Tierno Bokar

For those interested in the life and teachings of Tierno Bokar, see the article with the following title: “The Sufi Teaching of Tierno Bokar Salif Tall” by L. Brenner, published in: Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 8, Fasc. 3, (1976), pp. 208-226.

For those not familiar with Tierno Bokar: he was a Tijani shaykh from Mali (1875-1940). His teachings were highly influenced by Hujjat ul-Islam imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. I will take to more quotes from the article to get you interested. Tierno Bokar placed significance on indigenous African oral literature, or traditions, this is reflected in one of the comments he made on that subject. His statement is of considerable intrest to all students of West-African islam, for he, as a learned muslim scholar, not only believed that a spiritual message could be derived from the books and tracts of the ‘ulama but also from indigenous oral literature, be it of muslim or non-muslim origin. I will end with a quote relevant for people who would like to understand more of African society and in particular African (but also Western) religious behaviour:

“As for the religious principle itself, it is a pure spark, cleansing and invariable, existing both in time and space. God breathed into the spirit of man at the same moment when He gave him the spoken word. Therefore, unlike something which man might create for himself, one should be astonished not by finding spiritual treasures among a people who are considered backward, but one should be troubled at not finding this richness in a civilized individual who has worked so hard to develop his material life.”

Only one word remains: subhanallah! What a wise lesson for all people in the West (including myself)!

The article can be obtained from JSTOR, I can’t find it at the moment, it is somewhere in personal documents on my laptop.

A book written by a pupil of his, Amadou Hampate Ba, titled Vie et enseignement de Tierno Bokar: Le sage de Bandiagara (translated into English under “A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar”) introduced him to the non-African world.
Furthermore, there is a play on the life of Tierno Bokar. The link for the official website:

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Filed under Famous persons, Ihsan

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