There's a West African proverb:"The word of God and holy things, and beautiful tales are found only in Timbuktu."
The city was once a major center for trade and Islamic scholarship in West Africa. Hundreds of years ago, Sufi Muslims built shrines to their saints in Timbuktu.
Today, those shrines and mausoleums are under attack.
Sunni Muslim extremists recently seized control of Timbuktu and the rest of northern Mali earlier this year.
Now they're destroying the religious relics, calling them idolatrous.
The World's Lisa Mullins spoke with Rudolph "Butch" Ware, a historian at the University of Michigan who studies Islam in Africa.