Talk:Al-Biruni

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Consensus for the lead section: older revision (his ethnicity)[edit]

Should we restore this revision of lead section? An editor changed it to current revision, see the related diff. I think the older revision is more accurate than the current revision. For example, Iranica article mentions that he was related to Khwarezmian Afrighids. The old revision (Persian-Khwarezmian) matches with all cited references. Also, it was an accepted revision for a long time. --Zyma (talk) 22:23, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

Even more accurate would be just "Khwarezmian". That should cover both his mother tongue and place of birth. As for his ethnicity, we know nothing about it and has been a subject of speculation even in the early biographical dictionaries. More recently Persian, Iranian, and Turkish nationalists have been claiming him as one of their own. Thus I would avoid using terms with ethnic connotations in the lead, i.e., avoid Persian/Iranian. Wiqi(55) 03:30, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
The suggested lead statement does include the pseudo-Latinized version of his name (Alberonius) which never existed in any Western source (see my earlier comments). AstroLynx (talk) 08:08, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
I just mentioned that revision for the ethnic part of lead section. We won't restore the whole old lead or that "Alberonius". We may edit current lead section based on consensus. --Zyma (talk) 08:40, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Why we should avoid/ignore sources? It's obvious that he was Iranian (Iranian-speaking, meta-ethnicity). See both cited references and talk page archives. It was discussed many times. We can't remove/censor his ethnicity just because some people don't like it or they want their own version of history, or we can't write our POV/OR/personal analysis and commentary instead of what sources say. Some sources mention his Persian background. We can't interpret that "Persian" (Medieval Persians) by our personal opinions. I saw some editors try to replace the Persian with Iranian (nationality, from Iran), Afghan, Tajik or even non-Iranic modern ethnic groups. Such edits are anachronism and wrong. This problem usually caused by unfamiliar editors with these topics (e.g. ethnicity and history), or ethnocentrists with nationalistic propaganda. The nationalistic pov-pushing attempts are not related to current lead or Iranian/Persian. They're as old as this article. Even if we accept Khwarezmian-only lead, all of those ethnic warriors will return again. For example, see the edits in the recent months. How many times those pov-pushers tried to add their modern ethnicities to this article? Per WP:WEIGHT and cited sources, I think it' better to restore the older revision of the lead section. Or a new revision with better representation of his ethnicity/background. Suggest, write your opinions, and we will decide. --Zyma (talk) 08:31, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Just like the lede of the related Afrighids, we can remove "Persian" as per WP:NPOV, and write: "... was a [[Khwarezmian language|Khwarezmian]] [[Iranian peoples|Iranian]] [[Muslim]] scholar and polymath." Khestwol (talk) 08:39, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
    • So how we should deal with the sources about his Persian stock? How to represent them? Move them to Life section? Your suggestion? --Zyma (talk) 08:42, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Zyma. I think those sources can be moved to Life section. I find the wording "Khwarezmian Iranian" to be neutral for the lede. Khestwol (talk) 09:03, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
The problem with "Iranian" is that it ignores another theory about Biruni's origin, namely that he or his family stemmed from a province of Sindh called Birun. Historians have linked that Indian province to Biruni from as early as the 14th century. See, for example, his entry in Safadi's (d. 1363) al-Wafi bil-Wafiyyat. Also several Orientalists considered it a valid alternative to the "outskirts of Khwarezm" theory. We shouldn't ignore these sources and theories and proclaim him as "Iranian" in the lead (per npov). Wiqi(55) 11:24, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Wiqi55, that is not a popular theory among academics. If Al-Biruni's first language was Khwarezmian. and he was from Central Asia, then I think it is not possible for him to be an Indian or Sindhi. Wikipedia is not a place to give WP:UNDUE weight to WP:FRINGE ideas, so we can ignore the Indian theory in the lede. Khestwol (talk) 16:37, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Reporting disputed information as truth is always a bad idea. We know that some of his early biographers linked his epithet to an Indian province. We should report this. It isn't fringe by any measure, as extensive scholarship on the topic of Biruni's ethnicity does not yet exist. Also his first language has nothing to do with his ethnicity. Are you suggesting that a native speaker of English (in England) 'must' be white? Wiqi(55) 20:51, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Al-Biruni was not a Persian. "Iranian", on the other hand, would be a correct description. As his name already explaines, he was from Khwarezmia. The historical Khwarezmians were eastern Iranian, distantly related to modern Pashtuns and Ossetians. We can't call them "Persians" the same we we cannot call modern Kurds, Pashtuns or Ossetians "Persians". --Lysozym (talk) 21:14, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Indeed, he was probably not Persian, and Iranian is more plausible. But we can't be sure either way. Based on his epithet "Biruni", it has been suggested that he was not a native of Khwarezm, but an outsider. His place of birth and origin has also long been disputed in the primary sources, e.g., see note in [1]. Wiqi(55) 22:53, 13 August 2015 (UTC)

Henry Miers Elliot and his outdated 1850 book are WP:FRINGE. Per WP:WEIGHT, WP:PSTS and WP:OR; you must find expert sources to support such claims. How many expert historians cited the Elliot's claims about al-Biruni? Or do they have similar views like Elliot? You need these reliable/expert/scholary sources: First, prove a different birth place. Second, prove a non-Iranian/Iranic origin of al-Biruni. Otherwise we can't change a whole article just because of such dubious single outdated source or similar sources. Bogus claims, personal analysis/commentary, original research, fringe theories and pseudo-science are against WP:SOAP. --Zyma (talk) 09:49, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Khestwol. I think Khwarezmian Iranian (just like Afrighids article) is better. Because it matches with references (his native language and ethnicity). Unfortunately, we don't have an article about ethnic Khwarezmian-speaking. Only language article is available. If someone write an article for them, there is no need to mention ethno-linguistic/meta-ethnicity term (Iranian/Iranic). Anyway, if other editors prefer [[Khwarezmian-only revision, I have no problem with it. But "Khwarezmian" should link to Khwarezmian language article, because both Khwarezm and Khwarezmian do not clarify his ethnicity. --Zyma (talk) 10:36, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

I think just "Khwaraziman" is more suitable in the lede, while claims like "Iranian" and "Sindian" should be discussed later in the article. By the way, it was his earliest biographers who mentioned Sindh, with some describing him as Sindian born. Elliot was just pointing out to this fact, which is verifiable. Other details may also shed light on his ethnicity. For instance, Shahrazuri, based on earlier accounts, described him as "dark skinned" (ara. asmar al-lawn). Wiqi(55) 13:34, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
The term "Persian" has to be kept in the article, since in the medieval Islamic era Iranians from the former dominions of the Sassanid empire were often collectively called "Persians". Biruni himself writes in his The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries that "Choresmians are a branch of the Persian tree" (أهل خوارزم کانوا غصناً من دوحة الفرس و نبعه من سرحتهم). Therefore he self-identified as Persian. In this context, the term does not mean "one from the Pars province (Persis)". Furthermore his native name needs to be added at the beginning of the lead paragraph; in both Persian and Choresmian it is "Biruni" without the Arabic prefix (full name with with macrons: Abū Rayḥān Bīrūnī; Perso-Arabic script: ابوریحان بیرونی). There is no reason to omit this from the article. Grinevitski (talk) 23:27, 14 August 2015 (UTC)
@Grinevitski:: The sentence you quoted is taken out of context. Read the start of the paragraph and you'll see that Biruni was not referring to all Chorasmians, but only to the Zoroastrians of Chorasmia, a minority. Moreover, he was discussing calendars, not race. His point is that the Chorasmian Zoroastrians were a branch of the Persians in their religious/cultural practices. In any case, several historical sources that we often rely on for this type of information state that his origin is Sindh. Thus we're not sure that he is Persian or Iranian. Wiqi(55) 01:14, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
Per The Encyclopaedia of Islam', Vol I, page 1238, "He[Biruni] is known as al-Ustadh, "the Master". He was born of an Iranian family in 362/973, in the suburb (birun) of Kath, capital of Khwarizm (the region of the Amu-Darya delta, now the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan on the southern shores of the Aral Sea)." --Kansas Bear (talk) 01:32, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
The "Iranian" claim turned out to be just one theory (a common problem with EI2, especially the first and early volumes). See my last few posts for other theories. Wiqi(55) 02:14, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
Wiqi: Yes. But in Biruni's time most "Persians" were Muslim not Zoroastrian, even in Pre-Islamic times much of Sasanian Persia was already Christian, especially in the western regions. I believe he was using "Iranian" and "Persian" interchangeably here, as in the preceding paragraph he collectively refers to Iranians as "people of Persia" or "ahle fārésa" (أهل فارس). He was referring to the larger Iranian identity (not only religious and cultural affinities, but also linguistic affiliations and historical ties). I've read the paragraph again, it does not explicitly say "Zoroasterians of Choresm", but just "inhabitants of Choresm". Grinevitski (talk) 02:31, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
@Grinevitski:: It is true the Zoroastrians were a minority in Chorasmia, which is why Biruni's statements about their practices should not be generalized to include all Chorasmians. You can see where he explicitly limits his discussion to Zoroastrians (Majus) in how he introduced the "inhabitants of Chorasmia": ثم أذكر شهور مجوس ما وراء النهر وهم أهل خوارزم والسغد وشهورهم كشهور الفرس. (Fliescher, p.45) Translation: "Then I discuss the months of the Zoroastrians of Transoxania, and they are the inhabitants of Chorasmia and Sogdiana, and their months are the same as those of the Persians." This quote is either in the same paragraph as your quote or in a previous page, depending on which edition, but it clearly indicates that his discussion of the "inhabitants of Chorasmia" is confined to Zoroastrians. Wiqi(55) 18:30, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
Wiqi: Yes, true. But the sentence that I have quoted was referring to the people (all Chorasmians and Persians, the people). The sentence you have quoted is from another paragraph (I believe in Chapter XI), mine is from Chapter V. This is a translation of the entire paragraph by Edward Sanchau:
As I stated previously, at the time terms such as "Persian" or "Ajam" were used to collectively refer to Iranians in general, in this context it should not be restricted to speakers of Persian/Dari/Pahlavi. In many Pre-modern nations a dialect would not produce a separate nation; Iranians just like Greeks or Chinese had many related dialects (some hardly mutually intelligible) who all self-identified as a single nation and were recognized by classical historiographers as one nation. Therefore, we cannot omit "Persian/Iranian" from the lead paragraph; because this is akin to omitting "Greek" from the biographies of Plato and Pythagoras in favour of "Athenian" and "Ionian" respectively. Grinevitski (talk) 04:14, 16 August 2015 (UTC)
@Grinevitski:: Both sentences are in the same section. But in the Eduard Sachau translation there are headers which are not found in the Arabic original (you can read it here). So just ignore the header "Months of The Sogdians" and read the sentence after it: "Now I shall mention the months of the Magians [Zoroastrians] of Transoxiana, the people of Khwarizm and of Sughd." He then mentions the months of Sughd followed by the months of Khwarizm (where your sentence is). Wiqi(55) 07:48, 16 August 2015 (UTC)
Wiqi: Ah, I see where it is... I don't doubt that he is discussing pre-Islamic festal calendars of Zoroastrians. But I emphasise that the sentence I have quoted is comparing Persian and Chorasmian people in the most general sense. He states that even though Chorasmians are a branch of Persians (their kinsmen), their calendar differed from theirs regarding the place of the five epagomenal days. Later on he attempts to explain this with reference to the common origin of the two Iranian groups. Grinevitski (talk) 01:13, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

I suggest adding his native name to the lead as follows:

(Chorasmian/Persian: ابوریحان بیرونی‎‎ Abū Rayḥān Bērōnī; New Persian: Abū Rayḥān Bīrūnī)

In Middle Persian (check MacKenzie's dictionary), East Iranian languages, as well as (early) New Persian, his name was pronounced as Bērōnī, and was gradually garbled into Bīrūnī. Interestingly, Edward Sanchau also points this out in the intro to his book:

It is best to include both the more archaic form, as well as the more recent and commonly used transliteration (as given in Encyclopædia Iranica). Grinevitski 03:55, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Religion in the intro[edit]

To avoid the danger of oversimplification, and to be consistent with the articles on other scientists, I am removing his religion from the opening paragraph. It is often an oversimplification to describe a scholar with a simple and value-laden label. Religious convictions are typically more complicated and need to be discussed at length in the article itself, and they do not appear in the opening. Telementor (N.M.) 02:11, 2 January 2016 (UTC)

Sorry for the late reply, there is no danger of oversimplification since Islam was his religion and it revolved around him 24/7, one his usage of science was to find the Qibla, Islam was integral part of Biruni's life. I can add more references to show you.

Persian is wrong, Iranian is correct in my opinion.[edit]

He is descendant from Central Asian Iranian People speaking Iranian language. As you all know, Turkic Tribes started migrating after Biruni died, that is why some people think he is Turkic which is wrong? What do you think between the terminology here? Especially we get edits from Uzbek people, modern Uzbek people are not the same as Khwarezmian people.

Similar people to Khwarezmians and the Sogdian people. They are also Iranian people. I would love to hear some feedback Alexis Ivanov (talk) 17:09, 20 October 2015 (UTC)

You're correct. Though he mostly wrote in Arabic, and spoke in Persian to communicate with Ghaznavids and other Persophones in the region; his native language was Khwarezmian which qualifies him as ethnically Iranian. Khestwol (talk) 02:20, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

In his writing he called Khwarezmians Persians, but I believe he meant to say IRANIAN. There is no word distinguish Persian and Iranian at that time. Just lump them as Persians. I was wondering if a Sogdian Muslim was the scientist would you call him Persian? Alexis Ivanov (talk) 08:44, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

best answer: Sock puppetry, fake russian. don't waste your time because they will block your account and Biruni is not related to your arab or turkish kin or your pan-islamist fantasy world. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 133.130.230.24 (talk) 11:24, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Are you talking to me? Who you calling fake russian? Did you see me claim he was Arab or Turkish, I'm not even Arab or Turkish nor are they my kin. Where is the pan-Islamist fantasy world. This is your first edit in Wikipedia and you start like this Alexis Ivanov (talk) 03:33, 22 October 2015 (UTC)

No Beruni was Uzbek.Not persian not iranian.he had a turkic descent Turano'g'lu (talk) 12:33, 1 October 2016 (UTC)

Although he wrote in arabian or he spoke persian he was a uzbek turk.Persians were not in Uzbekistan Turano'g'lu (talk) 12:35, 1 October 2016 (UTC)

You need to provide a reliable source to support your view.Chewings72 (talk) 12:36, 1 October 2016 (UTC)

Hind is not really 'India'[edit]

Hind cannot be 'India' as the word is currently understood. It can even be Pakistan and north India (Hindi hinterland).

It is possible that his work on the native scholarship connects mainly to the minuscule percentage higher castes, who might be good in Sanskrit. If that be true, he might have missed totally the presence of the so-called lower castes who were not allowed admittance into 'Hindu' temples and right to learn or listen to Sanskrit scriptures.

Beyond that, the work might be about the north and north-western parts of the subcontinent. To translate 'Hind' into India, might require the help of a lot of years of Indian schooling system.

The article seems to miss pointing out whether the social issues of the non-Hindu (Non-Arayan) castes has been discussed by Al Baruni.

A book that does take that also into focus is a relatively recent work by Edgar Thurston's OMENS and SUPERSTITIONS OF SOUTHERN INDIA. Here also the word INDIA is a misnomer, if attempts are made to connect the book to the nation of India. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 117.204.95.52 (talk) 11:39, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Let's not get tangled up about this. All we need to do is to say in a footnote: "as it was then". In fact, I'll do that now. Chiswick Chap (talk) 12:20, 28 September 2016 (UTC)

Coining "second"[edit]

The Wikipedia article on Second credits Al-Biruni with coining the term (as a unit of time), but this isn't mentioned in this article. 87.198.117.91 (talk) 15:21, 2 October 2016 (UTC)

That statement was not supported by the source and I removed the unsourced claim. Eperoton (talk) 15:37, 2 October 2016 (UTC)