Sheikh Aly N’Daw, spiritual leader of the International Sufi School, transitioned from his human life on to the next stage of his journey on 17th February 2021, in Senegal.
He was 69 years old when he passed on and was soon to turn 70, but was as fit and energetic as a young man in his 30s. He breathed his last as he was still working tirelessly to set up EcoPeace water projects in deep rural Senegal. That is what he wanted: to die in action, to work until his last breath.
Trained as a Sufi Master by his Spiritual Master, Sheikh Abdoulaye Dieye, Sheikh Aly N’Daw started his mission when he left his job as a teacher in Senegal and began to work as a construction worker in Reunion Island. Over the years, he not only set up several successful enterprises including EcoPeace, but he also established International Sufi School centres in many surrounding countries in the Indian Ocean, sharing the message of peace and non-violence.
He was truly a spiritual man of action, who had a planetary vision for the whole of humanity but who was always rooted in local social and economic actions. He came from a spiritual tradition where work is equal to worship; where work is the Love of God made visible.
He actually never thought of his actions as work but as selfless service to all and he was very fond of this prophetic saying:
“Humanity is one family under the command of God. And the one most loved by God is the one who makes himself most useful to this family.”
That was indeed his only ambition: to be useful to the one human family.
His love for this human family made him travel to many countries across the world, from Europe to the US; from the countries of the rising sun to those of the Indian Peninsula; from the Latin continent to many countries of his motherland, Africa. He was fascinated by the human being, by the different physical traits, languages, cultures and traditions. He saw in these differences a divine miracle, a beauty of creation and a necessity of life. He wanted every human being to know that he is a treasure for humanity – that no man is superior to another man and that no race or culture is better than another.
And this is why Sheikh Aly devoted the last years of his life in his homeland, Africa, the most downtrodden and violated continent on Earth, historically, socially and economically. He always said that we have to start where the situation is the most difficult and challenging because once you overcome and succeed in this first step, the rest will just follow.
So since acquiring the EcoPeace farm in Senegal in 2006, he set out to initiate many projects within the framework of an alternative socio-economic model based on non-violence. In such an alternative, the human being is at the centre of all considerations, not profit. Every action is an opportunity to awaken the consciousness of the local population to their own self-esteem and their responsibility in the current situation of their country and their continent.
Sheikh Aly always took the example of Gandhi in the way he presented India’s situation to the Indians. He explained to them that the British had not taken India, but that they had willingly conceded India to the British; that their presence in India was not due to their military power but due to the passivity and the fatalism of the Indian people.
The same is true of Africa today. Sheikh Aly’s dream is for the African people to awaken from their sleep and to work consciously for the development of their continent. The motto of his campaign in Senegal was: When Africa awakens, the world will come out of greed.
He used to explain:
“When you live on the richest continent on the planet and you do not work to take care of its resources to transform them yourself into a wealth to share with the rest of the world, then you are fuelling other people’s greed. The responsibility of the ever-increasing presence of foreign multinationals racketeering their way through the deepest corners of the continent, of the resulting corruption, political instability and inhumane social and cultural condition of the African people lies in the hands of the Africans themselves.”
Sheikh Aly wanted to free his people of this deep-rooted psychological construct, forged by centuries of slavery followed by colonisation: that the white foreign society, culture, know-how and ideas are better than their own traditional way of living, culture, craftsmanship and wisdom. He wanted his people to embrace their divine origin, to overcome their complexes and to use all their human capital to make of Africa a unique example of social, economic and political development through non-violence. That is why when he was asked: “How can Europe be of help to Africa?”, he replied: “Europe cannot help Africa. Only Africa can help Europe. How? By changing Europe’s outlook on Africa…”
The EcoPeace Mango Campaign was an extremely creative project through which Sheikh Aly sought to realise this. He led by example and worked day and night on the farm himself to produce what has been unanimously described as “the most divine mangoes ever”. Symbolically, the mangoes were first exported to Europe in 2012 to France and the UK, the two greatest colonial powers that ruled over Africa during colonisation.
Sheikh Aly wanted to demonstrate the power of non-violent action. People who bought and ate the mangoes in Europe were extremely amazed that such exquisite, high-quality produce could come from Africa. And on top of that, they were able to buy those mangoes directly from the farmer as there was no middle man in this project.
In his last public talk, he said that he commits his life and his death to this first and last human revolution: to free man of his pride that makes him think of himself as superior to another man; to free human beings of their prejudices and their superstitions that make them go against the divine and natural flow of life. He said that the fight for this kind of freedom, to restore the honour and the dignity of the human being through justice and equality, is for him a Divine duty and a Prophetic responsibility.
Sheikh Aly’s life is his message. His religion is the human being. His only means in his endeavour is Love. He has elevated to higher realms for a much-deserved rest, which we are quite sure he is not taking, but he has left behind a solid group of companions committed and ready to carry on his legacy all over the world.
May God grant him Eternal Blessings in the Highest Paradise, full of Love and Light.