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Ibn Khald?n or Ibn Khaldoun (full name, , , Berber name: Ben Xeldun; May 27, 1332 AD/732 AH – March 19, 1406 AD/808 AH) was a North African polymath — an astronomer, economist, historian, Islamic jurist, Islamic lawyer, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, hafiz, mathematician, military strategist, nutritionist, philosopher, social scientist and statesman—born in North Africa in present-day Tunisia. He is considered a forerunner of several social scientific disciplines: demography, cultural history, historiography, the philosophy of history, and sociology. He is also considered one of the forerunners of modern economics, alongside the earlier Indian scholar Chanakya. Ibn Khaldun is considered by many to be the father of a number of these disciplines, and of social sciences in general, for anticipating many elements of these disciplines centuries before they were founded in the West. He is best known for his Muqaddimah (known as Prolegomenon in English), the first volume of his book on universal history, Kitab al-Ibar. Ibn Khaldun's ideas were not absorbed by his society, nor were they carried forward by its future generations.

Ibn Khaldun's life is relatively well-documented, as he wrote an autobiography (??????? ???? ????? ?????? ???? ?????; Al-Ta?r?f bi Ibn-Khald?n wa Ri?latuhu Gharb?n wa Sharq?n) in which numerous documents regarding his life are quoted word-for-word. However, the autobiography has little to say about his private life, so little is known about his family background. Generally known as "Ibn Khald?n" after a remote ancestor, he was born in Tunis in AD 1332 (732 A.H.) into an upper-class Andalusian family, the Ban? Khald?n. His family, which held many high offices in Andalusia, had emigrated to Tunisia after the fall of Seville to Reconquista forces around the middle of the 13th century. Under the Tunisian Hafsid dynasty some of his family held political office; Ibn Khald?n's father and grandfather however withdrew from political life and joined a mystical order. His brother, Yahya Ibn Khaldun, was also a historian who wrote a book on the Abdalwadid dynasty, and who was assassinated by a rival for being the official historiographer of the court.

In his autobiography, Ibn Khaldun traces his descent back to the time of Muhammad through an Arab tribe from Yemen, specifically Hadhramaut, which came to Spain in the eighth century at the beginning of the Islamic conquest. In his own words: "And our ancestry is from Hadhramaut, from the Arabs of Yemen, via Wa'il ibn Hajar, from the best of the Arabs, well-known and respected." (p. 2429, Al-Waraq's edition). However, the biographer Mohammad Enan questions his claim, suggesting that his family may have been Berber who pretended to be of Arab origin in order to gain social status. According to Muhammad Hozien, "The false [Berber] identity would be valid however at the time that Ibn Khaldun’s ancestors left Andalusia and moved to Tunisia they did not change their claim to Arab ancestry. Even in the times when Berbers were ruling, the reigns of Al-Marabats and al-Mowahids, et al. the Ibn Khalduns did not reclaim their Berber heritage." This, for some, lends credence to Ibn Khaldun's being of Arab origin. The only certainty: Ibn Khaldun was by nature and nurture a product of the Maghreb.


His family's high rank enabled Ibn Khaldun to study with the best North African teachers of the time. He received a classical Islamic education, studying the Qur'an which he memorized by heart, Arabic linguistics, the basis for an understanding of the Qur'an, hadith, sharia (law) and fiqh (jurisprudence). He received certification (ijazah) for all these subjects. The mystic, mathematician and philosopher, Al-Abili, introduced him to mathematics, logic and philosophy, where he above all studied the works of Averroes, Avicenna, Razi and Tusi. At the age of 17, Ibn Khald?n lost both his parents to the Black Death, an intercontinental epidemic of the plague that hit Tunis in 1348–1349.

Following family tradition, Ibn Khald?n strove for a political career. In the face of a tumultuous political situation in North Africa, this required a high degree of skill developing and dropping alliances prudently, to avoid falling with the short-lived regimes of the time. Ibn Khald?n's autobiography is the story of an adventure, in which he spends time in prison, reaches the highest offices and falls again into exile.

Early years in Tunis and Granada

At the age of 20, he began his political career at the Chancellery of the Tunisian ruler Ibn Tafrakin with the position of K?tib al-'Al?mah, which consisted of writing in fine calligraphy the typical introductory notes of official documents. In 1352, Ab? Ziad, the Sultan of Constantine, marched on Tunis and defeated it. Ibn Khald?n, in any case unhappy with his respected but politically meaningless position, followed his teacher Abili to Fez. Here the Marinid sultan Ab? Inan Fares I appointed him as a writer of royal proclamations, which didn't prevent Ibn Khald?n from scheming against his employer. In 1357 this brought the 25-year-old a 22-month prison sentence. Upon the death of Ab? Inan in 1358, the vizier al-Has?n ibn-Umar granted him freedom and reinstated him in his rank and offices. Ibn Khald?n then schemed against Ab? Inan's successor, Ab? Salem Ibrahim III, with Ab? Salem's exiled uncle, Ab? Salem. When Ab? Salem came to power, he gave Ibn Khald?n a ministerial position, the first position which corresponded with Ibn Khald?n's ambitions.

The treatment Ibn Khaldun received after the fall of Ab? Salem through Ibn-Amar ?Abdullah, a friend of Ibn Khald?n's, was not to his liking, he received no significant official position. At the same time, Amar successfully prevented Ibn Khald?n – whose political skills he was well aware of – from allying with the Abd al-Wadids in Tlemcen. Ibn Khald?n therefore decided to move to Granada. He could be sure of a positive welcome there, since at Fez he had helped the Sultan of Granada, the Nasrid Muhammad V, regain power from his temporary exile. In 1364 Muhammad entrusted him with a diplomatic mission to the King of Castile, Pedro the Cruel, to endorse a peace treaty. Ibn Khald?n successfully carried out this mission, and politely declined Pedro's offer to remain at his court and have his family's Spanish possessions returned to him.

In Granada, Ibn Khald?n quickly came into competition with Muhammad's vizier, Ibn al-Khatib, who saw the close relationship between Muhammad and Ibn Khald?n with increasing mistrust. Ibn Khald?n tried to shape the young Muhammad into his ideal of a wise ruler, an enterprise which Ibn al-Khatib thought foolish and a danger to peace in the country – and history proved him right. At al-Khatib's instigation, Ibn Khald?n was eventually sent back to North Africa. Al-Khatib himself was later accused by Muhammad of having unorthodox philosophical views, and murdered, despite an attempt by Ibn Khald?n to intercede on behalf of his old rival.

In his autobiography, Ibn Khald?n tells us little about his conflict with Ibn al-Khatib and the reasons for his departure. The orientalist Muhsin Mahdi interprets this as showing that Ibn Khald?n later realised that he had completely misjudged Muhammad V.

Back in Africa, the Hafsid sultan of Bougie, Ab? ?Abdall?h, (who had been his companion in prison) received him with great enthusiasm, and made Ibn Khald?n his prime minister. During this period, Ibn Khald?n carried out a daring mission to collect taxes among the local Berber tribes. After the death of Ab? ?Abdall?h in 1366, Ibn Khald?n changed sides once again and allied himself with the ruler of Tlemcen, Ab? l-Abbas. A few years later he was taken prisoner by ?Abdu l-Az?z, who had defeated the sultan of Tlemcen and seized the throne. He then entered a monastic establishment, and occupied himself with scholastic duties, until in 1370 he was sent for to Tlemcen by the new sultan. After the death of ?Abdu l-Az?z, he resided at Fez, enjoying the patronage and confidence of the regent.

Ibn Khald?n's political skills, above all his good relationship with the wild Berber tribes, were in high demand among the North African rulers, whereas he himself began to tire of politics and constant switching of allegiances. In 1375, sent by Ab? Hammu, the ?Abdu l Wadid Sultan of Tlemcen, on a mission to the Dawadida Arabs tribes of Biskra. Thereafter Ibn Khald?n returns to the West sought refuge with one of the Berber tribes, in the west of Algeria, in the town of Qalat Ibn Salama. He lived there for over three years under their protection, taking advantage of his seclusion to write the Muqaddimah "Prolegomena", the introduction to his planned history of the world. In Ibn Salama, however, he lacked the necessary texts to complete the work. As a result, in 1378, he returned to his native Tunis, which in the mean time had been conquered by Ab? l-Abbas, who took Ibn Khald?n back into his service. There he devoted himself almost exclusively to his studies and completed his history of the world. His relationship with Ab? l-Abbas remained strained, as the latter questioned his loyalty. This was brought into sharp contrast after Ibn Khald?n presented him with a copy of the completed history omitting the usual panegyric to the ruler. Under pretence of going on the Hajj to Mecca – something a Muslim ruler could not simply refuse permission for – Ibn Khald?n was able to leave Tunis and sail to Alexandria.

Last years in Egypt

Ibn Khaldun said of Egypt, "He who has not seen it does not know the power of Islam." While other Islamic regions had to cope with border wars and inner strife, under the Mamluks Egypt experienced a period of economic prosperity and high culture. However, even in Egypt, where Ibn Khald?n lived out his days, he could not stay out of politics completely. In 1384 the Egyptian Sultan, al-Malik udh-Dhahir Barquq, made him Professor of the Qamhiyyah Madrasah, and grand Qadi of the Maliki school of fiqh (one of four schools, the Maliki school was widespread primarily in West Africa). His efforts at reform encountered resistance, however, and within a year he had to resign his judgeship. A contributory factor to his decision to resign may have been the heavy personal blow that struck him in 1384, when a ship carrying his wife and children sank off the coast of Alexandria. Ibn Khaldun now decided to complete the pilgrimage to Makkah after all.

After his return in May 1388, Ibn Khald?n concentrated more strongly on a purely educational function at various Cairo madrasas. At court he fell out of favor for a time, as during revolts against Barquq he had – apparently under duress – together with other Cairo jurists issued a Fatwa against Barquq. Later relations with Barquq returned to normal, and he was once again named the Maliki qadi. Altogether he was called six times to this high office, which for various reasons he never held long.

In 1401, under Barquq's successor, his son Faraj, Ibn Khald?n took part in a military campaign against the Mongol conqueror Timur, who besieged Damascus. Ibn Khald?n cast doubt upon the viability of the venture and didn't really want to leave Egypt. His doubts were vindicated, as the young and inexperienced Faraj, concerned about a revolt in Egypt, left his army to its own devices in Syria and hurried home. Ibn Khald?n remained at the besieged city for seven weeks, being lowered over the city wall by ropes in order to negotiate with Timur, in a historic series of meetings which he reports extensively in his autobiography. Timur questioned him in detail about conditions in the lands of the Maghreb; at his request, Ibn Khald?n even wrote a long report about it. As he recognized the intentions behind this, he did not hesitate, on his return to Egypt, to compose an equally extensive report on the history of the Tartars, together with a character study of Timur, sending these to the Merinid rulers in Fez (Maghreb).

Ibn Khald?n spent the following five years in Cairo completing his autobiography and his history of the world and acting as teacher and judge. During this time he also formed an all male club named Rijal Hawa Rijal. Their activities attracted the attention of local religious authorities and he was placed under arrest. He died on 19 March 1406, one month after his sixth selection for the office of the Maliki qadi.

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This author page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ibn Khaldun", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0
Total Books: 16
The Autobiography of Ibn Khaldun
2013 - The Autobiography of Ibn Khaldun [Arabic Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781909669543
ISBN-10: 1909669547
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Die Muqaddima
2011 - Die Muqaddima (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9783406622373
ISBN-10: 3406622372

Histoire Des Berbres Et Des Dynasties Musulmanes De L'afrique Septentrionale Volume 2
2010 - Histoire Des Berbres Et Des Dynasties Musulmanes De L'afrique Septentrionale Volume 2 [French Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781143608568
ISBN-10: 1143608569
Genre: Nonfiction

Histoire Des Berbres Et Des Dynasties Musulmanes De L'afrique Septentrionale Volume 4
2010 - Histoire Des Berbres Et Des Dynasties Musulmanes De L'afrique Septentrionale Volume 4 [French Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781143614446
ISBN-10: 1143614445
Genre: Nonfiction

Yaman Its Early Medieval History
2005 - Yaman Its Early Medieval History (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9781578985340
ISBN-10: 157898534X

The Muqaddimah  An Introduction to History
2004 - The Muqaddimah an Introduction to History [Abridged Edition - Bollingen Series General] (Paperback)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780691120546
ISBN-10: 0691120544
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.

Arab Philosophy of History
1998 - Arab Philosophy of History (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9789774242847
ISBN-10: 977424284X
Genre: Politics & Social Sciences

Discours sur l'histoire universelle Al-Muqaddima
1997 - Discours Sur L'histoire Universelle Al-muqaddima (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9782742709243
ISBN-10: 274270924X

The Muqaddimah
1989 - The Muqaddimah (Paperback)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780691017549
ISBN-10: 0691017549
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality

The Muqaddimah
1967 - The Muqaddimah (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780691097978
ISBN-10: 0691097976
Genres: History, Reference

Lubab Al-muhassal Fi Usul Al-din [Maktabah al-falsafiyah - Arabic Edition] (Other)
Discours sur l'histoire universelle
Discours Sur L'histoire Universelle [French Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9782727400318
ISBN-10: 2727400314

Peuples et nations du monde Extraits des Ibar
Peuples Et Nations Du Monde Extraits Des Ibar [La Bibliotheque arabe - French Edition] (Other)
ISBN-13: 9782727401308
ISBN-10: 2727401302

Ibn Chaldun Abhandlung Uber Die Kunste Der 5 Abschnitt Aus Dem Buch Muqaddima Deutsch Und Arabisch ["Prolegomena" - Innsbrucker Beitrage zur Kulturwissenschaft - German Edition] (Other)
Introduccion a la historia
Introduccion a La Historia [antologia - Spanish Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9788475870731
ISBN-10: 8475870732
Genre: Nonfiction