Mali: Universal Tolerance

Tierno Bokar. I have never heard of him before I started looking for books from Mali. He was a Malian mystic, a Muslim spiritual leader. A very special man indeed. I would not have chosen to read A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar by his student Amadou Hampâté Bâ, if I would have found another book. However, one spiritual book once in a while does not hurt, right?!

This was definitely different from the other books I have read so far. This is a genre I usually do not read, but since I find that reading anything and everything is one of the main points of a reading challenge like this, I was ready to dig in. Quite a few people should read this book. The title says it all – tolerance. Bokar’s wisdom was about two main subjects we could all learn a lot from; religious tolerance and universal love, no matter what our beliefs are.

Maybe Bokar was before his times, maybe Mali is not the country we look to for guidance, or for whatever other reasons I have never heard of Bokar before, I really feel like I should have heard of him. He was in many ways a free spirit, even though he was a devout Muslim. Bokar’s main problem might have been that he lived in a country occupied by France. That affects every part of your life, which I have seen in almost all books set in Africa. Despite that he had a way of teaching and guiding everyone, no matter whom he was talking to. He did not place himself above others, and he spoke so well that everyone understood what he meant.

“In the heat of the afternoon the master made an extensive tour of the town and visited the families of his students. This was a long and tiring round of visits, but Tierno never failed to do it at any time of his life.” Respect!

It is hard to describe his teachings in a short blog post. I also believe that spiritual teachings are of individual matter anyway, and we all understand them differently. I respect it that no matter of your background and spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof) Bokar can be understood. We need more people like him! For the ones interested in the subject the book is well worth a read!

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