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Thursday, September 08, 2016
Muhammad regrets nothing, and neither should Robert Spencer
Robert Spencer in his Life of Muhammad relied upon translations of the Sira, of which one source made up the first two volumes of Ibn Sa'd (d. 230/845)'s Tabaqât which two volumes Moinul Haq had translated (since then Aisha Bewley has translated most of the rest). Danios @loonwatch January 2012 had some fun over one of Moinul Haq's "mistranslations" which Robert Spencer passed along, here. I posted about it that September. I must pull that analysis up here, and revise it, because I've been alerted to new evidence.
There exists a hadith in which the pre-Prophetic Qutham - excuse me, "Muhammad" - got involved in one of those tribal skirmishes that the Arabs used to get into. Qutham's uncle dragged him along; where, since Qutham was still too skinny to wield a sword, he served as an archer. The Hadith then explains that the youth "shot some arrows". On this much everyone agrees. Add to that that the hadith, in some form, does seem to be authentic to a Zubayri milieu.
The controversy is over Muhammad (now Prophet)'s later statement wa-mâ ahibb' annî lam akun fa`altu. Did Muhammad express regret, or was it denial of regret?
That first mâ as negative versus mâ as "what?" is an annoyance in the language. Spencer chose the former; Danios's article makes some strong points for the latter. Also I must buttress that Danios point which called out Moinul Haq's translation as imperfect overall - some years later on, I had to add into my review that "sahib al-lulu" does NOT mean "Lulu's pal".
Today I learn that in 1986, Ella Landau-Tasseron - surely the most underrated Islamic researcher of our age - had already looked into this. She dug up a fuller account of the saying from the Aghani:
Context matters. Especially for Ibn Sa'd who sometimes truncates his hadiths.
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