Baba Farid

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Baba Farid
Detail of Baba Farid from a Guler painting showing an imaginary meeting of Sufi saints
Sheikh Farid Shakarganj
BornFarīd ad-Dīn Ganj-i-Shakar
فریدالدین گنج شکر
c. 4 April 1188[1]
Kothewal, Multan, Punjab, Ghurid Sultanate
(present-day Punjab, Pakistan)
Diedc. 7 May 1266[1]
Pakpattan, Punjab, Delhi Sultanate
(present-day Punjab, Pakistan)
Venerated inSouth Asian Muslims, Sikhs & Punjabi Hindus[2]
Major shrineShrine of Baba Farid, Pakpattan, Punjab, Pakistan
InfluencesQutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
InfluencedMany, most prominent being Nizamuddin Auliya, Jamal-ud-Din Hansvi and Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari
Baba Farid
Punjabi language
Gurmukhiਫ਼ਰੀਦ-ਉਦ-ਦੀਨ ਮਸੂਦ ਗੰਜਸ਼ਕਰ
farīd-ud-dīn masūd gañjśakar
Shahmukhiفرید الدین مسعود گنج شکر
farīd aldīn masʻūd ganj śakar
IPA[fəɾiː.d̪ʊd̪ː.iːn mə́sᵊuːd̪ᵊ ɡənd͡ʒᵊ ʃəkːəɾᵊ]

Farīd al-Dīn Mas'ūd Ganj-i Shakar (c. 4 April 1173 – 7 May 1266), commonly known as Bābā Farīd or Shaykh Farīd (also in Anglicised spelling Fareed), was a 13th-century Punjabi Muslim[3] preacher, poet and mystic,[4] who remains one of the most revered and esteemed Muslim mystics of the Medieval India and the Islamic Golden age.[5] He is revered by Punjabi Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs alike.[6]


Bābā Farīd was born in 1188 (573 AH) in Kothewal, 10 km from Multan in the Punjab region, to Jamāl-ud-dīn Suleimān and Maryam Bībī (Qarsum Bībī), daughter of Wajīh-ud-dīn Khojendī.[6] Amaresh Datta gives his life span as 1178–1271.[7] He received his early education at Multan, which had become a centre for Muslim education. There he met his teacher Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, who was passing through Multan on his way from Baghdad to Delhi.[8]

Once his education was over, he moved to Delhi, where he learned the Islamic doctrine from his master, Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. He later moved to Hansi, Haryana.[9] When Khwaja Bakhtiyār Kākī died in 1235, Farīd left Hansi and became his spiritual successor and instead of settling in Delhi, he returned to his native Punjab and settled in Ajodhan (present-day Pakpattan, Punjab, Pakistan).[10] He was one of the founding fathers of the Chishti Sufi order.[1]

Fariduddin Ganjshakar's shrine darbār is located in Pakpattan, Punjab, Pakistan.


Baba Farid was the first major Punjabi poet.[11] A section of his poetry is as follows:


The shrine of Baba Farid in Pakpatan

The small Shrine 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 Chaddars' (the green coloured chaddars 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. Women are not allowed inside the tomb, but the late Benazir Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, was permitted to enter inside by the shrine guardians, when she visited the shrine. Another rare exceptional case was the late Hajjah Kainz Hussain of Jhelum, wife of the late Haji Manzoor Hussain, who was allowed inside the tomb and was given a Chaddar,.

Charity food called Langar is distributed all day to visitors here[12] and the Auqaf Department, which administers the shrine.[13] 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.[13] There is no separation of male and female areas but a small female area is also available. 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.[12][14] 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.[12][15] This money is collected by the Auqaf Department of the Government of Pakistan that looks after the shrine.

On 25 October 2010, a bomb exploded outside the gates of the shrine, killing six people.[16][17]

Baba Farid's Serai in Jerusalem[edit]

In great old holy city of Jerusalem, there is a place called Al-Hindi Serai or Indian hospice[18] (Indian lodge or shrine), where it is claimed Baba Farid lived for many years in the early 13th century, almost 800 years ago. Baba Farid walked into Jerusalem around the year 1200, little more than a decade after the armies of Saladin had forced the Crusaders out of Jerusalem. The place is now a pilgrim lodge for people of the Indian sub-continent. It is claimed that this building is currently cared for by the 94-year-old caretaker, Muhammad Munir Ansari, in 2014.[2] "No one knows how long Baba Farid stayed in the city. But long after he had returned to the Punjab, where he eventually became head of the Chishti order, Indian Muslims passing through Jerusalem on their way to Mecca wanted to pray where he had prayed, to sleep where he had slept. Slowly, a shrine and pilgrim lodge, the Indian Hospice, formed around the memory of Baba Farid."[2] "Later accounts of his life said that he spent his days sweeping the stone floors around Al-Aqsa Mosque, or fasting in the silence of a cave inside the city walls."[2]


A chilla is also found on the top of hill of Donphin nose hill of Visakhapatnam port of Visakhapatnam city in which it is believed that Hazarat Baba Fareed spent some time here, and there is a vast banyan tree in the premises which used to shed sugar in Baba's honour

Death anniversary and Urs[edit]

Every year, the saint's death anniversary or Urs is celebrated for six days in the first Islamic month of Muharram, in Pakpattan, Pakistan.[12] The Bahishtī Darwāza (Gate of Paradise) is opened only once a year, during the time of the Urs fair.[12] 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.[12] This "Gate to Paradise" is padlocked all year, and only opened for five 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.[12][20] 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.[21]


Detail of Sheikh Farid (wearing yellow and black garbs and donning a white turban) from a mural at Gurdwara Baba Atal in Amritsar, circa 19th century

As mentioned under Biography above, Baba Farid is considered one of the founding fathers of the Chishti Sufi order. His teacher, Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki was a disciple of Moinuddin Chishti and Baba Farid's most famous disciple is Nizamuddin Chishti of Delhi, making him an important link in the chain of Chishti masters in South Asia and a very influential spiritual master in South Asia. [See also Honor in Sikhism below.]

One of Farīd's most important contributions to Punjabi literature was his development of the language for literary purposes.[22] 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.[23] By using Punjabi as the language of poetry, Farīd laid the basis for a vernacular Punjabi literature that would be developed later.[24] The English translation of Farid's devotional poetry by Rana Nayar was conferred with Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee award in 2007.

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 Baba Farid, which today is known as Tilla Baba Farid. The festival Bābā Sheikh Farād Āgman Purb Melā' is celebrated in September each year from (21–23 Sep, for 3 days), commemorating his arrival in the city.[25][26] Ajodhan[10] was also renamed as Farīd's 'Pāk Pattan', meaning 'Holy Ferry'; today it is generally called Pāk Pattan Sharīf.[27] In Bangladesh, one of the largest districts of the country Faridpur District was named after him. It is believed that he established his seat in this town.

Faridia Islamic University, a religious madrassa in Sahiwal, Punjab, Pakistan, is named after him,[28] 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.[29]

There are various explanations of why Baba Farid was given the title Shakar Ganj[30] ('Treasure of Sugar'). One legend says 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.[9]

In Sikhism[edit]

The Gurudwara Godri Sahib Baba Farid at Faridkot, Punjab
Historical Guru Granth Sahib manuscript showcasing verses attributed to Sheikh Fareed on page 488

Baba Farid, as he is commonly known, has his poetry included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the most sacred scripture of Sikhism, which includes 123 (or 134) hymns composed by Farid.[11] Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the 5th guru of Sikhism, included these hymns himself in the Adi Granth, the predecessor of the Guru Granth Sahib.[1] There are 10 Sikh gurus, but there are also 15 Bhagats in Sikhism. Baba Sheikh Farid is one of these equally revered 15 Bhagats.[31]


Fariduddin Ganjshakar first introduced the institution of the Langar in the Punjab region.[32][33] The institution greatly contributed to the social fabric of Punjabi society and allowed peoples of various faiths and backgrounds to attain free food and drink. The practice, introduced by Fariduddin Ganjshakar grew and is documented in the Jawahir al-Faridi compiled in 1623 CE.[34] It was later, both the institution and term, adopted by Sikhs.[35]

Commemorative postage stamp[edit]

In 1989, on the 800th birth anniversary of Baba Farid, the Pakistan Post Office issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor.[36]

Places named after him[edit]


Salim Chisti (1478 – 1572), a famous Sufi saint during the reign of Akbar, was a direct descendant of Baba Farid.[37] Muhibbullah Allahabadi (1587–1648) was also his descendant.[38] Islam Khan I and Mukarram Khan who served as goveners of Bengal Subah were grand-sons of Salim Chishti. The noble Paigah family, which was influential in the former Hyderabad state, also traced its lineage from Baba Farid.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e (Sufis - Wisdom against Violence) Article on Baba Farid on the South Asian magazine website published in April 2001, Retrieved 1 November 2018
  2. ^ a b c d Adamson, Daniel Silas (23 November 2014). "Jerusalem's 800-year-old Indian hospice". BBC News website. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  3. ^ Pemberton, Barbara (2023), Shafiq, Muhammad; Donlin-Smith, Thomas (eds.), "Polishing the Mirror of the Heart: Sufi Poetic Reflections as Interfaith Inspiration for Peace", Mystical Traditions: Approaches to Peaceful Coexistence, Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland, pp. 263–276, doi:10.1007/978-3-031-27121-2_15, ISBN 978-3-031-27121-2
  4. ^ Nizami, K.A., "Farīd al-Dīn Masʿūd "Gand̲j̲-I-S̲h̲akar"", in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs.
  5. ^ Khaliq Ahmad Nizami (1955). The Life and Times of Shaikh Farid-u'd-din Ganj-i-Shakar. Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University. p. 1.
  6. ^ a b Singh, Paramjeet (7 April 2018). Legacies of the Homeland: 100 Must Read Books by Punjabi Authors. Notion Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-64249-424-2.
  7. ^ Datta, Amaresh (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo, Volume 1. Sahitya Akademi. p. 79. ISBN 9788126018031.
  8. ^ Sheikh Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakar Archived 30 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Ain-e-Akbari by Abul Fazal, English translation, by Heinrich Blochmann and Colonel Henry Sullivan Jarrett, 1873–1907. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta; Volume III, Saints of India. (Awliyá-i-Hind), page 363
  9. ^ a b Sheikh Farid, by Dr. Harbhajan Singh. Hindi Pocket Books, 2002. ISBN 81-216-0255-6. Page 11.
  10. ^ a b Ajodhan's former name: Ajay Vardhan
  11. ^ a b Malik, Jamal (6 April 2020). Islam in South Asia: Revised, Enlarged and Updated Second Edition. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-42271-1.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g name="Abdullah"
  13. ^ a b Tarin, p 30
  14. ^ Imperial Gazetteer 1900
  15. ^ Imperial Gazetteer
  16. ^ Reza Sayah (25 October 2010). "4 killed in blast at Pakistan shrine". CNN News website. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  17. ^ Kamran Haider; Mian Khursheed; Hasan Mahmood (25 October 2010). "Bomb kills six at Sufi shrine in eastern Pakistan". Reuters. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  18. ^ "In the heart of Jerusalem's Old City, is a 'little India' open to all". Hindustan Times. 4 May 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  19. ^ Choudhury, Dewan Nurul Anwar Hussain (2012). "Sheikh Fariduddin Maswood Ganjeskar". In Sirajul Islam; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 20 May 2024.
  20. ^ Tarin, pp 15-16
  21. ^ "Fatal stampede at Pakistan festival". BBC News website. 1 April 2001. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  22. ^ Omer Tarin, 'Hazrat Baba Farid Ganj Shakar and the evolution of the literary Punjabi:A Brief Review' in Journal of Humanities and Liberal Arts, 1995, pp.21-30
  23. ^ Tarin, 27
  24. ^ Tarin, p. 30
  25. ^ Manns draw crowds at Baba Farid Mela The Tribune, 25 September 2007, Retrieved 1 November 2018
  26. ^ Tilla Baba Farid The Tribune, 25 September 2007, Retrieved 1 November 2018
  27. ^ Pakpatthan Town The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1900, v. 19, p. 332, Digital South Asia Library website, Retrieved 1 November 2018
  28. ^ Faridia Islamic University, Retrieved 1 November 2018
  29. ^ Introduction Archived 5 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Official website, Retrieved 1 November 2018
  30. ^ The original was probably the Persian Ganj-i Shakar, with the same meaning.
  31. ^ Khanna, Bharat (31 October 2019). "Surge of interest in books on founder of Sikhism". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  32. ^ Epilogue, Vol 4, Issue 1, p. 45
  33. ^ Talib, Gurbachan Singh (1973), Baba Sheikh Farid: His Life and Teaching, p. 7
  34. ^ Barbara D Metcalf (1984). Moral Conduct and Authority: The Place of Adab in South Asian Islam. University of California Press. pp. 336–339. ISBN 978-0-520-04660-3.
  35. ^ R. Nivas (1967), Transactions, Volume 4, The word langar, and this institution has been borrowed, so to speak, from the Sufis. The khanqas of the Chisti and other Sufi saints had a langar open to the poor and the rich, though the Hindus mostly kept away from them. To make the Brahmin sit with the pariah and do away with untouch- ability, and to make the Hindus and Muslims eat from the same kitchen and destroy all social, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, p. 190
  36. ^ Commemorative postage stamp issued by Pakistan Post Office on Baba Farid's 800th Birth Anniversary on website Retrieved 3 November 2018
  37. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (22 February 2022). Islam in the Indian Subcontinent. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-49299-8.
  38. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1980). Islam in the Indian Subcontinent. BRILL. p. 98. ISBN 90-04-06117-7., Published in 1980, now on Google Books, Retrieved 1 November 2018

Further reading[edit]

  • 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 81-7043-081-X.
  • 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 81-7189-135-7.
  • 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 81-7143-235-2.
  • Hymns of Sheikh Farid, by Brij Mohan Sagar. South Asia Books, 1999. ISBN 0-8364-5985-7.
  • 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.

External links[edit]