Ibn Khaldun, Abd Al-Rahman Abu Zayd Ibn Muhammad

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ibn Khaldun, Abd Al-Rahman Abu Zayd Ibn Muhammad


Born May 27, 1332 in Tunis; died Mar. 17, 1406 in Cairo. Arab historian and philosopher, follower of the Arab philosopher Averroës.

Ibn Khaldun occupied various posts between 1349 and 1375 at the courts of the rulers of Tunis, Fès, Granada, and Bejaia. In 1379 he returned to Tunis; in 1382, persecuted by the clergy, he fled to Egypt, where he worked as a qadi (judge) and taught at al-Azhar, al-Qamhiyya, and al-Zahiriya madrasas (Islamic universities). Ibn Khaldun’s principal work, the Book of Instructive Examples from the History of the Arabs, Persians, Berbers, and Peoples Who Lived With Them on the Earth (Kitab al-Ibar) consists of three parts. The first, the “Introduction”(Muqaddimah), treats the problems, methodology, and principles of historical research. In this part, Ibn Khaldun presents his teachings on the development of society. Differences in people’s way of life, the principal difference being that between nomadic and sedentary life, he attributes to differences in geographical milieus. The second part is the “History of the Peoples of the Muslim East.” The last part, the “History of the Peoples of the Maghreb,” notable for its thoroughness and precision of description, is the basic source for the medieval history of North Africa. Ibn Khaldun is also the author of an autobiography, one of the first examples of this genre in medieval Arabic literature.


Kitab al-Ibar (Book of Instructive Examples), vols. 1–7. Bulaq, 1867.
Les Prolégomènes, new edition, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1934–38. (Translated by de Slane.)
Histoire des berbères et des dynasties musulmanes de L’Afrique, new edition, vols. 1–4. Paris, 1925–56. (Translated from Arabic by de Slane.)
The Muqaddimah, vols. 1–3. New York [1958]. (Translated from Arabic by F. Rosenthal.)
“Vvedenie (fragmenty).” In Izbr. proizv. myslitelei stran Blizhnego i Srednego Vostoka, 9–14 v. Moscow, 1961.


Ivanov, N. A. “‘Kitab al’-Ibar’ Ibn-Khalduna kak istochnik poistorii stran Severnoi Afriki v XIV v.” InArabskii sbornik. Moscow, 1959.
Batsieva, S. M. Istoriko-sotsiologicheskii traktat Ibn Khalduna “Mukaddima.” Moscow, 1965. (With a bibliography.)
Lacoste, Y. Ibn Khaldoun. Paris, 1966.
Fischel, W. J. Ibn Khaldūn in Egypt: A Study in Islamic Historiography. Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1967. (With a bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.