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The Conference of the Birds

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  3,761 ratings  ·  311 reviews
Composed in the twelfth century in north-eastern Iran, Attar's great mystical poem is among the most significant of all works of Persian literature. A marvellous, allegorical rendering of the Islamic doctrine of Sufism - an esoteric system concerned with the search for truth through God - it describes the consequences of the conference of the birds of the world when they ...more
Paperback, Reissue Edition, 278 pages
Published March 29th 1984 by Penguin Classics (first published 1177)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Mantiq Al-Tayr = Maqāmāt-uṭ-Ṭuyūr = The Conference of the Birds, Farid ud-Din Attar
The Conference of the Birds or Speech of the Birds (1177), is a celebrated literary masterpiece of Persian literature by poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur. In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom
Ahmad Sharabiani
Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr = Maqāmāt-uṭ-Ṭuyūr = The Conference of the Birds = Speech of the Birds, Farid ud-Din Attar
The Conference of the Birds or Speech of the Birds (Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr, also known as Maqāmāt-uṭ-Ṭuyūr; 1177), is a celebrated literary masterpiece of Persian literature by poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur. In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should
ReemK10 (Paper Pills)

I have been wanting to read The Conference of the Birds for a very long time. The peacock in me ordered the Raficq Abdulla interpretation, lured as I was by the illustrations of Persian miniatures from The British Library (this is the only, modern illustrated edition), and they do not disappoint.

This is only a 93-page book. It serves as a delightful amuse-bouche but leaves one with a hungry appetite for more. This can be found in Peter Avery's The Speech of the Birds which the owl in me will be
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Biblio Curious
Amazing, mystical, philosophical, & anti-philosophical all wrapped into beautifully translated couplets.

Dick Davis stayed as true to the original format as possible. This edition includes the previously untranslated Prologue & Epilogue. The "Note on Translation" says the original Persian poem has rhyming couplets with a similar meter as the English "Heroic Couplet" of twenty syllables. The flow of Davis' translation lets the story sing, his rhyme scheme is never clunky and actually
Qais Omar
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The premise of Farid ud-Din Attar's poems in The Conference of the Birds is simple: the birds gather to seek the king of the birds, the Simorgh. One of the birds, the hoopoe, tells them that the Simorgh lives far away and that the journey there is hazardous.

First, the birds are enthusiastic to begin their search for the Simorgh -- a metaphor for Almighty God in Sufi mysticism -- but when they realize how difficult the journey will be, they start to make excuses. For instance, the finch says
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
You know how C.S.Lewis used talking animals to bring people to Christianity? Well, this does it better and without the high handness.

Of course, it isn't about bringing people to Christianity, but it does offer a deeper understanding of Islam and religion in general.
Christopher Porzenheim
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Someone willing to apply a (slow-er) story to oneself
Recommended to Christopher by: My curiosity
The Conference of the Birds is a Sufi allegorical storywritten by Attar about multiple birds quest to find God.

Each bird represents a certain type of person with certain virtues or vices. The birds are greedy, lazy, fearful, arrogant, and so on.

Attar's poem is a mirror which we can use to see parts of ourselves and others.

Attar's hope was that his birds quest could serve as a mirror we can use to become more self aware. Here is Attar's verse at the poems conclusion:

I, with my words,
Have shown
Khashayar Mohammadi
I read the Wolpe translation parallel with the original and I gotta admit her translation is mind-boggling. Attar's incisive lesson sin ethics and morality never get old. Rumi might be the most prominent sufi poet, but I'd like to argue that this book is the godfather of Persian mysticism.
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'The first stage is the Valley of the Quest;
Then Love's wide valley is our second test;
The third is Insight into Mystery,
The fourth, Detachment and Serenity-
The fifth is Unity; The sixth is Awe,
A deep Bewilderment unknown before,
The seventh Poverty and Nothingness-
And there you are suspended,motionless,
Till you are drawn- the impulse is not yours-
A drop absorbed in seas that have no shores.'

I heard about this book when it was mentioned during a lecture by Wayne Dyer. He said that it was a fable
Carah Naseem
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a voice! Hard for me to relate to quite a bit, it's all verrrrryyyy reality-obliterating. But burning up in the light of love... that I get. A most beautiful discourse.
Shima Maryam
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Epic !!
Sidharth Vardhan
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
”The Moths had long been exiled from the Flame
They worship: so to solemn Council came,
And voted One of them by Lot be sent
To find their Idol. One was chosen: went.
And after a long Circuit in sheer Gloom,
Seeing, he thought, the TAPER in a Room
Flew back at once to say so. But the chief
Of Mothistan slighted so slight Belief,
And sent another Messenger, who flew
Up to the House, in at the window, through
The Flame itself; and back the Message brings,
With yet no sign of Conflict on his wings.
Then went
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Attar’s Conference of the Birds is a masterpiece of Persian literature which had an immense influence on the eastern Islamic world. The central subject of this 4500-line philosophical poem is the soul’s search for meaning, veiled in an allegorical tale about the birds of the world who gather to decide who will be their king. Hoopoe, the wisest of the birds (sufis), is chosen as their leader and invites them to seek out their king (God), the mythical persian bird Simorgh, akin to the western ...more
Bradley Clacy
Written by the Persian mystical poet Farid Ud-Din Attar in the 12th century, this epic poem is an allegory for the philosophical and theological beliefs of Sufism. Many of the tales within this are applicable to everyone regardless of whether you are religious, spiritual or have secular beliefs. Some of these ideas include self-awareness, universality and the annihilation of the ego.

The translation itself is highly commendable as it maintains the rhyme whilst also bringing to life the
I first became aware of The Conference of the Birds when reading Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America And American in Iran many years ago, which sparked a fascination with the tale's message. I, however, never got around to reading the whole thing--I stalled after a couple of attempts and later experienced it through Peter Sís' interpretation. But this year's Read Harder gave me the extra push to finally spend time with the thing.

Annnnd.... I wanted to like it more. To be
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm reading about Christian pastoral governance which is all about the renunciation of one's will, and one's obedience and subservience to your superiors, and ultimately, to God. And that's what this long poem is all about. Renounce your ego; renounce your will; abandon your desires; and be obedient to those that command you. Ultimately, be fully obedient to God.

Now, there are some aspects of this I can get behind, but this poem's obsequious and lachrymose obsession with obedience bores the shit
James Violand
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in Sufi poetry.
Shelves: own
Attar was a wonderful poet, a confusing adherent of Islam and an extremely vain man who claimed Gabriel assisted him in writing this poem thereby equating himself with Mohammed. I cannot say for certain that he was a Sufi, nor that his "way" is unique. All of the great religions have mystics. What I can say from my experience in investigating these religions is that I believe this beautiful quest toward the Godhead is written with a very insulting and defensive position. It is as though a ...more
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read two versions of this book, the first one was a more English version It was translated, well I thought I'm not a linguist. This looks like the poetic version which i read second. I'll have to go through my files of notes, more like scraps of paper. Oh well ... This poetic version transformed time or simply put It made me stop and just wonder, I really enjoyed this book in either version. I do not always do poetry well, but this book like reading Dante shows how beautiful poetry can be even ...more
Ivan Granger
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, muslim-sufi
Attar’s masterpiece about a group of birds (human souls) under the leadership of a hoopoe (spiritual master) who determine to search for the legendary Simurgh (God). The birds must confront their own individual limitations and fears before they ultimately find the Simurgh and complete their quest. This translation is the best I’ve found — though I’m still waiting for a translation that transports me in the same way that FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam does.
Sri Ratna Wulan
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Yay, finally I have finished this book. The thing that I thought after finishing this book is that when I should start to read this book again?
Reading this books make me in love with poem. I will make a review later.
Saat Omar
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my fav book. I translate the stage version and it makes me cry.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the second book of Persian classical poetry book that I have read in its entirety. I used the online edition “Ganjour”, which contains the works of many Persian poets, both classical and contemporary. Ganjour provides access to the Persian dictionary by Dehkhoda, so looking up the definition of unfamiliar words was not a burden. I also listened to the audio edition of the book, narrated by Farid Hamed.

The Conference of the Birds is an introduction to Sufism.
Since my knowledge of Sufism
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting read, even if I wasn't the target audience. The anecdotes were a little jarring to the narrative to me, and my modern sensibilities weren't always open to the morals of the story that was shared, but I still found this entertaining, and, blessedly, short.

I'm not sure who I would recommend this book, maybe those looking to expand their horizons, and perhaps are interested in important literature for the Muslim faith?
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The metaphors in this book make me want to read and hold on to the phrases tightly never letting go. This is a simple and beautifully told story of life, love , existance and sustenance. It is a quick read but one that you need coming back to again and again to truly understand the meaning behind the texts.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
kind of like the parables of Jesus, but instead with a sufi twist and told by a hoopoe, journey is cool, self is not cool, sufi mysticism is cool
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deep and Basic. I was lucky to find it online, but the Urdu version and was lucky to have read it.
Nathan Renshaw
Super insightful but super sexist all at one
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful poetry and parables!
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
Inspiration for Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale and the Rose:

The Nightingale

The nightingale raises his head, drugged with passion,
Pouring the oil of earthly love in such a fashion
That the other birds shaded with his song, grow mute.
The leaping mysteries of his melodies are acute.
'I know the secrets of Love, I am their piper,'
He sings, 'I seek a David with broken heart to decipher
Their plaintive barbs, I inspire the yearning flute,
The daemon of the plucked conversation of the lute.
The roses are
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Abū amīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (c. 1145 – c. 1221; Persian: ابو حامد بن ابوبکر ابراهیم), better known by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn (فرید الدین) and Attār (عطار, "the perfumer"), was a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism. ...more
“The home we seek is in eternity;
The Truth we seek is like a shoreless sea,
Of which your paradise is but a drop.
This ocean can be yours; why should you stop
Beguiled by dreams of evanescent dew?
The secrets of the sun are yours, but you
Content yourself with motes trapped in its beams.
Turn to what truly lives, reject what seems --
Which matters more, the body or the soul?
Be whole: desire and journey to the Whole.”
“The ocean can be yours; why should you stop
Beguiled by dreams of evanescent dew?
The secrets of the sun are yours, but you
Content yourself with motes trapped in beams.”
More quotes…