Abu Rayhan al-Biruni : Founder of Indology

International Microfilm Center is a research center located on the premises of Culture House of the Islamic Republic of Iran, New Delhi, India. The center is actively engaged in the process of preservation and publishing of the common heritage of cradles of civilizations, the two vast and ancient nations of India and Iran.

Innovation in restoration methods, pest control and printing of copies as exact replicas is a novel movement to revive ancient texts, which is the main objective of this center.

Exact replicas are copies that retain all properties of the original manuscript, and are printed on handmade paper and bound in ornate covers made by Indian artists.

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So far, more than 300 rare and exquisite copies of exact replicas have been published by the center, 66 of which are based on the theme of heritage shared by Iran and India.

The latest manuscript that was published as exact replica by the center is the book al-Athār al-Bāqiyah `an al-Qurūn al-Khāliyah (Chronology of Ancient Nations), written by the great scholar and famous anthropologist and Indologist Abu Rayhan Muhammad bin Ahmad Biruni (362 H – 442 H). This book, which he put together around the age of 20 via the Ilkhanid court in Gorgan, is a comparative study of calendars of different cultures and civilizations, with mathematical, astronomical, and historical information, exploring the customs and religions of different people.

In the book, Biruni has addressed categories such as timeline and calendars of different peoples, history of Iran, Babylon and Rome, festivals and celebrations of Iranians and other nations, religions and sacred relics of Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Mazdak and Hinduism, and presented his valuable and scholarly views on these topics. Biruni also alludes to beliefs and differences in beliefs. In order to not bore the reader, he mentions random yet interesting topics and issues. Biruni’s research about the history of customs of different nations mentioned in the book is considered to be one of the clearest and the first of its kind researches. In this book, he dismisses prejudice and blind obedience of prevalent belief systems because he believes prejudice blinds eyes and deafens ears, and forces a person to indulge in activities that are neither wise nor knowledgeable.

This invaluable book has been corrected and published by researchers and correctors a number of times. The extremely valuable manuscript of this book is kept in the library of the national library of france. This manuscript contains 25 exquisite paintings. Although, owing to wearing, the date it was scribed and the name of the scribe are not clear, it can be deduced from the type of script and the paintings that this book was handwritten between 14th and 15th centuries AD.

Noor International Microfilm Center is proud to present the exact replica of al-Athār al-Bāqiyah `an al-Qurūn al-Khāliyah (Chronology of Ancient Nations) to the researchers and thinkers of the two nations on the one thousandth death anniversary of this philosopher and Indologist, to consolidate the relations between India and Iran.

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