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Understanding the ‘other’: the case of Al-Biruni (973-1048 AD)

Nurhanisah Senin (Faculty of Islamic Civilization Studies, Selangor International Islamic University College, Selangor, Malaysia)
Fadila Grine (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Wan Adli Wan Ramli (Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Khadijah Mohd Khambali @ Hambali (Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Siti Fairuz Ramlan (Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

International Journal of Ethics and Systems

ISSN: 2514-9369

Article publication date: 12 June 2019

Issue publication date: 22 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to demonstrate al-Biruni’s originality in the study of religion and the exploration of religious truth, while his firm stance on his religion effectively advocated his need to understand others more accurately.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is a review of al-Biruni’s literature that uses content analysis method in establishing al-Biruni’s approach in understanding other religions through three main methodologies. From these approaches, this paper advocates al-Biruni’s firm stance toward his own faith despite using a scientific study on Hindu, which is in contrary to other phenomenological scholars who find that religious truth is relative in nature.

Findings

Al-Biruni’s methods have proven that researchers are not necessarily required to dispose off their religious identity and commitment to faith, while simultaneously achieving objectivity and accuracy. Al-Biruni’s approach to understanding others may be seen as a remarkable early model of interfaith, intercultural and inter-civilizational dialogue seeking, eventually, to promote a harmonious co-existence within a highly polarized cultural and religious context. This inquiry demonstrates al-Biruni’s scholarly depth in his attempt to harmonize his methodology with the study of religious phenomena in compliance with Islam.

Originality/value

This study signifies al-Biruni’s intellectual background with his mastery of first-hand information as a solid basis and grounds for the effective understanding of others in a descriptive, systematic and comparative manner. This paper also signifies al-Biruni’s methods of understanding others without having to dispose off one’s religious identity and commitment to faith which could be exemplified by other religious scholars.

Keywords

Citation

Senin, N., Grine, F., Wan Ramli, W.A., Mohd Khambali @ Hambali, K. and Ramlan, S.F. (2019), "Understanding the ‘other’: the case of Al-Biruni (973-1048 AD)", International Journal of Ethics and Systems, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 392-409. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOES-01-2018-0010

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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