Omar Khayyam is one of the the Iranian poets who lived in the 11th century. He was also an astrologist and a mathematician. Khayam grew up in the city of Nishabour which is in north-east of Iran. He is believed to be the son of a tent maker since al-khayyami has the meaning of a “tent maker”. When he was a child, he studied in Balkh (currently in Afghanisitan), being taught by Sheikh Muhammad Mansuri, and later moved to Khorasan to study under supervision of imam Mowaffaq Nishabouri.
Khayyam had a lot of theories about astronomy and mathematics many of which had not been proven in his life time. Just after a long time passing from his death, these astronomical and mathematical theories were proven.
In his Treatise on Illustration of Problems in Algebra, he addresses Euclidean geometry, how to solve cubic and quadratic equations as well as an introductory notion of binomial expansion which later inspired a lot of mathematicians. Together with a group of scientists in an observatory built by Khayyam under the rule of Sultan Jalal al-Din Malekshah Saljuqi, they managed to calculate the duration of a year according to the solar calendar with the accuracy of a one-year deviation in 5000, in spite of Gregorian calendar which sets its accuracy at losing one year every 3330 years. His remarkable role in creating the Jalali calendar, as well as his developing a star map and theorizing on the rotation of the earth around its axis are only a few of his works in the field of astronomy.
However, Khayyam is widely famous for his poems. He has a collection of hundreds of Rubais (quatrains) as his work. For the first time, Edward Fitzgerald translated this precious Persian book to English in 1859. Although the translation of Fitzgerald that has been released in several variations is considered as the most influential one, there are some minuscule differences in the expression of the concept.
Khayyam’s Rubaiyat book includes short poems which mainly focus on enjoyment of life meanwhile the religious and political situation of those days is highly illuminated. Few of the intelligent people of the era believe that only around 150 Rubais have been written by Khayyam. The remainder is supposed to be created with the help of educated peers and predecessors.
The attitude that has been put into many poems in the Rubaiyat is indulgent which contradicted several precepts of Islam and it is believed that Omar Khayyam stopped being approved of his court patrons.
In the year 1331, this prominent poet and astrologist passed away. His tomb is in the city of Nishabour which is annually visited by a lot of domestic and international tourists.