Monday, April 21, 2008

Asalaam maalekum!

Before I give an update of what I saw during my trip to Touba here’s a little background information for you:
Sufi Islam is common here in Senegal – and in Senegal there are what the locals call “confreries” or, brotherhoods. These brotherhoods have leaders called Marabouts who are supposed to help lead and direct their followers (talibe) in their relationship with Allah (god).
Probably the most common confrerie here in Dakar are the Mourides. Mouridisme was founded by Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba. (pictured below – and believe me this picture is EVERYWHERE in Dakar).

Touba is a village that was founded by Ahmadou Bamba in 1887. Ahmadou moved to Touba in order to re-discover peace and to strengthen his fellowship with Allah. His idea was to renounce the world and focus only on God. He chose Touba because at the time there was no one there and he was tired of war (against colonialism) that was to be found throughout Senegal – especially in Dakar and the region of Kajoor.
Mouridisme is run by a heirarcharical system. On top you have the khalif general, and under him you have a few khalif’s. Under the khalifs there are marabouts who are in charge of the representatives who are in charge of associations who are in charge of talibe (the followers/devotees).
Long story short Ahmadou Bamba founded mouridisme in Touba and built a mosque and when he died he was buried there and each year during maggal (a religious holiday) there is a huge pilgrimage to Touba and thousands of people all gather there for the weekend to pray and pay homage to Ahmadou Bamba.
If you’re interested in more info you can check out these sites.,_Senegal (sorry, this one’s in French)

So with all that in mind this is my adventure to Touba:
Saturday morning my History of Islam classmates and I took a four hour bus ride to Touba. Upon arriving we met up with our guide for the day (who just happens to be the old History of Islam professor for CIEE). He took us to the mosque there – which just happens to be the biggest mosque I’ve ever seen in my life.
Here are some pictures for you:

This picture is where Muslims can perform their "abolutions" before praying. (They have to purify themselves by washing their hands and feet and face before going to pray).

This is the inside of the mosque where people can get holy water – we weren’t allowed to go inside because we were tourists, but we were allowed to stand at the door and take pictures, which is exactly what I did.

Women have to wear head scarf in order to enter and no one is allowed to wear shoes inside of the mosque.

The part with the green dome on top is where Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba is buried. The blue/purple-ish one behind is where the first khalif is buried.

After taking a tour of the Mosque we went to a female Marabou’s house and talked to her for a while. She prayed for us before leaving.
Then we went to our host’s house for lunch. There was SO much food – it was incredible. We had a mixture of pretty much every good Senegalese dish ever made – ceebu jen with balls of fish, as well as actual fish pieces, along with yassa (onion sauce) and all sorts of good vegetables. It was delicious and we could barely move afterword because we had eaten so much food. Once we could move again we got back in the bus and drove for another four hours back to Dakar – it was a long day to say the least.

Yesterday some of my friends and I went to the “Parc National des Iles de la Madeleine” – a national park on an island here in Dakar. It was a beautiful day and we spent the day there on the rocky beach and then took a tour around the island (which I did barefoot for some reason…) It was really pretty though and the view was incredible. See for yourself:

(if you look closely in the picture above you can see the city of Dakar in the background)

Oh… and we climbed a baobab tree – wouldn’t you if you had the chance?

That’s it for now. Thanks for your comments!
Jamm ak jamm,


mom said...

Thank you for the lesson. It is fun learning new things that I would not have otherwise been exposed to.
Sounds like you are enjoying every moment. We love you bunches!

Dannielle said...

:) The mosque is beautiful! Apparently you actually are learning things while you are there. I wondered...;)
I am also glad you got some good Senegalese food. I know you are going to miss it when you get home.