New page on Senegal’s Tijâniya

Long overdue, I can now launch the page on Senegal’s Tijânî shrines and neighborhoods (look for the Tijânî page under the “Touba and more” tab). While my work has centered on the Murid holy city of Touba, no study of any one of Senegal’s Sufi orders would be complete without taking into account the others. These orders share some common traits, as do the shrines and settlements they have created. Only when set against their commonalities can the particular orientations of each tarîqa be fully appreciated. Senegal’s Tijâniya, for instance, has a strong urban basis.

The Tijâniya is the largest tarîqa in the country in terms of numbers of adherents, and it has been present in Senegal’s largest cities since the turn of the 20th century.

The Great Mosque of Madina Baye, Kaolack (ph. Eric Ross)

The main branches of the Tijâniya are urban, with major zâwiyas located in Kaolack and Tivaouane. Dakar and Saint Louis too have been historic Tijânî centers. Other branches of the Tijâniya have experimented with a sharî‘a-based autonomy from the state, establishing more or less autonomous towns like Tiénaba and Madina Gounass. I have mapped these two shrine towns (thanks to imagery from Google Earth), though I have yet to visit them. Easy access to recent satellite images has also allowed me to update information on places I last visited ten years ago or more.

Satellite image of the Niassène zâwiya in Leona neighborhood, Kaolack, dated May 2011. Construction on the enlarged mosque is approaching completion. I have not visited Leona since 2001, when a smaller mosque stood on the site. (source: Google Earth)

Readers of the new page will see that, towards the end, I resign myself to inserting color maps. Color can be the bane of cartography. Any phenomenon can be represented in black & white. Black & white forces clarity of information, avoiding needless distraction. As color also adds to the cost of print publication, I have become used to not using it. On the web though, black & white does not come across effectively at all. Whereas color! Color rules the web. It makes anything look better. So, from time to time I will update the map-work on last year’s Touba pages, originally intended for black & white print, with brand-new web-fabulous color versions. That said, I will steadfastly avoid the garish tints so often used in web cartography.

And I do promise to launch pages for Senegal’s Khadr (Qâdirî) and Layène shrines… with yet more color maps.

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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