The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, December 10, 2016


I first learnt what shirk meant from Yehuda Nevo's article reprinted in What The Koran Really Says, 2003. (You can watch me get it wrong the prior November, right here.) Aziz Poonawalla the Shiapundit proposed in March 2003 that Christians violate tawhid. These mean the same. And it's applicable not only to Christians.

In Islam, God is One, wahid; and to confess this by Allah wahdahu is the tawhid (sura 112's more Jewish Allah ahad is also canonical). The confession often continues la sharik lahu, implying shirk as opposite to tawhid. Shirk means "association", that is the temerity of associating X with God - whatever X is. This is the great rhetorical foil of the Qur'an: wherever there arises a doctrine which some sura does not approve, the howl of shirk! will ring out. Some Pharaoh is arrogating to himself the rights of God? SHIRK! Some rebel is denying to Solomon the rights of God? SHIRK!

If you detect in that comment some level of contempt, I must plead guilty. At a meta-level some forms of association are unavoidable. First off the Qur'an has to associate with God at least a name, the Syro-Arabic "Allah". The Qur'an allows to the Believer, in addition, to associate adjectives of praise: the Lord, the Benevolent, the Merciful, the Judge, the Advocate. And as John Damascene pointed out: if God has no hypostatic Word - Greek: logos - then He cannot issue a command to His slaves nor can he send a message (Greek: rhema) to His prophets... messages like the Qur'an itself. So the Qur'an's complaints are often more rhetorical than principled.

The Muslim will counter that REAL shirk must mean something more specific. When I first found out about the Dome's arcade, I realised that here was presented the Caliphal definition: it is the "error" of the Byzantine Christians, as of the late 60s / 680s. Justinian II, Emperor at this time, had identified Jesus the Messiah with God's hypostatic Word come to Earth, and allowed to Jesus some will independent of God by the Holy Spirit. Caliph 'Abd al-Malik (calling himself "amir al-mu'minin" at the same time) used suras 3 and 4 to explain things otherwise to the worthies of Jerusalem. God is one; one must not, ever, say three. (Some scholars think sura 4 might have been opposing Tritheism, for its own part; but the Dome is well past that. Up to this point is what I remember submitting to Poonawalla in his comments, which he mainly accepted; but his comment-section has since been lost.)

Also worth noting is what the Dome does not quote. Sura 5 has a more thoroughgoing definition of Islam against Christianity over vv. 73-77: not only must the Muslim avoid saying three, but he must also deny that God Himself was born of Mary. So here is not just an attack against (straw-man) Trinitarianism, but also one against the belief in Mary as Theotokos, the basis of the Ephesus synod. Sura 5 leaves naught for Jesus but to serve God as messenger. The Dome slips by this latter because the Dome has its eye on Constantinople - and on Rome, and on the Nestorians.

'Abd al-Malik, and his heir al-Ma'mun, and Shi'ism to this day are in agreement with the Monotheletes on one point: to the extent God has hypostatic logos, this is inalienable to Him and inseparable. The Qur'an is but a creation of God, a rhema delivered at a point in spacetime (albeit pivotal), like (as in Arian Christianity, long before Ephesus) Jesus was a rhema.

The Sunnis have since abandoned this and attempted Christianity's scheme, to elevate some token to logos - in their case, the Qur'an. 'Abd al-Malik would have no more trouble calling them mushriks than al-Ma'mun did. Suras 4, 5, and (arguably) 19 made this easy for him.

posted by Zimri on 10:33 | link | 0 comments

Friday, December 09, 2016

What plagued the New World empires?

Here I was thinking that smallpox came from camelpox, around the time of the Arab conquests; and that smallpox was the vanguard of the great European diseases in the New World.

Now, h/t Insta, I am told smallpox dates to 1580 AD.

The Europeans arrived in the New World several generations before that.

So which disease was it, if not smallpox? Cocoliztli hit hard, probably harder than that first outbreak; but cocoliztli was later - 1545 AD, I'm told.

posted by Zimri on 20:29 | link | 0 comments

A sword in the city of man

I must preface this with a confessio, if you will: I have not (yet) read Augustine. Since he wrote in the western language Latin, he wasn't read in my area of focus, which is the Byzantine and Syriac area. So I only know Confessions from dim memories of freshman Humanities, and I only know City of God second-hand. I suspect Augustine should have been read in the East, especially in the Nestorian East. I should get around to him myself.

The Internet is directing me further to Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet's "discourse" on the history of the world, apparently Augustine's modern-era update. This one has been translated into a great Oriental language, Arabic. But I haven't read that either, in fact I've just today heard of it. Here it is in English.

Anyway, from what I've read second-hand of the Augustinian dogma, the City of God is independent of human politics. By this metaphor, Augustine proposed a Christian conquest of time where the City of Man is at best a conquest only of space, necessarily temporary. (I note here that, if this summary is accurate, then Katzenelson has - belatedly! - evangelised Augustine to the nation of Israel.)

Bossuet does have an opinion on the role of politics. He identifies the King's right to rule as Divine. For him, the king is an agent of God, and is made strong only to serve. Absolute government where it has devolved into arbitrary government, is odious in God's sight. But it is not for Bossuet to say whether arbitrary government is unlawful. That is reserved for God.

The Church's job, then, cannot be to promote a "social justice", nor any other form of justice, amongst princes. It must be to promote justice within the human heart. If the prince is just, the people will rejoice; and if the prince promotes Catholicism, the priests will be pleased: but all this is dust if the people and priests are not likewise just. Wicked people and errant priests deserve punishment, just like an unjust prince.

A few days ago I read a depressing account of what too many people think of God, which is as a sort of voodoo angel with material benefit to those who believe in Him (and leave it at that). This piece was published in an American Renaissance book, so it mainly applies to American black women. But I'm not here going full AmRen or (h/t) Vox Day; I am not concerned right now with the genes or chromosomes. I want to know who is teaching this nonsense.

As best I have been able to find out, the mosques who preach Martin Luther King are teaching this nonsense; the churches who preach civil-rights are teaching this nonsense. It's the reverends who run for political office, like the late Clementa Pinckney, who are the priests of the City of Man.

That was Dylann Roof's target. And that is why Roof to this day is having trouble admitting that he was wrong to do what he did. Pinckney had earned punishment.

Where Roof went wrong is in thinking he, himself, had the standing to deliver this punishment. He, too, was a citizen of the City of Man. Of Sodom, even.

posted by Zimri on 18:29 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Matt Damon against the SJWs

Matt Damon, who isn't very bright, has signed up for yet another movie pandering to a foreign audience. This time it's China - again. (At least it's not Abu Dhabi.)

Apparently he didn't pander enough because the social-justice drug pushers have gone for some clickbait at his expense. Damon is playing someone who should be Chinese, they say. WHITEWASHING!

While I am as happy as the next Rightist to watch that thoroughly corrupt buffoon face a SJW twitter-mob, the autist in me is forced to agree with him that "whitewashing" isn't the appropriate term. The Chinese regime wants foreigners to visit the place (and to invest there), and the largest pile of non-Chinese cash is in the hands of Europeans at present. This movie is a Great-Wall-sized commercial for authoritarian China. Damon is right: the lead role was meant all along for a Western action star.

If there be racism here, try this on: Damon is doing a White Monkey Job.

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

Monday, December 05, 2016

Upload #147 - temptation waits

Whilst we're waiting to see Anthony and Bronson's final paper, I have a response to that draught that accidentally got posted this morning: "Joseph's Temptations". Might be the quickest turnaround time of any project here...

Also, it alerted me to another point where sura 66 was probably alluding to Q. 5:87-9. "The Prophet's Excuse". Just the link, though; I'm still as confused as anyone else as to what sura 66 was talking about.

One thing I can say: the main branch of the Marwanids were deathly afraid of 'Umar II. That's why their boy Zuhri put out at least one hadith, to discredit use of sura 12.


posted by Zimri on 20:47 | link | 0 comments

Mansplaining Ḥafṣa

Back in 2014 Dr Ruqayya Khan, Woman In Scholarship, asked “did a woman edit the Qurʾān” - rhetorically, to head up an ugly work of feminist apologetic in scholarly drag. Earlier this year I was translating some Guillaume Dye, and remembered Khan’s article; so I took that opportunity to mansplain things. Today, in IQSA’s journal, Sean Anthony is mansplaining in more detail. Oh wait, he has a cowriter… a Catherine Bronson. But she’s in second-billing. SEE THE PATRIARCHY IN ACTION

(I did catch sight of Dr Anthony in IQSA 2015 now I think of it. I wonder if that’s what he went to do, to give that talk. If so I’m sorry I missed it. This year I didn’t see him, nor Dr Bronson.)

Early in the Anthony-Bronson article I read this: Most, if not all, of Khan’s general criticisms about the neglect of women’s history and agency in scholarship on the Qurʾān and early Islam is fully justified. Anthony and Bronson didn’t footnote this accusation, which means their readers must take this on faith, or - worse - on consensus-opinion. I am not in this field to take anything on faith. Especially not if it’s an attack on our character.

As for Dr Khan’s character, I note that the two authors are submitting their critique With the Respect Due her, perhaps even All of it. In one paragraph on the second page they hurl terms like “posture of moral superiority”, scholarly “neglect” (repeated), “blithely”, and “egregious case of selection bias”. Given that Khan had made such a show of disliking bias, and given that among the objects of Khan’s neglect are anything written in French (like Dye) and German, the two implicitly add hypocrisy to that list.

As for Anthony and Bronson, I appreciate they didn't pull their punches against one of the sloppiest and smuggiest papers I've ever read. Besides that, though, I’d prefer the authors threw fewer sops to the social-justice jury, at least not unless the former are prepared to back them up. They look like supplicants prostrating themselves before the Caliph. But given that - this afternoon - they've taken that paper down from, maybe they're addressing that with whatever else needs addressing.

posted by Zimri on 16:54 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Robert Spencer attends IQSA

At IQSA, they had a talk about religious violence in the Qur'an. Kermit Zarley took notes. Alongside that, please read the notes I took, which I believe are more comprehensive. Robert Spencer has responded to Zarley.

I have to agree with Reuven Firestone (and with Spencer): that the talk was too apologetic. I think it was because the talk was too unfocused. A state has to be violent, because a state is by definition a Monopoly On Force. (Heinlein, yo; or at least Hobbes.) Several suras promote state creation. The family counts as a micro-state too.

So the panel's question "is the Qur'an violent" was stupid. Of course the Qur'an supports violence. Answering that question is a waste of time. You should ask other questions, like "is the Qur'an correct".

For instance: don't, like Farrin, claim that Q. 4:34 limits wife-beating; and don't, like Khalid Blankinship, bring up classical "ex"-egesis (eisegesis in fact) that poses such limits. Get out there and argue why the right to beat your wife makes for a happier family.

If you haven't the courage to defend your Oyarsa for what he has commanded, you should find another Oyarsa.

posted by Zimri on 17:33 | link | 0 comments

I figured out what planet we're on

Pace CS Lewis, we don't live on Thulcandra, embargoed planet of the Bent Oyarsa.

We live on Malacandra. Our spacetime universe is condemned to heat-death. And our Oyarsa doesn't give a shit.

Time to find a new one.

posted by Zimri on 17:06 | link | 0 comments

Mediaeval Judaism's crisis of confidence

Meira Polliack has an article on how the Jews reacted to the challenges of Christianity and Islam. Mainly of Islam.

The Jews weren't all that troubled by the Christian critique. First, they could just call Jesus himself a bastard and a sorcerer both of which he, well, probably was. Also, all agreed on the Bible for the most part. The Christians had proposed a few fixes, some of them "orthodox corruptions" themselves, and generally didn't pound the Bible all that much at the time; but their whole foundation was the Bible (sufficiently interpreted). Marcion proposed a Christianity without it, but that bold a challenge would have been an own-goal, leaving the religion rootless. After seeing him off, the Christians had to affirm the Jews as custodians of the general sense of the Torah and Prophets. The Jews, in competition, didn't even need to "corrupt" their scripture against Christianity. (They did that against Samaritanism, where the Christians didn't care so weren't looking.)

Islam was another problem: its prophet-based Heilsgeschichte and its Arab identity allowed for prophets whom the Jews could not control. This ended up with a Book which the Jews couldn't control, either. On that basis the Muslims called shenanigans on the whole Torah. The Jews realised that the Muslims had isnads testifying to their text, whatever we think of those isnads now. The Jews had nothing like that, at least nothing going back BCE. All they had were the sages.

This led to a schism in Judaism, the Karaism. The Karaites proposed to dump the Talmud and the sages, and to start over. If the Muslims were going to call us People of the Book, by G-d let's give them the Book.

posted by Zimri on 12:22 | link | 0 comments

Mazdaism, worship of the Cosmic Good

I may have found a religion whose assumptions most closely approximate my view of the multiverse. That would be the religion brought by Zoroaster. Or whoever it was who composed the Gathas and the Yasna Haptanghaiti...

This based on Almut Hintze, "Monotheism the Zoroastrian Way". I found this piece at a campus library; I do not see it online. There is a summary of Hintze's views here though. Smoke if you got 'em.

According to Hintze, in the Gatha / Yasna cosmos, the cosmos itself is everything. (Much like as it was with Baruch Spinoza.) Ahura Mazda is Spirit and, to a lesser extent, Word within this cosmos - and not outside it; his offspring is Truth. One serves Truth by tending the cosmos like a gardener his garden, weeding out impurity - the Lie (Druj). Fire, as a destructive chemical process, is God's own tool of purification.

As to the issue of "polytheism", this doesn't matter within the theology as extrapolated from the Gathas and the Yasna H. If the god serves truth and purity, it is within the cosmos, so worshipping such a god (if not to excess) doesn't hurt the Good.

If Hintze holds up, I have some observations:

Gerardian Mimesis.

From a Mimetic-Theory standpoint, I note that this view of Life-the-Universe-and-Everything will encourage Iranians on Earth to tend gardens, I mean with plants and stuff, and to make these gardens as ideal as possible. Hence, the Persian Paradise; so renowned, the Jews and Christians modeled their Eden upon it. If this faith was around in Media, it must have influenced the Hanging Garden too - at least the myths of it, which involve the Median-born queen.

The Sasanian Role.

I agree that the Gathas are ancient, and maybe the Yasna too. But I don't know to what extent Zoroaster was responsible for them. I've suspected that the Sasanians found those writings in the East and foisted them upon the West, like so much of their un-Achaemenid culture. Zoroaster was the prophet of the Aryans from the time of Herodotos (400 BC), but at that time the Achaemenids were holding him out as a recent preacher. For Iranians he was a totem, a chosen-prophet, a muhammad. As to polytheism-within-the-world, this looks royally Convenient: a way for official piety to make its peace with the popular (hinterland) Aryan religions.

For context, when the Sasanians took over Iraq, there were already Christians there developing a theology. In the West, between Nestorius and Chalcedon, the apologists there had vindicated the Church of the East's budding dyotheletism. The Christians thereby had the moral basis to preserve truth(s) against tyrants - at least in the West, and the Eastern Church was assuredly going to catch up with them. Any rival to that was going to have to figure out a theology of its own, and Manichaeanism wasn't going to fit that bill - it was already failing everywhere. Besides Manih had relied too hard on the Semitic religions and the Sasanians needed something for Iran.

So here was the Sasanian response: the Semites' transcosmic god cannot exist; what they worship opposes the "god of this world" and is therefore an agent of the Lie. If it's a book and a prophet they expect... let us look... oh here's some! All of it's really old so you know it's legit.

My thoughts.

The Big Bang happened and therefore we know we inhabit a universe, a bounded four-dimensional spacetime. If a similitude thou seekest, thou mayst find it in CS Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet: whoever be the prince of this world, this world is all he got. But outside our bounded cosmos other Gods can exist so - by Murphy's Law - do. That means Lovecraft was right, too, which sucks for us. More: even if the Other Gods never do tear us apart with their rugose tentacles, our universe is damned to entropic death. But there does, still, remain a transcosmic point of pilgrimage, through the chaos and damnation.

So the Zoroastrian assumptions are correct but, where applied to this world, incomplete. Their programme to "tend the garden" is futile. A better theology would be to find a god willing to guard us against Tiamat as we travel on our way. The Abrahamic traditions claim that they have found one.

posted by Zimri on 10:50 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, December 03, 2016

From one cult to another

Zeca @CEMB has posted an article from the Washington Post. It's about Ibn Stormfront, Derek Black:

Don [Black] began to read [his son's] letter. It had phrases like “structural oppression,” “privilege,” “limited opportunity,” and “marginalized groups” — the kind of liberal-apologist language Don and Derek had often made fun of on the radio.

Let's leave aside the cheap shots about whether the Post would be so solicitous to its own apostates, and stick to topic.

Zeca says, I think he might find something in common with ex-muslims. I unfortunately think he's right. Many apostates have lived their lives forced to think in jargon and to stick to tribe, and when they apostasise they too-often fall into a new tribe where they must think in that jargon. CEMB's own Maryam Namazie, Workerist, was one such (not sure about now).

In the meantime Derek Black can look forward to a semi-profitable future delivering speeches to Washington Post readers, until they find the next shiny thing.

posted by Zimri on 14:41 | link | 0 comments

Conservatives just can't quit 'em

In much the same way Southern Partisans can't get off the topic of Rosa Parks' stagecraft, Evangelicals can't get off Clarence Darrow's. Yesterday it was Warden at Ace's HQ, the boss being out this weekend.

Liberal civil-rights activists point out that whether or not Rosa Parks was a Left agent doesn't matter; the law was discriminatory, and someone was going to challenge it, which conservatives weren't doing - I mean, despite muttering Dems Are Teh Real Racist and all. Arguments against Rosa Parks can be found, but they're not coming from the "non-racist" wing of Dixie apologetic.

Likewise, I will repeat what le haubeau said in the comments: it doesn't matter if Darrow wasn't teaching in the right field, if Darrow had been set up by Leftists, if Darrow was personally biased against Christianity. It wouldn't even matter to whatever extent his muse Charles Darwin himself was incomplete. The law Darrow was challenging in the state of Tennessee was metaphysically wrong. Monophysitically, specifically: from the State is denied the moral right to enforce falsehood.

Conservatives don't like it when Liberals beat them on the merits. The answer should be to get better arguments, and to beat the liberals - as the segregationists propose against Rosa Parks (whether or not they are evil to propose it). But it's so much easier to quibble, like an autistic wanker, whether Rosa Parks had "standing"; ditto, whether Darrow did.

I'm here to say that this is the lazy way out, and to advise to knock it off.

posted by Zimri on 13:15 | link | 0 comments

Upload #146 - bonfire of vanities

"The Iconoclast" has gotten bloated and confused over the past years since I first raised it here. I had mis/underestimated sura 21's impact in Islam - this had to be delicately uncovered, over years, the same years I was struggling with "Hearing Hell's Roar" on sura 19's impact. That explains why the thing has taken on so many "fixes" and "updates".

I have now given focus to that project. Its appendix, on sura 21's immediate impact in Islamic(ate) culture, is now a "new" project, "The Most Ambitious Sura". The term "Islamicate" has been percolating around scholarship over the past few years, intruding into perennial questions of "What Is Islam, Anyway?"; but it's now become a hot topic, thanks to the late Shahab Ahmed.

You'll notice, or maybe not, that I have excised from either project the wandering reference to the Umar / Leo Correspondence. Even if we assume it's authentic as a snapshot to 'Umar II's Islam, which many scholars won't, it would have to go to the impact project "The Most Ambitious Sura", and even there only negatively - that sura 21 (with sura 37!) - was not yet being cited. But, at least sura 37 was definitely around as of 100 AH; nobody denies this, not even me. So that part has been dumped in the Geniza.

In the meanwhile I have sniffed out a musty musk of Old Project steaming off of "One Sura against the Jihad". That one's roots were in 2003: after I was looking at the 19 / 21 / 23 links on Jesus, I moved on to other links, and when Abraham came up sura 29 came up. So there was a reference to Genesis Rabbah directly which, a few years later, I would nuance in "Abraham and the Heavens". So I have now linked that as it deserves.


APPENDIX 12:45 PM - Although this week I have a general sura 21 aftermath project, and a more focused project on one particular sura 19 aftermath; I cannot, in this manner, focus "Abraham's Promise". This remains a messy mix of reactions to Q. 19:41-50 (in suras 9 and 60) and reactions to Q. 19:1-40 (in suras 21, 23, and 43). Not much I can do about this yet.

posted by Zimri on 09:59 | link | 0 comments

Friday, December 02, 2016

Roots of Sasanian federation

Pourshariati’s main thesis was that the Sasanians after overthrowing the Parthian Arsacids inherited their dynastic / feudal model, wherein Parthian dynasts often stayed in local command, to the point that a cadet branch of those very Arsacids carried on (in Armenia). The Sasanians called their demesne “Iranshahr” after all, not “Persia”. Sasanian shahs sporadically tried to unify the Iranshahr more tightly – to MAKE it Persia – but where they tried they never succeeded. And scholars keep debating why late Sasanian propaganda is so ambivalent on that earlier, grander Persian Empire of the Achaemenids; one is forever reading of Kayan and Rostam, not of Persepolis and Darius.

Rolf Strootman has an article up, “The Great Kings of Asia”. It’s not in the best English - nor even in the best Latin: I know the rumours about Alexander’s home life, but I think he’s still to be a magnus, not a magnum. But its scholarship is excellent.

He argues that the term “Great King” implied universal dominion, especially over Asia: Iran and the Crescent, and also over Egypt and Anatolia if one could get them. Although used by Achaemenids, the title was not specific to them. The Seleucids used it too, starting with Antiochus III who actually did happen to be good at his job. If Bithynians or, one imagines, Maccabean Jews whipped a Seleucid army in the field, the winners still had to address the Seleucid monarch as King Of Asia, however paper-thin that title was in practice.

The post-Seleucid successor states, like Bithynia, were Hellenistic or at least Hellenist-inspired. Even the most successful post-Greek kingdom Parthia was not Persia; Strootman would treat the Arsacid realm more like a Hellenistic empire (if Zoroastrian-ish) than an Achaemenid resurgence.

As we can see, by Seleucid times, the Great King’s rule however wide had become shallow. To the extent the Achaemenids beforehand were running a centralized empire, and I agree that Darius had worked hard to do so, the one fact of it that we are certain is that it FAILED. Strootman, 3 notes that under the Seleucids who inherited its shards, those shards attained autonomy, of which the Persian-speaking land was just one province of many. The Greeks shunned the Persian heartland; preferring Babylon, Bactra, Ecbatana. The Arsacid base for its part was more northern. If Romans (and Robert Hoyland) continued to call the Arsacid empire “Persia” then that is just antique Western propaganda. Pourshariati would say the same of Khusro I’s empire.

You know what else is antique Western propaganda? Calling Alexander of Macedon “the Great”, that’s what. He never did call himself the Great King, I think because the Greek base of his army wouldn’t allow to him so Oriental a title, at the beginning, and because at the end he didn't live long enough to figure out any alternative model to run his empire. He was first named “magnus” in Latin, p. 21; retroactively, bien sûr. Thus the Romans denied this epithet to their enemy Antiochus.

So the Sasanians, although pleased to reuse the title “Great King”, weren’t doing so to cite the Achaemenids. Making too much of the old Persian system might worry the vassal-states, many still Parthian. That Persian empire was dead and since the Seleucids probably impossible.

posted by Zimri on 16:20 | link | 0 comments

The hypostatic Word in Islam

John of Damascus correctly diagnosed the Umayyad faith as extremely Monophysitic, but Islam has changed since then. In Islam today, the Qur'an functions as hypostatic Word preeternal with God. Bar Salibi does as well as any Christian in explaining this, and in explaining why if we’re to have a single God at all He must have a hypostatic Word. In this way he refuted the dying gasp of the Umayyad theology, the Mutazila.

A mimeticist could add that in Islam, the Qur’an as coeternal with al-Jabbar in heaven ensures that the law can exist independently of the sultan on earth. The history of certain Islamic legal schools, Awza'ism in particular, is the history of how far armed Muslims in borderland could push those limits.

Bar Salibi’s issue is that for the Word Come To Earth, the Qur’an is simply not a good candidate. It doesn’t work as law on earth, and in heaven it makes God into a clumsy Arab brute.

posted by Zimri on 16:18 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Abstract on the Nasirate

There's a confab in London, The Origins of the Islamic State: Sovereignty and Power in the Middle Ages. Yeez has found its call-for-papers:

Papers of ca. 20 minutes in length are invited on the following core themes:

  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to Islamic states
  • Discourse, authority and legitimization in different media (documentary, epigraphy, architecture, art, numismatics etc.)
  • Muslim sovereignty and rulership
  • The workings of the early caliphate and Islamic states
  • The use and abuse of early Islamic history today

They want Abstracts of 200-250 words. Hmm. I wonder if they'll take this:

Several scholars have noted ‘Abd al-Malik’s role in founding an Islamic State, in the 70s AH / 690s CE from Egypt to Khurasan. He named this the Caliphate, and advertised his own status on his coins and through his court's poetry. "Caliph" meant God's vicar on Earth, in the way of Biblical David as absolute monarch. ‘Abd al-Malik before and after he took command faced opponents; among the latter, the mutineer ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Ash’ath. Ibn al-Ash’ath during his own command over Iraq and Iran minted his own coins and promoted his own poets. These named him “God’s Advocate (Nasir Allah)”, in the way of Allah's Book and the Sunna. This counter-regime thereby founded its legitimacy upon an interpretation of Islamic Scriptures, which it had from an alliance with anti-Umayyad qurra’ and jurists. Where some of his men sought to overthrow the Caliph, Ibn al-Ash’ath did not: his ambition was to bind Caliphal command to an independent Islamic Law, through an official position with veto authority. The ideal Nasir would then function much like a Roman Republican Tribune. Although this attempt failed, and the Muslims never raised another Nasir; later jurists would reach a compromise with a later dynasty to limit the Caliphate's rule.

It's about fifty forty thirty ten words short. At present. I'll get back to it, if I need to - I'm weighing whether or not to apply to the conference. UPDATE 9:30 PM - 200!

As for its content: this is a summary of Throne of Glass. I have shorn it of my usual funny ideas about the canonisation-process of the Qur'an. This is to self-censor where those ideas aren't needed, as I don't think they will be needed, in this context. But as far as the base argument, that Islam can separate law and enforcement...

UPDATE 9:30 PM: Okay, I've applied.

posted by Zimri on 20:43 | link | 0 comments

Upload #145 - warmup

Among my projects in the early years I'd been figuring out sura 19's aftermath in other suras. I'd long known the qurra' had a problem with it, from "Abraham's Promise" (2003, believe it or not!). In 30 January 2011 (yay records!), I stumbled into another sura 19 controversy, the Sam Shamoun debate over whether Muslims are going to Hell. So I wrote an essay about it.

Or not. That essay never gelled, and I also couldn't see where it helped any other projects here. Later I did something about relevant sura 66 - "The Prophet's Excuse" - but that was a Dog That Did Not Bark argument, never a strong one. So the Word document just lingered for almost six years, migrating from laptop to PC to this PC.

That very year, Christopher Melchert was writing an article about Islamic piety citing two (actually three) hadiths that Shamoun had also cited. But this was in a journal I'd not looked much at, as it happens the Royal Society's. So I first saw this article last November.

I have found my way forward. First: give the chains of transmission, which neither Shamoun nor Melchert had done, itself a work with some value-addition. Based on that, note how sura 19 was used, and debated, in the early 'Abbâsid era with an eye to the Marwânids. Further, shed a ray of light on how Ibn Ishaq when seeking stories about Mecca bypassed the Zuhri tradition and went straight to the Zubayrid family.

So, new project: "Hearing Hell's Roar". With a small tweak to "The Prophet's Excuse".

In the meantime, I've run across some 21/23 juxtapositions in the codices of Ibn Mas'ud (sort of) and, more definitively, of Ibn 'Abbas. "Ararat Tax".


posted by Zimri on 19:40 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

America's Royal Society

If American scientody is being crippled by politics, confirmation-bias, and modern-day Lysenkoism... maybe the whole notion of Peer Review is misguided. Jim says, bring back the Royal Society.

The closest institution the Federal Government has would be the Department of Education. Perhaps this should be Constitutional. Imagine if someone had already thought of that!

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

Vote dissident-Right, get punished

Michigan, whose votes won't matter in the Electoral calculus on account of Pennsylvania already being certain, is getting hit with a bill anyway.

The lesson here is that if you dare vote against the political-class, the political-class will strike back at you.

posted by Zimri on 18:24 | link | 0 comments

Oscar voters versus the critics

Anne Thompson has a piece at IndieWire on Academy “Oscar” nominees and winners, and how they compare with such movies’ reviews.

I don’t much care for reviews when the movie is political or socially “woke”, as they are calling it now; reviewers tend to get their Puritan on and grade it according to its Virtue. (As condemned in “Dead Poets’ Society”.) In this list it looks like even when the reviewers look askance at too blatant a piece of SJW pandering, but mark it as “meh”, too often the Academy voters take that as cue to signal away. So we get “The Help” (62%), “Chocolat” (64%), “The Green Mile” (61%). All of which deserved those middling ratings, as artworks, and this is being generous. Based on the trailer I recently saw of “Denial” (64%), that looks to be the same. The only reason didactic mediocrities like these get into the Academy at all is because the voters think this is Worth Wreading – for others.

Thompson might have added the tiresome “Loving” except that here the reviewers had already signaled for it (79%). Sigh.

“Eye In The Sky” (73%), though, was great, not just good. Yes, I am biased against Rickman and against Islam, but not enough to obscure my vision in this case. Given our demonstration how Academy voters aren’t clear-headed, I expect some votes thrown Rickman’s way as tribute. But in this case, even if for the wrong reason, they’ll be doing the right thing.

posted by Zimri on 17:41 | link | 0 comments

Flag day

President-Elect Trump is taking a stand against flag burning. My blog has supported the right to desecrate it - on the grounds of states' rights. Let’s revisit that thought. Call it Asperger's or cognitive-dissonance if you want. I don’t care.

The first point I want to look at, to get the sperg thing out of the way, is whether Trump is being internally consistent. For this issue, I always look at the person’s view on the various Confederate Flags, of which the Northern Virginia is the most famous; such a banner is by nature anti-Union. Trump, as the New York sort of Yankee, and as the son of immigrants himself, may or may not himself personally care, like a Greater New Englander would care; in this case, Trump has generally not supported the rebel flag. So do I find Trump is consistent here.

Beyond that, I don’t see the problem with banning nonAmericans from getting themselves involved in American disputes, especially where American identity is in dispute. If they’re caught doing that, their visa needs to be revoked. I would carry that on to the first generation of immigrants (like me); more, also to those born here to immigrants – if we are going to have birthright citizenship at all (spoiler: I disagree), that status needs to be provisional.

And yes, it is a Federal issue. No fair a state allowing in a bunch of anti-American non-Americans and then letting them do this under the Confederate Flag or the Bear Flag or even the Lone Star Flag. Such states are training a generation of rebels. There’s no Federal interest in that.

posted by Zimri on 17:39 | link | 0 comments

Abd al-Razzaq's terrorist act

Terrorism is, I think, best defined as a tactic. It is the use of horrific acts against a civilian population to effect political change in one's favour. Mainstream Islam is all about the political change, which they liken to Martin Luther King. Abd al-Razzaq Artan was helpful enough to give us a list of desiderata, the change he believed in.

Among his demands: to make peace with the revolution/state in Syria (dawla in al-Shâm), to side with the Rohingya non-Burmese people in Burma, and in OSU itself to set up prayer rooms for the Muslims.

ISIS is calling Artan a "soldier", a muqatil. Despite that Artan made no baya' - his leading light was Awlaki, not Baghdadi - he can still be counted among the salihin.

Artan did what he did for Sunni Islam as a whole. Whatever nonsense mainstream Muslims say about nonviolence, it's clear that their game is the same as Martin Luther King's, and violence is still a card on the table that can be played - by some misguided soul, completely unrelated to us, please understand... but.

OSU will probably give Artan exactly what he wanted at home and as much support as they can abroad.

posted by Zimri on 17:36 | link | 0 comments

Korea's civil war

They found a hillfort in Kyushu. h/t Jessica Sarraceni. It's being dated to 663 AD.

For the overall context, Kyushu is Japan's southern island. It was also I think the first Japanese-speaking island; those islands drawn out to its south include Okinawa, which does not speak Japanese but speaks a very-closely-related language, such that the ancestral language it shares with Japanese was probably spoken in Kyushu as of 663 AD. In Hokkaido at this point no-one had even heard the language (they were all Ainu).

Meanwhile, Korea was even more divided. On the southwest was a state called Baekje; on the southeast, Silla. Both Silla and Baekje were increasingly having to deal with Tang China. In the late 500s AD Baekje's king Seong made a bid for national antiquity, as the true Korean kingdom ("Buyeo"), to which end he moved his capitol and renamed his kingdom "South Buyeo". One suspects that Silla and the Chinese in control over north Buyeo weren't amused.

When it became clear that the Tang were siding with Silla, in 620ish Baekje sent missionaries to Kyushu, in a time-honoured strategic tactic. The prince Shōtoku over there converted to that faith - Buddhism. (The Tang were, I believe, more Tao / Confucian with a hint of Han Fei's Legalism.) In 663, Baekje called in its marker and the Japanese sent over an army.

Baekje and Japan, uh, didn't win. The Tang protectorate of Silla got to be "Korea"; Baekje didn't.

What they've found in south Japan means that the proto-Japanese of the 660s were worried the Tang would look over there next. They certainly weren't building those earthworks for worry against the Ainu...

posted by Zimri on 17:29 | link | 0 comments

Monday, November 28, 2016


Last year's big theme at IQSA, as I dimly remember it, was that the Last Persian War drove everyone nuts from Egypt to Khuzistan.

This year it seems to have been between picking apart what sura 4 was trying to do, and discussing what a jerk Lot was to his daughters.

[posted 11/29, but too much was posted this day, and anyway I've been thinking about this for awhile now, so backdating this.]

posted by Zimri on 21:30 | link | 0 comments

On this site



Random crap

Powered By Blogger TM

Property of author; All Rights Reserved