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Aminrazavi, Mehdi

Reading the Rubá'iyyát as "resistance literature". Mehdi Aminrazavi.
In: The great 'Umar Khayyám. Leiden, Leiden University Press, 2012. pp. 39-53.

Aminrazavi argues that many of the Rubáiyát were written as a reaction to the rise of Islamic orthodoxy and the demise of the intellectual freedom which was so prevalent in the first four centuries of the Islamic history. He argues that once Khayyám’s Rubáiyát are placed within the historical context of his time, they will no longer appear to be the pessimistic existential bemoaning of a poet-philosopher like Schopenhauer. Rather, one can see the Rubáiyát as an intellectual critique of the rise of orthodox and legalistic Islam as represented by the faith-based theology of the Ash‘arite. It is my argument that Omar Khayyám, a tolerant sage who was witnessing the demise of the intellectual sciences at the hands of the enemies of rationalism and free thinking, took refuge in poetry and used “poetic license” to resist the rise of religious orthodoxy. The Rubáiyát became the literature of resistance against those who saw no room for serious scholarly debate and discourse in religious matters and, using such Qur’anic verses as “Be obedient to God and His messenger and those with authority upon you,” demanded absolute obedience.