Africa

In pictures: Senegal's Mouride Islamic sect

Senegal's Mouride brotherhood is a branch of Sufi Islam that was founded in the 19th Century, and incorporates many traditional practices. It is one of the country's biggest brotherhoods and its leaders wield considerable political influence.

Image copyright Felipe Abreu
Image caption The village of Kabadio in southern Senegal is known as a spiritual place and many of its inhabitants are Mourides.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption The religious leaders here are called marabouts and they are responsible for the spiritual and economic welfare of the community. They also find the Koranic text to go into the amulets or gris-gris which are said to offer protection from evil to the wearer.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption The passage is copied onto a sheet of paper, folded, tied-up and then encased in goatskin. It can then be worn as part of a necklace, bracelet or anklet. The gris-gris are seen as one way that Mouridism brings together Islam and traditional beliefs.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption Kabadio has a Koranic school to teach children who want a religious training and may want to become a marabout in the future. As part of the initiation into the school, a teacher writes "Allah" (God) on to the right hand of a pupil and then it is sprinkled with salt...
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption The initiate must then lick his hand until the writing disappears. This shows that the path to wisdom is rewarding but also hard.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption Singing and dancing is also a crucial part of life in Kabadio. "The dance is part of our culture and we feel happy being that way," says Meta Dabo. "No matter what kind of music, it is essential to dance," she says. Working hard is also a key part of Mouride beliefs.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreau
Image caption After the last prayer, the children gather around the fire for the last activity of the day: The Karanta - when they study the Koran illuminated by firelight...
Image copyright Fellipe Abreau
Image caption In Kabadio, people believe that when children are studying and praying around the fire, the power is so strong that the fire acquires magical features. Captions and photographs by Fellipe Abreu.

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