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PostSubject: Al-Beerooni    Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:02 am

Al-Beerooni

The Encyclopedic Scientist

Abu Ar-Rayhaan Al-Beerooni is one of the greatest Muslim scientists of the Islamic civilization in the fourth and fifth centuries. He mastered many sciences such as mathematics, astronomy, physics, mineralogy, and pharmacology. In all these sciences he made innovative contributions that influenced the history of science and the development of civilization.

Birth and Early Years

Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Al-Khwaarizmi, known as Abu Ar-Rayhaan Al-Beerooni, was born on the 2nd of Thul-Hijjah 362 A.H., the 3rd of September 973 A.C. in a village near the city of Kath, the capital of Khwarizm, which is nowadays the Islamic Republic of Uzbekistan. This city was named Al-Beerooni after him.

Al-Beerooni received his education in his hometown where he memorized the Quran, and learnt the principles of reading, writing, jurisprudence, and Prophetic Hadeeth, just like the other students.

He liked the physics and mathematics, so he started to learn them at the hands of the famous


mathematician and astronomer, Abu Nasr Mansoor Ibn `Ali Ibn `Iraaq. Al-Beerooni worked under the supervision of this scientist in his astronomical observatory.

Moving from Ray to Jorgan

He stayed in his hometown until he was over twenty years old. Then he left and headed for Ray, a city near Tehran, in 384 A.H. During his stay in Ray, he met Al-Khawjandi the astronomer (who died in 390 A.H.) and together they conducted some astronomical researches on a mountain in Ray.

Later, he moved to Jorgan where he was highly esteemed by King Qaboos Ibn Washmakeer who himself was a learned man who sponsored scientists. During his stay, he met one of his greatest masters, Abu Sahl `Eesa Ibn Yahya the physician and astronomer (died in 389 A.H.). Al-Beerooni conducted some researches with his master and he wrote several books, the most important of which was "The Relics of the Previous Centuries".

In the palace of the Ghaznavids

Later, Al-Beerooni moved to Ghazni, nowadays Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. He lived in the palace of Sultan Mahmood Al-Ghaznawi where he focused on the study of astronomy, physics, mineralogy, and other sciences.

Al-Beerooni accompanied the Sultan in most of his seventeen military expeditions to India. Al-Beerooni seized the opportunity of his stay in India where he recorded highly valuable information in many


of his books, especially the one about India: The History of India.

After the death of Sultan Mahmood Al-Ghaznawi, his son Mas`ood succeeded him. The new Sultan loved science and culture and he used to encourage scientists and provide them with whatever they needed. In his palace, Al-Beerooni was also highly esteemed and appreciated. He dedicated himself to writing and he presented the Sultan with his most comprehensive book on astronomy and mathematics, which he named "The Mas`oodi Law".

Al-Beerooni remained well-regarded by the Ghaznavids even after the death of Sultan Mas`ood in 439 A.H.

Al-Beerooni died on the 3rd of Rajab 440 A.H., the 13th of December 1048 A.C.

His scientific researches

He conducted innovative researches on astronomy, physics, mineralogy, pharmacology, geography, and geology.

In astronomy, he raised the idea of gravity between bodies long before Newton (died in 1727).

Al-Beerooni also developed the cylindrical astrolabe which was not limited to observing planets and stars, but which was also used to define the dimensions and heights of the celestial bodies far away from the earth. He formed a theory for calculating the circumference of the earth and until now the theory bears his name in school books.

In mineralogy, he developed a device for measuring the quantitative weight of metals and stones. It is considered the oldest known device of the sort.

In geology, he formed pioneering theories on the formation of the crust of the earth and the developments of land layers and seas throughout the geological periods.

In pharmacology, he wrote down a scientific encyclopedia named "Saidanah" or "Pharmacology" which guides pharmacists to know about all known drugs, how to select the best of them, how to prepare a number of chemical compounds, and the use of some devices in the processes of distillation and filtration.

In sociology and culture, he wrote "the History of India". This book is one of the most important references for every student of Indian culture, customs, traditions, beliefs, legislations, philosophy, literature, and history.

In addition, he made some efforts in translation; he translated twenty-two scientific books from the Indian language (Sanskrit) into Arabic. He also translated some mathematics books from Greek into Arabic.

His writings

He wrote more than 40 books in various branches of knowledge, including:

1- "Al-Aathaar Al-Baaqiyah 'An Al-Quroon Al-Khaliyah" (The Relics of the Previous Centuries): It deals with the calendars and festivals of different peoples and religious groups such as the Greeks,


the Romans, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Christians, the Jews, and the Pre-Islamic Arabs. The book has already been published.

2- "Al-Jamaaher fi M'arefat Al-Jawaaher" (Encyclopedias on Knowing Gems): It discusses metals with emphasis on precious stones. This book was published in India in 1936.

3- "Al-Qanoon Al-Mas'oodi fi Al-Hay'ah wa An-Njoom" (The Mas`oodi Law): It consists of 12 chapters.


In this book, Al-Beerooni's contributions to astronomy are set out. The book also deals with time calculations, trigonometry, mathematics, and geography. This book was published in India in 1924.

4- "At-Tafheem Li Awaa'il senaa'at Al-Tanjeem" (The Beginners' Guide to Astrology): It is an encyclopedia that sets out the terminologies of engineering, mathematics, astronomy, geography, and the calculation of times. It also describes some astronomical instruments and devices. This book was published in London in 1934 with an English translation.

5- "Tahdeed Nihaayat Al-'Amaaken, Le-Tassheeh Masaafaat Al-Masaaken" (Defining Places for Correcting the Distances between Buildings): It is a book on mathematical geography in which the author defines the geographical latitudes and the differences in determining the lengths of locations. The book was published in Turkey in 1934.

His Character

All authors who write about Al-Beerooni unanimously agree that he mastered all the known branches of science of his time. Although he was well-versed in literature, Arabic language, history, and geography, his main concern was mathematics, physics, astronomy, and philosophy in addition to mastering several languages such as Greek, Persian, and Indian.

He dedicated all his life to science and the pleasures of this world did not distract him from acquiring knowledge. The pen never left his hand. He did not care so much about money except for his basic necessities. His scientific rank was highly appreciated by historians such as Sekhaw and Sarton.

Owing to his scientific rank and pioneering researches in space sciences, some of the features of the moon bear his name as well as eighteen other Muslim scientists.

Al-Beerooni in brief:

- Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Al-Khwaarizmi, known as Al-Beerooni, was born in 362 A.H.

- He studied physics, mathematics, and astronomy.

- He moved to Ray and worked with Al-Khawjandi the astronomer and they conducted some astronomical researches together.

- He moved to Jorgan where he met Abu Sahl `Eesa Ibn Yahya the physician and astronomer (died in 389 A.H.). Al-Beerooni conducted some researches with his master.

- He lived in the palace of Sultan Mahmood Al-Ghaznawi and he accompanied the great Sultan on most of his military expeditions to India. When his son Mas`ood succeeded him, Al-Beerooni was also highly esteemed and appreciated.

- He conducted innovative researches on astronomy, physics, mineralogy, pharmacology, geography, and geology.

- His most famous books are: "The Relics from the Previous Centuries", "The History of India", "The Mas`oodi Law", "Pharmacology" and "The Beginners' Guide to Astrology".

- Al-Beerooni died in Ghazni in 440 A.H.

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