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Al Beruni

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Submitted By Adit510
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Al Beruni
(973 A.D. – 1048 A.D.)
“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.”
Who was Al Beruni?

Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Berūnī was born on September 4, 973 A.D., in Khwarezm, in present day Uzbekistan. Khwarezm was an important centre of learning and he received education from a prince of the Khwarezm-shah dynasty. He was a historian, astronomer, mathematician, geographer, ethnographer, and anthropologist. (History of India as told by it’s historians) Little is known about his childhood, except for the fact that he did not know his own father.

Al-beruni’s life was set in an unusually tumultuous political period. He served six different princes, all engaged in warfare. Despite living in this bellicose time, he managed to become an accomplished polymath and is heralded as a pioneer in Islamic historical writing. It is interesting to note that the political flux of this period, helped him receive patronage from multiple dynasties like the Khwarezm-shahs, the Samanids, and the Ghaznavids. This enabled him to interact with other great minds like Avicenna, an Iranian philosopher-scientist, where?

In 1017, Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Rayy, where Al Biruni was residing at the time . Al-Biruni, was taken as a captive to Ghazni. Despite being an unwilling guest in Ghazni, Biruni continued penning down works of science, mathematics, astronomy and more, and was soon appointed as the court astrologer. He accompanied Mahmud on his invasions into northwest India, and after it was conquered, he ended up living there for around forty years. This brought him into dialogue with Brahmana scholars and priests. India at that time was facing the scourge of invaders, and this hindered Al-Biruni whilst interacting with native scholars. He recognized this as one of the several obstacles he faced. It was during these times of distrust and insularity on the part of the brahmanas, that he wrote the Kitab ta'rikh al-Hind, his magnum opus, on the Indian Subcontinent in the eleventh century A.D.

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[ 1 ]. G. Saliba, Al-Bīrūnī, encyclopaedia britannica, available at http://www.britannica.com/biography/al-Biruni (Last visited on July 23, 2015).

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