Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406) was a statesman, diplomat, scholar, sociologist and judge. His masterpiece Muqaddimah “Introduction” also bears testimony to his skills in some other fields such as economy and poetry too. He is not only considered a philosopher of history but also the first one. Ibn Khaldun defined civilization as a “corporate social actor,” turning it into an individual discipline, and studied the behavior and reactions of civilizations under different circumstances.
He often served as a high judge in the multi-civilizational societies that extended from Andalusia and Morocco to Egypt and Syria. For this reason, a multi-civilizational social order is accepted in his Muqaddimah as an incontrovertible reality, and there is no mention of encouraging Islam’s obliteration of other civilizations in order to exercise hegemony over them. Ibn Khaldun’s Ilm al-Umran al-Bashari (Science of Human Civilization) and western classical sociology have dealt with and studied the dimensions of change.
The scholar, who was raised up by the Islamic civilization that approaches positively to the multinational civilization, spent his efforts to develop reliable and solid basics for a theory for the seekers of multi-civilizational social order.
It is an obligation to benefit from Ibn Khaldun’s civilizational approach in explaining empirically the structure of inter-civilizational relations in our age of globalization. Instead of existing theories of civilizations and theories of the future of civilizations, Ibn Khaldun provides us with a perspective that reflects the open civilization concept which aims to put all civilizations under its protection.
A Brief Biography of Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun, in full Abu Zaid Walī al-Dīn Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Hadrami al-Maghribi al-Tunisi, (born in 1st of Ramadan, May 27, 1332, Tunisia in an Arab family which came originally from the Hadramawt and died on March 17, 1406, Cairo, Egypt).
In the eighth century, Khaldun’s family immigrated to Spain in the early years of Muslim conquest, then they settled in a small city called Carmona, located within the significant triangle that is surrounded by Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada, which is a historical location in the Spanish Muslim history.
Khalid Ibn Othman Ibn Hani, who is also known as Khalid al-Dakhil, is the first from Ibn Khaldun’s family to come to Andalusia. In order to show respect to him Andalusians used to call him as “Khaldun” and his family name then became “Banu Khaldun.” The wealthy and politically prestigious family, the Banu Khaldun, had emigrated from Al-Andalus after the fall of Cordoba and Seville during the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula from Islamic rule in the mid-13th century. Ibn Khaldun’s family status emanated from its long history of political and military service to the Umayyad, Córdoban, Almoravid, and Almohad dynasties in Al-Andalus. The Banu Khaldun’s Arab and Berber pedigree cemented its status among the Andalusian and later Hafsid Tunisian elite.
Ibn Khaldun studied Quran and related sciences under the instruction of Muhammad bin Saad Ibn Burral. He studied Arabic language under his father as well as a number of others like Muhammad ibn A1 Arabi A1 Hasairi, Muhammad ibn A1 Shawwash A1 Zarzali, Ahmed ibn a1 Qassar and Muhammad ibn Bahr. Ibn Bhar was responsible for planting in the mind of Ibn Khaldun the seeds of poetry and poetic appreciation. Prophetic tradition and jurisprudence were taught as advanced subject. His teachers in these fields included Shamsuddin a1 Wadiyashi, Muhammad ibn Abdullah a1 Jayyani, Muhammad A1 Kazir and Abdul Salam a1 Hawwali. Ibn Khaldun used his stay in Fez to further his studies and enjoyed the company of many scholars from all over North Africa and Andalusia. During four years of living in Banu Arif, Ibn Khaldun also compiled the history of the magnitude of al-Ibar. His economic opinions, apparently the most advanced of those expressed in medieval Islam, are to be found principally in The Muqaddimah, originally intended as an introduction to his history (Kitāb al-‘Ibar) of the Arab and Muslim world and its pre-Islamic antecedents. The Muqaddimah, initially completed in 1377, continued to be corrected or added to until shortly before the author’s death.
Ibn khaldun’s life may be 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 Maghreb and Egypt.
For more information about Ibn Khaldun:
İbn Haldun, Mukaddime, haz. Süleyman Uludağ, Dergah Yayınları.
Süleyman Uludağ, Tahsin Görgün, İbrahim Erol Kozak, Cengiz Tomar, “İbn Haldun”, TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi, C. XIX-XX. (https://islamansiklopedisi.org.tr/ibn-haldun)
İbn Haldun – Güncel Okumalar, ed. Recep Şentürk, İz Yayıncılık.
Recep Şentürk, Açık Medeniyet, İz Yayıncılık.