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Shaykhâni (Manna Abba ibn Muhammad at-Tulba, 1908-1986) and the Revival of the Tijaniyya in Mauritania

Britta Frede

Since the 1920s through penetration of French colonial-administrative structures the social order of the Mauritanian society changed. Especially the scholar elite (zwâya) profited from these changes. Some of them were the authorities of Sufi movements like the wide spread Qadiriyya, the Shadhiliyya or the Tijaniyya.
The Sufi brotherhood Tijaniyya, was introduced around 1805 in Mauritania. It was led mainly by two families of the south-western bidan clan Idaw Ali. During colonial time this clan managed to establish themselves as an influential interest group in the spheres of politics, economy and religion. But instead of other scholar groups, the Idaw Ali scholars were not famous for a strong cooperation with the colonial power.
Since the 1930s the Sufi brotherhood Tijaniyya spread more widely in the Mauritanian society. The new “missionary work” was due to a revival movement led by the Senegalese Shaykh Ibrahim Niass (Kaolack, Senegal). Shaykhâni, a grandson of the founder family of the Mauritanian Tijaniyya played an important role in spreading the new branch of this brotherhood. He travelled through the different Idaw Ali communities in the country (Tidjikdja, Boumdeid, Chinguetti) and managed to include these communities successfully in the new branch of the Tijaniyya, called Tijaniyya-Ibrahimiyya.
By looking carefully at the life of Shaykhâni and his writings, this project intends to shed light on the influence of the Mauritanian branch of the Tijaniyya-Ibrahimiyya by adapting to the new colonial and postcolonial order of the country.