The Darod are one of the six primary clans of the Somali people of Somalia.
The forefather of this clan was Sheikh Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti, more commonly known as Darood. The clan primarily settles the apex of the Horn of Africa and its peripheries, the Somali hinterlands up to Oromia, and both sides of the Kenya–Somalia border.
The Darod clan is the largest Somali clan family in the Horn of Africa.
Like all Somalis, they claim their descent from Samaale, the mythical founder of the entire ethnic group. Also, like all other Somalis, they speak the Somali language and are Sunni Muslims. The vast majority of the Darod, except those who work in the major cities, are nomadic herders, who raise camels, sheep, and cattle. The Darod ethnic group, however, is subdivided into thousands of sub-clans and sub-sub-clans, and individual Darod feel far more loyalty to their local clan than to any larger collectivity. Most Darod are concentrated in northern Somalia, primarily in the Barí and Nugal regions, as well as in parts of the Mudugh, Tug Dheer, Sanaag, and Lower Juba regions. They can also be found in the Ogaden and Harar regions of Ethiopia and in the North-Eastern Región of Kenya.
Their current population exceeds 2.2 million people. They both farm and raise cattle or camels.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Darod faced starvation because of the famine and civil war in Somalia. Political instability became endemic as centralized authority broke down in the face of severe clan and sub-clan rivalries. Somalia essentially became a no-man's-land of misery and suffering, with no single individual or group enjoying enough power to impose any order. In 1991, many Darod joined with the Issaqs,* the major clan in northern Somalia, and declared their independence from Somalia, establishing the country of Somaliland. Their rebellion, however, failed to secure recognition from the international diplomatic community.
According to early Islamic books and Somali tradition, Aqeel Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib Al-Qurashi descendant Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti (Darod), a son of the Sufi Sheikh Isma'il al-Jabarti of the Qadiriyyah order, fled his homeland in the Arabian Peninsula after an argument with his uncle. During the 10th or 11th century CE, Abdirahman is believed to have then settled in Somaliland just across the Red Sea and married Dobira, the daughter of the Dir clan chief. This union is said to have given rise to the Darod clan family. Thus, it established matrilateral ties with the Samaale main stem.
According to the British anthropologist and Somali Studies veteran Ioan Lewis, the traditions of descent from noble Arab families related to the Prophet are most probably figurative expressions of the importance of Islam in Somali society. However, "there is a strong historically valid component in these legends which, in the case of the Darod, is confirmed in the current practice of a Dir representative officiating at the ceremony of installation of the chief of the Darod family."
A similar clan mythology exists for the Sheikh Ishaq ibn Ahmad al-'Alawi, who are said to have descended from one Sheikh Ishaq ibn Ahmad al-'Alawi, another Banu Hashim who came to Somaliland around the same time. As with Sheikh Isaaq, there are also numerous existing hagiologies in Arabic which describe Sheikh Darod's travels, works and overall life in northern Somalia, as well as his movements in Arabia before his arrival. Besides historical sources such as Al-Masudi's Aqeeliyoon, a modern manaaqib (a collection of glorious deeds) printed in Cairo in 1945 by Sheikh Ahmad bin Hussen bin Mahammad titled Manaaqib as-Sheikh Ismaa'iil bin Ibraahiim al-Jabarti also discusses Sheikh Darod and his proposed father Isma'il al-Jabarti, the latter of whom is reportedly buried in Bab Siham in the Zabid District of western Yemen.
Sheikh Darod's own tomb is in Haylaan, situated in the Sanaag region of Somaliland, and is the scene of frequent pilgrimages. Sheikh Isaaq is buried nearby in Maydh, as is Sheikh Harti, a descendant of Sheikh Darod and the progenitor of the Harti Darod sub-clan, whose tomb lies in the ancient town of Qa’ableh.
Sheikh Darod's mawlid (birthday) is also celebrated every Friday with a public reading of his manaaqib.
The Darod were supporters of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi during his 16th century conquest of Abyssinia; especially the Harti, Marehan and Bartire sub-clans, who fought at Shimbra Kure, among other battles. In his medieval Futuh Al-Habash documenting this campaign, the chronicler Shihāb al-Dīn indicates that 300 Harti soldiers took part in Imam Ahmad's Adal Sultanate army. He describes them as "famous among the infantry as stolid swordsmen" and "a people not given to yielding".
Darod is believed to be the son of the famous Arabian Sheikh, Ismail bin Ibrahim Al-Jabarti, who is buried in the Zabid District of Yemen who is believed to have descendant of Aqeel ibn Abi Talib who in turn hails from the Quraysh, a historically significant Arab tribe that the final prophet of Islam, Muhammed hails from. In 2009, former President of Somalia, Abdullahi Yusuf visited the grave of Ismail bin Ibrahim Al-Jabarti in Yemen.
According to many medieval and modern Islamic historians, Darod is descended from Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of Muhammad and brother of Ali ibn Abi Talib. An ancient Islamic history book, called Aqeeliyoon by Al-Masudi, talks in detail about the descendants of Aqeel ibn Abi Talib, wherein Darod is also mentioned. The book gives Sheikh Darod's lineage as Abdirahmaan Bin Ismaa'iil Bin Ibraahim Bin Abdirahmaan Bin Muhammed Bin Abdi Samad Bin Hanbal Bin Mahdi Bin Ahmed Bin Abdalle Bin Muhammed Bin Aqail Bin Abu-Talib Bin Abdul-Mutalib Bin Hashim Bin Qusaya.
According to Allaa'i Alsuniyah Fi Al-Aqab Al-Aqeeliyah (2006) by Ahmed bin Ali Al-Rajihi Al-Aqeeli, the lineage of Sheikh Darod/Da'ud is: "Da'ud ibn Ismail ibn Ibrahim ibn Abdulsamad ibn Ahmed ibn Abdallah ibn Ahmed Ibn Ismail ibn Ibrahim ibn Abdallah ibn Isma'il ibn Ali ibn Abdallah ibn Muhammad ibn Hamid ibn Abdallah ibn Ibrahim ibn Ali ibn Ahmed ibn Abdallah ibn Muslim ibn Abdallah ibn Muhammad ibn Aqeel ibn Abi-Talib Al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi". Al-Aqeeli adds that Sheikh Isma'il's sons include Abi-Bakar, Da'ud, Ahmad and Abdulsamad, whose other offspring inhabit the Hadhramaut and Mahra regions in Southern Arabia.
The Darood are believed to be a large Somali clan both in terms of population size and land inhabitation. The Darood constitute a big presence in the Somali Region of Ethiopia and are also the one of the largest Somali clan in North Eastern Province of Kenya. Within Somalia, the Darood are also one of the largest clans, with traditional strongholds in the north, modern day Puntland state which is dominated by the Harti subclan of Darood. In addition, the Marehan, Ogaden, Jidwaaq, and Harti Darod members are also settled further down south in the Gedo region as well as the Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba regions of Somalia. The Darood in Somalia, roughly corresponds to the Darood's settled within the Jubbaland and Puntland states. In Somaliland the Darood settle the eastern Sool, Sanaag regions and the Buhoodle district of Togdheer
Major Darood Settlements within Somalia include Galkacyo, Kismaayo, Bosaso, and Garowe.
Darood are also the largest clan in Jigjiga in Ethiopia, and Garissa in Northern Kenya.
The Darod clan has produced numerous noble Somali men and women over the centuries, including many Sultans. Traditionally, the Darod population was mostly concentrated in the northern and northeastern cities on the Gulf of Aden and upper Indian Ocean coast in the Horn of Africa. Darod noble men ruled these settlement pockets until the European colonial powers changed the political dynamics of Somalia during the late 19th century. Before many Darods began pushing southward in the mid-1850s, the Majeerteen Sultanate and Sultanate of Hobyo held steadfast in solidly established posts from Alula to Hobyo.
Darod is buried in an old town called Haylaan near Badhan in the north-eastern Sanaag region of Somalia. His wife Dobira is buried just outside the town. The surrounding buildings and the mosque near the tomb was built by the former president of Somalia Abdullahi Yusuf.
Darod is believed to be the son of the famous Arabian Sheikh, Ismail bin Ibrahim Al-Jabarti, who is buried in the Zabid District of Yemen. Tradition holds that he is descended from the Banu Hashim.
In 2009, former President of Somalia, Abdullahi Yusuf visited the grave of Ismail bin Ibrahim Al-Jabarti in Yemen.
Sheikh Darod's mawlid (birthday) is celebrated every Friday with a public reading of his manaqib and passages in the Quran.