Ibn Khaldoun Essay Contest

Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) was one of the most remarkable Muslim scholars of the pre-modern period. He founded what he called the science of human society or social organization, and developed a new methodology for writing history. Although his new discipline had little impact on the development of Muslim thought for several centuries, it hugely impressed European thinkers from the nineteenth century on, some of whom proclaimed Ibn Khaldun a progenitor of sociology and modern historiography. This book introduces Ibn Khaldun’s core ideas, focusing on his theory of the rise and decline of states. H ... More

Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) was one of the most remarkable Muslim scholars of the pre-modern period. He founded what he called the science of human society or social organization, and developed a new methodology for writing history. Although his new discipline had little impact on the development of Muslim thought for several centuries, it hugely impressed European thinkers from the nineteenth century on, some of whom proclaimed Ibn Khaldun a progenitor of sociology and modern historiography. This book introduces Ibn Khaldun’s core ideas, focusing on his theory of the rise and decline of states. His concept of ‘asabiyya (group solidarity) and the factors that lead to its dilution are presented in detail, as also the method of testing (historical) reports for their plausibility. In addition, the book recounts the reception of Ibn Khaldun in his own and modern times, in the Islamic world and in the West: the responses range from those who thought that he merely reworked ideas found in the works of al-Farabi and the Ikhwan al-Safa’ to those who compare him to the giants of Western political and sociological thought, from Machiavelli to Marx. Finally, a dense few pages review the best editions and translations of Ibn Khaldun’s work, and pick out key works in the vast corpus of scholarship on Ibn Khaldun in Arabic, English and other Western languages.

Keywords: Ibn Khaldun, Muslim scholars, modern historiography, sociology, ‘asabiyya, North Africa, Safavid Empire, Ottoman Empire

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013Print ISBN-13: 9780198090458
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198090458.001.0001

"College as America used to understand it is coming to an end."

In the turbulent late '60s and early '70s, college campuses played a major role in the culture and politics of the era. Today, according to author and historian Rick Perlstein, colleges have lost their central place in the broader society and in the lives of undergraduates.

We invite all college students to read "What's the Matter with College," Perlstein's full article on the subject, and submit an essay of no more than 1,200 words in response.

Is the college experience less critical to the nation than it was a generation ago? We invite you to join the debate.

The winning essay will be published in the special Sept. 30 College issue of The Magazine and on NYTimes.com/Magazine. Five runner-up essays will also be published on NYTimes.com/Magazine.

The winning essay will also be featured on mtvU, MTV's 24-hour college network, as well as mtvU.com. Tune in to mtvU or mtvU.com this month to see Rick Perlstein's challenge to the national college audience.

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