GateHouse News Service's weekly Religion News with items on Timbuktu, whether men or women or more religious, and Shariah.

Week in Religion


The Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, which houses Islamic texts thousands of years old, was burned by Islamist fighters as they fled from French and Malian troops, Reuters reports.


The group, called Ansar Dine, has occupied Timbuktu since April 2012, and has imposed a strict interpretation of Muslim law. They have also attacked various sites held sacred by the Sufis, members of a popular form if Islamic mysticism that honors saints with elaborate shrines. Sufi mausoleums have been smashed and graves believed to contain the bones of saints have been dug up. Members of Ansar Dine believe in an extreme form of Islam that rejects idolatry and wish to destroy anything they see as idolatrous.


The attack on the Ahmed Baba Institute is believed to be retaliatory as French and Malian troops gain more ground and come closer to retaking the city. The damage to the library, which contains documents that academics say prove Africa has written history at least as old as the European Renaissance, is believed to be minimal as most of the manuscripts were reportedly stored elsewhere.


Survey Says


According to a Jan. 10 Gallup poll, women are more likely to be religious than men. When asked about their religious preference, 15 percent of women responed with "None." Twenty-one percent of men repsonded similarly. The "None" category also included those who answered with "Don't know" or refused to answer.


Good Book?


"God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World" by Stephen Prothero


In the 21st century, religion remains the single greatest influence in the world. But, argues religion scholar Stephen Prothero, persistent attempts to portray all religions as different paths to the same God overlook the distinct human problem that each seeks to solve. For example:


Islam: the problem is pride / the solution is submission


Christianity: the problem is sin / the solution is salvation


Buddhism: the problem is suffering / the solution is awakening


Judaism: the problem is exile / the solution is to return to God


"God Is Not One" is an indispensable guide to the questions human beings have asked for millennia — and to the disparate paths we are taking to answer them today.


-- Amazon.com


Quote of the Week


"Even if a unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is." - Hans Urs von Balthasar


The Word


Shariah: Pronounced “sha-REE-ya.” The revealed and canonical laws of Islam. Some Muslim countries base their legal systems on Shariah; their legislators create laws and rules based on the Quran, hadith and other sources.


-- Religionstyles.com


Religion Around the World


The religious makeup of Mali, according to CIA World Factbook:


90 percent: Muslim


9 percent: Indiginous beliefs


1 percent: Christian


GateHouse News Service