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Ibn Khaldun

Life and Times

Allen James Fromherz

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Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) is one of the most influential and important Muslim thinkers in history. Ibn Khaldun has inspired at least as much interest among modern scholars as his immediate contemporaries. Legions of sociologists, anthropologists and historians have studied his philosophy of history, treating the Muqaddimah as a timeless piece of philosophy. Most studies of Ibn Khaldun ignore the fascinating story his own life and times. Rejecting portrayals of Ibn Khaldun as a modern mind lost in medieval obscurity, Ibn Khaldun: Life and Times - newly available in paperback - demonstrates how Ibn Khaldun's ideas were shaped by his historical context and personal motivations. Relying on original Arabic sources, most importantly Ibn Khaldun's unique autobiography, this is the first complete, scholarly biography of Ibn Khaldun in English.

While previous studies dismissed Ibn Khaldun's autobiography as lacking in psychological depth, Ibn Khaldun: Life and Times challenges this view. Demonstrating the rich and complex nature of Ibn Khaldun's memoirs, Ibn Khaldun: Life and Times not only tells the life story of Ibn Khaldun in an accessible way, it also introduces readers to the fourteenth-century Mediterranean world. Seen in the context of a politically tumultuous and religiously contentious fourteenth century Mediterranean, Ibn Khaldun's ideas about tribalism, identity, religion and history are even more relevant to pressing, modern concerns.


Map: Ibn Khaldun's Mediterranean
1. Historian meets History
2. Ibn Khaldun's Early Life
3. Ibn Khaldun the Statesman
4. Egypt
5. Ibn Khaldun's Method
6. Modernity
7. On being Ibn Khaldun

About the Author

Allen James Fromherz is Director of the Middle East Studies Center and Professor of History at Georgia State University. He is also President of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies and the author of Ibn Khaldun, Life and Times (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), The Almohads: The Rise of an Islamic Empire (2012) and Qatar, A Modern History (2012).


This is a welcome endeavour which creates a more integrated look at Ibn Khaldūn than the myriad books and articles which comment on and analyse his oeuvre ... Allen Fromherz employs an engaging style in this biography which makes it a relatively accessible summary for students and the general educated reading public.

- Amira K. Bennison, University of Cambridge, Journal of Islamic Studies
'This book by U.S. professor Allen James Fromherz tries to push back against some of the more simplistic contemporary adoption of Ibn Khaldun. It frames his highly original ideas in the context of the turbulent historical and personal circumstances in which he found himself in 14th century North Africa and Andalusia. This, Fromherz suggests, is a more reliable guide to his work than trying to shoehorn him into modern-day concerns: “The temptation to identify Ibn Khaldun as a modern mind ignores the direct relationship between his times and his thought.”'
- William Armstrong, Hürriyet Daily News