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 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.
Allen James Fromherz is an Assistant Professor of Medieval Mediterranean and Islamic History at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is author of /The Almohads: The Rise of an Islamic Empire (2010) and /Qatar: A Modern History/ (2011).