Baay Ñas's early years (1900–1922) Baay Ñas was born in Tayba Ñaseen, most likely on 15 Rajab, 1318, which corresponds to Thursday, November 8, 1900.19 His father, Allaaji Abdulaay (Al-Ḥājj `Abd Allāh) Ñas, was a Tijāniyy muqaddam who by that time had become the principal Islamic leader in Western Saalum and was seen as a politically powerful rival by Màbba Jaxu's successors and the French (see Chapter [dissertation-revolution]). His mother, Astu Jànqa,20 had come from Jolof without her family while still young and was in effect adopted by one of Baay's close relatives.21 Before his disciple Omar Màlle Caam nicknamed him “Baay” (Father) shortly after Medina Baay was founded in 1930, oral accounts say he was known variably as Ibrayima, Ibra, or Ibra Asta,22 all Wolof variations on the Arabic name 'Ibrāhīm.23
Baay was reportedly born during the family's last year in Tayba and brought to the family village of Ñaseen Waalo for his naming ceremony, only days before his father exiled with his family and close disciples to Kër Sàmba, in the English colony of Gambia, around the beginning of 1901 after being warned that local authorities were preparing to attack (see the previous chapter). Thus, Baay spent much of his first decade in Gambia, and during the last part of this period his father is said to have been away in Fās, Morocco.24 Upon Allaaji Abdulaay's return from Morocco in late 1910, he moved with his family and many disciples to his new settlement of Lewna Ñaseen, now within the city boundaries of Kaolack, which French traders had set up as a peanut exporting port on the Saalum River.
It is said that sometime during Baay's youth (some informants say around 1920), an important Mauritanian Arab shaykh from the 'Idaw`ali tribe, `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj, visited Allaaji Abdulaay in Lewna Ñaseen. The 'Idaw`ali are considered sharīf (descendants of the Prophet), and they also occupied a leading role in the Tijāniyy order, having introduced it to West Africa. At the time, Mauritanian shaykhs commonly toured through Senegal and received the offerings that many Senegalese Tijāniyys see as their obligation to give sharīfs (even though some of those giving the offerings consider themselves sharīfs as well). Many of these 'Idaw`ali shaykhs, including `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj, regularly visited Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas in Lewna Ñaseen (Seesemann, 2004).
Taalibe Baay accounts agree that what happened during `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj's visit was a key moment leading up to the Fayḍah, although they diverge widely on what actually happened during the visit. Some say that `Abd Allāḥ wuld al-Ḥājj recognized the young Baay as a great holy man and asked him to pray for him. Baay himself said that the shaykh told him “the Fayḍah will surely appear at your hands, and it will definitely not appear at the hands of anyone else” (Seesemann, 2004: 80).25
The account far more commonly told among Taalibe Baay, which I have heard from numerous muqaddams, Arabic teachers, and elders, holds that `Abd Allāḥ wuld al-Ḥājj was directly responsible for Baay Ñas receiving the “secret” (mbóot) that would later be revealed through the Fayḍah. Shaykh 'Aḥmad at-Tijāniyy had appeared to `Abd Allāh in a dream, telling him that he had been given a secret (mbóot) and was to give it to the bringer of the Fayḍah. He set out searching for the person to whom he was supposed to transmit the secret and had looked in all the other Tijāniyy centers in Senegal in vain.
He finally came to Kaolack and asked Allaaji Abdulaay to bring all his sons. In a story strongly reminiscent of the Biblical story of David's selection26, he asked Allaaji Abdulaay if a son was missing. According to Allaaji Bittéy, `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj told Allaaji Abdulaay that Shaykh at-Tijāniyy himself had let him know that not all the sons were there. Allaaji Abdulaay began to fidget with his pillow, placing it here and there, and finally called out “Ibrayima!” and Baay Ñas appeared. As soon as he entered the room, Baay Ñas looked around and noticed writing on the wall that no one else could see and commented on it. `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj concluded that this was the one he sought. One Arabic teacher told me that during this meeting, `Abd Allāh requested something in the form of an Arabic grammatical riddle, and while everyone else sat mystified, Baay went and brought the materials to make tea.27
Most accounts say that at the time, Baay Ñas was living in a thatch hut, and that `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj told Allaaji Abdulaay that he wished to be lodged in Baay Ñas's hut, which resembled the tents he was accustomed to in Mauritania more than the house's cement block structures. They granted his request, and while he stayed with Baay (some say a single night, others say a week) he initiated Baay into the secrets. As `Abd Allāh prepared to leave, he told Baay Ñas not to reveal the secret he had been given until seven years after his father died. After the Fayḍah, the shaykh's son, Muḥammad al-Mishri28 wuld `Abd Allāh (d. 1975), who met Baay during at least one of his father's visits to Kaolack, would become one of Baay Ñas's closest friends and most devoted muqaddams.
When I asked one muqaddam in Waalo if this meant that `Abd Allāh possessed all that Baay possessed, he responded that `Abd Allāh had simply been entrusted with the secret (mbóot), which had been transmitted from Shaykh 'Aḥmad at-Tijāniyy. He did not have the authorization to use it, and it was therefore latent in his hands.
After hearing versions of this story numerous times from Senegalese disciples, I asked `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj's grandson and namesake, Al-Ḥājj wuld Mishri, what he could tell me of the story, he said he was not familiar with it. I do not know whether he declined to comment because he had no knowledge of this narrative or because it involved mystical secrets not to be divulged to outsiders—he is, after all, one of the most discreet muqaddams I knew regarding mystical matters. In any case, Al-Ḥājj wuld Mishri simply says that his father, Mishri wuld `Abd Allāh, was present during a later trip, in 1927, when his visionary father exclaimed: “There is no God but Allāh [a term of astonishment]! What great things God has in store for this black youth!”29 From this point on, Mishri took Baay very seriously. It was apparently during the same trip that `Abd Allāh gave Baay an unlimited 'ijāzah.30
Regardless of whether this story of `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj represents official Taalibe Baay history, it illustrates the pervasive notion that Ṣūfī knowledge and authority always come from an authorized source and are never invented, stumbled upon, or created ex nihilo. The secret given to Baay Ñas had come from Muḥammad to Shaykh 'Aḥmad at-Tijāniyy and then passed down from generation to generation until reaching its destination. Thus, Baay Ñas's claims to have brought nothing to the Islamic religion do not contradict the fact that he taught something unique. Passing on a secret, as I discuss in Chapter [dissertation-authority], is not an act of letting someone know a fact (which might occur accidentally) but a ritual transmission of knowledge and authority that is ineffectual without certain conditions (sharṭ).31 This principle of ritual transmission applies to Ṣūfī knowledge, occult knowledge, and in many cases textual knowledge.
During his father's later years, during his teens, Baay spent his rainy seasons cultivating the family fields in his father's second capital of Kóosi Mbittéyeen. There he built his reputation among the sons of his father's muqaddams, the village's people, and the disciples who came through to work in the fields.
According to their descendants and followers, several of Baay Ñas's earliest and most well known disciples were sons of Allaaji Abdulaay's muqaddams who committed themselves to Baay during Maam Allaaji Abdulaay's lifetime and while both Baay and these disciples were in their teens. They say that Allaaji Abdulaay supported this. Although Baay was not a muqaddam at the time and could not technically be their shaykh, they showed him the deference due to an important shaykh. One of Baay's closest disciples, Sheex Omar Ture, who was two years younger than Baay, became attached to Baay during his teens and announced to Maam Allaaji Abdulaay that he would be Baay's disciple. According to Sheex Omar Ture's son and successor, Ammat Tiijaan Ture,
Baay Sheexu Omar was already a disciple of Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas. During a visit to Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas in Kóosi, he saw Baay for the first time reading the Qur'ān under the direction of his father Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas. [Baay's] penetrating voice and his behavior drew the attention of Baay Sheexu Omar Ture, and he told Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas that he chose [Baay] to be his guide. Maam Allaaji Abdulaay accepted this request and during Sheexu Omar's periodic visits to Kóosi he drew close to Baay significantly and sincerely. . . . Maam Allaaji Abdulaay recognized this relationship and commended Baay Sheexu Omar Ture.32
After Allaaji Abdulaay's death, Sheex Omar Ture officially became a disciple of Baay Ñas by renewing the wird with him. Yet those who received or renewed their wird from Baay before 1929 were not disciples in the same sense intended by “Taalibe Baay” today. Despite Baay's many early admirers, the Fayḍah had not yet begun. Histories enumerating “the first Taalibe Baay” begin counting with those who first received tarbiyyah in 1929 after the beginning of the Fayḍah in Kóosi.
During his father's lifetime, during his late teens and early twenties, Baay was already very active as a religious leader and scholar despite not having been appointed a muqaddam. Around the age of twenty, he wrote his first known work, a long poem called Rūḥ al-'Adab (“The Spirit of Propriety/Good Behavior”), a treatise on the behavior becoming of a good Muslim, still considered an important reference for Taalibe Baay. He had close relations with his father's disciples around Saalum and was delegated to represent the family at certain events. This is evident in the fact that one disciple and muqaddam of his father, Usmaan Kebbe, gave Baay Ñas his eight-year-old son as a ward in 1922 while Baay was visiting the Saalum-Saalum village of Kebbe Mbudaay to trace the foundation of the village's new mosque.33 Baay raised the boy, Allaaji Abdulaay Kebbe (better known as Àjji Màkka), and later made him chief of Medina Baay's annex, Saam.
After Allaaji Abdulaay and the beginning of the Fayḍah When Allaaji Abdulaay died in 1922 and Baay neared twenty-two, Allaaji Abdulaay's oldest son Muḥammad succeeded him as representative of the family and leader of his father's community of disciples. Since then, Muḥammad's official nickname among disciples and non-disciples alike has been “Xalifa” (from Khalīfah) or “Baay Xalifa” (“Father Xalifa”),34 and those named in his honor are also called Xalifa. Contrary to widespread perceptions, any tension between the followers of Baay and those of Xalifa does not result from a succession dispute, for Baay and his disciples have never called into question Muḥammad Ñas's role as Allaaji Abdulaay's khalīfah. Despite tension between communities of disciples, leaders from both branches of the family have generally attempted to maintain good relations, sending representatives from one zāwiyah to the other's major events. Baay even named a son, mayor of Kaolack since 2004, “Xalifa” after his brother well after relocating to Medina Baay, both honoring his brother and confirming his brother's status as his father's successor.
Moreover, by the time of his father's death, Baay Ñas had not yet received an 'ijāzah (Seesemann, 2004; Kane, 2000), so he could not have directly succeeded his father. Soon after his father's death, Baay received 'ijāzahs from representatives of all the major Mauritanian Tijāniyy families, receiving not only all his father's lines of authority and eventually lines directly linking him to all the shaykhs of the Mauritanian 'Idaw`ali tribe that had brought the Tijāniyyah to West Africa. As his father had done when he received 'ijāzahs from central authorities in Fās, Baay received 'ijāzahs from 'Idaw`ali shaykhs placing him beyond the chains of authority both of other Senegalese Tijāniyy groups and of his entire family (Seesemann, 2004).
This point is crucial in Taalibe Baay insistence that Baay Ñas did not found a branch of a larger “Ñaseen” line of authority. His disciples consider him the founder of a spiritual lineage directly connected to Shaykh 'Aḥmad at-Tijāniyy and independent of his family. His muqaddams' 'ijāzahs do not mention Allaaji Abdulaay in their chain of authority (silsilah, sanad) but instead trace authority directly to 'Aḥmad Sukayrij, then head of the Fās zāwiyah, and even this line is considered less the source but a recognition of his authority. Many scholars (for example, Gellar, 1995; Magassouba, 1985, Colvin, 1981) commit the mistake of referring to Baay Ñas as Allaaji Abdulaay's successor, conflating two independent branches of the Tijāniyyah.35 This confusion reflects a broader tendency of outsiders to refer to disciples of all Ñaseen leaders as part of a single obedience or even as an independent “Ñaseen” Ṣūfī order.
According to Seesemann (2004), Baay's first 'ijāzah came from through 'Idaw`ali shaykh Muḥammad Maḥmūd wuld Muḥammad aṣ-Ṣaghīr ash-Shinqīṭiyy on behalf of Allaaji Abdulaay in 1922. An unlimited (muṭlaqah) 'ijāzah, it included all eleven of his father's lines of authority (sanad, pl. 'asānīd), including authority from three major branches of the Tijāniyyah.36 Yet because it came through his father, this 'ijāzah did not necessarily supercede anything available in his family.
Between this time and the early years of the Fayḍah, Seesemann (2004: 78) continues, Baay Ñas cultivated relationships with other 'Idaw`ali shaykhs, collecting 'ijāzahs from `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj in 1926 and another from Muḥammad al-Kabīr ibn 'Aḥmad al-`Alawiyy in 1927. In 1930, after he had already announced the Fayḍah, he received an 'ijāzah from Muḥammad Sa`īd, grandson and representative of Muḥammad al-Ḥāfiẓ, who had first introduced the order to West Africa. In 1935, he received an 'ijāzah from Muḥammad al-'Amīn, who represented the important sub-branch of the Ḥāfiẓiyyah founded by Baddi wuld Sīdīna. In the same year, he received an 'ijāzah from the other Tijāniyy branch established by Mawlūd Vāl,37 who had inducted Al-Ḥājj `Umar Taal into the order and was therefore the root of all other Senegalese branches. Seesemann rightly emphasizes Baay's gathering of recognition from these families both in placing Baay beyond his family's religious authority and in facilitating international acceptance of Baay Ñas's claims to be bringer of the Fayḍah, Khalīfah of Shaykh at-Tijāniyy, and Ghawth az-Zamān (“help of the age”). Yet for many Taalibe Baay, even more important than receiving authority and recognition from these Mauritanian leaders, Baay received and activated the latent secret of Divine Knowledge, many say through `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj, which only he could teach.
Baay's independence in his daily activities and relations with disciples matched his independence in cultivating chains of authority outside his family. Soon after his father's death, Baay Ñas was already largely independent from the rest of the family and began to build a community of disciples largely outside his family's sight in Kóosi Mbittéyeen. According to a village elder in Kóosi Mbittéyeen, “when Maam Allaaji Abdulaay was no longer around, the elders (of Kóosi) looked to Baay Xalifa (Muḥammad Ñas)38, who sought someone to represent him here. He asked his younger brothers, who all refused, so he asked Baay, and Baay said fine (bisimila).” Baay established himself in Kóosi, overseeing the family's fields in Kóosi and also becoming the representative of Allaaji Abdulaay's family in the village, thus acting as the village's highest religious authority even while still in his twenties. It appears that he and a group of close disciples lived there throughout the year and not only during the rainy season, and that the rest of ths family had relatively little idea of what was brewing there. The young people who had vowed before his father's death to become his disciples now surrounded him, and when they were not farming he would teach them Islamic texts in his informal Arabic school (majlis). It appears that he also appointed other teachers during this same period, including Sëriñ Daara Allaaji “Karaw” Ñas, who taught there for twenty years before becoming the principal teacher, muqaddam, and imam in Tayba Ñaseen.39 During this seven-year period, as mentioned above, Baay not only focused on his growing community of disciples but also gained the respect of the 'Idaw`ali shaykhs who came through the area.
Narratives consistently describe Baay's month-long tafsīr (Qur'ānic interpretation) in Kóosi as the event that made him into a major leader and heralded the onset of the Fayḍah. In preparation for the month of Ramaḍān, probably in 1929, the people of Kóosi requested him to deliver the customary month-long tafsīr lesson. In Taalibe Baay and other Islamic communities, during each Ramaḍān, residents of a village or neighborhood organize a month-long tafsīr in or around a mosque, inviting the most qualified religious scholar available to speak for at least two hours each afternoon throughout the month. Commenting on two of the Qur'ān's sixty ḥizbs each day, a speaker can touch on all ḥizbs in the month's 30 days.40
Accounts of this event say that the people of Kóosi requested the 28-year-old Ibrayima to deliver a tafsīr, but he refused, saying they should seek someone older and more qualified. Delivering a tafsīr is a job normally reserved for a senior scholar. But the people of Kóosi told him that if he did not deliver it, they wanted no tafsīr at all, and he relented. Respecting protocol, he approached his older brother Xalifa and asked his permission. The practice of seeking permission of the highest authority possible any time one wishes to organize a tafsīr is still a common practice, as I observed with several of my informants. One companion of Baay reported that Xalifa told Baay “Ah, Ibrayima, you're getting ahead of yourself!”41 He then asked his brother to lend him the book Tafsīr al-Jalālayn,42 which is still the primary tafsīr reference in the area. According to the same account, Xalifa refused, telling him that if he knew anything he should say it. Another informant says Baay's mother told him she would prefer him to drop it, to which Baay answered: “With regards to all that comes from God, I take no one's orders. In asking, I was only accommodating (maslaa) but what is in here (the heart) is in no book.”43
Narratives of the tafsīr often relate that Xalifa send two younger brothers (accounts differ on the names) to listen to the tafsīr and to report back to Xalifa regarding how well Ibrayima performed. They became enthralled by Ibrayima's performance and spent days longer in Kóosi than Xalifa expected. When they returned to Lewna, they reported to Xalifa that they had never heard anything like Ibrayima's tafsīr, and that if their father knew all the things Ibrayima had spoken of they certainly had never heard him say it.
The Kóosi tafsīr is the moment in Taalibe Baay narratives when Baay, theretofore a young and minor son of Allaaji Abdulaay, publicly proved himself as a formidable scholar and mystic. He did not simply have a large quantity of knowledge in his followers' eyes but, more importantly, taught things that no one else knew. One of the many miracles attributed to Baay is that he studied only with his father (and some say with Xalifa after his father's death) and yet knew things neither of these knew, and the Kóosi tafsīr is cited as the first proof of this fact.
Ibrayima's distinction as a qualitatively different leader became irrevocable at the Gàmmu in Lewna Ñaseen of 1929,44 when a 28-year-old Ibrayima arose, pounded his chest, and proclaimed himself to be the bringer of the Fayḍah, saying that anyone who wished to know God must do so through him. It was finally time, many narratives say, to reveal the secret that `Abd Allāh wuld al-Ḥājj had told him not to reveal until seven years after his father's death. At that very moment when he first announced the Fayḍah, many people are said to have come to “know God” immediately without a formal tarbiyyah process. They spontaneously shrieked, cried out, and otherwise showed signs of ḥāl, a state of spiritual transformation. As one might expect, anyone who did not take Baay's claims at face value saw such a grandiose claim from a junior family member as highly disruptive of family and religious order, and a major rift emerged between those who accepted Baay's claims and those who didn't.
Up until 1929, Baay and his community of disciples had been living in Kóosi, where they stayed for some time after the Fayḍah began. Lists of his first disciples generally give only the names of men who would later become his principal Senegalese muqaddams, although we can assume that women were among the first group as well, since young women were in many places the first and most numerous to join the movement. Lists of the first disciples also do not include those who followed Baay before the Fayḍah, as Ibrayima had not yet become “Baay” and could not give them the knowledge that makes one distinctly Taalibe Baay. Baay would soon send all of these first muqaddams, aside from Alliw Siise, whom he would keep by his side, to represent him in villages and towns throughout Senegal.
The list of major disciples begins with Baay's younger brother, Baabakar, more commonly known as Sëriñ Mbay (Mbay being a standard nickname for Baabakar) or “Baay Mbay.” (“Baay” or “Father” is a title prefixed to the name of anyone of Baay's generation, although it is only an independent name for Baay himself.) Sëriñ Mbay would go on to become one of the major intellectuals of the movement, building a house next to Baay's in Medina Baay and setting up an important informal school and community of disciples in the town of Kër Majabel in Lagem.
The second was Sëriñ Daara45 Usmaan Njaay, a Siñi-Siñi from Njaayeen Kàdd, who would become one of Medina Baay's principal teachers and muqaddams and also a gàmmukat of renown. During part of his career, Baay would send him to the Njolofeen village of Kër Maakànji in Waalo.
The third was Sheex Ibra Faal,46 who would become Baay's representative in Kóosi. Ibra Faal would become the subject of many of the most popular miracle stories having to do with Baay.
Usually, the fourth disciple is listed as Baay's childhood friend Sheex Omar Ture, a Saalum-Saalum whom Baay would send to represent him in Ndóofaan Lagem. Omar Ture would later found his own village, Saam Kër Sheex Omar, between Ndóofaan and Tayba Ñaseen, and after Baay's death he would move to Serekunda, near Banjul, Gambia, to set up a large school and mosque and become the movement's principal leader there. Some list another disciple, Allaaji Ture, as preceding Sheex Omar, but minor disciples are usually left out of these accounts.47
Among the next disciples were another younger brother of Baay named Haadi Ñas and then Sëriñ Alliw Siise, whom Baay would name his khalīfah. The son of a Saalum-Saalum muqaddam of Allaaji Abdulaay, Sëriñ Alliw would rarely leave Medina Baay, acting as Baay's personal secretary when Baay was present and his replacement when Baay was away.
After these disciples, they say the disciples came like rain. What is striking about lists of early disciples is that they do not show an abundance of people from a single village but list individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds, most from Saalum and several from the coastal area of Siin, who sought out Baay as part of a personal mystical vocation. Aside from Baay's own relatives, only a small number of the first individuals are Njolofeen. When people began to join the movement in larger numbers, many of the first villages to become predominantly Taalibe Baay were Njolofeen and other neighboring villages formerly affiliated with his father, yet those who came individually were from diverse backgrounds and often ended up leading their whole communities into the movement.
News of the Fayḍah quickly spread through Saalum and Siin and through Tijāniyy areas of Mauritania. Baay's was not a homegrown movement that incubated within a single group before spreading across space but was from the beginning multi-cultural, translocal, and almost immediately international. The international nature of the movement was facilitated by already international Tijāniyy networks and his father's long imbrication in international touring circuits of Tijāniyy muqaddams. Within the first decade of Baay's announcement of the Fayḍah, all the pieces were in place for a movement spanning West Africa: the key Mauritanian shaykhs were on board, as was the Emir of Kano, perhaps the most high-profile Tijāniyy in Nigeria.
Sometime in 1929,48 Baay and his disciples moved from Kóosi to Lewna Ñaseen. Biographers say that Lewna Ñaseen had little space for the influx of disciples. As Lewna Ñaseen became crowded, tensions between Baay's disciples and those allied with his elders grew, and some “began to harrass the Shaykh, his disciples, and his followers” (Ya`qūb Abū Bakr c. 2003: 46).
Many elders today decline to talk about the “family problems” between Baay's and Xalifa's disciples, saying they have made their peace and do not want to reawaken old tensions. But stories are still passed down, especially stories demonstrating Baay's wise response to the problems. Muqaddam Duudu Bittéy relates an account from his teacher Omar Màlle Caam, saying that some people in Lewna would try to provoke Baay's disciples, throwing rocks and calling them insane, but Baay ordered them (with uneven success) not to retaliate. Once, a rock knocked the eye out of one disciple, and Baay placed it back in its socket and rubbed it, and it returned to perfect health. In fact, the other eye occasionally suffered from conjunctivitis but the eye Baay had cured always remained healthy until the man's death (which Bittéy says was not too long ago).
A definitive rupture occurred immediately at the mid-morning prayer of Korite (`Īd al-fiṭr) in 1930.49 According to a disciple who was there at the time, some people wanted to attack Baay because of his many disciples, and his older brother, Allaaji Baabakar, brandished a sword (jaasi) and told them to leave him, for in Islam, whoever wants to proclaim can proclaim, and whoever wants to follow can follow, but one must leave alone whomever proclaims.50
Another companion described what happened after Baay left the scene:
After they did the prayer of korite and they had just said “as-salāmu `alaykum,” the sëriñ (Baay) got up with his disciples, . . . and wanted to go home. No one knows how it all started—the fight broke out. . . . The sëriñ was in his room and had with him a géwal (griot), telling him: “say, whoever is my taalibe do not retaliate.”51
After the early afternoon prayer (tisubaar) and the late afternoon prayer (tàkkusaan), a chief in Kaolack who liked Baay a lot told him that if he wanted, he would give him a place to go, and he gave him a place over in Daral. . . . Baay saw the place and said “I won't fit here.” . . . So he continued to Medina [what is now known as Medina Mbàbba]. . . . 52
This suggests that the French authorities were immediately alerted to the situation and were apprised that relocation was the only solution. Another account53 says Baay refused to settle in Daral because he could perceive a lot of noise there, which turned out to be true, because that is where the large sheep market is now located. According to Baay Elimaan Ñas, Baay and several of his companions brought their possessions and placed them in Medina Mbàbba, where they spent the night, then the next morning that moved on to what is now Medina Baay.
The current head of East Medina Mbàbba, Ngisali Njaay,54 insists that his father, Mbàbba Njaay, owned what is now Medina Baay and gave Baay permission to settle there. The Mbóojeen of Coofog insist that their chief, Séeni Mbóoj, son of the Saalum king Gadel Mbóoj, gave Baay this permission, although they say there was tension between them for several years because Baay did not properly seek their permission to expand his territory.55 Those accompanying Baay say the Mbóojeen (not the Njaayeen) did indeed control the area at the time, but that the French were the only ones with the authority to cede land. Doubtless, the French kept a close enough eye on religious leaders that their permission was indispensable, but Baay attempted to maintain good diplomatic relations with all his neighbors and likely discussed his plans with all of them. Baay eventually gave Séeni Mbóoj a very fine horse and accoutrements to smooth over any hard feelings.56 Many members of both families are now Taalibe Baay, and descendants of both families have since intermarried on several occasions.
Not everyone agrees that Baay left for Medina the very day of Korite. Allaaji Bittéy, the other of the two remaining companions from that day, says they were given until Tabaski (`Īd al-Fiṭr), almost two and a half months later, to prepare to leave. Allaaji Abdulaay (Aas) Maxmuud Ñas, a nephew of Baay considered an authority on historical matters, differs from both surviving companions, saying Baay did indeed leave that day but retreated instead to Kóosi, which he had only recently left and from where he then made arrangements with colonial administrators to occupy a new settlement. In any case, Baay and his close companions left well before the bulk of the disciples, many of whom left later and some of whom stayed indefinitely. We can assume that by Tabaski (approximately 9 May, 1930), the time Allaaji Bittéy reports as the deadline set by the rest of the family, Baay and the bulk of his disciples were in Medina Baay.
Ousmane Kane (2000) says that during this initial scission, there were in fact three groups: those who went with Baay, a larger number who considered Xalifa their leader, and a third and smaller group that considered Allaaji Abdulaay to be their only leader. Taalibe Baay sometimes adduce the fact that Baay went out to find his own disciples rather than taking his brothers' as a sign of his respect for his elders. This may have been so during the beginning of the Fayḍah, but my own observations lead me to believe that over the years, a large part of these last two groups has gradually become disciples of Baay. Several Saalum-Saalum muqaddams from Eastern Saalum I interviewed who have become disciples of Baay Ñas between the last years of his life until the present told me they come from families that followed Allaaji Abdulaay, although their communities have since become overwhelmingly Taalibe Baay. In Kaolack, Dakar, and many villages throughout Senegal, I have met very few people claiming to be disciples of Allaaji Abdulaay or Xalifa and seen very few posters or other such symbols of discipleship.
Founding Medina Baay Baay's companions say they all spent their first night in Medina Baay under the stars where Baay's room is now the day they left Lewna Ñaseen. According to one, they cleared a space with their bare hands and slept around Baay to protect him from snakes and wild animals through the night.57 As they settled into their new home, the first activities were to build a mosque and a dwelling for Baay, then they cleared the open square (bayaal) between them. Both structures were originally temporary structures made of thatch, wood, and millet stalks, and Baay's house was soon rebuilt with the same mud bricks that he lived under until his death—a fact often cited as a demonstration his humility. Baay evidently was thinking big from the start, having his house placed across from the mosque and tracing a wide open space (bayaal) to be cleared between the two. Many Islamic villages with a clear authority figure have such spaces, but this one was large enough to accommodate thousands who would soon fill it for the annual Gàmmu celebration.
Sëriñ Alliw Siise's canonical 1934 biographical sketch58 says work on the zāwiyah (the more permanent, cement-block mosque) began a year later on April 2, 1931 (in Nyās (n.d.: 17))59 and was completed soon thereafter. At the time, there was only one Friday mosque in Kaolack, which the French had built in the 1920s in greater Lewna (not Lewna Ñaseen) for a muqaddam and son in law of Allaaji Maalig Si named Usmaan Kan. So until 1936, when Medina Baay's mosque was expanded and designated as a Friday mosque, Medina Baay's residents had to walk three kilometers to Kaolack's Friday mosque in the greater Lewna (not Lewna Ñaseen) every Friday for prayer. The mosque would be expanded to its current dimensions in 1958 (Monteil, 1980: 166). The Lewna Ñaseen zāwiyah itself would not become a Friday mosque until 1966.60
The French administration gave Baay control over a large stretch of uncultivated land north of Medina Mbàbba stretching north to Gelwaar-ruled Coofog and west to Ndooroŋ, which the French in turn gave to the Murid shaykh Bashiiru Mbàkke. Thus, Medina Baay is hemmed in on the south and north by two longstanding Gelwaar communities, to the west by a predominantly Murid area, and to the east by a salty floodplain of te Saalum River. Baay's disciples now say that by circumscribing Baay's domain in this way, the French were trying to prevent Medina Baay from becoming a sprawling quasi-theocracy like Tuubaa.61 Baay called the eastern part of this land grant, where Baay and his disciples lived, “Madīnah al-Jadīd,”62 or “New Madīnah,” named after the second holy site of Islam, but it was soon nicknamed in Wolof “Medina Baay,” following the common practice of appending the founder's name to a village's name.63 The northwestern part, across the railroad, was called Saam (Shām), named after the part of the Holy Land, Greater Syria similarly located northwest of the historic city of Madīnah. These place names are part of a pervasive analogy equating Baay to Muḥammad. Baay compares himself to Muḥammad in his poetry, saying that like Muḥammad, his own people had expelled him from one holy city (Lewna Ñaseen is thus likened to Makkah) to Madīnah.
Baay and his followers did not lose time setting up sites of education. Baay assigned Allaaji Asta Ñas to open the first Qur'ānic school. Three teachers took the advanced students: his closest disciple, Sëriñ Alliw Siise taught fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence and practice); Aamadu Caam Gine (nicknamed after his village, Gine Waalo), taught Arabic grammar and language; Baay Ñas himself taught various other subjects, such as ḥadīth, rhetoric (balāghah), the art of language (badī` al-ma`ānī), poetry, and tafsīr.64 A number of other teachers opened their own Qur'ānic schools (daaras) and Arabic schools (majlis). Later, Baay would enlist his Mauritanian disciple, Muḥammad ar-Rabbāniyy, to teach his own and other disciples' children the Qur'ān using Arabic pronunciation (Senegalese teachers typically teach a simplified, Wolofized pronunciation).
Baay Ñas and his closest muqaddams split their day between their various religious tasks. They devoted part of the day to studying, reading the Qur'ān, and reciting prayers and wirds in seclusion; part of it to receiving guests; part to teaching students; and part to giving disciples tarbiyyah. It is often said that Baay Ñas would recite the entire Qur'ān twice every Friday, once reading during the day and once from memory at night.65 Baay taught students in his majlis in front of his house between the prayers of tàkkusaan (`aṣr) and timis (maghrib), that is, from around 5:00 in the afternoon until sundown two or three hours later. Alliw Siise's son Sheex Tiijaan Siise says his father would teach young people in his majlis during the same hours. Then during the evening he would give tarbiyyah to those Baay had delegated to him. Sëriñ Alliw Siise was also Baay Ñas's personal secretary and would sit in Baay's audiences during the day, writing letters and 'ijāzahs on Baay's behalf. When not travelling, Baay could be found either in his room or under the open-air roof directly in front of his house.
Like Lewna, Medina Baay's land was too saline and populous for farming, and it was devoted entirely to religious and educational activities. It depended on other villages, especially Baay's summer village of Kóosi Mbittéyeen, for sustenance. Baay continued to spend his rainy seasons in Kóosi, which had already become a stronghold in his movement, and many people who joined the movement at this time describe finding him in Kóosi and receiving tarbiyyah there. Although the land in eastern Medina Baay was saline and partially flooded from the river during certain times of year (the water has subsided since then), the northwestern land of Saam was fertile, and Baay soon assigned his ward and disciple Àjji Màkka Kebbe, a Saalum-Saalum from Kebbe Mbudaay, to lead the effort to turn Saam into a large orchard, planting mangoes, cashews, and other fruit trees, and systematically digging wells every hundred meters. The fruit trees were plentiful until the 1970s and 1980s, when Saam became completely absorbed into Kaolack's residential sprawl. Although Baay Ñas remained the ultimate authority, he installed his nephew Aas Jatu Ñas (son of his older brother Haadi) as village head in charge of routine matters, and in 1952, as Saam's trees began to be replaced by houses, he sent Àjji Màkka Kebbe to live in Saam and to be its neighborhood head.66
It appears that only a core group of disciples from surrounding Saalum and a critical mass of Njolofeen relatives stayed with Baay indefinitely during this period. Many others came to receive tarbiyyah and returned to their villages soon thereafter. The inhabitants of a number of Saalum villages had already become attached to him before the Fayḍah and others joined en masse immediately after. Residents of the Njolofeen village Mbittéyeen Abdu said Baay visited the village in 1930 and that the whole village joined him that year.67 Yet at this point few people who did not seek Baay out personally had received tarbiyyah, as muqaddams had not yet been assigned to represent Baay to these villages.
Many disciples describe becoming his disciple as a deeply personal mystical vocation initiated by dreams that pushed them to seek Baay out in Kóosi or Medina Baay and to stay with him for some time. Some narrative elements from the earliest disciples remain constant in more recent narratives of discipleship: someone who knows very little about or is even antagonistic toward Baay has a profoundly moving dream or series of dreams that instills a great desire to learn who Baay is and what he has to offer; sometimes this desire is latent for days or years, but at some point, the person can no longer wait and seeks out Baay or a muqaddam; the choice to follow Baay is usually accompanied by persecution by family and friends, although in many (but not all) cases the family eventually sees the benefits and becomes Taalibe Baay as well. Women especially tell of trekking to Kóosi to receive tarbiyyah and then returning to their domestic duties, often berated initially for abandoning their responsibilities but ultimately playing a leading role in bringing their male relatives into the movement. In fact, it appears that in many places, the Fayḍah was initially a phenomenon among young women and then spread to the general population (see below).
It was during this early period that Ñas received the nickname “Baay” from one of his first disciples (said to be his fortieth) and later muqaddam, Omar Màlle Caam. One evening, Sheex Ibrayima sent Omar Màlle Caam on an errand—“go find the Prophet for me.”68 Omar Màlle Caam was confused but thought Sheex Ibrayima intended him to go to Kóosi, so he set out on foot for Kóosi. As he walked, he realized that if he went all the way to Kóosi, he would not be back to Medina Baay in time for morning prayer (fajar). So he returned and slept in front of Sheex Ibrayima's door in order to be awakened as Baay left to lead morning prayer. When Sheex Ibrayima found someone blocking his doorway, he asked “who is it?” and Omar Màlle Caam answered: “it's me, Baay” (“Father”). Those who heard him, Duudu Bittéy says, scolded him for disrespecting Sheex Ibrayima with such an ordinary name. But they did not understand, Bittéy continues, that Baay is the father of us all, whether we know it or not—including me. Even Baay's mother asked him what to call him, and he replied that she should call him Baay like everyone else. This story's subtext is that Omar Màlle's search for the Prophet led him to Baay's door.
The Fayḍah's spread The Fayḍah quickly spread through Saalum and parts of Siin and, soon after its inception, gained the allegiance of members of prominent 'Idaw`ali Tijāniyy families in Mauritania. Beginning in the 1940s, several prominent Nigerian Tijāniyy leaders joined the movement, and from that point the movement spread rapidly through Nigeria and neighboring countries, starting with Hausa and eventually winning over many Yoruba. The spread of the Fayḍah in Mauritania and Nigeria will be discussed in Chapter [dissertation-cosmopolitanism].
Baay Ñas's movement caused polarized reactions nearly everywhere: many people found in it a deep mystical experience they could find nowhere else, while others considered the manifestations of what Taalibe Baay called Divine Knowledge to be excessive and even a kind of elective folly. Those most often named as Baay's earliest disciples are those who became his major muqaddam, yet oral accounts suggest that the first followers, and even some of the first muqaddams, in many places were women. Many of these women went to Kóosi against their husbands' orders, and after they returned their whole family usually followed them into the movement.
The road to Kóosi Ummi Géy was born in the village of Kër Soose in Lagem, but her grandparents had immigrated to the area from Fuuta.69 Around 1935, she says, she heard of a great sëriñ in Kóosi, and she felt compelled to find out more about him but no one around her could tell her anything more specific. Finally an old Baay Faal (a Murid who follows the way of Ahmadu Bàmba's follower Ibra Faal) who had taken refuge in the area since the wars between the king of Kajoor and the French, was able to tell her something about Baay. She decided to seek Baay in Kóosi, but her husband forbade her from going.
As she worked alongside her husband in their fields, a snake bit him and she panicked, not knowing what to do. Just then a group of men passed by and volunteered to carry him to the village to a doctor. Soon after this incident, she had a dream in which she saw herself going to Kóosi and finding Baay Ñas, and she told her husband of the dream but he still forbade her. One day she surreptitiously left and began to walk toward where she thought Kóosi might be, although did not know where she was going. She happened upon the same group of men who had taken her husband to the hospital, and she asked them if they could direct her to Kóosi. They said that they were going to Kóosi and that she should join them.
When she arrived in Kóosi, she was overcome with emotion and cried. The village was full of disciples who had come to learn Baay's secrets, and she had to wait weeks before seeing him, eating in the house and sleeping in a hut called “the taalibe hut.” The day she finally saw Baay, she cried. He came to her and put his hand on her head and told her to arise, so she arose, still crying. She looked at his face and saw a light in it, and her heart began to beat very quickly. He then gave her the Tijāniyy wird and helped her to know God (i.e., gave her tarbiyyah). She adds that she has never regretted this and has practiced the wird faithfully since. Since then, sometimes when she has gone out during the evening to pronounce the wird, she has seen a light surrounding her.
She returned to Kër Soose a staunch Taalibe Baay and had problems with her husband's family. She wanted to organize a sikkar (dhikr) chant meeting, but her husband's brother refused to allow her to host it in their house. She finally was able to convince her husband to allow her to host the meetings, and they brought in a great chanter from nearby Daaru Mbittéyeen, Baaba Caan, to lead the chants. This was the first Taalibe Baay sikkar meeting held in Kër Soose. Since then, her husband's whole family became disciples, and they continued to host sikkar meetings in the village.
She adds to her story her own testimonial that Baay Ñas was sent by God to teach people to know God and will that no other man like him will ever come again. Anyone who does not know God through Baay will not know God through anyone. Baay is a river from which one can drink without reducing it.
Daaru Mbittéyeen early became a stronghold in the Taalibe Baay movement, even though its founder, Allaaji Aali Laamo Bittéy, founded a separate Tijāniyy branch that remains independent of the Taalibe Baay movement. Several of his children and grandchildren nonetheless became Taalibe Baay. Two interviewees who lived in Daaru Mbittéyeen at the time (a man and a woman)70 said that Baay's first disciple and muqaddam in Daaru Mbittéyeen was Ibrayima Bittéy, followed by Baaba Jée Cubb. They both name two women, Faati Musaa Bittéy and then Xadi Kutaa, appointed directly by Baay as muqaddams near the beginning of the Fayḍah. These women were prominent members of the Taalibe Baay community there and organized sikkar meetings, and one interviewee said they began to give many people the wird (which among Taalibe Baay often implies giving tarbiyyah as well).71 This indicates that from the beginning of the movement, Baay appointed women as muqaddams. Many disciples are unaware that Baay personally appointed woman as muqaddams, although his own close muqaddams have appointed other well known women who work actively today.
The entire populations of most Njolofeen villages soon became strong supporters of the Fayḍah. One exception was Caameen Waalo, one of the earliest Njolofeen villages near Mbittéyeen Waalo and Tayba Ñaseen. The village split in two, and the greater part remained supporters of Xalifa Ñas. In 1936, most of the Taalibe Baay left Caameen Waalo to found their own village, which they named Medina Caameen after Medina Baay. Their neighbors referred to the village as Caameen Sanc or Sanc Caameen (“the settlement of the Caameen”). Interviews with muqaddams from other Saalum villages who became Taalibe Baay relatively recently suggest that many Saalum-Saalum villages, especially in the east, remained attached to Allaaji Abdulaay and his successors and only became Taalibe Baay recently.
While Baay's renown was growing among Wolof speakers in Saalum, several muqaddams spread his movement quickly to the west among the Ñoominka, Séeréer-speaking fishers in the Saalum River Delta in the former kingdom of Siin.72 It was the pagan king of Siin whose forces killed Màbba Jaxu Ba in battle in 1867, heralding the dissolution of the jihad movement and the Islamic empire. Only well after the jihad, during the early twentieth century, did Islam become widespread in these areas, although there were Tijāniyy communities and scholars there since the time of Allaaji Abdulaay. Several key Ñoominka who became muqaddams during the 1930s have brought the Fayḍah to perhaps a majority of Ñoominka (one muqaddam says ninety percent of all Ñoominka are Taalibe Baay), whereas inland, agriculturalist Séeréer are not predominantly Taalibe Baay. The movement's major muqaddams, schools, and disciple communities are concentrated in the coastal towns of Sóokóon,73 Jirnda, Jam Ñaajo, and Medina Sàngaako, with local groups of disciples throughout the area.
Arfaan Jaañ,74 a Ñoominka whose parents were Tijāniyy and who studied in Siin with a Wolof friend of Baay, was appointed a muqaddam during the early days of the Fayḍah. He installed himself in the fishing community of Jirnda, where he first inducted his relatives into the order while teaching Qur'ān and the Islamic disciplines. After setting up a community there, he began having nightly dreams that let him know that other places awaited his work.75 He left Jirnda and set up a school in Badandan, where he built up a community of disciples over three years. He continued to move through other villages where Islam was not firmly implanted (Pasi Maamur Ngataan, then Mundaay), then in 1965 returned indefinitely to Badandan. In each of these places, he set up a vibrant communty of disciples, most of them Ñoominka, and taught the Qur'ān to as many people as possible. He died there in 1974. (See Chapter Chapter [dissertation-authority] for more on this story.) Arfaan Jaañ's trajectory is similar to many teachers and muqaddams in areas where Islam and the Taalibe Baay movement are not well established. Rather than develop a community in one place, they describe it as their duty to spread religious knowledge to as many places as possible, leaving as soon as there is a viable community. As a teacher-muqaddam grows older, he will likely settle in a single place. Arfaan Jaañ's son and successor, Mustafaa Jaañ, says that through these peregrinations, his father became a leader over many disciple communities throughout the Ñoominka area.
Another major Ñoominka figure is Baabakar Caam, whose story is told in Chapter [dissertation-knowledge-sufi]. As opposed to Arfaan Jaañ, Caam was born to a convert to Islam in a newly Islamizing community. Despite his blindness, he has become a prominent teacher, muqaddam, and chanter. He has made his mark on Séeréer-speaking areas not only through representing Baay there as a muqaddam and teaching but also through being delivering gàmmu recitations in Séeréer in addition to Wolof.
Throughout Siin and Saalum, Baay Ñas established a system whereby each predominantly Taalibe Baay village or region has a muqaddam representing Baay there. Most Njolofeen villages are overseen by a son of Baay, in many cases one whose mother is from that village. This resulted in a system of religious governance through which Baay delegated responsibility during his lifetime and through which religious authority was maintained after Baay's death. For example, Sheex Tiijaan Ñas oversees Daaru Mbittéyeen, 'Aḥmad (Daam) Ñas oversees Mbittéyeen Abdu, and Allaaji Abdulaay Ibrayima (Aas) oversaw Tayba Ñaseen, which his sons now oversee. Baay assigned other muqaddams to oversee other areas: Omar Faati Jàllo was over many Ñoominka fishing communities in Siin; Sheex Omar Ture was over Ndóofaan Lagem and nearby villages. Many villages in Saalum have their own muqaddams, each of whom nonetheless has a principal “doorway to Baay” (bunt ci Baay) to whom he reports and owed hadiyyah. Usually a muqaddam reports to a direct descendant of Baay, although sometimes they may be attached to another muqaddam. In eastern Saalum, Abdu Wilaan in Kafrin reports to Baay's son Haadi; Jim Njaay in Kañmoor reports to Imam Hasan Siise; yet Allaaji Baabu Ba of Ngódiba reports to the Mauritanian muqaddam Shaykh wuld al-Khayri, who has a large following in Senegal.
The Taalibe Baay movement continues to expand in Siin and Saalum, with much of the current expansion in eastern Saalum among Saalum-Saalum. Yet the seeds of its current expansion were planted in the 1930s with the appointment of key muqaddams who set up early communities throughout the region that have since expanded steadily. The movement grew in Siin in the west largely through new or recent converts to Islam without strong attachments to any zāwiyah, but in Saalum, many followers seem to have been disciples of Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas or, to a lesser extent, disciples of Allaaji Maalig Si or Ahmadu Bàmba. Those who joined the movement overwhelmingly describe their path into the Fayḍah as a personal quest for knowledge guided by dreams and mystical experiences.
Dakar: The frontier at home Considering the history of Njolofeen and Taalibe Baay disengagement from colonial and post-colonial government, it is perhaps unsurprising that Taalibe Baay established a presence in Dakar much later than more politically engaged groups like the Murids and Tiwaawan's Tijāniyys. What is remarkable is that Baay had millions of disciples in Mauritania and Nigeria decades before his disciples had a discernable presence in his own country's capital. Since the relative obscurity in the late 1980s, the Taalibe Baay movement has become a dynamic movement in Dakar today with daayiras springing up by the dozen in every neighborhood. Njolofeen play an instrumental role in organizing large community events and in drawing new disciples, but the vast majority of Taalibe Baay in Dakar today are youth from diverse cultural backgrounds, many of them Séeréer and Pulaar speakers.
Taalibe Baay are especially concentrated in the northern coastal neighborhoods and suburbs, especially Parcelles Assainies, Pikin, and Géjawaay, with important communities in neighborhoods such as Xaar Yàlla, Liberté VI, and Grand Dakar. Several yearly activities draw thousands of disciples, including the yearly Gàmmu Baay near Baay's house in the Jëppël neighborhood; the feast (`Īd) prayers held at Saydaa Maryama Ñas's school in the Patte d'Oie neighborhood; the Gàmmu held by Sheex Ibrayima Sàll's community in Géjawaay; and the Gàmmu organized by the Federation of Student Taalibes of Baay at the University. Baay's son Baaba Lamin, who has long taken a personal interest in Dakar, is Baay's official Khalīfah in the Dakar region and all daayiras are officially under his leadership. All daayiras are also officially supposed participate in the 'Anṣār ad-Dīn Federation that represents all disciples in the area. Yet despite the efforts of Federation leaders, Dakar's Taalibe Baay continue to form a loose network of quasi-independent daayiras and muqaddams whose dimensions change too rapidly for leaders to track.
Since the 1980s, Taalibe Baay have made concerted efforts to be recognized as a “national” Islamic group on the same level as other Islamic groups. This has entailed conscious efforts to attract the attention of national media and financial support from the government. I will not attempt to tell reconstruct the history of the Taalibe Baay movement in Dakar, as it is really the history of hundreds of quasi-independent daayiras and muqaddams. Instead, I will discuss a narrative of a Taalibe Baay and his own efforts to consolidate the movement and to gain national recognition.
Muḥammad Ñas, better known as Paab Maxmuut, is an adviser for the Mayor of Dakar and also works as an administrator at the national Islamic Institute in Dakar. Three members of the MBHSRC and I met with him in his office at the Islamic Institute, where he was engaged in administrative work organizing the national pilgrimage (Ḥajj).76 According to Paab Maxmuut, before independence in 1960, Dakar was home to several prominent Taalibe Baay, although there was no strong central organization and Baay seldom visited Dakar. As Baay instructed them, a group of disciples organized a daayira called Jam`īyat 'Anṣār ad-Dīn (Community of the Defenders of the Faith), although the organizers had no idea how many disciples were in the Dakar region or how to contact them. Perhaps the most prominent Taalibe Baay in Dakar was a successful trader, Omar Kan, whose wife, Baay Ñas's daughter Saydaa Maryama Ñas, has opened several large Islamic institutes and Qur'ānic schools in Dakar. Until 1960, Baay Ñas would stay in disciples' houses when he came to Dakar, first Omar Kan's house and then Ibu Ñaŋ's.
In 1960, the year of Senegal's independence, disciples collected money and bought Baay Ñas a house in the Jëppël residential neighborhood. They also renamed their organization Rābiṭat 'Anṣār ad-Dīn (Federation of the Defenders of the Faith), indicating that they were no longer a single organization but a group of organizations. In 1963 they organized their first gàmmu in Jëppël, a yearly event that in recent years has been dedicated to Baay Ñas. Around the same time, Baay established an Islamic school downtown on Raffenel street named after his father, Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas, and several important future scholars studied there (such as Mustafaa Géy and Siidi Lamin Xalifa Ñas, founder of the media conglomerate Wal Fadjri).
Still, the community of Taalibe Baay in Dakar remained small and marginalized for decades, and most disciples were unaware of each other's existence. Paab Maxmuut attributes their marginalization by the government in part to Baay's support for Lamin Géy's party instead of Léopold Seŋoor's, who had won over the other major Islamic leaders.77 As late as 1980, the 'Anṣār ad-Dīn Federation counted only four daayiras: one in Dakar's suburb of Pikin, the Njolofeen daayira in the suburb of Géjawaay, one in the neighborhood of Grand Dakar, and a Séeréer daayira in the far end of Pikin (an area called “Ginnaaw Raay” or “beyond the rail”). Three more daayiras were founded in that year, including one founded by our informant Paab Maxmuut, a student at the university at the time. (Unlike most Taalibe Baay leaders, he has a French education, and he emphasizes that he is not active as a muqaddam.)
Starting 1982, when Paab Maxmuut became the personal secretary of acting khalīfah Allaaji Abdulaay Ibrayima, members of the Federation began more serious collaboration to raise their profile, organizing monthly religious gatherings (called “conferences”) around the Dakar area, where Baay's charismatic son Baaba Lamin Ñas was often the principal speaker. The turning point in their visibility came in 1986 with the organization of a public Cultural Week for Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas (Baay Ñas's father), after similar cultural weeks had been organized for Ahmadu Bàmba and Maalig Si. Taalibe Baay in the area came together and realized they were far more numerous than anyone had assumed, and outsiders began to take note of them. Paab Maxmuut says that after this time, instead of approaching others, others approached them.
In 1988, the government called a meeting concerning preparations for the yearly Gàmmu festivities, inviting the heads of the Tijāniyy zāwiyahs at Tiwaawan, Piir, Ceynaba, and Njaawan, neglecting Medina Baay. As the Taalibe Baay representative in Dakar, Paab Maxmuut brought a delegation to the meeting and was told that it was by invitation only. He went to speak with the director responsible for the meeting. He complained that Medina Baay was marginalized because its leaders had not had relations with the French, and that the current government had inherited their attitudes from the French. The director told him that he could not admit them because the government had already finalized the invitations, but he promised to bring the matter up with the Minister responsible (he did not specify which one).
The Minister answered that the problem was simple: Medina Baay was not on the list of “national gàmmus” and they needed to write a letter to the Senegalese President to make an official request. Paab Maxmuut says he wrote a scalding letter to the President criticizing them for marginalizing the Taalibe Baay. He says he had no fear speaking to the President like this because he knew he was right and had many powerful people backing him up. The Minister invited a delegation including Paab Maxmuut Ñas, Baay's oldest son Allaaji Abdulaay, Baay's brother Allaaji Muḥammad Zeynabu Ñas, and muqaddam Baaba Roqi Ñaŋ. The Minister concluded that their demands were reasonable, and the government would allot two television slots to the Ñaseen to broadcast the Medina Baay Gàmmu and the Ziyārah, the largest yearly meeting in Lewna Ñaseen.
The “Ñaseen”—both the Medina Baay branch and the Lewna Ñaseen branch—were now among Senegal's nationally recognized “houses of religion” (këru diine). Paab Maxmuut then went to the Direction du Matériel et du Transit and campaigned to receive stands for seating at the Gàmmu as other Islamic groups received. He and other Taalibe Baay leaders spoke with the nationalized Radio et télévision du Sénégal to demand more coverage. They discovered that they had been excluded because they did not know the protocol for requesting coverage. The Murids and other Tijāniyys had long had employees at these organizations who knew how to get their religious organizations the maximum amount of airtime. As an adviser to the Mayor of Dakar, Paab Maxmuut has been able to obtain more government participation in Taalibe Activities, such as substantial financial support for renting material for the Jëppël Gàmmu. He suggested that the Mayor would have more popular support if he had a street named after Baay Ñas. It is through having more people involved in government and the national media, he says, that Taalibe Baay have developed a higher profile in Dakar. He does not like the current politicized system, however, and advocates setting up a separate Ministry of Religion that would give religious groups a set amount of support rather than making them depend on personalized political relations. (Indeed, many disciples complain that the opening minutes of a Gàmmu in Dakar often includes thanks to politicians who secured government funds—the money is not these politicians', and yet they use it to try to influence disciples' votes.)
Paab Maxmuut and his fellow Taalibe Baay realized the stakes of reinventing themselves from a loose network of disciples of a Ṣūfī shaykh into an officially recognized “Islamic brotherhood” along the lines of other Islamic organizations and in terms the state would recognize. It is through delegating specialists such as Paab Maxmuut who speak the language of the state—that is, both the French language and, more specifically, bureaucratic language and protocols—that the Taalibe Baay have learned to engage with Senegal's state-Islam complex. It is important to emphasize, however, that the point of engagement with the state consists of such specialists who are specially trained and delegated to mediate between the two spheres. The greater part of Taalibe Baay activity in Dakar happens not at this point of engagement but in spaces where specifically Islamic knowledge and authority are largely disengaged from secular power. These activities will be discussed in subsequent chapters.
Conclusion This chapter has aimed to give a broad picture of the growth of the Taalibe Baay movement through Senegal and West Africa. Its growth has been dynamic and swift but has been less visible than the growth of the more publicly visible Islamic movements in Senegal. Its limited visibility owes partly to its not beginning as a politically and publicly engaged movement but instead spread through diffuse, capillary networks of muqaddams. Taalibe Baay have inherited from early Njolofeen leaders such as Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas an overall stance of disengagement from state politics and national culture (the culture of national “brotherhoods”). Only recently have Taalibe Baay leaders, especially those in Dakar, attempted to engage the state, especially when they have become aware of the financial support other Islamic groups receive and the ways in which raising their profile in the national media could further their cause. Doing so has not been a simple matter of changing their attitudes but has involved learning the specialized knowledge of state-Islam relations, setting up official institutional organizations, and establishing connections with state, media, and non-governmental actors.
The question that academics have posed as to why the Taalibe Baay movement has not become a “Senegalese brotherhood” of the same magnitude as the two other major Senegalese Islamic groups (the Tijāniyys adhering to Allaaji Maalig Si and the Murid order), presupposes a kind of religio-political order that bears a particular relationship to state and public culture. Taalibe Baay have, for the most part, sought the opposite of what is generally implied by the idea of a national brotherhood, accommodating the state as much as needed to forge autonomous spaces of knowledge and authority with minimal interference from outsiders.
It is significant that in religious, political, and cultural matters, Taalibe Baay representatives engage with outsiders using a language of ẓāhir truths. When dealing with the broader Muslim community, for example, they emphasize literal interpretations of religious practice that all Muslims can agree on and that they refer to as ẓāhir amongst themselves. When dealing with the State, Baay Ñas emphasized peaceful relations between people of different viewpoints, and when he became involved in political matters it was to ensure that state laws did not contravene Islamic laws (for example, in his interventions into the Family Code). Taalibe Baay engagement with national culture, at least until recently, was largely limited to efforts to preempt possible incursions into autonomy, not to become an integral part of an alien state machinery.
From this viewpoint, one might consider that the Taalibe Baay movement has played a limited role in Senegalese life. When one looks at the disciples' narratives, however, it is clear that they understand their decisions to adhere to and to participate in the movement in terms of bāṭin realities, such as dreams, visions, and mystical experiences that they generally withhold from their interactions with outsiders. Although this movement counts a significant number of Senegalese, it is striking how little outsiders (whether academics or fellow Senegalese Muslims) know about them, a fact that I attribute largely to the centrality of such mystical realities to their self understanding and their tendency not to talk about such things publicly. The result is an general reticence with regards to outsiders regarding their religious activities.
It is this preoccupation with deeply personal religious experiences that has lowered the Taalibe Baay public profile while at the same time increasing its ability to appeal to individuals in diverse circumstances. As a result, it has appealed to small groups of people throughout Senegal and abroad rather than sweeping a contiguous region.
This chapter has only hinted at the ways in which the forms of knowledge upon which the Taalibe Baay movement's growth and governance are based. The Taalibe Baay movement has taken terms found throughout the varieties of Sufism—especially ẓāhir and bāṭin—and has given them a particular practical implementation informed to an important extent by the history of engagement and disengagement inherited from the early Njolofeen community. Paradox often mediates between a ẓāhir truth—often a contingent fact of life that one has no choice but to accept—and a bāṭin truth—often regarding fundamental or mystical principles. It is through various kinds of education, especially tarbiyyah, that Taalibe Baay learn to experience and speak about multiple kinds of realities. The following chapters, therefore, discuss the various forms of religious knowledge, education, and apprenticeship that Taalibe Baay undergo and their practical consequences.
Notes 1. Many authors relate this quote, including Baay Ñas himself (Nyās, 2001: 86) and Shaykh Hassan Cisse (1984).
2. The term used in the foundational Tijāniyy text, Jawāhir al-Ma`ānī (`Aliyy al-Ḥarāzim, 2002), is fayḍ, not fayḍah, which, as far as I can determine, is a form of the word rarely used outside the context of Baay Ñas and his disciples. All Arabic sources and dictionaries I have located use the word fayḍ, which Baay Ñas and his disciples treat as equivalent to fayḍah.
3. Use of the word Fayḍah to describe this movement is not uncontroversial, as it assumes Baay's claim to fulfill Shaykh at-Tijāniyy's vision. I use it not in its general Arabic or Ṣūfī senses but as disciples of Baay Ñas use it, to describe the events through which Baay Ñas's spiritual education were made available and, more broadly, the movement associated with Baay Ñas. Seesemann (2000) discusses the development of Taalibe Baay conceptions as compared to previous conceptions of Fayḍ/Fayḍah.
4. Hence, the titles of two well known works by his descendants: Shaykh Hasan Cisse's Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse: Revivalist of the Sunnah and Mahdy Niasse's Baye Niass: le défenseur de l'Islam: tome 1 .
5. This concept is clear in the poetry of Sharaf ad-Dīn al-Būṣayriyy. His Hamziyyah, which is chanted at many Taalibe Baay gatherings, describes Muḥammad as being not only the greatest prophet but the principle that animates all other prophets: “They [the other prophets] merely reflected your attributes to the people as the water reflects the stars. You are the beacon of all excellence, for no light shines but by your light.”
6. Most of his sons are directly named after Muḥammad (that is, not after another person named after Muḥammad), and even those who are named after someone else generally bear a name that can describe Muḥammad. His oldest son, Al-Ḥājj `Abd Allāh in Arabic, is named directly after Baay's father and indirectly after Muḥammad's father, although the Qur'ān repeatedly calls Muḥammad “`Abd Allāh.” His sonShaykh 'Aḥmad at-Tijāniyy (known as Pàppa Sheex) is, of course, named after the Order's founder, but the name 'Aḥmad (Most Praiseworthy) is also one of Muḥammad's names. The current Khalīfah is also named 'Aḥmad. Xalifa is named after his older brother, whose official name is Muḥammad. Other sons bear more or less well known names of Muḥammad, many of which officially start with “Muḥammad al-,” which is often dropped: Hādī (Guide), Māḥī (Obliterator [of unbelief]), Muḥammad al-'Amīn (Baaba Lamin, the Trustworthy), Nūr (Nuuru, Light), Ma'mūn (Trustworthy), Muntaqā (Selected), Maḥmūd (Praised), `Abd al-Mālik (Servant of the King), `Āqib (the Last), Makkiyy (from Makkah), Nadhīr (One who Warns), Murtaḍā (Beloved), Mukhtār (Chosen), Qurayshī (of the Quraysh tribe), and less known names like Sirāj ad-Dīn, Munhaminah, and so on. Of at least 40 sons, I count only two whose names cannot be construed as names of Muḥammad.
7. MBHSRC interview by Yuunus Caam, Mbittéyeen Abdu, 2004.
8. A celebration of Baay's birth, patterned after the celebration of Muḥammad's birth in Medina Baay
9. Baay mooy suñu Yonent.
10. MBHSRC interview by Aadi Faal, Ndóofaan, 23 August, 2004.
11. Talk by Ibrayima Maxmuut (Baraam) Jóob at the 2005 Medina Baay Ziyārah.
12. Ku doy waar.
13. The Medina Baay market was until recently part of Medina Mbàbba, and even now the houses behind the market are part of Medina Mbàbba.
14. Mauritanian Arab names are generally formed by the person's given name followed by the person's father's (or some more distant ancestor's) name, separated by “wuld” for men and “mint” for women. These are derived from Arabic “walad” (“son of,” equivalent to “ibn”) and “bint” (“daughter of”). Mauritanian Arabs do not typically have family names as in Senegal or the West.
15. MBHSRC interview with Seynabu Faal by Baay Sàmb, Medina Baay, 2 August, 2004.
16. Shaykh Hasan Siise is not Sëriñ Alliw's oldest son but is the oldest of Faatumata Zaaraa.
17. “Mbay,” not to be confused with the family name often associated with griots, is a common nickname for people named Baabakar. The respectful title “Sëriñ” often accompanies a leader's name. For leaders of Baay Ñas's generation, disciples often replace this title with the more affectionate “Baay” (“Father”). Disciples often prefix the names of leaders from the preceding generation with “Maam” (Grandparent), and leaders from the next generation (especially Baay's sons) with “Pàppa.”
18. Wolof speakers Wolofize Arabic terms according to somewhat regular rules, with some idiosyncrasies. The Arabic greeting “As-salām `alaykum” (“Peace be upon you”) becomes “Salaam (m)aalekum” and the answer, “Wa-`alaykum as-salām” (“And upon you peace”) becomes “Maalekum Salaam,” which sounds to an Arabic speaker like “Mā `alaykum salām” (“No peace upon you”). The Arabic “Al-ḥamdu li-‧Llāh” is Wolofized in several ways, including “Alxamdu lilaay” or “imdullaay.” “Bismi ‧Llāh” (“In the name of God”), spoken before beginning many things, often becomes “Bisimila,” and “Bāraka ‧Llāh [fīkum]” (“May God bless [you]”) becomes “Baarikalla.” Wolof speakers tend to elide several Arabic consonants, for example, s, ṣ, dh, z, ẓ, and th are all pronounced s. (See Chapter [my-transliteration] for more details).
19. Most Arabic accounts and non-Arabic accounts based on them say Baay Ñas was born on 15 Rajab, 1320 h., which corresponds to 1902 (for example, Ya`qūb 'Abū Bakr (c. 2003), Maygariyy (1979), and Cheikh Hassan Cissé (1984)). This date apparently comes from a widely distributed biographical sketch by Sëriñ Alliw Siise written in 1934 and reproduced without correction in recent editions of Baay Ñas's Kāshif al-'ilbās (Nyās n.d., 2001). However, as Baay Ñas is said to have been born just before his father's exile in Gambia, mentioned in colonial documents dated 1901 (see Klein, 1968: 224), this date makes little sense. Rüdiger Seesemann (personal communication) points out that Baay Ñas wrote to Alliw Siise in 1934 (directly after Siise wrote his biography) correcting the date. According to Seesemann (the same personal communication), the most likely time for Allaaji Abdulaay's exile is early 1901. Ñas's letter to Siise states, in part: “I think—and God is most knowledgeable—that the birth date is the year 1318 h. . . . And disagreement concerning this does not harm anything, for this is a pursuit for historians.” The only biography I have encountered that gives the corrected 1318 as Ñas's birthdate is Muḥammad `Abd Allāh ibn as-Sayyid's recent Min 'akhbār ash-Shaykh 'Ibrāhīm (2004), which quotes the letter to Alliw Siise in full.
20. Her name is also sometimes pronounced Asta and derives from the Arabic `Ā'ishah, wife of Muḥammad.
21. The household of Omar Faati Jàllo's father took her in, which accounts for the Baay's care in teaching Omar Faati Jàllo, who despite his blindness became a muqaddam, Arabic teacher, and head chanter.
22. This last nickname follows the common practice in Wolof-speaking areas to compound names from their given name followed by their mother's name.
23. He was named after Ibrayima Caam, nicknamed Sëriñ Kéllel, an eminent Qur'ān and Arabic teacher who left Jolof during the same time as the Ñaseen and founded the nearby village of Caameen Waalo.
24. Oral accounts say Allaaji Abdulaay went to Fās before founding the zāwiyah at Lewna Ñaseen in Kaolack. Ousmane Kane (1992) says Allaaji Abdulaay went to Fās in 1912, after settling in Kaolack.
25. Baay wrote on this event in Kāshif al'ilbās.
26. In the Hebrew Bible (1 Samuel 16:1–13), God tells Samuel to visit Jesse to anoint the new king of Israel. Jesse brings his sons, but God tells Samuel that none of these are the one he seeks. When Samuel asks if all are present, Jesse admits that his youngest, David, is missing, and he calls David in from guarding the sheep. God tells Samuel that David is the one, and after he anoints David, the spirit of God stays with him. The Qur'ān mentions David (Dāwud) several times (for example, 2:249-251), but the story of his selection is not told as it is in the Hebrew Bible.
27. The teacher, a great grandson of Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas, said that `Abd Allāh had asked for “a verb that is also a superlative with an initial vowel and a first person suffix” (fi`lun 'af`alu ‧t-tafḍīli bi-‧l-hamzati muḍāfatun bi-‧l-yā'i ‧l-mutakallim). The Wolof word for tea (ataaya, derived from the Ḥassāniyyah word for tea 'atāy) matches this description morphologically.
28. Muḥammad al-Mishri is named after one of Shaykh 'Aḥmad at-Tijāniyy's principal muqaddams. Mishri is a local Ḥassāniyyah pronunciation of the Arabic “Mushrī,” and his name is therefore sometimes written in this way.
30. Seesemann reports this 'ijāzah in 1926, which may or may not refer to the same trip.
31. Understanding these conditions in terms of the “felicity conditions” Austin (1962) describes as making possible performative speech acts is only useful at a certain level, but hastily falling back on Austin's theory might distract us from fundamentally different notions of symbolic, spiritual, and other kinds of efficacy. Symbolic felicity conditions sufficiently explain the efficacy of a statement such as “I hereby name you . . . ” but do not explain transmission a mystical secret whose efficacy is believed to originate outside the symbolic authority of the bestower. See Chapter [dissertation-authority].
32. Interview by Aamadu Njaay and Barham Sekk with Ammat Tiijaan Ture, Serekunda, Gambia, 2004.
33. When a village prepares to build a mosque, it is common practice to call the highest leader possible to trace (rëdd) its dimensions. This practice serves to demonstrate proper authorization, to bring the construction process barakah, and to make sure the mosque's dimensions do not exceed or fall short of what authorities deem appropriate. The visiting authority also sometimes brings material support for the project.
34. It is common in Senegal to nickname a person (and everyone named after this person) by his or her title, especially if the person is seen as uniquely exemplifying that title—for example, “Sheex” (Shaykh) usually refers to Shaykh at-Tijāniyy in Senegal and Baay in Mauritania and those named after one of these; “Imaam” refers to Imam Ḥasan Siise and those named after him; Sëriñ among Murids usually refers to Ahmadu Bàmba (Sëriñ Tuubaa); etc.) “Baay” is a title applied to anyone of Baay's generation, although as a name, it refers unambiguously to Shaykh 'Ibrāhīm and those named after him.
35. Both Gellar and Magassouba also name Ahmad Xalifa Ñas, a radical Islamist son of Xalifa who nicknamed himself “the Ayatollah of Kaolack” as Baay Ñas's son, assimilating his politics with a general Ñaseen politics. Most scholars of Islam in Senegal similarly confound these two families.
36. These are Mauritanian Ḥāfiẓiyyah branch (founded by the 'Idaw`ali Muḥammad al-Ḥāfiẓ), the Moroccan line of `Aliyy at-Tamāsīniyy, and the line of Al-Ḥājj `Umar Taal coming through Muḥammad al-Ghālī.
37. “Vāl” (often spelled Fāl) is not Mawlūd Vāl's last or family name but an integral part of his given name, and it is therefore inaccurate to speak, as many foreigners do, of the “Vāl family.” Vāl, in Mauritanian Arabic (Ḥassāniyyah) is one of the epithets of the Prophet and is therefore part of several possible given names derived from the Prophet's (such as Muḥammadhin Vāl). It is therefore not equivalent to the widespread Senegalese family name “Faal,” although it is not unthinkable that the Senegalese name derives from it.
38. “Baay” (Father) is a title applied to any leader of this generation, not to be confused with the nickname given to 'Ibrāhīm Ñas.
39. MBHSRC interview with Baabakar Sadiiq Ñas by Abdu Salaam Caam and Abdulaay Ñaŋ, Tayba Ñaseen, 27 August, 2004.
40. Some have told me that Baay's first tafsīr was actually before the Kóosi tafsīr, in the Siñi-Siñi village of Njaayeen Kàdd. It appears that Baay did indeed give a lengthy speech on the occasion of a funeral at a private home well before the events in Kóosi. As that speech continued, the crowd at the home gathered and the assembly had to move to the mosque to accommodate all the people who had come. Although this event doubtless helped him build a reputation in this village, most elders I have asked agree that this single speech does not qualify as a tafsīr.
41. Interview with Allaaji Bittéy, Saam, Kaolack, 28 July, 2004, with Yuunus Caam.
42. Its title is usually abridged in speaking to “Jalāl”)
43. Interview with Usmaan Bittéy by Abdu Salaam Caam and Abdulaay Ñaŋ in Kóosi Mbittéyeen.
44. The Gàmmu (Mawlid) occurs on the eve of 13 Rabī` al-'Awwal, which would have been around 19 August, 1929.
45. The title “Sëriñ Daara” means “school master” or “master teacher.” In many villages or families, the most well known teacher goes by this title alone, which may become his nickname.
46. Not to be confused with Ahmadu Bàmba's closest follower of the same name who founded the Baay Faal movement.
47. For example, Allaaji Ture is listed in the list given by Maalig Ndebaan in an MBHSRC interview by Aadi Faal in 2005.
48. Ya`qūb Abū Bakr (c. 2003: 46) says 1939, which is certainly a typographical error, as he then says work on the zāwiyah in Medina Baay was begun later in 1931. 1929 is the date commonly given for the beginning of the Fayḍah.
49. This would have fallen around 2 March, 1930. Alliw Siise writes in 1934 that work on the zāwiyah began on April 2, 1931, and an interval of a year between the temporary, thatch mosque and the more permanent structure is reasonable.
50. Allaaji Bittéy, Maam Astu Cubb.
51. Aas Maxmuud Ñas, a nephew of Baay, says this commonly related element of the story is not accurate, and that Sheex Omar Ture, Baay's disciple, was the one speaking through the griot. From a disciple's perspective, it would be hard to tell the difference, as the leaders were inside the house and the disciples outside only saw the griot.
53. Interview with Duudu Bittéy, 25 July, 2004, recounting a narrative by his mentor, Maam Omar Màlle Caam.
54. Medina Mbàbba is divided in two: the eastern part has a head from the Njaayeen family that founded it, and the western part generally has a Njolofeen head, currently Xalifa Caam of Caamen Waalo.
55. Interview with Mbóoj, Coofog.
56. This is a famous story that whose implications people on both sides of this issue contest. I heard detailed accounts from a member of the Mbóoj family and Mbay Jée Bittéy. The latter (and other Njolofeen) said the Mbóojeen were so impressed that many converted to Islam right then, whereas the former says they were all already Muslim at the time and that it was not the horse that solved the problem but simply Baay finally asking their permission to expand.
57. Interview with Duudu Bittéy, relating an account of Maam Omar Màlle Caam.
58. The sketch was published as a preface to Baay's book Kāshif al-'ilbās, the book in which Baay makes the case for his being the bringer of the Fayḍah
59. He gives the date 14 dhū ‧l-Qa`dah, which translates to Thursday, April 2, 1931, although he says it was a Monday. Discrepancies of one or two days based on differences in moon sighting are common, but three days or more is unusual.
60. Interview with Mbay Jée Bittéy 16 July, 2004.
61. In 1927, Ahmadu Bàmba had just been buried in Tuubaa after being confined under house arrest in Jurbel, and Tuubaa was still rather small but was quickly filling up with disciples.
62. Alliw Siise, reproduced in Nyās n.d.: 17. That the name is a reference to the original Arabian city and is not intended to be the Arabic word for “city” (madīnah) is apparent in that it has no definite article (Al-) and that Jadīd does not have the feminine ending, -ah. (A more grammatically rigorous translation of this phrase would be “Madīnah of the New.”)
63. Aside from formal Arabic writings from that early period, that official name is rarely encountered. Arabic documents today tend to call it “Madīnat Bāy Nyās” or (especially in Mauritania) the more phonetic “Madinah Bāy” (with a short i).
64. Mustafaa Géy, speech at Gàmmu Baay, Jëppël, Dakar, 24 April, 2004.
65. Baraam Jóob, for example, reported this in his address at the 2005 Ziyārah meeting in Medina Baay, as does Baay's obituary in Le Soleil (Ibrahima Mahmoud Mboup, 30 July, 1975, “Sa Lumière Guidera nos Pas”). The same is said of his son Haadi, who took on many of Baay's public speaking functions after his death.
66. Interview with Usmaan Kebbe, 2004.
67. Interview with school director Mustafaa Caam, Mbittéyeen Abdu, 2004.
68. According to an interview with Duudu Bittéy, a muqaddam and nephew of Omar Màlle Caam, conducted with Abdulaay Ñaŋ, 25 July, 2004, in Medina Baay.
69. This account comes from an MBHSRC interview conducted by Yuunus Caam with Ummi Géy in Kaolack, 26 July, 2004.
70. Allaaji Bittéy and his wife, Astu Cubb, interviewed separately by Yuunus Caam.
71. I spoke with several Taalibe Baay who disbelieved that Baay himself appointed women as muqaddams, as these women's appointments usually were not made public, but Baay clearly gave 'ijāzahs to several of his own daughters, and some interviewees mentioned names of women muqaddams appointed by Baay but asked me to keep their names confidential. Baay's muqaddam have since appointed numerous women, most of whom do not publicly act as leaders but several of whom are important muqaddams, especially in Kaolack and Dakar.
72. Information about the movement in Ñoominka areas comes primarily from several MBHSRC interviews conducted by Aamadu Njaay and Aadi Aydara Faal with Ñoominka muqaddams in late 2004.
73. Omar Ngom, a muqaddam in Sóokóon, names the muqaddams of Baay who have played the most direct role in spreading the movement in and around Sóokóon: his father Tamsiir Alliw Ngom in Sóokóon, Tamsiir Baaba Saaxo in Sanc ba, Allaaji Maalig Saar in Ndangan, and Allaaji Mamadiŋ Koor in Njaafat. Others add Mbara Jaase and the chanter Baabakar Caam to the list.
74. This example comes from an MBHSRC interview with Arfaan Jaañ's son, Mustafaa Jaañ, conducted by Aamadu Njaay in Jirnda.
75. The dream, as recounted by his son Mustafaa Jaañ, was of a bright light that would fall into the water and cool off, awaiting him to come to set it alight again.
76. This narrative outline is based on MBHSRC interviews with Muḥammad (Paab Maxmuut) Ñas in Dakar in 2004.
77. Baay had at one point officially called on fellow Muslims to rally behind Lamin Géy, arguing that he was a more appropriate leader for an Islamic country than the Christian Seŋoor.
Glossary Wolof terms daara (From Arabic, dār al-Qur'ān: house of the Qur'ān. ) Qur'ānic school, usually run inside a house or itinerant. The teacher is called a sëriñ daara. Nearly all Muslim children in Senegal attend daara for several years, often before they begin study at a public French school and then alongside French school. Daaras are also a stepping stone to advanced religious studies at Arabic schools.
daayira (From Arabic, dā'irah: circle.) A lay religious organization, usually formed by the disciples adhering to a single Ṣūfī obedience or leader, often attached to a local muqaddam. Some of these associations only organize religious activities such as chant meetings, while others organize elaborate educational, economic, or development projects.
fajar (From Arabic, fajr.) Daybreak; the daybreak prayer.
gàmmu Celebration of the birth and life of the Prophet Muḥammad (known in Arabic as mawlid or mawlid an-nabiyy), celebrated on the night of 12 Ar-Rabī` al-'awwal (that is, on the night following the 11th, as Islamic dates start at dusk and not at midnight). This is the biggest community celebration of the year for Tijāniyys and many other Ṣūfīs. The month Ar-Rabī` al-'awwal is also known in Wolof as gàmmu. To gàmmu is to deliver the stylized narrative of Muḥammad's life at a gàmmu event.
gàmmu Celebration of the birth and life of the Prophet Muḥammad (known in Arabic as mawlid or mawlid an-nabiyy), celebrated on the night of 12 Ar-Rabī` al-'awwal (that is, on the night following the 11th, as Islamic dates start at dusk and not at midnight). This is the biggest community celebration of the year for Tijāniyys and many other Ṣūfīs. The month Ar-Rabī` al-'awwal is also known in Wolof as gàmmu. To gàmmu is to deliver the stylized narrative of Muḥammad's life at a gàmmu event.
gàmmukat (From Wolof, gàmmu: celebration of the birth of Muḥammad; to deliver the gàmmu + -kat (agentive suffix).) Someone who delivers a recitation of the birth of Muḥammad at a gàmmu event. Baay Ñas was the gàmmukat at the great Medina Gàmmu during his lifetime and his son Aadi replaced him until his own death in 2005, after which Muḥammad al-'Amīn (Baaba Lamin) Ñas became the current gàmmukat. There are another of other major and minor gàmmukats around the world who deliver local gàmmus.
gan Guest, foreigner, stranger.
géwal Griot; member of the caste of praise singers, musicians, historians, and public speakers
Korite (From Wolof, kori: the act of ending the fast; wori: to end the fast; koor: fast; woor: to fast.) Arabic: `Īd al-fiṭr. The festival celebrating the end of the month of fast (Ramaḍān, Koor).
mbóot A unique and important matter or secret. Also, cockroach.
ñeeño Those born into the artisanal castes, such as griots (géwal), smiths (tëgg) and leatherworkers (uude).
sëriñ Any person who works in a religious function, especially as a producer of occult cures, muqaddam of a Ṣūfī order, or teacher of the Qur'ān or other religious texts. Also, a respectful title to address a male stranger: sir. sëriñ daara: a school master or teacher; a title of respect for any religious teacher, especially one who teaches Qur'ān and Islamic sciences (xam-xam).
sikkar (From Arabic, dhikr: mention, remembrance, invocation.) Any of the phrases used to name God, especially Lā'ilāha 'illā‧Llāh, Allāh, or any of the 99 names of God; the activity of repeating these phrases; an event organized to chant these phrases communally. (See dhikr)
sikkarkat (From Arabic, dhikr: mention, remembrance [of God's name] + -kat, an agentive suffix [one who . . . ].) Someone who regularly chants the dhikr (sikkar) at religious events. Such a person is often given monetary compensation for participating in the meetings of various religious associations (daayira).
taalibe (From Arabic, ṭālib or ṭālib al-`ilm: seeker of knowledge; student.) A student at a Qur'ānic school; a disciple of a shaykh.
Tabaski The yearly feast day of sacrifice (`Īd al-Kabīr) at the end of the pilgrimage, considered the most important feast day of the Islamic calendar.
tàkkusaan The late afternoon; the late afternoon prayer (`aṣr).
tëgg To hit, beat; a smith; someone born into the smith caste.
timis The dusk prayer: maghrib.
Arabic terms `Ibādu ‧r-Raḥmān “Servants of the Merciful [God]”: a Wahhābiyy inspired reform movement in Senegal.
ḥadīth An account of the sayings or deeds of Muḥammad, known collectively as Sunnah, or tradition. Alongside the Qur'ān, ḥadīths form the basis of the prescriptions of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh).
`aṣr An era or period; the late afternoon prayer.
sharīf (Pl.: shurafā') “Noble”; especially the family of the Prophet Muḥammad, by some definitions including only his direct descendents but sometimes referring to those descended from his grandfather. They are
balāghah The study of Arabic rhetoric.
barakah Blessing from God.
bāṭin Inside; the esoteric, hidden nature of things.
fiqh The branch of Islamic sciences that concerns Islamic prescriptions and norms, often translated as “Islamic jurisprudence,” although it concerns not only strictly legal questions but prescriptions for worship and daily practice. It is based on interpreting the Qur'ān and Sunnah.
hadiyyah Gift, offering. In Ṣūfī communities, something given to or performed for a religious leader and rewarded with blessing (barakah).
hijrah Emigration; the emigration of Muḥammad and his early followers from Makkah to Madīnah, where they were welcomed by his followers there, known as the 'Ansār (those who make victorious). The Islamic calendar begins with this event and is thus called the hijriyy calandar.
ẓāhir Apparent, manifest. In Sufism, the visible or exoteric side of reality, as opposed to the bāṭin, the invisible and esoteric.
dhikr Any of the phrases used to name God, especially Lā'ilāha 'illā‧Llāh, Allāh, or any of the 99 names of God; the activity of repeating these phrases; an event organized to chant these phrases communally.
ḥizb Division. In politics, a party. In religion, one of the sixty roughly equal divisions of the Qur'ān (not to be confused with sūrah, a chapter, as a single ḥizb can contain multiple shorter sūrahs or only part of a longer one).
ḥāl State. In Sufism, a state of spiritual growth on the way to a higher maqām (station). Practitioners often identify altered states of consciousness and ecstatic fits that disciples undergo when participating in certain religious activities as a ḥāl.
majlis Assembly, gathering. In West Africa, an informal Islamic school where students study the Islamic sciences with a teacher after having completed Qur'ānic study.
maghrib The westerly direction; the setting sun; the time of sunset; the sunset prayer; the country Morocco; the Western Arab-speaking countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, sometimes Mauritania).
mawlid Birth. Also mawlid an-nabiyy (birth of the Prophet) or al-mawlid an-nabawiyy (the Prophetic birth), in Wolof gàmmu: the celebration of the birth of Muḥammad, held on the 12th night of the Islamic month of Rabī` al-'awwal. For Tijāniyys and many other Ṣūfīs, this is the largest celebration of the year, and hundreds of thousands of disciples from around the world visit Medina Baay every year to celebrate it. In common speech among Senegalese Taalibe Baay, mawlid has come to refer to chanting the long Mawlid poem Tahni'atu ‧r-Rabī` by the Mauritanian shaykh Baddi wuld Sīdīna, whereas the Wolof equivalent, gàmmu refers to the chanted prose narrative on the life of Muḥammad.
muqaddam Someone holding an 'ijāzah, or a diploma bestowing authorization to represent a Sufi order and to induct others into it. A muqaddam often acts as a disciple's shaykh murabbī.
sanad Pl: 'asānīd. A chain of authority, for example, tracing a muqaddam's authority back to the founder of the order. An important leader usually has many of them, each of which is listed on a written 'ijāzah.
silsilah Chain, succession, or genealogy. A muqaddam, for example, has a silsilah including the person who appointed him or her, the person who appointed this person, and so on, usually ending in Muḥammad.
tafsīr (From Arabic, fassara, to interpret, explain.) ) Interpretation (eg., of a text). As a discipline, it refers to Qur'ānic interpretation. Also, the title of one who has received a diploma in Qur'ānic interpretation. This title is usually pronounced tamsiir in Wolof.
tarbiyyah Education; in Sufism, the process of spiritual training at the hands of a shaykh murabbī. Disciples of Baay Ñas have a particular understanding of this process.
wird (Pl. 'awrād) Any sequence of prayers or sacred formulas repeated for an extended period of time; in many Ṣūfī orders the wird (also called al-wird al-lāzim, or “obligatory wird”, sometimes abbreviated to lāzim) is a specific formula that members are expected to pronounce regularly. In the Tijāniyy order, receiving the wird from a qualified authority marks entrance into the order. (Sīdī Muḥammad al-`Arabiyy as-Sā'iḥ says of the Tijāniyy wird: “Entrance into [the ṭarīqah] is not valid for anyone without it” (Bughyat al-mustafīd 26).) Tijāniyy obligatory wird consists primarily of one hundred repititions each of 'astaghfiru ‧Llāh, the Ṣalāt al-Fātiḥ (a prayer on the Prophet Muḥammad), and Lā'ilāha 'illā‧Llāh, and is to be repeated morning and evening daily. Although the lāzim is the most symbolic of membership, the order has several other wirds that members are to practice at appointed times. (See the pamphlet Wird Tidiane for the several Tijāniyy wirds and their French transliteration and translation.)
ziyārah Visit. In Sufism, it often refers to a more or less ritualized visit to a religious personality in which a gift (hadiyyah) may be given to the leader. Blessing (barakah) is often said to result from such visits.
zāwiyah A religious center established by a shaykh or a group of disciples, often including one or more central houses, a mosque (either in its own structure or in one of the houses), and one or more religious schools located in its own structure or in the mosque or a house. A zāwiyah can consist of only one house or apartment or a large mosque and surrounding houses.
Bibliography `Aliyy Ḥarāzim ibn al-`Arabiyy Barād al-Maghribiyy al-Fāsiyy. 2002. Jawāhir al-ma`ānī wa-bulūgh al-'amānī fī fayḍ Sayyidī 'Abī ‧l-`Abbās at-Tijāniyy raḍiya ‧Llāhu `anhū. Published with Kitāb rimāḥ ḥizb ar-Raḥīm `alā taḥūr ḥizb ar-Rajīm by `Umar ibn Sa`īd al-Fūtiyy aṭ-Ṭūriyy al-Kadawiyy [Taal]. Casablanca: Dār ar-Rashād al-Ḥadīthah.
Austin, John L. 1962. How to do things with words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Cissé, Cheikh Hassan. 1984. Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse: Revivalist of the Sunnah. NY: Tariqa Tidjaniyya of New York Publication.
Colvin, Lucie Gallistel. 1981. Historical Dictionary of Senegal. Metuchen, NJ and London: Scarecrow Press.
Gellar, Sheldon. 1995. Senegal: An African Nation between Islam and the West. Boulder: Westview.
Kane, Ousmane. 2000. Muhammad Niasse (1881–1956) et sa réplique contre le pamphlet anti-tijânî de Ibn Mayaba. La Tijâniyya: Une confrérie musulmane à la conquête de l'Afrique. Jean-Louis Triaud and David Robinson, eds. Paris: Karthala.
——. 1992. Niasse Abdoulaye, El Hadji [Sénégal 1844-1922]. Dictionnaire des savants et grandes figures du monde musulman périphérique, du xixe siècle à nos jours.
Klein, Martin A. 1968. Islam and Imperialism in Senegal: Sine-Saloum, 1847–1914. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Magassouba, Moriba. 1985. L'Islam au Sénégal: Demain les mollahs? La 'question' musulmane et les partis politiques au Sénégal de 1946 à nos jours. Paris: Karthala.
Seesemann, Rüdiger. 2004. The Shurafā' and the 'Blacksmith': The Role of the Idaw `Alī of Mauritania in the Career of the Senegalese Shaykh Ibrāhīm Niasse (1900-1975). The Transmission of Learning in Islamic Africa. Scott S. Reese, ed. Leiden: Brill.
——. 2000. Sufi thought in Sudanic Africa. Paper given at the Workshop on Islamic Thought in Africa, Northwestern University Evanston, 12-14 May 2000.
Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ya`qūb 'Abū Bakr al-Ghāniyy. c. 2003. 'Itḥāf al-'ikhwān bi-ma'āthir Ghawth az-Zamān. Kano: Maktabah wa-Maṭba`ah ash-Shamāl.
All material on this site is copyrighted by Joseph Hill and the Medina Baay Historical and Social Research Committee or is included here with special permission. Please do not reproduce any of this material without permission. HTML CSS