Author : New World Encyclopedia
Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (c. 1506 – February 21, 1543) was an Imam and General of Adal who defeated Emperor Lebna Dengel of Ethiopia. Nicknamed Gurey in Somali and Gragn in Amharic (Graññ), both meaning “the left-handed,” he embarked on a conquest which brought three-quarters of Ethiopia under the power of the Muslim Kingdom of Adal during the Ethiopian-Adal War from 1529-43. He was known as Sahib al-Fath (the conqueror) among his Muslim subjects, and as Imam Ahmad. He used Ottoman Empire military tactics to train his soldiers. Imam Ahmad’s success in Ethiopia led to an early European intervention in Africa when the Ethiopian Emperor asked the Portuguese to assist in repelling the Muslim army. He is remembered by Somalis as a national hero, by Ethiopians as a ferocious and unwelcome conqueror. This mixed legacy is an example of how events and lives are differently regarded by different people. Whether someone is a hero or a villain depends on who tells the story, or on who writes the history. His empire ended with his own death. Initially, the Imam attacked Ethiopia in retaliation for an attack on his own Sultanate, then continued to subjugate Ethiopia. His motive appears to have been religious, since he called for a jihad against Ethiopia, which can be regarded as a defensive war, or as a call to extend the borders of the Islamic world. Al-Ghazi is used as a title by Muslim soldiers who help to spread the faith of Islam.