The Habr Awal (Somali: Habar Awal, Arabic: هبر أول‎, Zubair Abdirahman (Awal) Shiekh Isaaq ibn Ahmad al-Hashimi; also spelled Zubeyr Awal, or Subeer Awal)[1] is a noble Somali clan and one of the largest sub-clans of the Isaaq clan.[2] The Habar Awal are divided into eight sub-clans of which the two largest and most prominent are the Sa'ad Musse and Issa Musse. Its members form a part of the Habar Magaadle confederation. The Habar Awal traditionally consists of farmers, nomadic pastoralists, merchants and coastal people. They are viewed as the richest Somali clan.[3] They politically and economically dominate Somaliland and reside in the most economically strategic and fertile lands in Somaliland, as well as dominating the national capital Hargeisa where they make up the majority.[4][5]

The major cities and towns of Hargeisa, Berbera, Gabiley, Sheikh, Wajaale, Arabsiyo, Kalabaydh, Daarbuduq and Hart Sheik are all predominantly inhabited by the Habar Awal sub-clan of the Isaaq.


The Habar Awal clan make up the majority in Maroodi Jeex region which is considered the most populous region in Somaliland, forming a majority in the national capital Hargeisa as well as exclusively dominating in the cities and towns of Gabiley, Wajaale (Somaliland Side), Arabsiyo, and Kalabaydh. The Habar Awal also dominate in Sahil region, principally in the regional capital and port city of Berbera, and the historic town of Sheikh as well as Daarbuduq. The clan also partially inhabits the northern portion of the capital city of Burao in Togdheer region as well. The Habar Awal also partially inhabit the neighbouring region of Awdal, namely in eastern Lughaya. Outside of Somaliland, the Habar Awal also have large settlements in the Somali region of Ethiopia, specifically in Fafan Zone where they respectively make up the majority in Harshin, Hart Sheik, and Wajaale (Ethiopian Side) towns. They also settle and border Kebri Beyah and Jigjiga in the Fafan Zone. They also have a large settlement in Kenya where they are known as the Isahakia community. Finally they have a large presence in Djibouti as well, forming a large percentage of the Somali population in Djibouti and within Djibouti they have historically dominated in Quartier 3 which is one of the 7 major districts in Djibouti.[6][7][8]


Sheikh Isaaq Bin Ahmed was one of the Arabian scholars that crossed the sea from Arabia to the Horn of Africa to spread Islam around 12th to 13th century. He is said to have been descended from Prophet Mohammed's daughter Fatimah. Hence the Sheikh belonged to the Ashraf or Sada, titles given to the descendants of the prophet. He married two local women in Somalia that left him eight sons, one of them being Abdirahman (Awal). The descendants of those eight sons are the what is known as Isaaq clan today.

The grave of Zubeyr Awal, the eponymous ancestor of the Habar Awal subclan of the Isaaq, is located in Jidali in Sanaag which is about 100km east of the tomb of his grandfather and founding father of the Isaaq clan Sheikh Isaaq Bin Ahmed Al Hashimi, who's tomb is located in the coastal town of Maydh.

Medieval Period (Conquest of Abbysinia)

Historically the Habar Awal were part of the Adal Sultanate and are mentioned in the famous "Futuh Al-Habash" for their major contributions in the Abyssinian-Adal war as the Habar Magaadle along with the Garhajis, Arap and Ayub clans against the Abyssinian empire, and also for producing a historical figure known as Ahmad Girri bin Husain who was the righthand partner of Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi and a chieftain for the Habar Magaadle forces during the Abyssinian–Adal war.[9]

Early Modern Period

The Habr Awal have a rich history of trading around the world for centuries in their major port city of Berbera which was the capital of Habar Awal Sultanate during the early modern period.[10]

With the strongly centralized ports of Berbera, Bulhar and Ceel-Sheekh and the heavily centralized farmlands of Gabiley, Arabsiyo and Wajaale the Habar Awal Kingdom began to experience the golden age where it became extremely wealthy and powerful. The Habar Awal rulers developed new systems for agriculture and taxation and having trading ports which was their major income. It also had a strong standing army that successfully repelled many expansionist nomads with ease since Habar Awal forces managed to purchase enough advanced weapons through imports from Berbera port from their close allies, the Ottoman Empire.[11]

Berbera being its capital became the richest coastal city in East Africa easily outpacing Mogadishu and it also became more powerful than the port of Aden. Berbera was an advanced built city with many wealthy merchants and the city of Berbera traded as far as Arabia. Persia, India, Europe and the Far East. With many contacts with foreign traders around the world at Berbera, thus acted their agents and brokers or abbans. The commerce, at this port city, involved trading beads, glass, cotton, silk, frankincense, dates, rice, sugar, and tea brought by sailors and the sheep, cowhide, ghee, goat skin, aloes, ostrich feather, ivory and many crops to Arabia.[12]

The Bedouin Arabs got most of their livestock and crops from Habar Awal merchants as the Bedouin lived in deserts and lacked livestock. Habar Awal merchants would export livestock animals such as Camel, Sheep and Goats. Arabs could not grow crops so Habar Awal farmers would export all the fruit and vegetables to them making the merchants very wealthy. Southern Arabians also got most of their frankincense, myrrh, spices, ivory, slaves and high-quality silk from the Habar Awal merchants who operated from the port city of Berbera.[13]

The Somalis from the deep interior, princiapally those from the Ogaden also gained most of their resources from the Habar Awal merchants were they would be called "Idoor" meaning merchant or trader, a reference to the aristocratic nature of the Habar Awal traders at the time.[14]

Sultan Abdurahman Deria of the Habr Awal receiving honours from Queen Elizabeth II in Aden

British Protectorate Period

The Habar Awal Sultanate came under the British Protectorate by signing a treaty with the British Empire on 14 July 1884. The Habar Awal clan continued a lucrative trading agreement with the British Empire and thus the British colonials established the capital of the British Somaliland protectorate at Berbera.[15]

At the onset of the Dervish wars, most Isaaq clan members were already part of the Dervish State and extremely active in the Dervish movement but amongst them Habar Awal traders also continued working with British financiers and colonial officials in Berbera and Aden. In 1919 a final plan to crush the Dervish using aeroplanes was devised and in between January - February 1920 the Dervish forts were bombarded and most of the dervish members either were killed, captured or fled to neighbouring Ethiopia.

Upon receiving it's independence from Britain on 26 June 1960, member of the Somali Youth League and leader of the Legislative Assembly of British Somaliland Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal was chosen to lead the newly independent nation as Prime Minister of the State of Somaliland. After a brief 5 days of independence, the new nation decided to unite with Italian Somaliland on 1 July 1960 to form the Somali Republic and Egal would later go on to serve two terms as Prime Minister of Somalia.

Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, legendary Somali politician. First Prime Minister of Somalia: 1960, 1967-1969. President of Somaliland, 1993-2002.

Somali Civil War and the Somali National Movement

The Somali National Movement (SNM) was a 1980s–1990s rebel group. The SNM at 1981 founding in London it elected Ahmed Mohamed Gulaid from the Habar Awal clan as its first chairman, who stated that the group's explicit purpose was to overthrow the Siad Barre military regime.[16] The SNM gathered its main base of support from members of the Isaaq clan, who formed and supported the movement in response to years of systematic discrimination by the Siad Barre government.

Members of the Habar Awal clan made up a significant portion of leaders and soldiers of the SNM. Habar Awal Commanders carried out many successful operations that led to the decisive victory of the group and to the downfall of the Siad Barre regime.

In western Somaliland, this group was prominently represented in the 99 division of the Somali National Movement which was founded in Gabiley with the majority of the divisions troops consisting of militia fighters hailing from the Jibril Abokor section of the Sa'ad Muuse sub-clan of the Habar Awal that dominates the Gabiley region. The 99 division was Commanded by General Mohamed Hasan Abdullahi (Jidhif) of the Jibril Abokor who successfully conquered Awdal region and completely erased the presence of Somali National Army forces within Gabiley and Awdal and forced the local Gadabursi inhabitants of Awdal to pledge loyalty to Somaliland. As commander of the 99 division, General Mohamed Hasan Abdullahi (Jidhif) also established a Somali National Movement military base in Zeila where the SNM occupied the Awdal region for 4 years and successfully defeated attempts by USF militia forces loyal to Djibouti who tried to take advantage of the fall of Siad Barre's Military Junta in 1991 and annex the city of Zeila.[17]

In central Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi and his Hussein Abokor section of the Sa'ad Muuse sub-clan of the Habar Awal successfully liberated Hargeisa from the brutal communist regime and played a preeminent role for the SNM where they liberated Hargeisa, and Faraweyne. Simultaneously, the Isse Muuse Division commanded by Colonel Ibrahim Dhagaweyne liberated the strategic port city of Berbera and the historic town of Sheikh. After the establishment of Somaliland in 1991. Habar Awal businessmen funded the most money where they donated millions of dollars to provide SNM fighers with food, supplies and military grade equipment. The Habar Awal commercial cities like Berbera and Wajaale is where gained most of the weapons were imported through from and with the wealthy Habar Awal businessmen the SNM forces were able to gain enough weapons. [18]

The Habar Awal clan played a predominant role with SNM and were one of the respected founders. They also built Somaliland's political institutions from the ground under the consequential rule of Somaliland's 2nd president Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal. During his 9 year tenure as President of Somaliland, Egal managed to disarm local rebel groups, stabilized the northwestern Somaliland region's economy, and established informal trade ties with foreign countries. He also introduced the Somaliland shilling, passport and a newly redesigned flag. In addition, Egal created the Somaliland Armed Forces, the most effective Somali armed forces since the disbandment of the Somali National Army in 1991.[19]

List of prominent Habar Awal SNM Commanders (Mujahids).[20]

Clan Tree and Lineage

In the Isaaq clan-family, component clans are divided into two uterine divisions, as shown in the genealogy. The first division is between those lineages descended from sons of Sheikh Isaaq by a Harari woman – the Habar Habuusheed – and those descended from sons of Sheikh Isaaq by a Somali woman of the Magaadle sub-clan of the Dir – the Habar Magaadle. Indeed, most of the largest clans of the clan-family are in fact uterine alliances hence the matronymic "Habar" which in archaic Somali means "mother".[21] This is illustrated in the following clan structure.[22] DNA analysis of Isaaq clan members inhabiting Djibouti found that all of the individuals belonged to the EV32 subclade of the Y-DNA E1b1b paternal haplogroup.[23]

A summarized clan family tree of major Habar Awal subclans is presented below.[24]

  • Sheikh Isaaq Bin Ahmed Al Hashimi (Sheikh Isaaq)
    • Habar Habuusheed
      • Ahmed (Tol-Ja’lo)
      • Muuse (Habar Jeclo)
      • Ibrahiim (Sanbuur)
      • Muhammad (‘Ibraan)
    • Habar Magaadle
      • Ismail (Garhajis)
      • Ayub
      • Muhammad (Arap)
      • Abdirahman (Habar Awal)
        • Sa'ad Muuse
          • Abdirahman Sa'ad
          • Abdalla Sa'ad
          • Hassan Sa'ad
            • Abdalla Hassan
          • Isaaq Sa'ad
            • Makahil Isaaq
            • Mohammed Isaaq (Abbas)
            • Isse Isaaq (Ciise Carab)
            • Musa (Ase) Isaaq
            • Yeesif Isaaq
            • Abokor Isaaq
              • Ugaadh Abokor (Ugaadhyahan)
              • Abdalla Abokor
              • Hussein Abokor
                • Osman Hussein (Cismaannada)
                • Jibril Hussein
                  • Ismail Jibril
                    • Nuh Ismail
                      • Yonis Nuh
                        • Shirdoon Yonis (Reer Shirdoon)
                        • Hoosh Yonis (Reer Hoosh)
                        • Gadid Yonis (Reer Gadid)
                        • Mohammed Yonis
                      • Ahmed Nuh (Reer Ahmed)
                    • Said Ismail
                    • Abdalla Ismail
                    • Ali Ismail
                    • Idris Ismail (Bah Gobo)
                    • Muhumed Ismail (Waran'ad)
                    • Yonis Ismail (Bah Gobo)
                    • Yusuf Ismail
              • Jibril Abokor
                • Adan Jibril (Bahaabar Adan)
                • Ali Jibril
                  • Omar Ali
                    • Abib Omar (Baha Omar)
                    • Abtidon Omar
                    • Sahal Omar (Baha Omar)
                    • Gheedi Shide (Baha Omar)
                    • Giniis (Baha Omar)
                    • Husein Qawa Omar (Baha Omar)
                    • Yonis Omar (Duge)
                    • Adan Omar
                    • Ismail Omar
                      • Barre Ismail
                        • Hareed Barre (Reer Hareed)
                      • Dalal Ismail (Reer Dalal)
                      • Hoosh Ismail (Baha Omar)
                      • Idris Ismail (Omar Galbeed)
                      • Samatar Ismail (Omar Galbeed)
                      • Qayaad Ismail (Baha Omar)
                • Hassan Jibril
                • Mohamed Jibril (Deriyahan)
                • Yonis Jibril (Reer Yonis)
                  • Urkurag Yonis
                    • Adan Urkurag
                      • Omar Adan
                      • Ali Adan
                      • Ahmed Adan
        • Issa Muuse
          • Adan Issa
            • Jibril Adan
              • Mohamoud Jibril
              • Hassan Jibril
              • Ibrahim Jibril
              • Ismail Jibril
          • Abokor Issa
            • Hassan Abokor
              • Balle Hassan (Reer Baale)
              • Musa Hassan
          • Idarys Issa
          • Mohamed Issa
            • Mukhtar Mohamed
            • Hassan Mohamed
            • Jibril Mohamed
              • Omar Jibril
              • Abokor Jibril
              • Yonis Jibril
              • Muuse Jibril
                • Ali Muuse
                  • Sahal Ali (Reer Sahal)
                  • Wa'ays Ali (Reer Wa'ays)
                  • Abane Ali (Reer Abane)
                  • Had Ali (Reer Had)
                  • Hildid Ali (Reer Hildid)
              • Abdirahman Muuse
              • Abdulle Muuse
                • Abdalle Abdulle (Abdalle Qoyan)
                • Hassan Abdulle
                  • Ahmed Hassan (Dhogori)
                  • Deriyahan Hassan
        • Abdi Muuse
        • Abdalla Muuse
        • Afgab Muuse
        • Egalle Muuse
        • Eli Muuse
        • Omar Muuse

Prominent and Influential figures

Mo Farah, British four-time Olympic gold medalist and the most decorated athlete in British athletics history.
Rageh Omaar, Somali-British journalist and writer; former BBC world affairs correspondent; moved to a new post at Al Jazeera English in 2006; as of 2017 is with ITV News

The clan has produced some of the most prominent and influential Somali figures in history, who are listed below.


  1. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2002). "Ethnic Groups". Somalia Summary Map. Perry–Castañeda Library. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "I.M Lewis, A pastoral democracy, p. 10". 
  3. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=StAUAQAAIAAJ&dq=Habar+Awal+richest+somali+tribe&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj5kq6v5_DZAhWKJcAKHZfyBakQ6AEITDAH
  4. ^ http://www.awdalpress.com/index/one-clan-domination-is-complete-in-somaliland/
  5. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IfgxAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=habar+awal+dominate+somaliland&source=bl&ots=cLv-7EU5mj&sig=8rxl0QXPpQhojdAx8c6rXoLIZNU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiK_dK6-fPZAhXqI8AKHUSbDmoQ6AEIfzAM#v=onepage&q=habar%20awal%20dominate%20somaliland&f=false
  6. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/publ/RESEARCH/3d5d0f3a4.pdf/
  7. ^ Imbert-Vier, Simon (2011). Tracer des frontières à Djibouti: des territoires et des hommes aux XIXe et XXe siècles (in French). KARTHALA Editions. ISBN 9782811105068. 
  8. ^ "I.M Lewis , A pastoral Democracy". 
  9. ^ "مخطوطات > بهجة الزمان > الصفحة رقم 16". makhtota.ksu.edu.sa. Retrieved 2017-08-24. 
  10. ^ "Piece of Berbera History: Reer Ahmed Nuh Ismail". wordpress.com. 21 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Publication, issue 157, US Hydrographic Office, p.403
  12. ^ Mcmillan’s magazine, vol. 49
  13. ^ Cambridge History of Africa: from c. 1790 to c. 1870, Fage, Flint, Oliver, p.57
  14. ^ Somali Poetry, Lewis & Adrzejewski, 1964, p.111-115
  15. ^ D. J. Latham Brown (1956). "The Ethiopia-Somaliland Frontier Dispute". International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 5 (2): 245–264. doi:10.1093/iclqaj/5.2.245. JSTOR 755848. 
  16. ^ Helen Chapin Metz, Somalia: a country study, Volume 550, Issues 86-993, (The Division: 1993), p.xxviii.
  17. ^ "Hassan Ali Jama , Who cares about Somalia". 
  18. ^ "Nationalism & Self determination in the Horn of Africa". 
  19. ^ "Ethnic Conflict and Democritization in Afrcia , p.217". 
  20. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0x3rAgAACAAJ&dq=list+of+Habar Awal+leaders+snm+leaders&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjdxtullPbZAhWlAcAKHQHgAVAQ6AEIQjAE
  21. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=yoMBQCr4LysC&redir_esc=y
  22. ^ I. M. Lewis, A pastoral democracy: a study of pastoralism and politics among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa, (LIT Verlag Münster: 1999), p. 157.
  23. ^ Iacovacci, Giuseppe; et al. (2017). "Forensic data and microvariant sequence characterization of 27 Y-STR loci analyzed in four Eastern African countries". Forensic Science International: Genetics. 27: 123–131. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2016.12.015. Retrieved 18 January 2018. 
  24. ^ http://isaaq.webs.com/habrawal.htm
  25. ^ https://books.google.ca/books?id=Mu0MAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA248&lpg=PA248&dq=the+royal+race+is+the+ayyal&source=bl&ots=fvtY7ZzikW&sig=Nk4RnVjm_ZTcVcZKthn22tFUBKQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi3kKnLsffZAhUCvVkKHWNiAiYQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=the%20royal%20race%20is%20the%20ayyal&f=false, Sir Richard Francis Burton, First Footsteps in East Africa, Or, An Exploration of Harar, Volume 2, p. 52.
  26. ^ "مخطوطات > بهجة الزمان > الصفحة رقم 17". makhtota.ksu.edu.sa. Retrieved 2017-07-26. 
  27. ^ http://www.somalilandinformer.com/somaliland/somaliland-prominent-somali-journalist-ahmed-hasan-awke-passes-away-in-jigjiga/
  28. ^ http://www.somalilandinformer.com/somaliland/breaking-ibrahim-dheere-tycoon-passes-away-in-djibouti/
  29. ^ https://www.worldremit.com/en/about-us/management-team
  30. ^ "Somali Entrepreneurs". Salaan Media. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 15 Feb 2018. 
  31. ^ "Mo Farah's family cheers him on from Somaliland village". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2014.