The Great Mosque of Touba, though it is not well not outside Sénégal – is one of the largest mosque of Africa.
Touba is the holy city of Mouridism. Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke, Senegal’s most famous Sufi, was more than a spiritual master; he had a social mission as well, that of rescuing society from colonial alienation and returning it to the “Straight Path” of Islam. The city of Touba played a major role in both these endeavors.
Life in Touba is dominated by Muslim practice and Islamic scholarship. A major annual pilgrimage, called the Grand Magal, attracts between one and two million people from all over Senegal and beyond, from as far away as Europe and America. Other, minor pilgrimages occur throughout the year.
For Mourides, Touba is a sacred place. Forbidden in the holy city are all illicit and frivolous pursuits, such as the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, the playing of games, music and dancing.
At the heart of the Mouride holy city lies its Great Mosque, purported to be one of the largest in Africa. Since its completion in 1963 it has been continuously enlarged and embellished. The mosque has five minarets and three large domes and is the place where Amadou Bamba, founder of the Mouride brotherhood, lies buried. The mosque’s high central minaret, called Lamp Fall, is one of Senegal’s most famous monuments. The name Lamp Fall is a reference to Sheikh Ibrahima Fall, one of Bamba’s most influential disciples.
Every year, millions of Muslims from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Touba (Magal), worshipping at the mosque and honouring the memory of Sheikh Amadou Bamba. On one occasion during the pilgrimage, Mouride believers pray facing the Atlantic ocean, to commemorate Bamba’s legendary prayer on the water.