Literary Reflections

The Conference of the Birds
by Farid Ud-Din Attar

Composed in the twelfth century in northeastern Iran, Farid ud-Din Attar’s acclaimed Sufi poem is among the most significant works of Persian literature. A mystical, allegorical rendering of Sufi belief, The Conference of the Birds takes the reader on an epic journey as the birds of the world go in search of their perfect king. Thirty birds reach their goal, but only after traveling through seven arduous valleys and mastering their own personal faults. Attar guides his reader on a similar journey, marked by wit and wisdom, frustration and joy—a journey that, as the birds themselves find, turns out to be grander than its destination.

New York: Penguin Classics, 2011


A twelfth-century Persian poet, Farid ud-Din Attar is considered one of the greatest of all Muslim mystical writers and thinkers.  He composed at least 45,000 distichs (couplets) and many brilliant prose works. As a young man he traveled widely, visiting Egypt, Syria, Arabia, India, and Central Asia, but finally settling in his native town, Neyshābūr, in northeastern Iran. Attar’s poetry has been a source of inspiration to many, including the thirteenth-century Persian mystic poet Rúmí, who said of him, “Attar roamed the seven cities of love—we are still just in one alley.”

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"Muslim Journeys | Item #225: ", June 21, 2024


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