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Biruni Definition

Abureyhan Mohammad Ibn Biruni (b. Sep, 5, 973 Kharazm - Dec, 13, 1048 Ghazneyn) Iranian scientist, mathematician, astronomer, and historian. (Wikipedia) - Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī   (Redirected from Biruni) "Al-Biruni" redirects here. For the lunar crater, see Al-Biruni (crater). For the university, see Al-Beroni University.
This article has an unclear citation style. The references used may be made clearer with a different or consistent style of citation, footnoting, or external linking. (September 2012)
Al-Bīrūnī, Bērūnī (بیرونی) Alberonius Full name Born Died Era Region Main interests Notable ideas Major works
An imaginary rendition of Al Biruni on a 1973 Soviet post stamp
Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Al-Birunī
September 4/5, 973 Khwarezm, Samanid Empire (modern-day Uzbekistan)
December 13, 1048(1048-12-13) (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, geodesy
Ta''rikh al-Hind, The Mas''udi Canon, Understanding Astrology
Influenced by
  • Al-Sijzi, Avicenna, Omar Khayyam, al-Khazini, Zakariya al-Qazwini, Maragha observatory, Islamic science, Islamic philosophy

Abū al-Rayhān Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bīrūnī (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 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". 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 Earth sciences, and is regarded as the "father of geodesy" for his important contributions to that field, along with his significant contributions to geography.

  • 1 Life
  • 2 Mathematics and astronomy
  • 3 Physics
  • 4 Geography
  • 5 Pharmacology and mineralogy
  • 6 History and chronology
  • 7 History of Religions
  • 8 Indology
  • 9 Works
    • 9.1 Chronicle of Nations
    • 9.2 Persian work
  • 10 Legacy
  • 11 Notes and references
  • 12 Further reading
  • 13 External links
    • 13.1 Works of Al-Biruni online


He was born in the outer district of Kath, the capital of the Afrighid dynasty of Khwarezm (or Chorasmia). The word Biruni means "from the outer-district" in Persian, and so this became his nisba: "al-Bīrūnī" = "the Birunian". His first twenty-five years were spent in Khwarezm where he studied Islamic jurisprudence, theology, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, medics and other sciences. The Iranian Khwarezmian language, which was the language of Biruni, survived for several centuries after Islam until the Turkification of the region, and so must some at least of the culture and lore of ancient Khwarezm, for it is hard to see the commanding figure of Biruni, a repository of so much knowledge, appearing in a cultural vacuum.

Al-Biruni''s bust at an entrance to National library of Tajikistan

He was sympathetic to the Afrighids, who were overthrown by the rival dynasty of Ma''munids in 995. Leaving his homeland, he left for Bukhara, then under the Samanid ruler Mansur II the son of Nuh. There he also 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 Ghazna, 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. Biruni became acquainted with all things related to India. He may even have learned some Sanskrit. During this time he wrote the Kitab ta''rikh al-Hind, finishing it around 1030.

Mathematics and astronomy
This section requires expansion. (June 2011)
An illustration from al-Biruni''s astronomical works, explains the different phases of the moon.Diagram illustrating a method proposed and used by Al-Biruni to estimate the radius and circumference of the Earth

Ninety-five of 146 books known to have been written by Bīrūnī, were devoted to astronomy, mathematics, and related subjects like math­ematical geography.

Biruni''s major work on astrology is primarily an astronomical and mathematical text, only the last chapter concerns astrological prognostication. His endorsement of astrology is limited, in so far as he condemns horary astrology as ''sorcery''.

In discussing speculation by other Muslim writers on the possible motion of the Earth, Biruni acknowledged that he could neither prove nor disprove it, but commented favourably on the idea that the Earth rotates. He wrote an extensive commentary on Indian astronomy in the Kitab ta''rikh al-Hind, 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):

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''s he hints at contemporary debates over 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 vacuum must exist; he is "amazed" by the weakness of Aristotle''s argument against elliptical orbits on the basis that they would create vacuum; he attacks the immutability of the celestial spheres; and so on.

In his major extant astronomical work, the Mas''ud Canon, Biruni utilizes his observational data to disprove Ptolemy''s immobile solar apogee. More recently, 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.


Al-Biruni contributed to the introduction of the experimental scientific method to mechanics, unified statics and dynamics into the science of mechanics, and combined the fields of hydrostatics with dynamics to create hydrodynamics.

This section requires expansion. (June 2011)
Four directions and Political divisions of Iran by Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī

Bīrūnī 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, Pakistan.

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