ABU RAYHAN AL-BIRUNI’S STUDY OF OTHER RELIGIONS: A CASE ON HINDUISM

  • Abdullah Al Masud International Islamic University Malaysia, 50728 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Md. Faruk Abdullah Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, 21300 Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

Abstract

Studying other religions is a legacy left by medieval Muslim scholars. As a Muslim scholar, al-Biruni’s Kitab al-Hind was a unique contribution to the study of Hinduism. This study explores al-Biruni’s approaches to studying Hinduism, culture, and civilisation by reviewing related manuscripts and literature. Al-Biruni studied the Hindu scripture in its original language. He investigated Hindu theology and philosophy, their caste system in the society, law and ethics, rituals, and festivals. In Kitab al-Hind, an entire chapter was dedicated to Hindu scriptures which included Veda and Puranas. Concerning religious beliefs and divinity, there were various perceptions between the educated and uneducated people. Murti puja was a form of worship to express love and devotion towards God. However, the educated classes considered that idols were no more than intermediaries, and the idol-worshippers were being deluded from the actual worship of God. The Hindu caste system was established upon religious foundations where every caste used to have their mode of living and daily routine. Furthermore, Hindu rules, guidelines, and religious laws were developed by divine sages called Rishis, who provided laws of murder and theft, punishment of adultery, treatment for prisoners, and inheritance law. Al-Biruni took an objective, in-depth, scientific and authentic approach in presenting Hinduism, which made his work accepted by both Muslim and nonMuslim religious scholars. It is hoped that this paper would offer new perspectives to Muslim scholars on studying other religions, which may consequently enhance religious harmony in a multireligious society.

 

Keywords: Al-Biruni, Hinduism, religion, comparative religion, Muslim scholar.

Cite as: Al Masud, A., & Abdullah, M. F. (2021). Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni’s study of other religions: A case on Hinduism.  Journal of Nusantara Studies, 6(2), 116-132. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol6iss2pp116-132

Author Biographies

Abdullah Al Masud, International Islamic University Malaysia, 50728 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Abdullah Al Masud is a PhD candidate and graduate teaching assistant at the department of Usul al-Din and Comparative Religion, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He completed his bachelor, and the masters degree in 2013 from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh in the field of comparative religion. His areas of specialization are comparative religion, early Muslim scholars of comparative religion, Sufism and South Asian Studies.

Md. Faruk Abdullah, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, 21300 Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

Md. Faruk Abdullah is currently a senior lecturer at the School of Banking and Finance, Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin. He obtained his PhD in Shariah (Islamic Economics) from the University of Malaya in 2016 and he also completed Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP) from the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF). His bachelor’s degree was in Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). His areas of specialization are Islamic financial jurisprudence, Shariah issues in Islamic economics and finance, Islamic micro-finance, South Asian Studies, South Asian development and Islamic wealth management.

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Published
2021-06-30
How to Cite
Al Masud, A., & Abdullah, M. F. (2021). ABU RAYHAN AL-BIRUNI’S STUDY OF OTHER RELIGIONS: A CASE ON HINDUISM. Journal of Nusantara Studies (JONUS), 6(2), 116-132. https://doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol6iss2pp116-132