cAbd al-Rahman b. Muhammad Ibn Khaldun

(1332 - 1406 A.C.E. / 732 - 808 A.H.)





He is `Abd al-Rahman bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Al-Hasan bin Jabir bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abdurahman bin Ibn Khaldun. According to Ibn Khaldun, his ancestors  originated in Hadramut, Yemen. He also traced his ancestry (through another genealogy, as supplied by Ibn Hazem who looked to his grandfather who was the first to enter Andalusia) back to Wail ibn Hajar, one of the oldest Yemeni tribes. In either case, the genealogy points to his Arab origin, although scholars do question the authenticity of both reports due to the political climate at the time of the reports. [1]


Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis on May 27, 1332 A.C.E. (Ramadan 1, 732 A.H.). [2] He received a traditional education that was typical for one of his family’s rank and status. He learned first at the hands of his father, who was a scholarly person, not involved in politics like his ancestors. He memorized the Qur’an by heart, learned grammar, jurisprudence, hadith, rhetoric, philology, and poetry. He reached a certain proficiency in these subjects and received certification in them. In his autobiography, he mentions the names of the scholars with whom he studied. [3]


Ibn Khaldun continued his studies until the age of nineteen, when the great plague swept over the lands from Samarkand to Mauritania. It was after this plague that Ibn Khaldun received his first public assignment, marking the start of his political career, and forever changing his life. [4]




Ibn Tafrakin, the ruler of Tunis, called Ibn Khaldun to be the seal-bearer of his captive Sultan Abu Ishaq. It is here that Ibn Khaldun got a first-hand look at the inner workings of court politics and the weakness of the government. Before long he had the opportunity to leave Tunis.


In 1352 A.C.E. (713 A.H.) Abu Ziad, the Emir of Constantine, marched his forces on Tunis. Ibn Khaldun accompanied Ibn Tafrakin with the forces that warded off Abu Ziad’s attack. Tunis was defeated and Ibn Khaldun escaped to Aba, where he lived with al-Mowahideen. He moved back and forth through Algeria and settled in Biskra. [5]


At the same time, in Morocco, Sultan Abu Enan, who had recently settled on the throne of his father, was on his way to conquer Algeria. Ibn Khaldun traveled to Tlemcen to meet the sultan, and mentions that the sultan honored him and sent him with his chamberlain Ibn Abi Amr to Bougie to witness its submission to Sultan Abu Enan.


Ibn Khaldun stayed in the company of the chamberlain while the sultan moved back to the capital, Fez. In 1354 A.C.E. (755 A.H.) Ibn Khaldun accepted the invitation to join the council of ‘ulama and moved to Fez. He was eventually promoted to the post of seal-bearer and accepted it reluctantly, as it was inferior to the posts once occupied by his ancestors.


Ibn Khaldun used his stay in Fez to further his studies. Fez at this time was a capital of Morocco and enjoyed the company of many scholars from all over North Africa and Andalusia. Ibn Khaldun was an ambitious young man and at this point of his life he began to engage in court politics. He was promoted from one position to another. [6] He also conspired with Abu Abdullah Muhammad, the dethroned ruler of Bougie who was captive in Fez at that time. Abu Abdullah was from the Banu Hafs that were patrons of Ibn Khaldun’s family. Sultan Abu Enan found out about the conspiracy and imprisoned Ibn Khaldun. Abu Abdullah was released from prison and Ibn Khaldun lingered on for two years. Sultan Abu Enan fell ill and died before fulfilling his promise to release Ibn Khaldun. The Wazir al-Hassan ibn Omar ordered the release of Ibn Khaldun, who was then restored to his former position. [7]




The political climate was tense and Ibn Khaldun again tested his fate and conspired against the wazir with al-Mansur. This loyalty was short-lived as well. He conspired with Sultan Abu Salem who overthrew al-Mansur. Ibn Khaldun took the position of secretary (literally, “repository of secrets” Amin as-Sir). [8]


Here Ibn Khaldun excelled in his position and composed many poems. He occupied the position for two more years and was then appointed Chief Justice. He showed great ability in this position, however, due to constant rivalry with high officials, he lost favor with the sultan. [9]


However, this proved unimportant, when a revolt took place and Sultan Abu Salem was overthrown by Wazir Omar. Ibn Khaldun sided with the victors and was reinstated to his post, with higher pay. Ibn Khaldun was as ambitious as ever, and wanted a higher position, namely that of chamberlain. For reasons unknown, perhaps he was not trusted, he was refused the position. This upset him enough that he resigned his position, and he in turn upset the wazir. Ibn Khaldun asked to leave Fez and go back to Tunisia and was refused. It was then that he asked the wazir’s son-in-law to intercede on his behalf, that he be allowed to go to Andalusia. [10]




Sultan Muhammad al-Ahmar, the King of Granada, was deposed by his brother Ismail who was supported by his brother-in-law. Sultan Muhammad was a friend of Sultan Abu Salem, who had helped Ibn Khaldun when he was deported to Andalusia by Sultan Abu Enan. When Sultan Abu Enan died and Sultan Abu Salem became ruler, that friendship was rekindled. Furthermore, when Ismail al-Ahmar was declared King of Granada in a palace revolt, Sultan Muhammad took refuge in Morocco with Sultan Abu Salem. They were welcomed with great fanfare, and Ibn Khaldun was present at the festivities. Among Sultan Muhammad’s party was his wise Wazir Ibn al-Khatib, who developed a close friendship with Ibn Khaldun. [11]


Sultan Muhammad attempted to restore his throne in Granada through an agreement with Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile. Pedro delayed the execution of the agreement upon hearing of Sultan Abu Salem’s death. Sultan Muhammad appealed to Ibn Khaldun for assistance from Wazir Omar. Ibn Khaldun used his influence to help him, and Ibn Khaldun was even entrusted to care for Sultan Muhammad’s family in Fez. The wazir granted Sultan Muhammad Ronda and the surrounding country. Sultan Muhammad continued his efforts and recaptured his throne in 1361 A.C.E. (763 A.H.). He then recalled his Wazir Ibn al-Khatib. [12]


When the relationship between Sultan Muhammad and Ibn Khaldun turned sour and uncertain, he turned toward Andalusia. He was welcomed and honored by Sultan Muhammad, who admitted him to his private council. In the following year, Sultan Muhammad sent Ibn Khaldun on an ambassadorial mission to Pedro, the King of Castile. Ibn Khaldun concluded the mission and peaceful terms were established between them. Pedro offered Ibn Khaldun a position in his service and the return of his family’s former estate at Castile. Ibn Khaldun declined the offer. [13]


Upon his return from Castile, Ibn Khaldun offered Pedro’s gift to him to the sultan and in return, the sultan gave him the village of Elvira. Soon Ibn Khaldun was restless once more and in the following year, 1364 A.C.E. (766 A.H.), when he received an invitation from his friend Abu Abdullah, who had recaptured his throne at Bougie, Ibn Khaldun left Granada after asking permission to leave from Sultan Muhammad. [14]



Ibn Khaldun arrived in Bougie at the age of thirty-two. His plans had finally been realized. The period of imprisonment in Fez did not go to waste. He entered the city as a favorite guest. He accepted the position of hajib for Emir Muhammad. However, his life of power did not last long, as in the following year Abul Abbas killed the Emir Muhammad, his cousin. Ibn Khaldun handed the city to him and retired to the city of Biskra. He continued his political work in relaying the tribes to the service of this or that emir or sultan. He continued his practice of shifting loyalties as times and opportunities afforded him. He finally retired to a far outpost south of Constantine, Fort Salama. [15]


In Fort Salama, at the age of forty-five, he enjoyed a peaceful existence, and began to write his famous Muqqddimah, and the first version of his Universal History


He dedicated his work to the current Emir of Constantine, Sultan Abul Abbas. But tranquility did not last long with Ibn Khaldun, as he needed reference works that were not available at his far outpost. He used the occasion of Abul Abbas’s conquest of Tunisia to go to Tunis. This was the first time he had returned to the town of his birth since leaving it more than twenty-seven years previously.


There were political forces at work against him once more and this time, before he fell out of favor, he used a convenient occasion (in 1382 A.C.E / A.H.) to leave North Africa behind, never to return. [16]




Ibn Khaldun was granted permission from Sultan Abul Abbas to go on hajj. He arrived in Alexandria in October 1382 A.C.E. (Shabaan 784 A.H.), at the ripe age of fifty. He spent a month preparing to leave for hajj, but was unable to join the caravan bound for the Holy Lands. He turned toward Cairo instead. Here he was warmly welcomed by scholars and students, and it was in Cairo that he lived out his final days.  His fame for his writings had already preceded him. He lectured at al-Azhar and other fine schools. He had the chance to meet with Sultan al-Zahir Barquq who appointed him to a teaching post at the Kamhiah school. [17]


He again enjoyed the favors of the sultan. He was appointed a Maliki Judge at the sultan’s whim, and anger. He fared well and tried to fight corruption and favoritism, but again, conspiracies worked against him and he was relieved of duty, just in time to coincide with his family’s disaster. The ship carrying his family and belongings sank in a storm. [18]


Ibn Khaldun again took permission to go on hajj to the Holy Lands. He returned and was well received, and appointed to a teaching position in the newly built school, Bein al-Qasrein. He lectured in hadith, particularly Imam Malik’s Muwatta. He was then appointed to the Sufi Institute of Beibers with a generous salary. But soon, the state of affairs of Egypt was disturbed, as a rival of Sultan Barquq, Yulbugha, organized a successful revolt. Sultan Barquq staged a counter-revolt and was restored to his former throne. During this period, Ibn Khaldun suffered and then had his position restored with the return to power of the victorious Sultan Barquq.  


During this period, Ibn Khaldun devoted his time to lecturing and studying, as well as to completing his Universal History. After Yulbugha’s revolt, he wrote about asabiyah and its role in the rise and fall of states. He applied his theory to the Egyptian theater since the time of Salah ad-Din. [19]


Fourteen years after leaving the position of Chief Maliki Judge, Ibn Khaldun was reassigned to the post upon the death of the presiding judge. The state again fell into disarray upon Sultan Barquq’s death and his son’s ascension. Ibn Khaldun was not a party to these revolts and asked permission to visit Jerusalem. He joined the Sultan Faraj’s caravan on its way back from Damascus, and was relieved of his duties as judge for the second time, again due to political intrigue. However, this did not matter because he was called upon to accompany the sultan on a perilous journey with fate to Damascus. [20]



During Ibn Khaldun’s stay in Egypt he was asked by Sultan Faraj of Egypt to accompany him on his expedition to Damascus. News reports had confirmed the movement of Tamerlane’s war party toward Damascus. Sultan Faraj and his army were on their way to Damascus, and it seems that Ibn Khaldun was asked, firmly, to accompany the sultan to Damascus. [21]


The sultan stayed in Damascus just two weeks, as he had to leave because of rumors that a revolt was in the works back in Cairo. Ibn Khaldun and several notables were left behind in Damascus. It was up to the leaders of Damascus to deal with Tamerlane. Ibn Khaldun had suggested that they consider Tamerlane’s terms. It was the task of another judge, Ibn Muflih, to discuss the terms with Tamerlane. When Ibn Muflih returned from Tamerlane’s camp, the terms were not agreeable to the residents of Damascus.


Since it was Ibn Khaldun’s suggestion to come to terms with Tamerlane, Ibn Khaldun felt obliged to meet with Tamerlane personally, and so he left Damascus and went to Tamerlane’s camp. It is not clear whether he went on his own or in an official capacity. Ibn Khaldun took gifts with him for Tamerlane and they were well received; he stayed in Tamerlane’s camp for thirty-five days. 


Over this period, Ibn Khaldun had many meetings with Tamerlane, conversing through an interpreter, Abd al-Jabbar al-Khwarizmi (d. 1403 A.C.E. / A.H.). Ibn Khaldun’s account is the only detailed account available; the subjects they discussed were varied and some were unrecorded. Walter Fischel lists six specific topics about which they talked:


1.      The Maghrib and Ibn Khaldun’s land of origin;

2.      Heroes in history;

3.      Predictions of things to come;

4.      The Abbasid Caliphate;

5.      Amnesty and security “for Ibn Khaldun and his companion;”

6.      Ibn Khaldun’s intention to stay with Tamerlane. [22]


Ibn Khaldun impressed the conqueror enough that he was asked to join Tamerlane’s court. Some biographers have suggested that he did plan to join Tamerlane’s court and that he wrote his eloquent appeal to return to Egypt to settle his affairs, get his books and family and join Tamerlane. However, it is more likely that Ibn Khaldun left on good terms with Tamerlane, and accomplished his mission of extracting favorable terms for the people of Damascus. [23]


Ibn Khaldun’s departing words lend credence to the fact that he would not be returning to his service:

Is there any generosity left beyond that which you have already shown me? You have heaped favors upon me, accorded me a place in your council among your intimate followers, and shown me kindness and generosity which I hope Allah will repay to you in like measures. [24]




Upon Ibn Khaldun’s return to Egypt, he was restored to his position as Maliki judge. Due to the political situation within the community of Maliki judges, Ibn Khaldun was dismissed and reinstated three times during the five-year period. He died while in office on Wednesday, March 17 1406 A.C.E. (25 of Ramadan 808 A.H.). He was buried in the sufi cemetery outside Bab an-Nasr, Cairo at the age of seventy-four. [25]




Ibn Khaldun’s works can be classified in the categories of historical, and religious. Of his works on history, only his Universal History has survived to our day. Another work that is lost is the history that was written specifically for Tamerlane, as Ibn Khaldun mentioned in his autobiography. His religious books are: Lubab al-Mahsul (Summary of the Result); a commentary on an usul al-fiqh poem, and a few works which are of questionable attribute to him, namely a sufi tract “Shifa’ as-Sail” (Healing of the Inquirer). [26]



Ibn Khaldun’s magnum opus, “al-Muqaddimah” can be divided into three parts. The first part is the introduction, the second part is the Universal History, and the third part is the history of the Maghrib. In this section, I concentrate on the first part. The second part is similar to the standard histories of Muslim historians,  and there does not seem to be much divergence. The third part, which is concerned with the history of the Maghrib, is considered a primary source work. [27] Much of the information in this section is from Ibn Khaldun’s personal travels and contacts in the area, and is replete with first hand accounts. An additional work that is not usually considered a part of this book is an appendix, which is an autobiography of the author.


The first part, the “Introduction,” is popularly known as “al-Muqaddimah;” Ibn Khaldun wrote this in a span of five months. [28] It can be divided into six parts as follows:


1.      Human society – ethnology and anthropology

2.      Rural civilizations

3.      Forms of government and forms of institutions

4.      Society of urban civilization

5.      Economic facts

6.      Science and humanity


This impressive document is the essence of Ibn Khaldun's wisdom and hard earned experience. Ibn Khaldun used his political and first-hand knowledge of the people of Maghrib to formulate many of his ideas. This document summarizes Ibn Khaldun’s ideas about every field of knowledge during his day. He discusses a variety of topics, including history and historiography. He rebukes some historical claims with a calculated logic, and discusses the sciences of his time. He wrote about astronomy, astrology, and numerology, and dealt with chemistry, alchemy, and magic in a scientific way. He freely offered his opinions and well documented the “facts” of other points of view. His discussion of tribal societies and social forces is the most interesting part of his thesis. He illuminated the world with deep insight into the makings and workings of kingdoms and civilizations.


The following quotation describes his philosophy of the historical process of civilizations, including, for example, the role of economics.


…in the field of economics, Ibn Khaldun understands very clearly the supply and demand factors which affect price, the interdependence of prices and the ripple effects on successive stages of production of a fall in prices, and the nature and function of money and its tendency to circulate from country to country according to demand and the level of activity. [29]


Ibn Khaldun is well known for his explanation of the nature of state and society and for being ‘the founder of the new discipline of sociology.’


Ibn Khaldun fully realised that he had created a new discipline, ‘ilm al-’umran, the science of culture, and regarded it as surprising that no one had done so before and demarcated it from other disciplines. This science can be of great help to the historian by creating a standard by which to judge accounts of past events. Through the study of human society, one can distinguish between the possible and the impossible, and so distinguish between those of its phenomena which are essential and those which are merely accidental, and also those which cannot occur at all. [30]


Ibn Khaldun's contributions to the field of history must also be noted.


He analysed in detail the sources of error in historical writings, in particular partisanship, overconfidence in sources, failure to understand what is intended, a mistaken belief in the truth, the inability to place an event in its real context, the desire to gain the favour of those in high rank, exaggeration, and what he regarded as the most important of all, ignorance of the laws governing the transformation of human society. [31]


On the development of the state, and the relationship between the state and society, Ibn Khaldun believed that


…human society is necessary since the individual acting alone could acquire neither the necessary food nor security. Only the division of labour, in and through society, makes this possible. The state arises through the need of a restraining force to curb the natural aggression of humanity. A state is inconceivable without a society, while a society is well-nigh impossible without a state. Social phenomena seem to obey laws which, while not as absolute as those governing natural phenomena, are sufficiently constant to cause social events to follow regular and well-defined patterns and sequences. Hence a grasp of these laws enables the sociologist to understand the trend of events. These laws operate on masses and cannot be significantly influenced by isolated individuals. [32]


Ibn Khaldun proposed that


…society is an organism that obeys its own inner laws. These laws can be discovered by applying human reason to data either culled from historical records or obtained by direct observation. These data are fitted into an implicit framework derived from his views on human and social nature, his religious beliefs and the legal precepts and philosophical principles to which he adheres. He argues that more or less the same set of laws operates across societies with the same kind of structure, so that his remarks about nomads apply equally well to Arab Bedouins, both contemporary and pre-Islamic, and to Berbers, Turkomen and Kurds. These laws are explicable sociologically, and are not a mere reflection of biological impulses or physical factors. To be sure, facts such as climate and food are important, but he attributes greater influence to such purely social factors as cohesion, occupation and wealth. [33]


For Ibn Khaldun, history is a constantly changing cycle, with essentially two groups of people, nomads and townspeople, with peasants in between. He characterizes each group:


Nomads are rough, savage and uncultured, and their presence is always inimical to civilization; however, they are hardy, frugal, uncorrupt in morals, freedom-loving and self-reliant, and so make excellent fighters. In addition, they have a strong sense of ‘asabiya, which can be translated as ‘group cohesion’ or ‘social solidarity’. This greatly enhances their military potential. Towns, by contrast, are the seats of the crafts, the sciences, the arts and culture. Yet luxury corrupts them, and as a result they become a liability to the state, like women and children who need to be protected. Solidarity is completely relaxed and the arts of defending oneself and of attacking the enemy are forgotten, so they are no match for conquering nomads. [34]


With regard to the political and social cycle, Ibn Khaldun suggests the following sequence of events:


Nomads conquer territories and their leaders establish a new dynasty. At first the new rulers retain their tribal virtues and solidarity, but soon they seek to concentrate all authority in their own hands. Increasingly they rule through a bureaucracy of clients - often foreigners. As their former supporters lose their military virtues there is an increasing use of mercenaries, and soldiers come to be more important than civilians. Luxury corrupts ethical life, and the population decreases. Rising expenditure demands higher taxes, which discourage production and eventually result in lower revenues. The ruler and his clients become isolated from the groups that originally brought them to power. Such a process of decline is taken to last three generations, or about one hundred and twenty years. Religion can influence the nature of such a model; when ‘asabiya is reinforced by religion its strength is multiplied, and great empires can be founded. Religion can also reinforce the cohesion of an established state. Yet the endless cycle of flowering and decay shows no evolution or progress except for that from the primitive to civilized society. [35]


Ibn Khaldun acknowledges that there are turning points in history. He wrote that in his time, he believed the Black Death and Mongol invasions were turning points, as was the development of Europe.


Ibn Khaldun's observations and research focused on the etiology of civilizational decline, “the symptoms and the nature of the ills from which civilizations die.” [36]


Ibn Khaldun's thesis, that the conquered race will always emulate the conqueror in every way, [37] and his theory about asbyiah (group feeling / party spirit) and the role it plays in Bedouin societies is insightful. The genius of this work is his study of the science of human culture, the rise and fall of empires, Ibn Khaldun termed this the science of umran (civilization), and it contains many pearls of wisdom. His “Introduction” is his greatest legacy, left for all of humanity and generations to come.




L. E. Goodman prepared a comparative study of Thucydides, who is considered the ‘father of history’, and the Muqaddimah. Goodman reveals the similarities in methods, assumptions, and conclusions, and notes that


Both men are naturalists, both empiricists, both exponents of a critical approach to historiography. Yet neither is a reductionist. Both seek a lesson in history, and both believe that the message of history is to be discovered in the careful study of historical laws revealed in the play of forces which are the expression of man's political and social nature. But beyond similarities of approach, there is a deep congruity of thought between the two authors, for both believe themselves to have glimpsed the pattern, learned the lesson of history. Both Ibn Khaldun and Thucydides have been led by their study of history to a cyclical, rather than linear view of historical process; both have been led, in developing their concepts of human and political reality, to a qualified relativism, which affords them … a cautious but by no means pessimistic historical theodicy. [38]


Although Goodman finds similarities between some of the historical theories of the two historians, there is little proof that the ideas of Thucydides ever appeared in Arabic. Further, as is the case with Ibn Khaldun, not many of their ideas have borne fruit, except perhaps in the modern period. Ibn Khaldun remains a highly vibrant and original thinker not only in the field of history but in sociology as well.




Ibn Khaldun’s view on science followed the traditional division of sciences, which involves a division into religious sciences and non-religious sciences. The non-religious sciences are further divided into useful and non-useful sciences (mainly the occult sciences such as magic, alchemy and astrology). In the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun reports on all the sciences up to his time, with examples and quotations. He makes it a point to refute magic, alchemy, astrology, and philosophy in his book. His work became a record of the development of sciences in his day.



Ibn Khaldun's view on philosophy is similar to that of al-Ghazali, in the sense that he attempted to reconcile mysticism and theology. In fact, Ibn Khaldun, according to Issawi,


…goes further than the latter [al-Ghazali] in bringing mysticism completely within the purview of the jurisprudent (faqih) and in developing a model of the Sufi shaykh, or master, as rather similar to the theologian. Philosophy was regarded as going beyond its appropriate level of discourse, in that 'the intellect should not be used to weigh such matters as the oneness of God, the other world, the truth of prophecy, the real character of the divine attributes, or anything else that lies beyond the level of the intellect' (Muqaddima 3, 38). 


Ibn Khaldun criticized Neoplatonic philosophy, and asserted that the hierarchy of being and its progression toward the Necessary Being, or God, is not possible without revelation. [39]




1.             Mohammad A. Enan, Ibn Khaldun: His life and Work (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1979), 3-5. The author questions Ibn Khaldun’s Arab origin, although he does admit that he came from an influential family, which was politically active in Andalusian affairs. He also admits that the Arabs held the authoritative positions while the Berbers bore the brunt of the battles, thus indirectly admitting that Ibn Khaldun is of Arab origin.  Enan raises two points to support his claim that Ibn Khaldun is not an Arab. One point is that some Berber tribes used false Arab identities to gain political favor and positions. The second point is that Ibn Khaldun attacked Arabs in his history. The false identity would be a valid point at the time that Ibn Khaldun’s ancestors left Andalusia and moved to Tunisia, and did not change their claim to Arab ancestry. Even in the times when Berbers were ruling, during the reigns of al-Marabats and al-Mowahids, et. al., Ibn Khaldun's family did not reclaim their Berber heritage. The second point would be true if Ibn Khaldun only attacked Arabs and Arabs in general. However, he attacked the destabilizing elements, which in his case were Arab tribes that were used by the Fatimids to destabilize the Maghrib. Even if he criticized his own people, that would not make him an outsider. Throughout his life, Ibn Khaldun sought stability and power to achieve that stability regardless of the cost. His attacks on Arab rabble rousers are attacks on those who would cause instability.

2.             Ibid., 2.

3.             Ibid., 8. He would later write a detailed autobiography (Ta’reef) while in Egypt which is part of his book of “Universal History” Kitab al-’Ibar wa-Diwan al-Mubtada’ wa-l-Khabar fi Ayyam al-’Arab wal-’Ajam wal-Barbar wa man ‘asarahum min dhawi as-Sultan al-Akbar. See Walter J. Fischel,  Ibn Khaldun in Egypt, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967).

4.             Ibid., 9.

5.             Ibid., 10, 12.

6.             Ibid., 17-18. At this point, Ibn Khaldun was promoted to the position of secretary and despite his youth, became a member of the sultan’s private council.  Even though he was well-treated, he did not stop from conspiring against the sultan.

7.             Ibid., 19-20. He wrote a poem that finally convinced the sultan to release him, however the sultan died before fulfilling the promise to do so.

8.             He is Mansur bin Sulaiman, a descendent of Yaacoub ibn Abd al-Haq. Ibid., p. 20-22.

9.             Ibid., 24.

10.          Ibid., 25-27. Wazir Omar bin Abdullah was the son-in-law of Sultan Abu Salem, his father was the former Wazir in the court of Banu Mareen. Ibn Khaldun was refused permission to go to Tunisia for fear that he might meet the enemies of Wazir Omar in Tlemcen.

11.          Ibid., 28-32. Sultan Muhammad remained in Fez for some time and developed quite a close relationship with Ibn Khaldun. When Sultan Muhammad attempted to regain his throne, he left Ibn Khaldun in charge of the sultan’s family in Fez.

12.          Ibid., 33.

13.          Ibid., 34. He rightly declined the offer, for he could not trust Pedro.

14.          Ibid., 35. The gift was a magnificent mule with saddle and bridle adorned with gold.

15.          Ibid., 36-49.

16.          Ibid., 51-57.

17.          Ibid., 63-67.

18.          Ibid., 69-72.

19.          Ibid., 72-75.

20.          Ibid., 78-79.

21.          Fischel, Ibn Khaldun in Egypt, 42.

22.          Ibid., 44. Ibn Muflih was a Hanbali Qadi of Damascus. Ibn Khaldun mentions that Tamerlane had asked about him personally. Ibn Khaldun was advanced in age at this time and was quite famous. It was also Tamerlane’s style to seek out scholars, so Ibn Khaldun's name might have been mentioned as one of those scholars who are in Damascus. Fischel mentions that Tamerlane made use of spies and agents working for him throughout the lands that he conquered. Fischel also mentions that Ibn Khaldun went in a personal capacity to meet with Tamerlane. This could be the case; it could also be that the leaders of Damascus wanted Tamerlane to know that Ibn Khaldun acted on his own, in case his diplomatic efforts failed. The gates of Damascus were not opened and he had to be lowered by rope. (46-49)

23.          Ibid., 62-65. Hajji Khalifah, the author of Kashf az-Zunun, and Ibn Arabshah suggest that Ibn Khaldun promised to serve in Tamerlane’s court, contingent on his return to Cairo to get his books (which he had spent his lifetime compiling). Hajji Khalfiah went so far as to suggest that Ibn Khaldun died in Samarkand.  

24.          Ibid., 65. Ibn Khaldun mentioned this statement in asking for the return of his mule. Note Ibn Khaldun’s mastery of courtly manners. This is the result of years of experience with a variety of courts, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

25.          Ibid., 67-68. There were some who were interested in having the position of the chief Maliki Qadi, and they conspired with their contacts close to Sultan Faraj to have Ibn Khaldun dismissed. It would seem that Ibn Khaldun also had some influence, which led to his reinstatement.

26.          See Abderrahmane Lakhassi, ”Ibn Khaldun" in History of Islamic Philosophy, edited by S.H. Nasr and O. Leaman (London: Routledge), 353.

27.          See Franz Rosenthal, trans., The Muqaddimah, An Introduction to History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958) 11-12.

28.          The author says at the end of his introduction: “I completed the composition and draft of this first part, before revision and correction, in a period of five months ending in the middle of the year 779 [November, 1377].” Rosenthal, The Muqaddimah, vol. 3, 481.

Also see Darweesh al-Jawydi, ed., Mokaddimat Ibn Khaldoun, by Abdurahman M. Ibn Khaldun (Beirut: al-Maktaba al-Asriyah, 1995) 416.

29.          Charles Issawi and Oliver Leaman, “Ibn Khaldun, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1332-1406),” in Routledge’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy. vol. 4., (London: Routledge) 623-627.

30.          Ibid., 623-627.

31.          Ibid., 623-627.

32.          Ibid., 623-627.

33.          Ibid., 623-627.

34.          Ibid., 623-627.

35.          Ibid., 623-627.

36.          M. Talbi,  “Ibn Khaldun.,” Encyclopedia of Islam. Second Edition (Leiden: E. J. Brill)

37.          This is due to the fact that they believe that the conqueror is superior to them in every way. Thus, in order for them to succeed where they had failed, they must emulate the conqueror in every detail, down to the dress and mode of behavior. See Rosenthal, The Muqaddimah, vol. 1, 299-300.

38.          L.E. Goodman, “Ibn Khaldun and Thucydides,“ Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol. 92, Issue 2 (April – June 1972): 250-270.

39.          Issawi and Leaman, “Ibn Khaldun, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1332-1406),” 623-627.






The bibliography of Aziz al-Azmah, in his book Ibn Khaldun in Western Scholarship, is perhaps the best available. His bibliography is far superior and more current than the one published with the Rosenthal translation.


Arnaldez, R. Reflexions sur un passage de la Muqaddima d'Ibn Khaldun. 1337 ff. Poitiers: Mel. R. Crozet, 1966.


Al-Azmeh, Aziz. Ibn Khaldun in Modern Scholarship: A Study in Orientalism. London: Third World Centre, 1981.


Al-Asqalani, Ibn Hajar. Ad-Dorar al-Kaminah fi ‘Ayan al-Miah al-Thamina, [The Hidden Jewels in the Notables of the Eighth Century] a photostat copy of the Hyderabad edition (1929-1930). Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Torath al-Araby, n.d.


Berham, M. Atallah. La pensee economique d'Ibn Khaldun. Paris: university thesis, 1964.


Badawi, A.  Mu'allafat Ibn Khaldun. Cairo, 1962.


Bielawski, J. “Aspect sociologique des opinions d'Ibn Kaldun sur 'les sciences de la langue arabe'.” Atti del terzo congresso di studi ar. e isl. (1967).


Bousquet, G. H. Les textes sociologiques et economiques de la Muqaddima (1375-1379). Paris, 1965.


Bouthoul. Ibn Khaldoun, sa philosophie sociale. Paris, 1930.


Brunschvig, R. La Berberie orientale sous les Hafsides. Vol. 2. Paris (1947): 385-93.


Enan, Mohammad A. Ibn Khaldun: His life and Works. New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1979.


Fahri, FÌndÌkoulu Z. “Türkiye'de Ibn Haldunizm,” in Fuad Kkprülü armaÆanÌ. 153-63. Istanbul, 1953.


Fischel, Walter J., Ibn Khaldun in Egypt: His public functions and his historical research (1382-1406), A study in Islamic Historiography. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.


--------. “Ibn Khaldun's use of historical sources.” SI xiv, (1961).


“Al-Fikr.” Tunis, March 1961.

This issue was devoted to Ibn Khaldūn.


Gellner, E. “From Ibn Khaldun to Karl Marx,” in Political Quarterly xxxii (1961): 385-92.


Al-Husri, S. Dirasat 'an Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldun. Cairo, 1953.


Hussein, T. Etude analytique et critique de la philosophie sociale d'Ibn Khaldun. Paris, 1917G.


‘Inan, M. A. Ibn khaldun, hayatuh wa-turathuh al-fikri. Cairo, 1933.

See the new edition with additions, Cairo, 1965.


Issawi, Charles. An Arab Philosophy of history: Selections from the prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (1332-1406). In the Wisdom of the East Series, London: John Murray, 1950.


Issawi, Charles and Oliver Leaman. “Ibn Khaldun, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1332-1406),” in Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 4, 623-627. London: Routledge.


Al-Jawydi, Darweesh, ed. Mokaddimat Ibn Khaldoun, by Abdurahman M. Ibn Khaldun. Sidon-Beirut: al-Maktaba al-Asriyah, 1995.


Labica, G. “Esquisse d'une sociologie de la religion chez Ibn Khaldun,” in La Pensee, no. 123 (October 1965): 3-23.


Lacoste, Yves. Ibn Khaldun: The birth of history and the past of the third world. Tr. David Macy. London: Verso, 1984.


id. Ibn Khaldoun, naissance de l'histoire, passe du tiers-monde. Paris, 1966.

A brilliant Marxist interpretation, to be used with caution: cf. review in Times Literary Supplement, 8 August 1968,  853.


Lakhassi, Abderrahmane. “Ibn Khaldun,” in History of Islamic Philosophy. Ch. 25. Eds. S. H. Nasr and O. Leaman. London: Routledge.


Lawrence, David, ed., Ibn Khaldun and Islamic Ideology. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1984.


Mahdi, Muhsin. Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy of History: A study in the philosophic foundation of the science of culture. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1957.


Monteil, V. La Rev. Hist. (April-June 1967).


Myers, E. A. “Ibn Khaldun, fore-runner of 'new science',” in The Arab World. New York: 1966.


Nassar, N. “Le maitre d'Ibn Khaldun: al-Abili.” SI xx (1964): 103-15.


id. La pensee realiste d'Ibn Khaldun. Paris, 1967.


Peres, H. “Bibliographie sur la vie et l'oeuvre d'Ibn Kaldun.” Mel. Levi Della Vida vol. 2, 308-29.


Rabi’, Muh. Mahmoud. The political theory of Ibn Khaldun. Leiden, 1967.


Rosenthal, Franz., trans. The Muqaddimah, An Introduction to History., By Ibn Khaldun. Bollingen Series XLIII. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958.


id. Political thought in medieval Islam. Ch. IV. Cambridge, 1958.


id. Islam in the modern national state. Cambridge, 1965.

See the influence of Ibn Khaldun on contemporary modernist Muslim thinkers (16-27).


Schmidt, N. Ibn Khaldun, historian, sociologist, and philosopher. New York, 1930.


Simon, H. Ibn Khalduns Wissenschaft der menschlichen Kultur. Leipzig, 1959.


Talbi, M. “Ibn Kaldun et le sens de l'histoire.” SI xxvi (1967): 73-148.


Tamura, Jitsuzo. In Ajia kazai (September 1963).

He gives an economist's view on Ibn Khaldun (in Japanese).


al-Wardi, A. Mantiq Ibn Khaldun. Cairo, 1962.


Walzer, R. “Aspects of Islamic political thought: al-Farabi and Ibn Xaldun.” Oriens xv (1963): 40-60.


Wolfson, H. A. “Ibn khaldun in connexion with attributes and with predestination in his religious philosophy.” 177-95. Harvard, 1961.