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Journey to the Empire of Knowledge – TIMBUKTU

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Abdullah Hakim Quick

Channel: Abdullah Hakim Quick

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Episode Transcript

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There's a popular saying that the journey of 1000 miles often starts with a single step. So it was for me, it's like crossing the desert, taking the last few steps and reaching the gates of the fabled city of Timbuktu. It has been one of my life's wishes to set foot in this oasis of learning. Ever since I first heard about Timbuktu.

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Like many travelers before me, I too have reached the gates of Timbuktu Timbuktu the mysterious Timbuktu, the holder of secrets. Timbuktu, the center of knowledge.

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The mythical city of Timbuktu is found at the edge of the Sahara Desert in the country of Mali. Today, the desert is slowly encroaching on and upon entering the city, I was amazed to see how anxious it still appeared. I could only think of former explorers who journeyed across the Sahara to find Timbuktu. Some perished while others survived. The city was

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close to non Muslim, and whosoever dared to venture inside its walls.

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One of my first questions was to find out how the city was born.

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The meaning of Timbuktu depends on historian. According to some historians, Timbuktu came from tin, which means in the local trunk rhetoric, the well. And book to that was the lady in charge of nomads luggage is because when nomads are moving, they leave heavy luggage is with that lady. Okay, and read the time, the place took the name of Tim's book to Timbuktu was one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was a type of Shangri La, or Atlantis, where people thought that there was a Land Beyond the deserts of the Sahara, where gold lined the streets. And people put gold into their ceilings. And they were famous kings would lavish their guests with gifts of all different types.

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And it was a type of sumptuous kingdom, where desert Bedouins would meet with the people of the rivers, and all types of travelers from different parts of the world would gather.

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Timbuktu became one of the most important Southwestern capitals where they could send scholars, they could get information. Also, the Quran that were being written in Timbuktu were famous, the beautiful calligraphy, the golden calligraphy, and the type of script. And the leather binding was famous. So it became a commercial center. And then later on, it became an intellectual center because the scholars generally were traveling with the caravans, and the knowledge was moving along with the caravans. And so therefore, it was a natural place for the scholars to reside. So it's a meeting place of agricultural people of nomadic people.

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Straight out desert people, and scholars came from all of these groups. So when you look at the history of Timbuktu, you will see that the different groups gave their scholarship at different points in history. So Timbuktu has different phases within its existence, and all of the groups participated in the different phases of development.

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Even though Timbuktu has today lost its former glory, I was amazed at how the city has withstood the elements. The Town Center is filled with sights and sounds and colors. And the hustle and bustle remind you of modern cities throughout West Africa.

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The Streets of Timbuktu hold many secrets. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the House of one of the greatest teachers in the

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History of Timbuktu is still an existence. Check Mohammed Babu, the teacher of check Ahmed Baba.

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We are blessed here in the house of Sheikh Mohammed Baku, to be in the presence of one of his relatives. This is one of the great grandsons of the Czech, Czech Mahmoud, and one Gaddy albertan Hugo, and he is the Imam of the masjid CDI here, and a very important personality here in Timbuktu

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as Athena and Kelly Mahalla share Hayato, who share her

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work on COVID or carnamah, Andaman Shahada, Sudan, Lady otisco de mackerel

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for one second if he hadn't paid for us in the home in Yemen. Piano canopy Korea sobre la to do that.

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Tomorrow on Korea, Fontella criminal on Korea, EDA Bella Dini sama, come to the amchi sided he kind of feel like this could be a

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con intelecom Jenny latricia

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Well, cola he knows agenda hudak watch it evening. I'm about to go where Mohammed Reshma who who was from a while ago in Morocco, Mohammed Bello, Huma tahuna. Feel free to move to a second

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or two Shia Mohammed Rafi Alfa comes to me with a chain or do Snuffy

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Medina

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what kind of element Kabir kind of element I mean, I can either see Jemison, Cora work or Karna. Mr. Money mustache, the here woman,

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Mr. Murphy, he must have won a beloved eatery McMurdo.

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Welcome Mr. Leeman, Joshua COVID Baba, Baba to una de Deus, or bother to learn

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German shahabad Baba, or yet Luna Manhattan

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without a smile

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while a

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massage.

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Ever since the first Egyptians discovered the art of writing on pirates, mad gains and efficient tools to record his history.

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In time, recording a history evolved into books and knowledge. And in Timbuktu. ancient texts can still be found. Libraries have been set up in the homes of families, and I was fortunate to be allowed access.

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One of the best kept secrets in the city of Timbuktu is right here in this house. The treasure chest of Sheikh Mohammed Babu with his books is here. And our brother city Mokhtar from his family will open up this invaluable storehouse of knowledge.

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Cotabato to the fee for lockable amateur to know German cattleman, mobile nanny Wanaka coupe beanies muddy.

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Water could to bleed ahaadeeth Wanaka to

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see

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when I can just have an Xm kutub

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moqtada that's an hour.

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And I cannot Timbuktu Yaniv mucho cadenza mal nasya tomonaga fecund Islam,

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Allah lunia Korea

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Muslims are known the world over for their hospitality. And in Timbuktu it's no different. After studying the text of check, Baka Hugo, I was invited to the home of chef

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showed me some of the others

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a dog

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This is from Toledo until it'll

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come in until the swords ivory and then it's your metal and the Horn of an antelope.

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Scholars have old we're all learned men and pursued knowledge because of their love of Islam. Many of them were imams or mosques and the Czech backwoods case. This is no different. As a descendant of chef Baba Hugo. He is also the Bob. I'm sitting here here.

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This is the masthead of CDI here. It was originally built in the 14th century, by Chuck Ibrahim harmala, of the famous contact clan. He had a dream that this Masjid would be visited by a famous Saint awali. And so he locked the masjid for 40 years. Then there came CDI here, at least from Andalusia. At that point, Chef Ibrahim realized that this was the fulfillment of the dream. He opened up the masjid. And this mosque has been serving the people of Timbuktu from the 14th century, and it represents one of the most important areas of learning and prayers in the city of Timbuktu.

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Especially to ha ha

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ha ha ha.

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After spending time in such a steep company, I decided to walk to absorb all that I had seen.

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I had barely walked a few meters, but I stumbled upon the bucket, the electric atmosphere and golf me. Before I knew it, I was drawn into barcia was one of the trades. I couldn't help but imagine how alive

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Timbuktu was a place where gold was traded for salt. It was a place with fine clothing, where leather goods were all types of implements for living were traded by the people.

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I decided to remain in the marketplace and visit a few more stores down the dusty streets and alleyways can find amazing hidden treasures. I knew this from my previous travels to ancient cities. And it wasn't long before I stumbled upon a real book by one of the greatest scholars.

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The book was by CDR

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did the commentary on the famous Maliki jurisprudence reseller of eminent domain one. As I page through the works of this Maliki scholar from Morocco, my mind wandered to another great scholar Check.

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Check Robin Baba was taken prisoner from time to

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time of his deportation. Check. Ahmed Baba had one of the largest libraries in Timbuktu.

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This is the home of check Ahmed Baba Sudan, one of the most famous scholars of Timbuktu and a name that is being remembered all throughout the world. Mohammed Baba spent years in captivity in the north, but he never forgot his home in Timbuktu and he never forgot his responsibility to knowledge.

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Although many of check, Obama's books were taken to Morocco, his legacy and Timbuktu lives on a documentation center, set up in 1967 by UNESCO.

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To Danny

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lane Zhang ki a professor, I've read the bibliothek briefing. Is it a excellent

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Bhabha Center has become the focal point of the revival and documentation of the manuscripts of Timbuktu.

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in 2002, South African president Thabo Mbeki visited the city and was so impressed by what he saw that he said about making the preservation of the manuscripts a presidential project. This center that we are at now is called the Ahmed Bhabha center. The spirit is that of a great scholar who spent his life in pursuit of knowledge and preservation of Islamic heritage. This center, which was founded in 1967, has expanded to the point where it houses over 120,000 manuscripts.

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Lattimore

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Kadima

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McCann Are you

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maka.

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Today, the city is at a crossroads. modernization is coming into the city, and it is changing the lifestyle within Timbuktu. The scholars are hanging on to the scholarship, they are bringing forth the documents and trying to let the younger generation see that they have a great tradition, they should be proud of themselves proud of being Africans, proud of being Muslims, and not ashamed of their color, not ashamed of their identity.

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But of course, modernization. Globalization is striking Timbuktu as it is striking the rest of the world. So the scholars are now in a struggle to try to to to bring Timbuktu into the modern world, to digitize their libraries to use modern technology. But at the same time, keep that spirit from the ancient world from Timbuktu when it had reached such a high level within West Africa.

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The state of the books, really is in crisis. Weather has deteriorated the text, also the termites, beetles are eating away from the paper and eating at the different bindings. And so literally it is a race, you know, to preserve that knowledge that was left from the past. And so scholars are coming forward, families are coming forward and realizing you don't have to give away your treasure. Now a picture can be taken and then we can categorize this we can preserve the picture and then they can preserve the text. And also what is being done is that documentation centers are being developed with the actual texts themselves can be preserved in an air conditioned climate. And they can be

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treated in such a way that the the the the the materials can be preserved for coming generations.

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In his speech, I am an African president Mbeki talks about making the 21st century the African century. These words carry deep meaning. But it's not only to the future, we need to look. Africa's past legacy speaks volumes for itself. The first universities in the world, as well as many inventions can be attributed to the pioneers of Africa. Timbuktu had its own chapter within the system. When I first laid eyes on sapkota University, I imagined the 1000s of students who graduated from Timbuktu is hot. In fact, it is unbearably cold with temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius. One has to wonder what made them come here and what made them stay.

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The prophetic same seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, acted as one of the wisdoms the students at St. Croix. They were spurred on by their Islamic beliefs, and excelled in medicine, astronomy, theology, Islamic law, and a host of other subjects.

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Six years ago, we discovered a manuscript dealing with mathematics. And it's dealing with algebra retranslated into France. We send it to terrorists to know the level as a result, the same problem

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GRAEME is given nowadays as the second year of mathematics school in France, and that's manuscripts or that program was given here at the University of South Korea by the 16th century. Now, when we deal with Islamic scholarship, you deal with the concept of fatwah and effect what is a religious decision that meets our special needs in a special environment? So therefore, for instance, when decisions had to be made about currency, how much should we charge for gold? Or should we taxed knew that the travelers they would go to Timbuktu and ask the scholars give us a fetter when they wanted to decide between borderlines of empires, they would ask for a fetch on Timbuktu the scholars in

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Timbuktu were also known as peacemakers. Whenever there was a difficulty in different parts of the world of the West West African world, they would go to the area and they would make beef Timbuktu became a pinnacle of knowledge and a sort of grand court, a supreme justice where the the ultimate decisions could be made for the kings. And we're at the same time a common person to find a scholar and have a religious decision making.

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Islam by its very nature encourages people to read. The first revelation given to the Prophet Muhammad SAW seldom was a crop, it crop this mirror, because the follow up, read in the name of your Lord who has created the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him actually said al hikma dollar allotment, that wisdom, knowledge is the last property of a belief, anywhere he finds it, he is the most deserving of it. Islam benefited humanity in that it gave a type of tawheed ik, a unified approach to creation and a unified approach to knowledge. So Islam then unifies the concept of one God. It unifies the human race. So black, white, brown, and yellow, all see each other as part of one

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family. Also, there's a type of tawheed or unity in knowledge. So Muslims were able to gather the knowledge of people from all different societies, put it together in the light of their understanding of one God and then develop a system algebra, calculus, trigonometry came out of that unified approach, the scientific method, the concept used by the world today to approach science was actually developed by Muslims in the Golden Age. I live

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in

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Morocco, Medina stonebrook,

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but Hayato hula, she does.

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Documentation process, some families choose to hang on to their own private collections.

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In some cases, the books are not taken care of properly, and some very important words may be lost.

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Other private libraries, however, take great pride in the works they have and go to great lengths to maintain. I visited the Bahama County Library, where I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the place.

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One of the most unique collections of manuscripts in Timbuktu is the shack Muhammad caty connection. This was based upon the connection between Andalusia and Spain and West Africa, whereby the great grandfather of this family migrated from Andalusia in the 15th century and married the daughter of Ischia, Mohammed today, the great leader of the Songhai Empire, their son Mahmoud, Cathy became a great scholar and wrote Tati, Kalfa Attash, one of the most important histories of Timbuktu and of West Africa. This collection is now available to the public, the family has come together and gathered their works, and they are showing it to the public. And it is now one of the most important

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and unique collections of Arabic manuscripts in this city. I know

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after the Ahmed Bhabha center, probably the most well known center for the collection of documentation is the mama Hydra Memorial Library. Mama Hydra himself was one of the most well known collectors of manuscripts in the Timbuktu area. And he left a very large responsibility to his young son AbdulQadir, who was 17 at the time of the death of his father, up to powder since that time, has been able to collect over 12,000 documents for the Ahmed Baba center, and then establish his own Memorial Library for his father and his previous generations. And for all those who have collected these manuscripts in the Timbuktu area.

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local data bank must have Matata Kadena

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Leanna Tavares me JT Elijah de minzu elaphiti

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way abloh karma

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but naka de Majid

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when Matata Kadena Geeta, Monza, Philippines Kearney, Sadie Sasha

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when muscled out to the half riding casino.

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Alpha is way more hostile to the tourists.

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Timbuktu's fame became International, partly due to the ruler of Mali Mansa Musa in the 14th century, Mansa Musa undertook a journey that was to become legendary in the annals of history. pilgrimage to Mecca is incumbent on any Muslim. When Mansa Musa embarked on his pilgrimage to Mecca, he crossed West Africa at the Sahara desert with up to 72,000 followers. Timbuktu was also very important for the rulers of the region, because it represented the intellectual capital. Monster Moosa was one of the great kings of the empire of Mali, the premier producer of gold and exporter of gold in the world. So naturally, the kings of Mali were considered to be some of the richest people

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on the face of the planet Earth. manesar can can Moosa in the year 1324 set out to make his pilgrimage to Mecca. But what was different about his journey is that he carried somewhere between 60 to 72,000 followers with him. He carried 15,000 camels laden with gold, and many soldiers and they they literally changed the economy of every country that they reached. He not only came back with his followers, but he brought along with him, architects, scholars, and artisans. It is said that everywhere, Mansa Musa stopped, he built a mosque. Every time he stopped. When he reached Timbuktu. He fell in love with the city he brought with him and Andalusia architects called sec sad

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and he paid him a lot of money to build the his Mosque of jinga River. That is nowadays, what heritage sites

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on Mansa Musa has returned from pilgrimage his wish was to visit the city of Timbuktu when he arrived here, he was astounded at the level of knowledge of the scholars. His gift to the city was the Jingo DBMS today, the Jingu DB mosque is still the main mosque in Timbuktu and this is most evident at the Friday Joomla This is the site of the jinga a beer master and master Kabir was founded in 1325. From that time until now, Friday prayers have been held and all of the people of Timbuktu

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Eduardo

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de Vila Hata, Pattaya, Davina sudo, Allah wa

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tada was an iguana

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Sabina Masada,

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Corolla is

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in.

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Sophie,

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learning until two has not stopped either. All across the town Islamic schools empower young children through the port and they still recite, read and write in Arabic. This is a typical Quran school in the jinka, a bear section of Timbuktu. It was founded three generations ago by Sheikh Mohammed amin, and his people came out of the Sahara desert region. And in this tradition, the madressa continues on with over 120 students. The students are memorizing the four and they are all different levels of study. And as part of their

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life as a student, not only do they memorize the Quran, but they also work, and they prepare their own food, and it becomes like a community within itself.

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The women of Timbuktu have always been involved in intensive learning. Today, study circles are popping up all over the city, where women receive a complete Islamic education.

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This is an important development. For when you educate a man, you educate an individual. But when you educate a woman you educate a family.

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Come back to today is special in the sense that Timbuktu flies in the face of myths of racism, it destroys the myth, that black people that African people are ignorant people, it destroys the myth that literacy and science and progress was from the north, and it came south. So it flies in the face of the north south racist type of concept, because this is now knowledge in the south. And it is going north as well. Also Timbuktu at its height, and you're talking about from the 12th century, and then reaching by the 16th century, its height, it has university like st quota university with over 25,000 students. Now this is long before so bone, and before Oxford University, University of

00:33:22--> 00:34:13

London. So at that time, black African people were the pinnacle of knowledge. They were not only studying Islamic subjects in the sense of Quran and Hadith, but they were also studying math, science, medicine, geography, optics, it is said by assadi in his tariqa, Sudan that one of his relatives needed to have an eye operation. And he went to Gen a, the city of Gen D. And this was actually successful. So they were performing cataract eye operations. And so they reach such a high level of science and astronomy. And so this astronomical knowledge, this mathematical knowledge, was, you know, on a very high level here in Timbuktu, but one of the areas that is not spoken of so

00:34:13--> 00:34:59

much is the knowledge of spirituality, that knowledge of sn, how do you purify your soul? How do you come closer to the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the scholars in Timbuktu and the Sahara region, were able to go to a very high level of the spirituality and to actually train people how to clean their souls, and how to prepare themselves for death. So Timbuktu is a very important meeting place of materials and spiritualism. So it is a place where your materials no longer control you. Your spirituality controls you, your materials sustain you. And so in that sense, Timbuktu is one of the greatest centers of learning not only in Africa, but in the world.

00:35:48--> 00:36:01

354 kilometers from the city of Timbuktu nice another great place. The city of Jeddah is regarded as the oldest node city in Sub Saharan Africa. It has a mosque built Ubud at its center.

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Behind me is the Great Mosque of Jen day.

00:36:06--> 00:36:09

This mosque is the largest mud structure on Earth.

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The Mali Empire by the 14th century, was greater in size than the Roman Empire. And so Gen ne and Timbuktu became two of the great centers of learning and spirituality. For the whole of West Africa.

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The temperature in this town can reach well into the 40s. But step inside the mosque, and the heat is almost forgotten. A cool air makes it quite bearable for the faithful to fulfill their daily prayers. The first mosque was founded when soltara koi con Bordeaux embraced Islam and converted his palace into the month. Little is known of how the first boss looked. But this one today was built in 1907, after it fell into disrepair. The mosque is indeed one of the great achievements of the Muslim community of this ancient town.

00:38:26--> 00:38:47

Behind me, the dog on cliffs. This is set to be one of the wonders of the world, the original people that tell them people used to build the houses and the sides of the mountain. When the dog run came in the 11th century, from the kingdom of Ghana, they settled in this area from that time until now, they have built their society into the sides of these huge cliffs.

00:38:48--> 00:39:38

Dogon country is indeed a fascinating place. No journey to Mali would be complete without visiting the strange but intensely remarkable area. I remember walking up the cliff and being overcome by an eerie feeling. The Dogan can be found all along this area, known as bendy alga, and the cliffs in front of me are known as bendy Yaga cliffs. I was immediately struck by the little houses I saw all along the base of the cliff. The dog on live here, and these strange houses are actually greeneries used to store their millet and grain. My path went up over and around the neighborhood. The guide explained that the size of the greeneries also gave one a good indication of the wealth of the

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person I belong to.

00:39:47--> 00:39:51

In a brand new home, calm and never enter de

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la maison coupon

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Originally in this area, were living talents.

00:40:09--> 00:40:14

It's a magical tribe living. In this case, you see behind here,

00:40:15--> 00:40:16

oh,

00:40:17--> 00:40:21

and who found the guru, the guru Ma, who were wet people.

00:40:22--> 00:40:30

And a dilemma. We're living in this level on the who are considered as magic people.

00:40:31--> 00:40:49

And later came from the Ghana Empire is the big one. And who was also enemies. They tried accepted, they're gonna be called they were both enemies. Yeah. And he's trying to say that most of this magic

00:40:51--> 00:40:54

power they're gonna now have is from this talent.

00:40:56--> 00:41:11

In a village, a villa is considered as a human body with a head, thorax, stomach, legs and arms. And here is considered as the level of the novel and they here they never load the village. Yeah, and

00:41:13--> 00:41:18

only known by the edges. Everybody don't know really, where the different part of village

00:41:20--> 00:41:28

are. Because he said that if somebody knows, or the part of the village, he can easily do an enemy can easily do but into this village.

00:41:30--> 00:42:00

Looking up at the cliff, I could see all these little holes and wondered what they meant. My guide explained that these were actually their burial grounds. I was dumbfounded by this and was eager to learn more. It turns out that the dogana are very able climbers, and they bury their relatives in the cliff, a member of the family usually makes the climb up and ensures that his relative is accorded a decent burial, the holes in the caves I use for ventilation.

00:42:02--> 00:42:44

Thereafter, I visited the takuna the dough guns version of Parliament. Here they discuss issues of pressing concern to the community and also resolve conflicts inside the to goondas roof is very low. Another odd feature, but one that serves a specific purpose. The roof is built so low, that when tempers flare, no one can jump up and cost the other. They have to be careful of losing their temper, because they could just bump their head when jumping up. outside. It's decorated with mythical figures of doggone religion. The scenes depict everyday life, as well as religious symbols.

00:43:35--> 00:43:57

After my visit to the village, I was treated to an ancient spectacle performed more for money these days than anything else. A dance known as the Dhamma shows us the journey of the soul to its final resting place. The masks are also symbols of this journey. For one whole day. These dances are performed after the person's death.

00:46:52--> 00:47:10

Dogan dances have great meaning, and this secrets are only being understood today. Maybe in the near future, outsiders will fully understand this ancient culture. For me However, my time in Dogon country was indeed worth it. Africa had again unlocked one of her secrets