Ibn Khaldun on the Caliphate

The British historian Arnold Toynbee described the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun’s prolegomena or introduction to his history of the world, as “undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place”. Ibn Khaldun discusses the obligation of appointing a caliph in the book:

Appointing a leader (imam) is obligatory. Its mandatory nature is known through revelatory law (shar‘) by the consensus of the Companions and the next generation of Followers, because the Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) hastened upon his death to pledge allegiance and submit consideration of their affairs to Abu Bakr (May God be pleased with him). And it was thus in every age thereafter, and the matter was established as consensus indicating the obligation of appointing a leader (imam).

Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, p. 339. Translated by Mona Hassan in Longing for the Lost Caliphate: A Transregional History, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2016, p. 99

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