Page:Quatrains of Omar Khayyam (tr. Whinfield, 1883).djvu/37

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INTRODUCTION.

xiii

refers to it in his Prolegomena, and Haji Khalfa quotes the commencement. M. Woepke praises him for his power of generalization and his rigorously systematic procedure.

In his preface M. Woepke quotes from a MS. in the Bibliothèque Nationale, an abridgment of a notice of Omar in Shahrastáni's Taríkh ul Hukama. As Shahrastáni was born in 479 A.H., and during some part of his life resided at Nishapur,[1] he is a very good authority for the facts recorded by him, though it is evident he was no friend to Omar. The passage is as follows:—

"Omar Al Khayyám, Imám of Khorásán, and the greatest scholar of his time, was versed in all the learning of the Greeks. He was wont to exhort men to seek the One Author of all by purifying the bodily actions in order to the sanctification of the soul. He also used to recommend the study of Politics as laid down in Greek authors. The later Sufis have caught at the apparent sense of parts of his poems and accommodated them to their own Canon, making them a subject of discussion in their assemblies and conventicles, but the esoteric sense consists in axioms of natural religion and principles of universal obligation. When the men of his time anathematized his doctrines, and drew forth his opinions from the concealment in which he had veiled them, he went in fear of his life, and placed a check on the sallies of his tongue and his pen. He made the pilgrimage, but it was from accident rather than piety, still betraying his

  1. See Haarbrücher's translation of the Kitab al Milal uam Hihal, Preface, p. xi.