ﻋﺒﺩ اﺭﺤﻤن ﺒن ﻤﺤﻤﺩ اﺑن ﺨﻠﺪﻮن
Abd Ar Rahman bin Muhammed ibn Khaldun
Table of Contents
Ibn Khaldun's Life
The Textual History of the Muqaddimah (i) Manuscripts, (ii) Editions, (iii) Gradual Growth of the Text, (iv) Previous Translations, (v) Present Translation.
Introductory material of Book One, Kitab al 'Ibar
Human civilization in general
Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions of life, including several basic and explanatory statements
On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and supplementary propositions
Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary considerations in this connection
On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of problems are connected with this subject
The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a prefatory discussion and appendices
Selected Bibliography, Walter J. Fischel
Ibn Khaldun's Life
WRITING the biography of Ibn Khaldun would not seem to be a particularly difficult task, for he left posterity an autobiography which describes the events of his life in great detail and presents the historical background clearly. He supports his statements with many documents quoted literally. In fact, Ibn Khaldun's description of his own life is the most detailed autobiography in medieval Muslim literature. It gives us an accurate knowledge of events in the author's life such as is available, before modern times, for but few historical personalities.
Until recently, Ibn Khaldun's autobiography was known only in a recension that broke off at the end of the year 1394,1 but now its continuation has been discovered and is available in a carefully annotated edition.2 It brings the account down to the middle of the year 1405, less than a year before Ibn Khaldun's death.
In 1,382 the fifty-year-old scholar and statesman left his native northwest Africa never to return. For the period before this date, Ibn Khaldun's autobiographical statements can be supplemented by a perfunctory biographical note incorporated by his friend Ibn al-Khatib in his History of Granada.3 Written in general terms of praise, it lacks any critical appreciation of its subject. There exists another biography of Ibn Khaldun which a Western writer, Ismail b. Yasuf b. al-Ahmar, inserted in an anthology of contemporary poets, entitled Nathîr al jumân. The writer, a member of the ruling family of Granada, died about the same time as Ibn Khaldun. It can be assumed that he relied on Western authorities for the earlier period of Ibn Khaldun's life. Unfortunately, the text of this biography is not yet available.4
For Ibn Khaldun's later years, when he participated in the flourishing literary life of Mameluke Egypt, the biographical sources are more varied. Biographies of Ibn Khaldun were composed by his pupils and admirers; nor could his enemies disregard him when writing the biographical history of the period. The latter present another view of his personality, and though their statements have to be taken with reservations, they help us to understand it better.5
Ibn Khaldun's own great work, especially the Muqaddimah, is another important source for his biography. Written in a much more personal style than most medieval works, the Muqaddimah sharply outlines his own personal philosophy and provides insights into the workings of his mind.
This abundance of biographical source material has enabled modern scholars at various times to write Ibn Khaldun's life and to present the data in a factually correct form to which little can be added. These modern biographies vary greatly in length. Among the longest are de Slane's account in the Introduction to his translation of the Muqaddimah, largely a literal translation of the Autobiography,6 and that by M. A. Enan, in his Ibn Khaldun, His Life and Work.7 There has been no recent treatment in extenso of Ibn Khaldun's early life (down to 1382), but his Egyptian period is the subject of two masterly studies by W. J. Fischel, "Ibn Khaldun's Activities in Mamluk Egypt (1382-1406)" 8 and Ibn Khaldun and Tamerlane.9
In its outlines, Ibn Khaldun's life thus is quite clearly known. However, the modern student who would like to know much more about him, discovers that his questions can only be answered by conjecture, if at all. Considering the excellence of the source material, at least as judged by external criteria, the deficiencies in our knowledge must be ascribed to the internal character of the available information. It is true that no amount of material will ever fully satisfy a biographer, but in Ibn Khaldun's case there are particular reasons why a fully satisfactory account of his life is virtually impossible of achievement. In the first place, Ibn Khaldun considered only such events in his life worth recording as were especially remarkable, the most unusual achievements of an exceptional person. Thus he did not pay much attention to the kind of data so dear to modern psychological biographers. He does not speak about his childhood. His family is mentioned only because family considerations often influenced the course of his wanderings and because it was afflicted by unusual misfortunes. All his ordinary activities are passed over in silence. Ibn Khaldun would probably have denied that this kind of data has any heuristic value. He would have doubted the validity of the modern biographer's claim that experiences which he shared with all his contemporaries contributed to the formation of his individual personality; he would have doubted that recording them might help future generations of scholars to understand him better.
Another difficulty that confronts Ibn Khaldun's biographer is not unconnected with this attitude. Patient scholarly research has succeeded in gaining a picture in broad outline of the environment in which Ibn Khaldun grew up and spent his life. Yet, all our sources together do not yield enough detailed information to allow us to understand fully his position in it for, in spite of his importance, he was but a minor element in the overall picture. R. Brunschvig's outstanding historical synthesis, La Berberie orientale sous les Hafsides; 10 contributes greatly to our understanding of the historical factors of Ibn Khaldun's era. But through no avoidable fault of its own, the work cannot yet answer all the questions modern students raise concerning Ibn Khaldun's development as a historical personality. Just as the autobiography does not disclose all the facets of his being, other medieval historians grossly neglected other important factors. They do not fully reveal the true character of certain events in which Ibn Khaldun was actively or passively involved. Hardly ever do they give precise information about his contemporaries. The rulers, statesmen, and scholars with whom he had to deal are not described with sufficient clarity for us to be able to assess the true meaning of his relationship to them. Thus there are still many questions that cannot be answered, and Ibn Khaldun cannot as yet be made the subject of an "interesting" biography in the modern sense. ,A biographical sketch prefacing an edition or translation of the author's work, however, is subject to less exacting specifications. Primarily, it should fulfill two purposes. First, it should acquaint the reader sufficiently well with the leading facts of the author's life. This purpose, I believe, can be amply fulfilled in Ibn Khaldun's case. Secondly, it should set forth the historical conditions that enabled the author to develop his genius. Where Ibn Khaldun and the Muqaddimah are concerned, we must often enough rely on conjecture and inference, but the thought that it is always difficult, if not impossible, adequately to account for intellectual greatness, may be of some consolation to us here.
Ibn Khaldun belonged to a clan of South Arabian origin. Khaldun, from whom the family name was derived, is believed to have immigrated to Spain in the eighth century, in the early years of the Muslim conquest. He settled in Carmona, a small city situated within the fateful triangle that Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada form; in that small area much Spanish Muslim history of general European significance took place over the centuries. Khaldun's "children"-that is, his descendants left Carmona to settle in Sevilla. We do not know the exact date, but it is probable that the Khaldun family had already taken residence there in the eighth century.
According to Ibn Khaldun's own memory, only ten generations of forebears separated him from the founder of his family. These are too few generations to span a period of seven hundred years, even if one doubts the validity of Ibn Khaldun's theory that there are three generations to a century. Ibn Khaldun's own genealogy was obviously defective. It is worthy of note that a descendant of (the first) Khaldun had in the eleventh century reckoned about nine generations from the founder down to his own time.11
Ibn Khaldun's knowledge of his more remote ancestors is remarkably limited, considering the great prominence that his family enjoyed for centuries. All his information was based upon works published by Spanish historians. At least two of these works, by Ibn Hayyan and Ibn Hazm, have been preserved to the present day. Apparently there existed no written history or private archives in the Khaldun family itself; such records as may have existed might have been lost when the family left Spain in the first half of the thirteenth century.
Historically, the most prominent among Ibn Khaldun's relatives was a certain Kurayb. He revolted against the Umayyad ruler at some time near the end of the ninth century, and succeeded in establishing a quasi-independent patrician government in Sevilla, which lasted for over a decade. He was killed in 899.12 Ibn Khaldun, however, was unable to determine the exact relationship between himself and this Kurayb. If one can believe in the accuracy of the pedigree Ibn Khaldun recorded, their only common ancestor was the first Khaldun.
While Ibn Khaldun's Arab descent has occasionally been questioned, it has also been considered a major influence in forming his outlook on life and on history. Neither point of view has anything to recommend it. Ibn Khaldun's claim to Arab descent through the male line cannot reasonably be doubted, though he may have had Berber and Spanish blood in his veins as well. Decisive in itself is the fact that he believed himself to be of Arab descent, a circumstance that, in a sense, conferred title of nobility. However, even if Ibn Khaldun was proud of his ancient Arab lineage, there is no indication that it colored his historical views or influenced his reactions to his environment differently than his peers and contemporaries. In fact, it would seem that not his Arab descent, but his Spanish origin was the crucial factor in his intellectual development and outlook, as will be shown below.
The disaster Kurayb met with at the end of the ninth century must have involved a large part, if not all, of the Khaldun clan. But its position in Sevilla was soon re-established in its former eminence. In the middle of the eleventh century,13 the Banu Khaldun are said to have been the intellectual and political leaders of the city.
In 449 [1057/58], there died in Sevilla Abu Muslim 'Amr ('Umar?) b. Ahmad Ibn Khaldun, a pupil of the great scientist Maslamah al-Majriti. He was himself, we are told, a great scientist.14 He was a sixth generation descendant, at the very least, of Kurayb's brother Muhammad. Ibn Khaldun had occasion to mention him in the Muqaddimah. No other scholar among Ibn Khaldun's ancestors and relatives is known by name, but there can be no doubt that most of them were highly educated men. It was a condition of leadership in their city, and that some of them excelled in religious and legal, if not in worldly learning, is certain.
The political leadership in Sevilla, in fact, belonged to the Banta Khaldun together with some other noble families. Sovereignty over the city was vested in a nominal ruler, but actual control of Sevilla's affairs was exercised by these great families from their fortified rural seats and imposing residences in town. In the early thirteenth century, the realm of the Spanish Almohads crumbled. The Christians encroached more and more closely upon the triangle of Cordoba-Sevilla-Granada. By that time, the Khaldun family and the other patricians of Sevilla held completely independent control through domination of the city council; but they failed to heed the call sent out around the year 1232 by Muhammad b. Yusuf Ibn al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty in Granada, to rally to the Muslim cause and help form a united front against the infidel "abomination." The Banu Khaldun, realizing the city's precarious situation, had decided to leave even before the actual fall of Sevilla in 1248, and crossed over to the safety of northwest Africa, where they were not without friends.
The early decision to leave Sevilla appears to have been strongly motivated by their support of the rising cause of the Almohad Hafsids in Africa. A certain Ibn al-Muhtasib, related by marriage to the Khaldun family, had given to the founder of the Hafsid dynasty, Abu Zakariya' Yahya (1228-49), a slave girl who in time became the honored mother of some of Abu Zakariya's sons. Now, this Ibn al-Muhtasib was the maternal grandfather of Ibn Khaldun's great-great-grandfather. Thus, from the start, the Banu Khaldun had good connections with the most powerful group in northwestern Africa. In addition, they can be assumed to have had other associations there which they were able to use to good advantage and through which they gained influential positions as soon as they arrived. Marriages and personal cleverness added other important friends.
The refugees from Spain who came over and settled in northwestern Africa in ever growing numbers constituted a group apart, an elite group at that.15 The Muqaddimah frequently mentions the great contributions made by Spanish refugees to the cultural life of northwestern Africa and stresses the superiority of Spain and the originality of its civilization.16 This shows that Ibn Khaldun, more than a century after his family had left Spain, still considered himself to some extent a member of that glorious civilization. Though as a Muslim he felt at home everywhere within the vast realm of Islam, he preserved throughout his life a deep and sincere affection for northwest Africa, the country of his birth, for the "homeland" where, according to the poet, "the amulets are first attached" to the child. He always felt a certain responsibility for the political fate of northwestern Africa and took an active interest in it long after he had left. His true spiritual home, however, was Spain.
This background helps to explain the ease with which Ibn Khaldun shifted his loyalties throughout his life. No matter how high his own position or that of his ancestors before him at one or another northwest African court, no matter how close he was to a ruler, he did not feel bound by "group feeling," as he might have called it, or by the ties of a common cultural heritage. He considered the ruler his employer, and his position a job to be done, neither more nor less. But his basic loyalty to Spain and its civilization had a much more far-reaching effect on Ibn Khaldun's personality and work than these transient ties. It gave him a remarkable detachment with respect to the historical events that took place before his eyes In a sense, it enabled him to view them as an impartial observer, even when he was deeply involved personally. This peculiar division in Ibn Khaldun's physical and spiritual ties seems to have been the decisive factor in his ability to abstract general reflections about history from observed facts, in his ability, that is, to write the Muqaddimah.
The ancestor of Ibn Khaldun among the members of the Khaldun family who went to northwestern Africa, was al-Hasan b. Muhammad, his grandfather's grandfather. Al-Hasan went first to Ceuta, the city of northwestern Africa which is closest to Spain, and customarily the first stopping place for refugees from Spain. He then went on to Mecca, which suggests that he may have used his intention to perform the pilgrimage as an excuse for leaving Sevilla. Upon his return from Mecca, he joined the Hasid ruler Abu Zakariya' in Bone, using his relationship to the abovementioned Ibn al-Mubtasib as an introduction. He received a pension and fiefs. Thus, the intimate relationship of the Khaldun family with the Hafsid house started auspiciously. It continued to bring high honors and, as a corollary, wealth to all of Ibn Khaldun's forebears.
His immediate ancestors were affected by the vicissitudes that befell individual members of the Hafsid dynasty. However, through good luck and intelligent politics, they usually managed to stay on the winning side. Their places of residence changed with the requirements of court life. For most of the time they seem to have resided in Tunis.
Al-Hasan is said to have died during the reign of Abu Zakariya'. His son Abu Bakr Muhammad, Ibn Khaldun's great-grandfather, attained the very important position of manager of financial affairs (sahib al-ashghal),17 or, as we might say, minister of finance. He was captured and killed during Ibn Abi 'Umarah's revolt against the Hafsids, around the year 1283.18 It has recently become known that Abu Bakr was the author of a handbook for government secretaries,19 which he wrote in his youth during Abu Zakariya"s reign. Though not a Fürstenspiegel in the true sense, it belongs to a type of works that, according to Ibn Khaldun's own statement, was one of the main sources of inspiration for the Muqaddimah.
Ibn Khaldun's grandfather, also named Muhammad, was satisfied with the minor position of deputy doorkeeper 20 to the Hafsid rulers. According to his grandson, they held him in high esteem, and his personal influence was great. Moreover, in later life he himself refused higher positions offered him. After having twice performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, he lived a retired life and devoted himself to pious studies, He died at a very advanced age in 737 [1336/37].
Under his influence, his son Muhammad, Ibn Khaldun's father, also pursued a scholarly career. He achieved a respectable knowledge of the Qur'an and jurisprudence and had a good foundation in grammar and poetry. He died in the terrible epidemic of 1348-49. His son, who was seventeen years old when his father died, has noted a few remarks of his father in the History.21 As was customary, the father saw to it that his children received a good education, and he participated himself in their instruction. The love of scholarship and contemplation evident in Ibn Khaldun's father and grandfather combined in their famous offspring with a reawakening of the high political ambitions that had gripped many generations of the first Khaldun's descendants. Thus was produced the admirable combination of scholar and statesman that we find in Ibn Khaldun.
Ibn Khaldun, Abu Zayd, was born in Tunis on Ramadan 1, 732 [May 27, 1332). His given name was 'Abd-ar-Rahman, his ethnic denomination al-Hadrami, derived from Hadramawt, the ancestral home of his clan in South Arabia. The scholarly title of his later years was Wall-ad-din, "Guardian of the Religion." We know that he had two brothers: an elder brother, Muhammad, whose fellow student he was, and Yahya, one year his junior, who, like Ibn Khaldun, was to become a high-ranking politician and an accomplished historian.22
Ibn Khaldun provides a disproportionate amount of information about his education and the personalities of his teachers.23 This was in keeping with traditional Muslim biographical practice, for this science, which had been created to satisfy the demands of legal and religious scholars for exact data concerning their authorities, attributed great importance to the names of a scholar's teachers. In Ibn Khaldun's autobiography, references to his teachers' Spanish origin or to their close connections with Spain occur with regularity. Very few among them fail to fall into this category.
His early education followed customary lines. He studied the Qur'an and the Quranic sciences under the guidance of Muhammad b. Sa'd b. Burral. He learned Arabic under his father and a number of other scholars whose names are given as Muhammad b. al-'Arabi al-Hasa'iri, Muhammad b. ash-Shawwash az-Zarzali, Ahmad b. al-Qassar, and Muhammad b. Bahr. The last-named also instructed Ibn Khaldun in poetry; he may have been responsible for planting the seeds of Ibn Khaldun's unusual understanding of poetry which is so evident in the discussion of poetry in the last chapters of the Muqaddimah.
Traditions (hadith) and jurisprudence were more advanced subjects. Ibn Khaldun's teachers in these fields, therefore, included some better-known names, such as Shams-ad-din Muhammad b. Jabir b. Sultan al-Wadiyashi (1274-1348), for the traditions, and Muhammad b. 'Abdallah al-Jayyani, Muhammad al-Qasir, as well as the famous Muhammad b. 'Abd-as-Salam al-Hawwari (1277/78-1348/49),24 for jurisprudence.
Childhood influences are largely unconscious, and usually the child's reception of them is passive. The most decisive period for the intellectual development of a young man is the years between fifteen and twenty-five. During these years the youth completes his education and begins his career, giving his life a direction which later can hardly undergo basic change. Often, this time of growth from childhood to manhood passes without violent transitions; but when great historical events occur during it, they may play havoc with the ordinary course of development. It was of the greatest significance for Ibn Khaldun's future that these decisive years of his life fell in the period from 1347 to 1357, a time of extraordinary upheaval in the history of northwest Africa.
The position of the Hafsid dynasty in Tunis, never stable, had become increasingly insecure before Ibn Khaldun's birth and during his childhood. This instability may have been one of the reasons why his father and grandfather preferred lives of quiet retirement to active participation in political life. But in the period between 1347 and 1357, Hafsid rule over Tunis suffered its worst eclipse. For a time it all but disappeared. However, it recovered in due course and by 1370 entered upon another flourishing era.
In 1347, the Merinid ruler of Fez, Abu 1-Hasan, since 1337 master of the 'Abd-al-Wadid state of Tlemcen, conquered Tunis. In the following year, after suffering a severe setback at Kairouan (al-Qayrawan) 25 at the hands of the Arab tribes of the region, he was obliged to withdraw again from Tunis. However, for some time the political situation of the Hafsids remained precarious. Abu 'Inan, Abu1-Hasan's son and successor, succeeded in another attack on Tunisia in 1,357, but his victory almost immediately came to naught. After Abu 'Inan's death in 1358, only the usual squabbles of northwest African politics presented minor and temporary obstacles to a speedy Hafsid recovery. Nature played her part among the events that influenced Ibn Khaldun's destiny, adding the Black Death, the terrible plague that struck Tunis in 1348-49 with unabated fury, to the man-made disturbances.26
The Merinid conquest of 1347 brought to Tunis a great number of famous scholars in the retinue of Abu1-Hasan. The adolescent Ibn Khaldun found among them men who inspired him with their scholarship, and who became his shaykhs, the masters and teachers who exercised decisive influence upon his intellectual development. Their scholarly fame was probably well deserved, though we can only judge from hearsay; only a few isolated remarks and scarcely any of their written works have come down to us. Ibn Khaldun took as his teachers Muhammad (b. 'Ali) b, Sulayman as-Satti, 'Abd-al-Muhayman b. Muhammad al-Hadrami (1277/78-1349), and, above all, Muhammad b, Ibrahim al-Abili (1282/83-1356),27 whom Ibn Khaldun considered his principal master. Al-Abili's departure from Tunis, later on, was one of the reasons for Ibn Khaldun to leave his native city.
There were other famous scholars in Abu 1-Hasan's company, such as young 'Abdallah b. Yusuf b. Ridwan al-Malaqi,28 who was of about Ibn Khaldun's age, Muhammad b. Muhammad b. asSabbagh, and Muhammad b,-Ahmad b. Marzuq (d. 781[1379/80]), with whom Ibn Khaldun did not always remain on good terms. Ibn Khaldun, however, did not regard these men as his teachers.
The great plague carried away many of Ibn Khaldun's shaykhs and he lost both his parents at this time. Ibn Khaldun's only reference to his mother is this mention of her death. He was left, it would seem, without the guidance he needed. His elder brother Muhammad became head of the family. Ibn Khaldun could hardly have foreseen that a bright future was in store for the Hafsids in Tunis; had he done so, he might have stayed on there and weathered the storm. He would have passed his life in Tunis as a member of the patrician Khaldun family-and perhaps, in that case, he would never have written the Muqaddimah. As it was, he was conscious only of the dearth of scholarship there and of the bleak political outlook of the moment. The government and the Hafsid ruler were under the control of Ibn Tafragin.29 The twenty-yearold Ibn Khaldun was made Sahib al-'alamah, Master of the Signature, an important court position. His service consisted of writing the words "Praised be God" and "Thanks are due to God" in large letters between the opening formula and the text of official documents.30 The office of the 'alamah does not seem to have included any definite executive or administrative functions, but its holder became privy to all important government business, enabling him to act in an advisory capacity. Thus, Ibn Khaldun was started upon a government career, but he did not cherish the prospect of staying in Tunis. Neither the new and promising position nor his elder brother's disapproval prevented him from absconding, in 1352, from the Tunisians' camp during their campaign against the people of Constantine led by a Hafsid rival of the Tunisian ruler.
With the help of the Khaldun family's many scholarly and political connections everywhere in northwestern Africa, Ibn Khaldun slowly made his way west. Abu 'Inan, the new Merinid ruler, was no less a friend of scholarship than his father Abu1-Hasan had been,31 and his star as the leading personality among northwest African rulers was rapidly rising. Ibn Khaldun met him in the summer of 135332 He spent the winter of 1353/54 in Bougie, at this time in the hands of a high Merinid official, and in 1354 he accepted Abu 'Inan's invitation to come to Fez and join the circle of scholars he was gathering around himself for study and teaching.
In Fez, Ibn Khaldun completed his education in lively association with the scholars who lived there or passed through. He had contact with the Qur'an scholar Muhammad b. as-Saffir. He encountered the powerful personality of Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Maqqari, who, like other great Muslim scholars, considered it improper to reveal the date of his birth and who died at the end of 1357 or the beginning of 1358.33 There was Muhammad b. Ahmad al-'Alwi (1310/11-1369/70) who, according to rumor, had instructed Muhammad b. 'Abd-as-Salam, one of Ibn Khaldun's teachers in Tunis, in the highly suspect subjects of philosophy and science. Among them were also the little-known judge Muhammad b. 'Abd-ar-Razzaq and Muhammad b. Yahya al-Barji (1310/11-1384). Upon Ibn al-Khatib's request, Ibn Khaldun wrote down some of al-Barji's poetry so it could be incorporated with the poet's biography in Ibn al-Khatib's History of Granada.34 In Fez, Ibn Khaldun enjoyed the opportunity of meeting the physician and astrologer Ibrahim b. Zarzar whom later, in 1364, he met again at the court of Pedro the Cruel in Sevilla.35 In Fez, he also saw the sharif Muhammad b. Ahmad as-Sabti (1297/98-1359) shortly before his death, and in 1355 he met there for the first time the famous scholar Abu 1-Barakat Muhammad b. Muhammad alBallafiqi (d. 1370),36 A whom he quotes several times 37 in the Muqaddimah. At that time, and again later, in 1361,38 he studied Malik's Muwatta with him, and, as Ibn Khaldun's Egyptian student, the great Ibn Hajar, reports,39 always held al-Ballafigi in the highest respect.
In medieval Muslim civilization the development of a scholar was a long-drawn-out process and, in a sense, his education continued throughout his life. Accomplished scholars would attend the classes and lectures of their colleagues whenever they wished to profit from them. In this way Ibn Khaldun used every opportunity that offered itself to study with fellow scholars. In this respect his residence in Granada during the years 1363-65 seems to have been especially profitable, but even during his most unsettled years, such as the time he spent in Biskra in 1370-71, he found a scholar from whom he gained information which he later incorporated in the Muqaddimah.40
However, Ibn Khaldun's formative period reached its conclusion during the years he stayed in Fez with Abu 'Inan. From his seventeenth year onwards, his schooling could hardly be called formal or continuous. Possibly it was this haphazard education as much as his particular intellectual endowment that explains why he did not become an outstanding specialist in any one field. Some of the aspersions later cast on his learning by his enemies may be discounted, but the Muqaddimah itself clearly shows that Ibn Khaldun had neither the desire nor the equipment to make original contributions of note to any of the established disciplines. He was endowed with that rarer gift, a deep insight into the essentials of the accumulated knowledge of his time, and he possessed the ability to express this gift clearly and forcefully. This gift helped to place his "new science" upon firm foundations.
Neither in his Autobiography nor in the Muqaddimah, nor in any other parts of his History, does Ibn Khaldun mention any scholarly works written before the Muqaddimah. The Autobiography contains many specimens of his letters and of his occasional poetry-types of literary exercise requiring great skill and a wide range of literary knowledge. They were acclaimed in his own age and would suffice to establish the reputation of a man of letters quite as well as any other kind of publication. In the Autobiography, however, Ibn Khaldun does not state that he had published any collections of this type before, and only one later work is mentioned, namely, the description of northwestern Africa that he wrote for Timur (Tamerlane) in 1401. In the eyes of Ibn Khaldun this document, an official pamphlet despite its great length, hardly qualified as a true work of scholarship; moreover, it was probably never published.
It is strange that Ibn Khaldun mentions no publications by his pen except his great historical work. His silence could be taken to mean that he actually did not publish anything at all during his earlier, very active, years. However, we have the word of his older contemporary and close friend, Ibn al-Khatib,41 that Ibn Khaldun did publish some works long before he started on the Muqaddimah. Ibn al-Khatib says:
He wrote an original commentary on the Burdah,42 in which he showed his wide ability, his understanding of many things, and his great knowledge.
He abridged a good deal of the books of Averroes.
He put together a useful composition on logic for the Sultan '43 in the days when he studied the intellectual disciplines.
He abridged the Muhassal of the imam Fakhr-ad-din ar-Razi.44 When I first met him,45 I jokingly said to him: "You owe me something, for you have abridged my Muhassal." 46
He wrote a book on calculation (elementary arithmetic).
At the time of writing,47 he has begun to write a commentary on a rajaz poem I composed on the principles of jurisprudence. What he has (done) already is so perfect that it cannot be surpassed.
(Ibn al-Khatib then praises the prose, both rhymed and unrhymed, of Ibn Khaldun's official writings and speaks about his promising bid for recognition as a poet.)
For any ordinary scholar in his early thirties, this would be a respectable list of publications; however, it does not contain any distinguished work. To compose a commentary on the Burdah was .a beginner's exercise, never much more. None of the other works mentioned, all of which were textbooks, required, or (probably) displayed, much originality. Nevertheless, had Ibn Khaldun been an ordinary scholar he would almost certainly have referred, in the appropriate chapters of the Muqaddimah, to his abridgment of the Muhassal or to his book on elementary arithmetic. His failure to mention these earlier works, possibly because of his own low regard for them, shows his rare and wholly admirable restraint. Since some of them were abridgments or brief handbooks, he may have felt an aversion to them later in his life; for he came to consider brief handbooks as detrimental to scholarship and said so in the Muqaddimah (Sect. 35 of Ch. vi).
Very recently, Ibn Khaldun's abridgment of the Muhassal, entitled Lubab al-Muhassal fi usul ad-din, has come to light. Long buried in the great Library of the Escorial, Ibn Khaldun's autograph manuscript of the work, completed on Safar 29, 752 [April 27, 1351], when Ibn Khaldun was not yet nineteen years old, has been edited by Fr. Luciano Rubio and was published in Tetuan in 1352. The abridgment was what we would call a long and learned term paper, written for his teacher al-Abili, with whom he had been studying the Muhassal. It shows that young Ibn Khaldun had mastered the intricate philosophical speculations of the Muhassal and Nasir-ad-din's commentary on it to an astonishing degree, even though his work was a beginner's exercise.47a
During, his stay at the Merinid court in Fez during the years 135462, Ibn Khaldun was already married; indeed, it seems most likely that he married while still in Tunis. His wife was a daughter of Muhammad b. al-Hakim (d. 1343), the great Hafsid general and minister of war, member of a noble and scholarly family.48 Ibn Khaldun mentions that he had children by her. When he went to Spain, in the fall of 1363, he sent his wife and children to Constantine to stay with his wife's brothers, since he did not want to take them with him before he was settled there. Later on, they followed him to Spain. As a result of his frequent changes of domicile, Ibn Khaldun had often to repeat this family arrangement. He was deeply devoted to his family, but was frequently separated from them for long periods of time. More than once, they were in great danger and held as hostages, while Ibn Khaldun himself was safe and far away.
It is not known whether Ibn al-Hakim's daughter was Ibn Khaldun's only wife, though probably she remained his principal one as long as she lived. We hear, incidentally, of the birth of another son, which must have taken place about the year 1370,49 but we do not know whether Ibn al-Hakim's daughter was the mother, though nothing would contradict this assumption. According to one source, his wife and his five daughters perished in 1384 when a tragic accident befell Ibn Khaldun's family on the journey from Tunis to Egypt, and only his two sons, Muhammad and 'Ali, reached Egypt safely 50 Ibn Khaldun does not mention the circumstances of the tragedy in his Autobiography, so that this account can hardly be trusted in all its details. But its reference to only one wife may indicate that it was Ibn al-Hakim's daughter who perished.
Possibly Ibn Khaldun married again later in Egypt. The only positive statement to this effect was made in connection with aspersions on Ibn Khaldun's private life; 51 therefore, it may not be true. But during his interview with Timur, too, he referred to his family in Egypt,52 but it is doubtful whether this reference can be taken literally. However, it is most likely that he did marry again, a course perfectly proper and almost obligatory upon him in accordance with Muslim custom.
It seems extremely doubtful that any of Ibn Khaldun's children survived him. If so, and especially had they been sons, some incidental information about them would almost certainly have been found. According to the Autobiography, a son of his was a secretary to the ruler of Morocco in 1398/99, but the text of the passage and its interpretation are rather uncertain.53
This is practically all we know of Ibn Khaldun's personal life, and it is hardly enough to satisfy our legitimate curiosity. Even this limited knowledge we owe solely to Ibn Khaldun's inability to keep from mentioning his family altogether when he recounted the great events of his life and career. Thus, in spite of his unconscious tendency to minimize family influence, we glimpse something of how strong and significant it may have been in reality.
At Abu 'Inan s court in Fez, Ibn Khaldun was a member of the ruler's circle of scholars. As such, he had the duty of attending public prayers in Abu 'man's company. But soon Abu 'Inan tried to draw Ibn Khaldun into government affairs. Towards the end of the year 1355, he was asked to serve as the ruler's secretary with the task of recording Abu 'man's decisions on the petitions and other documents submitted to him. Ibn Khaldun did not relish the idea of performing this job, because, he said, he "had never seen his ancestors do a thing like that." It seemed to him beneath his own and his family's dignity to hold a clerical position, even a very high one; The Banu Khaldun were used to occupying advisory, administrative, or executive positions.
At any rate, Ibn Khaldun's official employment did not last long. With the Hafsid Abu 'Abdallah who was at that time in Fez, he had begun a friendship which was to prove sincere and lasting. However, this friendship aroused Abu 'man's suspicion, and led to Ibn Khaldun's imprisonment on February 10, 1357. Abu 'Inan shortly thereafter embarked upon his conquest of Tunisia, and it is easy to infer why he considered it advisable to withhold freedom of movement from a Tunisian who was on good terms with the Hafsid family.
Ibn Khaldun's prison term lasted for twenty-one months. He was released only when Abu 'Inan died, on November 27, 1358. For a young man eager to build a career, this must have seemed a long time of enforced inactivity, but it probably gave him the leisure to continue his scholarly pursuits.
With Abu 'man's death, the power of the Merinid dynasty collapsed. Except for a brief period of recovery under an energetic ruler some years later, the Merinid realm was to undergo a fate that Ibn Khaldun describes often and graphically in the Muqaddimah. The rulers became mere figureheads controlled by prime ministers who exercised the actual power, an atmosphere ideal for the mushroom-like growth of little kingmakers. Each of the higher state officials selected his favorite candidate from among the members of the dynasty and tried to promote him. Ibn Khaldun himself participated enthusiastically in this game, and he seems to have been inferior to none in the art of political maneuvering. Later in life he often complained of the "intrigues" that had brought about his misfortunes and had so frequently obliged him to change his place of residence. Although we feel sympathetically inclined towards one of the great personalities of all times, and naturally disposed to discount criticism of him, we have to acknowledge the disconcerting, if not surprising, fact that the intrigues against him of which Ibn Khaldun complained were merely countermeasures to his own.
The candidate whose side Ibn Khaldun supported after Abu 'Inan's death was Abu Salim. This proved a good choice, for Abu Salim became the ruler of Morocco in July of 1359. As a reward for his support, Ibn Khaldun was made his secretary of state. Near the end of Abu Salim's reign, he was entrusted with the mazalim, that is, with jurisdiction over complaints and crimes not covered by Muslim religious laws.54 This was Ibn Khaldun's first legal position, albeit connected with law and the judiciary only in the European sense of these terms. In Islam, it was a long way from the secular judicial mazalim duties, delegated by the ruler, to the powerful position of judge. Ibn Khaldun enjoyed his new function; he modestly remarked that he performed it well. But it did not last long, for Abu Salim perished in the autumn of 1361 in the course of a revolt organized by civilian and military officials.
In the meantime, the `Abd-al-Wadids had regained control over Tlemcen. Farther east, in Bougie, Constantine, and Tunis, the Hafsids were re-establishing their positions. By contrast, politics in Fez were rather disturbed. Ibn Khaldun, therefore, wished to leave Fez and hoped to find a more secure and promising field of activity elsewhere. However, the government in Fez feared that he might use his knowledge of northwest African politics to its detriment and tried to detain him. He finally made a deal with the Fast authorities and was permitted to leave on the condition that he would not remain in northwestern Africa but go to Spain. Thus, he left Fez and traveled, via Ceuta, to Granada, the only important Muslim state left in the Iberian peninsula. He arrived in Granada December 26, 1362.
Granada was prepared to give Ibn Khaldun a royal welcome. As Abu Salim's secretary of state, Ibn Khaldun had given a friendly reception to Muhammad V of Granada (1354-59 and 1.362-91) when the latter had come to Fez as a fugitive from his native country, accompanied by his prime minister, the great scholar and writer Ibn al-Khatib, mentioned earlier. Through Ibn Khaldun's active interest, Muhammad V had been enabled to reestablish his rule over Granada. For these past services, Ibn Khaldun was now rewarded with the ruler's confidence and munificence and by the friendship of Ibn al-Khatib. In 1864, he was put in charge of a mission sent to Pedro the Cruel, King of Castilla, for the purpose of ratifying a peace treaty between Castilla and the Muslims. Thus, Ibn Khaldun had an opportunity to visit Sevilla, the city of his ancestors. The Christian ruler honored him highly, offering to take him into his service and to restore his family's former property to him. Ibn Khaldun declined; but, it may be noted, he had no word of indignation for an offer the acceptance of which would have involved betraying his religion. Nor did he at this time censure the infidel, as, much later in his Autobiography, he was to censure the infidels of the East.
In the cultured atmosphere of Granada Ibn Khaldun felt secure enough to bring his family over from Constantine. Soon, however, he saw danger signs on the horizon. He sensed that Ibn al-Khatib was becoming displeased at his growing influence in the court. Yet, he desired to avoid an open break with him. As a matter of fact, he remained on the best of terms with Ibn al-Khatib and retained throughout his life the greatest respect for the latter's literary abilities. The personal contact of the two men, however, was interrupted. It appears that Ibn Khaldun actually saw Ibn alKhatib only once again after their Granada association. This was during Ibn al-Khatib's unhappy stay in Fez shortly before his assassination in 1374.
Under the circumstances, Ibn Khaldun was glad to receive au invitation from his old friend, the Hafsid Abu 'Abdallah, who had gained control over Bougie in June, 1364. Asked to come and be his prime minister, Ibn Khaldun gladly accepted the invitation. On leaving Granada he received expressions of great regret and a very flattering letter of thanks written by Ibn al-Khatib in the name of Muhammad V, and dated February 11, 1365. He arrived in Bougie the following month and was there given a rousing reception.
Ibn Khaldun apparently tried his best to further Abu 'Abdallah's cause. However, Abu l-'Abbas, Abu 'Abdallah's cousin, at this time the ruler of Constantine, was destined to restore the Hafsid dynasty. Abu 'Abdallah was not successful in the military defense of his regime. After his first defeat, Ibn Khaldun volunteered for the dangerous task of collecting taxes from the Berber tribes in the mountains of Bougie. The money was badly needed to maintain Abu 'Abdallah's rule. But after the latter's death in May, 1366, Ibn Khaldun did not feel inclined to cast his lot with Abu 'Abdallah's children. Realizing the hopelessness of their situation, he took the sensible step of going over to Abu1-'Abbas in order to salvage as much of his own position as possible.
The next eight or nine years were the most precarious ones in Ibn Khaldun s stormy career. But they were also those in which he played an important independent role in the political life of northwestern Africa. Soon after he had gone over to Abu1-'Abbas, he felt his position vis-a-vis that ruler to be uncertain and wanted to withdraw. He eventually succeeded in overcoming Abu1-'Abbas' reluctance to give him permission to leave. Thereupon he resumed his old connections with the Riyah-Dawawidah Arabs, begun when he left Tunis in 1352, and settled in Biskra. Soon, the news reached him that his brother Yahya, who was subsequently to become for a number of years his close associate, had been imprisoned by Abu1-'Abbas. This act convinced him of the hopelessness, at least for the time being, of his position with that prince.
The political pattern in northwestern Africa for the next few years was a simple one. On the one side, we find Abu Hammu, who was the 'Abd-al-Wadid ruler of Tlemcen, and the Hafsid ruler of Tunis. Opposed to them were an 'Abd-al-Wadid pretender to the rule over Tlemcen, and Abu1-'Abbas, the Hasid ruler of Constantine and Bougie. In this situation, the attitude of the Arab tribes was the decisive factor. They could swing the victory to one side or the other, and here Ibn Khaldun had considerable influence.55
Abu Hammu of Tlemcen was married to a daughter of Abu 'Abdallah of Bougie, Ibn Khaldun's former friend and master. Abu Hammu now approached Ibn Khaldun and asked him to enter his service. For his part, Ibn Khaldun seems to have considered Abu Hammu his most promising choice for future employment. However, he was reluctant to follow Abu Hamma's uncertain destiny. Even in March, 1368, after receiving a most pressing and flattering invitation to become Abu Hamma's prime minister, he preferred to maintain a cautious, waiting attitude. He sent his brother Yahya, who had been released, to Tlemcen, but himself remained in the region of Biskra. The reasons he gave for refusing Abu Hamma's offer were that he was disgusted with the snares and pitfalls of high office and that he had neglected scholarship for too long. Indeed, during these years, Ibn Khaldun's feeling of bitterness toward political life-he once called it 56 "the morass of politics" -and his desire for the peace and quiet of scholarly research, found more and more frequent expression. Ibn Khaldun fully realized how difficult it is to withdraw from the higher levels of politics once one has attained them.57 He, for one, never succeeded in keeping out of public life except for rather brief periods, because the particular gifts he possessed and the services he was eminently qualified to render were always in great demand. Although, when his political fortunes were at their lowest ebb, he fervently asserted his desire for a scholar's life in peaceful retirement, to the very last he always surrendered easily to the temptations of power and a political career.
His reluctance to join Abu Hammu was proved by subsequent events to have been justified. A new element appeared on the northwest African political scene when a temporary recovery of the Merinid power was made under the leadership of 'Abd-al-'Aziz, the young and energetic new ruler of Fez (1366-72). His march on Tlemcen, in 1370, made Abu Hammu's position there untenable for the time being. In April of the same year, Ibn Khaldun met with Abu Hamma. But he seems to have felt that 'Abd-al-Aziz's victorious progress made it unsafe for him to stay in northwestern Africa, especially in view of his own strained relations with the Merinids ever since he had left Fez following Abu Salim's death. Consequently, he decided to cross over to Spain, but the attempt to escape did not succeed. Stranded at the port of Hunayn, which is situated halfway between the modern towns of Beni Saf and Nemours, he was captured by a detachment of Abd-al-'Aziz's troops. Abd-al-'Aziz seems to have feared that his departure to Spain would inaugurate an attempt by Ibn Khaldun's group to secure Spanish intervention in northwestern Africa. Brought before the Merinid ruler, Ibn Khaldun was hard put to it to explain his earlier attitude towards the Merinids and to soothe 'Abd-al-'Aziz with assurances that Bougie would be an easy conquest. When Ibn Khaldun left the ruler's presence he was not sure whether he would escape with his life. He was, therefore, greatly relieved when his confinement lasted only for one night and he was set free the next morning. He went to El-Eubbad (al-'Ubbad), near Tlemcen, the sanctuary of the great mystic and saint Abu Madyan, and firmly decided to devote his future to study and teaching.
A few weeks later, Ibn Khaldun was pressed into the service of 'Abd-al-'Aziz, who wanted to exploit the scholar's connections with the Arab tribes and hoped he could win them over to the Merinid side. Ibn Khaldun did not feel in a position to refuse 'Abd-al-'Aziz's request. Also, perhaps, he was not unaware of the opportunity for a change of scene and for freeing himself to some degree from direct Merinid supervision. Thus, he left for Biskra August 4, 1370, and again took a hand in Arab tribal politics, though he may not have been overactive in his employer's behalf. After two full years of this life, he was summoned by 'Abd-al'Aziz to Fez. He left Biskra with his family September 11, 1372.
While on the way to Fez only a few days later, the news of 'Abd-al-'Aziz's death reached him. He decided to continue his journey nevertheless, only to be held up by Bedouins acting on the instigation of Abu Hammu. He escaped only with the greatest difficulty, and reached Fez in October or November. The confusion reigning in Fez made it impossible for him to obtain a satisfactory and sufficiently secure position. While biding his time, he may have had some leisure for scholarly pursuits; but he had to look for a more promising place to live, and again he turned to Spain, hoping to find a refuge there. His friend, Ibn al-Khatib, now an exile in Fez, had been replaced as prime minister in Granada by Ibn Zamrak,58 another famous litterateur, whom Ibn Khaldun had known when he, like Ibn al-Khatib now, was a refugee in Fez during the reign of Abu Salim. However, Ibn Khaldun encountered a number of difficulties in realizing his plan. The relations between Fez and Granada were at this time strained almost to the point of war, and the Fasi government tried to prevent his departure by every means. Sometime in 1374, probably in the fall, he finally succeeded in getting away, but his family was not permitted to join him. The government in Fez even went so far as to persuade the ruler of Granada to extradite him. He was returned to northwest Africa, but through the intervention of a friend managed to go from Hunayn, where he was landed, to Abu Hammu who once again was in control of Tlemcen. Ibn Khaldun took up his residence in nearby al-'Ubbad. Here his family was able to join him on March 5, 1375.
After the experiences of these nine years, Ibn Khaldun was thoroughly tired of politics and the dangers of public life. Thus, when Abu Hamma asked him to head a political mission to the Dawawidah Arabs, he seized the opportunity it offered to seek freedom from governmental service. After leaving Tlemcen, he stopped among the Awlad 'Arif, the leading family of the Suwayd branch of the Arab Zughbah tribes, and had his family brought to him. The Awlad 'Arif permitted the whole family to live under their protection in Qal'at Ibn Salamah, a castle and village in the province of Oran granted to them by Abu 'Inan, the Merinid of Fez in whose reign Ibn Khaldun had completed his studies almost twenty years before. There, Ibn Khaldun spent over three years in comfort and quiet, and started to write his History of the world. In November of 1377, he tells us,59 "I completed its Introduction (Muqaddimah) in that remarkable manner to which I was inspired by that retreat, with words and ideas pouring into my head like cream into a churn, until the finished product was ready." It was to take Ibn Khaldun four more years, together with an opportunity to use the libraries in Tunis, before he completed his great historical work.
More will be said about the Muqaddimah in the following pages. The other parts of the monumental History (Kitab al-'Ibar) certainly deserve more careful study and discussion than they have so far received, though this is not the place for an exhaustive analysis of the work. But we may, at least, stress the fact that, in general, Ibn Khaldun's achievement has not been judged fairly. On the contrary, a good deal of direct and indirect abuse has been heaped upon the 'Ibar. This began when Ibn Hajar, Ibn Khaldun's famous student, saw fit to remark that his teacher's knowledge of the eastern part of the Muslim world and its history was not too precise 60 – a statement which, though to some degree correct, is so obvious and of so little real significance that one wishes that Ibn Hajar had not made it. In modern times, scholars have often expressed the opinion that the 'Ibar does not reflect the historical and sociological insights of the Muqaddimah.
The last two volumes of the seven-volume work deal with the history of the Muslim West. To this day, these two volumes are the most important source we possess for northwest African and Berber history. As such, they are indispensable. It is, however, more important to know that they clearly reflect Ibn Khaldun's great gifts as a researcher and writer. A good deal of the material they contain is based upon knowledge carefully collected at firsthand. The historical presentation is as clear and interesting as the Muslim taste in historiography-which runs to excessively detailed reporting of facts-permitted.
Volumes ii to v of the 'Ibar (of which the Muqaddimah constitutes volume 1), belong to a different category. They deal with events of the pre-Islamic world and with Arab and Eastern Muslim history. Occasionally, though rarely, they contain information for which they appear to be our principal source, such as the account of the Arab tribes in Syria.61 In general, however, these volumes contain little material for which we do not have older or more accurate sources. This could hardly be otherwise, considering the character of Muslim historiography and the abundant material at our disposal. However, in his treatment of pre-Islamic history, a matter that Muslim historians have always known imperfectly, Ibn Khaldun has the merit of having consulted unusual sources. In particular, he was eager to use more than one source, whenever possible.62 He compared the sources at his disposal and tried to exercise as much critical judgment with regard to them as the meagerness and confusing character of the information permitted.
The pages on Muslim history have to be judged by different criteria. Here the decisive factor is the method used by Ibn Khaldun in selecting and abridging the historical material at his disposal. Much investigation and study are needed before a definite judgment on his achievement in this respect can be given. However, Ibn Khaldun seems to have done whatever was humanly possible with considerable ability, avoiding the chitchat and incredible tales that he easily might have been tempted to use.
Ibn Khaldun does not deserve the reproach that the descriptive part of his history fails to measure up to the high standards set by the theories of the Muqaddimah. His discussion of contemporary northwest African history, dealing largely with material he had himself observed, is obviously guided by the insights into tribal politics which he expressed in the Muqaddimah. The larger, more urbanized and centralized eastern Muslim region presented much more complex problems. Ibn Khaldun possessed only written sources for its history and was almost completely unacquainted with its contemporary reality when he wrote. To apply the general reflections of the Muqaddimah to individual events so remote and unfamiliar to him, would have been an almost hopeless task and, moreover, would have required a forbidding amount of space. It was for this reason that Ibn Khaldun put his theoretical reflections in the form of an introduction. Incidentally, in doing so, he merely followed the example of many earlier Muslim historians who also relegated their general historical theories to the introductions of their respective works. However, they usually did so in a manner infinitely more restricted than that of Ibn Khaldun.
Meanwhile, the author of the Muqaddimah was beginning to grow restless in his seclusion at Qal'at Ibn Salamah. Indeed, it is hard to visualize this active man of affairs, long accustomed to the company of scholars and the great of his time, living out the prime of his life in a place where there was little to learn and even less to do. When he fell gravely ill, his realization of his loneliness and isolation became acute. Upon recovery, he decided to leave Qal'at Ibn Salamah and, thinking of the work still to be done on his History, wished he could be near large libraries, such as were to be found in Tunis.63
By this time, the Hafsid Abu1-'Abbas had been master of Tunis and the mightiest ruler in all of northwestern Africa for seven years. Ibn Khaldun's first, unfortunate encounter with him had happened eleven years ago. Thus, it was natural that Ibn Khaldun should now turn his eyes in that direction. The most promising approach was also clearly indicated. Ibn Khaldun addressed Abu1-'Abbas as a scholar who wanted to do research in Tunis and as a native who desired to see the town of his birth and the graves of his parents once more. His petition was successful. Abu l-'Abbas, respecting Ibn Khaldun's famous family name, graciously permitted him to come to Tunis. Early in the winter of 1378, Ibn Khaldun left Qal'at Ibn Salamah. On his way, he met Abu1-'Abbas, who was on a military expedition. He arrived in Tunis in November or December, 1378.
Once he had again settled down in his old home, Ibn Khaldun began to encounter difficulties with many people, both scholars and courtiers. As Ibn Khaldun tells the story, it was because he enjoyed Abul-'Abbas' favor that he aroused the envy of the ruler's entourage. In view of their past conflict, however, it would seem more likely that Abul-'Abbas was reluctant to promote Ibn Khaldun. The courtiers, moreover, were themselves interested in having Ibn Khaldun under the ruler's supervision, and, as far as we know, had no fear that Ibn Khaldun could use his close association to influence him. Thus, while there certainly was animosity against Ibn Khaldun in court circles, it probably was not due to his alleged success in winning Abu1-'Abbas' favor.
Ibn Khaldun started teaching in Tunis and met with opposition from the great jurist Ibn 'Arafah al-Warghami (1316-1401).64 Ibn 'Arafah was sixteen years older than Ibn Khaldun; he had studied under the same teachers, but it had taken him longer to mature as a scholar. He had slowly achieved eminence in the Muslim world as the leading representative of Malikite jurisprudence. When he saw that his students preferred Ibn Khaldun's classes to his own, he deeply resented the presence of the brilliant intruder who, for his part, may have failed to establish a suitably deferential relationship with the older man. The situation as described by Ibn Khaldun, is, of course, a common one in university life, and while we may hesitate to apportion exact degrees of guilt to one side or the other, neither the fact of this rivalry nor its unfortunate effect upon Ibn Khaldun's situation in Tunis can be doubted. For the rest of his life Ibn 'Arafah never changed his opinion of Ibn Khaldun. Much later, probably in either 1390/91 or 1393/94 65 when he stopped in Egypt in the course of his pilgrimage, he grimly denounced Ibn Khaldun's fitness as a jurist and stated sarcastically that he had lost all respect for the office of judge now that Ibn Khaldun had become one." It has been shrewdly suggested that Ibn 'Arafah's opposition to Ibn Khaldun may have had a deeper meaning, that it symbolized the opposition of formal Muslim jurisprudence to the stirrings of a new spirit faintly noticeable in Ibn Khaldun's thinking.67 Be this as it may, there were more concrete motives to determine Ibn 'Arafah's attitude towards Ibn Khaldun during his years in Tunis.
When Abu1-'Abbas went on another of his military expeditions, Ibn Khaldun was obliged to accompany him, for the ruler feared that if he were left alone in Tunis, Ibn Khaldun would intrigue against him. Ibn Khaldun resented this interruption of his life and work. To make matters worse, he had presented Abu1-'Abbas with a copy of the completed History, but this work did not contain the customary panegyric (on the reign of the ruler who commissioned it or supported its author) with which Muslim historians were wont to end their works. Ibn Khaldun suspected that his failure to have included such a panegyric was used to cast suspicion upon his loyalty to Abu1-'Abbas. Finally, in October of 1382, when Abul-'Abbas was getting ready another military expedition, Ibn Khaldun feared he was again to be forced to accompany it, and decided to leave. He seized the opportunity offered by the presence of a ship in the harbor of Tunis, ready to sail for Alexandria, to ask Abu1-'Abbas for permission to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. This was the age-old pretext for Muslims in public life who felt insecure and wanted to remove themselves from the political scene. The permission was granted, and October 24, 1382, Ibn Khaldun sailed for Alexandria. His family remained in Tunis, possibly because he had first to find a means of livelihood abroad, or because Abu1-'Abbas may not have allowed them to leave with him. They would be valuable hostages in the event Ibn Khaldun turned west instead of east and decided to play a part, once again, in the history of northwestern Africa or Spain.
Ibn Khaldun's Maghrib and Southern Spain
However, Ibn Khaldun sailed eastward, and thereafter his only contacts with the West were by correspondence or through travelers 68 After more than forty days at sea, he reached Alexandria December 8, 1382. He did not then go on to Mecca, but settled in Egypt where, except for occasional travels in the East, including an eventual pilgrimage, he remained for the rest of his life.
If Ibn Khaldun had seriously entertained the idea of going on the pilgrimage at that critical juncture of his career, he gave it up for the time being. On January 6, 1383, he moved to Cairo, the fame of which had already reached him while he was still in the West. Egypt under the Mamelukes was prosperous and comparatively stable politically. To Ibn Khaldun Cairo's size, the innumerable people it contained, and its importance as the center of Islam surpassed his anticipations.69 The city's crowded streets, its splendid buildings, its magnificent and splendidly equipped colleges, and the eternal beauty of the Nile aroused his excitement and enthusiasm. However, his most urgent task was to find a position which would allow him to stay in Egypt. Great as his personal qualifications undeniably were, his career in the West had been greatly facilitated by his family connections, by his relationship with many important people there, and by the numerous helpful friendships that were his birthright. A sizable number of his countrymen lived in Egypt, and Ibn Khaldun presumably consulted them; later on, his own house was to become a center for visitors from northwestern Africa. Yet, in building up a position for himself in Egypt, he had to rely mainly on his own resources, his personality, abilities, scholarship, and experience of public life. His success in Egypt is proof, if such were needed, of his personal qualities.
Fortunately for Ibn Khaldun, al-Malik az-Zahir Barquq had become Egypt's ruler shortly before his arrival. In beginning his reign, he presumably was trying to attract new personalities to enlarge and improve the quality of his entourage. Ibn Khaldun soon gained the new ruler's esteem and confidence. Only once did a passing disturbance interrupt their good relations, which lasted until Barquq's death in 1399. Ibn Khaldun reciprocated Barquq's favor by the gesture of renaming the History in his honor azZahiri, using Barquq's royal title 70 Throughout his life, Ibn Khaldun never ceased to speak of Barquq with gratitude and affection.
Another fortunate circumstance helped Ibn Khaldun in Egypt. Almost immediately upon arrival, he was able, in some way unknown, to establish connections with a high-ranking and very influential Turkish official, Altunbugha al-Jubani (d. 1390), who was instrumental in introducing him to Barquq and into the proper Egyptian circles. He was to spend the remaining twenty-three years of his life in a variety of highly respected positions, becoming at different times professor, college president, and judge. In his youth Ibn Khaldun may have regarded such positions as somewhat beneath his ambitions and the family tradition, but they were in keeping with the development of his personality and the course of his career, as well as appropriate activities for his declining years.
Intellectual communication between the western and the eastern parts of the Muslim world was poor, even if certain contacts existed in Ibn Khaldun's time.71 So recent a work as his History could hardly have been widely known or appreciated in Egypt at the time of his arrival. While still in Tunis, he may have sent a few presentation copies to Egyptian scholars, or, more likely, when he came to Cairo he may have given copies to a few scholars likely to be interested in the work. Nor could his previous publications, if they had reached Egypt at all, have gained a great reputation for the author. But his wide and ready knowledge and, above all, his mastery of literary Arabic, must have made an immediate impression on the persons he met. He was given an opportunity to hold courses at al-Azhar University, and, when it became open, Barquq appointed him to the professorship of Malikite jurisprudence in the Qamhiyah College.
Ibn Khaldun began teaching in the Qamhiyah College on March 19, 1384.72 The inaugural lecture he delivered on that occasion, as well as two other inaugural lectures given in connection with subsequent appointments to professorships, are preserved in the Autobiography. These inaugural lectures are extremely valuable documents of Muslim academic life. The Qamhiyah lecture comprised an encomium on the Turks and Barquq, and a statement as to the spirit in which Ibn Khaldun intended to discharge his professorial duties. The Zahiriyah inaugural lecture was delivered at a newly established institution and therefore followed slightly different lines. It had as its exclusive theme the praise of Barquq, particularly as builder of the Zahiriyah College. The most important lecture of the three was given at Surghatmishiyah College. It began, as was customary, with an encomium on Barquq and a statement as to the spirit in which Ibn Khaldun approached his task. It then turned into a scholarly discussion of Malik's Muwatta, with biography of its author, an account of the origin of the work, and the history of its transmission. On these three academic occasions, a distinguished audience of officials was greatly impressed by Ibn Khaldun's skillful presentation of his subject.
All of Ibn Khaldun's teaching positions were officially in the religious sciences. There can be little doubt that he mainly taught jurisprudence and traditions. But he also lectured on the Muqaddimah,73 and he probably had some liberty to teach historical subjects of his own choosing, if he desired. During all the years in Egypt, he kept working on the Muqaddimah, improving it, and bringing his History up to date.
The Qamhiyah professorship was a good position, but Ibn Khaldun was soon called to a more important task. On August 8, 1384, Barquq appointed him Chief Maliki Judge of Egypt. Custom required the individual nominated to a judgeship to pretend to refuse the appointment, and Ibn Khaldun went through the required motions. Still sensitive to the lure of public life, he gladly accepted the new honor; for, while the professorship gave him prestige, the judgeship meant both prestige and power. Five times more he was called upon to be a judge, and on all these occasions he seems to have welcomed the opportunity for official activity that the judgeship offered. It must have been gratifying to him at the end to die in office. Fully conscious of the importance of his position, he fulfilled his legal functions with dignity and severity; his adversaries charged him with being intolerably overbearing while in office, yet willing to please everybody while out of office.74
At the beginning of his career as judge, Ibn Khaldun appears to have assumed the role of reformer-a rather puzzling metamorphosis for a man with his outlook on life, a realist by both temperament and experience. Moreover, Ibn Khaldun must have known beforehand that to attempt reforms of long-established customs would make enemies for himself. He must certainly have realized that he could not succeed in introducing reforms in a foreign country without "group feeling" ('asabiyah) to sustain him in his efforts. Apparently he was actuated not so much by a conscious scheme of reform as by the urge to do his job well. This is why he proceeded against the corruption and bribery which were rampant among notaries and clerks, and tried to weed out incompetent muftis and ignorant legal advisers. Among the latter were many countrymen of his from the West who had settled in Egypt and set themselves up as experts in Malikite jurisprudence.
As a result of these efforts, he remained less than a year in the judgeship. His will to fight was broken by a great personal misfortune, the loss of his family. As soon as he had obtained the full professorship at the Qamhiyah College, he had set in motion the international machinery necessary to bring to Cairo his loved ones whom he had been forced to leave behind in Tunis. In a letter dated April 8, 1384, Barquq approached Abu1-'Abbas of Tunis in this matter, and his intervention was successful. But the ship carrying Ibn Khaldun's family and some fine horses intended as a gift from Abu1-'Abbas to Barquq, was wrecked near the harbor of Alexandria 75 in October/November, 1384, and everyone, it seems, was lost.76
Relieved from the judgeship, Ibn Khaldun again turned to teaching. He was appointed professor of Malikite jurisprudence in the Zahiriyah College and Mausoleum which Barquq had just built and named after his own royal title. He was now securely established in Egypt and could think of undertaking the long-postponed pilgrimage to Mecca. Ibn Khaldun left Cairo on September 29, 1387, and returned eight months later, compensated for the hardships of the journey by contact with the interesting people he had met. Soon after his return, in January, 1389, he was made professor of the science of traditions in the Surghatmishiyah College, and in April of the same year, when the presidency of the Baybars Institute became vacant, he was, in addition, appointed president of that institution.
The year 1389 also witnessed a revolt against Barquq in Egypt. For a time he was deprived of his throne, but was able to regain control and re-entered Cairo February 2, 1390. During that period, Ibn Khaldun, together with the other Egyptian legal authorities, had issued a legal opinion against Barquq; but they claimed to have been forced to do so. Ibn Khaldun's relationship with Barquq seems to have been somewhat clouded for a time, and Barquq, at the urging of an interested third party, deprived Ibn Khaldun of the presidency of the Baybars Institute. That there was no real break between the two men is shown by the fact that Ibn Khaldun retained his professorship and, on May 21, 1399, regained the Malikite judgeship. One month later, Barquq died and was succeeded by his ten-year-old son, Faraj.
Ibn Khaldun was confirmed in his position under the new ruler. In 1400, he visited Damascus in the company of Faraj. On the way back to Egypt, he made a pilgrimage to the holy cities of Palestine, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron. On his return to Egypt, he found another aspirant to his judgeship trying, by influence and bribery, to remove him and to be appointed in his place – intrigues such as, Ibn Khaldun claims, led to his removal from office on later occasions also. His rival was successful, and replaced him as Malikite judge on September 5, 1400.
The Tatar hordes under Timur were by then knocking at the Syrian gateway to Egypt, and the Egyptian army under Faraj had to move against them. Ibn Khaldun, though still out of office, was asked to accompany the ruler on this expedition, and reluctantly agreed. The expedition left Egypt in November, 1400, and reached besieged Damascus a month later. During the first week of 1401, Faraj and his advisers, informed of a revolt then being planned in Egypt, decided to return. In the beleaguered city a difference of opinion arose between the military and civilian authorities as to the best course to take. While the military authorities wanted to hold out, the civilian authorities, that is, the judges and jurists in Damascus, including such temporary residents as Ibn Khaldun, thought it best to surrender. Their treasonable weakness, which perhaps may be excused by the seeming hopelessness of the situation, won out. They escaped unscathed, but had to watch the betrayed city being sacked and ravaged by the Tatar hordes. To later generations, though not to the contemporary Damascenes, there was a compensating element in the debacle: the civilian authorities' lack of courage provided Ibn Khaldun with a chance to meet Timur face to face and to leave posterity a vivid account of their historic meeting.
When the Damascus judges first approached Timur, he asked them about Ibn Khaldun and expressed the wish to see him. Since the military authorities were still in control of the city gates, Ibn Khaldun could not leave the city by way of them. Thus, he had to have himself lowered by ropes from the walls of Damascus and, January 10, 1401, got in touch with Timur. His personal association with the world conqueror extended to the end of February of that year. Ibn Khaldun's main concern, on the occasion of their interviews, was to obtain the safety of his colleagues and himself. At the same time, he was fully conscious of meeting in Timur one of the great makers of history. Timur, for his part, had in mind the advantage to his future plans of grandiose world conquest, of having a man of Ibn Khaldun's background and experience attached to his court. In particular, he desired to avail himself of Ibn Khaldun's intimate, firsthand knowledge of the western portion of the Muslim world, a qualification that Barquq, too, had considered a most valuable asset.
For Ibn Khaldun had kept his connections with the West alive, and even showed his northwest African origin outwardly by dressing in the style of that region. While in Egypt, he did many favors for Western friends, such as presenting a poem by a Western litterateur to Barquq, and procuring books in Egypt for a Spanish scholar unable to buy them himself. He informed interested statesmen in the West of his own doings and of the political situation in Egypt. In turn, he tried, through pilgrims and travelers as well as through correspondents, to obtain political information from the West, ostensibly for bringing his History up to date, but partly for political purposes. Thus, he was especially useful as an adviser on diplomatic relations between Egypt and the West, whether concerning the exchange of presents or the proper reception due a Western pilgrim of high rank passing through Egypt.77
Timur's interest in Ibn Khaldun's knowledge of the West appears to have been of a more aggressive character. He inquired about the geography of the area and asked Ibn Khaldun to write a detailed description of it to be translated into Mongol for the use of himself and his military advisers. Ibn Khaldun complied with the request by writing a long paper on the subject. However, as soon as he was safely back in Egypt, he wrote another, also rather lengthy document, a letter addressed to "the ruler of northwestern Africa," presumably, the Merinid in Fez.78 In it, he supplied his addressee with a history of the Tatars and a careful and wellbalanced estimate of Timur's personality. Obviously, he felt a twinge of conscience at having given Timur information dangerous to the future well-being and independence of the country of his youth. By informing the northwest Africans of the character of the Tatar menace, he intended to neutralize the potentially harmful results of his previous action.
If Timur actually thought of attaching Ibn Khaldun to his staff, he did not press the matter. Ibn Khaldun was able to obtain Timur's permission to leave and return to Egypt. On his way to the coast via Safad, he was robbed by tribesmen, but when he reached the coast he was able to board a passing vessel which carried him to Gaza. Without having the faintest premonition of the significance of this encounter, Ibn Khaldun met on board an ambassador of Bayazid Yildtrim, the Ottoman ruler of Asia Minor, a power destined to become far more important for the future of Ibn Khaldun's world and work than the great conqueror whom he had just left. It is only just to observe that the chances of Yildirim's survival, in the precarious position in which he found himself at that moment, would have seemed remote to any observer just then.
In March, 1401, Ibn Khaldun reached Egypt after an absence of six months. Except for the dates of his appointments to and dismissals from the judgeship, we know very little about these last five years of his life. He was appointed judge for the third time in April, 1401, deposed at the beginning of March, 1402, reappointed again in July, 1402, and deposed in September, 1403. His next appointment came on February 11, 1405, and this time his tenure of office lasted to the end of May, 1406. His last appointment came in March, 1406, and only a few days later, on Wednesday, March 17, death suddenly relieved him of the office. He was buried in the Sufi cemetery outside Cairo's Nasr Gate.
As is so often the case with men of genius, Ibn Khaldun's actions and aspirations were simple and uncomplicated. With great single-mindedness he endeavored to acquire leadership in the organization of his society and to master the intellectual development of humanity at its contemporary level. His background and upbringing had taught him to consider these the most desirable achievements in this world, and, by and large, he was able to realize them. Recognizing that all means were necessary and therefore justified, Ibn Khaldun's actions to achieve the first goal were ruthless and opportunistic. Recognizing further that the more enduring achievement of intellectual leadership is largely incompatible with the search for worldly success,79 he strove to strike a sound balance between the active and the contemplative aspects of his personality. Aided by great ability and endurance, as well as by circumstances that, though harsh, were favorable to his aspirations, he became the great thinker and doer he set out to be.
In the realm of intellectual achievement, the greatest hopes he may reasonably have harbored were eventually fulfilled. His contemporaries, it is true, and the generations immediately following, refused to recognize or to appreciate the stirrings of a new spirit apparent in his work. But his labors had considerable influence upon the first generation of his pupils, including such men as al-Magrizi and Ibn Hajar, and, through them, in turn, upon such pupils of theirs as as-Sakhawi. These and many other great scholars throughout the fifteenth century profited from Ibn Khaldun's historical teaching.80 It may well be said that the great and active interest in historical studies noticeable during that period was stimulated by him. Moreover, a new interest in the independent theoretical discussion of historiography may be observed at that time. Ibn Khaldun's great example may well have started this trend, though it did not continue along the lines he suggested.
The great period of the rediscovery of Ibn Khaldun began as early as the sixteenth century and gained momentum in the seventeenth. At the beginning of the latter century, al-Maqqari, a scholar from northwestern Africa, made considerable use of Ibn Khaldun's work.81 But for the true understanding of Ibn Khaldun, a people was needed who, like the Romans, were mainly concerned with politics and therefore concentrated their intellectual interests upon history. Such a people were the Ottoman Turks, whose scholars and statesmen vied with each other in their interest in Ibn Khaldun's work and ideas. They included such men as Weysi (Wissi) Effendi,82 Tashkopruzadeh (1495-1561),83 Hajji Khalifah (1609-57), Tab'i Bey (ca. 1670),84 Na'ima (1688/89-1716),85 and many others of the eighteenth century and later. Their activities, so far as they concerned Ibn Khaldun, constitute an important segment of Turkish intellectual history and ought to be studied as such. Nor should we forget the men, often little known or anonymous, who brought numerous manuscripts of Ibn Khaldun's work to Turkey and had them copied for their own study.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, European scholars joined with the Turks in studying Ibn Khaldun. Many ideas discussed in the European West long after Ibn Khaldun's time were found, amazingly enough, not to be as new as had been thought, but to have been known, in their rudiments at least,86 to the northwest African of the fourteenth century who founded a "new science" in his Muqaddimah.
THE ORIGINAL "introduction" (muqaddimah) to Ibn Khaldun's great History covers only a few pages (below, pp. 15-68). As is customary in Muslim historical works, these introductory pages contain a eulogy of history. This is followed by a discussion, illustrated with historical examples, of errors historians have committed and the reasons for them. One of these is a principal reason why even great historians occasionally err, namely, their ignorance of changes in the environment within which history unfolds. The remainder of what is now called the Muqaddimah originally constituted the first book of the History, and was designed to prove this thesis. It was intended to elucidate the fundamental principles of all history, which determine the true historian's reconstruction of the past.
However, during its author's lifetime the original introduction and the first book became an independent work known under the title of Muqaddimah. In the 1394 edition of his Autobiography, Ibn Khaldun speaks of the first book of his History in this way. At the same time, the table of contents prefixed to our oldest manuscripts of the Muqaddimah states that "this first book went by the name of Muqaddimah until (that name) came to be a characteristic proper name for it." Thus, it is not surprising that, in a late addition to the Muqaddimah itself, Ibn Khaldun refers to it as the Muqaddimah 87 and that he gave lectures exclusively devoted to it 88 To all later ages, Muqaddimah was the title almost universally used.
With respect to its literary form, the Muqaddimah would not seem to deserve unqualified praise.89 Like the last two volumes of the History, it is Ibn Khaldun's original creation in the main; it is not influenced by the literary character of its sources, as is frequently the case in Muslim historical writing and as is the case with the middle volumes of Ibn Khaldun's work. The Muqaddimah was written in the precise, cultured speech that was used in academic discussion by Ibn Khaldun, his friends, and his contemporaries in the Muslim West. This language is as much, or as little, down-to-earth as the formal speech of the educated anywhere in the world tends to be. Both the language and the style of the Muqaddimah clearly reflect the discursive manner of the academic lecturer, concerned primarily with an audience that is listening to him, and driving his points home viva voce. A large segment of Muslim literature was influenced in style and content by classroom needs; thus, it became customary and easy for an author to use the lecture style even when not writing for school use or for a listening audience. This was the case when Ibn Khaldun wrote the Muqaddimah, quite apart from the consideration that he used the work later as a textbook for lectures.
Another factor to make for prolixity was Ibn Khaldun's use of a new terminology that was largely his own. Since the reader, or listener, could not be assumed to be acquainted with it, it required constant repetition and redefinition. In addition, there was the old problem of proper cross-referencing which the manuscript literature prior to the invention of printing was never able to solve.90 Since it was difficult to refer to some previous statement briefly and unambiguously, it always seemed safer for an author to repeat the same information as often as his exposition might require. In consequence, Ibn Khaldun's style often appears to be redundant. It may even be said that the Muqaddimah could easily be reduced to about half its size and would then be a much more readable work, especially to readers unable to savor the richness of the original language or unwilling to follow all the nuances and subtle variations in the workings of a great scholar's mind.
Nevertheless, as a glance at the Table of Contents shows, the Muqaddimah is logically organized and follows its subject rigorously through to the end. The work begins with man's physical environment and its influence upon him, and his nonphysical characteristics. This is followed by a discussion of primitive social organization, the character of leadership in it, and the relationship of primitive human societies with each other, as well as their relationship to the higher, urban form of society. Then the government of the state, the highest form of human social organization, is discussed in general and that of the caliphate, the special Muslim case, in particular; this part includes a discussion of how changes come about in the dynasties charged with the administration of a given state. Then the author turns to urban life as the most developed form of human association and civilization. Finally, much space is devoted to higher civilization, to commerce, the crafts, and the sciences, considered both as conditions and consequences of urban life and, as such, indispensable for the understanding of history. A better form of presentation for Ibn Khaldun's ideas and material could hardly be imagined.
As a scholarly craftsman, Ibn Khaldun proves his mettle in miniature sketches of the historical development of the various crafts and sciences. His information, based upon his teachers' instruction, was rather restricted, especially in comparison with the vast amount of Arabic literature from all periods that the modern scholar has at his disposal. For the early epochs of Muslim literature, Ibn Khaldun usually depended upon the traditional information contained in a few classics, without attempting to verify it, and he did not hesitate to jump from the oldest times directly to periods nearer his own. The results, therefore, often seem superficial and rather arbitrary to modern scholarship. They are, however, deceptively convincing, even though they do not always stand up to the scrutiny of a much later stage of scholarship, and thus testify to the insight, vigor, and skill of Ibn Khaldun.
Another measure of Ibn Khaldun's scholarly craftsmanship is the way he handles the quotations that he inserts in his work. They run the gamut from reliability to unreliability, from doubly checked, exact quotations to vague and inaccurate allusions from memory. At the one extreme, for instance, is the text of Tapir's long Epistle to his son.91 Ibn Khaldun first quoted it from Ibn alAthir's History. Then he checked and corrected it, although, it seems, rather haphazardly, against the text quoted in the Annals by at-Tabari, whom he rightly held in the highest esteem 92 The Annals do, in fact, contain the original text of Tahir's Epistle, which Ibn al-Athir had taken over into his work. Whenever Ibn Khaldun doubted the reliability of his manuscript source for a quotation, he had no illusions about the matter, nor did he leave his readers in the dark.93
At the other extreme, there are general references that profess to indicate the contents of a work but fail to do so correctly. One such is the reference to a book by Ibn 'Arabi.94 There are references that cannot be located, at least not at the place cited. These were clearly quotations from memory,95 and even the best-trained memory cannot always be trusted. The circumstances under which the Muqaddimah was composed in the seclusion of Qal'at Ibn Salamah, explain, of course, such lapses; but Ibn Khaldun certainly had many opportunities later on to correct other quotations, as he corrected that of Tahir's Epistle, and yet he failed to do so.
Further, there are summary references to a number of sources for the same subject, none of them quite accurate. There are quotations that reproduce their source exactly, and others that render the meaning of the source correctly but take some liberty in the wording, mainly by shortening the original. In general, Ibn Khaldun most frequently used this last procedure, which the nature of his material demanded, in particular, in the historical presentation.
While the form of the Muqaddimah and the scholarly details of its composition are not without significance for the proper appreciation of the work and its author, its main interest is as a contribution to human thought. Brief summary of the contents hardly does it justice. Much of its value lies in the light it sheds upon details in Ibn Khaldun's political, sociological, economic, and philosophic thinking. The complete text as provided in the following pages is a better guide to the meaning of the work than any summary presentation. Therefore, only a few leading ideas of Ibn Khaldun's system are here singled out for remark.
The center of Ibn Khaldun's world is man, in the same sense that for most Muslim historians and philosophers he is the center of speculation.
Greek geography as it had been transmitted to the Muslims taught that man is dependent on his physical environment; it must provide physical conditions that enable him to sustain life. The extreme north and the extreme south are too cold or too hot for human beings to exist there. The best conditions are offered in the middle regions of the earth between its northern and southern extremes. The physical environment also influences man's character, his appearance, and his customs, in accordance with differences in the climate and fertility of given areas.96
Beyond man, there is the supernatural, which has many different manifestations. It extends from the sublime realm of the omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal Muslim Deity - for the supreme oneness and intellectuality of Graeco-Muslim philosophy had become hardly distinguishable from the monotheistic God - down to the most primitive magic and superstition. Ibn Khaldun sincerely believed in the reality of all the supernatural's manifestations. Muslim religious tradition firmly supported him in this attitude; not only belief in the divine aspect of the supernatural, but also belief in magic, were parts of the religious credo, as the Qur'an and alleged facts of Muhammad's life both attest. The famous Risalah of Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani, a brief textbook on Malikite jurisprudence, for instance, presupposes the reality of sorcery, the evil eye, and the divinatory power of dreams. On the other hand, it repudiates astrology as being incompatible with Islam.97 Ibn Khaldun studied this work in his youth and almost certainly must have known it by heart.
However, despite his belief in the reality of the supernatural, Ibn Khaldun relegated its influence to a realm outside of, or beyond, the ordinary course of human affairs. Magic and sorcery existed for him, though he contended that much fraud and sleight of hand enter into their actual practice, as he knew from his own experience and from hearsay. Astrology and alchemy, on the other hand, do not exist; their claims can be disproved by rational arguments. Notwithstanding the reality of some of the black arts, they do not interfere in the processes of human history and are in no way able to do so.
Similarly, Ibn Khaldun restricted the influence of the Divine to the extraordinary in human affairs. It may manifest itself occasionally in psychological attitudes; for instance, psychological factors can be more decisive for the outcome of a battle than numbers and equipment. However, the divine influence on human affairs shows itself mainly in an unusual, rare "extra push," in the added impetus to greatness that it may provide. Religious fervor and the appearance of prophets, who, incidentally, cannot succeed in this world without concrete political support, can intensify and accelerate political movements. History offers instances of this, the most prominent one being the phenomenal, superhuman success of Islam.
Thus, supernatural influence upon human affairs in one way or another was for Ibn Khaldun an established, indubitable fact. However, he thought of it as out of the ordinary and not as a necessity in the historical drama, the processes of which may go on unfolding without ever being disturbed by it. In this sense, Ibn Khaldun's philosophy can be called secular, as scholars have occasionally described it. His secularism does not imply, however, any opposition to the supernatural world, let alone disavowal of it; to him its existence was as certain as anything observed by means of his senses. In his mind the only matter for inquiry was the degree of relationship between man and the supernatural. The civilization in which Ibn Khaldun lived was permeated with a tradition of mysticism many centuries old. Ibn Khaldun was inclined to consider constant and active contact with the Divine to be primarily the prerogative of the individual, and to acknowledge no more than a casual relationship between the supernatural and the forms of human social organization.
To explain the origins of human social organization, man's first step in his historical career, Ibn Khaldun adopted a theory that Muslim philosophy had already, fairly generally, accepted. As he himself tells us,98 the view had developed in discussion of a particular religious problem, namely, that of the necessity of prophecy. But it is characteristic of the working of his mind, that Ibn Khaldun generalized and secularized the applicability of this deeply pessimistic theory. Man, with his God-given power of thinking, is acknowledged to be at the pinnacle of an ascending world order which progresses from minerals, plants, and animals toward human beings. Basically, however, man is an animal, and human organization starts from the realization that, if left to his own animal instincts, man would eat man.99
Ibn Khaldun found this theory expounded in two great works by Avicenna, the Kitab ash-Shifd' and its abridged version, the Kitab an-Najdh.100 A full elaboration appeared in the large philosophical encyclopedia compiled by the thirteenth-century writer ash-Shahrazuri. In all probability, this work was never available to Ibn Khaldun. Nonetheless, since ash-Shahrazuri's statement is close to the spirit of Ibn Khaldun's thinking, it is worth quoting here. As in Avicenna's works, the theory of the origins of human social organization is presented in the form of premises for proving the existence of prophecy: 101
(1) The individual human being cannot accomplish all the things that are necessary for his livelihood, unless he has co-operation from someone else. He needs food, clothing, shelter, and weapons, not only for himself, but also for his wives, his children, his servants, and his dependent relatives. All the things mentioned are technical matters. In order to learn them, a man by himself would require a longer time than the time he could keep alive without these things. Assuming that he could (somehow manage) to live (on his own), it would be (only) with great difficulty and trouble. He would not be able to obtain the various kinds of intellectual perfection (that are the goal of humanity). Thus, of necessity there must exist a group the members of which cooperate to acquire many different crafts and (technical) skills. In this way, each individual accomplishes something from which his fellow men can profit. Full cooperation will (in this way) materialize, and the life of the human species and of other animal species will reach perfection. . . . The sages called this social organization "urbanization" (tamaddun, from Greek poliz, town). Therefore, they said "man is political by nature." (This is to be understood) in the sense that he needs this kind of social organization in order to live, to provide for his own livelihood, to improve his situation in this world, and to perfect his soul for the next world.
(II) The proper order of such social organization, which is political and based upon co-operation, can materialize only when there exists mutual intercourse governed by justice among the people, because (otherwise) each individual would want all the needed benefits for himself and would come to grief in conflict with the others competing with him for them... .
(III) This religious law must have (as its founder) a person who lays down all these general norms... .
In contrast to ash-Shahrazuri, Ibn Khaldun does not consider religious inspiration a requirement for the person charged with keeping people from devouring each other. Any individual in a position to exercise a restraining influence upon his fellow men will do; besides, on the highest moral plane, there exist individuals with native ability for such a role in society. A person with such restraining influence upon others is called wazi by Ibn Khaldun. The term, and the idea implied, is borrowed from the literature of traditions (of the Prophet and the early Muslims). According to this literature, al-Hasan (al-Basri), upon being appointed judge, had remarked that people cannot do without wazi's; one of the explanations for wazi' in this context is "the ruler and his men who keep the people apart." 102
The ability to think, God's special gift to man, is the particular human quality or innate gift that enables human beings to cooperate. Among the other animals, cooperation can be observed only on a very restricted scale. As a rule they are stronger than man, because they possess sharp teeth, claws, etc. To compensate man for lacking this type of physical endowment, he was given the ability to think, and his hands serve him as skillful instruments for executing his ideas.
As soon as several human beings, with their God-given power of thinking, begin to cooperate with each other and to form some kind of social organization, 'umran results. 'Umran (translated here as "civilization") is one of the key terms in Ibn Khaldun's system. It is derived from a root which means "to build up, to cultivate," and is used to designate any settlement above the level of individual savagery. In Ibn Khaldun's time and place, ruins left by many great and prosperous cities attested to the prior existence of high civilization; it could be seen that large agglomerations of human beings had been stopped in their growth and expansion by geographical factors. Thus, Ibn Khaldun naturally arrived at the idea (which, incidentally, seems to be by and large correct) that progress in civilization is in direct proportion to the number of people co-operating for their common good. Thus, 'umran acquired the further meaning of "population," and Ibn Khaldun frequently uses the word in this sense. Wherever people are cooperating with each other, no matter on how limited a scale, there is 'umran. When the number of these people increases, a larger and better 'umran results. This growth in numbers, with a corresponding progress in civilization, finally culminates in the highest form of sedentary culture man is able to achieve; it declines from this peak when the number of cooperating people decreases.
The two fundamentally different environments in which all human co-operation takes place and the forms of social organization develop, were distinguished by Ibn Khaldun as "desert, desert life" (badawah, cf. Bedouins) and "town, sedentary environment." The literal translation of badawah and cognate words by "desert (Bedouins)" requires some explanation, as it only partially expresses the concept Ibn Khaldun had in mind when he used these words. Ibn Khaldun was familiar with the essential characteristics of nomadism, and often stressed the detriment to higher civilization inherent in the Bedouin way of life. In this connection, he used badawah to express the concept of nomadism. However, in Arabic as spoken outside the Arabian peninsula, the term badawah was applied to the largely sedentary rural people living at some distance from the great population centers, and Ibn Khaldun preferably used it in this sense. Thus, by referring to "desert, Bedouins" and "settled area, sedentary urban people," Ibn Khaldun did not consciously make a distinction between nomadism and sedentary life as sociological phenomena. He simply grouped together nomads and (sedentary) backwoods people, on the one hand, and contrasted them with sedentary urban people as inhabitants of large population centers, on the other. Ibn Khaldun's "Bedouins" were not, as a rule, nomads living in the desert, but dwelt chiefly in villages, and practiced agriculture and animal husbandry for a livelihood. It must also not be forgotten that, in Ibn Khaldun's experience, the term "urban population" did not have the same meaning as it has today. Cities in his day permitted, and required, a good deal of agricultural activity. In Ibn Khaldun's thinking, the sociological distinction amounts to no more than a quantitative distinction as to the size and density of human settlements.
The question arises: What causes differences in the size of human settlements? If all the elements in nature existed in the same quantity and strength, none greater or lesser, stronger or weaker, than another, there would be no mixture, no creation nor generation. Correspondingly, did all human beings share equally the urge and need for co-operation, there would be no difference in the quality or size of the resulting human social organizations. There must be some factor that causes such differences as do exist, some incitement for the desire for co-operation to exist on a larger scale among some human beings than among others. Only thus can large states have originated.
That some such factor exists, Ibn Khaldun recognized and called 'asabiyah "group feeling." 103 Arab lexicographers correctly connect the term with the word 'asabah "agnates." Thus, it originally signified something like "making common cause with one's agnates." 104 However, in Ibn Khaldun's mind the term appears to have been associated with the related words 'isdbah and Qur'anic 'usbah, both meaning "group" in a more general sense.105 The group with which a human being feels most closely connected is primarily that of his relatives, the people with whom he shares a common descent. But as a feeling and a state of mind the 'asabiyah can also be shared by people not related to each other by blood ties but by long and close contact as members of a group.
Ibn Khaldun's use of the term is noteworthy because it has been much used in Muslim literature in a different meaning. Islam generally condemned 'asabiyah as a quality and state of mind. It is traditionally considered to mean "bias," or, more specifically, blind support of one's group without regard for the justice of its cause.106 As such, any show of 'asabiyah is depreciated as an atavistic survival of the pagan, pre-Islamic mentality. Ibn Khaldun, of course, was fully aware of this customary usage. In a locus classicus 107 he discriminates between an objectionable pagan 'asabiyah and "the natural asabiyah that is inseparable (from human beings). The latter is the affection a man feels for a brother or a neighbor when one of them is treated unjustly or killed. Nothing can take it away. It is not forbidden (by Muslim religious law). On the contrary, it is something desirable and useful in connection with the holy war and with propaganda for Islam."
There are a few passages in other writers where 'asabiyah is similarly spoken of as a praiseworthy quality. Thus, from his own reading, Ibn Khaldun knew that on one occasion the historian Ibn al-Athir employed 'asabiyah in the meaning of "giving helpful group support to anyone who needed and claimed it." 108 He was also aware that 'asabiyah could be applied to praiseworthy emotions, e.g. patriotism, in which case, as Ibn al-Khatib had said,109 'asabiyah was then inoffensive to either religion or worldly rank. Still, it cannot as yet be determined just how original and daring Ibn Khaldun was when he gave the term the positive meaning he did. It is uncertain to what degree he may have followed the example of the intellectual circle in which he moved, and whose backing he received. Jurisprudence stressed the privileged position agnates had in many respects, but it remains to be seen whether the juridical literature ever discussed the abstract concept of 'asabiyah in this context. Possibly, Ibn Khaldun got some support from this quarter.110 At any rate, so far as our present knowledge goes, it seems that his use of the term 'asabiyah in so positive a sense is his most original single intellectual contribution to the Muqaddimah.
Preponderance of 'asabiyah renders one group superior to others; it also determines leadership within a given group. The leading or ruling element within one or more groups will be that person or, more frequently, that family, the importance and ramifications of whose blood relationships give them the strongest and most natural claim to control of the available 'asabiyahs. And no group can retain its predominance, nor any leader his dominant position in the group, when their former 'asabiyah is no longer there to support them.
The leader who controls an 'asabiyah of sufficient strength and importance may succeed in founding a dynasty and in winning mulk, "royal authority," for himself and his family. In Ibn Khaldun's vocabulary, the word for both "dynasty" and "state" is dawlah, although the idea of "state" also finds approximate expression in the occasional use of such terms as amr and kalimah.111 In Ibn Khaldun's view of history, according to which the whole world and everything in it depends upon man, there is no room for an abstract concept of "the state." A state exists only in so far as it is held together and ruled by individuals and the group which they constitute, that is, the dynasty. When the dynasty disappears, the state, being identical with it, also comes to an end.
According to Ibn Khaldun, the described process of the formation of states does not apply to the early Muslim state. Early Muslim history, with its concept of a pure, unworldly type of state, represented by the first four caliphs, must be considered an exception to the law of 'asabiyah that governs the formation of states in general. However, this particular case represents one of the rare interventions of the supernatural in human affairs. Therefore, Ibn Khaldun was able to follow the orthodox Muslim view of early Islamic history (and of the recurrence of the early conditions at a later date in the days of the Mahdi as well), and felt justified in dealing extensively with the caliphate and its institutions, even though they were, for him, entirely atypical.
Since the founding of a dynasty or state involves large numbers of people, it is, of necessity, linked to the most developed stage of 'umran, that in which it becomes hadarah "sedentary culture." A dynasty requires large cities and towns and makes their existence possible; in turn, they permit the development of luxury. According to the philosophic ideas mentioned above as to the origins of man's social organization, all human activities are undertaken to enable the individual to preserve his life and to secure his livelihood. To that end, each man has to contribute his labor, which is his only basic capital, to satisfy the fundamental needs of his group. When there is a large number of human beings, a large amount of labor, even an excess supply of it, becomes available. A certain amount of labor may then be channeled into the production of things and the provision of services that are scarcely necessities but may be called "conveniences." Finally, the available pool of excess manpower is large enough to permit the cultivation of crafts that serve no actual need but are concerned with mere luxuries.112 Once this stage in the development of civilization is reached, man is able to develop the sciences which, although they do not produce any material object or immediate gain, nonetheless constitute fulfillment of mankind's higher and truly human aspirations in the domains of the spirit and the intellect.
This development towards luxury carries its own penalty with it in the form of causing degeneration. The pristine simplicity and rudeness of manners (often called "desert life" and "desert attitude") that flourished in small human organizations, become corroded.113 Obviously, Ibn Khaldun had a lingering and rather sentimental admiration for "the good old days" when Arab civilization was imbued with the desert attitude. However, he fully recognized the superiority of sedentary culture, the goal of all of man's efforts to become civilized, and was resigned to the inevitability of the development leading to and past it.
The principal victim of this inevitable tendency towards luxury is state and dynasty. Like an individual, the dynasty is endowed with a natural span of life. It runs its full course in three generations-"from shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves," so to speak. It passes from obscurity through power and wealth back into obscurity. Three interrelated factors produce this development and accelerate the eventual "senile decay" of the dynasty: indulgence in luxury, loss of 'asabiyah, and financial trouble.114 The desire of the ruling group to gain exclusive control over all the sources of power and wealth brings about strained relations and, eventually, a fatal estrangement between the dynasty and the men whose 'asabiyah supports and maintains it. Its members thus come to need military support from outside sources, and must have money to procure it. Further, their growing addiction to luxurious habits also requires more and more money. To raise the needed sums, they must increase the tax load and try to open up new sources of revenue. Finally, the point of diminishing returns is reached in tax collections and other schemes for securing added revenues.
As a jurist, Ibn Khaldun was naturally much interested in questions of government finance and business matters. The Muslim legal and economic literature in our possession clearly reflects the great practical importance assigned these questions in juridical activity. Yet, this literature is dominated by theoretical considerations and is greatly inclined to follow traditional forms. It is far from containing complete information about the innumerable aspects of financial and economic life that occupied the day-by-day attention of lawyers and jurists and were discussed in academic legal circles. Written formulations of legal questions were largely obliged to follow theoretical lines; practical economic and financial matters were not considered worthy of being treated in books. Thus, Ibn Khaldun's attention to practical questions in a literary work showed admirable boldness. He succeeded in giving a picture of the role of capital and labor in society that not only does credit to his acumen, but bears witness to the high level the legal circles of his time had reached in their understanding of these matters.
In the course of its rapid progress toward senility and final collapse, the dynasty loses control of its own destiny. Often the ruler becomes a ruler in name only, controlled by some outsider who is not a member of the dynasty but who wields the actual power. However, there are limitations to the outsider's sway since no 'asabiyah ("group feeling") sustains him. Thus, as a rule, he is unable to take over complete authority; eventually he may supersede the dynasty by founding one of his own. To achieve this, however, the challenging person or group must be fired and propelled by possession of a new 'asabiyah.
All dynastic history moves in circles. As it approaches senility, the dynasty slowly shrinks inwards from its borders toward its center, under the persistent pressure of the new "outside" leader and his group. Eventually, the ruling dynasty collapses. The new leader and his group thereupon constitute a new dynasty, which takes power -only to suffer, in three more generations, the fate of its predecessors.
Here, another problem arises. How, under these conditions, can the survival of any higher civilization be explained? In the first place, there is the great and inevitable attraction of a higher civilization for people on a lower level. Defeated peoples always show a strong tendency towards imitating the customs of their conquerors in every detail. While still struggling against the ruling dynasty, and during the first period of their power after having displaced it, the less civilized groups take over some of the advantages of civilization that the ruling dynasty had possessed. Thus, they do not start completely afresh, and some of the gains of the older civilization, at least, are preserved. Ibn Khaldun's answer to the problem of how all higher civilization is preserved lies in the word malakah "habit." Malakah is a loan-translation of the Greek exiz, which also was translated into the Latin habitus, from which our "habit" is derived."' Through continuous repetition, an individual may master a craft or a science, thus making it his "habit." This even explains the knowledge of the Arabic language with which the Arabs of former times were born, but which had to be acquired as a "habit" by later generations. Once a person has acquired the "habit" of a craft or science, it is difficult, if not impossible, for him to master another; but mastery of the first habit remains with him permanently. Since the acquisition of habits is a matter of education, they can be passed on to others who aspire to them, provided that proper methods of education and instruction are known and that their exercise does not lapse during political upheavals. Thus, we have an explanation for the survival of past civilizations, though it may manifest itself only in minor remnants and in certain customs and practices that can be recognized as cultural survivals only by the trained observer.
In Ibn Khaldun's orthodox Muslim environment, it was believed that human intellectual power was always constant and capable of producing the highest civilization at any given time. Therefore, Ibn Khaldun could hardly have assumed that steady progress in human civilization was possible or even necessary. There was, however, another widespread popular notion in his time. Nations of earlier times were believed to have been better endowed physically for achieving a high and materially splendid civilization than contemporary nations. Ibn Khaldun felt compelled to refute this notion as emphatically as possible. In his opinion it was merely the decay of political organization and the power of government that gave his contemporaries the impression that the civilization of their day was inferior to that of the past. In fact, in Ibn Khaldun's thinking, there could be no essential difference between the faculties and achievements of former and contemporary generations, for political and cultural life was moving in never ending, always repeated circles.
After this brief survey of some leading ideas in the Muqaddimah, we may ask what the sources are from which Ibn Khaldun drew inspiration and information for his comprehensive picture of human society. He himself acknowledged his great indebtedness to the Muslim literature of political administration and the Furstenspiegel. In particular, he referred to al-Mawardi's Ahkdm as-sultaniyah, a rather theoretical compilation of basic data on political law and administration, and to the Furstenspiegel of the Spaniard at-Turtushi, a mediocre achievement compared with other works of its kind but still containing much relevant material. Ibn Khaldun's references to these two works seem to be from memory: he certainly was familiar with their contents, but he may not have looked into them for some years when he composed the Muqaddimah. In addition to this type of works whose general influence he rightly stressed, Ibn Khaldun often indicates the sources from which he derived specific pieces of information.
Much of his material and many of his best ideas Ibn Khaldun owed to his juridical training. In particular, discussions of legal matters with his teachers, fellow students, and colleagues must have contributed greatly to his knowledge. A search for other works in which the material of such oral discussions might have been preserved would not, presumably, be too successful. For, as stated before, Muslim juridical literature is predominantly theoretical in spirit and traditional in form; furthermore, manuscript literature in general is selective and reluctant to admit new disciplines or topics. Each new written work must repeat all or nearly all of the material previously known, else that material would be lost. For all these reasons, we should not expect to find many echoes of the oral exchange of ideas between Ibn Khaldun and his friends, or among lawyers of other periods, in the legal literature.
Moreover, owing to well-known historical circumstances, the amount of Arabic literature from Spain and northwest Africa still extant is proportionally much smaller than that of the Muslim East. We know very little of the Western writings of Ibn Khaldun's time or from the period immediately preceding.116 Under these circumstances, we should perhaps be justified in assuming that practically every matter of detail found in the Muqaddimah was probably not original with Ibn Khaldun, but had been previously expressed elsewhere. Even his characterization of `asabIyah as a positive factor in society, or his demand for knowledge of social conditions as prerequisite to the historian's correct evaluation of historical information, although seemingly original ideas, may have been inspired by a source yet to be rediscovered.
Our evidence does not permit us to attribute a great amount of originality to Ibn Khaldun so far as the details of his work are concerned. Yet, he was right when he claimed that the Muqaddimah was profoundly original and constituted a new departure in scholarly research. Its originality in the intellectual sense is obvious. The Muqaddimah re-evaluates, in an altogether unprecedented way, practically every single individual manifestation of a great and highly developed civilization. It accomplishes this both comprehensively and in detail in the light of one fundamental and sound insight, namely, by considering everything as a function of man and human social organization.
How Ibn Khaldun conceived this idea is a question that will probably never be answered, at least not until we learn much more about the workings of the minds of exceptionally gifted individuals. The circumstances of his life gave him the external qualifications needed for the writing of a work like the Muqaddimah, and there were other factors that created a favorable atmosphere for its production. It is true that Ibn Khaldun used comparatively few direct examples from contemporary history. This fact becomes still more apparent if one compares the Muqaddimah with Machiavelli's Il Principe (though the two works are so different in scope and outlook that they should hardly be mentioned in the same breath). The Principe is full of events its author had witnessed in his own time, while Ibn Khaldun was more used to deductive than to inductive reasoning. Moreover, as an active politician, he probably felt it necessary to exercise the greatest care in interpreting contemporary events while the chief actors were still alive or while their power remained with their descendants. However, he had wide political experience and a happy ability to view the contemporary political happenings of northwestern Africa with the detachment of a spiritual foreigner, forever comparing them in his own mind with the greatness of his own Spanish homeland.117
But surely there must have been others, perhaps many others, who were similarly situated, and yet did not write a Muqaddimah. As it is, we can hardly do better than to state simply that here was a man with a great mind, who combined action with thought, the heir to a great civilization that had run its course, and the inhabitant of a country with a living historical tradition -albeit reduced to remnants of its former greatness-who realized his own gifts and the opportunities of his historical position in a work that ranks as one of mankind's important triumphs.
The Textual History of the Muqaddimah
THE TEXT of the Muqaddimah is very well attested and documented. Few, if any, works written before modern times can boast of being as well represented by manuscripts. Four manuscripts written during Ibn Khaldun's lifetime exist in Turkey alone. Two undated ones also exist, which were written, at the latest, shortly after his death. Manuscripts written during an author's lifetime may, of course, contain an inferior text, but in this particular case the quality of the old manuscripts is, in general, very high. One of them (A) is a copy presented to the library of the ruler of Egypt, apparently by Ibn Khaldun himself. Another (B) was written under Ibn Khaldun's eye by his proven amanuensis (who may also have been a friend and admirer). A third copy (C) bears testimony to its accuracy in Ibn Khaldun's own hand.
All these manuscripts have the same textual value that, in the period after the invention of printing, would be ascribed to a book printed under its author's supervision. There may be occasional mistakes, but a carefully written manuscript usually compares favorably with a printed text. Most manuscripts of this type may be confidently regarded as authentic copies of the text, and any factual mistakes or miswriting they contain may be considered the author's own.
Under these circumstances, we should expect the variant readings to be comparatively few and insignificant. Collation shows this to be, indeed, the case. There does exist a great number of very considerable variations among the texts, but these are not variant readings in the ordinary sense. They are additions and corrections made by Ibn Khaldun at different periods of his life. The existence of such extensive emendations demonstrates in a fascinating manner that the medieval author worked much as his modern colleague does. Once the text of the Muqaddimah is established with the help of the extant manuscripts, the principal result will be found to be the light it throws upon the history of the text in the hands of its author.
In translating the Muqaddimah a certain amount of duplication is unavoidably caused by the existence of an earlier and a later text. Though it would be desirable to translate all variations of the different texts known to have been seen by the author, such an undertaking is impracticable, if not impossible, for a work as long as the Muqaddimah. But the manuscript evidence of the Muqaddimah also shows that, basically, the text of the work is well established and utterly reliable for purposes of translation.
The excellent quality of the Arabic text of the Muqaddimah has often been doubted by Western scholars, but it is an indisputable fact. Such textual difficulties as do occur would not, in any case, be cleared up by a complete collation of manuscripts. In preparing this translation, I have therefore collated only some of the outstanding ones. An exhaustive utilization of all the manuscripts can be expected in the forthcoming edition of the Muqaddimah by Muhammad Tawit at-Tanji, who has already published the text of Ibn Khaldun's Autobiography.118 Since at-Tanji has traveled widely in search of Muqaddimah manuscripts, his edition will surely make it possible to elucidate their interrelationship and to clear up the many problems connected with their history.
The following remarks should be considered as entirely provisional, pending the appearance of at-Tanji's edition. Earlier scholars who have dealt with the manuscripts of Ibn Khaldun 119 have often had to rely upon incomplete or secondhand information, and therefore their statements are sometimes more than a bit confused. In order to avoid this danger so far as is within my abilities, I have restricted myself to manuscripts that I have seen myself, with the single exception of the Fez manuscript. Needless to say, my remarks are subject to such revision as a more thorough study of the manuscripts than I was able to undertake may one day make possible.
During my stay in Turkey in the summer of 1952, I consulted the following manuscripts of the Muqaddimah:
LIBRARY WHERE LOCATED
(In Istanbul unless otherwise noted)
Orhan Cami, Bursa (Brussa)
Damad Ibrahim 863
Reis el-kuttap ( =Abir I) 679
Halet Eff. 617
Ahmet III, 3042
Hekimoklu Ali Papa 805
MS. ar. 2743
Huseyin Celebi 793120
The large number of manuscripts of the Muqaddimah in Turkey reflects the great interest of the Ottoman Turks .121 From this point of view, practically all the manuscripts are of considerable historical import. Here, however, only the oldest and best manuscripts will be briefly described. The letters in the margin are the sigla by which the manuscripts will be designated whenever they are referred to. (The identification of the manuscripts in this web edition appears in bold.)
A (1) MS. Damad Ibrahim 863. The manuscript contains 433 folios and is not dated. It clearly seems to have been written by the same hand that wrote MS. Damad Ibrahim 867, which contains the sixth part of the 'Ibar. The latter manuscript is dated Safar 4, 797 [November 29, 1394]. The scribe gives his name as 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. Shihib, a name strangely similar to that of the scribe of our manuscript B of the Muqaddimah. But the handwriting is entirely different, so that there is no possibility that the scribes could be identical; this seems anyhow unlikely.
As in some other manuscripts, the text of A is distributed over two parts with separate title pages and tables of contents. Part One contains the beginning, up to and including chapter three, while Part Two contains the rest of the work.
The title page informs us that the manuscript was written for the library of Ibn Khaldun's patron, the Mameluke ruler al-Malik az-Zahiri, with the given name of Barquq (1382-99).122 In the manuscript (fols. 7b ff), the work itself is dedicated to Barquq in a long and sincerely affectionate dedication. Ibn Khaldun even changes its title to include the name of his benefactor: az-Zahirl fi l-'ibar bi-akhbar al-'Arab wa-l-'Ajam wa-l-Barbar; also, at the end of the first part (fol. 235a) and at the end of the second part, reference is again made to the new title az-Zahiri. This is further evidence that the manuscript was written during Barquq's lifetime. It is less easy to understand why manuscript B, which was also written during Barquq's life, makes no mention either of the title az-Zahiri or of the dedication of the work to him. On the other hand, it is not difficult to see why the manuscript sent to Fez refrained from advertising Ibn Khaldun's renaming of the work.
Manuscript A, the oldest of the preserved manuscripts, is not the best among them. Both B and C are superior to it. A appears to have been written by a professional copyist. The text is nonetheless reliable and comes as close to being the equivalent of a published edition of a modern author as any work of the manuscript age. A copy of A formed the basis of Quatremere's edition of the Muqaddimah, which thus has the most solid basis that the great French scholar, almost a hundred years ago, could have hoped for.
(2) Another manuscript, written in 798 , is the famous copy of the Muqaddimah at Fez. For a long time there has been a sort of mystery around it that is only now beginning to be solved. Much has been written about it in the scholarly literature. Brief reference may be made to it here, though I have not seen it myself.
The manuscript forms part of a complete copy of the 'Ibar that Ibn Khaldun sent as a waqf donation to the Qarawlyin Mosque in Fez. Al-Maqqari, in 1629/30, in his voluminous biography of Ibn al-Khatib, mentioned that he had seen and used the eight-volume copy of the 'Ibar in the Qarawiyin Mosque in Fez and that a notation in Ibn Khaldun's own handwriting was on it.123
In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, J. Graberg of Hemso heard about the existence of an "autograph copy" of the Muqaddimah in the Qarawiyin Mosque. However, he was unable to gain access to it.124
A copy of the manuscript was apparently used in Nasr alHurini's Bulaq edition of 1274 , but nothing definite can be added in this connection at the present time.
In his Catalogue des livres arabes de la Bibliotheque de la Mosquee d'E1-Qarouiyine (Fez, 1918), A. Bel listed as No. 1266 a manuscript of the 'Ibar with a waqf notice in Ibn Khaldun's handwriting but failed to say whether No. 1270, which he listed as containing the Muqaddimah, belonged to the same set or not.125 Following up Bel's lead, in 1923 E. Levi-Provencal was able to publish the photograph of a waqf deed, dated Safar 21, 799 [November 24, 1396], which he found at the beginning of Volume v of the 'Ibar.126 The same page also contained a notation in Ibn Khaldun's hand: "Praised be God! That which is attributed to me (here) is correct. Written by 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Khaldun." E. LeviProvencal was also shown a copy of Volume III of the 'Ibar. However, he was unable to obtain any information as to the Muqaddimah manuscript of this set. The scribe of the manuscripts seen was 'Abdallah b. al-Hasan Walad al-Fakhuri, who also copied manuscript B.
In 1930, G. Bouthoul stated that he had examined a twovolume copy of the Muqaddimah in Fez. It was, he said, written in Maghribi script and contained poems in the vulgar language at the end, some of which had been composed by Ibn Khaldun in his youth.127 These statements have not been verified. In his reprint of de Slane's translation of the Muqaddimah, Bouthoul published, as a frontispiece to Volume iii (Paris, 1938), a reproduction of the waqf notice which, he said,"... appears at the front of the copy of the Prolegomena." However, the photograph turns out to be merely another shot of the same page that had been reproduced before by E. Levi-Provencal.
There are, however, other indications that the copy of the Muqaddimah from Ibn Khaldun's waqf set of the 'Ibar is, in fact, preserved in Fez. Recently, A. J. Arberry informed me that he was shown a two-volume copy in Fez. (*However, I was assured in Fez in 1963 that the Muqaddimah is lost.)
B (3) MS. Yeni Cami 888. The manuscript contains 273 large folios. One folio, comprising 3:449, 1. 20, to 3:464,1. 17 of this translation, is missing.
The manuscript is dated Jumada 1 10, 799 [February 9, 1397]. The scribe was 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. al-Fakhkhar, who also copied the Fez set and the Aya Sofya and Topkapusaray copies of Ibn Khaldun's Autobiography. He copied manuscript B from a manuscript "crowned" with the handwriting of the author, who had also added some marginal notes and additions to it, all of which he copied. We are further told that Ibn Khaldun himself read most of this manuscript copy. His "reading" may have been no more than perfunctory. There can be no doubt, however, as to the excellence of Ibn al-Fakhkhar's work.
The manuscript is not divided into two parts. The table of contents at the beginning covers the whole work. Ibn Khaldun's additions to the original manuscript from which B was copied, occasionally have not been incorporated in the body of the text of B, but are written on separately inserted slips of paper. It may be noted that one event mentioned on an inserted slip occurred less than a year before B was copied. (See note 157 to Ch. iii, below.)
C(4) MS. Atif Effendi 1936. The text of the Muqaddimah covers 303 folios. The manuscript breaks off with fol. 302b, corresponding to 3:413 (n. 1620), below; it is continued by another hand for a few lines, and then concludes with Ibn Khaldun's subscription from the end of the Muqaddimah. Between fols. 129b and 130a, one quire of the manuscript has been copied in a later hand on seven additional leaves numbered 130a-136b, to replace a missing portion of the original. This situation is indicated, in Arabic, at the bottom left of fol. 129b: "From here on, one quire is missing. We hope that God will restore it in the original." This is followed by a notation in Turkish: "In the handwriting of the late Weysi (Wissi) Effendi," the famous litterateur who lived from 1561 to 1628.128 He purchased the manuscript in Cairo on April 7, 1598, a note on the title page informs us.
The first flyleaf of the manuscript contains the following notation: ". . . I happened to read this book, the first volume of the Kitab al-'Ibar fi akhbar al-'Arab wa-l-'Ajam wa-l-Barbar. I have found it full of many useful notes and numerous ingenious observations. No previous (work) contains as many interesting remarks or is so rich a treasure-trove of novel, useful notes. The excellence of its composition as well as its order and arrangement show the author's perfect scholarship and his preeminence over his contemporaries in learning and the transmission of knowledge. I wrote these lines realizing the great importance of the book, as a testimony to its author, God give him the opportunity to enjoy it and similar (works), by [?] the Prophet and his family! These lines were written by the weak slave (of God), Muhammad b. Yusuf b. Muhammad al-Isfijabi, on Saturday, Sha'ban 24, 804 [April 29, 14021."
In the upper left-hand corner of the title page appears the following note in Maghribi writing:
This is the draft of the Muqaddimah of the Kitab al-'Ibar ft akhbar al'Arab wa-l-'Ajam wa-l-Barbar. The contents are altogether scientific 129 and form a kind of artistic preface to the historical work. I have collated and corrected it. No manuscript of the Muqaddimah is more correct than this one. Written by the author of the work, 'Abd-ar-Rahman Ibn Khaldun, God give him success and in His kindness forgive him.
The note is framed by a gold border, the work of some later owner of the manuscript, who has also called attention to the autograph of Ibn Khaldun in a note of his own.130
1. Autograph of Ibn Khaldun (upper left corner)
From MS. C (Atif Effendi 1936)
The title page contains fifteenth-century notes of sales. Some concern the Tantada'i family. It seems that Badr-ad-din Hasan at-Tantada'i, a blind scholar who lived from about 1400 to 1483 131 bought the manuscript in 1465. He must have given it away while he was still alive, for in 1479 his son Baha'-ad-din Muhammad purchased it from his brothers Ahmad and Yahya. Further information about the manuscript may be gleaned from the title page - the story of its purchase by Weysi (Wissi) Effendi mentioned above, for instance. One of the owners' notes is dated in the year 1665/66. Another, dated in 1705/6, is that of a Mecca judge, but there is no reason to believe that the manuscript was at that time in Mecca. The judge may have been a resident of Istanbul.
The verso of the title page contains the table of contents for the entire work, since (like manuscript B) manuscript C is not divided into two parts. At the top, we find the following notation: "Completion of the writing of the book, 804 [1401/4]"
There can be no doubt that C was written during Ibn Khaldun's lifetime. However, until recently, the problem of whether the note in his handwriting is genuine may well have arisen, for until then the only authentic specimen of Ibn Khaldun's handwriting available for comparison was the two lines in Maghribi handwriting in the Fez manuscript. Similarity between them and the writing in C is not striking, although there are a number of points of similarity. Other probable autographs of Ibn Khaldun (recently reproduced by W. J. Fischel in his Ibn Khaldun and Tamerlane, pp. 8 f., 11, and by atTanji in his edition of the ,Autobiography) are all written in a good Eastern hand and are therefore of no help for establishing the authenticity of the note in Maghribi writing in C. The problem has now been decided by H. Ritter's 132 publication of eleven lines in Ibn Khaldun's Western handwriting from the Tadhkirah al jadidah of his pupil Ibn Hajar. These lines indubitably are in the same hand as that of C. Only a scribe well acquainted with Ibn Khaldun's handwriting, using it as a model, could have forged the specimen in C. This, however, is most unlikely and need not be considered seriously. The autograph manuscript of Ibn Khaldun's Lubab al-Muhassal (cf. p. xIv, above) is of comparatively little help in this connection. The script as it appears on the specimens from the middle and the end of the manuscript reproduced in the edition, is not strikingly similar to the one used in C or in the note published by Ritter, nor is it markedly different. But it should be noted that the Lubab al-Muhassal was written from forty-four to fifty years earlier than the other two documents, and Ibn Khaldun's signatures definitely look alike in all cases.
The fact that Ibn Khaldun continued using his Western handwriting in Egypt does not necessarily dispose of the genuineness of the specimens in Eastern script. We do not know whether Ibn Khaldun's early education included a course in Eastern handwriting, but he probably used the Eastern script rarely, if ever, before he went to Egypt. However, it may have been much easier to wear Western dress in the East (as Ibn Khaldun did) than to attempt to use the Western script there. Ibn Khaldun himself tells us 133 that the Western script was difficult for Egyptians to read; on one occasion, as a favor to a Western poet, he had one of the latter's poems transcribed in the Eastern script for presentation to Barquq. Although in this case, Ibn Khaldun presumably did not do the actual copying himself, yet it seems almost certain that, on many occasions, he considered it advisable to use the Eastern handwriting in Egypt. In particular, when making notes on a copy of one of his works written in the Eastern script, he may have preferred to use it. There are obvious traces of Western calligraphic style in the presumed specimens of Ibn Khaldun's Eastern handwriting, especially in the forms of s and d.134 However, if Ibn Khaldun did not have considerable previous experience in writing an Eastern hand before coming to Egypt-and this seems doubtful -it is remarkable that a man past fifty succeeded so well in changing his accustomed style.135 It may thus be that the presumed specimens of his Eastern hand were not written by him after all.
The text of C contains many of the additions and corrections that constitute the later stages of the text of the Muqaddimah. Most of them were written by the writer of the entire manuscript. Unfortunately, the name of the scribe is not given; but, of course, he was a person other than Ibn Khaldun.
How are we to interpret the historical data just reviewed? The most likely explanation, which, however, still involves guesswork, seems to be as follows. Manuscript C was copied in 804 [1401/2] from an early text of the Muqaddimah, presumably Ibn Khaldun's own copy. The additions and corrections found in it were transferred verbatim to C by the same scribe.136 Ibn Khaldun had indicated on his copy the year 804 as the date when he had stopped working on the Muqaddimah (for the time being, at least). Later in the same year, al-lsfijabi, probably the first owner of C, affixed his admiring note at the beginning of the work, after reading it.
Manuscript C was used in later centuries as model for other copies. For example, Nuru Osmaniye 3424, which was copied by a certain Mehmet Muezzinzade for 'Ali Pasha (d. 1716) 137 and which is dated Rabi' 1 4, 1127 [March 10, 1715], has the same lacuna at the end as C. The same is true of the manuscript which in Quatremere's edition was referred to as A,138 though it remains to be seen whether that manuscript was copied from our manuscript C directly or indirectly. The manuscript Hamidiye 982 contains a note to the effect that it was collated with the Atif Effendi manuscript, that is, with C, by a certain Hajj 'Abd-ar-Razzaq in 1177 [1763/64]. (Cf. below, p. xcix.)
D(5) MS. Huseyin Celebi 793 in Bursa (Brussa). This manuscript was noted in Une Liste des manuscrits choisis parmi les bibliothiques de Bursa, publiee a l'occasion du XXII. Congres International des Orientalistes (Istanbul, 1951), p. 49. The catalogue number and the date of the manuscript are not, however, correctly designated on this list. Dr. Ahmed Ates first called my attention to this manuscript.
The manuscript contains 239 folios. It is dated Wednesday, Sha'ban 8, 806 [February 20, 1404]. The name of the scribe is given as Ibrahim b. Khalil as-Sa'di ash-Shafi'i al-Misri. On its title page it has an owner's note dated in the year 850 [1146/47], written by Yahya b. Hijji ash-Shafi'i, of the famous family of scholars. Starting early as a student and bibliophile, he was only twelve or thirteen years old when he wrote the note in manuscript D. He died in 888 .139 Ibn Hijji's note would seem to make it practically certain that D was, indeed, written in 806, and is not a later copy of the manuscript written in that year, as might well be possible otherwise. For it must be pointed out that D, despite its date, is not an exceptionally good manuscript but contains a number of omissions and a great many other mechanical mistakes.
Manuscript D clearly was based on C, or was derived from the archetype from which C itself was copied. This origin is indicated, for instance, where D inserts a meaningless man yaqsidu after ghayriyah at Vol. 111, p. 68, line 6, of the Paris edition (in this translation, 3:86, 1. 19, below). In C a mark after ghayriyah indicates that a marginal note is to be added at this place. However, man yaqsidu does not belong there. It is to be inserted after waqasd in line 15 (3:87, 1. 5, below), where the fact that it was omitted is indicated by another omission mark after wa-qasd. The intended marginal note to ghayriyah apparently was never written.
Manuscript D had subsequently a rather curious history. The original colophon of the year 806 was frequently included in later copies, and these copies were mistaken for the original.140 Thus, Nuru Osmaniye 3423 has been mistaken for the manuscript of 806, but script and paper exclude the possibility that it was written in the fifteenth century. In fact, its similarity to Nuru Osmaniye 3424, mentioned above, p. xcvii, dates it in the early eighteenth century.
Another copy of D is the manuscript Hekimoglu Ali Pasa 805, which has a flyleaf notation to the effect that it was written in 1118 [1706/7] for one Abu1-Khayr Ahmad. The second part of the manuscript Halet Effendi 617 is likewise a copy of D.
E(6) MS. Ahmet III, 3042, Vol. 1. The manuscript contains 297 folios. It is not dated but has an owner's note of the year 818 [1415/16] in the name of one Muhammad b. 'Abd-ar-Rahman adDarib. Consequently, it must have been written in or before that year. The manuscript is important because (apart from the basic text of C) it is the only old manuscript available that contains an early form of the text of the Muqaddimah.
Another volume found under the same catalogue number contains Ibn Khaldun's personal copy of the Autobiography.141It was written out by Ibn al-Fakhkhar (cf. above, p. xciii). However, if my memory does not deceive me, manuscript E is in a different hand.
(7) MS. Halet Effendi 617 consists of two parts, in 235 and 181 folios, respectively. The second part has already been mentioned as a copy of D. The first part, however, dates back to the fifteenth century. It has an owner's note in the name of a Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-Qusawi (?), dated 853 .
(8) MS. Ragib Pasa 978 contains 382 folios. It is of recent date, no earlier than the early eighteenth century. The note of a reader who tried to collate and correct the manuscript is dated in 1153 [1740/41]. One of the marginal notes in the manuscript refers to az-Zurqani, the commentator of Malik's Muwatta', who died in 1122 .
This manuscript, the text of which has yet to be studied, is interesting because it contains occasional marginal notes originating from a manuscript written by a certain al-Qatari, claimed by him to have been copied from "the original manuscript." This Qatari evidently was the Abu s-Salah Muhammad al-Hanafi alQatari who wrote the manuscript Nuru Osmaniye 3066, dated Monday, Dhu 1-Qa`dah 14, 1082 [March 13/14, 1672]. In another Nuru Osmaniye manuscript, 9065, which the same scribe finished on Sunday, Dhu1-Qa'dah 90,1101 [September 4(?), 1690, he was described as an imam and preacher of the Jami' al-Wazir (Mosque of the Wazir) in the Border City (thaghr) of Jidda. However, there is no further information about "the original manuscript" that al-Qatari claimed to have used. Judging from such passages as those below, p. 192 (n. 260), and p. 230 (n. 349), it cannot have been C, unless in its present state C has not preserved all the inserted slips it once contained. (Cf. above, p. xcvii [n. 198].)
Editions of the Muqaddimah are as numerous as manuscripts. The work is studied in the schools and colleges of the Arab countries. At least in recent years, it seems that each year produces a new reprint of the text, but most of these editions are worthless. A constantly increasing number of misprints disfigures them. It would be reassuring, though not particularly instructive, to review all these editions and investigate their interdependence. Since I have been unable to do this, my remarks are restricted to such observations as I can make about editions in my private possession. The rare Paris edition is not among these but is, of course, well represented in the great libraries.
Publication and translation of small portions of the Muqaddimah before 1857-58 are associated with such names as HammerPurgstall and Silvestre de Sacy. Today, their works have little more than bibliographical interest, and full listing may, therefore, be reserved as a task for the compiler of the complete bibliography of Ibn Khaldun, which has been needed for so long. In the meantime, de Slane's observations, in the introduction to his translation of the Muqaddimah (Vol. i, pp. cxv-cxvi -see p. cviii, below), and those by G. Gabrieli (see note 119, above) suffice. Cf. now W. J. Fischel's bibliography, pp. 483 f . of Vol. 3, below, as well as the one by H. Peres in Studi orientalistici in onore di Giorgio Levi Della rida (Rome, 1956), II, 304-29.
(1) The first complete scholarly European edition of the Muqaddimah was brought out by Etienne Marc Quatremere in Paris in 1858, under the title of Prolegomenes d'Ebn-Khaldoun. It was printed by Firmin Didot Freres in three volumes, figuring as Volumes xvi, xvii, and xviii of the Notices et Extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Impiriale, published by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Quatremere had died only the year before at the age of seventy-five, regretted as a scholar of great merits but also, it seems, one who was at odds with his colleagues and with the world in general.
Quatremere did not live to publish an introduction to his edition. According to W. M. de Slane, the French translator of the Muqaddimah, Quatremere based his text on four manuscripts, presently located as follows. Quatremere's manuscript A, dated 1146 , is in the Bibliotheque Nationale, catalogued as No. 1524 of the Arabic manuscripts. MS. B, dated 1151 , is in Munich as No. 373 in Aumer's catalogue.142 MS. C, a copy made in 1835/36 of the Damad Ibrahim manuscript referred to above (pp. xc ff.) by the letter A, is now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, catalogued as No. 1517. MS. D, the oldest manuscript among the four used by Quatremere and dated 1067 [1656/57], is No. 5136 among the Arabic manuscripts of the Bibliotheque Nationale.143
On the surface, the manuscript basis of Quatremere's edition seems rather shaky. However, Quatremere was fortunate in being able to use a copy of the oldest extant manuscript (our A), which, apparently, was very reliable. His good fortune extended further, in that among his manuscripts he discovered the last and most complete text of the Muqaddimah as it came from Ibn Khaldun's pen. Thus, he was able to offer in his edition a good complete text. The only exception to this statement concerns some particularly difficult passages such as the poems at the end of the Muqaddimah, where Quatremere's edition fails us completely. That his edition includes a good number of minor misprints may be blamed, in part, on the fact that the printing firm chosen by Quatremere did not specialize in printing long Arabic texts. However, few printed editions of Arabic texts are free from misprints. The misprints in Quatremere's edition, though numerous, do not amount to much as a major shortcoming of his edition. The principal reproach to be laid against him is that he neglected to indicate textual differences and variant readings among his manuscripts, as accurately and carefully as we could wish. These may have seemed of small importance to him, and they often are; however, he made it difficult for later scholars to judge the quality of his work correctly.
As a matter of fact, Quatremere's edition has often been maligned unfairly, and still is undervalued at the present time. The editor's negligence in indicating manuscript variants is part of the reason. The obvious fact that the manuscripts used were of recent date has also aroused mistrust. However, it should be stated bluntly that much of the unfair treatment meted out to Quatremere's work must be laid at the door of William MacGuckin de Slane, the French translator of the Muqaddimah. With an unusual pettiness, such as betrays some personal grudge, de Slane went so far as to note even the most minor and obvious misprints in Quatremere's edition, and treated them as major, damning blunders in the footnotes to his translation. He left no doubt as to how poorly he regarded Quatremere's work, and de Slane was supported in this view by Dozy, who wrote an influential review of the translation. In his review, R. Dozy brushed Quatremere's edition aside as a product of the scholar's senility. Between them, de Slane and Dozy set the stage for an unfriendly reception of Quatremere's work. It has been more for this reason, than for any more solidly based one, that doubts concerning the quality of Quatremere's text have been voiced and demands for a new edition raised. While a new edition will mean a great step forward, it will not expose major factual defects in Quatremere's text.
(2) While Quatremere's edition was still in press, an Egyptian edition of the Muqaddimah appeared, which had been printed at Bulaq near Cairo. Finished in Safar, 1274 [September/October, 1857], it was printed in a very large format and succeeded in compressing the entire text to 316 pages. The editor was Nasr al-Hurini (d. 1874)144 an Egyptian scholar of considerable merit. Although it was intended to form the first volume of a complete edition of the 'Ibar, only the Muqaddimah was published at this time.
To judge by occasional marginal notes, al-Hurini apparently used two manuscripts, which he called the Fez and the Tunis manuscripts. Of course, there is no consistent indication of variant readings. Al-Hurini often corrected the text according to his own judgment, a fact de Slane noted in the introduction to his translation (pp. cix f.). Indeed, it seems that in practically all instances where the Bulaq edition diverges from the manuscripts that have come to my attention, we have to reckon with free corrections by the editor. Sometimes his text gives the impression of being superior, but this superiority lacks documentary confirmation. Only in a few passages, as, for instance, 3:235 and 3:446 (n. 1813), below, do we find indisputable instances of a superior text in the Bulaq edition. Thus, the text of the Bulaq edition may usually be disregarded even where it is tempting to rely on its lectio facilior. Final judgment on it, however, should be postponed until the entire manuscript evidence has been thoroughly investigated.
However, Bulaq has some importance of its own by virtue of the fact that it provides the earliest text of the Muqaddimah presently available in printed form, with the fewest number of the author's later corrections and additions, The Tunis manuscript preserves Ibn Khaldun's original dedication to the Hafsid ruler. The Fez manuscript appears to go back to Ibn Khaldun's donation copy (see pp. xci ff above). In these respects the Bulaq edition supplements the Paris edition which represents a much later stage of the text of the Muqaddimah.
(3) Ten years later, in 1284 [1867/68], the complete text of the 'Ibar was published in Bulaq in seven volumes. The first volume contains the Muqaddimah in 534 pages. The text is identical with that published previously and even retains al-Hurini's notes. However, it may be noted that in the chapter on letter magic, the new edition contains the magical table between pp. 436 and 437, and some of the material on magic that had been omitted from the first Bulaq text (pp. 255-57). So far as the quality of the text of the rest of the 'Ibar is concerned, it clearly leaves much to be desired.145
(4) All later Oriental reprints, so far as I know, are based upon the Bulaq text and take no cognizance of the Paris edition. One very successful reprint of this sort was undertaken in Beirut in 1879 (and published early in 1880). I have before me a second, identical edition of the year 1886.
The technically very ambitious project of publishing a fully vocalized edition of the Muqaddimah, in usum scholarum, was also undertaken in Beirut.146 I have before me a photomechanical reproduction of the vocalized Beirut edition. This reproduction was put together in the Printing House of Mustafa Muhammad in Cairo, and although it is not dated, it must be about twenty to twenty-five years old. The "publisher" does not indicate the origin of his text but states on the title page that he is reserving all rights for himself and that his edition has been checked by a committee of scholars against a number of manuscripts!
The long chapter on letter magic is omitted in my copy, as are all the long dialect poems and some of the muwashshahahs and zajals at the close of the Muqaddimah. In addition, the vocalized text is slightly censored, omitting comments that appear to reflect adversely upon Christianity (p. 480 and 3:82, below), as well as remarks dealing with sexual matters (2:295, below). The difficult and exhausting task of vocalizing the entire text of the Muqaddimah has been fairly successfully executed. However, the text as such is unusually poor, shot through with mistakes and marred by many omissions.
There are many other Egyptian reprints of the Muqaddimah. Some of these do not follow the Beirut edition, but the Bulaq text. In this way each has perpetuated itself in successive reprint editions marked by increasing numbers of mistakes. I have before me editions of 1327  and 1348 [1.930], as well as one very recent reprint of the Beirut text, undated but printed in Cairo, that is an especially outrageous insult to the noble art of printing.
(5) Some editions of brief excerpts of the Muqaddimah are mentioned below, p. cix. See also footnote 31 to Ibn Khaldun's Introduction.
(6) The plans of at-Tanji for a critical edition of the Muqaddimah were mentioned above, p. lxxxix.
3. GRADUAL GROWTH OF THE TEXT
Before passing on to the translations, a word may be said about the gradual growth of the text of the Muqaddimah. From the available evidence, as presented in the preceding pages, it is possible to draw the following picture of the history of the text in Ibn Khaldun's hands.
Ibn Khaldun himself informs us that he wrote the Muqaddimah during a period of five months ending in the middle of the year 779 [November, 1377]; see 3:480, below. He was far from any large library, and had to rely largely on his memory and notes. He then went to Tunis, where he had access to the books he needed to consult, and there he finished the entire History. He presented a copy to the Hafsid Abu1-'Abbas of Tunis (1370-94).147 It is possible that one of the manuscripts on which the Bulaq edition was based contains this oldest text. But none of the available manuscripts or editions has it. The earliest texts at present available are those of the Bulaq edition and manuscript E, but since they already contain indications of Ibn Khaldun's stay in Egypt, they can be no earlier than 1382.
Ibn Khaldun's habit of correcting and expanding the History continued while he was in Egypt. In one particular case it is expressly stated that Ibn Khaldun lectured on the Muqaddimah in Egypt148 He probably devoted more time to his work when he was out of office than when he was judge, but he never ceased trying to improve the Muqaddimah or collecting additional material for it, even when in office.149 He was constantly reading pertinent material and even had Egyptian Bedouins recite poetry to him (3:438 f., below), But it seems that, primarily, the material for his additions and corrections derived from his lectures on the Muqaddimah and other subjects. This would explain why the sections dealing with traditions and jurisprudence -subjects on which he lectured ex-officio and in which his students were professionally interested-show the most numerous traces of larger and smaller revisions.
It would be wrong to consider the successive stages of the text of the Muqaddimah as "recenssions" in the proper sense of the term. For instance, Ibn Khaldun never changed the passages where he speaks of himself as still being in the Maghrib. His additions and corrections were jotted down unsystematically in a longdrawn-out process, much as a modern author might add notes in the margins of his published works.
Ibn Khaldun's corrections rectify obvious mistakes committed earlier, as, for instance, in his treatment of the division of the earth into zones (pp. 111 ff., below). Or, in the case of quotations, they supply a better text obtained with the help of some new source: an example is Tahir's Epistle to his son.150 Ibn Khaldun had already corrected his original quotation from Ibn al-Athir with the help of at-Tabari by the time A was written, and C still preserves the marginal corrections which later copyists entered in the body of the text.
The table of contents at the beginning of the work, which treats the Muqaddimah as an independent work,151 must nonetheless have been added by the author at an early stage, for it appears already in A. Ibn Khaldun also adds quotations from works he has come across in further reading, as a sort of afterthought. Or, he expands and changes the text, because it no longer seems to express adequately or fully the ideas he has in mind. A minor instance of this kind of correction (or revision) can be found in a passage where Ibn Khaldun thought it advisable to tone down a strong expression of monistic mysticism (2:398, below). The most prominent emendations in the text of the work are of this kind, although there are not a great many of them. An outstanding example of Ibn Khaldun's concern for clear expression is the very considerable enlargement of his introductory remarks to the sixth chapter, dealing with the sciences (2:411 ff., below). The earliest text in which the expanded version occurs is manuscript C, so it must have entered the text of the Muqaddimah between 1397 and 1402. This interval may perhaps be further restricted to the period between 1397 and 1399, because Ibn Khaldun was thereafter extremely busy with official duties. However, it should not be forgotten that, even while on official business, Ibn Khaldun found time to study. In fact, the last-dated entry in the Muqaddimah refers to reading accomplished during his stay in Damascus in the spring of 802  (2:229 f., below); and he found time to insert the note bearing upon it in manuscript C.
A later stage, the latest we know of, in fact, is represented by the Bursa manuscript D of 806 . It shows that Ibn Khaldun was still working on his book two years before his death. Characteristic of this stage in the development of the text of the Muqaddimah was his replacement of a distich near the end with another very beautiful one (3:478, below). It shows that Ibn Khaldun retained his fine appreciation of poetry up to a time of life when many men, and especially men of affairs, no longer give much thought to it.152
That most of Ibn Khaldun's additions and corrections were incorporated into the body of the text in the manuscripts written during his lifetime is shown by manuscript D. This process did not always come off without mishaps, as a striking example below (pp. 365 f.) indicates.
In general, it is possible to show at what stage in the textual history of the Muqaddimah almost any addition or correction was made by Ibn Khaldun. Undoubtedly, if a manuscript of the preEgyptian "recension" of the work were to become available, still greater precision would be attained. The history of the text of the Muqaddimah offers a classical example of how an author's variant readings originate and how they influence the traditional appearance of his work.
4. PREVIOUS TRANSLATIONS
(1) The first complete translation of the Muqaddimah ever published was a Turkish version. In the year 1730 Pirizade Effendi (1674-1749) translated the Muqaddimah from the beginning through the fifth chapter. This Turkish text was published in Cairo in 1275 ,153 in a lithographed edition of 617 pages in large format; the translation ended on p. 522. On the remaining pages, the work was completed by a reproduction of the Arabic text based on the first Bulaq edition. A few pages on Ibn Khaldun's life serve as introduction, compiled by Ahmet Jevdet Effendi, later Pasha (1822-95). The latter also translated the remaining sixth chapter of the Muqaddimah, which was published in Istanbul in 1277[1860/61 ),154 accompanied by copious explanatory notes.
(2) A complete French translation, under the title of Prolegomenes historiques d'Ibn Khaldoun, was published by William MacGuckin de Slane on the basis of Quatremere's edition and with comparison of the Paris manuscripts used by Quatremere, the first Bulaq edition, and the Turkish translation (in part). The three volumes appeared in Paris in the years 1862, 1865, and 1868, as Vols. xix to xxi of the Notices et Extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Imperiale.
De Slane did an altogether admirable job of presenting a highly readable and, in the main, accurate translation of the work. The "freedom" of his version has often been unjustly censured, for it was intentional, and a "free" translation is perfectly legitimate for a work with the stylistic character of the Muqaddimah. There are occasional mistakes of translation, some of them caused by the difficulty of the subject matter and the language, others of a sort that might easily have been avoided. Explanatory footnotes are sparse, and de Slane usually did not bother to indicate the sources for his statements. However, the concluding words of R. Dozy's review of de Slane's work still stand: "Rarely has so difficult a book been translated so well."155
A photomechanical reproduction of de Slane's translation was published in Paris in 1934-38, with a brief preface by G. Bouthoul. Important corrections to the translation were provided by R. Dozy in the review by him which appeared in Journal asiatique, XIV6 (1869), 133-218. More recently, a number of valuable corrections were published by A. Bombaci, "Postille alla traduzione De Slane della Muqaddimah di Ibn Haldun,".in Annali dell'Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli, N,5. III (1949), 439-72.
For many years after the publication of de Slane's translation, scholars, almost to a man, relied on it for their quotations from the Muqaddimah. The occasional exceptions have been noted in footnotes to this translation at the appropriate passages. Only in recent years have fresh translations of comparatively large sections of the Muqaddimah begun to be made.156
(3) In English, there are a few brief passages in R. A. Nicholson, Translations of Eastern Poetry and Prose (Cambridge, 1922). Recently, a rather large selection of brief excerpts was published by Charles Issawi, under the title of An Arab Philosophy of History (London, 1950).
(4) The book by Erwin Rosenthal, entitled Ibn Khalduns Gedanken fiber den Staat (Munich and Berlin, 1932), consists largely of excerpts from the Muqaddimah, in German translation. A large volume of selections in German translation was published by A. Schimmel in Tubingen in 1951, under the title of Ibn Chaldun: Ausgewdhlte Abschnitte aus der muqaddima.
(5) A short selection of Arabic passages with accompanying French translation was published by G. Surdon and L. Bercher under the title of Recueil de textes de sociologie et de droit public musulman contenus dans les "Prolegomenes" d'Ibn Khaldoun, "Bibliotheque de l'Institut d'Etudes Superieures Islamiques d'Alger," No. 6 (Algiers, 1951). The translators profess their particular concern for bringing out the basically juridical flavor of Ibn Khaldun's terminology.
5. THE PRESENT TRANSLATION
A work such as the Muqaddimah, modern in thought yet alien in language and style, may be presented to the modern reader in one of three ways. It may be translated as literally as the second language permits. The translator may go farther and use modern phraseology and style. Or, finally, the work may be recast and given the form it would have had it been written by a contemporary author in the second language.
If a translation is to impress the modern reader with the full worth and significance of the original, the last-mentioned approach would seem to be the ideal one. Realizing this, scholars have frequently chosen to publish selected and rearranged passages of the Muqaddimah. However, a complete rewriting in this manner, besides being hardly practicable, would almost necessarily produce a subjective interpretation of the Muqaddimah, and thereby obscure Ibn Khaldun's thought..
The second approach to translation was what de Slane attempted. It, too, has pitfalls. One is the danger of distorting the author's ideas by modernizing them, and thereby attributing to him thoughts that were utterly foreign to him. Moreover, a work dealing with a great variety of subjects, and the Muqaddimah is certainly such a work, depends to a great extent in its formal and intellectual organization upon the threads of association that the author's particular terminology and way of expression provide.
The drawback of any completely literal translation is obvious: it may easily be incomprehensible to the general reader. Further, a literal translation often entirely perverts the literary character of the original. It is transformed from a literary product using the normal and accepted forms of its own language into a work rendered strained and unnatural by not conforming to the style of the language into which it was translated.
The present translation was begun in the belief that a mixture of the literal and modernizing types of rendering would produce the most acceptable result. Yet, it must-be confessed that with each successive revision, the translator has felt an irresistible urge to follow ever more faithfully the linguistic form of the original.
The literalness of the present version is intended to reduce to a minimum the amount of interpretation always necessary in any translation. The reader unfamiliar with the Arabic original ought to be encumbered by no more than an unavoidable minimum of subjective interpretation. Moreover, Ibn Khaldun's particular terminology, which he evolved with great pains for his "new science," had to be preserved as far as possible; to some degree, it must have impressed his contemporary readers as unusual. Therefore, at least the outstanding terms, such as 'umran, 'asabiyah, baddwah, were preserved in the translation by rather artificial loan renderings ("civilization," "group spirit," "desert life or attitude"). This involved the occasional occurrence of expressions such as "large civilization." But any other procedure would irrevocably have destroyed the essential unity of Ibn Khaldun's work, which is one of its main claims to greatness.157 For the sake of literalness, an attempt has been made to translate passages that are repeated in the original, in identical or nearly identical words, in the same fashion each time. However, since such repetitions occur frequently in the text of the Muqaddimah, the attempt probably remained unsuccessful, or, at best, only partly successful. Some modernizing tendency remains in the translation but it chiefly affects syntactical and stylistic features, and only very rarely the vocabulary.
Ibn Khaldun's contemporaries praised the literary quality of the Muqaddimah highly. Ibn Khaldun himself, in a poetical dedication of his History, used rather exuberant language in speaking of the linguistic perfection of his work:
I tamed rude speech. It may be said that
Refractory language becomes in (my work) amenable to the words I utter158
This self-praise was, of course, a routine authors had to follow in the past when the advertising methods of the modern publishing business were as yet unknown. But others chimed in with their praise. The style of the Muqaddimah was said to be "more brilliant than well-strung pearls and finer than water fanned by the zephyr." It was called a "Jahizian" style, reminiscent of the verbal fireworks of al-Jahiz, the celebrated model of good Arabic style.159 All these testimonies may have been rather perfunctory; still, they certainly have some basis in fact. It is true, as has often been remarked, that Ibn Khaldun did not always adhere strictly to the accepted norms and rules of classical Arabic, which were artificial to him and remote from the speech habits of his time. But Ibn Khaldun's long, rolling, involved sentences, his skillful and yet restrained application of rhetorical figures, and his precise use of a large, though not farfetched, vocabulary make it indeed a pleasure to read the Muqaddimah, or to hear it read aloud.160
However, the modern translator's agreement with such positive appraisals of the linguistic and stylistic qualities of the Muqaddimah is somewhat forced. For, alas! all the factors that enhance the beauty of the work in its original language and justified the admiration of Ibn Khaldun's contemporaries, are so many thorns in the translator's flesh. His long sentences have constantly to be broken up into smaller units, and the cohesiveness of the author's style is thereby loosened. In keeping with a common stylistic feature of Arabic speech, Ibn Khaldun could repeat pronouns through whole pages, thus confronting his translator with the task of supplying the appropriate nouns. Ibn Khaldun also was extremely fond of a threefold parallelismus membrorum, another source of embarrassment to the translator. The ordinary twofold parallelism, well known from the Bible, is difficult enough to translate, an imitation of the threefold one practically impossible. Sometimes, one word or phrase may do as a translation of all three members, but more often than not, the threefold parallelism can only be broken up into seemingly redundant phrases. Another stylistic feature is a kind of inversion by means of which later elements of a story are given first, and the earlier elements are given later, in a sentence introduced by "after." This can be brilliant in Arabic but is most often unpalatable in modern English translation (although it would have been somewhat more acceptable in another age, in the eighteenth century, for instance).
The large number of parentheses (in the translation) is the result of the need for clarifying stylistic changes. These parentheses have been used in order to indicate to the reader that in these passages the translator has added something that is not literally found in the Arabic text. They may be disregarded, and the text enclosed by them should be considered an integral part of the context. In a few cases, however, the words in parentheses serve another purpose, namely, that of explaining the preceding words.
In the choice of explanatory footnotes the translator has more leeway. Ibn Khaldun's own ideas and the way he expressed them offer no particular difficulties to the understanding. But the numerous passages where technical details are discussed or earlier authors are quoted sorely try the translator's knowledge of words and things. Incidentally, Ibn Khaldun himself is on record as admitting that he did not quite understand the text he copied (at 2:224 and 3:183, below). Like many other Arabic works, the Muqaddimah contains some passages where it obviously was much easier for the author to copy his source than it is for the translator to find out the meaning of the text copied. In general, where the translator has succeeded in understanding Ibn Khaldun's text correctly, very little in the way of added explanation is necessary.
However, historical understanding and interpretation of the work pose greater problems. The Muqaddimah was composed nearly at the end of the intellectual development of medieval Islam, and the work covers practically all its aspects. A well-nigh incalculable number of notes and excursuses would be required if one were to comment on the historical significance of Ibn Khaldun's statements and put each of them in proper perspective. Nearly a century ago de Slane felt that he could provide unlimited notes and explanations to his translation (cf. his introduction, p. ii), but he refrained from doing so for the sake of brevity. In the end, he did very little indeed in the way of annotation.161 Since his time, the material that has a sound claim to consideration in the notes has grown immeasurably. A hundred years ago, very few printed Arabic texts existed, and nearly all the pertinent information was still buried in manuscripts. Even nowadays, when a good part of Arabic literature has become available in printed form, it is often necessary, in connection with the Muqaddimah, to refer to manuscripts. In fact, our knowledge has outgrown the stage where the historical problems of a work like the Muqaddimah, considered in its entirety, can be elucidated by means of footnotes. The important task of interpretation must be left to monographs on individual sections of the text, a scholarly labor that has been attempted so far only on a very small scale.162 In the notes to this translation, the major problem has been one of selection, that of providing references that give the fullest possible information in easily accessible form.
In some respects, it has been possible to be briefer than de Slane. Nowadays, many of Ibn Khaldun's examples from political history no longer require comment, nor, from the point of view of modern historiography and sociology, does the acceptability of Ibn Khaldun's historical interpretations have to be argued.163
A reference to C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, where authors and works of literature are concerned, makes it possible to dispense with further references, save, perhaps, for very recent bibliographical material, which has been carefully examined before inclusion. The Encyclopedia of Islam and that splendid time-saving tool, the Concordance et Indices de la tradition musulmane, were also, in many cases, considered sufficient as guides to further study.
Apart from obvious references of this kind, and a certain amount of necessary philological comment,164 the selection of notes has been guided by one dominant consideration. Works that Ibn Khaldun himself knew, knew about, or may reasonably be supposed to have known or known about, have been emphasized. Knowledge of Ibn Khaldun's sources is of immeasurable assistance in better understanding his historical position and significance. While a very small start in this direction could be made in the footnotes to this translation, I am convinced that this kind of comment should be given preference over any other.
When I had completed my version, I compared it with the previous translations as carefully as possible, giving particular attention to de Slane's. I have not considered it necessary to acknowledge de Slane's help whenever I have corrected mistakes of my own. Nor have I felt it necessary to signal passages where I think de Slane erred. The reader ignorant of Arabic may be slightly puzzled when he observes the divergences, often considerable, between this translation and that of de Slane. Nonetheless, my hope is that he will put greater reliance in the present translation, although its recent origin, of course, is no guarantee of its correctness.
Rendering proper names is a minor problem in all translations from the Arabic, as here. Arabic proper names can easily be transcribed, and the method of transcription employed here needs no special comment. However, foreign proper names, and especially place names in northwestern Africa (the Maghrib), make for complications. European place names, Spanish ones most notably, have been translated into their accepted English or current native form. Place names from the East are given in transcription, except when a generally accepted English form exists. There may, however, be differences of opinion as to what constitutes a generally accepted English form. Thus, some of the proper names as well as generally known Arabic terms retained in the translation have been deprived of their macrons or circumflexes, while others, with perhaps an equal claim to such distinction, have been left untouched; as a rule, preference has been given to accurate transcription. With a very few exceptions, place names from northwestern Africa have been given in what may be considered the most widely used and acceptable of the various French forms; usually, a transcription of the Arabic form has been added. In the case of Berber names, we will know how Ibn Khaldun pronounced them, once a study of the manuscripts of the 'Ibar has been made. For the time being, we know his pronunciation only in those cases where the manuscripts of the Muqaddimah and the Autobiography indicate it, and his pronunciation has, of course, been followed. In modern scholarly literature, there seems to be little agreement on the finer points of the transcription of ancient Berber tribal and personal names.
Much more might be said about technical details arising out of the present translation. However, if they were wrongly handled, mere knowledge of that fact would not repair the harm done to, nor, if they were correctly applied, increase by itself the usefulness of, the translation of what has been called with little, if any, exaggeration, "undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place."165
Intoductory Material of Book One : Kitab al-Ibar
IN THE NAME OF GOD; THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE. PRAY, O GOD, FOR OUR LORD MUHAMMAD AND HIS FAMILY AND THE MEN AROUND HIM.
THE SERVANT of God who needs the mercy of God who is so rich in His kindness, 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Khaldun al-Hadrami-God give him success!-says:1 Praised be God! He is powerful and mighty. In His hand, He holds royal authority and kingship.2 His are the most beautiful names and attributes. His knowledge is such that nothing, be it revealed in secret whispering or (even) left unsaid, remains strange to Him. His power is such that nothing in heaven and upon earth is too much for Him or escapes Him.
He created us from the earth as living, breathing creatures. He made us to settle3 on it as races and nations. From it, He provided sustenance and provisions for us.
The wombs of our mothers and houses are our abode. Sustenance and food keep us alive. Time wears us out. Our lives' final terms, the dates of which have been fixed for us in the book (of destiny), claim us. But He lasts and persists. He is the Living One who does not die.
Prayer and blessings upon our Lord and Master, Muhammad, the Arab4 prophet, whom Torah and Gospel have mentioned and described;5 him for whose birth the world that is was (already) in labor before Sundays were following upon Saturdays in regular sequence and before Saturn and Behemoth had become separated;6 him to whose truthfulness pigeon and spider bore witness.7
(Prayer and blessings) also upon his family and the men around him who by being his companions8 and followers gained wide influence and fame and who by supporting him found unity while their enemies were weakened through dispersion. Pray, O God, for him and them, for as long as Islam shall continue to enjoy its lucky fortune and the frayed rope of unbelief shall remain cut! Give manifold blessings (to him and them)!
HISTORY is a discipline widely cultivated among nations and races. It is eagerly sought after. The men in the street, the ordinary people, aspire to know it. Kings and leaders vie for it.
Both the learned and the ignorant are able to understand it. For on the surface history is no more than information about political events, dynasties, and occurrences of the remote past, elegantly presented and spiced with proverbs. It serves to entertain large, crowded gatherings and brings to us an understanding of human affairs. (It shows) how changing conditions affected (human affairs), how certain dynasties came to occupy an ever wider space in the world, and how they settled the earth until they heard the call and their time was up.
The inner meaning of history, on the other hand, involves speculation and an attempt to get at the truth, subtle explanation of the causes and origins of existing things, and deep knowledge of the how and why of events. (History,) therefore, is firmly rooted in philosophy. It deserves to be accounted a branch of (philosophy).9
The outstanding Muslim historians made exhaustive collections of historical events and wrote them down in book form. But, then, persons who had no right to occupy themselves with history introduced into those books untrue gossip which they had thought up or freely invented, as well as false, discredited reports which they had made up or embellished. Many of their successors followed in their steps and passed that information on to us as they had heard it. They did not look for, or pay any attention to, the causes of events and conditions, nor did they eliminate or reject nonsensical stories.
Little effort is being made to get at the truth. The critical eye, as a rule, is not sharp. Errors and unfounded assumptions are closely allied and familiar elements in historical information. Blind trust in tradition is an inherited trait in human beings. Occupation with the (scholarly) disciplines on the part of those who have no right is widespread. But the pasture of stupidity is unwholesome for mankind. No one can stand up against the authority of truth, and the evil of falsehood is to be fought with enlightening speculation. The reporter merely dictates and passes on (the material). It takes critical insight to sort out the hidden truth; it takes knowledge to lay truth bare and polish it so that critical insight may be applied to it.
Many systematic historical works have been composed, and the history of nations and dynasties in the world has been compiled and written down. But there are very few (historians) who have become so well known as to be recognized as authorities, and who have replaced the products of their predecessors by their own works. They can almost be counted on the fingers of the hands; they are hardly more numerous than the vowels in grammatical constructions (which are just three). There are, for instance, Ibn Ishaq; 10 at-Tabari;11 Ibn al-Kalbi;12 Muhammad b. 'Umar al-Wagidi;13 Sayf b. 'Umar al-Asadi;14 al-Mas'udi,15 and other famous (historians) who are distinguished from the general run (of historians) .
It is well known to competent persons and reliable experts that the works of al-Masudi and al-Waqidi are suspect and objectionable in certain respects.16 However, their works have been distinguished by universal acceptance of the information they contain and by adoption of their methods and their presentation of material. The discerning critic is his own judge as to which part of their material he finds spurious, and which he gives credence to. Civilization, in its (different) conditions, contains (different) elements to which historical information may be related and with which reports and historical materials may be checked.
Most of the histories by these (authors) cover everything because of the universal geographical extension of the two earliest Islamic dynasties 17 and because of the very wide selection of sources of which they did or did not make use. Some of these authors, such as al-Mas'idi and historians of his type, gave an exhaustive history of the pre-Islamic dynasties and nations and of other (pre-Islamic) affairs in general. Some later historians, on the other hand, showed a tendency toward greater restriction, hesitating to be so general and comprehensive. They brought together the happenings of their own period and gave exhaustive historical information about their own part of the world. They restricted themselves to the history of their own dynasties and cities. This was done by Ibn Hayyan, the historian of Spain and the Spanish Umayyads,18 and by Ibn ar-Raqiq, the historian of Ifrigiyah and the dynasty in Kairouan (al-Qayrawan).19
The later historians were all tradition-bound and dull of nature and intelligence, or, (at any rate) did not try not to be dull. They merely copied 20 the (older historians) and followed their example. They disregarded the changes in conditions and in the customs of nations and races that the passing of time had brought about. Thus, they presented historical information about dynasties and stories of events from the early period as mere forms without substance, blades without scabbards, as knowledge that must be considered ignorance, because it is not known what of it is extraneous and what is genuine. (Their information) concerns happenings the origins of which are not known. It concerns species the genera of which are not taken into consideration, and whose (specific) differences are not verified.21 With the information they set down they merely repeated historical material which is, in any case, widely known, and followed the earlier historians who worked on it. They neglected the importance of change over the generations in their treatment of the (historical material), because they had no one who could interpret it for them. Their works, therefore, give no explanation for it. When they then turn to the description of a particular dynasty, they report the historical information about it (mechanically) and take care to preserve it as it had been passed on down to them, be it imaginary or true. They do not turn to the beginning of the dynasty. Nor do they tell why it unfurled its banner and was able to give prominence to its emblem, or what caused it to come to a stop when it had reached its term. The student, thus, has still to search for the beginnings of conditions and for (the principles of) organization of (the various dynasties). He must (himself) investigate why the various dynasties brought pressures to bear upon each other and why they succeeded each other. He must search for a convincing explanation of the elements that made for mutual separation or contact among the dynasties. All this will be dealt with in the Introduction to this work.
Other historians, then, came with too brief a presentation (of history). They went to the extreme of being satisfied with the names of kings, without any genealogical or historical information, and with only a numerical indication of the length of reigns.22 This was done by Ibn Rashiq in the Mizan al-'amal,23 and by those lost sheep who followed his method. No credence can be given to what they say. They are not considered trustworthy, nor is their material considered worthy of transmission, for they caused useful material to be lost and damaged the methods and customs acknowledged (as sound and practical) by historians.
When I had read the works of others and probed into the recesses of yesterday and today, I shook myself out of that drowsy complacency and sleepiness. Although not much of a writer,24 I exhibited my own literary ability as well as I could, and, thus, composed a book on history. In (this book) I lifted the veil from conditions as they arise in the various generations. I arranged it in an orderly way in chapters dealing with historical facts and reflections. In it I showed how and why dynasties and civilization originate. I based the work on the history of the two races that constitute the population of the Maghrib at this time and people its various regions and cities, and on that of their ruling houses, both long- and short-lived, including the rulers and allies they had in the past. These two races are the Arabs and the Berbers. They are the two races known to have resided in the Maghrib for such a long time that one can hardly imagine they ever lived elsewhere, for its inhabitants know no other human races.
I corrected the contents of the work carefully and presented it to the judgment of scholars and the elite. I followed an unusual method of arrangement and division into chapters. From the various possibilities, I chose a remarkable and original method. In the work, I commented on civilization, on urbanization, and on the essential characteristics of human social organization, in a way that explains to the reader how and why things are as they are, and shows him how the men who constituted a dynasty first came upon the historical scene. As a result, he will wash his hands of any blind trust in tradition. He will become aware of the conditions of periods and races that were before his time and that will be after it.
I divided the work into an introduction and three books:
The Introduction deals with the great merit of historiography, (offers) an appreciation of its various methods, and cites errors of the historians.
The First Book deals with civilization and its essential characteristics, namely, royal authority, government, gainful occupations, ways of making a living, crafts, and sciences, as well as with the causes and reasons thereof.
The Second Book deals with the history, races, and dynasties of the Arabs, from the beginning of creation down to this time. This will include references to such famous nations and dynasties - contemporaneous with them,25 as the Nabataeans,26 the Syrians, the Persians, the Israelites, the Copts, the Greeks, the Byzantines, and the Turks.
The Third Book deals with the history of the Berbers and of the Zanatah who are part of them; with their origins and races; and, in particular, with the royal authority and dynasties in the Maghrib.
Later on, there was my trip to the East, in order to find out about the manifold illumination it offers and to fulfill the religious duty and custom of circumambulating the Ka'bah and visiting Medina, as well as to study the systematic works and tomes on (Eastern) history. As a result, I was able to fill the gaps in my historical information about the non-Arab (Persian) rulers of those lands, and about the Turkish dynasties in the regions over which they ruled. I added this information to what I had written here (before in this connection). I inserted it into the treatment of the nations of the various districts and rulers of the various cities and regions that were contemporary with those (Persian and Turkish) races. In this connection I was brief and concise and preferred the easy goal to the difficult one. I proceeded from general genealogical (tables)27 to detailed historical information.
Thus, (this work) contains an exhaustive history of the world. It forces stubborn stray wisdom to return to the fold. It gives causes and reasons for happenings in the various dynasties. It turns out to be a vessel for philosophy, a receptacle for historical knowledge. The work contains the history of the Arabs and the Berbers, both the sedentary groups and the nomads. It also contains references to the great dynasties that were contemporary with them, and, moreover, clearly indicates memorable lessons to be learned from early conditions and from subsequent history. Therefore, I called the work "Book of Lessons and Archive of Early and Subsequent History, Dealing with the Political Events Concerning the Arabs, Non-Arabs, and Berbers, and the Supreme Rulers Who Were Contemporary with Them." 28
I omitted nothing concerning the origin of races and dynasties, concerning the synchronism of the earliest nations, concerning the reasons for change and variation in past periods and within religious groups, concerning dynasties and religious groups, towns and hamlets, strength and humiliation, large numbers and small numbers, sciences and crafts, gains and losses, changing general conditions, nomadic and sedentary life, actual events and future events, all things expected to occur in civilization. I treated everything comprehensively and exhaustively and explained the arguments for and causes of it(s existence).
As a result, this book has become unique, as it contains unusual knowledge and familiar if hidden wisdom. Still, after all has been said, I am conscious of imperfection when (I look at) the scholars of (past and contemporary) times.29 I confess my inability to penetrate so difficult a subject. I wish that men of scholarly competence and wide knowledge would look at the book with a critical, rather than a complacent eye, and silently correct and overlook the mistakes they come upon. The capital of knowledge that an individual scholar has to offer is small. Admission (of one's shortcomings) saves from censure. Kindness from colleagues is hoped for. It is God whom I ask to make our deeds acceptable in His sight. He suffices me. He is a good protector.30
The excellence of historiography. -An appreciation ofthe various approaches to history. -A glimpse at thedifferent kinds of errors to which historians are liable.Something about why these errors occur.31
IT SHOULD BE KNOWN that history is a discipline that has a great number of (different) approaches. Its useful aspects are very many. Its goal is distinguished.
(History) makes us acquainted with the conditions of past nations as they are reflected in their (national) character. It makes us acquainted with the biographies of the prophets and with the dynasties and policies of rulers. Whoever so desires may thus achieve the useful result of being able to imitate historical examples in religious and worldly matters.
The (writing 32 of history) requires numerous sources and greatly varied knowledge. It also requires a good speculative mind and thoroughness. (Possession of these two qualities) leads the historian to the truth and keeps him from slips and errors. If he trusts historical information in its plain transmitted form and has no clear knowledge of the principles resulting from custom, the fundamental facts of politics, the nature of civilization, or the conditions governing human social organization, and if, furthermore, he does not evaluate remote or ancient material through comparison with near or contemporary material, he often cannot avoid stumbling and slipping and deviating from the highroad of truth. Historians, Qur'an commentators and leading transmitters have committed frequent errors in the stories and events they reported. They accepted them in the plain transmitted form, without regard for its value. They did not check them with the principles underlying such historical situations, nor did they compare them with similar material. Also, they did not probe (more deeply) with the yardstick of philosophy, with the help of knowledge of the nature of things, or with the help of speculation and historical insight. Therefore, they strayed from the truth and found themselves lost in the desert of baseless assumptions and errors.
This is especially the case with figures, either of sums of money or of soldiers, whenever they occur in stories. They offer a good opportunity for false information and constitute a vehicle for nonsensical statements. They must be controlled and checked with the help of known fundamental facts.
For example, al-Mas'udi and many other historians report that Moses counted the army of the Israelites in the desert.33 He had all those able to carry arms, especially those twenty years and older, pass muster. There turned out to be 600,000 or more. In this connection, (al-Mas'udi) forgets to take into consideration whether Egypt and Syria could possibly have held such a number of soldiers. Every realm may have as large a militia as it can hold and support, but no more. This fact is attested by well-known customs and familiar conditions. Moreover, an army of this size cannot march or fight as a unit. The whole available territory would be too small for it. If it were in battle formation, it would extend two, three, or more times beyond the field of vision. How, then, could two such parties fight with each other, or one battle formation gain the upper hand when one flank does not know what the other flank is doing! The situation at the present day testifies to the correctness of this statement. The past resembles the future more than one (drop of) water another.
Furthermore, the realm of the Persians was much greater than that of the Israelites. This fact is attested by Nebuchadnezzar's victory over them. He swallowed up their country and gained complete control over it. He also destroyed Jerusalem, their religious and political capital. And he was merely one of the officials of the province of Fars.34 It is said that he was the governor of the western border region. The Persian provinces of the two 'Iraqs,35 Khurasan, Transoxania, and the region of Derbend on the Caspian Sea36 were much larger than the realm of the Israelites. Yet, the Persian army did not attain such a number or even approach it. The greatest concentration of Persian troops, at alQadisiyah, amounted to 120,000 men, all of whom had their retainers. This is according to Sayf 37 who said that with their retainers they amounted to over 200,000 persons. According to 'A'ishah and az-Zuhri,38 the troop concentration with which Rustum advanced against Sa'd at al-Qadisiyah amounted to only 60,000 men, all of whom had their retainers.
Then, if the Israelites had really amounted to such a number, the extent of the area under their rule would have been larger, for the size of administrative units and provinces under a particular dynasty is in direct proportion to the size of its militia and the groups that support the (dynasty), as will be explained in the section on provinces in the first book.39 Now, it is well known that the territory of the (Israelites) did not comprise an area larger than the Jordan province and Palestine in Syria and the region of Medina and Khaybar in the Hijaz.40 Also, there were only three generations41 between Moses and Israel, according to the best-informed scholars. Moses was the son of Amram, the son of Kohath (Qahat or Qahit), the son of Levi (Lewi or Lawi),42 the son of Jacob who is Israel-Allah. This is Moses' genealogy in the Torah.43 The length of time between Israel and Moses was indicated by al-Mas'udi when he said: "Israel entered Egypt with his children, the tribes, and their children, when they came to Joseph numbering seventy souls. The length of their stay in Egypt until they left with Moses for the desert was two hundred and twenty years. During those years, the kings of the Copts, the Pharaohs, passed them on (as their subjects) one to the other."44 It is improbable that the descendants of one man could branch out into such a number within four generations.45
It has been assumed that this number of soldiers applied to the time of Solomon and his successors. Again, this is improbable. Between Solomon and Israel, there were only eleven generations, that is: Solomon, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed ('Ubidh, or ' Ufidh), the son of Boaz (Ba'az, or Bu'iz), the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab ('Amminddhab, or Hamminddhab), the son of Ram, the son of Hezron (Had/srun, or Hasran), the son of Perez ( Baras, or Bayras), the son of Judah, the son of Jacob. The descendants of one man in eleven generations would not branch out into such a number, as has been assumed. They might, indeed, reach hundreds or thousands. This often happens. But an increase beyond that to higher figures46 is improbable. Comparison with observable present-day and well-known nearby facts proves the assumption and report to be untrue. According to the definite statement of the Israelite Stories,47 Solomon's army amounted to 12,000 men, and his horses48 numbered 1,400 horses, which were stabled at his palace. This is the correct information. No attention should be paid to nonsensical statements by the common run of informants. In the days of Solomon, the Israelite state saw its greatest flourishing and their realm its widest extension.
Whenever49 contemporaries speak about the dynastic armies of their own or recent times, and whenever they engage in discussions about Muslim or Christian soldiers, or when they get to figuring the tax revenues and the money spent by the government, the outlays of extravagant spenders, and the goods that rich and prosperous men have in stock, they are quite generally found to exaggerate, to go beyond the bounds of the ordinary, and to succumb to the temptation of sensationalism. When the officials in charge are questioned about their armies, when the goods and assets of wealthy people are assessed, and when the outlays of extravagant spenders are looked at in ordinary light, the figures will be found to amount to a tenth of what those people have said. The reason is simple. It is the common desire for sensationalism, the ease with which one may just mention a higher figure, and the disregard of reviewers and critics. This leads to failure to exercise self-criticism about one's errors and intentions, to demand from oneself moderation and fairness in reporting, to reapply oneself to study and research. Such historians let themselves go and made a feast of untrue statements. "They procure for themselves entertaining stories in order to lead (others) astray from the path of God."50 This is a bad enough business.
It 51 may be said that the increase of descendants to such a number would be prevented under ordinary conditions which, however, do not apply to the Israelites. (The increase in their case) would be a miracle in accordance with the tradition which said that one of the things revealed to their forefathers, the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was that God would cause their descendants to increase until they were more numerous than the stars of heaven and the pebbles of the earth. God fulfilled this promise to them as an act of divine grace bestowed upon them and as an extraordinary miracle in their favor. Thus, ordinary conditions could not hinder (such an event), and nobody should speak against it.
Someone might come out against this tradition (with the argument) that it occurs only in the Torah which, as is well known, was altered by the Jews. (The reply to this argument would be that) the statement concerning the alteration (of the Torah by the Jews) is unacceptable to thorough scholars and cannot be understood in its plain meaning, since custom prevents people who have a (revealed) religion from dealing with their divine scriptures in such a manner. This was mentioned by al-Bukhari in the Sahih.52 Thus, the great increase in numbers in the case of the Israelites would be an extraordinary miracle. Custom, in the proper meaning of the word, would prevent anything of the sort from happening to other peoples.
It is true that a (co-ordinated battle) movement in (such a large group) would hardly be possible, but none took place, and there was no need for one. It is also true that each realm has its particular number of militia (and no more). But the Israelites at first were no militiamen and had no dynasty. Their numbers increased that much, so that they could gain power over the land of Canaan which God had promised them and the territory of which He had purified for them. All these things are miracles. God guides to the truth.
The53 history of the Tubba's, the kings of the Yemen and of the Arabian Peninsula, as it is generally transmitted, is another example of silly statements by historians. It is said that from their home in the Yemen, (the Tubba's) used to raid Ifriqiyah and the Berbers of the Maghrib. Afriqus b. Qays b. Sayfi, one of their great early kings who lived in the time of Moses or somewhat earlier,54 is said to have raided Ifriqiyah. He caused a great slaughter among the Berbers. He gave them the name of Berbers when he heard their jargon and asked what that "barbarah" was.55 This gave them the name which has remained with them since that time. When he left the Maghrib, he is said. to have concentrated some Himyar tribes there. They remained there and mixed with the native population. Their (descendants) are the Sinhajah and the Kutamah. This led at-Tabari, al-Jurjani,56 al-Mas'udi, Ibn al-Kalbi,57 and al-Bayhaqi58 to make the statement that the Sinhajah and the Kutamah belong to the Himyar. The Berber genealogists do not admit this, and they are right. Al-Mas'udi also mentioned that one of the Himyar kings after Afriqus, Dhul-Adh'ar, who lived in the time of Solomon, raided the Maghrib and forced it into submission. Something similar is mentioned by al-Mas'udi concerning his son and successor, Yasir.59 He is said to have reached the Sand River60 in the Maghrib and to have been unable to find passage through it because of the great mass of sand. Therefore, he returned.
Likewise, it is said that the last Tubba',61 As'ad Abu Karib, who lived in the time of the Persian Kayyanid king Yastasb,62 ruled over Mosul and Azerbaijan. He is said to have met and routed the Turks and to have caused a great slaughter among them. Then he raided them again a second and a third time. After that, he is said to have sent three of his sons on raids, (one) against the country of Firs, (one) against the country of the Soghdians, one of the Turkish nations of Transoxania, and (one) against the country of the Rum (Byzantines)63 The first brother took possession of the country up to Samarkand and crossed the desert into China. There, he found his second brother who had raided the Soghdians and had arrived in China before him. The two together caused a great slaughter in China and returned together with their booty. They left some Himyar tribes in Tibet. They have been there down to this time. The third brother is said to have reached Constantinople. He laid siege to it and forced the country of the Rum (Byzantines) into submission. Then, he returned.
All this information is remote from the truth. It is rooted in baseless and erroneous assumptions. It is more like the fiction of storytellers. The realm of the Tubba's was restricted to the Arabian peninsula. Their home and seat was San'a' in the Yemen. The Arabian peninsula is surrounded by the ocean on three sides: the Indian Ocean on the south, the Persian Gulf jutting out of the Indian Ocean to al-Basrah on the east, and the Red Sea jutting out of the Indian Ocean to Suez in Egypt on the west. This can be seen on the map. There is no way from the Yemen to the Maghrib except via Suez. The distance between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean is two days' journey or less. It is unlikely that the distance could be traversed by a great ruler with a large army unless he controlled that region. This, as a rule, is impossible. In that region there were the Amalekites and Canaan in Syria, and, in Egypt, the Copts. Later on, the Amalekites took possession of Egypt, and the Israelites (took possession) of Syria. There is, however, no report that the Tubba's ever fought against one of these nations or that they had possession of any part of this region. Furthermore, the distance from the Yemen to the Maghrib is great, and an army requires much food and fodder. Soldiers traveling in regions other than their own have to requisition grain and livestock and to plunder the countries they pass through. As a rule, such a procedure does not yield enough food and fodder. On the other hand, if they attempted to take along enough provisions from their own region, they would not have enough animals for transportation. So, their whole line of march necessarily takes them through regions they must take possession of and force into submission in order to obtain provisions from them. Again, it would be a most unlikely and impossible assumption that such an army could pass through all those nations without disturbing them, obtaining its provisions by peaceful negotiation. This shows that all such information (about Tubba' expeditions to the Maghrib) is silly or fictitious.
Mention of the (allegedly) impassable Sand River has never been heard in the Maghrib, although the Maghrib has often been crossed and its roads have been explored by travelers and raiders at all times and in every direction.64 Because of the unusual character of the story, there is much eagerness to pass it on.
With regard to the (alleged) raid of the Tubba's against the countries of the East and the land of the Turks, it must be admitted that the line of march in this case is wider than the (narrow) passage at Suez. The distance, however, is greater, and the Persian and Byzantine nations are interposed on the way to the Turks. There is no report that the Tubba's ever took possession of the countries of the Persians and Byzantines. They merely fought the Persians on the borders of the 'Iraq and of the Arab countries between al-Bahrayn and al-Hirah, which were border regions common to both nations.65 These wars took place between the Tubba' Dhul-Adh'ar and the Kayyanid king Kaygawus, and again between the Tubba' al-Asghar 66 Abu Karib and the Kayyanid Yastasb (Bishtasp). There were other wars later on with rulers of the dynasties that succeeded the Kayyanids, and, in turn, with their successors, the Sassanians. It would, however, ordinarily have been impossible for the Tubba's to traverse the land of the Persians on their way to raid the countries of the Turks and Tibet, because of the nations that are interposed on the way to the Turks, because of the need for food and fodder, as well as the great distance, mentioned before. All information to this effect is silly and fictitious. Even if the way this information is transmitted were sound, the points mentioned would cast suspicion upon it. All the more then must the information be suspect since the manner in which it has been transmitted is not sound. In connection with Yathrib (Medina) and the Aws and Khazraj, Ibn Ishaq67 says that the last Tubba' traveled eastward to the 'Iraq and Persia, but a raid by the Tubba's against the countries of the Turks and Tibet is in no way confirmed by the established facts. Assertions to this effect should not be trusted; all such information should be investigated and checked with sound norms.68 The result will be that it will most beautifully be demolished.
God is the guide to that which is correct.
Even 69 more unlikely and more deeply rooted in baseless assumptions is the common interpretation of the following verse of the Surat al-Fajr: "Did you not see what your Lord did with 'Ad -Iram, that of the pillars?"70
The commentators consider the word Iram the name of a city which is described as having pillars, that is, columns. They report that 'Ad b. 'Us b. Iram had two sons, Shadid and Shaddid, who ruled after him. Shadid perished. Shaddad became the sole ruler of the realm, and the kings there submitted to his authority. When Shaddad heard a description of Paradise, he said: "I shall build something like it." And he built the city of Iram in the desert of Aden over a period of three hundred years. He himself lived nine hundred years. It is said to have been a large city, with castles of gold and silver and columns of emerald and hyacinth, containing all kinds of trees and freely flowing rivers. When the construction of (the city) was completed, Shaddad went there with the people of his realm. But -when be was the distance of only one day and night away from it, God sent a clamor from heaven, and all of them perished. This is reported by at-Tabari, ath-Tha'alibi,71 az-Zamakhshari,72 and other Qur'an commentators. They transmit the following story on the authority of one of the men around Muhammad, 'Abdallah b. Qilabah.73 When he went out in search of some of his camels, he hit upon (the city) and took away from it as much as he could carry. His story reached Mu'awiyah, who had him brought to him, and he told the story. Mu'awiyah sent for Ka'b al-ahbar74 and asked him about it. Ka'b said, "It is Iram, that of the pillars. Iram will be entered in your time by a Muslim who is of a reddish, ruddy color, and short, with a mole at his eyebrow and one on his neck, who goes out in search of some of his camels." He then turned around and, seeing Ibn Qilabah, he said: "Indeed, he is that man."
No information about this city has since become available anywhere on earth. The desert of Aden where the city is supposed to have been built lies in the middle of the Yemen. It has been inhabited continuously, and travelers and guides have explored its roads in every direction. Yet, no information about the city has been reported. No antiquarian, no nation has mentioned it. If (the commentators) said that it had disappeared like other antiquities, the story would be more likely, but they expressly say that it still exists. Some identify it with Damascus, because Damascus was in the possession of the people of 'Ad. Others go so far in their crazy talk as to maintain that the city lies hidden from sensual perception and can be discovered only by trained (magicians) and sorcerers. All these are assumptions that would better be termed nonsense.
All these suggestions proffered by Qur'an commentators were the result of grammatical considerations, for Arabic grammar requires the expression, "that of the pillars," to be an attribute of Iram. The word "pillars" was understood to mean columns. Thus, Iram was narrowed down in its meaning to some sort of building. (The Qur'an commentators) were influenced in their interpretation by the reading of Ibn az-Zubayr75 who read (not 'Adin with nunation but) a genitive construction: 'Ad of Iram. They then adopted these stories, which are better called fictitious fables and which are quite similar to the (Qur'an) interpretations of Sayfawayh which are related as comic anecdotes.76
(In fact,) however, the "pillars" are tent poles. If "columns" were intended by the word, it would not be farfetched, as the power of (the people of Ad) was well known, and they could be described as people with buildings and columns in the general way. But it would be farfetched to say that a special building in one or another specific city (was intended). If it is a genitive construction, as would be the case according to the reading of Ibn az-Zubayr, it would be a genitive construction used to express tribal relationships, such as, for instance, the Quraysh of Kinanah, or the Ilyis of Mudar, or the Rabi'ah of Nizir. There is no need for such an implausible interpretation which uses for its starting point silly stories of the sort mentioned, which cannot be imputed to the Qur'an because they are so implausible.
Another fictitious story of-the historians, which-they all report, concerns the reason for ar-Rashid's destruction of the Barmecides. It is the story of al-'Abbasah, ar-Rashid's sister, and Ja'far b. Yahya b. Khalid, his client. Ar-Rashid is said to have worried about where to place them when he was drinking wine with them. He wanted to receive them together in his company. Therefore, he permitted them to conclude a marriage that was not consummated. Al-'Abbasah then tricked (Ja'far) in her desire to be alone with him,77 for she had fallen in love with him. Jafar finally had intercourse with her-it is assumed, when he was drunk-and she became pregnant. The story was reported to ar-Rashid who flew into a rage.
This story78 is irreconcilable with al-'Abbasah's position, her religiousness, her parentage, and her exalted rank. She was a descendant of 'Abdallah b. 'Abbas and separated from him by only four generations, and they were the most distinguished and greatest men in Islam after him. Al-'Abbasah was the daughter of Muhammad al-Mahdi, the son of Abu Ja'far 'Abdallah al-Manslir, the son of Muhammad as-Sajjad, the son of the Father of the Caliphs 'Ali. 'Ali was the son of 'Abdallah, the Interpreter of the Qur'an, the son of the Prophet's uncle, al-'Abbas. Al-'Abbasah was the daughter of a caliph and the sister of a caliph. She was born to royal power, into the prophetical succession (the caliphate), and descended from the men-around-Muhammad aril his uncles. She was connected by birth with the leadership of Islam, the light of the revelation, and the place where the angels descended to bring the revelation. She was close in time to the desert attitude of true Arabism, to that simple state of Islam still far from the habits of luxury and lush pastures of sin. Where should one look for chastity and modesty, if she did not possess them? Where could cleanliness and purity be found, if they no longer existed in her house? How could she link her pedigree with (that of) Ja'far b. Yahya and stain her Arab nobility with a Persian client? His Persian ancestor had been acquired as a slave, or taken as a client, by one of her ancestors, an uncle of the Prophet and noble Qurashite, and all (Ja'far) did was that he together with his father was dragged along (by the growing fame of) the 'Abbisid dynasty and thus prepared for and elevated to a position of nobility. And how could it be that ar-Rashid, with his high-mindedness and great pride, would permit himself to become related by marriage to Persian clients! If a critical person looks at this story in all fairness and compares al-'Abbasah with the daughter of a great ruler of his own time, he must find it disgusting and unbelievable that she could have done such a thing with one of the clients of her dynasty and while her family was in power. He would insist that the story be considered untrue. And who could compare with al-'Abbasah and ar-Rashid in dignity!
The reason for the destruction of the Barmecides was their attempt to gain control over the dynasty and their retention of the tax revenues. This went so far that when ar-Rashid wanted even a little money, he could not get it. They took his affairs out of his hands and shared with him in his authority. He had no say with them in the affairs of his realm. Their influence grew, and their fame spread. They filled the positions and ranks of the government with their own children and creatures who became high officials, and thus barred all others from the positions of wazir, secretary, army commander, doorkeeper (hajb), and from the military and civilian administration. It is said that in the palace of ar-Rashid, there were twenty-five high officials, both military and civilian, all children of Yahya b. Khalid. There, they crowded the people of the dynasty and pushed them out by force. They could do that because of the position of their father, Yahya, mentor to Harun both as crown prince and as caliph. (Harun) practically grew up in his lap and got all his education from him. (Harun) let him handle his affairs and used to call him "father." As a result, the (Barmecides), and not the government, wielded all the influence.78a Their presumption grew. Their position became more and more influential. They became the center of attention. All obeyed them. All hopes were addressed to them. From the farthest borders, presents and gifts of rulers and amirs were sent to them. The tax money found its way into their treasury, to serve as an introduction to them and to procure their favor. They gave gifts to and bestowed favors upon the men of the ('Alid) Shi'ah79 and upon important relatives (of the Prophet). They gave the poor from the noble families (related to the Prophet) something to earn. They freed the captives. Thus, they were given praise as was not given to their caliph. They showered privileges and gifts upon those who came to ask favors from them. They gained control over villages and estates in the open country and (near) the main cities in every province.
Eventually, the Barmecides irritated the inner circle. They caused resentment among the elite and aroused the displeasure of high officials. Jealousy and envy of all sorts began to show themselves, and the scorpions of intrigue crept into their soft beds in the government. The Qahtabah family, Ja'far's maternal uncles, led the intrigues against them. Feelings for blood ties and relationship could not move or sway them (the Qahtabah family) from the envy which was so heavy on their hearts. This joined with their master's incipient jealousy, with his dislike of restrictions and (of being treated with) highhandedness, and with his latent resentment aroused by small acts of presumptuousness on the part of the Barmecides. When they continued to flourish as they did, they were led to gross insubordination, as is shown, for instance, by their action in the case of Yahya b. 'Abdallah b. Hasan b.' al-Hasan b. 'All b. Abi Talib, the brother of "the Pure Soul" (an-Nafs az-Zakiyah), Muhammad al-Mahdi, who had revolted against al-Mansur.80
This Yahya had been brought back by al-Fadl b. Yahya from the country of the Daylam under a safe-conduct of arRashid written in his own hand. According to at-Tabari,81 (al-Fadl) had paid out a million dirhams in this matter. Ar-Rashid handed Yahya over to Ja'far to keep him imprisoned in his house and under his eyes. He held him for a while but, prompted by presumption, Ja'far freed Yahya by his own decision, out of respect for the blood of the Prophet's family as he thought, and in order to show his presumption against the government. When the matter was reported to ar-Rashid, he asked Ja'far about (Yahya). Ja'far understood and said that he had let him go. Ar-Rashid outwardly indicated approval and kept his grudge to himself. Thus, Ja'far himself paved the way for his own and his family's undoing, which ended with the collapse of their exalted position, with the heavens falling in upon them and the earth's sinking with them and their house. Their days of glory became a thing of the past, an example to later generations.
Close examination of their story, scrutinizing the ways of government and their own conduct, discloses that all this was natural and is easily explained. Looking at Ibn 'Abdrabbib's report 82 on ar-Rashid's conversation with his greatgranduncle Dawud b. 'Ali concerning the destruction of the Barmecides as well as al-Asma'i's evening causeries with arRashid and al-Fadl b. Yahya, as mentioned in the chapter on poets in the 'Igd,83 one understands that it was only jealousy and struggle for control on the part of the caliph and his subordinates that killed them. Another factor was the verses that enemies of the Barmecides among the inner circle surreptitiously gave the singers to recite, in the intention that the caliph should hear them and his stored-up animosity against them be aroused. These are the verses:
Would that Hind could fulfill her promise to us
And deliver us from our predicament,
And for once act on her own.
The impotent person is he who never acts on his own.84
When ar-Rashid heard these verses, he exclaimed: "Indeed, I am just such an impotent person." By this and similar methods, the enemies of the Barmecides eventually succeeded in arousing ar-Rashid's latent jealousy and in bringing his terrible vengeance upon them. God is our refuge from men's desire for power and from misfortune.
The stupid story of ar-Rashid's winebibbing and his getting drunk in the company of boon companions is really abominable. It does not in the least agree with ar-Rashid's attitude toward the fulfillment of the requirements of religion and justice incumbent upon caliphs. He consorted with religious scholars and saints. He had discussions with alFudayl b. 'Iyad,85 Ibn as-Sammak,86 and al-'Umari,87 and he corresponded with Sufyan.88 He wept when he heard their sermons. Then, there is his prayer in Mecca when he circumambulated the Ka'bah.89 He was pious, observed the times of prayer, and attended the morning prayer at its earliest hour. According to at-Tabari and others, he used every day to pray one hundred supererogatory rak'ahs.90 Alternately, he was used to go on raids (against unbelievers) one year and to make the pilgrimage to Mecca the other. He rebuked his jester, Ibn Abi Maryam, who made an unseemly remark to him during prayer. When Ibn Abi Maryam heard ar-Rashid recite: "How is it that I should not worship Him who created me?" 91 he said: "Indeed, I do not know why." Ar-Rashid could not suppress a laugh, but then he turned to him angrily and said: "O Ibn Abi Maryam, (jokes) even during the prayer? Beware, beware of the Qur'an and Islam. Apart from that, you may do whatever you wish."92
Furthermore, ar-Rashid possessed a good deal of learning and simplicity, because his epoch was close to that of his forebears who had those (qualities). The time between him and his grandfather, Abu Ja'far (al-Mansur), was not a long one. He was a young lad when Abu Ja'far died. Abu Jafar possessed a good deal of learning and religion before he became caliph and (kept them) afterwards. It was he who advised Malik to write the Muwatta', saying: "O Abu 'Abdallah, no one remains on earth more learned than I and you. Now, I am too much occupied with the caliphate. Therefore, you should write a book for the people which will be useful for them. In it you should avoid the laxity of Ibn 'Abbas and the severity of Ibn 'Umar,93 and present (watti') it clearly to the people." Malik commented: "On that occasion, al-Mansur indeed taught me to be an author." 94
Al-Mansur's son, al-Mahdi, ar-Rashid's father, experienced the (austerity of al-Mansur) who would not make use of the public treasury to provide new clothes for his family. One day, al-Mahdi came to him when he was in his office discussing with the tailors the patching of his family's worn garments. Al-Mahdi did not like that and said: "O Commander of the Faithful, this year I shall pay for the clothes of the members of the family from my own income." AlMansur's reply was: "Do that." He did not prevent him from paying himself but would not permit any (public) Muslim money to be spent for it. Ar-Rashid was very close in time to that caliph and to his forebears.95 He was reared under the influence of such and similar conduct in his own family, so that it became his own nature. How could such a man have been a winebibber and have drunk wine openly? It is well known that noble pre-Islamic Arabs avoided wine. The vine was not one of the plants (cultivated) by them. Most of them considered it reprehensible to drink wine. Ar-Rashid and his forebears were very successful in avoiding anything reprehensible in their religious or worldly affairs and in making all praiseworthy actions and qualities of perfection, as well as the aspirations of the Arabs, their own nature.
One may further compare the story of the physician Jibril b. Bukhtishu' reported by at-Tabari and al-Mas'udi.96 A fish had been served at ar-Rashid's table, and Jibril had not permitted him to eat it. (Jibril) had then ordered the table steward to bring the fish to (Jibril's) house. ArRashid noticed it and got suspicious. He had his servant spy on Jibril, and the servant observed him partaking of it. In order to justify himself, Ibn Bukhtishu' had three pieces of fish placed in three separate dishes. He mixed the first piece with meat that had been prepared with different kinds of spices, vegetables, hot sauces, and sweets. He poured iced water over the second piece, and pure wine over the third. The first and second dishes, he said, were for the caliph to eat, no matter whether something was added by him (Ibn Bukhtishu') to the fish or not. The third dish, he said, was for himself to eat. He gave the three dishes to the table steward. When ar-Rashid woke up and had Ibn Bukhtishu' called in to reprimand him, the latter had the three dishes brought. The one with wine had become a soup with small pieces of fish, but the two other dishes had spoiled, and smelled differently. This was (sufficient) justification of Ibn Bukhtishu" s action (in eating a dish of fish that he had prevented the caliph from eating). It is clear from this story that ar-Rashid's avoidance of wine was a fact well known to his inner circle and to those who dined with him.
It is a well-established fact that ar-Rashid had consented to keep Abu Nuwas imprisoned until he repented and gave up his ways, because he had heard of the latter's excessive winebibbing.97 Ar-Rashid used to drink a date liquor (nabidh), according to the `Iraqi legal school whose responsa (concerning the permissibility of that drink) are well known.98 But he cannot be suspected of having drunk pure wine. Silly reports to. this effect cannot be credited. He was not the man to do something that is forbidden and considered by the Muslims as one of the greatest of the capital sins. Not one of these people (the early 'Abbasids) had anything to do with effeminate prodigality or luxury in matters of clothing, jewelry, or the kind of food they took. They still retained the tough desert attitude and the simple state of Islam. Could it be assumed they would do something that would lead from the lawful to the unlawful and from the licit to the illicit? Historians such as at-Tabari, al-Mas'udi, and others are agreed that all the early Umayyad and `Abbasid caliphs used to ride out with only light silver ornamentation on their belts, swords, bridles, and saddles, and that the first caliph to originate riding out in golden apparel was al-Mu'tazz b. alMutawakkil, the eighth caliph after ar-Rashid.99 The same applied to their clothing. Could one, then, assume any differently with regard to what they drank? This will become still clearer when the nature of dynastic beginnings in desert life and modest circumstances is understood, as we shall explain it among the problems discussed in the first book, if God wills.100
A parallel or similar story is that reported by all (the historians) about Yahya b. Aktham, the judge and friend of al-Ma'mun.101 He is said to have drunk wine together with al-Ma'mun and to have gotten drunk one night. He lay buried among the sweet basil until he woke up. The following verses are recited in his name:
O my lord, commander of all the people!
He who gave me to drink was unjust in his judgment.
I neglected the cupbearer, and he caused me to be,
As you see me, deprived of intelligence and religion.
The same applies to Ibn Aktham and al-Ma'mun that applies to ar-Rashid. What they drank was a date liquor (nabidh) which in their opinion was not forbidden. There can be no question of drunkenness in connection with them. Yahyi's familiarity with al-Ma'mun was friendship in Islam. It is an established fact that Yahya slept in al-Ma'mum's room. It has been reported, as an indication of al-Ma'mun's excellence and affability, that one night he awoke,102 got up, and felt around for the chamber pot. He was afraid to wake Yahya b. Aktham. It also is an established fact that the two used to pray together at the morning prayer. How does that accord with drinking wine together! Furthermore, Yahya b. Aktham was a transmitter of traditions. He was praised by Ibn Hanbal103 and Judge Ismi'il.104 At-Tirmidhi105 published traditions on his authority. The hadith expert al-Mizzi mentioned that al-Bukhari transmitted traditions on Yahya's authority in works other than the Jami' (as-Sahih).106 To vilify Yahya is to vilify all of these scholars.
Furthermore, licentious persons accuse Yahya b. Aktham of having had an inclination for young men. This is an affront to God and a malicious lie directed against religious scholars. (These persons) base themselves on storytellers' silly reports, which perhaps were an invention of Yahya's enemies, for he was much envied because of his perfection and his friendship with the ruler. His position in scholarship and religion makes such a thing impossible. When Ibn Hanbal was told about these rumors concerning Yahya, he exclaimed: "For God's sake, for God's sake, who would say such a thing!" He disapproved of it very strongly. When the talk about Yahya was mentioned to Ismi'il, he exclaimed: "Heaven forbid that the probity ('adalah) 107 of such a man should cease to exist because of the lying accusations of envious talebearers." 108 He said: "Yahya b. Aktham is innocent in the eyes of God of any such relationship with young men (as that) of which he is accused. I got to know his most intimate thoughts and found him to be much in fear of God. However, he possessed a certain playfulness and friendliness that might have provoked such accusations." Ibn Hibban mentioned him in the Thiqat.109 He said that no attention should be paid to these tales about him because most of them were not correct.
A similar story is the one about the basket reported by Ibn 'Abdrabbih, author of the 'Iqd, in explanation of how al-Ma'mun came to be al-Hasan b. Sahl's son-in-law by marrying his daughter Buran.110 One night, on his rambles through the streets of Baghdad, al-Ma'mun is said to have come upon a basket that was being let down from one of the roofs by means of pulleys and twisted cords of silk thread. He seated himself in the basket and grabbed the pulley, which started moving. He was taken up into a chamber of such-andsuch a condition-Ibn 'Abdrabbih described the eye and soul-filling splendor of its carpets, the magnificence of its furnishings, and the beauty of its appearance. Then, a woman of extraordinary, seductive beauty is said to have come forth from behind curtains in that chamber. She greeted al-Ma'mun and invited him to keep her company. He drank wine with her the whole night long. In the morning he returned to his companions at the place where they had been awaiting him. He had fallen so much in love with the woman that he asked her father for her hand. How does all this accord with alMa'mun's well-known religion and learning, with his imitation of the way of life of his forefathers, the right-guided ('Abbasid) caliphs, with his adoption of the way of life of those pillars of Islam, the (first) four caliphs, with his respect for the religious scholars, or his observance in his prayers and legal practice of the norms established by God! How could it be correct that he would act like (one of those) wicked scoundrels who amuse themselves by rambling about at night, entering strange houses in the dark, and engaging in nocturnal trysts in the manner of Bedouin lovers! And how does that story fit with the position and noble character of al-Hasan b. Sahl's daughter, and with the firm morality and chastity that reigned in her father's house!
There are many such stories. They are always cropping up in the works of the historians. The incentive for inventing and reporting them is a (general) inclination to forbidden pleasures and for smearing the reputation of others. People justify their own subservience to pleasure by citing men and women of the past (who allegedly did the same things they are doing). Therefore, they often appear very eager for such information and are alert to find it when they go through the pages of (published) works. If they would follow the example of the people (of the past) in other respects and in the qualities of perfection that were theirs and for which they are well known, "it would be better for them," 111 "if they would know."112
I once criticized a royal prince for being so eager to learn to sing and play the strings. I told him it was not a matter that should concern him and that it did not befit his position. He referred me to Ibrahim b. al-'Mahdi 113 who was the leading musician and best singer in his time. I replied: "For heaven's sake, why do you not rather follow the example of his father or his brother? Do you not see how that activity prevented Ibrahim from attaining their position?" The prince, however, was deaf to my criticism and turned away.
Further silly information which is accepted by many historians concerns the 'Ubaydid (-Fatimids), the Shi'ah caliphs in al-Qayrawan and Cairo.114 (These historians) deny their 'Alid origin and attack (the genuineness of) their descent from the imam Ismail, the son of Ja'far as-Sadiq. They base themselves in this respect on stories that were made up in favor of the weak 'Abbasid caliphs by people who wanted to ingratiate themselves with them through accusations against their active opponents and who (therefore) liked to say all kinds of bad things about their enemies. We shall mention some such stories in our treatment of the history of (the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids). (These historians) do not care to consider the factual proofs and circumstantial evidence that require (us to recognize) that the contrary is true and that their claim is a lie and must be rejected.
They all tell the same story about the-begilnli g of the Shi'ah dynasty. Abu 'Abdallah al-Muhtasib115 went among the Kutamah urging acceptance of the family of Muhammad (the 'Alids). His activity became known. It was learned how much he cared for 'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi and his son, Abu1-Qasim. Therefore, these two feared for their lives and fled the East, the seat of the caliphate. They passed through Egypt and left Alexandria disguised as merchants. Isa anNawshari, the governor of Egypt and Alexandria, was informed of them. He sent cavalry troops in pursuit of them, but when their pursuers reached them, they did not recognize them because of their attire and disguise. They escaped into the Maghrib. Al-Mu'tadid 116 ordered the Aghlabid rulers of Ifriqiyah in al-Qayrawan as well as the Midrarid rulers of Sijilmasah to search everywhere for them and to keep a sharp lookout for them. Ilyasa', the Midrarid lord of Sijilmasah, learned about their hiding place in his country and detained them, in order to please the caliph. This was before the Shi'ah victory over the Aghlabids in al-Qayrawan. Thereafter, as is well known, the ('Ubaydid-Fatimid) propaganda spread successfully throughout Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib, and then, in turn, reached the Yemen, Alexandria and (the rest of) Egypt, Syria and the Hijaz. The ('Ubaydid-Fatimids) shared the realm of Islam equally with the Abbasids. They almost succeeded in penetrating the home country of the 'Abbasids and in taking their place as rulers. Their propaganda in Baghdad and the 'Iraq met with success through the amir al-Basasiri, one of the Daylam clients who had gained control of the 'Abbasid caliphs. This happened as the result of a quarrel between al-Basasiri and the non-Arab amirs.117 For a whole year, the ('Ubaydid-Fatimids) were mentioned in the Friday prayer from the pulpits of Baghdad. The 'Abbasids were continually bothered by the ('UbaydidFatimid) power and preponderance, and the Umayyad rulers beyond the sea (in Spain) expressed their annoyance with them and threatened war against them. How could all this have befallen a fraudulent claimant to the rulership, who was (moreover) considered a liar?118 One should compare (this account with) the history of the Qarmatian.119 His genealogy was, in fact, fraudulent. How completely did his propaganda disintegrate and his followers disperse! Their viciousness and guile soon became apparent. They came to an evil end and tasted a bitter fate. If the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) had been in the same situation, it would have become known, even had it taken some time.
Whatever qualities of character a man may have,.
They will become known, even if he imagines they are concealed from the people120
The ('Ubaydid-Fatimid) dynasty lasted uninterruptedly for about two hundred and seventy years. They held possession of the place where Ibrahim (Abraham) had stood 121 and where he had prayed, the home of the Prophet and the place where he was buried, the place where the pilgrims stand and where the angels descended (to bring the revelation to Muhammad). Then, their rule came to an end. During all that time, their partisans showed them the greatest devotion and love and firmly believed in their descent from the imam Ismail, the son of Ja'far as-Sadiq. Even after the dynasty had gone and its influence had disappeared, people still came forward to press the claims of the sect. They proclaimed the names of young children, descendants of (the 'UbaydidFatimids), whom they believed entitled to the caliphate. They went so far as to consider them as having actually been appointed to the succession by preceding imams. Had there been doubts about their pedigree, their followers would not have undergone the dangers involved in supporting them. A sectarian does not manipulate his own affairs, nor sow confusion within his own sect, nor act as a liar where his own beliefs are concerned.
It is strange that Judge Abu Bakr al-Baqillani'122 the great speculative theologian, was inclined to credit this unacceptable view (as to the spuriousness of the 'Ubaydid-Fatimid genealogy), and upheld this weak opinion. If the reason for his attitude was the heretical and extremist Shi'ism of (the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids, it would not be valid, for his denial of their 'Alid descent) does not invalidate 123 (the objectionable character of) their sectarian beliefs, nor would establishment of their ('Alid) descent be of any help to them before God in the question of their unbelief. God said to Noah concerning his sons: "He does not belong to your family. It is an improper action. So do not ask me regarding that of which you have no knowledge."124 Muhammad exhorted Fatimah in these words: "O Fatimah, act (as you wish). I shall be of no help to you before God."124a
When a man comes to know a problem or to be certain about a matter, he must openly state (his knowledge or his certainty). "God speaks the truth. He leads (men into) the right way."125 Those people (the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids) were constantly on the move because of the suspicions various governments had concerning them. They were kept under observation by the tyrants, because their partisans were numerous and their propaganda had spread far and wide. Time after time they had to leave the places where they had settled. Their men, therefore, took refuge in hiding, and their (identity) was hardly known, as (the poet) says:
If you would ask the days what my name is, they would
And where I am, they would not know where I am.126
This went so far that Muhammad, the son of the imam Isma'il, the ancestor of 'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi, was called "the Concealed (Imam)."127 His partisans called him by that name because they were agreed on the fact he was hiding out of fear of those who had them in their power. The partisans of the 'Abbasids made much use of this fact when they came out with their attack against the pedigree of (the 'UbaydidFatimids). They tried to ingratiate themselves with the weak ('Abbasid) caliphs by professing the erroneous opinion that (the 'Alid descent of the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids was spurious). It pleased the 'Abbasid clients and the amirs who were in charge of military operations against the enemies of the ('Abbasids). It helped them and the government to make up for their inability to resist and repel the Kutimah Berbers, the partisans and propagandists 128 of the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), who had taken Syria, Egypt, and the Hijaz away from (the 'Abbasids). The judges in Baghdad eventually prepared an official statement denying the 'Alid origin (of the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids).129 The statement was witnessed by a number of prominent men, among them the Sharif ar-Radi 130 and his brother al-Murtada,131 and Ibn al-Bathawi.132 Among the religious scholars (who also witnessed the document) were Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini,133 al-Quduri,134 as-Saymari135 Ibn al-Akfani,136 al-Abiwardi,137 the Shi'ah jurist Abu 'Abdallah b. an-Nu'man,138 and other prominent Muslims in Baghdad. The event took place one memorable 139 day in the year 402  in the time of al-Qadir. The testimony (of these witnesses) was based upon hearsay, on what people in Baghdad generally believed. Most of them were partisans of the 'Abbasids who attacked the 'Alid origin (of the 'UbaydidFatimids). The historians reported the information as they had heard it. They handed it down to us just as they remembered it. However, the truth lies behind it. Al-Mu'tadid's 140 letter concerning 'Ubaydallah (addressed) to the Aghlabid in al-Qayrawan and the Midrarid in Sijilmasah, testifies most truthfully to the correctness of the ('Alid) origin of the ('Ubaydid-Fatimids), and proves it most clearly. AlMu'tadid (as a very close relative) was better qualified than anyone else to speak about the genealogy of the Prophet's house.141
Dynasty and government serve as the world's market place,142 attracting to it the products of scholarship and craftsmanship alike. Wayward wisdom and forgotten lore turn up there. In this market stories are told and items of historical information are delivered. Whatever is in demand on this market is in general demand everywhere else. Now, whenever the established dynasty avoids injustice, prejudice, weakness, and double-dealing, with determination keeping to the right path and never swerving from it, the wares on its market are as pure silver and fine gold. However, when it is influenced by selfish interests and rivalries, or swayed by vendors of tyranny and dishonesty, the wares of its market place become as dross and debased metals. The intelligent critic must judge for himself as he looks around, examining this, admiring that, and choosing this.
A similar and even more improbable story is one privately discussed by those who attack the ('Alid) descent of Idris b. Idris b. 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. al-Hasan b. 'All b. Abi Talib, who became imam after his father in Morocco.143 They hint at the punishable crime of adultery by insinuating that the unborn child left after the death of the elder Idris was in fact the child of Rashid, a client of the Idrisids. How stupid of these God-forsaken men! They should know that the elder Idris married into the Berber tribes and, from the time he came to the Maghrib until his death, was firmly rooted in desert life. In the desert, no such thing could remain a secret. There are no hiding places there where things can be done in secret. The neighbors (if they are women) can always see and (if they are men) always hear what their women are doing, because the houses are low and clustered together without space between them. Rashid was entrusted with the stewardship of all the women after the death of his master, upon the recommendation of friends and partisans of the Idrisids and subject to the supervision of them all. Furthermore, all Moroccan Berbers agreed to render the oath of allegiance to the younger Idris as his father's successor. They voluntarily agreed to obey him. They swore that they were willing to die for him, and they exposed themselves to mortal danger protecting him in his wars and raids. Had they told each other some such scandalous story or heard it from someone else, even a vengeful enemy or scandal-mongering rebel, some of them at least would have refused to do those things. No, this story originated with the 'Abbasid opponents of the Idrisids and with the Aghlabids, the 'Abbasid governors and officials in Ifriqiyah
This happened in the following manner. When the elder Idris fled to the Maghrib after the battle of Fakhkh,144 alHadi sent orders to the Aghlabids to lie in wait and keep a sharp watch out for him. However, they did not catch him, and he escaped safely to the Maghrib. He consolidated his position, and his propaganda was successful. Later on, arRashid became aware of the secret Shi'ah leanings of Wadih, the 'Abbasid client and governor of Alexandria, and of his deceitful attitude in connection with the escape of Idris to the Maghrib, and (ar-Rashid) killed (Wadih). Then, ashShammakh, a client of (ar-Rashid's) father, suggested to arRashid a ruse by means of which to kill Idris. (Ash-Shammakh) pretended to become his adherent and to have broken with his 'Abbasid masters. Idris took him under his protection and admitted him to his private company. Once, when Idris was alone, ash-Shammakh gave him some poison and thus killed him. The news of his death was received by the 'Abbasids most favorably, since they hoped that it would cut the roots and blunt the edge of the 'Alid propaganda in the Maghrib. News of the unborn child left after Idris' death had not (yet) reached them. Thus, it was only a brief moment until the ('Alid) propaganda reappeared. The Shi'ah was successful in the Maghrib, and Shi'ah rule was renewed through Idris, Idris' son. This was a most painful blow to the 'Abbasids. Weakness and senility had already taken hold of the Arab dynasty. No longer could (the 'Abbasids) aspire to the control of remote regions. Far away as the elder Idris was in the Maghrib, under the protection of the Berbers, ar-Rashid had just enough power, and no more, to poison him with the help of a ruse. Therefore, the 'Abbasids now had recourse to their Aghlabid clients in Ifrigiyah. They asked them to heal the dangerous breach caused by (the Idrisids), to take measures against the woe that threatened to befall the dynasty from that direction, and to uproot (the Idrisids) before they could spread. Al-Ma'mun and the succeeding caliphs wrote to the Aghlabids to this effect. However, the Aghlabids were also too weak (to control) the Berbers of Morocco, and might better have tried to embarrass their own rulers as (the Idrisids embarrassed them), because the power of the caliphate had been usurped by non-Arab slaves, who diverted to their own purposes its entire control and authority 145 over men, taxes, and functionaries. It was as the contemporary ('Abbasid) poet described it:146
A caliph in a cage
Between Wasif and Bugha
He says what they tell him,
Like a parrot.
The Aghlabid amirs, therefore, were afraid of possible intrigues and tried all kinds of excuses. Sometimes, they belittled the Maghrib and its inhabitants. At other times, they tried to arouse fear of the power of Idris and his descendants who had taken his place there. They wrote the 'Abbasids that he was crossing the borders of his territory. They included his coins among their gifts, presents, and tax collections, in order to show his growing influence and to spread terror about his increasing power, to magnify (the dangers) which would lie in attacking and fighting him, as they were being asked to do, and to threaten a change in allegiance if they were forced to that. Again, at other times, they attacked the descent of Idris with the (aforementioned) lie, in order to harm him. They did not care whether the accusation was true or not. The distance (from Baghdad) was great, and, weak-minded as the 'Abbasid children and their non-Arab slaves were, they took anybody's word and listened to anybody's noise. They went on in this manner until the Aghlabid rule came to an end.
The nasty remark (about the Idrisid genealogy) then became known to the mob. Some slanderers listened eagerly to it, using it to harm the Idrisids when there were rivalries. Why do such God-forsaken men stray from the intentions of the religious law, which knows no difference between definite (fact) and (mere) guess? 146a Idris was born in his father's bed, and "the child belongs to the bed."147 It is a (Muslim) article of faith that the descendants of Muhammad are above any such thing (as adultery). God removed every turpitude from them and cleansed them. Idris' bed is free of all uncleanliness and all turpitude. This is decided in the Qur'an.148 Whoever believes the contrary confesses his guilt and invites unbelief.
I have refuted the accusation against Idris here at length, in order to forestall doubts and strike out against the envious. I heard the story with my own ears from a man who was hostile to (the Idrisids) and attacked their descent with this lying invention. In his self-deception, he passed on the story on the authority of certain historians of the Maghrib who had turned their backs on Muhammad's descendants and were skeptical concerning their ancestors. But the situation (of the Idrisids) is above all that and not susceptible of such a (taint). (No space should be devoted to refuting such an accusation, since) to deny a fault where (the existence of) a fault is impossible is (in itself) a fault.149 However, I did defend them here in this world and, thus, I hope that they will defend me on the Day of Resurrection.
It should be known that most of those who attack the ('Alid) descent of (the Idrisids) are themselves persons who claim to be descendants of Muhammad or pretend to be connected with his descendants, and who envy the descendants of Idris. The claim to (Muhammadan) descent is a great title to nobility among nations and races in all regions. Therefore, it is subject to suspicion. Now, both in their native Fez and in the other regions of the Maghrib, the descent of the Idrisids is so well known and evident that almost no one can show or hope to show as well-established a pedigree. It is the result of continuous transmission by the more recent nations and generations on the authority of the older preceding ones. The Idrisids count the house of their ancestor Idris, the founder and builder of Fez, among their houses. His mosque is adjacent to their quarter and streets. His sword is (suspended) unsheathed atop the main minaret of their residence. There are other relics of his which have been attested to many times in an uninterrupted tradition, so that the tradition concerning them is almost as valuable as direct observation (as to its reliability). Other descendants of Muhammad can look at these signs which God gave to the Idrisids. They will see the Muhammadan nobility of the Idrisids enhanced by the majesty of the royal authority their ancestors exercised in the Maghrib. They will realize that they themselves have nothing of the sort and that they do not measure up even halfway to any one of the Idrisids. They will also realize that those who claim to be Muhammad's descendants but do not have such testimonies to confirm their claim as the Idrisids have, may at best find their position conceded (as possibly true), because people are to be believed with regard to the descent they claim for themselves,150 but there is a difference between what is known and what is mere guess, between what is certain and what is merely conceded as possibly true.
When they realize these facts, they are choked in their own spittle (which they swallow in impotent jealousy). Their private envy causes many of them to wish that they could bring down the Idrisids from their noble position to the status of ordinary, humble persons. Therefore, they have recourse to spite and persistent malevolence and invent erroneous and lying accusations such as the one discussed. They justify themselves by the assumption that all guesses are equally probable. They ought to (prove) that! We know of no descendants of Muhammad whose lineage is so clearly and obviously established as that of the descendants of Idris of the family of al-Hasan. The most distinguished Idrisids at this time are the Banu 'Imran in Fez. They are descendants of Yahya al-Juti b. Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Addam b. alQasim b. Idris b. Idris. They are the chiefs of the 'Alids there. They live (at the present time) in the house of their ancestor Idris. They are the leading nobility of the entire Maghrib. We shall mention them in connection with the Idrisids, if God wills.151 They are the descendants of 'Imran b.Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Yahya b. 'Abdallah b. Muhammad b. 'All b. Muhammad b. Yahya b. Ibrahim b. Yahya alJuti. The chief of their (house) at this time is Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Muhammad b. 'Imran.
To these wicked statements and erroneous beliefs one may add the accusations that weak-minded jurists in the Maghrib leveled against the imam al-Mahdi, the head of the Almohad dynasty.152 He was accused of deceit and insincerity when he insisted upon the true oneness of God and when he complained about the unjust people before his time. All his claims in this respect were declared to be false, even down to his descent from the family of Muhammad, which his Almohad followers accept. Deep down in their hearts it was envy of al-Mahdi's success that led the jurists to declare him a liar. In their self-deception, they thought that they could compete with him in religious scholarship, juridical decisions, and religion. He then turned out to be superior to them. His opinion was accepted, what he said was listened to, and he gained a following. They envied this success of his and tried to lessen his influence by attacking his dogmas and declaring his claims to be false. Furthermore, they were used to receive from al-Mahdi's enemies, the Lamtunah kings (the Almoravids), a respect and an honor they received from no one else, because of the simple religion (of the Almoravids). Under the Lamtunah dynasty, religious scholars held a position of respect and were appointed to the council, everybody according to his influence among his people in his respective village. The scholars, therefore, became partisans (of the Almoravids) and enemies of their enemies. They tried to take revenge on al-Mahdi for his opposition to them, his censure of them, and his struggle against them. This was the result of their partisanship for the Lamtunah and their bias in favor of the Lamtunah dynasty. Al-Mahdi's position was different from theirs. He did not share their beliefs. What else could be expected of a man who criticized the attitude of the ruling dynasty as he did and was opposed in his efforts by its jurists? He called his people to a holy war against them. He uprooted the dynasty and turned it upside down, despite its great strength, its tremendous power, and the strong force of its allies and its militia. Followers of his killed in the struggle were innumerable. They had sworn allegiance to him until death. They had protected him from death with their own lives. They had sought nearness to God by sacrificing themselves for the victory of the Mahdi's cause as partisans of the enterprise that eventually gained the upper hand and replaced the dynasties on both shores.153 (Al-Mahdi himself) remained always frugal, retiring, patient in tribulation, and very little concerned with the world to the last; he died without fortune or worldly possessions. He did not even have children, as everybody desires but as one often is deceived in desiring. I should like to know what he could have hoped to obtain by this way of life were it not (to look upon) the face of God, for he did not acquire worldly fortune of any kind during his lifetime. Moreover, if his intention had not been good, he would not have been successful, and his propaganda would not have spread. "This is how God formerly proceeded with His servants.154
The (jurists') disavowal of (al-Mahdi's) descent from Muhammad's family is not backed up by any proof. Were it established that he himself claimed such descent, his claim could not be disproved, because people are to be believed regarding the descent they claim for themselves.155 It might be said that leadership over a people is vested only in men of their own skin. This is correct, as will be mentioned in the first156 chapter of this book. But157 al-Mahdi exercised leadership over all the Masmudah. They agreed to follow him and be guided by him and his Harghah group, and, eventually, God gave complete success to his propaganda. In this connection, it must be realized that al-Mahdi's power did not depend exclusively on his Fatimid descent, and the people did not follow him on that account (only). They followed him because of their Harghah-Masmudah group feeling and because of his share in that group feeling which was firmly rooted in him. (Al-Mahdi's) Fatimid descent had become obscured and knowledge of it had disappeared from among the people, although it had remained alive in him and his family through family tradition. His original (Fatimid) descent had, in a way, been sloughed off, and he had put on the skin of the Harghah-Masmudah and thus appeared as one of their skin. The fact that he was originally of Fatimid descent did not harm him with regard to his group feeling, since it was not known to the members of the group. Things like that happen frequently once one's original descent has become obscured.
One might compare (with the above) the story of Arfajah and Jarir concerning the leadership of the Bajilah.158 Arfajah had belonged to the Azd but had put on the skin of the Bajilah so successfully that he was able to wrangle with Jarir over the leadership before 'Umar, as has been reported. This example makes one understand what the truth is like.
God is the guide to that which is correct.
Lengthy discussion of these mistakes has taken us rather far from the purpose of this work. However, many competent persons and expert historians slipped in connection with such stories and assertions, and they stuck in their minds. Many weak-minded and uncritical persons learned these things from them, and even (the competent historians) themselves accepted them without critical investigation, and thus (strange stories) crept into their material. In consequence, historiography became nonsensical and confused, and its students fumbled around. Historiography came to be considered a domain of the common people. Therefore, today, the scholar in this field needs to know the principles of politics, the (true) nature of existent things, and the differences among nations, places, and periods with regard to ways of life, character qualities, customs, sects, schools, and everything else. He further needs a comprehensive knowledge of present conditions in all these respects. He must compare similarities or differences between the present and the past (or distantly located) conditions. He must know the causes of the similarities in certain cases and of the differences in others. He must be aware of the differing origins and beginnings of (different) dynasties and religious groups, as well as of the reasons and incentives that brought them into being and the circumstances and history of the persons who supported them. His goal must be to have complete knowledge of the reasons for every happening, and to be acquainted with the origin of every event. Then, he must check transmitted information with the basic principles he knows. If it fulfills their requirements, it is sound. Otherwise, the historian must consider it as spurious and dispense with it. It was for this reason alone that historiography was highly considered by the ancients, so much so that at-Tabari, al-Bukhari, and, before them, Ibn Ishaq and other Muslim religious scholars, chose to occupy themselves with it. Most scholars, however, forgot this, the (real) secret of historiography, with the result that it became a stupid occupation. Ordinary people as well as (scholars) who had no firm foundation of knowledge, considered it a simple matter to study and know history, to delve into it and sponge on it. Strays got into the flock, bits of shell were mixed with the nut, truth was adulterated with lies.
"The final outcome of things is up to God."159
A160 hidden pitfall in historiography is disregard for the fact that conditions within the nations and races change with the change of periods and the passing of days. This is a sore affliction and is deeply hidden, becoming noticeable only after a long time, so that rarely do more than a few individuals become aware of it.
This is as follows. The condition of the world and of nations, their customs and sects, does not persist in the same form or in a constant manner. There are differences according to days and periods, and changes from one condition to another. This is the case with individuals, times, and cities, and, in the same manner, it happens in connection with regions and districts, periods and dynasties.
"This is how God formerly proceeded with His servants."161
The old Persian nations, the Syrians, the Nabataeans, the Tubba's, the Israelites, and the Copts, all once existed. They all had their own particular institutions in respect of dynastic and territorial arrangements, their own politics, crafts, languages, technical terminologies, as well as their own ways of dealing with their fellow men and handling their cultural institutions. Their (historical) relics testify to that. They were succeeded by the later Persians, the Byzantines, and the Arabs. The old institutions changed and former customs were transformed, either into something very similar, or into something distinct and altogether different. Then, there came Islam with the Mudar dynasty. Again, all institutions underwent another change, and for the most part assumed the forms that are still familiar at the present time as the result of their transmission from one generation to the next.
Then, the days of Arab rule were over. The early generations who had cemented Arab might and founded the realm of the Arabs, were gone. The power was seized by others, by non-Arabs like the Turks in the east, the Berbers in the west, and the European Christians162 in the north. With their 162a passing, entire nations ceased to exist, and institutions and customs changed. Their glory was forgotten, and their power no longer heeded.
The widely accepted reason for changes in institutions and customs is the fact that the customs of each race depend on the customs of its ruler. As the proverb says: "The common people follow the religion of the ruler." 163
When politically ambitious men overcome the ruling dynasty and seize power, they inevitably have recourse to the customs of their predecessors and adopt most of them. At the same time, they do not neglect the customs of their own race. This leads to some discrepancies between the customs of the (new) ruling dynasty and the customs of the old race.
The new power, in turn, is succeeded by another dynasty, and customs are further mixed with those of the new dynasty. More discrepancies come in, and the discrepancy between the new dynasty and the first one is much greater (than that between the second and the first one). Gradual increase in the degree of discrepancy continues. The eventual result is an altogether distinct (set of customs and institutions). As long as there is this continued succession of different races to royal authority and government, discrepancies in customs and institutions will not cease to occur.
Analogical reasoning and comparison are well known to human nature. They are not safe from error. Together with forgetfulness and negligence, they sway man from his purpose and divert him from his goal. Often, someone who has learned a good deal of past history remains unaware of the changes that conditions have undergone. Without a moment's hesitation, he applies his knowledge (of the present) to the historical information and measures the historical information by the things he has observed with his own eyes, although the difference between the two is great. Consequently, he falls into an abyss of error.
This may be illustrated by what the historians report concerning the circumstances of Al-Hajjaj.164 They state that his father was a schoolteacher. At the present time, teaching is a craft and serves to make a living. It is a far cry from the pride of group feeling. Teachers are weak, indigent, and rootless. Many weak professional men and artisans who work for a living aspire to positions for which they are not fit but which they believe to be within their reach. They are misled by their desires, a rope which often slips from their hands and precipitates them into the abyss of ruinous perdition. They do not realize that what they desire is impossible for men like them to attain. They do not realize that they are professional men and artisans who work for a living. And they do not know that at the beginning of Islam and during the (Umayyad and 'Abbasid) dynasties, teaching was something different. Scholarship, in general, was not a craft in that period. Scholarship was transmitting statements that people had heard the Lawgiver (Muhammad) make. It was teaching religious matters-that-were not known, by wavy of oral transmission. Persons of noble descent and people who shared in the group feeling (of the ruling dynasty) and who directed the affairs of Islam were the ones who taught the Book of God and the Sunnah of the Prophet, (and they did so) as one transmits traditions, not as one gives professional instruction. (The Qur'an) was their Scripture, revealed to the Prophet in their midst. It constituted their guidance, and Islam was their religion, and for it they fought and died. It distinguished them from the other nations and ennobled them. They wished to teach it and make it understandable to the Muslims. They were not deterred by censure coming from pride, nor were they restrained by criticism coming from arrogance. This is attested by the fact that the Prophet sent the most important of the men around him with his embassies to the Arabs, in order to teach them the norms of Islam and the religious laws he brought. He sent his ten companions165 and others after them on this mission.
Then, Islam became firmly established and securely rooted. Far-off nations accepted Islam at the hands of the Muslims. With the passing of time, the situation of Islam changed. Many new laws were evolved from the (basic) texts as the result of numerous and unending developments. A fixed norm was required to keep (the process) free from error. Scholarship came to be a habit.166 For its acquisition, study was required. Thus, scholarship developed into a craft and profession. This will be mentioned in the chapter on scholarship and instruction.167
The men who controlled the group feeling now occupied themselves with directing the affairs of royal and governmental authority. The cultivation of scholarship was entrusted to others. Thus, scholarship became a profession that served to make a living. Men who lived in luxury and were in control of the government were too proud to do any teaching. Teaching came to be an occupation restricted to weak individuals. As a result, its practitioners came to be despised by the men who controlled the group feeling and the government.
Now, Yusuf, the father of al-Hajjaj, was one of the lords and nobles of the Thaqif, well known for their share in the Arab group feeling and for their rivalry with the nobility of the Quraysh. Al-Hajjaj's teaching of the Qur'an was not what teaching of the Qur'an is at this time, namely, a profession that serves to make a living. His teaching was teaching as it was practiced at the beginning of Islam and as we have just described it.
Another illustration of the same (kind of error) is the baseless conclusion critical readers of historical works draw when they hear about the position of judges and about the leadership in war and the command of armies that judges (formerly) exercised. Their misguided thinking leads them to aspire to similar positions. They think that the office of judge at the present time is as important as it was formerly. When they hear that the father of Ibn Abi 'Amir, who had complete control over Hisham, and that the father of Ibn 'Abbad, one of the rulers of Sevilla, were judges,168 they assume that they were like present-day judges. They are not aware of the change in customs that has affected the office of judge, and which will be explained by us in the chapter on the office of judge in the first book. 169 Ibn Abi 'Amir and Ibn 'Abbad belonged to Arab tribes that supported the Umayyad dynasty in Spain and represented the group feeling of the Umayyads, and it is known how important their positions were. The leadership and royal authority they attained did not derive from the rank of the judgeship as such, in the present-day sense that (the office of judge constitutes an administrative rank). In the ancient administrative organization, the office of judge was given by the dynasty and its clients to men who shared in the group feeling (of the dynasty), as is done in our age with the wazirate in the Maghrib. One has only to consider the fact that (in those days judges) accompanied the army on its summer campaigns and were entrusted with the most important affairs, such as are entrusted only to men who can command the group feeling needed for their execution.
Hearing such things, some people are misled and get the wrong idea about conditions. At the present time, weakminded Spaniards are especially given to errors in this respect. The group feeling has been lost in their country for many years, as the result of the annihilation of the Arab dynasty in Spain and the emancipation of the Spaniards from the control of Berber group feeling. The Arab descent has been remembered, but the ability to gain power through group feeling and mutual co-operation has been lost. In fact, the (Spaniards) came to be like (passive) subjects,170 without any feeling for the obligation of mutual support. They were enslaved by tyranny and had become fond of humiliation, thinking that their descent, together with their share in the ruling dynasty, was the source of power and authority. Therefore, among them, professional men and artisans are to be found pursuing power and authority and eager to obtain them. On the other hand, those who have experience with tribal conditions, group feeling, and dynasties along the western shore, and who know how superiority is achieved among nations and tribal groups, will rarely make mistakes or give erroneous interpretations in this respect.
Another illustration of the same kind of error is the procedure historians follow when they mention the various dynasties and enumerate the rulers belonging to them. They mention the name of each ruler, his ancestors, his mother and father, his wives, his surname, his seal ring, his judge, doorkeeper, and wazir. In this respect, they blindly follow the tradition of the historians of the Umayyad and 'Abbasid dynasties, without being aware of the purpose of the historians of those times. (The historians of those times) wrote their histories for members of the ruling dynasty, whose children wanted to know the lives and circumstances of their ancestors, so that they might be able to follow in their steps and to do what they did,171 even down to such details as obtaining servants from among those who were left over from the (previous) dynasty 172 and giving ranks and positions to the descendants of its servants and retainers. Judges, too, shared in the group feeling of the dynasty and enjoyed the same importance as wazirs, as we have just mentioned. Therefore, the historians of that time had to mention all these things.
Later on, however, various distinct dynasties made their appearance. The time intervals became longer and longer. Historical interest now was concentrated on the rulers themselves and on the mutual relationships of the various dynasties in respect to power and predominance. (The problem now was) which nations could stand up (to the ruling dynasty) and which were too weak to do so. Therefore, it is pointless for an author of the present time to mention the sons and wives, the engraving on the seal ring, the surname, judge, wazir, and doorkeeper of an ancient dynasty, when he does not know the origin, descent, or circumstances of its members. Present-day authors mention all these things in mere blind imitation of former authors. They disregard the intentions of the former authors and forget to pay attention to historiography's purpose.
An exception are the wazirs who were very influential and whose historical importance overshadowed that of the rulers. Such wazirs as,-for -instance,- al-Ijajjaj,--the Band Muhallab, the Barmecides, the Banu Sahl b. Nawbakht, Kaffir al-Ikhshidi, Ibn Abi 'Amir, and others should be mentioned. There is no objection to dealing with their lives or referring to their conditions for in importance they rank with the rulers.
An additional note to end this discussion may find its place here.
History refers to events that are peculiar to a particular age or race. Discussion of the general conditions of regions, races, and periods constitutes the historian's foundation. Most of his problems rest upon that foundation, and his historical information derives clarity from it. It forms the topic of special works, such as the Muruj adh-dhahab of al-Mas'udi. In this work, al-Mas'udi commented upon the conditions of nations and regions in the West and in the East during his period (which was) the three hundred and thirties [the nine hundred and forties]. He mentioned their sects and customs. He described the various countries, mountains, oceans, provinces, and dynasties. He distinguished between Arabic and non-Arabic groups. His book, thus, became the basic reference work for historians, their principal source for verifying historical information.
Al-Mas'udi was succeeded by al-Bakri 173 who did something similar for routes and provinces, to the exclusion of everything else, because, in his time, not many transformations or great changes had occurred among the nations and races. However, at the present time-that is, at the end of the eighth [fourteenth] century-the situation in the Maghrib, as we can observe, has taken a turn and changed entirely. The Berbers, the original population of the Maghrib, have been replaced by an influx of Arabs, (that began in) the fifth [eleventh] century. The Arabs outnumbered and overpowered the Berbers, stripped them of most of their lands, and (also) obtained a share of those that remained in their possession. This was the situation until, in the middle of the eighth [fourteenth] century, civilization both in the East and the West was visited by a destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish.174 It swallowed up many of the good things of civilization and wiped them out. It overtook the dynasties at the time of their senility, when they had reached the limit of their duration. It lessened their power and curtailed their influence. It weakened their authority. Their situation approached the point of annihilation and dissolution. Civilization decreased with the decrease of mankind. Cities and buildings were laid waste, roads and way signs were obliterated, settlements and mansions became empty, dynasties and tribes grew weak. The entire inhabited world changed. The East, it seems, was similarly visited, though in accordance with and in proportion to (the East's more affluent) civilization. It was as if the voice of existence in the world had called out for oblivion and restriction, and the world had responded to its call. God inherits the earth and whomever is upon it.
When there is a general change of conditions, it is as if the entire creation had changed and the whole world been altered, as if it were a new and repeated creation, a world brought into existence anew. Therefore, there is need at this time that someone should systematically set down the situation of the world among all regions and races, as well as the customs and sectarian beliefs that have changed for their adherents, doing for this age what al-Mas'udi did for his. This should be a model for future historians to follow. In this book of mine, I shall discuss as much of that as will be possible for me here in the Maghrib. I shall do so either explicitly or implicitly in connection with the history of the Maghrib, in conformity with my intention to restrict myself in this work to the Maghrib, the circumstances of its races and nations, and its subjects and dynasties, to the exclusion of any other region.175 (This restriction is necessitated) by my lack of knowledge of conditions in the East and among its nations, and by the fact that secondhand information would not give the essential facts I am after. Al-Mas'udi's extensive travels in various countries enabled him to give a complete picture, as he mentioned in his work. Nevertheless, his discussion of conditions in the Maghrib is incomplete. "And He knows more than any scholar." 176 God is the ultimate repository of (all) knowledge. Man is weak and deficient. Admission (of one's ignorance) is a specific (religious) duty. He whom God helps, finds his way (made) easy and his efforts and quests successful. We seek God's help for the goal to which we aspire in this work. God gives guidance and help. He may be trusted.
It remains for us to explain the method of transcribing non-Arabic sounds whenever they occur in this book of ours.
It should be known that the letters (sounds) 177 of speech, as will be explained later on,178 are modifications of sounds that come from the larynx. These modifications result from the fact that the sounds are broken up in contact with the uvula and the sides of the tongue in the throat, against the palate or the teeth, and also through contact with the lips. The sound is modified by the different ways in which such contact takes place. As a result, the letters (sounds) sound distinct. Their combination constitutes the word that expresses what is in the mind.
Not 179 all nations have the same letters (sounds) in their speech. One nation has letters (sounds) different from those of another. The letters (sounds) of the Arabs are twentyeight, as is known. The Hebrews are found to have letters (sounds) that are not in our language. In our language, in turn, there are letters sounds) that are not in theirs. The same applies to the European Christians, the Turks, the Berbers, and other non-Arabs.
In order to express their audible letters (sounds), literate Arabs 180 chose to use conventional letters written individually separate, such as ', b, j, r, t, and so forth through all the twenty-eight letters. When they come upon a letter (sound) for which there is no corresponding letter (sound) in their language, it is not indicated in writing and not clearly expressed. Scribes sometimes express it by means of the letter which is closest to it in our language, the one either preceding or following it.181 This is not a satisfactory way of indicating a letter (sound) but a complete replacement of it.
Our book contains the history of the Berbers and other non-Arabs. In their names and in some of their words, we came across letters (sounds) that did not correspond with our written language and conventional orthography. Therefore, we were forced to indicate such sounds (by special signs). As we said, we did not find it satisfactory to use the letters closest to them, because in our opinion this is not a satisfactory indication. In my book, therefore, I have chosen to write such non-Arabic letters (sounds) in such a way as to indicate the two letters (sounds) closest to it, so that the reader may be able to pronounce it somewhere in the middle between the sounds represented by the two letters and thus reproduce it correctly.
I derived this idea from the way the Qur'an scholars write sounds that are not sharply defined, such as occur, for instance, in as-sirat according to Khalaf's reading.182 The s is to be pronounced somehow between s and z. In this case, they spell the word with s and-write a z into it.183 thus - indicate a pronunciation somewhere in the middle between the two sounds.184
In the same way, I have indicated every letter (sound) that is to be pronounced somehow in the middle between two of our letters (sounds). The Berber k, for instance, which is pronounced midway between our clear k and j (g) or q, as, for instance, in the name Buluggin, is spelled by me with a k with the addition of one dot-from the j-below, or one dot or two-from the q-on top of it.185 This indicates that the sound is to be pronounced midway between k and j (g) or q. This sound occurs most frequently in the Berber language. In the other cases, I have spelled each letter (sound) that is to be pronounced midway between two letters (sounds) of our language, with a similar combination of two letters. The reader will thus know that it is an intermediate sound and pronounce it accordingly. In this way, we have indicated it satisfactorily. Had we spelled it by using only one letter (sound) adjacent to it on either side,185a we would have changed its proper pronunciation to the pronunciation of the particular letter (sound) in our own language (which we might have used), and we would have altered the way people speak. This should be known.
God gives success.
Book One of the Kitab al-'Ibar
The nature of civilization. Bedouinand settled life, the achievement of superiority,gainful occupations, ways of making a living, sciences,crafts, and all the other things that affect(civilization). The causesand reasons thereof.
IT1 SHOULD be known that history, in matter of fact, is information about human social organization, which itself is identical with world civilization. It deals with such conditions affecting the nature of civilization as, for instance, savagery and sociability, group feelings, and the different ways by which one group of human beings achieves superiority over another It deals with royal authority and the dynasties that result (in this manner) and with the various ranks that exist within them. (It further deals) with the different kinds of gainful occupations and ways of making a living, with the sciences and crafts that human beings pursue as part of their activities and efforts, and with all the other institutions that originate in civilization through its very nature.
Untruth naturally afflicts historical information. There are various reasons that make this unavoidable. One of them is partisanship for opinions and schools. If the soul is impartial in receiving information, it devotes to that information the share of critical investigation the information deserves, and its truth or untruth thus becomes clear. However, if the soul is infected with partisanship for a particular opinion or sect, it accepts without a moment's hesitation the information that is agreeable to it. Prejudice and partisanship obscure the critical faculty and preclude critical investigation. The result is that falsehoods are accepted and transmitted.
Another reason making untruth unavoidable in historical information is reliance upon transmitters. Investigation of this subject belongs to (the theological discipline of) personality criticism.2
Another reason is unawareness of the purpose of an event. Many a transmitter does not know the real significance of his observations or of the things he has learned about orally. He transmits the information, attributing to it the significance he assumes or imagines it to have. The result is falsehood.
Another reason is unfounded assumption as to the truth of a thing. This is frequent. It results mostly from reliance upon transmitters.
Another reason is ignorance of how conditions conform with reality. 2a Conditions are affected by ambiguities and artificial distortions. The informant reports the conditions as he saw them but on account of artificial distortions he himself has no true picture of them.
Another reason is the fact that people as a rule approach great and high-ranking persons with praise and encomiums. They embellish conditions and spread the fame (of great men). The information made public in such cases is not truthful. Human souls long for praise, and people pay great attention to this world and the positions and wealth it offers. As a rule, they feel no desire for virtue and have no special interest in virtuous people.
Another reason making untruth unavoidable - and this one is more powerful than all the reasons previously mentioned is ignorance of the nature of the various conditions arising in civilization. Every event (or phenomenon), whether (it comes into being in connection with some) essence or (as the result of an) action, must inevitably possess a nature peculiar to its essence as well as to the accidental conditions that may attach themselves to it. If the student knows the nature of events and the circumstances and requirements in the world of existence, it will help him to distinguish truth from untruth in investigating the historical information critically. This is more effective in critical investigation than any other aspect that may be brought up in connection with it.
Students often happen to accept and transmit absurd information that, in turn, is believed on their authority. AlMas'udi,3 for instance, reports such a story about Alexander. Sea monsters prevented Alexander from building Alexandria. He took a wooden container in which a glass box was inserted, and dived in it to the bottom of the sea. There he drew pictures of the devilish monsters he saw. He then had metal effigies of these animals made and set them up opposite the place where building was going on. When the monsters came out and saw the effigies, they fled. Alexander was thus able to complete the building of Alexandria.
It is a long story, made up of nonsensical elements which are absurd for various reasons. Thus, (Alexander is said) to have taken a glass box and braved the sea and its waves in person. Now, rulers would not take such a risk .4 Any ruler who would attempt such a thing would work his own undoing and provoke the outbreak of revolt against himself, and (he would) be replaced by the people with someone else. That would be his end. People would not (even) wait one moment for him to return from the (dangerous) risk he is taking.
Furthermore, the jinn are not known to have specific forms and effigies. They are able to take on various forms. The story of the many heads they have is intended to indicate ugliness and frightfulness. It is not meant to be taken literally.
All this throws suspicion upon the story. Yet, the element in it that makes the story absurd for reasons based on the facts of existence is more convincing than all the other (arguments). Were one to go down deep into the water, even in a box, one would have too little air for natural breathing. Because of that, one's spirit5 would quickly become hot. Such a man would lack the cold air necessary to maintain a well-balanced humor of the lung and the vital spirit. He would perish on the spot. This is the reason why people perish in hot baths when cold air is denied to them. It also is the reason why people who go down into deep wells and dungeons perish when the air there becomes hot through putrefaction, and no winds enter those places to stir the air up. Those who go down there perish immediately. This also is the reason why fish die when they leave the water, for the air is not sufficient for (a fish) to balance its lung. (The fish) is extremely hot, and the water to balance it's humor is cold. The air into which (the fish) now comes is hot. Heat, thus, gains power over its animal spirit, and it perishes at once. This also is the reason for sudden death,6 and similar things.
Al-Mas'udi reports another absurd story, that of the Statue of the Starling in Rome7 On a fixed day of the year, starlings gather at that statue bringing olives from which the inhabitants of Rome get their oil. How little this has to do with the natural procedure of getting oil!
Another absurd story is reported by al-Bakri. It concerns the way the so-called "Gate City" was built.8 That city had a circumference of more than a thirty days' journey and had ten thousand gates. Now, cities are used for security and protection, as will be mentioned.9 Such a city, however, could not be controlled and would offer no security or protection.
Then, there is also al-Mas'udi's story of the "Copper City." 10 This is said to be a city built wholly of copper in the desert of Sijilmasah which Musa b. Nusayr 11 crossed on his raid against the Maghrib. The gates of (the Copper City) are said to be closed. When the person who climbs the walls of the city in order to enter it, reaches the top, he claps his hand and throws himself down and never returns. All this is an absurd story. It belongs to the idle talk of storytellers. The desert of Sijilmasah has been crossed by travelers and guides. They have not come across any information about such a city.12 All the details mentioned about it are absurd, (if compared with) the customary state of affairs. They contradict the natural facts that apply to the building and planning of cities. Metal exists at best in quantities sufficient for utensils and furnishings. It is clearly absurd and unlikely that there would be enough to cover a city with it.
There 13 are many similar things. Only knowledge of the nature of civilization makes critical investigation of them possible. It is the best and most reliable way to investigate historical information critically and to distinguish truth and falsehood in it. It is superior to investigations that rely upon criticism of the personalities of transmitters. Such personality criticism should not be resorted to until it has been ascertained whether a specific piece of information is in itself possible, or not. If it is absurd, there is no use engaging in personality criticism. Critical scholars consider absurdity inherent in the literal meaning of historical information, or an interpretation not acceptable to the intellect, as something that makes such information suspect. Personality criticism is taken into consideration only in connection with the soundness (or lack of soundness) of Muslim religious information, because this religious information mostly concerns injunctions in accordance with which the Lawgiver (Muhammad) enjoined Muslims to act whenever it can be presumed that the information is genuine. The way to achieve presumptive soundness is to ascertain the probity (`adalah) and exactness of the transmitters.
On the other hand, to establish the truth and soundness of information about factual happenings, a requirement to consider is the conformity (or lack of conformity of the reported information with general conditions). Therefore, it is necessary to investigate whether it is possible that the (reported facts) could have happened. This is more important than, and has priority over, personality criticism. For the correct notion about something that ought to be14 can be derived only from (personality criticism), while the correct notion about something that was can be derived from (personality criticism) and external (evidence) by (checking) the conformity (of the historical report with general conditions).
If 15 this is so, the normative method for distinguishing right from wrong in historical information on the grounds of (inherent) possibility or absurdity, is to investigate human social organization, which is identical with civilization. We must distinguish the conditions that attach themselves to the essence of civilization as required by its very nature; the things that are accidental (to civilization) and cannot be counted on; and the things that cannot possibly attach themselves to it. If we do that, we shall have a normative method for distinguishing right from wrong and truth from falsehood in historical information by means of a logical demonstration that admits of no doubts. Then whenever we hear about certain conditions occurring in civilization, we shall know what to accept and what to declare spurious. We shall have a sound yardstick with the help of which historians may find the path of truth and correctness where their reports are concerned.
Such 16 is the purpose of this first book of our work. (The subject) is in a way an independent science. (This science) has its own peculiar object-that is, human civilization and social organization. It also has its own peculiar problems, that is, explaining the conditions that attach themselves to the essence of civilization, one after the other. Thus, the situation is the same with this science as it is with any other science, whether it be a conventional 17 or an intellectual one.
It should be known that the discussion of this topic is something new, extraordinary, and highly useful. Penetrating research has shown the way to it. It does not belong to rhetoric, one of the logical disciplines (represented in Aristotle's Organon), the subject of which is convincing words by means of which the mass is inclined to accept a particular opinion or not to accept it.18 It is also not politics, because politics is concerned with the administration of home or city in accordance with ethical and philosophical requirements, for the purpose of directing the mass toward a behavior that will result in the preservation and permanence of the (human) species.
The subject here is different from that of these two disciplines which, however, are often similar to it. In a way, it is an entirely original science. In fact, I have not come across a discussion along these lines by anyone. I do not know if this is because people have been unaware of it, but there is no reason to suspect them (of having been unaware of it). Perhaps they have written exhaustively on this topic, and their work did not reach us.19 There are many sciences. There have been numerous sages among the nations of mankind. The knowledge that has not come down to us is larger than the knowledge that has. Where are the sciences of the Persians that 'Umar ordered wiped out at the time of the conquest!20 Where are the sciences of the Chaldaeans, the Syrians, and the Babylonians, and the scholarly products and results that were theirs! Where are the sciences of the Copts, their predecessors! The sciences of only one nation, the Greek, have come down to us, because they were translated through al-Ma'mun's efforts. (His efforts in this direction) were successful, because he had many translators at his disposal and spent much money in this connection. Of the sciences of others, nothing has come to our attention.
The accidents involved in every manifestation of nature and intellect deserve study. Any topic that is understandable and real requires its own special science. In this connection, scholars seem to have been interested (mainly) in the results (of the individual sciences). As far as the subject under discussion is concerned, the result, as we have seen, is just historical information. Although the problems it raises are important, both essentially and specifically, (exclusive concern for it) leads to one result only: the mere verification of historical information. This is not much. Therefore, scholars might have avoided the subject.
God knows better. "And you were given but little knowledge." 21
In the field under consideration here, we encounter (certain) problems, treated incidentally by scholars among the arguments applicable to their particular sciences, but that in object and approach are of the same type as the problems (we are discussing). In connection with the arguments for prophecy, for instance, scholars mention that human beings cooperate with each other for their existence and, therefore, need men to arbitrate among them and exercise a restraining influence.22 Or, in the science of the principles of jurisprudence, in the chapter of arguments for the necessity of languages, mention is made of the fact that people need means to express their intentions because by their very nature, cooperation and social organization are made easier by proper expressions 23 Or, in connection with the explanation that laws have their reason in the purposes they are to serve, the jurists mention that adultery confuses pedigrees and destroys the (human) species; that murder, too, destroys the human species; that injustice invites the destruction of civilization with the necessary consequence that the (human) species will be destroyed.24 Other similar things are stated in connection with the purposes embedded in laws. All (laws) are based upon the effort to preserve civilization. Therefore, (the laws) pay attention to the things that belong to civilization. This is obvious from our references to these problems which are mentioned as representative (of the general situation).
We also find a few of the problems of the subject under discussion (treated) in scattered statements by the sages of mankind. However, they did not exhaust the subject. For instance, we have the speech of the Mobedhan before Bahram b. Bahram in the story of the owl reported by al-Mas'udi 25 It runs: "O king, the might of royal authority materializes only through the ' religious law, obedience toward God, and compliance with His commands and prohibitions. The religious law persists only through royal authority. Mighty royal authority is accomplished only through men. Men persist only with the help of property. The only way to property is through cultivation.26 The only way to cultivation is through justice. Justice is a balance set up among mankind. The Lord set it up and appointed an overseer for it, and that (overseer) is the ruler."
There also is a statement by Anosharwan 27 to the same effect: "Royal authority exists through the army, the army through money, money through taxes, taxes through cultivation, cultivation through justice, justice through the improvement of officials, the improvement of officials through the forthrightness of wazirs, and the whole thing in the first place through the ruler's personal supervision of his subjects' condition and his ability to educate them, so that he may rule them, and not they him."
In the Book on Politics that is ascribed to Aristotle and has wide circulation, we find a good deal about (the subject which is under discussion here). (The treatment,) however, is not exhaustive, nor is the topic provided with all the arguments it deserves, and it is mixed with other things. In the book, (the author) referred to such general (ideas) 28 as we have reported on the authority of the Mobedhan and Anosharwan. He arranged his statement in a remarkable circle that he discussed at length. It runs as follows: 29 "The world is a garden the fence of which is the dynasty. The dynasty is an authority through which life is given to proper behavior. Proper behavior is a policy directed by the ruler. The ruler is an institution supported by the soldiers. The soldiers are helpers who are maintained by money. Money is sustenance brought together by the subjects. The subjects are servants who are protected by justice. Justice is something familiar,30 and through it, the world persists. The world is a garden ...", and then it begins again from the beginning. These are eight sentences of political wisdom. They are connected with each other, the end of each one leading into the beginning of the next. They are held together in a circle with no definite beginning or end. (The author) was proud of what he had hit upon and made much of the significance of the sentences.
When our discussion in the section on royal authority and dynasties 31 has been studied and due critical attention given to it, it will be found to constitute an exhaustive, very clear, fully substantiated interpretation and detailed exposition of these sentences. We became aware of these things with God's help and without the instruction of Aristotle or the teaching of the Mobedhan.
The statements of Ibn al-Muqaffa32 and the excursions on political subjects in his treatises also touch upon many of the problems of our work. However, (Ibn al-Muqaffa`) did not substantiate his statements with arguments as we have done. He merely mentioned them in passing in the (flowing) prose style and eloquent verbiage of the rhetorician.
Judge Abu Bakr at-Turtushi33 also had the same idea in the Kitab Siraj al-Muluk. He divided the work into chapters that come close to the chapters and problems of our work. However, he did not achieve his aim or realize his intention. He did not exhaust the problems and did not bring clear proofs. He sets aside a special chapter for a particular problem, but then he tells a great number of stories and traditions and he reports scattered remarks by Persian sages such as Buzurjmihr34 and the Mobedhan, and by Indian sages, as well as material transmitted on the authority of Daniel, Hermes, and other great men. He does not verify his statements or clarify them with the help of natural arguments. The work is merely a compilation of transmitted material similar to sermons in its inspirational purpose. In a way, at-Turtushi aimed at the right idea, but did not hit it. He did not realize his intention or exhaust his problems.
We, on the other hand, were inspired by God. He led us to a science whose truth we ruthlessly set forth.35 If I have succeeded in presenting the problems of (this science) exhaustively and in showing how it differs in its various aspects and characteristics from all other crafts, this is due to divine guidance. If, on the other hand, I have omitted some point, or if the problems of (this science) have got confused with something else, the task of correcting remains for the discerning critic, but the merit is mine since I cleared and marked the way.
God guides with His light whomever He wants (to guide).36
In 37 this book, now, we are going to explain such various aspects of civilization that affect human beings in their social organization, as royal authority, gainful occupation, sciences, and crafts, (all) in the light of various arguments that will show the true nature of the varied knowledge of the elite and the common people, repel misgivings, and remove doubts. We say that man is distinguished from the other living beings by certain qualities peculiar to him, namely: (1) The sciences and crafts which result from that ability to think which distinguishes man from the other animals and exalts him as a thinking being over all creatures.38 (2) The need for restraining influence and strong authority, since man, alone of all the animals, cannot exist without them. It is true, something has been said (in this connection about bees and locusts. However, if they have something similar, it comes to them through inspiration,39 not through thinking or reflection. (3) Man's efforts to make a living and his concern with the various ways of obtaining and acquiring the means of (life). This is the result of man's need for food to keep alive and subsist, which God instilled in him, guiding him to desire and seek a livelihood. God said: "He gave every thing its natural characteristics, and then guided it." 40 (4) Civilization. This means that human beings have to dwell in common and settle together in cities and hamlets for the comforts of companionship and for the satisfaction of human needs, as a result of the natural disposition of human beings toward co-operation in order to be able to make a living, as we shall explain. Civilization may be either desert (Bedouin) civilization as found in outlying regions and mountains, in hamlets (near suitable) pastures in waste regions, and on the fringes of sandy deserts. Or it may be sedentary civilization as found in cities, villages, towns, and small communities that serve the purpose of protection and fortification by means of walls. In all these different conditions, there are things that affect civilization essentially in as far as it is social organization.
Consequently,41 the discussion in this work falls naturally under six chapter headings:
(1) On human civilization in general, its various kinds, and the portion of the earth that is civilized.
(2) On desert civilization, including a report on the tribes and savage nations.
(3) On dynasties, the caliphate, and royal authority, including a discussion of government ranks.
(4) On sedentary civilization, countries, and cities.
(5) On crafts, ways of making a living, gainful occupations, and their various aspects. And
(6) On the sciences, their acquisition and study.
I have discussed desert civilization first, because it is prior to everything else, as will become clear later on. (The discussion of) royal authority was placed before that of countries and cities for the same reason. (The discussion of) ways of making a living was placed before that of the sciences, because making a living is necessary and natural, whereas the study of science is a luxury or convenience.42 Anything natural has precedence over luxury. I lumped the crafts together with gainful occupations, because they belong to the latter in some respects as far as civilization is concerned, as will become clear later.
God gives success and support.