Yes, Timbuktu is a real place. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that. It’s far away from us in the country of Mali, inland from West Africa. Far away from us in miles, certainly, but even farther away in our geographically challenged American minds.
Recently, a lawyer representing the people of Timbuktu at the International Criminal Court described the destruction Islamic extremists had poured out on Mali’s historical mausoleums. (Yes, this was back in June and July of 2012, but stay with me and you’ll see the relevance.) There in the desert, those interlopers desecrated and destroyed the graves of both the Africans’ ancestors and their saints.
The lawyer insisted the destruction had left the locals overcome with crippling feelings of shame. I know, I know! It seems an odd charge to me, too. The pick ax–wielding Al Mahdi rebels had purposely, methodically reduced the simple mud-brick mausoleum tombs to piles of dusty rubble. On top of all that, the lawyer added, the destruction totally crippled tourism. There went the grieving people’s income.
Muslim radical Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi pleaded guilty to leading that massive destruction. Actually, he did more than simply plead guilty. He went on to express remorse for his part in the purposeful obliteration. Then he proceeded to urge Muslims around the world to refrain from ever again resorting to such acts.
Sounds great. But really, does it comfort us? There are still way too many extremists out there, and they come in all colors, all nationalities, all religions–and in no religion at all.
Comfort and peace come from God alone. Without Him, there is none to be found: not from here to Timbuktu.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”