The rites and rituals of Sheik Hussein Bale, and Wahhabism
Recently reporter Megan Verlee filed a story for “PRI’s The World” Geo Quiz about an ancient shrine in Ethiopia. Verlee’s report offered a rare glimpse at one of the most magnificent treasures unknown to many in the western world and even in parts of Ethiopia.
Amid a growing Wahhabi influence, both the shrine and Sufi followers, who also revere Sheik Hussein, face a budding threat from those who espouse a more puritan version of Islam.I applaud Verlee for having visited and observed the Muudaa ceremony in Bale. Her report, which came during this year’s Hajj, inspired the following background information on Sheik Hussein and Sufism among Bale Oromos to encourage more study on the subject. Verlee’s report also brought back fond childhood memories.
Growing up, I visited Annajina, or Dire Sheik Hussein, as the shrine is known in the local Oromo language, several times. The rite of Sheik Hussein was very much a part of my upbringing. I remember pleading with my parents to go on the biannual pilgrim, Muudaa, even when school was in session. My family rarely missed the five-day-long pilgrim. In the event we did, we went to local mosques, like the Abba Guutaa mosque in Cirisa, to compensate or people gathered at our house whereby a sheep or lamb was slaughtered for the feast. Descendants of Sheik Hussein, who lived in Dire, visited our home every few years. On every visit, my father sent them home with a bull to be sacrificed at the shrine.