333 Saints: A Life of Scholarship Under Threat, Alexandra Huddleston

Mali scholarsSome time ago I blogged about a video by Alexandra Huddleston, 333 Saints: A Life of Scholarship Under Threat

The good news is that Alexandra is now ready to publish her work on this subject with magnificent photos. The photo included in this post is one of the many beautiful images she has captured. This work is of great importance in recording the life of scholars in Mali especially as they have recently been under threat. Alexandra needs the funds to publish the book and she has launched a Kickstarter project to raise the money. You can see the page that describes the project here

Please take a look and consider donating and you will be rewarded for doing so.

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The Sufi Scholars of Mali

I discovered this video in an article on the scholars of Mali in the Huffington Post  It is about the rich tradition of scholarship in Timbuktu, Mali and the threat that comes from the Ansine and Al-Qaeda groups. As the author of the article, Rudolph Ware, notes, “Unfortunately, the “radical Islam” of groups like Ansar Dine and al-Qaida have spilled far too much blood and ink in Northern Mali and beyond. Armed with deadly weapons, a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom they have committed countless acts of violence. While the Western imagination is captivated by fear of ‘radical Islam’ its victims — in Timbuktu as elsewhere — are almost invariably Muslims.”

Introduction:
The photographs in the following video were taken in 2007 in the region of Timbuktu, Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa. At that time, Mali was one of Africa’s most stable democracies. Timbuktu had regained its ancient fame as a center of Islamic scholarship.

Political chaos has now over-taken the north and south of Mali. Timbuktu is under Shariah law, controlled by rebel groups connected to al-Qaeda. Not only are thousands of ancient manuscripts and holy sites under threat, but an ancient scholarly culture….

Objective:
The objective of this video and its corresponding website is to provide cultural context to the current conflict in the north of Mali, with a focus on Timbuktu. To do so, it uses a photographic series that presents an in-depth view of Timbuktu’s tradition of Islamic scholarship, an ancient form of learning influenced by Sufism and characterized by tolerance, plurality, and a deep joy in and respect for learning.

This video calls for religious freedom and cultural self-determination for the people of Timbuktu, Mali.

Please share widely

Credits:
Text and photography by Alexandra Huddleston

Recording and sound editing by Brian Stillman

Introductory music: “Hibernal”
Stock audio provided by Ian Hubball/ Pond5.com