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The Muqaddimah, or the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Arabic: مقدّمة ابن خلدون, Amazigh: ⵜⴰⵣⵡⴰⵔⵉⵜ ⵏ ⵉⴱⵏ ⵅⵉⴷⵓⵏ Tazwarit n Ibn Xldun, "Introduction"), or the Prolegomena (Προλέγομενα) in Greek, is a book written by the North African historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early Muslim view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the philosophy of history[1] or the social sciences[2] of sociology,[1][3] demography,[3] historiography,[4] or cultural history,[5] or as one of the forerunners of modern economics in ancient times.[6][7][8][9][10] The work also deals with Islamic theology and the natural sciences of biology and chemistry. Ibn Khaldun wrote the work in 1377 as the preface or first book of his planned world history, the Kitab al-Ibar (lit. Book of Advice), but already in his lifetime it became regarded as an independent work.

Contents

Content

Ibn Khaldun starts the Muqaddimah with a thorough criticism of the mistakes regularly committed by his fellow historians and the difficulties which await the historian in his work. He notes seven critical issues:

"All records, by their very nature, are liable to error...
  1. ...Partisanship towards a creed or opinion...
  2. ...Over-confidence in one's sources...
  3. ...The failure to understand what is intended...
  4. ...A mistaken belief in the truth...
  5. ...The inability to place an event in its real context
  6. ...The common desire to gain favor of those of high ranks, by praising them, by spreading their fame...
  7. ...The most important is the ignorance of the laws governing the transformation of human society."

Against the seventh point (the ignorance of social laws) Ibn Khaldun lays out his theory of human society in the Muqaddimah.

Sati' al-Husri suggested that Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah is essentially a sociological work, sketching over its six books a general sociology; a sociology of politics; a sociology of urban life; a sociology of economics; and a sociology of knowledge.

Scientific method

Ibn Khaldun often criticized "idle superstition and uncritical acceptance of historical data." As a result, he introduced the scientific method to the social sciences, which was considered something "new to his age", and he often referred to it as his "new science" and developed his own new terminology for it.[11]

His historical method also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history,[3] leading to his development of historiography.

Sociology

'Asabiyyah

The concept of "'asabiyyah" (Arabic: 'tribalism', 'clanism', 'communitarism' or in a modern context 'nationalism') is one of the most well-known aspects of the Muqaddimah. Ibn Khaldun uses the term Asabiyyah to describe the bond of cohesion among humans in a group forming community. The bond, Asabiyyah, exists at any level of civilization, from nomadic society to states and empires.[12] Asabiyyah is most strong in the nomadic phase, and decreases as civilization advances.[12] As this Asabiyyah declines, another more compelling Asabiyyah may take its place; thus, civilizations rise and fall, and history describes these cycles of Asabiyyah as they play out.[12] The Prophet Muhammad defined Asabyyah as valuing the unworthy of your "people" above the worthy of those not your own.

Ibn Khaldun argues that each dynasty has within itself the seeds of its own downfall. He explains that ruling houses tend to emerge on the peripheries of great empires and use the unity presented by those areas to their advantage in order to bring about a change in leadership. As the new rulers establish themselves at the center of their empire, they become increasingly lax and more concerned with maintaining their lifestyles. Thus, a new dynasty can emerge at the periphery of their control and effect a change in leadership, beginning the cycle anew.

Ibn Khaldun's model is an instinctive one, not requiring a conceptual social contract present in classical republicanism.

Conflict theory

Ibn Khaldun conceived both a central social conflict ("town" versus "desert") as well as a theory (using the concept of a "generation") of the necessary loss of power of city conquerors coming from the desert.

Similarities to modern sociology

The sociology of the Muqaddimah is more similar to the theories developed by Hegel or Marx in emphasizing dialectic or feedback loops, or systems theory as applied to fields such as corporate social responsibility, than to the theories of Durkheim and others who emphasized structures. There is a remarkable similarity between modern economic ideas and some ideas developed by Ibn Khaldun.

Economics

Statue of Ibn Khaldun in Tunis
When civilization [population] increases, the available labor again increases. In turn, luxury again increases in correspondence with the increasing profit, and the customs and needs of luxury increase. Crafts are created to obtain luxury products. The value realized from them increases, and, as a result, profits are again multiplied in the town. Production there is thriving even more than before. And so it goes with the second and third increase. All the additional labor serves luxury and wealth, in contrast to the original labor that served the necessity of life.[13]
Ibn Khaldun on economic growth

Ibn Khaldun is considered one of the fathers of modern economics.[6][7][14] He wrote on economic and political theory in the Muqaddimah, relating his thoughts on asabiyya to the division of labor: the greater the social cohesion, the more complex the division may be, the greater the economic growth.

He noted that growth and development positively stimulate both supply and demand, and that the forces of supply and demand are what determine the prices of goods.[15] He also noted macroeconomic forces of population growth, human capital development, and technological developments effects on development.[16] Ibn Khaldun held that population growth was a function of wealth.[17] The topic was also earlier studied by Chanakya, who in his magnum opus Arthashastra (written between 100 and 200 BCE), explored the prerequisites and sources of economic growth along with obstructions to economic growth and the design of tax incentives to spur economic growth.[18]

Ibn Khaldun understood that money served as a standard of value, a medium of exchange, and a preserver of value, though he did not realize that the value of gold and silver changed based on the forces of supply and demand.[19] Ibn Khaldun also introduced the labor theory of value. He described labor as the source of value, necessary for all earnings and capital accumulation, obvious in the case of craft. He argued that even if earning “results from something other than a craft, the value of the resulting profit and acquired (capital) must (also) include the value of the labor by which it was obtained. Without labor, it would not have been acquired.”[6]

His theory of asabiyyah has often been compared to modern Keynesian economics, with Ibn Khaldun's theory clearly containing the concept of the multiplier. A crucial difference, however, is that whereas for John Maynard Keynes it is the middle class's greater propensity to save that is to blame for economic depression, for Ibn Khaldun it is the governmental propensity to save at times when investment opportunities do not take up the slack which leads to aggregate demand.[20]

Another modern economic theory anticipated by Ibn Khaldun is supply-side economics.[21] He "argued that high taxes were often a factor in causing empires to collapse, with the result that lower revenue was collected from high rates." He wrote:[22]

"It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments."

Laffer Curve

Ibn Khaldun introduced the concept popularly known as the Laffer Curve, that increases in tax rates initially increase tax revenues, but eventually increases in tax rates cause a decrease in tax revenues. This occurs as too high a tax rate discourages producers in the economy.

Ibn Khaldun used a dialectic approach to describe the sociological implications of tax choice (which now forms a part of economics theory):

In the early stages of the state, taxes are light in their incidence, but fetch in a large revenue...As time passes and kings succeed each other, they lose their tribal habits in favor of more civilized ones. Their needs and exigencies grow...owing to the luxury in which they have been brought up. Hence they impose fresh taxes on their subjects...and sharply raise the rate of old taxes to increase their yield...But the effects on business of this rise in taxation make themselves felt. For business men are soon discouraged by the comparison of their profits with the burden of their taxes...Consequently production falls off, and with it the yield of taxation.

This analysis is very similar to the modern economic concept known as the Laffer Curve. Laffer does not claim to have invented the concept himself, instead attributing it to Ibn Khaldun, and more recently, to John Maynard Keynes.[23]

Historiography

The Muqaddimah is also held to be a foundational work for the schools of historiography, cultural history, and the philosophy of history.[5][24] The Muqaddimah also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history.[3]

Franz Rosenthal wrote in the History of Muslim Historiography:

Muslim historiography has at all times been united by the closest ties with the general development of scholarship in Islam, and the position of historical knowledge in MusIim education has exercised a decisive influence upon the intellectual level of historical writing....The Muslims achieved a definite advance beyond previous historical writing in the sociological understanding of history and the systematisation of historiography. The development of modern historical writing seems to have gained considerably in speed and substance through the utilization of a Muslim Literature which enabled western historians, from the seventeenth century on, to see a large section of the world through foreign eyes. The Muslim historiography helped indirectly and modestly to shape present day historical thinking.[25]

Historical method

In the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun warned of seven mistakes that he thought that historians regularly committed. In this criticism, he approached the past as strange and in need of interpretation. The originality of Ibn Khaldun was to claim that the cultural difference of another age must govern the evaluation of relevant historical material, to distinguish the principles according to which it might be possible to attempt the evaluation, and lastly, to feel the need for experience, in addition to rational principles, in order to assess a culture of the past. Ibn Khaldun often criticized "idle superstition and uncritical acceptance of historical data." As a result, he introduced a scientific method to the study of history, which was considered something "new to his age", and he often referred to it as his "new science", now associated with historiography.[11] His historical method also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history,[3] and he is thus considered to be the "father of historiography"[4][26] or the "father of the philosophy of history".[1]

Ibn Khaldun' makes the following comments on his scientific historical method in his Muqaddimah:[27]

  1. "History is a science"
  2. "History has a content and the historian should account for it"
  3. "The historian should account for the elements that gather to make the human history"
  4. "He should also work according to the laws of history"
  5. "History is a philosophical science"
  6. "History is composed of news about the days, states and the previous centuries. It is a theory, an analysis and justification about the creatures and their principles, and a science of how the incidents happen and their reasons"
  7. "Myths have nothing to do with history and should be refuted"
  8. "To build strong historical records, the historian should rely on necessary rules for the truth comparison"

Systematic bias

The Muqaddimah further emphasized the role of systemic bias in affecting the standard of evidence. Khaldun was quite concerned with the effect of raising the standard of evidence when confronted with uncomfortable claims, and relaxing it when given claims that seemed reasonable or comfortable. He was a jurist, and sometimes participated reluctantly in rulings that he felt were coerced, based on arguments he didn't respect. Besides al-Maqrizi (1364–1442),[27] Ibn Khaldun had few successors in his thinking about history until Arnold J. Toynbee, a 20th century British historian.

History of science

Ibn Khaldun discussed the history of science, and wrote the following on the history of Islamic science:

The Muslims desired to learn the sciences of foreign nations. They made them their own through translations. They pressed them into the mould of their own views. They took them over into their own language from the non-Arab languages and surpassed the achievements of the non-Arabs in them.[28]

Islamic theology

The Muqaddimah contains discussions on Islamic theology which show that Ibn Khaldun was a follower of the Ash'ari school of Sunni Islamic thought and a supporter of al-Ghazali's religious views. He was also a critic of Neoplatonism, particularly its notion of a hierarchy of being. He argued that theosis requires the participation of revelation and is not possible through reason alone. He based his argument on the "irreducibility of the empirical nature of our knowledge of facts, which cannot then be converted into abstract and pure concepts at a higher level of human consciousness."[29]

The Muqaddimah covers the historical development of kalam and the different schools of Islamic thought, notably the Mu'tazili and Ash'ari schools. Ibn Khaldun, being a follower of the Ash'ari school, criticizes the views of the Mu'tazili school, and bases his criticisms on the views of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, whom he describes as "the mediator between different approaches in the kalam." Ibn Khaldun also covers the historical development of Islamic logic in the context of theology, as he viewed logic as being distinct from early Islamic philosophy, and believed that philosophy should remain separate from theology. The book also contains commentaries on verses from the Qur'an.[30]

Science of hadith

Ibn Khaldun discussed the science of hadith. He disagreed with the use of reason in the evaluation of a hadith, arguing that "there is no place for the intellect in them, save that the intellect may be used in connection with them to relate problems of detail with basic principles."[31]

Natural sciences

Biology

Some of Ibn Khaldun's thoughts, according to some commentators, anticipate the biological theory of evolution.[32] Ibn Khaldoun asserted that humans developed from "the world of the monkeys", in a process by which "species become more numerous":[32]

This world with all the created things in it has a certain order and solid construction. It shows nexuses between causes and things caused, combinations of some parts of creation with others, and transformations of some existent things into others, in a pattern that is both remarkable and endless.
One should then take a look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish which have only the power of touch. The word 'connection' with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of the newest group.
The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of monkeys, in which both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man. This is as far as our (physical) observation extends.[33]

Ibn Khaldun was also an adherent of environmental determinism. He explained that black skin was due to the hot climate of sub-Saharan Africa and not due to their lineage. He thus dispelled the Hamitic theory, where the sons of Ham were cursed by being black, as a myth.[34]

Chemistry

Ibn Khaldun was a critic of the practice of alchemy in the Islamic world. In chapter 23 of his work, entitled Fi 'ilm al-kimya, he discussed the history of alchemy, the views of alchemists such as Geber,[35] and the theories of the transmutation of metals and elixir of life.[36] In chapter 26, entitled Fi inkar thamrat al-kimya wa istihalat wujudiha wa ma yansha min al-mafasid, he wrote a systematic refutation of alchemy on social,[35] scientific, philosophical and religious grounds.[37]

He begins his refutation on social grounds, arguing that many alchemists are incapable of earning a living because of the thought of becoming rich through alchemy and end up "losing their credibility because of the futility of their attempts".[38]

He also argues that some alchemists resort to fraud, either openly by applying a thin layer of gold/silver on top of silver/copper jewellery, or secretly using an artificial procedure of covering whitened copper with sublimated mercury, though only skilled experimenters can carry out the latter. He admits, however, that most alchemists are honest and carry out their investigations in good faith with the belief that the transmutation of metals is possible, but on the basis that there has never been any successful attempt to date, he argues that transmutation is an implausible theory without any reliable scientific evidence to support it. He reports the earlier opinions of al-Farabi, Avicenna and al-Tughrai on alchemy, and then proceeds to advance his own arguments against it. One such argument is that "human science is powerless even to attain what is inferior to it" and that alchemy "resembles someone who wants to produce a man, an animal or a plant." Another sociological argument he uses is that, even if transmutation were possible, the disproportionate growth of gold and silver "would make transactions useless and would run counter to divine wisdom." He ends his arguments with a restatement of his position:[36]

Alchemy can only be achieved through psychic influences (bi-ta'thirat al-nufus). Extraordinary things are either miracles or witchcraft... They are unbounded; nobody can claim to acquire them.[39]

Political theory

The Muqaddimah deals with various questions of political theory which in many ways can be seen as taking from Aristotle, and preceding Machiavelli and Hobbes.

In the Muqaddimah's Introductory Remarks, Ibn Khaldun agrees with the classical republicanism of Aristotelian proposition that man is political by nature, and that man's interdependence creates the need for the political community. Yet Ibn Khaldun argues, like Hobbes later, that men and tribes need to defend themselves from potential attack by beast or even unjust men, and thus political communities are formed. The glue which holds such tribes together and eventually forms "royal authority" or the state, according to Ibn Khaldun, is 'asabiyah or group feeling. Ibn Khaldun argues that the best type of political community is the Caliphate or the Islamic state, and argues that the neo-Platonist political theories of al-Farabi and Ibn Sina and the "perfect state" (Madina al-Fadilah) are useless because God's Law, the sharia, has been revealed to take account of public interest and the afterlife. The second most perfect state, Ibn Khaldun argues, is one based on justice and consideration for public welfare in this life, but not based on religious law and so not beneficial to one's afterlife. Ibn Khaldun calls this state blameworthy. Yet the worst type of state, according to Ibn Khaldun, is a tyranny wherein government usurps property rights and rules with injustice against the rights of men.

Ibn Khaldun also anticipates Machiavelli by attempting to answer the question of whether it is better for the ruler to be feared or loved. Ibn Khaldun, like Machiavelli, answers that it is best to be both. However, unlike Machiavelli, Khaldun believes that if that is not possible then it is better to be loved than feared because fear creates many negative effects in the state's population.

Ibn Khaldun writes that civilizations have lifespans like individuals, and that every state will eventually fall because sedentary luxuries distract them, and eventually government begins to overtax citizens and begin injustice against property rights, and "injustice ruins civilization." Eventually after one dynasty or royal authority falls, it is replaced by another, in a continuous cycle.

The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government, "an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself", the best in the history of political theory.[40]

Sharia law and Fiqh jurisprudence

Ibn Khaldun was an Islamic jurist and discussed the topics of Sharia (Islamic law) and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) in his Muqaddimah. Ibn Khaldun wrote that "Jurisprudence is the knowledge of the classification of the laws of God." In regards to jurisprudence, he acknowledged the inevitability of change in all aspects of a community, and wrote:

The conditions, customs and beliefs of peoples and nations do not indefinitely follow the same pattern and adhere to a constant course. There is rather, change with days and epochs, as well as passing from one state to another... such is the law of God that has taken place with regard to His subjects.[41]

Ibn Khaldun further described Fiqh jurisprudence as "knowledge of the rules of God which concern the actions of persons who own themselves bound to obey the law respecting what is required (wajib), forbidden (haraam), recommended (mandūb), disapproved (makruh) or merely permitted (mubah)."[42]

Assessment of various civilizations

While discussing his "new science", now associated with the social sciences, Ibn Khaldūn states that no other author before him, as far as he was aware, wrote about it. However, he was aware that much knowledge of the past had been lost, and thus he was open to the possibility that someone may have anticipated him but that their work had not survived:

Perhaps they have written exhaustively on this topic, and their work did not reach us. There are many sciences. There have been numerous sages among the nations of mankind. The knowledge that has not come down to us is larger than the knowledge that has. Where are the sciences of the Persians that ‘Umar ordered to be wiped out at the time of the conquest? Where are the sciences of the Chaladaeans, the Syrians and the Babylonians, and the scholarly products and results that were theirs? Where are the sciences of the Copts, their predecessors? The sciences of only one nation, the Greeks, have come down to us, because they were translated through Al-Ma'mun's efforts. He was successful in this direction because he had many translators at his disposal and spent much money in this connection.[43]

Ibn Khaldūn characterized Aristotle as "the First Teacher", for his having "improved the methods of logic and systematized its problems and details."[44]

On the culture of Bedouin nomads, referred to as al-`Arāb (not to be confused with Arabs which can refer to all kinds of Arabic-speaking peoples), Ibn Khaldūn writes:

al-`Arāb dominate only of the plains, because they are, by their savage nature, people of pillage and corruption. They pillage everything that they can take without fighting or taking risks, then flee to their refuge in the wilderness, and do not stand and do battle unless in self-defense. So when they encounter any difficulty or obstacle, they leave it alone and look for easier prey. And tribes well-fortified against them on the slopes of the hills escape their corruption and destruction, because they prefer not to climb hills, nor expend effort, nor take risks.[45]

On the Jewish civilization:

(Unlike Muslims), the other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defence... They are merely required to establish their religion among their own people. This is why the Israelites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with royal authority for about four hundred years. Their only concern was to establish their religion... The Israelites dispossessed the Canaanites of the land that God had given them as their heritage in Jerusalem and the surrounding region, as it had been explained to them through Moses. The nations of the Philistines, the Canaanites, the Armenians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites fought against them. During that time political leadership was entrusted to the elders among them. The Israelites remained in that condition for about four hundred years. They did not have any royal power and were harassed by attacks from foreign nations. Therefore, they asked God through Samuel, one of their prophets, that he permit them to make someone king over them. Thus, Saul became their king. He defeated the foreign nations and killed Goliath, the ruler of Philistines. After Saul, David became king, and then Solomon. His kingdom flourished and extended to the borders of the land of the Hijaz and further to the borders of Yemen and to the borders of the land of the Byzantines. After Solomon, the tribes split into two dynasties. One of the dynasties was that of the ten tribes in the region of Nablus, the capital of which is Samaria (Sabastiyah), and the other that of the children of Judah and Benjamin in Jerusalem. Their royal authority had had an uninterrupted duration of a thousand years.[46]

On the Arab conquests of the 7th century:

Religious propaganda gives a dynasty at its beginning another power in addition to that of the group feeling it possessed as the result of the number of its supporters... This happened to the Arabs at the beginning of Islam during the Muslim conquests. The armies of the Muslims at al-Qadisiyah and at the Yarmuk numbered some 30,000 in each case, while the Persian troops at al-Qadisiyah numbered 120,000, and the troops of Heraclius, according to al-Waqidi, 400,000. Neither of the two parties was able to withstand the Arabs, who routed them and seized what they possessed.[47]

Ibn Khaldūn's description of the various Sub-Saharan African states:

The Western Sahel:

Many translations of Ibn Khaldun were translated during the colonial era in order to fit the colonial propaganda machine [48] The Negro land of the Arabs Examined and Explained was written in 1841 and gives excerpts of older translations that were not part of colonial propaganda

When the conquest of the West (by the Arabs) was completed, and merchants began to penetrate into the interior, they saw no nation of the Blacks so mighty as Ghanah, the dominions of which extended westward as far as the Ocean. The King's court was kept in the city of Ghanah, which, according to the author of the Book of Roger (El Idrisi), and the author of the Book of Roads and Realms (El Bekri), is divided into two parts, standing on both banks of the Nile, and ranks among the largest and most populous cities of the world. The people of Ghanah had for neighbours, on the east, a nation, which, according to historians, was called Susu; after which came another named Mali; and after that another known by the name of Kaukau ; although some people prefer a different orthography, and write this name Kagho. The last-named nation was followed by a people called Tekrur. The people of Ghanah declined in course of time, being overwhelmed or absorbed by the Molaththemun (or muffled people;that is, the Morabites), who, adjoining them on the north towards the Berber country, attacked them, and, taking possession of their territory, compelled them to embrace the Mohammedan religion. The people of Ghanah, being invaded at a later period by the Susu, a nation of Blacks in their neighbourhood, were exterminated, or mixed with other Black nations. [[49]]

Ibn Khaldun suggests a link between the decline of Ghana and rise of the Almoravids. however, there is little evidence of there actually being an Almoravid conquest of Ghana[[50]][51]

Nubia:

In the middle of the first zone along the Nile, lie the countries of the Nubah and the Abyssinians and some of the oases down to Assuan. A settled part of the Nubah country is the city of Dongola, west of the Nile. Beyond it are 'Alwah 83 and Yulaq.84 Beyond them, a six days' journey north of Yulaq, is the mountain of the cataracts. This is a mountain which rises to a great height on the Egyptian side but is much less elevated on the side of the country of the Nubah, The Nile cuts through it and flows down precipitately in tremendous cascades for a long distance. Boats cannot get through. Cargoes from the Sudanese boats are taken off and carried on pack animals to Assuan at the entrance to Upper Egypt. In the same way, the cargoes of the boats from Upper Egypt are carried over the cataracts. The distance from the cataracts to Assuan is a twelve day's journey. The oases on the west bank of the Nile there are now in ruins. They show traces of ancient settlement.

Abyssinia (Ethiopia):

In the middle of the first zone, in its fifth section, is the country of the Abyssinians, through which a river flows, which comes from beyond the equator and 85 flows toward the land of the Nubah, where it flows into the Nile and so on down into Egypt. Many people have held fantastic opinions about it and thought that it was part of the Nile of the Qumr (Mountain of the Moon). Ptolemy mentioned it in the Geography. He mentioned that it did not belong to the Nile.[52]

Hadith of Persians and belief

Some of the content in the book is also related to the "Hadith of Persians and belief":

Thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farisi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent…they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar…great jurists were Persians… only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the prophet becomes apparent, "If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it"…The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them…as was the case with all crafts…This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana, retained their sedentary culture.[53]

Here he uses the term "Arabs" to refer to the nomadic Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula (not including Arabized populations), and "Persians" to refer to the sedentary Persian culture of the Iranian plateau (including all Iranian peoples). Also note that in medieval Islamic literature, there were two regions known as Iraq: the Iraq-e-Arab (Arab Iraq) and the Iraq-e-Ajam (Persian Iraq). The Persian Iraq mentioned by Ibn Khaldun is the historic Iraq-e-Ajam (Persian Iraq) which constitutes the triangle of Isfahan, Shiraz and Hamadan.

External links

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dr. S. W. Akhtar (1997). "The Islamic Concept of Knowledge", Al-Tawhid: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Thought & Culture 12 (3).
  2. Akbar Ahmed (2002). "Ibn Khaldun’s Understanding of Civilizations and the Dilemmas of Islam and the West Today", Middle East Journal 56 (1), p. 25.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 H. Mowlana (2001). "Information in the Arab World", Cooperation South Journal 1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Salahuddin Ahmed (1999). A Dictionary of Muslim Names. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 1850653569.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mohamad Abdalla (Summer 2007. "Ibn Khaldun on the Fate of Islamic Science after the 11th Century", Islam & Science 5 (1), p. 61-70.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 I. M. Oweiss (1988), "Ibn Khaldun, the Father of Economics", Arab Civilization: Challenges and Responses, New York University Press, ISBN 0887066984.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jean David C. Boulakia (1971), "Ibn Khaldun: A Fourteenth-Century Economist", The Journal of Political Economy 79 (5): 1105-1118.
  8. L. K. Jha, K. N. Jha (1998). "Chanakya: the pioneer economist of the world", International Journal of Social Economics 25 (2-4), p. 267-282.
  9. Waldauer, C., Zahka, W.J. and Pal, S. 1996. Kautilya's Arthashastra: A neglected precursor to classical economics. Indian Economic Review, Vol. XXXI, No. 1, pp. 101-108.
  10. Tisdell, C. 2003. A Western perspective of Kautilya's Arthasastra: does it provide a basis for economic science? Economic Theory, Applications and Issues Working Paper No. 18. Brisbane: School of Economics, The University of Queensland.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Ibn Khaldun, Franz Rosenthal, N. J. Dawood (1967), The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, p. x, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691017549.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Tibi, Bassam. Arab nationalism. 1997, page 139
  13. Muqaddimah 2:272-73 quoted in Weiss (1995) p 30
  14. Schumpeter (1954) p 136 mentions his sociology, others, including Hosseini (2003) emphasize him as well
  15. Weiss (1995) p31 quotes Muqaddimah 2:276-278
  16. Weiss (1995) p31 quotes Muqaddimah 2:272-273
  17. Weiss (1995) p33
  18. Sihag, B.S. 2007. Kautilya on institutions, governance, knowledge, ethics and prosperity. Humanomics 23 (1): 5-28.
  19. Weiss (1995) p 32
  20. Gellner, Ernest (1983), [Expression error: Missing operand for > Muslim Society], Cambridge University Press, pp. 34–5, ISBN 0521274079 
  21. Lawrence, Bruce B. (1983), [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Introduction: Ibn Khaldun and Islamic Ideology"], Journal of Asian and African Studies XVIII (3-4): 154–165 [157 & 164], doi:10.1177/002190968301800302 
  22. Bartlett, Bruce, "Supply-Side Economics: "Voodoo Economics" or Lasting Contribution?", Laffer Associates (November 11, 2003), http://web.uconn.edu/cunningham/econ309/lafferpdf.pdf, retrieved 2008-11-17 
  23. The Laffer Curve: Past, Present, and Future
  24. S. Ahmed (1999). A Dictionary of Muslim Names. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 1850653569.
  25. Historiography. The Islamic Scholar.
  26. Enan, Muhammed Abdullah (2007), [Expression error: Missing operand for > Ibn Khaldun: His Life and Works], The Other Press, p. v, ISBN 9839541536 
  27. 27.0 27.1 Muhammad Kujjah. "Survey on the Development of the Historical Method among Muslim Scholars until Ibn Khaldun". FSTC. http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=837. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  28. "Aga Khan IV at the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Aga Khan University". 1993. http://gonashgo.blogspot.com/2008/01/296one-mega-post-encompassing-four.html. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  29. Debate God's Attributes with Mutazilah & Ibn Khaldun, TheoGnostus Encycoptic.
  30. Zaid Ahmad (2003), The Epistemology of Ibn Khaldun, p. 57-59. Routledge, ISBN 0415302854.
  31. Fancy, Nahyan A. G. (2006), "Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection: The Interaction of Medicine, Philosophy and Religion in the Works of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288)", p. 67-72, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, University of Notre Dame.[1]
  32. 32.0 32.1 Kiros, Teodros. Explorations in African Political Thought. 2001, page 55
  33. Muqaddimah, p. 74-75
  34. El Hamel, Chouki (2002), [Expression error: Missing operand for > "'Race', slavery and Islam in Maghribi Mediterranean thought: the question of the Haratin in Morocco"], The Journal of North African Studies 7 (3): 29–52 [39–42] 
  35. 35.0 35.1 Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 880 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  36. 36.0 36.1 Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 881 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  37. Prof. Hamed A. Ead (1998), Alchemy in Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah, Heidelberg University.
  38. Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 880–1 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  39. Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 881–2 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  40. Ernest Gellner, Plough, Sword and Book (1988), p. 239
  41. Kourides, P. Nicholas (1972), [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Traditionalism and Modernism in Islamic Law: A Review"], Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 491: 491–506 
  42. Levy, Reuben (1957). The Social Structure of Islam. UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0521091824. 
  43. Adem, Seifudein (2004), Decolonizing Modernity Ibn-Khaldun and Modern Historiography, International Seminar on Islamic Thought, pp. 570–587 [585], http://alambuku.tripod.com/pdf/ISoITCD%20XP.pdf#page=590, retrieved 2008-09-19 
  44. Muqaddimah, Translated by Franz Rosenthal, p.39 and p.383, Princeton University Press, 1981.)
  45. [2]. The Muqaddimah, Translated by F. Rosenthal
  46. Muqaddimah, Translated by Franz Rosenthal, pp.183-184, Princeton University Press, 1981.
  47. Muqaddimah, Translated by Franz Rosenthal, p.126, Princeton University Press, 1981.
  48. http://www.jstor.org/pss/3590803 Translation and the Colonial Imaginary: Ibn Khaldun Orientalist, by Abdelmajid Hannoum © 2003 Wesleyan University.
  49. http://books.google.com/books?id=6swTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA61 The Negro land of the Arabs Examined and Explained
  50. http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/~amcdouga/Hist446/readings/conquest_in_west_african_historiography.pdf Not Quite Venus from the Waves: The Almoravid Conquest of Ghana in the Modern Historiography of Western Africa by Pekka Masonen; Humphrey J. Fisher 1996
  51. http://www.jstor.org/pss/3171598 The Conquest That Never Was: Ghana and the Almoravids, 1076. I. The External Arabic Sources, by David Conrad and Humphrey Fisher © 1982 African Studies Association
  52. Muqaddimah: Chp 1, Second Prefatory Discussion - - The parts of the earth where civilization is found. Some information about oceans, rivers, and zones.
  53. "The Muqaddimah", Translated by F. Rosenthal (III, pp. 311-15, 271-4 [Arabic]; R.N. Frye (p.91). He translated the Arabic word "Ajam" into "Persians".

References

Muqaddimah

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The Muqaddimah, or the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Arabic: مقدّمة ابن خلدون, Amazigh: ⵜⴰⵣⵡⴰⵔⵉⵜ ⵏ ⵉⴱⵏ ⵅⵉⴷⵓⵏ Tazwarit n Ibn Xldun, "Introduction"), or the Prolegomena (Προλέγομενα) in Greek, is a book written by the North African historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early Muslim view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the philosophy of history[1] or the social sciences[2] of sociology,[1][3] demography,[3] historiography,[4] or cultural history,[5] or as one of the forerunners of modern economics in ancient times.[6][7][8][9][10] The work also deals with Islamic theology and the natural sciences of biology and chemistry. Ibn Khaldun wrote the work in 1377 as the preface or first book of his planned world history, the Kitab al-Ibar (lit. Book of Advice), but already in his lifetime it became regarded as an independent work.

Contents

Content

Ibn Khaldun starts the Muqaddimah with a thorough criticism of the mistakes regularly committed by his fellow historians and the difficulties which await the historian in his work. He notes seven critical issues:

"All records, by their very nature, are liable to error...
  1. ...Partisanship towards a creed or opinion...
  2. ...Over-confidence in one's sources...
  3. ...The failure to understand what is intended...
  4. ...A mistaken belief in the truth...
  5. ...The inability to place an event in its real context
  6. ...The common desire to gain favor of those of high ranks, by praising them, by spreading their fame...
  7. ...The most important is the ignorance of the laws governing the transformation of human society."

Against the seventh point (the ignorance of social laws) Ibn Khaldun lays out his theory of human society in the Muqaddimah.

Sati' al-Husri suggested that Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah is essentially a sociological work, sketching over its six books a general sociology; a sociology of politics; a sociology of urban life; a sociology of economics; and a sociology of knowledge.

Scientific method

Ibn Khaldun often criticized "idle superstition and uncritical acceptance of historical data." As a result, he introduced the scientific method to the social sciences, which was considered something "new to his age", and he often referred to it as his "new science" and developed his own new terminology for it.[11]

His historical method also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history,[3] leading to his development of historiography.

Sociology

'Asabiyyah

The concept of "'asabiyyah" (Arabic: 'tribalism', 'clanism', 'communitarism' or in a modern context 'nationalism') is one of the most well-known aspects of the Muqaddimah. Ibn Khaldun uses the term Asabiyyah to describe the bond of cohesion among humans in a group forming community. The bond, Asabiyyah, exists at any level of civilization, from nomadic society to states and empires.[12] Asabiyyah is most strong in the nomadic phase, and decreases as civilization advances.[12] As this Asabiyyah declines, another more compelling Asabiyyah may take its place; thus, civilizations rise and fall, and history describes these cycles of Asabiyyah as they play out.[12] The Prophet Muhammad defined Asabyyah as valuing the unworthy of your "people" above the worthy of those not your own.

Ibn Khaldun argues that each dynasty has within itself the seeds of its own downfall. He explains that ruling houses tend to emerge on the peripheries of great empires and use the unity presented by those areas to their advantage in order to bring about a change in leadership. As the new rulers establish themselves at the center of their empire, they become increasingly lax and more concerned with maintaining their lifestyles. Thus, a new dynasty can emerge at the periphery of their control and effect a change in leadership, beginning the cycle anew.

Ibn Khaldun's model is an instinctive one, not requiring a conceptual social contract present in classical republicanism.

Conflict theory

Ibn Khaldun conceived both a central social conflict ("town" versus "desert") as well as a theory (using the concept of a "generation") of the necessary loss of power of city conquerors coming from the desert.

Similarities to modern sociology

The sociology of the Muqaddimah is more similar to the theories developed by Hegel or Marx in emphasizing dialectic or feedback loops, or systems theory as applied to fields such as corporate social responsibility, than to the theories of Durkheim and others who emphasized structures. There is a remarkable similarity between modern economic ideas and some ideas developed by Ibn Khaldun.

Economics

Statue of Ibn Khaldun in Tunis
When civilization [population] increases, the available labor again increases. In turn, luxury again increases in correspondence with the increasing profit, and the customs and needs of luxury increase. Crafts are created to obtain luxury products. The value realized from them increases, and, as a result, profits are again multiplied in the town. Production there is thriving even more than before. And so it goes with the second and third increase. All the additional labor serves luxury and wealth, in contrast to the original labor that served the necessity of life.[13]
Ibn Khaldun on economic growth

Ibn Khaldun is considered one of the fathers of modern economics.[6][7][14] He wrote on economic and political theory in the Muqaddimah, relating his thoughts on asabiyya to the division of labor: the greater the social cohesion, the more complex the division may be, the greater the economic growth.

He noted that growth and development positively stimulate both supply and demand, and that the forces of supply and demand are what determine the prices of goods.[15] He also noted macroeconomic forces of population growth, human capital development, and technological developments effects on development.[16] Ibn Khaldun held that population growth was a function of wealth.[17] The topic was also earlier studied by Chanakya, who in his magnum opus Arthashastra (written between 100 and 200 BCE), explored the prerequisites and sources of economic growth along with obstructions to economic growth and the design of tax incentives to spur economic growth.[18]

Ibn Khaldun understood that money served as a standard of value, a medium of exchange, and a preserver of value, though he did not realize that the value of gold and silver changed based on the forces of supply and demand.[19] Ibn Khaldun also introduced the labor theory of value. He described labor as the source of value, necessary for all earnings and capital accumulation, obvious in the case of craft. He argued that even if earning “results from something other than a craft, the value of the resulting profit and acquired (capital) must (also) include the value of the labor by which it was obtained. Without labor, it would not have been acquired.”[6]

His theory of asabiyyah has often been compared to modern Keynesian economics, with Ibn Khaldun's theory clearly containing the concept of the multiplier. A crucial difference, however, is that whereas for John Maynard Keynes it is the middle class's greater propensity to save that is to blame for economic depression, for Ibn Khaldun it is the governmental propensity to save at times when investment opportunities do not take up the slack which leads to aggregate demand.[20]

Another modern economic theory anticipated by Ibn Khaldun is supply-side economics.[21] He "argued that high taxes were often a factor in causing empires to collapse, with the result that lower revenue was collected from high rates." He wrote:[22]

"It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments."

Laffer Curve

Ibn Khaldun introduced the concept popularly known as the Laffer Curve, that increases in tax rates initially increase tax revenues, but eventually increases in tax rates cause a decrease in tax revenues. This occurs as too high a tax rate discourages producers in the economy.

Ibn Khaldun used a dialectic approach to describe the sociological implications of tax choice (which now forms a part of economics theory):

In the early stages of the state, taxes are light in their incidence, but fetch in a large revenue...As time passes and kings succeed each other, they lose their tribal habits in favor of more civilized ones. Their needs and exigencies grow...owing to the luxury in which they have been brought up. Hence they impose fresh taxes on their subjects...and sharply raise the rate of old taxes to increase their yield...But the effects on business of this rise in taxation make themselves felt. For business men are soon discouraged by the comparison of their profits with the burden of their taxes...Consequently production falls off, and with it the yield of taxation.

This analysis is very similar to the modern economic concept known as the Laffer Curve. Laffer does not claim to have invented the concept himself, instead attributing it to Ibn Khaldun, and more recently, to John Maynard Keynes.[23]

Historiography

The Muqaddimah is also held to be a foundational work for the schools of historiography, cultural history, and the philosophy of history.[5][24] The Muqaddimah also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history.[3]

Franz Rosenthal wrote in the History of Muslim Historiography:

Muslim historiography has at all times been united by the closest ties with the general development of scholarship in Islam, and the position of historical knowledge in MusIim education has exercised a decisive influence upon the intellectual level of historical writing....The Muslims achieved a definite advance beyond previous historical writing in the sociological understanding of history and the systematisation of historiography. The development of modern historical writing seems to have gained considerably in speed and substance through the utilization of a Muslim Literature which enabled western historians, from the seventeenth century on, to see a large section of the world through foreign eyes. The Muslim historiography helped indirectly and modestly to shape present day historical thinking.[25]

Historical method

In the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun warned of seven mistakes that he thought that historians regularly committed. In this criticism, he approached the past as strange and in need of interpretation. The originality of Ibn Khaldun was to claim that the cultural difference of another age must govern the evaluation of relevant historical material, to distinguish the principles according to which it might be possible to attempt the evaluation, and lastly, to feel the need for experience, in addition to rational principles, in order to assess a culture of the past. Ibn Khaldun often criticized "idle superstition and uncritical acceptance of historical data." As a result, he introduced a scientific method to the study of history, which was considered something "new to his age", and he often referred to it as his "new science", now associated with historiography.[11] His historical method also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history,[3] and he is thus considered to be the "father of historiography"[4][26] or the "father of the philosophy of history".[1]

Ibn Khaldun' makes the following comments on his scientific historical method in his Muqaddimah:[27]

  1. "History is a science"
  2. "History has a content and the historian should account for it"
  3. "The historian should account for the elements that gather to make the human history"
  4. "He should also work according to the laws of history"
  5. "History is a philosophical science"
  6. "History is composed of news about the days, states and the previous centuries. It is a theory, an analysis and justification about the creatures and their principles, and a science of how the incidents happen and their reasons"
  7. "Myths have nothing to do with history and should be refuted"
  8. "To build strong historical records, the historian should rely on necessary rules for the truth comparison"

Systematic bias

The Muqaddimah further emphasized the role of systemic bias in affecting the standard of evidence. Khaldun was quite concerned with the effect of raising the standard of evidence when confronted with uncomfortable claims, and relaxing it when given claims that seemed reasonable or comfortable. He was a jurist, and sometimes participated reluctantly in rulings that he felt were coerced, based on arguments he didn't respect. Besides al-Maqrizi (1364–1442),[27] Ibn Khaldun had few successors in his thinking about history until Arnold J. Toynbee, a 20th century British historian.

History of science

Ibn Khaldun discussed the history of science, and wrote the following on the history of Islamic science:

The Muslims desired to learn the sciences of foreign nations. They made them their own through translations. They pressed them into the mould of their own views. They took them over into their own language from the non-Arab languages and surpassed the achievements of the non-Arabs in them.[28]

Islamic theology

The Muqaddimah contains discussions on Islamic theology which show that Ibn Khaldun was a follower of the Ash'ari school of Sunni Islamic thought and a supporter of al-Ghazali's religious views. He was also a critic of Neoplatonism, particularly its notion of a hierarchy of being. He argued that theosis requires the participation of revelation and is not possible through reason alone. He based his argument on the "irreducibility of the empirical nature of our knowledge of facts, which cannot then be converted into abstract and pure concepts at a higher level of human consciousness."[29]

The Muqaddimah covers the historical development of kalam and the different schools of Islamic thought, notably the Mu'tazili and Ash'ari schools. Ibn Khaldun, being a follower of the Ash'ari school, criticizes the views of the Mu'tazili school, and bases his criticisms on the views of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, whom he describes as "the mediator between different approaches in the kalam." Ibn Khaldun also covers the historical development of Islamic logic in the context of theology, as he viewed logic as being distinct from early Islamic philosophy, and believed that philosophy should remain separate from theology. The book also contains commentaries on verses from the Qur'an.[30]

Science of hadith

Ibn Khaldun discussed the science of hadith. He disagreed with the use of reason in the evaluation of a hadith, arguing that "there is no place for the intellect in them, save that the intellect may be used in connection with them to relate problems of detail with basic principles."[31]

Natural sciences

Biology

Some of Ibn Khaldun's thoughts, according to some commentators, anticipate the biological theory of evolution.[32] Ibn Khaldoun asserted that humans developed from "the world of the monkeys", in a process by which "species become more numerous":[32]

This world with all the created things in it has a certain order and solid construction. It shows nexuses between causes and things caused, combinations of some parts of creation with others, and transformations of some existent things into others, in a pattern that is both remarkable and endless.
One should then take a look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish which have only the power of touch. The word 'connection' with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of the newest group.
The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of monkeys, in which both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man. This is as far as our (physical) observation extends.[33]

Ibn Khaldun was also an adherent of environmental determinism. He explained that black skin was due to the hot climate of sub-Saharan Africa and not due to their lineage. He thus dispelled the Hamitic theory, where the sons of Ham were cursed by being black, as a myth.[34]

Chemistry

Ibn Khaldun was a critic of the practice of alchemy in the Islamic world. In chapter 23 of his work, entitled Fi 'ilm al-kimya, he discussed the history of alchemy, the views of alchemists such as Geber,[35] and the theories of the transmutation of metals and elixir of life.[36] In chapter 26, entitled Fi inkar thamrat al-kimya wa istihalat wujudiha wa ma yansha min al-mafasid, he wrote a systematic refutation of alchemy on social,[35] scientific, philosophical and religious grounds.[37]

He begins his refutation on social grounds, arguing that many alchemists are incapable of earning a living because of the thought of becoming rich through alchemy and end up "losing their credibility because of the futility of their attempts".[38]

He also argues that some alchemists resort to fraud, either openly by applying a thin layer of gold/silver on top of silver/copper jewellery, or secretly using an artificial procedure of covering whitened copper with sublimated mercury, though only skilled experimenters can carry out the latter. He admits, however, that most alchemists are honest and carry out their investigations in good faith with the belief that the transmutation of metals is possible, but on the basis that there has never been any successful attempt to date, he argues that transmutation is an implausible theory without any reliable scientific evidence to support it. He reports the earlier opinions of al-Farabi, Avicenna and al-Tughrai on alchemy, and then proceeds to advance his own arguments against it. One such argument is that "human science is powerless even to attain what is inferior to it" and that alchemy "resembles someone who wants to produce a man, an animal or a plant." Another sociological argument he uses is that, even if transmutation were possible, the disproportionate growth of gold and silver "would make transactions useless and would run counter to divine wisdom." He ends his arguments with a restatement of his position:[36]

Alchemy can only be achieved through psychic influences (bi-ta'thirat al-nufus). Extraordinary things are either miracles or witchcraft... They are unbounded; nobody can claim to acquire them.[39]

Political theory

The Muqaddimah deals with various questions of political theory which in many ways can be seen as taking from Aristotle, and preceding Machiavelli and Hobbes.

In the Muqaddimah's Introductory Remarks, Ibn Khaldun agrees with the classical republicanism of Aristotelian proposition that man is political by nature, and that man's interdependence creates the need for the political community. Yet Ibn Khaldun argues, like Hobbes later, that men and tribes need to defend themselves from potential attack by beast or even unjust men, and thus political communities are formed. The glue which holds such tribes together and eventually forms "royal authority" or the state, according to Ibn Khaldun, is 'asabiyah or group feeling. Ibn Khaldun argues that the best type of political community is the Caliphate or the Islamic state, and argues that the neo-Platonist political theories of al-Farabi and Ibn Sina and the "perfect state" (Madina al-Fadilah) are useless because God's Law, the sharia, has been revealed to take account of public interest and the afterlife. The second most perfect state, Ibn Khaldun argues, is one based on justice and consideration for public welfare in this life, but not based on religious law and so not beneficial to one's afterlife. Ibn Khaldun calls this state blameworthy. Yet the worst type of state, according to Ibn Khaldun, is a tyranny wherein government usurps property rights and rules with injustice against the rights of men.

Ibn Khaldun also anticipates Machiavelli by attempting to answer the question of whether it is better for the ruler to be feared or loved. Ibn Khaldun, like Machiavelli, answers that it is best to be both. However, unlike Machiavelli, Khaldun believes that if that is not possible then it is better to be loved than feared because fear creates many negative effects in the state's population.

Ibn Khaldun writes that civilizations have lifespans like individuals, and that every state will eventually fall because sedentary luxuries distract them, and eventually government begins to overtax citizens and begin injustice against property rights, and "injustice ruins civilization." Eventually after one dynasty or royal authority falls, it is replaced by another, in a continuous cycle.

The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government, "an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself", the best in the history of political theory.[40]

Sharia law and Fiqh jurisprudence

Ibn Khaldun was an Islamic jurist and discussed the topics of Sharia (Islamic law) and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) in his Muqaddimah. Ibn Khaldun wrote that "Jurisprudence is the knowledge of the classification of the laws of God." In regards to jurisprudence, he acknowledged the inevitability of change in all aspects of a community, and wrote:

The conditions, customs and beliefs of peoples and nations do not indefinitely follow the same pattern and adhere to a constant course. There is rather, change with days and epochs, as well as passing from one state to another... such is the law of God that has taken place with regard to His subjects.[41]

Ibn Khaldun further described Fiqh jurisprudence as "knowledge of the rules of God which concern the actions of persons who own themselves bound to obey the law respecting what is required (wajib), forbidden (haraam), recommended (mandūb), disapproved (makruh) or merely permitted (mubah)."[42]

Assessment of various civilizations

While discussing his "new science", now associated with the social sciences, Ibn Khaldūn states that no other author before him, as far as he was aware, wrote about it. However, he was aware that much knowledge of the past had been lost, and thus he was open to the possibility that someone may have anticipated him but that their work had not survived:

Perhaps they have written exhaustively on this topic, and their work did not reach us. There are many sciences. There have been numerous sages among the nations of mankind. The knowledge that has not come down to us is larger than the knowledge that has. Where are the sciences of the Persians that ‘Umar ordered to be wiped out at the time of the conquest? Where are the sciences of the Chaladaeans, the Syrians and the Babylonians, and the scholarly products and results that were theirs? Where are the sciences of the Copts, their predecessors? The sciences of only one nation, the Greeks, have come down to us, because they were translated through Al-Ma'mun's efforts. He was successful in this direction because he had many translators at his disposal and spent much money in this connection.[43]

Ibn Khaldūn characterized Aristotle as "the First Teacher", for his having "improved the methods of logic and systematized its problems and details."[44]

On the culture of Bedouin nomads, referred to as al-`Arāb (not to be confused with Arabs which can refer to all kinds of Arabic-speaking peoples), Ibn Khaldūn writes:

al-`Arāb dominate only of the plains, because they are, by their savage nature, people of pillage and corruption. They pillage everything that they can take without fighting or taking risks, then flee to their refuge in the wilderness, and do not stand and do battle unless in self-defense. So when they encounter any difficulty or obstacle, they leave it alone and look for easier prey. And tribes well-fortified against them on the slopes of the hills escape their corruption and destruction, because they prefer not to climb hills, nor expend effort, nor take risks.[45]

On the Jewish civilization:

(Unlike Muslims), the other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defence... They are merely required to establish their religion among their own people. This is why the Israelites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with royal authority for about four hundred years. Their only concern was to establish their religion... The Israelites dispossessed the Canaanites of the land that God had given them as their heritage in Jerusalem and the surrounding region, as it had been explained to them through Moses. The nations of the Philistines, the Canaanites, the Armenians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites fought against them. During that time political leadership was entrusted to the elders among them. The Israelites remained in that condition for about four hundred years. They did not have any royal power and were harassed by attacks from foreign nations. Therefore, they asked God through Samuel, one of their prophets, that he permit them to make someone king over them. Thus, Saul became their king. He defeated the foreign nations and killed Goliath, the ruler of Philistines. After Saul, David became king, and then Solomon. His kingdom flourished and extended to the borders of the land of the Hijaz and further to the borders of Yemen and to the borders of the land of the Byzantines. After Solomon, the tribes split into two dynasties. One of the dynasties was that of the ten tribes in the region of Nablus, the capital of which is Samaria (Sabastiyah), and the other that of the children of Judah and Benjamin in Jerusalem. Their royal authority had had an uninterrupted duration of a thousand years.[46]

On the Arab conquests of the 7th century:

Religious propaganda gives a dynasty at its beginning another power in addition to that of the group feeling it possessed as the result of the number of its supporters... This happened to the Arabs at the beginning of Islam during the Muslim conquests. The armies of the Muslims at al-Qadisiyah and at the Yarmuk numbered some 30,000 in each case, while the Persian troops at al-Qadisiyah numbered 120,000, and the troops of Heraclius, according to al-Waqidi, 400,000. Neither of the two parties was able to withstand the Arabs, who routed them and seized what they possessed.[47]

Ibn Khaldūn's description of the various Sub-Saharan African states:

The Western Sahel:

Many translations of Ibn Khaldun were translated during the colonial era in order to fit the colonial propaganda machine [48] The Negro land of the Arabs Examined and Explained was written in 1841 and gives excerpts of older translations that were not part of colonial propaganda

When the conquest of the West (by the Arabs) was completed, and merchants began to penetrate into the interior, they saw no nation of the Blacks so mighty as Ghanah, the dominions of which extended westward as far as the Ocean. The King's court was kept in the city of Ghanah, which, according to the author of the Book of Roger (El Idrisi), and the author of the Book of Roads and Realms (El Bekri), is divided into two parts, standing on both banks of the Nile, and ranks among the largest and most populous cities of the world. The people of Ghanah had for neighbours, on the east, a nation, which, according to historians, was called Susu; after which came another named Mali; and after that another known by the name of Kaukau ; although some people prefer a different orthography, and write this name Kagho. The last-named nation was followed by a people called Tekrur. The people of Ghanah declined in course of time, being overwhelmed or absorbed by the Molaththemun (or muffled people;that is, the Morabites), who, adjoining them on the north towards the Berber country, attacked them, and, taking possession of their territory, compelled them to embrace the Mohammedan religion. The people of Ghanah, being invaded at a later period by the Susu, a nation of Blacks in their neighbourhood, were exterminated, or mixed with other Black nations. [[49]]

Ibn Khaldun suggests a link between the decline of Ghana and rise of the Almoravids. however, there is little evidence of there actually being an Almoravid conquest of Ghana[[50]][51]

Nubia:

In the middle of the first zone along the Nile, lie the countries of the Nubah and the Abyssinians and some of the oases down to Assuan. A settled part of the Nubah country is the city of Dongola, west of the Nile. Beyond it are 'Alwah 83 and Yulaq.84 Beyond them, a six days' journey north of Yulaq, is the mountain of the cataracts. This is a mountain which rises to a great height on the Egyptian side but is much less elevated on the side of the country of the Nubah, The Nile cuts through it and flows down precipitately in tremendous cascades for a long distance. Boats cannot get through. Cargoes from the Sudanese boats are taken off and carried on pack animals to Assuan at the entrance to Upper Egypt. In the same way, the cargoes of the boats from Upper Egypt are carried over the cataracts. The distance from the cataracts to Assuan is a twelve day's journey. The oases on the west bank of the Nile there are now in ruins. They show traces of ancient settlement.

Abyssinia (Ethiopia):

In the middle of the first zone, in its fifth section, is the country of the Abyssinians, through which a river flows, which comes from beyond the equator and 85 flows toward the land of the Nubah, where it flows into the Nile and so on down into Egypt. Many people have held fantastic opinions about it and thought that it was part of the Nile of the Qumr (Mountain of the Moon). Ptolemy mentioned it in the Geography. He mentioned that it did not belong to the Nile.[52]

Hadith of Persians and belief

Some of the content in the book is also related to the "Hadith of Persians and belief":

Thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farisi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent…they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar…great jurists were Persians… only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the prophet becomes apparent, "If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it"…The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them…as was the case with all crafts…This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana, retained their sedentary culture.[53]

Here he uses the term "Arabs" to refer to the nomadic Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula (not including Arabized populations), and "Persians" to refer to the sedentary Persian culture of the Iranian plateau (including all Iranian peoples). Also note that in medieval Islamic literature, there were two regions known as Iraq: the Iraq-e-Arab (Arab Iraq) and the Iraq-e-Ajam (Persian Iraq). The Persian Iraq mentioned by Ibn Khaldun is the historic Iraq-e-Ajam (Persian Iraq) which constitutes the triangle of Isfahan, Shiraz and Hamadan.

External links

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Dr. S. W. Akhtar (1997). "The Islamic Concept of Knowledge", Al-Tawhid: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Thought & Culture 12 (3).
  2. ^ Akbar Ahmed (2002). "Ibn Khaldun’s Understanding of Civilizations and the Dilemmas of Islam and the West Today", Middle East Journal 56 (1), p. 25.
  3. ^ a b c d e H. Mowlana (2001). "Information in the Arab World", Cooperation South Journal 1.
  4. ^ a b Salahuddin Ahmed (1999). A Dictionary of Muslim Names. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 1850653569.
  5. ^ a b Mohamad Abdalla (Summer 2007. "Ibn Khaldun on the Fate of Islamic Science after the 11th Century", Islam & Science 5 (1), p. 61-70.
  6. ^ a b c I. M. Oweiss (1988), "Ibn Khaldun, the Father of Economics", Arab Civilization: Challenges and Responses, New York University Press, ISBN 0887066984.
  7. ^ a b Jean David C. Boulakia (1971), "Ibn Khaldun: A Fourteenth-Century Economist", The Journal of Political Economy 79 (5): 1105-1118.
  8. ^ L. K. Jha, K. N. Jha (1998). "Chanakya: the pioneer economist of the world", International Journal of Social Economics 25 (2-4), p. 267-282.
  9. ^ Waldauer, C., Zahka, W.J. and Pal, S. 1996. Kautilya's Arthashastra: A neglected precursor to classical economics. Indian Economic Review, Vol. XXXI, No. 1, pp. 101-108.
  10. ^ Tisdell, C. 2003. A Western perspective of Kautilya's Arthasastra: does it provide a basis for economic science? Economic Theory, Applications and Issues Working Paper No. 18. Brisbane: School of Economics, The University of Queensland.
  11. ^ a b Ibn Khaldun, Franz Rosenthal, N. J. Dawood (1967), The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, p. x, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691017549.
  12. ^ a b c Tibi, Bassam. Arab nationalism. 1997, page 139
  13. ^ Muqaddimah 2:272-73 quoted in Weiss (1995) p 30
  14. ^ Schumpeter (1954) p 136 mentions his sociology, others, including Hosseini (2003) emphasize him as well
  15. ^ Weiss (1995) p31 quotes Muqaddimah 2:276-278
  16. ^ Weiss (1995) p31 quotes Muqaddimah 2:272-273
  17. ^ Weiss (1995) p33
  18. ^ Sihag, B.S. 2007. Kautilya on institutions, governance, knowledge, ethics and prosperity. Humanomics 23 (1): 5-28.
  19. ^ Weiss (1995) p 32
  20. ^ Gellner, Ernest (1983), [Expression error: Missing operand for > Muslim Society], Cambridge University Press, pp. 34–5, ISBN 0521274079 
  21. ^ Lawrence, Bruce B. (1983), [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Introduction: Ibn Khaldun and Islamic Ideology"], Journal of Asian and African Studies XVIII (3-4): 154–165 [157 & 164], doi:10.1177/002190968301800302 
  22. ^ Bartlett, Bruce, "Supply-Side Economics: "Voodoo Economics" or Lasting Contribution?", Laffer Associates (November 11, 2003), http://web.uconn.edu/cunningham/econ309/lafferpdf.pdf, retrieved 2008-11-17 
  23. ^ The Laffer Curve: Past, Present, and Future
  24. ^ S. Ahmed (1999). A Dictionary of Muslim Names. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 1850653569.
  25. ^ Historiography. The Islamic Scholar.
  26. ^ Enan, Muhammed Abdullah (2007), [Expression error: Missing operand for > Ibn Khaldun: His Life and Works], The Other Press, p. v, ISBN 9839541536 
  27. ^ a b Muhammad Kujjah. "Survey on the Development of the Historical Method among Muslim Scholars until Ibn Khaldun". FSTC. http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=837. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  28. ^ "Aga Khan IV at the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Aga Khan University". 1993. http://gonashgo.blogspot.com/2008/01/296one-mega-post-encompassing-four.html. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  29. ^ Debate God's Attributes with Mutazilah & Ibn Khaldun, TheoGnostus Encycoptic.
  30. ^ Zaid Ahmad (2003), The Epistemology of Ibn Khaldun, p. 57-59. Routledge, ISBN 0415302854.
  31. ^ Fancy, Nahyan A. G. (2006), "Pulmonary Transit and Bodily Resurrection: The Interaction of Medicine, Philosophy and Religion in the Works of Ibn al-Nafīs (d. 1288)", p. 67-72, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, University of Notre Dame.[1]
  32. ^ a b Kiros, Teodros. Explorations in African Political Thought. 2001, page 55
  33. ^ Muqaddimah, p. 74-75
  34. ^ El Hamel, Chouki (2002), [Expression error: Missing operand for > "'Race', slavery and Islam in Maghribi Mediterranean thought: the question of the Haratin in Morocco"], The Journal of North African Studies 7 (3): 29–52 [39–42] 
  35. ^ a b Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 880 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  36. ^ a b Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 881 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  37. ^ Prof. Hamed A. Ead (1998), Alchemy in Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah, Heidelberg University.
  38. ^ Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 880–1 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  39. ^ Anawati, Georges C., [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Arabic Alchemy"], pp. 881–2 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 853-885)
  40. ^ Ernest Gellner, Plough, Sword and Book (1988), p. 239
  41. ^ Kourides, P. Nicholas (1972), [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Traditionalism and Modernism in Islamic Law: A Review"], Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 491: 491–506 
  42. ^ Levy, Reuben (1957). The Social Structure of Islam. UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0521091824. 
  43. ^ Adem, Seifudein (2004), Decolonizing Modernity Ibn-Khaldun and Modern Historiography, International Seminar on Islamic Thought, pp. 570–587 [585], http://alambuku.tripod.com/pdf/ISoITCD%20XP.pdf#page=590, retrieved 2008-09-19 
  44. ^ Muqaddimah, Translated by Franz Rosenthal, p.39 and p.383, Princeton University Press, 1981.)
  45. ^ [2]. The Muqaddimah, Translated by F. Rosenthal
  46. ^ Muqaddimah, Translated by Franz Rosenthal, pp.183-184, Princeton University Press, 1981.
  47. ^ Muqaddimah, Translated by Franz Rosenthal, p.126, Princeton University Press, 1981.
  48. ^ http://www.jstor.org/pss/3590803 Translation and the Colonial Imaginary: Ibn Khaldun Orientalist, by Abdelmajid Hannoum © 2003 Wesleyan University.
  49. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=6swTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA61 The Negro land of the Arabs Examined and Explained
  50. ^ http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/~amcdouga/Hist446/readings/conquest_in_west_african_historiography.pdf Not Quite Venus from the Waves: The Almoravid Conquest of Ghana in the Modern Historiography of Western Africa by Pekka Masonen; Humphrey J. Fisher 1996
  51. ^ http://www.jstor.org/pss/3171598 The Conquest That Never Was: Ghana and the Almoravids, 1076. I. The External Arabic Sources, by David Conrad and Humphrey Fisher © 1982 African Studies Association
  52. ^ Muqaddimah: Chp 1, Second Prefatory Discussion - - The parts of the earth where civilization is found. Some information about oceans, rivers, and zones.
  53. ^ "The Muqaddimah", Translated by F. Rosenthal (III, pp. 311-15, 271-4 [Arabic]; R.N. Frye (p.91). He translated the Arabic word "Ajam" into "Persians".

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