University of Pittsburgh

Farid ud-din Attar

Abu Talib, Persian poet and mystic, c. 1150-1230, author of the Mantiq al-Tayr or Coloquio de los pájaros and numerous other works

Fishburn and Hughes: "One of the greatest Muslim mystical poets, born in Nishapur, the famous centre of Sufi mysticism. As his name indicates (attar is Persian for 'scent') he probably dealt in perfumes or drugs, but the details of his life remain obscure. He is said to have received 'the call' from a passing Sufi beggar who challenged him to renounce his worldly goods and lead a life of poverty and contentment, after which the beggar dropped dead before him. Inspired to become a mystic, Attar set out on travels through the Middle East and central Asia and eventually returned to his native town, where he was killed during the Mongol invasion of c. 1220. Margaret Smith, relating the legendary account of his death, describes how, when he was taken captive by a Mongol, another Mongol offered a ransom of a thousand pieces of silver to save his life. His captor was on the verge of accepting, but Attar advised him that he was worth much more. Later a third Mongol arrived offering a ransom of a sack of straw, whereupon Attar said, 'Take it, that's what I'm worth.' His captor, furious, beheaded him.

CF 86: There appear to be no references relating this legend to that of Tule's soldiers. Attar's mystical doctrine may be summarised as follows: God contains everything and yet transcends all things. He is the One in whom all is lost, and also the One in whom all is found. He is Being, Will, the source and goal towards which all things move. Man is separated from God; his soul, divine in origin but tied to the material body like a bird within a cage, is constantly striving to return to his source and become reunited with the divine. The ascent is difficult, and only love can tear aside the veil that hangs between man and the unknowable God. The quest, therefore, not only emanates from man's soul but is reciprocal, needing the grace and help of God for union to be attained." (71-72)

Borges Index: 
Nota sobre Walt Whitman, Discusión, OC, 251. El doctor Jekyll y Edward Hyde, transformados, Discusión, OC, 286. El acercamiento a Almotásim, Historia de la eternidad, OC, 414, 418n. El Zahir, El Aleph, OC, 594. Sobre Chesterton, Otras inquisiciones, OC, 695. El Simurg, El libro de los seres imaginarios, OCC, 695. El Dr. Jekyll y Edward Hyde, transformados, Notas, BC, 68. Margaret Smith: The Persian Mystics: Attar, BS, 277-79. The Metaphor, CV, 35. Word-Music and Translation, CV, 69. Indice de autores, LCI, 127. El Simurgh y el águila, NED, 141-44. The Unending Rose, La rosa profunda, OP, 465. El simurg y el águila, PB, 178, 179.