Harar- the 4th Sacred City of Islam
Located in the eastern part of Ethiopia, Harar is one of the most important historic destinations. Founded in the early 16th century, Harar has been ruled by successive Muslim sultanates and yet is major Muslim dominated part of the country. Being so, Harar is the fourth Muslim sacred city next to Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem, with more than 100 mosques and shrines. Harar also spearheaded Islam’s penetration into the Horn. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Harar became an important center of Islamic scholarship. It still holds special significance for Ethiopia’s Muslim population. For years, the city was closed to Christians. In 1854 Richard Burton, the famous British explorer, was the first non- Muslim to penetrate the city. Later the bustling commercial town attracted many foreign merchants from India, Armenia, England and France.
The famous French PHTTA Arthur Rimbaud spent some of his last years here. In 1887 the city surrendered to the Emperor Menelik, who sought to expand and unify his highland empire. Homing the Harari (Adare), Somali, Argoba, Oromo tribes Harar stays an exemplary town for religious harmony and tolerance between Muslim and Christian Ethiopians. The Great walls surrounding the old Harar town, were built, in the mid 16th century by one of Harar’s most notable rulers, Amir Nur Ibn al-Wazir Mujahid, to protect themselves against the attack of neighboring tribes, with its 5 gates and 368 alleyways squeezed into just 1 sq km. Harar’s economic fortunes suffered a serious blow at the end of the 19th century when the Addis Ababa - Djibouti railway was diverted to Dire Dawa. To these days the city retains a somewhat isolated, inward-looking feel. The Hararis have their own ethnic identity, language and culture.
With the new government and the new federal constitutions of 1995, Harar won a new victory: a kind of independence, with legal recognitions as a city-state within the Federal Republic of Ethiopia.