oldest Islamic cities in Africa


HARAR
Harar is one of the oldest Islamic cities in Africa, and considered as the fourth holiest city in Islam, based on the fact of King Negus of Abyssinia welcomed and protected the followers of Prophet Mohamed during their migration to Abyssinia. This has made a strong impact in the history and culture of Harar for centuries to come. Indeed, the way the city planned and developed, and the styles of its mosques, shrines and traditional dwellings indicate that Harar has a special traditional Islamic heritage and way of life, which is still preserved and practiced. The structure of the city with its central heart (Jugol) and commercial and religious buildings reflect the traditional Islamic architecture of the city. It is a cultural product and a distinctive way to show demographic changes although people of Harar stick to their religious identity till today.
Harar is also one of the largest historical cities in Africa, dating back to the tenth century AD, when forty four Muslims arrived Harar calling for Islam. One of these men was Sheikh Abadir, who was considered the founder of the city, which was established to be a major center of trade. The city was an important scientific and commercial center in North Africa, and scientists and students used to come from all over the world and East Africa. Some sources also suggest that the establishment of historic Harar goes back to the seventh century AD, when Arab groups have migrated from Hadhramaut, Yemen
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Harar features an unprecedented pattern of architecture reflecting the impact of Islamic culture and African traditions, which together give the city a distinct character. This has helped it to withstand the forces of change over time. However, the city’s ability to keep conservatively has come under doubt because of the winds of rampant globalization, and like other historic cities, Harar will lose its identity unless it maintained. As previously noted, the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has reported several changes that threaten the architectural character of the area
ART
The social life in Harar leans on two systems. First, is religious, so-called “Afusha” which are strong social systems CCIA’2008 3
at the level of neighborhoods where nine people from the neighborhood (historic center consisting of five neighborhoods) manage the daily life of residents such as way rights, marriages and funerals, etc. Each individual financially contributes through a social system adds to social solidarity among the population through cooperation and respect for the traditions of society life and religion. The second system is regulatory or administrative called “Kabeil”, which, as a word, might have come from the Arabic, word “Kabela”, meaning a tribe. This system divides the city into seven administrative units or Kabeils, each has a team of elected eight members. The task of these members is to maintain order and respect of law and collect rents of state-owned dwellings. The ” Kabeil” is the link between the citizens and the state. Also, it provides health care, building permits, and legal advice. The “Kabeil” operates and cooperates in some matters related to the establishment and maintenance of public spaces

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