Ibn Khaldun (ĭˈbən khäldōnˈ) [key], 1332–1406, Arab historian, b. Tunis. He held various offices under the rulers of Tunis and Morocco and served (1363) as ambassador of the Moorish king of Granada to Peter the Cruel of Castile. In 1382 he sailed to Cairo, where he spent most of the rest of his life as a teacher and lecturer. Many times grand Maliki cadi (judge) of Cairo, he made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1387. In 1400 he accompanied the Egyptians in their campaign against Timur, and he was sent to arrange for the capitulation of Damascus to Timur. Ibn Khaldun is generally considered the greatest of the Arab historical thinkers. In his great work, the Kitab al-Ibar [universal history], he attempts to treat history as a science and outlines a philosophy of history, setting forth principles of sociology and political economy. He wrote an autobiography, completed in 1394, but expanded a few months before he died.
See studies by M. Mahdi (1957), W. J. Fischel (1967), and Y. Lacoste (1984).