ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
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02-08-2014, 12:14 AM
ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
This post is part of a paper on the causes of the rise of Islam, which shows it arose out of environmental and political developments in the sixth century:

http://www.dankalia.com/islam/isl409.pdf

ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
ANDREY KOROTAYEV, VLADIMIR KLIMENKO, AND DMITRY PROUSSAKOV (MOSCOW)
The authors suggest to view the origins of Islam against the background of the 6th century AD Arabian socio-ecological crisis whose model is specified in the paper through the study of cli- matological, seismological, volcanological and epidemiological history of the period. Most so- cio-political systems of the Arabs reacted to the socio-ecological crisis by getting rid of the rig- id supra-tribal political structures (kingdoms and chiefdoms) which started posing a real threat to their very survival. The decades of fighting which led to the destruction of the most of the Arabian kingdoms and chiefdoms (reflected in Ayyam al-Arab tradition) led to the elaboration of some definite "anti-royal" freedom-loving tribal ethos. At the beginning of the 7th century a tribe which would recognize themselves as subjects of some terrestrial super-tribal political au- thority, a "king", risked to lose its honour. However, this seems not to be applicable to the au- thority of another type, the "celestial" one. At the meantime the early 7th century evidences the merging of the Arabian tradition of prophecy and the Arabian Monotheist "Rahmanist" tradi- tion which produced "the Arabian prophetic movement". The Monotheist "Rahmanist" proph- ets appear to have represented a supratribal authority just of the type many Arab tribes were looking for at this very time, which seems to explain to a certain extent those prophets' politi- cal success (including the extreme political success of Muhammad).
Key-words: Islam, Arabia, ecology, political anthropology, history, climate, evolution South Arabian puzzle
For many years we were a bit puzzled by a strangely quick collapse of the South Arabian Empire of the "Kings of Saba and dhu-Raydan and Hadramawt and Yamanat and Their Arabs in the Highland and the Coastal Plain" (mlk S1B w-d-RYDn w-HDRMWT w-YMNT w-rb-hmw TWDm w-THMT) in the se- cond half of the 6th century AD.
Of course, at the beginning of this century South Arabia experienced a series of rather turbulent events: dhu-Nuwas' coup, violent persecutions of the Christians, Ethiopian invasions and conquest, rebellion (successful) of the Ethiopian soldiers deployed in Yemen, their leader (Abraha) getting the royal power etc. – see Sabaic

244 ANDREY KOROTAEV–VLADIMIR KLIMENKO–DMITRY PROUSSAKOV
inscriptions C 621; Ry 507; 508; 510; Ja 1028; as well as: Pirenne and Tesfaye (1982); Carpenter (1869); Møberg (1924); Berzina and Kubbel' (1990:203–249); Shahd (1971); Lundin (1961); Kobishchanov (1980:10–88); Piotrov- skij (1985:17–23); Smith (1954); Robin et al. (1996) etc. Then, however, under Abraha's rule the Empire seems to have stabilized and achieved reasonable flo- rescence by the end of the 540s: Abraha managed to organize the successful repairs of the famous Marib Dam (RMn [C 541]), campaigns to Central and Northern Arabia etc. (Ry 506; Vasil'ev 1907; Kobishchanov 1980:64–89; Piotrovskij 1985:23–24 etc.).
And then in the second half of the century the Empire (together with the 1500-year-old South Arabian civilization) simply collapses without any appar- ent serious reason. The study of this collapse is further complicated by the fact that the catastrophe appears to have been so profound that the written texts seem to have stopped to be produced in South Arabia – since the 7th decade of the 6th century (this decade including) we have no authentic dated South Ara- bian texts up to the Islamic Age – which stands in a sharp contrast with the comparatively well documented first 5 decades of the Century.1
The collapse seems to have been so profound that when in AD 570 (Shahd 1995:365) Khusraw [I] Parwez reluctantly sent (as a sort of punish- ment) a few hundred convicted criminals to put Yemen into the Persian sphere of influence (considering this such an adventure that it would be wiser not to risk with the proper troops), they (the convicted criminals) did manage to over- throw the dynasty of Abraha, though, of course, not without the help of the Yemenites opposed to the dynasty – see e.g. al-Ta bar (1964:950–956).
North Arabian puzzle
Of course, it is evident that what happened in the 6th century Yemen was not an isolated event. Already if we look at Arabia as a whole, we shall get a bit different perspective.
To begin with, in the Soviet Islamology up to the 1980s the dominant theory of the origins of Islam connected it with the crisis and degeneration of the clan- tribal system in the 6th – early 7th century Arabia, the process of the state and class formation (Tolstov 1932; Smirnov 1954:180f.; Beljaev 1965; Petrushev- skij 1966:5–11; Mavljutov 1974; Zhukov 1974:29; Fil'shtinskij 1977:22,107; Negrja 1981 etc.; a preliminary critique of this point see e.g. Bol'shakov 1989:40). A somewhat strange theory, we must say, as the very well-known facts show quite clearly that the actual processes were simply contrary to the ones described above.
1 The last dated Sabaic text (C 325 – see Müller 1991) is (see line 5) of year 669 of the "Himyarite" Era ~ AD 554/555, or much more likely AD 559/560, depending on the solution of the problem of the be- ginning of this era – for the current state of this question see de Blois (1990); Shahd (1994); Kitchen (1994:1–9); and especially Robin et al. (1996).
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ORIGINS OF ISLAM 245
The clan-tribal systems in pre-Islamic Arabia were strengthening and consolidat- ing, whereas these were precisely the state structures which degenerated and disin- tegrated in the first century before al-Hijrah. Indeed at the beginning of the 6th cen- tury we see a few kingdoms controlling most of the Arabian territory: the already mentioned huge Kingdom of the tababiah in Yemen (dominant not only over the whole Arabian South but also considerable parts of Central Arabia), the second Kindite Kingdom (the vassal of the first one) in Central Arabia, the Lakhmid Kingdom (dependent on the Sassanid Empire) in the Arabian North-East (control- ling also considerable parts of Northern and Central Arabia), and the Ghassanid Kingdom (dependent on the Byzantine Empire) in the North-West–see e.g. Nöldeke (1879; 1888); Rothstein (1899); Olinder (1927); Pigulevskaja (1964) etc.
What is more, even in the territories outside the direct control of the above-mentioned kingdoms we normally find what should be more correctly described as chiefdoms rather than true tribes. Their heads often explicitly call themselves amlak (sg. malik) "kings" – see e.g. Negrja (1981:103–104).
The situation at the beginning of the next century (say, at the time of the beginning of Muhammad's Prophecy) differs dramatically. All the above- mentioned great Arabian kingdoms had disappeared together with most small- er ones. There were almost no "kings" left in Arabia; and where there were chiefdoms a century before, now we see true free tribes.2
Some neglected causes of the crisis
It appears that the 6th century AD evidenced a simultaneous global climate deterio- ration and the peak of the tectonic and volcanic activity in the whole world (in- cluding the Mediterranean region [see Appendix C for detail]). Of course, on the face of it, it is not quite self-evident what this has to do with the 6th century AD Arabian crisis. Naturally, the earthquakes affected in some way the evolution of the 6th – early 7th cent. AD Arabian societies, leaving even some trace in al-Quran –
cf. e.g. the beginning of the famous Earthquake surah ([XCIX:] {1.} idha zulzilati 'l-ardu zilzala-ha {2.} wa-akhrajati 'l-ardu athqala-ha {3.} wa- qala 'l-insanu ma la-ha "When the earth is shaken with an earthquake, and the earth lifts its loads, and the man asks: `What has happened to it?`" etc.). Stookey (1978:22) and Grjaznevich (1994:34) have already proposed to connect the final decline of the pre-Islamic South Arabian civilization with the seismic activity – in- deed it may well have produced the final deadly blow to the most ancient civi- lization centers of the edges of the internal Yemeni desert, which were already on the brink of final collapse by the 6th century AD and which depended heavily on relatively large-scale irrigation structures that could be significantly affected by the
2 Even for the 6th century Mecca there seem to be some grounds to suspect the transformation of a quasi-chiefdom polity into a tribal confederation (e.g. Dostal 1991:193–199; al-Tabar 1964:1083– 1100). At the age of Muhammad local kings are still attested in al-Yamamah (see e.g. ibn Hischam 1858–1860:II:971), but even there at this age we seem to observe a clear trend towards the replacement of the "royal" authority with a political authority of quite a different type (see below in the section on "Origins of Islam: socio-political context").
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246 ANDREY KOROTAEV–VLADIMIR KLIMENKO–DMITRY PROUSSAKOV
earthquakes. But this does not seem to be the case with the kingdoms and chief- doms of the Arabian North which could not be apparently affected by the earth- quakes to a critical extent. Thus, the most significant outcome of the seismic ac- tivity seems to be volcano eruptions rather than earthquakes. Again, it is not self- evident how, say, the volcano eruptions on the New Britain Island near New Guin- ea could affect the evolution of the Arabian communities. Again, what is signifi- cant here is not the direct effect though some of the South Arabian sites were de- stroyed just in this way (though not necessarily in the 6th century – see e.g. Müller and Wissmann [1976]). What is really important are volcanic gases and tephra which are thrown to the atmosphere in great quantities during such eruptions. And this could affect significantly really huge areas. E.g. sulphuric aerosols would halt partially solar radiation, causing the cooling of the Earth surface and, hence, droughts, or otherwise floods, and various disbalances in the ecological systems, which could result in the outbursts of the numbers of the epidemic disease bearing animals, plague fleas etc., and the causal link between the tectonic and volcanic ac- tivity and the epidemics was noticed long ago.
However, the most significant factor seems to be the droughts – and there are documented cases when, say, changing solar activity or massive vol- cano eruption, resulting in a global climatic shift, caused severe droughts in various parts of the world (naturally, North Arabia could have been affected in such cases too [see Appendix C for detail]).
Hence, global climate deterioration and the peak of the tectonic activity produced such an array of primary, secondary, and tertiary factors (earthquakes and volcano eruptions themselves, epidemics, droughts, barbarian invasions caused by the socio-ecological crises on the barbarian peripheries) which could pose a deadly threat for the survival of most of affected civilizations of the time. We ourselves came to terms with the sudden death of the 1500-year-old pre-Islamic South Arabian civilization when we realized that this happened simultaneously with the severe crisis in the Byzantine Empire which put it on the brink of an almost complete collapse (the early 7th to early 6th century comparison would produce for Byzantine results rather similar to the ones ob- tained above for the Arabian North and South in any case). And what was an almost deadly blow for strong Byzantine appeared to have been just a deadly blow for the weaker South Arabian civilization as well as for most Arabian kingdoms.3
This is not a mere speculation, especially for the Arabian North. Indeed, as was mentioned above the second half of the 6th century history of South Arabia is documented very poorly (especially, in comparison with the earlier periods). But this is not as true for the Arabian North. It is not simply that by
3 The weakening of the state structures of the Byzantine, Sassanid and Yemeni empires (caused to a considerable extent by the same socio-ecological factors), of course, led to the further decline of the Arabian kingdoms and chiefdoms most of which were to a considerable degree rather dependent on the support of those Near Eastern great powers.
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the early 7th – early 6th century comparison we can deduce that most North and Central Arabian kingdoms disintegrated, without knowing what happened in between. No, it is possible not only to deduce this disintegration, but also to get to know in some detail how this disintegration proceeded. Indeed, we have at our disposal e.g. the wonderful pre-Islamic Arab historical tradition, the so called Ayyam al-Arab ("The Days of the Arabs"). And one of the typical "Days" can be rendered as follows: there was some Arabian strongman (a head of a kingdom, or a chiefdom) who behaved sometimes in a bad and arrogant manner. Such a behaviour could consist of, say, shooting an arrow at a she- camel of some woman4, but, very noticeably, it could be manifested in at- tempts to collect taxes in a "lean" year (usually caused by a draught) – Ibn Habb (1942:249); Ibn al-Athr (1867:368–369); see also e.g. Kister (1986:46); note also e.g. the description by the Day of Hujr tradition of the beginning of the Banu Asad uprising against Hujr (which finally [although by no means immediately] led to the killing of Hujr and the destruction of the respective kingdom):
InnaHujrankanafBanAsadwa-kanatla-hualay-himitawatunfkullisana- tin...thummabaathailay-himjabiya-hu'lladhkanayajb-him,fa-manau dhalikwa-Hujryawma-idhinbi-Tihamah–wa-daraburusula-huwa-daraju- hum"Hujrwas[theking]ofBanuAsad,andthetaxesfromthemweredueto him every year... Once he sent tax-collectors to them [Banu Asad] and they [Banu Asad] refused [to pay taxes] (Hujr was that time in Tiham ah), beat the messengers and terribly wounded them" ("the Day of Hujr"–al-Isfahan [1955–1964:IX:81]; see also Ibn al-Athr [1867:376]; al-Mawla- bik et al. [1942:113] etc.).
The beginning of the "Day of al-Nafrawat" is also not without interest here. It can be rendered as follows (for the full quotation see Appendix B): when on a "lean" year the Hawazin had to bring their taxes to the head of the Hawaz in chiefdom, the chief did not like the quantity and quality of the tax payment in kind brought by a certain old women and rudely pushed her (al-Isfahan  1955– 1964:XI:77–78; Ibn al-Athr 1867:413; Ibn Abdi-Rabbi-hi 1949–1965:V:135– 137; al-Mawla- bik et al. 1942:235–236 etc.).
A typical reaction to "royal" misbehaviour would be that some tough bedouins would go to such a chief and just kill him, which would provoke the revenge attempts on the part of the murdered chief's relatives, thus producing one more Arab "Day" which could last for years filled with series of violent actionsonbothsides(e.g."theDayofHujr"[al-Isfahan1955–1964:IX:81– 103; Ibn al-Athr 1867:373–382.; al-Mawla- bik et al. 1942:112–123 etc.]; "the
4 Incidentally, according to Ayyam , such an action once precipitated 40 year long violent hos- tilities,knownbythenameoftheabove-mentionedwomenas"theDay(orWar)ofal-Basus"(al- Isf ahan 1955–1964:V:29–55; Ibn al-Athr 1867:384–397; Ibn Abdi-Rabbi-hi 1949–1965:V:213–250; Yaq ut 1410/1990:IV:418–419; al-Mawla-bik et al. 1942:142–169 etc.), c.AD 490–530.
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248 ANDREY KOROTAEV–VLADIMIR KLIMENKO–DMITRY PROUSSAKOV
Day of al-Nafrawat" [al-Isfahan 1955–1964:XI:77–83; Ibn al-Athr 1867:411– 414; Ibn Abdi-Rabbi-hi 1949–1965:V:135–137; al-Mawla-bik et al. 1942:235–241 etc.]; "the Day of Khazaz" in Yaqut's edition [1410/1990:II:418–419]; or the biography of the famous pre-Islamic poet Amr b. al-Kalthum [e.g. al-Isfahan 1955–1964:XI:38–54] who himself took an ac- tive part in his tribe's struggle against the Lakhmid Kingdom which seems to have contributed significantly to the weakening and final dissolution of this political entity; on the struggle of Arab tribes against the Ghassanid kings see e.g. Negrja [1981:36–37]; see also e.g. al-Bayat [1407/1987:232f.] etc.). In any case, at the end we normally find original chiefdoms or kingdoms disinte- grated with free true tribes in their places.
The Arab adaptation to the 6th century AD socio-ecological crisis
Actually, what was described at the end of the previous part may well be con- sidered as an important component of this rather effective adaptation. This was simply that most socio-political systems of the Arabs (or, for the extreme methodological individualists, the Arabs themselves, anyhow, it could be well described in both ways) reacted rather adequately to the socio-ecological crisis by getting rid of the rigid supratribal political structures (i.e. all those kings, chiefs and their retainers) which started posing a real threat to their very sur- vival. Indeed, it is rather difficult to imagine anything more nasty than the roy- al messengers coming to you in a "lean year" (which may well have been pre- ceded by one or two similar years) and demanding from you to pay royal taxes when you yourself have nothing to eat and to feed your children...

Appendix C
Some environmental backgrounds of the origins of Islam
Lately historical research has been coming into more and more close contact with natural sciences. Systematic socio-natural study of civilizations is being carried on, often allowing us to develop considerably our ideas about the historical process. We don't think that research of this kind is always quite necessary, but we are sure that when we deal with such a problem as genesis of civilizations, the socio-natural ap- proach is the most objective of all the feasible ones. To understand sufficiently fac- tors and course of the social evolution we need to be aware as fully as possible of en- vironmental conditions of the social development.
The latest Russian interdisciplinary socio-environmental research in general history of civilizations (Klimenko 1998), as well as of separate cultures, e.g. China (Kul'pin 1990) and Egypt (Proussakov 1996), has shown that crucial historical ages are in close connection with natural processes and sometimes also with catastrophic natural impacts. All this is utterly relevant for the genesis of the Islamic civilization, as its birth was preceded by a series of disastrous environmental phenomena both in the Mediterranean region and in the Near East, as well as in the rest of the world. We are going to discuss here those phenomena, and though this will be rather of geophys- ical than historical pattern, it bears a direct relation to the origin and early history of Islam, because the Arabian society could not fail to feel consequences of the socio- ecological crisis of the 6th century AD.
For those who deal with socio-natural problems, the 6th century AD is quite an outstanding epoch. First of all, the middle of the first millennium AD is characterized by a considerable global cooling which culminated probably in the second half of the 6th century (Klimenko 1997). At that time mean global temperatures were about 0.7– 0.9 C lower than now, i.e. close to the temperature level corresponding to the so- called "Little Ice Age" (between the late 16th and late 19th centuries). Evidence of this cooling can be found in various parts of the world: due to glacier advances in the Alps, Himalaya/Karakorum, Scandinavia, North and South Americas, New Zealand (Röthlisberger 1986; Grove 1988); dendrochronological observations of tree-ring widths and densities (Briffa et al. 1990; Scuderi 1993), palynological reconstructions of climate based on fossil pollen residuals (Klimenko et al. 1996); marine microfauna data, received through the analysis of deep-sea cores (Juillet-Leclerc and Schrader 1987); and historical documentary sources (Henning 1904; Easton 1928).
Among those listed, there are two methods of past climates reconstruction which have the best temporal resolution – close to one year – namely, dendrochrono- logical and historical. Let us have a look what these two methods tell us about the climate of the middle of the first millennium. Dendrochronological evidence shows that years 535, 536, 541 and 685 were the coolest, and the time span 542–561 was the coolest bidecadal period of the past 2,000 years (Scuderi 1993). It should be noted, however, that dendrochronological data provide reliable information concerning only a warm part of the year, covering typically April through September. For the infor- mation concerning a cold part of the year one should consult the results provided by historical climatology (see e.g. Easton 1928; Weikinn 1958; Chu Ko-chen 1973). Historical evidence show that there were several unusually cold winters in Europe and Byzantine in the 6th and early 7th centuries – in AD 508, 509 (possibly these two
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264 ANDREY KOROTAEV–VLADIMIR KLIMENKO–DMITRY PROUSSAKOV
dates refer to the same event), 524, 545, 548, 554, 559, 565, 566, 568 (possibly these three dates refer to the same event), 609, 620 and 642 (Easton 1928; Weikinn 1958; Borisenkov and Pasetsky 1988; Camuffo 1987); Chinese records also confirm that the 6th century was one of the coldest and driest in the first millennium AD (Chu Ko- chen 1973:252; Zhang Deer 1984:826; Fang and Liu 1992:162). Later from around the middle of the 7th century the number of reports about cold winters and droughts sharply decreases. Therefore, there is a lot of direct evidence that the 6th and early 7th centuries have witnessed a considerable global cooling which affected undoubtedly all parts of the globe including Middle East and adjacent regions.
To one of the most important regional manifestations of global climate change one can attribute the resumption of the intensive monsoon circulation. As was shown by Fairbridge (1986), between 1400 BC and AD 500 the catastrophic collapse of reg- ular monsoonal circulation above the North-Western part of the Indian Ocean took place which was followed by a general desiccation of the savannas of North-Western India and semi-deserts of South Arabia. After AD 500 Indian Ocean monsoon recov- ered, although since that time it has never reached the intensity which was recorded in the early and middle Holocene. Nevertheless, one can assume that in the course of the 6–7th centuries AD there was a sudden increase of summer precipitation in South Arabia. It may well be this which contributed to the final destruction of the famous Marib Dam through a catastrophic flood. There is also another piece of indirect evi- dence pointing to the reappearance of intensive monsoon rains – the latest in histori- cal times increase of the Nile discharge up to the levels which were by 30–40% high- er, than the modern ones (Fairbridge 1976:535).
One can assume that the northern part of the Arabian Desert has also become wetter in the middle of the first millennium AD. Palaeoreconstruction data show that, starting from about the late 6th century, the Dead Sea level, which was extremely low in the preceding two millennia (or more), experienced a rapid rise (Varushchenko et al. 1987:149).
On the other hand, basing on the data of palaeoreconstructions and contempo- rary instrumental data, one can assume that in the middle of the first millennium AD climate of the major part of the Arabian Peninsula (excluding its northwestern and southern portions discussed above) was drier than at present (for details see Kli- menko [1998] and references herein).
Apart from massive climatic changes, the 6th and 7th centuries AD were also a period of large worldwide tectonic and volcanic activities. In the history of the Medi- terranean region, we may compare it, perhaps, only with the tectonic catastrophe of the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, which was crowned with the greatest Santorini eruption in the Aegean Sea (Ninkovich and Heezen 1965; Watkins et al. 1978) that seems to have become fatal for the Minoan Civilization (Marinatos 1939; Galanopou- los 1960; Duginov and Strekalov 1997). To understand properly the nature of these phenomena it is important to note that both ecological disasters in question, which had the most substantial climatic effect among all the explosive eruptions of the se- cond half of the Holocene (Borzenkova 1992:203; Stothers and Rampino 1983a:412,tab. 1), correlate closely with minimums of the Northern Hemisphere temperature curve for the past 4000 years (Klimenko 1997:400,fig. 1). This latest curve was recently obtained in the Moscow Energy Institute with taking into account the superposition of three major long-term climate cycles: 2400-yr, 1100-yr and 850- yr connected probably to solar and planetary periodicities (Klimenko 1997). This
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means that the ecological crisis of the 6th century AD was not accidental, and it may be actually explained from the standpoint of global natural laws, which mould the appearance of the Earth.
The problem of a relationship between volcanism and solar cycles has been quite recently disputable (Stothers 1989:17371) because of the lack of data (Newhall and Self 1982:1235). But after extensive catalogues of the world volcanoes (Gush- chenko 1979; Simkin et al. 1981) as well as of solar activity (Schove 1983) were published in the late 70s and the early 80s, it became possible to establish a correla- tion between peaks of volcanism and extremums of solar activity. Moreover, it turned out that eruptions tend to concentrate first of all near the times of solar minimums, though a few large eruptions may also occur close to the years of solar maximum (Stothers 1989:17378–17379). The latest research by Russian scientists has shown that the later part of the 6th century AD was characterized by decreasing solar activity (Mikushina et al. 1997:321,Fig. 5) after a strong peak around AD 532. It may be that this peak which overlaps with great minimum of the superposed climatic cycles has played its part in the development of the global tectonic and volcanic disaster of the 6th century.
The mechanism of solar-volcanic relationships may be described briefly as fol- lows. According to one of the hypotheses, in the scale of thousand-year solar cycles increase in the solar activity is accompanied by melting of the polar ice caps and con- tinental glaciers and, correspondingly, by the eustatic rise of the World Ocean level; as a result, the angular velocity of the Earth slows down; the centrifugal forces de- crease; the globe becomes less elliptical. On the contrary, lowering of the solar ra- diation and growing of the ice caps result in increase of the angular velocity, and the Earth becomes more "flattened" along the terrestrial axis. Such a pulsation of the Globe along its axis triggers in the lithosphere the processes towards restoration of the gravitational equilibrium: the planet figure adjusts to a new rotational conditions. During such "adjustments" numerous earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place on the Earth (Reznichenko and Reznichenko 1964:173–175). In addition to this, mi- nor solar variations cause changes in atmospheric circulation, and these changes in- duce additional crustal stresses (Rampino et al. 1979:828; Stothers 1989:17378). Such is the geophysical model that may be offered for explanation of the tectonic phenomenon of the 6th century.
Nowadays the most reliable method of reconstruction of the Holocene volcan- ism is through the detection in ancient glaciers of volcanic, first of all sulphuric, acid which is stored in the ice layers as a result of deposition of acid aerosols shortly (from 2 [Zielinski et al. 1994:948] to 3–4 or even 5–6 years) after eruptions (Asatur- ov et al. 1986:181). Rich sources of this information for the Northern Hemisphere are the ice cores drilled in the Greenland ice sheet; these cores are distinct, well dated acidity records. Nowadays several cores are at researchers' disposal. Thus, the core from Camp Century, North-West Greenland, 1390 m long (Johnsen et al. 1970; John- sen et al. 1972), and the core from Crete, central Greenland, 404 m long (Hammer 1977:483–486; Hammer et al. 1980) both cover 10,000 years, giving us a clear pic- ture of the Holocene volcanic history. A peak of acidity in the second core corre- sponds to AD 553, but unfortunately there is a 500-year gap in the data of the two cores including the first half of the 6th century: AD 40 to 540 (Hammer et al. 1980:230,fig. 1, 231,tab. 1; Stothers and Rampino 1983a:411–412). One of the latest, the so-called GISP2 Greenland ice core, providing a record of volcanism since 7000
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266 ANDREY KOROTAEV–VLADIMIR KLIMENKO–DMITRY PROUSSAKOV
BC, because of drilling problems tells us almost nothing about the 6th century (Mayewski et al. 1993a; Zielinski et al. 1994:949, tab. 1). Antarctic cores are silent also, because they are not deep enough (Legrand and Delmas 1987; Delmas et al. 1992). The lack of information is supplemented either by special modern vol- canological research (Kelly and Sear 1984) or by original sources (direct or indirect atmospheric observations) (Stothers and Rampino 1983a; Stothers and Rampino 1983b), which corroborate the statement of high world volcanic activity in this pe- riod. For example, the year AD 536 was marked by Vesuvio explosion (Simkin et al. 1981:112). Besides this, famous historical event of the "dry fog" and other atmos- pheric phenomena in Europe and Middle East in AD 536–537 (Stothers 1984) were caused by an unknown eruption twice as large as that of Tambora in AD 1815; some scientists believe it to be the explosion of Rabaul volcano, on the New Britain Island near New Guinea (Palais and Sigurdsson 1989:41–42), which took place 145060 radiocarbon years BP (Heming 1974:1258); according to another theory, it might have been a volkano eruption at the upper reaches of the Yukon river, Alaska (Mac- donald 1975:141), preliminary dated to AD 54010, of estimated global acid fall-out of 70 million tons (Hammer et al. 1980:235); besides, it is not unlikely that both the- se explosions could take place almost simultaneously. The information about large explosive volcanic activities between AD 533 and 537 is confirmed by data from the Dye 3 Greenland deep ice core (Herron 1982:3055). According to the recent Russian research (Brajtseva et al. 1997) another giant eruption took place in AD 606 from the Opala volcano in Kamchatka – this one was the most violent Kamchatka eruption during the past 1,500 years and could match the most powerful in modern history Tambora eruption (AD 1815) which had long-lasting atmospheric and climatic con- sequences.
Volcanic explosions inject into the troposphere and stratosphere great volumes of silicate dust and aerosol-forming sulphur gases; while the fine ash gravitationally settles down within few weeks or months, aerosols are spread globally with strato- spheric winds and suspend in the stratosphere for several years altering the planet heat balance and, therefore, climate (Hansen et al. 1978; Kelly and Sear 1984:740; Rampino and Self 1982; Rampino and Self 1984). The effect on climate of this phe- nomenon is double. During the first few months after an eruption, when aerosol and ash particles are rather large, a warming of the Earth's surface takes place due to the absorption of reflected terrestrial radiation by these particles (Pollack et al. 1976). But "large" grains soon decrease or are washed down by rains, and the net effect of the aerosols injection into the stratosphere is cooling of the Earth's surface because of high reflectivity of sulphuric acid to solar radiation (Baldwin et al. 1976; Hansen et al. 1978:1066). It is known that the Krakatau explosion in AD 1883 caused a 20% reduction of the atmospheric transmissivity in the Northern Hemisphere (Hammer 1977:482). The aerosols distribution after large eruptions is of global or hemispheric scale (Hammer 1977:482; Stothers and Rampino 1983a:411; Zielinski et al. 1994:948) and, in addition, rather rapid (Hansen et al. 1978:1065): thus, for example, if the volcanic explosion of AD 536 mentioned above is that of Rabaul near New Guinea, it would take not more than 2 or 3 weeks for the stratospheric aerosols to reach the Mediterranean region; as for the territorial scale, consequences of this erup- tion were described by contemporary authors from Rome, Constantinople and Meso- potamia; for example, the latter wrote: "The Sun was dark and its darkness lasted for eighteen months; each day it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow ... the fruit did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes" (John of
Acta Orient. Hung. 52, 1999
ORIGINS OF ISLAM 267
Ephesus, quoted from: Stothers 1984; Stothers and Rampino 1983b); the winter of AD 536–537 in Europe and Middle East was extraordinarily severe, with heavy snowfalls in Mesopotamia (Stothers 1984; Stothers and Rampino 1983b:6362–6363). Decrease of zonal mean temperature is observed from 1–3 to 5–7 years after erup- tions (Spirina 1975). Thus, the Tambora event in AD 1815 was followed by the Northern Hemisphere temperature decrease within 0.5–1.0 C for 2–3 years; AD 1816 is famous as the "year without summer" in the North-East of the USA and in the North-West of Europe (Stommel and Stommel 1979). Even more dangerous from this standpoint are the so-called clustered eruptions that may cause cooling from 10 to 100 years. Influence of volcanoes on climate is so considerable that the information about volcanic eruptions was even used as a basis for estimating possible climatic ef- fect of a nuclear war in various nuclear winter models (Rampino and Stothers 1985). The fact is established that massive volcanic eruptions triggered initially the great Pleistocene ice sheets (Bray 1974; Bray 1976; Rampino and Self 1992; Zielinski et al. 1996). A prolong term of volcanism is considered to be an actual cause of the so- called Younger Dryas – the period of near-glacial conditions which began 12–13 thousand years BP and lasted for 130070 years (Alley et al. 1993; Mayewski et al. 1993b). As for the social history, it is of great importance that cooling of the Earth's surface in all the tropical and some of the subtropical latitudes (including the Arabian Peninsula) results in droughts (Borzenkova 1992:162–174); droughts lasting for sev- eral years can sometimes lead to significant social transformations. Besides, warming and cooling after explosive eruptions, being abrupt climatic shifts, may disbalance the biosphere and trigger endemic hotbeds of plague or other diseases (Bogolepov 1912:21); for example, cooling in tropical latitudes creates favourable living condi- tions for fleas – carriers of plague (Cavanaugh 1971).
The ancient historical sources do not mention definitely volcanic eruptions in Arabia proper, but according to modern natural studies the influence of volcanism upon it is beyond doubt: it is conditioned both by geological structure and geographi- cal location of the Arabian Peninsula. On the one hand, the Red Sea and the Ocean coasts of Arabia is a part of the seismic East-African Rift System (Belousov et al. 1974); thus, Western and Southern Arabia is situated in a volcanic zone (Belousov et al. 1974:I:41; Koronovskij 1971; Macdonald 1975:327, fig. 14-1). On the other hand, Arabia could feel the force of tectonism and volcanism of the Mediterranean region and the rest of the world, e.g. the consequence of earthquakes and injections of vol- canic aerosols into the atmosphere. It is also important to note that there is natural hotbed of plague in Arabia (Kozlov and Sultanov 1993:201–203) and that earth- quakes and plague epidemics often coincide (Biraben 1976:16–17).
In the 6th century AD the Mediterranean region has been going through one of the heaviest tectonic disasters in its recent history. According to historical data (Gezer 1867), it began in AD 512 with Vesuvio eruption (see also Simkin et al. [1981:112]). In AD 526 there was a great earthquake in Syria, where 250 thousand people perished only in Antioch; it was followed by heavy earthquakes in Asia Minor and Europe. In Egypt in summer 547 the highest Nile flooded the Delta and prevent- ed the sowing; as a result, the whole country suffered from famine. In 551 a new wave of earthquakes rolled from Constantinople to Alexandria. Earthquakes and vol- canism were accompanied by inundations, droughts and widest spread of plague – the so-called Justinianos pandemia, AD 531–580, during which about 100 million people perished (Ostrovskij 1978:258). It is important that volcanic activity at the same time was characteristic also for the Arabian Peninsula proper: in the 6–7th centuries AD
Acta Orient Hung. 52, 1999
268 ANDREY KOROTAEV–VLADIMIR KLIMENKO–DMITRY PROUSSAKOV
there were eruptions of at least 5 volcanoes in Arabia according to the recent volco- nalogical research (Simkin et al. 1981:112; Aprodov 1982:269–270; Gushchenko 1979:12–13).
Taking into consideration the mechanism of interaction of processes in atmos- phere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, as well as after-effects of seismic disasters (droughts, plague pandemics etc.), we have certain grounds to consider the 6–7th cen- turies AD as one of the most ecologically crucial periods in the history of the Middle East including the Arabian Peninsula. The scale of the ecological catastrophe under consideration forces us to bear it in mind studying the early history of Islamic Arabia. We think that a socio-ecological rather than a purely social crisis in the 6th century AD caused the disintegration of most Arabian kingdoms and chiefdoms and, conse- quently, the development of some alternative cultural-political structures which pro- vided the optimum environment for the development of the autochthonous Arabian monotheist religion.
As volcanologists say, "empirical studies concerning volcanic effects on cli- mate tend to raise as many, if not more, questions than they answer" (Kelly and Sear 1984:742). But we think the more questions we have, the more interesting our further work will be. In this paper we tried to raise an important problem of socio-natural evolution in Arabia at the age of its transition to the Islamic civilization. We hope that this approach will demonstrate its value in future research.
Acknowledgements
The research has been supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR/RFFI); project N 97–06–80272 and the Russian Ministry of Education Pro- gram Language. Culture. Society.
Our thanks also go to Professor Patricia CRONE of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton for her very useful comments on the draft of this paper and to our colleague Leonid KOGAN of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Mos- cow, for his invaluable advice concerning the interpretation of the Aramaic and He- brew terms.
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02-08-2014, 01:00 AM
RE: ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
50 word summary?

Thanks

Wink

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02-08-2014, 01:11 AM
RE: ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
Wow, I am not going to read through all this for these reasons:

1) you were very lazy in posting it, just dumping the whole text FROM THE PAPER on us. An abstract or a conclusion formulated by yourself would be very helpful.

2) it is a paper from a journal I don't recognize. even if I read all of that, it is not necessarily true. there are millions of papers out there. Your job is to tell us why this paper is worth our time before dumping it on us.


So yeah, please convince us first that you have read this paper by summarizing it in an abstract, depicting your conclusions and explain why this paper out of all papers there are is worth our time.

Fun "paradox": The higher the selection pressure, the slower evolution takes place.
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02-08-2014, 12:00 PM
RE: ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
(02-08-2014 01:11 AM)Youkay Wrote:  Wow, I am not going to read through all this for these reasons:

1) you were very lazy in posting it, just dumping the whole text FROM THE PAPER on us. An abstract or a conclusion formulated by yourself would be very helpful.

2) it is a paper from a journal I don't recognize. even if I read all of that, it is not necessarily true. there are millions of papers out there. Your job is to tell us why this paper is worth our time before dumping it on us.


So yeah, please convince us first that you have read this paper by summarizing it in an abstract, depicting your conclusions and explain why this paper out of all papers there are is worth our time.

What he/she said!
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02-08-2014, 02:17 PM
RE: ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
Islam arose out of a collapse of the Kingdoms of the Arabian peninsula and Near East. The place was ruled by a number of kings but they mysteriously and suddenly vanished, almost overnight.

What appears to have happened is that in about 562 AD there were a number of cataclysmic climactic events, including a volcanic explosion which changed the weather sufficiently that the area became very poor and people just refused to continue paying taxes. The tribes living in the area could barely feed themselves.

The result was that the hard structures of kingdoms collapsed and were replaced by what the paper calls "soft" structures which involved the creation of sacred enclaves and pilgramages to them where goods and ideas were exchanged, legal disputes were settled. As there was no "supra state" and just independent, sovereign tribes left by this, the social and political structure changed to one which did not challenge the sovereignty of the tribes. Certain customs arose through this, like not killing each other during certain times of the year.

However, this didn't work throughout the area because some tribes were not as bright as others, or maybe they were more antisocial so some tribes would send messengers to these tribes and tell them that they should obey a new "king". After a while, though, this idea was not working so some tribes came up with the idea of using stories of 'prophets' to spread monotheism as a way of controlling other tribes. There were a number of these prophets and this development is known as the Arabian Prophetic Movement.

The article proposes that these stories of prophets were very successful, whereas trying to resurrect kingdoms was an insult to the honour of tribes. The paper says that this collapse brought on by these environmental disasters created an environment in which public order and "civilization' in the area was seen as best promoted by encouraging cooperation via monotheism and a 'prophet', of which there were several. Mohammed was simply the last and best developed of these prophetic figures and became the most successful. The article suggests that rather than Islam springing up because Allah sent this prophet, that there were many prophets, created by tribal clerics, who were invented in order to restore order in the area.

That's the gist of it, I think. As I understand it, the Koran was written up in Saana, in Yemen, or at least the earliest dated manuscript was found there. Problem is that Muslims believe it is the word of Allah but the manuscripts have been erased and written over, so that the original version is not like the Koran So, the Koran was written by clerics, and not written, as Muslims say, by someone transcribing the word of Allah as spoken by the illiterate Mohammed. It was, Muslims say, written on scraps of leather, bones, anywhere the scribe could write, and then these verses were collected up and made into the Koran.
http://www.islam-watch.org/authors/78-su...islam.html

Some, as in the above link, say this should spell the end of Islam and the paper about the origin of Islam shows why the religion developed the way it did and when it did, as a response to a collapsed civilization and the need to restore order.

I think it also helps explain why the religion is so "anti Western", possibly because it was aimed at tribes who were self governing and had rejected rule by feudal regimes, which characterised western/European rule going back to when proto Europeans ruled the area.
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03-08-2014, 02:03 AM
RE: ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
(02-08-2014 02:17 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  Islam arose out of a collapse of the Kingdoms of the Arabian peninsula and Near East. The place was ruled by a number of kings but they mysteriously and suddenly vanished, almost overnight.

What appears to have happened is that in about 562 AD there were a number of cataclysmic climactic events, including a volcanic explosion which changed the weather sufficiently that the area became very poor and people just refused to continue paying taxes. The tribes living in the area could barely feed themselves.

The result was that the hard structures of kingdoms collapsed and were replaced by what the paper calls "soft" structures which involved the creation of sacred enclaves and pilgramages to them where goods and ideas were exchanged, legal disputes were settled. As there was no "supra state" and just independent, sovereign tribes left by this, the social and political structure changed to one which did not challenge the sovereignty of the tribes. Certain customs arose through this, like not killing each other during certain times of the year.

However, this didn't work throughout the area because some tribes were not as bright as others, or maybe they were more antisocial so some tribes would send messengers to these tribes and tell them that they should obey a new "king". After a while, though, this idea was not working so some tribes came up with the idea of using stories of 'prophets' to spread monotheism as a way of controlling other tribes. There were a number of these prophets and this development is known as the Arabian Prophetic Movement.

The article proposes that these stories of prophets were very successful, whereas trying to resurrect kingdoms was an insult to the honour of tribes. The paper says that this collapse brought on by these environmental disasters created an environment in which public order and "civilization' in the area was seen as best promoted by encouraging cooperation via monotheism and a 'prophet', of which there were several. Mohammed was simply the last and best developed of these prophetic figures and became the most successful. The article suggests that rather than Islam springing up because Allah sent this prophet, that there were many prophets, created by tribal clerics, who were invented in order to restore order in the area.

That's the gist of it, I think. As I understand it, the Koran was written up in Saana, in Yemen, or at least the earliest dated manuscript was found there. Problem is that Muslims believe it is the word of Allah but the manuscripts have been erased and written over, so that the original version is not like the Koran So, the Koran was written by clerics, and not written, as Muslims say, by someone transcribing the word of Allah as spoken by the illiterate Mohammed. It was, Muslims say, written on scraps of leather, bones, anywhere the scribe could write, and then these verses were collected up and made into the Koran.
http://www.islam-watch.org/authors/78-su...islam.html

Some, as in the above link, say this should spell the end of Islam and the paper about the origin of Islam shows why the religion developed the way it did and when it did, as a response to a collapsed civilization and the need to restore order.

I think it also helps explain why the religion is so "anti Western", possibly because it was aimed at tribes who were self governing and had rejected rule by feudal regimes, which characterised western/European rule going back to when proto Europeans ruled the area.

Another great post db.

It's just history repeating itself. Permit me a little cut-and-paste of my own writing...

“But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
(Reg, leader of the People’s Front of Judea, from the film “Life of Brian” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSELOCMmw4A).

Six hundred years before Jesus, Jewish priests badgered their own people into a fanatical reverence for scripture. As a consequence, most Jews looked backward by trying to rigidly conform to the last jot and tittle of the Torah, instead of being open-minded and flexible. They became obsessed with ingratiating themselves with their imaginary God, which excluded them from having cordial relations with Gentiles.

Most other people from conquered nations came to realize that while they may have had no great love of Rome, it was in their interests to embrace the Empire, because to do so usually bought them peace, law, order, and trade. The Palestinian Jews were different. Most of them refused to learn from foreigners or get on with them because their make-believe God had told them they were so very different and special. They failed to adapt to what was then a more modern world, and suffered recurrent military defeats at the hands of Gentiles as a result.

Their obsessive reliance on scripture meant they were subject to primitive laws and ethics. They frequently fought with and argued amongst themselves, because “God’s” rules were so open to interpretation. Their religious leaders, not democratically elected, who claimed to know how to interpret scripture, used God as their sock puppet, so asserted an elevated status, ruled over the rabble, and taxed their incomes.

At the beginning of the Christian era, an eclectic mix of Jews and Gentiles wrote more stories about God with the explicit, but not admitted, aim of asserting authority over people in the empire. They invented a new God/man, Jesus Christ, whose story may have been loosely based on a real life Jewish political insurgent. Some of these writings eventually became the core of the New Testament. They instilled similar convictions in their converts, such as an injunction to obey priests, a reluctance to embrace new ideas, and an intolerance of all non-believers.

Ever since the dawn of Christianity, Christians have been squabbling with each other and outsiders, just as the ancient Jews always did, and the baloney in the bible is largely to blame.

Six hundred years later the first Islamists, too, learned a lesson from the Levites. They wrote their own version of scripture, the Koran, and it too is also still being used today to control people.

As a consequence, a large part of the human family is still suffering from belief in holy books. Jews, Christians and Muslims are still fighting each other.
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07-08-2014, 03:04 PM
RE: ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
I agree with most of what you are saying but you are not coming out and saying who you think this revolutionary is. Also, I don't know whether you take a stance on Atwill's contention that the NT is written to be read intertextually. You seem to be within mainstream in asserting that the NT gospels were written independently. I don't see how this can be the case. If your idea is that the first Council of Nicaea put together the religion, then there is the problem that the coincidences which Atwill speaks of are far to unlikely. It would mean that the gospels not only 'just happened' to be written with the massively improbably coincidences, but that they were independently written with a slant which just happened to be something which fit just perfetly with what the council wanted. It's far too improbable for me, I am afraid.
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