Chasing Al-Arabiya: Somalia’s cultural genocide, sort of.

“You must understand the difference between Islam and Arabism-Something which is difficult for African people to understand. The Arab did to Islam what the European did to Christianity, he subtracted the spirituality, and made it a political instrument to conquer the African. But when it comes to the African, he accepted the spiritual aspect of it, and forget the political.”

Dr. John Henrik Clarke.

 Before we dive into this discussion, I must grace you with my usual set of disclaimers. 1) This is a discussion on why/if Somalis (and to a larger extent, contemporary Africans) hold a belief that Islam can only be accessed vis a vis the appropriation of linguistic and cultural norms of the Arabian peninsula, which loosely means that this conversation isn’t an attack on Islam, religiosity or traditional values, but an inquiry into the changing religious/cultural climate of post-1991 Somalia, and whether these developments are the precursors to an imminent cultural genocide.  2) I’m really not interested in having this conversation with the mouth-breathers of Somalia-The ones who proudly boast of our ‘Arabness’, and spend beaucoup hours on facebook conducting fatwa’s and policing hijab styles. No, mate, you’re not invited to this discussion, as we’ve already seen the fruits of your intellectual legacy-banned bras, Hyena sandwiches and an unjust war against samosas. To you lot, I say, a Wahhabi plague upon your houses and hope that welfare state become a thing of the past.

Now onto the quote above-If you’re unfamiliar with Dr. John Henrik Clarke, I strongly encourage you increase your standard of living by indulging in his body of work. This man was a brilliant historian and an outrageously gifted orator who had a way of challenging our contemporary understanding of African spirituality and our relationship as converted peoples to Christianity and Islam-An unpopular topic amongst the African intelligentsia. In this discussion, I’m particularly fascinated by this quote, as it puts an emphasis on the distinction between Islam and Arabism-the latter being a paradigm that borrows inspiration from the Arabian peninsula in matters of culture, language, and spiritual guidance, the former the chosen religious path of most Somalis.

It must be stated that the history of Islam in Africa, particularly in regions like Somalia is as old as the religion itself, and while history points to a troubling relationship between African and Arab peoples, there is also a powerful historical link that predates Islam in the form of trading, conquest, and movement of tribes between these regions.  I state these obvious facts in anticipation of critics who will readily dismiss the signs of an aggressive Arabization of contemporary Somalia by pointing to our historical ties to this region. They argue that we’ve always had this knack for plagiarizing Arabia and that this seemingly new phenomenon is nothing but a divisive tactic, conjured in hopes of straining the love affair between Arabs and Somalis. Now look, we know, we had/have ties to the Arab world, but there’s a distinction between loose political ties and a metamorphosis of an entire culture in the span of two decades.  Basically, this is my fancy way of asking, when the hell did we go from this…

to this…

I’ve really struggled with using these images of Somali women, as its easy to reduce this entire process to women’s clothing of choice, and believe this process is much more complicated and nuanced. But one can’t deny that the aesthetic transformation of  Somalis is reminiscent of other regions, I’ll let you guess where, and that this change is largely connected to this idea that a ‘good muslim/Somali woman’ has a  specific uniform-I’ll also let you guess the geographical origin of this uniform (I’ll give you a hint, not from Malaysia, Sudan nor Turkey). But yes, this is the physical representation of what many Somalis are witnessing.

So far I’ve pieced together that conflict and abject poverty are often the close cousins of religious fundamentalism, and understand that the conflict in Somalia has done a number on our collective cultural memory, and it’s only natural that people turn to religious devotion in times of grave despair. I get it, I really do.

But there’s a problem, umm…this discussion isn’t only limited to Somalia and its contemporary political turmoil, but also an epidemic in the Diaspora. One can easily argue that this process of arabization is more pronounced in the diaspora than in Somalia. From the Somali-dominated environs of West London to Toronto to Stockholm to Minnihopeless Minneapolis, one can witness a seismic cultural shift that is often traumatizing to any Somali with vivid memories of our distinct culture and traditions. We’ve been relegated to the world of nostalgia filled with  youtube clips of our Waberi musicians and  Fadumo Qasim in secreracy for fear that the religious gestapo may revoke our ‘Somali card’, and dismiss us as western infidels.

We’re bombarded with more jilbabs and niqaabs than gabisars, more Abu-somethings than Libans and Ragehs. A friend once said, ‘gone are the days of ‘subax wanagsan’ (good morning in Somali) and areligious greetings now replaced by traditional Arabic greetings. It’s really okay to say good morning in your language, I promise no piety points will be lost during this process. The self-appointed religious police scrutinize and attack any remnants of our secular past, police our cultural singers, and ostracize anyone (especially if you have a vagina) who dares to reflect on this changing environment, often charging them with heresy and declaring them person non grata.

What happened? Where did it go wrong? and did it go wrong? We went from a secular society in possession of an unique and indigenous link to Islam to a society that…well…quite frankly, a society that resembles what happens when self-hating negros get a hold of religion; they become Saudi Arabia. But to be fair, perhaps this trend is a good thing? Brain-dead miscreants Some Somali would argue that this cultural shift is a positive thing, and that Somalis are on a righteous path towards spiritual enlightenment, and through this paradigm shift, Somalia may begin to transform from a tribalistic, corrupt, and morally bankrupt society to a theocratic utopia. Now granted most of the people that argue this often possess a strong aversion to books and women, but their perspective is equally valid and deserves a seat at the ‘what to replace tribalism with’ conversation.

I think these are the type of conversations in need during this redevelopment period, and I understand it is in the interest of certain individuals to promote the idea that dialogue in Somalia is dead, and wahhabism has won. Wrong. Many Somalis are outraged, bewildered, and in a state of trepidation, and believe we’re on the cusp of culture wars in the coming years as we begin to restructure and stabilize this region. Speaking of culture wars, I once accused a friend of yielding to Arabism after witnessing his Saudi-style Al-defeh outfit, and he replied, “You’ve chosen the West, and I, the Arabs,” a poignant social commentary on the various forms of cultural imperialism that left me thinking, ‘where’s Somalia in all this?’.  So, I’m asking this uncomfortable question, ‘what the hell happened to Somalia? – Enquiring bloggers wanna know, and particularly interested in your insight to the following questions.

1) Is there a process of ‘arabization’ currently underway in Somalia? If so, is this a good thing?

2) A wise man once said, ‘The African; more Arab than the Arab’, which points to a tradition of black Africans appropriating and exalting anything foreign in lieu of anything indigenous and black. True of False?

3) What’s the status on the permissibility of Hyena consumption, now that Kismayo has fallen? I’m asking for a friend :/

4) Fellow Africans Muslims or Africans from African states with a sizable Muslim population, do you also notice a similar trend of appropriating Arabism? I’m thinking Mali, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea might have something to add to this discussion.

P.S. This is the  Somalia, many are aiming to erase.


89 thoughts on “Chasing Al-Arabiya: Somalia’s cultural genocide, sort of.

  1. Disclaimer, I am a Somali agnostic, so all this make a lot of sense to me.

    I had an argument with my aunt just yesterday about halal meat. I bought some chicken which she kindly threw out because it is “baqti” (dead aka haram) I’m like WTF, people are hungry and here we are, feeling oh so sanctimonious about petty things.

    In summary, YES Somalis we have been mentally enslaved for decades in the promise of lands with flowing rivers of honey and beer. I have my bias an reservations about this whole ideology. I just wish Christianity and Islam did not rob us off our souls and identities.

    PS:I think you would like this site Idilay:
    PPS: I want to learn how to shake my booty like those ladies,,,,(so hot! lol)

    PPPS: mac mac! from your original secret admirer .

    • Thanks for visiting sis, and absolutely love that site. I agree that the way many Africans relate to religion is extremely problematic, but think its possible to be muslim/christian without all the self-hate. The moment one believes he/she must sacrifice his/her identity in order to be accepted by the greater religious community is the moment a community ceases to exist. The trauma of converted peoples is real. At least I think so. But also, more perverse is this idea that everyone must subscribe to this Arabist dogma, and or else, the powers that be will kick you out of ‘Somalinimo’….smh

      P.S. love the vintage Somalia blog. one of my nostalgia relics. Thanks again for stopping by 🙂

    • LOL another commentator just had a nervous breakdown because you dared to speak of a different narrative
      than the Somalis are ‘all unyielding and devout’ muslim. I love this diversity. Thank you for this!

  2. Thanks Idilay for voicing questions many are thinking. While I agree with most of what you have written, I disagree that there is only one set of clearly definable “Somali culture.” The Somalis of Af-madow definitely prefer the Diisow dance to the the Niiko. As for dress, the Somali Barawan women have for generations worn the ‘abaya’ and considered it their culture. Oh the politics of identity vis-a-vis the politics of culture!

    Cultures are neither static nor sacred. The amalgamation of what we call Somali culture evolved over centuries borrowing/appropriating from neighboring countries – are our canjeero and bun Ethiopian influences? Is our hate/love/hate relationship with Ethiopia any less pricky than than the one with the Arabs? There are many questions that seek answers.

    Dear Idilay, I’ll attempt answers to your questions tho:
    1- No, there is not a process of “arabization” underway. I believe it is more sinister than that! It a battle for the souls of folks rather than their identity.
    2- Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature by Ngugi Wa Thiongo.
    3- The Hyena Pepper Sandwich is No. 5 on the Makdonaal Menu in Kismayo. w/ or w/o bacon?
    4- What about Malaysia, Indonesia, Philipine, Revert-land, USA?

    You are a courageous woman who is not afraid to bring issues that need dialogue to the fore. Keep it going sister.

    Globalized Somali

    • Thank you for your feedback! Your juxtaposition between influences from Ethiopia and Arabia is extremely poignant.
      You’re right, culture is always an ongoing process. Damn, your message totally complicates my conclusions, and
      definitely forces me to evaluate some of my premises. For one, the complexity of tribal/regional differences
      amongst Somalis-I’ve posited this argument without dissecting the nuances of ‘Somalinimo’ as if that’s one stagnant
      unyielding thing. But i’m curious, what would you call this current phenomenon, what do you feel is problematic about it?

      Oh, and Somali after my own heart. You had me at Ngugi!

  3. Hi i do agree same of your statement about arabazation of the somali people and whole muslim world but i dissagree same generasilization you make about somali culture and how somali people changed as you aware the world is changing as so as somali people. After the civil war somali People emigrated all over the world and they have mixed with different cultures some of them gain knowledge and some of them gone closer to arabs because we have some religion and closer cultural background that closeness some people take too far they dress like arabs they have named their children arab names as you mention your report i agree, but i disagree when you take post card picture of 1970’s and you compared al-shabaab picture not all somalis are alshabaab this group are terroriste and they not reperensenting somali people.

    You also show a picture a group of ladies who showing their hair and their flesh our religion tell us women to cover their hair and their flesh not the arabs. I am against purkha but i would like to see somali women to dress reasonable and not to display their boobs and flesh of their body. I also blieve we gone too far trying too close to the arabs but arabs don’t want us the danger is we forget our roots which is we are africans not arabs. I am very happy to be african and proud of it.
    I am sorry i write this reply rushing

    Eng:Ahmed mukhtar

    • Hi Ahmed,

      thank you for stopping by. I think you raised some valid points, and you’re right my juxtaposition of images from the past with contemporary Somalia maybe problematic, but I used these images to point to the drastic change in paradigm. Also, I don’t think there’s an issue with Somalis or Africans finding a more potent relationship to Islam, but just find the attraction to wahhabism or Arabism quite alarming. And this isn’t some fictitious theory, our current education system in the region is being fuelled with petrodollars, here’s an interesting article a friend posted…

      What do u think we can do to reverse this process? Is it possible to be a muslim nation without arabism?

      Also, you spoke of your concern with women’s clothing, and I think that is an issue that should be left to women, and women only…

  4. 1) Is there a process of ‘arabization’ currently underway in Somalia? If so, is this a good thing?

    Yes a process of arabization is underway in Somalia, and ever since the collapse of Somalia, these wahabists have pretty much done whatever they´ve wanted to do in Somalia. There was no one there to challenge their doctrine and compete for the hearts and minds of the masses. Those who were there and who might have tried to compete with them didn´t have enough resources to do so. How do you compete with arab petro $$$$?? Most mosques and dugsis in Somalia since the beginning of the civil war are funded by Saudi Arabia or other institutions who promote the wahabi discourse. And as we know, who ever controls the money, controls the curriculum and the agenda. And no,
    it´s definetely not a good thing because with this wahabi arabization comes a way of thinking which lead us to hate ourselves and work against our own interests, seemingly by our own free will. For instance, it teaches us that were “naked, borderline pagan negroes, who knew nothing of Islam” and that our current state of collapse is punishment from Allah because we didn´t follow Wahabism. It teaches us that, because we are not Arabs, more importantly not Qurayshi arabs, we´re automatically far removed from the grace of God and that we therefore need to take all kinds of measures to overcompensate for this innate shortcoming of ours. There is nothing about wahabism that is spiritually enlightening. There is no room for spirituality, because it´s all about policing vices and women and maintining a status quo of injustice and in-equalitities, not just between genders, but also between cultures and ethnicities, Saudi Arabia and it´s draconian culture and rule is put on a pedestal whereas everyone else, non-arabs in particular are looked down upon.

    The same thing happens in the diaspora, because like in Somalia, most major masjids in Europe are funded with Saudi money, which usually means that they have one or a few Saudi princes in their boards, influencing the agenda and the curriculum. Even mosques with seemingly liberal public image (like the Reagents Park mosque in London) have Saudi financiers, and wahabi discourse is communicated throughout the mosque, the dvd/ bookshop is where you finds all kinds racist and misogynistic stuff, or one can attend some of their evening classes to see what they´re all about.

    The only good thing that can and will come out of this satanic wahabi arabization is that we now have young Somalis who have completely seen through this religious semi-literacy and corruption.

    2) A wise man once said, ‘The African; more Arab than the Arab’, which points to a tradition of black Africans appropriating and exalting anything foreign in lieu of anything indigenous and black. True of False?

    This is true, I have met Somali mothers who insist on being called Umm-Hebel iyo Heblaayo because they believe it´s Sunnah that will earn them ajar. The cultural aspect of the whole Um-hebel business is completely lost one them. The thing is, young arab mothers their age who live in the same community don´t even call themselves Um XYZ, but these Somali ladies insist on it. Indeed, “The African; more Arab than the Arab’

    • Excellent points…I think your raised an important issue regarding how Somalia’s current educational system has been overhauled by Saudi petrodollars….Education in Somalia now means wahhabi books….Dugsi is the new teacher…Unbelievable…When did Islam become Arabism? When did Somalia become a bastion of irrationality and educational darkness?
      Do you think there’s any hope in reversing this process or even manipulating as to use this cultural trajectory to deal with some of the other legacies of the conflict like tribalism?

      • In many ways Somalia has always been a bastion of irrationality, before wahabism and even before Islam. As much as I detest this current trend of arabism, I believe it´s important to not fall into a cultural amnesia and over-romanticise the pre-wahabi/pre-war Somalia. There are many elements in our indigenous culture (which we nostalgically and selectively think so highly of) that are ignorant, irrational, and destructive and our nomadic culture of ancient history of tribal violence is what ultimately lead us to destroy our country. Example of ignorant practices that pre-dateIslam are: the belief that burning of the skin cures hepatitis and all sorts of other illnesses . FGM, sexism, patriarchy, clanism. Before the war the vast majority of the people were nomads and not urbanized, which means that those practices were not fringe, but rather mainstream. So when we look at old youtube videos of people dancing in discos in Mogadishu, and photos of old beachfront villas, it is equally important to remember that only a privileged few enjoyed those things.
        Another important thing to remember is the failure of Somali seculars. Yes Al Shabaab made us hate Islamists, but et us not forget that it was trigger happy secular warlords that brought Somalia to her knees, and when they failed to make peace between themselves the Islamists came along and offered people a different narrative to the secular clan warfare. All Islamist groups, be they Al Shabaab, Al Ithihad, Al islah, Ahlu Sunnah Waa Jamaa, Hizbul Islam, have one thing in common: they are not limited by clan. The Somali secular society, can´t make the same claim.

        I think this current trend is reversible, but inorder for that to happen, the seculars need to take lessons from the Islamists: lessons in organizing and marketing.

        • I disagree with you notion about Pre-Islamic Somalis and attributing medival adopted cultural aspects that came during the same time as Islam as indigenous.

          Patriachy, Misogny, Socail clans were all adopted form the Eastern world. Ancient Somalis like most black Northeast Africans were a matriachal culture.

          The more i learn about our Pre-Islamic religion, the more i favor it. Our religion was more about maintain a balance in society, our ancient traditions were highly sophisticated and stressed the balance of feminine and masculine, young and old, spiritual and physical where Eebe-Waaq creates and regulates the existence of all animate and inanimate, material and non-material nature and places them in a well-balanced cosmic order. The interdependence of the dominant and the liminal is considered a precondition for peace and prosperity in both metaphysical and practical sense.

          A matriarchal culture where society balanced based on virtues, being one with nature and paying high tribute to the feminine aspect of everything within God’s cosmic order. We are based on a mystical ethics.

          That’s why for the most part we have been very liberal in Islam for the past millennia. We were predominantly Sufi and most our traditions were ingrained(Spiritual dances, aspects of God) In fact for a Nomad, Islam played little to no significance to daily life. We never fasted, prayed the Arab way or even ever implemented Shariah, our customary law always took precedence over Shariah.

          But slowly gradually, The Eastern influence was too great to bear as we were virtually so rounded by a whole new faith. so to trade and various institutions, Patriarchy, clans and a lenient form of misogyny started to grow.

          We were always traditionally a secular society, never segregated sexes, always had dances and art, poetry, We had a well established trading network with Persia, China, Arabia and over time culture enriches itself and grows with the time. We also have a very long maritime sea-faring tradition, textile industries flourished more than 3000 years and entrepreneurial spirits that linked the East and Western worlds through trade and commerce.

          But unlike religion, Culture can be reformed and enriched while staying indigenous, FGM was a pgan tradition taht stemmed from Egypt but with more education it can be utturly reduced. Somali culture and traditions are beautiful and can grow with the times. Patriarchal clans will soon be dropped as the concept of Somalinimo and nationhood thrives. But Religion will keep us in the dark ages and living through 7th century ideology because of it’s lack of critique, an expansionalist religion like Islam/Christianity tends to destroy all culture that stems from Pre-ceding it that contradicts it’s strict ethics(Music is haram anyone? absurd)

          Let Somalinimo and Somalic culture thrive and be saved from extinction before
          Somalis turn into arabized states like Sudan devout of their historic and cultural traditions to a society based on licking Arabia for acceptance.

          • wow fascinating narrative. Man, thats why we need more Somali anthropologists archaeologists who can really
            get to the heart of these discussions. Much of our cultural history is a question mark, and that amplified
            by a contemporary environment that seeks to convince us of Islam as the beginning of our history as a people also
            contributes to this climate. Will look up more on Waaq. What do you think of what’s happening in other african nations in
            comparison to our own, any comparison? i’m thinking of northern mali for example.

          • Inshallah we will never ever leave Islam talking about praying like an Arab! Its like a Muslim if you have abandoned your religion for culture that is up to you but inshallah that will never happen to somalia. Our culture and religion is tied together you you can keep your culture make your baris and basto dont forget the moos, wear the dirac and do the buranbur. But wearing the Hijab is something prescribed by Allah having names like Abdirahman and Abdullahi the slaves of allah what is better than that and I would take Peace be upon you over subax wanagsan any day. Being Muslim is far more important than culture when your in front of Allah the questions wont be why have your forsaken your culture it will be why have you forsaken me. So remember guys your Muslim first culture second!!!

  5. CULTURAL GENOCIDE, you call it! But then again, language is arguably the most important component of culture and the fact that you, claimer of Somali Culture Lover, decided to write this article in a language that is not yours defeats your whole argument and makes it seem like hypocritical. You certainly didn’t intend to generate a dialogue among the people this issue concerns since the majority of them speak Somali….I wonder who were your target audience??

    • Dear Xalimo,

      That’s actually a very valid point, but unfortunately your concern tells me you haven’t read the article….Why did I come to such conclusion? well because if you read the article, you would’ve seen that I also discussed this issue in its greater African context(in fact it starts with a pan-africanist quote), and invited my fellow Africans to also chime in (not all Africans speak Somali, and English is an universal language)….

      But here’s my question to you….Why concern yourself with my motives? This isn’t about me, but rather a discussion on a phenomenon I think is of concern..Your job as a reader is to dismiss this theory with evidence or defend the thesis with evidence. Now judging by the emotional tone of your response, I suspect you may have an issue with my position, and would like to ask that you offer us your experience and your analysis of our current cultural trajectory. Again, this is not about me, stick to the topic and maybe you have something to teach us all….Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      • There is no authentic Africa anymore my dear…….Most of them lost their culture long ago. Go to the streets of Accra or Nairobi and you will see what I am talking about. So to me to advocate for Pan Africanism (who could only communicate to each other the so called universal language of English) is more like advocating to join a lost cause…..

        Btw you are giving too much credit to Arabs, here. I don’t think todays Arabs have what it takes to influence anyone. They themselves are victims of americanisation and going through identity crisis.

        Anyhow, I think your blog will be more useful to Somali Youth if it advocates for Pan Islamism (no, not Arabism)…. After all, Islam is a way of Life

  6. I am not Somali but I found this article interesting. I saw it from Tumblr and I just have to comment.

    I know I may be banned from this site by saying this, but I personally believe Islam in itself is a propagator of Arab supremacy. This is why you can often witness the deprecation of indigenous cultures and identities within non-Arab Muslim communities the world over. Think about it. You are directed to pray formally in Arabic as if Allah does not view every human language as equal value. You are told to read the Holy Book, the Quran, in Arabic. When you pray facing Mecca, you are praying toward the heart of Arab land. Allah chose an Arab, the Prophet, to be the quintessential figure in the religion. Despite Islamic teaching stating Arabs are no better than non-Arabs, there still lingers the idea that the “Children of Ishmael” are a “special people” for they were the medium through which the world encountered the teachings of Islam and they were the descendents of Abraham afterall. The religion implies Arabic is the language of Heaven and that God is more empathetic to Arab cultural norms. From this, parents start naming their children Arab names, while Imams encourage the adoption of Arab dress. Non-Arab ethnic groups then often feel it’s important to claim descent from Muhammad, no matter how unlikely it is. It’s interesting to observe how often the Muslims outside the Arab peninsula are often more religious than the ones that live inside it.

    I am from West Africa, and it’s interesting how in my region of Africa, Arabism is not as palpable as other regions with significant Muslim populations. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the vast majority of West African Muslims are quite nominal in their practice of Islam. Many are syncretists, who mix their traditional religious beliefs with Islam to make the religion more relatable to their people. It is not too uncommon for a Yoruba Muslim to still pray to the Orishas every once in a while before heading out to Friday prayer. That is another thing. There is a growing revival of African Traditional Religions in West Africa, particularly of the Yoruba religious tradition (called Santeria, or Condomble in the Americas.)

    But this idea of cultural genocide is not new to the region of North Africa where attempts to eradicated ancient cultural traditions of the indigenous Amazigh populations have nearly won.

    I think Somalis and other non-Arab Muslims need to be able to be Muslim without losing their identities to an imperialistic Arab one.

    • Wow!! Tall Tale, I totally love your post. I respect and admire how many West African communities have successfully maintained their unique identities despite foreign influences.
      I agree with your post. My parents were born in the 1950´s and the Islam they were raised with and saw their parents and grandparents practice is completely different from the one we see in the Somali community. Our forefathers used to practice an apolitical sufi Islam, which emphasized spirituality and which did not undermine our cultural identity. The wahabism we see today is a tragedy, best described as a cult of arab supremacy.

    • I think you raise some very legitimate concerns, and issues most Africans would not touch with a ten foot pole….The mere mention of ‘Islam’ or ‘Arabia’ and an army of Africans zealots standing in-front of the Arabs are ready to slice your head. But this is our continent, our heritage, and we’re allowed to challenge the narrative that we’re all a bunch of dogmatic, easily engulfed by cultural imperialism. I think the history of Islam in Africa is rich, and while it was a history brought by colonialism and slavery, in many parts, it is also as old as the religion itself. Infact in West Africa, one can see a animist father married to a muslim mother with a christian child…I think Africans before the onset of Arabism, promoted the spiritual and encouraged multi-faith communities..There was an insistence on promoting indigenous customs, and many did not see their faith of choice as a barrier to their cultural customs, but that has changed. African muslims are insecure about their blackness, and will adopt Arabic names, and promote Arabism as to not be marginalized with the greater Islamic world.

      But I agree with you! We cannot ignore the mental and cultural genocide inflicted upon converted peoples…Now how to navigate this is more problematic. We can all agree that Africans will throw gang signs in defence of Islam and Christianity for the foreseeable future, so the question is, how can we as multi-faith (some without faith) societies promote our national interests, cultural heritage and Blackness in midst of a wahhabi apocalypse?

  7. First of all, I was disappointed that no attempts have been made to “draw” a distinction between Islam and Arabic culture in this article, Question 1. Is that because there isn’t any? Personally, I am of the opinion that Islam and the Arabic culture are inter twinned and couldn’t possibly be separated. I challenge anyone in support of that argument to tell us where line is drawn. It would be interesting discussion.

    Also, the discussions articulated in this article has its foundation on liberal ideals that questions organized religions and even demonises it..The ideals being advocated for being Somali traditions i.e the contrast between the first set of pictures against the second set, however, I think there is a third set of pictures missing in this, the tank top wearing, cigarette-smoking heavy-drinking Somali girl in streets of western cities that has shunned both the Somali culture and Islam. Are the latter (influenced by west) less guilty of abandoning Somali traditions in ways the former are not, if so, what criteria has that decision been made on? Answer: Liberal ideals, one that puts the western value system in a pedestal above all “others”. There are aspects of this “Arabinisation” that I personally feel uncomfortable with, but, equally, there are aspects of western influence that I also think are equally deplorable, and no serious attempts were made in this article to tackle that and brings up the uncomfortable question of MOTIVE. My POINT: Somali culture has been abandoned for Arabic and Western ways of life that we all agree are foreign to us. We are all in agreement that this influences have detrimental effect on our culture. What we don’t agree on is the approach that we scrutinise one in ways that we don’t with the other. There is a process of Arabinisation in Somalia currently, and it is not GOOD for us.

    The wise man that says “Africans are more Arabs than Arabs” Could he be confusing Islam with the Arabic culture (which happens quite often) Could it be that these Africans were actually practising Islam and not being excessive with the Arabic culture as this supposed wise man (who I suspect is an outsider) has observed?

    Also, Somalis have been killing and maiming each other since the beginning of time based on clan rivalry. The religious dimension of the Somali conflict has been on for how long? Last six or seven years. In scrutinising all the three paradigms (Arabinisation, Somali culture and westernizing ) has the Somali culture itself been always free of baggage? Infact, clan rivalries (which has basis in Somali culture) has been responsible for over 15 years of the two decade conflict in Somalia, so with all due respect, Idilay, Arabinization is being scrutinised here because you have an axe to grind with Islam.

    • Oh Baba Wa Baba I wonder how other African Muslims and Somalis feel about your assertion that Islam cannot be divorced from Arabism…I also find it refreshing that you equate any critique of Arabism and Wahhabism as a slight against Islam, suggesting that all these paradigms cannot be divorced. I think you just made Hirsi Ali’s case for her….Come on now….your deflecting here…….Who said I was in defense of western imperialism or that I don’t find fault with Somalis who’ve embraced western cultural norms, and more importantly the jury is out on what you call western imperialism is really that and not some attempt by an Arabist Somali to discredit things like feminism, human rights (what many from your circles would call western)? Somali women have never worn the hijab, and is that western? Infact I would argue my curly hair without a scarf is as indigenously Somali as it gets, but you would declare that western as the world is simply arab vs white man in your eyes…LOL@your assertion that liberal practices are limited to the western world, again, we can’t have this conversation when your source reference point for all culture material is anything deviating from Saudi customs…The Japanese drink and smoke, are they western? People drink and smoke in Brazil, in Congo, and there indigenous forms of alcohol, are they western? Do the people of Argentina cover their hair? come on now….this is what Arabism has done to your psyche…..The world is simply a battleground between white infidels and righteous arabs……Your assumption that because I criticize Arabism, I must hate Islam is equally disturbing and slanderous, and makes my case very beautiful. Many African muslims cannot divorce their faith from Arabism, and will make an enemy out of you in defense of the Arab world…Just admit you hate blackness and get on with it… its easy to slander me, you can’t deny that there are alot of Somalis who’ve experienced similar sentiments and have issues with arabization, are you also suggesting they hate Islam? Don’t worry about the messenger, there’s an important message here that needs addressing…and wondering is your solution to dismiss all critics of this process as Islam hating, chain smoking, alcoholic westerners? Thank you for your input, and more importantly for being the living personification of my thesis…

  8. Thank you so much for this article Idil!

    Excellent and very important points you have raised.

    I share your concerns and I do believe Somalis, from all Somali territories and ESPECIALLY those in the diaspora, are indeed in the process of committing cultural suicide. This is not only reflected in our dress code or the names we give our children to but even in the way we decorate our homes. Somalis travel to Arabia to buy their furniture and gold when they are getting married, while there is a huge market in Djibouti where you can find everything African – arts, crafts, furniture and clothing. But every household wants to have Saudi style home furniture. I don’t want a fadhi sucuudi! Where is my ganbadh??

    More importantly, our Somali indigenous names are in danger of disappearing because more and more Somalis are giving Arabic names to their children, including parents from younger generations. 9 out 10 of my immediate nieces and nephews have Arabic names. Usually Somalis have 2 or 3 first names each and less and less of these names contain our African indigenous names. My father named me ‘Zaynab’ after Prophet Muhammed’s daughter. I have no problem with that. I totally appreciate that faith and religion play an important part in someone’ identity. However, I believe a name should reflect all aspects of one’s identity/culture and we should certainly not confuse our faith with our ethnicity. Just like language is the pillar of culture, yet waxeynu ku fannaa, how well we speak Arabic! My mother, on the other hand, gave me a second name, ‘Habon’ which is a typical Somali name. As the second daughter of my family, the men of my clan, started teasing my father with, ‘Where is the boy Mahamud? Two daughters? When will the boy come?’. In response to that, my mother said, ‘Iska daaya, wey igu Haboontahay’ (Leave her alone, she suits me well). Hence, my name Habon – the one that suits someone or something. Yet, Zaynab became my official name! Bless mum as she just would not call me any other name but Habon. I started appreciating my Somali name after I have learned my African history and identity.

    In my opinion, Somalis in the diaspora are much more affected by this Arabisation than those back home. They resist western culture but turn to another alien culture which is actually anti-african just because we pray to the same God? Such a delusion! I look around London streets and see Somali women wearing Arabic attires which to me make more sense in the desert of Arabia than in the west. I am amazed with this new way of wearing the head scarf – rolled high up so big on the head like dundumo! I was told it is a style straight from Kuwait and Dubai! It has nothing to do with piety if you ask me, as it attracts the very attention one is supposed to avoid.

    One other revealing example: I have recently been told about a new Somali internet radio and I checked out their website. It has every section under the sun including a section on Arab news and music, but NO AFRICAN section, or African related affair section. I emailed the producers and asked why there was no African section and I was told it has been in the pipeline for a year and will be introduced in a year’s time. I thought, are you kidding!?! It seems as if our entire psyche and terms of reference is geared towards Arabia. I cannot reconcile this love for all that is Arab with the treatment that Somalis, like other Africans, get from these Arabs. Even after 30 years in Arab countries, Somalis are never allowed to adopt national citizenship!

    And those of us who talk about these issues, especially when we happened to be women, are accused of all sorts of crime including dissing Islam and becoming too westernized. Waa gaalo iska weel some say? Would that bother or stop us? Obviously NOT! 🙂

    We can be Muslim or Christian without substituting our African culture to an Arab or European one! Another 20 years going on this path and Somaalinimo may just completely vanish! Chasing dhaqan carbeed will lead us astray unless we revive Somali culture. Mental slavery and colonialism will be with us for generations to come. Allow sahal amuuraha!

    • I’m Soomaali, although not I’m not Muslim, and I have also seen this insanity increase exponentially of late. It’s as though the entire population has gone mad – from my perspective. You no longer see Somali people, you see brain dead Arab bots who have become known as Gypsies of Africa – and rightly so in many respects. If you even question any of this madness – propagated by the big beardos – you are called all the names in the world, except it has nothing to do with Somaliness. You see, the debate about being Somali is completely gone from the national discourse. It’s about how Islamic you are, more precisely, how Arabic you are that matters now.

      Somali people are now known as the gypsies of Africa because they dawn seventh century Arabian attire in the West. Africans claim we’re making them look bad – especially the Ethiopians. Somalis have extreme hatred in them, especially for the West. But nothing matters, we have Islam, or so the thinking goes.

      Arabs now complain that Somalis made Islam look primitive and disgusting. For Arabs Islam is a national identity and they don’t want black negros emulating them, at least not to the extent Somalis are.

      • Somali and not muslim? You just gave the nomads a collective heartattack lol. To them religion and arabism
        cannot be divorced from Somalinimo. That’s an interesting discussion we need to have. When did arabist slam
        become a national identity?

      • I believe some of these people are not really Somali they are trolls some indian guy as actually posting this blog every where!

  9. t is too hypocritical to question the basic tenets of the Islam while apparently describing them as part of an Arabization project.One of the admirers of the article even questioned above why her aunt asked her not to eat “Haram” chicken.Spoiled child? or the next Ayaan Hirsi in the making?
    This is purely part of the wider project to vilify Islam and Hijab as Non-Somali cloth and alien to the Somali culture.
    Apparently, neither trousers nor the suits common in Somalia at the moment have been a Somali dressing code and I hope the author will next time question the westernization of Somalis too.

    • There’s too many conflated issues-Again, do not try that to change the course of this discussion
      by claiming I’m attacking Islam. You know nothing of my religious beliefs, and I suggest you stick to the conversation
      at hand. So here are some of the problems with the issues you raised.

      1) You’re assumption that because one is critiquing Arabism, one is attacking Islam is problematic. Either you’ve misread the article, or
      you believe the two cannot be divorced. If its the latter, then explain your position, don’t derail the conversation

      2)Who said anything about the hijab? the women in the first picture wore head covering. Are you trying to assert
      that Arab influenced forms of Islamic wear are the only permissible method for covering one’s head? And also, when did covering one’s hair
      become a prerequisite for Somalinimo. The nomadic somali women did not dress conservatively, and in fact the guntiino is all one needs
      to be authentic to our indigenous customs. Don’t try to position Arabism as Somalinimo, and religiosity as Somalinimo. There’s nothing wrong
      with being a devout muslim or choosing to wear the niqaab, or growing a beard.That’s not the discussion. THe discussion is taking these
      iconographic symbols and arguing that Somalinimo cannot be divorced by this particular cultural aesthetic.

      3) Your assumption that one must be a devout muslim to be Somali. No, Somalia is muslim majority country, but there are
      religious minorities who are christian, and some non-practicing. You cannot dismiss someone’s ethnic heritage because they don’t
      subscribe to the dominant religion. This is a discussion on culture and how other cultures complicate our own, assuming they do, and how we relate to our most prevalent faith of choice, Islam. Did Somalis exist before Islam? Do we just pop out of thin air after the 7th century? So why this idea that if you critique any aspect of Arabism, one is rendered out of the fold of Somalinimo?

      4) who said trousers and suits were the uniform of the west? The Chinese wear pants, Brazilians wear pants, Mexicans wear pants. Are they all western? are the Arabs and the Somalis the last remaining authentic cultures in the world? Is any woman without head covering a westerner? How did nomadic Somali women dress? Does your cultural memory exist outside of post-1991?

      5) and assuming the answer to the above questions are yes, who said we don’t take issue with western cultural imperialism?
      Your argument follows, ‘So what, some of you act western, so let the rest of us appropriate arabism’,is that it? Is that the gist of your argument? So for arguments sake, I reject all forms of western cultural imperialism, now do you reject Arabism?

  10. “Somali to discredit things like feminism, human rights (what many from your circles would call western)?”

    “The Japanese drink and smoke, are they western? People drink and smoke in Brazil, in Congo, and there indigenous forms of alcohol, are they western?”

    “The Chinese wear pants, Brazilians wear pants, Mexicans wear pants. Are they all western? are the Arabs and the Somalis the last remaining authentic cultures in the world?”

    Ok by looking at your above comments and arguments, one could easily see your position and how you take things out of context and justify everything that is western as universal (did you forget all these people were colonised by the west and forced to adopt western cultures??)….Idilay, I would suggest that you take few minutes to reflect yourself and certainly you will come to realisation that you DON’T actually reject all forms of western cultural imperialism as you claimed but indeed admire and embrace it.

    I don’t think anyone other than you calls feminism and human right as Western values, far from it…Their records in these areas are appalling. I believe the prophet of Islam (Sorry, he was an Arab) and the religion he brought have a good record in both of these areas but obviously you wouldn’t give him or Islam a credit for it because it will defeat your silly argument.

    • Deeq, this discussion is not a tit for tat war with the blogger, and did not respond because one, this is not a discussion on western imperialism and feminism. There will be a time and place for this, I promise you, but today its on arabization. Now one is encouraged to employ terms like feminism and western imperialism to make an argument for and against the standing thesis-i.e, ‘Somalia, and many African muslim societies are suffering from cultural imperialism through Arabism.’ But what I’ll ignore is attempts by certain readers to derail from the discussion by pulling the ‘but what about the West?’ card. Of-course there’s western cultural imperialism, but today is not the time for that discussion. Just because I take issue with apples, does not mean I’ve selected oranges. Do you follow? 2) But I’ll respond to her at your request.

      “I don’t think anyone other than you calls feminism and human right as Western values, far from it…Their records in these areas are appalling.”

      huh? who said they’re western values? Your entire premise is faulty because you’re responding with such emotional vitriol youve missed out on actually reading my sentences. I said that human rights and feminism are what fundamentalist would define as western and reject it on that basis. Civil liberties, female autonomy and human decency do not belong to the west, this is a human thing. Pay attention please.

      “Ok by looking at your above comments and arguments, one could easily see your position and how you take things out of context and justify everything that is western as universal (did you forget all these people were colonised by the west and forced to adopt western cultures??)”

      again, you’re not paying attention. the point of that statement wasn’t to render these specific societies as ones impervious to colonialism. The gentleman attempted to construct a caricature of western culture and reduce it to smoking, un-covered hair, pants and alcohol (all these things are not western, I suggest you google the history of smoking, early records of the first people to wear anything resembling pants, and perhaps pictures of non-western women and i’m confident you’ll find woman without scarves, some even without clothes) I took issue with his assertion that because a Somali woman refuses to cover her hair, she must be mimicking the west. Umm no, we’ve never covered our hair, and the ratio of covered women to uncovered Somali women was on our side till 1991- Also, most indigenous cultures do not subscribe to clothing, as defined by religion. You do realize that the hijab, for example pre-dates Islam. What you perceive as a marker of Islamic culture is really a marker of Arabic customs. They wore head-coverings, niqabs, jilbabs before the 7th century too (you can google this). So your attempt to discredit the previous practices(smoking, un-covered hair, pants) as western, and our contemporary aesthetic as authentic is ahistorical and without any merit. Now one can argue that both the chain smoking Somali and the jilbab-clad Somali are not authentic and foreign, but neither of you did that. You both shifted the entire argument to indict both I and your perceived ideas of what the Western world is.

      “I believe the prophet of Islam (Sorry, he was an Arab) and the religion he brought have a good record in both of these areas but obviously you wouldn’t give him or Islam a credit for it because it will defeat your silly argument.”

      LOL what are you talking about? Don’t do that. Don’t try to make this about your assumptions and slander me with a belief that I’ve attacked Islam. I’m now definitely convinced you did not read this article-only saw Al-Arabiya, and assumed any sign of criticism coupled with arabic iconography is an attack on Islam. Oy vey. Did you really just bring the prophet into this? Did I make declarative statements denouncing all people originating from the Arab world? I’m addressing arabization of Somalia, and Muslim Africa through cultural/economic imperialism and not denouncing Arab peoples as not deserving of respect. The Arab world has produced majestic civilizations, and have strong and beautiful customs. But they’re not our customs, and attempting to ignite a discussion about why Africans have a propensity for valuing anyone/anything un-African. Sigh. I feel like i’m in the matrix, trying to un-package and navigate your argument when it’s just so incoherent and absurd. Then as a last ditch effort, you turned to religious preaching and encouraged that I preach the same to the ‘youth’. You’re more than welcome to suggest pan-islamism as a remedy for our cultural vacancy (great if its backed with actual evidence and not religious rhetoric) but the muslim guilt trip will not work here. My job is not to convert people to an particular idea, but to present my ideas and let the readers dissect, disagree/agree, deconstruct, and then if possible, offer another remedy. I don’t know what your point is, other than arguing that Islam will save all, and I suppose that’s fair. But this is a discussion on arabism, i’ll keep you in mind if we tackle the subject of the value of religion.

      And to lastly to Deeq, I’m assuming you jumped on this argument to express your concern with feminism? if so, yeah, not the time and place mate. Perhaps you can give your take on the topic at hand. Do you think there’s arabization occurring? is it problematic? is it beneficial? Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      • My my my, what an interesting discussion. I was listening to Haile Roots and Teddy Afro all day, writing and thinking about the onset of Islam on to our land and how it could have changed the landscape..and then decided to check out Afrolens and what do I find but pure joy. Xalimo’s arguments are pretty much what is holding Islam up. Defensive jaahiliya, if I may coin a phrase for it. I seriously cannot add anything further. Idilay, walaaley, bravo for bringing these issues up. For my sisters and brothers who brought up all of these wonderful conversations, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you reminding me that you all exist and I hope that the cosmos can bring us together one day. There are Somalis who think about this every day. Not all of us are Muslims. I am a kaafir but not a gaal. I love Waaq but I dont know much…, all that I know is that I love nature, I love life; preserving it, dignifying it and exalting it. I wrote a very crudely written poem that I thought I’d share with you all, I am sorry to have missed the conversation by so many months.

        When you ran out of words, ideas and influence
        you came to ‘Ethiopia’ and attempted to subvert us through the king
        He denied your faith, exposed you as a madman with his silence
        and so you begged Bilal
        The man you called a slave
        who was the real ‘amiin’
        an honest and open man
        who’s voice testified to his beautiful attributes
        the man who’s voice you stole and placed
        on a high tower, hiding the true composers
        of your faith
        You said that your people were barbaric and that you,
        of course
        oh mohammed
        brought them to the light
        you prided yourself on tearing them from their faith
        and testified that even your kin will burn in the hell
        for not following
        a mad man
        and I say oh…who are you trying to fool
        was it us that you were after all along
        spreading your righteous seed,
        the ‘Sharifs’ and your bones are all that is left of you on this earth
        oh Mohammed
        But who are they to say that we did not have honour
        without your seed
        if faith really is about god and the unseen
        why is your legacy so wicked, unclean,
        when our legacy is removed from it
        not that it was perfect
        but it was ours
        oh mohammed
        the so called redeemer
        who could not redeem himself
        and begs for us to pray for him
        in every setting and in every practise
        you did not fool me
        I remained tied to my spirit
        It could not be broken by your divisive male ego
        the same ego which claims to be ego-less
        and tied to the future so tight that it could predict it
        all at once
        an ego which claimed to have a direct link with god
        but could not see further than its own nose

        I reject you
        and refuse to mimic you
        it was my grandmother who fitted me with my left shoe first
        I walked upright with them, with her hands to steady me
        and her songs to guide me
        there is more than one god
        there are 7 billion of them
        and there will be more
        each of them with a will, a parable of their own
        and they will be my teachers

  11. “we’ve never covered our hair, and the ratio of covered women to uncovered Somali women was on our side till 1991”

    Really?? Since you are so big into defending your so called Thesis with evidence, give us some concrete data to back your ratio up? 🙂

    Plus, are you honestly too daft to understand that it is not actually Arabic culture which demands you to cover your hair, it is simply Islam and you can do it with your own cultural garments.

    Darling, just admit that it is actually Islam that you have problem with. Even if that is the case, I think It is ok and healthy to question about things in the religion and have dialogue about it but stop disguising it as Arab imperialism nonsense…. The issues you have are very transparent but the way you are going on about them make you look phoney

    Waad isku yara buqsan tay ayaan u malay nayaa (Hmm I wonder if you have the cultural capital to make sense out of that sentence, probably not :))

  12. actually covering hair and body part for women is islamic, the way and style covered has nothing to do with islam though. these peopled covered like that way before christianity and judaism.
    you’re right! the arabs and many none arab muslims or even somalis have been using islam and religion like a method to control the minds of people. it’s less of a hustle and causes nothing to have people on your side and fool them around under false religious flag. everybody does it and it does work well!!. the problem is within these communities. it’s very hard for us to see the point you’re trying to make, because ideas like that are crafted deep in our mind and were blown wind into our ears from birth. no matter how hard we try to stand against arabs or anyone who brainwashed us and hid behind our religion will have the upper hand all the time, our moral, pride, strength and to reason like a norma human beings have been beaten to death and very hard to revive.

    • You make very good points. Many Islamic religious requirements, though, were pre Islamic Arab cultural norms. In fact, Islam is 80% Christianity and Judaism, the rest is Arab culture. But the discussion never gets going as it should because many people cannot fathom even questioning Islam; you’re supposed to just follow what you have been told without factual basis whatsoever.

      I think the answer to this madness is education. Education is the enemy of religion.

      Soomaalinnimooy xaal qaado waa lagu xumeeyaye.

      • ‘Education is the enemy of religion’

        I have always wanted to know what irony was in Somali…yes for indeed education is needed here.

      • Subhanallah Education and religion can be synonyms we can have our culture and our religion it is possible!

  13. ”Umm no, we’ve never covered our hair, and the ratio of covered women to uncovered Somali women was on our side till 1991”

    My mother came to England in ’82 and gradually began wearing a hijab after the war because it awakened a renewed sense of spiritual devotion in her. She had lost many members of her family. So please Afrolens spare us this reductive tone, we are not all cut from the same thread, and so sheepish as you make out. I am a born and bred British Muslim woman who has chosen to wear the Hijab as its prescribed to me by my faith. If women in our home country choose to wear and adopt a heavier veiling than your casual muslim, maybe try and accept the diverse nature and interpretation shared among our people. We cant always remain locked in this romantised memory of a ‘true’ Somali. Its unfair. This whole discussion is a little redudant if you ask me and sadly I see where the need to have these discussion arise from. Because we are sadly in an intellectual stalemate, that still manages (no matter how we dress it with in all these jargons) arguing the same things. I understand how you have actually managed not to share your religious opinion on the matter, but is that helpful? Maybe there is some truth into how everyone bar none have some way or another expressed quite honestly their religious or nonreligious position before making a point.

    I will sign off with ‘Salaam’, our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) universalised this expression of endearment so that we may know and love one another, plus being reward for it is awesome too 😀

    • Thanks for stopping by Sis. Again, nothing wrong with the hijab, and kudos to the sisters
      who wear it, especially in hostile environments where covered women are ostracized.
      But that’s not the discussion, the discussion is the assumption that one must be covered not only
      in a hijab, but in a particular style that has little to do with Islam and more about appropriation.
      I’m challenging the ‘one must be a jilbabi to be a Somali woman’ paradigm. By your own admission, it took
      coming to Britain for your mother to wear the hijab, suggesting that she didn’t before this. You used the
      term ‘awakened’ suggesting a new process in the post-conflict period-wondering how
      my argument contradicts your narrative? There were covered women in Somalia before the war (in fact some
      brave women used the hijab as a way of protesting against Barre’s regime), but it was routine and normal
      to see a diversity of women’s clothing and experiences. None theres none. Do you take issue with that?

      And Salaam to you too. Nothing wrong with Salaam, but it doesn’t mean good morning, and okay to say good morning
      when its morning 🙂

  14. Firstly, I wanted to show some love for this amazing blog! Its about time there was a forum for Somalis/Africans to be intellectual!

    In a lot of the comments I notice the eternal struggle, a battle that I have come to tire of witnessing and taking part in. The liberals versus the conservatives, Islam vs West, western ideals vs Islamic ideals, Arabization vs westernization. Somalia, and Somali culture [like many other cultures and peoples that are outside the dominant discourse] simply get lost in this struggle or just have to choose in order to survive [or so they think]. I think we need to stop succumbing to destructive and false dichotomies. We need to stop seeing it as black and white. I agree that Somalia has lost touch with itself because of hopelessness and a need to feel safe and make sense of a world crumbling around them. This is especially so in the Diaspora, because many Somalis find themselves in countries that are not only alien but often times hostile to their ways of being. So what do you do? Either you assimilate or differentiate yourself to the extreme. The latter takes the form of extremism in Islam. Not enough Somalis can find a middle ground. In either case, Somalis just need an alternative to fill that inner void. So I guess I’m taking a more psychological and emotional approach to this identity crisis, I think its very important not to leave that out of the equation. Yes its ideological and political, but that seems to overshadow what I think is at the heart of this: Inner turmoil and trauma.

    • I love your point here….but wondering is the dichotomy really west vs east? did the traditional
      somali nomad represent western values with her aesthetics? and do influences from both worlds
      yield the same consequences? did our forms of dance also represent that?
      But i agree with you that much of this is a reaction to a culture vacuum, a people lost after a war,
      and grabbed the only hand that reached back, unfortunately its a violent and problematic hand.

  15. Afrolens: You´re criticizing arabism yet you still lament that “Subax Wanaagsan” is no longer in use? That´s odd, because Subax is a loanword from the arabic Sabah (morning). I disagree with the slander you recieve some other posters, but they did raise some valid points about your lack of “cultural capital”. Your knowledge about the pre 1991 Somalia is very reductive and fetischized. It seems as if it´s based on youtube videos of women doing ratchet dance moves. You talk about “Somalinimo” as if it were stagnant and fixed, and not dynamic and susceptible to current political/social/religious trends. What is pre 1991 Somalinimo to you? Is it only guntiino clad women humping the ground? Or is is it Somalis labelling other Somalis Midgaans (untouchables) this is a very Somali tradition. Or is Somalinimo calling other Somalis “jareer” (hard hair)or adoon (slave)? Notice how our derogatory terms for our fellow Somalis are not borrowed from other languages? Appearently Somalis had issue with blackness before Arabism became a trend.

    • Here comes the straw-man. Your entire argument is nothing but an attempt to
      derail and deflect the current discussion. oh man, still hoping someone from your side of the argument
      can actually come in and actually remain on topic….Here’s why…

      1) Your ‘Subah’ comment…Sigh….Did i argue that Somali culture isn’t fluid? and free from any influences?
      or did i not say in this article, that our relationship to the region in question is complex, and has a history that runs deep. (do u guys read the blog or just see the title and spew some reactionary rhetoric?). Those of us from Mogadishu eat pasta too, but I would hardly
      use that as an example of how the Italians have left us with remnants of western imperialism. There’s italian in our language,
      there’s words/customs influences from the Indian sub-continent, there are english words, and arabic words. It’s a malaise of cultural influences
      here and there. Yes, no one has denied this, other than your assumption one has….and also, what is your point exactly? that because subax wanagsan has a borrowed arabic word, that our current trajectory is legitimate? I don’t get it..or were u hoping to challenge the extent of my cultural capital with this ‘gotcha’ comment? I also posted a video of niiko (the one u just called ratchet lol. typical somali-anything blackness-problematic), and that dance has little to do with the nomad narrative, and is Bantu-influenced, so why didn’t you pick on that? Because you’re agenda here is to draw a strong link between us and the arab…The macaawis is not ‘indigenous’ but it as Somali as it gets…Cultural markers do not necessarily mean they are free from influences, but evaluated on how prevalent and deep they run. The Macaawis, subax wanagsaan runs deep, so if they’re suddenly replaced and shunned, we’re allowed to ask questions…

      2) you assume because I take issue with apples, then I must be ignorant of the issues with oranges, and therefore possess no legitimate
      critiques against oranges. Who said Somalinimo isn’t problematic or exclusive? what does that have to do with anything? Unless your arguing that because Somalinimo is problematic, pan-arabism is the way to go, I don’t follow your point here. First you need to decide
      if my thesis is incorrect or correct, i.e the arabization of somalia, taking place yes/no/kinda. Once you’ve taken a position, then you
      can proceed to make arguments in defence of this process with the ‘culture is ongoing’ argument, or you can dismiss my thesis as flawed because
      there is nothing new occurring that hasn’t occurred before. But I’m gonna need you to address the topic first, then you
      shoot the messenger.

      3) pre-1991 is all that and more….Guntiinos, ‘ratchet’ dances, poetry, internalized racism, jazz era influences with the likes of Hilowle,
      islamists who used political islam to challenge the dictatorship, tribalists, on and on…It was diverse, problematic, and exciting. Now,
      its a wahhabist wasteland with absolutely no diversity, and anyone who dares to criticize this trend (just read the comments of your cohorts) is ridiculed, insulted, and at worst, killed. You deny that our schools are littered with wahhabist text from Saudi Arabia? Do i need to give you a lesson on the influence of petrodollars in our region? Where do u think Al-Shabaab originates from? Have you been back home yet? For example,
      Gabisaars are no longer considered sufficient ‘islamic gear’, and now one must be covered in a jilbab (assumption here, arab influenced hijabs-islamic, others-not)…Why even pick on Somalia, this is trend is self-evident in the diaspora. Just walk through any Somali-dominant environs in the west, and the evidence is clear. The graves of our Sufi elders desecrated, pastoralists accused of paganism, and a plethora of other disturbing trends in the post-1991 era, Somali christians marginalized and killed. The Somalis had issues with blackness, and arabism has proliferated and gave voice to that insecurity in a powerful way. Speak arabic, wear abayas, name your kids Mubarak and Haifa , and you too, can buy your way out of blackness vis a vis Arabist Islam…

      4) If you respond, please, answer the question first, and then give your analysis of what’s going on-maybe you can school us. This ‘let’s dissect the writer’ is so boring and a waste of time. The entire comments section is dominated by those in agreement with me, surely you can’t dismiss them as well (infact would like to see some of you respond and engage the other readers rather than come here guns blazing) . i wish this were the ranting of one blogger, even though I stand to gain little by promoting a disturbing cultural climate. This is a prevalent concern amongst many Somalis,so address it as such, and not waste your time
      dissecting the writer, because i’m just one of many who hold similar concerns and sentiments. Is arabization taking place? do you see a transformation in how we practice Islam? is this transformation influenced by the region in question? is it problematic or effective? why or why not….Thank you for stopping by.

      • Greetings my dear sister!

        You are doing great work and I commend you for your efforts. Along with the eradication of the Somali culture comes with lobotomy-like lack of critical thinking on the part of the brainwashed masses. They’re simply incapable of reasoning or thinking critically and resort to anger and emotional tirades that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter. Debating isn’t part of the change but opposing all discussions is. You have already mentioned many of the changes that have come with the eradication of our culture.

        Many of us simply shake our heads at how Somalis have been brainwashed and this totally alien way of behaving. We’re aghast at people who think with such self righteousness and contempt for all things non Arab. I have actually moved from a Somali area because I couldn’t take this new phenomenon, this new transformation.

        Wahabbism made our own people alien to our culture and history – our culture and history are a sin apparently and we have to become all things Arabic, through Islam, or we’ll be punished by the Arab god – Allah. (Wixii aan ahaan jirnay oo dhan waa xaaraan, abkeen iyo isirkeen waa xaaraan.)

        And then there are these girls wearing jawaan and look like Afghans who think that is appealing, I avoid them like the plaque and specifically look for more modern, modesty Somali females and if there are none I go for other races. I can’t imagine walking down the street with a talking tent and attracting all sorts of undesirable reactions. I mention this because I have met girls who think being totally like the ancient Arabs makes them more appealing.

        Religions are man made and gods are imaginary.

        Waad mahadsan tahay walaal, boqolkiiba boqol.

        • Thanks for insulting the Hijab wats wrong with naming your kids after sahaba and Important people of Islam and still having your culture. I think some of you somalis came here just to insult Islam. Somalia is a Muslim country and will forever be a muslim country so I am guessing you want be visting our country inshallah since there are tents walking around!

  16. the weakest somali clans are the easiest one to leave their culture.
    jilbab & the taliban cloth is widely popular among the hawiya people.

    Ps i live in finsbury park aka east london which has a largest somali & eritrean populations, most of the somali woman even those from the younger ones wear jilbab it really puts tears in my eyes.

    • “most of the somali woman even those from the younger ones wear jilbab it really puts tears in my eyes.”

      I totally agree with you. I actually wish that this utterly backward religion of Islam had never come to our country. Imagine what our people would be like if Islam didn’t come? We’d probably be in a better situation; probably a proud and vibrant African nation like any other African country on the continent. Now we are the shame of the continent, and beyond.

      What’s worse than the atrocious attire is the mind set behind it; they’re highly incorrigible and so brainwashed that it mirrors mental retardation on so many levels. Yet they think they know it all, they think they are the smartest people on Earth. It’s an illusion to hide a sense of severe inferiority complex underneath all the head games.

      Most big bearded men who enforce these archaic rules are the least education among the population yet wield the most power. Being “Wadaad” is the fastest way for society’s dregs to rise up and accumulate power, usually over subdued and terrorized population. I know one guy who was a total miscreant, only to become a “Wadaad” in a few months at the mosque and now is invited into homes and community places as a guide and moral police in domestic disputes. So this also serves a segment of the population that has failed at life, it’s their interest to sustain it. How often do you see those types? Quite often.

      • insulting Islam again may allah guide you to the right path or destroy you the only backward people I see are the ones defaming our religion Somalia= Muslim country and Hijab will be the symbol of somali women so go cry me a river!

  17. Waad salaaman tahay walaal!

    I take the view that religion is based on emotion rather than intellect and therefore it’s not worth debating with someone whose views stem from emotions. There is no winner in that situation. There is no debate with people who think there are two invisible angels on their shoulders, placed there by the all-knowing Allah, to spy on them. In fact, when I presented some Islamic aspects from the Quraan I was accused of making it up to make Islam look bad, and when I presented the evidence, it was dismissed and the conversation went elsewhere, you can guess where.

    Nonetheless, Somalis are only just now finding out political/militant/extremist Islam whereas other nations have somewhat evolved.

  18. the attack on arabism as shown in this ost us an explicit attack on islam. To lament over somali females covering up what all four maddhabs and in particular the shaafici madhab dictates indiccates that the intended target in islam. The same accusatins are made about niqaab whilst in reality in su nni legal thought the only difference is on it bein sunnah or wajib. i urge you to stop conflating issues and call a spade a spade. You dont want traditional islamic law dominating somalo culture. you can refer it to as arabism but we all know its what modernists term medieval practices

  19. I’m going to re-type my response. Typing on your phone is not the best way.

    Attacks on arabism and arabs most often than not are attacks on Islam. The person putting their negative points of view often point towards more conservative clothing such as Jilbaabs, niqaabs, pants above your ankles etc as reflective of the deteriorating nature of Somali culture and the ascendancy of Arabism. The reality of the matter is that these practices are rooted firmly in Islamic law and practice.

    My questions to the author. You lamentably described how Somali females went from wearing traditional Somali clothing to more Arab style of dress. You then said that you aren’t attacking Islam. I want to ask, do you know what the status of Ijmaac (consensus) has in Sunni Islamic thought? If so, do you know what the Ijmaac is on female clothing? I’d wager that you don’t or you simply do not care.

    There are legitimate critiques surrounding the spread of Arabism ie the preference of red cimaamads over koofiyads, but issues surrounding female clothing are a mute point. The clothing shown in the images above are in clear violation of Islamic law, and as i mentioned previously, to lament over the change either indicates that you are ignorant on the matter or you have no affinity to Islamic law. There is no other answer.

    Funnily enough, a lot of Somali centric, anti arab personalities point to wahhabism as the cause of this change. Wahhabism it is argued is an alien form of Islamic practice that has replaced the traditional, shaafici, sufi way of living in Somalia. What is in interesting is that what is deemed “wahhabi” has strong basis in the Shaafici Madhab, the same school that these people supposedly support. Wahhabism is simply an escape goat, for people who have a distaste for traditional Islamic law. They can’t digest the fact that some of the practices that Somalis engage in under the guise of “culture” are in direct violation of Traditional Islam.

    My only advice is, before resorting to cheap rhetoric like Wahhabism, one ought to study traditional Islamic law and then make a final decision on the difference between arabism and Islam.

  20. Somalis traded with ancient Egyptians with thousands of years. That was five thousand years ago. Therefore Somali history is as ancient as that of Egypt and other Cushitic groups of East Africa. Somalis worshiped Waaq far more than they have worshiped Allah, in the history of world religions Islam is a fairly new religion, and this is evidenced most by its current state of affairs in which the religion of Arabia appears to be in its medieval era. It fights hard against time and yearns a return to the 7th century Arabia from which it spread from. Everything about Islam comes down to living like the 7th century Arabs, that is what Allah prefers for all Muslims regardless of ethnicity or geographical location.

    The fundamental difference between Allah and Waaq is that the latter was particularly for Somalis, the former for Arab people. Allah considers Arabs the best people and for Waaq Somalis were the best. Waaqism was steeped in Soomaaliness; it’s ethos, culture, language, deeds, blessings, and every day life of the religion focused on improving Somali. Waaqism was utterly peaceful and tolerant, it propagated mysticism and lacked the crude elements of Islam or Allah; there was no hell in the same way Muslims spend their entire lives trying to solicit favors from the seemingly irrational Allah, there was only heaven for Waaq and it was for Somalis and their kinship – Cushitic people who still consider Waaqifinnaa best god. Waaq was always pleasant and fear was never part of the religion. He came down from the sky to help Somalis in every way possible.

    The tolerant and peacefulness of Waaqism was no match for the abrasive Islam and the sword-wielding Arabs who came to our shores and conducted massive transformation, systemically erasing all local cultural identity and spreading Arabism in any way possible. Consequently the Somalis have never been the same and the entire nation’s psyche changed dramatically, the Somalis you see today are nothing like the proud and happy people they used to be, today they are people who suffer Arab mental enslavement through Islam. Today they are different from other Cushitic people who have becoming seemingly alien to the Somalis after the conversion. Somali people spend their lives trying to become Arabs even denying their own ethnicity and loathing it, they grew hateful toward all that isn’t Arab and that continues to this day. (Wherever Christianity spread to the pattern has been similar but less potent, therefore there is less confusion among those people in comparison to Soomaali people.)

    During Waaq times life was celebrated, there was no vice police dictating to the masses, there was no oppression. Poetry, dancing, etc were part of daily life. This was a sharp contrast to the pagan religions of Arabs who worshiped several hundred gods including Allah, the ancient moon god of the pagan Arabs. The pendulum swung far out when Allah’s religion came to Somalia. Now people look forward to death and strife to avoid life itself, they display cognitive dissonance and palpable mental problems emanating from associated religion of Arabia. It’s like in the Lord of the Rings when the dark lord Sauron spread darkness to Middle Earth – that is the best comparison to the transformation.

    Nobody ever asks; how could our god, the god of our ancestors, be false and the god of the foreigners be true? The two are incomparable, it’s literally like day and night, darkness and light, life and death. Our ancestors weren’t Muslims and now our people are Muslims and the difference is for all to see. Questioning this seemingly crazed-cult of the Middle Easterners is most unwelcome. Today Islam survives through violence, intimidation, coercion, brainwashing and demands a degree of ignorance the likes of which the world hadn’t seen in recent history. The challenges facing Muslims are vast and caused by Islam itself, however they seek answers from Islam itself!

    • The point got from your rant is you are an enemy of Islam and Allah stop pretending to care about somalia people for we are nothing without Islam!

  21. 1. What exactly is Somali culture, our language for example has many foreign words ( and Arab) that we sometimes do not realise what words are actually Somali and what words are Arab. The so called dirac that we wear is made of material imported from India and is worn in Yemen too, the laxoox that we eat is eaten in Yemen and Ethiopia, the Macawiis that Somali men also has its origins in South Asia, the niiko video that you posted was brought to Somalia by Somali Bantus, the halwa that we eat is from Oman these are only a few examples, my point is that we have a diverse culture and Arab factors play a big role (not suprise since Yemen is about 100 miles across) Nevertheless we Somalis are not completely arabized since we have retained some of our indigenous heritage, We speak our own Cushitic language, have our names, our own dances, our own clothes (guuntiino) , Somalis are unbelievable proud people and the diaspora is also trying its best to keep our traditions, go to Somali events and you will see youth who can dance buraanbur and dhaanto and perform poetry. And if the girls cover their hair and wear hijabs or jilbaabs what is wrong with that? At the end of the day many of these women choose to do that themselves and that is what matters.

    2. I have to agree with Hodan that people are using Wahhabi as a scapegoat. Many of our social ills comes from our own culture, the cause of the civil war tribalism, racism and xenophobia comes from Somalis themselves, Why were we killing each other because one person belonged to that clan. Why are Midgaans and Yaxar or Boons or Yibirs treated like outcasts? The funny thing is that some people on here are mentioning that we should be proud of our own indigenous African culture and yet Somalis are extremely xenophobic towards their darker skinned African brothers EVEN if they are fellow Muslim, do the words Adoon, Jareer, Dhagax or Sangaduudhi sound familiar? And please before someone says that this is because of Arabs ( because we all know they can be racist too); this is a problem within many east African groups, Christian Amharas or Oromos would also look down on other Africans.

  22. Hoodi hoodi , asalaamu aleykum , greetings countrymen! First of all i would like to say ‘great job with the blog’ its really really hard for young somalis to come together and construct something so beneficial to the mass public without falling apart ! Now to the point i have read most of these topics on the blog and i felt i could relate to everyone of them. I live in a household where my parents were the only educated children from the barre regime , my mom is an economics major from kremlins itself! And my dad is an agronomist from the university of copenhagen! This is the baffling part , i clearly have pictures of i as a baby where my mom is bareheaded , 12 years later after veing seprated after the war we finally reconnect and my mom has a ‘qamaar’ on !!! So after close naturalistic observation in my youth and random analysis of the modern day somali mothers i have come to the conclusion what our somali females are going through is a cycle called
    ‘REDEMPTION’ they are repenting , they are meditating they are in a state of ‘cibaado’ we all were young , wild and careless but when you start to read the scriptures carefully and our self conscience haunts us and we see our own age group hitting the mosque and praying that 5 times a day daily we become obliged to and we adhere to our prophets pbuh ways! Coming to your argument dear blogger , may i sound cliche by saying we were close to paganism but islam saved us! I believe it did , this is where we need to divide islam and cultural heritage apart i am from janaale in south somalia 50kms away from mogadishu birthplace and home to our first president mr.aden abdulle ! We have more juju , black arts , dark magik and voodoo in the whole of east africa after tanzania and zanzibar!!! But look at janaale today after the barre regime the mass public looks like the jalabeeb crew in technicolor!! I dont even think we adhere to the dress code properly its supposed to be covered inside and outside of your jalabeeb what i cant understand why a bra is a huge bother when u can wear josephs multicolored batcape? When i raised that question in kenya i was told why wear a bra saahib? I am a virgin how else would the men know i am not married and that my mangoes arent saggy and over-ripe!!!! <—- jaws just dropped to the floor. Somalis love to imitate alhamdullilah i dont claim the arabs because i know they dont claim the somali persona nor they want to see us 'waryas' in existence! My point is lets be covered decently like the mid 60's era elegantly and beautifully like rabindranath tagore's poem 'the nightingale'
    Nabadiino , wa aleykumu salaam , ciao!

  23. The paradigm shift in society that alienates Islamic practices and embraces cultural (more like anti-Islam) values seems like the emergence of another class of Somalis in sheep’s clothing. I totally disagree with the collective labeling of Somalis practicing Islam as culturally eroded and more like Arabs. It is just the same rhetoric that the anti-Islam ‘pundits’ use. Attack their tradition and then devalue their practices. It is actually sickening and disturbing to see the anti- alshabab movement labeling Islamic values as cultural dispossession. I am not in favor of Al-shabab or any of their affiliates but the notion that Somalis didn’t use to wear Hijab (or rather conflicts with cultural practice) is baseless. As you pointed out, Somalis were Muslims since the beginning of the revelation to prophet mohammed (pbuh). Somalis have a lot of cultural and traditional value in common with Arabs. And if you didn’t know, there are Somalis of Arab origin (refer back to 4.5) that have relatives both in Somalia and their respective Arab countries. Please don’t use the erosion of Somali culture among the youth as a platform to attack Islamic values. If you are against the penetration of Islam among Somalis, that is something else. Or you could be as frank as possible to point out why you think Somalis should stop embracing Islam. Basically that is what you are trying to imply…

  24. Dhamaantiin waan idin “Bariidiyey ”

    Bariidin = Salaamay in arabic
    Aroor-wanaagsan = subax’wanaagsan in arabic

    Iska’warama , sideed tihiin , mala faayo/mala fiicanyahay = Asalaamu calayku waraxmatulaah in Arabic

    Eebe = ilaah or God in arabic

    Waaq = Allah or Yhwy in Arabic

    Qoraal Maanso ah = Al-kitaab Al-Quraan

    Tuduc = Suurad in arabic

    Tix = Aaayad in arabic

    Wad’aad = Sheekh in arabic

    Islam and quran are for the arabs , Dhaqan-Eebe waaq and Maanso is for the Somalis blogger keep up the good work may the power and the Blessing of Eebe Waaq be on you Amon -Ra ,

  25. Pingback: Secularism 101: What is Secularism?

  26. Assalaamu alaykum walaalo, I do not even know how I ended up on this blog, but this particular post drew my attention…I know it was posted a while back, but here goes:

    You speak of african and somali heritage, and how you want us to back to our original roots/culture, yet you speak very similiar to those of the west, using terms as ‘wahabism’ and ‘arabisation’, like really? No one complains when we adopt arabic words in our language, adopt clothing from some parts of the arab regions i.e. diraacs, macawiis from yemenis, adopt food from middle eastern countries, yes because this is our culture and just like we adopt from India (macawiis also), Ethiopia and so on, this is ok. But when it is things that people say is in the name of religion, then all hell breaks out! Firstly the pictures of somalia post war are beautiful, and somali women are just as beautiful, but just because those days when men had fros and women wore their hair out and guntiino, or in other parts a diraac with all on display. This may appeal to some, like yourself and others as I have gathered from the posts. But know that no matter what culture you come from, be it somali, west african, south asian or arab, if you adopt islaam (and I use islaam because it is what you speak about and majority of somali people follow) you have to follow it according to how it was revealed. Yes, we have a rich culture, but it has things that are acceptable and not acceptable, like for example a brother spoke about hijaab (and you asked him not to speak about it as he is a male) we as muslim women are to cover ourself, not for man, not anyone but Allaah, yes Allaah has commanded us to. And just as you have made the decision not to follow this commandment, others have, and Alhamdulillaah this is not arabisation. And if you state otherwise, what is your proof? Look across the middle east, what you find is everyone adopted the hijaab according to their culture but i.e. in the khaleej you find most women adopting abayas (be it sparkly, designer, dress-like) but this is not the legistlated hijaab. So now going back to somalia, you find women wearing jilbaabs, in all materials, colours etc, how is this arabisation???
    Also, that video you posted, this is or was only found in certain parts of somalia, my mothers generation frowned upon that and this was in their days of ignorance with very little knowledge of islaam. If that video alone was what you would sum up of our culture, you have indeed poorly displayed it. I am not a wahaabi (by the way did you know Al-Wahaab is one of Allaah’s names), neither do I support Al-Shabab, but to show pictures of women in somalia today wearing jilbaabs and compare it to a video of women dancing for men- how is the portrayal of Somali women before and now?

  27. Is there anyway we can set up a new Somali fashion trend? For example, give away clothes for Charity and promote a more modern (not soo primitive) Islamic dressing. Put up posters and advertising. we have to help them. I can understand why the ladies cover up. Maybe, there is sexual attacks and rape and they want to hide.

  28. Wow, this was pretty ignorant. You used the term wahabbi like a few sentences in, and I was about to stop reading it right there and then. First of all, ‘wahabbi’ is a derogatory term both on Allah Subhannahu wa ta’ala who, among his attributes is Al-Wahhab, and secondly it implies that Sheikh Muhammed Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was some sort of crazy fundamentalist when he in fact, dedicated his life to spreading the Qu’ran and Sunnah. So. if that’s a wahabbi, I, and the majority of Somalis, are proud ‘wahabbis’.

    Okay, so now I’ve got that over and done with..

    You seem to imply that we have gone backwards simply because we decide to dress like we should do as Muslims, which btw means covering up appropriately, not necessarily donning a niqab and using more Arab phrases and whatnot. As someone who was born and bred in Europe, and yes, does wear a hijab and abaya, refuses to listen to music and so forth, I (and my fellow European Somalis) are all against these brain dead kids who go by the name of Al-shabaab. You imply that being more practicing as a society equates losing our Somali roots. Fact for you, the Qu’ran is written in Arabic, Arabic is the language of the Muslims, and every single Muslim is advised to learn it. This doesn’t mean that we stop speaking in af Somaali, that we all move to the gulf (we’re not stupid enough to believe that we would ever be accepted as Arabs, and quite frankly why the hell should we?), or that overnight we suddenly transform into an Arab. Why is it so negative that these things are happening? What are you so threatened about? Arab culture and customs doesn’t mean Islam either. You, however, seem to believe that the two are mutually exclusive.

    Okay, so I’ve digressed from the point I was attempting to make, but I just need to call you out on why you seem to believe that becoming a practicing Sunni society (that doesn’t include the madaxduub sufis) will hinder us in some way. I don’t know where you live, but where I’m from Somalis are the proudest people around, and shout it from the rooftops. Somalis are too stubborn to ever lose their culture or our language, so you can stop worrying about that.

    Also I’d rather live under Siad Barre than be called a kalb and pretend to live in peace under and Arab anyday.

  29. I just read this on tumblr and I really felt the need to comment.

    The thing is, I think you are wrong , not completely but still wrong. I just moved to Somalia more than a half a year ago. How can you compare those pictures to what happened to Somalia right now? Do you really think these women WANT to wear the jilbaabs? You can’t just write an entire article if you don’t know how these women feel and what they have been through. I don’t even know what they have been through. These women have been completely brainwashed, it might sound weird but this is actually true. And obviously they have been told to be covered at all times or you might be thrown in prison or worse, to be killed. This is a serious issue and it cannot be erased that quickly.

    You should also know that these women don’t wear veils for religion nor Arabism. There are many many reason why they cover up.

    1- Because they feel safe and no men come near to them. This is also the reason why little girls even younger than the age of 4 wear long jilbaabs. The change of getting raped is very high at this moment.

    2- The second reason is when they own people money. When they pass someones neighbourhood they wear to veil, as not to be recognized and not be asked for money or other things of value

    3- They wear a veil for a small period, so that they can make themselves ‘beautiful’ in the time being. This can include bleaching and doing other stuff to their faces.

    4- Men have become completely wild, and by this I mean the younger generation. I think this is because these young men grew up being without girls in their environment. They have never even talked to a girl let alone touch one or ”see” one. Now that Al-shabab is ”gone” they think that they have every right to feel up a women if sitting next to them in a bus. Or even ask for their phonenumbers. It feels like a whole new game to them. By wearing a veil women won’t show their faces.

    There are way more reasons why women cover up. But let me tell you this, if Somalia was to be safe and I mean really safe , and women would have the right to speak up then they would GLADLY take off those jilbaabs. Maybe even walk around in a baati alone. Who knows?

    I know that this might sound very negative, but there are also postive things happening. In Mogadhishu women go to the market with a baati ! Even though they still wear jilbaabs the concept of wear thick long skirts is slowly going away. They wear shorter jilbaabs, when I came here in Septmeber for instance they wore it up till their knees, and now it covers till their under their buts. So that is a plus. Also no more socks, no more hand covering.

    But the thing about Arabism? It has become a part of us Somalis. We will always and always be influenced by Arabs and quite frankly I don’t mind. Because they have done a lot of goods to us. We are not Arabs and we will never be but we just cannot repeat our past, women cannot go parade in their guntiino’s with men around or wear a diirac. What I mean by that is women cannot show their skin because that is haram. And if we believe in Allah (swt) we should follow his path because one day we will die.

    Oh yeah and by they way, funny story. No one cares about Arabs anymore here in Mogadishu haha. It is all about India now. You actually see small changes in what they wear,and they love love their culture and everything that has to do with it. I even know some people who are even prepared to learn their language!

    So this means that if ”we” are passed the ”Arab stage” we won’t go in the ”somali stage” because every single Somali in this city is sick and tired of everything that has happened and there is no hope in ourselves. Why do you think we start loving other cultures because it seems to us that they are in peace and they love who ever they are. We are not loving ourselves.

    Sorry this might be a way too long of a comment and sorry for any grammar mistakes , English is not my mother language.

    ps; Parents are naming their children Turkish names like Bader and stuff, because they love everything that Turkey has done for us.

  30. I would like to ask, from an atheist point of view, whats wrong with a woman covering from head to toe? , please explain

  31. Before I start let me just apologize for my bad English, don’t let that bother you.

    My beloved brothers and sister. This is a very important discussion that you are having and it’s so nice to see people making their case calmly and without name-calling, wonderful!

    I’d argue from an economic perspective. Africa’s greatest enemy is lack of education, poverty and hunger. Hunger makes our backs bend and our knees kneel. I don not know all African cultures (we really need to stop pretending as if knew all african cultures), but I’ll talk about the one I know. I come from a christian orthodox family in central Eritrea. My language is Tigrinya, which is a semitic language, that people misstake for Arabic, it’s not. Where the Semitic languages originated is still a subject that needs to be studied (My guess is the horn of Africa).

    If you have ever been in a desperate situation, you know that the only thing that will keep you going is hope, hope that there is someone that sees your suffering, hope that there is a just god. Therefore you’ll see that some of the most religious people are poor (that god gave nothing to). That’s why christ said that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go through the gates of heaven. The rich were not so easily convinced by Jesus. He wanted to give the unfortunate a voice. Although there are many things I don’t like about christianity, Islam and other religions, there are somethings I prefer in those two religions than the indigenous African traditional belief in witchcraft, superstition and other harmful practices, such as Female genital mutilation etc.

    I think our Idea of Africanism is too shallow, because it’s only based on skincolor and that we are the outcasts of the earth. Automatically if we’re black, we’re the same. I think the reason why we have not made the effort to get to know each other on a deeper level is because, most of the African nations are poor and backward, therefore we rather turn our heads towards those parts of the world that are prosperous and try to emulate their culture in order to advance, which is good in some ways (Education, science,Technology) but not in other ways (environmental destruction, capitalism, imperialism, individualism, racism). So my fellow Africans come with an open mind and let’s get to know each other, trade with each other, exchange experiences and knowledge.

    getting back to the subject 😉 I don’t want any Arab person reading this to get insulted, some of the nicest people I have met have been of Arab origin, this is just about the survival of Africa. Before we face the same fate as the Amerindians.

    You can look up Berberism in Morocco and Algeria as a counter movement against Arab cultural imperialism in North Africa. Sudan, Chad, Mauritania, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Syria are all arabized nations.

    In general I think nations that are majority muslim tend to keep their language and culture better than those that are divided. The Somalis are actually much better at this than muslims from my ethnic group, called Jeberti (I know there is a similar term in Somalia, but I don’t think it’s the same people). Language and ethnicity in Eritrea is not the same thing if we look at historical migration patterns. Some of my ancestors came from central Ethiopia to Eritrea about 500-600 years ago. So people from the same ancestry can be found all over Eritrea and speak different languages . Some are Jeberti (muslim Tigrinya), Tigrinya, Tigre, Beja or Bilen.

    Some Jeberti are in serious identity crisis, they promote arabic as their language and see themself as a separate ethnic group. Just because of their desire to distinguish themselves from their christian brothers, they claim to descend from the followers of Mohammed that were granted Asylum in Abyssinia. People we look exactly the same and if we go back a few generations our forefathers name was “HAILE” My basic question is what if I decided to convert to Islam. Do I have to change Ethnicity too? Do I call myself Jeberti muslim or Tigrinya muslim?

    In the christian community I see a big western influence, names like Tesfay, Berhane, Kidane are being replaced by western names and I hate it. There’s also a corresponding trend to wahabism in Islam. Evangelical christianity, a disgusting form of Christianity that makes otherwise good people, empty headed bible quoters that want to shove their belief down your throat.

    In conclusion let’s find the good parts of our identity and throw away the bad.

    Thank you for your patience.

  32. Let me make this simple, but i think i speak for a whole lot of Somalis teens in the diaspora when i say somalis should go back to their old customs (pre-islamic) whether it be our actions, naming, clothing, and most importantly, get back our racial pride. People need to recognize that somalis always existed, and exised before Arabs, Germans, Zulu or any other bullshitted ethnic/nationality came into existence. We should pride ourselves with our untainted and pure blood of our savage-like (“civilization” does not indicate supriority) noble forefathers and foremothers, the noble lineages and genes we posses. Tribalism is something to be proud of, although i recognize that using it to propogate violence is quite outdated and un-Islamic. I think Somali parents should name their children Somali names, not Turkish, Jewish, or Arabic names. Darod Ismail did not exist, nor did “shiekh” Ishaq or any other baseless historical figure, Somalis have one common ancestry from Somal, whom is our most venerated ancestor. I am also correct when i say all non-Somalis and mixed Somalis should be forcibly kicked-out of Somalia, or be exterminated, such as Reer-Xamar, Bantu, and also the Raxanweyn since they possibly have high rates of admixture from the latter two. Somalis need to come back to Somalia and establish a nation-race, a state that has its borders only inhabited by Somalis and Somalis only. Then we can go foward and cut all ties with African and Arab nations by pulling out of the AU and the Arab League, take out all foriegn vocabulary out of our language, find out and recover our long-lost writing script, or invent one, and most of all, make the Somali understand his/her racial supriority to all other races. Once we reach that milestone, we go on to establish the best education system in the world, push to have a 100% literacy rate, produce nobel prize winners, make and maintain the worlds most effiecient military, and make ourselves self-sufficient, whether it be in energy production, culturally, politically, and all other aspects. We go on from there to rediscover our roots and find out more about wtf our ancient ancestors were which are now clouded with history, and then go on and conquer and populate the rest of the world with our supriority! (after a Somali “reconquista” of all Somali populated lands, e.g Ogden, NFD etc..)

    p.s:I have a even stronger hatred for the west and their accomplices, such as the author who wrote the article. I do not support Isreal either just beacuse i hate arabization. All you western-oriented arab/islam-bashing non-muslim somalis are billions of times worser than those arab-oriented wesern bashersing muslim somalis, i simply want to keep our culture and race alive while maintaining our religion of islam, So peace to y’all! and go to hell!
    (and yes, i know my name is arabic, but nothing i can do now, or is there?)

    • Warya this is why nationalism is Haram becuase of crazy people like you who the hell are you to be kicking people out of the country. Kick reer xamar out nigga we are Somali just as every other Somali we are reer xamar the people of xamar you jackass. Tribalism is something to be proud of please brother I beg of you check into a mental facility right now u seem lost and confused.

      • Dude, dudette, or whatever u are, What im espousing is not nationalism, but rascism. I dont think your my brother or sister in whatever, and i am not thinking on the same viewpoint as you are. I remember growing up as a 14 year old, being a Darod person, constantly told to be proud of my arab heritage from “banu hashim” via darod ismail, a totally made up figure extended to epic poportions. I used to go to a islamic school, and a strict one, so teachers would be very admiring of us when all the Somali students would tell them about how arab they are, how we are in the arab league, how were related to banu hashim and shit. The staff at the school soon started having a certian respect for us, although nothing in islam tells us to hold arabs as having a supriority above us, which most perfectly relates to this article. This attactment of supriority to arabs by muslims is almost accepted by everyone, from uncouciously to some degree, to outright adoration, and jeolousy or secret admiration. Upon leaving the school at age 14, i started becoming aware of how everyone claimed arab descent around me, and started learning about peoples as far and varied as Mindinao Filipinos, tribal Pakistanis, ghetto Blacks in Detriot, West African Yorubas, tribes, ethnic groups, villages, all claiming that they are arabs. Many Somalis, exclusivly the adults, talk about how we were once arabs, but underwent a process of Africanization, how we became “black”, and they say that word with a hint of extreme disgust and regret (as if it really happened). But, upon hearing that 90% of the Islamic world had arab ancestry (including the black muslim convert next door), it was very logical of me to refute such shittyness. In Somalia only, at least some 60% of the population would be descended from abu bakr or banu hashim. That only refers to ethnic Somalis, but how about the others, such as the sharifs. Isaq, Darod, and Sheikhaale all claim a connection to banu hashim and the latter abu bakr. Seriously, what kind of person could belive all that? not a sane person, espicially since our genetics indicate no diffrentiation when it comes to descent. If we had arab descent in these tribes, why are their not high or even minimal amounts of the “Arab Marker” or j1 present in these populations, or in me?. All research into studying Somali genetics always concluded that we are a native African population, with almost 80% of Somalis (research reports randomly chose anybody from somalia, they wouldent care if ur reer xamar ass gave them a sample) having E3b1, same as the Oromos who never claim arab ancestry. They found no differing halogroups between Somali tribes, such as Hawiye or Darod, which reflects a homogeneous population having rare to no genetic influence. The other 20% goes to the inferior scum like you. So anyways to continue, i started becoming curious about who and what my ancestors were, and since i already knew all the arab crap was false, i started reading and reading, reading research reports, anthropology, biology, anything concerning us. They spanned dates from the 1800’s and 1600’s to the present time. What i found about our people was Somalis were not Somalis, in the way we talk of Somalis today. They were not those inferior specimens that eat chat, rape women, or claim arab descent, our ancestors were akin to noblemen, they were arrogant, proud, rascist, xenophobic of everyhing and everyone. They were beautiful and handsome, regal in thier white dressings, stood out with their hairstyles, tall, wiry men, brave and noble in their actions. Their supriority was evident to the explorers and adventerers that came to our shores centuries earlier. They spoke of them with an admiration verging on obsession (although some were really obsessed), how beautiful their women were, how they were just soo unique. But sadly, starting from the 18th to 19th centuries, Somalis started slowly being accepting of ethnic groups they were to hold with extreme hatred, such as your people. The reer xamar wernt as popular for being “Arab” back in the days as you are of the present. Back in the days, you were a inferior creation (you still are), a bastard, half black/white mix possesing none of the beauty as the former but all the ugliness of the latter. You were hairy, possed a most disgusting face, suffured from a most prominent lack of manliness and handsomeness. Carrying genes that pollute even the most noblest of Somalis. I feel like i would kill myself if i ever heard i had any arab ancestry, and literally felt so sad when my mom told me i did on her mothers side, and later which i found to be fake. I reveled in joy when i found that my genes have no indication of ever possesing J, and was purely a Somali as a Somali could be be. My mission for my future, let it be clear, is to bring back and resurrect the Somalis back to how they were, when they looked up to nothing but the lord that created them.

        Fuck you and most honestly yours,

        Abdiweli Ibrahim

        p.s i am not interested in the islamic rulings and judgements you will bring upon me, i know being rascist is haram, but unfortunetly, there is nothing i can do. So dont bring your wrath of assorted hadith and quran on me. I dont define “Soomaalinimo” the same way you do, since a “Somali” on my dictionary would not qualify as a person of half-breed descent, which sadly means persons of your likes. Im seriously so sorry for your situation 😦

        • Wallahi see a Psychiatrist my friend you are clearly not okay you have so much hatred in you how do you wake up in the Morning?? Anyways I am so glad there are no Somalis like you where I live Alhamdillah for that I have been to Somalia My country twice and I have enjoyed it both times so your opinions means shit and please read the History of Somali because your hatred of Arabs is blinding your judgement any ways feel how ever the hell you want to feel I am Somali My country is Somalia my Passport says Born In Somalia and there is nothing your or any other Loser, Scum can do about it and my Language is Somalia as well warya. I think shakalan baa kuhaso aniga xaa igu musqulin May Allah remove this hate for your heart. I don’t know how you can hate humans who talk like you and eat like you we all came from the same place the sooner you accept that the better you will feel. P.S dont forget to see a Psychiatrist you sound like someone who has a lot of emotions bottled up perhaps this may help. Take care

          • Telling me to read Somali history?? interesting beacuse Somali history doesnt seem to agree with your beliefs, it actually contradicts them. believe me, i dont think you know chicken s&@! about Somali history. And please, dont show off that you got a damn passport from that liberal-ass Somali govt, beacuse unfortunetly, altough i was born in Logan Utah, im more of a Somali than you, it my blood, but for you, its on paper

            LOL, there were even more foreign people than you and not even muslim that were born in Somalia and speak Somali better than you. My guess is that they also are entitled to that damn fake-ass passport like you. So your not alone!

            Fuck you again,

            Abdiweli Ibrahim

            • LOL! take a chill pill we are still in Somalia and will forever be there aint nothing your ugly ass can do about it BYE

            • I’ll admit im too young for my “ugly ass” to do anything big at the moment, but know this. I will do anything that i can do to fuck up your aspirations for your lowly genes to stay put in Somalia, it must go and it will. so “BYE” too you too!

              and with a most mellow graditude, fuck you.

            • Yes please come and remove us you big strong man Oh wait no your just a keyboard thug!

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