By Nazar Abbas

Khwaja Ghulam Fareed’s shrine is located in Chacharan Shareef near Rajanpur district. 

Khwaja Ghulam Fareed, a well-known spiritual personality of Indo-Pak and a popular Sufi poet, was born on 3 December in 1845 in Chacharan Shareef, Rahim Yar Khan district, a small town located on the Indus bank in Southern Punjab. The town is commonly known as Kot Fareedan (town of Fareed).

Ancestry of the famous poet and spiritual elder can be traced back to the Arabian Peninsula. According to the tradition, his ancestors migrated from Arabia and settled in Thatha, Sindh. His family was well-read and widely respected. Most of the members had dedicated their lives to Islam by spreading it among the people of the subcontinent.

A mosque is adjacent to the darbar.

In Shah Jahan era, Khawaja Ghulam Fareed’s the great-grandfather Khawaja Shareef settled in Malang Lot, Lodhran as requested by the King. Khawaja Shareef stayed in Lodhran until he was requested by Nawab Mithan Khan Jatoi, one of his fervent disciples to migrate to this area. Nawab Jatoi had promised to establish a new city in honour of the spiritual leader, so he did.

Reverend Khawaja approved his disciple’s entreaty and moved to the area of Nawab Jatoi. Kot Mithan, the town named after the fervent Nawab was established, which was unfortunately inundated under severe floods in 1862. Later Mr Lean the English Assistant Commissioner of the area got the city rebuilt.

A fountain at the court of Khawaja Fareed shrine.

During the Sikh rule in Punjab, the Khawaja Family was not met with great respect. The Sikh rulers irked the spiritual family which forced the family to shift to Chachran to avoid any untoward incident. It is here in Chachrran that the unique poet and spiritual figure, Khawaja Ghulam Fareed was born and had his early education.

Khawaja was a disciple of his own elder brother, Khawaja Fakhar Jahan. He was crowned as the next spiritual leader after his brother died. It was then that he started writing poetry which became a hit immediately and remains popular to this day. Spirituality, man a the crown of creatures, Ishq (true love) Love of Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) are the main themes in his poetry.

He emphasized the local culture and even his most elated poems are written in the context of local culture. He introduced the word Rohi (روہی) to refer to the Cholistan and Thar desert in his poetry.

A devotee is paying respect to the saint by kissing and bowing at the shrine.

Khawaja Ghulam Fareed’s poetry speaks of love, humanism, tolerance, peace and spirituality.He wrote two collections of poetry, one of them being in Urdu and the other one in many languages chief among them being Punjabi and Saraiki.He remains the greatest Sufi Saint of the Chishtia lineage of Sufism.

Among his disciples were the Nawab rulers of independent Indian states. Chief among them were Nawab of Tonk, Rajasthan and Ahmed Akhtar Ali Gorgani grandson of the King Bahadur Shah Zafar. But he had a special liking for Nawab Sadiq Mohammad Abbasi, the Nawab of Bahawalpur State. There are many stories related to their mutual affiliation.

Local children from Rajanpur pose for a photograph at the shrine. 

Back then the English government of India was usurping powers from the independent states very crookedly. Nawab Sadiq also fell prey to one of the conspiracies. The state was put under sanctions by the British Government and English emissary Mr Grey connived the Nawab into subduing his state under the English Flag.

Naturally, the Nawab was saddened with the proceedings and contacted his spiritual leader Khawaja Ghulam Fareed in despair. On hearing the news Khawaja got angry but said, “If the Nawab has sold the state there is no issue. I haven’t sold it yet.”

When Mr. Grey took the documents to the Vice Roy, not only the contract was immediately declared null and void but also Mr Grey was removed from his post and sent back to London as a punishment. The state’s independent status was restored and it was returned to Nawab Sadiq.

From inside the wood has a unique pattern and the walls have the inscription of verses from the holy book.

Khawaja Ghulam Fareed breathed his last on 24 July, 1901. He was buried in Mithan Kot. Every year a festival is arranged at his tomb on 5th, 6th and 7th of Rabi ul Awal according to the Hijri or Islamic Calendar to mark his death anniversary. It is attended by thousands of people every year.

Auqaf Department owns hundreds of thousands of acres of land that belong to the saint’s mausoleum and earns millions of rupees in annual contracts of the agricultural land and commercial properties. Unfortunately, no revenue is spent on the upkeep of the tomb or the annual religious festival.

Outside stalls showcase traditional items including cloths inscribed with the poetry of Khawaja Fareed.

On October 12, 1962, an order was issued under which all religious properties were taken over by the Auqaf department. Thus all land and properties that belonged to the saint’s tomb were handed over to the Punjab Government.

According to Arshad, an employee of the department, 20 million rupees are generated by the agricultural land in Rajanpur let alone the 12000 acres of land that belong the saint’s tomb in Liaqat Pur, Bahawalpur, Khan Pur and Rahim Yar Khan.

A large number of pilgrims visit the shrine during the Urs or festival every year.

The department is earning millions of rupees from the said properties but to the dismay of the devotees, none of the income is being spent on the upkeep of the tomb and the area around it.

One of his most popular poems sung by Pathanay Khan Meda Ishq wi Tou is presented here in English translation followed by its original Urdu version:

You Are My Ardour
You are my ardour, my friend, faith, creed.
You are my body, you are my spirit, heart, soul.
You’re the direction towards which I pray.
You are my Mecca, my mosque, my pulpit.
You are my holy books and my Koran.
You are my religious obligations,
My Hajj, charity, fasting, call to prayer.
You are my asceticism, worship,
My obedience and my piety.
You are my knowledge and you’re my gnosis.
You’re my remembrance, my contemplation
You are my tasting and my ecstasy.
You are my love, my sweet, my darling, my honey
You are my favourite, and my soulmate!
You’re my spiritual preceptor, my guide,
You are my Shaykh and my Enlightened One
You are my hope, my wish, my gains, losses.
You’re all I see, my pride, my deliverance.
You’re my faith, my honour, modesty, glory
You’re my pain, sorrow, my crying, playing
You are my illness and my remedy.
You are what lulls me to a peaceful sleep.
You are my beauty and my fate, fortune, fame.
You are my looking, enquiring, seeking
You are my understanding, my knowing
You are my henna, my collyrium,
My rouge, my tobacco, my betel-leaf!
You are my terror, my passion, madness
You’re my crying and my lamentation.
You are my Alpha and my Omega,
My Inner, Outer, Hidden, Manifest.
If, O’Belovéd, you accept Farid
You are my Sovereign and my Sultan.

In Urdu:

میڈا عشق وی توں, میڈا یار وی توں
میڈا دین وی توں, میڈا ایمان وی توں
میڈا جسم وی توں،  میڈا روح وی توں
میڈا قلب وی توں،جند جان وی توں
میڈا کعبہ، قبلہ ،مسجد، ممبر
مُصحف تے قرآن وی توں
میڈے فرض، فریضے، حج، زکوٰتاں
صوم صلٰواۃ، اذان وی توں
میڈی زہد ، عبادت، طاعت،تقوٰی
علم وی تُوں،عرفان وی توں
میڈا ذکر وی توں ،میڈا فکر وی توں
میڈا ذوق وی توں، وجدان وی توں
میڈا سانول ،مٹھڑا، شام ،سلوُنا
من موہن ،جانان وی توں
میڈا مرشد،ہادی، پیر طریقت
شیخِ حقائق دان وی توں
میڈی آس امید ،تے کھٹیا، وٹیا
تکیہ ،مان،  تران وی توں
میڈا دھرم وی توں، میڈا بھرم وی توں
میڈی شرم وی توں، مینڈی شان وی توں
میڈا ڈُکھ ،سُکھ، روون، کِھلن  وی توں
میڈا درد وی توں ،درمان وی توں
میڈےخوشیاں دا اسباب وی توں
میڈے سُولاں دا سامان وی توں
میڈا حُسن تے بھاگ ،سُہاگ وی توں
میڈا بخت تے نام  نِشان وی توں
میڈا دیکھن، بھالن، جاچن ،جوچن
سمجھن ،جان ،سنجان وی توں
میڈے  ٹھڈرےساہ تے مونجھ مو نجھاری
ہنجھوں دے طوفان وی توں
میڈے تلک ،تلولے ،سیندھاں ،مانگاں
ناز، نہوڑے تان وی توں
میڈی مہندی ،کجل ،مُساگ وی توں
میڈی سُرخی ،بیڑا، پان وی توں
میڈی وحشت، جوش جنون وی توں
میڈا گِریہ، آہ ، فغان وی توں
میڈا اول ،آخر ،اندر ،باہر
ظاہر تے پنہان وی توں
میڈا بادل ،برکھا ، کِھمنا ں، گاجاں
بارش تے باران وی توں
میڈا ملک، ملیر تے مارو ،تھلڑا
روہی، چولستان وی توں
جے یار فرید قبول کرے
سرکار وی توں ،سلطان وی توں
نہ تاں کہتر ،کمتر،ا حقر ،ادنیٰ
لاشئے، لا امکان وی توں

Nazar Abbas is working with Pak Voices as a citizen journalist from Rahim Yar Khan district. 

Photos by Hasan Khan 

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