Abu Rayhan al-Biruni // (973 – after 1050) was an Iranian scholar and polymath during the Islamic Golden Age. He has been called variously the "founder of Indology", "Father of Comparative Religion", "Father of modern geodesy", and the first anthropologist.
Abu Rayhan al-Biruni
ابوریحان محمد بن احمد البیرونی
|Died||c. 1050 (aged 77)|
|Era||Islamic Golden Age|
|Region||Khwarezm, Central Asia|
Ziyarid dynasty (Rey) Ghaznavid dynasty (Ghazni)
|Main interest(s)||Geology, physics, anthropology, comparative sociology, astronomy, chemistry, history, geography, mathematics, medicine, psychology, philosophy, theology|
|Notable work(s)||The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries, Gems, Indica, The Mas'udi Canon, Understanding Astrology|
Al-Biruni was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, and also distinguished himself as a historian, chronologist and linguist. He studied almost all the sciences of his day and was rewarded abundantly for his tireless research in many fields of knowledge. Royalty and other powerful elements in society funded Al-Biruni's research and sought him out with specific projects in mind. Influential in his own right, Al-Biruni was himself influenced by the scholars of other nations, such as the Greeks, from whom he took inspiration when he turned to the study of philosophy. A gifted linguist, he was conversant in Khwarezmian, Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and also knew Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. He spent much of his life in Ghazni, then capital of the Ghaznavids, in modern-day central-eastern Afghanistan. In 1017 he travelled to the Indian subcontinent and wrote a treatise on Indian culture entitled Tārīkh al-Hind (History of India), after exploring the Hindu faith practiced in India. He was, for his time, an admirably impartial writer on the customs and creeds of various nations, his scholarly objectivity earning him the title al-Ustadh ("The Master") in recognition of his remarkable description of early 11th-century India.
Al-Biruni, which means "from Birun", is known as Biruni (Persian: بیرونی) in Persian and as Al-Biruni (Arabic: البيروني) in Arabic. His full name in Arabic is Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Al-Bīrūnī, and in Persian Persian: ابوریحان محمد بن احمد البیرونی Abū Rayḥān Bērōnī; New Persian: Abū Rayḥān Bīrūnī)
He was born in the outer district (Bīrūn) of Kath, the capital of the Afrighid dynasty of Khwarezm (Chorasmia) in Central Asia - now part of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan in the northwest of Uzbekistan.
Al-Biruni spent the first twenty-five years of his life in Khwarezm where he studied Islamic jurisprudence, theology, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy and dabbled not only in the field of physics, but also in those of most of the other sciences. The Iranian Khwarezmian language, which was Biruni's mother tongue, survived for several centuries after Islam until the Turkification of the region - as must some at least of the culture and lore of ancient Khwarezm - for it is hard to imagine that the commanding figure of Biruni, a repository of so much knowledge, should have appeared in a cultural vacuum. He was sympathetic to the Afrighids, who were overthrown by the rival dynasty of Ma'munids in 995. He left his homeland for Bukhara, then under the Samanid ruler Mansur II the son of Nuh. There he corresponded with Avicenna and there are extant exchanges of views between these two scholars.
In 998, he went to the court of the Ziyarid amir of Tabaristan, Shams al-Mo'ali Abol-hasan Ghaboos ibn Wushmgir. There he wrote his first important work, 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, probably around 1000 A.D., though he later made some amendments to the book. He also visited the court of the Bavandid ruler Al-Marzuban. Accepting the definite demise of the Afrighids at the hands of the Ma'munids, he made peace with the latter who then ruled Khwarezm. Their court at Gorganj (also in Khwarezm) was gaining fame for its gathering of brilliant scientists.
In 1017, Mahmud of Ghazni took Rey. Most scholars, including al-Biruni, were taken to Ghazni, the capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty. Biruni was made court astrologer and accompanied Mahmud on his invasions into India, living there for a few years. He was forty-four years old when he went on the journeys with Mahmud of Ghazni. Biruni became acquainted with all things related to India. During this time he wrote his study of India, finishing it around 1030. Along with his writing, Al-Biruni also made sure to extend his study to science while on the expeditions. He sought to find a method to measure the height of the sun, and created a makeshift quadrant for that purpose. Al-Biruni was able to make much progress in his study over the frequent travels that he went on throughout the lands of India.
Belonging to the Sunni Ash'ari school, al-Biruni nevertheless also associated with Maturidi theologians. He was however, very critical of the Mu'tazila, particularly criticising al-Jahiz and Zurqan. He also repudiated Avicenna for his views on the eternality of the universe.
Mathematics, astronomy and invention of minutes and seconds
Ninety-five of 146 books known to have been written by Bīrūnī are devoted to astronomy, mathematics, and related subjects like mathematical geography. He lived during the Islamic Golden Age, when the Abbasid Caliphs promoted astronomical research, because such research possessed not only a scientific but also a religious dimension: in Islam worship and prayer require a knowledge of the precise directions of sacred locations, which can be determined accurately only through the use of astronomical data.
In carrying out his research, Al-Biruni used a variety of different techniques dependent upon the particular field of study involved.
His major work on astrology is primarily an astronomical and mathematical text; he states: "I have begun with Geometry and proceeded to Arithmetic and the Science of Numbers, then to the structure of the Universe and finally to Judicial Astrology [sic], for no one who is worthy of the style and title of Astrologer [sic] who is not thoroughly conversant with these for sciences." In these earlier chapters he lays the foundations for the final chapter, on astrological prognostication, which he criticises. He was the first to make the semantic distinction between astronomy and astrology and, in a later work, wrote a refutation of astrology, in contradistinction to the legitimate science of astronomy, for which he expresses wholehearted support. Some suggest that his reasons for refuting astrology relate to the methods used by astrologers being based upon pseudoscience rather than empiricism and also to a conflict between the views of the astrologers and those of the orthodox theologians of Sunni Islam.
He wrote an extensive commentary on Indian astronomy in the Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind mostly translation of Aryabhatta's work, in which he claims to have resolved the matter of Earth's rotation in a work on astronomy that is no longer extant, 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. There are, however, other reasons which make it impossible. This question is most difficult to solve. The most prominent of both modern and ancient astronomers have deeply studied the question of the moving of the earth, and tried to refute it. We, too, have composed a book on the subject called Miftah-ilm-alhai'a (Key to Astronomy), in which we think we have surpassed our predecessors, if not in the words, at all events in the matter.
In his description of Sijzi's astrolabe he hints at contemporary debates about the movement of the earth. He carried on a lengthy correspondence and sometimes heated debate with Ibn Sina, in which Biruni repeatedly attacks Aristotle's celestial physics: he argues by simple experiment that the vacuum state must exist; he is "amazed" by the weakness of Aristotle's argument against elliptical orbits on the basis that they would create a vacuum; he attacks the immutability of the celestial spheres.
In his major astronomical work, the Mas'ud Canon, Biruni observed that, contrary to Ptolemy, the sun's apogee (highest point in the heavens) was mobile, not fixed. He wrote a treatise on the astrolabe, describing how to use it to tell the time and as a quadrant for surveying. One particular diagram of an eight geared device could be considered an ancestor of later Muslim astrolabes and clocks. More recently, Biruni's eclipse data was used by Dunthorne in 1749 to help determine the acceleration of the moon, and his data on equinox times and eclipses was used as part of a study of Earth's past rotation.
Al-Biruni was the person who first subdivided the hour sexagesimally into minutes, seconds, thirds and fourths in 1000 while discussing Jewish months.
Refutation of Eternal Universe
Like later adherents of the Ash'ari school, such as al-Ghazali, al-Biruni is famous for vehemently defending the majority Sunni position that the universe had a beginning, being a strong supporter of creatio ex nihilo, specifically refuting the philosopher Avicenna in a multiple letter correspondence.
He further stated that Aristotle, whose arguments Avicenna uses, contradicted himself when he stated that the universe and matter has a start whilst holding on to the idea that matter is pre-eternal. In his letters to Avicenna, he stated the argument of Aristotle, that there is a change in the creator. He further argued that stating there is a change in the creator would mean there is a change in the effect (meaning the universe has change) and that the universe coming into being after not being is such a change (and so arguing there is no change – no beginning – means Aristotle believes the creator is negated).
Geography and Geodesy
Bīrūnī devised a novel method of determining the earth's radius by means of the observation of the height of a mountain. He carried it out at Nandana in Pind Dadan Khan (present-day Pakistan). He used trigonometry to calculate the radius of the Earth using measurements of the height of a hill and measurement of the dip in the horizon from the top of that hill. His calculated radius for the Earth of 3928.77 miles was 2% higher than the actual mean radius of 3847.80 miles. His estimate was given as 12,803,337 cubits, so the accuracy of his estimate compared to the modern value depends on what conversion is used for cubits. The exact length of a cubit is not clear; with an 18-inch cubit his estimate would be 3,600 miles, whereas with a 22-inch cubit his estimate would be 4,200 miles. One significant problem with this approach is that Al-Biruni was not aware of atmospheric refraction and made no allowance for it. He used a dip angle of 34 arc minutes in his calculations, but refraction can typically alter the measured dip angle by about 1/6, making his calculation only accurate to within about 20% of the true value.
In his Codex Masudicus (1037), Al-Biruni theorized the existence of a landmass along the vast ocean between Asia and Europe, or what is today known as the Americas. He argued for its existence on the basis of his accurate estimations of the Earth's circumference and Afro-Eurasia's size, which he found spanned only two-fifths of the Earth's circumference, reasoning that the geological processes that gave rise to Eurasia must surely have given rise to lands in the vast ocean between Asia and Europe. He also theorized that at least some of the unknown landmass would lie within the known latitudes which humans could inhabit, and therefore would be inhabited.
Pharmacology and mineralogy
Biruni wrote a pharmacopoeia, the "Kitab al-saydala fi al-tibb" (Book on the Pharmacopoeia of Medicine). It lists synonyms for drug names in Syriac, Persian, Greek, Baluchi, Afghan, Kurdi, and some Indian languages.
He used a hydrostatic balance to determine the density and purity of metals and precious stones. He classified gems by what he considered their primary physical properties, such as specific gravity and hardness, rather than the common practice of the time of classifying them by colour.
History and chronology
Biruni's main essay on political history, Kitāb al-musāmara fī aḵbār Ḵᵛārazm (Book of nightly conversation concerning the affairs of Ḵᵛārazm) is now known only from quotations in Bayhaqī's Tārīkh-e Masʿūdī. In addition to this various discussions of historical events and methodology are found in connection with the lists of kings in his al-Āthār al-bāqiya and in the Qānūn as well as elsewhere in the Āthār, in India, and scattered throughout his other works. Al-Biruni's "Chronology of Ancient Nations" attempted to accurately establish the length of various historical eras.
History of religions
Bīrūnī is widely considered to be one of the most important Muslim authorities on the history of religion. - a pioneer in the field of comparative religion in his study of, among other creeds, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. He assumed the superiority of Islam: "We have here given an account of these things in order that the reader may learn by the comparative treatment of the subject how much superior the institutions of Islam are, and how more plainly this contrast brings out all customs and usages, differing from those of Islam, in their essential foulness." However he was happy on occasion to express admiration for other cultures, and quoted directly from the sacred texts of other religions when reaching his conclusions. He strove to understand them on their own terms rather than trying to prove them wrong. His underlying concept was that all cultures are at least distant relatives of all other cultures because they are all human constructs. "Rather, what Al-Biruni seems to be arguing is that there is a common human element in every culture that makes all cultures distant relatives, however foreign they might seem to one another."
Al-Biruni divides Hindus into an educated and an uneducated class. He describes the educated as monotheistic, believing that God is one, eternal, and omnipotent and eschewing all forms of idol worship. He recognizes that uneducated Hindus worshiped a multiplicity of idols yet points out that even some Muslims (such as the Jabriyah) have adopted anthropomorphic concepts of God.
Al-Biruni wrote about the peoples, customs and religions of the Indian subcontinent. According to Akbar S. Ahmed, like modern anthropologists, he engaged in extensive participant observation with a given group of people, learnt their language and studied their primary texts, presenting his findings with objectivity and neutrality using cross-cultural comparisons. Akhbar S. Ahmed concluded that Al-Biruni can be considered as the first Anthropologist, others, however, have argued that he can hardly be considered an anthropologist in the conventional sense.
Al-Biruni's fame as an Indologist rests primarily on two texts. Al-Biruni wrote an encyclopedic work on India called Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind min maqūlah maqbūlah fī al-ʿaql aw mardhūlah (variously translated as "Verifying All That the Indians Recount, the Reasonable and the Unreasonable" or "The book confirming what pertains to India, whether rational or despicable") in which he explored nearly every aspect of Indian life, including religion, history, geography, geology, science, and mathematics. During his journey through India, military and political history were not Al-Biruni's main focus: he decided rather to document the civilian and scholarly aspects of Hindu life, examining culture, science, and religion. He explores religion within a rich cultural context. He expresses his objective with simple eloquence: He also translated the Yoga sutras of Indian sage Patanjali with the title Tarjamat ketāb Bātanjalī fi’l-ḵalāṣ men al-ertebāk.
I shall not produce the arguments of our antagonists in order to refute such of them, as I believe to be in the wrong. My book is nothing but a simple historic record of facts. I shall place before the reader the theories of the Hindus exactly as they are, and I shall mention in connection with them similar theories of the Greeks in order to show the relationship existing between them. (1910, Vol. 1, p. 7;1958, p. 5)
An example of Al-Biruni's analysis is his summary of why many Hindus hate Muslims. Biruni notes in the beginning of his book how the Muslims had a hard time learning about Hindu knowledge and culture. He explains that Hinduism and Islam are totally different from each other. Moreover, Hindus in 11th century India had suffered waves of destructive attacks on many of its cities, and Islamic armies had taken numerous Hindu slaves to Persia, which – claimed Al-Biruni – contributed to Hindus becoming suspicious of all foreigners, not just Muslims. Hindus considered Muslims violent and impure, and did not want to share anything with them. Over time, Al-Biruni won the welcome of Hindu scholars. Al-Biruni collected books and studied with these Hindu scholars to become fluent in Sanskrit, discover and translate into Arabic the mathematics, science, medicine, astronomy and other fields of arts as practiced in 11th-century India. He was inspired by the arguments offered by Indian scholars who believed earth must be globular in shape, which they felt was the only way to fully explain the difference in daylight hours by latitude, seasons and earth's relative positions with moon and stars. At the same time, Al-Biruni was also critical of Indian scribes, who he believed carelessly corrupted Indian documents while making copies of older documents. He also criticized the Hindus on what he saw them do and not do, for example finding them deficient in curiosity about history and religion.
One of the specific aspects of Hindu life that Al-Biruni studied was the Hindu calendar. His scholarship on the topic exhibited great determination and focus, not to mention the excellence in his approach of the in-depth research he performed. He developed a method for converting the dates of the Hindu calendar to the dates of the three different calendars that were common in the Islamic countries of his time period, the Greek, the Arab/Muslim, and the Persian. Biruni also employed astronomy in the determination of his theories, which were complex mathematical equations and scientific calculation that allows one to convert dates and years between the different calendars.
The book does not limit itself to tedious records of battle because Al-Biruni found the social culture to be more important. The work includes research on a vast array of topics of Indian culture, including descriptions of their traditions and customs. Although he tried to stay away from political and military history, Biruni did indeed record important dates and noted actual sites of where significant battles occurred. Additionally, he chronicled stories of Indian rulers and told of how they ruled over their people with their beneficial actions and acted in the interests of the nation. But, his details are brief and mostly just list rulers without referring to their real names. He did not go on about deeds that each one carried out during their reign, which keeps in line with Al-Biruni's mission to try to stay away from political histories. Al-Biruni also described the geography of India in his work. He documented different bodies of water and other natural phenomena. These descriptions are useful to today's modern historians because they are able to use Biruni's scholarship to locate certain destinations in modern-day India. Historians are able to make some matches while also concluding that certain areas seem to have disappeared and been replaced with different cities. Different forts and landmarks were able to be located, legitimizing Al-Biruni's contributions with their usefulness to even modern history and archeology.
The dispassionate account of Hinduism given by Al-Biruni was remarkable for its time. He stated that he was fully objective in his writings, remaining unbiased like a proper historian should. Biruni documented everything about India just as it happened. But, he did note how some of the accounts of information that he was given by natives of the land may not have been reliable in terms of complete accuracy, however, he did try to be as honest as possible in his writing. Dr. Edward C. Sachau compares it to "a magic island of quiet, impartial research in the midst of a world of clashing swords, burning towns, and plundered temples." Biruni's writing was very poetic, which may diminish some of the historical value of the work for modern times. The lack of description of battle and politics makes those parts of the picture completely lost. However, Many have used Al-Biruni's work to check facts of history in other works that may have been ambiguous or had their validity questioned.
Most of the works of Al-Biruni are in Arabic although he seemingly wrote the Kitab al-Tafhim in both Persian and Arabic, showing his mastery over both languages. Bīrūnī'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, mathematical geography, mathematics, astrological aspects and transits, astronomical instruments, chronology, comets, an untitled category, astrology, anecdotes, religion, and books he no longer possesses.
Selection of extant works
- A Critical Study of What India Says, Whether Accepted by Reason or Refused (تحقيق ما للهند من مقولة معقولة في العقل أو مرذولة); or Indica; or Kitāb al-Hind; Kitab al-Bīrūnī fī Taḥqīq mā li-al-Hind.; or Alberuni's India (Translation) – compendium of India's religion and philosophy.
- Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (Kitab al-tafhim li-awa’il sina‘at al-tanjim); in Persian
- The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries (الآثار الباقية عن القرون الخالية) – a comparative study of calendars of cultures and civilizations, (including several chapters on Christian cults) with mathematical, astronomical, and historical information.
- Melkite Calendar, or Les Fetes des Melchites – Arabic text with French translation extract from The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries.
- The Mas'udi Law (قانون مسعودي) – encyclopedia of astronomy, geography, and engineering, dedicated to Mas'ud, son of Mahmud of Ghazni of the eponymous title.
- Understanding Astrology (التفهيم لصناعة التنجيم) – a question and answer style book about mathematics and astronomy, in Arabic and Persian.
- Pharmacy – on drugs and medicines.
- Gems (الجماهر في معرفة الجواهر) – geology manual of minerals and gems. Dedicated to Mawdud son of Mas'ud.
- A Short History
- History of Mahmud of Ghazni and his father
- History of Khawarezm
- Kitab al-Āthār al-Bāqīyah ‘an al-Qurūn al-Khālīyah.
- Risālah li-al-Bīrūnī (Epître de Berūnī)
Biruni wrote most of his works in Arabic, as the scientific language of his age, however, his Persian version of the Al-Tafhim is one of the most important of the early works of science in the Persian language, and is a rich source for Persian prose and lexicography. The book covers the Quadrivium in a detailed and skilled fashion.
Extraordinarily, following Al-Biruni's death, during the remainder of the period of Ghaznavid rule and the centuries following, his work was neither built upon, nor even referenced. It was only centuries later (and in the West at that), that his works were once again read and reference made to them - most notably in the case of his book on India, which became relevant to the British Empire's activity in India from the 17th century.
A film about his life, Abu Raykhan Beruni, was released in the Soviet Union in 1974.
In June 2009, Iran donated a pavilion to the United Nations Office in Vienna—placed in the central Memorial Plaza of the Vienna International Center. Named the Scholars Pavilion, it features the statues of four prominent Iranian scholars: Avicenna, Abu Rayhan Biruni, Zakariya Razi (Rhazes) and Omar Khayyam.
Notes and references
- Al-Biruni's idea of al-Hind (India) was a cultural zone, more or less coinciding with the present day India.
- Kennedy, E.S. (26 June 1975). "The Exact Sciences". In Frye, R. N.; Fisher, William Bayne (eds.). The Cambridge History of Iran: The period from the Arab invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge University Press. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6.
- Ataman, Kemal (2008). Understanding Other Religions: Al-Biruni's and Gadamer's "fusion of Horizons". CRVP. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-56518-252-3.
- Akhtar, Zia. "Constitutional legitimacy: Sharia law, secularism and the social compact." Indon. L. Rev. 1 (2011): 107. "The largest school of thought of Sunni Islam, the Ashari rejected the natural law tradition. Its leading protagonist Al-Biruni, a scholar and mathematician, viewed natural law as the 'law of the jungle', and argued that the antagonism between human beings can only be overcome"
- Sardar, Ziauddin (1998). "Science in Islamic philosophy". Islamic Philosophy. Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge.
Indeed, some of the greatest scientists in Islam, such as Ibn al-Haytham (d. 1039), who discovered the basic laws of optics, and al-Biruni (d. 1048), who measured the circumference of the earth and discussed the rotation of the earth on its axis, were supporters of Ash'arite theology
- Kaminski, Joseph J. "The Trajectory of the Development of Islamic Thought—A Comparison Between Two Earlier and Two Later Scholars." The Contemporary Islamic Governed State. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2017. 31–70. "For example, Ibn al-Haytham and Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī were among the most important medieval scholars who used the scientific method in their approach to natural science, and they were both Ash'arites"
- "BĪRŪNĪ, ABŪ RAYḤĀN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
BĪRŪNĪ, ABŪ RAYḤĀN MOḤAMMAD b. Aḥmad (362/973- after 442/1050), scholar and polymath of the period of the late Samanids and early Ghaznavids and one of the two greatest intellectual figures of his time in the eastern lands of the Muslim world, the other being Ebn Sīnā (Avicenna).
- Bosworth, C. E. (1968). "The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (A.D. 1000–1217)". In Boyle, J.A. (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods. Vol. Cambridge University Press. p. 7.
The Iranian scholar al-Biruni says that the Khwarazmian era began when the region was first settled and cultivated, this date being placed in the early 13th-century BC)
- Frye, Richard Nelson (February 2000). The Golden Age of Persia. Phoenix Publishing, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-7538-0944-0.
The contribution of Iranians to Islamic mathematics is overwhelming. ..The name of Abu Raihan Al-Biruni, from Khwarazm, must be mentioned since he was one of the greatest scientists in World History
- Khan, M. A. Saleem (2001). Al-Biruni's Discovery of India: An Interpretative Study. iAcademicBooks. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-58868-139-3.
It is generally accepted that he was Persian by origin, and spoke the Khwarizmian dialect
- Rahman, H. U. (1995), A Chronology of Islamic History : 570 – 1000 CE, London: Mansell Publishing, p. 167, ISBN 1-897940-32-7,
A Persian by birth, Biruni produced his writings in Arabic, though he knew, besides Persian, no less than four other languages.
- Frye, Richard Nelson (February 2000). The Golden Age of Persia. Phoenix Publishing, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-7538-0944-0.
- "Al-Bīrūnī | Persian scholar and scientist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
- Lindberg, David C. (15 March 1980). Science in the Middle Ages. University of Chicago Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-226-48233-0.
A Persian by birth, a rationalist in disposition, this contemporary of Avicenna and Alhazen not only studied history, philosophy, and geography in depth, but wrote one of the most comprehensive Muslim astronomical treatises, the Qanun Al-Masu'di.
- Massignon, L. (1951). "Al-Biruni et la valuer internationale de la science arabe"". Al-Bīrūnī Commemoration Volume A.H.362-A.H.1362. Iran Society. pp. 217–219.
In a celebrated preface to the book of Drugs, Biruni says, "And if it is true that in all nations one likes to adorn oneself by using the language to which one has remained loyal, having become accustomed to using it with friends and companions according to need, I must judge for myself that in my native Khwarezmian, science has as much as chance of becoming perpetuated as a camel has of facing Kaaba.
- Strohmaier 2006, p. 112
- MacKenzie 2011
- Samian, A.L. (31 July 1997). "Al-Biruni". In Selin, Helaine (ed.). Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Westen Cultures. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7923-4066-9.
his native language was the Khwarizmian dialect
- Boilot, D.J., Al-Biruni (Beruni), Abu'l Rayhan Muhammad b. Ahmad New Ed., 1, pp. 1236–1238,
He was born of an Iranian family in 362/973 (according to al-Ghadanfar, on 3 Dhu'l-Hididja/ 4 September – see E. Sachau, Chronology, xivxvi), in the suburb (birun) of Kath, capital of Khwarizm....was one of the greatest scholars of mediaeval Islam, and certainly the most original and profound. He was equally well versed in the mathematical, astronomic, physical and natural sciences and also distinguished himself as a geographer and historian, chronologist and linguist and as an impartial observer of customs and creeds. He is known as al-Ustdadh, 'the Master'.in Bearman, Bianquis & Bosworth 2007 harvnb error: no target: CITEREFBearmanBianquisBosworth2007 (help)
- Berggren, J. L.; Borwein, Jonathan; Borwein, Peter (2014). Pi: A Source Book. Springer. p. 680. ISBN 978-1-4757-4217-6.
The Persian polymath, al-Birüni, a younger contemporary of Abu'l-Wafa', calculated the perimeters of inscribed and ...
- Bukhara, the Eastern Dome of Islam: Urban Development, Urban Space By Anette Gangler, Heinz Gaube, Attilio Petruccio
- Regimes of Comparatis edited by Renaud Gagné, Simon Goldhill, Geoffrey Lloyd
- Kamaruzzaman, Kamar Oniah (2003). "Al-Biruni: Father of Comparative Religion". Intellectual Discourse.
- Ahmed, Akbar S. (1984). "Al-Beruni: The First Anthropologist". RAIN. 60 (60): 9–10. doi:10.2307/3033407
- PhD, Joseph J. Kerski (17 October 2016). Interpreting Our World: 100 Discoveries That Revolutionized Geography: 100 Discoveries That Revolutionized Geography. ABC-CLIO. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-61069-920-4. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via Google Books.
- Yano, Michio (1 September 2013). "al-Bīrūnī". Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.
- Healey, Christina (2006). Al-Biruni.
- Verdon, Noémie (2015). "Conceptualisation of al-Hind by Arabic and Persian writers". In Ray, Himanshu Prabha (ed.). Negotiating Cultural Identity: Landscapes in Early Medieval South Asian History. Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-317-34130-7.
- Behnegarsoft.com (3 July 2019). "به مناسبت روز بزرگداشت ابوریحان بیرونی و مهندس نقشهبردار، مراسمی شهریور ماه سال جاری ازسوی جامعه صنفی مهندسان نقشه بردار ایران با حضور مقامات و مسئولین حوزه مهندسی و نقشهبرداری، مسئولین سازمان نقشه برداری کشور، پیشکسوتان این رشته و اعضاء جامعه برگزار گردید | سازمان نقشه برداری کشور". سازمان نقشه برداری کشور (in Persian). Retrieved 2 September 2020.
- Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad (1879). The Chronology of Ancient Nations: An English Version of the Arabic Text of the Athâr-ul-Bâkiya of Albîrûnî, Or "Vestiges of the Past". Translated by Sachau, Eduard. Oriental translation fund of Great Britain & Ireland.
In our time the word is pronounced Biruni (or Beerooni), e.g. in Teheran. but the vowel of the first syllable is majhul, which means that in more ancient times it was pronounced Beron (or Bayroon)... That the name was pronounced in this way in Central Asia about the author's time, we learn from indisputable statement regarding our author from the pen of Alsam'ani, a philologist and biographer of high repute.
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Although his native Khwarezmian was also an Iranian language, he rejected the emerging neo-Persian literature of his time (Firdawsi), preferring Arabic instead as the only adequate medium of science.
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Al-Biruni contributed to the introduction of the experimental scientifique method to mechanics.
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Using a whole body of mathematical methods (not only those inherited from the antique theory of ratios and infinitesimal techniques, but also the methods of the contemporary algebra and fine calculation techniques), Muslim scientists raised statics to a new, higher level. The classical results of Archimedes in the theory of the centre of gravity were generalized and applied to three-dimensional bodies, the theory of ponderable lever was founded and the 'science of gravity' was created and later further developed in medieval Europe. The phenomena of statics were studied by using the dynamic approach so that two trends – statics and dynamics – turned out to be inter-related within a single science, mechanics. The combination of the dynamic approach with Archimedean hydrostatics gave birth to a direction in science which may be called medieval hydrodynamics. [...] Numerous fine experimental methods were developed for determining the specific weight, which were based, in particular, on the theory of balances and weighing. The classical works of al-Biruni and al-Khazini can by right be considered as the beginning of the application of experimental methods in medieval science.
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Chorasmian, the original Iranian language of Chorasmia, is attested at two stages of its development. The earliest examples have been left by the great Chorasmian scholar Abū Rayḥān Bīrūnī.
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