Why Is Mark Zuckerberg Reading Ibn Khaldun’s ‘al-Muqaddimah’?

If Facebook-mogul Mark Zuckerberg really is reading a book “every other week,” we’ll assume that he’s reading the abridged version of Franz Rosenthal’s translation of the great fourteenth-century scholar’s work:

the muqaddimah

Or — if he is taking on all three volumes — then one hopes he’s cancelled meetings for the fortnight.

Although there was initially great fanfare about the January 2015 launch of Zuckerberg’s book club, eliciting numerous comparisons to Oprah’s bestseller-making club, it was also rather quickly declared a dud.

Still, Zuckerberg has persisted. His choice of Ibn Khaldun as his 6/1 book seems to have — if nothing else — delighted a number of Tunisians, who hurried to post images of their hometown scholar to the thread.

According to Business Insider, Zuckerberg’s A Year of Books selections have thus far have been “mostly contemporary,” so Ibn Khaldun is a bit of a curveball. On Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote his view on the book:

It’s a history of the world written by an intellectual who lived in the 1300s. It focuses on how society and culture flow, including the creation of cities, politics, commerce and science.

While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it’s still very interesting to see what was understood at this time and the overall worldview when it’s all considered together.

Even if we roll our eyes an itty-bitty bit at this conceptualization of progress, it remains an interesting choice, a book full of rich ideas and beautiful observations. BI notes that, “The majority of Zuckerberg’s book club selections have been explorations of issues through a sociological lens, so it makes sense that he is now reading the book that helped create the field.”