Conference of the Birds

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The Conference of the Birds

Facets of Persian literature, namely their poetry, resonate in the writings from nearby regions such as India and Central Asia. Even more remarkable though, elements of Persian works are even found in Western literature, specifically English, German, and Swedish. Considering the influence Persian literature has had on literature around the world, it is worth examining these works in a World Literature English class. In particular, this paper will give reasons as to why The Conference of the Birds by Farid al-Din’Attar should be included in the curriculum of Dr. Kaulbach’s class.

In view that the Quran was explored in a class in which most of the students probably are not Muslims, it is logical to present the differing beliefs within Islam and how the writings of the Quran can be interpreted in other ways . Following the “inner teachings of the Koran” (Attar 139), the Sufis believe that “there is one God. All things are in Him and He is in all things. All things, visible and invisible, are emanations of Him” (Attar 139). This perspective of Islam, known as Sufism, is presented in The Conference of the Birds through simple allegorical poems.

More explicitly, the poems tell of a group of birds, led by the Hoopoe, to meet the Simorgh. This is an allegory for the journey many people often find themselves on—the journey of their souls to find God. The birds complete the voyage when they reach a lake, in which all they see are the reflections of themselves. At this point, they finally discover that God is an entire entity that is within everyone, which is a premise of the Sufi doctrine. Ultimately, this book will give Dr. Kaulbach’s students insight into Sufism and the spiritual aspects within Islam, providing a means to compare with the literal text of the Quran that was covered in class.

Another reason this book should be included in the class is because its influence can be seen in Western literary works. “A Story...
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