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Khaldūn’s State

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 وَٱللَّهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّنۢ بُطُونِ أُمَّهَٰتِكُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْـًٔا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْأَبْصَٰرَ وَٱلْأَفْـِٔدَةَ ۙ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect (heart) that perhaps you would be grateful.” (16:78)

The historical backdrop of current political theory is fragmented without inspecting the commitments of Muslim masterminds whose scholarly works are seen as notable in their individual fields during the occasions they lived in. While examining history, we are taught that due to the socio-economic changes in nineteenth-century Europe, modern nation-states were carved out to devolve power from royalty and to build the foundation of democracy. However, this historical analysis is incomplete as it ignores the fact that 800 years of Muslim rule in Spain heavily influenced the rest of Europe. In fact, Ibn Khaldūn, whose family was originally from Seville, Spain, traveled to and fro between Europe and North Africa dispensing his governing duties and recording his observations in his writings. In essence, birth and the formation of human civilization cannot be separated from the existence of a wise leader who is responsible for governing and ruling the state. Ibn Khaldūn is regarded to be one of the brightest and most brilliant minds of the Muslim world. He memorized the Qurʾān, studied its principal commentaries, gained a good grounding in Muslim law, familiarized himself with the masterpieces of Arabic literature, and acquired a clear and forceful style and a capacity for writing fluent verse that was to serve him well in later life when addressing eulogistic or supplicatory poems to various rulers. Striking by their absence are books on philosophy, history, geography, or other social sciences; this does not mean that he did not study these subjects—he wrote summaries of several books by the 12th-century—but it is to be presumed that Ibn Khaldūn acquired most of his very impressive knowledge in these fields after he had completed his formal education. He is considered the founder of the science of human society as well as the forerunner of the original theories in social science, philosophy of history, and economics.

Ibn Khaldūn took judicial duties quite seriously too; he claimed to have been guided in his judgments solely by the merits of each case and attempted to reform the numerous abuses that had developed in the administration of justice. He must have struck the tolerant and easygoing Egyptians as somewhat dour and puritanical, and his own opinion is recorded by one of his students: “These Egyptians behave as though the Day of Judgement would never come!” At any rate, “trouble gathered against me from every quarter and darkened the atmosphere between me and the rulers”; he was dismissed and served again as a chief judge only for one year, toward the end of his life.

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