Magal of Touba: Origins and significances of the 18 Safar

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Murid community of Senegal and rest of the world celebrate today the 123 annual edition of Magal in Touba. This commemoration known as 18 Safar celebrates the departure into exile of the founder of Muridism, Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, known also as Serign Touba to Gabon.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Senegal, like most of the West African countries, was under the yoke of colonial domination. After conquering the kingdoms and mortgaged the economic and social system, the colonizer postulated an excessive struggle against Islam which was the main obstacle to its strategy of political domination and cultural alienation.

It was in this particularly difficult and unfavorable context that Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba emerged with the mission of rescuing his fellow citizens, confused and persecuted, to provide them with an adequate framework where the others were going to be able Worship the Prophet Mohammad (SAW).

Sense of Magal

The Magal of Touba has a multidimensional character for Muslims, in general, and Mouride, in particular.

The originality of the great Magal of Touba lies at two levels.

First, contrary to what is used to celebrate, it marks the beginning of hardships and sufferings endured by the Cheikh during the exile.

Then it was the Cheikh who initiated the Magal (at Diourbel, Central Senegal) for the first time and recommended to his followers to remember this blessed day during which he got everything he wanted from his Lord. “The one for whom my happiness is his, wherever he is, will have to implement everything on the day of 18 Safar to give thanks to God, for he said, my personal thanks could not suffice to testify my gratitude to the Lord” (Sourate 14, Verse 7)

It is therefore, essential to understand the true meaning and scope of the Magal, to celebrate it in accordance with the Cheikh’s recommendations, in order to benefit fully it has granted to the servant of the Prophet (pbuh). At the outset, each ‘talib’ (student) celebrated the Magal where it was, provided that it was in accordance with the Cheikh’s recommendations.

Over time, the second Caliph, Cheikh Muhamad al-Fadel, had the idea of bringing all the Mouride to Touba. The act is part of the strengthening of the cohesion of the community. There were spiritual objectives, but also social objectives (meeting, exchanges, etc.) and economic, as rural people who came with their produce can easily market them with the arrival of city dwellers.

A flow of exchange is thus created between the urban and rural communities. All this was not absent from the spirit of the one who gave this form to the Magal. For at first, everyone celebrated the great Magal of Touba at his house. The second Caliph felt that it was very profitable for the community to gather everyone in Touba to celebrate the Magal.

The peculiarity of the Magal is based on the importance that the Mouride give to the event, because for the Murid, participation in the Magal has become a component of its doctrine.

However, in a related development, 30 people have lost their lives in a car accident when they were going to Touba for the celebration.

Author: Amadou Barry
Source: Picture: Hundreds of thousands of people converge on Touba to commemorate this date