Friday, March 19, 2010

The Legendary Scholar, Traveller And Hero Of The Tijania Sect

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-The 26th of February 2010 marked another year of the “Mawlud Nabi” or the birth of the Prophet. For this reason, Muslims from all parts of the country gather at various places to mark the occasion.
In Senegal, one of the places of attraction to all in the sub-region is Tiwawone; it is one of the centres of the Tijaniya Sect. In this place is found the descendants of the re-known Imam Alhagi Malick Sey and his brothers.
Among the great scholars of the Tijaniya sect was the re-known scholar, traveler and hero, Sheikh Omar Futee Faal. Sheikh Omar Futee Faal was a famous scholar, who travelled widely to convert people to the religion of Islam through preaching and teachings or other wonderful and mysterious deeds.
In the Gambia, legend has it that he had visited some people and places and had left behind after his departure some wonderful signs or deeds, that still remain fresh in the minds of the people still living.
It is still narrated that while crossing at one of the river crossings in Niani, , Sheikh Omar Futee Faal happened to meet the grandfather of the former head of state, Sir Dawda Jawara, who assisted him to cross the river. It was narrated that, after reaching the opposite bank, , Sheikh Omar Futee Faal prayed for him and predicted to him that his son will be recognised throughout the Gambia, and that his son’s son or one of his grandsons would one day rule the land. This was all fulfilled, because everyone in the Gambia must have known or heard about the late Alhagie Almami Jawara, even before his son become the former “Gambian head of State.
The other places that Sheikh Omar Futee Faal visited in the Gambia were Banjul, Dobson Street “Fayen” where he met the grandfather of the present Imam Muntaha Fye. Legend has it that imam Fye’s grandfather showed much hospitality and lavished gifts at the great sheikh, who in return pray for the advancement of his sons and grandchildren.
At Gunjur, Sheikh Omar Futee Faal stayed at the coastal place known as “Sanimentereng” to the local people, who feared that the place was occupied by evil spirits.
The inhabitants told him about these evil spirits, and that he was not to go near the place. But Sheikh Omar Futee Faal decided to stay at the very spot where everyone feared to stay.
News & Report met with one Imam Sarr of Nema Kunku (Wasulung) and this was what he had to say:
Imam Sarr: He was a great Sheikh, who travelled greatly around the sub-region. He was born in Hallwarr in the southern part of Senegal at Bondu, near the border between Senegal and Mali.
He was gifted in the knowledge of the Koran, even when he was a child. Legend had it that when his father took him to begin his learning of the Koran, his tutor thought the boy was too young to learn, for he did believe that he could even count. Therefore, he told his father that the boy could not count, and as his father was about to depart, the young man asked the tutor to recount after him.
The tutor would count from one and he counted after him, but when the tutor wanted to continue on from one to two, he would always ask him (the tutor) to explain the meaning of each number before continuing to the next.
This the tutor would tell him that he did not know, and the child (Sheikh Omar Futee Faal) would then explain the meaning of each number to him, which left the tutor spellbound.
At Gunjur, he was said to have resided outside the village at the coastal and rocky area known as “Sanneh Mentereng” by the local people who feared to go near that place.
Legend had it that when one of the inhabitants of the village at Gunjur told him not to go near the place, he laughed and told him that it was the right place for him to stay and worship Allah.
It was there he stayed for all the period he was in Gunjur. It was after he left that thousands of people began to go to the spot to pay their homage to the great Sheik.
Much has been said of his travels, when he was passed through the Kombos. It was said that during one of his travels, he happened to meet a group of men at the village bantaba, and asked them to help him with some water. They ignored him, and he continued on his way and met a group of women at the village well, who assisted him and gave him water.
He prayed for them to be prosperous, and that their descendants after them would be respected and anything they do would be of great success.
Sheikh Omar Futee Faal then departed from Gunjur and returned to his native home village in Futa, a place called “Ban Jagara”. On this place was a cave under a huge rock, he had told many of the people around the area that nobody would see his grave.
He therefore entered the cave and to this day, people of the area do hear the sound of his prayer beads in the dark cave at “Ban Jagara.

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