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

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



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6                                    PREFACE.

the frame of one single religion, because they are closely
related and blended with each other. On the other hand,
you would have great difficulty in detecting it in a
report about entirely foreign systems of thought totally
differing both in principle and details, for such a research
is rather an out-of-the-way one, and there are few means
of arriving at a thorough comprehension of it. The
same tendency prevails throughout our whole literature
on philosophical and religious sects. If such an author
is not alive to the requirements of a strictly, scientific
method, he will procure some superficial information
which will satisfy neither the adherents of the doctrine
in question nor those who really know it. In such a
case, if he be an honest character, he will simply
retract and feel ashamed ; but if he be so base as not
to give due honour to truth, he will persist in litigious
wrangling for his own original standing-point. If, on
the contrary, an author has the right method, he will do
his utmost to deduce the tenets of a sect from their
legendary lore, things which people tell him, pleasant
enough to listen to, but which he would never dream of
taking for true or believing.

In order to illustrate the point of our conversation.
Page 4. one of those present referred to the religions and doc¬
trines of the Hindus by way of an example. There¬
upon I drew their attention to the fact that everything
which exists on this subject in our literature is second¬
hand information which one has copied from the other,
a farrago of materials never sifted by the sieve of
critical examination. Of all authors of this class, I know
only one who had proposed to himself to give a simple
and exact report of the subject sine ird ac studio, viz.
'Abu-arabbas Aleranshahri. He himself did not believe
in any of the then existing religions, but was the sole
believer in a religion invented by himself, which he
tried to propagate. He has given a very good account
of the doctrines of the Jews and Christians as well as
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