Does the west need to know more about Islamic philosophy? I’ve recently had a short ebook published on the great medieval philosopher Ibn Khaldun, who I’ve come to feel is hugely underrated in the west. We live in a society where intellectual appreciation of the past has declined somewhat, but even those with a fuller appreciation of our philosophy, of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas and the various Catholic medieval scholars, might still be ignorant of Ibn Khaldun; however as much of the world crumbles in the 21st century his ideas are more important than ever, especially his concept of asabiyyah, or group feeling.
Born in Tunis on May 27, 1332, Ibn Khaldun pioneered the fields of sociology and history, as well as touching on economics, and served as an ambassador and supreme justice in North Africa, travelling across the Islamic Mediterranean from southern Spain to Arabia, eventually dying in Egypt in 1406. His history book The Muqaddimah puts him up with Herodotus and Thucydides as one of the fathers of that discipline, while Jonathan Sacks, the former British chief rabbi, said of him that “He has every claim to be called the world’s first sociologist. Not for another 300 years would the West produce a figure of comparable originality.”