Destruction In MaliPosted: 30 July 2012
This is not a country that many Americans give two shakes in Hell about…..but that is a mistake to take the happenings in Mali, with their current civil war, with a grain of salt. There could be far reaching consequences for not paying attention.
I know what could happen in some far off country that could effect me here in the US?
Let me explain. Recall back to the days after the USSR removed itself from Afghanistan…..the semi civil war that took place and finally brought the Taleban to power…..and recall that they are extremists in Islam….one of their first acts after seizing power was to destroy some 1000 year old Buddhist statues that had been carved inside mountains…..(if you do not remember just Google it)…..
Something similar is happening in Mali…..the people in control of the North of the country are Salafist….an extreme form of Islam coming out of Saudi Arabia…..and these “people” and I use the term loosely have fallen into the same rhythm as the Taleban……
West African Islam has been deeply influenced by Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam that favours a metaphorical interpretation of the Qur’an and focuses on the spiritual development of the individual. West African Sufism is also known for its cult of the Marabouts, ‘enlightened’ individuals who mediate between God and humankind and who are also worshipped after they die.
The groups who have now seized power in northern Mali are followers of a very different movement: fundamentalist Salafism from Saudi Arabia. Their brand of Islam has no historical roots in West Africa and it rejects Sufism and the mystical veneration of saints as a heresy.
It is the fundamentalist Islam imported from Saudi Arabia and its animosity towards Sufism that has led to the tragic destruction of irreplaceable symbols of West Africa’s cultural heritage. Salafist literalists have already destroyed at least three historical mausoleums and they say they intend to raze them all to the ground. Historic mosques and libraries with manuscripts are not safe from these barbarians either. The manuscripts would fetch a fortune on the black market. There is a risk that important testimonies of a rich African scholarly tradition will disappear forever.
I know….what is the big deal?
European historians long claimed that Africa had no written history or intellectual tradition and that the first light of civilization arrived there with the European colonization. But if there is one city in Africa that dispels this myth, it is Timbuktu.
This city on the northernmost part of the river Niger, at the edge of the Sahara, was a thriving centre of commerce from the 13th century. There, Arabs from the north traded with various African tribes in gold, salt and other commodities. Europeans first arrived to the city in the 19th century, but Arabic scribes like the famous Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta described the city with admiration some five hundred years earlier.
Timbuktu is best known for its historic mosques and mausoleums, where Sufi saints are entombed. But only recently did people realize that, aside from a centre of trade, the city was also a significant centre of intellectual life. In the late 1990s, an international research team found a number of private libraries where prominent families from Timbuktu kept tens of thousands of medieval manuscripts. Written in Arabic and in African languages, the manuscripts showed the world that 13th-century West African scholars were deeply engaged in the study of religious subjects but also logic, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and natural sciences.
I was in Mali when I was working as a researcher and visited many of the places mentioned……would be a real shame to have this much history destroyed…especially in the name of God.
Once again extreme fundamentalists are endangering history! Just as the Catholic Church destroyed Maya texts and the Taleban destroyed Buddhist sites….these pigs are endangering a rich cultural history by their moronic attitudes. And keep in mind that the Taleban let AQ show up and work their magic and we could be looking at the same for Mali. And if that occurs how long will it be before drones start destroying what is left of their history in the name of killing AQ operatives?