Bīrūnī, al-


Bīrūnī, al-
born September 973, Khwārezm, Khorāsān
died Dec. 13, 1048, Ghazna, Ghaznavid Afg.

Persian scientist and scholar.

Sometime after 1017, he went to India, a land of which he wrote an encyclopaedic account. Later he settled at Ghazna in Afghanistan, where he enjoyed the support of the renowned Mahmūd of Ghazna and other rulers of the Ghaznavid dynasty. Conversant with many languages, he wrote in Arabic, producing works on mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography, physics, medicine, history, and chronology. His scientific achievements included accurate calculations of latitude and longitude and explanations of natural springs by the laws of hydrostatics. His best-known works are A History of India and Chronology of Ancient Nations.

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▪ Persian scholar and scientist
in full  Abū ar-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī 
born September 973, Khwārezm, Khorāsān [now in Uzbekistan]
died Dec. 13, 1048, Ghazna, Ghaznavid Afghanistan [now Ghaznī, Afg.]

      Persian scholar and scientist, one of the most learned men of his age and an outstanding intellectual figure.

      Possessing a profound and original mind of encyclopaedic scope, al-Bīrūnī was conversant with Turkish, Persian, Sanskrit, Hebrew, and Syriac in addition to the Arabic in which he wrote. He applied his talents in many fields of knowledge, excelling particularly in astronomy, mathematics, chronology, physics, medicine, and history. He corresponded with the great philosopher Ibn Sīna (Avicenna). Some time after 1017 he went to India and made a comprehensive study of its culture. Later he settled at Ghazna in Afghanistan. In religion he was a Shīʿite Muslim, but with agnostic tendencies.

      Al-Bīrūnī's most famous works are Āthār al-bāqīyah (Chronology of Ancient Nations); At-Tafhīm (“Elements of Astrology”); Al-Qanūn al-Masʿūdī (“The Masʿūdī Canon”), a major work on astronomy, which he dedicated to Sultan Masʿūd of Ghazna; Tā'rīkh al-Hind (“A History of India”); and Kitāb as-Saydalah, a treatise on drugs used in medicine. In his works on astronomy, he discussed with approval the theory of the Earth's rotation on its axis and made accurate calculations of latitude and longitude. In those on physics, he explained natural springs by the laws of hydrostatics and determined with remarkable accuracy the specific weight of 18 precious stones and metals. In his works on geography, he advanced the daring view that the valley of the Indus had once been a sea basin.

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Universalium. 2010.

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