Hadrat Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar
The Reverend Pir of Hadrat Qutab Jamal
Shaikh Fariduddin was born in 569/1173-74 or 571/1175-76. His father was a scholar, but it was his lengthy an exceedingly pious woman, who prayed nightly at lengthy vigils, who exerted the greater influence on the future sufi saint. One story regarding the spiritual power of Baba Farid’s mother related is that a thief, entering the house glanced at the playing woman and was instantly blinded. The thief implored the Swhaikh’s mother to restore his eyesight. She did so, and the blindness was removed. The following day, the thief returned with his family to the Shailkh’s house and was converted to Islam.
His mother’s influence helped to promote an extreme asceticism in Shaikh farid. Unconcerned with food or clothing, he was constantly occupied with meditation in a place behind the mosque at Khtwal. The townsfolk came to believe he was deranged, and they spoke so to Shaikh Jalau’d-Din Tabrizi of Baba Farid and what to them were his strange habits.
When Jalalu’d-Din Tabrizi went to see Baba Farid he had only torn clothing to wear so he had great difficulty in presenting himself respectably to his distinguished visitor. Jalalu’d-Din had with him a pomegranate, and broke it, offering it to Baba Farid. As the Baba was fasting he refused to eat it, but after his guest had left he picked up a seed and in the evening ate that. Instantly his heart was illuminated and he lamented no having eaten the whole fruit. However in Dehli Khwaja Qubu’d Din consoled the Baba saying that in pomegranate there was only one seed endowed with spiritual blessings and that he had had it.
At the age of eighteen, Baba Farid settled in Multan to undertake further studies and joined a seminary at the mosque of Maulana Minhaju’d-Din Tirmizi. There he met Khwaja Qutbu’d-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki and asked to become his disciple. According to Jamali, Baba Farid was initiated into silsila by the Khwaja at Multan and was advised to complete his education there. Shortly afterwards the Khwaja left for Delhi. Jamali adds that the Baba then visited Qandhar to acquire further knowledge, but it is more likely that Baba Farid reached Delhi shortly after the Khwaja arrival and was initiated into the distinguished group of Sufis residing in the Khwaja’s jama’at khana.
Baba Farid lived in a small cell near the jama’at-khana and, under guidance, performed severe ascetic exercises. His austerities so impressed Khwaja Mu’inu’d-Din during his visit to Delhi, that he took a special interest in Baba Farid, prophesied his later fame and asked Khwaja Qutbu’d-Din to join him in prayer for his disciple’s future greatness.
The severities practiced by the Baba in his Delhi cell failed to satisfy him and he asked his master if he could perform a chilla which involved spiritual exercises and fasting for forty days. The Khwaja finally permitted him to perform a chilla-I ma’kus (inverted chilla). Ignorant of the details he asked Bdru’d-Din Ghaznawi to obtain them from the Khwaja who replied that it required a man to tie a rope around his feet and remain suspended in a well, head down, for forty days and nights, while both fasting and praying. The Baba found a lonely mosque in Uch and, talking the mu’azzin into his confidence performed the chilla-ima’kus.
The reason why the Shaikh came to be known as Ganj-I Shakar (Store of Sugar) is described in different stories in various hagiological works. A more popular version is that, overpowered by incessant fasting for three days, the Baba placed some pebbles in his mouth. These immediately changed into sugar. Baba Farid, believing that this had been the work of the devil, spat them out. At midnight, again overcome by hunger, he repeated his actions, the stones became sugar and he refused to eat them. Finally, overpowered by extreme hunger he ate some pebbles which had become sugar so that he could continue praying. Khwaja Qutbu’d-Din approved his action, telling him that whatever was received from the unseen world must necessarily be good.
After the Baba’s fame in Delhi became an obstacle to prayer and meditation, he left for Hansi in the Hisar district. He was therefore absent from Delhi at the time of the Khwaja’s death, arriving five days after the event. In accordance with the khwaja’s will, Qazi Hamidu’d-Din Nagauri gave Baba Farid relics from the Khwaja including his khirqa, turban, stick and wooden sandals. Although this implied that the Baba was the Khwaja’s successors in Delhi, the Baba’s asceticism and total withdrawal from the world precluded any conflict with Shaikh Badru’d-Din who had also been extremely close to the khwaja and who wished to be his spiritual successor in Delhi.
First going to Hansi, the Baba finally settled at Ajodhan, where the remained from about 1236 until his death on 5 Muharram 664/17 October 1265. His long stay on th Stalaj, along one of the main routes from Multan to Lahore and Delhi, was a spiritually rewarding experience. Although he selected a lonely place to reside, Baba Farid was harassed by local officers of the Qazi of Ajodhan and by the rudeness of the people of the town. This was prompted mainly by the Qazi’s hostility towards the sufi movement.
Through an example of sanctity and austerity, Baba Farid sought to reform the Muslims in Punjab.
Shaikh Faridu’d-Din lived near the Jaml’ mosque, in a small house of mud walls covered with a thatched roof. He had strictly forbidden the use of burnt bricks for the building which, according to Chishti tradition, were not simple enough for an ascetic’s dwelling. The door remained open until midnight as a welcome to visitors. Among his few possessions, the Baba had a small rug which he used by night as a blanket, but which hardly covered him. During the day it was used as a sitting rug. Khwaja Qutbu’d-Din’s stick rested behind his head as a pillow. His food consisted of wild fruit and millet bread. Abstaining from nourishment during the day, in the evening he broke his fast by taking sherbet. A bowl of it would be brought to the Baba and often mixed with dried grapes. Of this he drank never more than half, dividing the rest among his visitors. After prayers, two pieces of bread smeared with ghee were taken to Baba Farid. One was given away, the other he himself ate, sharing it with his favourite disciples.
The jama’at-khana consisted only of a thatched hall, used for communal living and a separate cell was for the Shaikh’s meditation.
The jama’at-khana contained not a single piece of furniture, every member sat and slept on the floor. On special occasions a bed was provided for a new visitor. The Shaikh, followed the same practices as his disciples. Once when ill and forced to rest on the bed he apologized profusely to those sitting on the floor.
The establishment was run by Baba’s chief disciples. Fuel and wild berries, which were then boiled, were collected from the forests. In the early years of his stay at Ajodhan a zanbil (a basket made of palm leaves hung round the neck) was carried by some members of the jama’at-khana twice a day to the town and the offerings placed in it were shared by everyone. The Baba also preferred to eat bread from the zanbil, perhaps to be more fully integrated into the life of all members of his jama’at-khana. Other Chishti Shaikhs, including his own teachers, had permitted the borrowing of small amounts of money for household needs, but the Baba strictly forbade this practice. Anything received as futuh if not used immediately was kept no longer than a day and was distributed to the needy. To a sufi a new day ushered in new hope in God, and a concern for future needs was seen as totally opposed to a complete trust in Him.
The jama’at-khana, situated on a main route, attracted many visitors. These included scholars, merchants, government servants, artisans, Sufis and qalandars, in short, men from all classes and sections of society. Some, disillusioned with a life of affluence and comfort, became permanent members, others stayed for short periods to seek the Baba’s blessing and experience a spiritual rejuvenation. Some of his eminent disciples who lived in other areas also visited the jama’at-khana, but one such visitor, Maulana Badru’d-Din Ishaq, stayed and became a steward of the jama’at-khana. Prestigious guests, and many other people who came to the Shaikh were humble. A large number requested ta’wiz (amulets) and the demand for amulets became to fulfill all requests, so often they would be written instead by Maulana Ishaq.
The jama’at-khana received visitors who were often less than polite and considerate to its inmates.
To Baba Farid, Sufism was a strenuous exercise leading one to a pious life within the society in which one lived. It demanded humility, modesty , patience, fortitude and a cleansing of the heart from all conceit. Self-abnegation involved careful concern for any offence to another, and in the event of such a situation, sincere and copious apologies were demanded.
Baba Farid was him self a scholar and wrote excellent poetry in Arabic, Persian and the local Hindawi dialect. He recited the Qur’an perfectly, popularized the study of the ‘Awarifu’l-M’aarif and lectured on the subtle philosophy of the Lawa’ih of Qazi Hamidu’d-Din Nagauri. Nevertheless, he did not pride himself on his intellectual achievements and felt a genuine sense of humility. He encouraged education in his disciples and considered the ‘ulama’ to be nobler than the common people, though he disliked their self-satisfied indifference to others. The faqirs, he asserted, were superior to the ‘ulama’ and occupied the same place among them as the full moon amongst a sonstellation of stars.
Baba Farid illustrated the difference between Shari’s, Tariqa and Haqiqa by using the zakat, an obligatory payment for all Muslims, as an illustration. The zakat of Sharia’a was five dirhams our of 200, the zakat of Tariqa omvolved the payment of 195 dirhams out of 200 and the retention of only five dirhams and the zakat of Haqiqa entailed the payment of everything, retaining nothing.
Five hundred aphorisms of Baba Farid were collected, of which the following, selected by Amir Khwurd, give some insight into the Baba’s broadly based, humanitarian teachings.
- Pray to God alone for everyone else takes away but He gives. Whatever He gives cannot be taken away by anyone else.
- Escaping from the carnal self should be deemed as a means of reaching God.
- Do not satisfy the demands of the carnal self for its demands know no limit.
- Do not regard the ignorant as amongst the living.
- Avoid the ignorant who pose a though they were wise.
- Do not utter a truth which resembles a lie.
- Do not sell what people do not wish to buy.
- Do not worry about position and wealth.
- Do not eat every body’s bread, but give bread to everybody.
- Never forget death at any place.
- Do not make a statement based on supposition.
- Treat a calamity as the consequence of greed.
- Do not boast of having committed a sin.
- Do not make the heart a plaything of the devil.
- Keep your internal self better than the external one.
- Do not try to adorn yourself.
- Do not lower yourself in order to secure a position.
- Do not borrow either from the helpless or from the upstart.
- Protect the honour of old families.
- Strive to obtain fresh grace everyday.
- As far as possible prevent women for developing the habit of using abusive language.
- Consider good health a divine blessing.
- Be grateful but do not compel others to be grateful to you.
- While doing good to others think that you are helping yourself.
- Give up immediately that which your heart finds evil.
- Do not retain a slave who wishes to be sold.
- Seek a pretext to perform a good work.
- Always keep the doors of peace open in a war.
- Consider levity and harshness signs of weakness.
- Do not consider yourself safe from the enemy however conciliatory he might appear.
- Fear the man who fears you.
- Do not rely on your own strength.
- Self-restraint is never as imperative as it is at the time of sexual desire.
- Do not forget religion in the company of state dignitaries.
- Glory and honour depend upon equity and justice.
- Be magnanimous to the righteous.
- Do not consider anything a substitute for religion.
- There is no compensation for the (loss) of time.
- Be magnanimous to the righteous.
- Be arrogant to the stubborn.
- Do not be extravagant in entertaining guests.
- Make wisdom and solitude your (main) provision.
- Do not flee from calamity sent to you by God.
- Consider the dervish who seeks riches as covetous.
- entrust the government to the care of a God-fearing visor.
- Annihilate the enemy by discussion and captivate the heart of friends by hospitality.
- Consider worldliness as unforeseen calamity.
- Seek out your faults.
- Acquire wealth honestly in order to be able to retain it.
- Acquire knowledge through humility.
- Do not be concerned by the bitter words of enemies.
- Do not flee from the enemy.
- If you wish to avoid disgrace, do not beg.
- if you wish to make the whole world your enemy, be arrogant.
- Keep your good and bad points secret.
- Protect religion through knowledge.
- If you wish to be great be humble.
- If you want satisfaction, do not be jealous.
- Accept affliction as a gift.
- Try to become immortal by obliterating your carnal self.
The above sayings are profound, but the inner nature of the Baba’s mystical consciousness is best expressed in the following verses which he often recited while praying in solitude:
‘I pray to live only for the sake of loving Thee,
I wish to become dust and dwell eternally under Thy feet.
My principal expectation from both worlds in that,
I should die and live for Thee.’
According to the Shaikh, the initiation of a disciple should be performed personally by his preceptor. He was opposed to the initiation customs involving head shaving rituals at the tombs of sufi saints. When one of his own sons performed such a ceremony at the foot of Khwaja Qutbu’d-Din Bakhtiyar’s tomb, his father remarked that such an initiation was invalid. True initiations involved the disciple holding the Shaikh’s hand, while it was usual for his Pir to offer blessings and prayers for the disciple’s welfare.
Hadrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakkar died on 5th of Muharram 664 A.H. corresponding to 17 October 1265 C.E. He was buried in Pak Pattan (135 miles off Lahore).