'Stringing Coral Beads': The Religious Poetry of Brava (c. 1890-1975)

A Source Publication of Chimiini Texts and English Translations


Editors / Translators: , , and
This book presents fifty-one didactic and devotional Sufi poems (with English translations) composed by the ulama of Brava, on Somalia’s Benadir coast, in Chimiini, a Bantu language related to Swahili and unique to the town. Because the six ulama-poets, among whom two women, guided local believers towards correct beliefs and behaviours in reference to specific authoritative religious texts, the poems allow insight into their authors’ religious education, affiliations, in which the Qādiriyyah and Aḥmadiyyah took pride of place, and regional connections. Because the poems refer to local people, places, events, and livelihoods, they also bring into view the uniquely local dimension of Islam in this small East African port city in this time-period.

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Alessandra Vianello, (Law degree, 1970) is an independent scholar and researcher. She has co-edited Servants of the Sharia. The Civil Register of the Qadis' Court of Brava 1893-1900 (Brill, 2006) and many book chapters and articles about the language and history of Brava.

Lidwien Kapteijns, Ph.D. History (1982), Wellesley College, is Professor of History at that institution. She has published several books, including two co-edited source publications, and many book chapters and articles about Somali and Sudanese history.

Mohamed M. Kassim, Ph.D. History (2008), Seneca College, is Professor of Computer Science at that institution. He has co-edited Servants of the Sharia. The Civil Register of the Qadis' Court of Brava 1893-1900 (Brill, 2006) and has published many book chapters and articles about the history of Brava.
Editors’ Introduction Acknowledgements Note on Transliteration Map of Brava in Regional Context
Note on the Primary Sources of This Publication
Reference List to the Poets and Their Poems
Annotated List of Islamic Scholars and Texts Mentioned in the Sṯeenzi

The Poems

Sheikh Uways

Sheikh Uways’s Poem  1 Aḻfeeni msaḻiḻeeni (Ask God to bless him two thousand times)

Sheikh Qasim

Sheikh Qasim’s Poems  1 Daada Maasiṯi nsoomela duʾa (Dada Masiti, pray for me)  2 Chidirke ya Rasuuḻ Aḻḻah (Rescue us, O Prophet of God)  3 Salaaṯun saḻaamun ʿala aḻ-Musṯafa (Peace and blessings upon the Chosen One)  4 Meezi wa keendra (In the ninth month)  5 Hamziyyah, Jisi gani khpaandra mitume anbiya (Hamziyyah or How could the other prophets rise?)  6 Ḻa ilaaha ntaku Maʾabuudi wa haqi (There is no god but the true God)  7 Nakaanza khṯuunga marjaani (I start stringing coral beads)  8 Ya Sheekhi Abduḻqaadiri (O Shaykh ʿAbdulqādir)  9 Ya Nabiyi salaam ʿaleika (O Prophet, peace be upon you)  10 Ndruuza kasaani sowṯiya (O Brothers, listen to my voice)

Dada Masiti

Dada Masiti’s Poems  1 Baʾdi ya hayy ni mowṯi (After life comes death)  2 Sayyid Jamaladiini (Sayyid Jamaladdin)  3 Ya Rabbi ya Muṯaʾaali (O Lord, You who are Exalted)  4 Sharru ḻ-bilaadi (The evil that plagues the country)  5 Ya Rabbi ya Rahmaani (O Lord, You who are Compassionate)  6 Mowḻaana Muhyidiini (O our lord Muḥyī al-Dīn)  7 Aḻḻahu Akbar Aḻḻaahu (God is the Greatest, O God)  8 Sayyidi yiitu Siṯeeni (O our Lady)

Mallim Nuri

Mallim Nuri’s Poems  1 Shṯeenzi cha ahḻu al-sabri (The poem of those who were steadfast in adversity)  2 Shṯeenzi cha Aʾisha (The poem of Aʾisha)  3 Shṯeenzi cha Aamina (The poem of Amina)  4 Mooja mreheme Aṯeeni (O God, have mercy upon Ateni)  5 Chidirke Maana Faaṯima (Rescue us, O Lady Fatima!)  6 Shṯeenzi cha masadaaṯi (The poem of the Sharifs)  7 Shṯeenzi cha Hasani na Huseeni (The poem of Hassan and Hussein)  8 Shṯeenzi cha Haawa na Aadamu (The poem of Ḥawwāʾ (Eve) and Adam)  9 Shṯeenzi cha kibri (The poem of pride)  10 Madad madad (Come to our help O Prophet)  11 Shṯeenzi cha mahaaji (The poem of the pilgrims)  12 Shṯeenzi cha miʾraaji (The poem of the miʿrāj)  13 Mooja chiloongole (May God guide us)  14 Mooja ondrola d̲h̲ibu (O God, remove troubles)  15 Mṯawasuleeni Musṯafa (Seek the intercession of the Chosen One)  16 Shṯeenzi cha sabri (The poem of forbearance)  17 Shṯeenzi cha sala ṯimaamu (The poem of the correct prayer)  18 Shṯeenzi cha Sayyida Khadija (The poem of Lady Khadija)  19 Shṯeenzi cha Sheikh Nureeni (The poem of Sheikh Nureni)  20 Shṯeenzi cha Faaṯima (The poem of Fatima)  21 Shṯeenzi cha hijja (The poem of the pilgrimage)  22 Shṯeenzi cha soomu (The poem of fasting)  23 Shṯeenzi cha udhʾhiya (The poem of ritual sacrifice)  24 Zubadi (The Cream)

Sheikh Mohamed Sufi

Sheikh Mohamed Sufi’s Poems  1 Aadhaḻḻe aadha (Beware! Beware!)  2 Akhuaaniza kasaani (Listen to me, O brothers)  3 Salaaṯu na amaani (Blessings and peace upon the Prophet)  4 Susumuki (Will you not wake up?)  5 Iyi ni bishaara (These are glad tidings)

Abastide Mohamed Sheikh Abba

Abastide Mohamed Sheikh Abba’s Poems  1 Yā man yarā wa lā yurā (O you who see and are not seen)  2 Sheekhi Imaamu aḻ-Ghazaali (O Sheikh Imam al-Ghazālī)  3 Mtume shtiilo galadi na fadhiila (Through the Prophet we attain God’s support and favour)
Appendix 1: Names of God Mentioned in the Sṯeenzi Appendix 2: Names and Attributes of the Prophet Mentioned in the Sṯeenzi Appendix 3: Names of Fatima Mentioned in the Sṯeenzi Appendix 4: Names of Angels Mentioned in the Sṯeenzi Appendix 5: Names of Prophets Mentioned in the Sṯeenzi Appendix 6: Musical Annotation of the Sṯeenzi Glossary Bibliography General Index
Academic libraries; scholars and graduate students in African, Islamic, Middle Eastern, Indian Ocean, and Somali studies; specialists in Bantu languages; Somali communities everywhere. Bravanese speakers of the town’s Bantu vernacular, Chimiini or Chimbalazi.
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