Ibn Khaldūn: 14th C foundations of Sociology, Historiography and Economics

My first brush with the north African philosopher-thinker of the ‘Middle Ages’, Ibn Khaldūn, was at the Universidad de Sevilla in España, intrigued as I have always been, with the circumstances and the contexts of the rise and fall of civilizations. With Andalusian and Yemenite Arab roots, Ibn Khaldūn was ‘Tunisian’ by birth, and his extensive and ground breaking work out of north Africa during the ‘Middle Ages’ was discovered by the occident much later. This belated discovery could probably be partially attributed to barriers of language, along with, I suppose, a degree of disdain and intellectual suspicion of that which is non-occidental. Having said that, it is only in retrospect that we can appreciate Ibn Khaldūn’s remarkable contributions to the foundations of a scientific study of society and civilization.

The first stop is always his magnum opus, “al-Muqaddimah” (1377), apparently written while taking time away from the tumult of public politics, and while seeking refuge with an Algerian tribe. In his magnum opus, Ibn Khaldūn sought to articulate (via the lens of philosophy of history and sociology), a wide ranging enquiry into the social facts, economic, psychological, sociological, and environmental factors that, in some way or the other, aid in the progress and the demise of civilizations along with churning the complex currents of history. To engage further with Ibn Khaldūn and his ‘far-ahead-of-his-times’ ideas, listen in to:

Ibn Khaldūn (In Our Time, 4/2/10)

1. Melvyn Bragg in conversation with Robert Irwin, Senior Research Associate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK; Robert Hoyland, Professor of Islamic History, University of Oxford, UK; and Hugh Kennedy, Professor of Arabic, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK. February, 2010.


Scholar's Chair Interview: Dr. Imad ad-Deen Ahmad - Muslim Philosophier Ibn Khaldun

2. Khalil Shadeed in conversation with Dr. Imad ad-Deen Ahmad, President and Director, Minaret of Freedom Institute, Bethesda, USA. 2012


Scholar's Chair interview: Dr. Charles E. Butterworth - Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah

3. Khalil Shadeed in conversation with Charles E. Butterworth, Professor of Islamic Studies, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, USA. 2012


GLOBAL ART FORUM 8: 778AH: Ibn Khaldun's The Muqadimmah

4. Shuddhabrata Sengupta in conversation with Jocelyne Dakhlia, Professor, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France and Justin Stearns, Assistant Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies, New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE. March, 2014.


Look up:

Charles Issawi and Oliver Leaman, “Ibn Khaldun, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1332-1406),” in Routledge’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy. vol. 4., (London: Routledge) 623-627.

Introduction to the 2005 edition of ‘The Muqaddimah’ by Bruce B. Lawrence, Princeton University Press (.pdf file)


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