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The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History - Abridged Edition

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  3,575 ratings  ·  284 reviews
"The Muqaddimah," often translated as "Introduction" or "Prolegomenon," is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), this monumental work established the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including the philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The firs ...more
Paperback, 465 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Princeton University Press (first published 1377)
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The Muqaddimah, an introduction to a universal history up to the author's own day (the 14th century AD) is repetitive, clumsy in places, has some curious choices of material, is maddeningly inexplicit occasionally, and entirely incredible. It is a true landmark in the study of history.

I first heard about this book as a student. It was a lead in to a lecture hall joke, the work had apparently been reconstructed from students' lecture notes after Ibn Khaldun's death (pause for punchline after the
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because my History of Islam professor recommended it in a class last fall. 8 months later I looked through my notes and saw that I wrote down that I wanted to read it, and so I did.

This book surprised me in that I actually enjoyed reading it. I figured it would have good information but be tedious and boring. Not the case, Ibn Khaldun (and perhaps with the help of the translator) has a curious nature and a light humor in his work. He really steps back and looks at the world arou
“The intellectual sciences are natural to man, in as much as he is a thinking being.”

Truly Ibn Khaldun is a thinking being, creating this astonishing summary of the wisdom and knowledge of his time. He surpassed previous attempts to explain history, claiming with justification, “We, on the other hand, were inspired by God. He led us to a science whose truth we ruthlessly set forth.”

His ruthless enumeration of the many sources of historical distortion reminds me of E. H. Carr’s essay What Is Hist
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
This rating is very much a compromise, which is really saying something.

First, the positive: I cannot exaggerate my respect for Ibn Khaldun the historian, economist and sociologist. His theories on the rise and fall of medieval Islamic dynasties are so sound that the majority of modern works I've read just echo his words. He's centuries ahead of his time in terms of his attention to economic and social history, and his first chapter - debunking impossible claims by early historians from Greece,
Apr 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: Melvyn Bragg
I decided to read this after hearing the In Our Time podcast by Melvyn Bragg about this author (listen here). Blurb:
Melvyn Bragg and guests Robert Hoyland, Robert Irwin, and Hugh Kennedy discuss the life and ideas of the 14th-century Arab philosopher of history Ibn Khaldun.

Ibn Khaldun was a North African statesman who retreated into the desert in 1375. He emerged having written one of the most important ever studies of the workings of history.

Khaldun was born in Tunis in 1332. He received a supr
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that I never would have known to read, if not for the guidance of a good instructor. The guy who assigned it was a really smart cooky, and very helpful to boot. I hope he has gone on to an illustrious career in the history field.

Khaldun's writing remains one of the smartest things I've ever read. His theory bears a sophistication that the West couldn't manage until the mid-19th century. And I think the fact he was forgotten actually bears out his theory on the cyclica
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
My purpose in reading this book was very specific, this book is pretty large and looks in a huge number of subjects. I was only interested in the chapters on the supernatural. The Muqaddamah provided an excellent look into the workings of the occult, eye popping really. Ibn Khuldun gives eye witness accounts of many forms of sorcery and magic being practiced in his times as well as a little explanation of the science behind these fell arts.
Well worth the read. Alot of enlightening material.
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read. Ibn Khaldun's knowledge on various historical and sociological issues seems vast. I do not have the necessary knowledge to properly judge all parts of this book by its content, but I have to give a 5 star due to its exhaustive coverage of so many topics, by a brilliant mind.
Another proof of the height Islamic culture and civilization had once reached.
Alexan Martin-Eichner
Criminally ignored in history of philosophy/intellectual history, since it shockingly illustrates the different ways European & Arabic philosophy were working. This work, written in the 1300s, predates & anticipates a fantastic number of "unique" and "milestone" breakthroughs in European philosophy, including:

Limits of induction (Hume), compromise between rationalism & empiricism (Kant), inaccessibility of the noumenal world (also Kant), Labor theory of value (Smith/Marx), necessity of interpret
Barnaby Thieme
Ibn Khaldoun's Muqaddimah is frequently described as a work of proto-sociology and economics. There is a grain of truth to that, but the similarity lies more in the subject matter than the manner of inquiry.

I think the scientific virtues of this book have been somewhat exaggerated, in part because of its enthusiastic reception by systematic historians such as Toynbee who were making their own effort to create or discover a general theory of history. But to my eyes, Ibn Khaldoun's method is more
Joshua Powell
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place... the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairs work that has been made anywhere." - Arnold J Toynbee, observer

I'm inclined to agree with Mr Toynbee here, but of course - has anyone ever tried to create a work that even closely parallels this? This book is sheer madness and he says he wrote it in five months. If a 20th century update had existed it certainly would have
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of a handful of books I'd prefer to have at arms reach at all times. The method. The development of ideas. The use of those built up constructs to build other ideas. It's a logicians dream.

The middle few chapters made me rave about this to everyone I know with a mind. This book is absolutely essential to anyone attempting to understand the world.

I read this because of Mark Zuckerburg and was excited as I had planned a trip to Morocco in the New Year, so this seemed relevant and app
Chris Fellows
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tried reading the unabrdiged version of this translation twenty years ago after reading Toynbee's high praise, and never made it near the end. But this time it was fantastic. This is one of the great books of Western Civilisation. We would be so much better off today if we had the same common sense grasp of philosophy, pedagogy, and economics Ibn Khaldun displays here. His section on speculative theology alone contains everything anyone with a little bit of gumption needs to wipe the floor wit ...more
Azhar Ali
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't say anything about it, would just copy the statement of Franz Rosenthal on the Muqaddimah:

It can be regarded as the earliest attempt made by any historian to discover a pattern in the changes that occur in man's political and social organization. Rational in its approach, analytical in its method, encyclopaedic in detail, it represents an almost complete departure from traditional historiography, discarding conventional concepts and cliches and seeking, beyond the mere chronicle of event
James Violand
Jun 26, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those desiring an insight into Islam's warped view
Shelves: own
If I could enter a negative rating, I would. This is a fabricated history based, not upon records or facts, but upon the idea that the Koran's position must be supported at all costs including fabrication of events. This work is a fraud. Did you know that civilization began in the desert? Yes, that's what the author asserts to fortify the belief that, since Muhammed came from the desert, it must be ordained that the desert and its inhabitants are above reproach. Only the ignorant assume otherwis ...more
Aug 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at the history (and geography) of the world from the perspective of a well-traveled Islamic scholar/politician in the 14th century (late golden age of Islam). It also includes, among many other things, a detailed discussion of how to tell real prophets from fake. I remember that part, I think, because it drove home for me how very different his world and mindset are from mine.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting account of Islamic history and the evolution of societies. I particularly liked the Epistle instructions that the secretary 'Abd-al-Hamid' addressed to his fellow secretaries:

And now: May God guard you who practice the craft of
secretaryship, and may He keep you and give you success and
guidance. There are prophets and messengers and highly honored
kings. After them come different kinds of men, all of them made by
God. They are of different kinds, even if they are all alike in fact.
God o
Arno Mosikyan
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
please mind the book was written in 1377AD


He is Abdurahman bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Al-Hasan bin Jabir bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abdurahman bin Ibn Khaldun.

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.

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 ori
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Khaldun and the Enchantment of the Social

Ibn Khaldun, jurist, philosopher, proto-sociologist, writing at the start of the 15th century, predating Machiavelli, produced a fascinating introspection on the nature of the state. As an educator his views predated Descartes and William James - one begins with the senses and ordinary experience as a basis for learning. His view of civilization, predating Spengler, was cyclical in that nomads from the desert utilizing the strength of their leaders, which
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college-reads, muslim
Super interesting read for class that I otherwise wouldn't have picked up. Islamic theory + sociology ...more
Kevin Bradshaw
May 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Neither you nor Zuckerberg have read the Muqaddimah.

Cause this is not the Muqaddimah. This is something condensed by someone who did not write it and wants to tell you what's important and decide for you what is relevant. Calling a book that is but one third of its size the Muqaddimah is a travesty. Why? Well, if you've gotta ask, chances are you'll never get to know. But, out of concern for your education, I'll give you a friendly hint: note the remark made in the final paragraph in the Forewo
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ibn khaldun was writing in the 14th century at a time when the Arabic world had diminished massively in power. The mongols had sacked Baghdad only 100 years before his lifetime and the Reconquista had pushed Andalusia back from the top of Iberia to a small sultanate situated in Granada. The islamic golden age had come and disappeared and the crusades had caused havoc in the Middle East, accounting for millions of deaths from plague and starvation. Talking about plague, the Black Death had swept ...more
Takaharu Saito
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Lawrence gives a good introduction to this book first, so I quote below
“What distinguished Ibn Khaldun was neither his Arab linage nor his linkage to Berbers via marriage but his Mediterranean location. At the intersection of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim influences, heir to Greek science and Arabic poetry, and connected by trade and history to Asia, the Medeterranen Sea had become the nexus of Muslim cosmopolitanism by the 14th century. Social mobility as well as physical travel animated Me
Stuart Berman
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Finally finished this work. I am glad I read it but some parts are a real slog.

Considering this classic was written 650 years ago by someone from a very different culture there is much to learn here. Much of the style is anachronistic but you can imagine what it is like to be in his head. He is trying to apply reason in a world where superstition and traditions carry the day. Give Ibn Khaldun credit for trying to bring people part way out, we can't use 21st century standards of science to hold a
Murat Ucoglu
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book shows very well the current distinction between the Eastern and the Western political and socio-economic thought. On the one hand, it could be seen as an earlier attempt of formulating the `Leviathan` but on the other hand it has certain differences from the European philosophy based on the state of nature and social contract.

One of the basic issues pertaining to Khaldun is his admiration of Aristotle, in most part of the book, he constructs his theory around Aristotle's zoonpolitikon
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read in the slightest, but one of the things I appreciate about this gem of a book was how it demanded me to think with an open mind. There were some parts that were repetitive and hard to read, but I learned so much about the rise and fall of civilizations and how so many factors contribute to the development of the world. There were moments I found myself feeling like a conspiracy theorist, questioning everything and anything going on in the world right now. The Muqaddimah by Ibn K ...more
was interesting but imn places a little boring and repititive which may have been a style back in those days. this books talks about history and goes back sometimes as far back as the earliest civiilzations like the chaldeans and egyptians. it talks about the transfer of knowledge betwen the civilizations and what was lost in translation maybe. it talks a lot about the bedouin culture and how that has changed over the years. how food effected people and vicilizations, dynasties and royalties and ...more
Damon Brandt
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I read The Musqaddimah due to Mark Zuckerberg's review. He summed it up well enough to entice me to read it. I would recommend this read for anyone interested in history from a different perspective. Zuckerberg's thoughts are:

It's a history of the world written by an intellectual who lived in the 1300s. It focuses on how society and culture flow, including the creation of cities, politics, commerce and science.

While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress
Jun 26, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
* 20 books Mark Zuckerberg thinks everyone should read

"The Muqaddimah," which translates to "The Introduction," was written in 1377 by the Islamic historian Khaldun. It's an attempt to strip away biases of historical records and find universal elements in the progression of humanity.

Khaldun's revolutionary scientific approach to history established him as one of the fathers of modern sociology and historiography.

"While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progr
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethnographical
Ibn Khaldun is quite possibly one of the greatest minds we've ever had. I had to buy this book for my Origins of Pre-Islamic Arabian Civilizations course, and we only had to read a small excerpt, but I read it all. He's an unbelievable mind.

I'm rather disappointed this book was used only as a tool to aid Islamic theology (though it absolutely helped). But Khaldun wrote some of the VERY first theories on historiography (my favorite subject, it even beats out biochemistry and civil politics, exce
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Ibn Khaldūn (full name, Arabic: أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي‎, Abū Zayd ‘Abdu r-Raḥmān bin Muḥammad bin Khaldūn Al-Ḥaḍrami; May 27, 1332 AD/732 AH – March 19, 1406 AD/808 AH) was an Arab Muslim historiographer and historian, regarded to be among the founding fathers of modern historiography, sociology and economics.

He is best known for his book The Muqaddimah (known as Prolegomena i

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