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Omar Khayyam - The Astronomer-Poet of Persia

Omar Khayyam - The Astronomer-Poet of Persia

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Hakim Omar Khayyam

Iranians used to praise AHURA MAZDA, during their prayers in about 2500 years ago, for the enjoyment granted to them. This enjoyment-loving became a secondary nature and as a part of Iranian habitudes.

But due to wars imposed to Iran and the influence of
Greek Philosophy, such enjoyment-seeking morale
mixed with grief and pain, manifested eventually in
eternal Quatrains of OMAR KHAYYAM (about l048-
1123) of Nishabour-Khorasan, Iran.

Although Khayyam is considered to be a pessimist
poet, like most Iranian poets, to Khayyam, it has a
high philosophical aspect. On one hand, his thoughts
are always mixed with sorrow, grief, death and
annihilation, and at the same time, he invited human
beings to happiness and enjoyment. "Let us be happy,

Time is passing by. There is no return, when you go,
you are gone." We observe such reflection at Hafez
Poems about 250 years after Khayyam, as well.

Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), of BRITAIN was the
first who keenly and sharply found that Khayyam's
Quatrains would reflect the common spritual needs of
human beings. By receiving inspiration from the quatrains, he published 75 Rubaiys, at London,
for the first time, without mentioning the name of the translator. At first no one paid much
attention to it, but later on, when the scholars discovered the philosophical and literary values,
the public paid a welcoming attention as well, praising the totality, comprehensiveness of
Khayyam thoughts and elequence of Fitzgerald. The Second, third and fourth editions of the
book were sold as if they were precious jewels, bringing about the worldwide fame.

As a poet, writer and philosophical thinker, Fitzgerald was sufficiently qualified to understand
the ideas of Iranian great thinker. He was the first one who made distinction between the
numerous original quatrians attributed to Omar Khayyam. This was the reason, why he selected
initially 75 and later on 101 quarrians.

After death of Fitzgerald, another scholar, Mr. Edward Heron-Allen, introduced the Farsi
(Persian) Sources of Fitzgerald translation, enlightening the European readers. He reminded
that, in addition to Khayyam Rubaiyyat, the other Farsi master works, such as Mantegh-ol-Teyr
of Attar, had been the inspiring source of Fitzgerald. Yet other scholars continued the way.

George F. Maine included all the four revised editions of Fitzgerald in his own fourth edition in
1965.

Omar Khayyam, comprehended the nature and characteristics of human being. He was able to compose his eteranl quaturians. in an understandable language of yesterday, of today and for tommorow.

Once Omar Khayyam said, "My grave Will be in a spot where trees will shed their blossoms on
me". If one happenes to travel to Nishobour, Iran, he would find Khayyam's tomb situated at the

foot of a garden wall and on his grave, have fallen so many flowe-leaves, that is hidden beneath
the flowers. But one may dare to go further and say the blossoms of Khayyam Quatrians has
been flowered in the heart and mind of milions of people all over the world.

Omar Khayyam, The Astronomer-Poet of
Persia.
by Edward J. Fitzgerald
[Foreword to the First Edition.]

Omar Khayyam was born at Naishapur in Khorassan in the latter half of the eleventh century
(probably, A.D. 1048), and died within the first quarter of the twelfth century (probably, A.D.
1123). The Slender Story of his life is curiously twined about that of two other very
considerable figures in their time and country: one of whom tells the story of all three. This was
Nezam-ul-Molk, advisor and minister to Alb-Arsalan the Son, and Malek Shah the Grandson, of
Toghrul Beg the Tartar, who had wrested Persia from the feeble successor of Mahmud the
Great, and founded that Seljukian Dynasty which finally roused Europe into the Crusades. This
Nezam-ul-Molk, in his Wasiyat, or Testament, which he wrote and left as a memorial for future
statesmen, relates the following, as quoted in the Calcutta Review, No. 59, from Mirkhond's
History of the Assassins.

"One of the greatest of the wise men of Khorassan was the Imam Mowaffak of Naishapur, a
man highly honored and reverenced,--may God rejoice his soul; his illustrious years exceeded
eighty-five, and it was the universal belief that every boy who read the Koran or studied the
traditions in his presence, would assuredly attain to honor and happiness. For this cause did my
father send me from Toos to Naishapur with Abd-ul-Samad, the doctor of law, that I might
employ myself in study and learning under the guidance of that illustrious teacher. Towards me
he ever turned an eye of favor and kindness, and as his pupil I felt for him extreme affection and
devotion, so that I passed four years in his service. When I first came there, I found two other
pupils of mine own age newly arrived, Hakim Omar Khayyam, and the ill- fated Hassan Ben

Sabbah. Both were endowed with sharpness of wit and the highest natural powers; and we three formed a close friendship together. When the Imam rose from his lectures, they used to join me, and we repeated to each other the lessons we had heard. Now Omar was a native of Naishapur, while Hassan Ben Sabbah's father was one Ali, a man of austere life and practise, but heretical in his creed and doctrine. One day Hassan said to me and to Khayyam,

"It is a universal belief that the pupils of the Imam Mowaffak will attain to fortune. Now, even if we all do not attain thereto, without doubt one of us will; what then shall be our mutual pledge and bond?"

We answered,
"Be it what you please."
"Well,"
he said,

"let us make a vow, that to whomsoever this fortune falls, he shall share it equally with the rest,
and reserve no pre-eminence for himself."
"Be it so,"

we both replied, and on those terms we mutually pledged our words. Years rolled on, and I went from Khorassan to Transoxiana, and wandered to Ghazni and Cabul; and when I returned, I was invested with office, and rose to be administrator of affairs during the Sultanate of Sultan Alb Arslan."

"Nezam-ul-Molk goes on to state, that years passed by, and both his old school friends found
him out, and came and claimed a share in his good fortune, according to the school-day vow.
The Nezam-ul-Molk was generous and kept his word. Hassan demanded a place in the
government, which the Sultan granted at the Nezam-ul-Molk's request; but discontented with a
gradual rise, he plunged into the maze of intrigue of an oriental court, and, failing in a base
attempt to supplant his benefactor, he was disgraced and fell. After many mishaps and
wanderings, Hassan became the head of the Persian sect of the Ismailians,--a party of fanatics
who had long murmured in obscurity, but rose to an evil eminence under the guidance of his
strong and evil will. In A.D. 1090, he seized the castle of Alamut, in the province of Rudbar,
which lies in the mountainous tract south of the Caspian Sea; and it was from this mountain
home he obtained that evil celebrity among the Crusaders as the OLD MAN OF THE
MOUNTAINS, and spread terror through the Mohammedan world; and it is yet disputed where
the word Assassin, which they have left in the language of modern Europe as their dark
memorial, is derived from the hashish, or opiate of hemp-leaves (the Indian bhang), with which
they maddened themselves to the sullen pitch of oriental desperation, or from the name of the
founder of the dynasty, whom we have seen in his quiet collegiate days, at Naishapur. One of
the countless victims of the Assassin's dagger was Nezam-ul-Molk himself, the old school-boy
friend."[1]

Omar Khayyam also came to Nezam-ul-Molk to claim his share; but not to ask for title or
office. 'The greatest boon you can confer on me,' he said, 'is to let me live in a corner under the
shadow of your fortune, to spread wide the advantages of science, and pray for your long life
and prosperity.' Nezam-ul-Molk tells us, that when he found Omar was really sincere in his

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