Abū Hamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (: ابو حمید ابن ابوبکر ابراهیم) (born 1145-46 in Iran – died c. 1221), much better known by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn (فریدالدین) and ‘Attār (عطار - the pharmacist), was a the greatest sufi persian poet, who influenced Rumi and the whole of persian poetry and Sufism.
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,
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), '. is a 72-chapter book about the life of famous sufi's-- It starts with a biography of Imam Jafar Sadiq , the Sixth Imam of Shia and ends with one of Mansur Al-Hallaj's , the Sufi Martyr.
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.
It can, though, be taken for granted that from childhood onward `Attar, encouraged by his father, was interested in the Sufis and their sayings and way of life, and regarded their saints as his spiritual guides. `Attar "boasted that he had never sought a king's favor or stooped to writing a panegyric" which "alone would make him worthy of note among Persian poets." He appears to have regarded rulers as "capricious and cruel" suggesting that "it is best to have nothing to do with them."
His most famous work, The Conference of the Birds, rejoices in the loss of egotism and the realization that all people are equally loved by God. This work has been compared with Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and with his Parliament of Fowls. Attar challenges humans to abandon all "us and them polarities," such as those of race, religion, and social class. He affirms human solidarity. His poetry expounds the teachings of Islamic mysticism in a universal language, inviting one to live for the sake of others, to prize what has eternal, not ephemeral values.
Attar's Seven Valleys of Love in the Manteq al-Tayr( Conference of Birds)
In the poem, 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.
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've 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
The Valley of the Quest
My presence is sufficient for your soul;
I am your God, your one necessity --
With every breath you breathe, remember Me.
One who enters here will be filled with such longing that he will give himself up completely to the quest symbolized by this valley.
When will you free yourself from cowardice?
Since you have such a short time to live here,
What difference does it make?
The world is filth and sin, and homeless men
Must enter it and homeless leave again.
They die, as worms, in squalid pain; if we
Must perish in this quest, that, certainly,
Is better than a life of filth and grief.
If this great search is vain, if my belief
Is groundless, it is right that I should die.
So many errors throng the world - then why
Should we not risk this quest? To suffer blame
For love is better than a life of shame.
No one has reached this goal, so why appeal
To those whose blindness claims it is unreal?
I'd rather die deceived by dreams than give
My heart to home and trade and never live.
We've been and heard so much - what have we learned?
Not for one moment has the self been spurned;
Fools gather round and hinder our release.
When will their stale, insistent whining cease?
We have no freedom to achieve our goal
Until from Self and fools we free the soul.
To be admitted past the veil you must
Be dead to all the crowd considers just.
Once past the veil you understand the Way
From which the crowd's glib courtiers blindly stray.
If you have any will, leave women's stories,
And even if this search for hidden glories
Proves blasphemy at last, be sure our quest
Is not mere talk but an exacting test.
The fruit of love's great tree is poverty;
Whoever knows this knows humility.
When love has pitched his tent in someone's breast,
That man despairs of life and knows no rest.
Love's pain will murder him and blandly ask
A surgeon's fee for managing the task -
The water that he drinks brings pain, his bread
Is turned to blood immediately shed;
Though he is weak, faint, feebler than an ant,
Love forces him to be her combatant;
He cannot take one mouthful unaware
That he is floundering in a sea of care.”
"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 has 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 the 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."
If you desire this quest, give up your soul
And make our sovereign’s court your only goal
‘I am a pilgrim of our sovereign’s Way’;
Renounce your soul for love;
He you pursue Will sacrifice His inmost soul for you.
What do they whisper to each other? Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts.
In Love no longer 'thou' and 'I' exist,
For Self has passed away in the Beloved.
Now will I draw aside the veil from Love
And in the temple of mine inmost soul,
Behold the Friend; Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds,
Will find the secret of them both, is love.
Heart’s blood and bitter pain belong to love,
And tales of problems no one can remove;
Cupbearer, fill the bowl with blood, not wine -
And if you lack the heart’s rich blood take mine.
Love thrives on inextinguishable pain,
Which tears the soul, then knits the threads again.
A mote of love exceeds all bounds; it gives
The vital essence to whatever lives.
But where love thrives, there pain is always found;
Angels alone escape this weary round -
They love without that savage agony
Which is reserved for vexed humanity
"Understanding, for each traveler, is enduring; but knowledge is temporary.
"But, how many have lost their way in this search for one who has found the mysteries!
"As for you who are asleep (and I cannot commend you for this), why not put on mourning?
The Valley of Independence and Detachment
the seven hells broken ice.
"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.
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,
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."
The Valley of Unity
The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment
The Valley of Deprivation and Death
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.
Myself as simply me. I burn with lov
Unto myself, and bury me in love.
The centre is within me and its wonder
Lies as a circle everywhere about me.
Joy! Joy! No mortal thought can fathom me.
I am the merchant and the pearl at once.
Lo, Time and Space lie crouching at my feet.
Joy! Joy! When I would reveal in a rapture.
I plunge into myself and all things know.
"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.
Now the Sun celestial began to shine forth in front of them, and lo! how great was their surprise!