Islam in Senegal
Islam is the most predominant religion in Senegal, a country in West Africa. Senegal’s population is about eleven million people and over ten million and four hundred thousand of these people are Muslim. Over ninety four percent of their population practice Islam. Islam has been in Senegal for over a millennium now. The first ethnic groups to convert to Islam were the Toucouleur kingdoms during the eleventh century CE. The conversion to Islam took place when the leader of the kingdom of Cayor, Lat Dyor Diop converted around 1861 CE. After converting, he established a union between the Fulani and Wolof states to resist the French colonization. By the nineteenth century CE, the Muslim brotherhoods in Senegal, Tijani and Muridiyyah, fought the French and British colonizers. The fight finally ended when “prominent religious leaders like Malick Sy and Amadou Bamba decided to cooperate with the French in exchange for religious independence.” By the twentieth century almost all of Senegal was Islamic. But Islam was practiced differently in Senegal than most other countries, mainly because of Sufi, meaning mystical, traditions and following the marabouts. Sufi, a nickname, for Sufism, started out as a Shia movement, but eventually transformed into a Sunni movement over the past hundred years and is now, mainly a Sunni movement. Most Muslims in Senegal are a part of the Sufi brotherhoods. Sufi brotherhood is a movement of organized brotherhoods, who are grouped around a spiritual leader or “sheik.” The two largest brotherhoods are the Tijaniyyah and the Muridiyyah, but there are smaller sects such as the pan-Islamic Qadiriyyah and the smaller Layene in parts of the country. The Muridiyyah is the largest brotherhood in Senegal and it is based in Touba, “a state in within a state in which there is no governor, no administration, and no police force.” The de factor leader, “in practice but not necessarily ordained by law,” of Touba city is the Grand...
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