The Sheikh Isaxaaq Tomb is a historically significant location that has been beautifully protected, and its preservation is second to none.

By Muna Ahmed Omer (Mullaaxo)

It was seven o’clock in the evening when we reached this small, sweltering town. The distance was significantly greater than anticipated. The highly rough roads made the journey difficult. The driver spent most of the journey traversing bushes and valleys in the midst of the enormous mountain. The road was so narrow that the greatest concern was colliding with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. Fear was caused not only by cars travelling in opposite directions but also by the narrow, rocky roads on the edge of the mountains with nothing to shield you from falling. Every time the vehicle approached a cliff, we all stopped breathing.

The town is old and historic. It was also incredibly hot, but the locals agreed that there was one cooler location; the tomb area, about a five-minute drive from town to the shore. We decided to eat before going to the Tomb. They were correct; it was much colder than the rest of town. It was peaceful, and while it was nighttime, there weren’t a lot of visitors. The tomb area was relatively small yet had a couple of buildings.


There were several buildings, including residential rooms, funerary areas, the Tomb site, a utility room, a well, and a stone said to have been used by Sheikh Isaxaaq (Ishaaq/Ishaq/Isaaq) as a seat. There was a well, which was dug by the Sheikh himself, and the odd thing is that it is still producing water to this day. Surprisingly, despite the area’s remoteness, it had electricity, and the toilets had running water.

According to historians, Sheikh Isaxaaq, the founding father of the Isaaq clan in Somaliland and the Horn of Africa, travelled extensively throughout the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. In the 12th/13th century, he is said to have travelled from the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa, where he eventually settled in Maydh, Sanaag region. When he settled in Maydh, he married two women (Magaado and Hanifa) and had eight sons, who are the common ancestors of the Isaaq subtribes. He spent most of his life educating the people of East Africa in Islam.

Sheikh Isaxaaq Tomb: A Visit To The Ancestors
Sheikh Isaxaaq Tomb, Maydh. Photo by Author.

Here are the eight sons of Sheikh Isaxaaq; Ismail (Garhajis), Ayub, Muhammad (Arab), Abdirahman (Habr Awal), Ahmed (Toljeclo), Muuse (Habarjeclo), Ibraahim (Sanbuur) and Muhammad (Cimraan). Each of the women had four sons. The first four sons were born to Magaado, while the remaining four were born to Hanifa (Habar Habuusheed).

According to popular belief, Muhammad (Arab) and Ismail (Garxajis) were twins. It is also believed that Muhammad, Ismail, and Ahmed were the three eldest sons, and they split their father’s inheritance after his death. Ismail (Garxajis) received his Turban (cummaamad), which was a sign of leadership. Ahmed (Toljecle) received his sword, while Abdirahman (Awal) received his wealth. The Tomb’s key is still held by the Habaryunis (Garxajis) tribe.

Sheikh Isaxaaq passed away in Maydh and was buried in his prayer location, where he spent most of his final years. Some of his sons were buried near his grave, while others are buried in various locations throughout the Sanaag region. Inside the tomb building, there were seven graves, including that of Sheikh Isaxaaq. Three of the graves belong to his sons; Ayuub, Muse, and Abdirahman.

One of the graves is his grandson, Ismaaciil Carre, and the other two are Sheekhaal Sheikhs (according to our tour guide, the two Sheekhaal Sheiks assisted Sheikh Isaxaaq in constructing the mosque that is now the Tomb). The Tomb is a historical site that attracts many visitors each year. In addition to the frequent visitors, the area hosts annual ceremonies. His Siyaara is one of the most important, annually attended ceremonies. His birthday (Mawlid) is also celebrated.

The Sheikh Isaxaaq Tomb is a historically significant location that has been beautifully protected, and its preservation is second to none. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see this historically significant location. The hundreds of kilometers I had to see this historic site was well worth it.

May 2023

About the author

Muna Ahmed Omer (Mullaaxo)

Bilingual Writer | Translator

Muna AhmedMuna Ahmed Omer, known as Mullaaxo, is a bilingual writer and activist based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. She has written extensively on Somali culture and society, as well as using her work to promote literacy and advocate for reading, self-development, gender equality, and cultural identity among Somaliland Youth.

She has published two Somali books (Baadidoon, 2014 and Gaaraabidhaan, 2016) and translated The Secret Garden (Beertii Qarsoodiga ahayd, 2021).

Twitter: @mullaaxo


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.