IBN KHALDUN, Wali al-Din 'Abd al-Rahman b. Mohamed b.
Mohamed b. Abi Bakr Mohamed b. al-Hassan (732-84/1332-82), one of the most
prominent figures of Arab-Muslim culture.
He is universally recognized as the founder and father of Sociology and
Sciences of History. He is best known for his famous 'Muqaddimah,'
His life is divided into three parts, the first of which (20 years) was
occupied by his childhood and education, the second (23 years) by the
continuation of his studies and by political adventures, and the third (31
years) by his life as a scholar, teacher and magistrate. The first two
periods were spent in the Muslim West and the third was divided between the
Maghrib and Egypt.
Khaldun was born in Tunisia in 1332 C.E., where he received his early
education and where, still in his teens, he entered the service of the
Egyptian ruler Sultan Barquq. His thirst for advanced knowledge and a better
academic setting soon made him leave this service and migrate to Fez. This
was followed by a long period of unrest marked by contemporary political
rivalries affecting his career.
This phase also included a three year refuge in a small village Qalat Ibn
Salama in Algeria, which provided him with the opportunity to write
Muqaddimah, the first volume of his world history that gave him an immortal
place among historians, sociologists and philosophers.
The uncertainty of his career still continued, with Egypt becoming his final
abode where he spent his last 24 years. Here he lived a life of fame and
respect, marked by his appointment as the Chief Malakite Judge and lecturing
at the Al-Azhar University, but people started to envy which resulted in his
removal from his high judicial office.
Ibn Khaldun's chief contribution lies in the fields of philosophy, history
and sociology. He sought to write a world history preambled by a first
volume aimed at an analysis of historical events. This volume, commonly
known as 'Muqaddimah' or 'Prolegomena', was based on Ibn Khaldun's unique
approach and original contribution and became a masterpiece in literature on
philosophy of history and sociology.
By this work, Ibn Khaldun aimed at identifying psychological, economic,
environmental and social facts that contribute to the advancement of human
civilization and the currents of history. In this context, he analyzed the
dynamics of group relationships and showed how group-feelings, al-'Asabiyya,
give rise to the ascent of a new civilisation and political power and how,
later on, its diffusion into a more general civilization invites the advent
of a still new 'Asabiyya in its pristine form. He identified an almost
rhythmic repetition of rise and fall in human civilization, and analyzed
factors contributing to it.
Unlike most earlier writers interpreting history largely in a political
context, Ibn Khaldun's emphasised environmental, sociological, psychological
and economic factors governing the apparent events. This revolutionized the
science of history and also laid the foundation of Umraniyat (Sociology).
Apart from the 'Muqaddimah' that became an important independent book even
during the lifetime of the author, the other volumes of his world history
Kitab al-I'bar deal with the history of Arabs, contemporary Muslim rulers,
contemporary European rulers, ancient history of Arabs, Jews, Greeks,
Romans, Persians, etc., Islamic History, Egyptian history and North-African
history, especially that of Berbers and tribes living in the adjoining
areas. The last volume deals largely with the events of his own life and is
known as Al-Tasrif. This initiated a new analytical tradition in the art of
Ibn Khaldun's great contributions in history, philosophy of history,
sociology, political science and education have remained dominant and
significant ever since his life. His books have been translated into many
languages, both in the East and the West, and have inspired other figures to
develop these sciences and add to them.
Syria like many other countries around the world
witnessed, during this period, the flood of refugees
from war troubled nations like Somalia, arrival of
people from Algeria during the brutal struggling between
the Mujahidun and the government, resettlement of the
Palestinians fleeing from sophisticated guns of the
Israelis as well as adventure of African migrants for