Abu Rayhan al-Birouni, the Great Muslim Scientist
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On December 13,1048 AD, the Iranian Islamic multi-sided genius, Abu Rayhan Mohammad Ibn Ahmad al-Birouni, passed away at the age of 78 in Ghazni. He was born in the outer district of Kath, the capital of Khwarezm in Central Asia. The word Birouni means \"outer\" in Persian and hence his surname.
His first twenty-five years were spent in Khwarezm where he studied jurisprudence, theology, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and other sciences. His native tongue was Khwarezmian, an Iranian language that died out with the Turkification of Central Asia.
He also distinguished himself as a geographer, historian, chronologist and linguist, and is considered an impartial writer on customs and creeds of various nations. While in Mazandaran at the Ziyarid court, he wrote his first important work: “al-Asaar al-Baqiyya an-al-Qoroun al-Khaliyya” (Chronology of Ancient nations and Vestiges of the Past).
With the conquest of the region by Mahmoud Ghaznavi he became court astrologer and accompanied the Turkish Sultan on his invasions of India, where he lived for several years and learned the Sanskrit language, in addition to becoming familiar with various aspects about India – the result of which was the highly analytical work in Arabic “Kitab Tahqiq ma li\'l-Hind”.
Of the more than hundred books written by him, some 65 percent are devoted to astronomy, mathematics, and related subjects like geography and geology. In physics, he introduced experimental scientific methods, and unified statics and dynamics into the science of mechanics, while combining the fields of hydrostatics with dynamics to create hydrodynamics. Birouni also devised his own method of determining the radius of the earth by means of the observation of the height of a mountain and carried it out at Nandana in India.
Several centuries before Copernicus and Galileo at a time when Christian Europe was immersed in the dark ages, Birouni, who adhered to the School of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), has stated in his works that the earth is round and spherical. In mineralogy, this Iranian Muslim genius determined the specific density of several metals and minerals with remarkable precision. He wrote almost all his works in Arabic except for “Kitab at-Tafhim”, which is in Persian, and in which he has scientifically proven the movement of the earth around the sun and the force of gravity.