Meaning of 'ATTAR, FARID OD-DIN in English


born c. 1142?, Nishapur, Iran died c. 1220, Mecca, Arabia [now in Saudi Arabia] in full Farid od-Din Mohammad ebn Ebrahim 'Attar, also called Farid od-Din Abu Hamid Mohammad Persian poet who was one of the greatest Muslim mystical writers and thinkers, composing at least 45,000 distichs (couplets) and many brilliant prose works. As a young man Farid od-Din traveled widely, visiting Egypt, Syria, Arabia, India, and Central Asia. He finally settled in his native town, Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, where he spent many years collecting the verses and sayings of famous Sufis (Muslim mystics). His name, 'Attar, which literally means a perfumer or apothecary, may indicate that either he, his father, or his grandfather practiced that trade. There is much controversy among scholars concerning the exact details of his life and death as well as the authenticity of many of the literary works attributed to him. The greatest of his works is the well-known Manteq al-teyr (The Conference of the Birds). This is an allegorical poem describing the quest of the birds (i.e., Sufis) for the mythical Simorgh, or Phoenix, whom they wish to make their king (i.e., God). In the final scene the birds that have survived the journey approach the throne contemplating their reflections in the mirror-like countenance of the Simorgh, only to realize that they and the Simorgh are one. Other important works of this prolific poet include the Elahi-nama (The Ilahi-nama or Book of God) and the Mosibat-nama (Book of Affliction), both of which are mystical allegories similar in structure and form to Manteq al-teyr; the Divan (Collected Poems); and the famous prose work Tadhkerat al-Awliya', an invaluable source of information on the early Sufis (abridged Eng. trans., Muslim Saints and Mystics). From the point of view of ideas, literary themes, and style, 'Attar's influence was strongly felt not only in Persian literature but also in other Islamic literatures.

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