From Academic Kids

The Muqaddimah records an early Muslim view of 'universal history'. Many modern thinkers view it as one of the first works of sociology. The Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote the work in 1377 as the preface or first book of his planned world history, the kitab al-ibar, but already in his lifetime it became regarded as an independent work.

Ibn Khaldun starts the Muqaddimah with a thorough criticism of the mistakes regularly committed by his fellow historians and the difficulties which await the historian in his work. He notes seven critical issues:

"All records, by their very nature, are liable to error...

  1. ...partisanship towards a creed or opinion...
  2. ...over-confidence in one's sources...
  3. ...the failure to understand what is intended...
  4. ...a mistaken belief in the truth...
  5. ...the inability to place an event in its real context
  6. ...the common desire to gain favor of those of high ranks, by praising them, by spreading their fame...
  7. ...the most important is the ignorance of the laws governing the transformation of human society."

Against the seventh point (the ignorance of social laws) Ibn Khaldun lays out his theory of human society in the Muqaddimah.

According to the Wikipedia page on Orosius, Ibn Khaldun drew on an Arabic translation of Orosius' universal history for information on Greco-Roman and Christian history. In general, however, his curiosity on these subjects was not great.

See also: early Muslim sociology

The Prolegomena (al-Muqaddimah): Methodology & concepts of economic-socioogy (

Every famous authority has his or her terminology, says Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406). If technical terminology was part of science, it would have been the same for all scholars. It should therefore not be large in variety. Because this may harm the human quest for knowledge. Technical terminology should be based on what is generally accepted, so that the inherent meaning comes out correctly. Language is a habit of the tongue. Its purpose is to express ideas. What we mean must therefore agree with what we wish to express.

Ibn Khaldun had to invent many new concepts for his science of al-cumraan. Most of them are dichotomous. They have an inherent meaning, which conveys commonly accepted ideas, when they stand alone. But they also expresse specific ideas when in construct form. Thus the concept of "al-cumraan" expresses the idea of social prosperity when it stands alone. But when composed with ordinal numbers, as for instance, "al-cumraan al-awwal", i.e. the first phase of growth, it becomes a tool of measurement

Under the above link, I retranslate the terms that are central for understanding the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun. A simplified Arabic transcription is added as a "cadre de référance".


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