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The city of Touba is located in the region of Diourbel in Senegal, West Africa. It is the second largest city in Senegal and (in 2001) had approximately one quarter of a million inhabitants. The city was established in 1887 by Ahmad Bamba, the founder of the Muridiyya (Mouride) brotherhood (tariqa), as the headquarters for his new brotherhood. According to tradition, the location was revealed to him by the angel Gabriel while he was seated praying. The French, fearful of an uprising against their regime, did not permit Ahmad Bamba to live in Touba but he continued to see it as a holy site and the center of his brotherhood. Succeeding caliphs would either live in Touba or have a principal home there.

Before his death in 1927 Ahmad Bamba began the construction of the great mosque in Touba, which is today the largest mosque in Senegal. The founder's mausoleum is in Touba as are several religious and Arabic schools, libraries, historical sites, and tombs of other Muridiyya leaders. The city is home to the annual Muridiyya festival, the Magal. The date of the Magal marks the exile of Ahmad Bamba to Gabon, symbolizing his suffering and resistance to the French colonial authorities. Hundreds of thousands of disciples make the pilgrimage every year to pray at the founder's tomb and to celebrate their religion. Especially during the immediate preand post-independence periods, when Muriddiyya caliphs played a large role in the political process of Senegal, Touba was a major seat of political as well as religious power.

See alsoAfrica, Islam in ; Bamba, Ahmad ; Tariqa.


Coulon, Christian. "The Grand Magal in Touba; A Religious Festival of the Mouride Brotherhood in Senegal." African Affairs 98 , no. 391 (April 1999): 195–210.

Ross, Eric. "Touba: A Spiritual Metropolis in the Modern World." Canadian Journal of African Studies 29 , no. 2 (1995): 222–259.

Lucy Creevey