Attar Neishaburi

Hakim Farid-Ud-Din Attar of Neishabur

Attar was a twelfth-century poet, theoretician of Sufism, hagiographer, and herbalist (alchemist) from Neishabur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism. His works inspired lmany Sufi poets, such as Rumi and Hafiz.

Three Butterflies

music: Armand Amar & Salar Aghili

The people of this world are like the three butterflies
in front of a candle's flame.

The first one went closer and said:
I know about love.

The second one touched the flame
lightly with his wings and said:
I know how love's fire can burn.

The third one though
threw himself into the heart of the flame
and was consumed.
He alone knows what true love is.

- Attar Neishaburi -

Attar's Life

It is said that, as a younger man, Attar went on pilgrimage to Mecca and then traveled extensively through Egypt, Syria, India, and other lands, before finally returning to his home city of Nishapur.

The word Attar means herbalist, which was his profession. It is said that he wrote his poetry while attending to his patients in the shop.

Several sources confirm that he lived about 100 years, and that he was killed by Mongol invaders. His tomb is in Neishabur, a city located in the Khorasan region, northeast of Iran.


About thirty works by Attar survive. Manteq-ot-Tayr (The Conference of the Birds) is well known as his masterpiece in poetry.

In this book, he describes a group of birds under the leadership of a hoopoe who determine to search for the legendary Simorgh bird. 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 thirty 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 translate as 30 birds) while giving us an esoteric teaching on the presence of the Divine within us.


Tazkirat al-Awliya, literally Biographies of the Matured Ones, is a 72-chapter book written by Attar, about the life of famous Sufis and their miraculous deeds. This is the only surviving work of Attar written as prose. It starts with a biography of Imam Jafar Sadiq, the Sixth Imam of Shia and ends with one of Mansur Al-Hallaj's, the Sufi Martyr.

Attar has roamed through the seven cities of love, while we have barely turned down the first street.

- Molana Jala-ed-Din Balkhi Rumi -
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