The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Constantine IV knew about the Arabs

A few years ago I stumbled online across mention of Uranius (Ouranios) of Apamea, in Syria; who wrote an “Arabika”. This seems the sort of topic Byzantine agents would have loved to know more about.

The modern scholar who seems to know most about this Arabika is one Jan Retsö, who wrote The Arabs in Antiquity. Perhaps published in 2003. (Sometimes I hear 2013.)

Uranius's book made note of a town named after Constantius II; as a result, Retsö and others consider the Arabika East Roman in date and locale. I am unaware to what degree Uranius was East Roman in religion, however. Many scholars have even (mistakenly) wondered if he was writing during Strabo's own day - when being "Christ" hadn't occurred even to Jesus, or maybe during Pliny's when that messiah's followers were few. The Arabika seems never to have entered the monasteries. The book held much interest by contrast to secular authorities and it is they who commissioned and copied this text.

In the sixth century or so, the encyclopaedist Stephen (Stephanos) from Constantinople itself got hold of one such copy. For his “Ethnika”, he excerpted 32 passages from the “Arabika”. One Hermolaus swiftly condensed that Ethnika into an epitome and dedicated this to Justinian, presumably the first of that name. This is the version that got copied and survived to this day. The fuller Ethnika remained in the royal library, where Constantine Porphyrogennetos found it and quoted from it.

I am now trying to find out what happened to the Arabika. I find it hard to believe, given that the Byzantines kept copying its successor the Ethnika, that they’d have neglected its source.

posted by Zimri on 17:30 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Elhaik's still at it

The roots of Yiddish were in... Armenia, or so Eran Elhaik is telling us.


I'd love to see a second opinion, but Elhaik seems to be the only one bothering with this field...

posted by Zimri on 18:27 | link | 0 comments


Grouping "Hamito-Semitic", or "Afro-Asiatic", has been hard but it might be getting easier. If we had a language for it. Here's Carsten Peust, On the subgrouping of Afroasiatic: Egyptian broke off first, and then Semitic.

It seems to me that for both "Hamito-Semitic" and "Afro-Asiatic", given the language-groups known to inhabit it... "Semitic" and "Asiatic" mean the same damn thing. There never was a language from this family in (Eur)asia that wasn't Semitic. (Unless we're counting the odd Somali-ish word in the Yemen.) Semitic is a well-defined language-group, perhaps the best-documented language-group in the literature next to Indo-European and Egyptian. The Semitic peoples also don't mind the Biblical label like, say, the Amazighen mind that Classical insult "Berber".

Anyway, both labels beg the question: they assume a family-tree with Semitic = Asiatic on one side. "-Asiatic" implicitly performs the same definitional function here as "Indo-" performs in "Indo-European".

The reader will recall that I don't count Anatolian when discussing Indo-European; I am ambivalent about Tocharian as well ("Indo-Eurasian"?). By that token, if Peust's chart is right - then "Afro-Asiatic" must exclude Egyptian.

Failing that, we got problems. Perhaps we could bring back "Hamito-" and announce that this just means Copts now, and none of those Kushites etc, not even Amazighen. Even if we do that, which we shouldn't, what do we do with the Somalis and Jews on the other side? (No, alt-righters; please don't offer suggestions...) Anyway, "Hamito-Semitic" was always too tribal-focused by contrast with the geographical "Indo-European".

What we're missing is a good geographical expression for the region going from Africa north and northeast of the Sahara, crossing the Red Sea to Arabia, and running up to the Fertile Crescent. All we got is that Orientalist term "Near East". Which hardly works from, say, Prague.

posted by Zimri on 12:02 | link | 0 comments


So now I'm reading another, shorter chapter in "Hérésies": Gilles Courtieu, Threskeia.

John of Damascus in Fount of Knowledge used this word at #100 for whatever-it-was that made up proto-Islam, when John was in actual contact with it in the late 70s / 690s. (He wrote the book some decades later, but in a monastery.)

Courtieu sees "religion" as too vague and, of course, too Latin. He argues for a Greek attempt at Islamicate dîn.

That's interesting; but we residents of the Duchy of Christoph Luxenberg know that the Qur'an contains two words that sound like "deen". The authentically Arabic dîn is Semitic, which consistently marks (Divine) Judgement. But threskeia is closer to late Sasanian (ie, Zoroastrian) dên, already a loanword in Syriac where it meant something more like "(ortho)doxy". For that I have used Kerr's essay translated as "Aramaisms in the Qur'an" which unfortunately does not track down when, exactly, this homophone entered the Semitic lexica.

Courtieu also has John seeing the Ishmaelite threskeia as "Forerunner To The Antichrist", a sort of John-the-Baptiser movement leading to something even worse. I wonder if the Damascene knew of the more-Semitic yawm al-dîni as well.

posted by Zimri on 08:44 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Blacklist, according to Ruqayya Khan

Ruqayya Khan considered harmful.

In an earlier edition of that post, I was mulling the idea of treating her references as a blacklist, as a catalogue of false scholarship and cowardly universities. I'd backed out that paragraph... but now, having re-read her piece, I figure I was right first time. This rant belongs in its own post anyway.

The Journal of the American Academy of Religion which published this work is not serious about impartial scholarship. Trinity University and Claremont Graduate University by allowing her to teach have failed their undergraduates.

Khan refers to the excellent doctoral dissertation (2008, University of Toronto) by Aisha Geissinger, entitled “Gendering the Classical Tradition of Qur’an Exegesis: Literary Representations and Textual Authority in Medieval Islam.” I expect that this dissertation is garbage; Geissinger's doctorate, paper; the University of Toronto, a degree mill, whose accreditation should be revoked - preferably by Royal decree.

posted by Zimri on 19:25 | link | 0 comments

'Abd al-Malik's canon

Guillaume Dye's conclusion, 104 cites Amir Moezzi: it wasn't just the Qur'an that the Marwanis wanted to nail down, it was also the Hadith. And then:

This desire for control is understandable given that the political and religious dissident movements, if not rebellious, like that of al-Muḫtār (m. 687), are many - and they are, in fact, very active in Shiite territory. But even if Shiism, during its history, was often quietist, it rests on a principle - the existence of a prophetic word, ever-living - which, virtually, constitutes a formidable political threat to the legitimacy of those in power. The canonization of the Koran, that is to say its codification, its dissemination, under the authority of the Caliph (with consequences for the ritual, which is now based on the codex), setting forth a figure of the past, that of Muhammad, by which one means, as far as possible, to control the memory - all this is part of a movement that can be defined as the excarnation of prophecy. The excarnation is of course the opposite of the incarnation: the prophetic word is no longer that of an individual, prophet or imam, but that of a book.

There is therefore no surprise that the Koran contains no allusion to explicit Umayyad power. The objective of 'Abd al-Malik is not to have a text that legitimizes the Umayyads: it is to have a text by which the whole Islamic community, and this alone, can be defined - but a text that is under the control of the ruler, which he imposes on it gradually. And in many ways - no narrative framework, decontextualized texts, erasing the liturgical Sitz im Leben of many mobilized biens textuels, ambiguous identity of voices involved in the discourse - the Qur'an lends itself indeed very well to political use.

I am not sold on "excarnation" as a concept, myself, but Dye cites for it Aleida Assmann, « Exkarnation: Über die Grenze zwischen Körper und Schrift », ed. J. Huber & A. M. Müller, Interventionen (Bâle, Stroemfeld, 1993), 159-181. Smoke if you got 'em.

On whether the Qur'an cites post-Muhammadan historical events, Dye is here being too modest. I think that wherever the Qur'an mentions David and Solomon together, there it is supporting the Monarchic Principle and from southwestern Syria to boot. That is, I think that suras 21, 27, and 34 do legitimize the Umayyads; I've been leaning that way for most of sura 38 as well (although not v. 26 in it). As for the Shi'ites, to the extent they ever denied these suras to the Umayyads, they just wanted that Solomonic throne for their own hereditary imams. It's just that 'Abd al-Malik bin Marwân got there first. Since the Shi'a weren't relevant to those suras, I have to assume they weren't those suras' problem and, therefore, weren't (then) a problem for the Marwanis either. Maybe other suras hit the Shi'a; I don't know.

Where I see the first opposition to the royalist suras - sura 28 comes to mind - I could do nothing but place such outside the entire monarchic tradition. In that sura's case, I handed that to the Asha'itha, to the qurrâ' behind the nâsir Allâhi 'Abd al-Rahmân al-Kindî 80 / 700. I remain open to alternatives, like the various Haruris of the prior decade.

posted by Zimri on 17:51 | link | 0 comments

Ḥafṣa? LOL

Ruqayya Khan once published an essay "Did a Woman Edit the Qur’an? Ḥafṣa and her Famed Codex" in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 82.1 (March 2014), 174-216.

by focusing upon the role of one early Muslim female figure, Ḥafṣa bint ‘Umar (one of the wives of the prophet Muhammad), in how the Qur’än came to be codified, I critique the androcentric tendencies in western Qur’änic studies’ scholarship. I also seek to reclaim Ḥafṣa’s agency in the process of how the Qur’än came to be formed as a text.

Guillaume Dye is too polite to dump on this jargon-filled and a priori piece directly; he might not even have read it. He does offer a short answer to the overall question - "LOL, no". Well okay; it is not a short answer, because it's Dye saying it:

That the ṣuḥuf of Ḥafṣa are more a topos than history seems to me corroborated by the following story. It is said that Marwān b. al-Ḥakam (d. 685), cousin and secretary of ‘Uṯmān (and future first Marwanid caliph), governor of Medina under Mu‘āwiya, asked regularly to Ḥafṣa to send those ṣuḥuf, but he always got a refusal. On the death of Ḥafṣa, in 665, he renewed his application to his brother, 'Abd Allāh b. Umar, who gave him the sheets. Marwān tore them up and burned them:

I did this because whatever was in them was already written and preserved in the muṣḥaf and I feared that when and as time lengthens among the people, there would [arise] skepticism due to these ṣuḥuf. Or he said indeed that there was something in them not written [in the muṣḥaf]. [tr. Khan, 197]

If these sheets existed and were destroyed as well, it is likely that the muṣḥaf differed substantially from those sheets - the reasons given by (or attributed to) Marwan are indeed an incredible misstep (or an immense cynicism, if you like): if their codex was faithful, there was no risk to keep these sheets, for which the Muslim community should, in principle, feel a considerable attachment.

This ḫabar however seems unlikely (could not Marwan have seized those sheets by force?). Things are best explained if one starts from the principle that the Ḥafṣa sheets never existed. The story on their destruction has then an obvious function: to account for their absence. A first topos posed the existence of these sheets, particularly to establish a perfect transmission from the Prophet to the official Koranic recension. However, at the time when those aḫbār which mention them were outstanding, these sheets do not exist, which is amazing, given their supposed importance. It was therefore needed to explain their disappearance, which made for a second topos, that of the destruction of the sheets - a fine example of aḫbār responding to one other. I do not follow Schwally when he says: "Denn gerade der Umstand, daß sich die Sammlung nach der Tode Omars in dem besitze Hafsas befand, ist die sicherste Tatsache des ganzen Berichtes". This does not preclude there were texts (later destroyed or lost) outstanding during the edition of the official muṣḥaf (but what did they contain exactly?), but if we want to understand what could have happened, we must design a model in which the Ḥafṣa sheets have no place.

Now back to Khan...

Khan assumes that Ḥafṣa had a codex. She addresses the "linking device" at p. 203 - from Burton and Wansbrough; to dismiss it. But not on its merits: instead, she implies that they were just being sexist, "denying agency" to her heroine. Khan lives in a world of fantasy, in a university Safe Space.

Khan's essay does contain some real content - once the reader has assumed its assumption, that Ḥafṣa had a codex. Still, the essay holds interest mainly as an political matter internal among Muslims. Since scholars of Islam as a matter of basic ethics cannot assume the Ḥafṣa topos, they have taken some unnecessary risks in bringing Khan's work to publication. I for one would have put some large red marks on the text.

Earlier I'd considered a broadside against everything that Khan's project even touched, all the way to Oxford University itself. But now I've read Madelung's offhand comment about the survival of Arab matriarchy in the Prophet's succession... so I am today less sure of the invalidity of a feminist approach to Islamic history than I was - say - yesterday morning. Although Khan's particular approach remains, in several places, odious.

Khan did need to assume the topos, to explain why that topos - why Ḥafṣa and not, say, Usama bin Zayd or Khalid bin al-Walid. But her editors needed to insist to her that this is a topos. They needed to hold the line. They failed, and by it they failed their mission.

posted by Zimri on 15:20 | link | 0 comments

On anachronisms

Nicolai Sinai - Guillaume Dye's foil - once said this:

The question at stake is not so much whether the Quran contains or does not contain anachronisms in the strict sense but whether we can detect in it concerns that are best understood as those of editors active in the second half of the seventh century rather than those of the Meccan and Medinan Urgemeinde. If the Quranic rasm did not reach closure until c. 700, it does seem odd that it should nowhere engage with the major developments that defined Islamic history between 630 and 700, in particular the unprecedented speed with which an alliance of “barbarian” tribes from the fringes of the Byzantine and Sasanian empires established themselves as the masters of an immense territory, and the bitter disputes and civil wars that soon wreaked havoc on the unity of the conquerors.

I have been disagreeing with exactly that since - well, on record, since I first put House of War out there: sura 14's core argument is inexplicable in a Muhammadan context. Works great for the Zubayris though! Anyway why listen to a self-published weirdo like me when now we have Guillaume Dye, pp. 70-1:

Sinai makes as if the only pertinent anachronisms concern the history of the Muslim community and of its divisions. He thus takes the lack of explicit reference to the first or second fitna for proof that the Koran was compiled under ‘Uṯmān - but that is a non sequitur. Rather, there exist a non-negligible number passages that seem inexplicable in the Meccan or Medinan context of the Prophet's epoch, and for which it is difficult to account if located under ‘Uṯmān - instead they are very well explained in the context of the second half of the seventh century. This concerns, among others: the finality of prophecy (Q 33:40) more intelligible in a Sufyanid context or especially Marwanid; sura 19, which is a reworked version of a text that was most likely composed after the conquests; the 33-64 verses of sura 3, which are posterior to the oldest stratum of sura 19 and which must be understood in the context of Syria-Palestine, doubtless after 650 [F. van der Velden, « Konvergenztexte syrischer und arabischer Christologie », loc. cit., notably p. 179.]; or divers aspects of sura 5. Moreover, the Quran demonstrates an ambiguous attitude towards Christians: some passages seem Christian, or indicate a convergence of will or compromise with Christianity (Q 2:87; 5:82-83; 19:1-33, etc.), while others are violent polemics (Q 4:171-172; 5:17, 51; 19:34-40, etc.). To explain this situation (which further signal firm contexts that have given rise to these contradictory judgments of the editorial work that appears in the text) as ceasing at the time of ‘Uṯmān remains, at best, very acrobatic - while if one takes into account a fairly long duration, until the Marwanid epoch, matters are explained much better. Finally, on a plan not chronologic but geographic, many passages do not fit the context of the Ḥiǧāz. [P. Crone, « How did the quranic pagans make a living? », Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 68.3 (2005), 387-399]

Then in p. 71 Dye brings up sura 18 being based on the Alexander Nes'hana, most likely known to the proto-Muslim community only after the conquests. That is scholarly-consensus to such a point now, that I'd not be surprised if even the Muslims quietly relegate that sura to deuterocanonical status, somewhere between the Fatiha and the two qunut suras of Ubayy.

I haggle over Q. 3:33-64 > 19:1-40 - I've said for thirteen years that the Dome of the Rock cited Q. 3:1-64, and that Q. 19:1-40 cited the Dome. But if someone has proven without use of sura 19 that Q. 3:33-64 is (literally) ‘Uṯmānienne, I shan't argue; for my part I've assigned sura 6 to that caliph mahdi.

Also Dye is being too modest about whether the Qur'an does or does not on principle refer to Umayyad / anti-Umayyad fitna. But I'll deal with that separately.

Moving on -

Thence the dilemma follows: we cannot say that the general framework given by Muslim tradition is right and, at the same time, take seriously the Qur'anic text. If taken seriously (in other words, if one avoids the Procrustean bed that the tradition has prepared for it), we will indeed admit at least one of these possibilities:

  • First hypothesis: the Ḥiǧāz, in the Prophet's day, has a level of Christian presence and literary culture comparable to Syria-Palestine - There are Christians in the Ḥiǧāz, and Christian ideas are known there, but one can also encounter there the kind of scribe who may write texts like suras 3, 5, 18 and 19.
  • Second hypothesis: at least in part, the mission of the Prophet did not take place in the Ḥiǧāz but further north.
  • Third hypothesis: at the time of the Prophet, a Christian presence was in the Ḥiǧāz, but the situation is not comparable to Syria-Palestine, nor even to what is found further north in the Arabian peninsula. If some passages Koranic "scholars" have assigned to that time (or earlier?), they are due to editors, probably located more north, with whom Arabs of the Ḥiǧāz maintained relations.
  • Fourth hypothesis: one must disassociate the Qur'an's redaction from the Prophet's career, and consider that a substantial part of the Koran was written after the death of Muhammad, still further north (and not in full before ‘Uṯmān).

A model combining the last two hypotheses seems the most plausible solution: ie, the Qur'an has not one context, but many.

posted by Zimri on 13:53 | link | 0 comments

Guillaume Dye on carbon-14

I sometimes weary of arguing carbon-14 with Islamic apologists, so today I am letting Guillaume Dye do it for me. Hérésies, 66f:

C14 dating problems

One would hope that a definitive solution could be provided by the C14 dating of the oldest material evidence of the Qur'anic text - even if it come only from fragments, longer or shorter. Behnam Sadeghi has procured a C14 dating of a palimpsest from Ṣan'ā' (usually cited by the name DAM 01-27.1 but which Sadeghi named, inexplicably, "Ṣan'ā'1"). By his findings, the probabilities that the parchment belongs to the period between 614 and 656 are of 68%; they are 95% for the period between 578 and 669; otherwise, the probabilities that the parchment predates 671 are 99%, they are 91.8% for the date 655; 75.1% for 645, and 56.2% for 635 (the probability becomes less than 50% for 632).

[Footnote 33: B. Sadeghi & U. Bergmann, "The Codex of a Companion of the Prophet and the Qur’ān of the Prophet", Arabica 57.4 (2010), 343-436; 348, 353. The C14 gives the date when the animal died, whose skin was used to make the parchment. By default, one admits that the interval between the killing of the beast and the copy of the manuscript can not be very long (months or years).]

The scriptio inferior does not represent the text of the 'Uṯmānic Vulgate (unlike the scriptio superior): there are some differences in the use of grammatical persons, certain suffixes, some expressions, and in the order of suras. Nevertheless, it presents a recognizable version of the Qur'anic text we can read today. If these figures are reliable, they would support the traditional version, since we have evidence that later than the 660s [CE], a substantial portion of the rasm had reached a form close to the current Koran. Other C14 datings seem to support this thesis:

[Footnote 34: Cf., which will be read more for the references than for the analysis of the data. A recent announcement (July 21 2014) reported a new C14 dating Koranic fragments today preserved in the library of the University of Leiden ( The palaeography suggests a date between 770 and 830, but according to C14 dating, these fragments should be located between 650 and 715, 652 even appearing as the more likely date (but - what the article does not mention - the date 747, although in principle less plausible, is not excluded). Similar discordance (that should be taken seriously) divides the paleography and the radiocarbon in the case of the Tübingen manuscript (MA VI 165), located between 649 and 675 by the C14, and which seems rather to date from the middle of the eighth century according to paleography.]

One might think that the case is closed - but things are actually more complicated. While radiocarbon dating is a valuable tool (this is not to reject scientific methods, which are very useful), it does not end there unless it meets at present formidable problems when it comes to date the Qur'anic manuscripts. Too much confidence in the C14 dating therefore seems unreasonable.

[Footnote 35: On the precautions and necessary-conditions in the use of C14-dating results, cf. R. E. Taylor, Radiocarbon Dating. An Archaeological Perspective (Orlando: Academic Press, 1987), 15-38, 105-146. It appears that the conditions that would legitimize an extreme confidence in radiocarbon dates are not met, at present, for old Qur'anic manuscripts.]

Two examples (not exhaustive) will suffice for this case [36: F. Déroche, Qur’ans of the Ummayads. A First Overview (Leyden: Brill, 2014), 11-14]. The first concerns the "Coran de la nourrice". We know that this manuscript preserved in the mosque of Kairouan was copied in 1020. However, the C14 analysis gives a date set, with a 95% probability, between 871 and 986, the most likely dates, in descending order, being 937, 895 and 785 (sic). The gap between the highest date (986) and the known date is only thirty-four years, which seems encouraging - but such a span, if it were required to determine whether a[nother] manuscript dates from the time either Sufyanid or Marwanid, would hardly help us. As for the date considered most probable (937), it is anterior by eighty-three years from that of the copy of the manuscript.

Another example: two other folios of the manuscript studied by Sadeghi were dated, for the one, between 543 and 643, and for the other between 433 and 599 - which poses a serious problem. [note 37 - It is therefore difficult to understand why [Nicolai] Sinai writes: Since Déroche does not supply further details [GD : il en donne pourtant], it seems preferable on the time being to rely on Sadeghi and Bergmann’s results, although further testing is probably called for (« Part I », loc. cit., p. 276, n. 21). If the C14 dating had here the expected reliability, the most logical solution would be to locate the manuscript between 578 and 599, sole period common to the three datings. This is obviously absurd, and that the dating of Sadeghi and Bergmann appears less aberrant than others does not mean it is right (other recent analyzes provide 595-658, 566-657 and 430-611: the problem thus remains). It is not an achievement on which to base the history of the manuscript transmission of the Quran in the first century of the Hegira.]

I will not try to explain these anomalies (calibration problems, contamination at early date, eg from a carbon-based ink?) but the consequence is that the radiocarbon dates of ancient Koranic manuscripts must be taken with caution, even when they do not give aberrant results. It is thus very possible that the scriptio inferior in DAM 01-27.1 dates to the Marwanid period.

Dye goes on in p. 68 to trash similar claims for the Emesan codex "Parisino-petropolitanus", formerly known as BNF 328. I would apply the same argument to all that hype about the Birmingham Qur'an we saw here last July; that was obviously Marwanid. Had Dr Dye published this part of the essay then? I wish I'd had it, so I could have used it.

posted by Zimri on 12:55 | link | 0 comments

When the Shi'ites still cared about the Qur'an's text

Before I lose my French-comprehension skills again I'm catching up on Guillaume Dye. In Hérésies (Université de Bruxelles, 2015), 55-104 he summarises some recent French scholarship on Shi'ite claims of tahrîf, that we Anglos might have missed:

The subject has been extensively studied by Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, eg Le Coran silencieux et le Coran parlant, op. cit., and more recently in "Al-Šayḫ al-Mufīd (m. 413/1022) et la question de la falsification du Coran" in D. de Smet and A. Amir-Moezzi (Ed.), Controverses sur les écritures canoniques de l’islam, (Paris: Cerf, 2014), 199-229. See also, in the same volume, 231-268, D. de Smet, "Le Coran: son origine, sa nature et sa falsification. Positions ismaéliennes controversées". On the modern and contemporary periods, cf. R. Brunner, "La question de la falsification du Coran dans l’exégèse chiite duodécimaine", Arabica 52.1 (2005), 1-42.

posted by Zimri on 12:04 | link | 0 comments

Friday, April 22, 2016

Upload #129 - poetic licence

Thomas Bauer's work has helped me sort out some poetic quotes in suras 6, 16, 38 and others. I have a 37>38 link now in "Solomon's Revenge". Also Bauer led me to an additional 21>16 link, which strengthens "Plots against the Qurra'".

I've puttered with a few other pages as well.


posted by Zimri on 19:16 | link | 0 comments

The Arabs and Their Qur'an: in review

I didn't change The Arabs and Their Qur'an in very many parts, since last winter; so I am keeping its versioning to a "fifth" edition. It is 5.4, for those keeping score. (Hey! Rajaz!)

Information from that Khalifa bin Khayyat translation has pushed a few of those earlier "historical vignettes" to a point another page got added; which then forced a second, blank page, to get the section-headers onto the odd number again. So some of the page-refs thither in House of War and Throne of Glass are going to be wrong. But not wrong by a lot.

Since an error in "The Satans' Quran" had forced the issue, I went over that essay hardest. Mainly I have added Thomas Bauer, "The Relevance of Early Arabic Poetry"'s take on that Irfan Shahid / Sura 26 affair. (Since the essay has been available at the CU library since 2011, this was an oversight on my part 2012-16.) I am still on Team Shahid though. Also I think that Bauer could have been more temperate generally; those comments against Christoph Luxenberg put me off.

For those who've already bought this, fixing the error in "The Satans' Quran" - namely the last part's musing that sura 26 cited sura 61 - should suffice for your needs, and again, I apologise. For those who haven't bought this, the edition should be available sometime this weekend.

UPDATE 4/23: Book's back online.

posted by Zimri on 18:52 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How the Narrative is enforced, re Islam

Noncredentialed students of Islam are touring the Land o' Lakes sharing what they've learnt. The SC Times - whatever that is - doesn't approve the competition.

Ron Branstner is the guy the SC Times has chosen as the figurehead of this teach-in movement. Other names include - I'll just copy-paste this - Usama Dakdok, A.J. Kern, Brigitte Gabriel, Cynthia Khan, Jeffrey Baumann and Clare Lopez. Brigitte Gabriel, at least, is famous. Dakdok and Khan bear names that imply they also know what they're talking about.

It's just so much easier to pick on the German guy. (And I got a strong suspicion the German guy knows what he's talking about too.)

posted by Zimri on 17:13 | link | 0 comments

Friday, April 15, 2016

Satirical essay gets an A

If the job of satire is to needle the people in power, this Balto kid is heir to the throne of Swift. Is he Irish perchance?

He'd already proven himself an apt pupil (if I may use the term) when he quoted That Tweet. (Wasn't his; he'd correctly flagged it as not-his by encapsulating it.) Now the student has become the master. If I may use that line.

posted by Zimri on 20:07 | link | 0 comments

Bad professors assign bad books to bad students

It's grim up Sheffield. (They still have a university?)

The profs say there is currently a disjuncture between the types of reading we want students to engage with and the types students feel able or willing to do and the "Academic and Inclusions Officer" says I remember having to read Derrida and the students say students might be more inclined to read what academics want them to if our curricula weren’t overwhelmingly white, male and indicative of a society and structures we fundamentally disagree with because they don't work for us.

Employers, I expect, will read a resume from a Shef grad and say next.

posted by Zimri on 19:39 | link | 0 comments

Blake's 7 - wuzzat?

GNXP directs us his readers to the passing of Blake. Blake's 7 was before my time... outside of my time.

Yes, I am English - mostly. But no, I didn't get into a lot of English pop-culture, until I was thirteen years old; up to then I'd attended my land of birth only intermittently, for family-visitation. Some bits I'd read up on, in advance: the Pet Shop Boys, U2, "Adrian Mole", Douglas Adams. Some bits I had to learn when I was there: the Smiths, Flanders-and-Swann, Tom Sharpe, Terry Pratchett. (I was happy to learn it. Those bits of it.) In the field of comics I was too young on my trips there to catch "2000 AD" - which meant those "mekon" references sailed over my head during that longer-lasting 1987-92 "homecoming". I had read "Beano" (and, er, "Jackie") and later on I got into "Viz".

And then there was the stuff I've only heard about in the last year or so - this last year. Musically, that'd be The Sound - nobody still listened to that band in Shrewsbury (and good goddamned riddance). As for what was on telly, as of late 1987 nobody was still talking about Blake's 7.

What I see on the Blake's 7 Wiki page is that the Terran Federation are the bad guys. This looks to me like an unsubtle swipe at America by way of Star Trek as proxy.

My "homecoming" was not-fun enough - and this was amongst mainly larval Tories, nominally allied with Reagan. I'm glad my classmates hadn't remembered Blake's 7. Nor The Sound.

posted by Zimri on 18:36 | link | 0 comments

Jeff Goldstein guests at Darleen Click's occasional blog

... and he has something to say. About Trump, and about whether we Coloradan delegates cheated him out of a victory that he wasn't going to get here nohow.

I agree wholeheartedly of course.

posted by Zimri on 17:59 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Upload #128b - settling accounts

Here's that sura 9 project: "Ledger of War". Right now it's admittedly a placeholder; its main task is to show sura 16 > 9.

I also pulled that large digression from the "Arabic" (Safaitic) project, and moved it into there, because the munafiqs are important. And "The Prophet's Excuse" (on sura 66), now, takes into account that it's not suras 9 and 61 > the coinage; that footnote had overreached anyway, so no-one will miss its absence. But I raised from another footnote, a new argument that Q. 16:50 > 66:6 directly.


posted by Zimri on 18:32 | link | 0 comments

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Arabs and Their Qur'an is down

I cannot support that 61>26 anymore, so I must drop The Arabs and Their Qur'an from the store.

I have other fixes to do there too. Version 5.3 was fourteen months ago. And even then it was straining against the Fifth Edition page-limit set that January. Anyway if you already have it (it's been a fair seller, so, it's quite possible you do), cross out that bit in "The Satans' Qur'an" which refers to that. Because it's about to get deleted.

posted by Zimri on 17:30 | link | 0 comments

Upload #128 - breaking rank

I've been looking at sura 9 a few times lately. Last weekend I looked at its parallels to sura 61. I'd already done some of that in "In Ranks".


Some background: the Q. 9:32-33 / 61:8-9 parallels, and their own parallels with the coinage, are famous. That meant that I found out about them very early in my research - as in, 2003; as in, before I'd even taken an Arabic class (which was Modern Standard at that). So, at the time, I relied on translations. Those translations floated a plus for sura 9 "but God will not have it so". In that form, the phrase looks like a pious intrusion (like "subhâna'llâhi!"). So I figured sura 9 as the one intruding it, and I concluded 61>9.

And so it went: when in 2011 I was looking at the musabbihat generally, "In Ranks" was posted as the sura 61 side of that, and sura 9's parallel became a footnote. Later I learnt about the Sebastopol war, the reform of the army, and the new coinage: all came together here. I was proud of that essay.

Pity that it was TOTALLY WRONG about the sequence between suras 9 and 61. That's right! I hadn't gone back through my translations (which, remember, weren't even mine) to see if I could still rely upon them. Turns out that the shared material in Q. 9:32-33 and 61:8-9 assumes verbiage floated in sura 9. Which means the couplet was based on earlier parts of sura 9, and not on sura 61 anywhere.

But wait- there's more! (As Darryl Glenn would say.) I also hadn't considered all those other variants of the shared couplet, especially the plaque on the north entrance to the Dome (which I knew about), but also Sayyari's hadith on "Q. 61:9" (of which whole book, I'd been informed only in late 2011).

Anyway, new project: "The Servant Whom God Has Sent". This draws the chains sura 10 > the plaque > the coinage (and Sebastopol), and the plaque > suras 9 and 61 (together). "In Ranks" is basically a rewrite now: a lot more vague on dates - it has to be, at this point - but it does, at least, attempt 9 > 61. "Reformer" had to change too because there's a couplet / sura 40 parallel there. (I didn't have to change "Women" this time on account that sura 48 just used the coinage.)

Elsewhere I stumbled across a fresh new article about Q. 16:106 - Mairaj U Syed, “The Construction of Historical Memory in the Exegesis of Kor 16, 106”, which you may read here. This verse had been attached to a hadith about one 'Ammar bin Yasar who'd got himself tortured for Muhammad's sake; Catholics would call 'Ammar a "Confessor". The story didn't start out as exegesis of the verse; the muhaddiths attached it secondarily. Which means we can date a witness to this verse. Syed, oddly, doesn't do that; he assumes the Sira, and he assumes the verse as authentic to Muhammad. But over a century ago Jacob Barth wondered if the verse was even part of the first version of the sura. Anyway, I'm treating this article as evidence that Q. 16:106 was very late indeed, and as an upper-date constraint upon the sura's final redaction. So, "Plots Against The Qurra'" has been much expanded.

And then there's the usual puttering: "Islamic Ethics", "Abraham's Promise", "Interceding With God".


posted by Zimri on 17:14 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Boy, the Denver Post sure is CONCERNed

Matthew Drudge's butt is vicariously hurt from the glorious and yuge order of whoop-ass we Coloradans delivered to his Daddy, so he's linking to a lot of Trump tweets. Fine. I get it. But who knew that the Denver Post was so pro-Trump? that it cared for anything Republican?

Here's a headline on how angry the Donald is. We're told that the GOP here put the election of national delegates in the hands of party insiders and activists. Party hacks like... me, who did this dark art of politics called "showing up to the publicly-announced events". Which I'd never done in my life before. (And I was fighting mainly Rubio supporters 'til I got to the District level on Friday - not Trumpers. For chrissake as of Friday I still was part-Trumper; I split that ballot.)

Drudge is also linking to a February editorial from late last February. (Yo Matt: is my calendar broken or is it the middle of April now?) There's lots of CONCERN there too.

Trump needs to figure out why he's been alienating Republicans; Drudge needs to suck it up; and the Denver Post just needs to die.

posted by Zimri on 22:01 | link | 0 comments

Natividad at ground zero

Jerry Natividad's basic pitch was that he didn't like Donald Trump. He also ran against "lawyers, bankers, and career politicians" as an "outsider".

As far as that goes, fine. The floor voted the Cruz slate too. I voted the Cruz slate.

But what Natividad didn't understand is that it's possible that Trump might end up the nominee anyway. Now you've got to defend yourself all through the general campaign for running in the same party. On Election Day, Trump's supporters stay home. And pro-Coloradan voters, worried about a Senator at war with the Executive for the next four years, stay home too. In addition this position was an apparent flip-flop over his prior promise to support the nominee whoever it was.

The anti-banker comment left me frigid; what's wrong with banking as such - lending out capital for business? (((Would brackets help?))) Anyway that big-money complaint was rich, coming from him. The Natividad campaign made a large impression before the shindig by flooding the streets with placards on the way in. Someone clearly had thrown a LOT of singles.

As Tim Neville handily pointed out, whether or not Natividad is a potential Hillary! ally, he categorically is an Obama ally. Natividad supported advancing Merrick Garland.

Also the man was too good to speak to our district, but apparently that doesn't matter here.

The floor nuked his candidacy, leaving it 3.5% for a fourth place finish.

posted by Zimri on 10:01 | link | 0 comments

Postmortem on Tim Neville's 2016 run

I was at the district and state conventions / assemblies last weekend. The delegates all chosen, partly with my help, are pledged to Ted Cruz. But that wasn't the real news.

The real news is that the Colorado assembly of selected activists overwhelmingly chose Darryl Glenn. Glenn's speech was brilliant - the refrain "but wait, there's more" was a sales-tactic, used to full effect. Tim Neville left everyone cold all around. I'm going to suggest here why that is.

I didn't think Neville's speech was as bad as they say. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't great. He'd floated the outline of it to our district on Friday: pro-life, pro-gun, pro-military, pro-zzz. On that day he was outshone by another candidate, one Peg Littleton, who was running against Common Core. Neville learnt from that and added education to his platform. Littleton meanwhile helped herself to Neville's platform. But now she couldn't differentiate herself as well against Neville, so she pushed her own Christianity more. So Neville did at least torpedo Littleton, which was, assuming no upsets, the wisest tactic.

(For disclosure: in this race, I did choose Littleton. I still need to deal with Neville but, in the meantime, Glenn could strike voters here as an Alan Keyes - good in speeches, unprepared in interviews, unable to make the sale among the state's white voters. Also Glenn didn't speak to our district assembly, which annoyed me personally. Glenn must have made the gamble that it was best to introduce himself all at once and to take the floor by surprise.)

Neville included support for a hardcore Life Begins At Contraception platform. Association with stuff like that, which would never pass an Amendment convention ("Article Five"), is exactly how Republicans routinely lose the single fertile female vote here in Colorado. (Gardner won 2014 anyway because Udall made opposition to this his platform exclusively, leaving men and infertile / married women with nothing to vote for.) If you have to appeal to pro-lifers, which Republicans do, then you should strike at Roe v Wade and call it a matter of Constitutional principle.

Neville also trumpeted his support by the "national association for gun rights", which isn't Gun Owners of America and isn't the NRA. I got this obnoxious flyer among the junk:

As you see, the flyer seems more about boosting the profile of that unfortunately-acronymed NAGR than about supporting its candidate, or even about gun rights. Gun activists consider NAGR a scam and it does smell like one to me as well (why didn't you just go with GOA, Tim?). On the "plus" side a Mr Neville elsewhere got onto the Cruz delegation slate, which was GOA-supported... Patrick Neville... [UPDATE 4/11 - Dudley Brown, who runs NAGR, was on that Cruz slate too and is now off to Cleveland.]

As for the flyer's targets, negging these particular men doesn't pose a problem as such. Frazier always smelled wrong to me and I'll write more of Natividad later today; I assume the flyer is right about Graham too. I'm more disgusted by the cheap trick of using unflattering pics of Hillary to rile up the base. This tactic is an insult to my intelligence and character; I didn't like it in Texas, and I don't like it here.

Neville's campaign overall was all so much "hurr durr libruls murrka", and I am happy to be spared from more of it this year.

[PS: yeah, I took the picture over Q. 9:5-7. That was an accident. Usually I use that passage as a wineglass coaster here. It's also good for catching the grease from a pork burrito. Neville flyers rate somewhere in between: not as good as a decent Shiraz, better than the surat al-tawba.]

posted by Zimri on 09:40 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Ted Cruz's slate

I heard tell last week of a "sad-puppy" campaign to ensure Cruz's support isn't diluted in Colorado. Here's the Colorado slate for Cruz.

(It wasn't easy to find. Search-engines tend to pull up Slate magazine, almost always with lame-ass anti-Cruz hit-pieces.)

((I like hyphens.))


posted by Zimri on 21:02 | link | 0 comments

Death of a homo sapiens

Henry Harpending, author of 10,000 Year Explosion, has passed on.

His book at the time was fairly widely read, and accepted; but then it just sort of - wasn't. The SPLC cult bashed it, but I'd figured then that it wouldn't matter if it did. If anything the SPLC is even less relevant today.

I think the book's main problem is that this field of deep anthropology has been progressing too quickly. We have DNA evidence now of several migrations, interbreedings, and exterminations that Harpending could not have known about then.

posted by Zimri on 19:08 | link | 0 comments


I'm not sure how this helps me - or my readers here:

Coming in Late April!
All visitors will be able to view your Blogspot domain blogs over an encrypted connection by visiting Existing links and bookmarks to your blogs will continue to work. As part of this change, the HTTPS Availability setting will go away, and your blogs will always have an HTTPS version.

I serve up content here. I don't run a server; I don't even link to Paypal, and I wouldn't anyway. If you read the content on this site then that can be done just as well over the 80 port or 8080. Not seeing the value in 443.

Comments are another ballgame, at least over POST (especially signin); but those are SSL (over 443) already.

Does SSL encrypt data over GET as well? Would it matter if it did?

posted by Zimri on 18:36 | link | 0 comments

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