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William Seabrook - White monk of Timbuctoo



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Seabrook, William
The White Monk of Timbuctoo

He had been mystically inclined all his life, a real “marabout-cognac,” Yakouba tells me, a "musulman-alcool” from early youth, though the miracle and sainthood came rather late in his career, in the following manner:

One day his nephew Hamma Tilakassou, fishing with a net in the Niger near the wharf at Koryome, fished out a large bottle of mysterious origin, tightly corked, sealed, and containing a pale golden liquid. He took the bottle to Nioumouni who opened it, tasted it, found it to be excellent brandy albeit with a rather special flavor, drank it all giving fervent thanks to Allah the Merciful, the Compassionate, and fell into a deep sleep.

Three days later, as he still slept profoundly, was indeed in a coma, the alarmed clan carted him to the then clinic of the Pères Blancs who, on crudely analyzing the residue in the bottle, discovered it to be heavily camphorated.

Nioumouni continued to sleep, or remain in a coma, for seven days and nights, when he awoke, blinked his eyes, and expressed surprise to find himself back on earth. He explained that he had been dead. "What was it like, Nioumouni?"

"It was better than here."

"How better?"

"The same, but better. Pleasant rivers, fountains, terraced gardens, fruit, shade, perfumed boys, green silk tents and music, high-breasted girls with large eyes, drink of every taste, of every color – and horses. . . .”

"What, Nioumouni? Horses in paradise? The Koran does not mention them."

"Well, I can't help that. I was there, and there were horses."

The source of the experience

African tribal

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image


References and further reading

Seabrook, W.,(1934) The White Monk of Timbuctoo Kessinger

Observation contributed by: Monica Van Rossem