SHEIKH HUSSEIN – (An Islamic Pilgrimage)
Lost in the desert plains of Bale Province in Ethiopia, lies the sacred shrine of Sheikh Hussein. Its glistening white domes float in a vast sea of emerald green scrub. Through the heat haze and craggy outlines of the Bale Mountains on the distant horizon, this remote shrine and its sacred compound house the tomb of a Saint renowned for his miraculous powers.
Although little is known of Sheikh Hussein’s history, his shrine has become the site one of Ethiopia’s most extraordinary pilgrimages. Twice each year up to 50,000 pilgrims, most coming from Ethiopia’s remote villages, make an arduous journey to pray at the shrine of Shiekh Hussein.
Some will travel by donkey or mule, but most will walk – often barefoot – for up to 6 weeks or more to reach this sacred place. In the 700 years since the Sheikh’s death, the pilgrimage has evolved into an amalgam of Saint cult and ancient ritual.
By tradition, the departure of the pilgrims from their remote villages is governed by the waxing and waning of the moon.