::Ahmad III ibn Abu Bakr


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Ahmad III ibn Abu Bakr was the Emir of Harar (1852–1866). He was the ruling Emir when the British explorer Richard F. Burton visited the city for ten days in January 1855, which he later described in his book, First Footsteps in East Africa.

Emir Ahmad was the son and successor of Abu Bakr II ibn `Abd al-Munan and Guisti Fatima. Although one source states that she was the daughter of a previous Emir of Harar, `Abd ar-Rahman ibn Muhammad,"Ahmad's maternal grandfather". Upon the death of his father Abu Bakr he succeeded to the throne of Harar, reigning firstly under the regency of his mother. His mother was still alive at the time of Burton's visit, when the Emir had taken four wives: the daughter of Gerad Hirsi, a Sayyid woman of Harar, an emancipated slave girl, and "a daughter of Gerad Abd al-Majid, one of his nobles". Burton rounds out his tally of Emir Ahmad's households with the Emir's two sons, "who will probably never ascend the throne; one is an infant, the other is a boy about five years old."<ref name=Burton-190>Burton, First Footsteps, p. 190</ref>

Burton described Emir Ahmad at their first meeting as "an etiolated youth twenty-four or twenty-five years old, plain and thin-bearded, with a yellow complexion, wrinkled brows and protruding eyes. His dress was a white turban tightly twisted round a tall conical cap of red velvet, like the old Turkish headgear of our painters."<ref>Burton, First Footsteps, p. 175</ref> The Emir's health at the time was "infirm", according to Burton, who adds, "Some attribute his weakness to a fall form a horse, others declare him to have been poisoned by one of his wives. I judged him consumptive."<ref name=Burton-190/>

Burton further mentions that at the time of his visit the Emir's vizier, or chief minister, was the treacherous Gerad Mohammed, a man whom Burton had been told Ahmad's father Abu Bakr had warned him about.<ref>Burton, First Footsteps, p. 176 note</ref> However, Burton describes Emir Ahmad's rule as "severe if not just, and it has all the prestige of secrecy. As the Amharas say, the 'belly of the master is not known': even the Gerad Mohammed, though summoned to council at all times, in sickness as in health, dares not offer uncalled-for advice, and the queen dowager, the Gisit Fatima, was threaten with fetters if she persisted in interference."<ref name=Burton-190/>

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