The Iyakhine Temple in Thiès, Senegal

Here is another shrine from my research archive. Abdoulaye Iyakhine Niakhité Diop (1886-1943) was a Baye Fall Murid who claimed to be the mahdi (the messianic leader some Muslims believe will come at the end of time). Abdoulaye Iyakhine established his community of followers in the rail hub city of Thiès, in a neighborhood now called Keur Iyakhine. Having no surviving sons, at his death it was his eldest daughter who inherited his baraka and the leadership role within the Iyakhine community. In her day, Soxna Magat Diop (1917-2004) was among Senegal’s most famous women Sufis. She taught the Koran to both male and female students. When she died, leadership of the Iyakhine passed to two other women: her younger sister Soxna Seybata Aïdara (below), and her eldest daughter Soxna Bintou Massamba Mbacké.

Soxna Seybata Aïdara, Khalifa of the Iyakhine (ph. John Shoup)

In December 1994 I was hosted for several days by Soxna Bintou Massamba Mbacké in her house in Parcelles Assainies, a suburb of Dakar. In January 2008 I visited Soxna Seybata Aïdara at the Iyakhine Temple in Thiès. It is the Iyakhines who use the French term “temple” to designate the mausoleum of Abdoulaye Iyakhine.

Plan of Keur Iyakhine neighborhood, Thiès

The mausoleum of Abdoulaye Iyakhine Niakhité stands as an island in the middle of the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare. To its east is a sacred well. The community’s mosque is located one street away, behind the compound Abdoulay Iyakhine had occupied. Soxna Seybata Aïdara lives in a house directly across the street from the temple. The community’s cemetery, where many of Abdoulaye Iyakhine’s “companions” are buried, lies at the southern limit of the neighborhood (off this map). You can download the Google Earth placemark (kmz file) for the Iyakhine Temple by clicking here.

Iyakhine Temple, Thiès, view from the west (ph. Eric Ross)

Iyakhine Temple, Thiès, view from the east (ph. Eric Ross)

Sacred well next to the Iyakhine Temple, Thiès (ph. Eric Ross)

For more information about the Iyakhine of Thiès see Rose Lake’s “The Making of a Mouride Mahdi: Serigne Abdoulaye Yakhine Diop of Thies” in African Islam and Islam in Africa: Encounters between Sufis and Islamists (edited by David Westerlund & Eva Evers Rosander, London: Hurst & Co., 1997). About Soxna Magat Diop see Christian Coulon’s “Women, Islam, and Baraka” in Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988).

About ericrossacademic

Professor of Geography at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco
This entry was posted in field trips, map work, shrines, Sufism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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