Islamic Golden Age Series Big Socho ( Faisal Warraich ) Urdu

Who Was Al-Bironi ? | البیرونی کون تھا؟

Welcome to Pakistanwap. If you happen to have a good telescope, point it at the full moon. If you set it its coordinates to 17.9 degrees latitude and 92.5 degrees longitude, the part of the moon visible to you is called ‘the Al-Biruni Crater’. This part of the moon is dedicated to the 10th century Muslim scientist, mathematician and philosopher, Abu Rehan Al-Biruni. Who was Al-beruni and why is a part of the moon named after him.

Who Was Al-Bironi ? | ابو ریحان البیرونی کون تھا؟

Who Was Al-Bironi ? | البیرونی کون تھا؟

Keep watching. Introduction Abu Rehan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Beruni is a great critical thinker, Physicist, Mineralogist, Philanthropist and Scientist. But his true fame is in the fields of Mathematics, Geometry and Astronomy. Because of his contributions in these fields, he is considered to be one of the greatest scientists ever. He was so ahead of his time that many of his discoveries were beyond the grasp of his contemporaries. Early Life He was born in Kath, a city of Khawarzm in 973.

Today the place is in Uzbekistan. Ever since his childhood, he was a rather curious and keen observer of nature. For him everything carried a world of wonders within itself. His research included a wide range of topics. In his lifetime, Central Caliphate had finished and the Muslim world was divided into smaller states. It was a time of political turmoil. But the seeds of knowledge planted by the Abbasids had started to flourish. Education Before he was born, many a Muslim scientists had already made big names for themselves.

During that period, libraries across the Muslim world were rich with ancient and modern knowledge. Numerous Greeks had been translated and were publicly available. Paper was easily available which made book writing easier. Al-Biruni was fortunate to be born in that period and found a great Greek teacher who taught him the Greek language. That helped Al-Biruni to read the works of the Greek greats like Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras, Galen, Euclid, Ptolemy and Archimedes in Greek.

Studying the original Greek words, rather than translations, gave Al-Biruni a depth of understanding. Although there was not much that didn’t attract his attention, but the subjects that got him fixated were Mathematics, Geometry, Astronomy, Medicine and Philosophy. Besides he was an expert in the religious subjects such as Fiqah and Theology as well. There was no distinction between religious and non-religious subjects in those times. Circumstances Scientific Research always needs patronage of strong people or institutes.

In Al-Biruni’s time, not only Royals but local chiefs and notables also felt a pride in the company of intellectuals. Intellectuals were invited to be a part of the royal courts. Al-Biruni was fortunate to have the patronage of Abu Mansoor who belonged to the royal family and was an astronomer and mathematician as well. It was Abu Mansoor who introduced Al-Biruni to Euclidean Geometry and Ptolemy’s astronomy. He was a famed mathematician by the age of 17 but he was relatively less known outside of his city.

When he was 25, he wanted to travel in order to enhance his knowledge and visit a more significant center of knowledge. The political turmoil around him helped him with this decision and he went to Bukhara, which was the center of Samanid empire. Ibn -e- Sina (Avicenna) After spending some time there, he moved on to Gorgan near Caspian sea to work under the patronage of Ameer Qabus. There he met another intellectual giant, Avicenna. Although both of these personalities would go on to make their own mark upon the Scientific world, but their interaction was not void of disagreement and wit.

They continued their discussions even after this meeting in the form of correspondence through mail. Al-Biruni presented Avicenna with 18 questions and the replies he received gave way to an excellent intellectual and scientific discourse. 10 of the 18 questions dealt with the Aristotelian philosophy and his ideas about heavenly bodies. Remaining 8 included questions on topics like water, light and flow of heat. This correspondence is available even to this day in the form of Questions and Answers. It contains the depth and flow that is found in present day scientific debates.

In 994, famous Muslim astronomer, Al-Khujandi calculated the latitude of Ray using the transit of sun. Al-Biruni scrutinized Al-Khujandi’s work and pointed out its short comings. This incident made him famous and well respected all around the Muslim world. Sultan Mahmood of Ghazni At this point, it is important to introduce another important character of this story; Sultan Mahmood of Ghazni. While Al-Biruni and Avicenna were making great progress in scientific discoveries, Mahmood was making his name as a great warrior.

He had dreams of establishing a great kingdom with its center in Ghazni (Afghanistan). And as it was a norm back then, he was always looking for intellectuals for his court. After conquering the Samanid Empire, Mahmood wanted to bring Al-Biruni and Avicenna to Ghazni. While Avicenna was able to escape, Al-Biruni was captured and brought to the court of Ghazni. Where he stayed with Sultan until his death in 1030. Although he was a part of the court intellectuals but Al-Biruni knew he was a captive. Although Al-Biruni carried on his research but his relationship with Sultan remained strained.

It is interesting to note that when Sultan’s successor Masood held the throne, he set Al-Biruni free. But he didn’t return to his homeland and stayed their for the rest of his days. He also dedicated his book The Cannon to the new Sultan as a token of respect. That great book on astronomy is known as The Masoodi Cannon or Qanoon-al-Masoodi. Al-Biruni’s Contributions to Science Al-Biruni left his mark on subjects like Mathematics, Geometry, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Medicine, Philosophy and Anthropology. He was fluent in languages like Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Greek and Sanskrit. He believed in recording data and presenting it in the best way possible. So he enlisted all of his work till the age of 60.

Some 140 books are attributed to his name and more than half of them are on Mathematics and Astronomy. Al-Biruni is regarded as the most original thinker of the Muslim world, because not only did he open new avenues for scientific research but also criticized centuries old ideas and concepts. This way he corrected the discrepancies and presented them in a more powerful way. The Chronology of Ancient Nations ‘The Chronology of Ancient Nations’ is one of his earliest and most important books. The main theme of this book is to try and find a compact way to measure Time.

He started working on this book at the age of 27 and kept on working on it for the next 35 years of his life. In the book, he discussed not just the contemporary civilizations but also extinct civilizations from around the world. And presented the calendars of Persians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Central Asians, Jews, Christians and Muslims. Therefore, ‘The Chronology of Ancient Nations’ was a scientific history of the world as it was known in the days of Al-Biruni. The Book of India If we leave all the works of Al-Biruni aside, even then ‘The Book of India’ is enough to justify its unique significance.

To the very least, it is a purely scientific encyclopedia. It is a detailed work about India during the days of Al-Biruni. It discusses Hindu civilization, ideology, lifestyle, believes and philosophy. ‘The Book of India’ is the first book on any culture written by someone from a completely different culture and background. According to the experts of Anthropology, ‘The Book of India’ can be regarded as the first book of anthropology. Until that point in time, Hindus were merely known as pagans and idol worshipers in the Muslim world.

They were totally unaware of the Hindu civilization and its wisdom. It was through many military expeditions of Mahmood in India, that Al-Biruni came into contact with Hindu scholars. He learnt Sanskrit from them and it helped him to study the evolution of Hindu civilization. Although Al-Biruni himself was a devout Muslim, his impartial research led him to the conclusion that calling Hindus just pagans was an oversimplification. Rather there is a complete system of thought is at work, which was based on their unique philosophy.

The book has 80 chapters and it discusses the idea of Hindu Gods, life and death and heaven and hell. It also discusses philosophy, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and measurements of times in India. At this point, it is pertinent to discuss a few things. 1. It was the very first instance where a comprehensive book was written about the defeated nation by the victorious nation. That way, this book proved to be a rather fruitful attempt by Al-Biruni to make Muslims understand the unknown culture of India.

It gave the scholars from both sides a chance to sit together and have intellectual discussions without any prejudice. Moreover, when the British planned to come to India in the 18th century, they studied this book to understand the Indian culture. 2. In this book, Al-Biruni presents the idea of many common aspects between the scholars and philosophers of ancient Greece and India. Al-Biruni suggested that these two cultures appeared to be branches of the same tree. He then tries to explore the reason behind Indians not getting as advanced in knowledge and philosophy as Greeks.

And comes to the conclusion that it was because of their language, Sanskrit. He considered Sanskrit to be a non scientific language, loaded with idiomatic phrases and proverbs. So much so that it was quite difficult to give a compact scientific definition of anything in Sanskrit. 3. Contrary to popular belief, some recent scholars think that Al-Biruni didn’t actually travel to India to write this book. Just like Al-Biruni was brought to Mahmood’s court from Bukhara, there were many Indian scholars there as well.

Those were expert scholars and they turned out to be the actual source of all the information about India. Measurement of Radius of Earth One of the greatest feats achieved by Al-Biruni was how he calculated the radius of Earth. The value calculated by him is quite close to the actual value, calculated by modern techniques today. For this purpose, unlike the methods use in that time, Al-Biruni made use of simple trigonometric equations. For these calculations, he used the height of a mountain and the angle its top was making at the horizon.

He carried out this experiment near Fort Nandana, in Pind Dadan Khan, present day Punjab in Pakistan. Tehdid an Nihaya His book ‘ Tehdid an Nihaya’ is a master piece on the subject of mathematical geometry. In his books, he determined the principles to calculate the distances between cities and their coordinates. He also determined the direction of Mecca using trigonometric principles. This way he proposed a practical solution to the most important problem of finding the direction of Mecca to pray. He also studies the mechanism of formation of mountains and fossils.

The Masoodi Cannon The great Greek astronomer Ptolemy is considered to be the founders of astronomy. His book on the subject, Almagest, is believed to be the mother of all books on astronomy. Ptolemy presented the idea of Geocentrism in 2nd century AD, which states that sun and all heavenly bodies circle around a stationary earth. On the contrary, the idea that all heavenly bodies revolve around sun is called Heliocentrism. It was presented in 16th century AD.

Al-Biruni observed that Ptolemy occasionally ignored the values that opposed his theory. Rather he only presented those calculation that were in the favor of his idea. Although Al-Biruni didn’t reject Geocentrism altogether… in his opinion, the calculations presented by Ptolemy to support this theory were inconclusive. He suggested that same calculation may also be used to prove Heliocentrism. With the help of today’s technology, we know that both these theories were incorrect. However, Heliocentrism was somewhat closer to the reality.

Al-Biruni believed that Almagest has lived its days and the world needed a fresh research and perspective on this subject. So, he wrote his master piece book, Qanoon-al-Masoodi that encompassed the astronomy known till date. It also tried to set the principles so that future research could be carried out in an efficient manner. The book turned out to be a revolutionary piece of text. That’s why he is considered among the greatest astronomers before the invention of telescope. In order to commemorate his efforts, a lunar crater has been named after him.

His other works included motion and phases of moon, movement of stars and planets, speed of light, research on shadows, gems, densities of metals, medicine and pharmacology. His technique to determine the position of any object in 3D space is considered to be the forerunner of Polar Coordinates. The best thing about Al-Biruni’s research was that he always presented the data along with his research. So that anyone could use his data to reproduce his results. This way there was little to no doubt left in the validity of his research.

He was someone who totally believed in Scientific Method and would solve everyday problems using science and logic. Where he illuminated the dark corridors of ignorance with his intellect, he also tested many of the existing believes and theories for any discrepancies and made them more refined and usable. He died in 1050 in Ghazni, Afghanistan and that’s where his final resting place is.

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