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

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



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  Page xv  

PREFACE.                                       XV

tinues: "What scholar, however, has the same favour¬
able opportunities of studying this subject as I have ?
That would be only the case with one to whom the
grace of God accords, what it did not accord to me, a
perfectly free disposal of his own doings and goings ;
for it has never fallen to my lot in my own doings and
goings to be perfectly independent, nor to be invested
with sufficient power to dispose and to order as I
thought best. However, I thank God for that which
He has bestowed upon me, and which must be con¬
sidered as sufficient for the purpose " (i. 24). These
lines seem to say that the author, both at Ghazna and
in India, at Multan, Peshavar, &c., had the opportunity
of conversing with pandits, of procuring their help, and
of buying books ; that, however, in other directions he
was not his own master, but had to obey a higher will;
and lastly, that he was not a man in authority.

In another place (i. 152) he explains that art and
science require the protection of kings. " For they
alone could free the minds of scholars from the daily
anxieties for the necessities of life, and stimulate their
energies to earn more fame and favour, the yearning for
which is the pith and marrow of human nature. The
present times, however, are not of this kind. They are
the very opposite, and therefore it is quite impossible
that a new science or any new kind of research should
arise in our days. What we have of sciences is nothing
but the scanty remains of bygone better times." Com¬
pare with this a dictum quoted (i. 188) : "The scholars
are well aware of the use of money, but the rich are
ignorant of the nobility of science."

These are not the words of an author who basks in
the sunshine of royal protection. The time he speaks
of is the time of Mahmud, and it is Mahmud whom he
accuses of having failed in the duties of a protector of
art and science imposed upon him by his royal office.
Firdausi, in his satire (Mohl, i.  pref.  p.  xlv.),  calls
  Page xv