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Beyond Brotherhood

Gender, Religious Authority, And The Global Circuits Of Senegalese Muridiyya

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New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal

Abstract

Donal B. Cruise O’Brien wrote in his 1971 monograph, The Mourides of Senegal that “the Mourides present their own system as one in which they labour unremittingly in return for nothing more than the promise of paradise, but it would (I think) be an error to take them at their word.”1 Cruise O’Brien, like many scholars of the Muridiyya of this period, sought to understand the disciples’ devotion in body, spirit, and purse to the will of the spiritual hierarchy and the emergence of the Murid way as an economic force in Senegal.2 He was among many scholars of the Sufi order who privileged an analysis of the state noting the ways Murid leaders have wielded their control over their largely agricultural base to extract favors from the postcolonial state and how the relationship between the state and the Sufi orders has contributed to what came to be called, not uncritically, Senegalese exceptionalism. 3 Tariqa Murid emerged in the late nineteenth century in colonial Senegal around the Sufi scholar and wali or friend of God, Amadou Bamba (1850–1927). Today, Tariqa Murid includes the devotees of the descendants and great talibe or disciples, who have since inherited the baraka or grace, and the ever-growing band of Bamba’s devotees. Although a spiritual guide may be a central feature of Sufism, for Murid adepts, the significance of the sheikh derives from his or her genealogical claim of descent from Amadou Bamba and his (Bamba’s) “redeeming power.”4 This emphasis on the relationship to a sheikh as the surest path to salvation has distinguished this Sufi path from the Qadr and Tijan congregations to which many men and women in the region have belonged.5

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© 2009 Mamadou Diouf and Mara A. Leichtman

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Buggenhagen, B.A. (2009). Beyond Brotherhood. In: Diouf, M., Leichtman, M.A. (eds) New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230618503_9

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