Art Actuel, n°80 (mai à juin 2012)

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Blacksmiths are also considered important in maintaining good relations with the world of invisible powers; people call on them, too, to help them deal with physical affliction and social misfortune and to perform specific ritual duties during life cycle ceremonies.

Inspired by a transnational dawa movement, these groups aim to reform the moral and the social and highlight the importance of religious instruction and Arabic literacy. The activities of Muslim women in Mali also demonstrate how their project of moral reform perpetuates a long-standing Muslim tradition of internal critique and reform. The learning activities of these women, as well as the fact that their female leaders disseminate their teachings on audiotapes and local radio, indicate a broadening of access to religious knowledge, a process that in earlier historical periods already exacerbated struggles over religious authority and leadership.

Many Malians, while being socialized into set systems of beliefs and ritual practice, help to write forth particular religious traditions. Simultaneously, however, they also transform them, by introducing changes, innovations in response to their own experiences and attempts to deal with the challenges, desires and hopes their lives confront them with. Therefore, rather than assume that "religion" and "worldview" are static systems, we should understand them as ever-changing sets of beliefs and practices in which ritualized forms of action play a central role.

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