Baba Farid was one of the earliest Sufi poets in the Punjab and spiritual founder of Pakpattan.
The famous saint, Sheikh Farid-ud-Din Masud Ganj Shakar, better known as Baba Farid, is known as the spiritual founder of Pakpattan. His grandparents had immigrated from Kabul. He was born in the village of Kothewal near Multan in 1173 AD during the reign of the Ghaznavid Empire. He attained his early education there and at the age of 18 he travelled to Multan to study at a famous madrassa. There he met Khwaja Bukhtiyar Kaki who later became his murshid or mentor and asked him to travel for a few years to gain worldly knowledge.
During his stay in Delhi Baba Farid was inducted into the Chishti Silsila. Afterwards he travelled widely as far as Khurasan, Baghdad, Makkah, Madina, Kufa, Basra and Damascus before he settled in Pakpattan (or Ajhudan as it was formerly known), which he made his home for the rest of his life.
Baba Farid’s message had a broad humanistic approach. People from all faiths were allowed to visit him. He looked upon the ruling classes extravagances as a form of degeneration. He himself led an extremely simple life, refusing any gifts and constantly giving to the poor. Baba Farid wrote poetry in Punjabi and in this way promoted the Punjabi language. His progressive thought and poetry had a significant impact on many of the Punjabi poets that followed him. Among these, to name a few in Punjab, are Waris Shah, Sultan Bahu and Bulleh Shah.
Baba Farid died in 1265 and in 1267 Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya, his disciple, constructed a shrine in his honor in Pakpattan. The shrine has two doors; the eastward door is known as Noori Darwaza and the southern door is known as Bahishti Darwaza or Door to Paradise. It is said that the Mongol conqueror Timur spared the inhabitants of Pakpattan out of reverence for the shrine of Baba Farid.
Nadiem, Ihsan H. Punjab: Land, History, People. Lahore: Al-Faisal Nashran, 2005.