I feel so ashamed for not knowing much about al-Biruni – the polymath who lived in the 11’th century. His name was brought to my attention by a newspaper article announcing the establishment of a new private university named Biruni University in Turkey. In recent years dozens of private universities came to life in Turkey. Each one is motivated, inspired and supported by various religious or ideological movements. Some of them are motivated by profit as well. I am afraid that most of these new private universities are glorified high schools at this point. We shall see how many of them survive and become recognized as centers of scientific research.
The more I learn about al-Biruni’s accomplishments the more respect I have for this great scholar. He should be honored more in the academic circles.
Al-Biruni was born in the province of Khorasan, in Northeastern Persia in 973. Al-Biruni wrote his books in Arabic although he wrote one of his masterpieces, Kitab al-Tafhim in Persian and Arabic. Ninety-five of his 146 books were devoted to astronomy, mathematics, and related subjects. Only 22 of his books have survived, and only about half of that has been translated and published. Biruni University in Turkey promised to take the lead on the translation effort. I hope they succeed.
I recommend this article as the first read. You can also read George Saliba’s article and Morad Ouasti’s article about al-Biruni and compare to the Wikipedia article. It is a shame that Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) does not have an article on al-Biruni.