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By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

Ibn Khuldun
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Ibn Khuldun highlighted the origin of “educational psychology” through focusing on putting the learner’s abilities and their inclinations into consideration.

Ibn Khuldun was the owner of a cultured vision that endeavored to revive the nation from different aspects, including `umran (partially rendered into English as urbanism) and human history as the most important of these aspects. He was encyclopedic in addressing many sciences that contributed to the idea of cultural renaissance, through his interest in economic, educational and political thought, and other fields of science. Ibn Khuldun introduced the fundamental principles of these sciences, according to his own methodology in consideration, thinking and analysis, which was considered to be a great achievement in his time and later eras. Indeed, Ibn Khuldun’s thought was one of the main methods for change and reform.

No one denies the predominance of admonitory-ethical style on the early Islamic educational output due to his growing up in a jurisprudential environment… and the confinement of educational content on Islamic sciences. However, it is not fair to generalize this opinion, especially after Muslims’ openness to neighboring cultures, and the increased need for secular sciences that can serve the Islamic Renaissance Movement.

The educational contributions of the Arab thinker and historian Abdel-Rahman Ibn Khuldun constituted a significant shift in the path of the Islamic educational thought and proved the old preoccupation with educational issues which the westernized claimed they did not come into existence until recently.

Ibn Khuldun adopted a different approach than that of jurists in monitoring the educational phenomenon, so he paid much attention to the integrated construction of the personality of the individual through the establishment of a sound educational methodology that put the child at the heart of the educational process, and at the same time was consistent with his general philosophy of urbanism.

Main principles of this methodology:

  • Education and Science:

Ibn Khuldun differentiated between education as an independent field and science, and this independence supposed there was a distinct mind aware of principles, issues and rules of that field, and able to create the basic conditions of learning. Thus, Ibn Khuldun went beyond the scientific qualification standard that predominated before his time to argue for the necessity of adeptness and communication skill with learners as a basic standard for carrying out the education mission. He, in addition, highlighted the origin of “educational psychology” through focusing on putting the learner’s abilities and their inclinations into consideration.

  • Mind-filling and Aptitude:

Ibn Khuldun who believed that one of the most important characteristics of human thinking was the constant contemplation and the great eagerness to acquire useful recognitions, rejected the “minds filling” technique used by teachers which denied the student the skills of conversation and debate due to their over focus on memorization, and consequently add nothing to them from the skill of practicing science and education. Even those who think that they may learn something from their education will not have enough knowledge if they have to negotiate debate or teach. So, Ibn Khuldun insisted on adopting an educational methodology based on graduation in providing students with the skills that qualified them to make use of what they have learnt in their life endeavors.

  • Physical punishment:

Physical punishment stirs intense argument and difference in opinions that may develop into contradiction in the educational field. Those, who are for adopting harshness with learners, lean on the disciplinary nature of the educational process, which suggests some kind of severity that has its rational and traditional justification to curb abnormal personalities and strictly control the educational course.

On the other hand, opponents refer to the psychological and social effects created by severity, and they suggest alternatives that motivate students to voluntarily involve in the educational course.

As for Ibn Khuldun who was guided in his movements by a comprehensive vision and belief in the cultural function of the educational industry, he argued that physical punishment would contribute to the spread of abhorred morals and habits that would hinder the sound intellectual and ethical construction of tomorrow’s generations, and threat the values on which human urbanism stands.

Ibn Khuldun’s educational contributions were not confined to the above mentioned, but they extended to suggest a school curriculum that fit his philosophy in urbanism and freed education from the bond of the narrow juristic vision to embrace the various life fields.

Indeed we are still in need for bridging what was torn and formulating an educational system that can benefit from the efforts of the nation’s thinkers and scientists, and conform to its fundamentals instead of insisting on importing from abroad in that strange way, which served us nothing but intellectual chaos and tumult….doubt and uncertainty….. constant dissolution in the other’s identity and culture!


Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was Assistant Professor and worked for a number of international universities in Malaysia and Egypt such as Al-Madinah Interanational Univerity, Shah Alam, Malaysia (Mediu) and Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST), Egypt; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department,; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators & Linguists (Wata). He is a published writer, translator and researcher. You can reach him at [email protected].

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