Mauritania Table of Contents
Ahmed al Tijani, an Algerian Berber, founded the Tijaniya brotherhood in 1781. Its rituals tend to be simpler than those of the Qadiriya, and its members are not expected to pursue Islamic learning to the same extent. Essentially a missionary order, the Tijaniya brotherhood has spread in many areas of West Africa at the expense of the Qadiriya. One explanation for its expansion may be that the simpler and more flexible Tijaniya teachings are better suited for modern life.
Tijaniya precepts include injunctions against lying, stealing, cheating, and killing. These precepts insist that promises and obligations be honored, neighbors be loved, and superiors be obeyed. Members are to deprive no one of his freedom without cause and are to reflect continually on God in prayer. Although the Tijaniya recognizes that everyone sins, it suggests that loyal members of the brotherhood will be rewarded in an afterlife.
The Tijaniya has two branches in Mauritania, the Hadefiste (or Hafediste) and the Omariya. Little is known about the Hadefiste. The Omariya branch was founded by a Toucouleur, El Hadj Omar, in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The membership of the Omariya is largely Toucouleur, but many Soninké, Fulbe, and Wolof also belong to this order. A subdivision of the Omariya, the Hamallya, was founded in the early twentieth century by Sherif Hamallah. The Hamallya emphasizes mystical Islamic beliefs more than most of the other brotherhoods and stresses the equality of all mankind. Drawn from the Fulbe and from mixed Maure groups, Hamallya membership initially included ex-slaves, young people, and women. This group has tended to be extremist, and the main Tijaniya brotherhood claims it is not a true Tijaniya group.
Data as of June 1988