Omar Khayyam was born on May 18, 1048 in Nishapur, northeastern Iran, and spent most of his life near the court of the Karakhanid and Seljuk rulers during the time that saw the First Crusade.
A literal translation of the name Khayyam means “tent maker” and this may have been the trade of Ibrahim his father.
The political events of the 11th century played a major role in the course of Khayyam’s life. The Seljuk Turks invaded Southwest Asia in the 11th century and eventually founded an empire that included Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and most of Iran. The Seljuks occupied the pastures of Khorasan then, between 1038 and 1040, they conquered all of northeastern Iran. Seljuk leader Toghril Beg proclaimed himself sultan of Nishapur in 1038 and entered Baghdad in 1055. It was in this difficult and unstable military empire, which also had religious problems as he attempted to establish an Orthodox Muslim state, that Khayyam is growing up.
Khayyam studied science, philosophy, mathematics and astronomy in Nishapur, and around the year 1068 he traveled to Bukhara, where he frequented the famous Ark library. However, Khayyam was an outstanding mathematician and astronomer and wrote several books including Problems of Arithmetic, a book on music and one on algebra before the age of 25.
In 1070 he moved to Samarkand in Uzbekistan where Khayyam was supported by Abu Tahir, a prominent jurist from Samarkand, which enabled him to write his most famous algebra work, Treatise on the Proof of Problems of algebra. It is presumed that due to his relationship with Tahir, ruler Shams al-Mulk distinctly regarded Omar in esteem.
Toghril Beg, the founder of the Seljuq dynasty, had made Isfahan the capital of his domains and his grandson Sultan Malik-Shah I was the ruler of this city from 1073. An invitation was sent to Khayyam of Malik -Shah and his Grand Vizier Nizam al-Mulk ask Khayyam to go to Isfahan to set up an observatory there and lead a group of scientists in carrying out precise astronomical observations aimed at revising the Persian calendar.
It was a period of peace during which the political situation allowed Khayyam to devote himself entirely to his academic work. Meanwhile, the scientist measured the length of a year – the length of the tropical year – with remarkable accuracy. The resulting calendar was named in honor of Malik-Shah as the Jalali calendar and was inaugurated on March 15, 1079. The Jalali calendar was a true solar calendar where the duration of each month equals the hour. of the passage of the Sun through the corresponding sign of the zodiac.
This calendar was used until the 20th century in Iran and it became the official national calendar of Qajar Iran in 1911. This calendar was simplified in 1925 and the names of the months were modernized, resulting in the modern Iranian calendar.
After the death of Malik-Shah and his vizier in 1092, Khayyam fell out of favor at the court, and funding to operate the Observatory ceased, and Khayyam’s calendar reform was suspended. Despite being in disgrace on all sides, Khayyam remained at court and attempted to regain favor. He wrote a book in which he described the ancient rulers in Iran as men of great honor who had supported public works, science and scholarship.
He was then invited by the new Sultan Sanjar to Marv, possibly to work as a court astrologer. Sanjar established a large center for Islamic learning in Marv where Khayyam wrote other works on mathematics. He was famous during his life as a mathematician.
“A Commentary on Difficulties Concerning Euclid’s Elemental Postulates,” “On Dividing a Quadrant of a Circle” and “On Proofs of Problems Concerning Algebra” are among his surviving mathematical works.
Outside of the world of mathematics and astronomy, Khayyam is also better known thanks to Edward Fitzgerald’s popular 1859 translation of nearly 600 short four-line poems, the Rubaiyat.
Khayyam’s fame as a poet has made some people forget his much more substantial scientific achievements. Versions of the forms and verses used in the Rubaiyat existed in Persian literature before Khayyam, and only about 120 of the verses can be attributed with certainty.
The poems celebrated the pleasures of life while illuminating the nuanced political and religious context in which they were created. Of all the verses, the best known is the following:
The Moving Finger wrote and, having written,
Move on: neither all your piety nor spirit
Must attract it to undo a half line,
Nor all your tears erase a Word.
He also considered himself intellectually a student of Avicenna. It is believed that six philosophical articles were written by Khayyam. Philosophy, jurisprudence, history, mathematics, medicine and astronomy are among the subjects mastered by this brilliant man.
Khayyam died in Nishapur at the age of 83 on December 4, 1131. His mausoleum is a modern white marble monument erected over the tomb of Omar Khayyam located in Nishapur. Although the tomb has witnessed many calamities, it is not ruined and can accommodate avid tourists from all over the world.
In 1934, the reconstruction of the mausoleum was ordered and Hooshang Seyhoun, who was the supervisor of the constructions of the national monuments with Hossein Jodat, transferred the place of the tomb, and this process continued until 1962. The triangular parts around the tomb are associated with a tent which implies the name of Khayyam.
The Khayyam Mausoleum is one of the most important buildings of this period in terms of creativity, construction and architecture. This monument was inscribed on the national heritage list in 1963.
Ordibehesht 28 of the Persian calendar corresponding to May 18 is the day of commemoration of the world famous Persian poet, astronomer and mathematician Omar Khayyam. Every year, a number of literates and academics from all over the world gather at Khayyam Mausoleum to mark his national day.
A ceremony is traditionally held on this day at his mausoleum in Nishapur, as well as in many other places across the country and around the world.
This year, several organizations have held webinars, meetings and programs to commemorate Khayyam Day due to the coronavirus outbreak around the world.
This is a republished report