The largest mosque in West Africa opened its doors in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, last Friday.
The new Massalikul Jinaan mosque is capable of hosting 30,000 worshippers and was built by the Mouride Brotherhood – part of the Sufi strand of Islam that predominates in Senegal.
The mosque’s name (The Paths to Paradise) comes from the title of a poem by Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke, the 19th-century founder of the Brotherhood.
Work on the mosque began a decade ago on a six-hectare area of land donated by the government of the 90-percent Muslim nation.
With a Carrara marble exterior and boasting five minarets, the tallest being 78 meters high, the mosque has a capacity of 15,000 worshippers inside, and another 15,000 on the esplanade.
The lavish interiors include a gold-leaf dome, giant chandeliers and decorations hand drawn by Moroccan workmen. An Islamic institute, residence and museum are scheduled to be added in the future.
The cost of more than 30 million euros came from private donations, while the government contributed lighting, sanitation and roadworks worth 10.5 million euros as well as the land.
The Mourides group’s leader, Mountakha Mbacke, received a stream of religious, traditional and political leaders in the runup to the inauguration.
The Mourides are one of four important Sufi brotherhoods followed by Senegal’s Muslims.