Historian Meets History

Fromherz Allen James

in Ibn Khaldun

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780748639342
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653201 | DOI:
Historian Meets History

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This chapter introduces Ibn Khaldun, a world historical figure and a world historian. His famed book Muquaddimah and his theory of tribal solidarity or 'asabiyya as determinant of the rise and fall of dynasties made him the fascination of many modern thinkers to the extent that Ibn Khaldun was orphaned of his own time and exiled from his own history. The first section of the chapter discusses the attempts to identify Ibn Khaldun as a modern thinker. While his thoughts have transcended time and have a modern scientific relevance, identifying Khaldun as a modern thinker ignores the relationship between his times and his thoughts. It is argued instead in this section that the best way to approach Ibn Khaldun is to abandon the attempt to attach the adjective ‘modern’ to him. The second section discusses the fourteenth-century world of Ibn Khaldun. This period was marked by two concurrent trends. First, while it was a century marked by irreconcilable political divisions, it was also a period of maturation and consolidating of Muslim institutions and practices, both in the form of educational institutions controlled by the government, such as madrasas and the establishment and growth of important religious communities and institutions. Second, it was a period that set the stage for two world historic developments: the rise of European economic hegemony; and the victory of the Ottoman Empire.

Keywords: Ibn Khaldun; Muquaddimah; tribal solidarity; 'asabiyya; fourteenth century

Chapter.  17953 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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