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Sci fi or reality -- medieval economics

Among the founding fathers of modern historiography,sociology and economics.
Among the founding fathers of modern historiography,sociology and economics.

Ibn Khaldun is known to be one of the founding fathers of sociology, economics, and mathematics. His theories of
Medieval socio-economic classes and structures are still read today. His "Muqaddimah", a treatise outlining a number of historical and societal structures, including the science of Sufism is compared by Paul Klugman, a New York Times journalist, among other titles he espouses, with a Sci Fi series by Isaac Asimov entitled the "Foundation." The leading character in the story is a psycho historian named Hari Seldon.

This combination of psychology and history is a new future galactic discipline called psycho history and is the culmination of history, sociology and mathematics and inspired Klugman to become an economist as a child, after reading Asimov's "Foundation", because he thought by studying the discipline, he could somehow save the world from economic disparities.

Klugman says that the discipline of psycho history was discovered by Ibn Khaldun in Islamic, medieval Spain when he wrote his treatise on economic conditions based on societal structures. Ibn Khaldun, a Muslim scholar, who, no doubt believed in what Muslims call qadar (predetermination) and one of the articles of faith that must be adhered to for every person that calls himself or herself a Muslim.

Qadar is not an easy concept to grasp for the majority of Muslim common folk, let alone the populations as a whole, but basically, the belief and assertion is that each individual is born with a predetermined set of characteristics that are sanctioned to them when they are still in the womb (at 90 days from conception). One of those predetermined characteristics is sustenance. It is ordained by Allah, how much sustenance a person will have, and thus for some unknown reason, why some people are wealthy and some are poor, despite all other things being equal.

There are sects in Islam that believe that no matter what you do, your will is not a primary component to the outcome of sustenance because it is predetermined anyway, but the majority of Muslims believe that you have a will, and you are responsible for what you do or do not do; and that it has rewards or consequences.

Why Klugman compares Ibn Khaldun and the fictional character of Hari Seldon, who is the hero in the Asimov “Foundation” series for his proficiency in "psycho history", and therefore has guided and saved the future galactic society from destruction by determining and predicting social structures and trends, I am not sure. But upon browsing the 800-page "Muqqadimah," I find that he categorizes distinct ways that men are able to acquire sustenance and how those categories should be regulated individually and on the whole.

It is also interesting to note that since this is an education policies blog, Ibn Khaldun does have an explicit theory about child rearing, which basically advises parents that being too harsh and severe with children will eventually lead to their downfall rather than their success. I’m sure that he is inspired by the hadith by the Prophet Muhammad (saw), which asks the question, “Would you beat your wife like you beat a slave?” In other words, beating your family members, as in domestic violence is to be condemned and will lead to not only sinfulness, but also a decline to your moral character, if not your wealth, as well.

Along with an extensive section about Sufism as a science, Ibn Khaldun tracks career categories and the many ways to attain and earn one's sustenance. He is a revered Islamic scholar, who is a Hafiz (memorized the Quran), and wrote a number of works including his famous "Muqaddimah" where he is concerned with the discipline of sociology and conceived a theory of social conflict. He developed the dichotomy of sedentary life versus nomadic life as well as the concept of a "generation", and the inevitable loss of power that occurs when desert warriors conquer a city.

Topics dealt with his works include politics, urban life, economics, and knowledge. The work is based around Ibn Khaldun's central concept of 'asabiyyah, which has been translated as "social cohesion", "group solidarity", or "tribalism". This social cohesion arises spontaneously in tribes and other small kinship groups; it can be intensified and enlarged by a religious ideology. Ibn Khaldun's analysis looks at how this cohesion carries groups to power but contains within itself the seeds – psychological, sociological, economic, political – of the group's downfall, to be replaced by a new group, dynasty or empire bound by a stronger (or at least younger and more vigorous) cohesion.

Ibn Khaldun has been cited as a racist, but his theories on the rise and fall of empires have no racial component, and this reading of his work has been claimed to be the result of mistranslations.

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