The founder of Muridiyya is Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba , an eminent Sufi Master from Senegal.
Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba lived from 1853 to 1927 while Senegal was under French colonial rule.
The life of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba is a testimony of his commitment to the revival of authentic Islam, the religion of Peace and his only ideal was to serve humanity by giving teachings in accordance with the prophetic model. The teachings of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba were geared towards the transmission of the very essence of the prophetic message to his generation and to future ones. He devoted his entire life to awakening human consciousness, both among the oppressed and the oppressors.
Since his early childhood, he renounced all worldly things. At the death of his father he was offered the post of counsellor to the king but he declined the offer. Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba was perceived by the French colonisers as a threat and was therefore subjected to a multitude of ordeals by the colonisers who wanted to eliminate him. However, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba never surrendered to the colonisers. Rather he persevered in his mission as a conscience awakener for both oppressors and oppressed. This approach appalled the colonial authorities which soon decided to arrest and banish him. He was exiled in Gabon from 1895 to 1902 and in Mauritania from 1903 to 1907. Despite the harshness of the conditions in which he was exiled, he bore no ill feelings for the colonisers. Rather, his non violent approach led him to seek to liberate the oppressors from their violence and the oppressed from the misery of their condition as victims.
Since Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba considered God as the sole authority and the only will power that reigned, he never blamed the colonisers for his condition. On the contrary he saw God’s hand in all these trials and accepted them as a path of spiritual elevation specially traced for him. Thus he was devoid of all hatred, resentment and any form of rancour towards the colonisers. Subsequently, in the year …….he even collected funds to support the French currency in an attempt to save it from depreciation.
Towards the latter part of his life, France decided to thank Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba for his conciliatory and peaceful attitude by awarding him the title of Legion d’Honneur. However the Sheikh declined the title, saying that his good deeds were meant for the pleasure of God and hence he only expected rewards from the Almighty.
Khidmatul Khadim, School of Peace and Service
In order to actualise the essence of his teachings and his ideal of peace and service, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba founded the spiritual path called Muridiyya – this is referred to as the path of those who seek the Truth. However Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba never denied any of the other spiritual traditions that existed in those days.
In 1883 he also laid the foundations of Khidmatul Khadim, the School of Peace and Service which he dedicated to those of his followers who wanted what he himself wanted, that is those who accepted to embody his message within their own lives in order to spread it to the whole of mankind as a living example. Hence Khidmatul Khadim is the school of those who choose to be in the service of the ‘servant’, for Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba defined himself as the Servant of the Prophet (pbuh).