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Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

Ferrero was one of first to identify Ibn Khaldun as a sociologist and original theorist of concept of civilization as a sociological category.

Ferrero's focus on Galledoon concept of "body-spirit" helps us understand what leads to conflict and social change when nomadic and savage tribes come into contact with civilized peoples.

Ferrero admired and saw contemporary value in Ibn Khaldun's analysis of mechanisms behind rise and fall of empires, that states and groups were motivated by a passion for acquiring and protecting their luxuries, that high taxes that supported wealthy provided basis for corrupt and disaffected fundamentals, making societies vulnerable to intrusion and control by outside groups, thereby regenerating cycle of civilizational history.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

It is well known that Arabic spirit in many ways precedes European spirit, but even translations of most famous works are neglected, and curiosity of our people towards works of Arab genius, of course, is not very great.

So, book of one of great Arab sociologists of fourteenth century: Foreword by Ibn Khaldun, it seems to us, explains all why.

Ibn Kaldun lived a long and provocative life, similar in some respects to life of Niccolò Machiavelli, which Ibn Kaldun himself recounts in a long autobiography, described clearly and precisely by de Slane.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunisia in 1332 to a Yemenite family, settled in Spain during Arab conquest and emigrated to Africa after fall of Almohad empire.

At age of 20 he was appointed secretary to Sultan Abu Ishaq II of Hafshid, where he stayed for a short time, and shortly thereafter went to Africa Xi, 1356. strong>, working in office of secretariat of Merinid Sultan Abu Ainan.

The following year, future sociologist, by a political irony of fate, went to prison, and after his release in 1359 was appointed secretary of Sultan Abu Salem.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

But even in this place, Ibn Khaldun did not stay long. For personal reasons, he left court for Spain in 1362, where he was greeted most kindly by King of Grenada, Ibn el-Ahmer.

In 1365 he became prime minister to Hafshid prince Abu Abd al-Allah, but following year another Hafshid prince, Abu Abbas, ruler of Constantine, overthrew Abu Abdullah.

Ibn Khaldun fled city and in 1368 was appointed chancellor of Abu Hammer, ruler of Tlemcen.

Two years later we find him again in service of Melinides government, which he refused after receiving permission to retire to Spain in 1374.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

But Sultan Ibn al-Ahmar expelled him from Spain, so Ibn Khaldun had to seek refuge elsewhere and settle in province of Oran, where he was in country house of his friend Ibn Salama.

In this retreat, where he lived for 4 years, he wrote most of his works, especially Prolegomena, which we will focus on.

He went to Tunis at end of 1378 to consult many works he did not own, but favor shown to him by Sultan aroused intrigue of many envious people, and how as a result he was forced to emigrate to Cairo in 1382.

In Cairo, Ibn Khaldun was appointed al-Hadi of Malikat in 1384, but his zeal to curb abuses of legal workers made him such an enemy that he was quickly dismissed.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

Political adversity brought him back to his studies, and he was again nominated for great Mary-Kate Cady, which again failed.

Then, in 1400, he accompanied Sultan to Syria, which fell to Timur, and after his release for third time became Great Maliqadi of Cairo, and died on March 15, 1406 at age 74 years.

Therefore, life of Ibn Kaldun, like all geniuses of that time, was full of greatness and unhappiness, happiness and pain.

In fact, he should have suffered more from this precarious fate, since he chose most dangerous of professions - politics.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

The handsome Ibn Khaldun had a handsome appearance, noble manners, intelligence and great culture, he must be a lively and flexible spirit, a passionate and fighting character, an honest, intelligent, restless people, prone to risk.

The author believes that he was a man of action, whose enthusiasm was partially tempered by a philosophical spirit and meditative habits, and that in his character these two very different qualities - philosophical spirit and ability to act - were wonderfully combined. .

Ibn Khaldun can be seen in all wonderful roles of diplomat, statesman and thinker.

Five centuries ago, he was able to do what statesmen of our century have not yet been able to do, namely, to wonder if events in which they are involved are not subject to laws above their whim and compulsion of will.

Despite vicissitudes of his life, Ibn Khaldun was very prolific, and Arab author wrote many of his books: logical, abstracts of works of Ibn Rod (Averroes), treatises on arithmetic, many poems.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

But his masterpiece is The History of World, a vast collection that includes a general history of Muslim societies from their inception to time of author, including history of opposition to Islam.

Includes life of first four Caliphs, history of Eastern Caliphs, history of minor Muslim dynasties of East and West, history of Seljuks, Tatars and Berbers. This extensive collection was preceded by a special work that served as its introduction, which was called "Prolegomena".

For Arab philosopher, question we are still debating - is a real social science possible - does not even exist, and he shows that he is absolutely confident in his science. today a physicist or chemist.

But it is more interesting to know what led Ibn Khaldun to develop a general social theory before his history of Muslim society.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

In Ibn Kaldun we discovered basic idea of ​​the historical criticism of tomorrow, but modern critics do not yet want to recognize it: that is, historical criticism of documents is always indefinite, Until it is based on well-established psychological and sociological laws.

If critics recognize that societies behave in similar ways when they find themselves in similar conditions, they will have critical tools of extraordinary power in sociological comparisons.

However, if, delving into state of society, which we define by tribal names, we can draw conclusions and fix some of main features of warring tribes, we will have a guideline.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

Ibn Kaldun felt this and gave importance to his general theory of rules for distinguishing between truth and falsehood in stories before historians.

He writes: “On one hand, rule that must be followed consists in looking at human society, civilization: on one hand, distinguishing between what is and what is inherent in its essence, and on other hand, what is conditional, and which is absolutely out of question.

At same time, we have a certain rule for distinguishing between truth and falsehood in a story, and a method for demonstrating undeniably that if we hear about a certain event occurring in human society, we can understand whether we should accept it as true or reject it as false.

So we have a tool that gives us ability to judge facts with certainty, which is useful for historians who want to follow path of truth. "

Two sociological issues of particular concern to Ibn Khaldun were origins of civilization and causes of prosperity and decline of nations.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

He writes:“The real purpose of history is to give us an understanding of social state of mankind, civilization and, of course, to show us phenomena associated with it, such as softening of morals, spirit of family and tribe, spirit people The various feelings of superiority over one another and phenomena and class distinctions that give rise to empires and dynasties, occupations to which people devote themselves as profitable pursuits, crafts in which life consists, and, finally, everything that nature can produce in changing character of society .

His story and illustrations are excellent, full of bold ideas that cannot be missed even today.

The first question put to philosopher was question of origin of societies, and he gave a solution similar to modern Darwinian concepts.

According to Ibn Kaldun, society was born because of physical weakness of man compared to other animals.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

However, this artificial compensation for primitive human weakness cannot be obtained unless individuals are bonded, as "a human being cannot resist strength of one animal, especially a predatory one" and "there is no way to make there so many different offensive weapons .

It takes so much art and so many other tools to create them. Thus, for Ibn Khaldun and modern Darwinists, human society is an indirect result of important competition.

One of oldest fantasies of man is belief in original blissful life, in which man gradually disintegrates.

Only a century and a half ago, a deeper understanding of life of savages and savages destroyed this dream, however, Ibn Khaldun in fourteenth century came to a naturalistic view of origin of man, which we did not know until last century.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

In his opinion, primitive man was a savage, "prone to hatred and violence from an animal instinct", who did not know either art or science, did not have a permanent home, could hardly keep some animals and grow some plants.

His only thoughts are satisfaction of sexual desires and hunger, for he neglects all luxury and produces just enough to not die, he has nothing to do as soon as he indulges in robbery, and his main occupation is to wander and forcibly rob his way on everything.

A primitive form of social organization was a semi-anarchist tribe, in whose bosom people, driven by instinct of violence, used weapons of mutual production to protect themselves from animals.

He painted with dark paints, very similar to those that Huxley and Lubbock gave us five centuries later. The starting point is same, which means that emerging tasks should be similar.

In fact, Ibn Kaldun, after describing the primitive savagery of man, wondered why he had diminished, giving way to a completely different people.

Ibn Khaldun: fourteenth-century Arab sociologist

As mentioned earlier, one of two fundamental questions of Cardunian sociology is question of civilization; omran, an Arabic word which, according to Slane, in its most revered sense means "the inhabited place, culture of a country, its population, its prosperity, everything that beautifies country" and corresponds in most sublime and abstract sense to Italian word "civilization".

Ibn Kaldun's notion of civilization appears to have been conceived by comparing how nomadic tribes of North Africa and Muslim states were organized, which he probably did well.

However, he still managed to establish some very interesting general principles, especially since they were later discovered in more modern writers.

For example, his economic theory of civilization is very close to theory of Bukele, because civilization of Ibn Khaldun and Bukele is primarily accumulation of products that exceed basic needs of survival.

As long as people are limited to production of bare minimum necessary for life, emergence of civilization is impossible.

According to Carlton, this explains why civilizations in Africa never developed in desert, but only on fertile plains of Algeria and Morocco.

Link: Ferrero's "Social Forms"

Proletariat of Ibn Khaldun by Imprimérie Impériale

Foreword by Ibn Kaldun

Ibn Kaldun "Prolegomena"

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