muqaddam and teacher in Ndóofaan Lagem (southeast of ) and later in (near ), Gambia. Along with Babaakar (Baay Mbay) Ñas, Sëriñ Alliw Siise, and Usmaan Njaay, Omar Ture is considered one of Baay’s four most important disciples. He trained a large number of imams, muqaddams, and teachers who are now active in Senegambia.was one of Baay Ñas’s earliest disciples and became a major
His background and early years
1 ’s mother was Maam Faatu Caane.’s father was , founder of the village of , which Allaaji Maxtaar named Tuubaa after a tree that grows in heaven, but which the neighboring Séeréer named Njaay-Njaay after the Njaayeen families that lived around the village.
Allaaji Maxaar was the son of Sëriñ Mamadu Ture, who was already in the Tijāniyy order. Their family is Saalum-Saalum and comes from Balaŋaar, near 2.
According to Ibrayima Ñaŋ, Omar Ture was born in 1902, which he says makes Sheex Omar two years younger than Baay Ñas (1900 is the common date given for Baay Ñas’s birth, although Arabic sources suggest he was born in 1902).’s oldest son agrees that Baay was older by 2 years.
He became a committed follower of Baay during his youth, when shaykh years before the Fayḍah began, although at that early date he could not be Baay’s disciple in the strict sense, as Baay was not yet a muqaddam. All accounts agree that they met when both were very young, probably younger than 10 years old. says (saying that his father told him this story in person):was still alive, and he showed Baay the devotion due to a great
Maam Allaaji Abdulaay had gone toto visit Allaaji Maxtaar, Sheex Omar’s father, and brought Baay with him. At the time, Baay was a little Qurᵓānic student, about 10 years or so, or even less than 10 years they say. . . . When Sheex Omar saw him, he went to his mother to ask for curdled milk, saying “I’m going to use it to make friends with the son of Baay Allaaji Ñas who came with him. . . . Yes, Maam Allaaji was traveling and brought Baay along so he wouldn’t fall behind in his studies. When he [Maam Allaaji] went out, he [Baay] would study in the back courtyard, where my father saw him—Allaaji Sheex saw him—and said, who is this studying in the back court? He was told: they call him Ibra. He’s a son of Allaaji Abdulaay who came with him. So he went and asked his mother for curdled milk and came back and made friends with him. . . . Yes, Sheex Omar, we can pretty much say that, . . . in short, no one preceded him to Baay.
Sheex Omar’s son khalīfah, puts their meeting at and not at :, his current
Baay Sheexu Omar was already a disciple of Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas. During a visit to Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas in Kóosi, he saw Baay for the first time studying the Qurᵓān under the direction of his father Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas. His penetrating voice and his behavior drew the attention of Baay Sheexu Omar Ture, and he told Maam Allaaji Abdulaay Ñas that he chose [Baay] to be his guide. Maam Allaaji Abdulaay accepted this request and during periodic visits of Sheexu Omar to Kóosi he drew close to Baay with clarity and sincerity. His encounters with Baay are marked by gracious deeds and honorific receptions. Maam Allaaji Abdulaay recognized this relationship and commended Baay Sheexu Omar Ture.3
Fayḍah. Baay had some devoted followers at that time, but they did not openly claim that he had something the other shaykhs didn’t have. Sheex Omar continued to study in the village of at that time, apparently until 1924, after which he joined Baay in Kóosi and joined Baay’s earliest group of students. After three years studying with Baay in Kóosi, he returned once again to Tayba Mbayeen. At some point he also studied in the village of Aafe.4 Two years later, in 1929, the Fayḍah began and he returned to Kóosi and received his tarbiyyahcontinues to recount that after Maam Allaaji Abdulaay died, Sheex Omar immediately renewed his discipleship with Baay Ñas. Recall that this was in 1922, 7 years before Baay announced the
But Sheex Omar realized that Baay had become the leader of a burgeoning movement and received disciples by the dozens asking him for tarbiyyah, and Baay would not have the time to teach him the Islamic sciences. Not wanting to bother Baay with requests for instruction, Sheex Omar left and went to to continue his studies. But as soon as he arrived there he received a letter from Baay telling him to return as soon as possible. He came back as soon as he received the message, and Baay asked him why he had left. He said he had wanted to seek further knowledge. Baay answered, as relates: “I can guarantee that you will know all you need to know if you stay with me.” Sheex Omar answered that he would stay, and he continued to study with Baay and to work in the fields.
During Baay’s lifetime, Sheex Omar managed Baay’s fields in numerous locations, including àddiya. During this period he went on the pilgrimage several times with Baay.in the Senegal River Valley. He would donate most of the proceeds from his own fields to Baay as
Wives and children
Sheex Omar Ture’s wife Daado Siise ofwas a daughter of Alasaan Siise, who was also the father of . She was the mother of his oldest son, , who is now in .
Early teaching: Shaam and Ndóofaan
Baay assigned Sheex Omar to go live in Saane, a village near tarbiyyah., where he taught and gave
Sheex Omar Ture also founded the village of 5 nearin the same area around 1940,
After he had spent 7 years there, he went on pilgrimage to Makkah. When he visited Baay on his return,tells us, Baay told him “I did not set up up in Saam; go live in .” He moved there in 1948 and lived there for about 30 years.
Move to Gambia
According to, Sheex Omar moved to Gambia n 1978, three years Baay Ñas’s death. He had previously visited several times to scout out the appropriate place, and he had been guided in dreams as well. When he moved, he did so with his family only and without disciples. Three years later he attempted to build a mosque, but the Mandinko residents opposed him and he ended up postponing these plans for another 5 years (hence, approximately 1986).
Omar Ture spent the rest of his life in muqaddam and inducted his senior students into the order and gave them ᵓijāzah., establishing a major school and two Friday mosques. His school has counted several hundred students and dozens of assistants at any given time. He is a prime example of a teacher who was at the same time a
For example, Ibrayima Ñaŋ, imam in the village of xam-xam) and mystical knjowledge (tarbiyyah). Omar Ture died before having a chance to give Ibrayima Ñaŋ an ᵓijāzah, but his successor, Móodu Abiib Ture, gave him one, which was followed by several others, one from ., studied for 13 years (1984–1996) in , where taught him both textual knowledge (
Ibrayima Ñaŋ lists a number of other students who have become imams and teachers, in addition to himself: Baabakar Caam, one of his adjuncts (nāᵓib); Séeni Maram Ñas, now an imam in Tayba Ñaseen, and his nāᵓib; Allaaji Ammat Ja; Usmaan Ja, imam in Kër Sëriñ Faana near Kafrin; Mamadu Bashiiru Gëy, imam in Kër Maam Faal near Pasi; Abiibu Ture, imam in Yundum ( ), Gambia; and so on.
He was not known as a specialist in any given subject but taught his students all the Islamic disciplines. But he did not offer diplomas in the Islamic disciplines, saying that knowledge is in the heart. His students who have studied abroad in Arab countries have not brought diplomas to prove their credentials, but they have taken entrance exams and demonstrated that they were fit to study at the university.
As he got older, Sheex Omar called his sonback from France, where he had been studying after having studied in Egypt. arrived back home on 13 August, 1993. says his father immediately began delegating responsibilities to him and that he decided not to return to France, in spite of all the advantages he had there, because it was clear he would need to take over for his father.
According to his student Ibrayima ÑaŋSheex Omar Ture died on 28 August, 1996, at the age of 94, in zāwiyahs associated with him: one at , led by his oldest son , and the main one in , led by his son .. He was buried there in a tomb adjoining the Friday mosque (of impressive beauty, according to ) that is part of his school and house compound. He left two main
Legacy, students, and muqaddams
As mentioned above, 6trained a large number of students in both textual and Sufi knowledge, and many of these are now imams throughout Senegambia. , a prominent Islamic scholar who appears regularly on the radio and plays an important role in Taalibe Baay and national events, studied with him for 4 years.
zāwiyas, one in his final home of and one in his previous home of . His son (not his oldest) became his khalīfah and took over the school and zāwiyah in (see the interview with by and ). ’s oldest son, , became the leader at the family’s previous home of (see the interview with by ).left behind two main
1. It is not rare for a village’s name to be changed through practice against the wishes of its inhabitants. For example, Caameen Sanc, the village of the person who told me this story, was originally called Medina Caameen, named after Medina Baay, but the name its neighbors used has stuck.
2. Interview by Aadi Faal with , , 23 August 2004.
3. Interview by and with , , Gambia, 2004.
4. Interview with .
5. Interview with .
6. Interview with .
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