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Works of attar of Nishapur

part 1

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The question whether all the works that have been ascribed to him are really from his pen, has not been solved. This is due to two facts that have been observed in his works:

There are considerable differences of style among these works

.

Some of them indicate a Sunnite, and others a Shia, allegiance of the author.

 

Classification of the various works by these two criteria yields virtually identical results. The German orientalist Hellmut Ritter at first thought that the problem could be explained by a spiritual evolution of the poet. He distinguished three phases of `Attar's creativity:

Works in which mysticism is in perfect balance with a finished, story-teller's art.

Works in which a pantheistic zeal gains the upper hand over literary interest.

Works in which the aging poet idolizes Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib while there is no trace of ordered thoughts and descriptive skills.

Ritter surmised that the last phase, that of old age, was coincidental with a conversion to Shi'ism. However, in 1941, the Persian scholar Nafisi was able to prove that the works of the third phase in Ritter's classification were written by another `Attar who lived about two hundred and fifty years later at Mashhad and was a native of Tun. Ritter accepted this finding in the main, but doubted whether Nafisi was right in attributing the works of the second group also to this `Attar of Tun. One of Ritter's arguments is that the principal figure in the second group is not Ali, as in the third group, but Hallaj, and that there is nothing in the explicit content of the second group to indicate a Shia allegiance of the author. Another is the important chronological point that a manuscript of the Jawhar al-Dat, the chief work in the second group, bears the date 735 A.H. (= 1334-35 AD). While `Attar of Tun's authorship of the second group is untenable, Nafisi was certainly right in concluding that the style difference (already observed by Ritter) between the works in the first group and those in the second group is too great to be explained by a spiritual evolution of the author. The authorship of the second group remains an unsolved problem.

 

In the introductions of Mokhtar-Nama (مختارنامه) and Khosrow-Nama (خسرونامه), `Attar lists the titles of further products of his pen:

Manteq at-Tayr" ("The Conference of the Birds")

Divan (ديوان)

Asrar-Nama (اسرار نامه)

Maqamat-e Toyur (= Manteq al-Tayr; مقامات الطيور or منطق الطير)

Mosibat Nama(مصيب نامه)

Elahi Nama(الهي نامه)

Jawaher Nama(جواهر نامه)

Sahrh al-Qalb (شرح القلب)

 

He also states, in the introduction of the Mokhtar Nama, that he destroyed the Jwaher Nama and the Sharh al-Qalb with his own hand.

Although the contemporary sources confirm only `Attar's authorship of the Divan and the Manteq al-Tayr, there are no grounds for doubting the authenticity of the Mokhtar-Nama and Khosrow-Nama and their prefaces. One work is missing from these lists, namely the Tadhkerat al-Awliya, which was probably omitted because it is a prose work; its attribution to `Attar is scarcely open to question. In its introduction `Attar mentions three other works of his, including one entitled Sharh al-Qalb, presumably the same that he destroyed. The nature of the other two, entitled Kaf al-Asrar and Ma'refat al-Nafs, remains unknown.

Source: wikipedia.org


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