'Asabiyyah or 'asabiyya (Arabic: عصبيّة‎) is a concept of social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness and sense of shared purpose, and social cohesion,[1] originally in a context of "tribalism" and "clanism". It was familiar in the pre-Islamic era, but became popularized in Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah where it is described as the fundamental bond of human society and the basic motive force of history, pure only in its nomadic form. ʿAsabiyya is neither necessarily nomadic nor based on blood relations; rather, it resembles philosophy of classical republicanism. In the modern period, it is generally analogous to solidarity. However, it is often negatively associated because it can sometimes suggest loyalty to one's group regardless of circumstances, or partisanship.[2] Ibn Khaldun also argued that ʿasabiyya is cyclical and directly related to the rise and fall of civilizations: it is strongest at the start of a civilization, declines as the civilization advances, and then another more compelling ʿasabiyyah eventually takes its place to help establish a different civilization.[3]

Overview [ edit ]

Ibn Khaldun describes ʿasabiyya as the bond of cohesion among humans in a group-forming community. The bond exists at any level of civilization, from nomadic society to states and empires.[3] 'Asabiyyah is strongest in the nomadic phase, and decreases as civilization advances.[3] As this declines, another more compelling 'asabiyyah may take its place; thus, civilizations rise and fall, and history describes these cycles as they play out.[3]

Ibn Khaldun argues that each dynasty (or civilization) has within itself the seeds of its own downfall. He explains that ruling houses tend to emerge on the peripheries of existing empires and use the much stronger ʿasabiyya present in their areas to their advantage, in order to bring about a change in leadership. This implies that the new rulers are at first considered "barbarians" by comparison to the previous ones. As they establish themselves at the center of their empire, they become increasingly lax, less coordinated, disciplined and watchful, and more concerned with maintaining their new power and lifestyle. Their ʿasabiyya dissolves into factionalism and individualism, diminishing their capacity as a political unit. Conditions are thus created where a new dynasty can emerge at the periphery of their control, grow strong, and effect a change in leadership, continuing the cycle. Ibn Khaldun also further states in the Muqaddimah that "dynasties have a natural life span like individuals", and that no dynasty generally lasts beyond three generations of about 40 years each.

See also [ edit ]

Notes [ edit ]

  1. ^ Zuanna, Giampiero Dalla and Micheli, Giuseppe A. Strong Family and Low Fertility. 2004, page 92
  2. ^ Weir, Shelagh. A Tribal Order. 2007, page 191
  3. ^ a b c d Tibi, Bassam. Arab nationalism. 1997, page 139

Sources [ edit ]

  • The Muqaddimah, translated by F. Rosenthal (III, pp. 311–15, 271-4 [Arabic]; Richard Nelson Frye (p. 91). He translated the Arabic word "Ajam" into "Persians".
  • Alatas, Syed Farid (2006), "A Khaldunian Exemplar for a Historical Sociology for the South", Current Sociology, 54 (3): 397–411, doi:10.1177/0011392106063189
  • Durkheim, Émile, The Division of Labor in Society, (1893) The Free Press reprint 1997, ISBN 0-684-83638-6
  • Gabrieli, F. (1930), Il concetto della 'asabiyyah nel pensiero storico di Ibn Khaldun, Atti della R. Accad. delle scienze di Torino, lxv
  • Gellner, Ernest (2007), "Cohesion and Identity: the Maghreb from Ibn Khaldun to Emile Durkheim", Government and Opposition, 10 (2): 203–18, doi:10.1111/j.1477-7053.1975.tb00637.x

Further reading [ edit ]

External links [ edit ]

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