The Importance of Studying History According to Ibn Khaldun

The following is a translation from the opening pages Ibn Khaldun’s book of world history, Tarikh ibn Khaldun, written in 1377 in North Africa.

Ibn Khaldun was a scholar of history, economics, sociology, and historiography. His summary of history and particularly its introduction, the Muqaddimah,  is seen by many as the basis for modern historical philosophy.

“Know that the subject of history is a noble science that can be very beneficial only if it gives us a proper understanding of:

1- Previous nations’s morals and character

2- The stories of the Prophets

3- Government and politics

For whoever embarks on the study of history, they will end up in a beneficial imitation of the mindset of previous peoples in the subjects of religion and worldly matters.

This subject is dependent on studying numerous sources, understanding diverse subjects, having the best insight and analysis, and being able to verify the truth of sources as they can deviate and be filled with mistakes. Historical research must not be dependent on bare copying of all reports. It should instead be based on an understanding of local customs, politics, the nature of civilization, and the local conditions of where humans live. You must also be able to compare primary and secondary sources, as they can help you differentiate between the truth and falsehood, helping derive conclusions that are believable and honest.”


Translation by Firas Alkhateeb.