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As Amadu Bamba (1853-1927) was growing up, his father was an important marabout or holy man in the court of Lat Dior, a local king. When his father died, Bamba was invited but declined to succeed him, preferring a life of deeply devout reflection. These were years of political turmoil because of French colonial conquest, and many Senegalese found in Bambaís moral examples a path to peace and salvation. In 1895, French authorities feared that the rapidly growing "state within a state" of Bambaís ardent followers might turn against them in holy war (jihad). The saint responded that the only jihad he would pursue would be with the shortcomings of his own soul. Despite his avowed pacifism, Bamba was arrested and sent into seven years of exile in Gabon followed by four years in Mauritania, and finally by long house arrest in the Senegalese town of Djourbel. It was there in 1913 that the only known photograph of Bamba was taken one sunny afternoon. The circumstances were such that the manís face and right foot are obscured in shadow. Following a Sufi way of knowledge, Mourides know that this only accounts for the superficialities of the image, for, as they say, with proper teaching one can "penetrate" the image to learn profound secrets. Indeed, the image of Amadu Bamba is a threshold to Paradise.

A suite of glass paintings by Mouride artist Mor Gueye depict the "stations" of the saintís life, including Bambaís arrest by the French and his humiliating court appearance. In the passive pose of the 1913 photo, Bamba endures threats and indignities when he is locked in a tiny cell, confronted by a lion, menaced by a jinn, or sent into exile and forced to descend to the waters to pray. Angels and, in one scene, the Prophet Mohammed Himself, intervene on Bambaís behalf. In later days, the saint is seen assuming the mantle of Abraham to teach that animals, not humans may be sacrificed to God; and with the help of Sheikh Ibra Fall, Bamba clears the land that will become the holy city of Touba.


 
--------------Introduction : Rise of Islam : Life of a Saint : Mass Produced Imagery : Mouride Work Ethic
---Devotional Sanctum : Healing Prayers : Architecture : Apostles : Sainted Women : Global Networks : Pilgrimage