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بیرونی: بنیانگذار گفت‌وگوی اسلام و هندوئیزم

Birooni: The founder of Hindu Moslem Dialogue

این نوشتار مقاله ای است در باره نقش مهم و عالمانه ابوریحان بیرونی، دانشمند، دین شناس، منجم و جغرافیدان مسلمان ایرانی (قرن چهارم هجری) که در حدود هزار سال پیش تحقیق بسیار عالمانه ای را در باره آیین هندو صورت داد و در کتابی با نام فی تحقیق ماللهند، منتشر کرد. این کتاب هنوز یکی از مهم ترین منابع شناخت آیین هندو در آن مقطع بوده و برخی حقایق در باره این دین، از داده های این کتاب به دست دین شناسان و محققان این حوزه رسیده است. در این نوشته که به انگلیسی نگاشته شده و در همایشی در دهلی با حضور دانشمندان و محققان هندو و مسلمان برگزار شد، توسط دکتر علی موحدیان ارائه گشته است.


 The Founder of Hindu-Muslim Dialogue


Dr. Ali Movahedian Attar*



If, it is thru that, the prerequisite of any effective and beneficial enter-religions dialogue is the accurate and scientific understanding of religions, it is obvious that Abū Rayhān Bīruni is the founder of Hindu-Muslim dialogue.

Who was Biruni?

Abū Rayhān Muhammad ibn Ahmad Bīrunī (Persian:ابوریحان محمد بن احمد بیرونی, born September 15, 973, khawrazm, khorāsān – died December 13, 1048, Ghazna, Afghānestān), was a Persian mathematician, physicist, scholar, encyclopedist, philosopher, astronomer, astrologer, traveller, historian, pharmacist, and teacher, who contributed greatly to the fields of mathematics, philosophy, medicine, and science.[1]

   Biruni was the first Muslim scholar to study India and Brāhminical tradition. He profits by the Sanskrit texts he can acquire, and the learned Brāhmins to whom he has access.

   He studied mathematics and astronomy under Abu Nasr Mansur. He was a colleague of the fellow Persian Muslim philosopher and physician Ibn Sina, the historian, philosopher and ethicist Ibn Miskawayh, in a university and science center established by prince Abu al-Abbas Ma'mun Khawarazmshah. He also travelled to South Asia with Mahmud of Ghazni who also became his patron, and accompanied him on his campaigns in India (in 1030), learning Indian languages, and studying the religion and philosophy of its people. There, he also wrote his Ta'rikh al-Hind ("Chronicles of India"). Biruni knew the Greek language, the Sanskrit language, and possibly Syriac and Berber. He wrote his books in Persian and Arabic, but his native language was Khwarezmian.

   Biruni worked during the first half of the 11th century A.D., first in his native Khwarazm under the patronage of the last of the local rulers. In 1017, on the conquest of Khwarazm by the Ghaznavid ruler Mahmud, Biruni was carried off to Ghazna, almost as part of the booty. Under Mas'ud I (reigned 1030-40), the son and successor of Mahmud, Biruni was able to go on with his writing and scientific work.

   Biruni was a first-rate scholar, interested in all branches of science, though it is as a mathematician and an astronomer that he is remembered. He was an excellent critic who read widely. He had good knowledge of Greek scientific sources and was extremely interested in Indian scientific theories, so that he could and did compare the different cultural streams that came the way of the Muslim intelligentsia of his day.



The Scientific Characteristic of Biruni


Critical Spirit: Karl Edward Sachau, a German orientalist, who traslated two major works of Biruni ("الآثار الباقيه عن القرون الخاليه"  and "في تحقيق ما للهند" ) and introdused him to Europe, has said: I belive that it was a new charactristic in Biruni that is very close to the critical spirit of 19th century. (36، 1374: اذکايي)

Academic and Profound: Though Biruni, as many other researchers, has commited some misunderestandings in his account of Indian religions and coulture, his works have been profoundly accademic, profound, and beneficial.


Authority: Authority of Biruni to introduce Hinduism and India to the beyond world is not subject of any doubt. As Klostermaier says: Biruni “gave an admirably comprehencive account of many aspecs of India’s coulture, including a fairly ditaled summary of some important works of religious literature, unknown to the west until then.” (1994: 20) Klostermaier adds also that: “It was thrugh the Muslims (he says “Arabs”) that Indian learning reached the west …” (Ibid)

   Everybody who is acquaintence with the history of Hinduism recognizes the role of Biruni’s works as an athoritative source for Hindu studies. There have been many references to Biruni’s works to envestigate some ambiguous subjects of history of Hinduism.

   There are many witnesses; For example, S. Dasgupta, the outstanding philosopher and historian of Indian philosophy, has given a fairly diteiled report of a Biruni’s translation work, “Kitāb Pātanjali,” and compare it with Yoga Sūtra of Pātanjali, and, accordingly, he conclued some important facts, especially about the real sourse of some yogic trends in Indian mysticism and religion. (1997: v. 1, 233-238)

   Another example belong to Maurice Winternitz, who in his outstanding book, A History of Indian Litrature, deduces, based on the tow Biruni’s lists of main Purānas and some other witnesses that, some Purānas, such as Bhāgvata Purāna, must be belong to a period between Vaişnava bhakti movement (6th-9th ca.) and Biruni’s age (11th century). (1996: v.1, 502-3)

   One more evidence, among many, arises when we see that the Hindu Revivalist historian K.S. Lal, answer a question was hotly debated among Hindu revivalists and traditionalists, according to an accont of the Muslim writer, Biruni. The question was that: whether the Vedic seers practised cow-slaughter? In this occasion, K.S. Lal quotes Biruni, with approval, when he relates about the Hindus: “they say that many things which are now forbidden, were allowed before the coming of Vasudeva, e.g. the flesh of cows.[2]” Accordingly, Lal conclueds that: “the cow has been a sacred animal to the authors of the Vedas, but it may be precisely because of that sacredness that the cow was sacrificed and eaten on special occasions.” (Growth of Scheduled Tribes, p.102)


Proficiency: As professor S. H. Nasr says, in the time that social and anthropological studies in the west, if any, was not more than some coronologies, Biruni, as a proficient sociologist and profound thinker, proceeded an academic study in the personal and sociological aspects of Hindus. (222 :1359)

Scientific Inthusiasm: He himself says: ”Althugh it was very dificult to me to enter in the field of hindu knowledg, I was extremely greed, and I was above all therein.Collecting thire books and to fine mans who help me realize them, I was traveling evrywhere possible, and do not withhold anything I could.” (: في تحقيق ما للهند ص 18)


The Major Charactristics of Biruni’s “Reasurch on India”

“Reasurch on India” (Arabic:في تحقيق ما للهند) is the sum title of one of the two Biruni’s major books on Indian colture[3]. Indicating Biruni’s spirit of scholarship, this book represents a critical study of Indian coulture and religion. As a proper foundasion for inter-religions dialogue, the book has outstanding characteristics:


Phenomenological Approach: Biruni in his book, awarenessly and realisticly distinc between the exterior and interior aspects and stratums of Hindu Religion, specially between the pupular or folk and classical Hinduism. (149 ،1367 :محمد صابرخان) So, in his surway of Hindu religion, he do not stay at the phenomen of the that, but, approaches to the essens of Hndu tenets.

   Biruni is also faithful to the important principle of phenomenology viz. “descriptive approach”. He affirms this rule that the only way to underestand a scripture is to record evryting, without any intention or decoration. (op cit: 4) He also asserts on another phenomenological rule, avoidance of reduction, and declare that, otherwise “he will grasp from the books smthing if he speaks of, ashame him.” (Ibid)


Comparetive Method: The comparative method is a proper instrument not only to study in religions but also to stablish an effective dialogue between coultures and religions. Biruni, is said that, “is the originator of comparative study in human coulture.” (51 : 1354 :اذکايي) He himself in his introduction to “Research on Evrything Belong to India” admires the method, and explains it’s criteria. (op cit: 4) So his book is a samle of comparative study of Hindu religion and Indian coulture, comparig with that of Islamic and Greek. (156 :1382 مقيمي) Using this metod, he identifise the deferences and resemblances as well as charactristics of these coultures and religions. (144 :جوانمرد)


Critical Approach: In his outstandig work, “The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries” (Arabic: "الآثار الباقيه عن القرون الخاليه" ) says: “zealotry blined the seeing eyes, and unreasonable bias deaf receptive ears,…” (75 :1380)[4] So, he apposes regorously to persons who lable others untruly beliefs. As it is obvious from his works, he himself was quite advocate to the principle impartiality and completely loyal to this approach. (1352 :نظريات انتقادي بيروني :محمد مهدي رکني)

Hermeneutic Approach: On the field of interpreting religious texts, Biruni has an approach fairely close to new hermeneutic. To anderestanding religious scriptures, Biruni asserts that, we must not recline merely on the materials of pure reason or upon our religio-coultural viewpoint, but on their attitude and mind. (2-161 :آثار الباقيه؛ 156 :مقيمي) So far this sympathy and unanimity gos that, some scholars declare that Biruni had a obvious cling to Hindu philosophy. (158 : 1374 :اذکايي, Quoted from K.E. Sachau.)


Conclusion: Biruni,  the Demand of Our Age

If it is true of this age that the dialogue between religions is an irrefutable necessity, and if such a dialogue primarily demands to accurate underestandig of each other, it is obvious that our age is extremely needful to Birunis, men and women with a vast knowledg and grate enthusiasm to learning other religions. But, perhps more urgency is to accept that all grate religions are somehow profit by divine guidance.



1. نصر، سيّدحسين؛ علم و تمدن در اسلام؛ ترجمة احمد آرام؛ چاپ دوم؛ تهران؛ خوارزمي؛ 1359

2. Winternitz, Maurice; A History of Indian Litratur; Delhi; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers; 1996.

3. Dasgupta, Surendaranath; A History of Indian Philosophy; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers; 1997.

4. بيروني، ابوريحان؛ في تحقيق ما للهند؛ قم؛ انتشارات بيدار؛ 1376.

5. صابرخان، محمد؛ تأثير بيروني بر متافيزيک هند؛ ترجمة محسن مدير شانه چي؛ مجلة مشکوه، شمار21؛ مشهد؛ 1367.

6. بيروني، ابوريحان؛ الآثار الباقيه عن القرون الخاليه؛ تحقيق و تعليق پرويز اذکايي؛ تهران؛ ميراث مکتوب؛ 1380.

7. رکني، محمد مهدي؛ نظريات انتقادي بيروني از خلال آثار الباقيه؛ نشرية دانشگاه الهيات و معارف اسلامي مشهد؛ مشهد؛ انتشارات دانشگاه مشهد؛ 1352.

8. Sachau, E.C. trans; Albiruni’s India; New delhi; Low Prince Publication; 1993.

9. Eliot and Dowson; The History of India as Told by it’s Own Historians, V.II; New delhi; Low Prince Publication; 1996.

10. www. Wikipedia Encyclopeda.

11. اذکايي، پرويز؛ ابوريحان بيروني؛ تهران؛ طرح نو؛ 1354.

12. مقيمي، غلامحسين؛ مبادي نظري انديشة سياسي ابوريحان بيروني؛ مجلة علوم سياسي، شمارة 24؛ قم، مؤسسة آموزش عالي باقرالعلوم؛ 1382.

13. جوانمرد، کمال؛ جايگاه روش شناختي بيروني در علم مردم شناسي؛ نشرية نامة فرهنگ، شمارة 54.

14. شعباني، احمد؛ کتابشناسي بيروني: فهرست آثار فارسي؛ مجلة کتابدار، دفتر پانزدهم، شمارة 40؛ تهران؛ کتابخانة مرکزي و مرکز اسناد؛ 1368.

15. بيروني، ابوريحان؛ آثار الباقيه؛ ترجمة اکبر داناسرشت؛ تهران؛ اميرکبير؛ 1363.

16. اذکايي، پرويز؛ فلسفة بيروني؛ مجلة چيستا، شمارة 3-122؛ تهران؛ پرويز ملک پور؛ 1374.





1. Biruni’s Bibliography

Biruni’s works number more than 120. His contributions to mathematics include:

1. Theoretical and practical arithmetic summation of series combinatorial analysis.

2. The rule of three irrational numbers.

3. Ratio theory.

4. Algebraic definitions.

5. Method of solving algebraic equations.

6. Geometry

7. Archimedes' theorems.


   Non-mathematical works include:

1. Critical study of what India says, whether accepted by reason or refused (Arabic: تحقيق ما للهند من مقوله، معقوله في العقل أو مرذوله) - a compendium of India's religion and philosophy.

2. The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries (Arabic: الآثار الباقيه عن القرون الخاليه) - a comparative study of calendars of different cultures and civilizations, interlaced with mathematical, astronomical, and historical information.

3. The Mas'udi Canon (Persian: قانون مسعودي) - a book about Astronomy, Geography and Engineering, named after Mas'ud, son of Mahmud of Ghazni, to whom he dedicated.

4. Understanding Astrology (Arabic: التفهيم لصناعه التنجيم) - a question and answer style book about mathematics and astronomy, in Arabic and Persian.

5. Pharmacy - about drugs and medicines gems (Arabic:الجماهر في معرفه الجواهر) about geology, minerals, and gems, dedicated to Mawdud son of Mas'ud.

6. Astrolabe.

7. A historical summary book.

8. History of Mahmud of Ghazni and his father.

9. History of Khawarazm.

For a detaled bibliography of Biruni in pesian refer to:

شعباني، احمد؛ کتابشناسي بيروني: فهرست آثار فارسي؛ مجلة کتابدار، دفتر پانزدهم، شمارة 40؛ تهران؛ کتابخانة مرکزي و مرکز اسناد؛ 1368؛ ص 97-102.


2. Pictures

* Independent Researcher, Mashhad, Iran.

[1] It is knowable that Biruni discovered a crater on the Moon. Biruni crater, on the Moon, is named after him.

[2] Quoting Biruni: India, vol.1, p.107. Biruni uses it as an example of how the Hindu laws, unlike the Shari’a, are open to change. Vâsudeva is Krishna, the cow-herd. The depth and nature of the revolution brought about by Krishna in the Vedic tradition is still insufficiently understood by Indologists.

[3] The compleat title of the book may be translate as “Critical study of what India says, whether accepted by reason or refused”. Another book is “The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries” (Arabic:الآثار الباقيه عن القرون الخاليه).

[4] In countinue he says somthig that show his caprice to Zeydye, one of the Shii’t denominations.

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