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Research on India (Tahghigh Malel Hend) is the name of an encyclopedic book on India; written in Arabic in the 11th century, by prominent Iranian scholar, Abu Reyhan Biruni. It includes the subjects on religious beliefs, philosophical vies, literature, astronomy, geography and the Indians’ customs from historical point of view. It is the first book which concerns a scientific and comprehensive explanation of a culture, it is also important from the viewpoint of concerning the history of religions.
Abu Reyhan Biruni, one of the most original and profound scholars of medieval Islam (973 – 1050), of Iranian origin. He was equally versed in the mathematical, astronomic, physical and natural sciences and also distinguished himself as a geographer and historian, chronologist and chronologist and linguist and as an impartial observer of customs and creeds. Abu Reyhan translated philosophical Indian works into Arabic. He exactly calculated the revolution of the Sun and the axial revolution of the Earth. He also observed and studied the eclipse of Luqman mountains (in Afghanistan) on the 8th April 1019 and also the lunar eclipse on September in Ghazna. In many countries, he is known as “The eternal master”. Abu Reyhan was proficient in Arabic, Indian and Greek languages. He lived in the reign of some important dynasties: Sffarids (dynasty which reigned in Sistan from 867 till 1495), Samanids, Ziyarids and Buyids (Shia dynasty of Daylam origin). Biruni was also contemporary with Avicenna (celebrated Iranian scholar).
He wrote over 146 books and treatises on different fields, in Arabic:
1- al-Tafhim “Making understand” (on mathematics and astronomy)
2- The left monuments (on geography and history)
3- Qanun –e Mas’oudi (encyclopedia)
4- Indiaology (on history, geography, custom, culture and social classes of India)
Abu Reyhan registered the encyclopedia in the name of Mas’oud (the sultan of Ghaznawid dynasty). Ghaznawid was Sunni Turkish dynasty which ruled in Khurasan, Afghanistan and northern India with its centre at Lahore from 977 to 1186.
The book structure
The book is the most important work of Abu Reyhan Biruni on Indialogy.
It includes 80 chapters. The preface contains the subjects: the reasons of revealing the wrong narrations, criticism of Muslims’ views on other religions, views and researches on Indian religions and the author’s motivation for writing this book.
The 1st chapter: the method of researching into the Indian knowledge and sciences
From the 2nd up to the 13th chapter: Indian religion and philosophy, the essence of God, unity of creatures, happenings after death, the four categories in India and the features of each category, metamorphosis, etc.
From the 14th up to the 62nd chapter: on Indian sciences, cosmology, geography, history
From the 63rd up to the 72nd chapter: on the customs of the four Indian categories:
Pilgrimage, marriage, the celebrations and holy days and some of their religious principles.
Research on India
The philosophical and religious Indian sects
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