Severe Drought Helped Foster Rise of Islam: Study

Extreme drought helped carry concerning the emergence of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula, based on a brand new research performed by a global workforce of specialists.

The workforce, led by Professor Dominik Fleitmann, a researcher on the University of Basel in Switzerland, studied a stalagmite from the Hoti Cave in what’s now Oman.

They stated it exhibits how “droughts, combined with political unrest and war, left a region shattered and facilitated the spread of emerging Islam across the Arabian Peninsula.”

The extreme aridity on the Arabian Peninsula, in sixth century A.D., and the opposite, already recognized components, contributed to the downfall of an historic kingdom, leaving the area fractured and unstable.

This in flip facilitated the emergence and unfold of early Islam, the researchers argued.

Stalagmite from Hoti Cave in Oman
Extreme drought helped carry concerning the emergence of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula, based on a brand new research performed by a global workforce of specialists, who studied a stalagmite from the Hoti Cave in what’s now Oman. In the picture, a cross-section of the stalagmite from Hoti Cave in present-day Oman. The holes are from sampling for uranium relationship and scratch marks from sampling for isotope evaluation.
Timon Kifer, University of Basel/Zenger

They defined: “The traces of the kingdom of Himyar can still be seen on the high plateaus of Yemen: terraced fields and dams served as particularly sophisticated irrigation systems to transform the semi-desert into fertile fields.

“For a number of centuries, Himyar was a fixture in southern Arabia.”

The Himyarite Kingdom – called the Homerite Kingdom by the Greeks and the Romans – was a pagan civilization that officially adopted Judaism after 390 A.D. and whose capital was the ancient city of Zafar, not far from modern-day Sana’a in Yemen.

After expanding and conquering other realms, it eventually fell to the Kingdom of Aksum early in the 6th century. Aristocratic descendants of the Himyarites would later play a significant role in early Islamic Syria.

Fleitmann said: “It was a bit like a homicide case: we’ve a useless kingdom and we’re on the lookout for the wrongdoer. Step by step, the proof has introduced us nearer to the reply.”

But he added: “Whether this drought was straight associated to the collapse of the dominion of Himyar or maybe solely occurred afterward, couldn’t be clearly confirmed on the premise of this knowledge alone.”

Islam research team with stalagmites from Oman
Together together with his analysis workforce, Dominik Fleitmann (left) analyzed stalagmites from varied dripstone caves to reconstruct the local weather of the previous.
Christian Flierl, University of Basel/Zenger

The University of Basel stated in an announcement: “Extreme drought contributed to the decline of the ancient southern Arabian kingdom of Himyar.”

It defined: “In the 6th century A.D., however, the once-powerful kingdom fell into a crisis, culminating in its conquest by neighboring Aksum (modern-day Ethiopia).

“A hitherto unnoticed issue, excessive aridity, could have been a key contributor to the upheavals in historic Arabia that gave rise to Islam within the seventh century.”

The statement from the University of Basel said: “His workforce analyzed the layers of a stalactite from the Hoti Cave in right now’s Oman. The progress fee of the stalagmite and the chemical composition of its layers are straight associated to how a lot precipitation falls above the cave. […]”

The statement added: “Thus, the form and isotopic composition of the deposited layers of a stalagmite signify a priceless local weather archive.”

Fleitmann said: “Even with the bare eye you possibly can see from the stalactite that there should have been a really dry interval for a number of a long time.”

The statement explained: “If much less water drips on the stalagmites, much less of it runs down the edges. The stone grows with a smaller diameter than in years with a excessive drip fee.

“The isotope analysis of the rock layers allows conclusions to be drawn about the annual amount of precipitation. The researchers discovered that not only did less rainfall over a long period of time, but that there must have been an extreme drought.

“The researchers have been in a position to date this dry interval to the start of the sixth century A.D. based mostly on the radioactive decay of uranium, however solely to an accuracy of 30 years.”

“Data on the water stage of the Dead Sea and historic paperwork describing a multi-year drought within the area, relationship to A.D. 520, helped to truly hyperlink the acute drought to the Himyar kingdom disaster,” according to the statement.

Fleitmann said: “Water is a very powerful useful resource of all. It is apparent {that a} lower in precipitation and particularly a number of years of utmost drought can destabilize a semi-desert kingdom.”

The statement said: “The irrigation techniques additionally required fixed upkeep and repairs. This might solely be achieved with tens of 1000’s of well-organized employees. The inhabitants of Himyar, laid low with water shortages, was most likely now not in a position to assure this advanced upkeep, which additional aggravated the state of affairs.

“Political unrest at home and a war spilling over into Himyar between its northern neighbors, the Byzantine and Sassanid empires, further weakened the kingdom. When the western neighbor Aksum finally invaded Himyar and conquered the empire, the once-powerful country finally lost its importance.”

Himyarite Kingdom
A map of the Himyarite Kingdom in right now’s Yemen and the dominion of Aksum (present-day Ethiopia).
University of Basel, Datawrapper/Zenger

Fleitmann stated: “In the case of extreme climate events, one often only thinks of the short period after, limited to a few year.”

He added: “The need of the population due to hunger and war was great. Then Islam found fertile soil: people were looking for new hope, something that could unite people again as one society. That was what the new religion offered.”

While the researcher is cautious to emphasise that “he does not want to say that the drought directly brought about the emergence of Islam,” he does argue that “it was an important factor in the context of the upheavals in the Arab world in the 6th century.”

Fleitmann, who held the chair in paleoclimatology and archaeology on the University of Reading within the United Kingdom from 2012 to 2019, is an professional in paleoclimatology. Fleitmann has labored on the University of Basel’s Department of Environmental Sciences since 2019.

The new research, titled “Droughts and societal change: The environmental context for the emergence of Islam in late Antique Arabia,” was revealed within the educational journal Science on June 16.

It was authored by Fleitmann in addition to John Haldon of Princeton University, Raymond S. Bradley and Stephen J. Burns of the University of Massachusetts, R. Lawrence Edwards of the University of Minnesota, Christoph C. Raible and Albert Matter of the University of Bern (Switzerland), and Matthew Jacobson of the University of Reading (U.Ok.),Hai Cheng of the Xi’an Jiatong University (China).

This story was supplied to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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