Al Biruni, one of the greatest Arab scholars, was born on September 4, 973, in what is now Uzbekistan. He showed talent at an early age and by his early 20’s had written several acclaimed papers. Political unrest in his 20’s and 30’s found him at one point at Gurgan, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Peace found him in Ghaznah, which is today in Afghanistan. From 1017 to 1030 he travelled extensively in India, becoming fluent in Sanskrit. From this he wrote his monumental survey, India, of the history, customs and beliefs of the subcontinent. His other books include The Chronology of Ancient Nations, the Masudic Cannon, Book of Instructions, and more than 100 others, some of which are lost. He died on December 13, 1048, aged 75. He is buried in Ghaznah. The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology was written for Lady Rayhanah, to whom it is dedicated. R. Ramsay Wright, the translator, said it could be regarded as a primer of 11th century science. Among its highlights are a comprehensive list of more than 150 Lots, various forms of aspects and planetary relationships, planetary positions relative to the sun, an excellent text on rulerships as well as comprehensive notes on weather and meteorological phenomena. This book was unknown to medieval European astrologers.
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