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The Conference of the Birds is a book of poems in Persian by Farid ud-Din Attar of approximately 4500 lines.
The poem's plot is as follows: the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king, as they have none.
The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird roughly equivalent to the western phoenix.
The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment.
One by one, they drop out of the journey, each offering an excuse and unable to endure the journey
The birds must cross seven valleys in order to find the Simorgh: Talab (Yearning), Eshq (Love), Marifat (Gnosis), Istighnah (Detachment), Tawheed (Unity of God), Hayrat (Bewilderment) and, finally, Fuqur and Fana (Selflessness and Oblivion in God).
These represent the stations that a Sufi or any individual must pass through to realize the true nature of God.