I'm a big Ibn Khaldun fan, so this is awesome. Couple of thoughts/suggestions/questions, all revolving around the character of Mukhtar and his role as an Ibn Khaldun analogue:
-How much is Mukhtar like Ibn Khaldun, from a background perspective? Most of the biographers of Khaldun I've read argue that his time among the Bedouins as a Mamluk envoy played a key role in his development of assabiyya. Does Mukhtar have a similar experience with a tribal group in the Sahel?
-On assabiya: Khaldun explicitly states that the end goal of Assabiya is mulk (kingship). You're exactly right on how he would recommend building up the assabiya of the king strongly enough to achieve mulk: through a combination of religion and conquest. However, OTL, Ibn Khaldun was extremely pessimistic that mulk could survive. He's quite well-known for his theory of dynastic decay in four generations. So you'll need Mukhtar to be a bit less of a pessimist.
-On economics: yes, Khaldun gets pretty close to the labor theory of value, and is almost an Oakeshott conservative on a couple of other political issues [he's particularly skeptical of meddling philosophers, ironically]. Definitely the most sophisticated economic thinker in the Muslim world--and maybe the world entirely--for centuries. However, he was also, I think, building off a pre-existing Islamo-Persian tradition of the circle of justice/circle of power, which saw a link between security, tranquility and prosperity. So I think Mukhtar can definitely get there.
-Finally, there's some evidence--though it isn't conclusive I don't think--that Ibn Khaldun was influenced by Sufism. The easiest way to get Sufism into Mukhtar's thought is through Al-Ghazali, but Ghazali's skepticism about the utility of reason in interpreting revelation isn't conducive to your project. I'd say the second-best path might be some of the Andalusian mystics, but a couple of them were heretics by Muslim standards [a fact I learned, ironically, by studying Indonesia]. That leaves option 3: Malian pilgrims join Sufi orders while on hajj. Not as many style points as the first two notions, but it does have the virtue of being both a tried and tested way of achieving the goal on one hand, and a very effective way of converting local pagans to Islam on the other. So, could Mukhtar himself have been the figure who joined a Sufi order on Hajj?
Basically, I think you just need to back and fill a bit on Mukhtar's background; it will help the reader understand the roots of his ideas, and it will also help you figure out where to go in the future.
Awesome input. Acutally I had this planned for my next update. Mukhtar is about to realize the impact he and his ideas are causing and will reflect on what brought him here.
I´ll say the following: His name is derived from Mukhtar al-Kunti, a 18th century Qadiriyya leader based in Timbuktu that was quite influential. So Sufism is clearly on my mind there. Also his Andalusian home had, as you say, quite a wide array of mystics. Especially the question of the Assabiya is interenting (I have honestly not yet made up my mind how exactly he got it). I dont want to copycat Ibn Chaldun 1:1 but clearly the events should be similar. Also Ibn Chaldun himself wasn´t the most conservative muslim, i would argue, as he had to relinquish his position as the grand qadi of the Maliki school quite soon because of his decisions.
His pessimism (4 generations and your all your mulk is gone basically ) is real indeeed, but well. This wont be Mali wank.
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