Attar of Nishapur

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All things are but masks at God's beck and call,
They are symbols that instruct us that God is all.

Abū Hamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (c. 1145c. 1221); ابو حامد ابن ابوبکر ابراهیم, more famous by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn (فریدالدین) and ‘Attār (عطار - "the perfumer"), was a Persian Muslim poet, mystical philosopher, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism.

Quotes[edit]

I shall trample Matter and Space with my horse,
beyond all Being I shall utter a great shout,
and in that moment when I shall be alone with Him,
I shall whisper secrets to all mankind.
The Sea will be the Sea
Whatever the drop's philosophy.
In Love no longer "thou" and "I" exist,
For Self has passed away in the Beloved.
Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers.
Yet what are seas and what is air? For all
Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth
To veil Divinity...
  • I shall grasp the soul's skirt with my hand
    and stamp on the world's head with my foot.

    I shall trample Matter and Space with my horse,
    beyond all Being I shall utter a great shout,
    and in that moment when I shall be alone with Him,
    I shall whisper secrets to all mankind.
    Since I have neither sign nor name
    I shall speak only of things unnamed and without sign.
    • As quoted in Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Hebrew Poems (2001) by Bernard Lewis, p. 119
  • The Sea
    Will be the Sea
    Whatever the drop's philosophy.
    • As quoted in The Sun at Midnight : The Revealed Mysteries of the Ahlul Bayt Sufis (2003) by Laurence Galian
  • Your face is neither infinite nor ephemeral.
    You can never see your own face,
    only a reflection, not the face itself.
    • "Looking For Your Own Face" as translated by Coleman Barks in The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia
  • Don't be dead or asleep or awake.
    Don't be anything.
    What you most want,
    what you travel around wishing to find,
    lose yourself as lovers lose themselves,
    and you'll be that.
    • "Looking For Your Own Face" as translated by Coleman Barks in The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia
  • Joy! Joy! I triumph! Now no more I know
    Myself as simply me.
    I burn with love
    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.
    • "The Triumph of the Soul" as translated by Margaret Smith in The Persian Mystics
  • From each a mystic silence Love demands.
    What do all seek so earnestly? 'Tis Love.
    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.
    • "Intoxicated by the Wine of Love" as translated by Margaret Smith from "The Jawhar Al-Dhat"
    • Variant translation:
      From each, Love demands a mystic silence.
      • As translated in Essential Sufism, by James Fadiman and Robert Frager
  • He who would know the secret of both worlds,
    Will find the secret of them both, is Love.
    • "Intoxicated by the Wine of Love" as translated by Margaret Smith from "The Jawhar Al-Dhat"
  • Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
    Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers.
    • "In the Dead of Night" as translated by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut in Perfume of the Desert
  • Yet what are seas and what is air? For all
    Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth
    To veil Divinity.
    For heaven and earth,
    Did He not permeate them, were but names;
    Know then, that both this visible world and that
    Which unseen is, alike are God Himself,
    Naught is, save God: and all that is, is God.
    • "All Pervading Consciousness"
  • Thou all Creation art, all we behold, but Thou,
    The soul within the body lies concealed,
    And Thou dost hide Thyself within the soul,
    O soul in soul! Myst'ry in myst'ry hid!
    Before all wert Thou, and are more than all!
    • "All Pervading Consciousness"

The Conference of the Birds (1177)[edit]

The Conference of the Birds منطق الطیر Mantiq at-Tayr
Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw...
  • All things are but masks at God's beck and call,
    They are symbols that instruct us that God is all.
    • As translated by Raficq Abdulla
  • All you have been, and seen, and done, and thought,
    Not You but I, have seen and been and wrought:
    I was the Sin that from Myself rebell'd:
    I the Remorse that tow'rd Myself compell'd...
  • Sin and Contrition — Retribution owed,
    And cancell'd — Pilgrim, Pilgrimage, and Road,
    Was but Myself toward Myself: and Your
    Arrival but Myself at my own Door...
  • Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
    And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw
    :
    Rays that have wander'd into Darkness wide
    Return and back into your Sun subside.

Quotes about Attar[edit]

God is Eternal … Here in this garden of a lower Eden, Attar perfumed the soul of the humblest of men.
  • Attar has roamed through the seven cities of love while we have barely turned down the first street.
    • Rumi, as quoted in Fodor's Iran (1979) by Richard Moore and Peter Sheldon, p. 277
  • God is Eternal … Here in this garden of a lower Eden, Attar perfumed the soul of the humblest of men. This is the tomb of a man so eminent that the dust stirred by his feet would have served as collyrium to the eye of the firmament … and of whom the saints were disciples … In the year of the Hijra 586 he was pursued by the sword of the army which devoured everything, being martyred in the massacre which then took place … Increase, O Lord, his merit … May the glory be with Him who dies not and holds in his hands the keys to unlimited forgiveness and infinite punishment.

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