A Thematic Approach to the Mnzumas of Sheikh Muhammad Yassin (1895-1972): in South Wollo

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Addis Ababa University


The general objective of this study is to collect and analyze the major themes of the Mänzumas of Sheikh Muhammad Yassin (1895-1972 G.C.), who was one the great Muslim leaders and scholars in South Wollo. Mänzuma is a religious song, which has been practiced by Ethiopian Muslims in a ritual process called Hadra. The specific objectives of the study are to introduce literary works buried for many years and not known even to persons in literature, to identify the major themes suggested in the poems, and to encourage other researchers on these kinds of genres in general and Muslim poets in particular. The methods employed in collecting data are of two types: participant observation and interview. The first method enables the researcher to record texts at the moment of their actual performance. Besides, interviewing religious elders and the poet’s family also help the researcher to understand the poet’s biography, and the Islamic and local terms of this genre. The poems are collected by audio visual recording through field work. Based on the objectives and methods, the thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter one deals with the background of the study including the short biography of the poet. The second chapter is given to literature review, the third and fourth chapters are about the major themes in the collected Mänzumas, and the last chapter provides a short conclusion. Sheikh Muhammad Yassin touches on certain religious themes through his poems. He raises various points related to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), such as the high status and rank of the Prophet compared to other Prophets, the biography and miracles of the Prophet, the qualities of the family of the Prophet. He emphasizes that the Prophet’s grand intercession on the Resurrection Day and the Prophet’s 'Hawd (cistern) in the next world are special favors that God (Allah) will give to his most beloved Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh). Beyond praising Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and holy persons, the poet discusses the pillars of Iman (belief), especially Tawhid (Islamic Theology) and the minor and major signs that indicate the approach of the Day of Resurrection. The poet also talks about the life after death; in the grave, on the Resurrection Day, the punishment and the reward in the next world based on the holy book of Islam, Quran, and Hadith. The major events that happened in Muhammad’s Prophethood and the heroes of Islam are the focus of the poet. The poet also gives direct religious and moral instructions through his poems. Islamic scholars teach Islam and the history of Islam insightfully and impressively using this genre based on the holy book of the religion, Quran. Hence, Mänzumas entertain various religious contents beyond praising holy persons especially Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).



Mnzumas of Sheikh Muhammad