Senegalese Muslims Converge in Harlem for Sufi Leader

July 28, 2003

Source: The New York Times

On July 28, 2003 The New York Times reported that "for the last week, Senegalese pilgrims have trekked to a normally quiet corner on the western edge of Harlem to await blessings from a holy man. Resplendent in robes of shimmering cotton, colorful turbans perched on the women's heads like exotic birds, they clustered outside a red-brick building named, grandly, the House of Islam... The object of their devotion is Sheik Mourtada Mbaké, the aging spiritual leader of the Mourides, a Sufi Muslim brotherhood that preaches the twin virtues of hard work and prayer. Once a year, the sheik, now 83, travels to each of the far-flung Mouride outposts to reinforce those principles that have propelled his flock out of Senegal and across the world. His travels take him to Italy, France and the United States, where Mouride colonies have grown up in New York, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. He is now midway through his American visit... From early morning until late at night, the parade of supplicants in Harlem - cabdrivers and computer technicians, street vendors and accountants - never stops."