The Textual History of the Muqaddimah





THE TEXT of the Muqaddimah is very well attested and documented. Few, if any, works written before modern times can boast of being as well represented by manuscripts. Four manuscripts written during Ibn Khaldun's lifetime exist in Turkey alone. Two undated ones also exist, which were written, at the latest, shortly after his death. Manuscripts written during an author's lifetime may, of course, contain an inferior text, but in this particular case the quality of the old manuscripts is, in general, very high. One of them (A) is a copy presented to the library of the ruler of Egypt, apparently by Ibn Khaldun himself. Another (B) was written under Ibn Khaldun's eye by his proven amanuensis (who may also have been a friend and admirer). A third copy (C) bears testimony to its accuracy in Ibn Khaldun's own hand.

All these manuscripts have the same textual value that, in the period after the invention of printing, would be ascribed to a book printed under its author's supervision. There may be occasional mistakes, but a carefully written manuscript usually compares favorably with a printed text. Most manuscripts of this type may be confidently regarded as authentic copies of the text, and any factual mistakes or miswriting they contain may be considered the author's own.

Under these circumstances, we should expect the variant readings to be comparatively few and insignificant. Collation shows this to be, indeed, the case. There does exist a great number of very considerable variations among the texts, but these are not variant readings in the ordinary sense. They are additions and corrections made by Ibn Khaldun at different periods of his life. The existence of such extensive emendations demonstrates in a fascinating manner that the medieval author worked much as his modern colleague does. Once the text of the Muqaddimah is established with the help of the extant manuscripts, the principal result will be found to be the light it throws upon the history of the text in the hands of its author.

In translating the Muqaddimah a certain amount of duplication is unavoidably caused by the existence of an earlier and a later text. Though it would be desirable to translate all variations of the different texts known to have been seen by the author, such an undertaking is impracticable, if not impossible, for a work as long as the Muqaddimah. But the manuscript evidence of the Muqaddimah also shows that, basically, the text of the work is well estab­lished and utterly reliable for purposes of translation.

The excellent quality of the Arabic text of the Muqaddimah has often been doubted by Western scholars, but it is an indisputable fact. Such textual difficulties as do occur would not, in any case, be cleared up by a complete collation of manuscripts. In preparing this translation, I have therefore collated only some of the outstanding ones. An exhaustive utilization of all the manuscripts can be expected in the forthcoming edition of the Muqaddimah by Muham­mad Tawit at-Tanji, who has already published the text of Ibn Khaldun's Autobiography.118 Since at-Tanji has traveled widely in search of Muqaddimah manuscripts, his edition will surely make it possible to elucidate their interrelationship and to clear up the many problems connected with their history.

The following remarks should be considered as entirely provisional, pending the appearance of at-Tanji's edition. Earlier scholars who have dealt with the manuscripts of Ibn Khaldun 119 have often had to rely upon incomplete or secondhand information, and therefore their statements are sometimes more than a bit confused. In order to avoid this danger so far as is within my abilities, I have restricted myself to manuscripts that I have seen myself, with the single exception of the Fez manuscript. Needless to say, my remarks are subject to such revision as a more thorough study of the manuscripts than I was able to undertake may one day make possible.

During my stay in Turkey in the summer of 1952, I consulted the following manuscripts of the Muqaddimah:



(In Istanbul unless otherwise noted)






Nuru Osmaniye










Atif Effendi

Ragib Papa

Murad Molla

Millet Library

University Library

Orhan Cami, Bursa (Brussa)





Esad 2418

Damad Ibrahim 863

Reis el-kuttap ( =Abir I) 679

Halet Eff. 617








Ahmet III, 3042



Hamidiye 982

Hekimoklu Ali Papa 805

MS. ar. 2743

Huseyin Celebi 793120


The large number of manuscripts of the Muqaddimah in Turkey reflects the great interest of the Ottoman Turks .121 From this point of view, practically all the manuscripts are of considerable historical import. Here, however, only the oldest and best manuscripts will be briefly described. The letters in the margin are the sigla by which the manuscripts will be designated whenever they are referred to. (The identification of the manuscripts in this web edition appears in bold.)

A (1) MS. Damad Ibrahim 863. The manuscript contains 433 folios and is not dated. It clearly seems to have been written by the same hand that wrote MS. Damad Ibrahim 867, which contains the sixth part of the 'Ibar. The latter manuscript is dated Safar 4, 797 [November 29, 1394]. The scribe gives his name as 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. Shihib, a name strangely similar to that of the scribe of our manuscript B of the Muqaddimah. But the handwriting is entirely different, so that there is no possibility that the scribes could be identical; this seems anyhow unlikely.

As in some other manuscripts, the text of A is distributed over two parts with separate title pages and tables of contents. Part One contains the beginning, up to and including chapter three, while Part Two contains the rest of the work.

The title page informs us that the manuscript was written for the library of Ibn Khaldun's patron, the Mameluke ruler al-Malik az-Zahiri, with the given name of Barquq (1382-99).122 In the manuscript (fols. 7b ff), the work itself is dedicated to Barquq in a long and sincerely affectionate dedication. Ibn Khaldun even changes its title to include the name of his benefactor: az-Zahirl fi l-'ibar bi-akhbar al-'Arab wa-l-'Ajam wa-l-Barbar; also, at the end of the first part (fol. 235a) and at the end of the second part, reference is again made to the new title az-Zahiri. This is further evidence that the manuscript was written during Barquq's lifetime. It is less easy to understand why manuscript B, which was also written during Barquq's life, makes no mention either of the title az-Zahiri or of the dedication of the work to him. On the other hand, it is not difficult to see why the manuscript sent to Fez re­frained from advertising Ibn Khaldun's renaming of the work.

Manuscript A, the oldest of the preserved manuscripts, is not the best among them. Both B and C are superior to it. A appears to have been written by a professional copyist. The text is nonethe­less reliable and comes as close to being the equivalent of a pub­lished edition of a modern author as any work of the manuscript age. A copy of A formed the basis of Quatremere's edition of the Muqaddimah, which thus has the most solid basis that the great French scholar, almost a hundred years ago, could have hoped for.

(2) Another manuscript, written in 798 [1396], is the famous copy of the Muqaddimah at Fez. For a long time there has been a sort of mystery around it that is only now beginning to be solved. Much has been written about it in the scholarly literature. Brief reference may be made to it here, though I have not seen it myself.

The manuscript forms part of a complete copy of the 'Ibar that Ibn Khaldun sent as a waqf donation to the Qarawlyin Mosque in Fez. Al-Maqqari, in 1629/30, in his voluminous biography of Ibn al-Khatib, mentioned that he had seen and used the eight-volume copy of the 'Ibar in the Qarawiyin Mosque in Fez and that a nota­tion in Ibn Khaldun's own handwriting was on it.123

In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, J. Graberg of Hemso heard about the existence of an "autograph copy" of the Muqaddimah in the Qarawiyin Mosque. However, he was unable to gain access to it.124

A copy of the manuscript was apparently used in Nasr al­Hurini's Bulaq edition of 1274 [1857], but nothing definite can be added in this connection at the present time.

In his Catalogue des livres arabes de la Bibliotheque de la Mosquee d'E1-Qarouiyine (Fez, 1918), A. Bel listed as No. 1266 a manuscript of the 'Ibar with a waqf notice in Ibn Khaldun's handwriting but failed to say whether No. 1270, which he listed as containing the Muqaddimah, belonged to the same set or not.125 Following up Bel's lead, in 1923 E. Levi-Provencal was able to publish the photograph of a waqf deed, dated Safar 21, 799 [November 24, 1396], which he found at the beginning of Volume v of the 'Ibar.126 The same page also contained a notation in Ibn Khaldun's hand: "Praised be God! That which is attributed to me (here) is correct. Written by 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Khaldun." E. Levi­Provencal was also shown a copy of Volume III of the 'Ibar. However, he was unable to obtain any information as to the Muqaddimah manuscript of this set. The scribe of the manuscripts seen was 'Abdallah b. al-Hasan Walad al-Fakhuri, who also copied manuscript B.

In 1930, G. Bouthoul stated that he had examined a two­volume copy of the Muqaddimah in Fez. It was, he said, written in Maghribi script and contained poems in the vulgar language at the end, some of which had been composed by Ibn Khaldun in his youth.127 These statements have not been verified. In his reprint of de Slane's translation of the Muqaddimah, Bouthoul published, as a frontispiece to Volume iii (Paris, 1938), a reproduction of the waqf notice which, he said,"... appears at the front of the copy of the Prolegomena." However, the photograph turns out to be merely another shot of the same page that had been reproduced before by E. Levi-Provencal.

There are, however, other indications that the copy of the Muqaddimah from Ibn Khaldun's waqf set of the 'Ibar is, in fact, preserved in Fez. Recently, A. J. Arberry informed me that he was shown a two-volume copy in Fez. (*However, I was assured in Fez in 1963 that the Muqaddimah is lost.)


B (3) MS. Yeni Cami 888. The manuscript contains 273 large folios. One folio, comprising 3:449, 1. 20, to 3:464,1. 17 of this translation, is missing.

The manuscript is dated Jumada 1 10, 799 [February 9, 1397]. The scribe was 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. al-Fakhkhar, who also copied the Fez set and the Aya Sofya and Topkapusaray copies of Ibn Khaldun's Autobiography. He copied manuscript B from a manuscript "crowned" with the handwriting of the author, who had also added some marginal notes and additions to it, all of which he copied. We are further told that Ibn Khaldun himself read most of this manuscript copy. His "reading" may have been no more than perfunctory. There can be no doubt, however, as to the excellence of Ibn al-Fakhkhar's work.

The manuscript is not divided into two parts. The table of contents at the beginning covers the whole work. Ibn Khaldun's additions to the original manuscript from which B was copied, occasionally have not been incorporated in the body of the text of B, but are written on separately inserted slips of paper. It may be noted that one event mentioned on an inserted slip occurred less than a year before B was copied. (See note 157 to Ch. iii, below.)


 C(4) MS. Atif Effendi 1936. The text of the Muqaddimah covers 303 folios. The manuscript breaks off with fol. 302b, corresponding to 3:413 (n. 1620), below; it is continued by another hand for a few lines, and then concludes with Ibn Khaldun's subscription from the end of the Muqaddimah. Between fols. 129b and 130a, one quire of the manuscript has been copied in a later hand on seven addi­tional leaves numbered 130a-136b, to replace a missing portion of the original. This situation is indicated, in Arabic, at the bottom left of fol. 129b: "From here on, one quire is missing. We hope that God will restore it in the original." This is followed by a notation in Turkish: "In the handwriting of the late Weysi (Wissi) Effendi," the famous litterateur who lived from 1561 to 1628.128 He purchased the manuscript in Cairo on April 7, 1598, a note on the title page informs us.

The first flyleaf of the manuscript contains the following notation: ". . . I happened to read this book, the first volume of the Kitab al-'Ibar fi akhbar al-'Arab wa-l-'Ajam wa-l-Barbar. I have found it full of many useful notes and numerous ingenious observations. No previous (work) contains as many interesting remarks or is so rich a treasure-trove of novel, useful notes. The excellence of its composition as well as its order and arrangement show the author's perfect scholarship and his preeminence over his contemporaries in learning and the transmission of knowledge. I wrote these lines realizing the great importance of the book, as a testi­mony to its author, God give him the opportunity to enjoy it and similar (works), by [?] the Prophet and his family! These lines were written by the weak slave (of God), Muhammad b. Yusuf b. Muhammad al-Isfijabi, on Saturday, Sha'ban 24, 804 [April 29, 14021."

In the upper left-hand corner of the title page appears the following note in Maghribi writing:

This is the draft of the Muqaddimah of the Kitab al-'Ibar ft akhbar al­'Arab wa-l-'Ajam wa-l-Barbar. The contents are altogether scientific 129 and form a kind of artistic preface to the historical work. I have collated and corrected it. No manuscript of the Muqaddimah is more correct than this one. Written by the author of the work, 'Abd-ar-Rahman Ibn Khaldun, God give him success and in His kindness forgive him.

 The note is framed by a gold border, the work of some later owner of the manuscript, who has also called attention to the autograph of Ibn Khaldun in a note of his own.130


1. Autograph of Ibn Khaldun (upper left corner)

From MS. C (Atif Effendi 1936)

The title page contains fifteenth-century notes of sales. Some concern the Tantada'i family. It seems that Badr-ad-din Hasan at-Tantada'i, a blind scholar who lived from about 1400 to 1483 131 bought the manuscript in 1465. He must have given it away while he was still alive, for in 1479 his son Baha'-ad-din Muhammad purchased it from his brothers Ahmad and Yahya. Further information about the manuscript may be gleaned from the title page - the story of its purchase by Weysi (Wissi) Effendi mentioned above, for instance. One of the owners' notes is dated in the year 1665/66. Another, dated in 1705/6, is that of a Mecca judge, but there is no reason to believe that the manuscript was at that time in Mecca. The judge may have been a resident of Istanbul.

The verso of the title page contains the table of contents for the entire work, since (like manuscript B) manuscript C is not divided into two parts. At the top, we find the following notation: "Completion of the writing of the book, 804 [1401/4]"

There can be no doubt that C was written during Ibn Khaldun's lifetime. However, until recently, the problem of whether the note in his handwriting is genuine may well have arisen, for until then the only authentic specimen of Ibn Khaldun's handwriting available for comparison was the two lines in Maghribi handwriting in the Fez manuscript. Similarity between them and the writing in C is not striking, although there are a number of points of similarity. Other probable autographs of Ibn Khaldun (recently reproduced by W. J. Fischel in his Ibn Khaldun and Tamerlane, pp. 8 f., 11, and by at­Tanji in his edition of the ,Autobiography) are all written in a good Eastern hand and are therefore of no help for establishing the authenticity of the note in Maghribi writing in C. The problem has now been decided by H. Ritter's 132 publication of eleven lines in Ibn Khaldun's Western handwriting from the Tadhkirah al jadidah of his pupil Ibn Hajar. These lines indubitably are in the same hand as that of C. Only a scribe well acquainted with Ibn Khaldun's handwriting, using it as a model, could have forged the specimen in C. This, however, is most unlikely and need not be considered seriously. The autograph manuscript of Ibn Khaldun's Lubab al-Muhassal (cf. p. xIv, above) is of comparatively little help in this connection. The script as it appears on the specimens from the middle and the end of the manuscript reproduced in the edition, is not strikingly similar to the one used in C or in the note published by Ritter, nor is it markedly different. But it should be noted that the Lubab al-Muhassal was written from forty-four to fifty years earlier than the other two documents, and Ibn Khaldun's signatures definitely look alike in all cases.

The fact that Ibn Khaldun continued using his Western hand­writing in Egypt does not necessarily dispose of the genuineness of the specimens in Eastern script. We do not know whether Ibn Khaldun's early education included a course in Eastern hand­writing, but he probably used the Eastern script rarely, if ever, before he went to Egypt. However, it may have been much easier to wear Western dress in the East (as Ibn Khaldun did) than to attempt to use the Western script there. Ibn Khaldun himself tells us 133 that the Western script was difficult for Egyptians to read; on one occasion, as a favor to a Western poet, he had one of the latter's poems transcribed in the Eastern script for presentation to Barquq. Although in this case, Ibn Khaldun presumably did not do the actual copying himself, yet it seems almost certain that, on many occasions, he considered it advisable to use the Eastern hand­writing in Egypt. In particular, when making notes on a copy of one of his works written in the Eastern script, he may have pre­ferred to use it. There are obvious traces of Western calligraphic style in the presumed specimens of Ibn Khaldun's Eastern hand­writing, especially in the forms of s and d.134 However, if Ibn Khaldun did not have considerable previous experience in writing an Eastern hand before coming to Egypt-and this seems doubtful -it is remarkable that a man past fifty succeeded so well in changing his accustomed style.135 It may thus be that the presumed speci­mens of his Eastern hand were not written by him after all.

The text of C contains many of the additions and corrections that constitute the later stages of the text of the Muqaddimah. Most of them were written by the writer of the entire manuscript. Unfortunately, the name of the scribe is not given; but, of course, he was a person other than Ibn Khaldun.

How are we to interpret the historical data just reviewed? The most likely explanation, which, however, still involves guesswork, seems to be as follows. Manuscript C was copied in 804 [1401/2] from an early text of the Muqaddimah, presumably Ibn Khaldun's own copy. The additions and corrections found in it were transferred verbatim to C by the same scribe.136 Ibn Khaldun had indicated on his copy the year 804 as the date when he had stopped working on the Muqaddimah (for the time being, at least). Later in the same year, al-lsfijabi, probably the first owner of C, affixed his admiring note at the beginning of the work, after reading it.

Manuscript C was used in later centuries as model for other copies. For example, Nuru Osmaniye 3424, which was copied by a certain Mehmet Muezzinzade for 'Ali Pasha (d. 1716) 137 and which is dated Rabi' 1 4, 1127 [March 10, 1715], has the same lacuna at the end as C. The same is true of the manuscript which in Quatremere's edition was referred to as A,138 though it remains to be seen whether that manuscript was copied from our manuscript C directly or indirectly. The manuscript Hamidiye 982 contains a note to the effect that it was collated with the Atif Effendi manu­script, that is, with C, by a certain Hajj 'Abd-ar-Razzaq in 1177 [1763/64]. (Cf. below, p. xcix.)

D(5) MS. Huseyin Celebi 793 in Bursa (Brussa). This manuscript was noted in Une Liste des manuscrits choisis parmi les bibliothiques de Bursa, publiee a l'occasion du XXII. Congres International des Orientalistes (Istanbul, 1951), p. 49. The catalogue number and the date of the manuscript are not, however, correctly designated on this list. Dr. Ahmed Ates first called my attention to this manuscript.

The manuscript contains 239 folios. It is dated Wednesday, Sha'ban 8, 806 [February 20, 1404]. The name of the scribe is given as Ibrahim b. Khalil as-Sa'di ash-Shafi'i al-Misri. On its title page it has an owner's note dated in the year 850 [1146/47], written by Yahya b. Hijji ash-Shafi'i, of the famous family of scholars. Starting early as a student and bibliophile, he was only twelve or thirteen years old when he wrote the note in manuscript D. He died in 888 [1483].139 Ibn Hijji's note would seem to make it practically certain that D was, indeed, written in 806, and is not a later copy of the manuscript written in that year, as might well be possible otherwise. For it must be pointed out that D, despite its date, is not an exceptionally good manuscript but contains a number of omissions and a great many other mechanical mistakes.

Manuscript D clearly was based on C, or was derived from the archetype from which C itself was copied. This origin is indicated, for instance, where D inserts a meaningless man yaqsidu after ghayriyah at Vol. 111, p. 68, line 6, of the Paris edition (in this translation, 3:86, 1. 19, below). In C a mark after ghayriyah indicates that a marginal note is to be added at this place. However, man yaqsidu does not belong there. It is to be inserted after wa­qasd in line 15 (3:87, 1. 5, below), where the fact that it was omitted is indicated by another omission mark after wa-qasd. The intended marginal note to ghayriyah apparently was never written.

Manuscript D had subsequently a rather curious history. The original colophon of the year 806 was frequently included in later copies, and these copies were mistaken for the original.140 Thus, Nuru Osmaniye 3423 has been mistaken for the manuscript of 806, but script and paper exclude the possibility that it was written in the fifteenth century. In fact, its similarity to Nuru Osmaniye 3424, mentioned above, p. xcvii, dates it in the early eighteenth century.

Another copy of D is the manuscript Hekimoglu Ali Pasa 805, which has a flyleaf notation to the effect that it was written in 1118 [1706/7] for one Abu1-Khayr Ahmad. The second part of the manuscript Halet Effendi 617 is likewise a copy of D.

E(6) MS. Ahmet III, 3042, Vol. 1. The manuscript contains 297 folios. It is not dated but has an owner's note of the year 818 [1415/16] in the name of one Muhammad b. 'Abd-ar-Rahman ad­Darib. Consequently, it must have been written in or before that year. The manuscript is important because (apart from the basic text of C) it is the only old manuscript available that contains an early form of the text of the Muqaddimah.

Another volume found under the same catalogue number con­tains Ibn Khaldun's personal copy of the Autobiography.141It was written out by Ibn al-Fakhkhar (cf. above, p. xciii). However, if my memory does not deceive me, manuscript E is in a different hand.

 (7) MS. Halet Effendi 617 consists of two parts, in 235 and 181 folios, respectively. The second part has already been mentioned as a copy of D. The first part, however, dates back to the fifteenth century. It has an owner's note in the name of a Muhammad b. Muhammad b. al-Qusawi (?), dated 853 [1449].

 (8) MS. Ragib Pasa 978 contains 382 folios. It is of recent date, no earlier than the early eighteenth century. The note of a reader who tried to collate and correct the manuscript is dated in 1153 [1740/41]. One of the marginal notes in the manuscript refers to az-Zurqani, the commentator of Malik's Muwatta', who died in 1122 [1710].

This manuscript, the text of which has yet to be studied, is interesting because it contains occasional marginal notes originat­ing from a manuscript written by a certain al-Qatari, claimed by him to have been copied from "the original manuscript." This Qatari evidently was the Abu s-Salah Muhammad al-Hanafi al­Qatari who wrote the manuscript Nuru Osmaniye 3066, dated Monday, Dhu 1-Qa`dah 14, 1082 [March 13/14, 1672]. In another Nuru Osmaniye manuscript, 9065, which the same scribe finished on Sunday, Dhu1-Qa'dah 90,1101 [September 4(?), 1690, he was described as an imam and preacher of the Jami' al-Wazir (Mosque of the Wazir) in the Border City (thaghr) of Jidda. However, there is no further information about "the original manuscript" that al-Qatari claimed to have used. Judging from such passages as those below, p. 192 (n. 260), and p. 230 (n. 349), it cannot have been C, unless in its present state C has not preserved all the inserted slips it once contained. (Cf. above, p. xcvii [n. 198].)





Editions of the Muqaddimah are as numerous as manuscripts. The work is studied in the schools and colleges of the Arab countries. At least in recent years, it seems that each year produces a new reprint of the text, but most of these editions are worthless. A constantly increasing number of misprints disfigures them. It would be reassuring, though not particularly instructive, to review all these editions and investigate their interdependence. Since I have been unable to do this, my remarks are restricted to such observations as I can make about editions in my private possession. The rare Paris edition is not among these but is, of course, well represented in the great libraries.

Publication and translation of small portions of the Muqaddimah before 1857-58 are associated with such names as Hammer­Purgstall and Silvestre de Sacy. Today, their works have little more than bibliographical interest, and full listing may, therefore, be reserved as a task for the compiler of the complete bibliography of Ibn Khaldun, which has been needed for so long. In the mean­time, de Slane's observations, in the introduction to his translation of the Muqaddimah (Vol. i, pp. cxv-cxvi -see p. cviii, below), and those by G. Gabrieli (see note 119, above) suffice. Cf. now W. J. Fischel's bibliography, pp. 483 f . of Vol. 3, below, as well as the one by H. Peres in Studi orientalistici in onore di Giorgio Levi Della rida (Rome, 1956), II, 304-29.

(1) The first complete scholarly European edition of the Muqaddimah was brought out by Etienne Marc Quatremere in Paris in 1858, under the title of Prolegomenes d'Ebn-Khaldoun. It was printed by Firmin Didot Freres in three volumes, figuring as Volumes xvi, xvii, and xviii of the Notices et Extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Impiriale, published by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Quatremere had died only the year before at the age of seventy-five, regretted as a scholar of great merits but also, it seems, one who was at odds with his colleagues and with the world in general.

Quatremere did not live to publish an introduction to his edi­tion. According to W. M. de Slane, the French translator of the Muqaddimah, Quatremere based his text on four manuscripts, presently located as follows. Quatremere's manuscript A, dated 1146 [1733], is in the Bibliotheque Nationale, catalogued as No. 1524 of the Arabic manuscripts. MS. B, dated 1151 [1738], is in Munich as No. 373 in Aumer's catalogue.142 MS. C, a copy made in 1835/36 of the Damad Ibrahim manuscript referred to above (pp. xc ff.) by the letter A, is now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, catalogued as No. 1517. MS. D, the oldest manuscript among the four used by Quatremere and dated 1067 [1656/57], is No. 5136 among the Arabic manuscripts of the Bibliotheque Nationale.143

On the surface, the manuscript basis of Quatremere's edition seems rather shaky. However, Quatremere was fortunate in being able to use a copy of the oldest extant manuscript (our A), which, apparently, was very reliable. His good fortune extended further, in that among his manuscripts he discovered the last and most complete text of the Muqaddimah as it came from Ibn Khaldun's pen. Thus, he was able to offer in his edition a good complete text. The only exception to this statement concerns some particularly difficult passages such as the poems at the end of the Muqaddimah, where Quatremere's edition fails us completely. That his edition includes a good number of minor misprints may be blamed, in part, on the fact that the printing firm chosen by Quatremere did not specialize in printing long Arabic texts. However, few printed editions of Arabic texts are free from misprints. The mis­prints in Quatremere's edition, though numerous, do not amount to much as a major shortcoming of his edition. The principal reproach to be laid against him is that he neglected to indicate textual dif­ferences and variant readings among his manuscripts, as accurately and carefully as we could wish. These may have seemed of small importance to him, and they often are; however, he made it dif­ficult for later scholars to judge the quality of his work correctly.

As a matter of fact, Quatremere's edition has often been maligned unfairly, and still is undervalued at the present time. The editor's negligence in indicating manuscript variants is part of the reason. The obvious fact that the manuscripts used were of recent date has also aroused mistrust. However, it should be stated bluntly that much of the unfair treatment meted out to Quatremere's work must be laid at the door of William MacGuckin de Slane, the French translator of the Muqaddimah. With an unusual pettiness, such as betrays some personal grudge, de Slane went so far as to note even the most minor and obvious misprints in Quatremere's edition, and treated them as major, damning blunders in the footnotes to his translation. He left no doubt as to how poorly he regarded Quatremere's work, and de Slane was supported in this view by Dozy, who wrote an influential review of the translation. In his review, R. Dozy brushed Quatremere's edition aside as a product of the scholar's senility. Between them, de Slane and Dozy set the stage for an unfriendly reception of Quatremere's work. It has been more for this reason, than for any more solidly based one, that doubts concerning the quality of Quatremere's text have been voiced and demands for a new edition raised. While a new edition will mean a great step forward, it will not expose major factual defects in Quatremere's text.

(2) While Quatremere's edition was still in press, an Egyptian edition of the Muqaddimah appeared, which had been printed at Bulaq near Cairo. Finished in Safar, 1274 [September/October, 1857], it was printed in a very large format and succeeded in compressing the entire text to 316 pages. The editor was Nasr al-Hurini (d. 1874)144 an Egyptian scholar of considerable merit. Although it was intended to form the first volume of a complete edition of the 'Ibar, only the Muqaddimah was published at this time.

To judge by occasional marginal notes, al-Hurini apparently used two manuscripts, which he called the Fez and the Tunis manuscripts. Of course, there is no consistent indication of variant readings. Al-Hurini often corrected the text according to his own judgment, a fact de Slane noted in the introduction to his translation (pp. cix f.). Indeed, it seems that in practically all instances where the Bulaq edition diverges from the manuscripts that have come to my attention, we have to reckon with free corrections by the editor. Sometimes his text gives the impression of being su­perior, but this superiority lacks documentary confirmation. Only in a few passages, as, for instance, 3:235 and 3:446 (n. 1813), below, do we find indisputable instances of a superior text in the Bulaq edition. Thus, the text of the Bulaq edition may usually be disregarded even where it is tempting to rely on its lectio facilior. Final judgment on it, however, should be postponed until the entire manuscript evidence has been thoroughly investigated.

However, Bulaq has some importance of its own by virtue of the fact that it provides the earliest text of the Muqaddimah presently available in printed form, with the fewest number of the author's later corrections and additions, The Tunis manuscript preserves Ibn Khaldun's original dedication to the Hafsid ruler. The Fez manuscript appears to go back to Ibn Khaldun's donation copy (see pp. xci ff above). In these respects the Bulaq edition supplements the Paris edition which represents a much later stage of the text of the Muqaddimah.

(3) Ten years later, in 1284 [1867/68], the complete text of the 'Ibar was published in Bulaq in seven volumes. The first volume contains the Muqaddimah in 534 pages. The text is identical with that published previously and even retains al-Hurini's notes. However, it may be noted that in the chapter on letter magic, the new edition contains the magical table between pp. 436 and 437, and some of the material on magic that had been omitted from the first Bulaq text (pp. 255-57). So far as the quality of the text of the rest of the 'Ibar is concerned, it clearly leaves much to be desired.145

(4) All later Oriental reprints, so far as I know, are based upon the Bulaq text and take no cognizance of the Paris edition. One very successful reprint of this sort was undertaken in Beirut in 1879 (and published early in 1880). I have before me a second, identical edition of the year 1886.

The technically very ambitious project of publishing a fully vocalized edition of the Muqaddimah, in usum scholarum, was also undertaken in Beirut.146 I have before me a photomechanical repro­duction of the vocalized Beirut edition. This reproduction was put together in the Printing House of Mustafa Muhammad in Cairo, and although it is not dated, it must be about twenty to twenty-five years old. The "publisher" does not indicate the origin of his text but states on the title page that he is reserving all rights for himself and that his edition has been checked by a committee of scholars against a number of manuscripts!

The long chapter on letter magic is omitted in my copy, as are all the long dialect poems and some of the muwashshahahs and zajals at the close of the Muqaddimah. In addition, the vocalized text is slightly censored, omitting comments that appear to reflect adversely upon Christianity (p. 480 and 3:82, below), as well as remarks dealing with sexual matters (2:295, below). The difficult and exhausting task of vocalizing the entire text of the Muqaddimah has been fairly successfully executed. However, the text as such is unusually poor, shot through with mistakes and marred by many omissions.

There are many other Egyptian reprints of the Muqaddimah. Some of these do not follow the Beirut edition, but the Bulaq text. In this way each has perpetuated itself in successive reprint editions marked by increasing numbers of mistakes. I have before me editions of 1327 [1909] and 1348 [1.930], as well as one very recent reprint of the Beirut text, undated but printed in Cairo, that is an especially outrageous insult to the noble art of printing.

(5) Some editions of brief excerpts of the Muqaddimah are men­tioned below, p. cix. See also footnote 31 to Ibn Khaldun's Introduction.

(6) The plans of at-Tanji for a critical edition of the Muqaddimah were mentioned above, p. lxxxix.





Before passing on to the translations, a word may be said about the gradual growth of the text of the Muqaddimah. From the available evidence, as presented in the preceding pages, it is pos­sible to draw the following picture of the history of the text in Ibn Khaldun's hands.

Ibn Khaldun himself informs us that he wrote the Muqaddimah during a period of five months ending in the middle of the year 779 [November, 1377]; see 3:480, below. He was far from any large library, and had to rely largely on his memory and notes. He then went to Tunis, where he had access to the books he needed to consult, and there he finished the entire History. He presented a copy to the Hafsid Abu1-'Abbas of Tunis (1370-94).147 It is possible that one of the manuscripts on which the Bulaq edition was based contains this oldest text. But none of the available manuscripts or editions has it. The earliest texts at present available are those of the Bulaq edition and manuscript E, but since they already contain indications of Ibn Khaldun's stay in Egypt, they can be no earlier than 1382.

Ibn Khaldun's habit of correcting and expanding the History continued while he was in Egypt. In one particular case it is expressly stated that Ibn Khaldun lectured on the Muqaddimah in Egypt148 He probably devoted more time to his work when he was out of office than when he was judge, but he never ceased trying to improve the Muqaddimah or collecting additional material for it, even when in office.149 He was constantly reading pertinent material and even had Egyptian Bedouins recite poetry to him (3:438 f., below), But it seems that, primarily, the material for his additions and corrections derived from his lectures on the Muqaddimah and other subjects. This would explain why the sections dealing with traditions and jurisprudence -subjects on which he lectured ex-officio and in which his students were professionally interested-show the most numerous traces of larger and smaller revisions.

It would be wrong to consider the successive stages of the text of the Muqaddimah as "recenssions" in the proper sense of the term. For instance, Ibn Khaldun never changed the passages where he speaks of himself as still being in the Maghrib. His additions and corrections were jotted down unsystematically in a long­drawn-out process, much as a modern author might add notes in the margins of his published works.

Ibn Khaldun's corrections rectify obvious mistakes committed earlier, as, for instance, in his treatment of the division of the earth into zones (pp. 111 ff., below). Or, in the case of quotations, they supply a better text obtained with the help of some new source: an example is Tahir's Epistle to his son.150 Ibn Khaldun had already corrected his original quotation from Ibn al-Athir with the help of at-Tabari by the time A was written, and C still preserves the marginal corrections which later copyists entered in the body of the text.

The table of contents at the beginning of the work, which treats the Muqaddimah as an independent work,151 must nonetheless have been added by the author at an early stage, for it appears already in A. Ibn Khaldun also adds quotations from works he has come across in further reading, as a sort of afterthought. Or, he expands and changes the text, because it no longer seems to express adequately or fully the ideas he has in mind. A minor instance of this kind of correction (or revision) can be found in a passage where Ibn Khaldun thought it advisable to tone down a strong expression of monistic mysticism (2:398, below). The most prominent emendations in the text of the work are of this kind, although there are not a great many of them. An outstanding example of Ibn Khaldun's concern for clear expression is the very considerable enlargement of his introductory remarks to the sixth chapter, dealing with the sciences (2:411 ff., below). The earliest text in which the expanded version occurs is manuscript C, so it must have entered the text of the Muqaddimah between 1397 and 1402. This interval may perhaps be further restricted to the period between 1397 and 1399, because Ibn Khaldun was there­after extremely busy with official duties. However, it should not be forgotten that, even while on official business, Ibn Khaldun found time to study. In fact, the last-dated entry in the Muqaddimah refers to reading accomplished during his stay in Damascus in the spring of 802 [1400] (2:229 f., below); and he found time to insert the note bearing upon it in manuscript C.

A later stage, the latest we know of, in fact, is represented by the Bursa manuscript D of 806 [1404]. It shows that Ibn Khaldun was still working on his book two years before his death. Characteristic of this stage in the development of the text of the Muqaddimah was his replacement of a distich near the end with another very beautiful one (3:478, below). It shows that Ibn Khaldun retained his fine appreciation of poetry up to a time of life when many men, and especially men of affairs, no longer give much thought to it.152

That most of Ibn Khaldun's additions and corrections were in­corporated into the body of the text in the manuscripts written during his lifetime is shown by manuscript D. This process did not always come off without mishaps, as a striking example below (pp. 365 f.) indicates.

In general, it is possible to show at what stage in the textual history of the Muqaddimah almost any addition or correction was made by Ibn Khaldun. Undoubtedly, if a manuscript of the pre­Egyptian "recension" of the work were to become available, still greater precision would be attained. The history of the text of the Muqaddimah offers a classical example of how an author's variant readings originate and how they influence the traditional appear­ance of his work.





(1) The first complete translation of the Muqaddimah ever published was a Turkish version. In the year 1730 Pirizade Effendi (1674-1749) translated the Muqaddimah from the beginning through the fifth chapter. This Turkish text was published in Cairo in 1275 [1859],153 in a lithographed edition of 617 pages in large format; the translation ended on p. 522. On the remaining pages, the work was completed by a reproduction of the Arabic text based on the first Bulaq edition. A few pages on Ibn Khaldun's life serve as introduction, compiled by Ahmet Jevdet Effendi, later Pasha (1822-95). The latter also translated the remaining sixth chapter of the Muqaddimah, which was published in Istanbul in 1277[1860/61 ),154 accompanied by copious explanatory notes.

(2) A complete French translation, under the title of Prolegomenes historiques d'Ibn Khaldoun, was published by William Mac­Guckin de Slane on the basis of Quatremere's edition and with comparison of the Paris manuscripts used by Quatremere, the first Bulaq edition, and the Turkish translation (in part). The three volumes appeared in Paris in the years 1862, 1865, and 1868, as Vols. xix to xxi of the Notices et Extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Imperiale.

De Slane did an altogether admirable job of presenting a highly readable and, in the main, accurate translation of the work. The "freedom" of his version has often been unjustly censured, for it was intentional, and a "free" translation is perfectly legitimate for a work with the stylistic character of the Muqaddimah. There are occasional mistakes of translation, some of them caused by the difficulty of the subject matter and the language, others of a sort that might easily have been avoided. Explanatory footnotes are sparse, and de Slane usually did not bother to indicate the sources for his statements. However, the concluding words of R. Dozy's review of de Slane's work still stand: "Rarely has so difficult a book been translated so well."155

A photomechanical reproduction of de Slane's translation was published in Paris in 1934-38, with a brief preface by G. Bouthoul. Important corrections to the translation were provided by R. Dozy in the review by him which appeared in Journal asiatique, XIV6 (1869), 133-218. More recently, a number of valuable corrections were published by A. Bombaci, "Postille alla traduzione De Slane della Muqaddimah di Ibn Haldun,".in Annali dell'Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli, N,5. III (1949), 439-72.

For many years after the publication of de Slane's translation, scholars, almost to a man, relied on it for their quotations from the Muqaddimah. The occasional exceptions have been noted in footnotes to this translation at the appropriate passages. Only in recent years have fresh translations of comparatively large sections of the Muqaddimah begun to be made.156

(3) In English, there are a few brief passages in R. A. Nichol­son, Translations of Eastern Poetry and Prose (Cambridge, 1922). Recently, a rather large selection of brief excerpts was published by Charles Issawi, under the title of An Arab Philosophy of History (London, 1950).

(4) The book by Erwin Rosenthal, entitled Ibn Khalduns Gedanken fiber den Staat (Munich and Berlin, 1932), consists largely of excerpts from the Muqaddimah, in German translation. A large volume of selections in German translation was published by A. Schimmel in Tubingen in 1951, under the title of Ibn Chaldun: Ausgewdhlte Abschnitte aus der muqaddima.

(5) A short selection of Arabic passages with accompanying French translation was published by G. Surdon and L. Bercher under the title of Recueil de textes de sociologie et de droit public musulman contenus dans les "Prolegomenes" d'Ibn Khaldoun, "Bibliotheque de l'Institut d'Etudes Superieures Islamiques d'Alger," No. 6 (Algiers, 1951). The translators profess their particular concern for bringing out the basically juridical flavor of Ibn Khaldun's terminology.





A work such as the Muqaddimah, modern in thought yet alien in language and style, may be presented to the modern reader in one of three ways. It may be translated as literally as the second language permits. The translator may go farther and use modern phraseology and style. Or, finally, the work may be recast and given the form it would have had it been written by a contemporary author in the second language.

If a translation is to impress the modern reader with the full worth and significance of the original, the last-mentioned approach would seem to be the ideal one. Realizing this, scholars have frequently chosen to publish selected and rearranged passages of the Muqaddimah. However, a complete rewriting in this manner, besides being hardly practicable, would almost necessarily produce a subjective interpretation of the Muqaddimah, and thereby obscure Ibn Khaldun's thought..

The second approach to translation was what de Slane attempted. It, too, has pitfalls. One is the danger of distorting the author's ideas by modernizing them, and thereby attributing to him thoughts that were utterly foreign to him. Moreover, a work dealing with a great variety of subjects, and the Muqaddimah is certainly such a work, depends to a great extent in its formal and intellectual organization upon the threads of association that the author's particular terminology and way of expression provide.

The drawback of any completely literal translation is obvious: it may easily be incomprehensible to the general reader. Further, a literal translation often entirely perverts the literary character of the original. It is transformed from a literary product using the normal and accepted forms of its own language into a work rendered strained and unnatural by not conforming to the style of the language into which it was translated.

The present translation was begun in the belief that a mixture of the literal and modernizing types of rendering would produce the most acceptable result. Yet, it must-be confessed that with each successive revision, the translator has felt an irresistible urge to follow ever more faithfully the linguistic form of the original.

The literalness of the present version is intended to reduce to a minimum the amount of interpretation always necessary in any translation. The reader unfamiliar with the Arabic original ought to be encumbered by no more than an unavoidable minimum of subjective interpretation. Moreover, Ibn Khaldun's particular terminology, which he evolved with great pains for his "new science," had to be preserved as far as possible; to some degree, it must have impressed his contemporary readers as unusual. Therefore, at least the outstanding terms, such as 'umran, 'asabiyah, baddwah, were preserved in the translation by rather artificial loan renderings ("civilization," "group spirit," "desert life or attitude"). This involved the occasional occurrence of expressions such as "large civilization." But any other procedure would irrevocably have destroyed the essential unity of Ibn Khaldun's work, which is one of its main claims to greatness.157 For the sake of literalness, an attempt has been made to translate passages that are repeated in the original, in identical or nearly identical words, in the same fashion each time. However, since such repetitions occur frequently in the text of the Muqaddimah, the attempt probably remained unsuccessful, or, at best, only partly successful. Some modernizing tendency remains in the translation but it chiefly affects syntactical and stylistic features, and only very rarely the vocabulary.

Ibn Khaldun's contemporaries praised the literary quality of the Muqaddimah highly. Ibn Khaldun himself, in a poetical dedication of his History, used rather exuberant language in speaking of the linguistic perfection of his work: 

I tamed rude speech. It may be said that

Refractory language becomes in (my work) amenable to the words I utter158

This self-praise was, of course, a routine authors had to follow in the past when the advertising methods of the modern publishing busi­ness were as yet unknown. But others chimed in with their praise. The style of the Muqaddimah was said to be "more brilliant than well-strung pearls and finer than water fanned by the zephyr." It was called a "Jahizian" style, reminiscent of the verbal fireworks of al-Jahiz, the celebrated model of good Arabic style.159 All these testimonies may have been rather perfunctory; still, they certainly have some basis in fact. It is true, as has often been remarked, that Ibn Khaldun did not always adhere strictly to the accepted norms and rules of classical Arabic, which were artificial to him and re­mote from the speech habits of his time. But Ibn Khaldun's long, rolling, involved sentences, his skillful and yet restrained applica­tion of rhetorical figures, and his precise use of a large, though not farfetched, vocabulary make it indeed a pleasure to read the Muqaddimah, or to hear it read aloud.160

However, the modern translator's agreement with such positive appraisals of the linguistic and stylistic qualities of the Muqaddimah is somewhat forced. For, alas! all the factors that enhance the beauty of the work in its original language and justified the ad­miration of Ibn Khaldun's contemporaries, are so many thorns in the translator's flesh. His long sentences have constantly to be broken up into smaller units, and the cohesiveness of the author's style is thereby loosened. In keeping with a common stylistic feature of Arabic speech, Ibn Khaldun could repeat pronouns through whole pages, thus confronting his translator with the task of supplying the appropriate nouns. Ibn Khaldun also was extremely fond of a threefold parallelismus membrorum, another source of embarrassment to the translator. The ordinary twofold parallelism, well known from the Bible, is difficult enough to trans­late, an imitation of the threefold one practically impossible. Sometimes, one word or phrase may do as a translation of all three members, but more often than not, the threefold parallelism can only be broken up into seemingly redundant phrases. Another stylistic feature is a kind of inversion by means of which later elements of a story are given first, and the earlier elements are given later, in a sentence introduced by "after." This can be brilliant in Arabic but is most often unpalatable in modern English translation (although it would have been somewhat more acceptable in another age, in the eighteenth century, for instance).

The large number of parentheses (in the translation) is the result of the need for clarifying stylistic changes. These parentheses have been used in order to indicate to the reader that in these passages the translator has added something that is not literally found in the Arabic text. They may be disregarded, and the text enclosed by them should be considered an integral part of the context. In a few cases, however, the words in parentheses serve another purpose, namely, that of explaining the preceding words.

In the choice of explanatory footnotes the translator has more leeway. Ibn Khaldun's own ideas and the way he expressed them offer no particular difficulties to the understanding. But the numerous passages where technical details are discussed or earlier authors are quoted sorely try the translator's knowledge of words and things. Incidentally, Ibn Khaldun himself is on record as ad­mitting that he did not quite understand the text he copied (at 2:224 and 3:183, below). Like many other Arabic works, the Muqaddimah contains some passages where it obviously was much easier for the author to copy his source than it is for the translator to find out the meaning of the text copied. In general, where the translator has succeeded in understanding Ibn Khaldun's text correctly, very little in the way of added explanation is necessary.

However, historical understanding and interpretation of the work pose greater problems. The Muqaddimah was composed nearly at the end of the intellectual development of medieval Islam, and the work covers practically all its aspects. A well-nigh incalculable number of notes and excursuses would be required if one were to comment on the historical significance of Ibn Khaldun's statements and put each of them in proper perspective. Nearly a century ago de Slane felt that he could provide unlimited notes and explanations to his translation (cf. his introduction, p. ii), but he refrained from doing so for the sake of brevity. In the end, he did very little indeed in the way of annotation.161 Since his time, the material that has a sound claim to consideration in the notes has grown immeasurably. A hundred years ago, very few printed Arabic texts existed, and nearly all the pertinent information was still buried in manuscripts. Even nowadays, when a good part of Arabic literature has become available in printed form, it is often necessary, in connection with the Muqaddimah, to refer to manuscripts. In fact, our knowledge has outgrown the stage where the historical problems of a work like the Muqaddimah, considered in its entirety, can be elucidated by means of footnotes. The important task of interpretation must be left to monographs on individual sections of the text, a scholarly labor that has been attempted so far only on a very small scale.162 In the notes to this translation, the major problem has been one of selection, that of providing references that give the fullest possible information in easily accessible form.

In some respects, it has been possible to be briefer than de Slane. Nowadays, many of Ibn Khaldun's examples from political history no longer require comment, nor, from the point of view of modern historiography and sociology, does the acceptability of Ibn Khaldun's historical interpretations have to be argued.163

A reference to C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, where authors and works of literature are concerned, makes it possible to dispense with further references, save, perhaps, for very recent bibliographical material, which has been carefully examined before inclusion. The Encyclopedia of Islam and that splendid time-saving tool, the Concordance et Indices de la tradition musulmane, were also, in many cases, considered sufficient as guides to further study.

Apart from obvious references of this kind, and a certain amount of necessary philological comment,164 the selection of notes has been guided by one dominant consideration. Works that Ibn Khaldun himself knew, knew about, or may reasonably be supposed to have known or known about, have been emphasized. Knowledge of Ibn Khaldun's sources is of immeasurable assistance in better understanding his historical position and significance. While a very small start in this direction could be made in the footnotes to this translation, I am convinced that this kind of comment should be given preference over any other.

When I had completed my version, I compared it with the previous translations as carefully as possible, giving particular attention to de Slane's. I have not considered it necessary to acknowledge de Slane's help whenever I have corrected mistakes of my own. Nor have I felt it necessary to signal passages where I think de Slane erred. The reader ignorant of Arabic may be slightly puzzled when he observes the divergences, often considerable, between this translation and that of de Slane. Nonetheless, my hope is that he will put greater reliance in the present translation, although its recent origin, of course, is no guarantee of its correct­ness.

Rendering proper names is a minor problem in all translations from the Arabic, as here. Arabic proper names can easily be transcribed, and the method of transcription employed here needs no special comment. However, foreign proper names, and especially place names in northwestern Africa (the Maghrib), make for complications. European place names, Spanish ones most notably, have been translated into their accepted English or current native form. Place names from the East are given in transcription, except when a generally accepted English form exists. There may, however, be differences of opinion as to what constitutes a generally accepted English form. Thus, some of the proper names as well as generally known Arabic terms retained in the translation have been deprived of their macrons or circumflexes, while others, with perhaps an equal claim to such distinction, have been left untouched; as a rule, preference has been given to accurate transcription. With a very few exceptions, place names from northwestern Africa have been given in what may be considered the most widely used and acceptable of the various French forms; usually, a tran­scription of the Arabic form has been added. In the case of Berber names, we will know how Ibn Khaldun pronounced them, once a study of the manuscripts of the 'Ibar has been made. For the time being, we know his pronunciation only in those cases where the manuscripts of the Muqaddimah and the Autobiography indicate it, and his pronunciation has, of course, been followed. In modern scholarly literature, there seems to be little agreement on the finer points of the transcription of ancient Berber tribal and personal names.

Much more might be said about technical details arising out of the present translation. However, if they were wrongly handled, mere knowledge of that fact would not repair the harm done to, nor, if they were correctly applied, increase by itself the usefulness of, the translation of what has been called with little, if any, exaggeration, "undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place."165