- Title: West Africa's 'biggest mosque' officially opens in Dakar
- Date: 27th September 2019
- Summary: DAKAR, SENEGAL (SEPTEMBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS) DRONE FOOTAGE OF MINARET OF MOSQUE
- Embargoed: 11th October 2019 15:38
- Keywords: Massalikoul DjinÃ¢ne official opening Serigne Touba Mouride
- Location: DAKAR, SENEGAL
- City: DAKAR, SENEGAL
- Country: Senegal
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001AYFNLNB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: West Africa's newest mosque opened on Friday (September 27) in Dakar, with thousands of Mourides disciples flocking to the ceremony.
With a 30,000 capacity, the mosque is touted as the largest in West Africa.
The Massalikoul DjinÃ¢ne Mosque was inaugurated in the presence of the Mouride Grand Marabou (leader), Serigne Mountakha MbackÃ©, Senegal's President Macky Sall and other dignitaries.
The Mouride is a large Islamic Sufi order and the most prominent religious sect in Senegal. Touba, its headquarters, was founded in 1883 by Shaykh, Aá¸¥madu BÃ mba MbÃ kke, commonly known as Amadou Bamba.
The teachings of the Mouride are carried out by Marabous, the spiritual leaders and scholars who are revered by many followers as traditional healers with mystical powers.
A symbol of the power of the Mouride brotherhood, many followers see the new mosque as a victory for the founder of mouridism Adama Bamba or Serigne Touba as some call him.
"Mostly, we can say that this mosque represents the victory of Islam, the victory of Serigne Touba in Dakar. We all know the story of Serigne Touba with the Touba outside. So for once today we have a big mosque in Dakar, it means a victory for Islam, for the entire Muslim community," Khady Ndongo, a Mouride follower said.
The mosque is seen as a new center for Mouride followers in Dakar who will attend Friday prayers here every week.
"We can say that it's a "sogne" (motivation), as we say in Wolof. It urges us to pray. Because from Friday, all the Mourides in Dakar will have to come here to pray every Friday," said Mountaga Sarr.
In the massive prayer hall Mbackyou Faye, the Grand Marabou's representative in Dakar and the man responsible for the construction of the new mosque was making final checks prior to the big day.
"This room is the main room, it is the main prayer room. It's one of the rooms, but it's the biggest. It can welcome about 7,000 to 8,000 people. There are side-rooms, there is a daily prayer room for men and women. On the west side, you have two large rooms, for women only and one at the mezzanine," he said.
When asked if this is the biggest mosque in West Africa, Faye said,
"It's a reality. It is not simply the largest mosque in West Africa, but it is also the most beautiful."
"Without false modesty, when you participate with the whole community in the construction of such a monument, this collective work. Today, we are in the last hours of delivery. We must say without false modesty that there is a feeling that lives in us. First of pride, of shared happiness but also of shared pride," said Faye.
But like every big project Massalikoul DjinÃ¢ne had to be funded and Faye is not afraid of talking numbers.
"I can't tell you exactly, but it's a lot of money. We keep spending because the work is not finished yet. More than 10 billion FCFA (16 million USD), we spent more than 20 billion FCFA (33 million USD). Much more, because the work had begun, but it wasn't just the building. There is the deep foundation, there is the preparation, the studies, the shell structure, the finishing touches, a lot of things. It's not lost funds. Look at the number of people who worked here and how it affects their daily lives, economically and financially. So I think it was a good investment," he says before walking away.
Over 90 percent of Senegalese are Muslims.
Most claim allegiance to one of four Sufi brotherhoods: half are Tidianes, a third Mourides and most others Qadriyya and Layennes.
Although not the largest brotherhood, the Mourides wield most political, economic and religious influence in the country.
(Christophe Van Der Perre)
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