Abba Inbaqom

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Note: This article or section represents an Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) perspective, which may differ from an Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) understanding.

Abba Inbaqom is a saint of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church who served as the 11th abbot of the great Monastery of Debre Libanos in central Ethiopia.

Early life, conversion, and preaching

According to the life of Abba Inbaqom he was originally a Yemeni Muslim merchant. During the early 1500s Abba Inbaqom left Yemen to settle in Ethiopia, where he began a study of the Quran and Islam that resulted in his abandonment of Islam and conversion to Orthodox Christianity. He was baptized at Debre Libanos with the name of the Prophet Habakkuk ('Inbaqom' in Ge'ez).

The baptism of Abba Inbaqom took place not long before the great war between the Muslim Sultanate of Adal and the Ethiopian Empire that saw the occupation of most of Ethiopia by Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi, more popularly known as Ahmed Gragn. Wherever he went Ahmed Gragn burned monasteries and churches and sought to force the Orthodox to convert to Islam. Although most of the clergy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church were not equipped to engage in polemics with the sheikhs from Adal, Abba Inbaqom was naturally well versed in both the teachings of Islam and the Orthodox Faith and traveled from place to place during the war strengthening the faith of the beleaguered Orthodox by his preaching.


Abba Inbaqom was eventually made Ichige of Debre Libanos, thus serving not only as the Monastery's abbot, but also as the highest ranking clergyman of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church under the Egyptian-appointed metropolitan. He served as ichige for nearly 40 years, during this time writing the Menbere Haimanot ('Gate of Faith') and translating into Ge'ez St. John Chrysostom's commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews and the life of Ss. Barlaam and Josaphat.

Some have compared Abba Inbaqom with Shaikh Zekaryas, a Muslim Amhara born in the 19th century who led thousands of other Ethiopian Muslims to the Orthodox Faith.

External link

  • Enbaqom (Dictionary of African Christian Biography)