The Spread of Islam: A Divine Answer to Civilizational Collapse?
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The spread of Islam originally was and may still be a divine answer to the worldwide collapse of civilization. To my knowledge, this thesis has not been addressed by historians, but it is increasingly credible. Some of the accumulating evidence is coming out of such places as the current research on the history of Teotihuacan, which was my favorite place 65 years ago as a starving runaway from home before I was jailed as a vagrant. For centuries the civilization that rivaled Rome and built the pyramid of Teotihuacan was unknown until the Aztecs discovered it in about 1500 A.C. Current research, discussed in an AOL news item of July 1, 2008, is exploring why this ancient civilization in Mexico collapsed in the 7th century A.C. (see http://news.aol.com/story/_a/pyramid-cave-may-solve-ancient-mystery/20080703150109990001 )
The immediate pre-Islamic era was dominated by the collapse of global civilization from China to America in the two centuries before and during the revelation of the Qur’an. This thesis will introduce the periodization of Islamdom in the Center for Understanding Islam’s college textbook on Islam, using Hans Kung’s concept of paradigmatic eras in his 767-page magnum opus, published last year by Oxford, Islam: Past, Present, and Future.
The Qur’an throughout emphasizes the reasons for the collapse of civilizations, which at the time of its revelation appeared to most of humanity as inevitable. The Qur’an also teaches the reasons for the rise of civilizations.
The principal reason for the spread of Islam without violence, contrary to the Islamophobic propaganda from a Western civilization in decline, was the inspiration that classical or traditionalist religion provides for persons and communities to go beyond their own concern for physical survival. This cataphatic or “yes” mentality removes the fear of collapse, which fear ironically is its major cause. Islam’s advocacy of a compassionate peace through justice, rather than by a deadly peace through material power, reflects Gandhi’s lifelong teaching that violence comes from fear of chaos and oppression, i.e., the apophatic or “no” mentality, more than from the actual forces of chaos.
Gandhi’s wisdom, highlighted in the feature spread, “Saying His Peace,” in the Style section of the Washington Post, on July 1, 2008, explains why American foreign policy, based on a morbid obsession with mere survival and on the resulting autistic demonization of “the other”, is the principal cause of civilizational decline today and why Barack Obama’s transformational and cataphatic commitment to paradigmatic change is so popular for inspiring hope.