II. GOG AND MAGOG                          



1. Creation
At the beginning God created the world, the paradise, the hell and the angels. Later God wanted to create Adam having in mind to put the arrangement of the world into his hands. However, the angels suggested to God that Adam would bring a lot of trouble. In spite of this warning God created Adam, he created him from clay. After that he ordered the angels to prostrate before Adam. All of them accepted to do so except the devil who refused to execute the order of God. Instead of saying: "I who has been created from the light of God, how can I prostrate before a man created from clay?" he said: "I who has been made from hell-fire, how can I prostrate before a man created from clay"?

2. Fall of the devil
The devil begged God to forgive him to have been disobediant towards him. But God refused and took away from him the rank of an angel. He expelled him from heaven and told him that he would go to hell. After that the devil implored God to let him live until the day of resurrection. Again God refused but he agreed to let him live until the day of the blowing of the trumpet. At that time all human beings will be disappearing except a few. As for the devil he swore that between him and Adam and his descendants there would be animosity and fighting for ever. He would divert as many as he could from the straight path.

3. Adam and Eve in Paradise
Meanwhile Adam felt lonely in Paradise, therefore he implored God to give him a mate. God fulfilled his wish by creating Eve from his left rib so that he might not feel lonely and that they might multiply. God said to Adam and Eve: "Live in Paradise wherever you want, eat whatever you like, but do not eat from that tree". The particular tree was one of the many fruit bearing trees in Paradise. After that God said also: "Beware of the devil, do not listen to what he says, do not obey to him because he is your enemy." Some times later the devil saw Eve. When he saw that she was alone and that she was not afraid of him he told her to come close to him and to look at that well in front of them. Eve looked into the well and saw the image of two persons. The devil told her that the two persons were Adam and another woman. Forgetting that there were only two human beings in existence she believed him. The devil went one step further and said: "If you want that Adam loves only you, then give him a fruit from that particular tree to eat". It was the tree which God had instructed them not to eat its fruit. Eve convinced Adam to eat a fruit from that tree. By doing so Adam inadvertently disobeyed God and succumbed to the trick of the devil. This was the first time that the devil succeeded to divert Adam and Eve from the straight path.

4. Fall of Adam and Eve
God punished Adam and Eve by expelling them from paradise. Adam was deeply penitent and asked God to forgive him. God pardoned him but instructed him and Eve to go to earth where they should be responsible for all their dealings. From that time onward they would have to account for their sins.

5. Adam and Eve searching for each other When Adam and Eve came down to earth they lost sight of each other for one hundred years. Eve was looking for Adam day and night without respite. Adam however was looking for Eve only in day time, while in the night he rested and relaxed. When Eve finally found him she pretended that she was not seriously searching for him. Adam instead claimed that he was all the time looking for her. This behaviour is characteristic for women who do not like to show their feelings, while men are outspoken about them.

6. Cain and Abel
Shortly after that Eve delivered Cain and a twin sister. Later on she gave birth to Abel and also to a twin sister. There was a divine law that a twin boy should not marry his twin sister. Indeed, the earliest inhabitants had no choice but to marry their brothers and sisters in order to fulfil the divine command und to populate the earth. Therefore Cain was supposed to marry Abel's twin sister. However, he preferred to marry his own twin sister because she was more beautiful. Abel refused this transgression of the order. This was the first temptation of greediness that ever happened to human beings and this happened between two brothers. Cain considered his brother to be an obstacle to his desire. Therefore in order to achieve his purpose he killed his brother. Again, this was the first murder that ever happened in human history. For many years Cain carried the dead body of his brother on his shoulders. Finally God sent a raven which carried another dead bird and which then scratched the earth in order to bury that other bird. Cain saw what happened and he imitated the raven's behaviour by burying his brother.

7. Adam's gift to his descendants According to what we were told, Adam was promised by God that he would live for one thousand years, while his descendents would not reach more than sixty years. However, Adam donated sixty of his one thousand years to his descendents, so that they could reach one hundred and twenty years, while he himself would only live up to nine hundred und forty years. And so it was accomplished by the will of God.

This is a legend traditionally told by Somali women to their children. It is particularly appreciated by children in the evening when they are not yet ready to go to sleep. The Somalis consider that Adam and Eve are the great grandfather and the great grandmother of all human beings.


1. Alexander erects a mountain Gog and Magoog (Yaajuuj and Maajuuj) were two giants who lived behind a mountain. People believe that they were the last survivors of a race of giants whom Awes al-Qarni (Alexander the Great) had put there in order to protect the human beings from their wickedness. Gog and Magog swore that they would come one day back to this world.

2. Gog and Magog work hard In order to achieve their come-back to the world Gog and Magog digged all day long in the mountain. When it became dark they had to stop digging saying to each other: "We have to stop now because of darkness. The remaining work we will finish tomorrow". They returned the following day and found that all the work of the previous day was for nothing. Nevertheless they began to dig again and continued until sunset. Once more they said to each other: "Now there is not much work left. Today it is too late, we will begin early the next morning and finish the work then." But again their work had disappeared. Thus, evry day their worked from morning to evening. Sometimes they stopped for a small break in order to drink and to eat. After that they continued their work. Each evening they thought that they would finish their task the next morning. Evry evening the omitted to say In sha' Allah "God willing" and evry morning they had to begin once more. They continued working year after year, century after century.

3. End of the world One day they will finally say In sha' Allah and the next day they will end their work and that will be the sign for the end of the world (aakhir al-zamaan).
Some people continue the story by saying that God will then interfer and prevent Gog and Magog to accomplish their destruction. That will be the day of judgement (yawm al-diin) followed by the day of resurrection (yawm al-qiyaama).

According to the Coran XVIII, 83-98, Dhu al-Qarnayn protected mankind against Gog and Magog by a wall of iron built between two mountains. There was no further attempt made by Gog and Magog to break through that wall.
However, the Hadith and some early writers like Tabari and Zamakhshari have similar stories as those told by the Somali (see E. van Donzel and C. Ott, "Yadjudj wa-Madjudj", Encyclopaedia of  Islam, XI, 2nd ed., Leiden 2002, 231-234).


1. The itinerant prophet According to the belief of the Somalis, Nebi Khadar is a prophet, but not as great as the Prophets Mohamed or Jesus, wandering from one place to another. No one knows when he knocks at his door, but everybody has to be ready for these occasions in order to receive him at anytime. Also, it is unknown in which form Nebi Khadar will appear. He can show up as an elegant man and he can also be dressed very poorly.
The Somalis believe that he was granted eternal life to which God attached certain conditions. He must never stay very long at the same place, but he is obliged to wander as the wind from one place to another appearing and disappearing here and there. He must never marry or settle down. He prays for those who are friendly to him and who are consequently bestowed with great riches. Those who are unfriendly to him are ruined for ever.

2. Nebi Khadar's blessing Nebi Khadar is supposed to visit people’s houses mostly between sunset and night and to often appear in the disguise of a beggar. He then asks for alms only once and in a low voice. If the person does not hurry, Nebi Khadar will disappear quickly. It seems that he gives often a present in a small box and he advices people not to open it until morning. If people follow his advice, they will be a very rich for their whole life because they are thought to find in this box never ending gold coins. Even more so, their luck as rich persons will be inherited by their descendants.

3. How to recognize Nebi Khadar There is another story according to which Nebi Khadar can actually be recognized by one characteristic. He is supposed to have a right thumb with no bone in it, but only flesh. Thus, if one shakes hands with Nebi Khadar his thumb will bend backwards. If anyone identifies him in this way, he must grasp his hand until he gives him his blessing.

4. Reenactement of Nebi Khadar At Mogadishu poeple expect any beggar knocking at the door by the fall of the night to be Nebi Khadar. Poor people and children benefit from this expectation  by chosing that time to ask for alms. Those in the house will then rush and present their alm in order not to disappoint the beggar who may prove to be indeed Nebi Khadar.
Legends concerning Khadar or Khadir are widespread in the Arabic World and one version is even alluded to in the Kuran (XVIII, 59-81). They more often deal with a 'saint' (wali or sayyid) than with a 'prophet' (nabi) and they are thought  to go back to the Babylonian Epos of Gilgamesh, famous for the quest of immortality (A. J. Wensinck, 'Al-Khadir', Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1st ed. vol. IV, Leiden 1927, 862). In Islam the desir for eternal life granted by a deity or obtained by a special herb can of course only survive in disguise. Three details of the Somali legend show nevertheless particular proximity to the story of Gilgamesh: Nebi Khadar is considered to be immortal (a status which Gilgamesh tried to obtain); his blessing in form of riches are thought to be an hereditary property (they are thus something immortal); the particularty concerning his thumb may be an allusion to the herb of eternity (in the available stories it was supposed to be eaten, but alternatively it might have been winded abound the thumb). For the Epos of Gilgamesh see T. Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness, New Haven 1976, 193-220. DL


The folk tale of Araweelo fascinates Somali imagination more than any other orally transmitted story. It is normally told to girls, not to boys. Still, Somali poets present her as a beautiful and strong minded woman who was self confident and fully determined to realise whatever she wanted. This following is a brief account of the legend. 1. How Araweelo came to power
Once upon a time there was a legendary queen called Araweelo who ruled somewhere in Somalia. Her father was the previous king who had her as a daughter without any sons. Therefore she became his successor when he died. Her idea was to consolidate her reign by subduing men and increasing the power of all women in her kingdom.

2. Women are superior to men According to another version Araweelo was a woman who was dissatisfied with the division of labour between men and women consisting in the rulership of men and the subordinate housework of women. Having decided to change this situation unfair to all females she went to the women and told them that since they were giving birth to children they were better qualified to rule than men. She said: “We are more accommodating, more peaceful and more practical then men”.

3. Elimination of men One day all men were busy with their work. Therefore the women led by Araweelo seized all the weapons, rounded up the men and castrated most of them. Very few men were saved from being eunuchs, because they were needed for procreation. Whenever the women of her kingdoms delivered a baby-girl the newborn was accepted, if it was a baby-boy it was usually castrated except for those spared for the survival of mankind. Thus Araweelo could reign in all security for a long time.

4. Araweelo’s daughter fell in love Only one elder man called Oday Biiq (‘the wise coward’) could not stand to be imprisoned. He succeeded to escape and managed to survive in the wilderness. When Araweelo’s daughter had grown up she happened to met Oday Biiq in his solitude. She liked his kindness and his good sense and fell in love with him. Hence force she continued to see him in his hiding place.

5. Araweelo’s daughter gave birth to a boy In due time Araweelo’s daughter became pregnant and when she gave birth the newborn was a baby-boy. Araweelo wanted to castrate her grandchild but her daughter convinced her to delay this decision until he was an adolescent. But when this time came the young man took the initiative and killed his grandmother. Before dying Araweelo made a statement in form of a legacy for all women: “Never have confidence in any man”.

It is supposed that the grave of Araweelo is somewhere in Sanaag. People say that men throw stones on it while women put green leaves on it for the respect for her memory.  

Frequent uses of the name of Araweelo:

If a girl is overconfident in herself she is jokingly compared with the legendary Araweelo. Some parents name their daughter Araweelo, because they simply admire this heroic Somali woman and they hope that their girl will be strong like her. Sometimes fathers make fun of their daughter, by calling her Araweelo, while in fact they want to encourage her to be strong minded. Somali women say ironically of themselves that they have a touch of Araweelo, when they feel that they were too rough to others.


1. Family

We will see many changes when the end of time is near. People will not respect each other; everyone will do whatever he wants regardless of the consequences; children will refuse to obey to their parents; parents themselves will not listen to each other. There will be no love between couples but only competition and hate. The husband will lie to his wife and the wife will do the same to him. Adultery will be wide spread. Men and women will live together without marriage just for their pleasure. If they decide to finish their cohabitation at any time, they will just go apart. Brothers and sisters will hate each others and compete endlessly; some will even stop talking to one other forever, so much they will be blinded by their reciprocal hatred. Anger will and antagonism will dominate them to the extent that they will avoid seeing one another; some will even commit fratricide.

2. Society

Dishonesty, corruption and perversity will invade every aspect of life. Liars and deceivers will be respected, usury and bribery will become virtues and dishonesty will be the way of normal life. People will drink alcohol everyday in great quantities and will become so addicted to it that nothing else matters except getting drunk and hilarious. Man will multiply inventions and constructions without limit and restraint. Scholars will falsify truth and praise hypocrisy. Knowledge will be vanishing and ignorance will become dominant.

3. Polity

Rulers will prefer war to peace just for the pleasure of destruction. They will be despots, oppress their people and kill anyone according to their feeling at the moment. The powerful will dictate whatever they like and virtue will disappear.
Great and small leaders will be corrupt to their bones, cruel and mischievous. Tyrants will rule in many places in the world, the other places will fall into anarchy and chaos. Everywhere war will be the rule and peace the exception, life will
be disrespected and death glorified.

4. Nature

There will be many signs that indicate the approaching end of our universe: The sun will rise in the west and set in the east, day will be night and night day and people will not know when to rest and when to work. There will be inundations and earthquakes, thunder and chaos everywhere. Man will be so terror-stricken that he will forget the language to speak to his fellow-man but wild animals will be able to communicate with the people. There will be terrible droughts in many places, producing famine and men will become like beasts eating their fellow-men. Other places will be over-flooded and the little left will be destroyed by man’s fighting. Meteorites which fall on our earth and destroy of nature what man left.

5. Punishment

In the end many false messiahs and self-proclaimed prophets will appear performing great spectacles, deceiving people’s eyes and giving them false hopes. People will follow them without hesitation and thus run into even greater confusion. Finally at the end of time, God will send a tremendous asteroid that will smash the earth and let it fall into pieces. Thus he will put an end to our planet because we deviated from his plan by our foolishness, blindness and arrogances.  


I. The lines on the hand

God created the beauty (quruh) and then divided it into two. He gave one half to the prophet Joseph and the other half to the normal human beings. One day at the courtyard of the Pharaoh women were cutting meat into thin long strips to prepare oodka’ (the meat is cut and then dried). While doing their work, they suddenly saw Joseph who lived by that time in the Pharaoh’s palace passing the courtyard. All of them were chocked and overwhelmed by the beauty of the Prophet Joseph so that each of them cut her hand. From that time onward human beings have lines on their hands

II. The temptation of Nabi Yuusuf

The wife of the Pharaoh tried to attract the attention of Yusuf by all means. One day she ordered him to collect an object from her room. She followed him and made advances to him. When he refused to give in and tried to escape from her instead, she got hold of him by his shirt. He succeeded to free himself but a piece of his shirt remained in her hands. Furious about the humiliation to have been refused, she told the people of the palace that Yusuf had tried to rape her. Therefore Nabi Yusuf was thrown into prison and he remained there until the day of judgement. The judges were confronted with two versions of what had happened. They came to the conclusion that if the piece of the cloth was the front side of the shirt then Yusuf was guilty and the wife of Pharaoh was innocent, but if the piece belonged to the back side of the shirt then Yusuf was the innocent victim of a false accusation. When they realized that it was the back side of the shirt, Yusuf was set free and his honor was fully re-established.

Note 1: When Somali popular singers - of gabay and heeloo – want to describe the utmost beauty of a woman they equalize it to the beauty of Prophet Joseph (quruh dii nabi Yuusuf). It has to be remembered that physical beauty – sometimes to the detriment of character – is in Somali culture the most important quality of human beings.

Note 2:  The episode of cutting the hands exists in a different form also in the Jewish legend of Nabi Yusef. In this case the women were pealing oranges with a knife and they cut their hands because they could not turn away their eyes from Yusuf who was overwhelmingly handsome. Consequently the oranges in their hands were covered with blood (Ginzberg, L., The Legends of the Jews, vol. II, Philadelphia 1920, p. 51).

Note 3: The episode figures also in a different form in Arab legends of  Joseph . In stead of meat in the Somali tale the Arabic version of al-Kisa’i has “the women were cutting citrons in slices“(The tales of the Prophets, tr. W. M. Thackston, Boston, 1978, p.176). Moreover, the Somali tale is more explicit by claiming that the lines on the hands of human beings are from that time.

                                                                                                                        Shamsa Dirie


The Somali legend of Nabi Yusuf is precious because of its etiological nature, i.e. it explains a particular feature of the human body. Since this trait is absent from the Jewish and the Arab versions of the story, the Somali version is at this point presumably closer to the authentic but lost Israelite story. DL


 A very long time ago there was a Queen in the Horn of Africa. One day, her kingdom was attacked from all sides at the same time. By miracle she succeeded to escape from her enemies and took refuge somewhere in mountains in the north of Somalia. There she bursts into tears and begged God to make her a gift in order to comfort her about the loss of her children and her kingdom.  In consequence, in all the places where her tears had fallen scented gum trees begun to grow.

(Mohamed Abdi, Histoire des Croyances en Somalie, Paris 1992, p. 61).


According to a Somali legend the red and long-legged plover bird (hidinhiito) was originally eating meat and was first living with a society of birds of prey. One night however her companions devoured all the provisions while she slept. From that time on she swore never to fly with friends, never to eat flesh, and never to rest during the hours of darkness. Therefore Legends concerning animals
When travelling in Northern Somalia 1854, Richard Burton made the following interesting observation concerning ideas the people have with respect to certain animals.
when she sees anything in the dark she repeats her oaths, and keeps careful watch all night. There is a larger variety of this bird, which, purblind during daytime, rises from under the traveller’s feet with loud cries.
The Somali have also legendary ideas about several other kinds of birds. There is for instance the Galow whose cry is held to predict bad omens. He is so called from his note Gal! Gal!  Come in! Come in! (gal or soo gal means indeed “come in”). When the cry of the Galow is heard over a kraal, the people say, "Let us leave this place, the Galow has spoken!" At night they listen for the Fiin, also an ill-omened bird. When a man declares "the Fiin did not sleep last night," it is considered advisable to shift ground.

Burton, Richard, First Footsteps in Africa, London and New York, 1856, p. 118.