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Ibn Khaldūn

Islamic Scholar, Philosopher and Historian Ibn Khaldūn

Profession: Islamic Scholar, Philosopher and Historian


Biography: A North African Muslim historiographer and historian, Khaldūn is regarded as a founding father of modern sociology, historiography, demography and economics.

Best known for his book, the "Muqaddimah" (literally the "Introduction", or the "Prolegomena" in Greek) published in 1377. Most notably the "Muqaddimah" laid out Khaldūn's theories on the rise and fall of empires and his criticism of the seven mistakes regularly committed by his fellow historians (see quote below).

The "Muqaddimah" influenced 17th-century Ottoman historians like Ḥajjī Khalīfa and Mustafa Naima who used Khaldūn's theories to analyze the growth and decline of the Ottoman Empire.

Nineteenth century European scholars also acknowledged the significance of the "Muqaddimah" and considered Khaldūn as one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages.

Born: May 27, 1332
Birthplace: Tunis, Hafsid Sultanate of Tunis
Star Sign: Gemini

Died: March 19, 1406 (aged 73)

Historical Events

  • 1401-03-24 Timur attacks city of Damascus, second city of the Mameluke Empire. Though scholar and negotiator Ibn Khaldūn's life spared, the city is sacked and the Umayyad Mosque destroyed.

Quotes by Ibn Khaldūn

  • "Empires age and decay in the course of three generations." - Empire, Civilization
  • "Businesses owned by responsible and organized merchants shall eventually surpass those owned by wealthy rulers." - Business, Economic Growth
  • "The past resembles the future more than one drop of water resembles another." - History
  • "Throughout history many nations have suffered a physical defeat, but that has never marked the end of a nation. But when a nation has become the victim of a psychological defeat, then that marks the end of a nation." - Defeat, Psychology
  • "Government is an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself." - Government, Injustice
  • "All records, by their very nature, are liable to error...
    1. Partisanship towards a creed or opinion...
    2. Over-confidence in one''s sources...
    3. The failure to understand what is intended...
    4. A mistaken belief in the truth...
    5. The inability to place an event in its real context...
    6. The common desire to gain favor of those of high ranks, by praising them, by spreading their fame...
    7. The most important is the ignorance of the laws governing the transformation of human society.
    " - Historians, History