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Carl Becker revisited! Language, identity, and historical continuity v discontinuity

Reader comment on item: Dhimmis No More
in response to reader comment: Syrianized Arabic, Mekka and Quraysh

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Feb 3, 2018 at 09:31

I wrote

(With respect I doubt very much that you know Egyptian Arabic or al-Lugha al-Fusha al-Haditha]

And Gato wrote:

>I do not claim to speak either EA or fuSHa, but I know enough in order to read the books of prof. al-Jabry (the critique of the Arab mind) -

I'm not familiar with the author or his book However, almost all books are written in MCA

BTW Haeri mentioned that Madboli the famous bookstore owner stated that books written in EA sell like how cakes because this is the language that Egyptians appreciate and understand Madboli also blamed the fact that Egyptians don't buy enough books written in MCA because it is an alien language

>only I do not know whether his fuSHa was Haditha or not

That I cannot answer without reading the book first

>- and I am sufficiently acquainted with the grammar of EA and know certain coloquial phrases although I have to admit that I do nor understand very much of Egyptian films they speak just too rapidly :)

And that is the point Students of Arabic, as per Niloofar Haeri, are really surprised when they visit Egypt and try to practice the Arabic that they have learned They discover that they cannot understand Egyptian Arabic and when they try to speak MCA Egyptians stare at them not comprehending what was said

You need to read her. It is a very good and fair introduction to EA v MCA and that EA is really a language that is under siege because its competition with the language of Allah

BTW I got to watch some Egyptians movies and I loved Leila Murad's classic "Ghazal el-Banat" from the golden age of Egyptian Cinema and Adel Imam's "al-Irhabi" from the 1990's and indeed most Arabs understand EA because of Egyptian movies and TV shows but it does not work the other way

>Actually I have said that linguistically EA is not so distant from fuSHa

It is very different and more likely than not this was why you could not understand what they were talking about in the movie(s) that you were watching The grammar and syntax are different the case endings disappeared, lots of metathesis and it is full of words that are not Arabic words

> than Italian is from Latin, and this is certainly true, but on the other hand I admit that sociolinguistically the diglossic situation of both pairs EA/fuSHa and LAT/IT(in medieval Itally) is quite similar.

You got my point and that is indeed the problem But why would it be OK in Iran to speak Persian and not Arabic and in Egypt Egyptians invent a new form of Arabic but their Arabic or EA is not appreciated or regarded as a real language? As I told you it would be interesting to read about the debate in Italy about "the language of the common people" and the "language of the learned" Italian v Latin this is not unlike the debate about EA v MCA

>It is absolutely certain that Tabari and other commentators were unable to understand certain words in Qur'an and this is exactly what I wanted to say and have said, you just have to read my text more attentively. In this case I completely agree with you.

You are being very kind Gerd Puin once said that every 5th word in the Qur'an has no clear meaning! It is also odd that for example the Semitic word (eg: Syriac) for bread, Lahm, becomes the word for Meat in Arabic and the Syriac word Hanpe for pagan becomes Arabic Hanif or believer and more evidence that al-Tabari had no command of the Syriac language which I believe is an essential part of understanding what the Qur'an says

BTW did you read his take on the Quranic ahl al-Iyka also ahl Layka? Very interesting

>Syrianized Arabic in which the initial Qur'an the most probably was conceived was spoken

I do believe that the Qur'an started as a Christian lectionary of a Syro-Arabic community that resided in Syria and Mesopotamia It has nothing to do with Mecca or al-Hijaz

Did Muhammad exist? I don't know but there must be a founder for any religion He is the one that starts the spark and then the pious (al-'Ulama and al-Mufasereen) takes over as in Crone's: "Religions don't spring fully fledged from the heads of Prophets"

But where did that founder live? We don't know but more likely than not it was no Mecca

>along all the semicircle starting with Madain al-Saleh(now in Saudi Arabia) through Palestine and Syrian through Norhern Mesopotamia as long as Hira. Where was exactly the Makka(or Bakka, mentioned in Qur'an several times) where Muhammed started his preaching is probably impossible to tell, at least with the current stand of scholarship.

Agree. Did you read Wansbrough: "Res Ipsa Loquitur History and Mimiesis" He was able to detach the origin of Islam from al-Hijaz and Muhammad from the Qur'an Very good reading

>Of course the majority of scholars still think, often uncritically but not all(see bellow), that it is the current al-Makka in Hijaz, however some scholars found there are numerous difficulties with such an assumption. Some scholars (as Gerald Hawting or late Patricia Crone) were advancing a hypothesis(half-muted) that it can be somewhere in North-Western Saudi Arabia or Jordan (e.g. Petra). Gerald Hawting was also advancing a hypothesis that the "Mekkans", the adversaries of Muhammad were not "pagans" but rather monotheists (with the syncretism of pagan elements of course) and this would also point to Jordan or Syria which were fairly christianized by 600. However this is only on the level of hypothesis. Patricia Crone has not completely excluded the possibility that it can be the actual Mekka of Hijaz, but she has said it is impossible to prove or disprove until archeological excavations are allowed there. And this is not likely to happen any time soon. Recently prof Aziz al-Azmeh has written a book in which he endeavors substantiate the traditional opinion about Mekka and the paganism of Quraysh by scholarly arguments.

The reality here is we just do not know and the Qur'an is not of any help You cannot even reconstruct Muhammad's life by reading the Qur'an in isolation It is, in the words of Peters: "Text with no context"

>Concerning why Egyptians do not speak Egyptian anymore and Persians speak Persian you have given an answer yourself (Egyptian lost they rebellion against Umayyad, Egyptians were unable or unwilling to do "if you cannot beat them then join them") so I have nothing to add there.

It makes you wonder that the revenge of the Persians for losing the long war with the Greeks between 616CE until 628CE was to change course: Create a new militant religion (islam) control the emerging Arab/Muslim polity and destroy the Greek empire and in the process preserve the "superior" Persian language and culture

Machiavellian style!

But again nothing is ever simple

Submitting....

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