World, Africa

Senegal: Millions of Muslims gather for pilgrimage

5M are expected for West Africa's largest Muslim gathering in Touba, the holy city for Mouride religious order

Senegal: Millions of Muslims gather for pilgrimage FILE PHOTO


By Alpha Kamara

DAKAR, Senegal 

Millions from across West Africa are now gathering in Senegal for this year’s Grand Magal pilgrimage in Touba, the holy city for the Mouride Muslim order.

Five million are expected through this weekend for West Africa's largest Muslim gathering. Senegal’s President Macky Sall is also attending and will pray for peace and unity.

Sheik Amadou Bamba founded the Mouride Muslim order in 1883, and the central city of Touba also serves as the location of sub-Saharan Africa's largest mosque, which the order built.

Bamba fought French colonialism through preaching non-violence and was forced into exile in Gabon before returning to the city.

Serigne Djigal, a lecturer at Touba’s Chiekh Amadou Bamba University and a pilgrimage organizer, said this year’s pilgrimage is sending a special message to all Muslims on the importance of peace and non-violence.

“Bamba struggled at the hands of the French imperialists for several years. He never used violence but preached peace throughout making his message against colonialism loud and clear. He was later forced into exile. But he never used weapons or violence,” he said.

Djigal said that in a world where terrorism has been linked with religion, the message of non-violence in Islam is very important. Hence the theme of this year’s pilgrimage is centered on Muslims resisting terrorism and extremism.

Accidents are sometimes a problem during the massive pilgrimage, and a task force to control traffic flow has been set up by the government.

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