So I did eventually manage to get a hold of a copy of Fariduddin Attar's "The Conference of the Birds" that I mentioned a while back. I'm about halfway through, and to be honest, its not as amazing as I was expecting it to be, but it is quite interesting nonetheless. I think the main reason why I'm not enjoying it that much is because the translation isn't very good. The copy that I have has been translated from the original Persian into English by Darbandi & Davis. I hate the way they insist on having the translated couplets rhyme at the expense of clarity in the meaning. But still, Attar's magic has been able to shine through.
Here is one story from the book/poem that I really enjoyed, and I think it is particularly pertinent for us as we approach the climax of Ramadan.
A sluggard once approached a fasting saint
And, baffled by despair, made this complaint:
"The devil is a highwayman, a thief,
Who's ruined me and robbed me of belief."
The saint replied: "Young man, the devil too
Has made his way here to complain - of you.
'My province is the world,' I hear him say;
'Tell this new pilgrim of God's holy Way
To keep his hands off what is mine - if I
Attack him it's because his fingers pry
In my affairs; if he will leave me be,
He's no concern of mine and can go free'."
Below is another very interesting excerpt in which Attar explains the metaphysics of his beliefs.
Do not despise yourself, for there is none
Who could with you sustain comparison;
Do not torment yourself - your soul is All,
Your body but a fleeting particle.
This All will clarify, and in its light
Each particle will shine distinctly bright -
As flesh remains an agent of the soul,
Your soul's an agent of the sacred Whole.
But "part" and "whole" must disappear at last;
The Way is one, and number is surpassed.
I'll let you know what I think of the whole book when I reach the end.