T

he Muqaddimah: an Introduction to History

Ibn Khaldun Translated by Franz Rosenthal; abridged and edited by N. J. Dawood
Princeton and Oxford:Bollingen Series,Princeton University Press, 2005. xliv, 465p. $24.95. ISBN: 0691120544.

Review by Issa J. Boullata, Ph.D. McGill University issa.boullata@mcgill.ca

first appeared in English in three volumes, translated by Franz Rosenthal(l914-2003) ofYale University and published with his introduction in 1958in the Bollingen Series. Since then, a second edition,with correctionsand an augmentedbibliographywaspublished in Princeton in 1967.In the same year a one-volumeabridgment ofthis work, with an introduction was made by N. J. Dawood and published in London, andre-publishedin Princeton in 1969.It is this abridgment by Dawood that is now under review as re-published in 2005, with a new introduction by Bruce B. Lawrence. IbnKhaldun(l332-1406),asis wellknown, isoneofthegreatesthab scholars and thinkers, not because ofhis monumental history of the Arabs, non-Arabs, and Berbers and their contemporariesup to his own time, but because of the prolegomenon or introduction, The Muqaddirnah,which he wrote to this history. In this prolegomenon, he laid the foundation of a ‘new science’,which includes disciplines we know today as philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The great British historian and philosopher of history, Arnold J.Toynbee(1889-19751,called The Muqaddimh “undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place.. . the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairswork that has been made anywhere.”

I

t is almost five decades since Ibn Khaldun’sThe Muqaddimah

92

Digest of Middle East Studies

from statecraRassociatedwithtribalorreligious afIXations to centralized rule. He edited a useful work entitled Ibn Khaldun and Islamic Ideology (Brill. is fascinating. He could have provided an even more important service had the author included Rosenthal’s bibliography. I believe that Dawood’s abridgment ofRosenthal’s translation. and makes Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy ofhistory more easily accessible and understandable. or even the key sections of it. As for Professor Lawrence’s introduction. from desert to sedentary dimensions. which he uses both as a science and a pedagogicaltool.Medieval Rosenthal’s masterful three-volume translation received wide acclaim in the world of scholarship. physical labor to refined. now with Lawrence’s introduction.. He shows.. and enlarged the book’s index to be more comprehensive.IbnKhaldun 93 . is agood addition to the available works on Islamic history and thought. intellectual pursuits. he cuts through the oRenbewilderingdetailed arguments of Ibn Khaldun in The Muqaddima to show how his organizational vision considers human civilization moving from manual. as did Dawood’s one-volume abridgment.. from an almost natural and strong ‘asabiyya that unites society to an effete weakness that invites another civilization to take over. 1984)and has written other contributions on the subject. Furthermore.History. for example.The Muqaddimah within more recent scholarship on it. he is thus a most knowledgeable scholar to introduce new readers of the 21“ centuryto Ibn Khaldun. it puts Ibn Khaldun’s . Dawood has rendered an important service to students of Islam and medieval history. By adding important sectionsofRosenthal’s introduction and a new introduction by Lawrence t o his succinct and deftly edited abridgment in this new reprint. then asymmetric empire. and shows what a continuously engaging work it still continues to be. the only new part of this reprint. The Muqaddimah. Lawrence’s way of connecting Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy of history with the principles of Islamic jurisprudence. how the principle ofuma’(consensus) in the theory of Islamic law functions as ‘asabiyya (groupfeeling)does in society by mustering a collectivewill.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful