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Simon Ockley again

My Arab friends have given me some help about Simon Ockley's translation of the paedophilia text. Simon Ockley was translating this text. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=xLJEAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en. You can scroll forward to page 23, where you will recognise the words Mohamet, Abu Bakr, Aisha. There is no serious doubt that Ockley has made an accurate translation of Maracci's Latin. You will see that the Arab scholar was called Abdulrahman al-Hamdani. My friends say that the title of his book is Al-Shabayat. They cannot read Latin and I did not tell them what it was about. I just asked them about the sentence of Arabic. They said it means: "He reached out his blessed arm and grabbed her by the clothes." They were very surprised by this odd sentence. I had to explain to them that it was probably a quote from the book, and the story was about Muhammad and Aisha. So I think we can fairly say that Maracci did have access to a real book and that he made a fair translation of the story. Now we must try to find out who the scholar was and when he lived. Perhaps then we can establish the reliability of his narrative. But there is something about it that rings horribly true. I don't think a Muslim hagiographer would have invented this story.1234567 (talk) 05:01, 13 April 2013 (PDT)

Interesting! Thanks for keeping us posted. --Sahabah (talk) 11:10, 13 April 2013 (PDT)

Aisha

hi 1234567, I'm resetting the indent for my convenience.

I had given you the wrong links for your Sandboxes. I made the right links on your user page now: User:1234567. What you were working on is Sandbox 1: User:1234567/Sandbox 1

I feel you enjoy researching and writing about these topics and that's what we want in our editors. Your recent writeup is full of facts as is usually the case and but we have two concerns again with your writing which must be addressed before you do any additional work. The first is serious and needs to be discussed.

Wikipedia has this as a core policy: Verifiability. I'm going to repeat the "nutshell" of their policy page:

Readers must be able to check that Wikipedia articles are not just made up. This means that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation.

For example in your recent writeup:

Muhammad told the household of Abu Bakr, without mentioning his reason, “Take good care of Aisha and watch over her for me.” The family therefore gave Aisha a “special position.” A few days later, Aisha became upset with her mother and complained to her father. Abu Bakr was angry with both of them, and Umm Ruman vented her annoyance on Aisha. Aisha hid behind the front door to sob and was in this state of distress when Muhammad, arriving for his daily visit, asked what was wrong. She blurted out everything

I bolded three words here (vented, sob, blurted). The tone of these words is dramatic/emotional and not suitable for this site. We like writing articles in a style which would be found in a research paper. I want you to understand why we want to write things in a serious/journalistic style. Even though it may read boring it looks better and is more reliable/factual.

Here's the problem. A visitor comes on this site and reads "Abu Bakr was angry and Umm Ruman vented". He's going to ask "Who is the author who made this claim? How do I know this is true?". Unless an editor is Bukhari himself, they cannot make such a claim. So we only report what we find in a verifiable manner. We cannot give the impression of any original research (our own conclusions). We are all anonymous people on the internet so we cannot attempt to tell the reader what we think (no one cares about that and no wants to know). We can only tell people what we know for sure. This is like you reading a news article about the history of Aisha. You would want to know the facts and the facts only.

This is crucial to understand. Here's another example from the new writeup:

She was slim and light-framed[31] with a fair, rosy complexion and perhaps also red hair[32] that she wore plaited.[33] Time would show that she was confident, spirited, strong-willed and highly intelligent – she had indeed “some of the qualities of Khadijah”.

The bolded line would not be acceptable. Its giving the impression of assumptions again. I remember I had brought something like this up before as well (link) and I'm a little sad that I'm having to address this again. You have access to great sources and you have a strong interest in these topics and I want your work to be produced in the best way possible. If people see statements like these, this will severely negate all the positives (the references and facts). Mixing facts with opinions also makes it hard for the reader to distinguish between the two. (1) What actually happened. (2) What the author thinks may have happened. Even if what you wrote may be true, we cannot give the impression that the author is making the claim.

Leave out anything that you cannot directly attribute to a source. Make everything easily verifiable. That does mean leaving out speculations. If you have any speculation that is about something very important (Khadija living 15 more years), you can say it like "One may conclude that ...". Here its clear that this is an opinion of the author.

The second concern is making multiple references. Please do not combine references into a single reference. It makes it harder for anyone to verify the information.

To make things easy for you for both these issues, you can just mention the most important parts of a story so you'll have to use less references and do less work. I know you want people to know as much as possible so thats your choice, but in any case we need all opinions to left out, everything to be easily verifiable and no combined references should be used. If there is something that you think might be challenged by Muslims, it is also good to write the relevant part of that quote in the references with italics/quotation marks or provide the entire quote (whatever you think is appropriate). For example <ref>''"... Abu Bakar was very upset with Muhammad ..."'' (Bukhari 123:123)</ref> Even in essays these two issues must not be present.

One problem is that we don't have time to continuously review and fix the content, so this must change going forward and we need you to understand our approach so any additional work is done according to the guidelines. If these things are not fixed/changed at this time when the material is being compiled, it will be almost impossible to fix it later when there's limited access to the sources.

I think you will understand if you imagine that you are writing a research paper with a serious tone where everything must be referenced. This is actually very simple to do: As you go along, only report what you see (in a chronological order when possible), reference everything and don't create any opinions or give the impression that an opinion has been created. This is all you need to do.

As for whether you should do the controversial articles first or go in chrono-order, that's up to you how you want to do that. If we had a preference, of course we would like the controversial content first.

Sahabah may have additional thoughts. Let me know if you see any problems or difficulties with what I'm suggesting. --Axius (talk) 18:21, 29 April 2013 (PDT)

I don't have much to add except maybe clarify a few of Axius' points, or at least what I think he meant (Axius will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong).
About Axius' point concerning assumptions; in essence we're an encyclopedic counter-apologetics site, so things like this are great (minus the use of the word "absurd"):
It is also suggested that Muhammad “married Aisha for the benefit of Islam and Humanity … From her, 2210 Hadith have come... Many of her transmissions pertain to some of the most intimate aspects of personal behaviour which only someone in Aisha's position could have learnt.”[24] This is absurd. If Muhammad had wanted the traditions about his life to be securely transmitted to posterity, he would not have relied on the hope that his young widow might later think of it; he would have arranged to have them committed to writing during his lifetime. He never did. Further, if he had believed that a wife was the best kind of chronicler, he would have chosen an adult spouse who knew how to write. Aisha could in fact read[25] but she never learned to write.[26]
However, this is not:
Time would show that she was confident, spirited, strong-willed and highly intelligent – she had indeed “some of the qualities of Khadijah”.
And, yes, the use of dramatic/emotional language detracts a lot of the page's impact and makes it harder for an anonymous reader to take seriously. So basically, it shouldn't read like a novel. I know 1234567 is concerned about holding peoples interest, but the 'dry' or 'boring' articles really are what readers are looking for and is certainly what we want. Of course, when I say 'dry' or 'boring', I mean a to-the-point article written in a scholarly, professional tone. I know we must seem like crazy control freaks, and I apologize for that. But people will use any little excuse they can find to dismiss work critical of Islam. Your articles really are great and it would be a shame for them to be dismissed over such easily rectified points. --Sahabah (talk) 19:40, 29 April 2013 (PDT)
Okay, what you need to understand is that the article is currently in a very rough state, based on old work that was intended for a more narrative style. I have had to break off my research to earn money for a few days. So I have a skeleton article (information in roughly the right order) but also a lot of references not properly tied to the article and a lot of statements not properly tied to references. You can see this from the number of empty reference boxes. Many of the statements reflect the sort of information that, based on my preliminary reading of the sources, I expect to find, but there just hasn't been time for a sentence-by-sentence breakdown of how I know what I know. Isn't that what sandboxes are for?
And, yes, I do sometimes find that when I do the breakdown, I have drawn an unwarranted conclusion. It turns out to be based on something I read in a secondary source that wasn't properly linked to a real primary source; or when events are laid out in strict chronological order, it turns out that there is a confusion (mine or someone else's) of cause and effect; or the same minor character has been running through several narratives and reveals himself as a much more major player than anyone realised.
In the case of the story of Muhammad interfering with Abu Bakr's family, what will be needed will be to tie it more closely to the language of the original hadith, which (in my translation) is: "He found Aisha hiding behind the door of the house of Abu Bakr, weeping with great distress. He questioned her and she complained about her mother and said that she was after her." So perhaps she didn't "blurt" but only "told" her complaint; but it was definitely not in neutral tone. The annoying lack of specific detail (what actually happened in this situation?) is a feature of the original, which may be why this story is often omitted from the standard biographies of Aisha. I think it is interesting, however, to examine her relationship with the parents who soon afterwards handed her over to the paedophile.
Regarding the description of Aisha as intelligent, high-spirited, etc., this is rather similar to the description of Khadija as "loyal and sympathetic", which I wrote in the middle of my Khadija article. The evidence for these qualities not apparent at this point in the narrative, but it becomes obvious by the end of the story. Now you might want all such descriptors removed or left to a final conclusion, which is fine if that is your policy. But that does leave the reader wondering: What did Jibreel/Muhammad/Khawla mean by claiming that Aisha had "some of the qualities of Khadija"? Intelligence is the one obvious thing that the two had in common, but there were no IQ tests in those days. This seems to be the wrong point to reference every single hadith suggesting that Aisha had a high IQ.1234567 (talk)
Yes, of course that is what sandboxes are for. I'm sure Axius is aware that its content may not reflect what the finished page will look like, but was hoping his early intervention would help you avoid any unnecessary extra work later on. If one editor notices the work of another editor and thinks they're going in the wrong direction, it's only natural to point it out. If their input is not necessary because you already plan on doing what they suggested, then there is no harm.
About that family incident. I agree it's interesting. But the point about dramatic/emotional language would still stand. For example, replacing the word "weeping" with "crying" (if the source is quoted in the reference, readers will easily be able to read the original wording by hovering their cursor over the ref number). Or you could simply quote the source by saying, "she was "weeping with great distress"". I understand that Aisha telling Muhammad was not done in a neutral tone, and that your description of events should be accurate. But I think this should be done using the least dramatic language possible, and where there is such language used, it should be within quotation marks and never from the actual author/article.
Regarding the description of Aisha. I haven't read the entire article, but just considering that section on its own, I don't think it's necessary to even have that line there. One way that could have been handled without losing any information is by adding a footnote, e.g., "He said the angel Jibril had appeared to him in a dream, holding a veiled child and saying, “Messenger of Allah, this one will remove some of your sorrow. This one has some of the qualities of Khadijah.”<ref>Note that Islamic sources generally convey that Khadijah was a confident, enthusiastic, determined and intelligent women.</ref> Then he lifted the veil, revealing that the child was Aisha." --Sahabah (talk) 22:24, 29 April 2013 (PDT)
hi 1234567, right, we didnt know the writeup was based on content written earlier. No problem, we'll wait for you to be done.
Sahabah is right about the intelligence issue. I'll assume temporarily I'm a critical reader. I would ask questions like: "What is the evidence for her being confident, strong-willed and intelligent? How do these qualities compare to those found in other women of that time? Was she exceptional in any way? Did anyone attest to these qualities explicitly? Were there any additional qualities? Maybe it was something else that was being referred to, such as praying habits, seeking the approval of Muhammad and so on". etc. You'll realize you're better off leaving these conclusions out.
You want to write a complete story but I'm saying having an accurate and reliable story is of primary importance while a secondary issue is of the story being/appearing incomplete. Islamic sources mention only bits and pieces and if we report just those, we've done our job. Its not even necessary to write in conclusions/deductions and fill in any gaps. The facts are powerful enough on their own. So we're looking for statements like these: Aisha could in fact read[25] but she never learned to write.[26]. They are directly referenced facts and have their own references (not combined). Here's a useful policy (Wikipedia:No original research), another of their core policies and I'll only mention the 'nutshell':
Wikipedia does not publish original thought: all material in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable, published source. Articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not clearly advanced by the sources themselves.
He's also right about the 'weeping' issue. For example when newspapers report what people are saying, they use exact quotes. Usage of the actual words is better than using your own words even if you think the new words describe it better.
I feel I've not done a complete job of explaining but hopefully this should help. --Axius (talk) 09:39, 30 April 2013 (PDT)

hi 1234567, welcome back. --Axius (talk) 04:02, 17 May 2013 (PDT)

Article comments

hi 1234567, I have some comments for User:1234567/Sandbox 1 and User:1234567/Sandbox 2. I'm assuming they're more or less complete. I didnt want you to be doing any more work on them but I thought I should ask first to see if you're done. --Axius (talk) 17:35, 20 June 2013 (PDT)

Sandbox 1 I still want to check some references.
Sandbox 2 is more or less complete but doesn't stand on its own.
There are so many references that the software will not support them as a single article.1234567 (talk) 19:26, 20 June 2013 (PDT)
Ok. Let me know when you're done and I'll compile my thoughts about the things I had noticed. Its ok to have them divided right now. --Axius (talk) 20:37, 20 June 2013 (PDT)
The biggest problem is still Ockley/Maracci. We're going to look really, really stupid if we include it and it turns out to be some sixteenth-century fantasy. On the other hand, if it's genuine, I'd still like to include it in the article. I can't find any trace online of an Abdulrahman al-Hamdani or an Abdulrahman ibn Hamdan who wrote the appropriate book. That doesn't mean he doesn't exist; it more likely means that he's out of favour with modern scholars and was never cited by anyone who wrote in English.
My Arab friends are searching for him in Arabic. They have come on board with helping me and are saying that it's "really important to tell everyone the truth about Muhammad." But I don't want to harass them. They have busy lives and they don't have a background in history; I have to give them clues about where to look.
Meanwhile, a few other things need tidying, but I can afford to cut them out if I can't find the information easily.
Ok. I think if you cant find the sources right now easily, it will be fine if you can leave those things out and put them in a "to do" list to deal with when you do find the sources. I'll wait for you to be done and then talk about the things that are of concern (in Sandbox 1 and 2) --Axius (talk) 06:16, 22 June 2013 (PDT)
I think I have now referenced everything that I can reference and cut out everything (minus Maracci) that I cannot; and I have toned down the writing style to something more encyclopaedic. Perhaps it's now at the stage where it's easier for you to look at it before I do any more.
I will keep Maracci on my "to do" list, because I do have confidence that we will solve the puzzle one way or another eventually.
If there is something that you just want to cut out, it's probably easiest if you simply cut it. I have kept a copy of the article the way I want it for my own writing, so it doesn't bother me to lose anything from the Wikiislam version.
If the facts are in dispute, you can ask about it. If I've made an unwarranted assumption, I'll cut it. If you need a fuller version of the reference I used to prove my point, I can provide it. But I'm actually worried about cut-and-pasting great slabs of translated material: we'll soon be verging on breach of copyright.
If you just want to change a word here or there, it's probably easier for you to do it yourself than enter a great debate about it. This is a wiki, so nobody can claim sole authorship. But if you want me to rewrite a whole paragraph, it's probably easier if you explain what you want so that I can do it myself.1234567 (talk) 04:50, 23 June 2013 (PDT)
Ok. I'll compile the comments and let you know here and we'll see what to do next. --Axius (talk) 07:10, 23 June 2013 (PDT)

(outdent) hi 1234567, here are some comments. I'll just mention a few first so we can sort those first before moving to other issues.

1. I know you're dealing with a challenge of creating a story from old/archaic english or incomplete stories (missing information) but we cannot change things in quotes. Here's an example. If a source quoted John saying "The apple is red and falling". I cannot re-write that and change that quote in any way. People expect quotes to be accurate and exact (this is why they're called quotations). So I could not re-write that and quote John saying "The apple is red as blood and its falling while succumbing to gravity".

Quoting the following from the start of User:1234567/Sandbox_2:

Co-Wives
Aisha was jealous of the deceased Khadijah. She complained to Muhammad: “Khadijah is always on your mind, and you speak as if she were the only woman in the world! Why do you still think of that toothless old woman who is long dead, when Allah has given you someone better to replace her?” Muhammad retorted, “No, I have never had a better wife than Khadijah!”[1] Perhaps Aisha would not have minded about Khadijah if she had not also had to compete with living co-wives.

The sources mentioned are:

Sahih Bukhari 5:58:164; Sahih Bukhari 5:58:165; Sahih Bukhari 5:58:166; Sahih Bukhari 5:58:168; Sahih Bukhari 7:62:156; Sahih Bukhari 8:73:33; Sahih Bukhari 9:93:576; Sahih Muslim 31:5971; Sahih Muslim 31:5972; Sahih Muslim 31:5974; Sahih Muslim 31:5976.

The two sources that may be talking about this are:

Narrated 'Aisha: Once Hala bint Khuwailid, Khadija's sister, asked the permission of the Prophet to enter. On that, the Prophet remembered the way Khadija used to ask permission, and that upset him. He said, "O Allah! Hala!" So I became jealous and said, "What makes you remember an old woman amongst the old women of Quraish an old woman (with a teethless mouth) of red gums who died long ago, and in whose place Allah has given you somebody better than her?" ([1])

and:

A'isha reported that Hala b. Khuwailid (sister of Khadija) sought permission from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to see him and he was reminded of Khadija's (manner of) asking leave to enter and (was overwhelmed) with emotions thereby and said: O Allah, it is Hala, daughter of Khuwailid, and I felt jealous and said: Why do you remember one of those old women of the Quraish with gums red and who is long dead-while Allah has given you a better one in her stead? ([2])

The quote you that had does not match with the sources. So Aisha did not say anything like this to Muhammad: "Why do you still think of that toothless old woman who is long dead". No source has Aisha saying exactly that sentence. We cant change quotes. Brackets are sometimes used in Islamic sources but they are actually often insertions by translators (e.g. how some translators add the word 'lightly' while translating Quran 4:34). This is why the other source did not have those brackets.

The better way to do this would be to quote the source as it is:

"Why do you remember one of those old women of the Quraish with gums red and who is long dead-while Allah has given you a better one in her stead?" (this sentence is used in the source)

As I said I understand your challenge of using these sources to create something readable but quotes cant be changed.

So that whole quote of Aisha is a synthesis. It is not what she said. Its a re-write and since its in quotes, the reader thinks this is exactly what she said in Arabic but thats not the case.

Continuing: According to Islamic sources, Muhammad's response to that quote was:

I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadija though I did not see her, but the Prophet used to mention her very often, and when ever he slaughtered a sheep, he would cut its parts and send them to the women friends of Khadija. When I sometimes said to him, "(You treat Khadija in such a way) as if there is no woman on earth except Khadija," he would say, "Khadija was such-and-such, and from her I had children." ([3])

But according to you, his response was:

Muhammad retorted, “No, I have never had a better wife than Khadijah!”[1] Perhaps Aisha would not have minded about Khadijah if she had not also had to compete with living co-wives.

That quote ("I have never had a better wife than Khadijah") is not present in any of the sources.

I have not heard of anyone saying its ok to re-write quotes this is why me and Sahabah were surprised when we saw this. For a website like ours where everything is scrutinized with a microscope, we cannot do anything like that. So as it is, this changing of quotes is not acceptable for our site. I know you havent done this intentionally. You really wanted to write something that the reader finds interesting, but to maintain integrity, accuracy and quality we have to be careful in how or what we write. If it was a short story we were writing or a script for a movie about Islam, it would be another issue.

This is just one issue and its very worrying because of the quantity of work you have done. Here's another example. You wrote:

At one stage he announced a revelation from Allah that he must not marry any more women “no matter how beautiful.”[3]

This exact quote is not found in the Quran and the link you used was [4]. The Quran cannot be paraphrased.

So its this re-writing, re-arranging, paraphrasing original quotes that is worrying.

Another example:

But the revelation is of no great importance, for “Allah lifted the restriction stated in this ayah and permitted him to marry more women … Aisha said, ‘Allah’s Messenger did not die until all women were permitted to him.’”[4]

The reference given actually says:

Then Allah lifted the restriction stated in this Ayah and permitted him to marry more women, but he did not marry anyone else, so that the favor of the Messenger of Allah towards them would be clear. Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "The Messenger of Allah did not die until Allah permitted (marriage to other) women for him.

So you have changed the quote. "All women" is not the same as "other women".

I want to try our best to save your content. As I've said before many times there's a lot of good information you have gathered from these sources and this kind of work has possibly not been done by anyone. You have showed a lot of passion and interest in this topic and we love that. But these issues need to be addressed before content like this is acceptable for the site.

2. Minor issue (#1 above is the real problem): Image of stoning is not appropriate here: User:1234567/Sandbox_2 and will need to be removed. This was something we'd talked about before. (for one, caption doesn't mention Aisha and its relation to the page. It does make the page appealing and I understand your attempt but we use images only if directly relevant)

For #1, I feel its a serious problem. There are many other instances where we saw this happening and some of them we cant even check because we don't have the sources and we haven't looked at everything because of the quantity of the content. I'm honestly not sure what can be done other than going back to the sources and making sure its all OK. What is also sad that we had talked about this before ([5] where I said how we must only quote the sources e.g. "assumptions, deductions, opinions, things that are not present directly in a text", "we make sure the reader knows that this was an actual quote") and now the same problems exist and we have new content that is not right.

The only solution is go through the content and make sure quotes are exact and if they are not, they have to be carefully/neutrally worded. For example we would write "Muhammad replied" instead of "Muhammad retorted" (another issue that we had talked about before on the old talk page: User_talk:1234567/Archive). But again I feel this solution is difficult because of the amount of content and the common occurrence of the problem. Sahabah saw these problems and I agreed with him (that we cannot change quotes in any way. Again see my example of John in the beginning). Let me know what you think. --Axius (talk) 18:52, 26 June 2013 (PDT)

Let us also know if you have any feedback or suggestions for the site, if anything can be improved and so on. --Axius (talk) 19:10, 3 July 2013 (PDT)
Okay, if that is the main issue, that is what I will do.
Thanks for explaining site policy. The truth is, we are dealing with translated material. I know quite a lot about translation (because I speak three languages, though not Arabic) and I find that for most purposes, a dynamic equivalent is better than a literal translation. Literal translation, especially of idioms, often obscures the real meaning. For example, the "woman of red gums" is a "toothless woman", i.e., an old one. We just don't express the idea that way in natural English. An Arab would not understand our equivalent expression, "She's over the hill." In fact there are many English translations of the hadiths, not all of which are literal and hardly any of which are expressed in elegant English; but some are definitely more comprehensible than others. (This is quite aside from whether the translation attempt was an honest one, e.g., Yusuf Ali on Q4:34). To be scrupulously honest, we should in fact name the translation as well as the source, and this information is not always available.
But if you would rather keep it literal, I can copy out the exact translation word for word in each case.
"I never had a better wife than Khadijah" is definitely in one of the sources; I did not invent it, and I'm fairly sure it was not invented by a secondary historian either. I'm sorry if I missed it in the versions I quoted; I'll hunt it out.
I have cleared the decks from other commitments, so I can now spend a couple of days tidying up the citations in the Aisha article. The article about Zaynab bint Jahsh is also nearly finished.
And I have stumbled across a few new hadiths that I can use to correct my previous articles. Amazing what you find when you're looking for something else.
I don't have a specific suggestion for improving the site overall, but whenever I find anything that might interest you, I'll post it on the appropriate Talk page.1234567 (talk) 22:05, 13 July 2013 (PDT)
"The truth is, we are dealing with translated material. I know quite a lot about translation (because I speak three languages, though not Arabic) and I find that for most purposes, a dynamic equivalent is better than a literal translation."
Surely you're aware that paraphrasing sources and presenting them as direct quotes from translations (by the use of inverted commas) is wrong? It's simply not the done thing.
Sites critical of Islam mainly have 3 accusations hurled at them: 1) they're biased. 2) they're run by bigoted right-wingers with an axe to grind. 3) their criticism is built on fabricated sources and taking things out of context.
The first two don't bother us because they're ad hominem (plus, we don't do politics, so the second incorrect accusation isn't even worth entertaining). However, the third accusation is something we take very seriously. We've managed to avoid such accusations by being very stringent with what we allow onto the site.
Speak to anyone with experience in debating Muslims or writing articles critiquing Islam and they will tell you that paraphrasing sources will lead to the accusation of fabricating sources. And to be honest, there wouldn't be a defense for it. More worryingly, you seem to go further than simply paraphrasing the text.
You appear to be merging several hadith into one, and the conclusions you reach from your reinterpretation of sources are at times not supported by the sources. You did agree to quote the relevant text for all sources in reference tags, but have failed to do so. We do this to make it easier for readers to check sources onsite (rather than have to go offsite via an external link or have to buy hard copies of sources). This would also help us and future editors to verify the accuracy of articles.
I really think it is very important for an editor who wants to improve, to fully understand what the problems are. If you would like me to go more in-depth with the problems I see, please say so, and I will. Anyhow, I'm glad you are willing to make corrections.
"Literal translation, especially of idioms, often obscures the real meaning. For example, the "woman of red gums" is a "toothless woman", i.e., an old one. We just don't express the idea that way in natural English."
True. But this could have been explained without paraphrasing quotations. To anyone who reads your quotations, then checks the actual sources, it would appear that you are exaggerating what the sources say in order to help support your claims and for added dramatic effect. That's not good.
"To be scrupulously honest, we should in fact name the translation as well as the source, and this information is not always available."
There may be exceptions, but we usually do. All of of our Qur'an and several of the major hadith collections have this information available. If you click on the left side of each reference, it will take you to it: Quran 4:1 or Sahih Bukhari 4:55:548. We also have the same for Tabari (you have to click on the right side for that): Al-Tabari, Vol. 1, p. 273. The important thing is that they're from published translations. Not ones that we made up. They have to be translations that Muslims would use without a problem. --Sahabah (talk) 00:47, 14 July 2013 (PDT)
hi 1234567, to confirm what Sahabah said: regardless of the reasons you gave (as I said I understand your challenge of using these old sources. Its a difficult task), quotes cannot be shown as quotes when they were in fact modified or paraphrased. I don't remember seeing this happen anywhere else. It could be a script for a movie or play but it wouldn't be suitable for us. I've not written much on the site but when I have, my one and only concern is that it should be something that is irrefutable. It must be linked to a good source and it must say what the source says. Of secondary importance are things like: is it readable, does it look good, does it flow well, etc. So the paraphrasing of quotes is a critical issue. No new content should be added without dealing with these existing issues. One solution that makes it easier is for you to keep the story short and only mention important details. Another is not to use quotes and only use them when you have to. Even if you don't use quotes, writing should still be "irrefutable" and accurately reflect the source.
You haven't responded to the fact that you paraphrased the Quran and you showed a Quranic verse in quotes when that is not what it said. I have never even seen Muslims do something like that, because they will use another author's translation rather than creating their own. If we create things in quotes and give the impression that thats whats the Quran said, we are creating our own translation. Its not just for the Quran but everything else as well.
I don't think its possible to write anything for our site without first understanding the approach we take which is accuracy and reliability first, and everything else comes later. Again, you are doing a difficult task which is to use all of these sources but the first test our pages have to pass is the "defense" stage and that has to be kept in mind constantly for a site like ours. So paraphrasing quotes creates a big problem. I know this can be dealt with. I think the first step is to make a list of possible articles that may need to fixed and then tackle them one by one. You could tell us how you would deal with this. For example you have to use the sources, you cant modify quotes, you can write things without quotes but they still have to reflect what the source says. Sources referenced must be distinct so everything can be verified easily. The more you do these things the higher the reliability is and presenting things in quotes that are not in the original source cannot be done no matter what.
We're like a newspaper. Suppose there was this line in the newspaper: 'Jennifer said her husband was "buying a lot of things" '
Readers will assume that that is exactly what she said. If the newspaper had in fact paraphrased Jennifer she actually said "shopping at the speed of $1000 dollars an hour", this would be a problem and Jennifer wouldnt be happy and the readers would stop trusting the newspaper. Its a problem and to me its a very obvious problem (like I said I've never seen it happen anywhere else). I've taken a quote, modified it, and presented it in quotes -- giving the impression that whats there in the quotes is what was actually said when thats not the case. If I have to paraphrase, I have to stop using quotes and even then it has to accurately reflect what was said.
Once again, if quotes can be modified, we cannot tell the difference between what was actually said and what was not. I know these are big problems because its not just a few paragraphs. Its a lot of content. We're already busy in a lot of things and I dont know if we have enough time to help you extensively with this so its all up to you basically. But again, we cannot have content on the site where quotes have been paraphrased and presented as quotes when they are not quotes. I did some searching (Google). Here's a good link about the use of quotation marks: [6]. It says "Indirect quotations are not exact wordings but rather rephrasings or summaries of another person's words. In this case, it is not necessary to use quotation marks." (section heading: Indirect Quotations). It also says "Many writers struggle with when to use direct quotations versus indirect quotations. Use the following tips to guide you in your choice."
Here's someone responding to a similar issue on Yahoo answers (Do you use quotations when paraphrasing?):
you don't use quotation marks. in text citations will do (an example of which is parenthetical citation). just make sure to give credit to your sources. you only use quotation marks when using DIRECT quotations, meaning everything is copied from the source in verbatim.
Additional links: How to paraphrase a source. This has a section on "Paraphrasing difficult texts". This following source [7] has a section on "Too many direct quotations". Here's another [8] which says: "When you paraphrase, you must entirely reword material taken from a source, without using quotation marks". Another Q/A: Does a paraphrase have quotation marks?.
So the steps here are to first settle this paraphrasing quotes issue and you can look other sources to see what they say and how to deal with the problem of writing content while using multiple sources, how and when to paraphrase and when/how to use direct quotations and so on. You will see they're saying the same thing we have been saying: You cant paraphrase things and present them in quotation marks.
It may also be helpful to visit writing forums and ask them about the challenge of writing things from old texts like these, and how to deal with the issue of paraphrasing and direct quotations while making sure everything remains accurate and matches the source and does not misrepresent or misquote. Also how to write in a journalistic style with no embellishment or decoration and so on. It would be helpful to look at these external links and talk to people who can give advice so you'll get opinions from other people as well. The steps are understanding what the problem is, and what caused things to be in this state, eliminating those approaches and changing course. --Axius (talk) 06:57, 14 July 2013 (PDT)
Okay, I have now given exact cut-and-paste wording for everything I quoted. In my professional opinion, we are dealing with low-quality translation a lot of the time (I can tell by comparing different translations and noting the poor English expression). Sticking to only one person's translation causes some sacrifice of accuracy in meaning, but if you are willing to live with that, it's your call.
A couple of the quotes are not readily available in English. You noticed the one about "I never had a better wife than Khadijah," which was in fact on my list of references to check, so I must have noted earlier that I still didn't have a source for that. The source is Ibn Hanbal. On the positive side, that means it can't possibly be Shi'a propaganda but is an acceptable Sunni citation. Ibn Hanbal's quote continues in the same way as the versions found in Bukhari and Muslim. On the negative side, I'm having to take an educated guess as to which of the English translations of the sentence scattered over the web is likely to be closest (most likely the one that offers least clarity in English!). I've asked my Arab friends to check what the original says so that we can make a good translation together.
The most recent version is now in Sandbox 1. I've cleared my other sandboxes.1234567 (talk) 23:32, 17 July 2013 (PDT)
Thanks. I agree sometimes the translations may not be correct/done right but if the quotes are not usable that means we cant use quotes at all (because according to rules quotes have to be verbatim or they shouldn't be used if they are not). I can't think of a case where quotes were created/modified which were not present in the source. We'll take a look. --Axius (talk) 04:27, 18 July 2013 (PDT)
Hi 1234567. I'm sorry to say your work is no longer suitable for the site. Unfortunately, most of our previous objections remain. We will leave your article about Aisha in the sandbox indefinitely (it may be blanked, but you will still have access to it if needed). I wish you luck on future projects and thank you for your time and effort at WikiIslam. It was much appreciated.--Sahabah (talk) 21:37, 23 July 2013 (PDT)
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