Middle East/North African Lit discussion

The Conference of the Birds
This topic is about The Conference of the Birds
122 views
Medieval Texts > The Conference of the Birds

Comments Showing 1-50 of 133 (133 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments A twelfth - Century Sufi allegorical poem combining amusing anecdote and satire with passages of great mystical beauty.

Birds!
Look at the troubles happening in our world!
Anarchy — discontent — upheaval!
Desperate fights over territory, water, and food!
Poisoned air! Unhappiness!
I fear we are lost. We must do something!
I’wve seen the world. I know many secrets.
Listen to me: I know of a king who has all the answers.
We must go and find him.


message 2: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 25, 2015 05:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments My book has yet to arrive, so I'll post a few images to get this thread started.

Mantiq al-Tayr (Conference of the birds), dated AH 898 (1493–94 AD):











ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments This illustrated manuscript of Farid al-Din cAttar's mystical poem Mantiq al-Tayr (Language of the Birds) is one of the most important illustrated manuscripts from Timurid Persia (1370–1507) and a highlight of the Islamic collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This manuscript has several distinctive features. It was initiated under the Timurid court atelier in Herat and completed in the Safavid court atelier in Isfahan. It contains illustrations which are often attributed to the celebrated painter Bihzad, who served the Timurid monarch Husain Baiqara (r. 1470–1506) and a nobleman, cAlishir Nava'i (1440–1501), and is one of the few extant illustrated manuscripts of the Mantiq al-Tayr.

As the colophon states, this manuscript was completed on the first day of the fifth month of the second year of the last ten years preceding 900, that is, AH 892 (April 25, 1487) and several illustrations were attached. Although four illustrations can be dated to the late 1480s, for some reason the manuscript was not completed. More than a hundred years later, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, it came into the possession of Shah cAbbas (r. 1587–1629), whose artists remounted the folios and added a frontispiece and four contemporary illustrations in a new binding. Shah cAbbas then presented the manuscript to the Ardabil shrine in 1608/9.

cAttar (ca. 1142–1220), the author of the Mantiq al-Tayr, is one of the most celebrated poets of Sufi literature and inspired the work of many later mystical poets. The story is as follows: The birds assemble to select a king so that they can live more harmoniously. Among them, the hoopoe, who was the ambassador sent by Sulaiman to the Queen of Sheba, considers the Simurgh, or a Persian mythical bird, which lives behind Mount Qaf, to be the most worthy of this title. When the other birds make excuses to avoid making a decision, the hoopoe answers each bird satisfactorily by telling anecdotes, and when they complain about the severity and harshness of the journey to Mount Qaf, the hoopoe tries to persuade them. Finally, the hoopoe succeeds in convincing the birds to undertake the journey to meet the Simurgh. The birds strive to traverse seven valleys: quest, love, gnosis, contentment, unity, wonder, and poverty. Finally, only thirty birds reach the abode of the Simurgh, and there each one sees his/her reflection in the celestial bird. Thus, thirty birds see the Simurgh as none other than themselves. In this way, they finally achieve self-annihilation. This story is an allegorical work illustrating the quest of Sufism; the birds are a metaphor for men who pursue the Sufi path of God, the hoopoe for the pir, the Simurgh for the Divine, and the birds' journey the Sufi path.

One of the eight illustrations, The Conference of the Birds (63.210.11), is the only illustration that depicts the main story. The remaining seven illustrations belong to anecdotes told in the story as precepts. Recent study has revealed that this manuscript originally consisted of sixty-seven folios and had nine illustrations. Since many text pages and illustrations had been lost or damaged, Safavid artists added or replaced fifteen text folios, four illustrations, and a frontispiece in order to reconstruct the manuscript. However, an illustrated Timurid folio is still missing. It may have been supplemented at that time or removed later.

While the Safavid illustrations provide straightforward pictorialization of the text, the Timurid illustrations include many motifs that await study and analysis. The latter's complex riddlelike nature is consistent with Persian poetry of the late Timurid period, which is characterized by a taste for intricacy. Rulers and influential men at the Timurid court held literary gatherings called majlis and enjoyed solving poetic riddles with rhetorical devices such as homonymic puns. The participants of a majlis may have found pleasure in deciphering the Timurid illustrations of this manuscript.

At the end of the fifteenth century in Herat, many aristocrats and high officials patronized art and literature. Possessing rare and luxuriously illustrated books was one of the key pastimes of the nobility. Some had their own ateliers, but no one is known to have operated an atelier equal to that of either Husain Baiqara or cAlishir Nava'i.

The quality of the illustrations and the fine calligraphy accompanying the illuminations indicate that this manuscript was produced in a leading atelier. However, the colophon suggests that its patron was not the ruler, Sultan Husain Baiqara, but rather cAlishir Nava'i, a sophisticated poet-statesman who had his own atelier, patronizing many poets, scholars, calligraphers, musicians, and painters, including the celebrated Bihzad and Mirak Naqqash. He was so impressed with cAttar that he wrote the Lisan al-Tayr, in imitation of cAttar's Mantiq al-Tayr. This manuscript clearly demonstrates the close connections between painting, poetry, and Sufism at the end of the fifteenth century.
Yumiko Kamada
Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments This illustrated manuscript of Farid al-Din cAttar's mystical poem Mantiq al-Tayr (Language of the Birds) is one of the most important illustrated manuscripts from Timurid Persia (1370–1507) and a highlight of the Islamic collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

View slideshow: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/mant...


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Found a free translation:

THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS

THE
CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS
A SUFI ALLEGORY
BEING AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF
FARID-UD-DIN ATTAR’S MANTIQ-UT-TAYR
BY
R. P. MASANI, M. A.
>graphic<
HUMPHREY MILFORD
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

http://persian.packhum.org/persian/ma...


message 6: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 26, 2015 06:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Farid ad-Din Attar (färēd’ äd-dēn ät-tär’) , 1142?–1220?, b. Nishapur, Persia, one of the greatest Sufi mystic poets of Islam. His masterpiece is the Mantiq ut-Tair (The Conference of the Birds), a long allegory of the soul’s search for divine truth. His many other works include Tadkhirat al-Awliya, (Biographies of the Saints) which contains biographies of many Sufi mystics. His name also appears as Ferid Eddin Attar and Farid ud-Din Attar.





Life

He was the son of a prosperous chemist, receiving an excellent education in Arabic, theosophy and medicine. He helped his father in the store and, on his father’s death, owned his own store. The people he helped in the pharmacy used to confide their troubles in Attar and this affected him deeply. Eventually, he abandoned his pharmacy store and travelled widely – Kufa, Mecca, Damascus, Turkistan, and India, meeting with Sufi shaykhs – and returned promoting Sufi (Islamic mysticism) ideas[1].

Death

Some scholars believe he was killed during the raid and destruction of his city by the Mongol invaders. His tomb is in Neishapour. His death has quite a story: It’s said that a Mongol soldier found out who he was and was taking him to his officer when a man offered some money to buy Attar. The soldier wanted to accept but Attar tells the soldier that he is worth more. After they walk more, another man comes and offers more money, again Attar tells the soldier to decline, because he is worth much more. After a while an old man comes along and offers his firewood to buy Attar and Attar tells the soldier to sell him to the old man because “he is not worth more than that”. The angry soldier kills Attar right away.

Meet Rumi

Attar is one of the most famous mystic poets of Iran. His works were the inspiration of Rumi and many other mystic poets. Attar, along with Sanaie were two of the greatest influences on Rumi in his Sufi views. Rumi has mentioned both of them with the highest esteem several times in his poetry. Rumi praises Attar as such:

“Attar roamed the seven cities of love — We are still just in one alley”.

As a pharmacist

Attar was a pen-name which he took for his occupation. Attar means herbalist, druggist and perfumist, and during his lifetime in Persia, much of medicine and drugs were based on herbs. Therefore, by profession he was similar to a modern-day town doctor and pharmacist.

Books and Poets

‘Attar’s works fall within three categories. First are those works in which mysticism is in perfect balance with a finished, story-teller’s art. The second group are those in which a pantheistic zeal gains the upper hand over literary interest. The third are those in which the aging poet idolizes the saint Ali. During this period there is no trace of ordered thoughts and descriptive skills[2].

* Asrar Nameh (Book of Secrets) about Sufi ideas.This is the work that the aged Shaykh gave Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi when Rumi’s family stayed over at Nishapur on its way to Konya, Turkey.
* Elahi Nameh (Divine Book), about zuhd or asceticism.
* Manteq al-Tayr (Conference of the Birds) in which he makes extensive use of Al-Ghazali’s Risala on Birds as well as a treatise by the Ikhvan al-Safa (the Brothers of Serenity) on the same topic.

Manteq al-Tayr (Conference of the Birds)

Led by the hoopoe, the birds of the world set forth in search of their king, Simurgh. Their quest takes them through seven valleys in the first of which a hundred difficulties assail them. They undergo many trials as they try to free themselves of what is precious to them and change their state. Once successful and filled with longing, they ask for wine to dull the effects of dogma, belief, and unbelief on their lives. In the second valley, the birds give up reason for love and, with a thousand hearts to sacrifice, continue their quest for discovering the Simurgh. The third valley confounds the birds, especially when they discover that their worldly knowledge has become completely useless and their understanding has become ambivalent. They cannot understand why both the mihrab and the idol lead to understanding. Devoid of their earthly measures, they lose their ability to distinguish right from wrong. The fourth valley is introduced as the valley of detachment, i.e., detachment from desire to possess and the wish to discover. The birds begin to feel that they have become part of a universe that is detached from their physical recognizable reality. In their new world, the planets are as minute as sparks of dust and elephants are not distinguishable from ants. It is not until they enter the fifth valley that they realize that unity and multiplicity are the same. And as they have become entities in a vacuum with no sense of eternity. More importantly, they realize that God is beyond unity, multiplicity, and eternity. Stepping into the sixth valley, the birds become astonished at the beauty of the Beloved. Experiencing extreme sadness and dejection, they feel that they know nothing, understand nothing. They are not even aware of themselves. Only thirty birds reach the abode of the Simurgh. But there is no Simurgh anywhere t o see. Simurgh’s chamberlain keeps them waiting for Simurgh long enough for the birds to figure out that they themselves are the si (thirty) murgh (bird). The seventh valley is the valley of depravation, forgetfulness, dumbness, deafness, and death. The present and future lives of the thirty successful birds become shadows chased by the celestial Sun. And themselves, lost in the Sea of His existence, are the Simurgh[3].

‘Attar’s Seven Valleys of Love

* The Valley of the Quest
* The Valley of Love
* The Valley of Understanding
* The Valley of Independence and Detachment
* The Valley of Unity
* The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment
* The Valley of Deprivation and Death

More references to explore here:
https://literarystudies.wordpress.com...


message 7: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 26, 2015 07:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Greatest Sufi poet, Farid al-Din ‘Attar was born in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, in 1142. He was beheaded by the invading Mongol army in 1221. His tomb at Shadyakh is visited by many.

There is little information on the formative life of the poet other than he was the son of a prosperous pharmacist and that he received an excellent education in medicine, Arabic, and theosophy at a madrasah attached to the shrine of Imam Reza at Mashhad. According to his own Mosibat Nameh (Book of Afflictions), as a youth, he worked in his father’s pharmacy where he prepared drugs and attended patients. Upon his father’s death, he became the owner of his own store.

Work in the pharmacy was difficult for young ‘Attar. People from all walks of life visited the shop and shared their troubles with him. Their poverty, it seems, impacted the young poet the most. One day, it is related, an unsightly fakir visited the shop. The way he marveled at the opulence of the store made ‘Attar uneasy; he ordered the fakir to leave. Looking the owner and the well-stocked shop over, the fakir said, “I have no difficulty with this, pointing to his ragged cloak, to leave; but you, how are you, with all this, planning to leave!”


The fakir’s response affected ‘Attar deeply. He pondered the fakir’s reply for many days and, eventually, decided to give up his shop and join the circle of Shaykh Rukn al-Din Akkaf of the Kubraviyyah order. His new life was one of travel and exploration, very much like the fakir who had inspired him. For a long time, he traveled to Ray, Kufa, Mecca, Damascus, Turkistan, and India, meeting with Sufi shaykhs, learning about the tariqah, and experiencing life in the khaniqahs.

When finally he felt he had achieved what he had been seeking in travel, ‘Attar returned to Nishapur, settled, and reopened his pharmacy. He also began to contribute to the promotion of Sufi thought. Called Tadhkirat al-Auliya (Memorial of the Saints), ‘Attar’s initial contribution to his new world contains all the verses and sayings of Sufi saints who, up to that time, had not penned a biography of their own.

Regarding the poetic output of ‘Attar there are conflicting reports both with respect to the number of books that he might have written and the number of distichs he might have composed. For instance, Reza Gholikhan Hedayat reports the number of books to be 190 and the number of distichs to be 100,000. Firdowsi’s Shahname contains only 60,000 bayts. Another tradition puts the number of books to be the same as the number of the Surahs (verses) of the Qur’an, i.e., 114. More realistic studies consider the number of his books to have been between 9 to 12 volumes.

‘Attar’s works fall within three categories. First are those works in which mysticism is in perfect balance with a finished, story-teller’s art. The second group are those in which a pantheistic zeal gains the upper hand over literary interest. The third are those in which the aging poet idolizes the saint Ali. During this period there is no trace of ordered thoughts and descriptive skills.

One of ‘Attar’s major poetic works is called Asrar Nameh (Book of Secrets) about Sufi ideas. This is the work that the aged Shaykh gave Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi when Rumi’s family stayed over at Nishapur on its way to Konya, Turkey. Another major contribution of ‘Attar is the Elahi Nameh (Divine Book), about zuhd or asceticism.

But foremost among ‘Attar’s works is his Manteq al-Tayr (Conference of the Birds) in which he makes extensive use of Al-Ghazali’s Risala on Birds as well as a treatise by the Ikhvan al-Safa (the Brothers of Serenity) on the same topic.

Led by the hoopoe, the birds of the world set forth in search of their king, Simurgh. Their quest takes them through seven valleys in the first of which a hundred difficulties assail them. They undergo many trials as they try to free themselves of what is precious to them and change their state. Once successful and filled with longing, they ask for wine to dull the effects of dogma, belief, and unbelief on their lives.

In the second valley, the birds give up reason for love and, with a thousand hearts to sacrifice, continue their quest for discovering the Simurgh.

The third valley confounds the birds, especially when they discover that their worldly knowledge has become completely useless and their understanding has become ambivalent. They cannot understand why both the mihrab and the idol lead to understanding. Devoid of their earthly measures, they lose their ability to distinguish right from wrong.

The fourth valley is introduced as the valley of detachment, i.e., detachment from desire to possess and the wish to discover. The birds begin to feel that they have become part of a universe that is detached from their physical recognizable reality. In their new world, the planets are as minute as sparks of dust and elephants are not distinguishable from ants.

It is not until they enter the fifth valley that they realize that unity and multiplicity are the same. And as they have become entities in a vacuum with no sense of eternity. More importantly, they realize that God is beyond unity, multiplicity, and eternity.

Stepping into the sixth valley, the birds become astonished at the beauty of the Beloved. Experiencing extreme sadness and dejection, they feel that they know nothing, understand nothing. They are not even aware of themselves.

Only thirty birds reach the abode of the Simurgh. But there is no Simurgh anywhere t o see. Simurgh’s chamberlain keeps them waiting for Simurgh long enough for the birds to figure out that they themselves are the si (thirty) murgh (bird). The seventh valley is the valley of depravation, forgetfulness, dumbness, deafness, and death. The present and future lives of the thirty successful birds become shadows chased by the celestial Sun. And themselves, lost in the Sea of His existence, are the Simurgh.

via LITERARY STUDIES
Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity


message 8: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 26, 2015 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments The Veil

Written by Farid al-Din ‘Attar (1142-1220)

Translated by
A. J. Arberry

1
We are the Magians of old,
Islam is not the faith we hold;
In irreligion is our fame,
And we have made our creed a shame.

2
Now to the tavern we repair
To gamble all our substance there,
Now in the monastery cell
We worship with the infidel.

3
When Satan chances us to see
He doffs his cap respectfully,
For we have lessons to impart
To Satan in the tempter’s art.

4
We were not in such nature made
Of any man to be afraid;
Head and foot in naked pride
Like sultans o’er the earth we ride.

5
But we, alas, aweary are
And the road is very far;
We know not by what way to come
Unto the place that is our home.

6
And therefore we are in despair
How to order our affair
Because, wherever we have sought,
Our minds were utterly distraught.

7
When shall it come to pass, ah when,
That suddenly, beyond our ken,
We shall succeed to rend this veil
That hath our whole affair conceal?

8
What veil so ever after this
Apparent to our vision is,
With the flame of knowledge true
We shall consume it through and through.

9
Where at the first in that far place
We come to the world of space,
Our soul by travail in the end
To that perfection shall ascend.

10
And so shall ‘Attar Shattered be
And, rapt in sudden ecstasy,
Soar to godly vision, even
Beyond the veils of earth and heaven.

****
via LITERARY STUDIES
Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity


message 9: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 26, 2015 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments ‘Attar’s Seven Valleys of Love

Written by Farid al-Din ‘Attar (1142-1220)

Translated by C. S. Nott

1

The Valley of the Quest
“When you enter the first valley, the Valley of the Quest, a hundred difficulties will assail you; you will undergo a hundred trials. There, the Parrot of heaven is no more than a fly. You will have to spend several years there, you will have to make great efforts, and to change your state. You will have to give up all that has seemed precious to you and regard as nothing all that you possess. When you are sure that you possess nothing, you still will have to detach yourself from all that exists. Your heart will then be saved from perdition and you will see the pure light of Divine Majesty and your real wishes will be multiplied to infinity. One who enters here will be filled with such longing that he will give himself up completely to the quest symbolized by this valley. He will ask of his cup-bearer a draught of wine, and he has drunk it nothing will matter except the pursuit of his true aim. Then he will no longer fear the dragons, the guardians of the door, which seek to devour him. When the door is opened and he enters, then dogma, belief and unbelief–all cease to exist.”

2

The Valley of Love
“The next valley is the Valley of Love. To enter it one must be a flaming fire–what shall I say? A man must himself be fire. The face of the lover must be enflamed, burning and impetuous as fire. True love knows no after-thoughts; with love, good and evil cease to exist.
“But as for you, the heedless and careless, this discourse will not touch you, your teeth will not even nibble at it. A loyal person stakes ready money, stakes his head even, to be united to his friend. Others content themselves with what they will do for you tomorrow. If he who sets out on this way will not engage himself wholly and completely he will never be free from the sadness and melancholy which weigh him down. Until the falcon reaches his aim he is agitated and distressed. If a fish is thrown onto the beach by the waves it struggles to get back into the water.
“In this valley, love is represented by fire, and reason by smoke. When love comes reason disappears. Reason cannot live with the folly of love; love gas nothing to do with human reason. If you possessed inner sight, the atoms of the visible world would be manifested to you. But if you look at things with the eye of ordinary reason you will never understand how necessary it is to love. Only a man who has been tested and is free can feel this. He who undertakes this journey should have a thousand hearts so that he can sacrifice one at every moment.”

3

The Valley of Understanding
“After the valley of which I have spoken, there comes another–the Valley Understanding, which has neither beginning nor end. No way is equal to this way, and the distance to be traveled to cross it is beyond reckoning.
“Understanding, for each traveler, is enduring; but knowledge is temporary. The soul, like the body, is in a state of progress or decline; and the Spiritual Way reveals itself only in the degree to which the traveler has overcome his faults and weaknesses, his sleep and his inertia, and each will approach nearer to his aim according to his effort. Even if a gnat were to fly with all its might could it equal the speed of the wind? There are different ways of crossing this Valley, and all birds do not fly alike. Understanding can be arrived at variously–some have found the Mihrab, others the idol. When the sun of understanding brightens this road each receives light according to his merit and he finds the degree assigned to him in the understanding of truth. When the mystery of the essence of beings reveals itself clearly to him the furnace of this world becomes a garden of flowers. He who is striving will be able to see the almond in its hard shell. He will no longer be pre-occupied with himself, but will look up at the face of his friend. In each atom he will see the whole; he will ponder over thousands of bright secrets.
“But, how many have lost their way in this search for one who has found the mysteries! It is necessary to have a deep and lasting wish to become as we ought to be in order to cross this difficult valley. Once you have tasted the secrets you will have a real wish to understand them. But, whatever you may attain, never forget the words of the Koran, “Is there anything more?”
“As for you who are asleep (and I cannot commend you for this), why not put on mourning? You, who have not seen the beauty of your friend, get up and search! How long will you stay as you are, like a donkey without a halter!”

4

The Valley of Independence and Detachment
“The there comes the valley where there is neither the desire to possess nor the wish to discover. In this state of the soul a cold wind blows, so violent that in a moment it devastates an immense space; the seven oceans are no more than a pool, the seven planets a mere sparkle, the seven heavens a corpse, the seven hells broken ice. Then, an astonishing thing, beyond reason! An ant has the strength of a hundred elephants, and a hundred caravans perish while a rook is filling his crop.
“In order that Adam might receive the celestial light, hosts of green-clad angels were consumed by sorrow. So that Noah might become a carpenter of God and build the ark, thousands of creatures perished in the waters. Myriads of gnats fell on the army of Abrahah so that that king would be overthrown. Thousands of the first-born died so that Moses might see God. Thousands of people took to the Christian girdles so that Christ could possess the secret of God. Thousands of hearts and souls were pillaged so that Muhammad might ascend for one night to heaven. In this Valley nothing old or new has value; you can act or not act. If you saw a whole world burning until hearts were only shish kabab, it would be only a dream compared to reality. If myriads of souls were to fall into this boundless ocean it would be as a drop of dew. If heaven and earth were to burst into minute particles it would be no more than a leaf falling from a tree; and if everything were to be annihilated, from the fish to the moon, would there be found in the depths of a pit the leg of a lame ant? If there remain no trace of either of men or jinn, the secret of a drop of water from which all has been formed is still to be pondered over.”

5

The Valley of Unity
“You will next have to cross the Valley of unity. In this valley everything is broken in pieces and then unified. All who raise their heads here raise them from the same collar. Although you seem to see many beings, in reality there is only one–all make one which is complete in its unity. Again, that which you see as a unity is not different from that which appears in numbers. And as the Being of whom I speak is beyond unity and numbering, cease to think of eternity as before and after, and since these two eternities have vanished, cease to speak of them. When all that is visible is reduced to nothing, what is there left to contemplate?”

6

The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment
“After the Valley of Unity comes the Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment, where one is a prey to sadness and dejection. There sighs are like swords, and each breath a bitter sight; there, is sorrow and lamentation, and a burning eagerness. It is at once day and night. There, is fire, yet a man is depressed and despondent. How, in his bewilderment, shall he continue his way? But he who has achieved unity forgets all and forgets himself. If he is asked: “Are you, or are you not? Have you or have you not the feeling of existence? Are you in the middle or on the border? Are you mortal or immortal?” he will reply with certainty: “I know nothing, I understand nothing, I am unaware of myself. I am in love, but with whom I do not know. My heart is at the same time both full and empty of love.”

7

The Valley of Deprivation and Death
“Last of all comes the Valley of Deprivation and Death, which is almost impossible to describe. The essence of the Valley is forgetfulness, dumbness and distraction; the thousand shadows which surround you disappear in a single ray of the celestial sun. When the ocean of immensity begins to heave, the pattern on its surface loses its form; and this pattern is no other than the world present and the world to come. Whoever declares that he does not exist acquires great merit. The drop that becomes part of this great ocean abides there for ever and in peace. In this calm sea, a man, at first, experiences only humiliation and overthrow; but when he emerges from this state he will understand it as creation, and many secrets will be revealed to him.
“Many beings have missed taking the first step and so have not been able to take the second–they can only be compared to minerals. When aloe wood and thorns are reduced to ashes they both look alike–but their quality is different. An impure object dropped into rose-water remains impure because of its innate qualities; but a pure object dropped into the ocean will lose its specific existence and will participate in the ocean and in its movement. In ceasing to exist separately it retains its beauty. It exists and non-exists. How can this be? The mind cannot conceive it.”

via LITERARY STUDIES
Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity


message 10: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 26, 2015 07:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Borges and Farid ud-Din Attar: The Influence of The Conference of the Birds on the Later Prose of Jorge Luis Borges

http://ucb-cluj.org/borges-and-farid-...

(This disregard for Borges’s allusions to Middle Eastern languages and literature is particularly surprising considering their enormous presence in his biography and how respectfully he spoke of them in his personal life)


message 11: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments As it happens, I have 2 copies of this book. One is the regular Penguin edition and a few weeks ago I came across an illustrated edition that I couldn't resist The Conference of the Birds---mostly illustrations.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments The illustrated must be gorgeous! I'm still waiting on my book. My fingers are crossed that there will be illustrations.


message 13: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments I think the first copy I have is a full copy (English for me of course) but I'm not sure. There is no mention of any abridgement.


message 14: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 27, 2015 06:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Sue wrote: "I think the first copy I have is a full copy (English for me of course) but I'm not sure. There is no mention of any abridgement."

Sue, have you read it yet? I don't dare ask you to join this read as you are already reading TOO MANY BOOKS!! You're beginning to resemble

Giuseppe Arcimboldo: The Librarian, 1566.



but there is always room for one more ;)

I've been dying to read The Conference of the Birds for some time now. I keep checking my front door to see if a package has arrived! I'm not even sure which translation I ordered. I kept going over the list available and clicked on a hardcover edition. And it only says The Conference of the Birds on my receipt.


message 15: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments When are you planning to read this? I can't read right now or quickly. And what sort of schedule do you have planned?


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Sue wrote: "When are you planning to read this? I can't read right now or quickly. And what sort of schedule do you have planned?"

It's okay Sue. I'm going to read as soon as the book arrives. I'll post my links here, for you to find later when you do get a chance to read it.


message 17: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments Sounds good Reem. This will be a great resource when do get to the book.


message 18: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 30, 2015 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Sue, my book just came in.It is illustrated with illuminations from Persian manuscripts from the British Library,this is the only modern illustrated edition of the Conference of the Birds.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...

Off to read! :)


message 19: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 30, 2015 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments FYI this appears to be the more scholarly translation with good notes on the text:

The Speech of the Birds by Peter Avery.
http://www.amazon.com/Speech-Birds-Is...

The one I'm reading appears to be the one best suited to a modern audience. It is also only 93 pages long to the Avery translation which appears to be over 562 pages. I guess I'm going to have to order the Avery now.


Book Portrait | 8 comments Someone's posts full of goodies lured me to this thread. ^^

I want to read this book too! I'm booked up just now but I'll try to get a good copy of the book - in French and if possible with illustrations - and to join you a little bit later... :)


message 21: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 30, 2015 02:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Someone's posts full of goodies lured me to this thread. ^^

I want to read this book too! I'm booked up just now but I'll try to get a good copy of the book - in French and if possible with illust..."


Wonderful Beepers! My literary partner in crime! Study your choices and make sure you get the long version. I'm going to read the one I have now, and will read the longer version which I just ordered with you! So happy to have you on board!!! :)

BP hun, I ordered The Speech of the Birds listed above.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments No regrets reading the Raficq Abdulla translation. It's very well done! This is a great read!!!


message 23: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 30, 2015 05:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments THE ANCIENT SECRETS OF LOVE
`Attar's Speech of the Birds (Mantiq al-tayr)
OMID SAFI

Farid al-Din ‘Attar stands at a pivotal moment in the history of Sufism. Today when we think of the Persian Sufi tradition as articulated by figures like Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273) and Hafez (d. 742/1390), it is through the prism of a synthesis of love-based Sufism and the Persian poetic tradition. More than any other figure, it was ‘Attar who served to fully merge these two traditions.

‘Attar was born in the northern Iranian city of Nishapur in a turbulent world which saw the movement of the Mongols onto the Iranian plateau. But his was also a fruitful world that stood between glorious figures of the 12th century like Abu Hamid Ghazali (d. 1111) and Ahmad Ghazali (d. 1126) and those of the 13th century like Mawlana Rumi. ‘Attar connects these figures together: his masterpiece Mantiq al-tayr builds upon a treatise by Ahmad Ghazali. and Mawlana Rumi is recorded as acknowledging his own debt to ‘Attar.

Scholars have speculated on the details of 'Attar’s formal relationship with Sufism. Perhaps it is best to identify 'Attar as a Sufi whose association with the teachings of Sufism came not through a formal initiation with a living master, but through a mysterious direct association with the Prophet Muhammad. This type of association, identical with what the companion Uways al-Qarani shared with the Prophet, is precisely what Jami [in the Nafahat al-uns] attributes to ‘Attar.

‘Attar composed an impressive number of treatises in his life, most of them of a heavily mystical nature. His Tazkirat al-Awliya (recently translated by Paul Losensky as Memorial of God’s Friends) is among the most important Sufi hagiographies. Other works of his like Ilahi-nama, Mosibat-nama and Asrar-nama each deserve their own discussion, but here our focus is on the classic work Mantiq al-tayr (“Speech of the Birds,” more commonly translated as “Conference of the Birds”).

Speech of the Birds is a masterpiece of Sufi literature that has been read in India, Iran and Turkey for about 750 years. The overall framework of the narrative is that of the communal and mystical journey of souls to God. 'Attar’s treatise builds on the succinct Risalat al-tuyur [or, al-tayr] composed by Ahmad al-Ghazali, which in turns builds on Avicenna’s tradition of birds allegorizing the spirit. 'Attar incorporates a wealth of Sufi anecdotes, hadith qudsi traditions, and “tales of the prophets” in coming up with a literary masterpiece. The introduction to the Mantiq al-tayr (sadly omitted from many translations) explicitly offers the religious basis of the work. It begins with the praise of God, which to 'Attar means seeing God everywhere, an ecstatic experience of the Divine that leads him to state:

God’s throne is established on the water,
the world is built on air.
Forget air and water.
All is God!

'Attar invites the reader to contemplate that this world and the next “are God, not other than Him. If there was other than Him, that too would be Him!” Such statements have often been mischaracterized as monistic, whereas they are best seen as voicing the direct experience of unity. Likewise his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is passionate and intimate: for ‘Attar the Prophet is none other than the embodiment of the Nur Muhammad (Light of Muhammad) and the reason for creation itself. Muhammad is praised as the “Master of the two realms,” the “shadow of God” and the “mercy of the wide spaces.” In one of his most tender metaphors, ‘Attar asks the Prophet to suckle him from the “breast of compassion.”

The title of the work, Mantiq al-tayr, is a reference to Qur’anic verse 27:16, where the Prophet Sulayman (Solomon) is said to have been taught the mantiq (“logic,” i.e., language) of the birds. In another Qur’anic narrative [verse 27:30] the bird Hud-hud plays go-between between Solomon and Bilqis (Queen of Sheba). In 'Attar’s story, the Hud-hud again plays match-maker between the birds who want to set out on the path and the Si-murgh, the legendary King-bird—which is to say, God. A number of birds offer rather imaginative excuses for why they do not intend to set foot on the mystical path, a pedagogical device to remind the readers of the excuses that human beings use to avoid the task of self-purification on the Sufi path.

It is in this narrative that 'Attar introduces the “ancient secret,” namely God’s secret and intense love for humanity. Here God reveals that there is a secret way between “the king” and the lover (man rahi dozdida daram su-ye u) through which God is with humanity, even aside from the sending of messengers.

The turning point in 'Attar’s Speech comes with the telling of the longest narrative, the story of Shaykh San‘an. This story is one of the ultimate literary masterpieces testifying to the willingness of the lover to endure suffering, and even symbolically overthrow external religiosity, on the path of love. For the love of the Christian maiden, the Shaykh of San‘an becomes a drunkard, burns the Qur’an, renounces Islam and even tends to the beloved's pigsty. Why would Attar posit such a turn? It is not out of animosity towards Islam, naturally, a tradition he is deeply rooted in himself. It is out of an insistence that through radical commitment to love one must transcend merely “metaphorical” Islam to arrive at a deeper and higher faith. The very purpose of such love narratives is to inspire the audience, to raise them in spiritual aspiration to set foot on the path. This is precisely what takes place in the story, and the birds—which is to say, us—overcome their/our timidity and spiritual excuses to continue rising to meet their fate, their destination, their God.

Eventually a group of birds set out, traveling through seven valleys, which correspond to the spiritual stations (maqamat) of the spiritual path. In 'Attar’s reckoning, these valleys/stations are identified as Seeking (talab), Extreme Love (‘ishq), Gnosis (ma’rifat), Self-sufficient Contentment (istighna’), Unity (tawhid), Bewilderment (hayrat) and lastly, Spiritual Poverty (faqr) and Spiritual Annihilation (fana). At the conclusion of this immortal journey comes the famous Sufi pun, where the thirty birds (“si murgh”; si=thirty, murgh=bird) come to see themselves as the very reflection of the Simurgh, the King-bird. Attar beautifully captures this experience of seeing the collectivity as the mirror of Divinity:

Themselves the complete Simurgh they saw;
the Simurgh Himself was all the time the ‘si murgh’!

These were that One,
and that One was these; in all the world nobody has heard this!

In choosing to have the thirty birds reflect the Simurgh, 'Attar emphasizes that the spiritual path is not a solitary path, but one to be pursued as part of a community.

And so it has been since 'Attar’s time. The birds, spirits, us, rising to meet our Lord, find that the most ancient of secrets is that the One that we have been seeking is already with us, inside us. At the end of the path, we come to see the most luminous part of our own self, having been transformed and transmuted on the spiritual path, to be a reflection of the Divine.

May all of our journeys be like this, insha’Allah.


message 24: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments My translation is by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis comes in at about 260 pages and has an introduction by Davis, as well as notes and some biographical info. So I think it will be OK for me. I'll go with the illustrations in my other book even though they are a modern interpretation.


message 25: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Apr 30, 2015 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Wonderful Sue! Now, that BP is here, I have to up the ante with regards to illuminations. You know how clever she is in gathering them all up.

Found some digitized manuscripts in this link:

http://aphelis.net/borges-simurgh/

There is also mention of Dante's eagle.

"In his essay, Borges argues that Attar’s Simurgh surpasses Dante’s emblem of the Eagle in The Divine Comedy. Both figures are concerned with the gathering of multitude into a single being. However, in Borges’s view, Attar’s Simurgh differs from Dante’s Eagle in the fact that the proper being of each bird is entirely dissolved in the (one) common being that is the Simurgh. Dante’s Eagle, on the contrary, is composed of a multitude of characters who retain their individual property."

I believe we made the connection with Attar's The Conference of the Birds as we were reading The Divine Comedy. Weren't we clever? ;)

Do check out the links!

Here's one: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.a...


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments In Persian mysticism the Simurgh represents God or the soul as a mode of Divine being. The word also signifies " thirty birds" in Farsi.


message 27: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments I will try to keep up with some of this but probably won't get to any reading until June. I have about 3 or 4 other books starting between the 1st and the 7th as well as the Proust which I haven't started yet. Once things get under way, I'll have a better idea what I'm doing.


Book Portrait | 8 comments Lol Reem, no hurry to gear up just now! Like Sue I have several books I want to read before I get to Attar (including Eliot, Zola, library books I reserved weeks ago...).

I think I found a good translation in paperback. I'm also lusting over a gorgeous art edition that is out of print in French but still available in English (the Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi translation) but the price tag is tragically disuasive.



There's a couple of videos on the editor's book page that look worth watching (including one done on BBC Persian):
http://www.editionsdianedeselliers.co...


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Lol Reem, no hurry to gear up just now! Like Sue I have several books I want to read before I get to Attar (including Eliot, Zola, library books I reserved weeks ago...).

I think I found a good t..."


The Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi is the one that Sue has.
http://www.amazon.com/Conference-Bird...

It's funny about book cost. As I was searching I came across prices that ranged from 17 dollars to 954 for the same book!

Thanks for the video!


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Lol Reem, no hurry to gear up just now! Like Sue I have several books I want to read before I get to Attar (including Eliot, Zola, library books I reserved weeks ago...).

I think I found a good t..."


Very nice video. I tweeted it! It reminded me of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that my father gave me. It's a beautiful edition in 3 translations, Arabic, French and English. Check it out here: http://yassavoli.com/


Book Portrait | 8 comments Reem, you're making me want to look into it more and more!! Thankfully I don't have the paperback yet so I should be able to read some of these other books that demand to be read first... Maybe...

I just found a public reading of the newest French translation done in the Fes Festival in Morroco in 2014. The video is not professional but good enough for me and there are musicians accompanying the reading...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C87S4...

There goes my plan for this afternoon. :D


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Reem, you're making me want to look into it more and more!! Thankfully I don't have the paperback yet so I should be able to read some of these other books that demand to be read first... Maybe...
..."


LOL Beepers, I know how you are always a sucker for an illumination! Thanks for this video. You're keeping me busy here. :)


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Reem, you're making me want to look into it more and more!! Thankfully I don't have the paperback yet so I should be able to read some of these other books that demand to be read first... Maybe...
..."


This goes with your video:
http://worldmusiccentral.org/2014/09/...


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Here is the The Canticle of the Birds: Illustrated Through Persian and Eastern Islamic Art Hardcover – April 7, 2014
by Farîd-ud-Dîn Attâr (Author), Diane de de Selliers (Editor)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Canticle-Bi...

There are 12 images available here.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Do you have a pinterest account? They used to be easy to access but are now blocked.

https://www.pinterest.com/corgizoogir...


Book Portrait | 8 comments Reem, you are unstoppable. I'm half-afraid of posting and getting snowed under an avalanche of goodies in response. ;)

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "This goes with your video:
http://worldmusiccentral.org/2014/09/..."


Great link. I hadn't heard of the Fes Festival before but these photos and videos really makes one want to attend it one day... I just love the music...


Book Portrait | 8 comments ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Here is the The Canticle of the Birds: Illustrated Through Persian and Eastern Islamic Art Hardcover – April 7, 2014
by Farîd-ud-Dîn Attâr (Author), Diane de de Selliers (Editor)

http://www.amazo..."


Almost affordable. Heh. >.<


Book Portrait | 8 comments ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Do you have a pinterest account? They used to be easy to access but are now blocked.

https://www.pinterest.com/corgizoogir..."


Because of you I finally caved in and created a Pinterest account. My password is Reem iz Evil!!


message 39: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited May 01, 2015 06:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Book Portrait wrote: Because of you I finally caved in and created a Pinterest account. My password is Reem iz Evil!!


LOL I do enjoy you BP! You are so much fun! Here, have your revenge. You do know that Reem in Arabic means gazelle.

Here darling is your first pin:





https://www.pinterest.com/pin/3775283...

A FINE SAFAVID LACQUER BINDING IRAN, PROBABLY QAZVIN, THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY The exterior of each board finely painted, one with a hunting scene in which three men on horseback attack lions and gazelles in a landscape, the other with a ruler enthroned in a landscape surrounded by courtiers and attendants, both within minor gold borders and outer borders of stylized cloud motifs Each board 28.6 x 17.5cm
"/>



message 40: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited May 01, 2015 05:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Found a good resource from the British Library:

A recent posting (http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/a...) introduced the poem and discussed some textual and artistic features of the manuscript.

This posting http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/a... examines the first three illustrations and the accompanying text, in relation to ‘Aṭṭār’s poem and some of its principal themes.

The third in the series, examines three more miniatures and the accompanying text, in relation to ‘Aṭṭār’s poem and some of its principal themes.

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/a...

In this, the last in the series, which discusses the final three miniature paintings and the accompanying text, in relation to ‘Aṭṭār’s poem and some of its principal themes.
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/a...


message 41: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Do you have a pinterest account? They used to be easy to access but are now blocked.

https://www.pinterest.com/corgizoogir..."


wonderful link!


message 42: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited May 02, 2015 10:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Yesterday, I posted links that explain the paintings of the Mantiq al Tayr at the British Library. I just found a pdf that explains the illustrations housed at the Met.


Fig. 1. The bearded man drowning.

In the study of Persian miniature painting and its
development through the fifteenth century, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the illustrations in the 1487 manuscript of the Man«iq al-«ayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.1 Threeof the illustrations in this manuscript are among the earliest specimens of the “new style” of painting ushered in by the artists at the famed atelier of Sultan
Husayn Bayqara, the last Timurid prince in Herat.2
Over the years, aside from the usual debates about
attribution, these enigmatic paintings have enticed art
historians’ curiosity and generated a number of largely
inconclusive interpretations.

Of the eight illustrations in the Metropolitan Museum
manuscript, the first four are early seventeenth-century
additions. Of the four original illustrations, one
does not display the characteristics that distinguish
the other three paintings as early examples of the
new style. Rather, this fourth painting, “The Beggar
before the King,” has been characterized as depicting
depicting a “court scene, which has been an integral part of the art of Iran from the Sasanid dynasty onward
and appears in all schools of all periods of Persian
miniature painting.”4 My concern here is with “The
Bearded Man Drowning,”5 one of the other three fifteenth-century illustrations, which are stylistically similar enough to one another to be attributed to the
same artist or group of artists.



Fig. 2. Funeral procession.


Fig. 3. Shaykh Mahna and the old peasant


http://archnet.org/system/publication...


message 43: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited May 02, 2015 07:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Reading about the different personalities of the birds in The Conference of the Birds, I couldn't help but think of the Myers-Briggs personality traits. I found the DOPE Birds Personality Types test.

Here's Your Results for the DOPE 4 Birds Personality Types Test [Online Version]:

You're Test Taker #: 176,603

Your Score: Owl (35%)

You are the Detail Seeker and have:
-- Low Assertiveness
-- Low Emotionality

Your type's description is:

Logical, mathematically minded, methodical and sometimes seen as a perfectionist. They can be slow to make decisions and inflexible if rules and logic says otherwise. They are not big risk takers but love detail..

Here's how you scored on the other types:
Peacock (30%)
Dove (25%)
Eagle (10%)

Have some fun! Take the quiz. Post your results. http://richardstep.com/dope-personali...

LOL must be a detail seeker. I sought more detail.

http://www.rebeccamorgan.com/articles...


message 44: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments I am a Dove (35%)
--Low Assertiveness
--High Emotionality

other types:
Peacock (35%0
Owl (30%)
Eagle (0)


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments yes I can see you as a dove Sue, but you are also well balanced. Thanks for taking the quiz and posting your result. :)


message 46: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue | 628 comments ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "yes I can see you as a dove Sue, but you are also well balanced. Thanks for taking the quiz and posting your result. :)"

Some of the questions were actually virtually impossible to answer as no selection was correct for me so I'm sure that the result could easily have gone another way. But it is fun.


message 47: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2781 comments Mod
I love the enthusiasm I see in here ! would you like us to mark the book as currently reading or will be reading it by June first ?

I took the quiz ...
You're Test Taker #: 176,643

Your Score: Dove (35%)

You are the Harmony Seeker and have:
-- Low Assertiveness
-- High Emotionality

Your type's description is:

People-oriented, loyal, friendly, hard working and a great team player but tends to avoid change, confrontation, risk-taking, and assertiveness..

Here's how you scored on the other types:
Owl (35%)
Eagle (15%)
Peacock (15%)


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Nile daughter wrote: "I love the enthusiasm I see in here ! would you like us to mark the book as currently reading or will be reading it by June first ?

I took the quiz ...
You're Test Taker #: 176,643

Your Score: Do..."


A7la Dovish owl Nile! I am reading the abridged version of The Conference of the Birds and have ordered The Speech of the Birds. I will most probably read The Meursault Investigation which is also on its way alongside it. BP has ordered the Speech of the Birds, so why not keep this thread open. We'll leave a lot of resources for future readers.


message 49: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2781 comments Mod
Lol ...Thanks ! :D
We will make no changes , I meant we would like to highlight this book discussion by adding it to our homepage so more members can join , I noticed that you are reading it but Sue and Book portrait will start by June , so I was not sure :)


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 492 comments Nile daughter wrote: "Lol ...Thanks ! :D
We will make no changes , I meant we would like to highlight this book discussion by adding it to our homepage so more members can join , I noticed that you are reading it but ..."


NileD, Good idea to highlight it for June. That will give people a chance to get whichever version of the conference, the canticle,منطق الطیر‎, the speech of the birds that they wish to read if they're interested in reading with us. Thank you.:)


« previous 1 3
back to top