Greate Arab Personalities : Ibn Khadun إبن خلدون

Ibn Khaldun image H. Yahya dryahyatv

Greate Arab Personalities : Ibn Khadun

Hasan A. Yahya, Ph.Ds

Professor of Sociology

Ibn Khaldun was a famous Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian born in Tunisia. He’s also the originator of sociology. He is indeed the one outstanding personality in the history of a civilization whose social life on the whole was ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. In his chosen field of intellectual activity he appears to have been inspired by no predecessors, and to have found no kindred souls among his contemporaries, and to have kindled no answering spark of inspiration in any successors ; and yet, in the Prolegomena (Muqaddimah) to his Universal History he has conceived and formulated a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place. It was his single brief ‘acquiescence’ from a life of practical activity that gave Ibn Khaldun his opportunity to cast his creative thought into literary shape.

Ibn Khaldun, full name Abu Zayd ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Khaldun al-Hadrami (732-84/1332-82), one of the strongest personalities of Arab-Muslim culture in the period of its decline. He is widely acclaimed as a forerunner of modern historiography, sociology and economics. He is best known for his Muqaddimah (Prolegomena).

Ibn khaldun is known primarily for his Muqaddimah and his ‘Ibar, but he wrote other works which have not all survived.

In about his twentieth year, he attempted, under the influence of al-Abili, to make a resume of the theologico-philosophical ‘summa’ of al-Razi entitled Kitab Muhassal afqar al-mutaqaddimin wa ‘l-muta’-akhkhirin min al-‘ulama’ wa ‘l-hukama’ wa ‘l-muta-kallimin (Cairo 1905), an outline which is a condensation of all the Arabo-Muslim cultural tradition concerning the problems of dogma and its philosophical repercussions. This resume, entitled Lubab al-Muhassal fi usul al-din (Tetuan 1952: autograph manuscript dated 29 ‘afar 752/28 May 1351, Escorial no. 1614), shows a direction of thought which Ibn khaldun was never to lose completely.

It should also be remembered that Ibn khaldun had stressed in his Ta’rif the studious nature of his period at Fez and at Granada. During this period, that is between 752-65/1351-64, the date at which Ibn al-khatib’s Ihata was finished, he wrote five works: (1) a commentary on the Burda of al-Busiri; (2) an outline of logic; (3) a treatise on arithmetic; (4) several resumes of works by Ibn Rushd; and (5) a commentary on a poem by Ibn al-khatib on the usul al-fiqh.

The wealth of the ideas provided in the Muqaddima has enabled several specialists to find in it the early beginnings of a number of disciplines which have become independent sciences only very recently. Y. Lacoste wrpte: ‘If Thucydides is the inventor of history, Ibn khaldun introduces history as a science’ (Ibn Khaldoun, 187). He has been regarded also as a philosopher, and it is surprising in particular to discover in his Muqaddima a very elaborate system of sociology.

In sociology, his ‘new science’, ‘ilm al-‘umran, the discovery of which dazzled even himself, is basically, strictly speaking, nothing but a system of sociology, conceived true as an auxiliary science to history. He considers that the basic causes of historical evolution are in fact to be sought in the economic and social structures. He therefore set himself to analyse them, elaborating as he did so a certain number of new operative concepts, the most pregnant of which is incontestably that of ‘asabiyya  It should be mentioned that this concept of ‘asabiyya, and that of ‘umran, have given rise in modern times to many discussions–which cannot be enumerated here–regarding their interpretation. He was interested particularly in the influence of the way of life and of methods of production on the evolution of social groups. In a famous sentence, he states: ‘The differences which are seen between the generations (ajyal) in their behaviour are only the expression of the differences which separate them in their economic way of life’ . This sentence is often compared with an equally famous one of Marx: ‘The method of production in the material matters of life determines in general the social, political and intellectual processes of life’. The similarity is indeed striking, and it is not the only one between them. Thus Ibn khaldun’s thought is often interpreted, particularly in recent years, in the spirit of dialectical materialism. But, in spite of the undoubted similarities, it would be difficult to regard Ibn khaldun as a forerunner of materialism. Moreover the explanation he gives is not exclusively a socio-economic one but also psychological. ‘The Prolegomena do not contain only a general sociology but also a very detailed and subtle social psychology which may be divided into political psychology, economic psychology, ethical psychology and general psychology. The intermingled and closely linked elements of this social psychology and this general sociology form a whole complex which it is difficult to disentangle’.

There have been identified also, in this complex, economic doctrines sufficiently detailed to justify a study devoted to them, and a philosophy of history to which M. Mahdi has devoted an important work. It also provides ethnographic, anthropological and demographic information of real value.

On economics Ibn Khaldun says: “At the beginning of the empire, the tax rates were low and the revenues were high. At the end of the empire, the tax rates were high and the revenues were low. “

In more details, Ibn Khaldun wrote:  “In the early stages of the state, taxes are light in their incidence, but fetch in a large revenue…As time passes and kings succeed each other, they lose their tribal habits in favor of more civilized ones. Their needs and exigencies grow…owing to the luxury in which they have been brought up. Hence they impose fresh taxes on their subjects… sharply raise the rate of old taxes to increase their yield…But the effects on business of this rise in taxation make themselves felt. For business men are soon discouraged by the comparison of their profits with the burden of their taxes…Consequently production falls off, and with it the yield of taxation.” (992 words)

Special Note: Professor Yahya is working now on three books about the great Arab Muslim thinker: Ibn Khaldun, one is introducing al-Muqaddimah and the other under the title: Ibn Khaldun and Modern Sociology: Theeoritical Analysis. In that book, the author will compare social thinkers with Ibn Khaldun and show how much the world owe Ibn Khaldun and his thought. This book was a result of NOT even mentioning Ibn Khaldun in most sociology texts in American Universities. The third, however, will summerize al Muqaddima for normal readers. These books cmoe in the last stage of the author’s life, as decline is starts to work, according to Ibn Khaldun’s cyclical theory of rise and decline of nations. I hope to finish these works before the end of this year 2012.(H. Yahya)

العالم العربي المسلم: الأستاذ الدكتور حسن يحيى
Professor Hasan Yahya-USA


About Arab American Encyclopedia-USA - Hasan Yahya

HASAN YAHYA was born at a small village called Majdal-YaFa (Majdal Sadiq) in Mandate Palestine (1944). He migrated as a refugee to Mes-ha, a village east of Kufr Qasim, west of Nablus (in the West Bank), then moved with his family to Zarka, 25 km north of Amman – Jordan. He finished the high school at Zarka Secondary School, 1963. He was appointed as a teacher in the same year. Studied Law first at Damascus University, then B.A from Lebanon University in Arabic literature and Eastern Cultures (1975). He moved to Kuwait. Where he got married in 1967. He was working at Kuwait Television, taught at bilingual School, and Kuwait University. In 1982, Hasan left to the United States to continue his education at Michigan State University. He got the Master Degree in 1983, the Ph.D degree in 1988 in Education (Psychology of Administration ). In 1991, He obtained his post degree in Social research, the result was a second Ph.D degree in Comparative sociology-Social Psychology. He was the only Arab student who enrolled ever to pursue two simultaneous Ph.D programs from Michigan State University and fulfill their requirements perfectly. Professor Yahya employment history began as a supervisor of a joint project to rehabilitate Youth (inmates out of prison) by Michigan State University and Intermediate School Districts. Worked also as a Teacher Assistant and lecturer in the same university. He was offered a position at Lansing Community College as well as Jackson Community College where he was assistant professor, then associate professor, then full professor (1991-2006). He taught Sociology, psychology, education, criminology and research methods. He supervised 19 Master and Ph.D candidates on various personal, economic psychological and social development topics. Professor Yahya published Hundreds (1000 Plus on this site) of articles and research reports in local, regional, and international journals. His interest covers local, regional and global conflicts. He also authored, translated, edited and published over 280 plus books in several languages, in almost all fields especial education, sociology and psychology. These books can be found on Amazon and Kindle. He also, was a visiting professor at Eastern Michigan University to give Research Methods and Conflict Management courses. Prof. Yahya accepted an offer to join Zayed University Faculty Team in 1998, then he served as the Head of Education and Psychology Department at Ajman University of Science and Technology 2001-04. Dr. Yahya established several institutes in Diaspora, the Arab American Encyclopedia, Ihyaa al Turath al Arabi Project, (Revival of Arab Heritage in Diaspora.Recently he was nominated for honorary committee member for the Union of Arab and Muslim Writers in America. He was affiliated with sociological associations and was a member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) at USA. Social Activities and Community Participation: Dr. Yahya was a national figure on Diversity and Islamic Issues in the United States, with special attention to Race Relations and Psychology of Assimilation (generations 1,2 &3). He was invited as a public speaker to many TV shows and interviews in many countries. His philosophy includes enhancing knowledge to appreciate the others, and to compromise with others in order to live peacefully with others. This philosophy was the backgrounds of his theory, called “ Theory C. of Conflict Management”. And developed later to a Science of Cultural Normalization under the title: “Crescentology. The results of such theory will lead to world peace depends on a global Knowledge, Understanding, appreciation, and Compromising (KUAC)” Recently Prof. Yahya started "Publish your book FREE Project", to serve young Arab Writers. Dr. Yahya accepted the offer to be the chief editor of the International Humanities Studies Journal -I-H-S-Jerusalem, since July 2014. (Revised Sept. 2014) ولد الدكتور حسن عبدالقادر يحيى في مجدل يابا من أعمال يافا – فلسطين عام 1944. تلقى علومه الابتدائية في مدرسة بديا الأميرية في الضفة الغربية أيام احتوائها ضمن المملكة الأدردنية الهاشمية وتخرج في جامعة بيروت حاملاً الإجازة في اللغة العربية وآدابها، ودبلوم التأهيل التربوي من كلية القديس يوسف بلبنان، ودبلوم الدراسات العليا (الماجستير) ودكتوراة في الإدارة التربوية من جامعة ولاية ميشيغان بالولايات المتحدة عام 1988، وشهادة الدكتوراه في علم الاجتماع المقارن من الجامعة نفسها عام 1991. عمل في التدريس والصحافة الأدبية. أديب وشاعر وقاص ، ,كما عمل في تلفزيون الكويت الرسمي كمعد ومنسق برامج ثم اتجه إلى الكتابة والتأليف في علوم كثيرة تخص علمي النفس والاجتماع والتنمية البشرية ، والتغير الاجتماعي والسكان وألف ونشر العديد من المقالات (1000 +) والكتب باللغتين العربية والإنجليزية (أكثر من 330 كتابا) ، منها ست مجموعات قصصية وست كتب للأطفال ، وأربع دواوين شعرية باللغتين أيضا. وعدد من كتب التراث في الشعر والأدب والأخلاق الإسلامية والتربية والأديان . وهو الآن أستاذ متقاعد في جامعة ولاية ميشيغان. . وكان عضوا سابقا في جمعية العلماء المسلمين في أمريكا . وجمعية علماء الاجتماع الأمريكية - ميشيغان، وهو مؤسس الموسوعة العربية الأمريكية في الولايات المتحدة ضمن مشروع إحياء التراث العربي في بلاد المهجرز كما تم ترشيحه مؤخرا ليكون عضو مجلس التحرير لمجلة الدراسات الإنسانية العالمية. وقد قبل أن يتسلم رئاسة تحريرها اعتبارا من نهاية يونيو 2014 His email: Thank you!
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