The Muqadimmah

The Muqadimmah is an early Muslim view of 'universal history'. Many modern thinkers view it as one of the first works of sociology. It was written in 1377 by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun 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 Muqadimmah with a thorough criticism of the mistakes regularly committed by his fellow historians and the difficulties which await the historian in his work. He marks 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 the laws, Ibn Khaldun lays out his theory of human society in the Muqadimmah.

See also: early Muslim sociology


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