Claire of Anggargoon is back from her planned hiatus (as I am back from my unplanned one), and her first post after the “I’m back” announcement was to this “online exhibition” of Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu. The images themselves are beautiful, and the accompanying descriptions give a sense of the variety of the libraries’ holdings. I found particularly interesting Ahmad al-Bakayi ibn Sayyid Muhammad ibn Sayyid al-Mukhtar al-Kunti’s nineteenth-century [thanks, Levana!] Jawab Ahmad al-Bakayi ala Risalat Amir al-Mu’minin Ahmad al-Masini (The Response of Ahmad al-Bakayi to the Letter of Amir Ahmad, Ruler of Massinah):

This document is a reply to the ruler of Massinah [usually spelled Macina–LH], Amir Ahmad, who ordered the arrest of a German traveler, Heinrich Bart[h], suspected of spying for the British. The author of the reply cites Islamic law as making the arrest illegal and declines to obey the amir. The scholar states that a non-Muslim entering the domain of Muslims in peace is protected and may not be arrested, have his property confiscated, or to be otherwise hindered.

Welcome back, Claire!
Addendum. I just realized I’ve already posted this. Oh well, it was almost three years ago; consider it an oldie but goodie.


  1. Is it bad that I initially thought you were receiving these on your mobile phone?

  2. Laura, you’re not the only one. I thought this was going to be analysis of textspeak as it occurs in Timbuktu. 🙂

  3. Levana Taylor says

    Hm, what an interesting coincidence, since I happen to have Heinrich Barth’s account of his travels sitting next to me. (He spelled his name Barth, not Bart, and his journey through Africa took place 1849-1855, not ‘eighteenth century’ as the exhibition text says.) However, I can’t find a mention of the incident in question, since the book lacks an index. I’ll post again if I find it.

  4. Thanks! I’ll add corrections to the entry.

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