Lillian Farhat

Lillian Farhat holds ABD in Political Science from Rutgers University, with concentration in Political Theory, Comparative Politics and Women Studies. Working on manuscript entitled: Ibn Khaldun, the First Social Scientist and World Historian. My areas of scholarly activities are: Medieval Islamic Political and Social Thought, the modern Arabic Historical Novel, Arab Women Writers, and Arabic Language and Culture. I have taught for over thirty years Arabic language and culture, at The Department of Africana Studies, Rutgers University and Arabic Language Director at the Department of World Languages and Cultures, the College of New Jersey. Developed and taught classes on the Contemporary Arab World, Modern Arabic Literature, Arab Society and the Media, in addition to teaching elementary to advanced levels in Arabic language, and media classes in Arabic. Presented papers on teaching Arabic to English speakers at several language associations. Also, presented papers on literary authors such Youssef Awad, and Hoda Barakat, and historical figures like Ibn Battuta, and Ibn Khaldun.                            


Adab and Ibn Khaldun’s Political Vision

The sixth chapter of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah, nearly a third of the entire work, covers a range of topics deemed central to the constituent elements and requirements of urban culture under the rule of a relatively stable political dynasty.  The first half of this chapter begins with law, continues to religion both as theology and as Sufi practice, enumerates the physical sciences, then rounds off the discussion with a critique of philosophy and the foundational pillars of Islamic urban culture. The second half of the chapter demonstrates that the “language sciences” are no less a pillar of urban life than law and religion, and are necessary to sound interpretations and scholarship in both domains. He discusses the central tenants of his pedagogy, linguistic and literary theory.  I argue that Ibn Khaldun relies on the social theory he developed in previous chapters, and articulates his political vision critical of al-Farabi’s ideal city. In my presentation, I will focus on the meaning and significance of Adab for Ibn Khaldun which can be best discerned; in his attack on severity in the instruction of children, in his curriculum for the development of the full faculties of adults, in his liberal views of linguistic variety, and in his appreciation of Andalusian culture. The classic concept of Paideia aids in integrating and understanding key aspects of Ibn Khaldun’s concept of Adab.  His central aim is to prevent the suppression of the “independent spirit” which the historian considers an essential virtue for a Muslim community. In his view, Adab assists in the maintenance of social solidarity, and in the realization of his vision of freedom. A vision that entails the development of the capacities to articulate and seek rightful claims, to seek justice.