Preface ix Acknowledgments xvii Chronology xix 1 Ibn Khaldun among the Ruins 1 2 The Game of Thrones in Fourteenth-Century North Africa 20 3 The Nomads, Their Virtues, and Their Place in History 39 4 Underpinning the Methodology of the Muqaddima: Philosophy, Theology, and Jurisprudence 65 5 Ibn Khaldun's Sojourn among the Mamluks in Egypt 84 6 The Sufi Mystic 108 7 Messages from the Dark Side 118 8 Economics before Economics Had Been Invented 143 9 What Ibn Khaldun Did for a Living: Teaching and Writing 153 10 The Strange Afterlife of the Muqaddima 162 11 Ending Up 204 Notes 209 Bibliography 227 Index 237
Robert Irwin is senior research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a former lecturer at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. His many books include Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents and Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics, and the Sixties, as well as seven novels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
"Questioning conventional views of Ibn Khaldun, this important book reflects Robert Irwin's deep knowledge and understanding of the medieval Muslim mind."--Hugh Kennedy, author of Caliphate: The History of an Idea "Using his virtually unrivaled knowledge of the Mamluk world, Robert Irwin puts Ibn Khaldun in his context as no one else has done. Irwin also gives a marvelous account of how Orientalists, historians, colonialists, and nationalists have interpreted Ibn Khaldun to serve their purposes, from the Ottoman Empire to the present. This is the work of a scholar at the height of his powers."--Francis Robinson, author of The Mughal Emperors "Few scholars could engage Ibn Khaldun with the expansive reference and acute insight of Robert Irwin. His is a masterful study of the outstanding visionary of Islamic civilization. This book will be required reading not just for students of world history but for all who want to grasp the future of the past."--Bruce B. Lawrence, author The "Koran" in English: A Biography "Robert Irwin takes a genuinely fresh look at one of the greatest Arab thinkers. Too often--as he shows--Ibn Khaldun has been lifted out of the fourteenth century and remodeled to fit our modern assumptions. This lively and deeply knowledgeable account makes him authentically unmodern, and utterly fascinating."--Noel Malcolm, All Souls College, University of Oxford "Few scholars are more fun to read than Robert Irwin. Not just an authority on medieval Arabic culture, he's also a literary journalist and novelist who writes with clarity, zest, and an almost encyclopedic erudition. To illuminate the life and thought of the fascinating fourteenth-century historian Ibn Khaldun, Irwin looks at The Arabian Nights, the philosophy of Averroes, Islamic occultism, Sufism, the researches of modern Arabists, and even the science fiction of Isaac Asimov. The result is an exhilarating work of intellectual recovery--learned, entertaining, and very welcome."--Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author of Classics for Pleasure and Browsings The great merit of Ibn Khaldun: An Intellectual Biography is that it encourages us to treat the intellectual history of the Islamic world not as a battleground for contemporary ideological struggles but as a subject worthy of investigation in its own right.---Fitzroy Morrissey, Standpoint Ibn Khaldun: An Intellectual Biography is both an introduction to his work and an intervention into Ibn Khaldun studies.---Sameer Rahim, Prospect Irwin wears his immense erudition lightly and gives an often very funny account of how orientalists, historians and modern Arab nationalist have interpreted Ibn Khaldun's most famous work. . . . Irwin offers his readers a superb work of intellectual recovery, one which presents Ibn Khaldun as a creature of his time. . . . He has resurrected for us the medieval Muslim mind.---Francis Ghil s, The Spectator A compelling new account of the 14th-century Arab historian and polymath. . . . Irwin has produced an exemplary work.---Gavin Jacobson, Financial Times In Robert Irwin, Ibn Khaldun has finally found a biographer and interpreter almost as versatile and learned as he was himself.---Eric Ormsby, Wall Street Journal