سلام شكر، ماجستير التصميم والحوسبة
مذكّرة الستوديو: عن الأنساب "الشريفة" ا
Salam Shokor, Design & Computation (M.A.)
Studio Journal: On "Honorable" Genealogy

DALL·E 2 Outpainting imagination of how the Shokor Genealogical tree might develop

Project Story
When I was a kid living in Lebanon, every other time I introduced myself to someone, I was met with a question that at first seemed peculiar, then grew familiar and expected: "شكر؟ يعني انت سيّد؟" "Shokor? so you're a Sayyid?"
"Sayyid" is a title more commonly used in Arabic before a surname or full name of a male; an equivalent to the English "mister", the French "monsieur", or the German "Herr". However in this context, I learned that it assumed that I'm a blood-relative of Muhammad, as in The Muhammad. When I asked my father about this bizarre relationship between my last name and the prophet of Islam, he often came back to me with a wise father's answer along the lines of "some families happen to be descendants of the prophet Muhammad, but a Sayyid is a Sayyid (or a master) of his own actions." In other words, it didn't mean much if you were a relative of someone regarded as holy if you have lead an immoral life.
Other people I came into conversation with about this matter had more precise and structured beliefs: a religious Shia'a Muslim would answer, for example: "Yes, and as a Sayyid, you have double the eternal rewards and double the punishment!" which sounded to me like it came from Stan Lee's Spiderman issue from 1962. Others would propose that in heaven (that is, if I make it to heaven) my eternal house or home would be closer to the prophet's family's housing complex. Thinking about it today, such neighbors would be at least more interesting than the ones I have in Wilmersdorf, Berlin. 
I did not think too much about this matter throughout my teenage and early-adult years. People would still ask if I was a Sayyid, and I would answer them with my father's wise words, or a sarcastic "Yes! Muhammad and I are casual pen-pals!" It wasn't until my last visit to my father's land in Al-Nabi Shayth (Shayth being the third son of Adam, who's supposedly buried in my hometown), in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, when, upon reading the tag on the entrance door: "Youssef Hussein Shokor, Al-Hassani" I asked my father: "What's this "Al-Hassani" bit about?" to which he replied that it was a reference of the Imam Al-Hassan, or Al-Hassan bin Ali, who was the grandson of Muhammad (to which we're supposed to be blood-related.) Al-Hassan briefly ruled as caliph from January 661 until August 661, succeeding his father Ali bin Abi Taleb and preceding his brother Al-Hussein. I laughed to my father's earnest response, and in my obvious distrust of this piece of information I exclaimed: "If we're so sure that we're related to Muhammad, we must have a family tree somewhere!" With all-seriousness he responded "We do." and weeks later he sends me photographs of a recto-verso, A4 sized piece of notebook paper that he received from the mayor of Al-Nabi Shayth. This paper (which you can find in the blog below) detailed a genealogical tree that not only goes back to Muhammad, but hear this: it goes back to Adam! You know, Adam. As in Adam and Eve. 
Right. So where do we go from here? This is what this blog explores. It might be worth noting that although my non-belief-system is rather associated with rationalism, secular-humanism, and atheism, I have always been a believer in drama, ritual, story, and the great unknown. I will look at this situation as an open-ended adventure, a fertile ground to initiate research questions and design/art work. It will be, if nothing else, a lot of fun. Anyway, that's the plan.
And you too, dear reader, can participate. Whatever interpretation of the world you hold. Whether you favor a historical, philosophical interpretation, or the discourse of morality, religion, or even the fictional, or the fantastic unknown.
•  Consider writing me a good old-fashioned letter and sending it to my address:
"Chokr, Cunostraße 62, 3. OG Rechts, 14193 Berlin."
Alternatively, if you embraced the means of 21st century communication:
•  write me an email at contact@salamshokor.com,
•  or Whatsapp/ Telegram/ Signal me at +49 174 8284758.
•  You can also call, even late at night.
I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.
Signed, (allegedly) Salam bin Youssef bin Hussein bin Hammoud bin Hussein bin Ahmad bin Hussein bin Ali bin Shukur (Shokor) Al-Asghar bin Fares bin Ismael bin Al-Hassan bin Muhammad bin Shukur Al-Akbar bin Kamaluddin bin Ahmed bin Hussein bin Al-Hassan Al-Zahid bin Muhammad bin Al-Hassan bin Isa bin Faadel bin Yahya bin Juban bin Al-Hassan bin Thiab bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Yahya bin Muhammad bin Dawud bin Idris bin Ali Al-Azraq bin Dawud The Prince bin Ahmed Al-Masur bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh Al-Salih bin Musa Al-Jun bin Abdullah Al-Mahad bin Al-Hassan Al-Muthanna bin Al-Imam Al-Hassan Al-Sabt Al-Zaki bin Al-Imam Ali (Muhammad's cousin) bin Abi Talib bin Abd Al-Muttalib bin Hashem bin Al-Mughira bin Qusayy bin Kilab bin Murrah bin Ka'ab bin Lu'ayy bin Ghalib bin Fihr bin Malik bin An-Nadr bin Kinanah bin Khuzayma bin Mudrikah bin Ilyas bin Mudar bin Nizar bin Ma'ad bin Adnan bin (depends on who you ask) Udd bin Udad bin Mashlakh bin Ya'areb bin Al-Hamsi' bin Nabat bin Suleiman bin Hamil bin Qidar bin Ismael bin Ibrahim bin Tareh bin Nahour bin Sharoukh bin Argo (Reu) bin Falegh (Peleg) bin 'Aaber bin Shalekh bin Arshafakhd bin Saam bin Nouh bin Mutawashlikh bin Idris bin Al-Yared bin Mihlael bin Qinaan bin Anoush bin Shayth bin Adam.
Berlin, 30.10.2022
The following blog-blocks are sorted from newest to oldest
Paper submitted and graded, chapter closed.
I officially submitted the paper a couple of weeks ago and met with Prof. Susanne Hauser yesterday, who graded it 1.0 and described it as the most carefully treated and thorough academic work she received this year.
For the time being, I will not be publishing the paper publicly anywhere due to the sensitivity of some of the arguments presented, but if you wish to get access to it, write me directly.
This turns the last page in this journal chapters. On to the next one.
In my new journal, I will document my journey through the subject of Arabic Maqamic music and its relationship with human moods.
Wrapping up
It's been a while since the last update, eh?
Since the last time I wrote here, I was able to get a full scan of the document (it's fantastic). Also, I decided to wrap up this project by writing a paper that investigates the use of diagrams and text in the study of bloodlines and Nasab. The paper is part of a course titled "Zur Diagrammatic", by Prof. Dr. Susanne Hauser, and will feature a detailed analysis of the same 1951-1952 genealogical roll that I shared details from earlier.
I'll publish the paper here once I finish the writing in the next weeks.
For now, here are some more details from it:
Notes for preparing academically valid interviews:
According to Ali Amhaz:
1. Start with a research question
2. Identify your sample
3. Consider information on data protection, anonymization
4. Start writing questions
5. Write a communication protocol
(brief about study)
6. Take live notes, record, transcribe, analyze
7. Get the help of ChatGPT

According to ChatGPT:
How do I make sure that my interview is academically valid?

To ensure that your interview is academically valid, you should follow these guidelines:
1. Develop a clear and specific research question or hypothesis.
2. Use a consistent and standardized interview protocol, including a set of predetermined questions or prompts.
3. Use a reliable and valid method of data collection, such as audio or video recording the interview.
4. Transcribe the interviews verbatim, and code the data using a consistent and reliable method.
5. Use a rigorous method of data analysis, such as thematic analysis or a statistical analysis.
6. Report the findings in a transparent and objective manner, including limitations and biases of the study.
7. Use peer-review and feedback from other experts in the field to help ensure the validity of the study.
By following these guidelines, you can increase the likelihood that your interview study will be considered academically valid by other researchers and scholars in your field.

Are there additional specificity to oral history interviews?

Yes, there are additional considerations for conducting oral history interviews specifically. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
1. Understand the context: Oral history interviews are often used to document the experiences and perspectives of individuals within a specific historical context. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the historical background and context of the subject matter before conducting the interview.
2. Get informed consent: Make sure to obtain informed consent from the interviewee before beginning the interview. This should include an explanation of the purpose of the interview, how the data will be used, and how it will be stored and shared.
3. Use open-ended questions: Oral history interviews often rely on open-ended questions that allow the interviewee to speak in their own words and share their own experiences and perspectives. Avoid leading or biased questions that may influence the interviewee's response.
4. Be aware of potential bias: Oral history interviews are often conducted with older individuals, who may have difficulty remembering details from their past. Be aware that memory can be influenced by a number of factors, including the passage of time, health, and emotions.
5. Respect the interviewee: Oral history interviews often involve sensitive and personal topics. Make sure to treat the interviewee with respect and sensitivity, and avoid asking questions that may be too personal or uncomfortable.
By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your oral history interview is conducted in an ethical and academically valid manner, and that the data collected is reliable and accurate.

Further considerations:
See Helfferich (2011), Die Qualität qualitativer Daten - Manual für die Durchführung qualitativer Interviews. Chapter 5.
With the persistent help of my father, I was able to find the original reference of the first hand-written genealogical list that I found. This genealogical tree was acquired in Iraq, then copied and expanded upon by Sayyid Hatem Shokor (my father's maternal cousin, a man of religion and law).
The first "investigation" of this genealogy was originally dated "Thursday, the thirteenth of Thu al-Hijjah 1368h" which corresponds to the sixth of October 1949. Signature unclear. The second "investigation" was dated in 1995, signature also unclear.
I will try to get a full scan of this document (and a better reading) during my next visit to Lebanon in late February - early March.
Post-holiday-break update:
Focusing this week (and likely for the rest of January) on gathering as much text-based and visual information as possible about my dear friends in the Shukur family tree. Two main groups of focus:
01 - The Recent: from myself, to my father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, great-grandfather and great-grandmother, as well as my namesake, the first Shukur. My sources are mostly based in oral-history: I prepared a little questionnaire that I sent to my father to help me fill out from his personal knowledge and stories told in our hometown. I will also try to find any official documents from the Al-Nabi Sheet municipality.
02- The Historical and Theo-mythological: from the sons of Muhammad to Adnan bin Udad to Adam. My main sources are The History of Arabs before Islam by Dr. Jawad Ali (1907-1987, Hamburg University, University of Baghdad), as well as Ansab Al-Ashraf (or Genealogies of the Nobles) by Ahmad Ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri (820-892 CE).
Current focus:
I'm pausing all work with Unreal Engine for the time being. I might return to it later when there's a more apparent need for it to justify the many hours it will take for me to get the handle on working with it.
Since OpenAI's ChatGPT was released 2 weeks ago, It seems like AI experimentation is the most exciting tool to play with. Here's what I imagine doing (although I have none of the skills to get started with this): I would like to train an AI system to learn everything there is to know about my genealogical tree: names, dates of birth, places of birth, occupations, portraits, photographs, stories, etc... After it gets familiar with the patterns, I would want it to generate its best guesses to fill in the unknown gaps in the tree. For example, it might suggest that Juban bin Al-Hassan's mother was most likely called Fatima. It might also create a photographic guess as to how my great Grandfather Hammoud looked like based on photos of me, my brothers, my father, aunts and uncles, etc.
I checked in with Phillip Gschwendtner from Design & Computation and took his suggestions about AI generators I can work with; here's the list:
01- Midjourney
02- OpenAI's
03- Runway (Latent Spacewalk)
04- Artbreeder
I'll see what these systems can produce. I also still want to check in with Florian Porada from the first Design & Computation year.

Recent conversation with ChatGPT

Unreal Engine 5 / Metahuman progress update 02:
Unreal Engine is a pain in my bottom.
I followed every documentation I could find to turn the 3D scan into a Metahuman to no avail. The Mesh-to-Metahuman plugin is very buggy and does not fulfill its promise to create a Metahuman based on a scan in 10 minutes. At least not in my experience.
I spent half a day trying to troubleshoot it, but nothing worked. The first result gave me a generic-looking guy that looked nothing like the scan, and every other try after that came to a dead end.

First Mesh-to-Metahuman result

I'm starting to feel like this software is not worth pursuing further for the purposes of this journal. Even if I do succeed in building the Metahuman, the customization settings in the Metahuman creator web app have many limitations. Although the customization tools are pretty robust, it doesn't seem like the software can make a 1-to-1 copy of a real person. While you can make many adjustments, they aren't nearly as granular as sculpting in Zbrush, for example. You also can't import a custom skin texture, and the included skin options only go so far. Additionally, facial features (especially hair, eyebrows, and beard) are too limited and neat. Not one messy Arab curly hairstyle in sight.

3D scan imported to Unreal Engine 5 after clean-up with Blender

First 3D model results
Scanned using the EinScan H scanner, unedited.
Next steps:
  Turn 3D scan into a live Metahuman in Unreal Engine 5
  Create as many Metahumans as possible referencing the names in the family tree based on scans, images, paintings, etc.
  Use AI to generate the faces of those unknown
Unreal Engine 5 progress update 01:
It was very tricky for me to edit the template world provided by Christian Schmidts, and my Unreal Engine knowledge is incredibly limited (I still cannot manage to create a silly tube...)
However, I'm currently going through this tutorial right here: https://youtu.be/k-zMkzmduqI
I can now navigate the interface with relative ease, insert and edit objects and basic shapes, access default and starter content, create new materials and edit existing ones, and control exposure and other view details in-game using the Post Process Volume.

Example of custom material created with Unreal Engine 5

AI-generated imagery through DALL·E 2
Prompt: "Genealogical Tree from Shokor Al-Asghar to Dawud The Prince, Original Document"

Notes from studio session Breathing Archives, week 02:
  Information transfer: genetic vs. symbolic
  Polygamy and the role of women in genealogy
  How can this project be projected towards or talk to the world? lines of connection to other genealogies? links to the physical world?
  Drawing parallel lines with the scientific, DNA-based genealogy
  The genes as an archive
To Read/Check Out:
  Le Voyageur Sans Bagage by Jean Anouilh (French play, 1937, suggested by Tamara Nasr)
  Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavic (Serbian lexicon novel, 1984, suggested by Sofia Grishchuk)
  The concept of Kleos in ancient greek (often translated to "glory", according to Wikipedia (رضي الله عنه) Kleos is invariably transferred from father to son; the son is responsible for carrying on and building upon the "glory" of the father.) (Also suggested by Sofia Grishchuk)
The concept of Asabiyyah (عصبيّة) as detailed in the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (a concept of social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness, and a sense of shared purpose and social cohesion, originally used in the context of tribalism and clanism) (1377, suggested by Ali Amhaz)
World-building/storytelling reference: Assassin's Creed (suggested by Abed Kataya)
Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC genealogy documentary series since 2004, in which celebrity participants trace their family history. Discovered while listening to/reading Stephen Fry's The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography.)
Petite Maman (French drama film, 2021, "A girl meets her mother as a child in the woods in a moving jewel of a film about memory, friendship and kin." suggested by Rachel Saliba)

More open questions:
  Why do people connect such importance to the idea of an honorable heritage/lineage?
  Where are all the women?
Compiled on 31.10.2022
Updated on 01.11.2022
Cesare Pavese
(as suggested by Sofia Grishchuk)

Stunned by the world, I reached an age
when I threw punches at air and cried to myself.
Listening to the speech of women and men,
not knowing how to respond, it's not fun.
But this too has passed: I'm not alone anymore,
and if I still don't know how to respond,
I don't need to. Finding myself, I found company.
I learned that before I was born I had lived
in men who were steady and firm, lords of themselves,
and none could respond and all remained calm.
Two brothers-in-law opened a store--our family's
first break. The outsider was serious,
scheming, ruthless, and mean--a woman.
The other one, ours, read novels at work,
which made people talk. When customers came,
they'd hear him say, in one or two words,
that no, there's no sugar, Epsom salts no,
we're all out of that. Later it happened
that this one lent a hand to the other, who'd gone broke.
Thinking of these folks makes me feel stronger
than looking in mirrors and sticking my chest out
or shaping my mouth into a humorless smile.
One of my grandfathers, ages ago,
was being cheated by one of his farmhands,
so he worked the vineyards himself, in the summer,
to make sure it was done right. That's how
I've always lived too, always maintaining
a steady demeanor, and paying in cash.
And women don't count in this family.
I mean that our women stay home
and bring us into the world and say nothing
and count for nothing and we don't remember them.
Each of them adds something new to our blood,
but they kill themselves off in the process, while we,
renewed by them, are the ones to endure.
We're full of vices and horrors and whims--
Read on 31.10.2022
From Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 by Cesare Pavese;
translated by Geoffrey Brock. Translation copyright © 2002 by Geoffrey Brock. Used without permission of Copper Canyon Press.
To Watch:
(as suggested by
Jorge Orozco on 29.10.2022)
•  Orlando (Film, 1992): British period drama fantasy film loosely based on Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel Orlando. About a person who achieves in one lifetime what most of us can only dream of doing: viewing four centuries of experiences through the eyes of both sexes.
•  The Romanoffs (Series, 2018): a contemporary series "set around the globe, centering on separate stories about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family."

Draft of structure for the upcoming Unreal Engine world building exercise
Sketched on 29.10.2022

Work in progress sheet detailing individuals who are likely to have existed historically in the Shukur genealogical tree
I made sure to add a column for the mothers of these individuals (although it is hard to find information on them.)

Started August 2022

Access the sheet for a full-page view here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Ht4BLFx00Ghg0F0J2UB37St644X03N8ufNWrg8tNKj0/edit?usp=sharing



The Shukur hand-written genealogical tree.
Source: the mayor of Al-Nabi Shayth.
Acquired on August 20, 2022

(a) Recto: 3-column genealogy:
(1) Adam to Adnan (through Abraham, Ismael, ...)
(2) Adnan to Zaynab Al-Kubra (through Muhammed, Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, ...)
(3) Imam Al-Hassan to Shukur Al-Asghar
(b) Verso: Multiple-branch genealogical tree detailing the sons of Shukur Al-Asghar
اسئلة براسي
شو كان يعمل شكر الكبير؟
ايمتى وصلوا آل شكر عالنبي شيت؟
Questions in my mind
 When did the Shukur family arrive to the town of Al-Nabi Shayth?
 What did the senior Shukur do for a living?
منشور على فايسبوك من قبل صحف الأنساب الهاشميّة
صفحة تابعة لنقابة أشراف العراق
نسب السادة آل شكر في العراق ولبنان
سادة اشراف من الدوحة العلوية الفاطمية الهاشمية المطهرة ومن الشجرة الحسنية الشريفة الوارفة ومن الغصن الموسوي الجوني الكبير
 ذرية السيد الشريف
شكر بن كمال الدين بن احمد بن حسين بن الحسن الزاهد بن محمد بن الحسن بن عيسى بن فاضل بن يحيى بن جوبان بن الحسن بن ذياب بن عبد الله بن محمد بن يحيى بن محمد بن داود بن ادريس بن علي الازرق بن الامير داود بن احمد المسور بن عبد الله الشيخ الصالح بن موسى الجون بن عبد الله المحض بن الحسن المثنى بن الامام الحسن السبط الزكي بن الامام علي بن ابي طالب (عليهم السلام)

Facebook post shared by the "Journal of Hashemite Genealogy"
(A project by the "Syndicate of Iraq Noblemen")
"The Geneology of the Shukur (Shokor/Chokr) family in Iraq and Lebanon
Honorable Sayyids from the pure Alawite Fatimite Hashemite family tree. From the honorable and generous Hassanite tree and from the Senior Moussawi Al-Jouni branch.
The honorable Shukur's progeny:
Shukur bin Kamaluddin bin Ahmed bin Hussein bin Al-Hassan Al-Zahid bin Muhammad bin Al-Hassan bin Isa bin Faadel bin Yahya bin Juban bin Al-Hassan bin Thiab bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Yahya bin Muhammad bin Dawud bin Idris bin Ali Al-Azraq bin Dawud The Prince bin Ahmed Al-Masur bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh Al-Salih bin Musa Al-Jun bin Abdullah Al-Mahad bin Al-Hassan Al-Muthanna bin Al-Imam Al-Hassan Al-Sabt Al-Zaki bin Al-Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon them)"
Specials thanks to: Youssef Shokor, Albert Lang, Ali Amhaz, David Badawi, Jorge Orozco, Christian Schmidts, Sofia Grishchuk, Tamara Nasr, Nathalie Zschweigert, Abed Kataya, and Rachel Saliba
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