Farid Masood-ud-Din, commonly known as Baba Farid, is one of those most revered sufi saints and poets in the world, especially in South Asia. He has kindled the light of love, peace, tolerance, humanitarianism, equality and respect in the abysmal darkness of extremism, hypocrisy, exploitation, hatred, class-distinction and religious bigotry through his character, teachings and poetry. Baba Farid was born in a poor family in 1173 in a village called Kothiwal near Multan and died in 1266 in Pakpattan. He received his early education from his father Jamal-ud-Din, who was an imam in the village mosque. He was admitted to a madrassa in Multan for higher education. In this madrassa, he met his mentor (murshid) Bakhtiar Kaki. Under the supervision of Bakhtiar Kaki, he not only achieved scholastic perfection but also spiritual enlightenment and bliss. Hazrat Bakhtiyar Kaki made him the head of the Chishti order just before his demise in Delhi. He lived in Delhi for some time. Here, he saw and met the ruling elite, including the king Balban, some members of the Persian aristocracy, Mullahs and pseudo sufis. Here, in Delhi, he realised the cruelty and hypocrisy of the ruling elite and the helplessness of the ruled class. This painful realisation forced him to leave Delhi, a place of comfort and luxury for the cruel ruling elite, false saints and sufis. After leaving Delhi, he settled in Ajodhan (present-day Pakpattan). It is also a proven fact that many members of the ruling elite turned against Baba Farid because they were jealous of his rising popularity among the people. Secondly, Baba Farid also challenged their false status and cruel power through his noble character and sufi teachings; which propagate humanitarianism, egalitarianism, universal love and condemn ritualism, religious bigotry and exploitation based on cast, colour and creed. Dr Manzur Ejaz, a columnist and author, wrote in his article that, “The people’s poet: Baba Fareed, did not come from the new Persian aristocratic class and never joined them like Bahauddin Zakariya Multani who lived like royalty and was always the Delhi Court’s appointed Sheikh-ul-Islam and advisor. (Bahauddin Zakariya belonged to the Soharwardi order of which PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi is now the custodian of the order and the shrine). One of Fareed’s brothers and devotee, Najib-uddin Mutawakkil, was a mere imam in Delhi and the third one lived a modest secluded life in Badaun. He did not promote his sons either so one of them started farming, another joined the army and the third remained in attendance whilst the fourth went to far off places in India and was murdered. His sons always complained to him that instead of helping them he had become an obstacle in their way because of the hostility of the qazis and kotwals. However, it was his great grandsons who joined the Tughlaq Court and were awarded huge estates. Fareed strengthened the Chishti order’s anti-establishment philosophy. He dumped Persian and adopted Punjabi, though he was a known grammatician of Persian and Arabic, and people used to travel hundreds of miles to discuss linguistic issues with him. He was in a sense the predecessor of Martin Luther, who would later translate the Bible in Germany. He refused to see kings or their men to keep his distance from the ruling elite. ” Like other politicians, Imran Khan’s sole purpose is to preserve his political interests. If he followed the real teachings of Baba Farid, he would have never wished to become a political leader and ruler. In his poetry, Baba Farid condemned falsehood, cruelty, pride, prejudice, hatred, greed, dishonesty, deceit, lust for power and worldly things There are many orders of Sufism in Islamic Tasawwuf. But, four orders – the Chishtiya, the Qadiriyya, the Naqshbandiyya and the Soharwardi – are very famous in South Asia. The saints belonging to the Soharwardi and the Naqshbandiyya orders, always supported the ruling elite and lived like royalty in the subcontinent. While, the Sufis from the Chishtiya and Chistiya Qadri orders always lived with the poor people, led very simple lives, listened to music to attain spiritual bliss, loved man irrespective of his religion, creed and cast and used local languages to spread their teachings of universal love and brotherhood. In fact, the Sufis from the Chistiya Qadri orders are pro-people, progressive, revolutionary, anti-establishment and anti-status quo. All the great Sufis and Punjabi poets like Baba Farid, Bulleh Shah, Sultan Bahoo and Waris Shah belong to these orders. Shah Hussain, belonging to the malamti sect, also negates ritualism and exploitation of the ruler-Mullah nexus. But, now, the custodians of all these four orders have become a part of the ruling elite in Pakistan. Being the first poet in Punjabi, Baba Farid is also considered the father of Punjabi poetry. Baba Farid’s many shalooks (couplets) have been included in the Granth Sahib, the Sikhs holy book. It shows the universality and importance of Baba Farid’s poetry and teachings. Some verses of Baba Farid are given below: Kaaley maindey kaprey, kaala mainda wais, Gunahan Bharehan main pheraan, Lok kahain dervish (Laden with my load of misdeeds, I move about in the garb of black garments. And the people see me and call me a dervish) Galian chikkar door ghar, naal payarey neouney, challaan tey bhijjay kambli, rahan ta jaaey neouney My promise with my love, a long way to go and a muddy lane ahead. If I move I spoil my cloak; if I stay I break my word Bhijoy sujhoy kambli Allah wirsay meen Jai millaan tahaan sajnaa tate nahin neounay Drenched and smirched be the cloak; let God’s cloud pour all the waters: Go I must; I go to keep my word of love Kook Farid Kook, Tu jivain Rakha Jawar Jab lag tanda na, Giray tab lag Kook pukar Shout, Farid, shout like the watchful man in the corn-field; As long as the bushel does not mature and fall, shout on Imran Khan and his wife are also devotees of Baba Farid. They frequently visit his shrine of the Sufi saint to seek his blessing. Like other politicians, Imran Khan’s sole purpose is just to preserve his political interests. In reality, if Imran Khan followed the real teachings of Baba Farid, he would have never wished to become a political leader and ruler. In his poetry, Baba Farid condemned falsehood, cruelty, pride, prejudice, hatred, greed, dishonesty, deceit, lust for power and worldly things. All these things are part and parcel of politics. Imran Khan’s way of life and character are diametrically different from the teachings of Baba Farid. Without any shame, he has broken his promise for bringing about change through honest and young leaders. After defending ‘corrupt electables’ with full force, Imran Khan has, now, given important roles to his friends like the British national Zulfikar Bukhari, Awn Chaudhry, Naeem Ul Haq, Iftikhar Durrani, Ehsan Mani and Zakir Khan in his government. He is leading a very comfortable life, replete with luxuries. But, he talks about the poor people, Islam, honesty, meritocracy and simplicity. In reality, he has used all the Machiavellian tactics to become the prime minister of Pakistan. Imran Khan’s devotion and visits to Baba Farid’s shrine should be seen in this perspective. (Translations by Najam Hosain Syed, the author of Recurrent Patterns in Punjabi Poetry) The writer is a former staff member who lives in the UK. He can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, September 29th 2018.