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The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History

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Written by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the social sciences of sociology, demography, and cultural history. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theology, historiography, the philosophy of history, economics, political theory, and ecology. It has also b Written by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the social sciences of sociology, demography, and cultural history. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theology, historiography, the philosophy of history, economics, political theory, and ecology. It has also been described as an early representative of social Darwinism.


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Written by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the social sciences of sociology, demography, and cultural history. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theology, historiography, the philosophy of history, economics, political theory, and ecology. It has also b Written by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the social sciences of sociology, demography, and cultural history. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theology, historiography, the philosophy of history, economics, political theory, and ecology. It has also been described as an early representative of social Darwinism.

30 review for The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    The Muqaddimah, an introduction to a universal history up to the author's own day (the 14th century AD) is repetitive, clumsy in places, has some curious choices of material, is maddeningly inexplicit occasionally, and entirely incredible. It is a true landmark in the study of history. I first heard about this book as a student. It was a lead in to a lecture hall joke, the work had apparently been reconstructed from students' lecture notes after Ibn Khaldun's death (pause for punchline after the The Muqaddimah, an introduction to a universal history up to the author's own day (the 14th century AD) is repetitive, clumsy in places, has some curious choices of material, is maddeningly inexplicit occasionally, and entirely incredible. It is a true landmark in the study of history. I first heard about this book as a student. It was a lead in to a lecture hall joke, the work had apparently been reconstructed from students' lecture notes after Ibn Khaldun's death (pause for punchline after the lecturer scans the faces of the students before them), and this explains the repetitiveness. If an idea is important, it's worth explaining it more than once and very slowly so that everybody can note it down. Some things remain the same apparently. It's entirely deserved landmark status come from its bold originality. Ibn Khaldun is interested in the social structures that drive patterns of events in history. Actually he falls short here, but he explains a certain type of pattern of events that was central to Ibn Khaldun's experience of history, the rise and fall of dynasties from desert or nomadic tribes to dominance of urban civilisations which in turn decline and fall. The idea of explaining historical events with reference to social and economic structures is familiar now but in his time was something new. A quick comparison to contemporary European historical writings shows nothing like the self-conscious interest in the structures of civilisations that form the basis of Ibn Khaldun's work: group identities, forms of agriculture, forms of economic activity (including business profits and discussions on taxation), or the developmental pattern of state administrations. Although Ibn Khaldun's work is thoroughly Islamic, Sunni and indulgent to Sufism, his interest is in the human and material causation of events. Geography and Human cultures are the direct driving forces here. For Ibn Khaldun the harsh conditions of the desert or of a nomadic lifestyle created a unifying sense of group identity. Their poverty and desire for the goods that urban civilisations produced would draw such groups into conflict with settled communities, which when the latter were in decline they would overcome. The richer resource base of a more urbanised civilisation would allow the group to expand, the increasing sophistication of the ruling family would lead it to become isolated from the rest of their original group over time, this would lead to the decay and weakness of the state making it vulnerable to the next incoming group of nomadic peoples. As an explanatory formula for the recent North-African history of Ibn Khaldun's day, or for that matter the rise of the original Islamic Caliphate, the barbarian invasions of the western Half of the Roman Empire, or the advent of the Mongols or Manchus in northern-China, it was brilliant and insightful. His notion of cyclical cycles of growth and decay remind me of Weber's theory of political leadership which posits the possibility of a cycle from charismatic leadership to bureaucracy to stagnation. But it is not a universal formula for historical change. Maddeningly at one moment he implies that Islamic civilisation is undergoing a relative decline while the European Christian and Chinese civilisations are in a phases of upward growth but the idea is not explored explicitly. Irritatingly he often repeats a kind of Buddenbrooks rule that a ruling dynasty can only endure for a fixed number of generations before collapsing (although the number of generations varies). This is an organic vision of human social life. Societies and ways of life are born, grow, mature, and die as much as people. Reading Ibn Khaldun one needn't restrict this idea to political entities either, the same processes occur everywhere. Given Ibn Khaldun's family background and occasional spells of time working in Muslim Spain it would have been deeply satisfying (at least for me) if he had looked at the phenomena of the Reconquista in the light of his theories. Later in his career, on a diplomatic mission to Castile, he was even invited by Pedro the Cruel to work for him - an opportunity which he declined. Unfortunate as I find the loss of a discussion on the decline of Muslim Spain this did leave him free to meet Timur the Lame whose rise and rule drawing on the group feeling of the Chingisids, the descendants of Genghis Khan, falls neatly into the framework set out by Ibn Khaldun. Ibn Khaldun goes further, because the cyclical succession of dynasties that he analyses do not merely effect political history but also impact on social and economic history. Initially the incomers are a destructive influence on agriculture and the built environment, but as they become acculturated to urban civilisation they change. A civilisation in decline, with a declining tax base will wither in other areas of economic and intellectual life, while a growing, expanding civilisation will have an expanding tax base, a richer eco-system of economic activity and have a higher level of cultural attainment in the arts and sciences. This gives the analysis an interplay between the moral simplicity and military strength of the incomers against all that urbanised civilisation has to offer, but ultimately it is the features of urbanised life and its labour specialisation that sustain human life. This is a work that is rich, fertile, and irritating by turn. Inspiring in its creativity, and maddening that it didn't inspire a North-African medieval Annales School. I'm sure that the Muqaddimah has more to offer to someone much more familiar with the rise and fall of the early Islamic dynasties than I am, but it is none the less clear that this is a major work of historical theory. PS according to Ibn Khaldun Euclid was a carpenter. I think I would have found school maths easier if the questions had been posed as practical carpentry problems.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    I read this book because my History of Islam professor recommended it in a class last fall. 8 months later I looked through my notes and saw that I wrote down that I wanted to read it, and so I did. This book surprised me in that I actually enjoyed reading it. I figured it would have good information but be tedious and boring. Not the case, Ibn Khaldun (and perhaps with the help of the translator) has a curious nature and a light humor in his work. He really steps back and looks at the world arou I read this book because my History of Islam professor recommended it in a class last fall. 8 months later I looked through my notes and saw that I wrote down that I wanted to read it, and so I did. This book surprised me in that I actually enjoyed reading it. I figured it would have good information but be tedious and boring. Not the case, Ibn Khaldun (and perhaps with the help of the translator) has a curious nature and a light humor in his work. He really steps back and looks at the world around him. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the history and culture of North Africa and the Middle East. That said, it shouldn't be your introduction to it. I had taken a History of Islam and an Anthropology of Morocco class which gave me familiarity to religious terms, historical events, and an idea of who different groups were. So be curious about the subject before trying this book. Also, know something about modern science because he says some interesting things that are downright incorrect. Like how skin color has to do with the air. Good try buddy :-) In the end I gave it four stars. It does what it advertises, and it does it well!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    “The intellectual sciences are natural to man, in as much as he is a thinking being.” Truly Ibn Khaldun is a thinking being, creating this astonishing summary of the wisdom and knowledge of his time. He surpassed previous attempts to explain history, claiming with justification, “We, on the other hand, were inspired by God. He led us to a science whose truth we ruthlessly set forth.” His ruthless enumeration of the many sources of historical distortion reminds me of E. H. Carr’s essay What Is Hist “The intellectual sciences are natural to man, in as much as he is a thinking being.” Truly Ibn Khaldun is a thinking being, creating this astonishing summary of the wisdom and knowledge of his time. He surpassed previous attempts to explain history, claiming with justification, “We, on the other hand, were inspired by God. He led us to a science whose truth we ruthlessly set forth.” His ruthless enumeration of the many sources of historical distortion reminds me of E. H. Carr’s essay What Is History?. Carr points out the tendency of historians to cast all of history in terms of their present environment. For Khaldun, his world was one of many unstable and chaotic states. This gave him the opportunity to observe a lot of history in a short time, leading to his insight that the success of a civilization leads to its decay. The value of a book written by a brilliant mind from a different time and culture is that it gives us a different perspective on issues that still exist today. One such issue is the conflict between rational and religions thinking. Much of the book employs what I would call scientific materialism. In his own words, used while debunking astrology, “astrologers give us only the astrological reason. They ought also to give us the terrestrial reason.” Ibn Khaldun is also a believing Muslim, and other parts of the book reflect that. The conflict between religion and terrestrial reason co-exists uneasily in this book. Each of his chapters begins with a concise summary and ends with a reminder that suggests God’s will is best revealed by terrestrial observation. I will follow the same format to give a feel for how the book reads. “God gives guidance and success to that which is correct.” Insight Ahead of his Time “Excessive taxation reduces revenue. Severity to students does them harm.” Ibn Khaldun often writes in abstract terms to give the big picture, from which I can only try to interpolate what his society was actually like in detail. For example, he displays an impressively modern understanding of economics. This suggests that a market economy was flourishing to some extent during his time. He presciently warns the ruler to stay out of commercial activity. Again, it suggests a centrally controlled economy was not the norm. The following explains the diminishing returns of taxation: “When tax assessments and imposts upon the subjects are low, the latter have the energy and desire to do things. Cultural enterprises grow and increase, because the low taxes bring satisfaction… Eventually, the taxes will weigh heavily upon the subjects and overburden them. The result is that the interest of the subjects in cultural enterprises disappears, since when they compare expenditures and taxes with their income and gain and see the little profit they make, they lose all hope. Therefore, many of them refrain from all cultural activity. Thus, the total revenue continues to decrease. Finally, civilization is destroyed, because the incentive for cultural activity is gone.” Turning to education, he displays a sensitivity that can be seen as well ahead of his time: “Severe punishment in the course of instruction does harm to the student, especially to little children, because it belongs among (the things that make for a) bad habit. It makes them lazy and induces them to lie and be insincere. That is, their outward behavior differs from what they are thinking, because they are afraid that they will have to suffer tyrannical treatment (if they tell the truth). Thus, they are taught deceit and trickery. This becomes their custom and character.” The book includes details on many other subjects, including an unexpectedly through description of midwifery. It even gives a reasonable account of evolution, though without natural selection. The insight into the knowledge of his time is fascinating. “May God inspire us to choose the right course for ourselves, and may He make us profit from our beneficial actions. There is no Lord except Him." The Darker Side of Geography “The northern quarter of the earth has more civilization than the southern quarter. The reason thereof.” The knowledge of geography at the time is impressive, as Ibn Khaldun surveys the known world from Norway to “the islands of Korea”. He explains how geography and climate are linked to the rise of civilization in a way that reminds me of Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. The understanding of what lay to the south was a little more vague, as this uncomfortable passage suggests: “To the south of this Nile, there is a Negro people called Lamlam. They are unbelievers. There, they constitute the ordinary mass of slaves. Beyond them to the south, there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves and eat herbs and unprepared grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human beings… The Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because (Negroes) have little (that is essentially) human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated.” This window into the past reminds us that these attitudes are far older than the modern West or even Islam. Ibn Khaldun is a geographical determinist rather than a racist, as he says black skin and other characteristics are a result of the hot sun, just as white skin was a result of a lack of sun in the uncivilized regions to the north. But there is no escaping the implications. The condition of slavery itself is frequently mentioned but never examined. In his time it was understood as the way things have always been, economically necessary for an educated elite to flourish. But it is convenient to believe the slaves are predestined to serve their purpose. “This is how God proceeds with His creatures.” Frontier Culture and the Contradictions of Civilization “Sedentary people are much concerned with all kinds of pleasures. They are accustomed to luxury and success in worldly occupations and to indulgence in worldly desires. Therefore, their souls are colored with all kinds of blameworthy and evil qualities.” This book is the product of a highly educated man distilling the insights of an advanced civilization. But he seems nostalgic for a simpler society as represented by the desert Arabs. They are brave, resilient, and loyal to their group, and above all, hungry. It reminds me of the American frontier. One sometimes gets the impression that civilization is a cause for regret. “The frugal inhabitants of the desert and those of settled areas who have accustomed themselves to hunger and to abstinence from pleasures are found to be more religious and more ready for divine worship than people who live in luxury and abundance. Indeed, it can be observed that there are few religious people in towns and cities, in as much as people there are for the most part obdurate and careless, which is connected with the use of much meat, seasonings, and fine wheat. The existence of pious men and ascetics is, therefore, restricted to the desert, whose inhabitants eat frugally.” He tells us that the rule of law of a sedentary civilization reduces the fortitude of the population by taking away their initiative. The desert Arabs could fend for themselves. The frontier myth is still with us – self-reliant Americans carry guns to be responsible for their own security. Although he seems to love the desert tribes as individuals, he has a less positive view on their collective impact on the civilization he is so ambivalent about. “Places that succumb to the Arabs are quickly ruined. The reason for this is that (the Arabs) are a savage nation, fully accustomed to savagery and the things that cause it. Savagery has become their character and nature. They enjoy it, because it means freedom from authority and no subservience to leadership. Such a natural disposition is the negation and antithesis of civilization.” “Compared with sedentary people, they are on a level with wild, untamable (animals) and dumb beasts of prey. Such people are the Arabs.” One should remember that the author is an Arab, and praises the accomplishments of Arabs in other parts of his book. If the desert Arabs are the equivalent of the American frontier, perhaps this is the consequence of when frontier mentality collides with the civilized world. “God has power to do what He wishes.” A Civilization Lasts Only Four Generations “It should be known that the world of the elements and all it contains comes into being and decays.” The theme of the book is that any society requires “group feeling” to hold it together, and civilization is built with “royal authority”. The sedentary lifestyle and luxuries at first contribute to the strength of a civilization, but then lead to its downfall. I think his explanation of why an empire based on a family dynasty last only four generations is worth recounting in detail: “The four generations can be explained as the builder, the one who has personal contact with the builder, the one who relies on tradition, and the destroyer.” “The builder of the glory (of the family) knows what it cost him to do the work, and he keeps the qualities that created his glory and made it last. The son who comes after him had personal contact with his father and thus learned those things from him. However, he is inferior in this respect to (his father), in as much as a person who learns things through study is inferior to a person who knows them from practical application. The third generation must be content with imitation and, in particular, with reliance upon tradition. This member is inferior to him of the second generation, in as much as a person who relies (blindly) upon tradition is inferior to a person who exercises independent judgment.” “The fourth generation, then, is inferior to the preceding ones in every respect. This member has lost the qualities that preserved the edifice of their glory. He (actually) despises (those qualities). He imagines that the edifice was not built through application and effort. He thinks that it was something due his people from the very beginning by virtue of the mere fact of their (noble) descent, and not something that resulted from group (effort) and (individual) qualities.” In addition, a sedentary lifestyle “leads to diversification of the desires of the belly for pleasurable food and drink. This is followed by diversification of the pleasures of sex through various ways of sexual intercourse, such as adultery and homosexuality. This leads to destruction of the (human) species.” He calls the final state of civilization senility, and observes that once reached it cannot be reversed. This sense of entitlement, forgetting where peace and prosperity come from, and obsessive pleasure seeking describes modern Western culture. Have we passed our four generation limit, and will we be swept away by superior group feeling of tribes from the desert, or by the royal authority of a rising China? Then again, the Roman Empire hung on for centuries after its decline began. “God creates whatever He wishes, and His is the choice." The Role of Religion "Religious propaganda cannot materialize without group feeling." Many of the chapters take a very terrestrial view of the role of religion. Here he tells us religion will not succeed without man’s help: “The truth one must know is that no religious or political propaganda can be successful, unless power and group feeling exist to support the religious and political aspirations and to defend them against those who reject them, until God's will with regard to them materializes. This is indicated in the afore-mentioned tradition: God sent no prophet who did not enjoy the protection of his people." And religion is not even required for a successful civilization: “One of its premises is that the restraining influence comes into being only through a religious law from God, to which the mass submits as a matter of belief and religious creed. This premise is not acceptable. The restraining influence comes into being as the result of the impetus of royal authority and the forcefulness of the mighty, even if there is no religious law. This was the case among the Magians and other nations who had no scriptures and had not been reached by a prophetic mission.” Yet the chapters that present early Islamic history tell us that none of the major figures can do any wrong. Even when the fourth caliph ‘Ali was defeated by Mu'awiyah, and the capital was moved from spiritual Medina to sedentary Damascus, no fault with either side can be found. One is not supposed to ask if the caliphate was a victim of his four-generation rule, and the royal authority acquired by Mu'awiyah was too much to resist. “One should beware of letting one's mind or tongue become used to criticizing any of (the ancient Muslims). One's heart should not be tempted by doubts concerning anything that happened in connection with them. They never differed among themselves except for good reasons. It should further be believed that their differences were a source of divine mercy for later Muslims, so that every (later Muslim) can take as his model the old Muslim of his choice and make him his imam, guide, and leader.” This is an interesting take on the idea that diversity is strength – you can cherry pick the tradition of your choice. He makes the argument that although submission to civil law weakens men by destroying their self-reliance, submission to religious law strengthens them. “When the Muslims got their religion from the Lawgiver (Muhammad), the restraining influence came from themselves.” Over time, “The influence of religion decreased among men, and they came to use restraining laws. The religious law became a branch of learning and a craft to be acquired through instruction and education.” This passage, and much else in the book, suggests that religious values were a personal choice. This conflicts with an image of Islam taken from modern Saudi Arabia or Iran. Perhaps enforcement of religious law by royal authority was not as common during his time. Or he chose not to talk about it. “If this is understood, God's wise plans with regard to His creation and creatures will become clear.” The Battle over Aristotle "A refutation of philosophy. The corruption of the students of philosophy." The smoldering war between terrestrial reason and religion bursts into the open in the last few chapters. The irony here is that he is using the rational methods of Aristotle to refute reason. He makes the reasonable case that philosophy is not capable of comprehending the divine: “The philosophers, who restrict themselves to affirming the intellect and neglect everything beyond it, are in a way comparable, to physicists who restrict themselves to affirming the body and who disregard (both) soul and intellect in the belief that there is nothing beyond the body in (God's) wise plan concerning (the world of) existence.” But the religious viewpoint is more restrictive than that: “However, we must refrain from studying these things, since such (restraint) falls under (the duty of) the Muslim not to do what does not concern him. The problems of physics are of no importance for us in our religious affairs or our livelihoods. Therefore, we must leave them alone.” A large part of this book violates this injunction. Fortunately, he wrote it anyway, and we in later generations can benefit from his wisdom and foresight. This remarkable book is well worth reading. "And He creates what you do not know."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I decided to read this after hearing the In Our Time podcast by Melvyn Bragg about this author (listen here). Blurb:Melvyn Bragg and guests Robert Hoyland, Robert Irwin, and Hugh Kennedy discuss the life and ideas of the 14th-century Arab philosopher of history Ibn Khaldun. Ibn Khaldun was a North African statesman who retreated into the desert in 1375. He emerged having written one of the most important ever studies of the workings of history. Khaldun was born in Tunis in 1332. He received a supr I decided to read this after hearing the In Our Time podcast by Melvyn Bragg about this author (listen here). Blurb:Melvyn Bragg and guests Robert Hoyland, Robert Irwin, and Hugh Kennedy discuss the life and ideas of the 14th-century Arab philosopher of history Ibn Khaldun. Ibn Khaldun was a North African statesman who retreated into the desert in 1375. He emerged having written one of the most important ever studies of the workings of history. Khaldun was born in Tunis in 1332. He received a supremely good education, but at 16 lost many of his family to the Black Death. His adult life was similarly characterized by sharp turns of fortune. He built a career as a political operator in cities from Fez to Granada. But he often fared badly in court intrigues, was imprisoned and failed to prevent the murder of a fellow statesman. In 1375, he withdrew into the Sahara to work out why the Muslim world had degenerated into division and decline. Four years later, he had completed not only a history of North African politics but also, in the book's long introduction, one of the great studies of history. Drawing on both regional history and personal experience, he set out a bleak analysis of the rise and fall of dynasties. He argued that group solidarity was vital to success in power. Within five generations, though, this always decayed. Tired urban dynasties inevitably became vulnerable to overthrow by rural insurgents. Later in life, Ibn Khaldun worked as a judge in Egypt, and in 1401 he met the terrifying Mongol conqueror Tamburlaine, whose triumphs, Ibn Khaldun felt, bore out his pessimistic theories. Over the last three centuries, Ibn Khaldun has been rediscovered as a profoundly prescient political scientist, philosopher of history and forerunner of sociology -- one of the great thinkers of the Muslim world. Robert Hoyland is Professor of Islamic History at the University of Oxford; Robert Irwin is Senior Research Associate of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London; Hugh Kennedy is Professor of Arabic in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.Unfortunately, the idea of this was more interesting than reading it. This is essentially an instruction manual for operating a government and understanding civilization, and given when and where it was written, it shows an astonishing synthesis of a great deal of complex information ... but the actual content itself is somewhat banal. I really recommend listening to the podcast to learn a bit about history that most of us are completely ignorant of. But the book — not so much. Once I got the gist of it, I was pretty much skimming. ­

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This rating is very much a compromise, which is really saying something. First, the positive: I cannot exaggerate my respect for Ibn Khaldun the historian, economist and sociologist. His theories on the rise and fall of medieval Islamic dynasties are so sound that the majority of modern works I've read just echo his words. He's centuries ahead of his time in terms of his attention to economic and social history, and his first chapter - debunking impossible claims by early historians from Greece, This rating is very much a compromise, which is really saying something. First, the positive: I cannot exaggerate my respect for Ibn Khaldun the historian, economist and sociologist. His theories on the rise and fall of medieval Islamic dynasties are so sound that the majority of modern works I've read just echo his words. He's centuries ahead of his time in terms of his attention to economic and social history, and his first chapter - debunking impossible claims by early historians from Greece, Rome and the Caliphates with simple logic - is an amazing example of historiography. Like a lot of pre-modern historians, Ibn Khaldun's work is also...kind of charming. Unlike a lot of ancient historians, however, the charm doesn't come from inaccuracies and clever phrasing but from the meticulous put-downs of his fellow historians. It's historiography at its most catty It's also over too soon. The problem is, aside from a fantastic opening, actually reading the book is pretty dull. It's not helped by the difficulty of translating Arabic and the fact that even the translator's Orientalism-seeped terminology is seeming pretty dated now. (I read the 1967 Franz Rosenthal translation) Ibn Khaldun's popularity means that his views have been repeated and improved upon for hundreds of years. You don't get much out of reading his exact words that you won't get out of a decent modern historian writing in English...and you might have to sit through a lot of discredited and not particularly interesting medical knowledge to get there. The Muqaddimah has a certain charm, and its author is all kinds of amazing, but it's too old to be of use to people looking for theories of history and too difficult to translate for people looking for fascinating stories. Look for a modern historical work about Ibn Khaldun or, even better, a historian who cites him as an inspiration. The genius of Ibn Khaldun's work is that you can understand his ideas without reading his exact words.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Search

    My purpose in reading this book was very specific, this book is pretty large and looks in a huge number of subjects. I was only interested in the chapters on the supernatural. The Muqaddamah provided an excellent look into the workings of the occult, eye popping really. Ibn Khuldun gives eye witness accounts of many forms of sorcery and magic being practiced in his times as well as a little explanation of the science behind these fell arts. Well worth the read. Alot of enlightening material.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Will

    This is one of those books that I never would have known to read, if not for the guidance of a good instructor. The guy who assigned it was a really smart cooky, and very helpful to boot. I hope he has gone on to an illustrious career in the history field. Khaldun's writing remains one of the smartest things I've ever read. His theory bears a sophistication that the West couldn't manage until the mid-19th century. And I think the fact he was forgotten actually bears out his theory on the cyclica This is one of those books that I never would have known to read, if not for the guidance of a good instructor. The guy who assigned it was a really smart cooky, and very helpful to boot. I hope he has gone on to an illustrious career in the history field. Khaldun's writing remains one of the smartest things I've ever read. His theory bears a sophistication that the West couldn't manage until the mid-19th century. And I think the fact he was forgotten actually bears out his theory on the cyclicality of events. I also think that you can see Khaldun's "three generations" theory borne out in world events. His story goes like this (if I recall): Dynasties seldom last more than three generations. The first king, who fights and acquires power, knows the real value of his acquisition. So he does nothing that his potential rivals won't tolerate. His administration is thus relatively just and wise. His son knows of his struggle only by his father's word, and knows the art of statecraft from his father's example. He will govern OK, but cracks will start to show, and the seeds of dissatisfaction will be sown. The third-generation king knows only a life of luxury, and his grandfather's struggle is dimly remembered at best. He mistakenly thinks that the right to rule inheres in his person, rather than in the consent of those who tolerate his power. He is thus likely to overstep the acceptable bounds, to abuse his power, and to be displaced as a result. Now the dynasty has ended. I think you see this in many historical triads, and not just those that have explicit monarchies. If it's correct, it would predict that Kim Jong-un will be the last of the Kims to rule North Korea, but the Al-Assad dynasty in Syria may have one more generation before it collapses. In short, I recommend that people who teach intellectual history and theory courses add this to their assigned readings. Some of their students will be grateful they did.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Powell

    "Undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place... the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairs work that has been made anywhere." - Arnold J Toynbee, observer I'm inclined to agree with Mr Toynbee here, but of course - has anyone ever tried to create a work that even closely parallels this? This book is sheer madness and he says he wrote it in five months. If a 20th century update had existed it certainly would have "Undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place... the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairs work that has been made anywhere." - Arnold J Toynbee, observer I'm inclined to agree with Mr Toynbee here, but of course - has anyone ever tried to create a work that even closely parallels this? This book is sheer madness and he says he wrote it in five months. If a 20th century update had existed it certainly would have been included in the inventory of Voyager. This book is almost pre-apocalyptic, I imagine Ibn Khaldun in desperation trying to preserve every-single-thing-ever about humanity before its collapse. This is post-crusade and mid-plague and in the twilight of the Islamic empire, so if Khaldun really was desperate to consolidate and preserve he wouldn't have been too far off. Of course, he does intend for someone in the future to use this as a jumping-off point for a second edition, so what I just said is easily and immediately refutable, but I still can't help but wonder whether that played any motivating role at all. What I can't imagine however is Khaldun - or anyone at all for that matter - being able to or even bother trying to write something comparable today.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Interesting account of Islamic history and the evolution of societies. I particularly liked the Epistle instructions that the secretary 'Abd-al-Hamid' addressed to his fellow secretaries: And now: May God guard you who practice the craft of secretaryship, and may He keep you and give you success and guidance. There are prophets and messengers and highly honored kings. After them come different kinds of men, all of them made by God. They are of different kinds, even if they are all alike in fact. God o Interesting account of Islamic history and the evolution of societies. I particularly liked the Epistle instructions that the secretary 'Abd-al-Hamid' addressed to his fellow secretaries: And now: May God guard you who practice the craft of secretaryship, and may He keep you and give you success and guidance. There are prophets and messengers and highly honored kings. After them come different kinds of men, all of them made by God. They are of different kinds, even if they are all alike in fact. God occupied them with different kinds of crafts and various sorts of businesses, so that they might be able to make a living and earn their sustenance. He gave to you, assembled secretaries, the great opportunity to be men of education and gentlemen, to have knowledge and (good) judgment.505 You bring out whatever is good in the caliphate and straighten out its affairs. Through your advice, God improves the government for the benefit of human beings and makes their countries civilized. The ruler cannot dispense with you. You alone make him a competent ruler. Your position with regard to rulers is that (you are) the ears through which they hear, the eyes through which they see, the tongues through which they speak, and the hands through which they touch. May God give you, therefore, enjoyment of the excellent craft with which He has distinguished you, and may He not deprive you of the great favors that He has shown unto you. No craftsman needs more than you to combine all praiseworthy good traits and all memorable and highly regarded excellent qualities, O secretaries, if you aspire to fit the description given of you in this letter. The secretary needs on his own account, and his master, who trusts him with his important affairs, expects him, to be mild where mildness is needed, to be understanding where judgment is needed, to be enterprising where enterprise is needed, to be hesitant where hesitation is needed. He must prefer modesty, justice, and fairness. He must keep secrets. He must be faithful in difficult circumstances. He must know (beforehand) about the calamities that may come. He must be able to put things in their proper places and misfortunes into their proper categories. He must have studied every branch of learning and know it well, and if he does not know it well, he must at least have acquired an adequate amount of it. By virtue of his natural intelligence, good education, and outstanding experience, he must know what is going to happen to him before it happens, and he must know the result of his actions before action starts. He must make the proper preparations for everything, and he must set up everything in its proper, customary form. Therefore, assembled secretaries, vie with each other to acquire the different kinds of education and to gain an understanding of religious matters. Start with knowledge of the Book of God and religious duties. Then, study the Arabic language, as that will give you a cultivated form of speech. Then, learn to write well, as that will be an ornament to your letters. Transmit poetry and acquaint yourselves with the rare expressions and ideas that poems contain. Acquaint yourselves also with both Arab and nonArab political events, and with the tales of (both groups) and the biographies describing them, as that will be helpful to you in your endeavors. Do not neglect to study accounting, for it is the mainstay of the land tax register. 506 Detest prejudices with all your heart, lofty ones as well as low ones, and all idle and contemptible things, for they bring humility and are the ruin of secretaryship. Do not let your craft be a low one. Guard against backbiting and calumny and the actions of stupid people. Beware of haughtiness, foolishness, and pride, for they mean acquiring hostility without (even the excuse of) hatred. Love each other in God in your craft. Advise your colleagues to practice it in a way befitting your virtuous, fair, and gifted predecessors. If times go hard for one of you, be kind to him and console him, until everything be well with him again. Should old age make one of you unable to get around and pursue his livelihood and meet his friends, visit him and honor him and consult him, and profit from his outstanding experience and mature knowledge. Every one of you should be more concerned for his assistants, who may be useful when needed, than for his own children or brothers. Should some praise come (to one of you) in the course of his work, he should ascribe the merit to his colleague; any blame he should bear all by himself. He should beware of mistakes and slips and of being annoyed when conditions change. For you, assembled secretaries, are more prompt to be blamed than Qur'an readers,507 and blame is more detrimental to you than to them. You know that everyone of you has a master, one who gives from his own as much as can be expected, and (every one of you) has the obligation to repay him, since he deserves it, with fidelity, gratefulness, tolerance, patience, good counsel, discretion, and active interest in his affairs, and to show (his good intentions) by his actions whenever his master needs him and his resources. Be conscious of (your obligations) - God give you success - in good and bad circumstances, in privation as in munificence and kindness, in happiness as in misfortune. Any member of this noble craft who has all these qualities has good qualities indeed. If any one of you be appointed to an office, or if some matter that concerns God's children be turned over to one of you, he should think of God and choose obedience to Him. He should be kind to the weak and fair to those who have been wronged. All creatures are God's children. He loves most those who are kindest to His children. Furthermore, he should judge with justice, he should honor the noble (descendants of Muhammad), augment the booty (gained in wars against infidels), and bring civilization to the country. He should be friendly to the subjects, and refrain from harming them. He should be humble and mild in his office. He should be kind in handling the land tax registers 508 and in calling in outstanding claims. You should explore the character of him with whom you associate. When his good and bad sides are known, you will be able to help him to do the good things that agree with him, and be able to contrive to keep him from the bad things he desires. You must be able to do that in the subtlest and best manner. You know that a person who is in charge of an animal and understands his job, endeavors to know the character of the animal. If it is inclined to gallop,509 he does not goad it when he is riding it. If it is inclined to kick, he takes precautions with its forelegs. If he fears that it will shy, he takes precautions with its head. If it is restive, he gently subdues its desire to go where it wants to go. If it still continues, he pulls it slightly to the side, then has its halter loosened. This description of how to take care of an animal contains good points for those who want to lead human beings and deal with them, serve them, and have intimate contact with them. The secretary, with his excellent education, his noble craft, his subtlety, his frequent dealings with people who confer with him and discuss things with him and learn from him or fear his severity, needs to be kind to his associates,509a to flatter them, and to supply their wants, even more than the person in charge of an animal which cannot answer, does not know what is right, does not understand what is said to it, and goes only where its master who rides upon it makes it go. Be kind - God show mercy unto you-when you look after things. Use as much reflection and thought as possible. God permitting, you will thus escape harshness, annoyance, and rudeness on the part of your associates. They will be in agreement with you, and you will have their friendship and protection, if God wills. None of you should have too sumptuous an office or go beyond the proper limits in his dress, his mount, his food, his drink, his house, his servants, or in the other things pertaining to his station, for, despite the nobility of the craft by which God has distinguished you, you are servants who are not permitted to fall short in their service. You are caretakers whom one does not permit to be wasteful or spendthrift. Try to preserve your modesty by planned moderation in all the things I have mentioned and told you. Beware of the wastefulness of prodigality and the bad results of luxury. They engender poverty and bring about humiliation. People who (are prodigal and live in luxury) are put to shame, especially if they be secretaries and men of education. Things repeat themselves. One thing contains the clue to another. Let yourselves be guided in your future undertakings-by your previous experience. Then, choose the method of doing things that is most definite, most accurate, and that promises the best result. You should know that there is something that defeats accomplishment, namely, talking about things. The person who does it is prevented from using his knowledge and his ability to think. Therefore, everyone of you, while he is in his office, should endeavor to talk no more than is sufficient; he should be concise in the matters he brings up and in the answers he gives; and he should give thought to all the arguments he advances. His work will profit from that. It will prevent too much preoccupation with other things. He should implore God to grant him success and to support him with His guidance, for he must fear making mistakes that might hurt his body and (cast doubt upon) his intelligence and education. When any one of you says or thinks that the high quality and efficiency of his work is obviously the result of his own cleverness and knowledge of how to do things, he provokes God. God will let him depend upon himself alone, and then he will find that he is not adequate to his task. This is no secret to those who reflect. None of you should say that he has a better understanding of affairs, or knows better how to handle difficult matters, than other members of his craft, than those who serve together with him. Of two persons, discerning people consider him the more intelligent who throws off conceit and thinks his colleagues more intelligent and more skillful than he. But at any rate, both parties should acknowledge the excellence of God's favors. No one should let himself be deceived by his own opinions and consider himself free from mistakes. Nor should he strive to outdo his friends, equals, colleagues, or his family. Everybody must give praise to God, in humility in the face of His greatness, in meekness in the face of His might, and in fulfillment of the command to speak of God's favors.510 In this letter of mine, let me refer to the old proverb: "He who accepts good advice 511 all is successful." This is the essence of this letter and the best that is said in it, after the references to God it contains. Therefore, I have placed it at the end, and I close the letter with it. May God take care of us and of you, assembled students and secretaries, in the same way He takes care of those whom, as He knows in His prescience, He will make happy and guide aright. He can do it. It is in His hand. Farewell, and God's mercy and blessings upon you

  10. 4 out of 5

    Arno Mosikyan

    please mind the book was written in 1377AD QUOTES He is Abdurahman bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Al-Hasan bin Jabir bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abdurahman bin Ibn Khaldun. For on the surface history is no more than information about political events, dynasties, and occurrences of the remote past, elegantly presented and spiced with proverbs. The inner meaning of history, on the other hand, involves speculation and an attempt to get at the truth, subtle explanation of the causes and ori please mind the book was written in 1377AD QUOTES He is Abdurahman bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Al-Hasan bin Jabir bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abdurahman bin Ibn Khaldun. For on the surface history is no more than information about political events, dynasties, and occurrences of the remote past, elegantly presented and spiced with proverbs. The inner meaning of history, on the other hand, involves speculation and an attempt to get at the truth, subtle explanation of the causes and origins of existing things, and deep knowledge of the how and why of events. History, therefore, is firmly rooted in philosophy. It deserves to be accounted a branch of philosophy. Blind trust in tradition is an inherited trait in human beings. Occupation with the scholarly disciplines on the part of those who have no right is widespread. But the pasture of stupidity is unwholesome for mankind. No one can stand up against the authority of truth, and the evil of falsehood is to be fought with enlightening speculation. The reporter merely dictates and passes on the material. It takes critical insight to sort out the hidden truth; it takes knowledge to lay truth bare and polish it so that critical insight may be applied to it. The writing of history requires numerous sources and greatly varied knowledge. It also requires a good speculative mind and thoroughness. Historians, Qur'an commentators and leading transmitters have committed frequent errors in the stories and events they reported. They accepted them in the plain transmitted form, without regard for its value. They did not check them with the principles underlying such historical situations, nor did they compare them with similar material. Therefore, today, the scholar in this field needs to know the principles of politics, the true nature of existent things, and the differences among nations, places, and periods with regard to ways of life, character qualities, customs, sects, schools, and everything else. He further needs a comprehensive knowledge of present conditions in all these respects. However, if the soul is infected with partisanship for a particular opinion or sect, it accepts without a moment's hesitation the information that is agreeable to it. Prejudice and partisanship obscure the critical faculty and preclude critical investigation. Another reason is the fact that people as a rule approach great and high-ranking persons with praise and encomiums. The knowledge that has not come down to us is larger than the knowledge that has. IN THE BOOKS of philosophers who speculated about the condition of the world, it has been explained that the earth has a spherical shape and is enveloped by the element of water. The geographical degree is twenty-five parasangs, the parasang being 12,000 cubits or three miles, since one mile has 4,000 cubits. The cubit is twenty-four fingers, and the finger is six grains of barley placed closely together in one row. The Euphrates begins in Armenia in the sixth section of the fifth zone. It flows south through Byzantine territory (Anatolia) past Malatya to Manbij, and then passes Siflin, ar-Raggah, and al-Kufah... The Tigris originates in a number of springs in the country of Khilat, which is also in Armenia. Through these mountains, there are passes which are called ad-Durub (mountain passes). They lead into Armenia. This section contains a portion of Armenia situated between these mountains and the Chain Mountain. The area to the right of the Durub, between them and the Mediterranean, comprises the Byzantine territory: Anatolia. At this time, it belongs to the Turkomans and is ruled by Ibn Uthman (the Ottomans). Armenia, which lies between the Durub and the Chain Mountain, comprises Mar'ash, Malatya, and Ankara, up to the northern end of the section. In Armenia, in the fifth section, originate the river Jayhan and, to the east of it, the river Sayhan. The Jayhan flows south until it has traversed the Durub. The Euphrates and the Tigris traverse this area in the middle. They originate in the fifth zone, pass southward through Armenia, and cross the Chain Mountain. The Euphrates, then, flows west of Samosata and Saruj in an easterly direction. The other subdivision contains part of Armenia, including its principal place, al-Marighah. In the south of this the Tigris and Euphrates originate. In the north, there is the country of al-Baylagin, which adjoins the land of Amorium behind Mount Qubagib and extends far. At its end, where the Euphrates originates, is Kharshanah. The sixth section of the fifth zone contains in the southwest the country of Armenia, which extends eastward beyond the middle of the section. Arzan (Erzerum) is in the southwest of Armenia. To the north of it, lie Tiflis and Dabil. East of Arzan is the city of Khilat, followed by Bardha'ah. In the southeast is the capital city of Armenia. There, Armenia, entering the fourth zone, includes. alMaraghah, east of the Mountain of the Kurds which is called Mountain of Barimma, and which has been mentioned before in connection with the sixth section of the fourth zone. In this section, and in the ... The city of Derbend, which belongs to this country, lies on the Caspian Sea. In the southwest, the country of the "Gates" adjoins Armenia. WE HAVE SEEN that Negroes are in general characterized by levity, excitability, and great emotionalism. They are found eager to dance whenever they hear a melody. They are everywhere described as stupid. The real reason for these opinions is that, as has been shown by philosophers in the proper place, joy and gladness are due to expansion and diffusion of the animal spirit. The Egyptians are dominated by joyfulness, levity, and disregard for the future. They store no provisions of food, neither for a month nor a year ahead, but purchase most of it (daily) in the market. Muhammad SAW said: "Every infant is born in the natural state. It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian." When customs proper to goodness have been first to enter the soul of a good person and his soul has thus acquired the habit of goodness, that person moves away from evil and finds it difficult to do anything evil. 15. Savage nations are better able to achieve superiority than others. It should be known that since, as we have stated in the Third Prefatory Discussion, desert life no doubt is the reason for bravery, savage groups are braver than others. They are, therefore, better able to achieve superiority and to take away the things that are in the hands of other nations. Superiority comes to nations through enterprise and courage. Thus, wherever an Arab tribe leads a life of luxury and abundance, while another does not, the one holding fast to desert life the longer will be superior to and more powerful than the other, if both parties are otherwise equal in strength and number. Meekness and docility to outsiders that may come to be found in a tribe are obstacles on the way toward royal authority. The reason for this is that meekness and docility break the vigor and strength of group feeling. The very fact that people are meek and docile shows that their group feeling is lost. They do not become fond of meekness until they are too weak to defend themselves. Those who are too weak to defend themselves are all the more weak when it comes to withstanding their enemies and pre... This situation was the result of the quality of docility and the longing to be subservient to the Egyptians, which the Israelites had acquired through many long years and which led eventually to the complete loss of their group feeling. Thus, a new group feeling could grow up in the new generation, and that new group feeling enabled them to press their claims and to achieve superiority. Whoever loses his group feeling is too weak to do any of these things. 19. A sign of the qualification of an individual for royal authority is his eager desire to acquire praiseworthy qualities, and vice versa. Whenever we observe people who possess group feeling and who have gained control over many lands and nations, we find in them an eager desire for goodness and good qualities, such as generosity, the forgiveness of error, tolerance toward the weak, hospitality toward guests, the support of dependents, maintenance of the indigent, patience in adverse circumstances, faithful fulfillment of obligations, liberality with money for the preservation of honor, respect for the religious law and for the scholars who are learned in it, observation of the things to be done or not to be done that those 20. While a nation is savage, its royal authority extends farther. These savage peoples, furthermore, have no homelands that they might use as a fertile pasture, and no fixed place to which they might repair. All regions and places are the same to them. Therefore, they do not restrict themselves to possession of their own and neighbouring regions. They do not stop at the borders of their horizon. They swarm across distant zones and achieve superiority over faraway nations. 23. A nation that has been defeated and come under the rule of another nation will quickly perish. When hope and the things it stimulates are gone through apathy, and when group feeling has disappeared under the impact of defeat, civilization decreases and business and other activities stop. Therefore, the Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because Negroes have little that is essentially human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated. there are those who by accepting slavery hope to obtain high rank or to get money or power. This was the case with the Turks in the East, and with the Galician infidels and European Christians in Spain. Such people are customarily claimed by the dynasty for itself. Thus, they are not ashamed to be slaves, because they hope to be chosen for high position by the dynasty. 24. Arabs can gain control only over flat territory. This is because, on account of their savage nature, the Arabs are people who plunder and cause damage. They plunder whatever they are able to lay their hands on ... 25. Places that succumb to the Arabs are quickly ruined. The reason for this is that the Arabs are a savage nation, fully accustomed to savagery and the things that cause it. Savagery has become their character and nature. For instance, the Arabs need stones to set them up as supports for their cooking pots. So, they take them from buildings which they tear down to get the stones, and use them for that purpose. It is noteworthy how civilization always collapsed in places the Arabs took over and conquered, and how such settlements were depopulated and the very earth there turned into something that was no longer earth. Persian civilization in the Arab 'Iraq is likewise completely ruined. The same applies to contemporary Syria. 26. Arabs can obtain royal authority only by making use of some religious coloring, such as prophecy, or sainthood, or some great religious event in general. The reason for this is that because of their savagery, the Arabs are the least willing of nations to subordinate themselves to each other, as they are rude, proud, ambitious, and eager to be the leader. Their individual aspirations rarely coincide. But when there is religion among them through prophecy or sainthood, then they have some restraining influence in themselves. 27. The Arabs are of all nations the one most remote from royal leadership. A nation dominated by the Arabs is in a state no different from anarchy, where everybody is set against the others. Such a civilization cannot last and goes quickly to ruins, as would be the case in a state of anarchy, as we have mentioned before. For all these reasons, the Arabs are by nature remote from royal leadership. 6. Religious propaganda cannot materialize without group feeling. Many religious people who follow the ways of religion come to revolt against unjust amirs. They call for a change in, and prohibition of, evil practices and for good practices. They hope for a divine reward for what they do. They gain many followers and sympathizers among the great mass of the people, but they risk being killed, and most of them actually do perish in consequence of their activities as sinners and unrewarded, because God had not destined them for such activities as they undertake. 8. The greatness of a dynasty, the extent of its territory, and the length of its duration depend upon the numerical strength of its supporters. 9. A dynasty rarely establishes itself firmly in lands with many different tribes and groups. Therefore, it has taken the Arabs a long time to establish their dynasty in the land of Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib. The same was the case in Syria in the age of the Israelites. At that time, there existed there a very large number of tribes with a great variety of group feelings, such as the tribes of Palestine and Canaan, the children of Esau, the Midyanites, the children of Lot, the Edomites, the Armenians, the Amalekites, Girgashites, and the Nabataeans from the Jazirah and Mosul. Therefore, it was difficult for the Israelites to establish their dynasty firmly. This is what happened to the Turkish dynasty in the East. Most members of its army were Turkish clients. The Turkish rulers then chose horsemen and soldiers from among the white slaves (Mamelukes) who were brought to them. The reply was: "Yes, my Lord, I attended the banquet of one of the provincial governors (marzbans) of the Persian king, 20 - Armenia: 13,000,000 dirhams, Embroidered carpets: 20 Variegated cloth: 580 pounds, Salted Surmahi fish: 10,000 pounds Herring: 10,000 pounds, Mules: 200, Falcons: 30 23. The meaning of caliphate and imamate. As explained, the real meaning of royal authority is that it is a form of organization necessary to mankind. The second kind of war - war caused by hostility - is usually found among savage nations living in the desert, such as the Arabs, the Turks, the Turkomans, the Kurds, and similar peoples. They earn their sustenance with their lances and their livelihood by depriving other people of their possessions. 41. Injustice brings about the ruin of civilization. It should be known that attacks on people's property remove the incentive to acquire and gain property. The buildings and constructions in Islam are comparatively few considering Islam's power and as compared to the dynasties preceding Islam. The reason for this is the very same thing that we mentioned concerning the Berbers. The Arabs, too, are quite firmly rooted in the desert and quite unfamiliar with the crafts. Buildings erected by Arabs, with very few exceptions, quickly fall into ruins. Capitalists among the inhabitants of cities need rank and protection. Muhammad SAW said: "The caliphate after me will last thirty years; then, it will revert to being tyrannical royal authority." This may be exemplified by the Jews. Their rule in Syria lasted about 1,400 years. Profit is the value realized from human labor. God created the two mineral "stones," gold and silver, as the measure of value for all capital accumulations. it should be further known that the capital a person earns and acquires, if resulting from a craft, is the value realized from his labor. A portion of the value, whether large or small, comes from the labor. Being a servant is not a natural way of making a living. The reason for the existence of servants on a lower level is the fact that most of those who live in luxury are too proud to take care of their own personal needs or are unable to do so, because they were brought up accustomed to indulgence and luxury. Man is the child of customs, not the child of his ancestors. Happiness and profit are achieved mostly by people who are obsequious and use flattery. Such character disposition is one of the reasons for happiness. Persons who are in charge of ices dealing with religious matters, such as judge, mufti, teacher, prayer leader, preacher, muezzin, and the like, are not as a rule very wealthy. The character qualities of merchants are inferior to those of leading personalities and remote from manliness. The character qualities of merchants are inferior to those of noblemen and rulers. The Arabs, of all people, are least familiar with crafts. Therefore, we find that the homelands of the Arabs and the places they took possession of in Islam had few crafts altogether, so that crafts had to be imported from other regions. One may observe the great number of crafts in nonArab countries such as China, India, the lands of the Turks, and the Christian nations, and the fact that other nations imported their own crafts from them. The crafts, especially writing and calculation, give intelligence to the person who practices them. IT SHOULD BE KNOWN that God distinguished man from all the other animals by an ability to think The first degree is man's intellectual understanding of the things that exist in the outside world in a natural or arbitrary order, so that he may try to arrange them with the help of his own power. This kind of thinking mostly consists of perceptions. The second degree is the ability to think which provides man with the ideas and the behavior needed in dealing with his fellow men and in leading them. The world of the things that come into being as the result of action, materializes through thinking. Man is essentially ignorant, and becomes learned through acquiring knowledge. Most of the scholars in Islam have been non-Arabs (Persians). It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars both in the religious and in the intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs. When a scholar is of Arab origin, he is non-Arab in language and upbringing an... This is so in spite of the fact that Islam is an Arabic religion, and its founder was an Arab. The reason for it is that at the beginning Islam had no sciences or crafts. That was due to the simp...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barnaby Thieme

    Ibn Khaldoun's Muqaddimah is frequently described as a work of proto-sociology and economics. There is a grain of truth to that, but the similarity lies more in the subject matter than the manner of inquiry. I think the scientific virtues of this book have been somewhat exaggerated, in part because of its enthusiastic reception by systematic historians such as Toynbee who were making their own effort to create or discover a general theory of history. But to my eyes, Ibn Khaldoun's method is more Ibn Khaldoun's Muqaddimah is frequently described as a work of proto-sociology and economics. There is a grain of truth to that, but the similarity lies more in the subject matter than the manner of inquiry. I think the scientific virtues of this book have been somewhat exaggerated, in part because of its enthusiastic reception by systematic historians such as Toynbee who were making their own effort to create or discover a general theory of history. But to my eyes, Ibn Khaldoun's method is more that of a speculative philosopher than a scientist. He infers general patterns on the basis of a small number of examples, and regards the patterns as prior to the actuality. The scientific approach would be somewhat the other way around, where the empirical example would provoke a hypothesis that would then be tested on further examples. But Ibn Khaldoun moves very quickly to a state of epistemic closure, precisely of the kind I find endemic to the Islamic thought-world of his era, and beyond. Rather than reading this book as a progressive predecessor to the scientific revolution, I position it as a conservative work that attempts to maintain something of the rational-empirical method of the High Middle Ages in the face of its waning under the burgeoning influence of al-Ghazali. I see this book not as the forecast of the sciences of sociology and economics, but as a late example of the rationalism that had been typical of much of the thought of al-Andalus and the 'Abbasid caliphate. I think few of his actual statements of fact will be too persuasive for the modern reader, from his position that the sun is neither hot nor cold to his view that blacks are well known to be less intelligent to his view that royalty proceeds from holy authority, and urban settled life proceeds from both. But this is a work of some interest to the intellectual historian.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Phoenix

    Khaldun and the Enchantment of the Social Ibn Khaldun, jurist, philosopher, proto-sociologist, writing at the start of the 15th century, predating Machiavelli, produced a fascinating introspection on the nature of the state. As an educator his views predated Descartes and William James - one begins with the senses and ordinary experience as a basis for learning. His view of civilization, predating Spengler, was cyclical in that nomads from the desert utilizing the strength of their leaders, which Khaldun and the Enchantment of the Social Ibn Khaldun, jurist, philosopher, proto-sociologist, writing at the start of the 15th century, predating Machiavelli, produced a fascinating introspection on the nature of the state. As an educator his views predated Descartes and William James - one begins with the senses and ordinary experience as a basis for learning. His view of civilization, predating Spengler, was cyclical in that nomads from the desert utilizing the strength of their leaders, which Khaldun regards as a natural ruling class, conquered a civilization that had become weak, but over a period of 4 generations become so accustomed to luxury, entitlements and corruption, forgetting the strengths and deprivations of the forefathers that they in turn are conquered by the next set of barbarians. The work is divided into 6 sections. The first describes the geography and peoples of the known world, the effect of climate both on growing seasons and its civilizing effect. The second develops his ideas of history, previously mentioned. Khaldun favours the self reliance of the Bedouin though concedes that no individual has enough time to provide all the necessities of life, which he sees as a driving force towards sedentary communities and secondary professions in government, mercantilism and the arts. The success of such communities is made possible only when the community possess what Rosenthal translates as "group feeling" ('assabiya) or identification through extended kinship or solidarity. (He would not have been happy with multiculturalism and a pluralistic democratic state.) Khaldun observes that one of the downfalls of most civilization is the outsourcing military or economic control by the ruling group. The outside group owes no loyalty to their employers or the original group, and easily become the new masters. (Or conversely, the ruing group becomes suspicious of the aspirations and loyalty of the millet whose fortunes are on the upswing - the Turks of the 18th century were quite interested in Khaldun's theories! The third section consists of case studies of civilizations that Khaldun uses to support his theories: the decline of the Abbasids in Iraq to the Persians, Daylam (a people living around the Caspian Sea) the Saljuks (Seljuk Turks), and then the Tartars; the rise and fall of the Umayyads in Spain; he mentions the collapse of the Persian empire, yet does not examine in any detail the persistence of the Byzantine dynasties which survived the loss of its Syrian territories - perhaps because he did not know the details. He also dwells on the roles of public officials such as the religious and civil police, a wazir (usually a Copt or a Jew as they were considered skilled in such things) who looked after bookkeeping, the royal gatekeeper, principal secretaries and the conduct of war. Above all he believed that only the dynastic head of state with his Bedouin origins is most in tune with the demands of ruling. He ends this section with a discussion of the art of war and a reflection on naive messianic beliefs in the Mahdi. In Sections 4 and 5 he develops a theory of economics observing that the concentration of people in cities over time encourages a surplus of food production, decreasing costs, whereas the surplus of labour creates a diversification of occupations increasing the pay of merchants, trades people and other professionals as individuals seek to maximize the return for work done. In the latter he focuses on the variety of crafts and trades such as farming, architecture, craftsmanship, weaving and tailoring including the "noble" professions of medicine, singing and the production of books. The practitioners of these are long term sedentary peoples rather than the Arabs (Khaldun himself is Berber) for reason of their nomadic roots (pp317, also earlier on pp119). He notes again (pp428) that for the same reasons most of the scholars in Islam have been sedentary peoples and non-Arab. In the last and 6th section Khaldun offers his thoughts on education, both the subjects to be taught and the methods of teaching. Of the legal sciences, which through with the laws of inheritance have encouraged algebra, he is of the opinion that with Islam they have reached perfection and cannot be further improved (pp334). To this he adds the literary crafts: writing and the study of languages, grammar, literature both poetry and prose and the proper assessment of these through exposure and practice to develop good taste. The remaining subjects he organizes into 7 main groups (beginning pp371) and assorted subcategories briefly summarized as follows: logic, geometry(including Greek geometry, mechanics and optics) , mathematics (business arithmetic and algebra), music, astronomy (including astrology, which he dismisses as harmful), physics (the physical sciences including the study of motion, agriculture, geography and medicine), metaphysics (including magic which is mostly forbidden by religious law; Greek philosophy of which he disapproves including the work of al-Farabi and Avicenna; alchemy and mystical interpretations are dismissed as harmful as well). Rosenthal's translation is both understandable and non-intrusive. This is one of the seminal works of philosophy on the nature of history as well as an excellent overview of Islamic attitudes and perceptions of the middle ages. Some of the theological discussions are a bit dry and long winded, for example his ideas on the differences between soothsaying, revelation and divination (pp78-87) , and a quite a number of his notions are now outdated, even racist (see ppp117) but these things are of its time. Not to everyone's taste but useful to those interested in the history of science and theories of civilization. Recommended!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Azhar Ali

    I can't say anything about it, would just copy the statement of Franz Rosenthal on the Muqaddimah: It can be regarded as the earliest attempt made by any historian to discover a pattern in the changes that occur in man's political and social organization. Rational in its approach, analytical in its method, encyclopaedic in detail, it represents an almost complete departure from traditional historiography, discarding conventional concepts and cliches and seeking, beyond the mere chronicle of event I can't say anything about it, would just copy the statement of Franz Rosenthal on the Muqaddimah: It can be regarded as the earliest attempt made by any historian to discover a pattern in the changes that occur in man's political and social organization. Rational in its approach, analytical in its method, encyclopaedic in detail, it represents an almost complete departure from traditional historiography, discarding conventional concepts and cliches and seeking, beyond the mere chronicle of events, an explanation—and hence a philosophy of history.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James Violand

    If I could enter a negative rating, I would. This is a fabricated history based, not upon records or facts, but upon the idea that the Koran's position must be supported at all costs including fabrication of events. This work is a fraud. Did you know that civilization began in the desert? Yes, that's what the author asserts to fortify the belief that, since Muhammed came from the desert, it must be ordained that the desert and its inhabitants are above reproach. Only the ignorant assume otherwis If I could enter a negative rating, I would. This is a fabricated history based, not upon records or facts, but upon the idea that the Koran's position must be supported at all costs including fabrication of events. This work is a fraud. Did you know that civilization began in the desert? Yes, that's what the author asserts to fortify the belief that, since Muhammed came from the desert, it must be ordained that the desert and its inhabitants are above reproach. Only the ignorant assume otherwise.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Fellows

    I tried reading the unabrdiged version of this translation twenty years ago after reading Toynbee's high praise, and never made it near the end. But this time it was fantastic. This is one of the great books of Western Civilisation. We would be so much better off today if we had the same common sense grasp of philosophy, pedagogy, and economics Ibn Khaldun displays here. His section on speculative theology alone contains everything anyone with a little bit of gumption needs to wipe the floor wit I tried reading the unabrdiged version of this translation twenty years ago after reading Toynbee's high praise, and never made it near the end. But this time it was fantastic. This is one of the great books of Western Civilisation. We would be so much better off today if we had the same common sense grasp of philosophy, pedagogy, and economics Ibn Khaldun displays here. His section on speculative theology alone contains everything anyone with a little bit of gumption needs to wipe the floor with the 'New Atheists'. Is good.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ruhat alp

    according to khaldun;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. he is a genius

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yorgos

    Not an easy read. Ibn Khaldun's knowledge on various historical and sociological issues seems vast. I do not have the necessary knowledge to properly judge all parts of this book by its content, but I have to give a 5 star due to its exhaustive coverage of so many topics, by a brilliant mind. Another proof of the height Islamic culture and civilization had once reached.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    A fascinating look at the history (and geography) of the world from the perspective of a well-traveled Islamic scholar/politician in the 14th century (late golden age of Islam). It also includes, among many other things, a detailed discussion of how to tell real prophets from fake. I remember that part, I think, because it drove home for me how very different his world and mindset are from mine.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    The print in this edition is so tiny that I have placed THE MUQADDIMAH on my list of books to read in the future. The unabridged version may be far more accessible.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Bradshaw

    Neither you nor Zuckerberg have read the Muqaddimah. Cause this is not the Muqaddimah. This is something condensed by someone who did not write it and wants to tell you what's important and decide for you what is relevant. Calling a book that is but one third of its size the Muqaddimah is a travesty. Why? Well, if you've gotta ask, chances are you'll never get to know. But, out of concern for your education, I'll give you a friendly hint: note the remark made in the final paragraph in the Forewo Neither you nor Zuckerberg have read the Muqaddimah. Cause this is not the Muqaddimah. This is something condensed by someone who did not write it and wants to tell you what's important and decide for you what is relevant. Calling a book that is but one third of its size the Muqaddimah is a travesty. Why? Well, if you've gotta ask, chances are you'll never get to know. But, out of concern for your education, I'll give you a friendly hint: note the remark made in the final paragraph in the Foreword about the mistakes the book must contain. He wants you to "silently correct and overlook" the mistakes he makes. Yes, overlook and don't bother to mention it to him. Why? Because... because I won't tell you, that's why! (See similar caveats in books by John of Salisbury, Baruch Spinoza, Giordanno Bruno, and from the mouth of Socrates in Plato's Republic.) Okay, I'll give you a hint as to what this means- lot of good that'll do ya!! While the examples of historical errors dealing with Arab history in the introduction may be obscure, most will be familiar with the instances given by Ibn Khaldun that are taken from the Bible. He says, as if merely criticizing Islamic scholarship on the topic, that the 600K figure given for the army commanded by Moses is absurd (see Numbers 1:46). Read this in light of what he later says in the introduction about the size of the Israelite kingdom. That's all I'll say. It's a shame your college professors will teach you that ancient and medieval thinkers are simply more backwards than our enlightened selves, otherwise you'd be able to read this properly. At any rate, that is why this abridged thing calling itself the Muqaddimah is garbage. You need the whole thing- every sentence.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Berman

    Finally finished this work. I am glad I read it but some parts are a real slog. Considering this classic was written 650 years ago by someone from a very different culture there is much to learn here. Much of the style is anachronistic but you can imagine what it is like to be in his head. He is trying to apply reason in a world where superstition and traditions carry the day. Give Ibn Khaldun credit for trying to bring people part way out, we can't use 21st century standards of science to hold a Finally finished this work. I am glad I read it but some parts are a real slog. Considering this classic was written 650 years ago by someone from a very different culture there is much to learn here. Much of the style is anachronistic but you can imagine what it is like to be in his head. He is trying to apply reason in a world where superstition and traditions carry the day. Give Ibn Khaldun credit for trying to bring people part way out, we can't use 21st century standards of science to hold against him. You can also see how a scholar views the tail end of the 'Golden Age of Islam' with his critical eye. The aspects I enjoyed the most were his understanding of history (compared to our views today) and his mentioned of various peoples (nations such as Israelites, Chaldeans, Nabateans, Copts, etc). The first section on geography and natural science are bizarre but have to take into account the 'known world' and show the limits of their 'science'. The last section on instruction describes how many things were considered science such as religious studies and philosophy which failed to hold my interest (chapter six) throughout, although there were odd bits of jewels buried in the many words.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robin Gane-McCalla

    This book contains a good deal of theories, many of which are applicable today. The author does resort to dogmatic thinking at times, but most of his thinking is rational and provides a useful perspective into pre-columbian islamic thought. The author provides a general history of the world and makes reasoned claims about historical principles.

  23. 4 out of 5

    May Baaklini

    This book is brilliant. The concept of Asabiyya or group feeling can surely be felt in modern and contemporary politics. It’s a genius proposition, especially since there are so many examples in history that can attest to its validity. Although Rosenthal mistranslated a few words and that probably affected the meaning, the overall message is still intact and highly enjoyable. A classic!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jay Wright

    This is not an easy book. The book was written in the 14th century and is written from an Islamic position. If you have patience you will be rewarded with many good tidbits. It is frankly amazing what the scholar knew as a fact. Some of his theories are sound and some have an Islamic bias, but it is still a classic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    The movie is so amazing

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adnan

    One of the most beautiful book I had ever read !!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    He stated so many academic disciplines. It's uncanny.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tariq

    A beautiful book written in too much detail about human sociology concentrating on evolving human and Islamic culture.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Idrus

    How to get it

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