Tierno Bokar

Last updated

Tierno Bokar (Fula : Cerno Bokar), full name Tierno Bokar Saalif Tall (1875–1939), was a Malian mystic, Sufi sage, and a Muslim spiritual teacher of the early twentieth century famous for his message of religious tolerance and universal love.



Tierno [note 1] Bokar was born in Segou, Mali, in 1875 and moved to the village of Bandiagara in 1893. There he opened a zaouia and became a follower of Cherif Hammallah in Nioro du Sahel.

A disagreement over the proper number of repetitions for a Sufi prayer (Hamallayya prescribed 11 times as opposed to 12) rose dramatically in scale. Intense infighting among rival clans and religious factions in French Sudan, as well as involvement of the French colonial authority eventually led to massacres and the exile of Hamallah. In Bandiagara, Bokar was ostracized by his clan and family and forbidden to teach or pray publicly. Tierno Bokar’s school was destroyed and he and his two wives and children were placed under house arrest.

Religious tolerance

Throughout the increasingly violent fighting, Bokar preached a message of religious tolerance and universal love.

I pray God that at the moment I die I have more enemies to whom I’ve done nothing than friends.”

Tierno Bokar [1]

The only struggle that really concerns me is the one that is aimed at our own weaknesses. This struggle, alas, has nothing to do with the war that so many of Adam’s sons wage in the name of a God they claim to love deeply…

Tierno Bokar [1]


A constant smile which calls you

A forehead shining like a mirror
A mirror stamped

With the dark point of prostration. [3]

See also


  1. An honorific title meaning "master" (Fula : cerno).

Related Research Articles


The Mouride brotherhood is a large tariqa most prominent in Senegal and The Gambia with headquarters in the city of Touba, Senegal, which is a holy city for the order. Adherents are called Mourides, from the Arabic word murīd, a term used generally in Sufism to designate a disciple of a spiritual guide.The beliefs and practices of the Mourides constitute Mouridism. Mouride disciples call themselves taalibé in Wolof and must undergo a ritual of allegiance called njebbel, as it is considered highly important to have a sheikh "spiritual guide" in order to become a Mouride. The Mouride brotherhood was founded in 1883 in Senegal by Amadou Bamba. The Mouride make up around 40 percent of the total population, and their influence over everyday life can be seen throughout Senegal.

Peter Brook English theatre and film director and innovator

Peter Stephen Paul Brook, CH, CBE is an English theatre and film director who has been based in France since the early 1970s. He has won multiple Tony and Emmy Awards, a Laurence Olivier Award, the Praemium Imperiale, and the Prix Italia. He has been called "our greatest living theatre director".

Sama (Sufism)

Sama is a Sufi ceremony performed as dhikr. Sama means "listening", while dhikr means "remembrance". These rituals often include singing, playing instruments, dancing, recitation of poetry and prayers, wearing symbolic attire, and other rituals. It is a particularly popular form of worship in Sufism.

Tijaniyyah Sufi tariqa

The Tijāniyyah is a Sufi tariqa, originating in the Maghreb but now more widespread in West Africa, particularly in Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Niger, Chad, Ghana, Northern and South-western Nigeria and some part of Sudan. The Tijāniyyah order is also present in the state of Kerala in India. Its adherents are called Tijānī. Tijānī place great importance on culture and education, and emphasize the individual adhesion of the disciple (murid). To become a member of the order, one must receive the Tijānī wird, or a sequence of holy phrases to be repeated twice daily, from a muqaddam, or representative of the order.

Sufi whirling Physically active Sufi meditation, practiced by Dervish orders, involving spinning in circles to music

Sufi whirling is a form of physically active meditation which originated among certain Sufi groups, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order and other orders such as the Rifa'i-Marufi. It is a customary meditation practice performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes aim to reach the source of all perfection, or karma. This is sought through abandoning one's nafs, ego or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one's body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.

Fouta Djallon

Fouta Djallon is a highland region in the center of Guinea, roughly corresponding with Middle Guinea, in West Africa.

Amadou Hampâté Bâ

Amadou Hampâté Bâ was a Malian writer, historian and ethnologist. He was an influential figure in twentieth-century African literature and cultural heritage. He was a champion of Africa's oral tradition and traditional knowledge and is remembered for the saying: "whenever an old man dies, it is as though a library were burning down."

Omar Saidou Tall West African political leader

Omar Saidou Tall, , born in Futa Tooro, Senegambia, was a West African political leader, Islamic scholar, Tijani Sufi and Toucouleur military commander who founded a brief empire encompassing much of what is now Guinea, Senegal, and Mali.

Seku Amadu was the Fulbe founder of the Massina Empire in the Inner Niger Delta, now the Mopti Region of Mali. He ruled as Almami from 1818 until his death in 1845, also taking the title Sise al-Masini.

Sufi studies is a particular branch of comparative studies that uses the technical lexicon of the Islamic mystics, the Sufis, to exemplify the nature of its ideas; hence the frequent reference to Sufi Orders. It may be divided into two main branches, the orientalist/academic and the spiritual.

Islam in Senegal

Islam is the predominant religion in Senegal. 96 percent of the country's population is estimated to be Muslim, mainly Sunni of Maliki school of thought with Sufi influences. Islam has had a presence in Senegal since the 11th century. Sufi brotherhoods expanded with French colonization, as people turned to religious authority rather than the colonial administration. The main Sufi orders are the Tijaniyyah, the Muridiyyah or Mourides, and to a lesser extent, the pan-Islamic Qadiriyyah and the smaller Layene order. Approximately 5-10% of the Muslims are Shiites and 1% of the Muslims follow the Ahmadiyya thought.

Gregory Mosher is a longtime director and producer of stage productions at the Lincoln Center and Goodman Theatres, on and off-Broadway, at the Royal National Theatre, and in the West End. He is also a film director and television director, producer, and writer. He currently chairs the Theatre Department at Hunter College.

Imamate of Futa Toro

The Imamate of Futa Toro (1776-1861) was a West African theocratic state of the Fula-speaking people centered on the middle valley of the Senegal River. The region is known as Futa Toro.

Index of Mali-related articles Wikipedia index

Articles related to Mali include:

Habib Dembélé

Habib Dembélé is a Malian actor, director, author and a candidate for the Malian Presidential elections of 2002 and 2018.

<i>A Spirit of Tolerance</i>

A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar is the only English translation of Amadou Hampate Ba’s book Vie en enseignement de Tierno Bokar, le sage de Bandiagara, originally written in French. This book describes the life of Tierno Bokar, a Malian Sufi who preached a message of religious tolerance. It was adapted into a play directed by Peter Brook titled Tierno Bokar.

Hamallayya or Hamallism is a Sufi ṭarīqah originating in West Africa as an outgrowth from and reaction against the Tijaniyyah brotherhood. It was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by a mystic Muhammad ben Amadu of Maure and Fulani background, as reform movement of Tijaniyyah practice. Stressing opposition to hierarchy and downplaying the importance of education, the movement spread in the 1920s by Amadu's disciple Shaykh Hamahullah bin Muhammad bin Umar (1886–1943) in what was then French Soudan, modern Mali. It first took root amongst Wolof traders living in Nioro, but soon spread to servile caste Muslims in Mauretania and Mali.

Religion and beliefs occupy an important place in the daily life of the nation of Senegal. Many denominations of the religion of Islam are represented. Christians represent 5%. Traditional beliefs are officially practiced by 1% of the population, particularly Serer, but members of other religions also often partake in traditional practices.

Grand Magal of Touba

The Grand Magal of Touba is the annual religious pilgrimage of the Senegalese Mouride Brotherhood, one of the four tariqa of Senegal. On the 18th of Safar, the second month of the Islamic calendar, pilgrims gather in the holy Mouride city of Touba to celebrate the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the founder of the brotherhood.

Christian Bonaud

Yahya Christian Bonaud, also known as Yaḥyā ʿAlawī was a French Islamologist, philosopher, writer, translator, commentator of the Qur'an in French, and a professor at the Jāmī Theological Center at Al-Mustafa International University in Iran.


  1. 1 2 Peter Brook, "About Tierno Bokar", 19 November 2004.
  2. Billington, Michael (3 November 2004). "Destiny's child". The Guardian .
  3. Marie-Hélène Estienne, "About Tierno Bokar". Article originally published in Le Monde des Religions, no. 4 (2005).