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Ibn Khaldun–Father of Sociology?

March 4, 2010

This weeks reading by Stockley Carmichael “First of All and Finnally African”  referred to the Sociologist Ibn Khaldun and his contributions  to Sociology. This made me think of my first day in SOCY101 class, when we were introduced to the first three Sociologists: Karl Marx 1818~1883), Emile Durkheim (1858~1917), Max Weber (1864~1920). As a student, this struck me as very odd; they lived around the same period of time, all of European descent, and all western thinkers. As a child of immigrant parents and having lived and studied abroad, I wasn’t sure if this information before me was true or if what I had previously been taught to be true.

Having lived in North Africa, I was taught that Ibn Khaldun was the founding father of Sociology as a discipline. Ibn Khaldun (1332AD~1406AD) was born North Africa in present-day Algeria. He is considered a forerunner of several social scientific disciplines: demography, cultural history histography,the philosophy of history, and Sociology. He is best known for his Muqaddimah (known as Prolegomenon in the West), the first volume of his book on universal history. His works not only touch on the dialectic but, also he was first to introduce the concept of  surplus value, communitarianism, and social contract.  His work has been disputed as being copied and even plagiarized by Karl Marx without any reference.

When researched in Wikipedia he is first and foremost seen as a ‘Muslim’ scholar and second, as having ‘Similar’ works to that of Marx, Hegel, Durkheim. Yet,  how could his work be ‘Similar’ if he proceeds all three scholars by five centuries?  Secondly, if he’s work is so ‘similar’ why is it that it is taught in one part of the world and not in another? Third, are their other Sociologists who have made ‘Similar’ contributions?

Being frustrated and confused by this information, I decided to ask a professor who might shed light on the topic. To my surprise, not only did I receive negative feedback, but, most importantly, Ibn Khaldun’s  work was labeled as being debatable and imprecise to be taught. It was at this point in my academic career that I realized that history is unequal. The knowledge we receive is as biased, prejudiced and, subjective as the historian wills it be. And, so it is up to us as students to take the little we know and dig deep to unearth real truths and facts.

–Nasreen Cecile Djouini

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. feysel permalink
    June 24, 2010 12:43 pm

    thanks for this short but informative reflection.i think it is better if they reveal the truth soon because falsehood willnot have place when the truth is revealed.thanks anyways!

  2. Charles Laures permalink
    June 24, 2010 2:58 pm

    “The knowledge we receive is as biased, prejudiced and, subjective as the historian wills it be”-I strongly agree with you. I am now faced with the same predicament that you faced. My professor is also insisting that Comte and not Khaldun was the father of sociology despite that fact that he preceded the three men (Comte,Marx,Weber).

    I think Ibn Khaldun contributed more to sociology than the three. The three elaborated (maybe improved and advanced it more) Khaldun’s concept but the origin is still from this great African scholar.

    Hence, he should be given the title.

  3. analia permalink
    July 1, 2010 1:50 am

    thanks for writing this article, my teacher told us about considering Ibn Kahldun as the father of sociology. There are good teachers also somewhere.

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