0828 GMT December 06, 2019
Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim-Attar, (1110 - 1221), born in Neyshabur, was a Persian poet and theoretician of Sufism during the Seljuk Period.
The mausoleum of Attar is a monument built during the Timurid Era. The building was renovated in the second Pahlavi era and was restored to some extent in the 90’s.
Iranian poets Abu Rayhan Biruni and Attar Neyshaburi met UNESCO’s criteria to be introduced for 2020 and 2021 as the organization’s luminaries, said the head of the culture department of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO Bahman Namvar-Motlaq in April 2019.
The name Attar means herbalist or druggist, which was his profession. (The profession can also carry implications of being an alchemist). It is said that he examined tens of patients a day in his shop-cum-clinic, prescribing herbal remedies which he prepared himself, and he wrote his poetry while attending to his patients.
About 30 works by Attar survive, but his magnum opus is the Mantiq at-Tayr (The Conference of the Birds). In this collection, he describes a group of birds (individual human souls) under the leadership of a hoopoe (spiritual master) who determine to search for the legendary Simorgh bird (God) – Simorgh in Persian means thirty birds.
The birds must confront their own individual limitations and fears while journeying through seven valleys before they ultimately find the Simorgh and complete their quest. The 30 birds who ultimately complete the quest discover that they themselves are the Simorgh they sought, playing on a pun in Persian (si and morgh can be translated as 30 birds) while giving us an esoteric teaching on the presence of the Divine within us.
Attar's poetry inspired Rumi and many other Sufi poets. It is said that Rumi actually met Attar when Attar was an old man and Rumi was a boy, though some scholars dispute this possibility.
Turkey’s Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, another literary figure who was influenced by Attar, said that he wrote ‘The Black Book’ under the influence of the Mantiq at-Tayr.