Ibn Khaldun

 

732-84/1332-82

Ibn Khaldun has been considered “an authentic genius”, “un penseur genial et aberrant” and a nonconformist thinker.

 

Ibn Khaldun, Wali al-Din `Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr Muhammad b. Al-Hasan, was born in Tunis on 1 Ramadan 732 in an Arab family which had been active in official roles, but his father avoided politics and was a man of letters. His father thus ensured that `Abd al-Rahman received a thorough classical education, based on a study of the Qur’an, hadith, Arabic language and jurisprudence. He was exposed to many theologians and scholars, and studied philosophy. When he was seventeen years old, his parents died of the Black Death, and he left Tunis to live in Fez.

 

Thereafter, Ibn Khaldun continued his studies in Fez. In his autobiography he wrote “I devoted myself to reflection and to study, and to sitting at the feet of the great teachers, those of the Maghrib as well as those of Spain who were residing temporarily in Fez, and I benefited greatly from their teaching” [Ta`rif, 59]. He held various posts in the court and was officially part of the sultan’s literary circle, spent two years in prison after he participated in a plot to liberate the former amir,  and thereafter again occupied a court position under the new sultan. After numerous difficulties, he left Fez for the court of Granada.

 

In his mid-forties, Ibn Khaldun reflected, “I was cured of the temptation of office. Furthermore I had for too long neglected scholarly matters. I therefore ceased to involve myself in the affairs of kings and devoted all my energies to study.”   For the remained of his life, was a scholar, teacher and magistrate. He went to Egypt, performed Hajj, and devoted his life to teaching. He died on 26 Ramadan 808/ 16 March, 1406.

 

 

 

Works by Ibn Khaldun:

Mukaddima, an encyclopaedic synthesis of the methodological and cultural knowledge necessary for historians.  

kitab al-`Ibar, a universal history

Ta`rif , an autobiography