Week 10: Reform, Revival, and Muslim Women Defining Identity

During section in week 10 of class, we had discussed Attar’s Conference of the Birds. Inspired by the symbolism of the birds in the Conference of the Birds, I decided to draw two of the birds on paper with colored pencils. Heron

Firstly, I drew the Heron. The Heron lives his life in rage and sorrow because he thinks that things are beyond his control. The Hoopoe, the wise bird, tells the Heron that he cannot have control over everything and must follow the path towards spiritual realization (Attar 46-48). The Heron thus symbolizes a human being whose fault is a desire for control.

Owl

Secondly, I drew a picture of the owl who is always on a quest for more gold. The Hoopoe calls this search for gold as blasphemous and advises the owl to pursue spiritual realization rather than material wealth (Attar 48). The owl thus symbolizes a human being whose fault is a desire for material wealth.

Sweetu

Further, I decided to take a photograph of my own bird, Sweetu, who is a cockatoo from the parrot family. In the poem the parrot desires immortality, which impedes his ability to go on the path towards God. As we discussed in class, the bird needs to undergo fana, or annihilation, and “Die before you die” or get rid of his egotistical desire in his pursuit of God. (Attar 38). The parrot thus symbolizes a human being whose fault is a desire for immortality. Therefore, I drew two images and took one photograph of the birds in the poem in order to represent the human faults of a desire for control, material wealth, and immortality, all of which impede human’s ability to achieve spiritual realization.

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