The Sultanates of Medieval Ethiopia

Author : Amélie Chekroun, Bertrand Hirsch

Year : 4/2021

Contributor ; Meftuh Shash A.

Abstract : Given its geographical situation across the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula and the

Gulf of Aden, it is perhaps not surprising that the Horn of Africa was exposed to an early and

continuous presence of Islam during the Middle Ages. Indeed, it has long been known that
Muslim communities and Islamic sultanates flourished in Ethiopia and bordering lands during
the medieval centuries. However, despite a sizeable amount of Ethiopian Christian documents (in
Gǝʿǝz) relating to their Muslim neighbors and valuable Arabic literary sources produced outside
Ethiopia and, in some cases, emanating from Ethiopian communities themselves, the Islamic
presence in Ethiopia difficult to apprehend. It is so because it has not attracted the same
amount of scholarly investment as Ethiopian Christianity, so much so that epigraphic and
archeological evidence have long remained scanty and only recently started to produce a
significant corpus of material evidence, which now allows to revisit the history of Islamic

penetration in Ethiopia and of Muslim-Christian relationships through centuries.