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Monday, October 8, 2018

Ibn Khaldun and history


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Reda Kerbouche

Photo license: CC BY-SA 4.0


Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) was an Ifriqiyan historian best known for his contributions to historiography and economics. Wikipedia says,


"His best-known book, the Muqaddimah or Prolegomena ('Introduction'), which he wrote in six months as he states in his autobiography." (Wikipedia: Ibn Khaldun, 8.16.21 UTC 21:06)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Khaldun.


Ancient Greece


"The sciences of only one nation, the Greeks, have come down to us, because they were translated through Al-Ma'mun's efforts. He was successful in this direction because he had many translators at his disposal and spent much money in this connection." (Muqaddimah, 1377)


"Eventually, Aristotle appeared among the Greeks. He improved the methods of logic and systematized its problems and details. He assigned to logic its proper place as the first philosophical discipline and the introduction to philosophy. Therefore he is called the the First Teacher." (Muqaddimah, 1377)




"Throughout history many nations have suffered a physical defeat, but that has never marked the end of a nation. But when a nation has become victim of a psychological defeat, then that marks the end of a nation." (Muqaddimah, 1377)


"The term of life of a dynasty does not normally exceed three generations. For in the first generation are still preserved the characteristic features of rough, uncivilized rural life, such as hard conditions of life, courage, ferocity, and partnership in authority." (




"When civilization [population] increases, the available labor again increases. In turn, luxury again increases in correspondence with the increasing profit, and the customs and needs of luxury increase. Crafts are created to obtain luxury products. The value realized from them increases, and, as a result, profits are again multiplied in the town." (Muqaddimah, 1377)


"Businesses owned by responsible and organized merchants shall eventually surpass those owned by wealthy rulers." (Muqaddimah, 1377)


"When incentive to acquire and obtain property is gone, people no longer make efforts to acquire any... Those who infringe upon property rights commit an injustice." (