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Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ
Al-Bƒr€nƒ, B„r€nƒ (€•‚ƒ„…)
An imaginary rendition of Al Biruni on a 1973 Soviet post stamp Full name Born Ab€ Ray•‚n Mu•ammad ibn A•mad Al-Birunƒ September 4/5, 973 Khwarezm, Samanid Empire (modern-day Uzbekistan) December 13, 1048 (aged„75) Ghazni, Ghaznavid Empire (modern-day Afghanistan) Islamic Golden Age Khwarezm, Central Asia  Ziyarid dynasty (Rey)  Ghaznavid dynasty (Ghazni) Physics, anthropology, comparative sociology, astronomy, astrology, chemistry, history, geography, mathematics, medicine, psychology, philosophy, theology Founder of Indology, anthropology, geodesy Ta'rikh al-Hind, The Mas'udi Canon, Understanding Astrology
Notable ideas Major works
Ab€ al-Rayh‚n Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bƒr€nƒ (born 4/5 September 973 in Kath, Khwarezm, died 13 December 1048 in Ghazni) known as Alberonius in Latin and Al-Biruni in English, was a Persian-Khwarezmian Muslim scholar and polymath from the Khwarezm region. Al-Biruni is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, and also distinguished himself as a historian, chronologist and linguist. He was conversant in Khwarezmian, Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and also knew Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. He spent a large part of his life in Ghazni in modern-day Afghanistan, capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty which was based in what is now central-eastern Afghanistan. In 1017 he traveled to the Indian subcontinent and became the most important interpreter of Indian science to the Islamic world. He is given the titles the "founder of Indology" and the "first anthropologist". He was an impartial writer on custom and creeds of various nations, and was given the title al-Ustadh ("The Master") for his remarkable description of early 11th-century India. He also made contributions to
grammar. Biruni was made court astrologer and accompanied Mahmud on his invasions into India. Biruni acknowledged that he could neither An illustration from al-Biruni's astronomical works. which was the language of Biruni. and related subjects like mathematical geography. appearing in a cultural vacuum. His first twenty-five years were spent in Khwarezm where he studied fiqh.D. He may even have learned some Sanskrit. he left for Bukhara. were taken to Ghazna. the capital of the Afrighid dynasty of Khwarezm (or Chorasmia). he made peace with the latter who then ruled Khwarezm. The Iranian Khwarezmian language. Shams al-Mo'ali Abol-hasan Ghaboos ibn Wushmgir. Mathematics and Astronomy Ninety-five of 146 books known to have been written by Bƒr€nƒ. . There he wrote his first important work. In 998. then under the Samanid ruler Mansur II the son of Nuh. His endorsement of astrology is limited. He was sympathetic to the Afrighids. He also visited the court of the Bavandid ruler Al-Marzuban. During this time he wrote the Kitab ta'rikh al-Hind. survived for several centuries after Islam until the Turkification of the region. were devoted to astronomy.Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ Earth sciences. Biruni's major work on astrology is primarily an astronomical and mathematical text. mathematics.. The word Biruni means "from the outer-district" in Persian. a repository of so much knowledge. for it is hard to see the commanding figure of Biruni. and so this became his nisba: "al-Bƒr€nƒ" = "the Birunian". about 65 percent. al-Athar al-Baqqiya 'an al-Qorun al-Khaliyya (literally: "The remaining traces of past centuries" and translated as "Chronology of ancient nations" or "Vestiges of the Past") on historical and scientific chronology. finishing it around 1030. probably around 1000 A. In discussing speculation by other Muslim writers on the possible motion of the Earth. in so far as he condemns horary astrology as 'sorcery'. There he also corresponded with Avicenna and there are extant exchanges of views between these two scholars. Most scholars. Accepting the definite demise of the Afrighids at the hands of the Ma'munids. astronomy. In 1017. though he later made some amendments to the book. Biruni became acquainted with all things related to India. and is regarded as the "father of geodesy" for his important contributions to that field. he went to the court of the Ziyarid amir of Tabaristan. medics and other sciences. along with his significant contributions to geography. theology. Leaving his homeland. Mahmud of Ghazni took Rey. 2 Life He was born in the outer district of Kath. Their court at Gorganj (also in Khwarezm) was gaining fame for its gathering Al-Biruni's bust at an entrance to National library of Tajikistan of brilliant scientists. and so must some at least of the culture and lore of ancient Khwarezm. including al-Biruni. explains the different phases of the moon. only the last chapter concerns astrological prognostication. the capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty. living there for a few years. who were overthrown by the rival dynasty of Ma'munids in 995. mathematics.
Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ 3 prove nor disprove it. unified statics and dynamics into the science of mechanics. but commented favourably on the idea that the Earth rotates. in which we think we have surpassed our predecessors. Geography . and so on. He wrote an extensive commentary on Indian astronomy in the Kitab ta'rikh al-Hind. Physics Al-Biruni contributed to the introduction of the experimental scientific method to mechanics. More recently. the Mas'ud Canon. other reasons which make it impossible. There are. He on a lengthy correspondence and sometimes heated debate with Ibn Sina. In his description of Sijzi's astrolabe's he hints at contemporary debates over the movement of the earth. if not in the words. however. at all events In the matter. his Miftah-ilm-alhai'a (Key to Astronomy): [T]he rotation of the earth does in no way impair the value of astronomy. as all appearances of an astronomic character can quite as well be explained according to this theory as to the other. he the immutability of the celestial spheres. he is "amazed" weakness of Aristotle's argument against elliptical orbits on the basis that they would create vacuum. and combined the fields of hydrostatics with dynamics to create hydrodynamics. too. This question is most difficult to solve. The most Diagram illustrating a method proposed and used by prominent of both modem and ancient astronomers Al-Biruni to estimate the radius and circumference of have deeply studied the question of the moving of the the Earth earth. Biruni's eclipse data was used by Dunthorne in 1749 to help determine the acceleration of the moon and his observational data has entered the larger astronomical historical record and is still used today in geophysics and astronomy. Biruni utilizes his observational data to disprove Ptolemy's immobile solar apogee. have composed a book on the subject called Miftah-ilm-alhai'a (Key to Astronomy). carried attacks by the attacks In his major extant astronomical work. and tried to refute it. We. in which Biruni repeatedly Aristotle's celestial physics: he argues by simple experiment that vacuum must exist. in which he claims to have resolved the matter of Earth's rotation in a work on astronomy that is no longer extant.
p. believing that God is one. Kit‚b al-mus‚mara fƒ a…b‚r †€‚razm (Book of nightly conversation concerning the affairs of †€‚razm) is now known only from quotations in Bayhaqƒ•s T‚rƒkh-e mas‚€dƒ. ƒWhat al-Biruni seems to be arguing is that there is a common human element in every culture that makes all cultures distant relatives. Judaism. and omnipotent and eschewing all forms of idol worship. and scattered throughout his other works. He recognizes that uneducated Hindus worshipped a multiplicity of idols yet points out that even some Muslims (such as the Jabiriyya) have adopted anthropomorphic concepts of God. Buddhism. In addition to this various discussions of historical events and methodology are found in connection with the lists of kings in his al-‡th‚r al-b‚qiya and in the Q‚n€n as well as elsewhere in the ‡th‚r. Al-Biruni was disgusted by scholars who failed to engage primary sources in their treatment of Hindu religion. and other religions. he sought to explain the religious behavior of different groups. He describes the educated as monotheistic. He treated religions objectively. Four directions and Political divisions of Iran by Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ History and Chronology Biruni's main essay on political history.Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ 4 Bƒr€nƒ also devised his own method of determining the radius of the earth by means of the observation of the height of a mountain and carried it out at Nandana in Pind Dadan Khan. Christianity. 2005) .„10). Pharmacology and Mineralogy Due to an apparatus he constructed himself. History of Religions Bƒr€nƒ is one of the most important Muslim authorities on the history of religion. Islam. striving to understand them on their own terms rather than trying to prove them wrong.„ (Rosenthal. He studied Zoroastrianism. Al-Biruni was a pioneer in the study of comparative religion. in India. Pakistan. Guided by a sense of ethics and a desire to learn. however foreign they might seem to one another. His underlying concept was that all cultures are at least distant relatives of all other cultures because they are all human constructs. 1976. eternal. He found existing sources on Hinduism to be both insufficient and dishonest. he succeeded in determining the specific gravity of a certain number of metals and minerals with remarkable precision. Hinduism. (Ataman. Al-Biruni divides Hindus into an educated and an uneducated class.
discover and translate into Arabic the mathematics. He explains that Hinduism and Islam are totally different from each other. and mathematics. ƒThe Indica is like a magic island of quiet. and books of which he no longer possesses copies.„212).Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ 5 Indology Bƒr€nƒ•s fame as an Indologist rests primarily on two texts.„7.„ (Indica is another name for Al-Biruni•s history of India). impartial research in the midst of a world of clashing swords. seasons and earth's relative positions with moon and stars. mathematics. Tehran. My book is nothing but a simple historic record of facts. burning towns. anecdotes. science. geography. astrology. astronomy and other fields of arts as practiced in 11th century India. and earth's rotation around the sun is the only way to fully explain the difference in daylight hours by latitude. Works Most of the works of Al-Biruni are in Arabic although he wrote one of his masterpieces. Hindus considered Muslims violent and impure. geology. science. as I believe to be in the wrong. (Yasin.„5) An example of Al-Biruni•s analysis is his summary of why many Hindus hate Muslims. chronology. where they were actively sought. I shall place The statue of Biruni in Laleh Park. Al-Biruni had a remarkable ability to engage Hindus in peaceful dialogue. He expresses his objective with simple eloquence: I shall not produce the arguments of our antagonists in order to refute such of them. He explores religion within a rich cultural context. and burned temples. and did not want to share anything with him.(1910. Over time. Bƒr€nƒ•s catalogue of his own literary production up to his 65th lunar/63rd solar year (the end of 427/1036) lists 103 titles divided into 12 categories: astronomy. Iran before the reader the theories of the Hindus exactly as they are. Al-Biruni wrote an encyclopedic work on India called ƒTarikh Al-Hind„ (History of India) in which he explored nearly every aspect of Indian life. mathematical geography. including religion. Hindus in 11th century India had suffered through waves of destructive attacks on many of its cities. astronomical instruments. Vol. Mohammad Yasin puts this dramatically when he says. p. His extant works include: . Moreover. While others were killing each other over religious differences. an untitled category. 1. 1975. Al-Biruni was also critical of Indian scribes who he believed carelessly corrupted Indian documents while making copies of older documents. p. He was inspired by the arguments offered by Indian scholars who believed earth must be ellipsoid shape. astrological aspects and transits. comets. medicine. Al-Biruni's translations as well as his own original contributions reached Europe in 12th and 13th century. and Islamic armies had taken numerous Hindu slaves to Persia. religion. the Kitab al-Tafhim apparently in both Persian and Arabic. showing his mastery over both languages. Al-Biruni won the welcome of Hindu scholars. and I shall mention in connection with them similar theories of the Greeks in order to show the relationship existing between them. p. with yet to be discovered continent at earth's south pole.1958. not just Muslims. history. which claimed Al-Biruni contributed to Hindus becoming suspicious of all foreigners. Al-Biruni collected books and studied with these Hindu scholars to become fluent in Sanskrit.
a question and answer style book about mathematics and astronomy. Richard Nelson Frye. Understanding other religions: al-Biruni's and Gadamer's "fusion of horizons".Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ ˆ Critical study of what India says. ˆ Understanding Astrology (Arabic ¥‘¦Œ§ƒ„ ‡›•Œ¨ƒ ¥‘•©§ƒ„) . A. 2006. iAcademicBooks.about drugs and medicines. E. "The Golden age of Persia". whether accepted by reason or refused (Arabic €•‚ƒ„ …† ‡ƒˆ•‚‰ ‡ƒˆ•‰ Š‰ ‹Œ•Žƒ •‰ •‘•’“ ‡ƒ”•–‰ —˜). 1236. Cambridge University Press: 1-202. ˆ Gems (Arabic –ª„ˆ¦ƒ„ ‡†–‚‰ …† –ª•«¦ƒ„) about geology. pg 11: "It is generally accepted that he was Persian by origin. and engineering.A.D. geography. he rejected the emerging neo-Persian literature of his time (Firdawsi).).a comparative study of calendars of different cultures and civilizations.Kennedy. Excerpt from page 7:"The Iranian scholar al-BIruni says that the Khwarazmian era began when the region was first settled and cultivated. in Arabic and Persian. (Brill. J. ˆ History of Khawarezm. Cambridge History of Iran. (Cambridge University Press. 58. and gems.. pp 217-219.N. ˆ History of Mahmud of Ghazni and his father. Retrieved 22 April 2007. 18: L. named after Mas'ud. com/ search?tbm=bks& tbo=1& q=he+ was+ Persian+ by+ origin.  Arabic spelling. Massignon. 2008). The book covers the Quadrivium in a detailed and skilled fashion. C. 1951). . ˆ The Mas'udi Canon (Persian ¡¢ˆ‚£‰ šˆ¤•œ) . Gotthard Strohmaier. David C.The name of Abu Raihan Al-Biruni.H. (Calcutta. Meri. ed. 394.  Al-Biruni. . Levi-Provencal. Gibb. preferring Arabic instead as the only adequate medium of ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ .R. ˆ A historical summary book. University of Chicago Press. Legacy The crater Al-Biruni on the Moon is named after him. 5: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods. ˆ ˆ . "Biruni" in Josef W. vol. The intermediate form Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ is often used in academic literature. (1968). D. Science in the Middle Ages. com/ eb/ article-9015394) (2007). J. H. Bacharach. and is a rich source for Persian prose and lexicography. 1986). ˆ Bosworth. and historical information. Boilet.A. Taylor & Francis. J. ˆ Pharmacy . britannica. Schacht. Ed.+ scholar) Biruni (http:/ / www. p. dedicated to Mawdud son of Mas'ud. (CRVP.. and spoke the Khwarizmian dialect" (http:/ / www. Medieval Islamic Civilization: A-K.S. 2000. 1999).J. "Al-Biruni et la valuer internationale de la science arabe" in Al-Biruni Commemoration Volume. ˆ The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries (Arabic ‡‘ƒ•™ƒ„ š”–•ƒ„ Š› ‡‘œ••ƒ„ ž•Ÿ „) . Boyle (ed. ƒThe Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (A. The Cambridge History of Iran: The period from the Arab invasion to the Saljuqs. 1 of Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia.a compendium of India's religion and philosophy ˆ The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (Kitab al-tafhim li-awa€il sina•at al-tanjim). google. his Persian version of the Al-Tafhim is one of the most important of the early works of science in the Persian language. Phoenix Press. son of Mahmud of Ghazni. index: Vol. Jere L. I. this date being placed in the early 13th-century BC) " Richard Frye: "The contribution of Iranians to Islamic mathematics is overwhelming. Notes and references Notes  The Exact Sciences. 6 Persian work Although he preferred Arabic to Persian in scientific writing. Frye. minerals. must be mentioned since he was one of the greatest scientists in World History"(R.+ and+ spoke+ the+ Khwarizmian+ dialect. The Encyclopaedia of Islam. ˆ Astrolabe. Lindberg. also known as the Indica . 1000…1217)„. excerpt from page 112: "Although his native Khwarezmian was also an Iranian language. interlaced with mathematical. to whom he dedicated. . pg 162) M. "Al-Biruni's discovery of India: an interpretative study". Saleem Khan. Vol. 2001. E. astronomical.an extensive encyclopedia on astronomy. from Khwarazm. Kramers.  Kemal Ataman. Encyclop‰dia Britannica. E.
E. 5.col1)'. AB‹ RAYŒ‡N vi. AB‹ RAYŒ‡N iii. Boilot. Access date April 2011 at (http:/ / www.  George Saliba. com/ p/ articles/ mi_m0QYQ/ is_1_2/ ai_n6160528/ )'. Islam & Science / Summer. "Al-Biruni". harvard. in Encyclopaedia Iranica  David Pingree.f. index: Vol.  S. Meri. The Chorasmian Language". Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936 (http:/ / books. Edmund Bosworth. ' Classical Scientific Astrology (http:/ / books. com/ books?id=p5U3AAAAIAAJ& pg=PA681)'. Excerpt 2:"was one of the greatest scholars of mediaeval Islam.. c. "BŠR‹NŠ. 2003  Rosenfeld. "Biruni" in Josef W. trans. p.  D. iranicaonline.3. 111."BŠR‹NŠ.". Journal for the History of Astronomy. Encyclopaedia Iranica. is attested at two stages of its development. Revised. the original Iranian language of Chorasmia. pg 157: "his native language was the Khwarizmian dialect"  D. Houtsma. 1993.". preferring Arabic instead as the only adequate medium of science. 1910.Ab€ Ray•‚n al-Bƒr€nƒ science. is attested at two stages of its development. 2007. N. org/ articles/ chorasmia-iii) "Chorasmian. J.277  c. Chronology. Pharmacology and Mineralogy. . Th. Lawerence. in Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden). Excerpt 1: "He was born of an Iranian family in 362/973 (according to al-Ghadanfar.brillonline. and literature (http:/ / books. MacKenzie. Rafik Berjak. 5. Jere L. al-Bƒr€nƒ. Life" in Encyclopedia Iranica. qst?docId=5007384244)'. 27. Brill. Mathematics and Astronomy" in Encyclopaedia Iranica  Biruni."BŠR‹NŠ. "the Master". questions six and seven. p. Islam and Science.  Marshall G. apparently in both Arabic and Persian. Nasr. xivxvi). AB‹ RAYŒ‡N vii.210)  Al-Biruni. (Oxford University Press.". 135R& db_key=AST& page_ind=0& data_type=GIF& type=SCREEN_VIEW& classic=YES)'. 1 of Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. pp. Vol. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization.The earliest examples have been left by the great Chorasmian scholar Ab€ Ray•‚n Bƒr€nƒ. "BŠR‹NŠ. excerpt from page 112: "Although his native Khwarezmian was also an Iranian language. and medicine in non-western cultures ". philosophy.V (http:/ / findarticles. demonstrating how conversant he was in both tongues. Th.J.45.H. Encyclopaedia Iranica. Excerpt: "Chorasmian. Noonan. Ahmad".135  M.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_SIM-4205>  Firoozeh Papan-Matin. p. 1999). SUNY press. "CHORASMIA iii. .1:1236-1238. New Ed. 1. ' Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (http:/ / books. pp 111: "Al-Biruni wrote one of the masterpieces of medieval science. on 3 Dhu'l-Hididja/ 4 September † see E. "†h‡ W ‡razm. 168. Sachau (1888). technology. D. com/ books?id=xEcVAAAAIAAJ& pg=PA277)'. see also Vol 2 of Al-Biruni's India. Bearman . 2004  Rafik Berjak & Muzaffar Iqbal.III (http:/ / findarticles. org/ articles/ biruni-abu-rayhan-i-life)  Gotthard Strohmaier. 1958). Heinrichs. "BŠR‹NŠ. by Edward C. com/ books?id=VbPna7GOoIEC& printsec=frontcover#v=onepage& q& f=false)'. 2006. edu/ cu/ lweb/ digital/ collections/ cul/ texts/ ldpd_5949073_001/ ) (Biruni. C. "CHORASMIA iii.  Jean Jacques Waardenburg.„17). (Brill. He was equally well versed in the mathematical. Edited by: P.III (http:/ / www. van Donzel and W. columbia. AB‹ RAYŒ‡N iv. (1974). Springer. google. Vol. Hodgson. History and Chronology" in Encyclopaedia Iranica  FranŽois de Blois. com/ books?id=bTEhqlkRn9UC& lpg=PR45)'. "BŠR‹NŠ. Indology" in Encyclopaedia Iranica  Al Biruni's India (Columbia University Archives) (http:/ / www.457. google. ' Historical eclipses and earth's rotation (http:/ / books. Anawati. ˆ  Bosworth. Summer. com/ p/ articles/ mi_m0QYQ/ is_1_3/ ai_n15947590/ pg_2/ ?tag=content.1027  George C. google. 2005). iranicaonline.  C. 27. capital of Khwarizm". "Al-Biruni (Beruni). . Islam & Science / Summer. physical and natural sciences and also distinguished himself as a geographer and historian. "Encyclopaedia of the history of science. AB‹ RAYŒ‡N v. Bosworth . 2010).. com/ googleScholar. N. S. astronomic. ˆ Helaine Selin. ' E. . .488-499  David Pingree. (University of Chicago Press. edu/ cgi-bin/ nph-iarticle_query?bibcode=1974JHA. p. 2nd edition. 2005  Rafik Berjak & Muzaffar Iqbal. and certainly the most original and profound. The Chorasmian Language" (http:/ / www.P. vol. The Kitab al-Tafhim is 7 . He is known as al-Ustdadh. Bianquis . BŠR‹NŠ. com/ books?id=Hp-H4KhAvoUC& lpg=PR3& pg=PA32#v=onepage& q& f=false)'  Douglas (1973. chronologist and linguist and as an impartial observer of customs and creeds. Vol. the original Iranian language of Chorasmia. in the suburb (birun) of Kath. Review of Zhizn' i trudy Beruni. ' Ibn Sina•Al-Biruni correspondence pt. C. Brill Online. Abu'l Rayhan Muhammad b. (Ataman. ' Alberuni's India: an account of the religion. Bacharach. AB‹ RAYŒ‡N viii. ' Biruni (http:/ / articles. ' Ibn Sina•Al-Biruni correspondence pt. "An introduction to Islamic cosmological doctrines: conceptions of nature and methods used for its study by the Ikhw‚n al-•af‚ˆ. 1997.. google." Encyclopaedia of Islam. and Ibn Sƒn‚". he rejected the emerging neo-Persian literature of his time (Firdawsi). Muslim Perceptions of other Religions: A Historical Survey. Accessed at 10 November 2007 <http://www. MacKenzie. Muzaffar Iqbal ' Ibn Sina•al-Biruni correspondence pt. History of Religions" in Encyclopaedia Iranica  Bruce B. B.  Jean Jacques Waardenburg. Taylor & Francis. Sachau. Geography" in Encyclopaedia Iranica  Georges C. Kitab al-Tafhim. google. p. 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