The Social Organization of Mecca and the Origins of Islam

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI:
The Social Organization of Mecca and the Origins of Islam

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This chapter combines historical inquiry and structural-functional anthropology to relate the rise of one of the greatest salvation religions to concomitant social and political transformations. It attempts to show the rise of a powerful symbol system that acted as a catalyst in spurring the political unification of disparate kinship groups. The chapter is concerned primarily with the change from a type of society organized on the basis of kin relationships to one possessed of an organized state. The studies show that this change took place in an urban environment and was causally connected with the spread of trade. Ways in which people relate to one another in terms of the material culturally available to them are discussed. Systems of relationship change under the impact of internal and external factors. The chapter presents a case history to show certain changes in social organization that appear to occur at the threshold of transition from one level of organization to another.

Keywords: structural-functional anthropology; political transformations; Islam; social organization; historical inquiry

Chapter.  10328 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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