Al-Biruni [973 CE - 1048 CE]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Dec 21, 2022, 18:59

Al Biruni, also known as Abu al-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni, was a notable theorist, mathematician, philosopher, chronologist, and historian. Being an excellently objective writer who wrote about many global cultures, Al-Biruni earned the label al-Ustadh (The Master) for his extraordinary account of early 11th-century India.

Al Biruni was the first Muslim scholar who travelled to India. Some of the many subjects he was proficient in included mathematics, physics, astronomy, and natural sciences. We have shared more information about this brilliant scholar here.

Who Was Al Biruni?

Al-Biruni was born in 973 AD at Kath, the capital of Khwarezm's Afrighid dynasty, in the Khiza region of Central Asia (Uzbekistan). He lived much of his time in Ghazni, the Ghaznavids' capital in modern-day central-eastern Afghanistan. During his first twenty-five years in Khwarezm, Al Biruni studied Islamic jurisprudence, theology, linguistics, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and other sciences.

Travelling to India in the 11th century, Al-Bironi took a deep interest in Brahmanical books and society. He began his exploration of India with a few broad reflections about Hindus and their society and penned a book about the culture and society of Brahmanical India of the 11th century.


Al Biruni


973 AD


1050 AD


Khwarezm, Iran (modern day Uzbekistan)

Known For

Kitab-ul-Hind (History of India in the 11th century)

Al Biruni Came From?

Al Biruni came from Khwazarem, Iran. He was born in 973 AD and grew up to become a renowned scholar. He studied many sciences, including mathematics, medicine, astronomy, philosophy, etc. Alberoni also learned Islamic jurisprudence and served in the court of the Mughal ruler, Mahmud Ghazni as a court astrologer.

Al-Biruni accompanied Mahmud Ghazni to his invasions of India and became acquainted with the culture and customs of the country. Eventually, Al Biruni ended up writing a book about his experiences in India and about life in 11th-century, brahminical India.

Facts About Alberoni

  • Al-Biruni travelled to India in 1017 AD.
  • In AD 1017, when Mahmud of Ghazni was the ruler, most scholars, including Alberuni, were taken to Ghazni, the capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty.
  • He was a royal astrologer in the 11th century, and he escorted Mahmud of Ghazni on his invasions into India, where he stayed for a few years.
  • Al Biruni wrote the book “Tahqiq-i-Hind” describing India's societal, political, religious, and economic condition in the 11th century.
  • He references the Gita, the Upanishads, Patanjali, Puranas, the four Vedas, scientific works (by Nagarjuna, Aryabhata, and others), and Indian mythology to prove his point through his works.
  • Al-Biruni also tried bridging Indian philosophy with Greek intellectuals such as Socrates, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Galen, and others, as well as Sufi doctrine at times.
  • Alberoni’s book provides an account of Indian life based on his studies and experiences in India between 1017 and 1030.

Al Biruni - Visit to India

Al Biruni came to India with Mahmud Ghazni. According to his accounts, "Mahmud put an end to India's prosperity and mercilessly exploited and punished the country's people, particularly Hindus". Alberoni travelled widely in India and observed the socio-cultural as well as religious norms of the country, eventually writing a book about it.

Al-Biruni’s accounts also state that the entire nation was divided into little states that would occasionally enter into conflict. Among them were the states of Malwa, Sindh, Kannauj, and Kashmir. Here are some of the observations made by Alberoni in his book about India -

  • In 11th-century India, the caste system was in place, and there was a sense of isolation and inequality among people in society.
  • According to Al Biruni, Hindus in rural areas worshipped several gods and goddesses.
  • However, educated Hindus regarded God as "Eternal, beyond origin or end, all-powerful and all-knowing."
  • Alberoni thought of the people in the Indian subcontinent as brilliant thinkers, mathematicians, and astronomers.
  • Al-Biruni himself was a mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer who also studied physics and natural sciences.
  • He was the first to discover a simple formula for calculating the radius of the Earth.

Al Biruni Books

Al-Biruni wrote most of his books in Arabic and Persian and mastered both languages equally well. During his entire lifetime, he produced 103 titles divided into 12 different categories. Here are some of the books Al Biruni wrote -

  • A Critical Study of What India Says
  • Understanding Astrology
  • Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology
  • History of Mahmud of Ghazni and his father
  • History of Khwarezm

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FAQs on Alberuni

Q.1. Who was Al Biruni?

Al Biruni, also known as Abu al-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni, was an 11th-century Persian scholar and polymath. He assisted Mahmud's conquests in South Asia. Alberuni was the first Muslim scholar to travel to India to explore the Brahmanical heritage.

Q2. Al Biruni came from which country?

Al Biruni came from Iran, from a region called Khwarezm, which belongs to present-day Uzbekistan. He was a Persian scholar who was proficient in a number of sciences and other subjects. Al-Biruni served in the court of Mahmud Ghazni as a court astrologer and accompanied him in his invasions in India.

Q3. Which was the book written by Al Biruni?

Al Biruni wrote many books in his lifetime; 103 books in 12 different categories to be precise. He is well known for authoring the book called Kitab-ul-hind or Tahqiq-i-Hind (History of India), in which he describes the social, political, religious, and economic conditions of India at the time.

Q4. When did Al Biruni travel to India?

Al Biruni arrived in India in the 11th century and spent a few years in the Punjab region. Alberoni was 44 years old when he travelled to India, accompanying Mahmud of Ghazni. He spent a lot of time in India understanding and observing the socio-cultural, religious, as well as political norms.

Q5. Why is Al Biruni called the "Father of Indology"?

Al-Biruni is often referred to as the "Father of Indology." He was an impartial author about the practises and beliefs of different cultures. Moreover, Al Biruni recorded the social, cultural, religious, and political practices in 11th-century India, which was mostly brahmanized.