Obituary: Dr Sheik Mohammed Rashad Kabir-Abdullee
Dr Shek Muhammad Rashad ( full name: Muhammad Rashad Kabir Abdulle Mummayyaa Carcar ) was born in 1934, in Eastern Oromia, Carcar Laga Arba, in a village called Jarjare. He was born to an ordinary Oromo peasant parents. Young Muhammad Rashad began his academic career when he joined his father’s informal Madarasa. His father, Kabir Abdulle, was an Islamic scholar and the imam of the local mosque. Soon after, he was sent to attend further Islamic studies at Carcar and Harar ulamas. Because Muhammadrashad was one of the top achievers of his time, he was again sent to Saudi Arabia for higher education. Upon completion of his short-term studies, he was went to Palestine in 1950 where he completed his secondary school. In 1951, he received a scholarship from Syria where he received his BA in Islamic and Linguistic studies from the University of FATHGUL-ISLAMI. In 1957, he won full scholarship to attend a post graduate program at Al Azhar University’s ( the oldest and biggest university in the Islamic world) in Egypt. He graduated top of his class and was awarded the National Medal of Achievement from the then president of Egypt, Jamal Abdulnasr in 1963.
Dr Shek Muhammadrashad conducted research in wide range of academic and religious fields. He produced a detailed theological and historical development of Islam in East Africa. He has also written extensively on the History of Horn of Africa especially that of Oromo, Afar and Somali people in relation to the competing Islamic and Christian powers. He spent over 15 years conducting research on the Oromo and Somali languages which later became the focus of his thesis for PhD in linguistic studies which he received from the UK.
Sheikh Mohammedrashad was a preeminent intellectual who made immense contribution to his people’s struggle, particularly in the development of Afan Oromo. Educated under the famous nationalist spiritual leader Sheik Bakri Saphalo who invented an Oromo script, Sheik Mohammedrashad began searching for ways of developing a writing system for the language at early age. It was following the advice of his mentor that he went abroad to pursue formal education.
Upon graduation, the Al Azhar University appointed him to be the magistrate for their branch school in Mogadishu, Somalia. Later he was hired by the Somali government in the department of education as linguistic expert. This new job gave him an opportunity to study the Oromo language further using the available Somali sources. His comparative studies on Somali and Afan Oromo resulted in him developing the Qubee Afan Oromo as it is used today. Along with other Oromo refugees such as the linguist and poet Ayub Abubakar, he started the first Afan Oromo radio broadcast in Mogadishu. Later, while Ayub was killed, Sheikh Rashad was forced to leave Mogadishu for Saudi Arabia due to fear of reprisal from the Ethiopian government that was threatened by the radio and his literature. There he continued with independent scholarly work producing several publish and unpublished manuscripts on religion, language and history. His publications include.
- The first Quran translation in Afaan Oromo
- Translated over 40 Hadith books from Arabic to Afaan Oromo
- Produced this first Somali- Afan Oromo dictionary
- Numerous articles on Islam with particular emphcises on Eastern Africa
- Hadji and Umra guidance book for Oromo pilgrims
- Translation of Towhid in writing and audio form
- Collection of poems in Afan Oromo
- Children stories in Afan Oromo
- History of Prophet Muhammad in Afan Oromo
- History of Islam in Afan Oromo
- Arabic-Oromo dictionary ( the first)
- Collection of Oromo traditional songs such miriysaa, dhiichisa, geerarsa,
Because of his scholarly endeavors, the Oromo Studies Association bestowed on him its ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2009. In 2010, the Oromiyaa Radio and Television (ORTO) recognized him for his contribution towards development of the Afan Oromo alphabet. In 2009 he returned to his homeland where he resettled in Adama town and continued to write to his last days. Sheik Mohammedrashad was recently evicted from his house in Adama and forced to relocate to Dire Dawa because of his public declaration of refusal to endorse the Ethiopian government’s campaign of indoctrination to the Al Habash. Fiercely independent and unquestionably loyal to his people, Sheik Mohammed Rashad passed away with dignity on May 25, 2013 at age 79.