Painting: Solomon Receives a Message from the Hoopoe,
2nd half 17th c, calligraphy – Abd al-Rahim Anbarin Qalam
depicts an episode in the mystical romance between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, in which the hoopoe, the intermediary between the two.
delivers a message to Solomon, who is shown here seated on a richly adorned throne borne by demons and accompanied by angels.
( private collection)
In Search of the Divine:
A hoopoe called hudhud in Arabic and Urdu is called the king of birds in the Holy Quran.
It is a commonly used symbol for conveying kingship, filial piety and loyalty in mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cultures.
In twelfth-century Sufi mystic and poet, Fariduddin Attar’s allegorical Confluence of Birds which describes the journey of the soul from the realm of separation and selfishness to union and joy with God, it is the hoopoe which invites the birds to take this extraordinary journey.
The birds have to leave behind their timidity, their self-conceit, and their lack of trust.
The birds after a long and arduous journey they discover the truth ( God) within themselves, their hearts.
“I have described the way, now you must act.”
It is this arduous path that a Sufi treads to reach the Divine and is described in my book
In Search of the Divine: Living Histories of Sufism in India