The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The library

If you wish to know what Gabriel Said Reynolds recommends to his students: Syllabus of "Islamic Origins" - Fall 2017 Ph.D. Seminar at Notre Dame. It seems to expand Stephen Shoemaker's list.

I would quibble with the inclusion of "Ibn Isḥāq". At a guess Reynolds means Ibn Hishām. Ibn Hishām censors his sources. So to get at actual Ibn Isḥāq, Ibn Hishām should be used in parallel with Ṭabarī. Speaking of which, I am surprised that Ṭabarī isn't on the list, at least the first few volumes.

His students should be aware of early Arabic poetry and of Semitic rhetoric. Imran Badawi's doctoral thesis, for all its flaws, belongs here; as does Irfan Shahid. (Although I agree that Umayya bin Abi'l-Salt seems mainly a dead end.)

Islamic apocalyptic belongs here too; starting with Paul Casanova, the Patricia Crone of the prewar period. Here David Cook's Studies is often relevant.

I notice a blind spot about Iran. Reynolds doesn't list Tom Holland; in agreement with other scholars in this field, like Badawi. But if we're omitting Holland on the "decline and fall", then we still need to give our students something. So: Parvaneh Pourshariati, Touraj Daryaee, and Michael Jackson Bonner.

On Reynolds' list which maybe shouldn't be: A. Ghabban, "The Inscription of Zuhayr, the Oldest Islamic Inscription". I heard last June that doubts were raised.

Besides that, this list seems to cover just about everything. If you're doing research on some aspect of der frühe Islam, you should first at least ctrl-F through the PDF.


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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bye, goy ... uh, hi again

I've occasionally dropped by Andrew Anglin's place. He is funny, and smarter than people pretend to think. He's also an anti-Semitic jerk, and a clown. What Anglin very probably is not (nowadays) is a racist. The man lives in Lagos for chrissakes where he mostly whacks it to Japanese porn.

Since Anglin lives in Lagos, and since he claims he is well-liked over there, which I don't question, I expect he'll find a Nigerian provider, and will continue his clowning. And the google censorship won't stop his audience from finding him. All Anglin has to do is to send one email or make one phone call to the right person.

But anyway. It wasn't the blacks who kicked him offline. It was mainly my Jewish (and super-Anglo) cousins who did it, to our shame, Jews like the Huffington Post gloater. So if you were happy that a racist site got kicked offline, then well done, idiot; when Anglin comes back, his Daily Stormer is indeed likely to be a lot less racist. It's going to be just as antiSemitic though and Anglin's going to have evidence for this.


posted by Zimri on 21:10 | link | 0 comments

You are one of us now

Some supporters of President Trump and of free-speech generally staged a rally in Boston for, er, free speech. They were met by 15000 people who felt they didn't deserve a Platform. Those latter people included many violent elements, who further didn't like that the Boston cops were protecting the former people.

Anyway one woman of great iman, arriving with the 15000 protestors and wearing a Hillary-over-Trump shirt, crossed the line and helped escort the (few) free speech supporters to safety.

I linked to a twitter post. The replies are instructive. Some hold that Imani did good. Others hold that Imani did the wrong thing, helping those who do wrong to America, and who wish wrong for her; and that to the extent she's getting support, she is also getting it from the wrong people.

I take their word for it. In the Boston mindset, if you are outside their Current Year window of acceptable thought, you don't belong there. You deserve to be set upon and then... who cares; on that score, Samuel Adams, America's first great SJW, had some ideas. Except that this week the Boston Left has the mindset of blood for blood.

Imani believes, by contrast, that people should be able to speak their mind, without fear of violence. Whatever shirt they wear; whatever colour the skin beneath it.

Which makes her one of us.


posted by Zimri on 20:09 | link | 0 comments

Come to the best of works

Najam Haider wrote a book; Nebil Husayn reviewed the book. It seems a fair critique. I don't share the expertise in Shi'ism either author has; so, I was reduced to scribbling out a book-report, fit only for a blog-post. But, since we be bloggin' today...

In 786, some Hasanis with Zaydi help took over the Madina (p. 207f). Among the innovations, or restorations (in Islam, rebels tend to cast the one as the other): they changed the adhan. To this they added, or restored, the call "come to the best of works". This plus is often found in Shi'ism and, accordingly, Najam Haider marked it as a move in the heretofore-Sunnite Zaydiya toward Shi'ism. Against this, Husayn noted that it is not universal to Shi'ism and, further, is sometimes found in Sunni sources.

I note that one of the noted finders was the muhaddith Ibn Abi Shayba. This man (famously) had no love for Abu Hanifa and one should think he would also have opposed his allies, like the Zaydis and their associated Hasanis. About that, our man transmits a Zubayrite apocalyptic hadith from al-Qattan, which omits the "huwa karih" plus which features in the canonical collections (you can read all about it in my fine book, House of War!). I surmise that Ibn Abi Shayba was not one to approve Hasanite propaganda. So if he says that "come to the best of works" is found outside Hasanism, I take his word for it.

I further add that neither is the Best Of Works da'wa intrinsically Shi'ite. To the extent it is controversial, it has to do with iman versus 'amal. This has nothing explicit to do with which family-line gets to be caliph.

If anything, it implies no Muslim boasting a lineage should rule, if just for that. To me the sentiment looks positively Kharijite. But I can see how the Hasan / Zayd followers, assuming a larger pool of caliphal applicants, and further restoring the maximal political role for the Imam, might accept this too. Remember, in the early years of this "Shi'ism" the Zaydis and Zayd himself were allowing even for 'Umar's caliphate.


posted by Zimri on 19:52 | link | 0 comments

When Zaydism became a Shi'ite sect

Najam Haider published a book a few years ago, The Origins of the Shi'a. I usually bypass books about Shi'ism(s) because (1) they are often prohibitively expensive and (2) most Shi'ite treatments deal with mumbo jumbo mystical doctrines from fourth-century bullshit-artists sectarians. This book is different. It deals with the second century AH, decidedly in my bailiwick, or at least dealing with transmitters who remembered that so-critical late first century.

Haider argues that the Imami Shi'a - the boys of Iraq and Iran - descend from a real sectarian movement of the turn of that century; and that the Zaydis, by contrast, are converts to sectarianism. Zayd himself, and his son Yahya, weren't out to say anything about Islam beyond what was already the 120s / 740s consensus, which we know as (Hanafi) Sunnism.

"Zaydism" today is associated with the Houthis, who follow the Jarudiya. This sect has strong affinities with the mainline Shi'ism. But even in the historical tradition, the (religious) sectarianism of the Zaydiya doesn't fit; the first Zaydis are associated mainly with politics, rarely with Islamic praxis. Zayd himself was aware of proto-Jarudi beliefs; he opposed them. It might even be better if we quit calling modern Zaydis by that name.

Haider looks at three case-studies, on how each Islamic sect / madhhab has handled some ritual and legal material. Every Muslim agrees on the use of the isnad-matn structure to pass along information. They disagree on which authorities within an isnad make for an authentic transmission.

He finds that at base, the Zaydis and the Sunnis are indistiguishable, up to about 800 CE. Until then, the sects agree, the proto-Sunni transmitters are trustworthy, whether or not they ever pledged baya to a living 'Alid. The Imamis by contrast insist on Shi'ism in their transmitters, so hardly ever go to a Sunni authority. The kicker: the Imamis were like this from nearly the start. So Imami Shi'ism was real, that is a closed sectarian movement apart from other Muslims, from at least as far back as 100/720. A less-charitable soul might class Imami Shi'ism as a cult.

After the 'Abbasids cheated the Shi'ites, Zaydist and Imami both, the losers each had to decide whither to go next. The Imamis being already an insular sect - argues Haider - were able to maintain their internal cohesion. The "Zaydis", by contrast, entered the 'Abbasid era as nothing more or less than political 'Alids - that is, as Sunnis, by any other metric. The "Zaydis" even supported non-Zaydi 'Alids like the (Hasanid) Nafs al-Afaya in 762. The "Zaydis" also called upon Sufyan Thawri to broker a truce (p. 205) - who was a student of Awzai and basically an Umayyad revanchiste. Hard to imagine an Imami doing that.

But the 'Abbasids kept pushing, leading to one more Hasani revolt 169/786. After this, "Zaydism", meaning the surviving Zaydists (and Hasanists), began corresponding with the Imamis and took on some of their characteristics. This amalgam of disgruntled Sunnis with Imami thought became Jarudism, and the Houthi movement today.

I suspect the Zaydi / Jarudi influence went the other way as well. There are copious Jarudi intrusions throughout our editions of Qummi's tafsir. Also the Sajjâdiyât psalm-collection, attributed to Yahya bin Zayd, is maintained in Imami transmissions.

Also, if Imami Shi'ism became insular as early as 100/720, they may have maintained some features from the Qur'an of that era. I'm looking at Sayyari's readings especially. Well, okay; most of these variants are clearly inlined glosses, if not outright lies. But not all of them...


posted by Zimri on 16:22 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shahab Ahmed's Islam

Shahab Ahmed, to whom Harvard spitefully denied tenure, passed away almost two years ago. His books have been coming out posthumously. This year I can report that Before Orthodoxy is an instant classic. Last year, his university publisher had put out What Is Islam?. I still haven't read this one; but I've seen a few reviews. (We'll leave aside Harvard's judgement for our purposes.)

Frank Griffel has tendered to What Is Islam? a critical review. Griffel does that to many historical critiques of Sunnite Islam, usually unfairly. On this case, though, we should give to Dr Griffel his due. I don't see politically-motivated cant or talking-point in this review. Griffel instead has posted an exhaustive summary of Ahmed's take on "Islam".

Ahmed like Reilly and Starr argues for the normative Islam of its second century, especially in its Iranian "Intermezzo" form, before the Arab and Turkish Sunnites turned it into an arid and unquestionable law-code. The project was more personal to Ahmed given that he was a Muslim. Ahmed, Reilly, Starr and - we finally learn - Griffel seem to agree with each other and, for that matter, with Robert Spencer, that this law-code is inhuman. Ahmed (and Griffel) would only dispute with Spencer that this is not an indictment of Islam in its essence.

If Griffel is accurately representing this book, and I see no reason to doubt this, then Ahmed's inclusion of non-canonical practices into Islamic civilisation has led him into some absurdities. Take Moses Maimonides, the world's most famous Sephardic Jew; he lived in Islamic lands and ended up moving away from a Sunnite fundamentalist tyranny (Islamic Spain) into another Islamic land. According to Griffel, Ahmed counts Maimonides as within Islam. Er...

But this does not seem to detract from Ahmed's achievement, especially when Ahmed surveys the earlier attempts in the field of Islamic(ate) definitions.


posted by Zimri on 11:12 | link | 0 comments

Friday, August 11, 2017

Seeing whites as a race depends on what race you are

From outside Europe, "whites" are a monolithic block. If you are non-European you can generally get whites, especially their women, to dance to your tune if you accuse them of being white - I mean, of being "racist". (This was the main joke of Stuff White People Like.) There could be a subtext here, that the white nations don't like seeing themselves as one group.

The Amerika blog - here's just one comment thread - has been running a long argument in its own comments that the European nations see themselves not foremost as "white" but as distinct from other white nations. Historically in Europe there was a strain of thought that separated the "Mediterranean" type from the "Nordic"; nowadays I suppose we'd be calling it the "European Farmer" or "Sardinian" genome, as opposed to the "Bell Beaker". Out east, think of how the Koreans hate being lumped in with the Japanese and the Chinese. In Islam, think of the fada'il literature. Back to Europe many of its component peoples are "Euro-skeptic". Anglophone news outlets on this much tend to point to Brexit.

There do exist pan-European / pro-white outlets. It was almost three decades ago that Jared Taylor founded American Renaissance. Yes, it was ostensibly for Americans; but these days it holds some appeal to the whites in Europe, like the old Romans had done (and this might have been Taylor's intent from the start - note the site's aesthetic, classical architecture). A few years ago Taylor hosted a pan-European conference in Hungary - or tried to. The Magyars shut down the main venue and Taylor ended up hosting the affair in a pub, which also almost got shut down. One attendee, Richard Spencer, spent that night in a Budapest cell. I recall reading in European circles that the Hungarian adventure was silly, especially in a non-IndoEuropean state of all places; that a pan-white enterprise was so quixotic that "only an American" could imagine it, with a synthetic sense of identity.

As to that, Ace questions whether even in America we can end up as a melting-pot. He doesn't say "white" but it's a subtext. There is much bad blood between the Red States - the Scots-Irish and (we'll get to that) the Germans - and the Blue States, who are at base Irish and East Anglia English.

It turns out that the dream of a united nation of variegated Europeans has in fact been met - this nation is Germany. Razib noted in May that the "Germans" are three distinct nations in one: Rheinlanders (read: Wallaces) and Slavs, with the actual Teutons bordering on the Danes'-Mark. The Germans themselves are aware of their internal divisions; and they haven't been shy about sharing this with outsiders, to the extent that (Anglophile) HP Lovecraft had some fun at the Krauts' expense in "The Temple".

I gather that in Europe the dream of a United Europe is mainly a German dream. White America is as we all know mostly German America. This may explain why that (white) "melting pot" theory would be shared between Germans and Americans. Taylor isn't German himself - like I'm not - but, also like me, Taylor has spent his life outside his home ground, so his views on things are distorted.

Since the melting-pot hasn't erased the three nations in Germany, after thousands of years, it is a fool's errand in Merkel's EU and furthermore a point to Ace about the melting-pot in America. (And against Taylor.) Although, it would be nice if we could at least unite in a common enterprise, like protecting all our borders...


posted by Zimri on 21:13 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, August 10, 2017

White people: quit telling black stories

The social-justice activists weren't able to stop That Scene in HBO's Game of Thrones; but they may well be able to stop their new anti-racist drama. Lately I've also been alerted to Laurie Forest, who dared write an anti-racist story in The Black Witch.

When you signal that you're an Ally, you signal that you're a bitch. You won't be thanked for your Wokeyness. You'll just make yourself a target - and not from the alt-righters.

If storytellers like Forest had the wisdom and fortitude to write about what The Marginalised would do to their Oppressors once the Social Justice was served, that might be a story worth the telling. Brandon Sanderson, amateurishly, poked at this in his Mistborn books. David Anthony Durham in his Acacia series did better.

But, well... Current Year.


posted by Zimri on 18:31 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Muhammad Atta is my copilot

I've not passed along a lot of the Vox Day memes here, and I'll leave to others to decide why that is(n't), but here's one.

Since I'm on That Spectrum, I'll spell it out: Google / Alphabet is a company that provides "free" shit in any number of forms: blogspot is one, youtube another, the search-engine being the most ubiquitous. As we all learnt in gradeschool, or should have learnt, nothing is really free. So Google / Alphabet lives or dies on advertising - targeted advertising, namely AdWords.

But it's got other revstreams, like those self-driving cars. So Google knows what you say, they know how to program algorithms that put you on their whitelist or blacklist, and they want to sell you a vehicle that runs up to 65 miles an hour along a mountain highway.

This might all be fine and good, if Google didn't care about what the drivers were doing on their spare time. Well... that's where Vox Day comes in.

Google's employees are on record wishing for physical harm on their own coworkers when they step out of line - or even when the standouts aren't breaking company policy, but just offend Google management feelz. And no, this violence wasn't just bloviating from ex-employee blowhards like Yonatan Zunger; it's not even the pro-antifa posturing. Go click that Breitbart article; the people there really do walk the talk, they really do come to blows.

If Google could kill us, they would. You'd have to be a fool to put yourself in Google-maintained physical spaces.

UPDATE 9:16 PM MST: Yeah, Steve Sailer got there first. But I hadn't read that when I posted this.


posted by Zimri on 20:22 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Argument to the man

Wired, being journ-o-listers, went out to refute James Damore... and not the substantive points in his essay.

It transpires that Damore, a Harvard alumnus, a couple years back had claimed on LinkedIn to have left there with a Doctorate :mumble: Philosophy (my Latin's not great). Wired contacted that establishment; the Harvardians reported that they had delivered to Damore naught but a lowly 2013 MS. I myself in mine own academic blunderings never got anywhere near this, but I am told that Harvard gives the MS as a participation-trophy to PhD candidates whose theses go splat.

And sometimes a university gives out PhDs to theses that go splat years after the fact; and when they do, those degrees are not retracted. You may or may not be surprised at some of those recipients. The insufficiently-credentialed bystander can certainly understand a temptation for the MS graduates / PhD failures to handwave - hey, I went through the PhD programme! at Harvard!!

Stolen-valour sucks, and Damore's resume-pumping should not be condoned. But we're all here to debate Damore's argument to Google.

Damore's argument argues what it argues despite whatever dirt its detractors dig concerning Damore himself. Take it from one who has also attempted Arguing Without A Licence, in my case concerning Late Antique Islam. Personally, in that capacity, I've not actually claimed to be anything more than a BA in Ancient Mediterranean Civilisations (and in various mathematicals). But there's lots other irrelevant dirt an interested party might dig up. (To pick on some dirt I actually deserve.)

So, kudos to Wired, I guess, in finding out some stuff that can serve as a warning to others. Yes, Dr Mr Damore should be less swift to inflate his C.V. However, Wired would have done more good to devote its efforts in confuting the actual argument. I take it that Wired can't do this.


posted by Zimri on 18:04 | link | 0 comments

Monday, August 07, 2017

He got fired of course

Coincidentally I've just backed up my blogspot archive.

Antitrust, Mister President. Please.

UPDATE 8/8/2017: over in Anglophone-Islamicate Twitter, Razib Khan and Emad Mostaque are vehemently agreeing with each other: that this is going to happen.


posted by Zimri on 20:01 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Lamed Vav... of Evil!

So the Defamation League has posted its list of alt- and not-so-alt-Rightists. They number thirty-six which, in Judaism, means something. Sadly your humble blogger has not made this list. Yet.

The Defamation League makes no effort to rebut the Thirty Six point by point, on whatever actual defamation any of them have done - that's beneath them. This is, rather, a proscription: to shut its targets out of the Western conversation. Pax Dickinson, for a start, cannot find a regular job because would-be employers in the Forbes 500 fear the Defamation League.


posted by Zimri on 15:08 | link | 0 comments

The gnostic Left believes it is too rational

The transnational elite believes that it is superior in intellect. Yet, when defending its turf, it doesn't argue; it prefers to no-platform its rivals. I've noticed a self-rationalisation: that that their soi-disant superiority is a weakness. More specifically, that demonstrating that innate genius in a superior argument is not worth the effort.

I saw it here earlier with Perfesser Jonathan Rape Rape Brown, who kicked himself (or, claimed that his wife kicked him) for being too scholarly when he defended slavery. Now, we got Matt Siegel opining Google's weakness ... is logical reasoning based on data & statistics. Matt, like Jonny Rape Rape, has been arguing a point against opponents who were using exactly logical reasoning based on data. The subtext is that Matt - and Jonny - have abandoned dialectic.

These are people with the Higher Gnosis, and they see no point in mounting an actual intellectual defence of this texto implícito. Why should they? These pearls are lost upon us swine. We don't deserve an argument, they say; we deserve war.

Their arrogance becomes even funnier when the non-Westerners amongst them attempt Western classical allusions. As Sun Tzu once advised his Emperor, Jet Li.

Maybe Nassim Taleb has a point and it's time we quit addressing mandarin-class dolts by honorifics.


posted by Zimri on 13:22 | link | 0 comments

Friday, August 04, 2017

Standard Average European

I was roaming around Youtube one night and stumbled upon a NativLang documentary about "Standard Average European". (Cue Chris Farley here: S.A.E.! S.A.E.!.) Its script linked to a PDF from 2001. Apparently it is famous. The things I've missed since leaving the college life . . .

At base, this thesis argues for a number of shared traits amongst the European languages today, which were not in the projected Indo-European base, nor even (much) in Latin and ancient Greek. These traits render European languages "exotic" compared to other languages. They cluster in France and the High Germany; they don't include Nedderduuts nor English so much, and Insular Celtic here behaves like an outlier on par with Tocharian.

It's been noted that the core region is basically Charlemagne's empire. This does allow for its weakness in the British Isles and the east Slavs. But this doesn't account for SAE in Greece, Albania, Romania, and Iberia.

What might account for SAE! SAE! in the Latin-influenced lands is the late Roman army. When I was "translating" Leo the Grammarian a few years ago (really, mapping its Greek to some earlier Theophanes translations) I ran across words like "caballero". This is, of course, not Greek. It is also poor Latin; any Roman with self-respect would speak of "equestrians". The cavalier is however found all over Spain, France, and Norman-occupied England. It is the same in Romanian, I would say from very early times because the Albanians have borne witness in kalë / kalorës. So here was a term from the Roman-employed auxiliaries that found its way all over the Mediterranean as far as the Byzantine East.

Some element in Vulgar Latin, and I would narrow this to Military Late Latin, affixed itself to the common tongue of the Empire and further distorted the non-Latin languages with which it came into contact. As for whence this element originally came, I know not. Old Germannic?


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

Are the Ahmadis Muslims?

The question of the Ahmadiya is a common one around Islamic circles, and around non-Islamic circles as well. The sect claims to be Islamic; many Muslims deny this, and several Islamic countries have accordingly banned it as a heresy.

I've been directed to the latest issue of Mizan. In it, this article discusses Islamic disputes over the prophet Jesus. In that, it turns out that the Ahmadiya has sects of its own. I did not know this!

The founder of the Ahmadiya seems much like the Bab in Iran, or Elijah Muhammad here: a reformer of Islam who had made some striking doctrinal declarations including near-prophetic claims of himself. One large difference is that the Bahai movement, descending from the Bab, has taken on a life of its own, and doesn't pretend to be an Islam anymore (although they remain both Muhammadans and Qur'anic fundamentalists). In Ahmadism, Mawlana Muhammad Ali from Lahore pulled his part of the community back to orthodoxy - I've read his commentaries, all the way back in 2003, and they were entirely unremarkable. This is more like what Elijah's son Waleed did for the Black Muslims. I take it that the Kadiyanilik reactionaries represent the same embarrassment to most Ahmadis as Louis Farrakhan does to normative Afro-American Islam.

Waleed eventually succeeded in presenting his flock to the worldwide Umma as Muslims, though. Mawlana Ali never lived to see the day for his own people.

I think what kept Mawlana Ali from the Promised Land - and, by the way, from the Hajj - is that he persisted on hailing Ahmad as the Messiah (masîh). Oh sure, he finessed some terms; he claimed that messiah meant renewer of religion or some such rot. The problem is, masîh doesn't mean any such thing. Messiah has meant the Divinely anointed king. Islam is intimately familiar with the messianic principle: he's the caliph. The Dome of the Rock, designed by the first self-proclaimed caliph, who was no fool by the way, was quite aware of the (lack of) nuance here. And Mawlana Ali didn't claim Ahmad as the caliph; he recognised the Ottoman Sultan as the caliph. Which means Mawlana Ali was - by contrast with 'Abd al-Malik - incoherent. Ever since the 1920s at least, observant Muslims have had no tolerance for incoherence. Honestly I don't blame them.

The best way to describe Ahmadis is as Muslims who are doing it wrong. Small wonder individual Ahmadis are often featured on JihadWatch failing to appease any side.


posted by Zimri on 17:18 | link | 0 comments

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