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Ibn Khaldun

Read Only: (2 Minutes Read)


We find ourselves at a stage where there is a constant conflict between the individual and
the society. The way our society simultaneously flirts with religion, traditions, modernity,
conservatism, and globalization; it has paved the way for confusion and terribly abstract
notions of identity and morality. Individual freedom is often defeated by the hands of
customs, traditions, and social norms. Man is expected to behave in a way that has passed
down the ages, and has qualified as ‘normal’ behavior through repetition and conformity. The
benchmarks set up by the majority, regardless of how irrational they might be, are constantly
challenging the intellectual, moral, and social developments of individuals. Individuals live
and die, but the set of values and beliefs that a society accumulates over time carries on
generation after generation.

The idea of a collective consciousness comes into play here. In order to ensure the survival
and functioning of a society, the totality of such beliefs and sentiments is spread over each
and every thread of society. Everyone is expected to subscribe to a common framework,
providing no conflict between things that are considered sacred, or immoral, or lawful. But
what happens when this totality grows into a tyranny which limits the individual?

In order to explore this, we must look at the works of two sociologists, Ibn Khaldun and Emile
Durkheim.

Read Only: (2 Minutes Read)


Ibn Khaldun, regarded to be among the founding fathers of modern sociology, touched upon
this issue of social solidarity. In his book, Muqaddimah, he talks about the idea of asabiyya
or ‘group feeling’ – cohesiveness among the members of a society. Ibn Khaldun builds the
argument that group feeling was strong among the Bedouins, who used to spend the
majority of their time in the desert. Blood relationships and purity of lineage were some of the
key characteristics of the Bedouins, due to which, there was an increased sense of solidarity
or oneness between the members. As civilizations progressed, and sedentary societies
emerged, this group feeling was compromised. As a result, modern societies were less
brave, less safe, and less courageous.

Modern Society: (Read Only) (2 Minutes Read)


Such group feeling, or the lack of it, is easily identifiable in our society. How many times has
it been the case that you go to a family dinner, and you find that there is very little in
common between you and your extended family? Conversations automatically curve
towards politics or sports, hoping to avoid awkward silences. How many times do you find
yourself and people of the previous generation to be poles apart in terms of opinions,
aspirations, priorities, and whatever is considered acceptable or unacceptable? While it is
nobody’s fault that individuals will turn out be different from one another, it is up to us, as a
society, to not let this reality become a source of serious conflict or misunderstanding.

One way to escape the tyranny of the majority, in a social context, is to spread the idea of
individuality and encourage the development of personalities that are not similar to one
another. Every member of the society must have enough space for the free play of his or her
initiative, and should not be punished for being different. Unless we are aiming to drop back
into primal times, we need to adopt such ideas of progress. When we truly learn to
appreciate each other’s differences, we shall enjoy the fruits of progress, and create an
environment of respect and tolerance.

Read Only: (2 Minutes Read)


Ibn Khaldun, regarded to be among the founding fathers of modern sociology, touched upon
the issue of social solidarity. In his book, Muqaddimah, he talks about the idea of asabiyya
or ‘group feeling’ – cohesiveness among the members of a society. Ibn Khaldun builds the
argument that group feeling was strong among the Bedouins, who used to spend the
majority of their time in the desert. Blood relationships and purity of lineage were some of the
key characteristics of the Bedouins, due to which, there was an increased sense of solidarity
or oneness between the members. As civilizations progressed, and sedentary societies
emerged, this group feeling was compromised. As a result, modern societies were less
brave, less safe, and less courageous.

Social Organization: (Read Only)


One of the key ideas of Muqaddimah is that social organization separates humans from
animals and leads to human civilization. The ability to think not only helps us to survive; it
also confirms our superiority over animals. By granting humans the ability to think, God
demonstrated His desire for us to settle the world and act as His representatives on earth.

Group Feeling: (Read Only)


Another important idea of Muqaddimah is that “Group feeling” is the force that defines a
civilization’s success in battle.
Why were the Americans defeated by the Viet Cong in the mid-twentieth century? After all,
the Americans had superior weapons and greater numbers. Perhaps it all boiled down to a
lack of group feeling among the various sides.
In essence, group feeling refers to solidarity with the group to which you belong; it’s similar
to modern-day nationalism.
When there is conflict, the group with the strongest group feeling dominates. Groups who
lose their group feeling, or suffer a defeat against a group with a stronger group feeling, tend
to imitate the characteristics of the victor, and ultimately perish.

Superiority of Human Beings: (Read Only


Humans are superior to all other living beings because of their ability to think and
accumulate knowledge.
In Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun expressed that humans share many qualities with the rest of
the animal kingdom. However, unlike animals, we possess some angelic qualities as well.

At the root of this distinction is the human ability to think. Human beings’ ability to think leads
to the accumulation of knowledge. We aren’t born with knowledge. In fact, quite the
opposite: we’re born devoid of knowledge. He argued that we must acquire knowledge
through learning, and this requires thinking.
Concept of Asabiyya (Social Solidarity): (Memorize) (Important)

Asabiyya:
Asabiyya means social solidarity, social integration, and social cohesion. It can be broadly
defined as the state of mind that makes individuals to identify with a group and subordinate
their own personal interests to the group interests.

Asabiyya or social solidarity is the core of Ibn Khaldun’s thought concerning the rise and
decline of the civilisation. Ibn Khaldun in his al-Muqaddimah postulates the necessity to have
asabiyya in constructing a strong civilisation. A main source of prosocial attitudes is
biological, based on common descent in families and tribes.

Factors that create Asabiyya: Power, Leadership and Religion

Factors that weaken Asabiyya: Wealth & corruption

Emile Durkheim on Social Solidarity:


Al-Asabiyya is sharing of similar feeling amongst individuals which bond and unite them
together, as a group. “Emile Durkheim” had similar view about mutual relationships amongst
individuals, according to him, sharing similar feelings and motives among individuals lead
towards the creation of society where individuals live collectively.

Role of Asabiyya in Generating Social Harmony:


The bond, Asabiyya, exists at any level of civilization, from nomadic society to state and
empires. Asabiyya is most strong in the nomadic phase, and decreases as civilization
advances. As this Asabiyya declines, another more compelling Asabiyya may take its place;
thus, civilizations rise and fall. Therefore, it is necessary to instil asabiyya in people to keep
them together, to promote sense of cooperation which ultimately generates social harmony.

Asabiyya as a Source of Political Power:


Moreover, strong asabiyya, often created and reinforced in war and military struggle, is the
principal source of political power and authority. As Ibn Khaldun makes clear in one of his
most quoted sentences: ‘Leadership exists only through superiority and superiority
only through group feeling.’ In other words, social cohesion generated on the battlefields
and in the harsh living conditions of North African deserts fosters a unique form of solidarity
which is an essential prerequisite for political power.

Expansion of Asabiyya:
Although common descent in tribal communities is the source of solidarity, it is extendable to
large anonymous groups, in particular, when those who feel oppressed follow the
revolutionary call of a charismatic leader. However, such extended asabiyya is potentially
unstable, and this, in turn, is a main cause of the rise and fall of political systems. Asabiyya
in larger communities leads to a concentration of power, often resulting in kingship. In the
long run, this power - unless used with atypical moderation and consideration - destroys the
solidarity within the people subject to rule, and eventually causes the fall of the dynasty.
Causes of Fall of a Civilization:
Ibn Khaldun argues that each dynasty (or civilization) has within itself the seeds of its own
downfall. He explains that ruling houses tend to emerge on the peripheries of great empires
and use the much stronger asabiyya present in those areas to their advantage, in order to
bring about a change in leadership. This implies that the new rulers are at first considered
“barbarians” by comparison to the old ones. As they establish themselves at the center of
their empire, they become less coordinated, disciplined and watchful, and more concerned
with maintaining their new power and lifestyle and at the center of the empire—i.e. their
internal cohesion and ties to the original peripheral group, the asabiyya, dissolves into
factionalism and individualism, diminishing their capacity as a political unit. Thus, conditions
are created wherein a new dynasty can emerge at the periphery of their control, grow strong,
and effect a change in leadership. Hence all civilizations undergo cyclical transformations
with periodic growth, expansion and inevitable decline.

END

Ibn-i-Khaldun Cyclic theory of Social Change: (Memorize) (Diagram


on Register)

Asabiyya and Division of Society:


History is a cyclical process in which sovereign powers come to existence, get stronger, lose
power and are collapsed by another power. The main item which controls all the process is
the condition of asabiyya. Societies may be divided broadly into two classes:  nomadic and
sedentary.  Nomadic people are the origin of the society and have the strong asabiyya. This
society is uncivilized and just struggles for immediate needs. In order to defend themselves
from dangers coming from environment, animals or other humans, they have to improve
themselves as strong warriors and they need to learn to survive even in the hardest
conditions. Also, they have the strong relations with relatives and close friends. The reason
is that the human is a social animal and, to survive, they also need other people. These
relations are pure and the blood tie is the strongest part of the social cohesion. When people
develop, people start civilizing and losing these features which they have in the primitive life.

“Sedentary culture is the goal of civilization. It means the end of its life span and
brings about its corruption”. Ibn Khaldun (Muqaddimah)

Directional Social Change:


Ibn-i-Khaldun propounded that the changes human society follows are clockwise pattern and
a circle is completed and repeated after almost 120 years in a given society. He observes
that there are fixed, definite, clear and standardized stages of the cycle, each stage having a
peculiar economic, social, demographic, religious, and political characteristic. These stages
are “growth”, “development” and “decay”. Each stage having an average duration of about
40 years. He was of the view that society faces cyclic change. Ibn-i-Khaldun gave many
historical facts in support of his theory. The characteristics of each stage are briefly
discussed below:

First stage: Growth


When a society is in its initial stage of growth, its population is not politically conscious,
creative leadership is emerging, while their people have primary group relationships in most
of their daily life situations. There is no regular military force or an established state. Kinship
loyalties dominate over individual interests. At this stage, there are potentialities in the
population for making society stronger and richer in all walks of life. There is solidarity and
unity among the members of the society.

Second Stage: Development


During the second stage of development the society becomes stronger in economic,
political, social and such other fields. Population is no longer a liability. There is the presence
of a strong government with a well-organized military force, trade, commerce and other
economic activities flourish in such societies. There is a hold of primary groups over the
behaviour of an average person. The commoners enjoy amenities of life to a reasonable
extent. The society is strong enough to face any outside aggression and people try to extend
their political power over neighbouring societies.

Third stage: Decay


When a society enters the third stage, Ibn-i-Khaldun says the process of decaying start. The
commoners start considering that the taxes are a burden. The rulers and chiefs do not have
real political hold over an average person; thereby unity and cohesion is diminished. At this
stage, people start thinking individually and there is a decline in all the social institutions of
the society. This depression results in the creation of a sense of disorganization and
confusion in the minds of people. Thus, the society attains the same position from where it
started 120 years back.

END

IBN KHALDUN’S CYCLICAL THEORY: (Memorize)


History is a cyclical process in which sovereign powers come to existence, get stronger, lose
power and are collapsed by another power. The main item which controls all the process is
the condition of asabiyya. Societies may be divided broadly into two classes:  nomadic and
sedentary.  Nomadic people are the origin of the society and have the strong asabiyya. This
society is uncivilized and just struggles for immediate needs. In order to defend themselves
from dangers coming from environment, animals or other humans, they have to improve
themselves as strong warriors and they need to learn to survive even in the hardest
conditions. Also, they have the strong relations with relatives and close friends. The reason
is that the human is a social animal and, to survive, they also need other people. These
relations are pure and the blood tie is the strongest part of the social cohesion. When people
develop, people start civilizing and losing these features which they have in the primitive life.

“Sedentary culture is the goal of civilization. It means the end of its life span and
brings about its corruption”. Ibn Khaldun (Muqaddimah)

Sovereign powers have about 120-year life spans which take three generations. The reason
for this is that over time, generations change and when the time passes, the coming
generations forget about the previous generations’ motivations and values gradually.
Fundamental principles and values of sovereign powers are established by first generations.
The second generations just follow former. The third generations forget all the values of their
ancestors causing the sovereign powers to collapse. But the sovereign powers may continue
to live more if the reasons which destroy the states do not take place in 120-year life spans.
Also, Ibn Khaldun explained periods or stages which sovereign powers experience in their
life spans. There are five historical stages of dynasties and every stage has main traits

Former US President Ronald Regan once quoted Ibn Khaldun to support his economic
policy “At the beginning of the empire, the tax rates were low and the revenues were
high. At the end of the empire, the tax rates were high and the revenues were low.”

Five general historical stages of Ibn Khaldun on the rise and fall of sovereign powers:

The Foundation:
Nomadic, barbarian tribes move in to occupy a sedentary, “civilized” culture by force or
infiltration.  They implant themselves and influence the pre-existing culture in a variety of
ways.

The personalization of power:


The need for order grows, now that there is more to govern.  Thus, the tribal chief takes on
the duties of a monarch.  

The growth and expansion:


Slowly a new civilization is created that combines elements of the nomadic conqueror with
the civilized conquered.  New types of cities are created.  Achievements in art, architecture,
literature, science, and philosophy follow from this hybrid vigor.

Stagnation:
As wealth and power grow, a slow but sure weakness begins to creep into the hearts of the
citizenry.  The binding force of religion begins to lose its hold on the minds of men.

The decline and dissolution:


This luxury and weakness attracts the attention of probing barbarians on the society’s
frontiers.  Hungry mouths are drawn the sight of urbanized weakness.  New nomads move
in, destroying or changing the civilization, and beginning the cycle again.
END
Theory of Rural and Urban Society: (Memorize)

Distinction of Human Society from Animal Society:


“Ibn-i-Khaldun” believed that, human society differs from animal society. It supersedes the
animal society because of the following traits;  

 Human are endowed with wisdom,

 Human beings need a leader to look after their wellbeing and guide them through
difficult situations. Human beings always search the means of livelihood.

 They live together, coordinate and cooperate, which lead towards the creation of a
state. However, mentioned traits lack in animals

Ibn Khaldun has described two types of societies in his book “Badvi” and “Hazri”.
According to his theory “Badvi” is a rural society whereas, “Hazri” is an urban society.
Individuals living in Badvi society are united and have strong force of Al-Asabiyya. They
have robust physical structure, live in deserts where satisfying basic needs are quite difficult.
However, they have to struggle hard for their survival, therefore, they are physically strong.
The traits and description provided by “Ibn Khaldun” of the individuals, living in Badvi society,
are similar to those people who live in villages and small valleys or rural areas. On the other
hand, people living in “Hazri” society are described; similar to those people, who lives in
urban society. They are unlike the people of “Badvi” society. They cannot defend themselves
against, external aggression; individuals of “Badvi” society are dependent on state security.
They are not physically strong for the reason that, basic needs of life are easily available to
them. In Hazri society, individuals do not have to struggle hard for their survival.

Characteristics of Hazri society:


The Hazri are the people like our urban people they depend upon the forces of Army and
police that is why they are physically weak and coward they cannot face the enemy bravely
they live a luxurious life which weakened their force of Asabiyya. The notion of urban society
implies a secondary phase of social organization. People live in cities that constitute
countries. The economic arrangement of society is centered upon commerce and crafts, in
addition to agriculture and husbandry. There is a higher level of life observed in terms of
comfort and luxury as opposed to rural society.

Badvi Society:
He says that the tribes live in the nomadic life which is of rural type. He says that in this type
of society the group life is found at the highest. The tough life of desert enables them to face
and defeat the enemies on the other hand when the tribes become sedentary the group life
become weak and this society according to Khaldun is called urban. To explain the concept
of badawa in his typology, Khaldun argued that primitive people are tied to the desert
because of their agricultural life style. Since settled areas do not provide wide fields and
pastures for animals, their social organization is organized upon bare subsistence.
END
Ibn Khaldun Evolutionary Theory: (Memorize)
When someone hear about the theory of evolution, English scientist Charles Darwin is
probably the first person who comes to mind. 'Muslim scholar', on the other hand, is the last
thing to be associated with the theory. But, Muslim scholars beg to differ. 

While Darwin is greatly credited for putting forth the theory of evolution in the 18th
century, Muslim scholars had suggested similar theories centuries before Darwin was born. 

Sidelining Muslim Evolutionary Theorists:


Textbooks on the history of biology and evolutionary thought do not mention the evolutionary
ideas of Muslim scholars before Darwin’s time. This is part of a trend in the West to minimise
the contributions of non-Western scientists to biology, human anatomy and evolutionary
biology.

Because their ideas are often deemed to be more religious or philosophical than scientific,
medieval Muslim scholars have neither been credited as evolutionists by Westerners, nor
have they received due attention for their theories.

Ibn Khaldun Evolutionary Theory:


Ibn Khaldun was a fourteenth-century Muslim thinker and historian. Best known for his book
‘Al-Muqaddimah’, which contains ideas resembling modern evolutionary theory. Ibn Khaldun
strongly emphasised human evolution. He wrote:

“One should then look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and
progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of
minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The
last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals,
such as snails and shellfish which have only the power of touch. … The animal world then
widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads
to man, who is able to think and to reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the
world of the monkeys, in which both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not
reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of
man after (the world of monkeys). This is as far as our (physical) observation extends.”

Stages of Evolution:
Ibn Khaldun most clearly professed his belief that humans themselves evolved specifically
from an ape/monkey ancestor–a concept that a majority of both Muslims and people of other
religions, including Christian creationists, find particularly difficult to accept.

On animal and human evolution, Ibn Khaldun further explained:

“It is also the case with monkeys, creatures combining in themselves cleverness and
perception, in their relation to man, the being who has the ability to think and to reflect …
plants do not have the same fineness and power that animals have … Animals are the last
and final stage of the three permutations. Minerals turn into plants, and plants into animals,
but animals cannot turn into anything finer than themselves.”
Ibn Khaldun believed, as his predecessors did, in the evolution of life over time. Shanavas
suggests (Creation And/or Evolution: An Islamic Perspective) Ibn Khaldun stated

“that transmutations of one species into another over a long period of time resulted in the
gradual evolution of life, from primitive organisms into a bush with numerous branches.
Thus, life forms are not independently created but are evolutionary products from ancestral
species.”

Rejection of Racist Beliefs:


Ibn Khaldun also rejected the Talmudic and Christian belief of dark African skin being a
curse inflicted upon sinful human being. He observed the contrast in skin colour between
northern and southern people, namely the dark skin of the Sudanese, and suggested a
causal relationship between hot southern climates and dark pigmentation, an idea now
known to be correct. Regarding the hereditary changes that humans can undergo, Ibn
Khaldun wrote,

“[There also is regard of the fact that physical circumstances and environment] are subjected
to changes that affect later generations; they do not necessarily remain unchanged. This is
how God proceeds with his servants … And verily, you will not be able to change God’s
way.”

Evolution in Islam:
Several Islamic figures have argued in favor of the theory of evolution, asserting that it does
not contradict Islamic teachings. 

Such Muslim scholars and preachers cite Quranic verses that suggest that the universe was
not created all at once, but rather in stages. 

"Allah has created every [living] creature from water. And of them are those that
move on their bellies, and of them are those that walk on two legs, and of them are
those that walk on four [...]." (Quran 24:45)
Another verse is interpreted as saying that man was created out of clay, which later evolved
to human beings. Similarly, Surat Ghafir states, "[We] formed you and perfected your forms.

END

Father of Sociology:
Despite the fact that social thinking is as old as man himself, however, the study of human
communities has not become a topic for a science until a later stage. The concepts, subject
matters and aims of Sociology were first identified by Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun, who put
the basics of this new science and innovated it.

Exploration of an Independent Science:

Ibn Khaldun said in clear-cut sentences that he has explored an independent science that no
one of his ancestors had talked about. He says: “Such is the purpose of this first book of
our work. (The subject) is in a way an independent science. (This science) has its own
peculiar object- that is, human civilization and social organization. It also has its own
peculiar problems- that is, explaining the conditions that attach themselves to the
essence of civilization, one after another. Thus, the situation is the same with this
science as it is with any other science, whether it be a conventional or an intellectual
one.”

Khaldun’s Evolutionary Theory and Contribution to History:

Ibn Khaldun, five centuries before Darwin discovered the specific features of evolution, he
wrote that humans developed from ‘the world of the monkeys’ through a widening process in
which ‘species become more numerous’. Nearly half a millennium before Karl Marx sketched
the systematic implications of the labor theory of value, Ibn Khaldun wrote that "labor is the
real basis of profit." Four hundred years before Auguste Comte’s ‘invention’ of sociology, Ibn
Khaldun unveiled his ‘science of culture’. His contribution to history is marked by the fact
that he emphasized sociological factors governing the apparent events. His contributions
accorded him with the title ‘the real father of sociology’. In his three volume Study of History,
Arnold Toynbee calls Ibn Khaldun's philosophy of history "the greatest work of its kind
that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place.”

Sociologists take on Founder of Sociology:


Despite all this, and in spite of famous Austrian sociologist Ludwig Gumplowicz saying
that: “We wanted to prove that before August Comte, and even Giambattista Vico who the
Italians wanted to make of him the first European sociologist, a pious Muslim came and
studied social phenomena with a balanced mind and reached in this subject matter well-
esteemed opinions. What this Muslim scholar has reached is called nowadays Sociology.”

History remembers French August Comte as the founder of this science and totally ignores
the real founder of this science, who made it clear that he was the first one to explore this
science.
Cohen stated that Khaldun “discovered and mastered the fundamentals of sociology some
five centuries before Auguste Comte coined the word”.

Moreover, the originality of Comte’s theories has been critiqued. Some theorists contend that
“Comte made very few original contributions: almost all of his ideas can be traced back to
numerous predecessors”. Arguably, Comte’s major accomplishment was to systematically
synthesize and abridge several of the disparate, inarticulate doctrines of his time.

Muqaddimah:
It can be suggested that the Muqaddimah is essentially among the greatest sociological
work, sketching over its six books it explored different branches of sociology including
general sociology; a sociology of politics; a sociology of urban life; a sociology of economics;
and a sociology of knowledge. The work is based around Ibn Khaldun’s central concept of
‘asabiyya social cohesion. For instance, Prof. Gum Ploughs and Kolosio consider
Muqaddimah as superior in scholarship to Machiavelli’s The Prince written a century later.

Conclusion:
Ibn Khaldun is still the most important figure in the field of Sociology in Muslim History. He is
one of those shining stars that contributed so richly to the understanding of Civilization. His
theory about Asabiyya (group feeling) and the role that it plays in societies is insightful. His
theories of the science of Umran (sociology) are all pearls of wisdom.

END

Similarities Between the Perspectives of Khaldun and Comte:


(Memorize) (Not in Past Papers)
Each scholar undoubtedly believed that his outlook was unique. Khaldun termed his
perspective ilm al-umran (science of human social organization), while Comte named his
sociology.

Social Transformation:
Another similarity between the two theorists appears in their theories of social
transformation. Khaldun stated that societies rise and fall in three stages, and the cycle
recurs from primary stage and settlement to senility. Comte asserted that social progress is
classified human knowledge which passes through three stages: the theological, the
metaphysical, and the positivistic stages.

Historical-empirical method:
A third similarity between Khaldun and Comte is illustrated in their explanation of historical-
empirical method. Comte maintained that the most important aspect of human development
would come through observation, experimentation and comparison accurate enough to give
explanation to all experiences in terms of natural cause and effect. Like Comte, Khaldun had
a similar historical-empirical method to analyze the society during his time

Division of Labour:
Both Comte and Khaldun discussed specialization, occupations and professions, focusing
on inequality. Khaldun stated, “Differences of conditions among people are the result of the
different ways in which they make their livings”. Comparable to Khaldun’s idea regarding the
division of labor Comte focused on the principle of cooperation. The division of labor creates
interdependence among members of the society. Society ultimately benefits from a properly
functioning division of labor. As societies become more complex, the division of labor is the
only means to properly adjust to that complexity.

Role of Religion:
Another similarity is that Khaldun and Comte shared the belief on the intervention of religion
in the creation of civilization. Comte asserted that religion provides energy and power, and
helps people to accomplish their life objectives. He established a secular religion, the
“Religion of Humanity,” and a secular worship system. In Comte’s perspective, “religion
was to be divorced from super-nationalism and transformed into a collective emotion building
force supporting secular reforms and social justice”.
In Khaldun’s perspective, religion is the most significant player to solidify society, followed by
kinship. He believed religion was capable of generating prominent feelings of social
solidarity.

Dissolution of Old Social Order:


Finally, Khaldun and Comte both observed the dissolution of the old social order. They were
eager to find a stable state that could sustain needed social control. Khaldun emphasized on
the role of asabiyya in fortifying the social group.

Comte analyzed society as “an organism where the whole is better known and more
important than the part”.

END

Khaldun’s Contributions Overlooked by Comte: (Memorize) (Not in


Past Papers)
Application of Social Change Theory:
Khaldun applied social change theory to a society and to a state. Khaldun argued that the
social system can be classified into two types of social life, the rural and the urban society;
Comte only applied his theory to the human mindset in its progress from the theological
stage to the positive stage.

Direction of Social Change:


Khaldun stated that societal progress is not unidirectional; rather, it circulates. Comte held
the opposite position: historical progress moves in a single direction. Comte insisted that the
positive stage is the final phase of this linear process; society will employ human reasoning
to organize itself when the proper time arrives. Moreover, this process occurs not by a
revolution but through a gradual transition, which has to be assisted by the scientific class of
society.

Character of Human Ability:


To some extent, Khaldun differed from Comte regarding the natural character of human
ability. Khaldun asserted that distinctions in the attributes of primitive and advanced civilized
people persist because of differences in habit rather than differences of natural character.

Comte’s Contributions Overlooked by Khaldun:


Conceptualization of Social System:
Khaldun’s conceptualization of the social system differed from Comte. Comte’s theory of
social dynamics was founded on the law of the three stages, i.e., societal evolution is based
on the evolution of mind through the theological, metaphysical, and positivist stages. Comte
understood social dynamics as a process of progressive evolution in which people become
cumulatively more intelligent and in which altruism eventually triumphs over egoism.

Idealistic Perspective:
Unlike Khaldun’s perspective, Comte’s theory of the three stages of societal progress was
idealistic because Comte’s basic principle extended from ideas, rather than economic
dynamics. Therefore, according to Comte, society evolved from theological phases to
philosophical phases, and finally to positivist phases in mental orientation.

Sociological Goal:
Comte’s sociological goal was the improvement of human society. Conversely, Khaldun was
interested in describing human society.

END

Classification of Social Progress: (Memorize)


In his historical framework, Comte asserted that social progress throughout history can be
classified under three stages.

Theological Stage (The “Infantile” Stage):


People have a primitive, supernatural world-view and believe in God or gods. In this stage,
men, manipulated by their imagination, seek out justification of all social phenomena in the
will of supernatural beings.

Metaphysical Stage (The “Adolescent” Stage):


There is an acknowledgement of unseen natural causes, “essences,” and de-personalized
forces; the key terms here are mind and reason. In this stage, intellect masters imagination.
Metaphysics then displaces religion, and man seeks a justification of phenomenon in the
forces of nature.

Positive stage:
In this “mature” period, only logical explanation is sanctioned; all evidence other than the
material world will be refused. The laws of nature are not “justifications,” but “descriptions” of
nature. There are no ultimate causes. The question asked should not be “why?” but “what?”.
There are no absolutes or universals. The only absolute is that “Everything is subject to
change and is relative.” In this stage, science achieves dominance over philosophy.
Furthermore, Comte believed that positivism could both advance science and social change.
He argued that the upper classes of his time were far too conservative to advance to the
positive stage. Comte applied science to explain sociology from a positivist perspective. On
this issue, Comte departed from Khaldun.
END

Similarities between the Perspectives of Khaldun and Durkheim:


Asabiyya and Collective Consciousness:
Durkheim’s notion of “mechanical” and “organic solidarity” reflected Khaldun’s notion of
Asabiyya or “social cohesion.” The Khaldun’s understanding of society was based on
asabiyya, which is identical to Durkheim’s notion of collective consciousness, the key factor
for establishing social order within societies. By collective consciousness, Durkheim refers to
the sum of feelings that are common to people in society; group consciousness is
strengthened over time and unites the group.

Use of Metaphors and Analogies:


Khaldun compared societies to individuals when he asserted that “dynasties have a natural
life span like individuals”. Like Khaldun, Durkheim applied biological metaphors and
analogies to describe social changes. Both scholars conceptualized society as a social
organism which evolves or develops from being simple and mechanical to being complex
and organic.

Social Organization:
Khaldun noted that “human beings cannot live and exist except through social organization
and cooperation”. This concept was similar to Durkheim’s notion that “society cannot exist
if its parts are not solidary”.

Division of Labour:
Khaldun discussed the well-developed division of labor in urban areas, and proposed that
division of labor occurred as a result of a transition in lifestyles from rural to urban society.
This idea was quite similar to Durkheim’s for the rise of the division of labor, caused by a
transition from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity.

Role of religion:
In Khaldun’s perspective, religion is the most significant player to solidify society, followed by
kinship. He believed religion was capable of generating prominent feelings of social
solidarity. Khaldun’s association of religion with primitive society presented the same idea as
the function of religion in Durkheim’s mechanical solidarity which minimized individual
differences signifying that “ideas and tendencies common to all the members of the society
are greater in number and intensity than those which pertain personally to each member”

Furthermore, like Khaldun, Durkheim pointed out that “higher societies can maintain
themselves in equilibrium only if labor is divided”.

END
Khaldun’s Contributions that are Divergent from Durkheim:
(Memorize)
Social Solidarity in rural and urban Societies:
Khaldun stated that rural societies can possess only mechanical solidarity, whereas more
complex urban societies, characterized by greater division of labor, possess the potential to
show signs of organic solidarity. However, Durkheim saw mechanical solidarity as a
substandard form of social cohesion, as opposed to organic solidarity.
Durkheim’s conception of social solidarity was developed by contrasting mechanical and
organic solidarity, whereas Khaldun only identified mechanical solidarity. Khaldun was
aware of ‘organic’ civilization, and he held it to be the necessary and essential requirement
of civilization.
Khaldun perceived complex societies as undermined by their lack of common will, Durkheim
perceived complex societies as fortified by their domestic interdependence.

Dissolution of the State:


According to Durkheim the collapse of collective consciousness generated a greater role for
the institution of the State, whereas the breakdown of asabiyya (social solidarity) for Ibn
Khaldun initiated the disintegration of the State. Therefore, the loss of social solidarity in both
cases created two different forms of social changes.

END

Khaldun’s Conflict Theory: (Memorize)


Khaldun explained that social solidarity (asabiyya) plays a fundamental role in the rise and
fall of societies and civilizations. Therefore, social solidarity functions “constructively” or
“destructively.” Khaldun’s concept of conflict theory was based upon social solidarity
(asabiyya). On the one hand, social solidarity results in consequences causing an increase
in social group adaptation. On the other hand, social solidarity (asabiyya) generates negative
dynamics which destroy social groups.

Ibn Khaldun on the Role of Religion: (Memorize)


Khaldun closely examined how economic factors affect society. However, he did not ignore
noneconomic factors like asabiyya (social solidarity) and religion. Khaldun treated religion as
a culturally determined social fact; that is, civilizations can continue without “religious laws.”
He emphasized on the positive role of religion in social control and group harmony.
Moreover, Khaldun’s analysis on religion is regarded as “the beginning of a sociology of
religion”. In Khaldun’s perspective, religion is the most significant player to solidify society,
followed by kinship. He believed religion was capable of generating prominent feelings of
social solidarity.

Contribution to the field of History: (Memorize)


Ibn Khaldun's contributions to the field of history must also be noted. He analysed in detail
the sources of error in historical writings, in particular partisanship, overconfidence in
sources, failure to understand what is intended, a mistaken belief in the truth, the inability to
place an event in its real context, the desire to gain the favour of those in high rank,
exaggeration, and what he regarded as the most important of all, ignorance of the laws
governing the transformation of human society. 
In his study of history Ibn Khaldun was a pioneer in subjecting historical reports to the two
basic criteria of (1) reason and (2) social and physical laws.

Ibn Khaldun considered the following four points worthy of consideration in studying and
analyzing historical reports:

1. Relating events to each other through cause and effect.

2. Drawing analogy between the past and the present.

3. Taking into consideration the effect of the environment.

4. Taking into consideration the effect of inherited and economic conditions.

But Ibn Khaldun's work was more than a critical study of history. It was, in fact, a study of
human civilization in general, its beginning, factors contributing to its development, and the
causes of its decline. Thus, unwittingly, Ibn Khaldun founded a new science: The science of
social development or sociology, as we call it today.

Everyone is out to make a profit: (Memorize)


Most people consider Adam Smith to be the “father of capitalism.” But if you look further
back in history, similarities between fourteenth-century Islamic thinking and modern-day
capitalism become apparent.

In Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun argued that all people strive to accumulate things and make
a profit, that is, income acquired by labor, not by mere chance. And when people pool their
labor, it results in greater profits.

If this profit corresponds to needs and necessities, it will constitute a person’s livelihood. If it
exceeds his needs, he will begin to accumulate capital.

Superiority of Human Beings: (Memorize)


Humans are superior to all other living beings because of their ability to think and
accumulate knowledge.
In Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun expressed that humans share many qualities with the rest of
the animal kingdom. However, unlike animals, we possess some angelic qualities as well.

At the root of this distinction is the human ability to think. Human beings’ ability to think leads
to the accumulation of knowledge. We aren’t born with knowledge. In fact, quite the
opposite: we’re born devoid of knowledge. He argued that we must acquire knowledge
through learning, and this requires thinking.
END

Ibn Khaldun Contribution to Sociology:


 Theory of Asabiyya
 Theory of social Change
 Theory of Urban and Rural Society
 Contribution to the field of History

MCQs
1. Who gave the science of sociology its name?

August Comte (The French Philosopher August Comte is called the Father of Sociology. He
used the term Sociology in 1838 to refer to the scientific study of society.

2. Who wrote the communist manifesto?

Karl Marx

3. Who wrote the "protestant Ethic Thesis"

Max Weber

Karl Marx is called as the founder of ‘Class Struggle theory’. His thoughts on working class and
labourers led to a new direction in labour struggle. 

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