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The Sociology of Civilisations: Ibn Khaldun and a Multi-Civilisational World Order

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Due to advancements in telecommunications and transportation over the past century, the world is shrinking and physical boundaries are being eroded. The advent of globalization has facilitated the flow of ideas, values, goods, and people from one part of the world to another. This hyperbolic human activity has altered the structure of inter-civilizational relations and has spawned a spirited debate on how to create a multi-civilizational world order. This paper is critical of contemporary approaches on the subject that envisage the primacy of one civilization on the one hand and a clash among civilizations on the other. By examining Ibn Khaldun's theory of 'Umrān and the discipline of Fiqh, it argues that these concepts remain relevant for our understanding of the human condition today. While the theory of Umrān analyzes political and economic relations at the macro-level, Fiqh tries to arrange societal relations at the micro-level. This paper also studies the Ottoman legacy since the Ottoman state was founded on Fiqh and the Millet system. It proved to be successful in preserving pluralistic communities based on principles of autonomy and mutual coexistence. Even though Ibn Khaldun was one of the pioneers in the field of civilizational studies, his seminal work is largely neglected in scholarly circles today, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike. The present inquiry seeks to address this shortcoming.

Affiliations: 1: Fatih University and University of Illinois Springfield

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853108x327065
2008-08-01
2016-12-07

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