Ibn Khaldun in Modern Scholarship
Prof. Hasan A. Yahya, Ph.Ds
Works on Ibn khaldun are too numerous to listed in full here. Reference should be made therefore to H. Peres, Bibliographie sur la vie et l’oeuvre d’Ibn Kaldun, in Mel. Levi Della Vida, ii, 308-29, and to the most recent bibliography compiled by W. J. Fischel and given at the end of vol. iii of the tr. of the Muqaddima by F. Rosenthal, New York 1958, 27 pp. (Since then a better bibliography in English has been complied that is much more organized and inclusive see al-Azmeh, Aziz (1981) )Ibn Khaldun in Modern Scholarship: A Study in Orientalism, London: Third World Centre.( The following works however may be particularly mentioned: T. Hussein, Etude analytique et critique de la philosophie sociale d’Ibn Khaldun, Paris 1917, G. Bouthoul, Ibn Khaldoun, sa philosophie sociale, Paris 1930, N. Schmidt, Ibn Khaldun, historian, sociologist, and philosopher, New York 1930, M. A. ‘Inan, Ibn khaldun, hayatuh wa-turathuh al-fikri, Cairo 1933, new ed. with additions, Cairo 1965, R. Brunschvig, an excellent summary in La Berberie orientale sous les Hafsides, Paris 1947, C. Issawi, An Arab philosophy of history, London 1950, S. al-Husri, Dirasat ‘an Muqaddimat Ibn khaldun, Cairo 1953, M. Mahdi, Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy of history, London 1957.
Since the publication of M. Mahdi (1957), and W. J. Fischel’s bibliography (1967), further studies and works have appeared. Examples are: E. I. J. Rosenthal, Political thought in medieval Islam, Cambridge 1958, and Y. Lacoste (1984).
Ibn khaldun, as he proves in his Muqaddima, was an astonishingly clear thinker. It is true that his behaviour was dictated by ambition, the desire of power, a taste for adventure and even a complete ruthlessness in political matters; but it is unlikely that this was all. It would be strange if the theoretician of ‘asabiyya did not envisage a plan, perhaps rather vague, for the restoration of Arabo-Muslim civilization which he saw–and he states this clearly–to be in its death-throes. His adventures could thus be seen as only the unfruitful and calculated search for an ‘asabiyya powerful enough to save Islam from ruin. Certain facts support this hypothesis, but Ibn khaldun states nothing explicity and his Ta’rif (on which moreover opinions vary) provides no assistance. As has already been mentioned, it gives us no insight into the inner thought of the author himself and presents only his external character. There is thus no way of knowing what his real intentions were.
Ibn khaldun is known primarily forqhis Muqaddima and his ‘Ibar, but he wrote other works which have not all survived. (M. Talbi, H. A.Yahya). www.arabamericanencyclopedia.com
Note: Bibleography may be found at number one in this series. (The Editor)