History of the Grand Magal of Touba
At the end of the 19th century, Senegal (Country in West Africa) was subjected to the French colonization which ambitioned to evangelize the new colony. Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba then accepted Allah’s mission to go and rehabilitate Islam, not by the catch of the weapons but by an action on the consciences.
This pact which the Sheikh sealed with His Lord, ALLAH (SWT) (the pact of Darou Khoudoss) was to result in a sum of tests, sufferings and sorrows to be endured by the Sheikh. The counterpart of this Mission was to be the satisfaction of all his ambitions in ranks and spiritual loftiness near ALLAH.
The many inherent tests in his destiny could not however reach Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba as long as he would remain in Touba which is under the protection of the divine absolute power. Thus the Sheikh left Touba to settle in jollof (former province in the center of Senegal) at MBacké Baary, a locality not far from jéwol, where he met the military detachment sent to arrest him.
The Sheikh was arrested and exiled for his religious convictions. During the seven last consecutive years in exile (in Gabon), followed by five years deportation in Mauritania, then five others of house arrest in Thieyene, joloff and during every year he remained in Diourbel in house arrest (center of Senegal), when returned from the day of his pact with ALLAH(SWT), the Sheik endured increasingly long-lived sufferings.
It is only one day during a stay in Diourbel, while awaiting the same tests and the same sufferings with the firm intention to endure them that Allah lavished His order to him by letting him know that the tests and sufferings ceased from now on and are over.
“The sorrow is raised, the entire Mission which was assigned to you, was fulfilled. You obtained the prize for everything you aspired to. There remains only the Remuneration and blessings."
The extraordinary gifts that ALLAH (SWT) granted him constitute a challenge on his level, an action of gratitude by thanking ALLAH (SWT) and also his Prophet. He called everyone then, shared his story and said to them:
“As for the Blessing that ALLAH granted me, my only and sovereign gratitude cannot cover it anymore; I ask that whoever has the means to join me in thanking ALLAH (SWT) [Magal].
He has blessed me so much to a point that I have obtained the totality of all the advantages I requested from Him.”
However, the day he had obtained all this coincided with the Day of his departure to exile. It was the 18th Day of the lunar month of SAFAR.
At the beginning, the murid community did not meet to celebrate the Magal, but instead they celebrate individually by scarifying a sheep or any legal animal they could afford to prepare special meals for the occasion.
It was Sheikh Muhammadu Fallilou Mbacke, the second caliph of Muridiya, who initiated the celebration of the “Magal de Touba” the way we know of it today. He asked all the Murid disciples to rally to Touba the day of the 18 SAFAR in order to celebrate the Magal in place of the intimacy of their homes.
The Great Magal of Touba
Touba celebrates each year "The Great Magal", which constitutes an expression of recognition of ALLAH omnipotence. This expression was enacted by Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, a man who, during his lifetime (from 1853 to 1927), had given up the honors of this world, power, and wealth to devote exclusively himself to the service of ALLAH(SWT) and his Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH).
At that time when the faith of his people was staggering under the influence of a triumphing colonialism and the evangelists missions, Sheik Ahmadou Bamba accepted from ALLAH (SWT) the mission of rehabilitating the Prophetic message.
Armed only with his faith, knowledge and work as a sacerdoce, Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba took pleasure in his mission, accepting with courage and abnegation the challenges for the triumph of Islam, his religion, until the day ALLAH told him that he fully achieved the mission that was assigned to him.
His sense of forgiveness had diverted him from any form of revenge towards his enemies, and the sufferings which he endured sounded to him as this was the means which enabled him to carry out the mission that was given to him.
In front of the immense rewards which ALLAH gratified him with at the end of his mission, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba undertook a new mission to invite the whole Muslim community to thank and praise ALLAH (SWT) for such blessings by reading the Quran, the Qassaids, share meals with family friends and guests: this is the rationale behind the “Great Magal of Touba”, celebrated each year on the 18th day of the lunar month of Safar (second month of the Muslim calendar).
Definition of MAGAL (celebration)?
Magal is a Wolof term (Senegalese dialect) which means to pay respect, to celebrate, to magnify. Magal thus consists of thanking ALLAH (SWT) for His blessings. Within the Murid community, there are different Magals but the most significant of all is undoubtedly “The Magal of Touba” celebrated on the 18th Safar, which carries the name of "Great Magal of Touba".
How is the Great Magal of Touba celebrated?
While recommending the Muslim community to celebrate the Magal de Touba, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba wanted to invite them to manifest their gratitude with regards to ALLAH (SWT) which, by the satisfaction of his spiritual ambitions, allowed the revival of Islam (in particular, in Senegal, vis-à-vis the colonial aggression). The recommendations of Sheik Ahmadou Bamba for this day of Magal were as follows: “read the Holy Quran, say prayers upon the Prophet Mohamed (puh), provide meals to one’s honorable guests, give it its fullest meaning to the limit of one’s abilities “.
Thank ALLAH, provide food, worship... these three symbols summarize all its meaning. It is indeed, what Sheikh Saliou MBacké Ibn Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba used to indicate in the following: "the commemoration must be marked by three symbolic acts: reading of the Koran in an unlimited number of time, make pious gifts to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Sheikh and make acts of grace and devotion by offering meals, in the limit of one’s means, and make it a strictly spiritual gathering ".
The Magal of Touba, far from being a simple popular and spiritual gathering , remains one of the strongest moments to implement the teachings of the Sheikh through devotion, work and solidarity.