The Sultanate of Ifat, or Awfat was a medieval Sunni Muslim state in the eastern regions of the Horn of Africa between the late 13th century and early 15th century. It was formed in present-day Ethiopia around eastern Shewa. Led by the Walashma dynasty, the polity stretched from Zequalla to the port city of Zeila. The kingdom ruled over parts of what are now Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somaliland.
According to Al-Omari, Ifat was a state close to the Red Sea coast, 15 days by 20 days “normal traveling time”. The state had a river (Awash River), was well peopled and had an army of 20,000 soldiers and 15,000 horsemen. Al-Omari mentioned seven cities in Ifat: Belqulzar, Kuljura, Shimi, Shewa, Adal, Jamme and Laboo. While reporting that its center was “a place called Walalah, probably the modern Wäläle south of Šäno in the Ěnkwoy valley, about 50 miles ENE of Addis Ababa”, G.W.B. Huntingford “provisionally” estimated its southern and eastern boundaries were along the Awash River, the western frontier a line drawn between Medra Kabd towards the Jamma river east of Debre Libanos (which it shared with Damot), and the northern boundary along the Adabay and Mofar rivers. The Al-Omari territorial account of Ifat Sultanate implies a size of 300 kilometers by 400 kilometers, which may be an exaggeration, according to Richard Pankhurst.
According to Taddesse Tamrat, Ifat’s borders included Fatager, Dawaro and Bale. The port of Zeila provided an entry point for trade and served as the most important entry point for Islam into Ethiopian lands. Ifat rulers controlled Zeila, and it was an important commercial and religious base for them.
It was the northernmost of several Muslim states in the Horn of Africa, acting as a buffer between Christian kingdom and the Muslim states along the coastal regions. Five Ifat cities in eastern Shewa; Asbäri, Nora, Mäsal, Rassa Guba, and Beri-Ifat now mostly in ruins dating back to the fourteenth century have been located. The local Argobba people credited Arabs for building these towns.
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