Ibn Khaldun was born on May 27, 1332, in Tunis. His family, of southern Arabian origin, settled in Seville after the Moslem conquest of Spain and distinguished themselves in the political and intellectual life of the city. Shortly before the Christian reconquest they left and eventually settled in Tunis. Ibn Khaldun always felt attached to the cultural tradition of Moslem Spain.
Growing up in Tunis, Ibn Khaldun studied the traditional religious sciences including law according to the Maliki school as well as the rational sciences. He also was trained in the arts necessary for a career in government. Among his teachers, he was most impressed by al-Abili, who came to Tunis in 1347 and introduced him to philosophy.
In 1352 the Hafsid ruler of Tunis gave Ibn Khaldun a minor position in the chancery, but he left soon to join al-Abili, who had returned to Fez. During his stay in Fez (1354-1362) Ibn Khaldun pursued his scholarly interests and was actively involved in the political life at the Merinid court. Suspected of plotting against the ruler, he was imprisoned in 1357 for 22 months. Under a later ruler he again held high positions but became discouraged by court intrigues.
Prevented by the Merinid court from joining the rival court at Tlemcen, Ibn Khaldun turned to Granada, where he was accorded a royal welcome by the young ruler, Muhammad V, and his vizier, Ibn al-Khatib, an outstanding man of letters, whose friendship he had gained during Ibn al-Khatib's exile in Fez. In 1364 Muhammad V sent Ibn Khaldun to Seville on a mission to Pedro I, King of Castile. Ibn Khaldun declined an offer of Pedro to have his ancestors' possessions reinstated if he would enter royal service. Ibn... [continues]
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