Baba Sheikh Farid Ji Ganj-i-Shakar

(A Festival called Baba Sheikh Farid Āgman Purab is celebrated at Faridkot every year from 21 to 23 September)

Baba Sheikh Farid, whose full name was “Fariduddin Masood Ganj-i-Shakar”, was a distinguished  Punjabi Muslim preacher and mystic. Born in a village near Multan (now in Pakistan), he was a descendant of the family of Emperor Farukh Shah of Kabul, and his father was a  Kazi ( judge).  He studied Arabic, Persian, and Punjabi literature and religious books for 20 years in Multan, which was considered to be a City of Saints. Young Farid happened to meet Saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, who was passing through Multan on his way from Baghdad to Delhi. Farid was highly influenced, became his disciple and later moved from Multan to Delhi. When Qutbuddin died in 1235, Farid was chosen as his spiritual successor and one of the founding fathers of the Chishti Sufi order. Later, he settled in Pakpattan (now in Pakistan).

Farid means unique and ‘Shakar-Ganj’ means a mountain of sugar. He wrote very soothing Punjabi poetry advising all human beings to foster mutual goodwill and inculcate true love for the divine Creator. This is the essence of both the Sufi and the Bhakti movements in India. Baba Sheikh Farid is one of the revered 15 saints whose devotional poetic hymns find a place in the Adi Granth, a predecessor of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), the sacred scripture of Sikhism. There are 134 Slokas of Farid in SGGS.  Farid was among the earliest to contribute to the Punjabi language, for literary purposes.

Faridkot (in East Punjab) is said to be the place once visited by Baba Farid.  The king there was so impressed by his divine knowledge that he named his city (earlier called Mokalhar) after Baba Farid. The place where he sat is known as Tilla Baba Farid and is now a Gurdwara.  Another Gurudwara  (Godry Sahib) was established in his memory, near Faridkot. The festival Baba Sheikh Farid Āgman Purab is celebrated at Faridkot every year from 21 to 23 September, in his memory.

Remembering Baba Sheikh Farid

Baba Farid University of Health Sciences in Faridkot city of East Punjab (in India) was established in honour of Baba Sheikh Farid by the Government of Punjab in 1998.

Farida Islamic University, in the Sahiwal district of West Punjab (in Pakistan), established in 1989, is also named after him. On the birth anniversary of Baba Farid, Pakistan Government issued a postage stamp in his honour in 1971.

Jerusalem was visited by Baba Farid on the invitation of its ruler in 1200. This place (photo above) is now a place of pilgrimage by thousands of his admirers in the Indian sub-continent.

(By) Professor Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti, Calgary (Canada)

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