Peace Ambassador of Old: Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj-E-Shakar, R.A.

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 11 Sep 2023

Prof Hoosen Vawda – TRANSCEND Media Service

“A Brilliant Star in the Galaxy Shines Gloriously and Draws even after Death.”[i]

A view of the Mausoleum and Shrine of Baba Farid of Pak Pattan, (Pure Ferry) Pakistan, taken from atop of a building of the great, hallowed complex. 
Note the devotees in congregational prayer after sunset
Photo Credit: Mr Azam Khan.

 9 Sep 2023 – This paper, discusses the 12th century, peace ambassador, who resided in the ancient city of Pakpattan[1] and demised therein, located in the present-day Pakistan, Baba Farid Ganj Shakar[2]  R.A.[3] , popularly known as Baba Farid. The name “Pakpattan” is unique in itself as it is derived from two Persian words: “Pak” (پاک): This word means “pure” or “sacred” in Persian. “Pattan” (پٹن): This term generally refers to a place or town in Persian.  Therefore, “Pakpattan” can be loosely translated to mean “Sacred Place” or “Pure Town,” reflecting its historical and cultural significance, particularly due to the presence of the shrine of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar, a revered Sufi saint.  He was Sufi saint and poet who lived in the Indian subcontinent. He is widely regarded as one of the most revered figures in Sufism and Islamic mysticism. Baba Farid’s spiritual teachings and poetry have had a significant impact on the cultural and religious fabric of the region.  In fact, he is known as the first Punjabi[4], Sufi poet, who is highly respected by all religious groups in the entire Indian subcontinent, before being partitioned into India, East Pakistan[5], presently Bangladesh[6] and West Pakistan[7] in 1947 by the departing British Raj[8] after independence of the oppressed nation, as a whole.  Pakpattan City holds key importance due to the presence of the shrine of famous Sufi Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shakar, popularly known as Baba Farid.

He was one of the most well-known personalities of the Chishti Order during the 12th century. After years of travelling, he returned to Pakpattan, where historians say that he converted the entire Sial Tribe[9] to Islam. It also became his final resting place.

 At this point, it is relevant to briefly present the highlights of Sufism[10], define some of the relevant terminology and mentions the great, peace loving Sufi mystics [11]and saints to place Baba Farid into context, with the philosophies of the distinct subdivision of Islam in South East Asia[12] as well as the global scenario in the 21st century.

Sufism, known as Tasawwuf[13] in Arabic, is a mystical and ascetic dimension of Islam that focuses on the inner, spiritual aspects of the faith. The term “Sufi” is believed to originate from the Arabic word “suf,” which means wool. Early Sufis often wore coarse woollen garments as a symbol of their simplicity, renunciation of materialism and detachment from worldly pleasures.  Sufism is characterised by its emphasis on the direct experience of God’s presence and the cultivation of a deep, personal relationship with the Divine.  The peace philosophy of Sufism, seeks to attain spiritual closeness to God and ultimate union with the Divine through a range of spiritual practices, intense meditation and strictest intrinsic discipline, not only in public, but also in ones’ personal as well as private lives.  The overarching ethos is one of divine love, for all of the creation of the Divine, a caring attitude and placing others, before ones’ personal self and their physical requirements.

Often, critics raise the question about the relationship between Sufism and Islam[14].  It is to be noted that Sufism is deeply rooted in Islam and is considered one of the essential dimensions of the religion. It is important to understand that Sufis do not view themselves as a separate sect or denomination within Islam, but rather as individuals who seek to embody the core spiritual and ethical teachings of the faith.

Sufis firmly adhere to the FIVE fundamental pillars or beliefs of Islam[15], which are the declaration of faith (Shahada, or oneness of God, the Supreme, with no partners), five times daily prayers (Salat), fasting during the month Ramadan (Sawm), in the lunar Islamic calendar[16], giving to charity (Zakat), and undertaking a trip and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)[17]. These practices form the foundation upon which Sufis build their spiritual journey of peace, love and unselfishness.

To illustrate the point about Sufism, further, I refer to an excellent publication by Dr. M. Azeem Farooqi, titled “An Index to Sufism”[18] the root word of Tasawuf and Sufi is ‘Safa’, which means to clarify and purify. The term “Tazkiya-e-Nafs”[19] (the purification of the desirous self and soul) and Tasfiya-e-Batan[20] (Internal purgation) are also used to explain Tasawuf. Certain researchers are of the view that the root word for Tasawuf is ‘Sauf’[21] which means wool. They think, in ancient times the Sufis used to wear simple clothes of wool to show their disinterest towards the luxuries of the world. Because of this reason the word Sufi came into fashion to address these pious people. Some other people think the root word for Sufi is ‘Suffah’. ‘Suffah’ means ground or a small elevation of ground.

In Hadith[22] ‘Suffah’ is the name of a mount near the Prophet’s masjid. A group of the companions of the Prophet (S.A.W) used to sit there to be taught by the Prophet (S.A.W) This group of the companions seems to follow the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) this diction.

“I feel proud in faqar”[23] (Al-Hadith)

They were not the seekers of the luxuries of the world and their sole purpose was just to learn and teach Quran-o-Sunnah. They used to spend their time with the Prophet Muhammad[24](PBUH) and did not have the responsibilities of matrimonial life. They were true to the spirit of this ayat (verse).

“And devote thyself to Him (God) whole-heartedly” (Al-Quran 73:8)

Among these blessed companions, the most considerable are Abu Zar Ghaffari[25], Sohaib Rumi[26], Salman Farsi[27], Abdullah Bin Masud[28] and Abu Huraira[29]. On the pattern of these companions. all those pious people who spent their lives only for the sake of God’s will were branded as Sufis.

In various books of Tasawuf, three kinds of Sufis are mentioned; Sufi, Mutsawuf,[30] Mastasawuf[31]: ‘Sufi’ is that who passes through his mortal being and becomes the part of truth and becomes immortal. Mustsawuf is the one who in his desire aims to become a true Sufi, passes through trials and troubles, and follows the tradition of the earlier Sufis only apparently and surfacely. Mastasawuf is the one who copies the Sufis to earn the wealth and luxuries of the mortal world. He apparently behaves like Sufis, quotes him frequently but inwardly seeks only for the mortal riches. This kind of Sufi is ridiculed by the Sufis in these words:  “Al-Mastasawuuf according to the Sufis is like a damned fly and for the masses he is like the wolf or like Hyna (Bijju)”

The common perception of the people about Tasawuf and Faqar (Sufism) is poverty and misery but the true meaning of Faqar (Sufism) is quite the opposite. Faqar is the name of generosity and indifference. The true faqar means to get rid of the desirous self. Faqar is the name of man’s sublimity in which his heart becomes free from all kinds of lusts and primal greed of the Reptian Brain of ancestral human life forms. His heart and mind live only with the remembrance of God Almighty. Such a Homo sapiens, sapiens conquers the both realms of his heart and mind, and rules them without sharing them with anyone else.  Allama lqbal used to ask for Allah Almighty’s protection from the faqar which means poverty. The difference between faqar and kingdom is really meagre. Kingdom is all about the art of sword and faqar is all about the art of fore-sightedness. The splendour and grandeur of the worldly kingdom depends upon the material sources but the kingdom of faqar is based on the indifference.

Ali Hajvairi [32]in Kashf-ul-Mahjoob [33]quotes a Suf is not the one who is empty of the equipment but whose heart is empty of the desire of this equipment.

“A faqeer (sage) must take care of his faqar as a rich man takes care of his wealth”
“The Darvaish (Faqir) had nothing to do with anyone, but God”.
Photo Credit: Dr Muhammad Azeem Farooqi 12-03-2021

 ‘The Darvaish[34] (Faqir) had nothing to do with anyone but God’.

The basic source of faqar is the Islamic education; ‘Quran-e-Hakeem[35] and the life of the Prophet. It is quite obvious that Islam negates the Christian monastic life. The life of the Prophet Muhammad is a beautiful mixture of worldly and spiritual life and the best role model for us. We get a lesson from the life of the Prophet (PBUH) that we must fulfil the duties of life and also maintain the spiritual affairs as well. In this way, for a Sufi, faqar does not mean the absence of material sources but the absence of desire for these sources.

‘A faqeer (sage) must take care of his faqar as a rich man takes care of his wealth’.

The history of Islam shows that as long as the Muslim rulers remained away from the palaces and the royal life and spent the tough and hard life like a Sufi, they remained successful, and conquered the world. In summary, the faqar is true when it is according to the will of God Almighty and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It must be according to the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. There is nothing new practice in religion on part of Sufis, neither against the book of God, nor the example of the last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad.

The person who is not well literate with Quran-o-Sunnah, he has no footing in Sufism and no one is bound to follow him because our knowledge and practices are enriched by Kitab-o-Sunnah.[36]

Shaykh-ul-Alam,  (The Leader of Humankind), Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din (Ganj Shakr) is the first regular poet of Punjabi language, and the third great sufi after Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti[37] and Hazrat Khawaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki[38] in the Chishtia series[39] in the subcontinent. Baba Farid was born in 1188 (A.D) in the town of Khotowal in the district of Multan[40], now located in present-day Pakistan. The exact date of birth of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar is a matter of historical debate, and there is some variation in the historical accounts. While some sources suggest that he was born in 1173 AD, others propose a birthdate of 1188 AD. Given the historical uncertainties of that era and variations in historical records, it is challenging to definitively determine the precise date of birth. As a result, both 1173 AD and 1188 AD have been mentioned in different historical sources. Baba Farid’s life and teachings, however, remain an integral part of Sufi tradition and continue to inspire people regardless of the specific date of birth.  Shaykh-ul-Alam Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din (Ganj Shukr) ‘s ancestors came to India from Bukhara[41] and Ghazni[42]. His parents were of Arab genealogy. Qazi Shoaib[43] was the chief of this family. Qazi Shoaib’s son was Qazi Sulaiman. Qazi Masood was the son of Qazi Sulaiman. This same Qazi Masood finally became known as Hazrat Shaykh-ul-Alam and Baba Farid-ud-Din (Ganj Shukr). His genealogy is similar to that of Hazrat Umar Farooq, the second Caliph of Islam. His father, Qazi Sulaiman [44]had passed away at an early age and his mother taught him with great enthusiasm. His nick name Ganj-e-Shukar, became famous because of his special attachment to sugar. It is reported that his mother always asked him to sprinkle some sugar underneath his musalla or Islamic prayer mat, whenever, he performed the salat, as one of the fundamental pillars of Islam.  His life was a practical example of a Spiritual Journey. At a young age, Baba Farid displayed a keen interest in spirituality and began his quest for knowledge and divine truth. He travelled extensively, seeking the company of Sufi saints and scholars, and studied under various spiritual masters. He received his early education in Khatwal and Multan.

He completed his education in Arabic, Persian, Qur’an and Hadith from Maulana Minhaj-ud-Din Tirmidhi[45] in a mosque in Multan. At the age of eighteen, he expressed an interest in the Chishti Order. Baba Farid became a disciple of the famous Sufi saint Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, who was a prominent Sufi master of the Chishti order. The Chishti order emphasized love, devotion, and renunciation of worldly attachments as the means to attain spiritual union with the Divine.

Hazrat Khawaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar[46] swore allegiance to Chishtia Sufi-Thought. He travelled to Kandahar, Baghdad, Iran, and Bukhara, and received spiritual blessings from great spiritual leaders. Then he returned to Multan and attended the service of Hazrat Bakhyar Kaki. On completion of his duties, he was given the Dastar-e-Khilafa[47]. He stayed in Hansi[48] for some time as per the instructions of Murshid[49]. After the death of Sheikh, he reached Delhi. According to the will of the Murshid, he got all the blessings like his cloak, scarf and shoes. He encamped at Ajudhan (now Pakpattan) which was then a forest area. The illiterate and arrogant tribes there, persecuted him a lot but he did not lose heart. Eventually his love showed miracle and all the tribes turned to Islam, observing the Hazrat[50] practising what he actually practised in his daily life:  a simple mode of living, typified by renunciation.

As a protagonist of Sufism, the great Baba developed a love for Divine Poetry. Baba Farid expressed his spiritual experiences and teachings through his eloquent and profound poetry. His poems, known as “qawwalis,”[51] are written in Punjabi and are famous for their simplicity, love, and devotion to God. His verses continue to be sung and recited by devotees even today.  A few examples of poetry of the mystic Sufi Saint are:

فریدا بے نمازا کتیا ایہ نہ بھلی ریت

کدے چل نہ آیوں توں پنجے وقت مسیت

Translation: O man! You should give up your bad habit. It is obligatory on you to offer prayers in the mosque five times.

اٹھ فریدا وضو سار صبح نماز گزار

جو سر سائیں نہ نویں سو سر کپ اتار

Translation: O man, you should perform ablution early in the morning for the Fajr prayers [52]and come to the presence of your Lord, because whoever does not bow down before the Master, that is rebels and he is cut off and thrown away.

فریدا روٹی میری کاٹھ دی لاوے میری بھکھ

جہناں کھادی چوپڑی گھنے سہن گے دکھ

Translation: O man, your bread should be made of wood so that you can satisfy your hunger, because those who mixes honest and dishonest earning and eat delicious food, in the end, they have to suffer a lot. That is, both their worlds are ruined.

رکھی سکھی کھا کے ٹھنڈا پانی پی

فریدا ! دیکھ پرائی چوپڑی نہ ترسائیں جی

Translation: O man! So be satisfied with simple food with honest sustenance because those who look at prohibited sustenance due to greed and lust are always at a loss.

فریدا کالے مینڈے کپڑے کالا مینڈا دیس

گناہیں بھریا میں پھراں لوک کہن درویش

Translation: O man! Your clothes are also black and your ways are also black. You are immersed in sins from head to toe and naive people consider you as their guardian.

فریدا جے توں عقل لطیف ہیں کالے لکھ نہ لیکھ

آنپڑے گریوان میں سر نیواں کرکے ویکھ

Translation: O man! If you are wise, then refrain from evil deeds and improve your character by thinking in your mind and looking at your own collar instead of criticising others.

As a legacy, Baba Farid’s spiritual and poetic legacy transcends religious boundaries, as people of various faiths, including Sikhs, Hindus and other backgrounds have been inspired by his teachings. He promoted love, compassion, and the unity of all humanity, regardless of caste, creed, or religion.

In Ajudhan, Baba Sahib was always engaged in the remembrance of God, as well as engaging in scientific and spiritual discussions, which were held in his Majlis, (religious gatherings). The door was open till midnight and people were moving around. His knowledge was so high that a Maulana Khawaja Syed Badruddin Ishq [53]had become his disciple despite his refusal. There were scholarly jokes in his speech. Once Bahauddin Zakaria Multani wrote a letter in which he also wrote that I am in love with you. Baba Sahib replied, “I love you, but I don’t care. That’s why I don’t want you to be in love and love in your letters.”

Sultan Shams-ud-Din Al-Tamish[54] was his believer. Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmood reached Pakpattan and attended his sacred company. He sent cash offerings to his general Alkh Khan and a decree of the land of four villages. The Sheikh immediately distributed the cash among the poor but refused to accept the jagir. Alkh Khan was impressed by him and swore allegiance to him. Seeing Alkh Khan’s sincerity, Hazrat Baba Farid gave him the good news of becoming king. Alkh Khan later ascended to the throne of Delhi under the name of Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Balban. Hazrat Baba Farid passed away in 1265 AD. Among his disciples, the names of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Allauddin Sabir, Hazrat Badruddin Ishaq and Jamaluddin Hansvi are very prominent.

His real children were five sons and three daughters. Their names are, “Khawaja Naseeruddin[55], Khawaja Shahabuddin, Sheikh Badruddin Sulaiman, Sheikh Nizamuddin, Sheikh Yaqub, Bibi Munawwara, Bibi Sharifan and Bibi Fatima”. All of them became prominent, pious, worshipers and servants of the people, sympathizers of the people and companions of sorrow. They used to farm to run his daily life. Although in Hazrat’s life there was always a problem of spending money on children. But after his death, all his children were happy. Even in India, wherever there are people of Hazrat’s lineage, everyone is prosperous. In Punjab, the descendants of Hazrat are called Chishti.

Hazrat Baba Sahib issued three lines of Chishtia family. One is Nizamiya[56], the other is Sabria[57], the third is Jamalia[58]. But the aesthetic chain merged into the Nizamis. Because the successor of Hazrat Makhdoom Sahib’s first caliph Hazrat Makhdoom Jamal-ud-Din Hansvi, his grandson Hazrat Maulana Qutbuddin Munawar got the caliphate from Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Auliya. The Sabria family is descended from Hazrat Makhdoom Allauddin Ali Ahmed Sabar who was the nephew of Hazrat Baba Sahib and whose shrine is in Clair Sharif, Saharanpur, India.

The Heavenly Gate to the Shrine

It is well known that when Hazrat Baba Sahib passed away, Hazrat Sultan Al-Mashaikh Khawaja Nizamuddin Auliya was in Delhi. Hazrat Baba Sahib made a will, “His dress, stick, shoes and blessings will be bequeath to Maulana Nizamuddin from Delhi and he will also build my grave?” So Hazrat Baba was buried in one place as a trust and when Hazrat Sultan Al-Mashaikh came to Ajudhan ie Pakpattan Sharif, he buried Hazrat again in the place where the shrine is today. And he made a small dome over it, with two doors, one on the east side and one on the south side. Suddenly a state of excitement, ecstasy and selflessness overwhelmed Hazrat and Nazamuddin Auliya applauded and said, “That the Holy Prophet Muhammad has come and says that whoever enters through this door will find peace.”

Baba Fariduddin (Ganj Shukr) as the first Punjabi poet

Hazrat Baba Farid was a great scholar of Arabic and Persian. At the time, these languages ​​had official patronage. But Babaji proved his strong relationship with the local people by using Punjabi as a medium of expression. The language of your poetry is soft, gentle and sweet. The language created in simplicity and sincerity, sinks into the hearts of the readers and listeners. Baba Farid’s poetry has been compiled in a book called “Diwan-e-Farid,” [59]which contains a collection of his qawwalis and other works.  Even presently, in the 21st century Baba Farid’s teachings continue to be an integral part of the Sufi tradition in South Asia, and his message of love, tolerance, and spiritual enlightenment remains relevant and influential to this day. His life and work have left a profound impact on the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Indian subcontinent. Hazrat Baba Farid did not resort to direct admonition to explain the words of intellect and wisdom to the people but reformed the people by blaming himself. In the time of Baba Farid, the ruling class of the time, which had been blinded by the greed for power, was not directly criticised and reprimanded. Reading makes the heart tremble with fear of God. Babaji’s style became allegorical. He conveyed his message to everyone through small allegories. Teasing the delicate strings of people’s hearts by tampering with the journey full of sorrows and troubles of life. Through his poetry, he connects people with a healthy and successful life with loving emotions, which is the hallmark of the Chishtia series.

A few examples of allegorical poetry, in Urdu, based on the principles and teachings of Islam, did a great service to Peace Propagation in the region.

فریدا بے نمازا کتیا ایہ نہ بھلی ریت

کدے چل نہ آیوں توں پنجے وقت مسیت

Translation: O man! You should give up your bad habit. It is obligatory on you to offer prayers in the mosque five times.

اٹھ فریدا وضو سار صبح نماز گزار

جو سر سائیں نہ نویں سو سر کپ اتار

Translation: O man, you should perform ablution early in the morning for the Fajr prayers and come to the presence of your Lord, because whoever does not bow down before the Master, that is rebels and he is cut off and thrown away.

فریدا روٹی میری کاٹھ دی لاوے میری بھکھ

جہناں کھادی چوپڑی گھنے سہن گے دکھ

Translation: O man, your bread should be made of wood so that you can satisfy your hunger, because those who mixes honest and dishonest earning and eat delicious food, in the end, they have to suffer a lot. That is, both their worlds are ruined.

رکھی سکھی کھا کے ٹھنڈا پانی پی

فریدا ! دیکھ پرائی چوپڑی نہ ترسائیں جی

Translation: O man! So be satisfied with simple food with honest sustenance because those who look at prohibited sustenance due to greed and lust are always at a loss.

فریدا کالے مینڈے کپڑے کالا مینڈا دیس

گناہیں بھریا میں پھراں لوک کہن درویش

Translation: O man! Your clothes are also black and your ways are also black. You are immersed in sins from head to toe and naive people consider you as their guardian.

فریدا جے توں عقل لطیف ہیں کالے لکھ نہ لیکھ

آنپڑے گریوان میں سر نیواں کرکے ویکھ

Translation: O man! If you are wise, then refrain from evil deeds and improve your character by thinking in your mind and looking at your own collar instead of criticising others.

In addition, his poetry was also written in the Gurmukhi script, which is primarily used for writing Punjabi. The text itself is in Punjabi, and it can be transliterated as:

“Sūraja nikali’o utari’o sagala bhavana su’āmī.”

This line can be understood as a poetic or devotional expression, often found in Sikh scriptures and poetry, referring to the rising of the sun and the presence of the Divine.

“ਮੈ ਨੀ ਮੈ ਨੂੰ ਭੁਲ ਗਿਆ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਈ ਦੁਆਰਾ ॥

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤਉ ਪਾਇਆ ਸਚਹੁ ਸਹੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਧੁਰਾ ॥੧॥”

Translation: “I forgot myself in duality and the love of others. I found the True Lord through the True Guru, permeating and pervading deep within me. ||1||”

“ਜੋ ਤੁਧੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸਾਈ ਭਲਕੋ ਕੀ ਕਰੈ ॥

ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਹਵਾ ਮੁਖਿ ਤੁਮਾਰੀ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵੈ ॥੧॥”

Translation: “Whatever pleases You, O Lord, that is the best thing for me to do. Nanak sings Your Glorious Praises with his tongue and mouth. ||1||”

“ਸੂਰਜੁ ਨਿਕਲਿਓ ਉਤਰਿਓ ਸਗਲ ਭਵਨ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥

ਕਹੈ ਫਰੀਦੁ ਕੰਨੁ ਪਾਤਿਓ ਹੋਇ ਤੁਹਾਰੀ ਰਾਮੀ ॥੪੧॥”

Translation: “The sun rises and sets, and all the world is Yours, O Lord. Says Farid, I touch my ear in remembrance; thus I am Your humble servant. ||41||”

“ਸਾਰੇ ਜਹਾਂ ਦਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਦੁਆਰਾ ॥

ਕਹੈ ਫਰੀਦੁ ਦੀਵਾ ਜਲਾਈ ਹੋਇ ਤੁਮਾਰੀ ਦੁਆਰਾ ॥੫੨॥”

Translation: “The Lord of all the worlds is my Lord, Lord, through and through. Says Farid, I have lit the lamp of devotion, through Your Door. ||52||”

These verses reflect Baba Farid’s devotion to the Divine, his longing for spiritual union, and his recognition of the divine presence in all aspects of life. His poetry continues to inspire and resonate with people seeking a deeper connection with spirituality and love for the Divine.

Top Photo:  Shrine of Sheikh Fareed Shakarganj photographed in 1928. Baba Farid’s tomb serves as the epicentre of the activity at the shrine complex. The shrine complex also includes shrines dedicated to the early diwans (custodians) of the shrine.
Note the original portal to the shrine Bahishti Darwaza, providing direct access to the sanctum sanctorum, from the street.
 Bottom Photo:  A view of Bahishti Darwaza at Baba Farid’s shrine. The Bab-e-Jannatis the portal into the shrine’s innermost sanctum, represents a symbolic gateway to paradise. The Devotees believe, that by passing through Bahishti Darwaza, will expiate all their worldly sins.

 Baba Farid Ganj Shakar is revered not only by Muslims but also by people of various religious and cultural backgrounds, including non-Muslims. His teachings and poetry emphasize universal values such as love, compassion, and spiritual unity, which resonate with people from all walks of life.

In the Sufi tradition, Baba Farid is highly esteemed as a great saint and spiritual guide. His followers, who include Muslims from different sects, view him as a source of inspiration for their spiritual journey and seek his blessings at his shrine in Pakpattan, Pakistan.

Beyond the Muslim community, Baba Farid’s teachings have attracted a broad range of admirers, including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and people of other faiths. His emphasis on love for God and humanity transcends religious boundaries, making him a symbol of interfaith harmony and tolerance.

Baba Farid’s poetry, written in Punjabi, touches the hearts of many, regardless of their religious beliefs. His verses are sung and recited by Sufi musicians (qawwals) during Sufi gatherings, and his message of love and devotion to the Divine has a universal appeal.

Moreover, Baba Farid’s shrine itself has become a place of pilgrimage not just for Muslims but also for people from various religious and cultural backgrounds who seek blessings and spiritual solace.

His inclusive and all-encompassing teachings have contributed to his widespread admiration and reverence among people from different communities and remain an essential part of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Indian subcontinent.

Baba Farid Ganj Shakar’s drawing power, or the reason for his widespread popularity and influence, can be attributed to several factors:

Spiritual Wisdom: Baba Farid was renowned for his profound spiritual insights and wisdom. His teachings emphasized the importance of love and devotion to God, renunciation of worldly desires, and the pursuit of inner purification. His spiritual guidance appealed to seekers who were looking for a deeper meaning in life and a path towards spiritual enlightenment.

Universal Message: Baba Farid’s message of love, compassion, and unity transcended religious and cultural boundaries. His teachings were not confined to any particular religious sect but embraced people from all walks of life. His universal outlook and acceptance of all human beings regardless of their faith or background resonated with a wide audience.

Sufi Poetry: Baba Farid expressed his spiritual experiences and teachings through his soul-stirring poetry written in the Punjabi language. His qawwalis (poems) were simple, beautiful, and relatable to the common people. The poetic medium allowed his teachings to be easily understood and cherished by a diverse range of individuals.

Personal Character: Baba Farid’s own life exemplified the values he preached. He was known for his humility, kindness, and selflessness. His exemplary character and righteous conduct inspired admiration and trust among his followers.

ufi Tradition: As a prominent figure in the Chishti Sufi order, Baba Farid belonged to a well-established and respected spiritual tradition. The Chishti order emphasized love and service to humanity, and its influence extended far and wide across the Indian subcontinent.

Miracles and Legends: Like many revered saints, Baba Farid is also associated with numerous miracles and legends. These stories, passed down through generations, added to his mystique and contributed to his drawing power among the people.

Shrine and Pilgrimage: After his passing, Baba Farid’s tomb in Pakpattan, Pakistan, became a place of pilgrimage for his followers and admirers. The shrine’s significance as a centre of devotion and blessings further strengthened his drawing power as people sought his intercession for their spiritual and worldly needs.

Impact on Society: Baba Farid’s teachings and spiritual influence had a positive impact on society. His emphasis on love and harmony fostered a sense of brotherhood among people and promoted communal amity.

Overall, Baba Farid Ganj Shakar’s drawing power can be attributed to his timeless teachings of love and spirituality, his universal message, and the way he embodied the principles he taught. His legacy continues to inspire and draw people from various backgrounds, making him a revered and beloved figure in the cultural and religious landscape of the Indian subcontinent.

Baba Farid Ganj Shakar was not an activist in the traditional sense as we understand it today. He was primarily a Sufi saint and a spiritual teacher, focusing on guiding people on their spiritual journey and promoting love, compassion, and devotion to God. His primary emphasis was on inner transformation and achieving closeness to the Divine.  During his lifetime, the Indian subcontinent was under the rule of various dynasties and rulers. Baba Farid lived during the early 12th century and into the mid-13th century. He was born in 1173 CE in Multan, which was part of the Delhi Sultanate during that period. The Delhi Sultanate[60] was an Islamic kingdom that ruled over large parts of the Indian subcontinent from the 13th to the 16th century.  As Baba Farid travelled extensively during his spiritual quest, he interacted with people from different regions and backgrounds, including rulers, nobles, and common folk. His teachings and spiritual influence reached people across various social strata, regardless of the political regime they lived under. Baba Farid’s focus on spirituality and love for humanity meant that he was not involved in political matters or activism in the conventional sense. His legacy lies primarily in his spiritual teachings, poetry, and the profound impact he had on the lives of countless individuals, rather than in any political or activities.

The Bottom Line is that, to this day, the importance of the impact Baba Farid’s lifestyle, his legacy, his simplicity and indeed his divine poetry, is appreciated and practised, not only in India as well as Pakistan, but on the entire humankind, globally.  This is demonstrated by the fact that his Urs, or anniversary of the Great Baba’s demise, is widely celebrated in all parts of the world on the 05th day of the first Islamic month of Muharram, with prayers, meditation, feeding, qawwalis and lectures based on the pious Sufi Peace propagator originally, during the tumultuous era, as experienced by the Indian peninsula at the time.  Baba Farid Ganj Shakar passed away in 1266 CE. His death occurred at the age of 93. The exact date of his demise is recorded as the 05th of Muharram, 672 AH in the Islamic calendar, which corresponds to the year 1266 CE in the Gregorian calendar. After his passing, his shrine in Pakpattan, Pakistan, became a significant place of pilgrimage for followers and devotees, and it continues to be revered as a sacred site to this day. This event, is a grand annual, global festival known as the “Urs.” Devotees from all walks of life gather at his shrine in Pakpattan, Pakistan, to pay their respects and seek blessings. This year, 2023, the author was invited to join the somber celebrations of the Baba’s demise, on 04th August equivalent to the 05th Muharram 1444, in the Islamic calendar by the “Badsha Peer Mazaar Committee” in Durban South Africa, chaired by the pious Shaykh Iqbal Sarang, whose late father inaugurated the committee to honour another Sufi mystic saint in Durban, South Africa, Hazrath Badsha Peer a great Sufi saint, who arrived in South Africa in 1860 from India.  He was brought down, as an indentured labourer to work on the sugar cane farms by the British Government.  This was another human trafficking, exploitative system, euphemistically named, by the imperial, colonialistic British, after the abolition of slavery.  In reality, these indentured labourer’s were actually working as slaves, under harsh, atrocious conditions of work and living.  The mausoleum of Shaykh-ul-Alam Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din (Ganj Shakar) is still a reference creation in Pakpattan Sharif district. Every year, Urs is celebrated in the first week of Muharram. The “hearings” are held in opposition, by the different parties of narrators and performers of the qawwalis.

Guler painting showing an imaginary meeting of Sufi saints (Baba Farid, Khawaja Qutub-ud-din, Hazrat Muin-ud-Din, Hazrat Dastgir, Abn Ali Kalandar, and Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia)

Baba Farid Ganj Shakar was not only a revered Sufi saint but also a prolific poet. His poetry, written in the Punjabi language, is known for its profound spiritual insights, simplicity, and emphasis on the path of love and devotion to God. His verses, also known as “qawwalis” or “kafis,” have had a significant impact on the people of the Indian subcontinent and continue to be admired and recited by devotees, to this day.

The key aspects of Baba Farid’s poetry and the impact it had on the people, was on multiple levels:

Spiritual Themes: Baba Farid’s poetry[61] primarily revolves around spiritual themes, including the quest for divine truth, the nature of love, the importance of devotion to God, and the longing for union with the Divine. His verses are laden with spiritual metaphors and symbols, making them relatable to seekers from various backgrounds.

Simplicity and Accessibility: One of the remarkable features of Baba Farid’s poetry is its simplicity and accessibility. His verses were composed in the language of the common people, making them easily understandable to all, regardless of their educational or linguistic backgrounds.

Universal Appeal: Baba Farid’s poetry transcends religious and cultural boundaries, resonating with people of various faiths and beliefs. His emphasis on love, compassion, and the unity of all humanity strikes a chord with a wide audience, fostering a sense of brotherhood and tolerance.

Influence on Sufi Traditions: Baba Farid’s poetry played a crucial role in shaping the Sufi tradition in the Indian subcontinent. His teachings and spiritual insights influenced subsequent generations of Sufi saints and poets, and his message of divine love became an integral part of Sufi literature.

Oral Tradition and Musical Expression: Baba Farid’s poetry is often sung and recited in the traditional qawwali style, which involves musical renditions of spiritual poetry. This oral tradition of singing his verses during Sufi gatherings (Sama) has helped in the widespread dissemination of his teachings and has contributed to their enduring popularity.

Social and Cultural Impact: Baba Farid’s teachings have left a lasting impact on the social and cultural fabric of the Indian subcontinent. His emphasis on love, humility, and service to humanity has influenced the way people interact and has fostered a sense of harmony and understanding among diverse communities.

Commemoration and Pilgrimage: Baba Farid’s death anniversary, known as “Urs,” is commemorated with great enthusiasm and devotion at his shrine in Pakpattan, Pakistan. Devotees from different regions gather to pay their respects and seek blessings, further attesting to the lasting impact of his spiritual legacy.

Baba Farid Ganj Shakar’s poetry, with its spiritual depth, universal appeal, and musical expression, has had a profound impact on the spiritual and cultural life of the people of the Indian subcontinent. His teachings of love, devotion, and unity continue to inspire and guide seekers on their spiritual journey.

Presently, noting the geopolitical tensions between India and Pakistan, presently, the future impact of Baba’s philosophy, like the teachings of other Sufi saints, transcends borders and remains relevant and impactful in both India and Pakistan, as well as in the broader world. His messages of love, unity, compassion, and devotion to God continue to resonate with people across different cultures and religious backgrounds.

Despite the historical and political tensions between India and Pakistan, Baba Farid’s philosophy has the potential to play a unifying role in promoting understanding, peace, and harmony between the two countries and beyond. The manner in which his teachings can have a future impact are:

Cultural Heritage: Baba Farid’s philosophy is an integral part of the cultural heritage of both India and Pakistan. Recognizing and celebrating this shared heritage can foster a sense of common identity and appreciation for the spiritual and literary contributions of Sufi saints in the region.

Interfaith Dialogue: Baba Farid’s teachings emphasize the universality of love and the unity of humanity. His philosophy can serve as a common ground for interfaith dialogue, encouraging people of different religions to come together and find shared values and aspirations.

Peace and Reconciliation: The principles of love and compassion in Baba Farid’s teachings can inspire individuals and communities to work towards peace and reconciliation, promoting understanding and empathy rather than division and hostility.

Social Harmony: Baba Farid’s message of love and service to humanity can inspire social initiatives that bridge divides and address societal challenges. His philosophy encourages a spirit of selflessness and inclusivity.

Spiritual Tourism: The shrine of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar is a significant place of pilgrimage for people from both India and Pakistan. The promotion of spiritual tourism to such sites can encourage cultural exchange and mutual understanding among visitors.

Literary Legacy: Baba Farid’s poetry and teachings have been a source of inspiration for generations of poets and writers. His legacy can continue to enrich literature and artistic expressions, fostering creativity and appreciation for shared cultural heritage.

Online Connectivity: In the digital age, Baba Farid’s philosophy can be shared and accessed more easily through online platforms and social media, reaching a broader audience and promoting dialogue and understanding.

Overall, Baba Farid Ganj Shakar’s philosophy holds the potential to transcend political tensions and serve as a unifying force, promoting a shared sense of heritage, spirituality, and humanity. Embracing his teachings can contribute to a more inclusive and harmonious future in the region and bey

خدا رحمت کنند ایں بندگانِ پاک طینت را

May the Almighty God bestow His blessings on the graves of these pure-natured, genuine people, who are indeed rare entities, in this era of materialism and pursuit of power, greed and self-glorification, destroying everything in its path. Baba Fared was one of these rare peace propagators who cared for all else except himself, in life and he lived to a ripe old age of 93.[62]

A Panoramic view of the Shrine of the Peace Ambassador of the 12th century: Shaykh-ul-Alam, Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din, affectionately known as Ganj-e-Shakr
Photo Credit: Dr Muhammad Azeem Farooqi 04-06-2021

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______________________________________________

Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.

Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All
Email: vawda@ukzn.ac.za


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Sep 2023.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Peace Ambassador of Old: Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj-E-Shakar, R.A., is included. Thank you.

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