Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Al-Bīrūnī (4/5 September 973 – 13 December 1048) known as Al-Biruni was a Khwarezmian Iranian Muslim scholar and polymath.
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 authored “Tarikh Al-Hind” (History of India) after exploring the Hindu faith practiced in India. 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.
Most of the works of Al-Biruni are in Arabic although he wrote one of his masterpieces, the Kitab al-Tafhim apparently 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 of which he no longer possesses copies. His extant works include:
- The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology(Kitab al-tafhim li-awa’il sina‘at al-tanjim).
- The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries– a comparative study of calendars of different cultures and civilizations, interlaced with mathematical, astronomical, and historical information.
- The Mas’udi Canon– an extensive encyclopedia on astronomy, geography, and engineering, named after Mas’ud, son of Mahmud of Ghazni, to whom he dedicated.
- Understanding Astrology– a question and answer style book about mathematics and astronomy, in Arabic and Persian.
- Pharmacy– about drugs and medicines.
- Gems about geology, minerals, and gems, dedicated to Mawdud son of Mas’ud.
- A historical summary book.
- History of Mahmud of Ghazni and his father.
History of Khawarezm