Al-Biruni's Kitab-ul-Hind: A Classic on Indian Culture and History
Al-Biruni, also known as Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni, was a Persian scholar and polymath who lived in the 10th and 11th centuries. He is regarded as one of the greatest intellectuals of the Islamic Golden Age, and as a pioneer of comparative religion, anthropology, geodesy, and Indology. He wrote more than 150 works on various subjects, including mathematics, astronomy, physics, medicine, philosophy, history, geography, and linguistics.
One of his most famous and influential works is Kitab-ul-Hind, or The Book of India, which he wrote in Arabic in 1030 CE. It is a comprehensive study of India and its culture, based on his personal observations and extensive readings of Sanskrit texts. He visited India as part of the entourage of Mahmud of Ghazni, the ruler of the Ghaznavid Empire, who invaded India several times between 1000 and 1027 CE. Al-Biruni stayed in India for about 13 years, during which he learned Sanskrit and interacted with Indian scholars and people.
Kitab-ul-Hind is divided into 80 chapters, covering topics such as geography, astronomy, astrology, chronology, history, religion, philosophy, literature, art, science, medicine, social customs, law, economics, and politics. Al-Biruni adopted a scientific and objective approach to his research, avoiding bias and prejudice. He compared and contrasted Indian beliefs and practices with those of other cultures, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Greek philosophy. He also critically examined the sources of his information, acknowledging their strengths and limitations.
Kitab-ul-Hind is considered as one of the earliest and most valuable sources of information on India by foreign travelers. It is also a remarkable example of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding in the medieval world. It reveals Al-Biruni's curiosity and respect for Indian civilization, as well as his erudition and originality. It has been translated into several languages, including Persian, Turkish, English, French, German, and Hindi.
If you are interested in reading Kitab-ul-Hind online or downloading it as a PDF file for free, you can visit the following links:
[India By Al Biruni Editted by Qeyamuddin Ahmad]: This is an English translation by Edward C. Sachau (1888), edited by Qeyamuddin Ahmad (1971). It is available on the Internet Archive website.
[Al biruni's Kitab-Ul-hind]: This is a PDF file containing an academic paper by Reeba Pandith (2020), which provides an overview and analysis of Kitab-ul-Hind. It is available on the Academia.edu website.
[AL BIRUNI - HINDI]: This is a Hindi translation by Noor Nabi Abbasi (2009). It is available on the Internet Archive website.
I hope you enjoy reading this article and learning more about Al-Biruni's Kitab-ul-Hind.