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.
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 Soudan, 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.
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|
|“||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|
- A book written by a pupil of his, Amadou Hampâté Bâ, entitled Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar: Le sage de Bandiagara (translated into English as A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar) introduced him to the non-African world. (it was originally published in 1957, under the title Tierno Bokar: Le Sage de Bandiagara, with co-author Marcel Cardaire.)
- Bokar's life story was later made into a play directed by Peter Brook entitled Tierno Bokar.
- Brook made the story of prayer repetitions into another play, entitled 11 & 12, which ran at the Barbican Centre (London) in early 2010.
- The poet Maabal described Bokar with the following poem:
|“||A constant smile which calls you
A forehead shining like a mirror