Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"To dream . . . the impossible dream . . ."


Like the good Don Quixote, I was looking over my books and writings this morning, checking details in my search for the ultimate meaning of the small mole on the great Don's back, trying not to make so big a mountain of a mole that the mountain won't come to me in a size that I can't handle . . . but perhaps I have faith enough to toss it into the sea.

Speaking of that mole, I spoke of it earlier in noting the mole on the back of the the Muslim conquistador Tarif, who invaded Spain during the initial stage of the Arab Muslim conquest, citing a scholar on this issue:
In the article "De la autoría morisca a la antigüedad sagrada de Granada, rescatada al Islam," Mercedes García-Arenal has noted the connection between the mole on Tarif's back and the 'mole' on Muhammad's back (but does not note a link to Don Quixote):
Luna introduce en su libro, . . . otro pronóstico claramente emparentado con las qisas al-anbiya’: una mujer se acerca al conquistador árabe, el capitán Tarif, recién desembarcado en la península y le reconoce como aquél del que habla un pronóstico que le había transmitido su padre, según el cual un hombre milagroso había de ganar la península y su seña había de ser «un lunar peloso, tan grande como un garvanco, . . . situado sobre el hombro de la mano derecha».:" Esta historia está claramente inspirada en la del monje Bahira, que aparece en todos los compendios de «historias de los profetas», un monje cristiano que fue el primero en reconocer la calidad profética de Mahoma al ver que tenía sobre el hombro derecho un lunar, la marca de la profecía. (García-Arenal, 564)

In his book, Luna introduces . . . an omen clearly related to the al-qisas anbiya' [sic. qisas al-anbiya', i.e., "Stories of the Prophets," adapted from the Qur'an]: a woman approaches the Arab conquistador, the captain Tarif, who has recently landed on the peninsula, and she recognizes him as the one spoken of in an omen handed down by her father, according to which a miraculous man would gain the peninsula, the sign being "a hairy mole, as big as a garbanzo . . . located on the shoulder of the right hand." This story is clearly inspired by that of the monk Bahira, which appears in all compendiums of "Stories of the Prophets," the tale of a Christian monk who was the first to recognize the prophetic qualities of the Prophet Muhammad, for this monk was to discover a mole on his right shoulder, the mark of prophecy. (my translation of García-Arenal, 564; corrections would be appreciated)
García-Arenal notes the allusion in Luna's passage concerning the mole on Tarif’s back to the Bahira story of the 'mole' on Muhammad's back. Muslim sources, however, generally locate the mark not on Muhammad's right shoulder but on his left shoulder or between his shoulder blades. If any Muslim sources speak of the mole being on Muhammad's right shoulder, then I would appreciate knowing the sources.
I still have no solid hadith that places the mole on Muhammad's right shoulder, but I wonder if there are a few, for I have found that Khwaja Kamal-ud-din mentions the mole being on Muhammad's right shoulder in his 1925 biography of Muhammad:
[Muhammad's] back was broad, and near his right shoulder-blade was a mark like a seal, and in it there was a black mole, somewhat yellowish, around which there was some thick hair. (Kamal-ud-din, The Ideal Prophet: Aspects of the life and qualities of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Lahore: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at, 1996 [1925]), page 12)
Unfortunately, Kamal-ud-din provides only a general reference to Bukhari (page 11) as well as to Tirmizi (Shamdtail) and Ibn Hanbal (Musnad Muslim) (page 11, note 1). If anyone knows what hadith are meant, please post the information in a comment and thereby assist me in realizing my impossible dream of publishing a scholarly article on Don Quixote, despite being no Cervantes scholar.

That's all for today. The day threatens . . .

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6 Comments:

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once commented to my mother on a theme on several occasions. She then confided to my wife that this topic was "bearing on my mind."
By this she was saying that it was consuming too much of my attention, and was not a good thing to do.
Why the concern over Don Quixote on the part of my esteemed nephew?
When I read Don Quixote, he had delusions of grandeur, an exalted opinion of his purpose in life, and a strange (but to him quite reasonable) view of his circumstances.
Is there some connection to this lifestyle of "Don" and my nephew?
Jeffery, rememember to live in the real world, and keep away from windmills. There may be some connection with your dread of "fan death" resulting in your fascination with our mutual literary friend, Mr. Quixote.
Cran

 
At 7:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, Uncle Cran, I figure that if I can't be successful on the world's terms, I can nevertheless succeed as ridiculously as Quixote, so you have me pegged correctly -- like a square peg in a round hole or a forever missing John Harmon.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:38 PM, Anonymous trevor said...

If moles were parrots, then Tarif could still not really be Long John Silver.

 
At 6:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

True, for a mole is a land-dwelling creature. Sort of . . . though he ship-like (or submarine-like) plows the seas of land and makes waves that billow chaotically up.

But . . . upon which shoulder does a parrot ride? Left would be sinister. Right would be wrong for the criminally inclined.

Anyway, Trevor, good to hear from you again . . . even though no green man is riding this time. Rather, an experienced man.

I know that you would be an expert on the great Don, but would you happen to know of hadith . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:29 PM, Anonymous trevor said...

I'm afraid my new year's resolution involved Italian rather than Arabic, but this may be of some use to you: http://www.islamqa.com/es/ref/22725. The more optimistic Shi'a believe Imam Mahdi is still tucked up in a cave somewhere, a black mole on his face, waiting to prevail over evil. An Iranian friend says he'll surely have had cosmetic surgery by now, so identification may prove problematic. Western and Middle Eastern stigmata may be in decline, but bindis and derivate jewellery seem to thrive.

 
At 5:57 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Trevor, for the reference. I had, in my intellectual and scholarly ramblings, actually stumbled across that bit about the Mahdi's mole somewhere.

What is it with these masculine 'beauty' marks in the Muslim world, anyway?

Good luck with Italian, but I suppose that you have a leg up on that already.

Jeffery Hodges

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