerteenia, the titular head of the entire confederation. Although they nominally asserted independence from the sultanate, Islaan's mainly wielded religious rather than political authority.
Malakh: Signifies "War Leader". Historically used mainly by the Rahanweyn clan that today forms one of the largest constituencies in southern Somalia, in addition to a few sympatric clans. Usually assigned to the Herabow sub-lineage, from which two male constituents were selected to manage the group's military affairs.
Akil: From the Arabic for "wise man". A common title for male elders, who are the traditional clan chiefs. Used in the north, particularly in the Somaliland region of Somalia.
Oday (pl. Odayal): Literally "elder". The most common title for advisors to the clan head or judges in xeer hearings. Used throughout the Somali territories.
^Ahmed III, Abdul. "History of Somali Military Personnel". THOAPI. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
^Hashi, Awil Ali (1993). Essential English-Somali Dictionary. Fiqi Press Ltd. p. 442. ISBN0969768508.
^Axmed Faarax Cali, Francesco Antinucci, ed. (1986). Poesia orale somala: storia di una nazione. Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Dipartimento per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, Comitato Tecnico Linguistico per l'Universita Nazionale Somala.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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