Votes No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post. Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun, the well known historian and thinker from Muslim 14th-century North Africa, is considered a forerunner of original theories in social sciences and philosophy of history, as well as the author of original views in economics, prefiguring modern contributions. In the following detailed and documented article, Muhammad Hozien outlines the bio-bibliography of Ibn Khaldun and presents insights into his theories, especially by comparing his analysis with that of Thucydides, and by characterizing Ibn Khaldun's view on science and philosophy. Childhood and early years.
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Votes No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post. Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun, the well known historian and thinker from Muslim 14th-century North Africa, is considered a forerunner of original theories in social sciences and philosophy of history, as well as the author of original views in economics, prefiguring modern contributions. In the following detailed and documented article, Muhammad Hozien outlines the bio-bibliography of Ibn Khaldun and presents insights into his theories, especially by comparing his analysis with that of Thucydides, and by characterizing Ibn Khaldun's view on science and philosophy.
Childhood and early years. These genealogies point to his Arab origin, although some scholars question the authenticity of these reports because of the political climate at the time of the reports. He learned first at the hands of his father, who was a scholarly person, and not involved in politics like his ancestors. He reached a certain proficiency in these subjects and received certification in them.
In his autobiography, he mentions the names of the scholars with whom he studied. Tunisia and Morocco. Before long he had the opportunity to leave Tunis. He moved back and forth through Algeria and settled in Biskra. He was eventually promoted to the post of seal-bearer and accepted it reluctantly, as it was inferior to the posts once occupied by his ancestors. At this time, Fez was a capital of Morocco and enjoyed the company of many scholars from all over North Africa and Andalusia.
He was promoted from one position to another. This loyalty was short-lived as well. He occupied the position for two more years and was then appointed Chief Justice. He showed great ability in this position, but, as a result of constant rivalry with high officials, he lost favor with the sultan. For reasons unknown perhaps he was not trusted , he was refused the position. His plans had finally been realized.
The period of imprisonment in Fez did not go to waste. He entered the city as a favorite guest. This was the first time he had returned to the town of his birth since leaving it more than twenty-seven years earlier.
He turned toward Cairo instead. Here he was warmly welcomed by scholars and students, and it was in Cairo that he lived out his final days. His fame for his writings had already preceded him. He lectured at al-Azhar and other fine schools. He again enjoyed the favors of the sultan. The ship carrying his family and belongings sank in a storm. He was then appointed to the Sufi khanaqa school of Baybars with a generous salary.
This did not matter to him, as he was called upon to accompany the sultan on a perilous journey with fate to Damascus. The sultan stayed in Damascus just two weeks; he had to leave because of rumors that a revolt was in the works in Cairo. It was up to the leaders of Damascus to deal with Tamerlane. It is not clear whether he went on his own or in an official capacity.
Walter Fischel lists six specific topics about which they talked:. Heroes in history; 3. Predictions of things to come; 4. You have heaped favors upon me, accorded me a place in your council among your intimate followers, and shown me kindness and generosity which I hope Allah will repay to you in like measures. Of his works on history, only his universal history has survived to our day. The first part is the introduction, the second part is the universal history, and the third part is the history of the Maghrib.
In this section, I concentrate on the first part. The second part is similar to the standard histories of Muslim historians, and there does not seem to be much divergence. The third part, which is concerned with the history of the Maghrib, is considered a primary source work.
An additional work that is not usually considered a part of this book is an appendix, which is an autobiography of the author. Human society —ethnology and anthropology 2. Rural civilizations 3. Forms of government and forms of institutions 4.
Society of urban civilization 5. Economic facts 6. Science and humanity. He used his political and firsthand knowledge of the people of Maghrib to formulate many of his ideas and summarized almost every field of knowledge of the time.
He discusses a variety of topics, including history and historiography. He rebukes some historical claims with a calculated logic, and discusses the contemporary sciences. He wrote about astronomy, astrology, and numerology; and dealt with chemistry, alchemy, and magic in a scientific way.
His discussion of tribal societies and social forces is the most interesting part of his thesis. He illuminated the world with deep insight into the makings and workings of kingdoms and civilizations.
The following quotation describes his philosophy of the historical process of civilizations, including, for example, the role of economics:. This science can be of great help to the historian by creating a standard by which to judge accounts of past events. Through the study of human society, one can distinguish between the possible and the impossible, and so distinguish between those of its phenomena which are essential and those which are merely accidental, and also those which cannot occur at all.
Only the division of labour, in and through society, makes this possible. The state arises through the need of a restraining force to curb the natural aggression of humanity. A state is inconceivable without a society, while a society is well-nigh impossible without a state. Social phenomena seem to obey laws which, while not as absolute as those governing natural phenomena, are sufficiently constant to cause social events to follow regular and well-defined patterns and sequences.
Hence a grasp of these laws enables the sociologist to understand the trend of events. These laws operate on masses and cannot be significantly influenced by isolated individuals. Figure 4: Tarikh ibn Khaldun , edited by Khalil Shahada, 8 vols. Beirut: Dar al-fikr, These laws can be discovered by applying human reason to data either culled from historical records or obtained by direct observation. These data are fitted into an implicit framework derived from his views on human and social nature, his religious beliefs and the legal precepts and philosophical principles to which he adheres.
He argues that more or less the same set of laws operates across societies with the same kind of structure, so that his remarks about nomads apply equally well to Arab Bedouins, both contemporary and pre-Islamic, and to Berbers, Turkomen and Kurds. These laws are explicable sociologically, and are not a mere reflection of biological impulses or physical factors. To be sure, facts such as climate and food are important, but he attributes greater influence to such purely social factors as cohesion, occupation and wealth.
He characterizes each group:. This greatly enhances their military potential. Towns, by contrast, are the seats of the crafts, the sciences, the arts and culture. Yet luxury corrupts them, and as a result they become a liability to the state, like women and children who need to be protected.
Solidarity is completely relaxed and the arts of defending oneself and of attacking the enemy are forgotten, so they are no match for conquering nomads. At first the new rulers retain their tribal virtues and solidarity, but soon they seek to concentrate all authority in their own hands. Increasingly they rule through a bureaucracy of clients—often foreigners.
As their former supporters lose their military virtues there is an increasing use of mercenaries, and soldiers come to be more important than civilians.
Luxury corrupts ethical life, and the population decreases. Rising expenditure demands higher taxes, which discourage production and eventually result in lower revenues. The ruler and his clients become isolated from the groups that originally brought them to power. Such a process of decline is taken to last three generations, or about one hundred and twenty years.
Religion can also reinforce the cohesion of an established state. Yet the endless cycle of flowering and decay shows no evolution or progress except for that from the primitive to civilized society. He wrote that in his time, he believed the Black Death and Mongol invasions were turning points, as was the development of Europe. In it, Goodman reveals the similarities in methods, assumptions, and conclusions, and notes that:. Yet neither is a reductionist. But beyond similarities of approach, there is a deep congruity of thought between the two authors, for both believe themselves to have glimpsed the pattern, learned the lesson of history.
Although Goodman finds similarities between some of the historical theories of the two historians, there is little proof that the ideas of Thucydides ever appeared in Arabic.
The non-religious sciences are further divided into useful and non-useful sciences mainly the occult sciences such as magic, alchemy and astrology. He makes it a point to refute magic, alchemy, astrology, and philosophy in his book. His work became a record of the development of sciences in his day. Muhammad Ashraf, , 3—5.
One point is that some Berber tribes used false Arab identities to gain political favor and positions. Even if he criticized his own people, that would not make him an outsider. His attacks on Arab rabble rousers are attacks on those who would cause instability.
Your complimentary articles. You can read four articles free per month. To have complete access to the thousands of philosophy articles on this site, please. Some consider the Italian philosopher Vico to have been the founder of philosophy of history; others give the credit to the French philosopher Montesquieu
Ronald Reagan once cited him. Mark Zuckerberg picked his great work as one of his book club choices. His Muqaddimah is a book-length introduction—or prolegomena—to a much longer history of the world. Such histories were common among Arab writers, but no one before him had developed such an advanced theory about why civilisations rise, and why they fall. He looked at material factors in history and cast a sceptical eye over the outlandish stories and tall tales of previous works. But there are other factors: he did have a remarkably colourful career: he spent time in prison, fought in battles with the Bedouin, encountered the would-be world conquerer Tamerlane. He visited Granada and Pedro the Cruel.
Ibn Khaldun and the Philosophy of History
He also wrote a definitive history of Muslim North Africa. The family subsequently moved to Sevilla Seville , played an important part in the civil wars of the 9th century, and was long reckoned among the three leading houses of that city. There the refugees from Spain were of a much higher level of socio-economic status than the local North Africans, and the family was soon called to occupy the leading administrative posts in Tunis. He was outstanding in his knowledge of Arabic and had an understanding of poetry in its different forms and I can well remember how the men of letters sought his opinion in matters of dispute and submitted their works to him. In , however, the Black Death struck Tunis and took away both his father and his mother. By then he was married.