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MURIDIYAH. The best known of the Sufi brotherhoods in Senegal, both within and outside of the country, is the Murldiyah. Its name comes from murid, the postulant who seeks the path to spiritual knowledge. The word was already in use when the French and the followers of the founder of the order, Amadu Bamba M’Backe, came into conflict in the 1890s in western Senegal.
Amadu Bamba (c. 1850-1927) was born into a family of itinerant scholars who moved through the Wolof kingdoms of Baol, Cayor, and Jolof, states that disintegrated rather rapidly in the late nineteenth century under the impact of internecine wars, French penetration, and opportunities provided by the cultivation of peanuts in the sandy soil of the Sahel. His father Momar Antassali had close attachments to the royal dynasty of Cayor and particularly to the ruler or damel, Lat Dior, and it was in a combination of court settings and rural retreats that Amadu Bamba acquired his apprenticeship in Islam and Senegalese politics.
By the 1880s he had achieved a significant reputation as a poet, scholar, and spiritual advisor in his own right. Bamba was able to maintain a growing following, particularly among the ceddos or slave warriors of the courts and other people who were increasingly marginalized with the decline of the kingdoms and growing violence. He affiliated with Qadiriyah shaykhs in Mauritania, although later his particular approaches to Islam often caused the Muridiyah to be categorized as an autonomous if not separate order.
In the dramatically changing situation of late nineteenth-century Senegal, Bamba was careful to keep his distance from both the traditional courts, which were failing in their efforts to resist European conquest, and the Europeans themselves, who were working from coastal bases such as St. Louis and Dakar. In Senegalese lore he is closely identified with the defeat and death of Lat Dior in 1886, but in fact he did not advise the king to resist; Bamba was able to maintain his following on the fringes of areas of French control for several more years. The regime in St. Louis finally captured him in 1895, conducted a summary trial, and sent him into exile in Gabon for a period of seven years. Bamba spent a great deal of time during his exile in meditation and the writing of poetry, and the period has become enshrined in the memories of his followers as a series of constantly retold miracles of escape from French entrapments.
Some of Bamba’s family and friends, particularly his brother Shaykh Anta and his lieutenant Ibra Fall, were quite active on his behalf during his exile; they actively encouraged the pattern of peanut cultivation and the acquisition of property in both rural and urban settings. The Senegalese deputy to the French Assembly, Francois Carpot, played a role in gaining the return of Bamba from exile in 1902, but the anxiety of the French and their Senegalese chiefs alike provoked a second exile (1903-1907), this time to Butilimit and the home of a close Mauritanian friend of the colonial regime, Sidiya Baba. From 1907 to 1912 the French kept Bamba in a remote area of Jolof in northern Senegal before finally allowing him to move to Diourbel, near the headquarters of the Muridiyah but still under close surveillance.
During all this time of exile Bamba’s family and friends continued to develop their interests in peanut farming and in closer ties with the French administration. By World War I, in the midst of French needs for troops and endorsement of their cause, Bamba himself was ready to give his blessing to this tissue of cooperation. When he died in 1927, the French played a significant role in ensuring the succession of his son Muhammad Mustapha against the claims of Bamba’s brother Shaykh Anta. They continued the close relationship with another son, Falilu, who served as successor or khalifa general from 1945 until his death in 1968, and the Senegalese government has enjoyed generally good relationships with the M’backe successors since.
Bamba was a man of great scholarly acumen and spirituality, and many of his descendants and associates have had the same orientation. Many Murid followers, however, had little or no education in matters Islamic, and they were encouraged by the leaders to work hard, particularly in the cultivation of peanuts, and to allow the marabouts, the Islamic authorities, to carry out intercession on their behalf. This has been particularly true of the group called the Baye Fall, followers of Ibra Fall who were always ready to carry out any physical task for their leaders. Recently, however, Murid cells throughout Senegal and in major French urban centers have modified this image of the “unlettered Murid” by their zeal for learning the teachings of Islam and the heritage of the founder.
[See also Senegal.]
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Behrman, Lucy C. Muslim Brotherhoods and Politics in Senegal. Cambridge, Mass., 1970. Discussion of the tariqah in its broader political context.
Cruise O’Brien, Donal B. The Mourides of Senegal: The Political and Economic Organization of an Islamic Brotherhood. Oxford and New York, 1971. The most complete study of the order.
Marty, Paul. Les Mourides d’Amadou Bamba. Paris, 1913. Early pioneering French work which had an influence on developing French scholarship and policies.
Robinson, David. “Beyond Resistance and Collaboration: Amadu Bamba and the Murids of Senegal.” Journal of Religion in Africa 21 (1990: 149-171.
DAVID ROBINSON

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/muridiyah/
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  • writerPosted On: September 29, 2014
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