The largest mosque in West Africa has been inaugurated on Friday in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, with tens of thousands of worshippers travelling from across the country to pray at the newly opened mosque. Many worshippers had been camping outside for more than two days around the mosque to be able to pray inside the newly constructed mosque for Friday prayers when it opened. The Massalikul Jinaan mosque can hold more than 30,000 worshippers, and was built by the Senegalese Mouride Brotherhood.
The Mouride Brotherhood is part of the Sufi sect of Islam in Senegal, and has been recognized as having long championed religious tolerance and open-minded spirituality in the country. The mosque’s name, Massalikul Jinaan, meaning “Paths to Paradise”, comes from the beloved poem by the 19th century founder of the Mouride Brotherhood, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke.
With the building beginning almost a decade ago, this new mosque covers more than 14 acres of land and proudly boasts five minarets, with the tallest minaret at 78 meters high. The cost of this new mosque was more than $30 million, and came from mostly private donations. The government of Senegal, however, donated towards the lighting, sanitation, and roadworks of the mosque, contributing over $10 million in total.
Malick Mar, one of the worshippers who attended Friday prayers at the mosque, stated:
I’m here to celebrate God, the Prophet, and Serigne Touba [holy name for the brotherhood’s founder], whose work is being rewarded here. It is a triumph for all Muslims.”
The Mouride Brotherhood’s leader, Mountakha Mbacke, greeted numerous religious and political leaders at the inauguration, with the ceremonies also hosting the attendance of Senegalese President Macky Sall. With the population of Senegal at more than 95% Muslim, the building of this mosque stands as a unique reminder to the contributions and strength of Muslims and Islam in West Africa.