Grand Magal of Shaykh Amadou Bamba

Grand Magal of Shaykh Amadou Bamba

18th day of the Islamic month of Safar
The Grand Magal (or great pilgrimage) of Shaykh Amadou Bamba takes place in Touba, Senegal, on the feast day of Shaykh Amadou Bamba. The Shaykh, who lived from 1850 to 1927, was the country's most revered marabout, or Islamic saint. The pilgrimage is celebrated on the anniversary of the date he was forced by French authorities to depart for a seven-year exile abroad. A charismatic spiritual leader who rejected violence and war, Shaykh Bamba attracted such a large following that the French feared he would challenge their rule. After being allowed to return to Senegal in 1902, he was ordered by the French into a second exile in 1903, this time for four years in Mauritania. In later years, he founded a Sufi order called Mouride (derived from the Arabic word for "student") and began building the Touba mosque, where he was entombed after his death a year later.
Between one and three million pilgrims attend the Grand Magal each year. Among them are members of the Mouride Brotherhood, which is still run by Shaykh Bamba's descendants. Each year, the current head of the Brotherhood addresses the crowd. Pilgrims seek spiritual guidance from Brotherhood leaders, in addition to offering prayers at the Shaykh's tomb. Once their religious duties are complete, devotees partake of the wares of thousands of vendors who sell food, drink, religious tokens, and crafts on the streets of the city.
CONTACTS:
Senegal Tourism Office
350 5th Ave.
New York, NY 10118
212-279-1953; fax: 212-279-1958
www.senegal-tourism.com
Embassy of Senegal
2112 Wyoming Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
202-234-0540; fax: 202-332-6315
SOURCES:
UndIslam-2004, p. 397