Biography of Ibn o Abenjaldún Jaldún (1332-1406)

Tunisian historian, born in Tunisia may 27, 1332 and died 17 March 1406 in Cairo. His full name was Abu Zayd ' Abd al - Rahman Ibn Khaldun and was the most important of all the medieval Islamic historians.


Ibn Khaldun was born in a noble family of Andalusian origin established in Tunisia in the first half of the 14th century. His father almost always served at the Court of the Hafsid of Tunisia, and died during the great plague of the mid-14th century, leaving three children: Muhammad, Abd al - Rahmán and Yahya.

Abd al - Rahmán ibn Khaldun showed from young predisposition to teaching, and soon delved into the major Sciences of Islam, under the leadership of the most important scholars of his town. He/She met the sacred seven versions, the jurisprudence texts, learned the life of the Prophet and the Hadith, or traditions concerning his person, and studied the main monuments of Arabic literature. During the brief intermission which meant the conquest of Tunisia by the marinids, Ibn Khaldun, only seventeen years old, continued his studies under the direction of the marinids conceptualisation. According to his own biography, at the age of twenty, he/she found "I know something".

Ibn Khaldun's political career began as catib of alhama, at the service of the teenage sultan Abú Ishaq, proclaimed as a restorer of the hafsida dynasty after the intermediate merinide. However Ibn Khaldun chose to continue their learning by the marinids wise who had known in Tunisia, and to achieve this, conceived the project of moving to Fez. Ibn Khaldun left Tunisia with his Lord in 1352 and took advantage of the defeat of Hafsid of that year troops to take the road to Fez, fleeing from Mermachena, passing through Cafsa and Biskra. Before reaching Fez settled for a time in the fortress of Bejaia, where he/she stayed for a few months and then taken advantage of the departure of an Embassy from Bejaia to the Court merinide of Fez, Ibn Khaldun traveled with them and arriving at Fez received a magnificent reception by the sultan merinide, Abú Inan (1354). He/She continued his studies and received the job of Secretary of the orders of the sultan, whose task was to Apostille the memorials that will be presented. But his sudden rise in the Court sparked envy from some who accused him of maintaining contacts with Muhammad, a Prince hafsida, former Governor of Bejaia. Both were imprisoned; Ibn Khaldun did not get free until the death of Abú Inan in 1358.

After his release all his honours and dignities were reinstated him. Ibn Khaldun wanted to return to Tunisia, but did not obtain authorization to do so. Thanks to contacts with a such Aben Marzuk, Ibn Khaldun entered into the party of the contender to the throne Abú Salem, brother of Abu Inam, who occupied the throne of Fez instead of the son of Abú Inam, dominated by a Regent in 1359. Ibn Khaldun was commissioned to write all correspondence of the new sultan, and for a time gained his privanza, Aben Marzook rose in court and monopolized the attention of the sovereign. Ibn Khaldun collaborated in 1359 with the dethroned King of Granada Muhammad V, who took refuge in Fez, interceding with your Lord so this provided to Muhammad the means to regain the throne of Granada, as happened one year later; the intercession of Ibn Khaldun earned him the gratitude of Muhammad V, and its subsequent reception in his court. At the end of the days of Abú Salem, Ibn Khaldun was appointed Supreme judge to give justice to those who had been hurt by the powerful and could not be judged by the ordinary courts. After the sultan's death, Ibn Khaldun met hostility of Omar ibn Abdallah, wazir of the new sultan, reason that decided you to leave Fez and moved to Spain.

In 1362 Ibn Khaldun went from Ceuta to Gibraltar and, as soon as he/she set foot on the Peninsula, sent news of his arrival in Granada Court. There he/she received a favorable reception by Aben Aljathib wazir and his master, Muhammad V, who soon became confident. It obtained from the sultan a farmhouse in Elvira, where he/she lived a time together with his family, who had come from Tunisia. He/She received the King of Granada's important diplomatic assignments and in 1363 travelled to Seville to ratify the peace treaty with Pedro I of Castile (to which Muhammad V was paying parias). According to Ibn Khaldun himself, the Castilian King, knowing the importance of their ancestors had on the Peninsula, offered goods that their ancestors had possessed in Seville, at that time in the hands of a Christian magnate; Ibn Khaldun declined the offer and returned to Granada filled with gifts made by the Christian monarch.

In 1365 Ibn Khaldun, whose influence before the granadan King had grown enormously, left Spain after learning about the jealousy that his influence had aroused in the wazir Aben Aljathib. Although Muhammad V asked him to remain in his court, Ibn Khaldun embarked in Almería and after two weeks of travel came to Bejaia, where had been spare as emir her former prison mate, Muhammad. In his court he/she received charges of Chamberlain and preacher of the great mosque; He/She also officiated as a Professor of jurisprudence at the mosque in the Citadel. Ibn Khaldun accompanied Muhammad on some of its war-fighting companies. But in 1366 Muhammad was killed in combat, and Ibn Khaldun received the offer of deal with the Affairs of the State and proclaiming one of the sons of Muhammad. Chamberlain, rather than accept, got in touch with Abu-l-Abbas, Lord of Constantine and cousin of the late emir, to who offered the Government of Bejaia. While Abu-l-Abbas took possession of the city and welcomed Ibn Khaldun in his court, this, feeling rejected, moved to Biskra, where he/she was greeted by his Lord, Ahmed ibn Monzi. When the Lord of Tlemcen had heard of the fall from grace of Ibn Khaldun in Bejaia, he/she offered him the post of Chamberlain in his court. Here tried in vain Ibn Khaldun recruit supporters to undertake the project of his new master: the conquest of Constantine; but things happened to the contrary and Tlemcen was the city conquered by the marinids of Fez. Ibn Khaldun then retired to a mansion on the outskirts of Tlemcen and was dedicated in full to the study.

In 1374, Ibn Khaldun traveled back to Granada. At the beginning he/she was benevolently received, but when Muhammad V FES received reports that to Ibn Khaldun "extremely dangerous guest"-contending he/she was imprisoned and finally expelled and deported to Honain, near Tlemcen, where his master also rejected him at first. But thanks to the performance of one of his friends, Ibn Khaldun managed to ingratiate himself with the Lord of Tlemcen, who commissioned him to certain diplomatic missions. After he/she retired in Calta Ben Salama, in the vicinity of Frenda (Algeria), where for four years he/she dedicated himself to write Muqaddimah ('prolegomena'), first part of his great work, Kitab al - Ibar. During this time, Ibn Khaldun suffered a serious illness, which, according to his memoirs, was only saved by divine intervention.

When he/she concluded the prolegomena, Ibn Khaldun returned to Tunisia (1378) and there was welcomed at the Court of the sultan, where he/she soon began to emphasize, arousing the envy of other courtiers. Commissioned it the drafting of a great historical work that pick up all the possible news about the zanata Berbers and Islam times. But soon the infamies poured against it by the courtiers, especially by a former disciple called Ibn Arafa, led him to the determination to abandon Tunisia and pilgrimage to Mecca.

He left Tunisia in October 1382 and in December came to Alexandria; a month later arrived in Cairo, where his reputation had preceded him and where he/she found a group of disciples eager to receive his teachings. He/She gave a course of jurisprudence at one of the mosques of the city and was then presented to the sultan, who granted him a pension. Ibn Khaldun tried to reach his family to Egypt, but the request was denied by the sultan of Tunisia, who wanted to bring him back at all costs. The sultan of Cairo put at your disposal a professorship at the Islamic University of al - Ahzar, founded by Saladin I, and appointed him Qadi (judge) of the Islamic Rite maliki, permanently installed in Egypt. In his biography, Ibn Khaldun expressed bitterness that caused him to this position, he/she managed to be relieved after a few years. Finally got permission to move his family to Egypt, but a storm did wreck the ship in which they were travelling, causing them to perish all. This caused a tremendous pain to Ibn Khaldun, which for years sought the remedy for their ills in devotion to Islam, and in the Studio. During this time he/she also devoted to teaching and the writing of his great work. Between 1387 and 1388, Ibn Khaldun made the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca and then returned to Egypt, where, at least until 1394, not held public positions. But at this time it became to be named cadi Rite maliki, position he/she held for fifteen months and he/she was relieved because of his extreme severity.

In 1400, Ibn Khaldun was part of the expedition initiated by the sultan of Cairo to stop the expansion of the khan of the Tatars, Tamerlane, who had conquered the city of Aleppo and attempted to take Damascus also. After two victories by Egyptian troops, there was a desertion of the Emirs of the sultan, that left the defense of the city and went to Egypt, leaving Ibn Khaldun in Damascus. It was required by its inhabitants so that it were part of a Damascene Embassy to negotiate with Timur. This fact is collected in various Chronicles that coincide in highlighting the good impression that Ibn Khaldun caused about Tamerlane; in the Tatar camp, Ibn Khaldun showed Khan a part of his work that had been collected news about the own Tamerlane, as well as a proper genealogy that impressed Khan; asked him to remain in his court and Ibn Khaldun agreed, but first got permission to return to Cairo to resolve their own businesses and take few prisoners wanted.

After this fact Ibn Khaldun settled again in Cairo, where he/she was appointed several times great cadi maliki of Egypt, until he/she died shortly after.


A thorough guide to the Muslim North African and Berber dynasties, known as Kitab al - Ibar left written. But the six volumes which form it would have not made him pass to posterity if you have also written the above Prolegomena to his universal history (Muqaddimah), whose value exceeds more than merely historical parameters, to go with amazing anticipation of many theories currently defended by sociology and the philosophy of history.

In fact, Ibn Khaldun considered, among many other significant ideas, the powerful force of religion is one of the major unifying elements that strengthen social cohesion, and which, consequently, may be enough to hold an entire community together. In addition, did advance that social mutations, as well as the development and decline of societies, are subject to a number of laws that can be formulated in an empirical way, as derived in turn of certain observable realities, notably the economic activity.

Precisely the first part, entitled Muqaddimah or introduction, has been instrumental for scholars of the history of the Arab world, inasmuch as it explana his theory of historical writing, with an approach which does not always coincide with the Western or Christian. Ibn Khaldun recovery occurred in the 19th century, from the translations of his work into French, which meant the fast vindication of his work by some Arab intellectuals.


PONS BOIGUES, f. bio-bibliographical essay on historians and biographers arabigo-espanoles. Madrid, 1898.

SAADE, I. The religious thought of Ibn Khaldun. Madrid, 1973.

SAADE, I. How prosecute Ibn Khaldun Christianity. Salamanca, 1969.