Conference Of The Birds

The Conference Of The Birds


• Ancient Persian Poem

• Sufi Text

• Written in 1170 CE

The Conference of the Birds (منطق الطیر‎, Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr) is a Persian poem by Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur.


The title is taken directly from the Qur’an, 27:16, where Sulayman (Solomon) and Dāwūd (David) are said to have been taught the language, or speech, of the birds (manṭiq al-ṭayr).

Scene from The Conference of the Birds in a Persian miniature. The hoopoe, center right, instructs the other birds on the Sufi path.

Toby Leon Headshot in Black and White

Toby Leon

June 5, 2020

Reading time 3 min


Synopsis


In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represents a human fault which prevents human kind from attaining enlightenment.

The Conference Of The Birds - Giphylicious Remix...

by Toby Leon


Sufism


Sufism (Arabic: ٱلصُّوفِيَّة‎), also known as Tasawwuf (Arabic: ٱلتَّصَوُّف‎), is variously defined as Islamic mysticism, the inward dimension of Islam or the phenomenon of mysticism within Islam

My Introduction To

The Conference Of The Birds...

I took an elective class called Comparative Belief Systems at university. More people would have signed up if the title was spiced up. Something like... 'Adventures Through An Ontological Walkabout'.⁠


It was a religious studies class, plain & simple. But it wasn't just monotheistic faiths. Or Abrahamic. Global, local, pantheistic, even Scientological! We studied them all; a series of train rides one semester. Just a few short hours but each with a fascinating landscape distinctly their own.⁠


That openness was made possible by my lecturer. He understood how similar most religions are. In their hopeful outlook, or the way they all promote peace, kindness, and forgiveness.⁠


The openness carried through to his choice of texts. He let us choose our own for class discussions on the latest faith we passed through. All taken from a carefully crafted shortlist he'd selected.⁠


The Conference of the Birds was on the list for the week we focused on Islam.⁠ It's a magical text—a masterpiece of Persian literature by Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar.⁠


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The title is taken directly from the Qur’an, 27:16, where Sulayman (Solomon) and Dāwūd (David) are said to have been taught the language, or speech, of the birds (manṭiq al-ṭayr).⁠


⁠In the poem, the birds of the world are without a sovereign. They seek guidance but have none.⁠


The wisest suggests they should find the legendary Simorgh. So they lead the birds on a mission. And we come to see how each of the birds represent a flaw that prevents humankind from attaining enlightenment.⁠


I'm not a religious or spiritual man. I find faith in hope, fairness, kindness & the mind-blowing wonder of no one reeeeeeeally knowing what's going on in this topsy-turvy place we all call home 🌎🌍🌏 But a good story—be it religious or not—never fails to move me.⁠


The best stories shift my focus so much that I never see our 🌎🌍🌏 the same way again. The Conference of the Birds is on my list of life-changers.


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