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Haggai Erlich

North African political and military leader, was probably born in 1506 in the area between Harar and the Ogaden. Ahmad ibn Ibrahim married the daughter of Imam Mahfuz, the governor of Zeyla, who collaborated with Islamic scholars from Arabia against his master, the Sultan of Adal. Ahmad bin Ibrahim was similarly inspired by the renewed Islamic spirit and when he gained control of Harar in 1525, he refrained from adopting a political title and used only the religious designation of imam. His followers and his chronicler later called him Sahib al-fath (the lord of the conquest) or al-Ghazi (the holy warrior), for it was his conquest of Ethiopia, between 1529 and 1543, that made him so significant. In Ethiopian history, he is known as Ahmad Gragn, the left-handed.

The first half of the sixteenth century was marked by the weakening of the Solomonian dynasty s rule in Ethiopia ...

Article

Stephen Cory

North African military leader, was born to a Muslim family on the Greek island of Mytilene. Baba ʿAruj, along with his younger brothers, Khayr al-Din and Ishaq, launched a successful corsair enterprise along the coast of North Africa in the early sixteenth century. Battling mostly against Spanish expansionism in the Maghreb, the brothers (generally known as the Barbarossas) conquered several strongholds along the coast, the most important of which was the city of Algiers. Their efforts directly led to the establishment of Ottoman authority in the North African provinces of Algiers and Tunis.

In the first decade of the sixteenth century the situation appeared grim for Maghrebi Muslims The Spanish had recently completed their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula had expelled the Jews and had also forced the remaining Muslims in Iberia to convert to Christianity Their holdings in the New World were beginning to produce the wealth that would ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

political, military, and religious leader and first Caliph of the Sokoto Caliphate, was born in the town of Morona, now located in Niger, in 1780 or 1781. His father was the revolutionary Islamic cleric and leader Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817), and his mother was Hawwa bint Adam ibn Muhammad Agh. Bello received an advanced education in Islamic theology and law thanks to his father, and supported his father’s call for a strict adherence to orthodox Sunni interpretations of Islamic practices. Bello praised his father as a loving parent: “His face was relaxed and his manner gentle. He never tired of explaining and never became impatient if anyone failed to understand” (Boyd, 1989).

When Uthman Dan Fodio launched a series of holy wars against the nominally Islamic sultans of Hausa cities such as Kano in northern Nigeria and southern Niger Bello became an active lieutenant of his father ...

Article

Michael Twaddle

Ugandan military and religious leader claimed to have been born in the small kingdom of Koki in present day Uganda Knowledge of Kakungulu s earliest years is clouded by clan disputes in the great lakes region of East Africa Nowadays there are claims by two men to have been his father and four women to have been his mother Initially these claims arose out of the declaration by Kakungulu himself toward the end of World War I that he was no longer a member of the large and influential lungfish clan of Buganda because he had been born a prince in the neighboring kingdom of Koki Retrospectively it is easy to point to personal disappointment as being a possible explanation for this change of heart following an affair between his wife and a young brother in the lungfish clan as well as genuine uncertainty whether his actual biological father had ...

Article

Heike Behrend

Ugandan spirit medium, prophet, and leader of a military force involved in the Ugandan civil war in the 1980s, later named Alice “Lakwena” after a spirit that took possession of her. She was born Alice Auma in 1956 in Bungatira, a village near Gulu in Acholi, Northern Uganda, as her mother, Iberina Ayaa’s, second child. Her father, Severino Lukoya, worked as a catechist for the Church of Uganda. In 1948, before she was born, he had a vision; in 1958, after he had fallen from the roof of his house and believed that he had “gone straight to heaven,” a voice called out that spirits would come to his children and that one child had already been chosen. It did not become clear to him that Alice was the chosen child until January 1985 when she began preaching the word of God Thus her father had experienced ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

A skilled military leader and devout Muslim, Sheikh Ma al-Ainin led a popular resistance movement against European imperialism in northern Mauritania, Western Sahara, and southern Morocco. Born in southeastern Mauritania, Ma al-Ainin attended school in Morocco and spent much of his early life engaged in commerce and religious scholarship. In the early 1890s, however, Ma al-Ainin abandoned his business activities to fight the encroaching presence of Europeans in northwestern Africa. Ma al-Ainin’s first target was the Spanish campaign to colonize the Western Sahara. Supported by various princes and sultans, Ma al-Ainin built an army of almost 10,000 followers and launched several short campaigns into the Western Sahara from southern Morocco. He then turned his attention to French incursions into Mauritania. He redoubled these efforts in 1902 after the French colonialist Xavier Coppolani forged alliances with several major religious leaders in southern Mauritania Moving his forces into ...

Article

Stephen Cory

Muslim general and initial conqueror of Spain, was likely a freed Berber slave, who led a force of some twelve thousand soldiers (mostly Berbers) across the Straits of Gibraltar in 711. Later sources portray him as a hero and record an epic speech that he is said to have delivered to his troops shortly before going into battle against the Visigoths. However, Tariq’s accomplishments were not appreciated by his commander, the North African governor Musa ibn Nusayr, or by the caliph al-Walid in Damascus, both of whom saw him as expressing a dangerously independent spirit by launching the invasion. Despite many legendary stories and multiple contradictions found among the sources, the general sequence of events during Tariq’s famous expedition is fairly well established.

Tariq s origins are unclear although most historians identify him as being of Berber descent He first appears in historical accounts as a participant in Musa s ...