Scope and Content

Transcriptions of Arabic manuscripts from northern Somalia. They includeIslamic texts, poetry and history, the originals were largely held in theprivate libraries of Somali sheikhs. The copies were made by local researchassistants for Ieuan Lewis in the Somaliland Protectorate between 1955 and1957. His intention was to document the literate Islamic tradition whichunderpins the essentially oral Somali culture. The collection consists of 33pieces of which 2 are printed pamphlets. A description of the collection byBW Andrzejewski and IM Lewis entitled New Arabic documents from Somalia isshelved with the collection plus an offprint by the same authors fromEthiopia e Oltre, Studi in Onore di Lanfranco Ricci, Naples 1994.

The collection consists of thirty-three bound manuscripts, listed innumerical sequence, and includes:

  • MS 1 A group of short "qasida" which are sung at religious meetings, in partwith the accompaniment of drumming.
  • MS 3 and MS 4 Names of sheikhs venerated as saints and the locations of theiractivities.
  • MS 5 Four prayers sung by women in the Somali poetic genre called"buraanbur"
  • MS 12 A sequence of pious invocations which may be such as used in leatherpouches worn as phylacteries on arm or neck.
  • MS 14 A list of books in MS form written by sheikhs Ali Ibrahim. The bookslisted are collections of "qasidas" and prose works on religious subjects.
  • MS 18. Account of a discussion between sheikh Abd Allah bin Mu'allim Yusufal-Qutbi and Boqor Uthamn Mahmud about Sayyid Muhammad Abd Allah Hasan. In itthe sheikh attacks the Sayyid's fatwa that those Somalis who had joined himin the holy war against the Christians governing Somalia.
  • MS 27 Account of the wars conducted against the invasions of Muslimterritories in the Horn of Africa by the Portuguese, Italians and Ethiopians.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ieuan Myrddin Lewis b.1930

Ieuan Lewis was educated at Glasgow High School and obtained a BSc fromGlasgow University in 1951. From there he went to Oxford where he gained aDiploma in Anthropology in 1952, a BLitt in 1953 and a DPhil in 1957. Duringthis time he was also an assistant to Lord Hailey at Chatham House and aColonial SSRC Fellow. In 1957 he left England and became Lecturer in AfricanStudies at University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. He returned toEngland in 1960 to take up the post of Lecturer in Social Anthropology,moving in 1963 to University College London (UCL) where he was Lecturer andlater Reader in Anthropology. In 1969 he moved to become Professor ofAnthropology and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Professor Lewis edited the journal Man from 1959 to 1972 and has beenhonorary director of the International African Institute since 1981.


Thirty-three bound manuscripts, listed in numerical sequence.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Lewis, ProfessorIeuan

Other Finding Aids

Printed handlistavailable.

Conditions Governing Use


Geographical Names