The Possibilities of New Perspectives for Social Sciences: An Analysis Based on Ibn Khaldun's Theory of Umran

SUNAR L., Yaslicimen F.

ASIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCE, vol.36, pp.408-433, 2008 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1163/156853108x327029
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.408-433


The major obstacle in reinterpreting and reconstructing the cultural accumulation of the Civilisation of Islam is not only the unawareness of Muslim scholars of their heritage, but also their willingness to employ western perspectives to utilise this heritage. In order to overcome this tragedy, social sciences should be criticised through vivid and constructive analyses; and Islamic scientific tradition should be reinterpreted in a comprehensive manner. Instead of basic model transfers from the west, the original sources should be re-analysed. Ibn Khaldun and his Muqaddimah present an invaluable opportunity in that respect. However, modern scholarship contextualises Ibn Khaldun in anachronic ways, which in turn preclude the possibility of reproducing new scientific traditions. Indeed, Ibn Khaldun's conception of science rises on three pillars, complementing one another that are a comprehensive perception of universe, a historical consciousness, and a metaphysics of society. These three factors are interrelatedly systematised in the 'ilm al-umran whose main theme of reference is tawhid in the traditional Islamic thought. Different stages of knowledge overlap in the epistemology of The Muqaddimah. The basic principles of Islamic thought are systematised in the framework of Qur'anic ontological presumptions. Hence, the principles of common origin of the existence, tawhid, and the hierarchical absolution of Allah were continued. Therefore, this article will offer the Umran (scienza nouva) of Ibn Khaldun as an opportunity to release the social sciences from its ontological dilemmas.