The Ocean of the Soul: Man, the World, and God in the Stories of Farid Al-Din 'Attar

By Hellmut Ritter; John O'Kane | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
THE WORLD

Due to death and transitoriness a heavy shadow falls upon this earthly world which is frequently itself held responsible for its transitory character or the incessant dying which prevails in it. The literature which takes up the theme of "censuring the world" (dhamm al-dunyā) is voluminous, beginning with the ḥadīth- corpus and including the domain of popular sermons and literature of edification.

From the rich abundance see: Fayḍ al-qadīr no. 4269–85; the khuṭba of the Khārijite
Qaṭarī b. al-Fujāʾa in Sharīshī 1/69–70; "Ḥasan al-Baṣrī" in: Der Islam 21/21 ff.; Qūt 1/242-
45; Nahrung 2/205–216/32.308–319; Iḥyāʾ 3/183; Mufīd al-₿ulūm 167–79, Kitāb Ḥaqíqat al-
dunyā wa-āfātihā; Muḥādarāt al-udabā₾, ḥadd
19; Sharḥ al-Ḥikam 2/66–68.

In ₿Aṭṭār the world is also reviled, and there are warnings against it. Sometimes melancholic reflections are presented about its fickle, unloyal nature, its way of murdering people, and other times it is pointed out that the world is merely a temporary place of sojourn, and that it would be folly to settle into it for the long term. Or the focus is on its worthlessness, utter nothingness and loathsomeness. Likewise, reference is made to the religious dangers which it conceals for the pious man.


1

The world is not worth much more than an atom.

₿Āmir ibn ₿Abd al-Qays is eating leeks with salt but no bread. Someone asks
how he can be content with such modest food. He answers: "There are people
who are content with a lot less." The other person asks what sort of people those
are. He answers: "They're the people who prefer this world to the world to come.
For the world is only one atom alongside religion, but leeks contain a hundred
thousand atoms." (MN 24/4).

Iḥyāʾ 4/173, Bayān fadīlat khuṣūṣ al-fuqarā₾; Stufen 420/D.42. Somewhat amplified in
₿Attār.

The world is nothing (lā shayʾ). (MṬ after 22/2, p. 79).

-46-

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