Hazrat Khwaja Fariduddin Masood Ganjshakar was one of the most brilliant personalities of the Chishti Order of Sufis in India. After the untimely death of Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, the mantelpiece of India’s spiritual leadership within the illustrious Chishti Order fell upon the shoulders of Hazrat Khwaja Fariduddin Masood Ganjshakar of Pakpatan, popularly known as “Baba Farid” and “Baba Ganjshakar“.
Family & Lineage
During the ups and downs of the political condition of Afghanistan, due to constant wars between the rulers of Ghazni and the Ghauri dynasties (548-584 A.H.), Hazrat Sheikh Shuaib, with his son Hazrat Jamaluddin Suleman (father of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin), was reported to have migrated from Kabul to Lahore whence he went to Kasur and, later on, to Multan and then finally settled down in Khotwal or Kenhiwsi (a village near Multan) which, at present, is known by the name of Chawli-Mashaikh.
Hazrat Jamaluddin Suleman married Bibi Qursum Khatoon who was the daughter of Maulana Wajihuddin Khijwandi, a very learned and pious gentleman, who was one of the descendants of Hazrat Abbas-bin-Abdul Muttallib and who had also migrated from Kabul to India and had settled down in a village called Kot-Kiror in the vicinity of Multan. Bibi Qursum was a very pious lady. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia reports that one night a thief entered her house. The Bibi Qursum was awake and as she cast a glance over the thief, he at once lost his eyesight and started wailing. Ultimately he prayed; “If Bibi Qursum would restore my eyesight, I pledge, I shall give up stealing forever.” Bibi Qursum felt pity upon him and prayed for the restoration of his eyesight and, by the grace of God, the thief’s sight was restored. He fell apologetically at the feet of Bibi Qursum in grateful submission. Next morning he and his whole family embraced Islam. He was given the Islamic name of Abdulla with the title of “Chawli-Mashaikh” which became the second popular name of village Khotwal. Hazrat Khwaja Shuaib, his son Khwaja Jamaluddin and Bibi Qursum Khatoon, all died in Khotwal and their ‘muzaars’ (tombs) stand there up to this day.
He was born on the night of 29th Shaabaan in 569 A.H. in Khotwal. There are different versions about his date of birth but, by consensus of opinion. 569 A.H. is taken to be the correct date. Two miracles surrounded his birth indicating that Hazrat Baba Fariduddin was indeed a born ‘wali’.
Like his spiritual predecessors, Hazrat Khwaja Fariduddin also lost his father at an early age, and so full responsibility of his education devolved upon his mother, who took special interest in providing the best education in Islamic tradition. After he had completed his early religious education at the age of 7 in Khotwal, she sent him to Multan for his higher education. Here he stayed in a mosque where he learned the Holy Quran by heart and studied Hadith, Fiqah, Philosophy and Logic under the tutorship of the famous Maulana Minhajuddin.
During his education at Multan, Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki of Delhi visited the city and happened to come to the mosque for his Namaz where Baba Farid was receiving his education. As soon as Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin saw Baba Farid, he was highly impressed by his demeanor and exceptional qualities which he perceived through his intuitive abilities. He at once accepted Baba Farid as his ‘mureed’ and so long as he stayed in Multan, Baba Farid visited him daily and derived much benefit through his association. When Hazrat Qutbuddin made his way for Delhi, Baba Farid offered to follow him but he was advised to remain and complete his studies, and also to undertake a tour in Islamic countries in order to mature his experience by coming in contact with the leading saints or Sufis. Baba Farid obeyed, and, soon after his Pir’s departure, he also started on a long journey towards Ghazni, Bhaghdad, Sewastan, Badakhshan, Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina.
For about 18 years, from 593 to 611AH, Baba Fariduddin remained on this prolonged tour, meeting many great dervishes and saints and thus gaining immense benefit and knowledge from their experiences in Sufism. He has mentioned these travels in his publication, Rahat-ul-Quloob.
Meeting with Hazrat Shahabuddin Suhrawardi Hazrat Baba Farid says that Hazrat Shahabuddin Umar Suhrawardi (b. 539 d. 632 A.H.) was one of the greatest Sufi saints of his time. Regarding his meeting with Hazrat Shahabuddin Suhrawardi, Hazrat Baba Farid says;
|“||When I was in Baghdad, I stayed with Hazrat Shahabuddin Suhrawardi for many days and received immense benefit from his vast reservoir of divine knowledge and magnetic association. I saw he used to get daily 10.000 to 12,000 gold mohurs as ‘nazrana’ which he distributed among the poor before sunset in the name of God. By evening there remained with him not a single penny from his wealth. He used to say; “If I would have kept even a single pie from this money, I would not have been a dervish but I would have been known by the title of the rich.||”|
Hazrat Khwaja Fariduddin had an ever lasting impression of and a very high regard for Hazrat Sheikh Shahabuddin Suhrawardi’s angelic personality, his vast religious knowledge and his unfathomable spiritual insight.
Meeting with a descendant of Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi
|“||During my stay in Baghdad I was always in search of ‘Buzurgaan-e-Deen’ (great dervishes and saints). One day I found a great saint who was living in a ‘ghaar’ (hollow) on the banks of river Faraat (Eupharates). When I called upon him he was in Namaz. When he finished, I offered him my ‘salaams’ he asked me to sit down. I noticed his face was shining like the full moon and that he had an overpowering personality. He said; “I have been living in this hollow for the past 50 years, and I am one of the descendants of Hazrat Junaid of Baghdad. I am living only on wild herbs and leaves of trees and I have not slept for the past 20 years. Last night I had a nap on my ‘musalla’ (prayer carpet) when I had the honor of witnessing (in a vision) the glory of the night of the Holy Prophet’s ﷺ ‘Miraaj, (the prophet’s visit to the 7th heaven). After relating this story, he said; “Whoever desires God’s nearness, God gracious also desires to be near him.”||”|
Meeting with Imam Hadadi
|“||When I was travelling in the surroundings of Ghazni, I met Imam Hadadi in a town during the month of Ramadan and stayed with him for some time receiving benefit from his spiritual experiences. Here I also met another dervish who was a perfect Sufi and used to finish the recitation of the Holy Quran three times every night. He advised me to be “punctual and painstaking in ‘mujahedas’ (strivings) on the path of Sufism without which success was not possible since “Ahl-e- ‘Suffa’ (great saints and Sufis) have given ‘mujahedas’ the utmost priority.||”|
Meeting with Sheikh Abdul Waahid Badakhshani
|“||When I reached Badakhshan, I met Sheikh Abdul Waahid Badakhshani, a descendant of Hazrat Dhul Nun al Misri — a great name in the Sufi world. He was old and lived outside the city in a hollow. Continuous ‘mujahedas’ had sapped up all his bodily vigor. He had only one leg on which he was standing with the help of a staff in a state of ‘sukr’. I offered my salaams and he reciprocated affectionately and asked me to sit down. He told his story: “I have been here for the past 70 years and my sustenance is from ‘ghaib’ (unseen). Some 30 years ago I saw a woman passing this way and, enticed by the human nature or ‘nafs‘, I was drawn towards her. Just then the divine voice warned me: “O you lover, have you forgotten your promise to Me that you would never look towards anybody else except Me?” I was stunned and immediately restrained myself and cut off the foot that had led me out of the hollow. From that day, I am in a state of shame and do not know how I shall be able to answer for the breach of my promise to God on the Day of Judgment.||”|
Visit to Mecca and Medina
According to ‘Gulzar-e-Faridi’, when Hazrat Baba Fariduddin went to Medina, after paying his respects at Mecca he was spiritually commanded by the Holy Prophet ﷺ to proceed to Baghdad and meet Hazrat Abdul Wahaab, son of Hazrat Ghausul-Azam Abdul Qadir Jilani Mahboob Subhani, and receive some ‘Tabarrukaat'(sacred relics) from him. Accordingly when Hazrat Baba Farid reached Baghdad, he received a box from Hazrat Abdul Wahaab which contained the following holy relics:-
- Two ‘Alums’ (flag poles) which were used by the Holy Prophet ﷺ in some of the battles fought by him in the defense of Islam.
- One pair of scissors.
- One turban which was used by the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
It is reported that Hazrat Abdul Wahaab put the sacred turban on the head of Hazrat Khwaja Fariduddin and thus permitted him to take ‘mureeds’ in the name of Qadria silsila and to the Chishtia silsila to which Baba Farid belonged.
It is also reported that Hazrat Baba Farid visited Jerusalem where he swept the floors of that holy shrine for some time before returning to India, and there exists still a “Zaavia” of Hazrat Baba Farid where the visitors live for free according to Hazrat Naami of Lahore.
After a period of nearly 18 years spent travelling. Hazrat Khwaja Fariduddin started his journey back to India. During this journey, he met many other renowned dervishes. Baba Fariduddin reached Multan which had become the cradle of Sufism during his long absence due to the illumination spread by Hazrat Khwaja Bahauddin Zakariya Suhrawardi. When these two spiritual giants met, Baba Fariduddin was asked by Hazrat Bahauddin as to how he had progressed spiritually. Baba Farid replied: “If I ask the chair on which you are sitting to fly in the air, it will fly.” As he uttered these words, the chair of Hazrat Bahauddin began to rise in the air. From Multan, Hazrat Baba Farid went to his home town Khotwal to kiss the feet of his dear mother after a prolonged absence. Having spent a few days in her company, he left for Delhi to present himself before his Pir-o-Murshid, Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki.
Arriving in Delhi, he went straight to Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin. Hazrat Baba Farid says the following about his meeting and initiation:
|“||When I had the honor of presenting himself in the presence of Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin, he at once placed the “Kulah-e-chahaar Tarki”(a symbolic cap confirming four important pledges taken by Sufis at the time of their initiation) upon my head in a well attended majlis in which Qazi Hamiduddin Nagauri, Maulana Allauddin Kirmani, Syed Nooruddin Mubarik, Sheikh Nizamuddin Moid, Maulana Shamsuddin Turk, Sheikh Mahmood, Haz, Burhanuddin Balkhi, Maulana Ziauddin Rumi and many other prominent dervishes were present. Hazrat Qutbuddin said: “O Farid, a Master must have such a nearness to God that he should be able to cleanse the dirt from the chest of his mureed at the very first glance through his spiritual abilities and, after accepting a mureed, he should be able to introduce him to God directly. If the Murshid (Master) has no such power then both he and his mureed do not know their destination in Sufism.||”|
After his initiation, Hazrat Baba Farid was ordered to perform certain mujahedas (spiritual practices) in order to achieve his perfection and for this purpose Hazrat Qutbuddin selected a hujra’ (cell) near Ghazni Gate in Delhi for Baba Farid. Baba Farid carried out these mujahedas with his characteristic devotion, forbearance and courage.
Visit of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti
During this period, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer arrived in Delhi to see Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin. When Khwaja Moinuddin heard of Baba Farid’s extraordinary success, he went to see him at his hujra with Khwaja Qutbuddin. As soon as Baba Farid saw both of these illustrious Murshids at the door of his hujra, he immediately got up to pay his respects but due to extreme weakness, as a result of his difficult ‘mujahedas’, he fell down. He was however picked up and embraced affectionately by both the great saints. At the very first glance, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti recognized what marvelous qualities Baba Farid had and then, turning to Hazrat Qutbuddin, the great saint of Ajmer said:
|“||Baba Qutub, you have captured a great shahbaaz (hawk) whose nest is not lower than “Sidrat-ul-Muntaha” (7th heaven). From his light, the progeny and silsila of dervishes will be illuminated.”||”|
This prediction of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of course proved to be true. After his meeting with Baba Farid, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin bestowed a “Khil’at” (dress of honor) upon him and Hazrat Qutbuddin wrapped the “Dastar-e-Khilafat” (a turban symbolic of this recognition) upon Baba Farid’s head. When Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin prayed for his success after the ceremony, a “nida” (divine voice) declared: “Farid raa bargazidaim” — “We have accepted Farid”.
There are innumerable examples of wonderful miracles that have been performed by Hazrat Baba Farid. A few are related here:
Hazrat Baba Farid was fond of’ Sama and fought against its antagonists. Regarding Sama and its reaction upon great Sufis, he says:
|“||Sama pacifies the heart of a divine lover. Firstly it moves the heart; secondly, it creates unconsciousness and, thirdly, this unconsciousness becomes so absorbing that even if one thousand swords were raining upon his head, he would not know of it.||”|
The mazar is located in the city of Pakpattan and was first constructed under the supervision of Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Auliya. The shrine is now made entirely of marble. It is open all day and night and it is visited by thousands from all walks of life. Charity food known as Langar is distributed during the day. Baba Farid’s small tomb is made of white marble with two doors, one facing east and called the Nuri Darwaza (Gate of Light) and the second facing north called Bahishti Darwaza (Gate of Paradise). There is also a long covered corridor. Inside the tomb are two white marbled graves, one belonging to Baba Farid and the other belonging to his elder son. The graves are always covered by green sheets of cloth called Chadders and flowers that are brought by visitors.
Every year, Hazrat Baba Farid’s Urs (death anniversary) is celebrated for six days in the first Islamic month of Muharram, in Pakpattan. The Bahishti Darwaza (Gate of Paradise) is opened only once a year, on the 5th and 6th of Muharram, during the time of the Urs and is washed by rose water before the opening ceremony. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and visitors from all over the country and world come to pay homage to the great saint.