The Perfume Seller

Just suppose you are able to make an interview with shaykh Fariduddin ‘Attâr. What would you ask him? Perhaps some of your questions are similar to the ones as given below:

Q: What has been your profession?

A: I have written my poems in my “dâru-khâne” wherein I combined the selling of drugs and perfumes with the practice of medicine.

Q: It is said that one day a dervish called at your dâru-khâne, your dispensary and asked for alms, but you were too busy with your patients to care for him and gave no reply. Hence you took no notice of him on his second polite demand, the dervish remarked: “You are so busy amassing wealth here. How will you depart from this world leaving forcibly everything you have collected here?”

It is said that you gave him this answer: “I shall give up my ghost as you will”.

Hearing this the dervish lay down on the floor, closed his eyes, uttered “there is no god but God”, and passed away. It is said that this event opened your eyes.

A: My “Elâhinâme” (The Divine Book) has as its motive the letting go of all ties with the world. I tell this story in it: A man cuts down a green tree. A traveller who had received a training about the meaning of spiritual suffering, passes it by, sees the cut down tree and says: “This tree is still green and quite fresh as it does not yet know it has been cut down. Within a week it will become aware thereof”.

Q: You speak about spiritual suffering. Is it connected to love?

A: It is a longing for the pain of love:

Zarrehe-ye dardam deh ây darmân-e man!

Ze anke bî dardat bemîrad jân-e man.

Kofr kâfer râ o dîn dîndâr râ;

Zarrehe-ye dardat del-e ‘Attâr râ!

Give me a particle of pain, o my Remedy!

Because without Your pain my soul will die.

Unbelief to the unbeliever and faith to the faithful;

Give a particle of Your pain to the heart of ‘Attar!

Q: You tell about Beshr, that he bought some ‘attâr of roses in order perfume a piece of paper which he had found in the street. On this paper was written: “In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate”. Was Beshr an example to you?

A: Yes, and that is why I have written this:

O God! ‘Attâr, who speaks here in a loving way,

Has perfumed Your name with his verses.

As ‘Attâr has spoken so sweet about You

And with love has perfumed Your name,

Why would you not have mercy on him?

Turn him into dust at Your door,

Make him known because of the mercy of Your name!

He owns nothing but the saying of Your praise

And cannot claim any single good act.

Q: It is said that in you appeared after 150 years the light of shaykh Mansur al-Hallaj of Baghdad? Could you comment thereon?

A: I’ll answer your question by means of what I’ve written:

Before in this world vineyard, garden and grapes could be found,

My soul was already completely drunk because of a pre-eternal wine.

We already announced in a pre-eternal Baghdad: “Yes I am the Truth!”

Long before the riot and the words of Mansur came about .

Q: What is your opinion about the teaching of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi that we in our own belief create our own God?

A: A young man was sitting near a well-known shaykh and many times the young man was reciting the names of God. The shaykh then said: ‘You are still immature, because, in truth, God has no names! What you recite, He is not that. It comes from you, not from Him”.

Q: Anything else you want to say to us?

A: Safar-e mubarak! May your journey be blessed!