||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Sunday, August 02, 2015
Why the world needs betas
Bernard Sumner over the 1980s, early 1990s, and mid 2000s was the captain of not one but two seaworthy vessels that conquered all before them. "New Order" have a single out now: Restless. Check it out. ... and weep.
It's not New Order, and it's not Electronic. This is what Sumner sounds like when he doesn't have a more-talented crewman on hand. This is a ship with a captain and a crew... and no executive-officer.
If this is the best song on the upcoming album, the critics are already thinking what I'm thinking... "Weekend At Bernie's". It's dead already and the fans are hoping no-one notices.
Here's a fine Kristina Richardson article (h/t Zeca) on El Zarco. Apparently the creepiness of blue eyes wasn't just from A Swiftly Tilting Planet or, for that matter, Dune but had previously made an appearance in The Tempest. But the Arabs meant by azraq, "sparkly"; like early New Order, the early Arabs couldn't make out the differences.
Richardson notes that the poetry has strongly associated Umayyads with zarq in the eyes. I can lodge an additional note that so did apocalyptic - from Madelung, "Apocalyptic Prophecies", 148:
When Marwan b. al-Hakam was born, he was presented to the Prophet that he might pray for him, but he declined to do so. Then he said: 'The son of the blue-eyed woman (ibn al-zarqâ'), the perdition of most of my community will be through his hands and the hands of his offspring.'
For the identity of this Zarqâ'î, the Tradition flags Marwan bin Muhammad also-titled al-Ahmar (the Red), al-'Abbas bin al-Walid and pretty much all the Spanish Umayyads. I'd seen reference to some of this before, but had forgotten it.
The Umayyads came to acquire this phenotype because, as they say, gentlemen prefer blondes. If you attend a Mawsili slave-market (and, why wouldn't you) then you'll see plenty.
I think this was later, though. It really wasn't all that common for the earlier generations of Umayyad princes to be born of slave-girls. In fact that was often part of the Umayyads' problems.
First there were those palace-intrigues. As Marwan the Elder learnt, you weren't able to demote one branch of the family without being (literally) suffocated by the women in the other. His son 'Abd al-Malik had better luck with his suffocatrix's daughter 'Âtika. But then there were those dust-ups over which prince's "turn" it was to take over: 'Abd al-'Aziz, or his son; or al-Walid, or...
And then... well, inbreeding. The same sources which note the later Umayyads' light eyes also note Yazid II, for having buckteeth (Richardson p. 22). His mother 'Âtika was - like 'Abd al-Malik - an Umayyad herself. She was daughter of Yazid I, hence Yazid II's own given name. Yazid himself was remembered as half-mad as well. Yazid II only became caliph in the first place because his brother was sickly as a child.
It was later on that the Umayyads had trouble keeping it in the, er, family. So you got princes like Yazid bin al-Walid - rather fitz al-Walîd, wa Shâh-i Âfarîd. If the latter doesn't read to you like an Arab name then congratulations.
So I don't think the Tradition means all the early Umayyads as zarco (and I must interject that Richardson probably knows this and didn't intend otherwise!). Which is not to rule out a later 'Abbasi / Shi'a slur against the dynasty, based on the later Umayyads.
Nobody has seen Rebel Without A Cause
According to Hardeep Matharu at the Independent,
Some blame must go to Rebel itself, whose producers stuck a name to the feature that didn't fit Dean's character Jim Stark. More blame goes to the film's age - back then, people liked to hear blaring soundtracks and didn't mind that characters spoke in stilted, theatrical dialogue; older films might seem like period-dramas to us, but they're not period-dramas. And we can't expect a Brit(?) with a name like Hardeep Matharu to be steeped in California Anglo culture. (One imagines that an Hector Martinez might have at least tried.)
I must, therefore, explain a few things to Matharu here.
The point of Rebel was that these teens had been abandoned, or at least weakly parented; and had created their own society, which - boys being boys - looked a lot like gangland. Jim Stark was just about to prove himself to that society when a bloody accident happened. In the aftermath the gang tried to shut him up. By this point Stark had made some real friends, a girl and a freshman; and sort-of rediscovered another bond that males create, in this case the nuclear family.
Jim Stark wasn't ever 'cool', to the extent 'cool' means 'popular' or even 'tolerated'. He was trying to be 'cool', I guess, but that didn't work out; after that, events drive him into a somewhat-literal corner. (And by the way Stark wasn't rebelling against anything, either.)
The funniest part is that the movie did, in fact, feature 'cool kids'; but Matharu couldn't keep himself from dropping James Dean's name, who played, exactly, the outsider. Matharu did it because he wants his audience to think he's seen a movie that he clearly hasn't. In short, he tries too hard to be cool. Allow me to show him to his table.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Ads for cuckolds
And now a word from a would-be sponsor of cuckservatives:
Real dads don't need to spend on "saving youth sports"; they know to support their own kids, and they know how. The central message here is, rather - xx xx's lives matter!
I am not saying that Ace is a cuckservative. I am saying that our corporate class sees him as as one. And why wouldn't he be seen as such.
What the Iranians got on us
There's no need to be coy. The War Nerd called it a decade ago: Bush was not able to invade Iran, short a Total War mobilisation of the West, which wasn't happening.
Yes, in that post, there was a lot of fever-brained fury against Bush. The Nerd didn't understand Bush nor, more to the point, his administration. I'd intuited this in 2005, and figured he should have known better; since there are only so many spittle-flecked hunks of wrong I can shovel out on this blog per day, I didn't link it. But now I re-read it with a clearer head, I can appreciate the parts which are factual; those parts deal with the basic logistics.
As to why I'm saying that Bush's regime would not have survived a call to total-war, well - the Iranians had dirt on us. Even the North Vietnamese didn't have:
And you'll notice that the American system couldn't even survive Iraq. This nation elected a Barack Hussein Obama (mm.mm.mm.), in the hope he'd become the tyrant he did, in part, become. This was exactly because Obama's voters nursed a deep-seated need to repudiate Bush - rather, to force Bush's voters to live with that repudiation.
America was, through the 2000s, weaker than it looked. It was divided. Half the country hated that half of the country Bush and I called home; our half of the country didn't grok what that meant, until too late. The Iranians knew this, all of this.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Why we haven't been haggling over the Muwatta'
Several collections of Malik's lectures on fiqh, variously collected as "the Muwatta'", have survived to today. The famous one - translated by, e.g., Bewley (faithfully) and Rahimuddin (badly) - is Laythi's, in Spain. Through the 1990s there were "revisionists" who suspected that the whole thing was composed there (that is, it is "Andalusian") and that a parallel text, Sahnun's Mudawwana, is the true core of "Maliki" teachings. Apparently this was a thing back then; Norman Calder had been hawking this meme. I hadn't known.
By the time I got started on the fiqh, in 2004ish, I'd already been well-acquainted with the "revisionists" elsewhere... but not, really, with the Muwatta' revisionists. On most topics I'd checked out Islamic Awareness first and found where they had put various suspicions to rest. Muwatta' revisionism was one of those topics. What clinched me on the Muwatta's authenticity was that its hadiths got quoted all around the place - and that Malik's "Hanafi" student Shaybani in Iraq had taken it upon himself to compose an antiMuwatta'. Clearly Malik's work was a big deal, even before he'd finished it. It wasn't some screed composed in a reactionary Umayyad hinterland.
Wael Hallaq has reprinted his own contribution to the debate, here. Hallaq doesn't deal with the other recensions, nor with Shaybani; he's sticking with the relationship between the Mudawwana and the Laythi-Muwatta'.
Real scholars didn't (then) much bother with Islamic Awareness. But they did read Hallaq. Either way, the revisionism over the Muwatta' had got quietly ignored by the mid 2000s.
UPDATE 10:30 PM: Shaybani's (anti)Muwatta' was translated in 2004. According to Amazon,
Abortion is unethical
Sahih International translation:
And when the girl buried alive is asked
This blog has wavered on the abortion issue. It started out pro-life; two years ago it went pro-Sanger. There was since then some stuff about - against - creatures like Kermit Gosnell but there, you might be able to intuit, such posts were here because I felt I had to put them here. I have never been a fan of the infanticidal practice. I have been wavering over to what degree it might be permissible.
I now see that the inherent problem with mid/late-term abortion (I mean, besides the death, and the corruption of the Hippocratic Oath) is what is done afterward with "tissue" that is, biologically, a baby. If the procedure which extracted such tissue is done in a medical setting, the remains are now available for whoever owns them. The problem has migrated to economics: it is too tempting for the remains to be resold. This might not have been as true in Sanger's day, maybe not even in Gosnell's; but here we are in 2015. And the West has lost the maturity as a political system to block such conflicts of interest, if it ever had it.
We are, as a civilisation, now at the pass where we reward people for having children they have no intention of raising; which childrens' bodies we will then hawk at the marketplace, as food. There's a case to be made for that. But this blog shan't be making it.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Why literacy-tests are evil
After the Civil War, the winner imposed several so-called "civil rights" measures upon the losers. The losers in the South turned out to have some fight left in them. There ensued a particularly ugly period of territorial terrorism (by both sides); the South then reached an accommodation with the North (because white Southern veterans were better at the terrorism, and knew the territory). One of the means old Dixie had to maintain... let's call it the Southern Way Of Life... was to restrict the franchise. Given that I'm anti-democratic myself, I don't have a problem with that much. How the South did it was key. And - I warn you - I am not going to agree with all the means chosen.
In the 1880s the now-"redeemed" Louisianan state government proposed a "separate but equal" system of segregation as consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment. In Plessy v Ferguson, the Supreme Court (8/9ths of it) ruled Louisiana's way. But this decision, which I did actually read, reaffirmed that blacks were legally equal. So Louisiana's government couldn't just say
Louisiana instead went (ostensibly) Rhodesian: to get a vote, you had to prove you were worthy of it. There was a poll-tax, for instance; if you couldn't pony up, you weren't eligible. Felons couldn't vote (still can't). There was also a literacy test. Blacks back then had problems amassing sufficient funds, sufficient ability to stay out of trouble, and sufficient "education". Also some whites were tossed out of the voter-rolls too.
There was however a measure of humbug involved. In some counties the whites weren't too rich or smart either, so-called "red necks". Here we get into this thing called the "grandfather clause": if the man could prove his gran'pappy had the vote, he could vote too. There was kind of a problem here in that blacks' gran'pappys were slaves at the time. "Felonies" could be expanded to include the sale of alcohol. Also the literacy-tests could be gamed:
A black man went down to register to vote. / "Well, boy," said the white man at the courthouse, "you have to pass a literacy test before you can vote. Can you read?" / "Yassuh, I shore can", responded the black man. / The white man handed him a Hebrew Bible. "Okay, read this to me then". / "Yassuh, I can read it. It says 'Ain't no niggers gonna vote this year' ".
I don't know if this joke was first put out amongst the whites or the blacks. I'm guessing blacks, and further guessing that some Kluxer white boy overheard it. I do know that it wasn't just bitterness by some moron who couldn't pass the test. I can think of several (more subtle) ways of gaming this test: one fine way, which has been proposed this very month, is by enforcing the rulers' view of history. The "Grandfather Clause" alone proves that not everything was on the level here.
And now we find out that literacy and even IQ does not make one a rational player in a zero-sum game ... like, oh, politics.
I will just reiterate, first, that banning unpardoned felons is a fine thing, assuming felonies are justly defined; and that the South should have stuck with the poll-tax. Or raised up an Heinleinian "citizen rule" system; although I suspect that here, Appalachia would have ended up ruling over the Alabamians like kings.
Monday, July 27, 2015
That's why I say hey man, nice shot
In the spirit of Budd Dwyer, may your name and struggles not be forgotten.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
'Âd bin 'Ûtz
According to the Qur'an, once upon a time there existed an ancient nation called 'Âd (عاد). This nation was destroyed by a barbarous wind. In the Biblical book Job, a similar wind swept through the land of 'Ûtz (ארץ עוץ) - the Uz of the King James Bible, son of Aram son of Shem. It happens that Ibn Sa'd in Tabaqat v.1 (tr. MoinulHaq, 33) related a genealogy that links 'Âd to 'Ûtz: 'Âd was the son of "'Aws" bin Aram, who cannot be other than our 'Ûtz. (This has passed on to other scholars - Tabari's Tarikh, tr. Brinner as 2.13; Mas'udi's Muruj, tr. Maynard as 3.80 and so on.)
As you can see (if you know the alphabets in question), the Arabs heard the later Hebrew ץ as /tz/ and wrote it as /s/. But if you look closer... the word for "land" is a shared Semitic construction: Arabic al-ard (الأرض) corresponds to Hebrew ha-aretz (הארץ). This word alone (there are many others) shows that a shared original Semitic dental or sibilant consonant, whose "original" needn't matter here, is expressed in Hebrew as /tz/ and in Arabic as /d/.
Back to 'Ûtz / 'Âd, the intervening /w/ was weak in old North Arabian, as was /y/; Ahmad al-Jallad notes that when either forms the third letter of a root, classical Arabic tends to make an /a/ of it - Safaitic (Brill, 2015), 11. There were other mutations: 49-51. From the Hebrew side there's this thing called the Canaanite Shift which turned what's *a in all other Semitic languages into ô in the Canaanite tongues.
If I can figure all this out, then so could earlier Arab philologers. It must have occurred to Ibn Sa'd's sources that Biblical 'Ûtz - if the Bible be taken at its word that this was the son of Aram - would be expressed in Arabic as either *'Âd immediately, or else *'Awd and then subject to change. The /d/ -> /d/ remains a problem, but then the Arabs didn't equate 'Âd to 'Ûtz; they related the twain.
Such Arabs as had access to the Book of Job also had Lamentations 4:21 (and Jeremiah 25:20). Those Arabs would have placed 'Âd where the poet places it - somewhere around Edom. And if Ibn Sa'd's source did this, it's hard to see how far back that equation went; I cannot rule out that the same assumption underlies the suras. Where exactly God punished the 'Âd wouldn't have mattered to later sermons like sura 46; by the Marwani era some people were putting it in the Yemen. But as for suras 7 and 89... well, at least sura 7 assumed that the 'Âd were within reach of the southern Dead Sea, Midian and the Sinai.
I am indebted to Dan Gibson's Qur'anic Geography for drawing the connexions. I think the book was (when I bought it) a mess, and it attempts a number of arguments that are dubious and/or unnecessary. But it is, still, an ever-flowing spring of useful information.
UPDATE 5:20 PM: I have also reviewed Gibson's book. Back in 16 March 2012 he had offered to send me the PDF for free so I could review it. I bought it instead - according to Amazon, the following 25 June. I received it and - couldn't figure out how to approach it. I guess now I feel more comfortable with the material. Took awhile.
UPDATE 7/28: I remembered, after some time to think on't, that al-Tabari was a student of Ibn Sa'd. So, I tracked this meme to the Tabaqat.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Upload #112 - a denial
Last weekend I managed to borrow a copy of Angelika Neuwirth's and Nicolai Sinai's 2010 collection, The Qur'an in Context. Back in 2012 I'd grabbed a couple of its component essays from Academia.edu and Google Books: Heidemann's and Hamdan's, on the coinage and on al-Hajjaj's "second masahif" respectively. I've since been curious as to what was in the rest of the book. So this week it was nice to see it all.
I've been taking notes where these essays get it wrong, sometimes badly wrong, sometimes abusively wrong; but even where wrong, the articles were often inspirational. Several of the articles propose or assume a sequential order of suras. Since 2010, and mostly innocent of these essays, I'd been posting mine own sequence.
My own 2010 effort "Interceding with God" now grapples more with the sura 39 / ha-mîm relationship; introducing for the first time its relationship with ha-mîm sajda which is sura 41. "Retrieval of Joseph" points out that Joseph's lament at God got used in Umayyad popular culture. I've winkled out for "Garden" where Ephrem Syrus mentions the Paradise. "Parodies" and "Theories of the Cross" bring in the child-saints homily where Monophysite theories on the Passion were, in fact, cited as Monophysite theories.
I didn't end up needing to change my sequence. So, sorry, Dr. Islam Dayeh: I still think sura 41 was before 39, and now I've presented some evidence that 41>39. And, much more the sorry (as the Veloxi would put it), I have been including 39 with the hawamîm since I read Bellamy's articles on the Mysterious Letters a decade ago; so I could not credit you for the insight. But I did appreciate that you at least made the case. It's always good to be challenged.
I must admit that all of these changes were five years late in the coming except for those latter three essays written in the last couple years, which essays were four/five years late. I'll just say that scholarship is an ongoing process, and sometimes Allah only provides His provisions to mortals when we are ready to receive them.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
How not to rebut an article
Robert Spencer's off at FrontPage. Here he is, again, saying stuff he should know better than to say, and by the way contradicting the evidence right in front of his face.
I must interject that the earliest articles I saw showed screencaps. Those screencaps did tell us what portion it was; at least those sheets which had the last part of sura 19 with the first part of 20. It does not take a great scholar in Qur'anic Arabic to read
Anyhow, the fact of that ornamental line, and that of the sequence 18>19>20, and - subsequent clearer images show - that of the rosettes dividing verses, all point to a canonical text. That is, to a text of what we're now calling "the Qur'an". We don't know if this particular Qur'an had "The Cow"; I'll concede that much. It was still a theological text of importance to Arabic-speakers of the first or early-second century Levant. Which called itself a Qur'an right on the printed page Q. 20:2, and also 18:54 and 20:113-4.
So here, he says, we have something that isn't the Qur'an; despite that this very portion of text is calling itself... the Qur'an, and is presented to us in a sequence to reiterate that it is the Qur'an.
The man needs to try harder.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Alba Fedeli
Alba Fedeli has been a fixture of Qur'anic palaeography for at least a decade now, and has now been recognised for it. (For my part, I would have stuck the Phi'i Delta letters by her name just for "A Perg 2: a non palimpsest and the corrections in Qur'anic Manuscripts", Manuscripta Orientalia 11.1 (2005), 20-7. Throne of Glass has made much use of that one.)
What tipped the scale was her work on the suras 18-20 pages in Birmingham.
She is not to blame for what opportunists and media have made of her findings. I don't like saying that "she is not to blame" has to be said but, it does. If she publishes her thesis outside the academy, I hope she finds space to "asterisk" where she speaks of radiocarbon.
News to rejoice Muslim hearts
Because that's what the UK taxpayers and Brummie tuition-payers want from their libraries and universities,
I can understand this sentiment from Islamic Awareness; that's what they do. I don't appreciate it from the Lead Curator for Persian and Turkish Manuscripts at the British Library. And why the University of Birmingham feels it has to pass on such prattle, and why Archaeology Online can't be bothered to fact-check such claims before laundering them further - well, that's a question that needs to be posed to both institutions.
The Birmingham Qur'an
I am directed to a press release. I'll deal with the people directing me to it in a later post.
The claim is that here we have a parchment Qur'an. Parchment is made from animal hide; the radiocarbon has dated the animal's death
Already I see some problems.
First, that the suras follow 18>19>20 smells wrong to me. This is standard for the canonical Qur'an which derives from the al-Hajjaj revision in the 80s AH / 700s AD. It was not a standard before then; there was no standard before then. The "Ibn Mas'ud", "Ubayy", and "Ibn 'Abbas" traditions didn't follow that order; nor did the order of the sira-dependent Qur'ans associated with 'Ali and others. The ancient Qur'ans recently dug out of the Sanaa Mosque go still another way.
Also, look closely at this from teh Beeb, the 19>20 part (remember, right-to-left):
I'm seeing a red wiggly pattern separating the black-inked suras. Pattern-separators are standard for Marwani Qur'ans, as pointed out in Deroche's book. It's not so common before 70 / 690. Islam was simply different then. This pattern is less elaborate than some; so I would posit an early Marwani date, earlier than al-Walid I.
Tom Holland has pointed out (beaten me to it, really) that van Bladel has already dated sura 18 to after the Alexander Nes'hana, 10 / 630. This is already scraping the upper bound of their 568-645 confidence-interval. And then we must get into Stephen Shoemaker's theory, that sura 19 belongs as late as the Marwani era. (I'm too polite to mention mine own work in this context.)
But say we concede the parchment was available to a sura 18 hamala, soon after 10 / 630. By then the Arabs were - at that time - swimming in plunder from Sasanian hoards in Iraq; not long after that they'd be raking it in from Egypt as well. Also the Arabs had likely already acquired a glut in animal-hides; leather may well have been the trade which - literally - put Mecca on the map (House of War suggests that the Sasanian collapse sparked an economic crash in the Hijaz, in large part because of leather). Where leather was cheap, parchment wouldn't have been much more expensive. And during the early teens / 630s Egypt was taken. Now western Arabs had papyrus to compete with parchment, thus freeing up more parchment for the market. (Waley dude, do you even econ?)
So I would say there was parchment to go 'round for some decades after 10 / 630. Once we've conceded 10-25 / 630-45 for the parchment, we're basically done here.
To top it all off, we cannot trust the dating of this parchment itself. In my whole life I have never seen radiocarbon treated as trustworthy beyond the general century. If we're to believe the radiocarbon, van Bladel's editor Reynolds points out that we have Qur'ans from the sixth century. And now we're hearing that global climate has an effect.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
A spark gives out
I am over a week late to this, for which I apologise but -
Dr Patricia Crone was an inspiration to many. To me, as well; although I never did get to meet her, nor even to correspond with her.
Dr Crone was more right than wrong, which alone is a fine epitaph for a scholar; more, she was right where it really mattered, and where it mattered it mattered most to the world at large.
Her family would like you to watch For The Life Of Me. Her shade would like you not to give up. Don't stop learning. Don't stop challenging the received opinion. Don't give in to threats.
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