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Negarit 46: ሃቦብላ ኸምሲን Khumasin Dust storm رياح خماسين

Negarit 46: ሃቦብላ ኸምሲን Khumasin Dust storm رياح خماسين

Only knowledgeable citizens can solve national problems. Ignorance breeds chaos and disarray.

There is no clergy in Islam though over the ages, oppressors have created a class of clergy to help them tighten their grip on the people and secure their oppressive rule.

There is no equivalent to the class of Christian clergy in Islam.

The Sudanese formula, removing the head of the regime and his henchmen, is not viable in Eritrea. Removing the head of the regime while leaving the system that enabled them to oppress the people is a total failure. Oppressors and their regime must be uprooted, totally.

So, we have to prevent ourselves from the Sudanese political Khemsin dust. Unfortunately, the EU and a few European countries are working to maintain the regime after helping remove Isaias and his narrow clique. Have Mercy, Europeans.


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  • Saleh, just to mention. Your statement that in Islam, the immigrants don’t seclude by country. In my view, that boils down to one thing. That being, as only Arabic language is used in Mosques or in the religion there is no need to seclude mosques as per country origins.

    In Christianity, the prayers are allowed to be stated by different languages. Hence, English speakers go to the church that uses the language they speak. Tigrigna speaking from Eritrea tend to establish Tigrigna speaking church.

    • Saleh Johar

      Selam Yosief,
      True. I think that’s exactly what I explained.

  • Berhe Y

    Dear SGJ,

    Thank you and it’s wonderful topic. I have learned so much, and I have a couple of questions.

    1) So for example, if someone is knows as Shiek Ibrahim and after they do the HaJ it gets changed to Haji Ibrahim. I don’t know specific example, tried to remember some people that I knew growing up.

    2) Like most people I was wrong and I though Shiek was equal to being a priest. But growing up in Asmara, I don’t remember all elder people are named Shiek, at least by those of us who speak Tigrinya (including some of my Muslim friends). Aboy Mohamed, Aboy Abdu etc.

    3) My friends they use to go study their Quran and it’s knows as “enda Sheik TuEum”, I am sure some awatista remember the place. Sheik TuEum was know for his disciplinary methods if the kids don’t do their work. When we use to go around and do your business, if they come in contact with him, they use to nil down and kiss his knees. I used to do tge same, terrified what will happen to me if I don’t do the same. So he is just an ordinary elder (who was not that old compared to others we addressed as Aboy).

    4) How does one differentiate as religious scholars in Islam then. If I understand you correctly, there is no title / hierarchy, I am guessing some people know a lot more than others, how are they differentiated.


    • Saleh Johar

      Hi Berhe Y.

      By answering all your questioning I am losing an episode worth of content. But you deserve it 🙂
      Honorific title are not a written law, therefore, traditional and fluid. People choose to use them liberally.

      1. The Sheik thing is settled, it means an elderly. Haj, was very common in early days as performing it required great commitment as it was a difficult and expensive undertaking. Only the well to do, and healthy could do it. Imagine West Africans performing Haj in ancient time! On foot or on camels. The journey could last up to a year each way and many stayed on the road for good, in our case, these are those who call Tekruris, people from West Africa. You can imagine travelling from China, Malaysia and beyond. Even Eritreans sailed to Jeddah and then to Mecca. Airplanes are a relatively new means of travel. So, for such a feat, people were honored by the title of hajji or Haj. Only a few could afford the pilgrimage–the well to do– and they were called Haji, simply indicating they did one of the main obligations in Islam. That is all. So, people chose what title to use and naturally, Hajji is more prestigious than simply calling someone Aboy Berhe or Abuye Berhe 

      2. Shiekh evolved in societies as a title instead of denoting age because those who teach were older people and they were simply called Sheikh. Then it was associated with tribal leaders and people just applied it to anyone they considered sheikh. And since the learned teachers were mostly elderly, sheikh became synonymous with religious teachers. By the way, when the Ethiopian officials invited Muslim businessmen to official functions, the invitation read, Dear Sheik Abubaker—that’s how my father’s invitation read, for instance. It’s not equivalent to priest.

      3. Explained above: sheikh teacher, etc But kneeling down and kissing the knees of elderly people is common—I though it’s also common all over Kebessa, NO! When I went to Australia, my mother was there to receive me and immediately I knelt down and kissed her knees. Many people asked me to explain the act. I still do it when I meet older people who are no many these days  So, the Quraan sheikh is just a teacher.

      4. Religious scholars are many. Qar’e is someone who recites the Quraan properly. Hafiz, someone who memorizes the WQran by heart. Faqih is someone who studied jurisprudence, shari’a law, he is just like a lawyer, a doctor, etc. Mufti I explained in the video but it’s tricky. When Muslim leaders (mostly the tyrants among them) wanted to pass a legislation to help them put the religious people in line, they sought edicts from respectful religious people and gradually, they class existed outside known parameters. For example, Saudi Arabia passes all the draconian rules with the help of such people, derogatorily know among Muslims as tools of rulers (Sheyoukh Al Sultan) the rulers’ sheikhs. Then in modern times the imams became politicized and helped to pump their stature because they helped politician disseminate message to the captive audience in mosques where they preach politics. And since the imams are full time in the mosque, they established themselves as legislators and propagandists. That is why women driving as a sin and then it became legit by the same servile sheikhs who elevated themselves as priests. If it works for Christians, why not for Muslims, the rulers said.

      5. But generalizing is not correct—there are very religious people who limit their propagation to Allah and advise and remind people to be good Muslims—you know the opposite. These are people who spread sectarianism among Muslim denominations—see the Shia-Sunni conflict which is passed as a religious position when it is purely political.

      I hope I explained enough.

      • Berhe Y

        Dear Saleh,

        What a treasure. I am really honoured.

        We use to kiss the back hands of our parents / elders when coming from school. I don’t think kissing the knee was a common occurances, but you are right may be with time it may have lost its frequency and appeal in the city. That was my only experience, and I thought it had to do with being Shiek, who was teaching the Qoruan.

        I remember during the celebration of one of my friends when they finish QeruaE, Hafisu and get treats.

        Thanks again.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Saleh,

        These goes even more in to detail. Since my early age, despite I am from the Protestant background, I have participated many religious services that were existing in Eritrea (except Islamic religious services) to know the difference in them. My parents were not at easy on my equisitive nature to know religious differences. I have a good knowledge in them. Now this as indirect learning as oppose to self-learning will add some knowledge, something about the religious denominations. Thank you for the feed.


  • Haile S.

    Selam SheiK Saleh, SheiK Ismail & Sheik Emma,

    SheiK Ismail & Emma, welcome back. How did your secret meeting with the regime go? We heard rumors you were some of the hand picked lucky guys in the secret meeting in Addis with the duo.

    SheiK Saleh, leaving aside your gratuitous elbowing of us, the atheists, it is a great lesson. Yes, there are christian “practical influences” on islam like the one you described. There are also others like the images I use to see hanging on the wall of our moslem neighbours during my childhood. A sheik or kind of sheik-saint drawn with lions or leopards like ኣቡነ ገብረመንፈስቅዱስ (who went into the jungle (ዝመነኑ) saying ካብ ኣንስቲ፡ ገጽ ኣናብስቲ). Could you elaborate on these?

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merhaba Hailat,

      Thank you Hailat. There is no secret with me and I don’t join secret meetings. I am for complete transparency. You will know right away where ever I landed. I just came from my vacation – a vacation I enjoyed. I am back to Awate, my second home.

      Second, for what ever it is worth, if there is a need for delegation we will send our energetic young generation. At least from my side I have passed the torch that was virtually on my hand. The role of my generation now is limited to encouraging the new generation to take the stock of our nation.


    • Saleh Johar

      Haha Shiekh HaileS (don’t worry, you are not converted 🙂

      I do not mind atheists, they can be whatever they like. But I do not like the fanatic atheists who badmouth religious people. I find them more dangerous. Atheist fanatics . I am sorry, no elbowing intended but ‘lekemeke’ as they say.

      The imagery you mentioned is still alive in some Shiate traditions. They have similar imagery like the Christians. In Sunni Islam, depicting anyone frowned upon. Some people do not keep family pictures and they don’t allow their pictures to be taken. A totally new phenomena of the last thirty of so years.

      Don’t you think the ignorance about the title “Shiekh” alone is not an explanation of our grave ignorance–all sects are not equal in this. Some Muslims consider it a Muslim title while most Christians think it reserved for Muslims only. beaucoup d’ignorance culturelle 🙂

  • Senay Zer

    Dear Saleh — Great episode! Fear of the unknown has held us back for quite some time. Thanks for taking the initiative to bridge the gap, much needed and much appreciated.

    • Saleh Johar

      Selam Senay Zer,
      In addition to what you said, I think our fear of taboos is crippling us. We should not be afraid to discuss and teach each other on our values and composition of identities so that we create a truly diverse nation. Discussing the buries issues and understanding them honestly is the only way to create awareness towards an enlightened society.
      Thank you

      • Senay Zer

        Dear Saleh — Good point. These things are also related. For example, some people don’t want to talk about certain things out of fear that it will lead to further divisions and disagreements, hence live with their erroneous understanding about other cultures (sometimes, even their own culture). It is ironic and vicious cycle. Dear Saleh, you are one of the few Eritreans who have good understanding of various cultures/religions in Eritrea, so, enhe golgol enhe feres, keep on these bite-size videos coming.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Abu Salah,

    A lesson of today : (a) There is no hierarchy in Islam. I was one from those who think Sheikh as equivalent to a priest in christianity. So Sheikh and Imam has nothing to do with the religion (b) Second the history of Kamsin. On the other thing – since the removal of the despot doesn’t entail the removal of the apparatus of oppression, Yes the system should be dismantled and be replaced with a new system that brings peace and justice to our people.

    thank you

    • Saleh Johar

      Hi Emma,
      Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed your vacation.

      Words are lethal. If we do not understand them correctly, they lead to the opposite of what language (words) are supposed to communicate. Another mistake we do as a nation is: we look for simple equivalents when there are none. Diversity means understanding and accepting different parts as they are not as what we wish them to be.

      Of course, I am scared of the Khumasin” dust storm blowing from the Sudan. We need to filter out the dust particle and accept the wind energy.

      Thank you

  • Ismail AA

    Selam SJ,

    Very enlightening description of terms that hardly get attention. By the way, did you notice in Lebanon members of the parliament are referred to as sheikh. Sheikh Saad Al Hariri or Sheikh Bashier Al Jumeil, for instance?

    • Saleh Johar

      My dear, I have concluded that our national thinking is bipolar and attempts to bring them together have to brave the taboo hurdles. Worse, part of the society is uni-cultural, bogged down in local culture. And the other has a wider understanding of regional and world cultures. That is a result of our history and socio economic and political situations. I will try to go deeper into it and dissect it to spread awareness. It’s difficult because Eritreans have been subjected to ages of backward understanding of different cultures. The spread of ignorance has been with us for centuries and we need to break free if we are to interact as civilized human beings. It’s a tough road but Simone has to walk through it.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Yes Dear,

        Perfect and Nice..
        I am more relaxed now… Than earlier ..I am very happy with above,,, your explanation,,Keep it up..


        • Saleh Johar

          Hi Kokhob,
          Ignorance is the culprit. And fear of the unknown enforces ignorance and kills the will to learn. In short, knowledge defeats any hurdle.