Professor Cheikh Anta Babou is a historian teaching and doing research at the University of Pennsylvania. He can certainly be considered one of the greatest specialists of the Muriddiya (Murid brotherhood) as evidenced by one of his most seminal publications on Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba and the greater Jihad.
On Thursday, July 25th, he engaged in what he himself termed a conversation with the public on the role of Sufi brotherhoods in all major walks of life in Senegal: the practice and preservation of the Muslim faith, the shaping and working of the senegalese State, the driving forces of the senegalese society, politics, the economy etc…..
The conversation was very lively as it was fuelled by the questions and contributions of 25 attendees and the insightful answers from Professor Babou. The conversation led the audience to clearly understand that, although Senegal is a secular state, religious forces are major stakeholders and drivers in the daily shaping of the senegalese society. They have been active and involved since the beginning in the efforts to end slavery, to put an end to colonization etc…For the record, the first senegalese President, Léopold S. Senghor, was a catholic but, until he resigned in 1980, he had the unwavering political support of the major Muslim leaders in the country.