Şair, Feylesûf ve Şüphe: Ömer Hayyâm Rubailerinde İbn-i Sînâcı Düşünceye Gönderme ve EleştirilerEfe Murat Balıkçıoğlu
Günümüzde genellikle şair olarak tanınan Nişaburlu ‘Ömer Hayyâm (ö. 526/1132 [?]) Şark dünyasında öncelikle bir İbn-i Sînâcı bir feylesûf, matematikçi ve astronomi uzmanı olarak bilinirdi; şair olarak değil. Oysa Hayyâm’ın dünyaca tanınan bir şair olarak anılmasının, yani İslam kültürü dışındaki geleneklerde kanonlaşmasının hikayesi on dokuzuncu yüzyıl Londra’sında yeni bir hayat kazanmasıyla başlıyor. Bu yazıda Hayyâm rubailerinin on dokuzuncu yüzyılla birlikte çeşitli Avrupa dilleri, Farsça ve Osmanlıca/Türkçedeki alımlanışına değinildikten sonra Hayyâm’ın çeşitli ilmî alanlardaki (felsefe başta olmak üzere matematik ve mimarideki) katkılarından bahsedilecektir. Yazının ikinci kısmında ise Hayyâm’ın şiirlerindeki Greko-Arap felsefî göndermeler öne çıkarılarak kendisine atfedilen sahih rubailerde zikredilen sav ve doktrinleri İslam düşünce tarihindeki felsefe/hikmet geleneği bağlamında ele alınacaktır. Aşağıda alıntılanan rubailerinde geçen cevher, vücûd, felek, ma‘lûm, kadîm/ hadîs ve tahkîk gibi teknik felsefe terimleri döneminin düşüncesi bağlamında ele alındığında karşımıza İslam dünyasının felsefecilerinin sav ve kanıtlarını eleştiren bilinemezci bir feylesûf Hayyâm portresi çıkıyor. Bu yazıda Hayyâm rubailerinde geçen rindlik ve tasavvufa dair ögeler kasıtlı olarak göz ardı edilecek ve Hayyâm’ın şiiri İbn-i Sînâcı felsefe bağlamında anlaşılmaya çalışılacaktır.
Poet, Faylasūf, and Doubt: Avicennan References and Criticism in ‘Omar Khayyām’s QuatrainsEfe Murat Balıkçıoğlu
The Islamic world has mostly remembered Persian polymath ‘Omar Khayyām of Nīshāpūr (d. 526/1132 [?]) as a “Graeco-Arabic philosopher” (faylasūf) who also produced works in mathematics, theoretical astronomy, and astrology—not particularly in poetry. Yet Khayyām’s achievement of worldwide recognition as a poet goes back to nineteenth century London, where Edward FitzGerald’s translations of his poetry into modern English led him to be hailed as one of the greatest poets of all time. After briefly discussing the contributions Khayyām has made in the fields of philosophy and mathematics through new studies that have been made available, this article will analyze quatrains that Khayyām infused with Graeco-Arabic philosophical vocabulary. With an attempt to emphasize the Avicennan aspects of Khayyām’s worldview, this article will examine the earliest quatrains attributed to the poet with the aim of discovering new ways of commenting on his poetry. Certain philosophical terms with their bases in ontology, cosmology/cosmogony, epistemology, and physics, such as jawhar (substance), wujūd (existence), falak (the heavens), ma‘lūm (the object of knowledge), qadīm (the pre-eternity of the world), as well as the post-classical method of scholarly arbitration, taḥqīq (verification), are common features of the quatrains attributed to Khayyām. Disregarding the Sufi rogue (rind) image, as well as the mystical connotations displayed in Khayyām’s verses, this article focuses on the Graeco-Arabic philosophical references presented in these quatrains by contextualizing these references through doctrines in relevance at the time when Khayyām was writing.
The Islamic world has mostly remembered Persian polymath ‘Omar Khayyām of Nishapur (d. 526/1132 [?]) as a “Graeco-Arabic philosopher” (faylasūf) who also produced works in Avicenna philosophy, mathematics, theoretical astronomy, and astrology—not particularly in poetry. Khayyām’s achievement of worldwide recognition as a poet only goes back to nineteenth-century London, where Edward FitzGerald’s translations of his poetry into modern English led him to be hailed as one of the greatest poets of all. Yet this language was not the only one that gave a new life to the Rubaiyyat: While Iranian intellectuals like Sādeq Hedāyat (1903-1951), Muhammad ‘Alī Foroughī (1877-1942) and Qāsim Ghānī (1895-1952) searched for the authentic Khayyām, having attempted to identify the earliest sources referencing his poems, Khayyām also became highly popular in the twentieth century Ottoman Empire (now Turkey), thanks to a wide range of efforts by Ottoman littératuers, poets, and translators who rendered Khayyām due to various literary, cultural, and political motivations and purposes. One of the main problems faced by modern interpreters was that of “verses with contradictory meaning” in the ouvre of Khayyām, an issue which has presented the obstacle of deducing a coherent worldview from his poetry.
On the other hand, Turkish translators have utilized Khayyām as a vehicle supporting the existence of other forms of Muslim lifestyle, mentality, and aesthetics, i.e., in order to emphasize the rationalist or secularist outlooks that prevailed in earlier socio-intellectual contexts. From ‘Abdullāh Cevdet (1869-1932) to Rıza Tevfik (1869-1949), the early translators of Khayyām’s quatrains often accentuated his universal voice, considering him a materialist with spiritual leanings, who was ready to embrace the unknown with a sense of nihilistic fatalism. This is a sensibility similar to that which influenced certain French Romanticist, Decadent, and Symbolist poets, as well as the Freethought of early modern European philosophy (Baruch Spinoza) and poetry (John Milton). Thanks to the efforts of leftist intellectual and critic Sabahattin Eyüboğlu (1908-1973) to vernacularize Khayyām through his free verse adaptations, a new wave of vernacular Turkish translations began to appear from the 1980s onwards by non-experts, amateur researchers, and poetry enthusiasts, who set the poet’s verse into modern lyrics by expressing certain secular aspects of his “philosophy of life,” making the poet’s work accessible to people beyond the confines of academia.
The oldest extant accounts regarding Khayyām do not position him as a celebrated poet but rather to emphasize his skills in various sciences, including astronomy and falsafa (AristotelianAvicennan/Graeco-Arabic philosophy). For instance, Abū al-Ḥasan al-Bayhaqī’s Tārīkh-e Bayhaqī from the year 567/1167 underlines the fact that Khayyām was a faylasūf (philospher) while refraining from mentioning his quatrains. One of the earliest extant manuscripts that mentions Khayyām as a poet is ‘Imād al-Dīn Kātib-e Iṣfahānī’s Kharīda al-qaṣr, where he is included among the poets of Khorasan. Another work, Mirṣād al-‘ibād, a thirteenth century work compiled by the Qubrawī sheikh Najm al-Dīn al-Dāye, refers to Khayyām’s quatrains only in a negative light.
Khayyām’s poetry encompasses a wide variety of views, among which ones can deduce several themes, such as (i) the beauty and uniqueness of life, (ii) carpe diem/joy of life, (iii) the universe being beyond comprehension and reasoning, as well as two doctrines from classical Arabic philosophy, in particular (iv) the rejection of an other-worldly life and (v) the material transformation of the body as a way of uniting the earth. However, most interpreters and translators do not qualify these common themes in the context of twelfth century Graeco-Arabic/Aristotelian-Avicennan philosophy, refraining from situating Khayyām as a faylasūf who developed a critical attitude towards the doctrines that were prevalent during his time.
After briefly discussing the contributions Khayyām has made in the fields of philosophy and mathematics through new studies that have been made available, this article will analyze quatrains that Khayyām infused with Graeco-Arabic philosophical vocabulary. Byfirst attempting to immerse ourselves into Khayyām’s worldview, we will examine these quatrains with the aim of discovering new ways of commenting on his poetry. In my analysis, I accentuate the significance of certain philosophical terms with their bases in ontology, cosmology/cosmogony, epistemology, and physics, such as jawhar (substance), wujūd (existence), falak (the heavens), ma‘lūm (the object of knowledge), qadīm (the pre-eternity of the world), as well as the postclassical method of scholarly arbitration, taḥqīq (verification). Besides the common Sufi interpretation of his quatrains, this article will demonstrate how one might interpret Khayyām’s poetic works through the lens of Graeco-Arabic philosophical vocabulary.