Page:Quatrains of Omar Khayyam (tr. Whinfield, 1883).djvu/53

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

INTRODUCTION.

xxix

of others. Omar is constantly dwelling on this doctrine, and he seems to be affected by it in the double way here mentioned.

Other influences which acted on Omar must not be left out of account. Born as he was in Khorásan, "the focus of Persian culture," he was no doubt familiar with speculations of the Moslem philosophers, Alkindi, Alfarabi and Avicenna, the last of whom he may possibly have seen.[1] And though he was not himself a Sufi, in the sense of being affiliated to any of the Sufi orders, he can hardly have been unaffected by the mysticism of which his predecessor in Ruba'i. writing, Abu Sa'id bin Abul Khair, his patron Nizám ul Mulk, and his distinguished countryman Imam Ghazáli were all strong adherents. His philosophical studies would naturally stimulate his sceptical and irreligious dispositions, while his Mystic leanings would operate mainly in the contrary direction.

If this explanation of the inconsistencies in his poetry be correct, it is obvious that the parallel often sought to be traced between him and Lucretius has no existence. Whatever he was, he was not an Atheist. To him, as to other Muhammadans of his time, to deny the existence of the Deity would seem to be tantamount to denying the existence of the world and of himself. And the conception of "laws of nature" was also one quite foreign to his habits of thought. As Deutsch says, "To a Shemite, Nature is simply what has been

  1. Avicenna died in 428 A.H.