Only tribes held together by group feeling can live in the desertby Ibn Khaldun
God put good and evil into the nature of man.
Thus, He said in the Qur’an:
Evil is the quality that is closest to man when:
- he fails to improve his customs and
- religion is not used as the model to improve man.
Most of mankind is in that condition, with the exception of those to whom God gives success.
Evil qualities in man are injustice and mutual aggression.
He who casts his eye upon the property of his brother will lay his hand upon it to take it, unless there is a restraining influence to hold him back. The poet thus said:
If you find a moral man, 39 there is some reason why he is not unjust. Mutual aggression of people in towns and cities is averted by the authorities and the government, which hold back the masses under their control from attacks and aggression upon each other.
They are thus prevented by the influence of force and governmental authority from mutual injustice, save such injustice as comes from the ruler himself.
Aggression against a city from outside may be averted by walls, in the event of negligence, 40 a surprise attack at night, or inability (of the inhabitants) to withstand the enemy during the day. (Or,) it may be averted with the help of a militia of government auxiliary troops, if (the inhabitants are otherwise) prepared and ready to offer resistance.
The restraining influence among Bedouin tribes comes from their shaykhs and leaders. It results from the great respect and veneration they generally enjoy among the people. The hamlets of the Bedouins are defended against outside enemies by a tribal militia composed of noble youths of the tribe who are known for their courage.
Their defense and protection are successful only if they are a closely-knit group 42 of common descent. This strengthens their stamina and makes them feared, since everybody’s affection for his family and his group is more important (than anything else).
Compassion and affection for one’s blood relations and relatives exist in human nature as something God put into the hearts of men. It makes for mutual support and aid, and increases the fear felt by the enemy.
This may be exemplified by the story in the Qur’an about Joseph’s brothers.
They said to their father= “If the wolf eats him, while we are a group, then, indeed, we have lost out.” 43 This means that one cannot imagine any hostile act being undertaken against anyone who has his group feeling to support him.
Those who have no one of their own lineage (to care for) rarely feel affection for their fellows. If danger is in the air on the day of battle, such a one slinks away and seeks to save himself, because he is afraid of being left without support 44 and dreads (that prospect). Such people, therefore, cannot live in the desert, because they would fall prey to any nation that might want to swallow themup.
If this is true with regard to the place where one lives, which is in constant need of defense and military protection, it is equally true with regard to every other human activity, such as prophecy, the establishment of royal authority, or propaganda (for a cause).
Nothing can be achieved in these matters without fighting for it, since man has the natural urge to offer resistance. And for fighting one cannot do without group feeling, as we mentioned at the beginning. This should be taken as the guiding principle of our later exposition.
8. Group feeling results only from (blood) relation ship or something corresponding to it
Respect for blood ties is something natural among men, with the rarest exceptions. It leads to affection for one’s relations and blood relatives. One feels shame when one’s relatives are treated unjustly or attacked, and one wishes to intervene between them and whatever peril or destruction threatens them.
This is a natural urge in humans. If the direct relationship between persons who help each other is very close, so that it leads to close contact and unity, the ties are obvious and clearly require the (existence of a feeling of solidarity) without any outside (prodding).
If, however, the relationship is somewhat distant, it is often forgotten in part. However, some knowledge of it remains and this causes a person to help his relatives for the known motive, in order to escape the shame he would feel in his soul were a person to whom he is somehow related treated unjustly46
Clients and allies belong in the same category. The affection everybody has for his clients and allies results from the feeling of shame that comes to a person when one of his neighbors, relatives, or a blood relation in any degree (of kinship) is humiliated.
The reason for it is that a client(-master) relationship leads to close contact exactly, or approximately in the same way, as does common descent. It is in that sense that one must understand Muhammad’s remark, “Learn as much of your pedigrees as is necessary to establish your ties of blood relationship.” 47
It means that pedigreesare useful only in so far as they imply the close contact that is a consequence of blood ties and that eventually leads to mutual help and affection. Anything beyond that is superfluous. 48
For a pedigree is something imaginary and devoid of reality. It is useful only in the resulting connection and close contact. Common descent evokes in man a natural affection.
If, however, its existence is known only from remote history, it moves the imagination but faintly. Its usefulness is gone, and preoccupation with it becomes gratuitous, a kind of game, and as such is not permissible. In this sense, one must understand the remark, “Genealogy is something that is of no use to know and that it does no harm not to know.” 50
This means that when common descent is no longer clear and has become a matter of scientific knowledge, it can no longer move the imagination and is denied the affection caused by group feeling. It has become useless.