The comprehension of the structure of the Universe, and of the nature of the form of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is between them, attained by rehearsing the information received is extremely advantageous in the Art of Astrology...
The great medieval Islamic scientist and astrologer Abu'l-Rayhan Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni was born in 973 A.D. in Kath, then capital of the Principality of Khwarizm, the present day city of Khiva in Uzbekistan. From a young age he undertook serious scientific research and study, publishing a treatise on cartography at the age of 22. Al-Biruni wrote over a hundred books and treatises on such varied subjects as mathematics, geometry, geography, astronomy, astrology, the density of minerals and history.
Al-Biruni benefited from the patronage of such powerful rulers as Mahmood Ghaznavi, whom he (voluntarily or not) accompanied to India. These travels resulted in his most famous work, Kitab al-Hind, the Book of India. He died in 1048 in Ghazna, now Ghazni, in Afganistan. Here is further, more detailed biographical information.
Al-Biruni, despite being a medieval Islamic astrologer, remains a significant source for students of Renaissance astrology. The fall of Rome and the onset of the Dark Ages saw the virtual extinguishment of astrology in Europe. Much classical learning was preserved in the sophisticated Islamic civilization of the Middle East and knowledge in many fields, including astrology, was materially advanced by scientists and philosophers like Al-Biruni. Medieval and Renaissance astrology is essentially Islamic astrology, a fact that is easily ascertained by noting the large number of Islamic sources quoted by William Lilly in the bibliography to his Christian Astrology or the many references made to Islamic authors by the Italian astrologer Guido Bonatti in his Liber Astronomiae.
On a more profound level it is useful for the student of Renaissance astrology to study the works of Islamic authors like Al-Biruni because the milieu in which they worked and thought was one in which unity was paramount. This belief is expressed fundamentally as tawhid the unity of God, but expresses itself also in a unified schema of knowledge, where science, theology and mysticism are not contradictory, but all part of the unity and harmony of all existence. Here is an interesting article on Islamic science by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr.
Nativity of Al-Biruni
The information for this chart comes from R. Ramsay Wright's translation of Al-Biruni's Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (London, 1934). His birth time is given as 5:05 am on September 4, A.D. 973 in what is now known as Khiva in modern day Uzbekistan.
One thing we might note is the prominence of Mercury. As Virgo rises, Mercury is the ruler of the Ascendant and with Gemini on the cusp of the tenth house Mercury also rules Al-Biruni's reputation and career.
Despite the affliction of being Under the Sun's Beams (though leaving) Mercury is well placed in the angular first house and extremely well dignified by sign, exaltation and face as well as being closely conjunct the benefic North Node of the Moon.
Lilly notes that a native with a well-dignified Mercury is,
"[A]n excellent disputant or Logician, arguing with learning and discretion, and using much eloquence in his speech, a searcher into all kinds of Mysteries and Learning, sharp and witty, learning almost any thing without a Teacher; ambitious of being exquisite in every Science, desirious naturally of travel and seeing foraign parts: a man of an unwearied fancy, curious in the search of any occult knowledge; able by his own Genius to produce wonders; given to Divination and the more secret knowledge..."
Christian Astrology, page 77.
Al-Biruni and Astrology
We are fortunate to have a English translation by R. Ramsay Wright of Al-Biruni's Kitab al tafhim li awa'il sina'at al tanjim, the Book of Instructions in the Elements of the Art of Astrology, often known as the Tafhim. Al-Biruni follows a logical progression from first principles and begins with geometry, then goes onto to arithmetic, astronomy, geography, chronology and a discussion of the use of the astrolabe before reaching his introduction to astrology.
I'm afraid I have to disagree with the assertion made by the School of Mathematics at my alma mater the University of St. Andrews that, "It appears clear that, despite his many works on astrology, al-Biruni did not believe in the 'science' but used it as a means to support his serious scientific work." Al-Biruni Page. After all Al-Biruni took the time to actually compose the Book of Instructions, which is a basic astrology text. In the beginning of the Book of Instructions he states that,
"The comprehension of the structure of the Universe, and of the nature of the form of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is between them, attained by rehearsing the information received is extremely advantageous in the Art of Astrology...I have begun with Geometry and proceeded to Arithmetic and the Science of Numbers, then to the structure of the Universe and finally to Judicial Astrology, for no one who is worthy of the style and title of Astrologer who is not thoroughly conversant with these for sciences."
Book of Instructions, page 1.
Al-Biruni does occasionally criticize certain astrological techniques and he is skeptical of astrologers of the Hashwiyite school, but no where in the Book of Instructions does he indicate any skepticism regarding astrology in general. Instead Al-Biruni presents astrology, the science of astral influences, as a logical and necessary part of Islamic philosophy and science. Here is a selection from the Book of Instructions containing of Al-Biruni's tables of the the things assigned to each of the 12 houses.
Al-Biruni on the General
Characteristics of the Planets
Elemental qualities, tastes and colors of the planets
from Al-Biruni's Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology
Elemental Qualities, Gender, Hayz, Taste & Color
Saturn is extremely cold and dry. The greater malefic. Male. Diurnal. Disagreeable and astringent, offensively acid, stinking. Jet-black also black mixed with yellow, lead colour, pitch-dark.
Jupiter is moderately warm and moist. The greater benefic. Male. Diurnal. Sweet, bitter-sweet, delicious. Dust-colour and white mixed with yellow and brown, shin1ng, glittering.
Mars is extremely hot and dry. The lesser malefic. Male (some say female). Nocturnal. Bitter. Dark red.
The Sun is hot and dry, the heat predominant. Maleficent when near, beneficent at a distance.. Male. Diurnal. Penetrating. pungent,shining reddish-yellow, its colour is said to be that of the lord of the hour.
Venus is moderately cold and moist, especially the latter. The lesser benef1c. Female.- Nocturnal. Fat and sweet flavour. Pure white tending to straw-colour, shining, according to some greenish.
Mercury is moderately cold and dry, the latter predominant. Beneficent. Male and diurnal by nature, but takes on the characters of others near. Complex flavour and colour, the latter sky-blue mixed with a darker colour.
The Moon is cold and moist, sometimes moderate, changeable. Beneficent and maleficent. Female. Nocturnal. Salt or insipid, somewhat biiter. Blue and white or some deep colour not unmixed with reddish yellow, moderate brilliancy.
Temperature, Qualities, Day, Soil Type
Saturn: Coldest; hardest, most stinking and most powerful of things. Shortness, dryness, hardness, heaviness. Saturday (and Wednesday night) First climate. Barren mountains.
Jupiter: : Moderate, complete, pleasant, best and easiest things. Moderation, solidity, smoothness. Thursday (and Monday night). Second climate. Easily worked soil.
Mars: Hot, hard, sharp and red things. Length, dryness and coarseness. Tuesday (and Saturday night). Third climate. Waste, hard and stony land.
The Sun: Most expert, noble, well-known and generous things. Revolution, mines, worn-outness, empty and vacant places. Sunday (and Thursday night). Fourth climate. Mountains rich in minerals.
Venus: : Most pungent, most agreeable and delicious, most beautiful, softest and ripest things. Squareness, dispersion, smoothness. Friday (and Tuesday night). Firth climate. Soils with abundant water.
Mercury: Mixture of moderate things. Compounded of two things of this nature. Wednesday (and Sunday night) Sixth climate. Sandy soil.
The Moon: Thickest, densest, moistest and lightest objects. Density, moisture, opacity, lightness. Monday (and Friday night). Seventh climate. Plains and level ground.
Religions & Pictures of the Planets
Saturn: Jews and those who dress in black. Old man seated on a wolf in his right hand the head of a man and in the left a man's hand; or according to another picture, mounted on a bright bay horse, on his head a helmet, in the left hand a shield and in the right a sword.
Jupiter: : Christians and those dressed in white. A young man with a drawn sword in the right hand and a bow and a rosary in the left, on horse-back; Another picture: man on a throne clad in variously coloured robes, a rosary in the left hand.
Mars: Idolaters, wine-bibbers. dressed in red. Young man seated on two lions. in the right hand a drawn sword in the left a battle-axe; another picture: mounted on a bay horse, helmet on head, in the left hand a spear adorned with red roses, pennon flag, in the right hand head of a man, clad in red.
The Sun: Wearing a crown; Magians, Mithraists. A man seated on something like a shield on wheels drawn by. four oxen, in his right a staff on which he rests, in his left a mace, beads; another picture: man seated, face like a circle, holding reins of four horses.
Venus: : Islam. Woman on a camel holding a lute which she is playing; another picture: woman seated her hair unloosened the locks in her left hand, in the right a mirror in which she keeps looking. dressed in yellowish green, with a necklace, bells, bracelets and anklets.
Mercury: Disputants in all sects. Youth seated on a peacock, in his right hand a serpent and in the left a tablet which he keeps reading; another picture: man seated on a throne, in his hand a book which he is reading, crowned, yellow and green robe
The Moon: Adherents of the prevailing religion. Man with javelin in right hand. in his left thirty. you would think there were three hundred. on his head a crown, seated in a chariot drawn by four horses.
Al-Biruni on the Planets Ruling
People's Actions and Professions
Activities, morals, manners, professions, relatives, and types of people
Activities & Morals
Saturn: Exile and poverty, or wealth acquired by his own trickery or that of others, failure in business, vehemence, confusion, seeking solitariness, enslaving people by violence or treachery, fraud, weeping and wailing and lamentation.
Jupiter: Friendliness, a peacemaker, charitable, devoted to religion and good works, responsible, uxorious, laughing, eloquent, eager for wealth, in addition to affability some levity and recklessness.
Mars: Marriage, travelling, litigation, business going to ruin, false testimony, lustful,a bad companion, solitary, spiteful and tricky.
The Sun: Longing for power and government, hankering after wealth and management of worldly affairs, and imposing wil1 on the ignorant, reproving evil-doers, harsh with opponents. If Sun is in exaltation, the position is favourable to kings, if in fall to those in rebellion.
Venus: Lazy, laughing, jesting, dancing, fond of wine, chess, draughts, cheating, takes pleasure in every thing, not quarrelsome, a sodomite or given to excessive venery, well-spoken, fond of ornaments, perfume, song, gold, silver, fine clothes.
Mercury: Teaching manners, theology ,revelation and logic, eloquent, fine voice, good memory for stories, ruining prospects by too great anxiety and misfortunes, fearful of enemies, frivolous, eager to buy slaves and girls, busybody , calumnious, thieving, lying and falsifying.
The Moon: Lying, calumniation, over-anxious for health and comfort, generous in distributing food, too uxorious, levity in appropriate places, excellent spirits.
Saturn: Fearful, timid, anxious, suspicious, miserly, a malevolent plotter, sullen and proud, melancholy, truth-te1ling, grave, trusty, unwi1ling to believe good of anyone, engrossed in his own affairs and consequently indicates discord, and either ignorance or intelligence, but the ignorance is concealed.
Jupiter: : Good disposition, inspiring, intelligent, patient, high-m1nded,devout, chaste, administering Justice, truth-te1ling, learned, generous, noble, cautious in friendship, egoistic, friend of good government, eager for education, an honourable trusty and responsible custodian, religious.
Mars: Confused opinions, ignorant, rash, evil conduct licentious, bold, quarrelsome, unsteady, untrustworthy, violent, shameless, unchaste but quickly repentant, a deceiver, cheerful, bright, friendly and pleasant-faced.
The Sun: Intelligent and knowledgeful, patient, chaste, but sensual, eager for knowledge, power and victory, seeking a good name for helping others, friendly, hot-tempered but quickly recovering repose.
Venus: : Good disposition, handsome face, good-natured inclined to love and sensuality, friendliness, generosity, tenderness to children and friends, pride, joy, patience.
Mercury: Sharp intelligence and understanding, affability, gentleness, open countenance, elegance, farsightedness, changeable, deeply interested in business, eager for pleasure, keeps secrets, seeking friendship of people, longing for power, reputation and approval, preserves true friends and withdraws from bad ones, keeps away from trickery, strife, malevolence, bad-heartedness and discord.
The Moon: Simple, adaptable, a king among kings, a servant among servants, good-hearted, forgetful, loquacious, timid, reveals secrets, a lover of elegance, respected by people, cheerful, a lover of women, too anxious, not intellectually strong, much thought and talk.
Saturn: Building, paymaster, farming , reclaiming and and distribution of water, fraudulent transactions, apportioning money and heritages, grave-digging; selling things made of iron, lead, bone, hair, copper, blaok slaves; knowledge used for bad purposes, such acts of the government as lead to evil oppression. wrath, captivity, torture.
Jupiter: : Noble actions, good government, religion, doing good; interpretation of dreams; goldsmiths work, banking; selling old gold and silver, white clothes, grapes and sugar-cane.
Mars: Law-making, selling and making armour, blacksmiths craft, grooms, shepherds, butchers. veterinary surgeons, surgeons, circumcisers, sellers of hounds, cheetahs, bears, wolves, copper, sickles, beer, glass, boxes, wooden cups, brigandage, contention, housebreaking, highwaymen, grave-robbers and prison, torture, execution.
The Sun: Receiving, giving and selling gold-brocades.
Venus: : Works of beauty and magnificence,fond of bazaars, commerce, measuring by weight, length and bulk; dealing in pictures and colours, goldsmiths work, tailoring, manufacturing perfumes, dealing in pearls, gold and silver ornaments, musk, white and green clothes, maker of crowns and diadems, accompanying singing, composing songs, playing the lute, feasts, games and gaming.
Mercury: Merchants, calculators and surveyors, astrologers. necromancers and fortune-tellers. geometrician.philosopher,d1sputatlon,poetry, eloquence, manual dexterity and anxiety for perfection in everything, selling slaves, hides, books, coins; profession of barbers, manufacture of combs.
The Moon: Engaged in business matters, missions. agencies, accounting; strenuous in rel1gion and divine law, skill in all branches; practice of medicine, geometry, the higher sciences, measuring land and water; growing and cutting hair; selling food, silver rings and virgins. also indicates captivity, and prison for the deceptions of wizards.
Relatives & Appearance
Saturn: Fathers, grandfathers, older brothers and slaves. Owners of estates, kings' intendants, religious or various sects, devotees,wicked people, bores, the overworked, eunuchs, thieves, the moribund, magicians, demons, ghouls,and those who revile them.
Jupiter: : Children and grandchildren. Kings, vazirs, nobles, magnates, lawyers, merchants, the rich and their sycophants.
Mars: Brothers or middle age. Leaders, cavalry, troops, opponents, disputants in assembly.
The Sun: Fathers and brothers, slaves. Kings, nobles, chiefs, generals, officials, magistrates, physicians, societies.
Venus: : Wives, mothers, sisters, uterine kindred, delicate child. Nobles, Plutocrats, queens, courtezans, adulterers and their children.
Mercury: Younger brothers. Merchants, bankers, councillors, tax-collectors. slaves and wrestlers.
The Moon: Mothers, maternal aunts, elder sisters, nurses. Kings, nobles, noble matrons, celebrated,and wealthy citizens.
Al-Biruni on the Planets Ruling
Parts of the Body and Diseases
Parts of the body, ages, diseases and appearance
Parts of the Body
Saturn: Earth, black bile and occasionally crude phlegm. Hair, nails, skin, feathers, wool, bones, marrow and horn. Spleen.
Jupiter: Air and blood. Arteries, sperm and bone marrow. Heart in partnership with the Sun.
Mars: The upper part of fire and yellow bile. Veins and the hinder regions. Liver together with Venus.
The Sun: The lower part of fire. Brains, nerves, and the hypochondria, fat and everything of this kind. Stomaoh.
Venus: Flesh, fat and spinal marrow. Kidneys.
Mercury: Black bile. Arteries. Gall-bladder.
The Moon: phlegm, skin and everything related thereto Lungs.
More Body Parts
Saturn: Right ear. Hearing. Buttocks, podex, bowels, penis, back, height, knees. Old age.
Jupiter: : Left ear. Hearing and touch. Thighs and intestines, womb and throat. Middle age.
Mars: Right nostril. Smell and touch. pubes, gall-bladder, kidney. Youth.
The Sun: Right eye. Sight. Head and chest, sides, teeth, mouth. Full manhood.
Venus: : Left nostril. Smell and inhaling organs. Womb, genitals, hands and fingers. Youth and adolescence.
Mercury: Tongue together with Venus. Taste. Organs of speech. Childhood.
The Moon: Left eye. Vision and taste. Neck, breasts, lungs, stomach, spleen. Infancy to old age according to its various quarters.
Diseases & Appearance
Saturn: Sickness, affliction, poverty, death, disease of internal organs, gout. Ugly, tall, wizened, sour face, large head, eyebrows joined, small eyes, wide mouth, thick lips; downcast look, much black hair, short neck, coarse hand, short fingers, awkward figure, legs crooked, big feet.
Jupiter: : Sickness, fatigue, fever, death in childbed, Caesarean section. Fine figure, round race, thick prominent, nose, large eyes, frank look, small beard, abundant curly hair reddish.
Mars: Fever. Brothers or middle age. Tall, large head, small eyes and ears, and fine forehead, sharp grey eyes, good nose, thin lips, lank hair, reddish, long fingers, long steps.
The Sun: Fathers and brothers, slaves. Large head, complexion white inclining to yellow, long hair, yellow in the white of the eye, stammers, large paunch with folds.
Venus: : Wives, mothers, sisters, uterine kindred, delicate child. Fine round face, reddish-white complex1on, double chin, fat cheeks, not too fat, fine eyes, the black larger than the white; small teeth, handsome neck, medium tall, short ringers, thick calves.
Mercury: Younger brothers. Fine figure, complexion brown with a greenish tinge, handsome, narrow forehead, th1ck ears, good nose, eyebrows joined, wide mouth, small teeth, thin beard, fine long hair, well-shaped long feet.
The Moon: Diseases of many kinds. Mothers, maternal aunts, elder sisters, nurses. Clear white complexion, gait and figure erect, round face, long beard, eyebrows joined, teeth separate crooked at the points, good hair with locks.
Al-Biruni on the Planets Ruling
Animals, Vegetables and Minerals
Animals, birds, trees, gems. minerals, foods and drugs
Animals & Birds
Saturn: Black animals and those living in holes in the ground; oxen, goats, horses, sheep, ermine, sable, weasel , cat , mouse, Jerboa, a1so black snakes, scorpions and other poisonous insects and fleas and beetles. Aquatic and nocturnal birds, ravens, swallows and flies.
Jupiter: Man, domestic animals and those with cloven hoots such as sheep, oxen, deer, those which are speckled and beautifully coloured, and edible, or speak1ng, or trained such as lions, cheetahs and leopards. Birds with straight beaks , grain eating, not black, pigeon, francolin, peacock, domestic fowls, hoopoe and lark.
Mars: Lion, leopard, wolf, wild pig, dog, destructive or mad wild beasts, venomous serpents. Flesh-eating birds with curved bills , nocturnal, water hens, bats, all red birds, wasps.
The Sun: Sheep, mountain goat, deer, Arab horse, lion, crocodile, nocturnal anima1s which remain concealed during the day. Eagle, ring-dove, turtle dove, cock and falcon.
Venus: All those wild animals Which have white or yellow hoofs such as gazelle, wild ass, mountain goat also large fish. Ring-dove, wild pigeon, sparrow, bulbul, nightingale, locusts and inedible birds.
Mercury: Ass, camel, domestic dog, fox, hare, Jackal, ermine, nocturnal creatures, small aquatic and terrestrial animals. Pigeon, starling, crickets, falcon, aquatic birds and nightingales.
The Moon: Camel, ox, sheep, elephant, giraffe, all beasts of burden obedient to man and domesticated. Ducks, cranes, carrion crows, herons, chicks, partridge.
Trees & Crops
Saturn: Oak-gall tree, citron or myrobalan tree. 01ive tree and also willow, turpentine tree, castor-oil plant. and all those which bear fruits with disagreeable taste or smell, or hard-shells such as walnuts and almonds. Sesame.
Jupiter: : Trees bearing sweet fruit without hard skin such as peach, fig, apricot, pear and lote-fruit, companions Venus as to fruits. Roses, flowers. herbs sweet-smelling or tall, such plants as are light and whose seeds fly with the wind.
Mars: All bitter, pungent and thorny trees, their fruit with rough skin, pungent or very bitter such as bitter pomegranate, wi1d pear, bramble. Mustard.leeks, onion, garlic, rue, rocket, wild rue, radish, egg-plant.
The Sun: All tall trees which have oily fruit, and those whose fruit is used dry, such as date-palms, mulberries and vines. Dodder, sugar-cane. manna. tarangubin and shir-khisht.
Venus: : All trees soft to touch, sweet-smelling, smooth to the eye like cypress and teak. apple and quince. Sweet and oily berries. fragrant arid coloured, herbs, spring flowers and has a share in cotton.
Mercury: pungent and evil-smelling trees. Savoury herbs and garden stuff, canes and things growing in water.
The Moon: All trees the stem of which is short such as the vine and the sweet pomegranate. Grass. reeds, canes, flax, hemp, trailing plants such as cucumber and melon.
Metals, Gems & Fruit
Saturn: Litharge, iron slag, hard stones. Lead. Pepper, belleric myrobalan, olives, medlars, bitter pomegranate, lentils, liriseed, hempseed.
Jupiter: : Marcasite, tutty, sulphur, red arsenic, all white and yellow stones, stones found in ox-gall. Tin, white lead, fine-brass, diamond, all jewels worn by man. Wild pomegranate, apple, wheat, barley, rice, durra, chick peas, sesame.
Mars: Magnetic iron, shadna (lentil-shaped stones) cinnabar, rouge and mosaics (fasifusa). Iron and copper. Bitter almond, seed of turpentine-tree.
The Sun: : Jacinths, lapis lazul1, Yellow sulphur, orpimem, Pharaonic glass, marble, re-algar, pitch. Gold and whatever is coined therefrom for kings. Orange and maize.
Venus: : magnesia and antimony. Silver and gold and jewels set in these, household vessels made of gold, silver and brass, pearls, emeralds, shells. Figs, grapes, dates, origanum and fenugreek.
Mercury: Depilatory, arsen1c, amber, all yellow and green stones. All coins struck with name and number such as dinars, dirhams and coppers, old gold and qu1cks1lver, turquoise,cora1,tree-coral. Pease, beans, caraway, coriander.
The Moon: Nabatean glass, white stones, emera1d, moonstone. Silver and things manufactured of silver, such as cups, bangles, rings and the like, pearls, crystal, beads strung. Wheat, barley, large and small cucumbers, melons.
Food & Drugs
Saturn: Drugs cold and dry in the fourth degree, especially those which are narcotic and poisonous. Dwellings. Sleep. Retentive power.
Jupiter: : Those which are moderately hot and moist and are profitable and agreeable. Fruits. Clothing. Vital, growing nutritive faculties and the air in the heart.
Mars: Whatever 1s not poisonous but pungent and warm in the fourth degree. Drugs. Business. Passion.
The Sun: Whatever is warm beyond the fourth degree and is salutary and in general use. Foods. Eating and drinking. Youthful Vigour.
Venus: : Moderately cold and moist foods, useful and pleasant to the taste. Savoury herbs. Coition. Sensuality.
Mercury: Foods which are dryer than cold and are agreeable but rarely useful. Grains. Speaking. Faculty of reflection.
The Moon: Foods which are equally cold and moist, sometimes useful, sometimes detrimental, and are not in constant use. Beverages. Drinking water. Natural power.