It took over 15 years to construct it with a workforce of 800 construction and trades people. The Massalikoul Djinane mosque in the Colobane district of Dakar, Senegal’s capital is largest religious edifice in Africa.
It measures 10,000 square metre, with strings of golden columns and wood work lit by 2,000 lights of giant chandelier giving it its grandeur outlook. The sitting capacity of the Massalikoul Djinane mosque is 30,000.
Architect of the mosque, Maissa Diodio, recounted that when he enquired from the Khalifa on how the Massalikoul Djinane should look like, the instruction was clear, it should depict a grandeur of the city, according to the African report.
The Mourides of Senegal believe the religious edifice’s story will be told for centuries beyond the nation and Africa when they pass away.
Until its construction, the only gigantic edifice in Senegal was the Touba Mosque which was erected in 1932.
A doctor of Geography at the University of Strasbourg and author of Touba, capital of the Mourides, Sheikh Gueye said selection of Dakar for the religious edifice is to reinforce the weight of Islam in a city built as a capital by the colonist in a secular country.
According to him, the siting of Massalikoul Djinane is a way to reclaim Dakar.
The Massalikoul Djinane was constructed to commemorate the father of Mouridism, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba.
He indicated erection of the mosque is also a conscious effort by the Mouride brotherhood to redefine its place in the Islamic community in Senegal.
Sheikh Gueye said the first approach is to build huge edifice that will be talked of for many years in the Islamic tradition.
Another researcher on Mouridism and a descendant of Bamba, Abdou Aziz Mbacke Majalis, said the Massalikoul Djinane mosque signifies some sort of revenge on fate.
He explained that, for a long period of time, the Mourides have been stigmatized and ostracized in the Senegalese Islamic community.
He recounted that the father of Mouridism, Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, once upon a time was placed in a custody for three nights in Dakar and placed on a boat and sent into exile in Gabon.
He stressed that having a monument in the capital which their leader was ostracized and frowned on speaks volumes on the intent of the Mourides brotherhood.
The Mourides also turned to foreign know-how for the construction of Massalikoul Djinane. The ceilings and woodwork were made by Moroccan craftsmen, the minaret formwork by the Swiss company, Royam, the marble is from Italy and Spain, while the lighting and light clock of the main minaret, inspired by the one in Mecca, were made in China.
The project is estimated to cost 30 million euros and which includes the mosque whose shell cost 18 million euro, a luxury residence and a future Institute of Islamic studies, which was financed exclusively by the Mouride brotherhood.