National Day of Faridoddin Attar Neyshabouri

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Iran marks the national day of Faridoddin Attar Neyshabouri, a prominent Persian poet and theoretician of mysticism and hagiographer.

A number of literati and scholars gathered at the mausoleum of the classical Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar (c. 1145-1221) in Neyshabur to mark Attar National Day, which was on April 13 this year. 

Based on an annual ritual, the mausoleum of Attar is adorned with flowers during the ceremony.

The Mevlana Museum Deputy Director Naci Bakirci from Turkey as well as scholars Reza Ashrafzadeh, Farzad Abbasi, Zahra Ahmadi, Reza Jalili and Mokhadareh Boluki were among the participating guests.

The ceremony, which opened with a message delivered by Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, was followed by honoring the veteran traditional architect of the Khorasan region, Mohammad-Qasem Akhavian.

A street theater performance inspired by Attar’s most famous work “The Conference of the Birds” was also performed for the participants during the ceremony.

Born in 1119, Abu Hamid Mohammad Neyshabouri, mostly known by his penname Faridoddin, was the son of a successful chemist and received an excellent education in various fields, including pharmacy.

His achievements in the profession of pharmacy brought him the title of 'Attar' -- literally meaning, The Pharmacist.

Eventually, he abandoned his pharmaceutical business and traveled widely, visiting Kufa, Mecca, Damascus, Turkistan and India. He met with Sufi leaders of the time and returned to Neyshabour to promote and expound Sufi ideas.

Under the influence of Sufism he started composing poems and teaching literature and his mystic theories.

He also composed stories from historical chronicles, collections of anecdotes and all types of literary forms.

In the Dead of Night.

In the dead of night, a Sufi began to weep.
He said, “This world is like a closed coffin, in which
We are shut and in which, through our ignorance,
We spend our lives in folly and desolation.
When Death comes to open the lid of the coffin,
Each one who has wings will fly off to Eternity,
But those without will remain locked in the coffin.
So, my friends, before the lid of this coffin is taken off,
Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers.”

Translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut from “Perfume of the Desert”.

Attar died at the age of 70 in 1189 during the Mongolian invasion of Neyshabour.

Attar's most celebrated work is Manteq-ul-Tteir (The Conference of the Birds), a poem consisting of 4,600 couplets. The poem uses allegory to illustrate the Sufi doctrine of union between the human and the divine.

Attar has described the seven stages of spirituality in the conference of the birds:

The Valley of 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

His other important writings include Tazkerat-ol-Olia (Biographies of the Saints), a prose work about the early Sufis.

Elahi-Nameh (Book of Divinity), Asrar-Nameh (Book of Mysteries), Mosibat-Nameh (Book of Suffering), Bolbol-Nameh (Book of Nightingales), Javaher-Nameh (Book of Jewels) and Khosrow-Nameh (Book of Kings) are among the numerous books he wrote in verse and prose.

Why was Adam

'Why was Adam driven from the garden?'
The pupil asked his master. 'His heart was hardened
With images, a hundred bonds that clutter the earth
Chained Adam to the cycle of death following birth.
He was blind to this equation, living for something other
Than God and so out of paradise he was driven
With his mortal body's cover his soul was shriven.
Noblest of God's creatures, Adam fell with blame,
Like a moth shriveled by the candle's flame,
Into history which taught mankind shame.
Since Adam had not given up his heart
To God's attachment, there was no part
For Adam in paradise where the only friend
Is God; His will is not for Adam to imagine and bend.

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 Sanai 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 follows:

Attar has roamed through the seven cities of love while we have barely turned down the first street.

Attar was beheaded by the invading Mongol army in 1221. His tomb, in Neishabour, Khorasan Razavi Province, attracts many visitors throughout the year.

*Photo Credit: ISNA, Press TVWikipedia

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