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al biruni muslim scientist

Al Biruni, A Great Muslim Scholar

al biruni muslim scientist


Al-Biruni is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and he has great contributions in field of physics, mathematics, astronomy, natural sciences, history, chronology and linguistics. His full name was Abu al Rehan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al- Biruni and he was born in Khwarezm (present day Uzbekistan). He spent his first 25 years of life in his home down mastering Islamic jurisprudence and theology, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, medics and other sciences. He left his city for getting more knowledge and travelled to many cities of region.

Scientific Work

He is one of those great scientist mastered more than just few field of studies. He wrote 146 books and 95 books were about astronomy which shows his significant contribution in astronomy. Al-Biruni also criticized certain astrological techniques of that time and he was skeptical astrologer of the Hashwiyite school, But in his Book of Instructions does not include any skepticism regarding astrology in general instead, he presented astrology in context of the science of astral influences.  In field of physics he introduced experimental scientific method to mechanics, unified statics and dynamics into the science of mechanics, and created hydrodynamics by merging hydrostatics and dynamics. He also determined the radius of earth accurately in his observatory on a mountain in Pind Dadan Khan (Salt Range of Pakistan). He also discovered the specific gravity on many minerals and metals with is self made apparatus. His has done significant work in many other fields and he also translated many previous  science book to Arabic which were sought by Europe in 12th and 13th century. He travelled to many places and observed different cultures by learning their languages. He made in-depth study of India’s culture, religions and philosophy by discussions and reading books available.  He wrote a comprehensive book on India’s religion and philosophy which gives a graphic account of the historical and social conditions of the sub-continent After learning Sanskrit language he translated many of Indian scientific work to Arabic. He also studied history, chronology and archeology and contributed in this field.

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He wrote 146 books and translated many books to Arabic and Persian language. Some of his books are mentioned below:

1. Kitab al Tafhim

2.  Indica – a compendium of India’s religion and philosophy

3. The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology

4. The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries

5. The Mas’udi Canon

6. Understanding Astrology

7. Pharmacy – about drugs and medicines.

8. Gems

9. Astrolabe.

10. A historical summary book.

11. History of Khawarezm

12. Materia Medica

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He has been considered as one of the very greatest Muslim scientists and also one of the greatest of all times.  His critical spirit, love of truth, and scientific approach were combined with a sense of toleration. As a Muslim we can learn a lot from his life and contribute in the betterment of human race by engaging our selves in scientific research and studies.

Earth is Mosque

Mosque is important and holy place to Muslims. As the topic of blog suggests that it is about importance of earth. The earth is planet on which we are living so it is our duty to protect earth from any distortion or destruction.  Islam as a religion has put light on this matter too. In Quran it is mentioned that

 “has appeared on the land and in the sea because of what the hands of humans have wrought. This is in order that we give them a taste of the consequences of their misdeeds that perhaps they will return to the path of right guidance.

Scholars interpret that the first word refers to pollution. A renown scholar Imam Zaid Shakir said that many early commentators of Quran discribed this corruption in ecological meanings such as drying up of rains, dissipation of the harvest of oceans etc.

Climate Change

Islam has presented a very clear message to humans that our actions, greeds, misdeeds and hubris can lead to spoiling of planet on which we all have to live upon. There is no example like this in any other faith on earth.

Growing trees

Islam was aware climatic changes and the fact that the environment of the Earth will depelete with time. Our beloved Prophet Mohammed Peace be upon him said:

“If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him.” – Imam Bukhari.

And in one more hadith Prophet Mohammed Peace be upon Him said that plant a tree even if it is your last deed.


Conservation of resources

Prophet Mohammed Peace and Blessing upon Him was once passing by His companian Saad, who was doing ablution near river. Prophet Mohammed Peace be upon Him said “Saad what is this squandering”
Saad said: “Can there be idea of squandering in Ablution”
Prophet Peace be upon Him said “Yes even you are by side of flowing river” (ibn e Majah)
This Hadith shows that conservation of resources is very important in Islam.

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Recycling and Fixing Items

Recycling is good idea but repairing and fixing items is more econimal and ecofriendly than recycling.  Prophet’s wife Ayesha RA says that He was used to repair his own shoes, fixing his torn clothes by sewing a leather patch on clothes and carring our house hold chores.

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Recycling Symbol — Image by © Chat Roberts/Corbis

Protecting Wildlife

Animals have huge role in welfare of ecology system. In Islam it is obligatory for Muslims to take care of animals, rescue strays and taking care of their shelter. Prophet said

“There is a reward for serving any living being.” (Bukhari)

This Hadith is narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, who’s name translate too “Father of kittens” because he was known for taking care of kittens and cats.

Quran and Mountains

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How Mountains are formed

With advent of plate tectonics theory in sixties and seventies, science was able to describe the process of mountain building. Before plate tectonic theory they were multiples model and  none of them was able to answer the true process of mountain building. Plate tectonic theory revolutionized the concepts of geology. Plate tectonic theory was able to satisfy the Geo scientists for many of geological processes. One important process was “Orogeny” mountains building process. It is not possible to investigate of study the most of part of mountains. And It is also not possible to drill down to earth.According to plate tectonic theory the upper part of earth that is  crust and upper few kilometers of mantle are rigid slab of rocks. They float on semi solid material beneath (Asthenosphere). Each slab is called plate and there are about 21 prominent plates. These plates can be oceanic or continental referring to oceanic and continental distribution respectively.

These plates are mobile and driven by convectional currents in asthenosphere. Every plate has its own relative movement relative to other plates. These plates interact with other in different ways resulting different landforms and topographies. If one of the oceanic and continental part collide each other, the oceanic part being more dense subducts beneath the crustal part and in result arc of mountains are formed. In the other case if two continental  plates merge together they result in accumulation of material forming mountains. For example  High rise Himalayas in India, Nepal and Pakistan are formed in result of converging Eurasian
plate and Indian Plate. We can only see the exterior of mountains and It is not easy to drill down the mountains so to verify this plate tectonic theory by geo physical tools.

Image source: Earth, Press and Siever, p. 413.

Isostasy is concept in geophysics which can be easily understood by iceberg analogy. Similar to an ice which has most of its mass below water a mountain have large mass intruded below the earth. This concept was discovered in India around 1800’s when british surveyer were mapping Northern part of India. They observed that the plumb bob was deflecting towards Himalayan foothills. Few hypotheses were made to explain this but Airy’s model is considered best to explain this phenomina.  Airy hypothesized that mountains have “roots” which extend down into the mantle.  Therefore, elevation is proportional to the depth of the underlying “root”.

What Quran says about Mountains?

The concept of mountain building is also described in Quran. Quran described the mountains in words:

Have We not made the earth as a bed, and the mountains as pegs?  (Quran, 78:6-7)

Quran was revealed more than 1400 years ago, in the time when there was no scientific studies to examine the subsurface. Quran say that mountains have roots which are embedded in earth like pegs. At that time when people were not aware about the science of mountain building, the Quran told the exact shape of mountains. Comparing this verse with Airy model which is most accurate model to date it can be confirmed that Quran is book from the Only creater, Allah. The other term “bed” is also used is earth science to describe flat bodies  of rocks.

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Image source: (Anatomy of the Earth, Cailleux, p. 220.)

Quran say’s:

And He has set firm mountains in the earth so that it would not shake with you…  (Quran, 16:15)

The most accurate and up to date theory of Plate Tectonics is concordant with this verse  that mountains work as stablizer to earthquakes. There are weak zones (decollement) in mountains which act as shock absorber for earthquakes.

islam and mountains

These two concepts were presented in Quran at time of Prophet Mohammed Peace be Upon Him when there were no considerable scientific advancements. No one knew that there are mountains below mountains.The Quran was only book for centuries that asserted the real shape of mountain. Now recent work in field of Geology has confirmed the concepts mentioned in Quran.

Author: Learn Quran Staff

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