Abū-Rayhān Bīrūnī

Al Biruni on a 1973 sovietic post stamp.
Illustration from al-Biruni's astronomical works, explains the different phases of the moon.

Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (September 15, 973December 13, 1048) was a Persian polymath, scientist, physicist, anthropologist, psychologist, astronomer, chemist, critic of alchemy and astrology, encyclopedist, historian, geographer, traveller, geodesist, geologist, pharmacist, philosopher, theologian, scholar and teacher, and he contributed greatly to all of these fields.


  • Once a sage asked why scholars always flock to the doors of the rich, whilst the rich are not inclined to call at the doors of scholars. "The scholars" he answered , "are well aware of the use of money, but the rich are ignorant of the nobility of science".
    • Quoted in: A.L. Mackay Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (London 1994).
  • You well know … for which reason I began searching for a number of demonstrations proving a statement due to the ancient Greeks … and which passion I felt for the subject … so that you reproached me my preoccupation with these chapters of geometry, not knowing the true essence of these subjects, which consists precisely in going in each matter beyond what is necessary. … Whatever way he [the geometer] may go, through exercise will he be lifted from the physical to the divine teachings, which are little accessible because of the difficulty to understand their meaning … and because the circumstance that not everybody is able to have a conception of them, especially not the one who turns away from the art of demonstration.
    • Book on the Finding of Chords.
  • I have seen the astrolabe called Zuraqi invented by Abu Sa'id Sijzi. I liked it very much and praised him a great deal, as it is based on the idea entertained by some to the effect that the motion we see is due to the Earth's movement and not to that of the sky. By my life, it is a problem difficult of solution and refutation. [...] For it is the same whether you take it that the Earth is in motion or the sky. For, in both cases, it does not affect the Astronomical Science. It is just for the physicist to see if it is possible to refute it.

About Abū-Rayhān BīrūnīEdit

  • "A Persian by birth, Biruni produced his writings in Arabic, though he knew, besides Persian, no less than four other languages."
    • Rahman Habib A Chronology of Islamic History, 570-1000 CE, Mansell Publishing, p. 167:
  • A Persian by birth, a rationalist in disposition, this contemporary of Avicenna and Alhazen not only studied history, philosophy, and geography in depth, but wrote one of the most comprehensive of Muslim astronomical treatises, the Qanun Al-Masu'di.

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