King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Armies Abroad: Britain in Somaliland

Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan

This image shows the genealogical table of the Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (Ref: Ismay 3/1/20)Genealogical table of Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan and relativesSayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, often referred to pejoratively as the “Mad Mullah”, was born in 1856 in Northern Somalia.

Growing up amongst his pastoral relatives, Hassan received religious education which he continued into adulthood. 

In 1894, after travelling to Mecca to perform Hajj, Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan was inspired by a Sudanese mystic and became a part of the Saalihiya movement.

The origins of the name “Mad Mullah” is unknown. The British Consul-General, James Hayes-Sadler used a similar term in a letter to Prime Minister Salisbury stating that the "Mullah has gone off his head."

But there are other anecdotes which differ from Hayes-Sadler's letter.

His spent 24 years as the leader of the Dervish State. His army fought numerous battles against the British and were successful until the Somaliland Campaign of 1920.


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