The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A non-upload: al-Farazdaq on the Day of Maskin

Over the past few years, I've repeatedly trolled through Patricia Crone's and Martin Hinds' God's Caliph for references to Islamic slogans. The book focused on poetry; I found quite a bit of that herein which I could use in House of War. But I needed more text from two poets in particular: Jarir ibn Atiyya, and al-Farazdaq. Al-Farazdaq especially, for the earlier Umayyads.

Sometime around 15 April, I stumbled upon a reference in God's Caliph to a French translation of Farazdaq's "Diwan" done in 1870. It then struck me: there might be a copy of this on the Internet. Because "1870" means "it's out of copyright", and if it's out of copyright then someone could have scanned it and uploaded it. I mean, for heavens' sakes, that's how I got into translating Frank-Kamenetzky and the bulk of Symeon the Magister (on 620-710 anyway).

The 1870 translation was annoying to locate, because Google (the engine I'm pretty much bound to) doesn't seem to like when you go after FREE STUFF!! but, eventually, I did find the text. It was separated into two volumes by one R. Boucher, Paris: 1870, and the twain now reside in the (UPDATE 5/2/2014: there exists also a 1875 "edition", which breaks it into three volumes). More: the kindly soul who scanned the pair also ran OCR on it all. That meant I could copy-paste the text to my machine... and clean up the French... and use Google Translate on the result. This helps a lot for those of us who need that little bit more of aid when translating Arabic, especially poetic Arabic. I managed to decipher therein the original text to several (likely) citations in God's Caliph, and several more poems besides (note: don't click that link).

The good doctors Crone and Hinds didn't cite everything - that wasn't their aim. At least one of these "new" Farazdaq poems I've found, I wish I had known about for House of War. Specifically: for chapter 10, "Against the Lunar Jihad". This chapter is one of those too-short chapters; Ulrich's review noted, amongst other critiques, that my chapters were lopsided and I completely concede the point on this chapter. It was lack of data that stymied me; and, yeah, the Third Edition didn't address any of the review's concerns. But now...

In lieu of a Fourth Edition, I provide the translation of the poem here:

When the sons of Marwan met [the enemy], they drew swords; for the sake of God’s religion (li-dîni ’llâhi), furious!
These are sharp swords with which Islam is protected; it is for him who doubts (bi-man arâban) that these blades are reserved.
With them they have met the deviant from Mecca (biMakkati mulḥidahâ); at Maskin they made beautiful strikes!
They did not leave a one praying behind an imposter (mukadhdhab) but that he turned
To Islam; or that he met a disgrace, which is the corner (rukn) of death and judgement.
Despite their barricades, despite their unrest; the fortune they amassed is lost for their sons.

Al-Farazdaq 1.67 ed. Boucher, 82; aided by French tr. 215.

If you bought the book, then feel free to append this poem as a marginal note to the discussion of the Battle of Maskin in chapter 10.

I think that this poem adds some small support to that too-short chapter, and to my argument generally. I hope that you agree.

posted by Zimri on 20:24 | link | 0 comments

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