Tracking the Genius
Decade-Long Effort Culminates In Book Paying Homage To Ibn Khaldun’s Legacy
RESEARCH BY ATILLA YENIGÜN
International relations, a policy area that has become popular in Turkey in recent times, has been viewed from a perspective of state policies for many years; to this end, Turkish experts and analysts have mostly avoided devising their own theories and styles.
Ibn Khaldun has been studied extensively in Western academia. His competence and contribution in a number of fields, including history, philosophy, political sociology, economy and political science, is well acknowledged. Ibn Khaldun studied social events and history by way of interdisciplinary methodologies and on social evidence and scientific inquiry. He served as an advisor, an envoy and as an army commander, and is referred to by Western academic circles as the actual founder of the discipline of international relations.
The contribution of this great thinker to the modern discipline of international relations has been investigated in a recent work by Dr. Seyfi Say. Say’s book, “Îbn Haldûn’un Düşünce Sistemi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Kuramı,” (Ibn Khaldun’s System of Thought and Theory of International Relations), traces the roots of the discipline of international relations in Oriental rather than Occidental history and political development with particular reference to Ibn Khaldun.
It is essential to note that before starting such a meticulous study the author reviewed and compared the original copies of the “Muqaddimah” by Ibn Khaldun and its renowned translated versions in foreign languages, as well as the versions published in Turkish. To this end, the author notes errors in the analyses of the ideas of Ibn Khaldun and in the translations of the book in the text and footnotes. The translations of the “Muqaddimah” that the author reviewed and criticized include volumes by Pirizade and Ahmet Cevdet Paşa in Ottoman times, Zakir Kadiri Ugan, Turan Dursun and Süleyman Uludağ in the republican era and those translated by Quatremere and Rosenthal, renowned Orientalists in the West. Dr. Say, who focused on the translated versions of the “Muqaddimah” and the original copy of the book published in Arabic, consolidated his argument with strong criticisms.
Following a strong introduction, the author elaborated on his thesis in three voluminous chapters. In the first chapter, the author analyzed the life of the great thinker, his works, his period and the political, social and cultural environment that influenced his way of thinking; in the same chapter, Dr. Say also reviewed his scholarly approach, his views on the relationship between religion and science and methods of scientific categorization and classification in his era, as well as his place and standing in this classification in an attempt to frame the scientific aspects of the thinker.
The author who analyzed the theory offered by Ibn Khaldun, made reference to the unique role that the thinker played, the scholarly legacy he relied on and its multidimensional and dynamic structure. Subsequent to this brief introduction, he also reviewed the notions coined and elaborated on by Ibn Khaldun and their relation to such concepts as state, authority and civilization, and established links between these concepts and their correspondence in the modern discipline of international relations. The study reveals the importance that Ibn Khaldun attaches to such notions as identity, belonging and ethnic structure, which play significant roles in the drafting of domestic and international policies by states in the pre-modern period. To this end, the author states the contribution that the thinker made to the discipline in that age.
Ibn Khaldun’s notions of civilization and ethnicity
The study confirms that the notions of umran (civilization) and asabiyya (ethnicity, ethnic identity), important instruments to better understand the ideas of Ibn Khaldun, have been viewed by most social scientists as crucial terms. The author analyzes the fundamental issues of social sciences in reference to these notions by relying on a critical approach and scholarly methodology. In this chapter, Dr. Say uses the major terms that would serve in his own argumentation by using Ibn Khaldun’s works and the volumes on the thinker’s works before transitioning to the final chapter.
In the final chapter, the author evaluates the links and relationship between Ibn Khaldun and the discipline of international relations after offering answers and responses to the criticisms of anachronisms set out in the introductory chapter. Because this chapter was the reason behind the author’s decision to write this book, Dr. Say first provides the necessary information on the leading theories and approaches in international relations. In this section, he refutes the arguments of international relations theoreticians who say Ibn Khaldun was a Realist or an Idealist. This section provides an extensive discussion on the leading strands of international relations and Ibn Khaldun’s place in these strands. The author traces the imprints of leading notions useful in the elaboration of the theories of international relations in the “Muqaddimah,” including geography, natural resources, population, national character, public opinion, military structure and economic factors, as well as other factors and elements such as political regime, sovereignty, power, types of independence, leadership and bureaucracy, and the importance he attaches to these notions in an attempt to prove the strong link between the thinker and the discipline.
One of the major aspects of this section is that it focuses on popular and current notions such as minority, identity and national movements, which hold a central place in contemporary analyses of the discipline, as well as concepts such as the clash of civilizations, with particular reference to jihad and just war. To this end, it offers an answer from Ibn Khaldun’s perspective to the question of whether a clash between civilizations is inevitable. The author places importance upon the notion of ethnic belonging (asabiyya) for the achievement of a better understanding of the subject matter in the discipline, and analyzes the concept of civilization, a central theme in Ibn Khaldun’s approach. After presenting this argument, the author summarizes the core of the study -- the leading findings and conclusions -- and, in the end, presents the conclusions to the readers in a nutshell.
Courtesy: Today’s Zaman
Lastupdate on : Tue, 3 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 3 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 4 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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