Researchers unravel the origins of Islam

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has learned that the drought in the Arabian Peninsula had a profound effect on the socio-political situation in the Arabian Peninsula in the 6th century. This, in turn, opened up opportunities for the emergence and spread of a new religion – Islam.

Islam appeared on the Arabian Peninsula at the beginning of the 7th century, after a period of profound social change.

The first half of the 6th century marked the fall of the mighty Himyarite kingdom, which arose around 110 BC in southern Arabia. But why did this happen?

Scientists from the universities of Basel, Bern (Switzerland), Princeton, Massachusetts, Minnesota (USA), Xi’an (China) and Reading (UK) tried to answer the question, the study of which was published in the journal Science.

The team analyzed the layers of a stalagmite from the Al-Houta Cave in Northern Oman. The growth rate of a stalagmite and the chemical composition of its layers are directly related to how much precipitation falls outside the cave.

The less water drips onto the mineral, the less it flows down its walls – as a result, the growth of the stone stops. Therefore, the shape and isotopic composition of a stalagmite is a source of information about the historical climate.

Having studied the mineral, scientists concluded about the annual amount of precipitation that fell in those distant times.

As it turned out, during the 6th century, the Arabian Peninsula was constantly plagued by droughts that reduced crop yields. The drought was especially severe at the beginning of the century, between 500 and 530.

To understand how the drought could contribute to the decline of the Himyarite kingdom, the authors of the work additionally studied historical sources and data on the water level in the Dead Sea.

As it turned out, the extreme drought was indeed linked to the socio-political crisis in Himyar. It is understandable, because for a semi-desert kingdom, the absence of an already scarce water is literally like death.

Researchers unravel the origins of Islam 2
Sample of the studied stalagmite

As often happens, the once prosperous state was finished off by wars with its neighbors – the Byzantine and Sasanian empires – and then the invasion of the ancient Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum.

It is not surprising that the local population, experiencing famine and war, sought salvation in finding at least some hope. She, according to scientists, became a new religion that united people.


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