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Celebrating Al-Biruni: A Muslim Genius and Polymath

Al-Biruni is said to be the first man to carry out elaborate experiments linked to the astronomical occurrence. He pragmatically experimented and described the solar eclipse on April 8, 1019, and the lunar eclipse on September 17, 1019.

In 1031, Al-Biruni concluded an all-embracing astronomical encyclopedia called Kitab al-Qanun al-Mas’udi (Latinized as “Canon Mas’udicus,”) in which he recorded his astronomical results and invented astronomical tables with logical conclusions.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Al-Biruni’s original input into astronomy and astrology is clearly noticeable in almost every chapter of the book.

“Al-Biruni drew a subtle distinction between the motion of the solar apogee and the motion of precession and explored many other applied mathematical techniques to achieve much higher precision and ease of use of tabulated astronomical results,” Britannica states.

According to the website MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive, maintained by Professor John J. O’Connor and Edmund F. Robertson at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, Al-Biruni determined the latitude of his hometown using the maximum altitude of the Sun at the tender age of 17.

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“Important contributions to geodesy and geography were also made by Al-Biruni. He introduced techniques to measure the Earth and distances on it using triangulation. He found the radius of the Earth to be 6,339.6 km, a value not obtained in the West until the 16th century,” explains the website.

Celebrating Al-Biruni

146 Books

The Muslim scientist also racked his brain to expose and study gemstones and metals. Mineralogy was one among his best findings and here he put his best foot forward to precisely measure mineral densities.

He is said to have described about 100 known minerals, their varieties and rock occurrences, as well as characteristics such as color, hardness, production, and cost.

“This important reference on precious stones was quoted by many later scientists. It is the third authentic text known on mineralogy and equal precision in density measurement was not achieved in Europe until the 18th century,” wrote James Sandusky Aber, a Professor of Geology, in his work on History of Geology.

Elsewhere in anthropology, he studied the Indian community of his century, thus becoming the father of Indology. His remarkable achievements studying the history, philosophy, medicine of India earned him the title “the first anthropologist.”

According to many historians, the world’s enthusiastic clinch of modern anthropology could not have come easily without the pioneering footprint of Al-Biruni.

In a nutshell, Al-Biruni’s works total of 146 books. These include 35 books on astronomy, 4 on astrolabes, 23 on astrology, 5 on chronology, 2 on time measurement, 9 on geography, 10 on geodesy and mapping theory, 15 on mathematics, 2 on mechanics, 2 on medicine and pharmacology, 1 on meteorology, 2 on mineralogy and gems, 4 on history, 2 on India, 3 on religion and philosophy, 16 literary works, 2 books on magic, and 9 unclassified books.

According to scientists, among all these works, only 22 have survived, and only 13 of these works have been published.

This article is from our archive, originally published on an earlier date, and highlighted now for its importance


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