Concept of Abu Reyhan Al-Biruni on the Religions

 

Soheyla Ghaem Maghami  Ph.D  in Philosophy  

Pune University

Abstract:

    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 :

  1. To stop superstion prejudice  and  sectarianism,
  2. To observe “Hall-marks” of  each religion,
  3. 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.

References:

  1. Al-Birui’s Commemoration Volume, Iran Society 159-B Dharamtala Street Calcatta; India; 1951.
  2. Al-Birui’s India; Sachau. E; Rupa  ; New Delhi; 2007.
  3. Abureyhan-e- Biruni; Azkaee. P; New design Pub.; Tehran; 1997.
  4. Abureyhan-e- Biruni; Thinker and Liberal; Karamati. Y; Amirkabir Pub.; Tehran; 2007.

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