Biographies of the Saints


This 16th century manuscript in Ottoman Turkish is a translation from the original Persian. The author is the famous mystic Farid al-Din al-‘Attar, best known for his Mantiq al-tayr (Conference of the birds), a mystical allegory written in verse. Shown here is Attar’s only known prose work. Widely admired for its hagiological content and literary style, it contains the biographies of 70 saints in the Islamic mystical tradition. Although the work is technically a collection of biographies, it interweaves fact and legend and adds excursions into the realm of spiritual imagination in ways that make it less than trustworthy as a historical reference. ‘Attar is identified as neither a Sunni nor a Shia, but he heads his list of holy men with Imam Jaʻfar al-Sadiq, the sixth Twelver Shia imam. ‘Attar also covers the Sunni jurists al-Shafiʻi and Abu Hanifa. ‘Attar’s list contains one woman, the ascetic Rabiʻah al-ʻAdawiyah. The volume is bound in red morocco with gilt medallions and corner pieces and includes a traditional fore-edge flap. The text is in a careful naskh script and is fully vowelled.  There are guide words, but no pagination. The translator is not identified. The manuscript was copied in 1528 by the scribe Muhammad Hirwi (or Hirawi).  The place is not given.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

تذكرة الاوليا

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Physical Description

345 folios



  1. Claudia Yaghoobi, Submission Versus Transgression in Farid al-Din 'Attar Nishapuri's Embrace of Diversity in Tadhkirat al-Awliya, Ilahi-nama, Musibat-nama, and Mantiq al-Tayr (Ph.D. thesis). (Santa Barbara, California: University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013).
  2. B. Reinert, “ʿAṭṭār, Farīd-al-Dīn” in Encyclopaedia Iranica, 3, no. 1 (2011).

Last updated: October 29, 2015