AN EXAMPLE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
BASED ON THE SPIRITUAL ETHICS OF THE
MOURIDE BROTHERHOOD OF SENEGAL.
By DEMBA SOW.
SENEGAL is located in the most westerly point in Africa. For a very long time it had been contested by the Dutch, the British and finally the French. In the l9th century, the imperialist greed of Europe dictated to France a policy of territorial conquest wich led to the colonisation. This expansionist policy would face a fierce resistance from the muslim chiefs and the local aristocracy. But in 1891 the resistance ended up a failure and France attempted to assimilate their new colony to their western values. To succeed in flat respect, they started a fight with fury against the muslim leaders through internment, banishnent, deportation or merely the suppression of their lives. This was indeed the most appropriate way for the colonialist to reach the masses gathering around them.
Most spiritual guides fearing the oppressive colonial power, or in search of mundane privileges offered by the French had chosen to co-operate. Only one man was to denounce the arbitrary and the corrupt: Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba Mbacke. He was the only one to blame the elite of the muslim orthodoxy for their complaisance towards the French. He was also the only person who was not dependant on the chiefs of the old aristocracy, nor was he dependant on the colonial power. He respected no authority but that of the Supreme Creator. His confrontation With the colonial power would be one of the main aspects of his life. Indeed, as much as the French wanted to cotrupt the muslim faith through the exile and the persecution, as much as Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba in his mystery and devotion to the exclusive cult to one God would achieve the prophecy: The rehabilitation of Islam.
In 1883, Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba was determined to show his disciples the path of submission. Mouridism was born and he became the enemy number one of the colonial authority frightened by the great influence he had over masses. Mouridism would be considered as a reconstruction af a dismantled society among the Wolof people as specified by Donald B. Cruise O'Brien in his book The Mourides of Senegal (Clarendon Press-Oxford 1971): "... a collective response of the Wolof people of north western Senegal to changes brought by the French conquest.
The organisational structure of the tariqa then provided an alternative authority system for those who had suffered from the collapse of the old wolof states..." But from a sunnite and ortodox perspective, Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba will be the elected one to solve the Islamic crisis.
To have a full understanding of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba and Mouridism it is necessary to refer to the Qoran which says: "Wa ma arsalana min rasulin illa bi lisani nammihi", (we have sent every messenger with revelation in the language of his people- Chapter 14-verse 4). One has to know and comprehend that this verse is not strictly addressing a prophet. A prophet is indeed a Nabiyun-Mursal (Apostle-Messenger) by definition. The Prophet Mobammed (sws) is the seal of te Apostles. However messengers or mursal have always appeared to peoples in the course of centuries. In Islam they are also known as Qutb Zaman, the pole of the time.
With Him are the leys of the unseen; none knows it but He. He knows whatever is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls but He knows it; nor is there a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anyting green or dry, but it is (recorded) in a Clear Book, The Preserved Tablet. The latter is commonly understood to be in heaven. Everything which God has decreed to bring into being from the beginning of creation to doomsday is recorded in it.
The fourteenth century would be announced as the forthcoming of the inheritor of the prophetic traditions: "Tuba li man balaga mi ata rabiata badal alfi'', happiness to those who will reach the fourteenth century of our era), and Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba to declare: "Wa azharal hidmata ama jaysasin, wa qalbuhu admaraha min aysasin", ( He - the prophet- ordered my mission in the year 1313 ah, 1895 CE which in my heart was already my intention in the year 1301 ah, 1883 CE). From that point of view, it becomes obvious that the oppressors were only allowing Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba to achieve the prophecy as he himself mention it: "Wa adhalal ilahu fi qulubi man, tassabahu fi naqlihi daka zaman", ( God only inspired their plans of internment in the heart of those who instigated it that same year).
This present work is an attempt to inform those who are interested about the pearl of African Sufism: Mouridism as a project of developmellt based on the spiritual ethics of one brotherhood.
Of the books that are available in English, most are written from the rationalist viewpoint typical of western mentality, with all its concern for material proofs and logical amlysis.
O'Brien's book The Mourides of Senegal: The political and Economic Organisation of an Islamic Brotherhood seems to be the most thorough study on Mouridism.
Mouridism which is a derivative of Mouridullahi (the path that leads to God), it would be impossible to talk about it without using as the main reference the Qoran to understand the movement initiated by Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba. It would also be impossible to talk about it without mentioning Shaikh Ibrah Fall fourthiest disciple of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba, who really shaped the movement as it is known today.
LOCATION OF TOUBA
Located in the Centre-West of Senegal, 193 kilometers away from the capital Dakar, Touba is the main centre of migration which does not proceed from the colonial system in that country. Its fast evolution coupled with a high rate of urban development which do not seem to show any signs of discontinuity are elements which draw the most attention. This remarkable expansion of Touba which had tripled its urban area and quintupled its population between 1976 and 1988 in time of deep economic crisis in the Senegalese hinterland, shows that the conditions of such a development are not for the essential material. Touba with a rate of development of 15% per year for 30 years has become the second city after Dakar with a population of 300.000 inhabitants. Despite its exceptional urban dynamic, Touba is not considered as an administrative city, and the sovereignity of the government is very limited.
IMPORTANCE OF TOUBA WITHIN
THE MOURIDE BROTHERHOOD
Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba only had one project throughout his lifetime and that project was Touba. He only spent seven years in that holy land before he was taken away by the colonialists on the 10th of August 1895 (the 18 th Safar 1313 ah). This would be the beginning of a long spiritual journey which would take him to Jeewal, Kokki, Louga and St. Louis, former capital of Senegal. He was then taken to Dakar before he was shipped away to the Bassin of Ogue in Gabon, precisely in Mayumba and Lamberene- also known as the "Devil's Islands". These were the ultimate places where the toughest freedom fighters were taken as a last resort by the colonials. It seems that despite the fact that Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba was constantly taken away from one place to another, each further than the last to increase his isolation, with his daily load of affliction and humiliation ever increasing, he would still triumphantly retum to Touba and fulfil his intention to see a temple erected for the glory of the Lord. Indeed, he had always considered himself in Touba, even during his exile, and nobody would have imagined that the following verse written by him when he was away would one day come true:
"Rabbis tajib mal tukammil manawaytu lada Tuba lati bika tubna fika bunyana", ("O Lord, accept and accomplish my intention in Touba where a temple will be erected by your Glory".)
Through the history of mankind it is a known fact that cities are built by a watering place. Touba, like Mecca, was founded in a hostile environment, where the only motivation was to serve God and praise his messenger. For a better understanding of Touba, we will refer to Matlabul Fawzeyni: a poem written by Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba in 1888 (the year of the establishment of Touba) which contains the whole project of development of that city based on the spiritual ethics.
1. YA ALLAHU, YA HAFIZU, YA DALAMRI
2. NAFSI WA DINE TUMMA AHLI WAL WALAD
3. WAJ ALILAHI MASKANI TUBA ABAD
4. ADUKA ANTA JALAHU DARA TUQA
5. WA JANNATAN LI SALIKIN MURIDI
6 WA MAN FA AN LI KULLI HADIN MUSLIMI
7. WA HAJJATAN LIMAN BI DUFIN IRTADA
8. WA AHLU YA RABBI AHABBA MASKANI
9. WA JALHU DABAN MASKANA TITIBA-I
10. WA JALHU DABAN MASKANA TAALUMI
11. WAL ALHU MASKNA HURUJI MIN ZULAM
12. WA MASKANI SALLIM MINAL FUJJARI
13. WA MASKANI DAL MASKANAL GUFRANI
14. WA MASKANAL IRSADI WA TALIMI
15. WA MASKANI IJAL MASKANAN MUBARAKA
16. WA MASLAKAN LI SUBULI lTTIBA-I
17. WA MASKANAN LI JALBI KULLI HAYRI
18. WA MATLABAN LI TAATI RAHIMI
19. WA DARA IHLASIN WA SIDQIN WA WARA
20. WA TAHMI DARIYA ANIL FUJURI
21. WAJLUB LAHAL HAYRA MINAL JIHATI
22. HUTNI ANI SAYTANI YA JALILU
23. WAJ AL HARIMANA HARIMAN AMINA
24. WAL TAJALANHA DATA LIMITILA-I
25. WAGFIR LI MAN BANAW BINA AHA RAFI
26. WA LI JAMII MANA ANAHUM ALA
27. WAGFIR LI KULLI MAN BlHA QAD SAKANA
This poem, written as a form of prayer, set the values of a city which would not know the deviations and degradations which other developing cities suffer. Indeed, he implores the safety of that place against any wicked natural or human influences. Touba would not be otherwise conforming to its religious vocation and above all a place of piety, science and religion. More than a century since this poem was written, whoever should set foot in Touba will realize that Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba's vision turns into reality. Not only is Touba a place of worship for believers from all over the world, it is also a place with a unique sense of organzation and economic power. Touba is dominated by its magnificent mosque, "...towering symbol of Mouride unity, a proof of the devotion of the talibes and of their capacity for hard work..." All around are houses of the holy lineage of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba including KER GU MAK- meaning literally 'the big house' which is the residence where the Khalif General receives officials, dahiras and talibes. We also have DARAY KAMIL: the house of the Koran. Indeed the Koran was Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba's main priority. He used to order the copying and the reading of the holy book to his disciples. It was recited twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon wherever Shaikh Ahmadou Bamba lived. This tradition is still alive in Diourbel and Touba today.
The Koran was of such importance to Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba that he never held anything else in his hands. More respect and intricate attention than that given by the Shaikh could not have been bestowed upon the holy book. He was known to perfume the Koran and sleep on the floor whilst resting the book on his bed.
Some of the devotional work of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba on such subjects as theology, philosophy, numerology, science and others can be found in this library. Also at Touba is AYNU RAHMATI: 'the Spring Of Mercy which is visited by most disciples.
One might be sure that Touba has not yet reached its full socio-economic potential. Beyond the Master-Disciple relationship has been created a fundamental Touba-Disciple relationship which is max_ifested by everincreasing investment by the population. For disciples, Touba is not only a destination at the end of a journey but their true home: GNIBI SI NA I'm back home' is their mentality. The wish of every disciple is to be in Touba dead or alive.
OF THE BROTHERHOOD
The Khalif General is the successor of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba and as the founders heir he is the embodiment of the unity of the brotherhood. The office is at present held by SERIGNE SALIOU MBACKE. He is the fifth Khalif General of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba since 1990. The Khalifat was previously held by MUHAMADU MUSTAFA MBACKE (1927-45), EL HADJ FALLU MBACKE (1945-68), ABDUL AHAD MBACKE (1968-89) and finally ABDU KHADRE MBACKE for eleven months. The Khalif General is the apex of the pyramidal structure of the brotherhood. He is the supreme authority recognized by the great dignitaries of the order and venerated by the followers. The collective enterprises of the brotherhood are under his overall direction and supervision. As a guardian of Shaikh Ahmadu Bambas work he is a custodian of the moral and material organization in the holy city. There is thus a four step hierarchy: Khalif General, Khalif of Maraboutic lineage, Shaikhs and Talibes.
AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES
UNDER THE DIFFERENT KHALIFS
Since 1927 the different khalifs who had succeded one another at the head of the brotherhood had without exception made the development of Touba their main priority. The incontestable success which maked their role in the mamgement of urban development is largely due to their leadership but it goes alongside the total adhesion of the disciples to fulfil Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba's intention as expressed in MATLABUL FAWZEYNI.
For any project of construction the Khalif General uses the capital of the brotherhood to finance it. Most of that capital is based on his personal income from his agricultural resources, and some of it comes from the donations given by the disciples. Those contributions could be used for any work needed in the city or it could be directly re-distributed to the people in need of financial help. In a specific project requiring a high budget, the Khalif General gives the "NDIGUEL" (Divine order) to the whole community, who through their amazing sense of solidarity collect the necessary funds in the shortest time possible. It is important to underline the transparency of the financial situation of the brotherhood, upheld by the Khalif himself for the benefit of the whole community.
The affiliations of those different dahiras scattered around the world creates a centralisation within the brotherhood. The Mouride Diaspora maintain a long-distance relationship - individual or collective - with Touba.
Under the first Khalif General Touba was to be put on the geographical and administrative map of Senegal. The two main turning points from 1928 were the foundations of the mosque using funds collected while Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba was still alive, and the railway from Diourbel to Touba, constructed between 1929 and 1931 to facilitate the transportation of building materials for the mosque. The difficult period between the two World Wars and the international economic crisis of the thirties was not enough to stop this ongoing process
Under the second Khalif the expansion of Touba included the surroundings: Darou Marnane, Darou Salam, Darou Alim, Darou Rahman, Darou Khoudoss and Darou Miname. The biggest event during that period was the inauguration of the mosque in 1963.
Touba experienced a new dynamic with the third Khalif- indeed a decisive step was achieved in the growth of Touba between 1968-89. The urban space went from 1129 hectares to 3600 hectares. The edification of the library and the building of the Islarnic University was initiated during that period. The mosque's capacity for 4000 people was expanded to 6000 people. The construction of KER GU MAK: the residence of the Khalif General and the equipment of AYNU RAHMATI took place. This urban realisation and the diversity of the economic fabric gave Touba a certain respect for its urban governance.
Today SERIGNE SALIOU MBACKE ensure the continuity of the work already achieved by his predecessors. New sites have been created to welcome disciples ready to go home. In the West we have Darou Nahim and Darou Tall In the South we have Ndame Al Azar and Darou Marnane. In the South West and towards Darou Mousty in the North there are in total 8948 plots of land. A project of 100,000 new plots of land of which 26 are destined to become residences of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba- the rest are in the process of being built (35,000 plots have already been built). The mosque is being totally renovated as well as the shrine of Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba. An 18 kilomete drainage system has been built to evacuate rainwater and the Islamic University has been completed.
This centralised urban development is self-sustaining and also supported by the government who provide skilled workers who are employed by the brotherhood. The availability of disciples who volunteer their services wherever required is essential in the management and functioning of Touba. The population of Touba always make sure that the ethics which regulate the social life are respected.
SHAIKH IBRAHIMA FALL
- BAYE FALL
His life is a vital element in the evolution of Mouridism. He is the initiator of the movement as it is known and lived today. He left the indelible image of someone who surrendered himself unconditionally to Shaikh Ahmadu Bamba. He set the example of total devotion to a Shaikh through the NJEBBEL: formula of submission then unknown by the other disciples. In conformity with the following verse of the Koran:
"Inna ladina yubayi unaka innama yubayi unal laha" (Chapter 48, Verse 10) Those who swear allegiance to thee, swear allegiance to God.
"Man yuci a rasula faqad aca allaha" (Chapter 4, Verse 80) Who so obeyeth the messenger obeyeth God.
In the repartition of domestic tasks Shaikh Ibra Fall opted for the hard physical work in the fields, especially the chopping and transportation of firewood for the cooking and lighting of fire compound. He was also responsible for the water supply as well as the distribution of the food and any domestic tasks which needed to be achieved. He introduced the idea of a working novitiate (MURITU) and created the working dahira as the institution for it.
But most importantly he initiated the JAYAANTE: sarcerdotal pact, which is a superior dimension of the NJEBBEL. Baye-Fall who model themselves on the teaching of Shaikh Ibrahima Fall are the living expression of that JAYAANTE within the brotherhood. Not only do they give the greatest financial contribution to their Shaikh, their work constitutes the main source of income for the community. Their work gives to the brotherhood a strong sense of independence and unity and their exceptional devotion which is unique grant them a total respect from the vast majority of the brotherhood. The work binds them together when there is a strong sense of collective obligation to the Shaikh. The brotherhood, under Ibrahirna Fall's influence, became much more than a simple religious association bound together by a common ritual: it became an elaborate socio-economic structure which gave means of livelihood to the followers.
Touba' s unique sense of sustainable development owes it success to two main factors:
Written by Demba Sow