SERIGNE MUHAMMADU FADAL MBACKE:
SECOND CALIPH OF MURIDIYYA (1945-1968)
One of the distinctive signs by which one identifies the true believer is his or her resignation before the divine decrees, however cruel they can appear. Thus, when on July 13, 1945, Shaykh Muhammadu Mustapha returned to Allah (swt), it was with indescribable pain, but with a total submission to the will of Allah, that the entire country went through the event. His younger brother (of six months), Shaykh Muhammadu Fadel succeeded him to the caliphate because the flame lit by Khadimu-r-Rassul could not waver. He, whose memory is perpetuated by its many namesakes known as Gallas, Fallou or Fadel, was going to mark his era. Every human aspect of this exceptional man, affectionately and respectfully hailed Shaykh Fallou or El Hajj Fallou, radiates undeniable holiness.
First his birth, that took place in 1888 in Daaru Salaam. Indeed Serigne Fallou was born exactly on the twenty seventh night of the lunar month of Rajab. (Ndeyi koor in the local calendar), corresponding to the night Prophet Muhammad ascended to the Heavens (in the company of Angel Gabriel) wherefrom he received five daily prayers’ rituals, an important pillar of Islam. The Kahzu Rajab magal (celebration) marks his birthday as a well-known event, which is attended by thousands of enthusiastic disciples. Then, the Shaykh’s reaction to the news. He highly expressed his gratitude to Allah (SWT) saying that if this baby was not born in his family, he would have been at its search. Finally the pilgrimage to Mecca he performed. The circumstances of his trip in Arabia where he had much sorrow to return to Tuubaa: people of Mecca did not want him to leave after being exposed to his exceptional scholarship and holiness.
Already, in his childhood, Serigne Fallou showed signs of exceptionality. His mother Soxna Awa Busso belongs to a family of great scholars and imams. He started learning the Quran at eight (8), under the care of Serigne Ndame Abdurrahman Lo at the school (Daara) called Alimul Xabiir in the outskirts of Tuubaa. His paternal uncle Serigne Mame Mor Jarra taught him theology. His religious sciences education was provided by the Shaykh himself, after his return from exile. A good part of this education took place in Mauritania, in Saout El Maa (Khomack), where the Shaykh was deported and where Serigne Fallou along with Serigne Muhammadu Moustapha Mbacke and d Serigne Mor Rokhaya Busso followed him.
The Arabic scholarship of Serigne Fallou is reckoned with admiration, just as its outstanding talents in poetry and calligraphy. He is credited with forty copies the Qur’an, of which twenty eights he offered to the Shaykh as pious gift (hadiya). Moreover it is with the same emotion that one still evokes his great mastery of this text, the reading of which he devoted most of his time. He is became a master of Tajweed thanks Serigne Mame Mor Jarra, and then with Serigne Mame Thierno Birahim Mbacke his paternal uncle.
Another striking personality trait is his exceptional devotion; his unconditional submission to the Shaykh whom he regarded as his spiritual guide and master rather than a father. To understand his attachment and indescribable submission, let us recount an event which took place in Khomack, Mauritania. One morning, the Shaykh held made this formal lecture: “I am neither the father, neither the brother, nor the uncle of anyone. I am a creature dedicated to the exclusive service of Allah (swt). Are my sons, nephews, brothers and disciples, those among you who chose to follow me on this path I rehabilitated. “Immediately after, Serigne Fallou and its brothers made act of allegiance, they redoubled their fervour in their religious training, according to rules’ laid down by the Shaykh, for the rest of their stay in Mauritania. This event inspired a poem that Serigne Fallou dedicated to its master:
“Our hope is in You, You opened the doors of bliss for us. I am trading my filial bonds with the glory disciplehood (talibe). And once I reached that glory, I would kindly request you accept it, in return, as my pious gift.”
When the Shaykh expressed his will to build the Great Mosque, Serigne Fallou put his every resource to the project: even the most trivial wish of the Shaykh, is peremptory order to him. Thus, in 1926, whereas the Sheik mobilized all forces of his community for the realization of his project, Serigne Fallou was glad, after long explorations, to discover the quarry of Ndock, likely to provide blocks for the construction. He took samples to Tuubaa which the approval of the master who, on this occasion exhorted him to regard, as well as his elder brother Serigne Mamadou Mustapha, the construction incompressible mission. When the Shaykh passed in 1927, Serigne Fallou, deferred ,all his devotion and commitment, on his elder brother who later became the first caliph. As much he was attentive with the least desire of the Master, as much he was at the Service of Serigne Muhammadu Mustapha, who was looked up as a father.
Moreover, he performed his pilgrimage to Mecca following the injunction of Shaykh Muhammadu Mustapha. He was to materialize a project of Shaykh Ahmadou Bamba. Indeed, the Shaykh expressed his will to go to the Holy Land. He had even name people he wished to perform this pilgrimage with. Those lucky were Mame Shaykh Anta, Serigne Mbacke Busso, El Hadji Mayoro Fall and Serigne Mulaye Bou (a Moor). Allah (swt) decided differently and the Shaykh passed away before executing his plan. Then, in 1928, Serigne Muhammadu Mustapha charged Serigne Fallu with concretizing their father’s wish with the same people he envisaged to. The episodes of the trip were rich in experiences, quasi miraculous it made the Murid community believe Serigne Fallu is the reincarnation of Serigne Tuubaa.
In 1945, when Serigne Fallu became caliph, he devoted body and heart in the continuation of the Great Mosque project. He’s had the honor, on June 7, 1963, to preside over its inauguration and lead the first prayer therefrom. His caliphate is particularly remembered as a prosperous period for the country. Senegalese of all confessions and ethnicity regarded him as a true miracle-worker, a man endowed with divine gifts to perform miracles.
Elders recollected that his ascension to the caliphate coincided with the eradication of the plague epidemic which decimated the country by the end of World War II. Then ended the famine threat and began an era of economic prosperity, food security and absence of natural calamities. The younger generations, which did not have the chance to known him, testimonies describing him as a good-natured grandfather, legendary generous, with the solution to any kind of problem presented to him.
Wasn’t he the resort to every citizen, regardless his/her social background, victims of the Administration abuses? It was not fortuitous he was called “Na am mu am, du am du amt”? “Things happen if he wishes” .He was credited with the gift from Allah (SWT) to see all formulated prayers accepted, as if he had the elements under control. Testimonies in this regard are abound. How many times did peasants request his prayers to start the rain when they were concerned about a suspected longer dry season? What followed is still fresh in people’s memories: an abundant rain which forced solicitors to return to their village under gusting winds, whereas, few moments earlier, there wasn’t any foreseeable sign of the elements’ outburst.
Many are the people who live with the belief that it is enough to call upon Serigne Fallu’s name seven times, to obtain realization of one’s wishes. The recollection of his eldest son, aka Serigne Modu Busso Dieng is still fresh in the collective memory. He inherited his father’s nickname “Na am mu am, du am du am”. His contemporaries reported a surprising fact, but very edifying. Disciples came to him one day to complain about a restive horse, whose behaviour caused serious delay in the planting schedule of workers in the farm. It was scalded by the marabout: “Shame on you? Nobody but you behaves this way, in order to receive Serigne Tuubas’s grace, and you are just blowing your chances! You make me look bad!” The dumbfounded witnesses saw the horse lower its head, fold its ears and start crying in repentance. From then on it was impossible to bring the enthusiastic horse home at the end of the day: it refused to stop working, when at sundown exhausted disciples want to go home after long laborious day.
This charismatic leader is reckoned as a convivial man, a philanthropist who was particularly gifted to tell witty remarks meant to slacken the atmosphere and put relax his audience. How many times did he save from on the verge jail sentence, suspects found guilty; not meant to ensure impunity of crooks and criminals, but to give them a second chance to abide by the law, and repent? Under his caliphate, the city of Tuubaa experienced a very significant development. Indeed he undertook the urbanisation and electrification of the city while improving existing infrastructures. He built roads and installed the first hydro drilling pump in Daaru Mannan for its water supply. The Great Mosque carries his indelible mark: He built the five majestic minarets which can be seen from away. Lamp Fall, the tallest one, is in tribute to Shaykh Ibra Fall, founder of the Baye Fall way.
Following the steps of his Master and Serigne Muhammadu Mustapha’s, he had, also, created villages – very prosperous Daara (Schools) among which are: Ndindy, Madinatu Salam, Allia, Mbepp, and Tuubaa Bogo. These Daara are generally supervised by senior disciples of Serigne Tuubaa.
It should be noted that revenues generated by these farms were reinvested in the construction of the Mosque or to relieve disciples in dire straits or to maintain the many Moor followers the Shaykh brought back from Khomack. His passed away in 1968.