This post gives a brief but comprehensive account of the life of Rahman Baba, A Pashtun Sufi Saint of the 18th century.
Name, birth, and birthplace
Raman baba was a great Sufi saint and Pashto poet from Peshwar. His real name was Abdur Rahman Muhammad. The great saint was born in 1632 in a village called Bahadur Kala near Peshawar city. He lived at the time with another prominent Sufi poet Khushal Khan Khatak.
Though fundamentally Islamic in origin, the teachings of Rahman Baba make an irresistible appeal to all, irrespective of caste, color, and creed, with fresh ideas that acted as a guidepost for seekers of the truth. (Khan 2009).
According to Khan (2009), “Rahman Baba was a strong proponent of unity and preacher of peace in the world. In his opinion, unjust moral behavior and selfishness of man were responsible for all the restlessness, violence, and aggression in society and the world. Moreover, he emphasized practicing justice irrespective of wealth, and power for greatness lies in being just rather than being powerful and wealthy.”
For Rahman Baba, the establishment of justice and peace was the prerogative of the rulers. He held rulers of his time responsible for the violence and disunity among the different sects. According to the great Sufi poet peace can only be established if both the ruling and ruled practice justice, have trust in God, belief in piety, and control over greed. Along with them, there need some additional qualities i.e. knowledge with practice, generosity, morality, and respect for humanity.
People will always remember him whenever the Sufism and role of Sufi saints in the spread of Islamic mysticism in India come under discussion.
Rahman is one of the most popular classical Sufi poets in the Pushtun-speaking areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He wrote his diwan containing 343 poems in the Pashto language. According to some accounts, he used to live in seclusion most of the time but remained a keen observer of what was going around. Historians believe he composed his poetry around 1660 and 1710 while he lived a life of seclusion. Mysticism, God, morality, and Brotherhood are the main themes of his poems.
Death and Shrine
The great Sufi saint, Rahman Baba died in 1715 AD in Peshawar. He was laid to rest in the outskirts of Peshawar city. A shrine complex was built on his tomb which exists to date. Devotees from Afghanistan and modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan make the pilgrimage to the shrine to pay their respects and pray.
The present mausoleum of Rahman Baba was constructed by an Afghan civil society organization, the Pakhto Tolena (Pashtoon Society) in 1954 is in the Hazarkhwani area near Peshawar city.
Urs of Rahman Baba
The Urs of Rahman Baba takes place every year on April 4. Urs attracts his devotees both from Pakistan and Afghanistan in large numbers. As part of the shrine events, a session of Rabab and Sufi poetry is being arranged in which renowned poets and singers perform. Moreover, the organizers of the events in connection with the Urs also serve langar twice a day for the poor and visitors.
1. Khan, H. (2009). Mysticism Of Rahman Baba And Its Educational Implications. Disertasi pada Department of Social Sciences/Qurtuba University of Science and Information Technology, Peshawar.
3. Khan, H. U. (2009). Rahman Baba as a Proponent of Unity and Preacher of Peace. Dialogue, 3(2), 192.