Saturday, April 12, 2008
Iran commemorates the national day of Faridoddin Attar Neyshabouri, a prominent Persian poet, theoretician of mysticism and hagiographer.
Iranian cultural officials will are holding a conference today in the city of Neyshabour, located in the northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi to honor the Persian poet.
Born in 1119, Abu Hamid Mohammad Neyshabouri 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.
Attar died at the age of 70 in 1189 during the Mongolian invasion of Neyshabour. There is a well-known story regarding his death suggesting: “Attar was taken prisoner by a Mongol during the invasion of Neyshabur.
Someone soon came and tried to ransom him with a thousand pieces of silver. Attar advised the Mongol not to sell him for that price. The Mongol, thinking to gain an even greater sum of money, refused the silver.
Later, another person came, this time offering only a sack of straw to free him. Attar then told the Mongol to sell him, for that was all he was worth. Outraged at being made a fool, the Mongol cut off Attar's head.”
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.
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.
[Picture: Attar's Mausoleum in Neyshabour, Iran].