The Darod (Somali: Daarood, Arabic: is a Somali clan. The father of this clan is named Abdirahman bin Isma’il al-Jabarti, but is more commonly known as Darod. In the Somali language, the word Daarood means “an enclosed compound,” a conflation of the two words daar (compound) and ood (place enclosed by wall, trees, woods, fence, etc.).
The Darod population in Somalia lives principally in the north, with a presence in Kismayo in addition to the southwestern Gedo region. Outside of Somalia proper, there are various Darod sub-clans in the Ogaden and the North Eastern Province (currently administered by Ethiopia and Kenya, respectively), Several sources, including the Canadian Report of the Somalia Commission of Inquiry, indicate that the Darod is the largest Somali clan. However, other sources such as the CIA and Human Rights Watch indicate that the Hawiye is the largest Somali clan.
According to early Islamic books and Somali tradition, Muhammad ibn Aqil’s descendant Abdirahman bin Isma’il al-Jabarti (Darod), a son of the Sufi Sheikh Isma’il al-Jabarti of the Qadiriyyah order, fled his homeland in the Arabian Peninsula after an argument with his uncle. During the 10th or 11th century CE, Abdirahman is believed to have then settled in northern Somalia just across the Red Sea and married Dobira, the daughter of Dagale (Dikalla), the Dir clan chief. This union is said to have given rise to the Darod clan family. An official military survey conducted during the colonial period notes that Dir is in turn held to be the great grandson of Ram Nag, an Arab migrant who landed in Zeila on the northwestern Somali coast.
According to the British anthropologist and Somali Studies veteran I.M. Lewis, while the traditions of descent from noble Arab families related to the Prophet are most probably expressions of the importance of Islam in Somali society, “there is a strong historically valid component in these legends which, in the case of the Darod, is confirmed in the current practice of a Dir representative officiating at the ceremony of installation of the chief of the Darod family. A similar clan mythology exists for the Isaaq, who are said to have descended from one Sheikh Ishaq ibn Ahmad al-‘Alawi, another Banu Hashim who came to Somalia around the same time.As with Sheikh Isaaq, there are also numerous existing hagiologies in Arabic which describe Sheikh Darod’s travels, works and overall life in northern Somalia, as well as his movements in Arabia before his arrival. Besides historical sources such as Al-Masudi’s Aqeeliyoon, a modern manaaqib (a collection of glorious deeds) printed in Cairo in 1945 by Sheikh Ahmad bin Hussen bin Mahammad titled Manaaqib as-Sheikh Ismaa’iil bin Ibraahiim al-Jabarti also discusses Sheikh Darod and his proposed father Isma’il al-Jabarti, the latter of whom is reportedly buried in Bab Siham in the Zabid District of western Yemen.
Sheikh Darod’s own tomb is in Haylaan, situated in the Hadaaftimo Mountains in northern Somalia, and is the scene of frequent pilgrimages.Sheikh Isaaq is buried nearby in Maydh, as is Sheikh Harti, a descendant of Sheikh Darod and the progenitor of the Harti Darod sub-clan, whose tomb lies in the ancient town of Qa’ableh.
Sheikh Darod’s mawlid (birthday) is also celebrated every Friday with a public reading of his manaaqib.
The Darod were supporters of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi during his 16th century conquest of Abyssinia; especially the Harti, Marehan and Bartire sub-clans, who fought at Shimbra Kure, among other battles.In his medieval Futuh Al-Habash documenting this campaign, the chronicler Shihāb al-Dīn indicates that 300 Harti soldiers took part in Imam Ahmad’s Adal Sultanate army. He describes them as “famous among the infantry as stolid swordsmen” and “a people not given to yielding”.