Applying Ibn Khaldūn: The Recovery of a Lost Tradition in Sociology, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Applying Ibn Khaldūn

The Recovery of a Lost Tradition in Sociology, 1st Edition

By Syed Farid Alatas


208 pages

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The writings of Ibn Khaldūn, particularly the Muqaddimah (Prolegomenon) have rightly been regarded as being sociological in nature. For this reason, Ibn Khaldūn has been widely regarded as the founder of sociology, or at least a precursor of modern sociology. While he was given this recognition, however, few works went beyond proclaiming him as a founder or precursor to the systematic application of his theoretical perspective to specific historical and contemporary aspects of Muslim societies in North Africa and the Middle East. The continuing presence of Eurocentrism in the social sciences has not helped in this regard: it often stands in the way of the consideration of non-Western sources of theories and concepts.

This book provides an overview of Ibn Khaldūn and his sociology, discusses reasons for his marginality, and suggests ways to bring Ibn Khaldūn into the mainstream through the systematic application of his theory. It moves beyond works that simply state that Ibn Khaldūn was a founder of sociology or provide descriptive accounts of his works. Instead it systematically applies Khaldūn’s theoretical perspective to specific historical aspects of Muslim societies in North Africa and the Middle East, successfully integrating concepts and frameworks from Khaldūnian sociology into modern social science theories. Applying Ibn Khaldūn will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology and social theory.


"Credit is due to Alatas for having advanced our understanding and now application of Ibn Khaldun within a cosmopolitan frame of reference"— Bruce B. Lawrence, Duke University, Middle East Journal

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1. The Errors of History and the New Science: Introduction to the Muqaddimah 2. Ibn Khaldūn’s Theory of State Formation 3. Ibn Khaldūn and Modern Sociology: An Aborted Tradition 4. Pre-modern Readings andApplications of Ibn Khaldūn 5. A Khaldūnian Theory of Muslim Reform 6. Ibn Khaldūn and the Ottoman Modes of Production 7. The Rise and Fall of the Safavid State in a Khaldūnian Framework 8. A Khaldūnian Perspective on Modern Arab States: Saudi Arabia and Syria 9. Towards a Khaldūnian Sociology of the State 10. Bibliographic Remarks and Further Reading. Bibliography

About the Author

Syed Farid Alatas is Head of the Department of Malay Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. His books include Democracy and Authoritarianism: The Rise of the Post-Colonial State in Indonesia and Malaysia (Macmillan, 1997), Alternative Discourse in Asian Social Science: Responses to Eurocentrism (Sage, 2006) and Ibn Khaldun (Oxford University Press, 2012).

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Sociology

This series presents cutting-edge developments and debates within the field of sociology. It provides a broad range of case studies and the latest theoretical perspectives, while covering a variety of topics, theories and issues from around the world. It is not confined to any particular school of thought.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Middle East / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General