Omar Khayyám

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Tomb of Omar Khayyám, Nishapur, Iran.

Omar Khayyám Template:Lang, (May 18 1048 - December 4 1123), was born in Nishapur, Iran. He was originally named Ghiyath al-Din Abu'l-Fath Omar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi Khayyámi(غياث الدين ابو الفتح عمر بن ابراهيم خيام نيشابوري). Khayyám means "tentmaker" in the Persian Language.

Omar Khayyám the mathematician

He was famous during his lifetime as a mathematician and astronomer who calculated how to correct the Persian calendar. On March 15, 1079, Sultan Jalal al-Din Malekshah Saljuqi (1072-1092) put Omar's corrected calendar into effect, as in Europe Julius Caesar had done in 46 B.C. with the corrections of Sosigenes, and as Pope Gregory XIII would do in February 1552 with Aloysius Lilius' corrected calendar (although Britain would not switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar until 1751, and Russia would not switch until 1918).

He is also well known for inventing the method of solving cubic equations by intersecting a parabola with a circle.

Omar Khayyám the astronomer

In 1073, the Malik-Shah, ruler of Isfahan, invited Khayyám to build and work with an observatory, along with various other distinguished scientists. Eventually, Khayyám very accurately (correct to within six decimal places) measured the length of the year as 365.24219858156 days.

He was famous in Persian and Islamic world for his astronomical observations. He built a (now lost) map of stars in the sky.

Omar Khayyám and Islam

The philosophy of Omar Khayyám was quite different from official Islamic dogmas. It is not clear whether he believed in the existence of God or not, but he objected to the notion that every particular event and phenomenon was the result of divine intervention; nor did he believe in any Judgment Day or rewards and punishments after life. Instead he supported the view that laws of nature explained all phenomena of observed life. Religious officials asked him many times to explain his different views about Islam. Khayyám eventually was obliged to make a hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca in order to prove he was a faithful follower of the religion.

Omar Khayyam the Skeptic

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before / The Tavern shouted - "Open then the Door! / You know how little time we have to stay, / And once departed, may return no more."

Alike for those who for TO-DAY prepare, / And thoat after a TO-MORROW stare, / A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries / "Fools! your reward is neither Here nor There!"

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd / Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust / Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn / Are scatter'd, and their mouths are stopt with Dust.

Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise / To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies; / One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies; / The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent / Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument / About it and about: but evermore / Came out of the same Door as in I went.

With the the Seed of Wisdom did I sow, / And with my own hand labour'd it to grow: / And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd - / "I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

Into this Universe, and why not knowing, / Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing: / And out of it, as Wind along the Waste, / I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, / Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit / Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, / Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky, / Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die, / Lift not thy hands to It for help - for It / Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

Omar Khayyam the writer and poet

File:Omar khayyam tape cover.JPG
Hollywood depiction of Omar Khayyam.

Omar Khayyám is famous today not for his scientific accomplishments, but for his literary works. He is believed to have written about a thousand four-line verses. In the English-speaking world, he is best known for The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám in the English translations by Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883).

Other people have also published translations of some of the rubáiyát (rubáiyát means "quatrains"), but Fitzgerald's are the best known. Translations also exist in languages other than English.

See major article: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

See also: Persian literature


See also

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