“The Supreme Saint of His Time”: A Prophecy Fulfilled
This chapter traces the stages in Niasse's emergence as a Muslim saint, to the point where he came to be regarded by many West Africans as the ghawth or supreme saint of his time. It submits the conventional narratives to analytical scrutiny by juxtaposing them with the versions given in primary sources, most importantly Niasse's own accounts of his pilgrimages and travels. The chapter returns to the analytical tools developed in the Introduction by highlighting differences in perceptions and interpretations among leaders and followers, which constitute a decisive element of the movement's dynamics. Ultimately, Niasse's success depended more on this dynamic than on the endorsement of influential individuals, such as Abdallah Bayero, Emir of Kano until 1953, and the Moroccan Tijani scholar Ahmad Skiraj (d. 1944). It was after Niasse's public appearance in Kano in 1951 that his reputation as the ghawth began to spread rapidly throughout West Africa.
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