Sunday, August 25, 2019 | ePaper

Great Poet Omar Khayyam

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Literature Desk :
mar Khayyam, Arabic in full Ghiyath al-Din Abu al-Fat Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami was born on May 18, 1048, in Neyshabur (also spelled Nishapur), Khorasan in northeastern Persia (now Iran). He was a Mathematician, Astronomer, and Poet, renowned in his own country and time for his Scientific achievements but chiefly known to English-speaking readers through the translation of a collection of his Rubaiyat (quatrains) in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1859), by the English writer Edward Fitz Gerald.
At a young age, he moved to Samarkand and obtained his education there. Afterwards he moved to Bukhara and became established as one of the major Mathematicians and Astronomers of the Islamic Golden Age. He wrote one of the most important treatises on Algebra written before modern times, the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra (1070), which includes a Geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle. He contributed to a Calendar reform.
In Samarkand he made contact with his father's old friend Abu Tahir, who was Governor and Chief Judge of the city. Tahir, observing Khayyam’s extraordinary talent with numbers, gave him a job in his office. Soon Khayyam was given a job in the King’s treasury.
While living in Samarkand, Khayyam made a major advance in Algebra.
His significance as a Philosopher and teacher, and his few remaining philosophical works, have not received the same attention as his Scientific and Poetic writings. Al-Zamakhshari referred to him as ‘the philosopher of the world.’ He taught the Philosophy of Avicenna for decades in Nishapur.
Outside Iran and Persian-speaking countries, Khayyám has influenced Literature and societies through the translation of his works and popularization by other scholars. The greatest such effect was in English-speaking countries. The English scholar Thomas Hyde (1636-1703) was the first non-Persian known to have studied his works. The most influential, however, was Edward Fitz Gerald (1809-83), who made Khayyam famous in the West through his translation and adaptations of Khayyam’s Quatrains (Persian: Rubaiyat) in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Khayyam died in 1131, and is buried in the Khayyam Garden in Nishapur. The reconstruction of the tombs of Persian icons like Hafez, Saadi, Attar, Pour Sina and others were built by Reza Shah and in 1963, the Mausoleum of Omar Khayyam was reconstructed on the site by Hooshang Seyhoun.
Khayyam's poetry was popularized in the 1800s by Edward FitzGerald's translations in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Khayyam became so admired in the West that in 1963 the Shah of Iran had his grave exhumed and Khayyam’s remains moved to a huge purpose-built mausoleum in Nishapur where tourists could pay homage to the great poet.
Scholars believe he wrote about a thousand four-line verses or Rubaiyat. He was introduced to the English-speaking world through the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which are poetic, rather than literal, translations by Edward Fitz Gerald (1809-1883). Other English translations of parts of the Rubaiyat (Rubaiyat meaning Quatrains) exist, but FitzGerald's are the most well known.
Ironically, Fitz Gerald’s translations reintroduced Khayyám to Iranians “who had long ignored the Neishapouri poet.” A 1934 book by one of Iran’s most prominent writers, Sadeq Hedayat, Songs of Khayyám (Taranehha-ye Khayyám), is said to have ‘shaped the way a generation of Iranians viewed’ the poet.
Omar Khayyám’s poems have been translated into many languages. Many translations were made directly from Persian, more literal than the translation by Edward Fitzgerald.
There have been widely divergent views on Khayyám. And he is seen as an agnostic hedonist. On the other end of the spectrum, he is seen as a mystical Sufi Muslim poet with a complex set of ideals.
Fitz Gerald, in his preface to the Rubáiyát, also contested claims that Khayyám was a Sufi mystic: “Omar’s Epicurean Audacity of thought and Speech caused him to be regarded askance in his own time and country. He is said to have been especially hated and dreaded by the Sufis, whose practice he ridiculed, and whose faith amounts to little more than his own, when stripped of the Mysticism and formal recognition of Islamism under which Omar would not hide.”
Omar Khayyam revered Prophet Muhammad (Sm) as demonstrated by his writings. In his book entitled on the elaboration of the problems concerning the book of Euclid he refers to the Prophet Muhammad as ‘Master of Prophets.’
In the same book, Khayyam at the end of it affirms what he stated and praises God and Prophet Muhammad. In his piece entitled ‘On Existence’ Khayyam refers to Prophet Muhammad (Sm) as his Master. In his Quatrains, Khayyam asks Prophet Muhammad (Sm) admit him into Heaven.
Abdullah Dougan, a modern Naqshbandi Sufi, provides commentary on the role and contribution of Omar Khayyam to Sufi thought. Dougan says that while Omar is a minor Sufi teacher compared to the giants - Rumi, Attar and Sana'i - one aspect that makes Omar’s work so relevant and accessible is its very human scale as we can feel for him and understand his approach. The argument over the quality of Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat has, according to Dougan, diverted attention from a fuller understanding of the deeply esoteric message contained in Omar’s actual material - “Every line of the Rubaiyat has more meaning than almost anything you could read in Sufi literature.”
Omar Khayyam died at the age of 83 in his hometown of Nishapur on December 4, 1131. He was buried in a tomb whose location he had chosen in an orchard where blossom would fall twice a year.
A lunar crater Omar Khayyam was named after him in 1970 and a minor planet called 3095 Omarkhayyam, discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova in 1980, is named after him.
In June 2009, Iran donated a scholar pavilion to United Nations Office in Vienna which is placed in the central Memorial Plaza of the Vienna International Center. The Persian Scholars Pavilion at United Nations in Vienna, Austria is featuring the statues of four prominent Iranian figures. Highlighting the Iranian architectural features, the pavilion is adorned with Persian art forms and includes the statues of renowned Iranian scientists Avicenna, Abu Rayhan Biruni, Zakariya Razi (Rhazes) and Omar Khayyam.
In March 2016, Khayyam’s statue was unveiled by in the courtyard of the university of Oklahoma as well. In addition, two other copies of the statue, one of which was installed in Khayyam’s hometown of Neyshabur, and the other is to be sent to Florence, Italy. The three statues were created by Iranian sculptor Hossein Fakhimi. The President of the University of Oklahoma David L. Boren, a former governor of Oklahoma and US senator, also attended the ceremony. The ceremony was organized with the help of the International Society for Iranian Culture.

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