Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Ayatollahs مراجعي العظام

An Ayatollah is a Marja-a-Taqlid, if you adhere to Ayatollah, it means you completely adhere to his prinicples and matters without question.
Those are my Ayatollahs, I love them almost to the verge of worship.
Three years ago, I harbored the same divine sentiments to James Hetfield.
Ten years ago, to A.J. McLean.

المولى المقدس ايه الله العظمة علي الوردي (قدس الله زره)
اضغط على الصورة لتحميل اشهر مؤلفاته



المولى المقدس حجة الإسلام و المسلمين سماحة السيد طه حسين (رضي الله عنه و ارضاه)

زنبور الدين و كافور المسلمين اياد جمال الدين (سهل الله خراجه


For English speakers, the people above are:
1. Ali al-Wardi (Iraqi Shia)
2. Taha Hussein (Egyptian Sunni)
3. Ayad Jamal al-Din (Iraqi Shia)

اعلن امامكم ان برقبتي بيعة هؤلاء النفر الى يوم مماتي والله على ما اقول شهيد .
p.s. if anyone has books for Hasan al-Alawi, gimme, he looks like a potential Ayatollah save for his idiotic Omar Wa Tashuyyu3 book.

51 comments:

RhusLancia said...

Excerpts of interviews with Ayad Jamal al-Din, with English subtitles.

BlogIraqi said...

Great Maraji3 you got there. I would have gone with you, but I just don't believe in life-time bay3a.
But you have chosen the right guys I think.
So, now you will be copying the Fatwas from them as their Muqallid?
Btw, I have added you to my blogroll.

RhusLancia said...

Another one from al-Din...

Jon in Maryland said...

يا عباس

ممكن جفري جاسوس صهيوني

إحذر الموساد! :)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

lol! Jon, you're as bad as people in the ME, seeing Zionist spies under every palm tree and behind every sand dune. Sheesh. Somehow I don't think Mojo would be friends with one.

Abbas,

I know al-Wardi, but I'll have to check out the others when I have more time. Still wish al-Wardi was translated into English.

anon1 said...

I was interested in checking out Al-Wardi until you posted his hilarious thesis about Iraqi society being "corrupted" by bedouins. Taha Hussein is a decent choice, I suppose, but still rather overrated. I can only assume the last guy is in there as a joke.

CMAR II said...

I just happened to read this post while listening to My Sharona by The Knack. It really works:

"Ooh my little pretty one, pretty one.
When you gonna give me some, Ayee-atollah!?
Ooh you make my motor run, my motor run.
Gun it comin' off the line Ayatollah!
Never gonna stop, give it up.
Such a wordy mind. Always get it up for the touch of the younger kind. My my my i yi woo. Ah Ah Ah Aye-atolla...

That Taha Hussein picture would make a great band logo.

sick of it all said...

Kid sure has some weird choices for inspiration. Ayad Jamal al-Din? What is so inspiring about a hypocritical, turncoat cleric? And Hasan al-Alawi? Give me a break. You choose a hired pen who has changed from being an unabashed propaganda writer and journalist for Saddam Hussein to an opposition figure to a defender of Shi'ite political rights in ruling Iraq to a born-again Baathist to a Saddam apologist to (currently) an amateur historian in a little less than 3 decades. Ali al-Wardi was an atheist, yet traditionalist, scholar but who mixed a lot of hearsay and simplistic social and psychological explanations into his theories. Didn't you also at some point list that comedic Egyptian cleric (I forgot his name--the one who had a talk show and was the subject of several romantic scandals with young veiled girls) as one of your inspirations as well? Pathetic.

anon1 said...

"Ali al-Wardi was an atheist, yet traditionalist, scholar but who mixed a lot of hearsay and simplistic social and psychological explanations into his theories."

Yes, I suppose you could say he was an early form of blogger.

anon1 said...

"Ali al-Wardi was an atheist, yet traditionalist, scholar but who mixed a lot of hearsay and simplistic social and psychological explanations into his theories."

Yes, I suppose you could say he was an early form of blogger.

Abbas Hawazin said...

Apparently you're truly sick of it all.
Granted, I am not thoroughly familiar with Jamal al-Din, but the points which he sets forth in that interview and elsewhere are something to which I highly subscribe to ; I do believe it is somehow romanticized, and he purposefully and skillfully navigrates through claustrophobic religious theories in order to reach the conclusion that secularism is the answer (his excuse is that there is no Imam Ma3soom), but it's a start.
As for al-Wardi and Taha Hussein, I meant to say the pattern to they adhere to, secular examination of history for instance, is also what I subscribe to, their account of al-Fitna al-Kubra is bascially the same ; albeit al-Wardi sometimes puts some wild theories.
As for al-Alawi, I thought his last book was bollocks, but I sensed from his interviews that he isn't a hypocrite but is rather a well-meaning but coyly diplomatic individual. (for instance, he publicly advertised his al-Futoohat al-Sufyaniaya book but he said he will publish it after his death to spare him problems.)

Abbas Hawazin said...

oh and what egyptian cleric? Amr Khalid? well, even though I do admire him as the better model of a cleric (something which the Western world clearly shares with me), but I must say that that was quite a long time ago.

Muhannad said...

Taha Hussein looks like a cool cat.

Jeffrey said...

Abbas,

What were al-Wardi's thoughts on pan-Arabism? I think that the idea of knocking down borders among the Arabic-speaking peoples and creating one country is a pipedream, but I also think that having some kind of regional associaton (like NATO, for example) is not such a bad idea.

The tension, if not outright hostility at times, between two neighbors like Jordan and Iraq, about which you yourself have written, does not advance the cause of pan-Arabism. They have also had friendly relations with one another, however, it should be noted.

*

Abbas Hawazin said...

knocking down borders among the Arabic-speaking peoples

Those borders were only set in place in 1916, there wasn't any real countries before that. those nation-states are as evident in the case of Iraq, very fragile.
One could argue that the dialect is a somewhat 'characteristic' personality of Iraq or Egypt or Jordan,but that isn't the case as well, Mosuli is very Levantine and has absolutely nothing to do with the more widespread Iraqi dialect(s).


But yes, it is a dream.

anon1 said...

Maslawi is how Baghdadis used to sound like a few centuries ago, so I wouldn't say it has *nothing* to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Baghdad's accent from the Abbassid time sounded like Maslawi, and it's still the dialect of the Iraqi Jews worldwide. The subsequent Bedouin waves of immigration altered Baghdad's dialect into the standard version we have today, which is closer to the dialects of the invading tribes.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if "Programmer Craig" has read yet about the Turkish military sending ten thousand troops into Iraqi Kurdistan, backed by artillery and air raids with the help of US intelligence. Looks to me like the US and Turkey are pretty keen on maintaining their strong strategic relationship, which Craig questioned if it even existed.

Marcus

Anonymous said...

Why is al-Jawahiri not one of your Ayatollahs?

The subsequent Bedouin waves of immigration altered Baghdad's dialect into the standard version we have today, which is closer to the dialects of the invading tribes.

Yeah, alright, that's why South Iraqis and Bagdadis still use Akkadian words.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are a handful of Akkadian and Sumerian words still in use in today's Iraqi dialect. There are dozens more of Aramaic, Turkish, Azeri, Persian, Kurdish, Hebrew, Indian and, most recently, Italian, French and English words. What is that supposed to signify? Iraq has long been a ground to different invading empires and regional conflicts as well as a major trade route between East and West, so of course some influence would be retained in the Iraqi dialect(s) to this day.

It is a historical fact that has been proven by many historians and linguists that Baghdadis, who were largely Jewish and Christian, predominately spoke in what we call today the Maslawi accent to as late as the 18th and 19th centuries, and that it was the descendant of the Arab dialect spoken in Iraq during the Abbassid era, especially when you realize that it is closer to Classical Arabic.

For a more contemporary example, look at how the Basrawi accent (which is very unique and closer to the Kuwaiti accent) has been corrupted over the last few decades, and how it is now almost indistinguishable from the Marsh Arab or Amara accents as a result of large scale peasant immigration from these areas to Basra.

Abbas Hawazin said...

to all the anons:

Really? Maslawi was the Baghdadi accent! That's very interesting, I've been looking for books about the emergence of the various Arab dialects ; do you have the books online? or at least give me the titles and i'll look for them.

Anonymous said...

The best book is supposedly Haim Blanc's Communal Dialects in Baghdad (1964), but it's pretty expensive and unavailable in a digital copy as far as I know. If you google 'Baghdad dialects' you'll get some good scholarly articles on Iraqi and Arabic sociolinguistics, and there are several limited preview books at Google Books on the topic, such as Khalesi's Modern Iraqi Arabic.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good article on diglossia in the Arabic language (the existence of two separate varieties of language side by side--Standard or Classical Arabic alongside the different regional dialects):

www-personal.umich.edu/~andyf/digl_96.htm

anon1 said...

Even today, while as a non-Iraqi I can distinguish between northern and southern Iraqi speech, they both have an unmistakable "Iraqi" quality. I've never confused a Maslawi for a Syrian based on speech at all.

Anonymous said...

How would you define an "unmistakable Iraqi quality"? And do you also think it applies to all varieties of Iraqi Arabic? The Maslawi accent is spoken between the two rivers all the way up to Mardin and Diyarbakir. So, yes, some Syrians and Turkish Arabs do speak in an accent that you can barely distinguish from Maslawi, just like you can barely distinguish the Arabic spoken in Albu-Kamal up to Raqqa in Syria from the accent spoken in western Iraq (the same with the Iranian province of Khuzistan or Ahwaz).

anon1 said...

There is a certian Iraqi *accent* (not dialect, but accent) that is shared across Iraq. That's how most of us non-Iraqis recognize an Iraqi from a non-Iraqi. It's natural that some "Maslawi" speech resembles the speech of neighboring regions in Syria, of course, but somehow, from my experience, I've never confused even a western Syrian for being an Iraqi (even when they belong to a tribe that lives on both sides of the border). I'm just relating my own experience. It's only natural that an Iraqi would notice far more differences within Iraq than a non-Iraqi; that goes for any dialect group.

Anonymous said...

Point taken. As for myself, I have mistaken Iraqis around Basra as being Kuwaiti or Saudi (particularly Iraqis from Faw, Safwan or Zubair). On the other hand, when I look at some videos on YouTube of Ahwazi Arabs, I tend to think of them as 100% Iraqi in their speech, appearance and mannerisms.

What you describe as a the unifying accent that is shared across Iraq is the current prestige accent of Baghdad and other major urban centers. Eventually the distinct accents in different parts of the country will disappear in favor of the standardized Baghdadi accent. The same process has taken place in neighboring countries, such as Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

Abbas Hawazin said...

Unifised by Baghdadi accent, says who? It's getting rather hard to keep the country united in the first place.
By the way some of you may not know that I'm half-Maslawi.
and anon1, if you're the same anon1who comments on my other posts, why don't you adopt a more recognizable name? (i think you're Palestinian, mu friend?)

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree about what was said about Iraqi dialect.

I just doubt the underlying idea, that the Southern Iraqi dialect was strongly influences by Bedouins. This is especially about the change of Arabic q > Iraqi g.

I don't think this is a Bedouin invention, in fact one can hint even to Late Akkadian for this sound change.

Gilgamesh X / exile - iraqi

anon1 said...

The influence of the bedouin dialect in southern and western Iraq is quite well-established ... really it's more than a mere influence, as some linguists describe these Iraqi and Gulf dialects as "beduoin-based" or "Najdi-based". The 'g' is the most obvious manifestation, but really the syntax and much of the vocabulary is very much based on bedouin speech. That doesn't mean its identical, as it the bedouin dialect was grafted onto the local dialects. This should be expected of course, because the tribes in southern Iraq (and Ahwaz) are mostly from Najd and eastern Arabia (Khafajah, Ubadah, Shammar, Muntafig, Bani Lam, Bani Ka'b, Tayy, etc.). That's also why Iraqi dialects are more conservative than Syrian/Levantine dialects. It's also why the dialects of Basrah and Kuwait are so similar, or do you think the mostly-Najdi and bedouin population of Kuwait are speaking an Akkadian-based dialect, too?

As for the Iraqi accent, sure there might be a Baghdad prestige dialect, but if you accept that Baghdadis once spoke much the same dialect as Maslawis before the immigration from the provinces, then it's only natural that Mosul and Baghdad would share some common features in dialect even now. Arabic dialects generally operate as a continuum. So, Maslawi naturally would have features from Syrian Arabic that Basrawi would not, while Basrawi would have features from Gulf Arabic that Maslawi would not, but both Basrawi and Maslawi share features with the central Iraqi dialects that Gulf and Syrian Arabic do not.

No, Kid, I'm not Palestinian. There used to be good book online by Versteegh (can't remember the exact spelling) on Arabic dialects, but it was pulled down recently.

Jeffrey said...

Abbas,

I came across a review of a book by Niloofar Haeri called Sacred Language, Ordinary People: Dilemmas of Culture and Politics in Egypt, which deals with how both Egyptian Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic are used in Egypt today. The reviewer, Gerda Mansour, posits an interesting theory that, because of the new media in the Arab world, elements from the various local dialects will now become more widely accepted and possibly create a new kind of spoken standard:

With respect to Arabic this process seems to have started, as the popularity of Egyptian films and the success of satellite TV stations like Al-Jazeera demonstrate. Although broadcasts of Al-Jazeera generally conform to the rules of modern standard Arabic, a minimum of dialect features and simplifications are considered acceptable in discussions. Given enough time, it is likely that an accepted standard spoken form will emerge, even if the written standard (as everywhere) remains more conservative. Acceptance of change in the written language is always more problematic, because it affects the interests of the power structure behind the "national language".

It's a long book review, but worth reading, I believe.

*

Anonymous said...

Versteegh's book is available on limited preview here:

books.google.com/books?id=2tghviSsrF8C&pg

A very good read.

Also, an interesting website where you can listen to short sound files of the different Iraqi (including Maslawi and Jewish) and regional accents here

Jeffrey said...

Abbas et al.,

I also found a blog entry about Al-Jazeerah and Algerian Arabic (one of the Maghrebi dialects). The comments page had a good discussion going.

Shaden, an Egyptian linguistics student, wrote:

I think the real question is how long the Arabophone world is willing to sacrifice the rich diversity that makes up its linguistic landscape for the sake of a romantic attachment to an earlier age.

Obviously, I don't have any answers here. At the same time, I'm following the discussion with great interest. I am, as many of you know, an ESL teacher here in NYC, with students from all over the world. Every day I deal with language issues, many of them similar to the ones being debated here. You talk, I'll listen.

*

anon1 said...

Jeffrey,
Shaden is attacking a strawman. Arabs are not sacrificing linguistic diversity. There will always be two forms of Arabic. The diversity is decreasing as an inevitable result of mass communication and mass transport. It used to be that every village had its dialect, then every city, and pretty soon the levelling will reach an extent that there will be a dialect for every small region or country. MSA is just what it's called - a standard. Every large language needs one and has one, and it usually arises naturally. As a large language spanning 22 countries, Arabic moves and evolves according to its own dynamic; neither the "classicists" could do away with the dialects, nor could the "dialectists" do away with the standard, because ordinary people simply ignore them and use their language in accordance with their own needs.

Personally, I consider both the dialects and Classical Arabic as two poles within the same language, and see no reason for conflict whatsoever.

Jeffrey said...

Anon1,

As a linguist myself, I agree with most of what you've just written. People have no problem learning any number of speech varities, if necessary.

But, here's a question. How large is the gap between the two varieties, the local vernaculars and "al-fusha al-mu'aasira"? For example, how much would an illiterate Iraqi from a village near Basra understand of two Al-Jazeerah commentators who are speaking only in Modern Standard Arabic? 100%? 75%? 50%?

And then there's the question of local literature (Moroccan Arabic, for example) having to be written in a variety (Modern Standard Arabic) that can't capture the real local speech patterns and locutions and slang.

Of course, there's a kind of trade-off here. MSA gives you a wider audience, but you're farther away from the spoken roots of the actual language used in your own country. It's a tough one, don't you think?

*

Jeffrey said...

Anon1,

The diversity is decreasing as an inevitable result of mass communication and mass transport. It used to be that every village had its dialect, then every city, and pretty soon the levelling will reach an extent that there will be a dialect for every small region or country.

This is part of Gerda Mansour's argument, from the book review above.

*

Jeffrey said...

Anon1,

I forgot the link to the blog entry on Algerian Arabic. Here it is:

Al Jazeera and Reuters Discover Algerian Arabic.

*

Jeffrey said...

Anon1,

Oh, one more point. I'm American and my relatives came here from Luxembourg, that tiny country between Belgium, France, and Germany. My great-grandfather arrived in the US in 1849. I communicate with my relatives who still live there mostly in German and English, and sometimes French. I only know a few words of the local dialect, Letzebuergisch. So, I agree with you, there's no question that people can learn different speech varieties -- even languages from different language families -- if it's required to function in that society.

*

Anonymous said...

It's also why the dialects of Basrah and Kuwait are so similar, or do you think the mostly-Najdi and bedouin population of Kuwait are speaking an Akkadian-based dialect, too?

I wouldn't go that far but in fact about q > g I must state: Not every Iraqi word undergoes this change, and this similar to the change of k > ch. Not every word undergoes this change.

I don't claim to have the proof of truth, but I must ask: Why you say yigool (he says) but yuqaal ( it was said) ? Same applies to a lot of questions too.

In my opinion, all the g, ch words are some kind of relicts.

If ANON has a reply for me, I would be more than interested in knowing it.

There is a very good article in JAOS about the orign of 'aku and maku and the author described how these words in all its variations were used in pre-Arabic Iraq.

Instead of linking Iraqi dialect with other dialects (which is not wrong at all) one should also consider to link Iraqi Arabic with Iraqi languages before Arabic.

About Versteegh's book, well, it's at least among German orientalists a bit controversial.

On the other hand, BLANKS book is a bit incomplete like the velarization of L for example.

Gilgamesh X

anon1 said...

I don't know about the specific case of "yuqal." It could be a recent borrowing from Standard Arabic (as far as I know, Iraqi dialects no longer retain the passive voice). However, again, if you accept the premise that the original Iraqi dialects were 'q'-dialects like that of Mosul, then it's only natural that many q-words would remain in the lexicon. Now, regarding the 'ch'/'j' phenomenon, well that's not a specifically Iraqi one, but appears all along the Gulf littoral extending into Oman (and also appears in one Najdi village called Hotat Bani Tamim). Najdi and beduoin tribes have a related phenomenon called 'kaskasa', where k='ts' and g='dz', but like in Gulf and Iraqi Arabic, the transformation does not occur in every word but depends on the "phonetic environment" in which the 'k' or 'g' is located. There's also 'kashkasha' in other regions (k='sh'). Both 'kaskasa' and 'kashkasha' date from pre-Islamic times.

The q/g distinction cuts across the Arab world and has always been the tell-tale sign of "beduoin-like" speech. The closer people are to the bedouins the more likely they'll pronounce the 'q' as 'g'. I don't see why Iraq would be any different. I was reading Yitzhak Nakash recently and he says that as late as the 19th century some 70% of of the population of southern Iraq was still bedouin (all settled now of course).

Now, I'm not saying that there is no influence from earlier languages; like I said, in Iraq the bedouin dialects became grafted onto an earlier dialect. However, Iraq has been exposed to continuous bedouin settlement that only came to an end in the 1920's, so the influence of the old languages, while probably present, is much more attenuated in southern Iraq than in other Arab countries (in western Syria even some of the pronouns are Syriac). Of course, I'm oversimplifying a little bit, as there is more than one dialect in southern Iraq. Some southern Iraqis exhibit more "beduoinisms" than others. I read about a similar situation in Khuzestan (Bruce Ingham wrote a lot of interesting things on this topic).

Regarding, Versteegh, I only mentioned him because his book was available online. My favorite book on Arabic is Clive Holes' "Modern Arabic". It has some very concise and readable answers to the questions Jeffrey raised.

anon1 said...

About 'aku' and 'maku', those are also used in Kuwait and Qatar, so they're not specifically Iraqi. I'm persuaded by the etymology that says they derive from "akuun" or "yakuun" (Classical Arabic has "aku", "taku", "yaku" used in a slightly different way from modern "aku"/"maku"). In general, I feel the Iraqi, Khuzestani, and Gulf dialects belong to one family (at least phonetically), though southern Iraqi seems to be the most conservative wallahu a3lam.

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