This Thursday, September 15, 2022 is a great day for the Mouride community of Senegal. They pay tribute to one of the earth’s most revered Cheick: Cheick Amadou Bamba. The Mouride community celebrated the Grand Magal de Touba in Senegal. Many “talibés mourides” wanted to be present at the ceremony that took place in Touba, nearly 200 kilometres from the city of Dakar.
This is one of the events that most attract Senegalese and other people from the Mouride community around the world. The Grand Magal de Touba is an unmissable event for most Senegalese; it is of such importance that it is declared a public holiday in Senegal. Schools and administrations have closed their doors. The Magal de Touba is the commemoration of the memory of the departure in exile of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, founder of the brotherhood of Mourides (Al mouridiyyah), in exile in Gabon. This religious feast marks above all the date of the birth of the Mouride brotherhood.
Magal is a Wolof term meaning “to honour, celebrate, magnify”, and Touba is the city where the Sheikh settled. The city of Touba is strengthened in its status as a beacon and place of worship where history and legend, religious commemorations and songs, recollection and folklore confront each other. The Magal was not originally a party. Everyone in his house immolated a ram or a bull in homage to the Cheick. Little by little, this commemoration has taken on a new dimension and has significantly changed the way of life of Senegalese. The first ideas to make the pilgrimage to Touba came from Sheikh Mouhamadou Fadilou Mbacké. He initiated the celebration of the Grand Magal de Touba as we know it today. He asks the talibés to go to Touba every 14 or 15 of September.
Who was Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba?
Born in 1855, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba comes from a line of marabouts. He creates his own Sufi way. Around 1886, his great-grandfather founded the town of M’Backé. His real name Ahmed Ben Mohamed Ben Abib Allah, Sheikh Amadou Bamba founded his own city (Touba) and his own religious community: mouridisme. Muridism comes from the Arabic “Al Mourid, which means “aspirant”. When the prerogatives of the Murid Caliph General slip into politics, he becomes «Serigne Touba». In West Africa, it is not uncommon to see his portrait plated in the back of some minicars. Cheick Amadou Bamba died on July 19, 1927 in Ndiareme in Diourbel. His body was sent to Touba for burial. He now rests in Touba inside the Touba mosque. He remains one of the leading figures of Sufism in the Senegal region as founder of the Mourides brotherhood.
Thanks to the Sheikh, Touba has concentrated important economic activities. The city of Touba has become an important place of Muslim pilgrimage. The sons and grandchildren of the Sheikh settled there.