Father of Historiographyby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
The year 1375 dawned a new way of thinking. Ibn Khaldun was a Muslim who wrote many books, the most famous being Muqaddimah, which preceded his universal history, The Book of Exemplaries and the Collection of Origins and Information respecting the History of the Arabs, Foreigners and Berbers and Others who possess Great Power.  In 1375, Ibn began his pondering which led him to reevaluate the historical method. His book on the Arabs and Berbers was completed in 1377 and published in seven volumes in Cairo in 1384. Many historians revered him as having no equal to rival philosophy of history. His early life and career led him to accomplish his books and influence the Egyptians and many other people around the world.
Ibn Khaldun came from a strong family, and education that allowed him to further his early career. Ibn's family came originally from Southern Arabia, but moved around, to places like Spain and Tunis in North Africa, where Ibn was born. Historians and archeologists believe that his house where they think he was born in is still there.  In his youth, he received his education in Arabic learning—Qur'an, grammar, language, law, logic, mathematics, philosophy, natural science, traditions, and poetry.  When he was 17, the Black Death took his parents in 1349.  This was common throughout the Muslim world, the Plague made a profound effect on the Muslims. Beginning his early working career, he worked in the Tunis and Spanish government (Granada). After working there for a while, he went to Seville to make a peace treaty with Pedro I of Castile. During Ibn's time in Seville, Pedro treated him well even offering him a post but Ibn declined.  Following his time in Seville he accepted the village that sultan of Granada offered to him. Once Ibn had settled, he brought his family that he had left in Constantine, however soon after moving, Ibn felt endangered so he moved to Africa. He had 10 years of changing unemployment, and employers, each transition happening very quickly. He traveled a lot, going from Bejaia, Tilimsan, Biskra, Fez, and back to Granada.  Ibn Khaldun served as Prime Minister and many other offices in his early life and career. He led punitive expedition, and was robbed by nomads. Because of the unstable times in the world, it allowed extreme mobility and travel, which Ibn took to a great advantage. Just one of the empires that ended in this troubled times was the Almohad Empire – North Africa and Muslim Spain – which broke down in the 13th C. (1269). All the turmoil of the Arab states led to wars, rebellions, and intrigues were pandemic – nothing was secure. Ibn took a different spin on the fighting; he thought this was more of a decline. All of these events led to his time of solitude.
Seeking solitude from business and politics, Ibn went to Awad’Arif tribe in 1375 where he spent four years in a castle creating his historical masterpiece, Muqaddimah - an intro to history.  This book discussed the historical method or historiography  – discerning historical truth from falsehood. Ibn wanted to understand history so he went to the stories of dynasties and empires to learn about the rise and fall of them. What he learnt was the social nature of man drove men to create cooperative communities for survival. The central concept of social cohesion occurs spontaneously in tribes and small kinships but these tribes enlarged by religious ideology. Ibn believed that the inevitable weakening or decline of a dynasty or empire came from a complex combination of psychological, sociological, economical, and political factors. This paved the way for a new and stronger dynasty or empire. During his studying of dynasties and empires, he learned about the science of culture. All of his research led him to write a history on Arabs and Berbers, however once he began this history; he realized that he needed to write a book explaining his observations on the historical method, which he called the Muqaddimah. Ibn divided his first book into six sub books; the first is about general sociology, II & III about sociology of politics, IV sociology of urban life, V sociology of economics, and book VI was about sociology of knowledge.  “This is followed by a discussion, illustrated with historical examples, of errors historians have committed and the reasons for them. One of these is a principal reason why even great historians occasionally err, namely, their ignorance of changes in the environment within which history unfolds. The remainder of what is now called the Muqaddimah, originally constituted the first book of the History, and was designed to prove this thesis. It was intended to elucidate the fundamental principles of all history, which determine the true historian's reconstruction of the past.”  Even though his thoughts were very cyclical about power, he does admit that there are turning points. More than Muqaddimah and his history on the Arabs and Berbers, Ibn also worked on his larger work on the Muslims in North Africa. These books made Ibn Khaldun the famous person he is today.
In search of reference materials, Ibn left his castle of solitude, and traveled to Mecca but stopped in Egypt where he met many people and furthered his fame. Ibn traveled out but he got sick and needed to leave the castle.  At that point, he went back to Tunis here he completed most of his history. In 1382, he went to Egypt; he stopped in both Alexandria and Cairo on the way to Mecca.  When Ibn is in Egypt, he met Barquq, a Mamluk  Sultan of Egypt and worked in the judiciary system in 1384, and even taught at famous university. After Ibn settled in Egypt, he sent for his family but they died coming to Egypt. Ibn then travelled a lot, to Mecca, Damascus, Syria, the tomb of Abraham, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  During the palace revolt 1389, Ibn played a minor role. Timur’s (Tamerlane) forces invaded Syria in 1400. When Faraj, Barquq’s son, Sultan of Egypt went to meet them he took Ibn and the other nobles. Faraj and the Mamluk army returned to Egypt, which left Ibn trapped in Damascus.  In Ibn’s autobiography, he wrote about the destruction of famous mosque in Damascus. “Writing of the devastating fire that Tamerlane set to the picked-over goods of the people of Damascus, he labels the arson an abomination. For the conflagration had spread from house to house, finally reaching the ancient Umayyad Mosque and causing its destruction. Then he adds: "But changes of fortune are in God's hands, who does with His creatures as He picases and rules in His realm as He will."2”  Ibn was released by Timur and on way home he was robbed by Bedouins. However, a ship owned by the Sultan of Rum, a Seljuk ruler of what later became the Ottoman Empire, rescued him. Ibn lived the remainder of his life in Cairo and died 1406. 
Ibn Khaldun is remembered as a brilliant man. However, his works went unknown to the western world until mid-nineteenth century. Franz Rosenthal first translated Ibn’s Muqaddimah into English in 1958. Some have compared the Muqaddimah to Machiavelli’s The Prince. By the end of much research Ibn Khaldun concluded that the progress of history—the emergence of communities and the creation and decline of the dynastic state—hinged critically on group solidarity (asabiyya), culture (umran) and power. Ibn was a historian, sociologist, and philosopher. The start of Ibn’s life enabled him to write his books and aid all of the people that he did. The toleration between Muslims and Christians in Spain smoothed the way for some of the most astounding works of the 14th century.
 "Ibn Khaldūn." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Dec. 2008 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/280788/Ibn-Khaldun>.
 Rosenthal, Franz. "The Muqaddimah." The Muqaddimah. <http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ik/muqaddimah/transintro/themuqaddimah.htm>.
 http://bibliologia.info/archivos/goodmanIK2.pdf 
 "historiography." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Dec. 2008 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/267436/historiography>.
 "Mamlūk." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Dec. 2008 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/360799/Mamluk>.
 Barbara Allen Roberson "Ibn Khaldun" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Ed. Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan. Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Ohio Public Library Info Network (OPLIN). 13 December 13, 2008 http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t86.e623
graphic from http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/Whatishistory/ibn.jpg