“History is a gallery of pictures in which there 

are few originals and many copies.”

–Alexis de Tocqueville

El Koubba Mosque in Tunis was destined to produce one of the most original thinkers of all times.

Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun’s biography is indeed a fascinating one, both for readers and scholars alike. Born of an aristocratic family in Tunis in 1332, he had an extraordinary diplomatic and military career in the turbulent wars and politics of Western Islam in the fourteenth-century; withdrew to a desert retreat in 1375 (Algeria), and finally emigrated to Egypt. Khaldun surely is among those few who present us with an original picture in the gallery that is history according to Tocqueville.

During the four years that he spent in Algeria, Khaldun wrote his massive masterpiece, the Muqadimah an introduction to history. It is important to note that his original intention, which he subsequently achieved, was to write the universal history of the Arabs and Berbers. However, before doing so, he judged it necessary to discuss the historical method with the aim of providing the criteria necessary for distinguishing historical truth from error. This led him to formulate what the 20th-century English historian Arnold Toynbee has described as “a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place.”a