Rahman Baba

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Abdul Rehman Mohmand
Portrait of Rahman Baba
Portrait of Rahman Baba
Native name
عبدالرحمان بابا
Born1653CE (1042 AH)
Bahadur Kelay, Hazarkhwani, Peshawar, Mughal Empire
Died1711 CE (1118 AH) (aged 74–75)
Resting placePeshawar
GenrePashto poetry
Notable worksDīwān
RelativesAbdus Sattar Ghoryakhel (father)

Abdur Rahmān Mohmand (1632–1706)[1] (Pashto: عبدالرحمان بابا‎), or Rahmān Bābā (Pashto: رحمان بابا‎), was a renowned Afghan Sufi Dervish and poet from Peshawar in the Mughal Empire (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). He, along with his contemporary Khushal Khan Khattak, is considered one of the most popular poets among the Pashtuns.[2] His poetry expresses a peaceful mystical side of local culture which is becoming increasingly threatened by less tolerant interpretations of Islam.[3]

Rahman's lineage[edit]

Rahman Baba was a Mohmand sub-tribe of Ghoryakhel Pashtun, a group of people who migrated from Ghazni, to Nangarahar Province Afghanistan and then between 13th or 14th century to the outskirts of Peshawar.[4] Rahman apparently lived peacefully in the area, and never mentions his involvement in the fierce intertribal conflicts of his day.

Opinion is divided about Rahman's family background.[5] Several commentators are convinced that his family was village Malik (chieftains).[5] However, Rahman Baba was more likely to have been a simple, though learned man. As he himself claimed: "Though the wealthy drink water from a golden cup, I prefer this clay bowl of mine."[6]

Abdur Rahman Baba died in 1715 CE, and his tomb is housed in a large domed shrine, or mazar, on the southern outskirts of Peshawar (Ring Road Hazar Khwani). The site of his grave is a popular place for poets and mystics to collect to recite his popular poetry. In April each year, there is a larger gathering to celebrate his anniversary.

Religious background[edit]

Rahman Baba was an ascetic but various unfounded theories have been made about who Rahman's guide may have been, and to which Sufi order he was attached. Sabir suggests that Rahman had a Naqshbandi tariqa initiation in Kohat, as well as training from the sons of Pir Baba[citation needed]: while Schimmel and Saad Ahmed Baksh assign Rahman to the Chishti order.[7] Aqab, himself of the Qadiriyyah order, claims Rahman was a Qadiri. Some people claims that he (Rahman Baba) was a pure Hanafi

Published work[edit]

A collection of Rahman's poetry, called the Dīwān ("anthology") of Rahman Baba, contains 343 poems, most of which are written in his native Pashto. The Dīwān of Rahman Baba was in wide circulation by 1728. There are over 25 original hand-written manuscripts of the Dīwān scattered in various libraries worldwide, including ten in the Pashto Academy in Peshawar, four in the British Library, three in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, as well as copies in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the University Library Aligath. The first printed version was collected by the Anglican Missionary T.P. Hughes and printed in Lahore in 1877.[4] It is this version which remains the most commonly used to this day.


"Rahman Baba has received a large amount of praise. His work is regarded by many Pashtuns to be far more than poetry and next only to the Quran."[8]

Selected verses from Rahman Baba's Diwan translated into English rhyme[edit]

About 111 verses were translated into English Rhyme and published by Arbab Hidayatullah, himself a Ghoryakhel Mohmand, in 2009. The original Pashto version has been transliterated into the Roman alphabet in order to make it easier to read for those who can not read the Pashto alphabet. This translation, with a tilt to the romantic side of Rahman Baba's poetry, has been very well received.[citation needed]

Rehman Baba Tomb located in Hazar Khwani Peshawar


After his demise, poets, musicians and singers flocked to his gravesite annually. This annual congregation attained a festive status over the years which has carried on as part of Peshawar's rich cultural tradition to this day. However, on 5 March 2009, "militants" bombed Rahman Baba's tomb in Peshawar.[9] "The high intensity device almost destroyed the grave, gates of a mosque, canteen and conference hall situated in the Rehman Baba Complex. Police said the bombers had tied explosives around the pillars of the tombs, to pull down the mausoleum".[10] The shrine reopened in November 2012 after Rs. 39m reconstruction.[11]

Urs Mubarak[edit]

Every year on 4 April people from different part of Pakistan and Afghanistan visit Shrine of Rehman Baba to celebrate Urs Mubarak. During the Urs well-known poet remember Rehman Baba with poetry, two times langar (lunch/dinner) for guest and homeless as well as a session of Rabab and Sufi music.

A view of Lunger, free food for homeless and guests.

Recommended reading[edit]

  • H. G. Raverty, The Gulistan-i-Roh: Afghan Poetry and Prose
  • H. G. Raverty, Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, from the 16th to the 19th Century
  • Abdur Rahman Baba, Robert Sampson, and Momin Khan. The Poetry of Rahman Baba: Poet of the Pukhtuns. Translated by Robert Sampson and Momin Khan. Peshawar: University Book Agency, 2005.
  • Robert Sampson. "The Poetry of Rahman Baba: The Gentle Side of Pushtun Consciousness." Central Asia 52 (2003): 213–228.
  • Robert Sampson and Momin Khan. Sow Flowers: Selections from Rahman Baba, the Poet of the Afghans. Peshawar: Interlit Foundation, 2008.
  • Robert Sampson. "The War on Poetry: Snuffing out Folk Tradition Along the Pakistan-Afghan Border." The Frontier Post, 7 December 2008.
  • Abdur Raḥmān Baba, Jens Enevoldsen, "The Nightingale of Peshawar: Selections from Rahman Baba." Interlit Foundation, 1993.
  • Abdur Raḥmān Baba. "Rahman Baba: A Few Verses from His Deewan." Translated into English Rhyme by Hidayatullah Muhibkhel Arbab Mohmand.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Journal of the University of Peshawar". 3 (8). 1954: 92. Retrieved 20 February 2017. The exact dates of his birth and death are not known, but it is conjectured that he was born in 1042 H and died in 1118 H. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Sampson, Robert. "Abdu'l Rahmān Bābā: The Legacy of His Poetry in Expressing Divergent Islamic Theology in Pushtūn Society." M.A. Thesis, University of Nottingham, 2003.
  3. ^ Sampson, Robert. "The Poetry of Rahman Baba: The Gentle Side of Pushtun Consciousness." Central Asia 52 (2003): 213–228.
  4. ^ a b Rahman Baba, Abdu'l, Robert Sampson, and Momin Khan. The Poetry of Rahman Baba: Poet of the Pukhtuns. Translated by Robert Sampson and Momin Khan. Peshawar: University Book Agency, 2005.
  5. ^ a b RB-P Archived 3 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ D 135/9.
  7. ^ Annemarie Schimmel, 'Der Sufische Pakistanie', 1974, p 109 & etc
  8. ^ "Rahman Baba: Poet of the Pashtuns". BBC News. 21 February 2005. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  9. ^ Imtiaz, Saba (26 June 2010). "Revisiting Rahman Baba's shrine". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  10. ^ And now Sunni vs Sunni Riaz ul Hassan| circa July 2010
  11. ^ Khan, Javed Aziz (21 November 2012). "Rahman Baba shrine re-opens". Central Asia Online. Retrieved 5 March 2013.

External links[edit]