Thanks largely to the matchless collection of mystical hymns in the local language of Siraiki, Khwaja Ghulam Farid (1845-1901), of Chacharan in the former princely state of Bahawalpur, continues to enjoy an enormous local reputation. In each area of Pakistan, there is one great figure of the literary past who has achieved the status of a patron saint and a symbol of local identity; and in the Siraiki-speaking area, this figure is unquestionably Ghulam Farid. Comprised of a collection of both his teachings and poems, the present translation brings the wider public direct access to one of the greatest figures in the literary and spiritual past of Pakistan.
The Teachings, recorded first-hand by the Khwaja’s devoted disciple Rukn ud-Din, capture the unblurred vividness of the Khwaja talking to his disciples in a way that leads the mind gradually and seamlessly into the world of classical
Islam. Through these lessons, the Khwaja proves himself to be a scholar with wide intellectual interests as well as a spiritual dignitary of the firmest orthodoxy. A master of the poetic form of the kafi, the present work also exposes the reader to the Khwaja’s sensitivity to beauty and magical ability to handle language through poems which appeal to the emotions as much as they convey religious teaching and profound mystical awareness. The blend of traditional Sufi allegories with the Khwaja’s refreshing originality results in the kind of all-embracing poetic language which can perhaps emerge only once in the history of any given literature.
This book is the third installment of the Malfuzat series: Wise Words of Sufi Saints.
Christopher Shackle is Emeritus Professor of the Modern Languages of South Asia, SOAS, University of London. He is an expert on the Siraiki language, and has written several books on Siraiki and other South Asian literatures. His translations of Bullhe Shah from Panjabi and Shah Abdul Latif from Sindhi have recently been published by Harvard University Press.