A Short Biography of Ibn Khaldun – Learn Islam

Abd al-Rahman Ibn Khaldun the well-known historian and philosopher from Muslim 14th century North Africa, is considered to be the earliest proponent of theories in the social sciences and the philosophy of historical thought, and the author of the first ideas in economics that prefigured modern developments.

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In this detailed and written piece, Muhammad Hozien outlines the biographical bibliography of Ibn Khaldun and provides insight into his theories particularly by comparing his approach with the work of Thucydides, and by characterizing the Ibn Khaldun’s views regarding the relationship between science and philosophy.

  1. General biographical information about Ibn Khaldun.
    • Early Childhood and the early years 1.2 Tunisia and Morocco
    • The escape of Morocco in Spain
    • from Spain up to Tunisia
    • Adventures in North Africa
    • To Egypt
    • Meeting Tamerlane
    • The final days in Egypt
    • 2. Al-Muqaddima: Ibn Khaldun’s magnum opus
    • 3. Some of the views Ibn Khaldun’s theories
    • 3.1 Ibn Khaldun and Thucydides
    3.2 Ibn Khaldun’s views about Science and Philosophy
    • 4. Notes
    • 5. Bibliography

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1. General biographical information about Ibn Khaldun.

1.1. Childhood and the beginning of childhood

He is ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Jabir b. Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Khaldun. In the words of Ibn Khaldun his ancestors came from Hadramawt, Yemen. The historian also traced his ancestral roots (through an additional genealogy described through Ibn Hazm in his book Jamharat ansab al-‘arab) back to Wa’il b. Hajar, one of the oldest Yemeni tribes. The genealogies indicate his Arab origins, though certain scholars doubt the authenticity of these accounts due to the political climate in the period of the documents.

Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis on the 27th of May 1332/1 Ramadan 732. He was educated an education of the traditional type which was typical of his family’s ranks and position. He began his education through the guidance of his father who was a highly educated man, and not involved in politics as his forefathers were. He was able to memorize the Qur’an and studied the grammar of jurisprudence, hadith as well as rhetoric, philology, and poetry. He achieved a certain level of level of proficiency in these areas and obtained a certification in them. The autobiography lists some of his teachers whom he worked. 

Ibn Khaldun continued to study until he reached the age of nineteen and the time that the great plague struck the region that stretched from Samarqand through Mauritania. It was during this time that Ibn Khaldun got his first official assignment and began his political career and forever altering the course of his existence. 

1.2. Tunisia and Morocco

Ibn Tafrakin, the ruler of Tunis, proclaimed Ibn Khaldun to be the seal bearer of his prisoner the The Sultan Abu Ishaq. This is where Ibn Khaldun was able to get an inside look at the inside workings of the court system and the insufficiency of government. He was soon given the chance to go to Tunis.

In the year 713/1352 Abu Ziyad, the amir of Constantine was able to march on Tunis. Ibn Khaldun was a part of Ibn Tafrakin with the forces which repelled Abu Ziyad’s attacks. Tunis fell to defeat and Ibn Khaldun was able to escape to Aba and stayed there in Aba with Muwahhidin (r. 524-668/1130-1269). He travelled back and back and forth across Algeria and eventually settled within Biskra. [55

In the meantime in Morocco Sultan Abu ‘Inan, who recently been elevated to the throne set by his father’s father was heading to take over Algeria. Ibn Khaldun travelled through Tlemcen to meet with the Sultan and states that the sultan honoured him and invited him and his chamberlain, Ibn ‘Amr on a trip to Bougie to witness its surrender to Sultan Abu Inan.

Ibn Khaldun was with the chamberlain, while the sultan returned to his capital city, Fez. In 755/1354 Ibn Khuldun accepted an invitation to be a member of the council called the ‘ulama’ and moved to Fez. He was later elevated to the position of seal bearer and was reluctantly accepted the post because it was not comparable to the post previously held by his ancestors.

Ibn Khaldun utilized his time in Fez to continue his studies. At the time, Fez was a capital of Morocco and was the preferred destination of scholars from across North Africa and Andalusia. Ibn Khaldun was a spirited young man and at this stage in his life, started to participate with the court system. He was elevated from one post to another. 

 He also partnered with Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad the ruler deposed of Bougie who was in prison in Fez at the time. Abu ‘Abdallah was a member of the Banu Hafs which were patrons of the Ibn Khaldun family. Sultan Abu ‘Inan was informed about the plot and sentenced Ibn Khaldun to prison. Abu ‘Abdallah was freed from prison and Ibn Khaldun remained in prison for two more years. Sultan Abu ‘Inan was in a coma and passed away prior to fulfilling his vow to free Ibn Khaldun. His wazir al-Hassan. ‘Umar, had ordered to release Ibn Khaldun who was then reinstated to his post. 

1.3 Exile From Morocco in Spain

The political climate was in tension and Ibn Khaldun tried to determine his destiny and collaborated with his wazir along with al-Mansur. The loyalty was not long-lasting too. He teamed up in a pact with the Sultan Abu Salim, who overthrew al-Mansur. Ibn Khaldun was appointed the position as secretary (literally, “repository of secrets,” amin al-sirr).  As secretary position, Ibn Khaldun was a star in his job and wrote a number of poems. He was in the office for two years and was named Chief of the Justice Department. He was a great performer at this post, but due to the constant competition with top officials, he fell out of popularity with the Sultan. 

However, this was not important in the end, when a rebellion occurred and the Sultan Abu Salim was overthrown by the wazir ‘Umar. Ibn Khaldun supported the victorious side and was reinstated in his position, with a better pay. Ibn Khaldun was just as ambitious as ever and desired a higher post, including the position of chamberlain.

 Due to reasons that are not clear (perhaps it was because he wasn’t respected) He was not granted the post. The decision was so resentful that he decided to quit his job, and he, in his turn caused a disturbance to those around him. Wazir. Ibn Khaldun pleaded for permission to depart Fez and return to Tunisia and was denied. He then requested to the wazir‘s son-in law to advocate for him, and for him to be permitted to travel into Andalusia.

1.4 from Spain up to Tunisia

The Sultan Muhammad al-Ahmar, the King of Granada was deposed by the brother Isma’il and was backed by his son-in-law. Sultan Muhammad was a friend of Sultan Abu Salim, who had assisted Ibn Khaldun after the latter was exiled back to Andalusia under Sultan Abu Inan. In the event that Sultan Abu ‘Inan passed away and his successor Sultan Abu Salim became ruler, this friendship was renewed. 

Additionally it was the time when Isma’il al-Ahmar was declared King of Granada in a palace rebellion and Sultan Muhammad was forced to flee to Morocco together with the Sultan Abu Salim. They were greeted by a huge celebration, and Ibn Khaldun was present at the celebrations. One of the guests at Sultan Muhammad’s celebration was his intelligent Wazir, Ibn al-Khatib, who had a close relationship to Ibn Khaldun. 

Sultan Muhammad tried for the restoration of his reign Granada by negotiating in Granada with Pedro the Cruel The King of Castile. Pedro put off the execution of the agreement after hearing of the death of Sultan Abu Salim. Sultan Muhammad requested Ibn Khaldun to help him through The wazirthe ‘Umar. 

Ibn Khaldun was able to use his influence to assist the Sultan, and Ibn Khaldun was even given the responsibility by the ‘Umar to care of Sultan Muhammad’s relatives in Fez. In 736, the wazir gave the Sultan Muhammad an entire city in Ronda and the rest of the country. Sultan Muhammad continued to work and returned to his throne in 736/1361. The Sultan then remembered the name of his Wazir Ibn al-Khatib. 

The relations with the Sultan Muhammad and Ibn Khaldun deteriorated Ibn Khaldun became uncertain and decided to move towards Andalusia. He was greeted and was praised with respect by Sultan Muhammad, who admitted him to his council. The following year Sultan Muhammad took Ibn Khaldun to an ambassadorial visit to Pedro the King of Castile. Ibn Khaldun successfully completed his mission and the peace agreement was signed between the two. Pedro gave Ibn Khaldun the chance to join his military and the opportunity to return the estate of his family’s past at Castile. Ibn Khaldun refused his deal.

After his return from Castile Ibn Khaldun presented Pedro’s present to the Sultan and in return, the sultan gifted his village Elvira. Then Ibn Khaldun became unhappy and following years, in 766/1364 he was invited by Abu ‘Abdallah his friend, who had reclaimed the throne at Bougie Ibn Khaldun fled Granada after requesting permission with Sultan Muhammad.

1.5 Adventures in North Africa

Ibn Khaldun arrived in Bougie at the age of 32. His plans were finally fulfilled. The time of his imprisonment in Fez was not a be wasted. The city was his home and he became an opulent guest. He was elected Hajib (chamberlain) to the Amir,Muhammad. But his time of power was not long, since the year following, Abu

l-‘Abbas killed the Amir,Muhammad his cousin. Ibn Khaldun gave the city over to him and returned to the city of Biskra. He continued his work as a politician by transferring the tribes into the service of the Amir or the sultan. He continued to practice shifting loyalty as the time and opportunities came his way and eventually retreated to an outpost to the to the south from Constantine, Fort Salama. 15 In Fort Salama, at the age of 45 He lived a quiet life, and began writing his most famous work, his work, the Muqqddima, and the first edition that he wrote of his global history.

He devoted all of his works to present the amir of Constantine Sultan Abu l’Abbas. But peace and tranquility didn’t last for long for Ibn Khaldun since he needed references to documents that weren’t accessible at his outpost. He made use of Abu l’Abbas’s victory over Tunisia for a trip to Tunis. It is the first time that he returned to the town where his birthplace since having left it more than 27 years prior.

There were forces of the political in his favor again, and this time, prior to his fall from favor, he took advantage of an appropriate moment (in 784/1382) to leave North Africa behind, never to come back. 

1.6 to Egypt

Ibn Khaldun got permission by the Sultan Abu l-‘Abbas to go on hajj. It was his arrival in Alexandria in Shaban 784/October 1382, at the 50 years old. He was in preparation for a month to depart in preparation for hajj however, he was not able to travel with the caravan headed to the Holy Lands. 

He retreated to Cairo instead. In Cairo, he was welcomed from scholars and scholars, and it was in Cairo that he spent his last days. His reputation for his writings was already awaited his death. He was a lecturer in al-Azhar and other top schools. When he first met Sultan al-Zahir Barquq (r. 784-801/1382-1399) He appointed him to a teacher post at the Kamaliyya schools. 

He once again enjoyed the blessings of the Sultan. He was appointed to be a Maliki judge on the sultan’s will and his anger. He did well and was able to tackle corruption and favoritism. However, once again conspiracies harmed his and the judge was dismissed from obligation, only to coincide with the family’s tragedy. The vessel carrying the family and belongings was sunk in the midst of a hurricane. 

Ibn Khaldun once again sought permission to make Hajj for The Holy Lands. Then he returned and was welcomed with open arms, and appointed to a teaching position at the newly built schools, Bayn al-Qasrayn . He gave lectures on hadith and particularly in the Imam Malik’s Muwatta’. He was later named for the Sufi Khanaqa (school) located in Baybars with a hefty salary. 

Then, the situation in Egypt was shaken, as the rival to King Barquq, Yalbugha al-Nasari, was able to lead a revolt that took place in the year 791/1388. Sultan Barquq staged a counter-revolt and was reinstated to the throne he had previously held. At this time Ibn Khaldun was defeated and then saw his position reinstated with the return of the power of the triumphant Sultan Barquq.

While Ibn Khaldun dedicated his time to teaching and studying in addition working on his global history. Following Yalbugha al-Nasari’s revolution and the subsequent writings on ‘ asabiyya and its significance as a factor in the rising and decline of states. He applied his theories on the Egyptian theater during the reign that of Salah al-Din. 

After 14 years of leaving the post of the chief Maliki judge Ibn Khaldun was transferred to the position following the passing of chief judge. The state was once again in chaos following the death of Sultan Barquq and his ascension to the throne of younger son Faraj (r. 1389-1412). 

Ibn Khaldun wasn’t a participant in these uprisings and sought permission to travel to Jerusalem. He was a part of Sultan Faraj’s caravan as it returned to Damascus, and was relieved of his responsibilities as a judge twice this time due to the political tensions. The matter was of no importance to the judge, since the judge was tasked to join the sultan for an arduous journey by fate in Damascus. 

1.7 meeting Tamerlane

In the time of Ibn Khaldun’s visit to Egypt Sultan Faraj requested that he accompany his journey to Damascus. The news reports confirmed the progress of Tamerlane’s war group towards Damascus. The Sultan Faraj and his troops were heading towards Damascus, and it seems that Ibn Khaldun had been asked strongly to go with the sultan on his way to Damascus. [2121.

The sultan was in Damascus only for two weeks. He had to leave because of reports that a rebellion was underway in Cairo. Ibn Khaldun and many other prominent figures were left in Damascus. It was the leadership of Damascus to confront Tamerlane. The Ibn Khaldun scholar had recommended they look at Tamerlane’s terms. It was the job the other judge, Ibn Mufflih to debate the conditions with Tamerlane. After Ibn Muflih returned from Tamerlane’s camp, the conditions weren’t a good fit with those living in Damascus.

As it was Ibn Khaldun’s suggestion to negotiate with Tamerlane He felt compelled to meet Tamerlane directly, and so he left Damascus and went to the camp of Tamerlane. It’s unclear if the trip was by himself or in a formal role. Ibn Khaldun carried gifts for Tamerlane and his gifts were very well-received. He was in Tamerlane’s camp over a period of thirty days.

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At this time Ibn Khaldun held numerous conversations with Tamerlane and Tamerlane, who conversed through an interpreter named ‘Abd al-Jabbar of al-Khwarizmi (d. 805/1403). Ibn Khaldun’s story is the most detailed available. The subjects they talked about were varied and there were some that were not recorded. Walter Fischel lists six specific subjects they discussed:

  • The Maghrib and Ibn Khaldun’s place of origin. Heroes in history;
    3. Future predictions of the future;
    4. The caliphate of ‘Abbasid;
    5. Amnesty and security “for Ibn Khaldun and his partner”;
    6. Ibn Khaldun’s plan to stay at Tamerlane. 

Ibn Khaldun was so impressive to the conqueror that he was invited to join the court of Tamerlane. Biographers have suggested the plan was to join the court of Tamerlane and that he composed an inspiring appeal to go home to Egypt for settling his issues and collect the books and family members, and then be a part of Tamerlane. It is however most likely that Ibn Khldun left in good standing in his relationship with Tamerlane, and accomplished his task of negotiating favorable terms from the inhabitants from Damascus.

Ibn Khaldun’s final words give an air of certainty to the idea that he wouldn’t return to Tamerlane’s military:

“Is there any more generosity beyond the generosity you’ve already given me? You’ve heaped praise on me, given me a seat within your council of close members, and shown me kindness and generosity, which I believe Allah will repay you in the same manner.” 

1.8 The last Days for Egypt

When Ibn Khaldun returned to Egypt and his return to Egypt, he was reappointed to his Malikijudge position. Due to the political turmoil within the Malikijudges’ community Malikijudges , Ibn Khaldun was fired and returned three times over the period of five years. He was killed while in office on Ramadan 808 and 17 March 1406. He was laid to rest in the Sufi cemetery near Bab al-Nasr , Cairo at the age of seventy-four. 

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2. Al-Muqaddima: Ibn Khaldun’s magnum opus

The works of Ibn Khaldun can be classified into the categories of the history of and religion. In his work on the subject of history the only one, the universality of his history survived to the present time. The history created specifically for Tamerlane and Ibn Khaldun, as stated in his autobiography is now lost. The books he used to practice his religion include: Lubab al-mahsul [Summary of the outcomeof the study]; a commentary on an usul al-fiqh verse, and a few works that are not certain if they belong to him, including an Sufi tract Shifa”‘al-sa’il” [Healing for the inquirer].[26[26.

Ibn Khaldun’s masterpiece al-Muqaddima is divided in three sections. The first is the introduction, the second is the universal history and the third section is the historical background of the Maghrib. In this part I focus on the first section. The second section is comparable to the traditional history from Muslim historians and it doesn’t appear to be much difference. 

The third chapter of the book, which deals with the background of the Maghrib is considered to be an original research work. [27] The majority of information contained in this chapter comes taken from the author’s own journeys and contacts in the region, and is replete with personal accounts from the field. A different work that is not normally included in this book is the appendix, that is an autobiography by the author.

The first, which is “Introduction,” is the initial part “Introduction,” is popularly called al-Muqaddima Ibn Khaldun composed this over about five years. [28] It is broken down into 6 parts, as follows:

  • The human society and anthology
    2. Rural civilizations
    3. Government forms and types of institutions
    4. Urban civilization and the society of cities
    5. Economic information
    6. and humanity. and humanity

This impressive work is the essence of Ibn Khaldun’s insight and years of knowledge. He utilized his political and intimate understanding of people from Maghrib to form several of his thoughts and covered almost every area of knowledge at the time. He talks about a range of subjects, including the history of his time and historiography. 

He challenges some of the claims made by historians using a rational approach, and discusses the contemporary science. He wrote on astronomy, the astrology of the night, and numerology; and discussed alchemy, chemistry, and magic in a scientific manner. He was open to expressing his views and thoroughly recorded his findings “facts” of different views. The discussion on the tribal society and the social factors is perhaps the most intriguing portion of his dissertation. He enlightened the world with a profound understanding of the creation and the workings of kingdoms and civilizations.

The following quote describes his views on the history of civilizations which includes, for instance the role played by economics:

 In the field of economics Ibn Khaldun comprehends clearly the demand and demand elements that influence prices, the interdependence between price and its ripple-effects that occur on each stage of production that result from price declines, and the nature and purpose of currency and its ability to move from one country to another in accordance with the level of demand and the activity level.” 

Ibn Khaldun is a well-known figure for his understanding about the forms of the state and the social order and because he was “the creator of the modern field of sociology”:

“Ibn Khaldun realized that he had invented an entirely new field, ‘ilm al-‘umran which is the science of culture and considered it to be awe-inspiring that no one had ever done this before and distinguished this from the other subjects. 

This discipline is a great aid historian by providing an acceptable standard to assess the historical accuracy of events. By studying human society, it is possible to discern between the probable and the unimaginable, and so distinguish between the kinds of events that are vital and the ones that are simply random, and also those which are not possible to occur.” 

The contributions of Ibn Khaldun in the area of historical research are also worthy of mention.

“He examined in depth the causes of errors in writings from the past including political partisanship, overconfidence about sources and inability to comprehend what was intended or intended, an incorrect conviction in the truth, inability of putting an event into its proper context, the need to please the elite and exaggeration and what he believed to be the most significant of all is ignorance of the laws which govern the development of the human race.” 

Concerning the evolution of the state and how it relates to state and society Ibn Khaldun believed:

Human society is essential since individuals acting on their own can obtain neither the essential food or security. It is only the division of labor and the division of labour within and through the society, makes this feasible. The state emerges from the need for a restraining force that is able to limit the human nature of aggression. It is impossible to imagine a state without a society. Likewise, the existence of a society is almost impossible without the state. 

Social phenomena appear to follow laws, which, though not as rigid as the laws that govern nature-based phenomena, seem to be enough constant for social phenomena to be governed by regular and clearly defined pattern and sequences. Therefore, a thorough understanding of these laws allows the sociologist to comprehend the underlying pattern of things. These laws affect the masses and are not influenced by individuals who are not connected.” 

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Ibn Khaldun suggested that:

The human body is an entity that is bound by its own internal rules. The laws are determined by applying human logic to information gathered from the archives of past events or directly through observation. The data is incorporated within an implicit framework that is derived from his ideas about social and the social nature of people, as well as from his beliefs about religion and the precepts of law and the philosophical principles that he believes in. 

He claims that the same set of rules is applicable to all societies with the same structure therefore, his assertions on nomads can be applied equally in the case of Arab Bedouins, both contemporary and pre-Islamic, and to Berbers, Turkmen and Kurds. The laws can be explained sociologically, and are not a only a reflection of biological forces or physical influences. Sure, physical factors like the climate and food are crucial however, he attributes more influence to social elements as cohesion, employment and prosperity.” 

For Ibn Khaldun the history of mankind is always changing cycle that consists of two distinct groups of people: the nomads and townspeople, and the peasants between. He describes each group as:

“Nomads can be rough and wild and uncultured and the presence of them is hostile to the civilization. However they are tough and thrifty, without a flaw in their morals, free-spirited and confident, and so make excellent fighters. Additionally, they possess an intense sense of “asabiya” that can be translated as “group cohesion’ or “social solidarity’. 

This significantly increases their capabilities as soldiers. Towns, however are the hubs of crafts, sciences and art and culture. But the lure of luxury is a detriment to them, and in the end, they are a burden to the state, much like women and children that need to be protected. It is easy to be a solider and the art of protecting oneself and of battling the foe are lost which is why they are not able to compete with the conquering wanderers.”

In relation to politics and social cycle Ibn Khaldun recommends this sequence:

“Nomads conquer areas” and their leaders create the new family. Initially, the new rulers keep their tribal values and the spirit of cooperation, but later they try to place the entire power in their own control. They increasingly rule through a bureaucracy composed of clients, usually foreigners. When their former patrons lose their military qualities, there is an increase in the usage of mercenaries and soldiers become more significant than civilians. In the end, luxury corrupts morality, and the population decreases. 

In addition, rising expenditures require higher taxes, which impede production and eventually lead to less revenue. The ruling class and his patrons are isolated from the people who originally were the ones who brought them to the position of power. The process of declining can last for three generations, which is roughly 100 and two years. 

Religion may influence the character of a model like this; when “asabiya” is strengthened by religion its power is increased and large empires are established. Religion also can help strengthen the unity of an established state. But the perpetual cycle of blooming and decay doesn’t show any sign of change or advancement, except the transition from primitive to the modern society.” [3534

Ibn Khaldun admits that there some turning points in the history. He wrote that during his time, he believed that that the Black Death and Mongol invasions were pivotal events and so was the growth of Europe. His writings and research were focused on the causes of declining civilizations, “the symptoms and the nature of the diseases that make civilizations die.

“[36]Ibn Khaldun’s hypothesis that the people who have been conquered will always follow the conqueror in all aspects,[37and his theory of the ‘asabiyya’ and his concept of ‘asabiyya’ (group emotion/party spirit) and the role it is playing within Bedouin societies is fascinating. 

The most important thing about this study is his examination of the science behind human civilization, and the rise and the fall of empires. Ibn Khaldun referred to this as”the science behind “‘umran”(civilization), and it is full of pearls of wisdom. The “Introduction” can be considered to be the finest legacy that he left for the entire human race and generations to come.

A Comparative study in Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddima and Thucydides who is regarded as the ‘father of modernity’ was written by L. E. Goodman. In the book, Goodman reveals the similarities in the methods, assumptions, and conclusion, and notes that:

“Both men are naturalists, both empiricists, and both proponents of a critical view of historiography. However, neither of them is an idealist. Both seek to draw lessons from the past, and both believe that the meaning of history has to be found in the study of the historical laws that are revealed through the emergence of forces that reflect mankind’s social and social character. However, beyond the similarities in the way of thinking and approach, there is a profound understanding of the two authors, as each believes that they have seen the pattern and learning from history, and benefited from the lessons of. 

The authors of Ibn Khaldun and Thucydides were influenced through their research into the past to take a cyclical instead of linear, view of the historical process. Both were influenced, when the development of their views of the human and social reality to conditioned relativism that has given them. . . A cautious, but not at all a pessimistic history tragedy.” 

While Goodman has found similarities between a few of the theories about history of both historians, there’s no evidence to suggest that the ideas of Thucydides never appeared in Arabic. As is the case with Ibn Khaldun few of their ideas have produced results and perhaps not until the contemporary period. Ibn Khaldun is a vivacious and innovative thought-leader, not only in the realm of history and sociology, but in other fields too.

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3.2 Ibn Khaldun’s views of Science and Philosophy

Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy of science was based on the conventional division of the sciences that is the division of religious sciences and secular sciences. Non-religious science is further separated into useful and useless disciplines (mainly the occult ones such as alchemy, magic and Astrology). The Muqaddima Ibn Khaldun provides a comprehensive overview of all sciences to the time of his writing, including illustrations and quotes. He makes it a priority to debunk alchemy, magic as well as astrology and the philosophy of his work. His work was an archive of the evolution of the sciences of his time.

Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy is identical to the views of al-Ghazali in that he sought in bringing together the mysticism and theology. In actual fact, Ibn Khaldun is, according to Issawi

It goes beyond the previous [al-Ghazali] by making mysticism fully within the jurisprudence of the ( faqih) and in establishing an image for what is known as the Sufi shahkh master being quite like the theologian. 

The philosophy was seen as being over the boundaries of discourse in the sense that “the intellect is not to be used to assess things like the unity of God and the other world and the authenticity of prophecy or the actual nature of the godly attributes or any other matter that goes beyond the scope or understanding.”  Ibn Khaldun was a critic of Neoplatonic philosophical thought, and claimed that the structure of the being and its progress towards the Necessary Being, also known as God cannot be achieved in the absence of the revelation. 

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4.Notes

[1. Mohammad A. Enan, Ibn Khaldun: His Life and His work (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1946), 3-5. The author doubts Ibn Khaldun’s Arab origin, though the author acknowledges that he was born into an influential family which was active politically in Andalusian matters. He also acknowledges that the Arabs were the ones who held the most authority and the Berbers took the brunt of the battles, thereby indirectly agreeing that Ibn Khaldun was from an Arab origin. Enan brings up two points to back his assertion that Ibn Khaldun was not an Arab. 

One argument is that Berber tribes used fake Arab identities to win political favour and places in the political system. Another point is the Ibn Khaldun’s “attacks” against Arabs throughout his life. 

The false identity could be an argument that is valid in the period when Ibn Khaldun’s family members left Andalusia and relocated into Tunisia, and did not alter their claim to Arab heritage. However, even during the time in which Berbers were in power, during the period of Murabitun (r. 454-541/1062-1147) and Muwahhidun (r. 524-668/1130-1269) Ibn Khaldun’s family did not claim their Berber tradition. 

The second argument would be valid if Ibn Khuldun just fought Arabs and Arabs generally. However, he did criticize the Arabs for their tendency to destabilize. In his case, this means Arab tribes who were utilized for this purpose by Fatimids to weaken the Maghrib. If he did criticize the people he was from, it does not mean he was an outsider. In all his years Ibn Khaldun fought for stability and power to achieve stability, no matter the price. His criticisms of Arab people who rooster are a slap at the ones who could create instability.


  • [2. ] Enan, Ibn Khaldun, 2.
    [3. ] Ibid, 8. He later wrote an extensive autobiography ( Ta’rif) during his time in Egypt and this form part of his universal historical significance: Kitab al-‘ibar wa-diwan al-mubtada’, wa-l-khabar, and al-‘Arab wa-l”ajam wa-l’barbar ‘asarahum min al-Sultan al Akbar. Read Walter J. Fischel, Ibn Khaldun in Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press 1967).
    [4. ] Enan, Ibn Khaldun, 9.
    [5. ] Ibid, 10, 12.
    [6. ] Ibid, 17-18. In this period, Ibn Khaldun was promoted to the rank of secretary and despite his age was appointed to the private council of the Sultan. While he was treated with respect however, he was not deterred from collaborating against the sultan.
    [7. ] Ibid, 19-20. He wrote a poem , which eventually convinced the sultan let him go, but the sultan did not die before delivering his promise to release him.
    [8. The man has the name of Mansur who is. Sulayman, a descendent of Ya’qub b. ‘Abd al-Haqq. Enan, Ibn Khaldun, 20-22.
    [9. ] Ibid, 24.
    [10. ] Ibid, 25-27. Ibid, 25-27. wazirof ‘Umar B. Abdallah was the son-in law of Sultan Abu Salim, his father was the previous wazirin the court of Banu Marin. Ibn Khaldun’s permission was not granted to travel to Tunisia because he was afraid that he would be confronted by opponents from his father, the the wazir within Tlemcen.
    [11. ] Enan, Ibn Khaldun, 28-32. Sultan Muhammad was in Fez for a while and established a very close friendship with the Ibn Khaldun. In the course of trying to restore his throne Ibn Khaldun left his place in charge of the family of the sultan in Fez.
    [12. ]Enan, Ibn Khaldun, 33.
    [13. ]Ibid, 34. He was right to decline the invitation, as Pedro was not a person he could trust. Pedro.
    [14. ] Ibid, 35. The present was a stunning mules, complete with saddle and the bridle was decorated 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 Hanbalijudge in Damascus. Ibn Khaldun relates that Tamerlane was interested in his personal life. At that time Ibn Khaldun had become old and was well-known. Tamerlane was known to find scholars, and Ibn Khaldun’s name could be listed as one of the scholars located in Damascus.

 Fischel says that Tamerlane employed agents and agents for his benefit across the territories were conquered by him, and Ibn Khaldun was able to travel on a personal basis in order to visit Tamerlane. It could be that this is the situation; however, it is also possible that the rulers of Damascus were keen for Tamerlane to be aware that Ibn Khaldun had acted alone to ensure that his diplomatic efforts did not succeed. Gates of Damascus weren’t opened and Tamerlane had to be carried down by rope (46-49).

[23. ] Ibid, 62-65. Hajji Khalifa, who is the writer of Kashf al-zunun and Ibn Arabshah, the author of Kashf al- that Ibn Khaldun swore to join the court of Tamerlane in exchange for his returning to Cairo to pick up his works (which the author had spent the majority of his life composing). Hajji Khalifa went as that he suggested Ibn Khaldun’s death occurred in Samarqand.


[24. ] Ibid, 65. Ibn Khaldun made this assertion when he pleaded to return his mules. Take note of his mastery formal courtliness. The result is many years of experience in a number of courts and courts, both Muslim and not-Muslim.
[25. ] Ibid, 67-68. There were some keen to be a part of the post of the principal Maliki Judge, and they conspired with the Sultan’s close contacts Faraj to get Ibn Khaldun deposed. It appears that Ibn Khaldun was also able to exert some influence and that 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, 1996) 353.

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

[28. The author writes in the final paragraph in his intro: “I completed the composition and draft of this initial section, prior to revising and correction, over five months that ended around the midpoint of 779, which was November 1377.” Rosenthal, The Muqaddimah Vol. 3, 481. Also, see Darwish al-Jawaydi edited., Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldun by ‘Abd al-Rahman. Ibn Khaldun (Beirut: al-Maktaba al-‘Asriya 1995) 416.


  • [29. [29. Charles Issawi and Oliver Leaman, “Ibn Khaldun, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1332-1406),” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1998) Vol. 4, 623-627.
    [30. ] Ibid.
    [31. ] Ibid.
    [32. ] Ibid.
    [33. ] Ibid.
    [34. ] Ibid.
    [35. ] Ibid.
    [36. [36. M. Talbi, “Ibn Khaldun,” Encyclopedia of Islam 2nd edition. (Leiden: E. J. Brill).


[37. This is due to the belief they are superior in every aspect. Therefore, to achieve what they have failed, they must imitate that conqueror’s style in each aspect from the clothes and manner of conduct. Read Rosenthal, The Muqaddimah Volume. 1, 299-300.
[38. [38. L. E. Goodman, “Ibn Khaldun and Thucydides,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 92 no. 2 (April-June 1972): 250-270.
[39. [39. Charles Issawi, An Arab Philosophy of History (Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, 1987) 3.
[40. [40. Issawi and Leaman, “Ibn Khaldun,” 623-627.

5. Bibliography

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  • al-Fikr (March 1961). This issue was dedicated to Ibn Khaldun.
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  • Simon, H. Ibn Khalduns Wissenschaft von der menschlichen Kultur. Leipzig: O. Harrassowitz, 1959.
  • Talbi, M. “Ibn Kaldun et le sens de l’histoire.” Studia Islamica 26 (1967): 73-148.
  • Tamura, Jitsuzo. In Ajia Kazai (September 1963). He provides an economist’s perspective regarding Ibn Khaldun (in Japanese).
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