Although his new discipline had little impact on the development of Muslim thought for several centuries, it hugely impressed European thinkers from the nineteenth century on, some of whom proclaimed Ibn Khaldun a progenitor of sociology and modern historiography.This book introduces Ibn Khaldun’s core ideas, focusing on his theory of the rise and decline of states. More Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) was one of the most remarkable Muslim scholars of the pre-modern period.Released after nearly two years and promoted by a new ruler, he again fell into disfavour, decided to leave Morocco, and crossed over to Granada, for whose Muslim ruler he had done some service in Fez and whose prime minister, the brilliant writer Pedro I of Castile.There he saw “the monuments of my ancestors.” Pedro “treated me with the utmost generosity, expressed his satisfaction at my presence and showed awareness of the preeminence of our ancestors in Sevilla.” Pedro even offered him a post in his service, promising to restore his ancestral estates, but Ibn Khaldūn politely declined.
There the refugees from Spain were of a much higher level of socio-economic status than the local North Africans, and the family was soon called to occupy the leading administrative posts in Tunis.
Striking by their absence are books on philosophy, history, geography, or other social sciences; this does not mean that he did not study these subjects—scholars know that he wrote summaries of several books by the 12th-century Arab philosopher Averroës—but it is to be presumed that Ibn Khaldūn acquired most of his very impressive knowledge in these fields after he had completed his formal education.
This came at age 20, when he was given a post at the court of Tunis, followed three years later by a secretaryship to the sultan of Morocco in Fez (Fès). After two years of service, however, he was suspected of participation in a rebellion and was imprisoned.
Ibn Khaldūn gives a detailed account of his education, listing the main books he read and describing the life and works of his teachers.
He memorized the Qurʾān, studied its principal commentaries, gained a good grounding in Muslim law, familiarized himself with the masterpieces of Arabic literature, and acquired a clear and forceful style and a capacity for writing fluent verse that was to serve him well in later life when addressing eulogistic or supplicatory poems to various rulers.