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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

Five Lessons from Attar's Mantaq-ut-Tayr

Help from Allah

One day, a king chasing after a runaway deer came across an old woodcutter, who was trying to load some firewood on his donkey's back, but, it was too heavy for the frail old man.

The king offered to help him. Not knowing it was the King, the woodcutter gladly accepted his help. "You never know what will happen next. If I was not here, you would not have been able to load all this wood." The king told the man.

"It is true. We may not know what happens next, but Allah knows well, and it is Him who makes the best out of the worst." The old woodcutter said.

The thought resonated with the king. As a token of his appreciation, he rewarded the woodcutter with lots of gold coins, who then headed home, thinking of how the day's trouble brought him lots of fortune.



One day, a man came to visit a Sufi, and asked him for help. "Satan always tries to mislead me to sins. No matter what I do, he makes me com-mit sins." The man said.

The Sufi listened carefully to the man, as he explained all that he had done wrong. After that, he asked the man what his name was. When the man mentioned his name, the Saint exclaimed, "Oh! Now I recognise now. Iblis also came to meet me yesterday, and was complaining about you."

The man was surprised that Iblis not only knew him, but had also mentioned him. "Huh?" he asked.

"He was upset, because whilst he is the one responsible for sinning, you seem to have surpassed him." The Sufi told the man. "I am supposed to deceive humankind, but he does the same, and to make things worse, he blames me for it!" the Sufi continued quoting from Iblis.

The man then truly understood what the Sufi meant to say. He then decided to take responsibility for his actions, and become a good man.


Courage, Affection and Reason

Once upon a time, there was a governor, who had a beautiful daughter. Many young men wished for her hand, however, the power her father weilded frightened them. So one day, he summoned all the suitors for his daughter, and declared that he would announce his conditions the next morning.

Come dawn the next day, the prospect of conditions put off several men of the idea. They did not wish to risk meeting the most likely, rather absurd conditions her father would put forward, and only three men stood before the governor, willing to hear his conditions.

"First, I shall whip the suitor until I am tired. My second condition is that he shall have to live without my support. And finally, he should know, that if he ever mistreats my daughter, he shall meet his fate at the blade of my sword. I shall not spare him". The governor announced.

The first suitor came forward. "It will be difficult to forget your daughter, however, I do not think I am the right person to marry her." The governor realized he was not truly in love with his daughter, but was just another greedy man vying for influence, and riches.

"Cut off my hands and my feet if you so will. I would do anything for your daughter." declared the second suitor. The governor shook his head. This man was close to Majnun, as far as mental stability was concerned.

The third suitor addressed the governor. "I have a cousin, she is both, beautiful, kind, and of good character. But I love your daughter more. I will appreciate if you allow me to marry her, and bless our union." The governor realised that the last suitor had both, enough reason in his mind, and affection for his daughter, making him a worthy match.

"These conditions were only put in place to find the best suitor. I shall wed my daughter to you. You are now my son!" The governor declared, and soon after, the wedding ceremony was announced.


Love and Madness

Once a beggar happened to see the king's daughter on her way to the palace and fell in love with her. Everyday, from dawn to dusk, he sat beneath a tree near the palace, hoping to see her again. Several years passed by.

When the king and his daughter learned about the beggar and his love, the king was furious, and declared that he would have the beggar beheaded. However, the princess took pity on the beggar, and decided to talk him out of this love. "You need to leave. My father, the King, will have your head if you do not give up!" she told him.

"I do not fear death, I shall die for my love!" the beggar responded. The princess looked at him sternly, and said, "This is madness! It is not love. To love is not to die but to revive! If you had really loved me, you would have worked hard to deserve me. But you are still a beggar."


Allah Hears Everything

One day, in heaven, an Angel noticed that Allah was listening carefully to someone down on the earth, and thought that the person was a devout believer, or else, Allah would not have paid such attention to the man's prayers.

The angel, curious, decided to look for the man. He searched the mosques, churches, synagogues, and shrines, but could not find him. The angel then asked Allah, "Where is the man whom you are listening to?"

Allah gave the man's address to the angel. To the angel's great surprise, the man was in a temple, worshiping an idol! Kneeling before an idol, he was speaking to it, and pleading before it. Flying back to heaven, the angel asked Allah, "He is worshiping an idol not you. Why, then, are you listening to him?"

"He does not know me, but what he prays for, is my concern. This idol only connects him to me." Allah told the angel.

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