The Isaaq (also Isaq, Ishaak) (Somali: Reer Sheik Isaxaaq, Arabic: اسحاق) is one of the main Somali clans. Members of the clan principally live in the northwestern Somaliland region of Somalia, and the Somali Region of Ethiopia. The populations of the five major cities of Somaliland –Hargeisa, Burco,Berbera, Ceerigaabo and Gabiley – are predominantly Isaaq. As of the late 1980s, the Sacad Muuse, Habar Awal and Jibriil Abokor sub-clans of the Isaaq were also the main inhabitants of Gabiley.
The tomb of Sheikh Isaaq, the father of the Isaaq clan, in Maydh.According to tradition, the Isaaq clan was founded in the 12th or 13th century with the arrival of Shaykh Ishaq ibn Ahmad al- Hashimi from Arabia, one of the Prophet Muhammad's early followers. He settled in the coastal town ofMaydh in modern-day northernwestern Somalia, where he married into the local Dir clan.
A similar tradition exists for the Darod, whom are said to have descended from one Sheikh Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti, another Banu Hashim who came to Somalia around the same time. As with Sheikh Darod, there are also numerous existing hagiologies in Arabic which describe Sheikh Isaaq's travels, works and overall life in northern Somalia, as well as his movements in Arabia before his arrival. Sheikh Isaaq's tomb is in Maydh, and is the scene of frequent pilgrimages.
Partial breakdown of the Isaaq clan structure.There is no clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures and many lineages are omitted. The following listing is taken from the World Bank's Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics from 2005 and the United Kingdom's Home Office publication, Somalia Assessment 2001.
- Haber Awal
- Sa'ad Muse
- Issa Muse
- Habr Garhadjis
- Habr Yunis
- Habr Jaalo (Habr Toljallo)
- Mohamed Abokor
- Muse Abokor
- Ahmad (Toljaalo)
- Haber Awal
- Habar Yoonis
- Habar Awal
- Habar Tol Jaalo
- Habar Jaalo
One tradition maintains that Isaaq had twin sons: Ahmed, or Arap, and Ismail, or Gerhajis.
- Mohammed Farah, Somali-British long distance runneR
- Abdirahman Ahmed Ali Tuur, Last SNM Chairman and First President of Somaliland
- Abdillahi Suldaan Mohammed Timacade, prominent poet during the pre- and post-colonial periods (peak during 1960s)
- Ahmed M. Mahamoud Silanyo, President of Somaliland as of June 2010; longest-serving and the 4th chairman of the SNM; current chairman of the Kulmiye Party
- Abdullahi Qarshe, Somali musician, poet and playwright; known as the "Father of Somali music".
- Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, Vice-President of Somaliland, 2002–2010
- Ali Abdi Farah, Minister of Communication and Culture in Djibouti
- Ali Feiruz, popular musician in Djibouti and Somalia
- Bashir Yussuf, Somali religious leader
- Edna Adan Ismail, first female Foreign Minister of Somaliland
- Hassan Ganey, poet
- Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame 'Hadrawi', poet and philosopher; author of Halkaraan; also known as the "Somali Shakespeare"
- Mohamed Mooge Liibaan, musician
- Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, former Prime Minister of Somalia; former president of Somaliland
- Rageh Omaar, former BBC World TV correspondent; currently with Al Jazeera English
- Umar Arteh Ghalib, former Prime Minister of Somalia, former president of UN's Security Council, Teacher and a poet.
- Abdirahman Mohamed Ali , chairman of the Justice and Welfare Party of Somaliland (UCID)