Ibn Khaldun was a historian and sociologist who was born in Tunisia in 1332 but died in 1406 in Egypt. He gained a good foundation of Muslim law by memorizing the Quran and studying principal commentaries. In addition, he made a lot of efforts to familiarize himself with Arabic literature. He also created what is considered to be among the earliest non-religious history philosophies, which he included in his masterpiece titled The Introduction (Al Muqaddimah). For this paper, the focus will be on Ibn Khaldun’s work as a sociologist and historian. He discussed the concept of social organization and theorized that sociological or cultural factors, and not political factors, are what govern events that are witnessed in a given society. He also argued that human needs emanate from the nature of man. On his part, Malcolm X was an African-American human rights and civil rights activist who was born in 1925 in Omaha. He died in 1964. Embittered by the negative treatment that blacks would receive from their white counterparts, Malcolm X actively fought for the rights of blacks. His blacks’ rights advocacy is what saw him join the Nation of Islam, a religion that comprised of Black Muslims, believing that it was the religion for the blacks. This move can be understood in that he would not have wished to associate himself with a religion that seemingly belonged to whites. In this paper, Malcolm X and Ibn Khaldun will be compared based on their belief regarding the impact of sociological factors on society and on Ibn Khaldun’s argument that human needs are ingrained like a man's.
Malcolm X did not see any hope for blacks in American society. He considered America’s institutions and people as too racist to accommodate blacks. This view can be seen in one of his most popular quotes in which he said that “You don’t integrate with a sinking ship” (UH, 2016). The Nation of Islam to which he belonged believed that the ultimate solution to the racism that was deeply rooted in the American society could only be resolved through blacks separating themselves into their nation. From there, they could develop themselves away from the white nation that they considered to be corrupt and destined for divine destruction (UH, 2016). This negative view that Malcolm X held regarding the whites and his understanding of the root cause of the problems that blacks faced can be interpreted by looking at the impact of sociological factors on the wellbeing of society. According to Malcolm X, discrimination that was exercised on blacks is what caused most black Americans to despise themselves (UH, 2016). He dropped out of school not because he was not bright enough, but because his teacher maliciously told him that being black, he could only become a carpenter. This statement caused him to despise himself and he hated studying. From his case and that of other blacks, it would be right to argue that blacks could have been successful were they not led to believe that they could not achieve success. Malcolm also criticized the whites for having taught the blacks how to hate themselves, to which he indicated that it was the worst crime they ever committed. Once they hated themselves, blacks lost their own identity, strengthened their hair, and engaged in undesirable social behaviors as crime, addiction to drugs, and alcoholism (UH, 2016). Whereas one could have viewed this problem as about the blacks only, the truth was that it affected society as a whole. Blacks who were involved in a crime committed criminal acts on both blacks and whites. Similarly, out of drug addiction and alcoholism, blacks could not be productive in the society that they shared with the whites. In the end, the sociological factors of discrimination against blacks and racism, in general, led to a society marred by crime, drugs, and alcoholism.
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Malcolm X belonged to a section of African-American activists that was referred to as black power, and that pursued separatism and Black Nationalism, Even though this group only commanded a small fraction of African Americans, compared to the group that followed Martin Luther King Junior, it still had a significant influence on the Civil Rights Movement. It is credited for having given rise to numerous community self-help organizations and it also spurred the development of study programs for blacks in universities. It encouraged blacks to be proud of their racial background, as well as appreciate that “black is beautiful” (UH, 2016). It is due to these and other similar historical efforts that black Americans have managed to secure a position within American society. Racism saw the rise of movements that advocated for change in sociological factors and when this change was achieved, albeit gradually, the events witnessed in society also changed.
Malcolm X’s pursuit and advocacy for the human and civil rights of African Americans can be understood from the perspective given by Ibn Khaldun that the needs that humans have can be attributed to the nature of man. This must have been the ideology that informed Malcolm X’s views because he could not understand why blacks would be treated differently from whites despite the two groups being human and thus having the same needs. An ideal case for which Malcolm X would have argued that blacks were being treated as non-humans was where he was sentenced to 10 years in prison out of having dated white women. Even though Malcolm X, his friend Shorty and the two white women were accused of engaging in burglary, the women were given a low bail that they easily afforded. As for Malcolm X and Shorty, they were given a very high bail of $10,000 each, which was unaffordable to them. Malcolm viewed this as a tactic to ensure that they got imprisoned for what he termed as stealing women belonging to white men. This is one of the incidences that greatly angered Malcolm. It did not make sense to him that there were women set aside for white men, and not black men, as if white men had special needs different from those of their black counterparts. To him, whether white or black, the needs were the same out of the simple fact that they were all humans.
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As noted earlier, Malcolm X advocated for blacks separating themselves from whites so that they could live in a nation where they could be able to develop themselves. This view by Malcolm was informed by the feeling that the situation in the American society was beyond repair and the only way out for the blacks was to live on their own (UH, 2016). This perspective can be interpreted to have meant that blacks couldn't fulfill their human needs in the presence of whites who worked hard to suppress their progress. Since both blacks and whites are humans, and their nature is identical, Malcolm must have felt that blacks had all the rights to meet their needs whatever it was going to take them. One feature that distinguished black power was that the group advocated for the use of violence in demanding equal treatment for both blacks and whites (UH, 2016). To Malcolm, blacks were not supposed to beg for rights that belonged to them by being humans.
Ibn Khaldun is renowned for amongst other achievements, having advanced the ideology that the nature of man is what drives his needs. From his nature, man has to eat and drink and as such, the two constitute his basic needs. Also, man has to be dressed in clothes and get a place to live in. These are also his needs. For a man to be able to pursue his needs, he was required to exercise intelligence. This situation, in turn, led to civilization during which man started seeking luxuries. As man pursues higher levels of needs, there arises a need to be more knowledgeable. Ibn Khaldun thus perceived history to be nothing more than an indefinite cycle in which things flowered and decayed with the only progress realized being the development from a primitive to civilized society (Ahmed, n.d). This view sets the foundation for a major similarity between what would be his perspective and that of Malcolm X regarding the racism that characterized American society in history. Within the society, the only progress that blacks could achieve was moving from a state of primitiveness to that of civilization. However, even this progress could not benefit them in the wake of widespread racial discrimination. They were perceived by the whites as not deserving to enjoy any development that the society realized.
Ibn Khaldun is also famed for his coverage of the concept of social organization. He argued that the human species need social organization since, in its absence, human existence would be incomplete. He added that in such a situation, the desire of God to have humans settle in the world and act as his representatives would not become a reality. To him, social organization was what would constitute civilization. Additionally, he viewed that social order depicts moral order (Ahmed, n.d). This being the case, it can be argued that from his perspective, the American society was characterized by a significant level of disorganization with the whites treating the blacks as inferior to them. The disorganization could be seen in that a section of the society, and not the other, could access certain social amenities. This kind of discrimination, according to Ibn Khaldun, could not allow for God’s desire for humans to materialize. In this regard, it can be argued that Ibn Khaldun would have fought racism and discrimination in American society as hard as Malcolm X did. However, the only difference would probably be that he would not use or advocate for the use of violence in demanding blacks’ rights. Nonetheless, his argument that lack of social order would translate into a lack of moral order denotes what the situation was in American society. The kind of treatment that blacks were receiving from whites did not have a moral basis. As such, Ibn Khaldun would argue that racial discrimination did not have a place amongst the human species. The fact that it was present pointed to a social rot that caused human existence not to be as complete as God desired. Moreover, in Ibn Khaldun’s view, man could not represent God while engaging in racism. From this, it can be derived that Ibn Khaldun would see contemporary American society as having achieved moral order with the progress that has been made in the fight against racial discrimination. Notably, Ibn Khaldun’s social organization school of thought remains applicable in any modern society as it can be used to criticize the impact of certain social ills.
In summary, Malcolm X and Ibn Khaldun sought to fight social ills from different perspectives, but they converge at a certain point. This is when the racism situation that characterized the American society, the concept of social organization, and that of human needs, are all put into consideration. The two leaders saw sociological factors as playing a critical part in determining the state of affairs in the society, hence their efforts to put the prevalent factors in order. Ibn Khaldun was a sociologist and historian, whereas Malcolm X was an African American civil rights activist. Whereas Ibn Khaldun argued that human needs are common to all men, Malcolm X objected to every effort to hinder some men, in this case, the blacks, from enjoying their natural rights. The American society has since improved and whereas Malcolm X would probably be pleased by the current state of affairs, Ibn Khaldun would continue to advance his sociological organization school of thought. Society is still faced with many social evils that keep it from being orderly and only when all these will be addressed that moral order will be said to have been attained.
In conclusion, Malcolm X and Ibn Khaldun’s perspectives on historical American society are comparable, and they appear to complement each other. Ibn Khaldun argues for the restoration of social order, which was the case when American society managed to alleviate racial discrimination. On his part, Malcolm X advocated for going as far as using violence in ensuring that social and moral order was restored. Malcolm X’s black power achieved a considerable level of success and even though he was assassinated, the fruits of his efforts continue to be seen today. As for Ibn Khaldun, his school of thought is still applicable today and it would be used to advocate for positive change in society.