Soheyla Ghaem Maghami Ph.D in Philosophy
Abu- Reyhan- Al- Biruni (lived from 973- 1048 A.D) Iranian scholar and pioneer of the scientific “Comparative Religions.” He is also considered as the synthesizer of all religions. He studies Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other religions. Al-Biruni’s observations towards religions made him different from the others. In other words, he was an impartial religions believer and he synthesized all religions.
Keywords: Hall-mark, superstition prejudice, sectarianism, synthesizer of all religions, Comparative Religions.
Introducing of Abu-Reyhan-Al-Biruni:
- Al-Biruni (973-1048 A.D) is said to be the first scholar who is considered as a pioneer of scientific “Comparative Religions”. He studied Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and other religions as well.
- Al-Biruni as a founder of “Comparative religions” never made unfounded imputation against other religions. Biruni believed that, we should respect all religions, even though you yourself do not believe in them.
- Al-Biruni, in 1017 traveled to the Indian subcontinent and became the most important interpreter of Indian philosophy, science, religion, Indology, anthropology and etc., to the world. He also known as an important writer on customs and creeds of various nations.
According to Al-Biruni’s methodology what is the main items for authentic religious research?
First, Completeness: Comparison based upon an inadequate collection of material may lead to quite erroneous conclusion. Thus Al-Biruni himself, when his information was insufficient he preferred to postpone discussion of them till his knowledge became more complete.
Second , Accuracy: Al-Biruni believed that accuracy in the case of religion has some difficulties such as:
- (a) In foreign religions the initial difficulty is understanding correctly and reporting accurately of their teaching.
- (b) The difficulties of language, the books of the Jewish , Christians, Greeks and Hindus, are in foreign language. So in translation of them, mistakes are inevitable. So for each religious researcher the most significant thing is to dominate in the foreign language, and capability of using the original sources as well.
Al-Biruni and the Essential Problems of Religions:
Al-Biruni as an impartial religions believer, and synthesizer of all religions, propuoundes three decisive solutions to adjust with all religious problems in this way :
- To stop superstion prejudice and sectarianism,
- To observe “Hall-marks” of each religion,
- To modify the religious customs (Sunna) because Al-Biruni believed that people love their customs and have reverence for them and find it difficult to abandon them to free common man from the shackles of religious authority and restriction.
In Al-Biruni’s attitude all religions are struggling as a consequencr of ignorance and misunderstandings or worng knowledge of humans. Othewise the push mankind into following rigid paths that intellect can never accept.
As it mentioned, Al-Biruni emphatically talks about “Hallmarks”. They are considered as the fundamental thoughts and practices. The significant kinds of the “Hallmarks” are: The Trinity of Christianity, the Incarnation-Avatara of Indian Religions, the order of Sabbath in Judaism and finally the Shibboleth of Islam is which there is no God but God , and Muhammad is His prophet.
- Al-Birui’s Commemoration Volume, Iran Society 159-B Dharamtala Street Calcatta; India; 1951.
- Al-Birui’s India; Sachau. E; Rupa ; New Delhi; 2007.
- Abureyhan-e- Biruni; Azkaee. P; New design Pub.; Tehran; 1997.
- Abureyhan-e- Biruni; Thinker and Liberal; Karamati. Y; Amirkabir Pub.; Tehran; 2007.