The figure of Ibn Khaldun

The figure of Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406/732-808 of H.) was one of the most important Muslim thinkers. Belonged to an Arab family who had settled in the province of Sevilla. His ancestors played a role in the history of Arab Sevilla, and he himself in his Autobiography is proud of its Andalusian past.


The family lineage stretches throughout the Arab history of the city from the eighth century, and in the tenth century and were one of Seville's most important families. The Banu Khaldun have left the imprint of his name both in the names of the city and the surrounding area.

When the Christian kingdoms of northern Spain come to Seville, to 1248-49, Ibn Khaldun's family emigrated and went from Seville to the north of Africa. After a brief stay in Ceuta ended up settling in Tunisia.  Many of the great families who had an important cultural tradition and had been serving Andalusian kings, migrated to North Africa, forming a kind of elite whose services they used many local rulers.

Ibn Khaldun himself received a good education in the style of the era, came to dominate certain areas such as Arabic. He tells us some of the subjects he studied as the Koran or the rational sciences such as mathematics, logic and philosophy. He also had extensive knowledge of jurisprudence, which meant that throughout his life he entered the service of many rulers of the Maghreb.

After spending some years in the service of rulers of Tunisia, decided to emigrate to al-Andalus, the land of their ancestors, moving to the Kingdom of Granada, the last stronghold Andalus. In Granada, befriend the vizier Ibn al-Khatib of Granada, which had met earlier in the court of Fez-meriníes, and after conquering the Moorish royal favor, he is sent on a diplomatic mission to Pedro I the Cruel Sevilla, to ratify a peace treaty.

Because of some intrigues in the court Nazari, returned to the Maghreb, retiring to the town of Qalat Ibn-Salama in the current territory of Algeria, where he began composing his magnum opus, al-Muqaddima.

 The "Universal History" of Ibn Khaldun is called in Arabic "Book of Experiences" (Kitab al-'ibar), and consists of three main parts: the first is a great "Introduction" (Muqaddima) with admirable reflections on human civilization, and then displays the history of peoples and dynasties, and finally, the culmination of an extensive and unique "autobiography" where Ibn Khaldun offers himself as self-awareness and self-worth.

In the final stage of his life he lived in Cairo, capital of the Mamluk sultanate, one of the major Muslim states of the era that included Syria and then Egypt. Thus Ibn Khaldun describes us Cairo City:

Here devoted part of his time reading and writing, being appointed judge several times. He was also teaching at the Jami al-Azhar, the first university in Cairo.




Accompanied the Mamluk sultan to Syria when Damascus was besieged by Tamerlane, one of the great Asian conquerors. They held talks with him, trying to prevent the looting of the city. Ibn Khaldun finally died in Cairo in 1406.

His masterpiece, al-Muqaddima, an Introduction to History, attracted the attention continues today, having been translated into the major languages ​​of the world.