Fariduddin Ganjshakar

Fariduddin Ganjshakar
Fariduddin Mas'ud Ganjshakar
گنجِ شکر Ganj-e-Shakar شیخ العالم Shaikh-ul-Alam
Born 1173/1188
Kothewal village in Multan
Died 1266/1280
Honored in Islam, specifically the Chishti Sufi order
Influences Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
Influenced Countless Pakistani and South Asian Sufis, including Nizamuddin Auliya, Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari and Khawaja Ghulam Farid

Farīduddīn Mas'ūd Ganjshakar (Punjabi: ਹਜ਼ਰਤ ਬਾਬਾ ਫ਼ਰੀਦੁਦ੍ਦੀਨ ਮਸੂਦ ਗੰਜਸ਼ਕਰ (Gurmukhi), حضرت بابا فرید الدّین مسعود گنج شکر (Shahmukhi)) (1173–1266)[1][2] or (1188 (584 Hijri) - May 7, 1280 (679 Hijri)),[3][4] commonly known as Baba Farid (Punjabi: بابا فرید (Shahmukhi), ਬਾਬਾ ਫ਼ਰੀਦ (Gurmukhi)), was a 12th-century Sufi preacher and saint of the Chishti Order of South Asia.[1]

Fariduddin Ganjshakar is generally recognized as the first major poet of the Punjabi language,[3] and is considered one of the pivotal saints of the Punjab region. Revered by Muslims and Hindus, he is considered one of the fifteen Sikh bhagats, and selections from his work are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh sacred scripture.[5]



Bābā Farīd was born in 1173 or 1188 AD (584 Hijri) at Kothewal village, 10 km from Multan in the Punjab region of the Chauhan dynasty in what is now Pakistan, to Jamāl-ud-dīn Suleimān and Maryam Bībī (Qarsum Bībī), daughter of Sheikh Wajīh-ud-dīn Khojendī.[6] He was a descendant of the Farrūkhzād, known as Jamāl-ud-Dawlah, a Persian (Tajik) king of eastern Khorasan.[7]

He was the grandson of Sheikh Shu'aib, who was the grandson of Farrukh Shah Kabuli, the king of Kabul and Ghazna. When Farrukh Shāh Kābulī was killed by the Mongol hordes invading Kabul, Farīd’s grandfather, Shaykh Shu'aib, left Afghanistan and settled in the Punjab in 1125.[8]

Farīd’s genealogy is a source of dispute, as some trace his ancestors back to al-Husayn while others trace his lineage back to the second Caliph Umar ibn Khattab. Baba Farid's ancestors came from Kufa, while Abdullah ibn Umar died during the Hajj and was buried in Makkah. The family tree of Baba Fareed traces through Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Adham, whose ancestors came from Kufa.

Fariduddin Ganjshakar was born in the city of Balkh. His nickname was Abu Ishaq. Khwajah Fudhail Bin Iyadh had conferred the mantle of Khilaafate to him. Besides being the Khalifah of Hadhrat Fudhail, he was also the Khalifah of Khwajah Imran Ibn Musa, Khwajah Imam Baqir, Khwajah Shaikh Mansur Salmi and Khwajah Uwais Qarni."[9]

Bābā Farīd received his early education at Multan, which had become a centre for education; it was here that he met his murshid (master), Quṭbuddīn Bakhtiyār Kākī, a noted Sufi saint, who was passing through Multan, from Baghdad on his way to Delhi.[7] Upon completing his education, Farīd left for Sistan and Kandahar and went to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage at the age of 16.

Once his education was over, he shifted to Delhi, where he learned the doctrine of his master, Quṭbuddīn Bakhtiyār Kākī. He later moved to Hansi, Haryana.[4][10] When Quṭbuddīn Bakhtiyār Kākī died in 1235, Farīd left Hansi and became his spiritual successor, but he settled in Ajodhan[11] (the present Pakpattan, Pakistan) instead of Delhi. On his way to Ajodhan, while passing through Faridkot, he met the 20-year-old Nizāmuddīn, who went on to become his disciple, and later his successor (khalīfah).

Bābā Farīd married Hazabara, daughter of Sulṭān Nasīruddīn Maḥmūd. The great Arab traveller Ibn Baṭūṭah visited him. He says that he was the spiritual guide of the King of India, and that the King had given him the village of Ajodhan. He also says that Shaikh Farīduddīn, as he calls him, was so careful about purity that if his clothes touched those of another person he would wash them. He also met Bābā Farīd's two sons. His shrine (darbār) is in Dera Pindi, and his epitaph reads, "There is only one Farīd, though many spring forth from the bud of the flower".

Bābā Farīd's descendants, also known as Fareedi, Fareedies and Faridy, mostly carry the name Fārūqī, and can be found in Pakistan, India and the diaspora. His descendants include the Sufi saint Salim Chishti, whose daughter was Emperor Jehangir's foster mother. Their descendants settled in Sheikhupur, Badaun and the remains of a fort they built can still be found.


Farīdā bhumi rangāvalī manjhi visūlā bāg

Fareed, this world is beautiful, but there is a thorny garden within it.

Farīdā jo taīN mārani mukīāN tinhāN na mārē ghumm

Fareed, do not turn around and strike those who strike you with their fists.

Farīdā jā lab thā nēhu kiā lab ta kūṛhā nēhu

Fareed, when there is greed, what love can there be? When there is greed, love is false.

Kālē maiḍē kapṛē, kālā maiḍā wais,
GunahīN bhariyā maiN phirāN, Lōk kahaiN darvēsh

Laden with my load of misdeeds, I move about in the garb of black garments.
And the people see me and call me a dervish.

GallīN cikkaṛ dūr ghar, nāḷ piyārē nīNh,
ChallāN tē bhijjē kamblī, rahāN tāN ṭuṭṭē nīNh.

My promise to my love, a long way to go and a muddy lane ahead
If I move I spoil my cloak; if I stay I break my word.[6]


One of Farīd’s most important contributions to Punjabi literature was his development of the language for literary purposes. Whereas Sanskrit, Arabic, Turkish and Persian had historically been considered the languages of the learned and the elite, and used in monastic centres, Punjabi was generally considered a less refined folk language. Although earlier poets had written in a primitive Punjabi, before Farīd there was little in Punjabi literature apart from traditional and anonymous ballads. By using Punjabi as the language of poetry, Farīd laid the basis for a vernacular Punjabi literature that would be developed later.

Among the famous people who have visited his shrine over the centuries are the famous scholar-explorer Ibn Battuta, who visited in 1334,[12] and the Founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, who met the then head of the shrine, Sheikh Ibrāhīm, twice, and his meeting led to the incorporation of 112 couplets (saloks) and four hymns by Bābā Farid, in the Sikh Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib, by the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev in 1604.[4] Guru Nanak was familiar with the verse of Bābā Farīd, and not only includes these verses in the Holy Book, but even comments on some of them.[13] These verses are known to the Sikhs as the Farīd-Bānī; Guru Arjan Dev also added eighteen saloks from the Sikh Gurus, which add commentary to various of Bābā Farīd's work.[13]

The city of Faridkot bears his name. According to legend, Farīd stopped by the city, then named Mokhalpūr, and sat in seclusion for forty days near the fort of King Mokhal. The king was said to be so impressed by his presence that he named the city after Bābā Farīd, which today is known as Tilla Bābā Farīd. The festival Bābā Sheikh Farād Āgman Purb Melā' is celebrated in September each year, commemorating his arrival in the city.[14][15] Ajodhan[11] was also renamed as Farīd's 'Pāk Pattan', meaning 'Holy Ferry'; today it is generally called Pāk Pattan Sharīf.[12]

Faridia Islamic University, a religious madrassa in Sahiwal, Punjab, Pakistan, is named after him,[16] and in July 1998, the Punjab Government in India established the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences at Faridkot, the city which itself was named after him.[17][18]

Various accounts are related as to why Bābā Farīd was given the title Shakar Ganj[19] ('Treasure of Sugar'). One legend tells how his mother used to encourage the young Farīd to pray by placing sugar under his prayer mat. Once, when she forgot, the young Farīd found the sugar anyway, an experience that gave him more spiritual fervour and led to his being given the name.[4]

Other accounts and legends also says that Baba Farid once a caught a bolt of lightning with his bare hands and placed it into a pot, which saved the lives of many civilians.


The small tomb of Baba Farid is made of white marble with two doors, one facing east and called the Nūrī Darwāza or 'Gate of Light', and the second facing north called Bahishtī Darwāza, or 'Gate of Paradise'. There is also a long covered corridor. Inside the tomb are two white marbled graves. One is Baba Farid's, and the other is his elder son's. These graves are always covered by sheets of cloth called Chadders (the green coloured chadders are covered with Islamic verses), and flowers that are brought by visitors. The space inside the tomb is limited; not more than ten people can be inside at one time. Ladies are not allowed inside the tomb, but the late Benazir Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, managed to enter inside when she visited the shrine.


The Shrine (mazar/mazār) is vast and spacious, located in the city of Pakpattan, otherwise Pākpattan Sharīf. At first his tomb and shrine were constructed under the supervision of Saint Nizamuddin Auliya/Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia. The shrine is made entirely of marble. Some years back it was partly made of marble and bricks. Charity food called Langar is distributed all day by visitors and the Auqaf Department, which administrates the shrine. The shrine is open all day and night for visitors. The shrine has its own huge electricity generator that is used whenever there is power cut or loadshedding, so the shrine remains bright all night, all year round. There is no separation of male and female areas but a small female area is also there. There is a big new mosque in the shrine. Thousands of people daily visit the shrine for their wishes and unresolvable matters; for this they vow to give to some charity when their wishes or problems are resolved. When their matters are solved they bring charity food for visitors and the poor, and drop money in big money boxes that are kept for this purpose. This money is collected by the Auqaf Department that looks after the shrine.

On October 25, 2010, a bomb exploded outside the gates of the shrine, killing six people.[20][21]

Death Anniversary/Urs

Every year, the saint's death anniversary is celebrated for six days in the first Islamic month of Muharram, in Pakpattan, Pakistan. The Bahishtī Darwāza (Gate of Paradise) is opened only once a year, during the time of the urs/fair. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and visitors from all over the country and the world come to pay homage. The door of the Bahishti Darwaza is made of silver, with floral designs inlaid in gold leaf. This "Gate to Paradise" is padlocked all year, and only opened for ten days from sunset to sunrise in the month of Muharram. Some followers believe that by crossing this door all of one's sins are washed away. Some critics say it is unholy to pass through this door only with this intention. Others argue that it is good to pass this door with a resolution not to commit sins in the future. During the opening of the Gate of Paradise, extensive security arrangements are made to protect people from stampedes. In 2001, 27 people were crushed to death and 100 were injured in a stampede.[22] A large brick tomb adjacent to the main tomb is the resting place of Fariduddin's siblings.[3] The 'urs is celebrated every year from the fifth through the tenth of Muharram. Some of his personal belongings were taken by his descendant Sheikh Salim to a fort he built for his family in Sheikhupur, Badaun, where they are preserved in a trunk called 'pitari'. To this day it is taken out in a procession for the first six days of Muharram.

Mehfil-e-Sama (Qawwali)

One of the significant features of the daily life of the shrine is Qawwali. It is performed all day at some part of the shrine, but at night it attracts a huge gathering. Every Thursday evening, there is a big Mehfil-e-Sama just outside the tomb, that lasts all night and attracts hundreds of people. Many famous and popular Qawwals (Qawwali singers) of the country participate in the Mehfil. Many listeners become so mesmerised that they start dancing a traditional religious dance called Dhamaal. The first Thursday evening of every lunar month attracts extra thousands of people, making the shrine jam packed.

Further reading

  • Faridnama by Zahid Abrol, (the first-ever Poetical Translation of Shiekh Farid's Punjabi Verses in Urdu and Hindi Scripts) , 2003 Ajanta Book, ISBN 9788120205871.[23]
  • Sheikh Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakar Ain-e-Akbari by Abul Fazal, English translation, by H. Blochmann and Colonel H. S. Jarrett, 1873–1907. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta; Volume III, Saints of India. (Awliyá-i-Hind), page 363.
  • Pakpattan and Baba Farid Ganj-i-Shakar, by Muhammad Abdullah Caghtai. Kitab Khana Nauras, 1968.
  • Baba Sheikh Farid: Life and teachings, by Gurbachan Singh Talib. Baba Farid Memorial Society, 1973.
  • Baba Farid (Makers of Indian literature), by Balwant Singh Anand, Sahitya Akademi, 1975.
  • Baba Farid-ud-Din Masud Ganj-i-Shakar, by Jafar Qasimi. Islamic Book Foundation. 1978.
  • Sheikh Baba Farid aur unka Kavya, by Jayabhagavan Goyal. 1998, Atmarama & Sons. ISBN 817043081X.
  • Savanih hayat Baba Farid Ganj-i Shakar, by Pir Ghulam Dastgir Nami. Madni Kutub Khanah.
  • Baba Farid Ganjshakar, by Shabbir Hasan Cishti Nizami. Asthana Book Depot.
  • Love is his own power: The slokas of Baba Farid. 1990, ISBN 8171891357.
  • Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din Masood Ganj Shakar, by Sheikh Parvaiz Amin Naqshbandy. Umar Publications, 1993.
  • Baba Farid di dukh–chetana, by Sarawan Singh Paradesi. 1996, Ravi Sahitya Prakashan, ISBN 8171432352.
  • Hymns of Sheikh Farid, by Brij Mohan Sagar. South Asia Books, 1999. ISBN 0836459857.
  • Sheikh Farid, by Dr. Harbhajan Singh. Hindi Pocket Books, 2002. ISBN 81-216-0255-6.
  • " Great Sufi Poets of The Punjab " by R. M. Chopra, Iran Society, Kolkata, 1999.


  1. ^ a b "Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj (1173 - 1266 A.D.)". Sandeep Singh Bajwa. http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/farid.html. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  2. '^ The book Siyar-ul Awliyā, one of the earliest sources, he was born in 569 AH /1173 AD; the slightly later work Fawā'id-ul Fu'ād gives the date as 571 AH/1175 AD.)
  3. ^ a b c Shrine of Baba Farid at Pakpattan
  4. ^ a b c d Sheikh Farid, by Dr. Harbhajan Singh. Hindi Pocket Books, 2002. ISBN 81-216-0255-6. Page 11.
  5. ^ Sikh Bhagats : Baba Sheikh Farid Ji - Biography
  6. ^ a b Sufis - Wisdom against Violence The South Asian, April, 2001.
  7. ^ a b Sheikh Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakar Ain-e-Akbari by Abul Fazal, English translation, by H. Blochmann and Colonel H. S. Jarrett, 1873–1907. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta; Volume III, Saints of India. (Awliyá-i-Hind), page 363.
  8. ^ Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar - Biography Sufi Study Circle of Toronto.
  9. ^ http://books.themajlis.net/node/485
  10. ^ Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj - Biography www.punjabilok.com.
  11. ^ a b Ajodhan's former name: Ajay Vardhan
  12. ^ a b Pakpatthan Town The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1090, v. 19, p. 332.
  13. ^ a b Pashaura Singh, 'The Bhagats of the Guru Granth Sahib', Ch. 2 'Bani Shaikh Farid Ji Ki. Pg.44. (OUP 2003.)
  14. ^ Manns draw crowds at Baba Farid Mela The Tribune, September 25, 2007.
  15. ^ Tilla Baba Farid The Tribune, September 25, 2007.
  16. ^ Faridia Islamic University
  17. ^ Introduction Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Official website.
  18. ^ "District: Faridkot" (PDF). National Informatics Centre, Punjab State Unit, Chandigarh. http://pbsc.nic.in/pdf/districts/faridkot.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  19. ^ The original was probably the Persian Ganj-i Shakar, with the same meaning.
  20. ^ Reza Sayah (October 25, 2010). "4 killed in blast at Pakistan shrine". CNN News. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/10/24/pakistan.blast/?hpt=T2. 
  21. ^ Kamran Haider, Mian Khursheed, Hasan Mahmood (October 25, 2010). "Bomb kills six at Sufi shrine in eastern Pakistan". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69O06820101025. 
  22. ^ "Fatal stampede at Pakistan festival". BBC News. 2001-04-01. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1254207.stm. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  23. ^ Tanvir Siddiqui (April 29, 2004). "Not lost in translation: This bank official is well-versed in poetry". The Indian Express. http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=83094. 

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