Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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  Page ix  

PREFACE.                                    ix

Mahmud marched into the country, not without some
fighting, established there one of his generals as provin¬
cial governor, and soon returned to Ghazna with much
booty and a great part of the Khiva troops, together
with the princes of the deposed family of Ma'mun and
the leading men of the country as prisoners of war or
as hostages. Among the last was Abu-Eaihan Muham¬
mad Ibn Ahmad Alberuni.

This happened in the spring and summer of A.d.
1017. The Chorasmian princes were sent to distant
fortresses as prisoners of state, the Chorasmian soldiers
were incorporated in Mahmud's Indian army; and Al¬
beruni—what treatment did he experience at Ghazna ?
From the very outset it is not likely that both the king
and his chancellor, Ahmad Ibn Hasan Maimandi, should
have accorded special favours to a man whom they knew
to have been their political antagonist for years. The
latter, the same man who had been the cause of the
tragic catastrophe in the life of Firdausi, was in office
under Mahmud from A.D. 1007-1025, and a second
time under his son and successor, Mas'ud, from 1030-
1033. There is nothing to tell us that Alberuni was
ever in the service of the state or court in Ghazna. A
friend of his and companion of his exile, the Christian
philosopher and physician from Bagdad, Abulkhair
Alkhammar, seems to have practised in Ghazna his
medical profession. Alberuni probably enjoyed the
reputation of a great munajjim, i.e. astrologer-astrono¬
mer, and perhaps it was in this quality that he had
relations to the court and its head, as Tycho de Brahe
to the Emperor Eudolf. When writing the 'IvStKa,
thirteen years after his involuntary immigration to
Afghanistan, he was a master of astrology, both ac¬
cording to the Greek and the Hindu system, and indeed
Eastern writers of later centuries seem to consider him
as having been the court astrologer of King Mahmud.
In a book written five hundred years later (v. Chresto-
  Page ix