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ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT

Andrey Korotaev, Vladimir Klimenko and Dmitry Proussakov
Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Vol. 52, No. 3/4 (1999), pp. 243-276
Published by: Akadémiai Kiadó
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43391394
Page Count: 34
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ORIGINS OF ISLAM: POLITICAL-ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
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Abstract

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 climatological, seismological, volcanological and epidemiological history of the period. Most socio-political systems of the Arabs reacted to the socio-ecological crisis by getting rid of the rigid supratribal 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 most of the Arabian kingdoms and chiefdoms (reflected in Ayyäm al-'Arab tradition) led to the elaboration of some definite "anti-royal" freedom-loving tribal ethos. At the beginning of the 7th century tribes which would recognise themselves as subjects of some terrestrial super-tribal political authority, the "king", risked to lose its honour. However, this seems not to be applicable to the authority 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 "Rahmanist" tradition which produced "the Arabian prophetic movement". The Monotheist "Rahmanist" prophets 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' political success (including the extreme political success of Muḥammad).

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