Since its publication 1981, this book has established itself as the major new interpretation of the historical thought of this great figure of Arab-Islamic letters and of historical thought overall, a figure generally thought to be on a par with Vico, Herder, Thucydides and others of similar stature. The author has eschewed the ahistorical interpretations to which Ibn Khaldun has normally been subjected, both by authors who have sought unduly to modernise his thought, and by those who sought to freeze it in stereotypical models of Islamic thought. Starting with an interpretation of Ibn Khaldun's narration of history in the context of classical Arabic historical writing, the author's interpretation then moves on to a meticulous reconstruction of Ibn Khaldun's conception of. The author probes the employment by Ibn Khaldun of the Aristotelian conception of nature in his understanding of society, of the logical and para-logical hermeneutics he deploys in the assessment of historical reports, and of the narrative structures of Arabic historical writing with its central concept of the state. The book then goes on to sketch the content and structure of Ibn Khaldun's most celebrated work, the Muqaddima. The concluding chapter assesses Ibn Khaldun from the perspective of his age as expressed in the reception of his work. The book ends with "bibliographic orientations" for the help of the reader.
Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis in 1332 and died in Cairo in 1406. He is the most significant social scientist of Classical Islam, and his work has preserved its message and timeliness until our times. The society he ingeniously described has remained familiar to posterity due to the survival of several elements of patrimonial empire in the Middle East. The up-to-date character of his work is also assured by the fact that he is being considered as the "founding father" of almost half a dozen disciplines. His unique work, al-Muqaddima (Introduction to History), first formulated in 1375, has won the great esteem of later centuries because of two remarkable achievements. One of them is that he, laying the foundations of deeply original theory of civilization, made history a never-before-existing independent discipline. His other great scientific achievement is the model-like elaboration of patrimonial empires, which has preserved its validity even until today in the examination of the forma
The definitive account of the life and thought of the medieval Arab genius who wrote the Muqaddima Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) is generally regarded as the greatest intellectual ever to have appeared in the Arab world--a genius who ranks as one of the world's great minds. Yet the author of the Muqaddima, the most important study of history ever produced in the Islamic world, is not as well known as he should be, and his ideas are widely misunderstood. In this groundbreaking intellectual biography, Robert Irwin provides an engaging and authoritative account of Ibn Khaldun's extraordinary life, times, writings, and ideas. Irwin tells how Ibn Khaldun, who lived in a world decimated by the Black Death, held a long series of posts in the tumultuous Islamic courts of North Africa and Muslim Spain, becoming a major political player as well as a teacher and writer. Closely examining the Muqaddima, a startlingly original analysis of the laws of history, and drawing on many other contemporary sources, Irwin shows how Ibn Khaldun's life and thought fit into historical and intellectual context, including medieval Islamic theology, philosophy, politics, literature, economics, law, and tribal life. Because Ibn Khaldun's ideas often seem to anticipate by centuries developments in many fields, he has often been depicted as more of a modern man than a medieval one, and Irwin's account of such misreadings provides new insights about the history of Orientalism. In contrast, Irwin presents an Ibn Khaldun who was a creature of his time—a devout Sufi mystic who was obsessed with the occult and futurology and who lived in an often-strange world quite different from our own.
The Muqaddimah, often translated as "Introduction" or "Prolegomenon," is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldûn (d. 1406), this monumental work laid down the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The first complete English translation, by the eminent Islamicist and interpreter of Arabic literature Franz Rosenthal, was published in three volumes in 1958 as part of the Bollingen Series and received immediate acclaim in America and abroad. A one-volume abridged version of Rosenthal's masterful translation was first published in 1969. This new edition of the abridged version, with the addition of a key section of Rosenthal's own introduction to the three-volume edition, and with a new introduction by Bruce B. Lawrence, will reintroduce this seminal work to twenty-first-century students and scholars of Islam and of medieval and ancient history.
This work deals with the history of North Africa in the Middle Ages. It examines the formation of a society increasingly influenced by Arabic, as well as Islamic, culture after the Arab conquests of the 7th and early 8th centuries which gradually brought the Roman Christian civilisation of the region to an end.