The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

North Korea's Satanic Verses

The future does not belong to those who insult the prophets. (h/t's are all Drudge.)

As for Pascal: yeah, I agree, she's getting fired. But in sooth all of Sony's brass needs firing. They're all cowards. One reason we're talking about this at all is because Sony has let it be known they weren't going to support their own movie. The cinema chains aren't so brave themselves, true, but why blame the auxiliaries for abandoning the field if the legions themselves haven't suited up?

But maybe Sony, as Japanese, really cannot trust their authorities: Hitoshi Igarashi.

posted by Zimri on 18:10 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Never correct the caliph

I just (re-)ran across David S. Margoliouth, Textual Variations of the Koran. In it:

There are occasions when the inaccuracy of those who cite it is astounding. The caliph Mansur, when in his controversy with an 'Alid pretender he wished to prove that an uncle could be called a father, cited xii. 38: I (Joseph) followed the sect of my fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob;6 the argument depends on the name Ishmael, which is not found in the text! The proof-passage intended by Mansur is ii. 127, where Jacob's sons say to him, We shall worship the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac; where, as Mansur observes, "he began with him (the uncle) in preference to the immediate parent." Neither Mubarrad nor Ibn Khaldun, who produce the letter with the quotation from xii. 38, notices the mistake; Tabari7 omits the wrong quotation, but apparently cannot find the right one.

The footnotes 6 and 7 go to Mubarrad, Kamil ii. 322 (Cairo ed.); and to Tabari respectively. Obviously everyone involved has always agreed upon the base-text of sura 12; the Joseph story simply has no relevance to Ishmael. Even the freakin' Jews (and Christians) knew better than to cite this text with Ishmael and to turn it upon the Muslims for their ignorance. So Margoliouth asks - Why did the caliph, alone, beg to differ? and why didn't the historians call him on it?

Margoliouth thought that our caliph was not Bibelfest - not a scholar; and he implies the same of Tabari (!). I suspect, on the contrary, that our caliph did know what he was doing. (Certainly Tabari did!) I propose that our caliph attempted to interpose "Ishmael" in the hope that no Arab would dare take it out. I agree with Margoliouth that a quasi-Shia sect like the Banu'l-Abbas could use this variant.

I'll further propose that our variant predates our caliph. The variant would have been just as useful in the 120s / 740s, when Abbasid propaganda were competing with Zaydite and Hasanid propaganda.

As for why no later historians corrected the basis of this propagandum: well, the Abbasids were in these historians' time still there, in Baghdad, and nominally were still the defensores fidei if that phrase may be applied to a Muslim sovereign. The readers would understand that this variant wasn't being preached in Samanid Iran, nor in Umayyad Spain nor in Tulunid / Fatimid / whatever Africa. Best just to let it go. As time went on, the Abbasids themselves just let it go.

posted by Zimri on 18:10 | link | 0 comments

Upload #97: Push, pull

I had a lot of updating to do, to take into account current editions of all the books - including the fact of a new book.

"In Ranks" is expanded, so as to allow for an anti-Zubayrid origin of sura 61. By contrast (surat) "Joseph" is restricted (tentatively) to Abd al-Aziz in Egypt. "Shah" is better-tuned, given the career of Sulayman in the Jerusalem area.


posted by Zimri on 18:03 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Was ShamiWitness raped as a child?

Masroor "ShamiWitness" "Mehdi" Biswas, twitter jihadi, has been caught.

A couple of points have struck me here. First, Masroor's dad is a homeopathy doctor in Kolkata - that is, he's a quack. Second, Masroor himself has a strong side-interest in Greek love. Usually that means he been NAMBLin' - and that often means he had been NAMBLed. Based on what we've learnt from Marion Zimmer Bradley, I don't much trust those New Age types these days.

Just something for investigators to consider.

posted by Zimri on 16:56 | link | 0 comments

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Bahais and the Book

I've not read up much on the Bahaiya, I'll admit. I have not been to Haifa (or to Iran) and I have spoken to vanishingly few Bahais face-to-face. I know some of the basics: the Bahais hold to a continuous revelation from God, and they derive from the Bab's Imami-Islamic reform movement. My interest lies mainly in the decades surrounding 700 CE, as you may have guessed lately. I've skimped on the 1800s.

I appreciate that the Bahais refuse the excesses of Islam while at the same time they refuse the excesses of our modern world.

All that said. I must still come to terms with Shoghi Effendi (my emphasis):

As to Muhammad, the Apostle of God, let none among His followers who read these pages, think for a moment that Islam, or its Prophet, or His Book, or His appointed Successors, or any of His authentic teachings, have been, or are to be in any way, or to however slight a degree, disparaged. The lineage of the Bab, the descendant of the Imam Husayn...

In Islam up to the year of that Imam Husayn's ill-starred demise (682ish) the Qur'an was not a "book". The Jews by contrast had, and have, a "book". The Christians have a book too especially when they're cut off from Rome (or from Byzantion). When you experience the Qur'an, you realise that it is a "recital"; it is delivered to you by way of tajwid. That's why it rhymes. And that's why when the Qur'an's suras and devotees talk of "ahl al-kitab" they're not including themselves.

The Qur'an became a book - as opposed to several haphazard collections of sura - largely thanks to the caliph Abd al-Malik and to his viceroy Kulayb the Pilgrim. So to speak of Allah's book in the context of Allah's prophet, is to accept the word of Umayyad Islam.

A true Islamic reform would open the Umayyad "furqan", also, to historical analysis. I remain unconvinced that even the Bahaiya can do this.

UPDATE: Bahai attempts at tafsir don't help their case.

posted by Zimri on 18:50 | link | 0 comments

Petitioning Amazon (and Google)

Change for justice:

I buy games through Amazon already so their advertising on Gawker is pointless to me. I'd rather Amazon passed on the savings to Amazon's customer (me).

I'm not about to *start* visiting Gawker either #gamergate

Per request, I'm not telling who sent me hither. Not yet anyway.

posted by Zimri on 18:02 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hagiography, biography

When my parents were over here, they suggested The Imitation Game - a biopic about Alan Turing. I've seen one or two of these Turing pieces on the telly during my time on this blessed Earth, so I got a bad feeling about it. I insisted instead on Theory of Everything, about Stephen Hawking. And whaddaya know. I was right. The Turing pic was yet another martyrology about that borderline paedobear; the Hawking pic adhered closer to fact.

Some producers are out to showcase their political views. Others say, to hell with THAT, we care about the guy whose story we're telling, and we're going to tell the story that is true to the subject.

Another example (on the Right) would be God Isn't Dead. At the end I sat through a lot of scrolling text about Christians being persecuted on campus. I'm sure that Christians found it very moving; but that wasn't what I saw in the movie. The movie was, thus, a fictionalisation of these events. The Imitation Game is, similarly, a fictionalisation of Turing's career professional and personal.

As for real biopics, I recommend Control about Joy Division's frontman Ian Curtis. Nobody finishes the movie thinking that Curtis was a wonderful husband and father, or even a good person. They do however finish it with some basic understanding of what Curtis suffered through with his epilepsy and depression. Theory of Everything likewise gives us some understanding of what Hawking's disease did to him and to his own family. Whether Hawking handled it all better than did Curtis isn't really the point here. The point is that the movies are faithful to their subjects, showing us what they accomplished, what they suffered, and how they met their own personal challenges - for good or ill.

With biopics you really do have to read the reviews in advance. Carefully.

posted by Zimri on 19:05 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The New Republic

I am not at all surprised that Stephen Glass's cowriter Jonathan Chait thinks the world of Mindthoughts Beauchamp's editor Franklin Foer. So I am just skimming Chait's "eulogy" for Air Force One's tabloid.

I did see, though, that Leon Wieseltier had also left. His part in the magazine wasn't bullshit.

posted by Zimri on 20:35 | link | 0 comments

The alliance of blank-slate liberalism with Islam

"Jew Among You" Hayat has reviewed Why the West Rules by Ian Morris.

The book itself is a standard propagandum in the field, like Jared Diamond's work; this text is here to deliver a comprehensive comparative history between East and West, and to explain how East and West aren't all that different, therefore racism yah-boo-sucks. Hayat notes that such east/west blather hasn't taken the south into account; defined as the Australia, New Guinea and Subsahara "global south". But this post will leave that aside.

I don't have all that much a dog in the great IQ debate. I do hold some interest in race, given that I belong to a few of them, but again not all that much interest. What I care about most is Late Antiquity. As it happens Hayat has dug up a couple pericopes on that score. First page 351:

Unlike Buddhism, Confucianism, or Christianity, Islam was born on the edge of collapsing empires and came of age amid constant warfare. Islam was not a religion of violence (the Koran is a good deal less bloody than the Hebrew Bible), but Muslims could not stand aloof from fighting. “Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you,” Muhammad had said, “but do not attack them first. God does not love the aggressors”… Compulsion had no place in spreading religion, but Muslims (“surrenderers” to God) were obliged to defend their faith whenever it was threatened – which, since they were pushing and plundering their way into collapsing empires at the same time as spreading the word, was likely to be quite often.

Then page 353:

They came not to bury the West but to perfect it; not to thwart Justinian’s and Khusrau’s ambitions, but to fulfill them.

I still haven't written that "prequel" to Those Two Books (plug, plug, sidebar, "Islam"), but in 2012 I did write up and post "The Keys to the Garden are Swords" as an appendix to House of War. For my take on the intrinsic pacifism of the Arab Prophet, I'll refer my gentle readers to "Keys". As for this prophet fulfilling those non-Arab empires' ambitions - I wasn't even sure where to start, but I left an initial reaction at the JAY post. All the Prophet's talk about "keys to Paradise" simply don't make sense outside Matthew's Gospel. As in - said Prophet was subverting and refuting the Gospel.

Going further, the Arab du'a grounded itself upon Ishmael's inheritance. From the Greeks' and Jews' culture, Islam took up only the Bible and the traditions surrounding it; whatever came from their ancestral pagan or secular heritage was second-hand at most (Jesus's Letonian palmtree?). The Arabs were consciously living in a post-biblical world. The notion that Muhammad was out to perfect Zoroastrianism, meanwhile, is simply laughable; the Prophet was a Semite, not an Aryan. And either way - as I'd posted on Hayat's blog - the Prophet was certainly no Westerner.

What isn't striking in Morris's book is(n't) its failure to understand Islam. Its author has to know the gist of all this already - like Esposito knows it, and Armstrong knows it. Morris is simply lying here. But lies aren't very interesting - they're barely worth a blog-post. What is striking is how liberals like Morris, when they make their arguments for liberalism, cannot rely upon liberalism alone.

Any liberal who studies history has to run across the case of Islam: that great bridge between Judaism, Christianity, and the mysterious Orient (shouts out to Eddy Said!). Then the liberal has to decide what to do about it. There's talk that Islam is rather... less liberal than are Judaism, Christianity, and any of those indigenous faiths from that Orient I'd mentioned. There even exist arguments that Islam is less liberal than some of our uglier Western nationalisms; one of those arguing that point was the Mufti. To their credit a few liberals, like Bill Maher, don't shy away from Islam's implications.

Morris ignores all that. Like the cowards in that classic movie Wishmaster he rubs his jewels and wishes it all away.

If Christ isn't to bail him out, perhaps sura 72's djinn will do it instead. Robert Ferrigno's Prayers For The Assassin had argued that lazy liberals would fall into Islam by default. Eight years later and here we are.

posted by Zimri on 19:31 | link | 0 comments

Don't read Rolling Stone

I hadn't weighed in on the UVa sex-assault case, reported by that flagship of integrity Rolling Stone. It always looked like a mess to me. But enough about Rolling Stone...

Tom "Just One Minute" Maguire recommends a few more minutes to sort all this out. (h/t, Instapundit.)

Currently, I understand that someone showed up with trauma, is now suffering from mental problems and STILL cannot consistently describe what happened. At a guess she got drunk somewhere, assaulted by someone but this "someone" isn't a someone anyone in our beloved media wants to think about.

Black townies from off campus? A professor or two? Bigshot liberal campus politician?

Whichever. We do know, at least, not to trust Rolling Stone.

posted by Zimri on 15:05 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Whitefish gets trolled

Various social-justice types tried to get Richard Spencer booted out of his home and business (in no particular order). Spencer instead got a resolution affirming his rights.

I think it started with Spencer's dressdown of that neocon fool a couple winters back. The fool whined to the Daily Beast, Yahoo passed it on, and the town felt it had to Do Something. Well - it did!

posted by Zimri on 18:45 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Evangelising the American South

The American Atheists group, led by one David Silverman, is recommending that Christians skip church three weeks from now.

The ad's certainly eye-catching. And I must disclose that I've lived in the South for some time, where on occasion I faced some pretty awful ignorance and bigotry. Mind you, I've also faced that in the North... and I'm wondering if we're seeing some of that from Mr Silverman.

David Silverman's name alone is making me suspicious, speaking as one with some Ashkenaz background myself. The man appears to have New Jersey roots. In short I think he is not a native of the South.

If I were to suggest a campaign to improve the intellectual level of the Southron, I would invest in cultural memes that showed the human face of scientists and showed the wonders of scientific discovery. Whatever negativity I'd come up with, would go against clear falsehoods and philosophical disasters like Intelligent Design - and only to show how they hurt the South. This process has been ongoing by itself anyway (especially since that Dover case, and that travesty Expelled).

I wouldn't attack the Southern culture as such. By going against church on Christmas, that is exactly what the American Atheists are doing. So they're not convincing anybody of anything.

I don't think Silverman is so tin-eared he doesn't know this. It feels like he's deliberately picking a fight with perceived enemies. It feels like Orange parades through Catholic streets in Belfast. And when the Southrons get upset, they won't see "atheists" in their mind; they'll see "Silverman from New Jersey".

posted by Zimri on 19:32 | link | 0 comments

Whose god is it anyway, II

In the previous post, I got as far as showing that Christianity and sura 4 were incompatible. This left open the question: if religion A and religion B are intrinsically incompatible, does that mean their respective adherents must worship different gods?

In a case like, say, Hinduism and African animism, the answer would be an emphatic yes, they DO worship different gods - there never have been attempts at syncretism, so the question hasn't come up. Rome and Greece, by contrast, did share contact and followed religions (really, pantheons) so compatible that the syncretism was almost automatic.

The way to understand a case like Islam is to consider Judaism and Christianity. Rabbinic Judaism has defined God in such a way that Christianity becomes impossible, more so than is Islam. Christianity for its part insists on the Jewish Scriptures (Marcion aside), and generally asserts its theological union with Judaism. The Jews don't accept that - the "Marcionite" position with respect to Christian Scripture is orthodox in Judaism.

Jews very well could say outright that Christians are worshipping the wrong god. If they don't, it's because they see something in their own scriptures and tradition (generally in the Messianic and Qabbala traditions) that might allow for something close to Christianity to arise.

I would appreciate similar understanding from Christians: that they go back to the Hebrew Bible(s), and check out where that text might allow for something like Islam. This would mainly circle around the Deuteronomic, Prophetic and Apocalyptic books - Isaiah, 1 Enoch 1-36, the Exodus and so on. It doesn't do Christianity any favours to pretend that Islam just came out of nowhere, with the (barely attested) Arab paganism standing in for "nowhere".

posted by Zimri on 19:10 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Oh, it's THIS thread again

Butts have been hurt over the casting for the new Moses movie.

This movie deals with the Nineteenth Dynasty. Their origins were in Lower Egypt which is the Nile's northern delta.

At the time we're looking at, the Delta Egyptians were a mongrel bunch mostly old Coptic and Phoenician, with a bit of Hurrian "Horite" thrown in (thanks to the Hyksos). If you wanted people with more of a tan you traveled up river to where the Eighteenth Dynasty came from. If you wanted actual Nubians you went to, duh, Nubia (also called Kush) - that is, to the Sudan.

Some of the family were perhaps viceroys in Kush at some point. But that doesn't mean they married any locals and brought the kids home - some mention would have been made, as had been made of the Hittite and Semite brides other kings carried home.

In short, the Ramessides looked more like me than like your average Afrocentric professor today.

posted by Zimri on 09:12 | link | 0 comments

Friday, November 28, 2014

Whose god is it anyway?

I see several arguments that Allah is not the same god as the God of the Christian Bible and/or Hebrew Bible. Over the last couple days I ran across one Iraqi, IQ al-Rassooli, and his interview with the Glazov Gang. I'll be pointing to timestamps on Youtube as I go along.

Rassooli is, like me, an unaccredited scholar with a selfpublished book - in his case, Lifting the Veil. Unfortunately it's done by AuthorHouse, which is a scam. He'd have done better with CreateSpace. It seems that Rassooli started shopping his book in November 2000 when authors' solutions (so to speak) were more limited. But we'll leave that aside...

I always did find this line of argument to be semantic at best and No True Scotsman at worst. (UPDATE: I'll get to this in the sequel; don't hit that link just yet though.) But Rassooli is doing better than most - despite some missteps along the way. I am going to interpret his assertion thusly: given as expansive a view of Jesus's life and teachings as a Christian may reasonably hold - can Islam belong to that stream of tradition, or is it asking for a rewrite?

Rassooli starts by raising questions about the means of communication. Around the 5-6th minute he's arguing that nobody saw Muhammad and Gabriel converse. This is true; all the Prophet's companions saw was an epileptic fit. Such was noted by Christian antagonists from - possibly - the time of Trajan the Patrician as of 100 / 720 (now quoted in Theophanes). So the Prophet and his set of suras cannot simply be accepted on face; we must go back to the sources and compare them with each other. And also-so, this isn't a bad opening gambit for Rassooli himself.

At 6:30 Rassooli runs into his main problem - that he does not understand the Christian dogma sufficiently to tell us whether Islam belongs in that stream of tradition. Rassooli quotes sura 5, "we sent him the gospels (Injil) wherein was guidance and light and confirmation of the Torah that came before him". This translation is probably Rassooli's own with help from M. Muhsin Khan. Rassooli misunderstands the Injil. Injil refers to the Gospel in the Christian sense, of delivering the news (evangel) of true faith to the people. It is not a specific book surtitled "Gospel". Injil is certainly not a plural, and so does not refer to the four biographies of Jesus in the current New Testament. Injil is I concede (slightly) informed by Syrian memory of the "Diatesseron" harmony, which was indeed a single book - but the Syrians never confused the Diatesseron with a Book delivered to Jesus himself. As Tarif Khalidi has noted, it is more likely that the Muslims had in mind the full sum of Jesus's sayings in the oral tradition, which the Muslims subsequently took into the Hadith and recorded in the Zuhd literature. Rassooli has crippled his own ability to express his point properly.

9:00 - the Crucifixion and (more so) Jesus's death are denied in sura 4; but the Gospel assumes that Jesus knew of and accepted his death on the cross. From this, Rassooli expounds, the Qur'an is incompatible with the Christian message. Here Rassooli has a better case - again, he is so confused that he cannot properly state this case, but it's there. All the gospels (including Thomas 55 and, I think, the Egerton Papyrus) have Jesus predicting the Crucifixion, and these works interpret Jesus's career generally as a victory over death itself. That means that Jesus's prediction is contained in Divine Evangelia, data which God had divulged to Jesus in life. If you don't accept that prediction, you don't accept the Injil.

So I would say that Rassooli is right up to this point: if you accept sura 4, you have rejected all reasonable interpretations of Christianity; and if you call yourself a Christian, the only Muslims you may accept are those who reject sura 4 and all suras which relied upon sura 4. From mine own research that means you've rejected a lot of them - a lot of suras, and a lot of Muslims.

posted by Zimri on 12:54 | link | 0 comments

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