At birth his parents named him Farid-ud-Din Masaud, but he is mostly revered as Baba Farid of Pak Pattan. When Farid was a few years old his mother taught him his prayers. The boy asked what was gained by his prayers. His mother replied 'sugar'. She used to hide some sugar crystals under his prayer-carpet, and, when he had finished his prayers, she would draw it forth and give it to Farid as a reward for his devotion. On one occasion, when his mother was absent, he prayed a great deal, and, it is said, he found a correspondingly greater supply of sugar under his carpet. Pleased with the size of his 'reward' he ate some himself and shared the the rest with his playfellows. He related the circumstance to his mother on her return and as she had forgot to place his usual reward under his prayer mat she realized it wa a miraculous gift from God, so she gave him the surname Shakar Ganj, meaning a "treasury of sugar".
There is a great deal known or written regarding the original Shaikh Farid. Two genealogies of Shaikh Farid, subsequently called Farid Shakar Ganj, are given in the Jawahir-i-Faridi - one spiritual, the other temporal. He received his spiritual position from his priest Khwaja Qutub-ul-din Bakhtiyar Ushi of Dihli, whose spiritual predecessors derive in an unbroken line from the Prophet of Makka. Farid's temporal (family genealogy) has been traced back through princes and kings to Hazrat Amir-ul-Mumanin Umr-bin-ul Khitab Qureshi Makki Faruqi, the second Khalifa of the Muslims.
Nizam-ul-Din Auliya, a disciple of Farid, relates a legend of a robber who went to Farid's mother's house to steal. On beginning his operations he lost his sight. He then cried out that there must be some saint or miracle-worker present. He vowed that, if his sight was restored, he would renounce thieving and become a good Muhammadan. On hearing his vow Miriam prayed for him, and his sight was restored. He went home, and returned to her the following morning with an offering of milk.
Accompanied by his wife and children, he expressed a desire that they should all become Muhammadans. Miriam caused his wishes in this respect to be gratified, with the result that thay all became holy. In reply to her, he said his name was Chawa. His shrine among others in that locality has subsequently become a place of devout pilgrimage.
When Farid was conceived, his mother used to spend her days and nights in prayer. He was born at Kothiwal on the first day of the month of Ramzan, the Muslim religion's most sacred month, A.H. 569 (1173). The sky that night was dark and cloudy, and the moon, whose appearance as the “pehli ka chained” (the new moon) when the moon is seen in the western sky as a faint and delicate white curve, which marks the beginning of Ramzan, the Muslim period of daylight fasting. Because the moon could not be seen the devotees did not know when to begin their fast. (Ramzan begins only after the new moon has been sighted.)
Then a holy man arrived reporting that a wonderful son had been born to Jamal-ul-Sulaiman and if the infant suckled, the time for fasting had not yet begun, but if, on the contrary he refused the breast, then all good Muhammadans must fast. Farid did not suckle, and so it was apparent the fast had begun. During the whole month of Ramzan, it is said, the infant only took milk by night in the Muhammadan fashion and fasted by day.
When Baba Farid was 16 years old, he went to Hajj and stayed in the house of Abdul Rahim Ansari. Since Baba Farid ji use to talk in Punjabi, an unkempt faqir on hearing Farid’s language foretold the Boy’s subsequent greatness. After Farid came back to Punjab, he was sent to Khwaja Qutub-ud-Din Bakhtiar Kaki at Delhi to learn theology. Qutub-ud-din, on finding Baba Farid deficient in scholarship sent him to the shrine of Abdul Shakur of Sarsa, near Delhi to finish his education. On that occasion Baba Farid repeated the following:
O Farid, thou hast not walked in God’s way; therefore He hath no appeared unto thee Who is there who hath knocked at God’s door for whom it hath not been opened Lost thy life on the way of the Friend if thou desire to be even as those holy men.
The high reputation Farid acquired in Delhi soon became irksome to him. He therefore made his way to Hansi, where he remained for some time. Meanwhile Khwaja Qutub-ud- Bakhtiar Kaki died at Delhi and Baba Farid paid a second visit to that city, and assumed the mantle of his late spiritual guide. He ultimately left it in the keeping of Jamal-ud-Din of Hansi and thence proceeded to Ajodhan, the present Pak Pattan. The manner in which the name of Ajodhan changed to Pak Pattan was that a canal, which derived its water from the Sutlej passed near the town. It was usual for all who visited Baba Farid to wash their hands and feet there. The place henceforth became known as Baba Sahib ji da Pak Pattan, or Farid’s cleansing ferry.
Sheikh Farid ji made Pak Pattan a great center of Sufi thoughts. People from all over India and Middle East would come to see him. He always used his language, that is, Punjabi spoken by common people, even though he was highly learned and educated in Arabic, Persian, etc. All his couplets are written in Punjabi or Persian script. He generally rejected offerings of money, but would accept gifts of food, etc. for public kitchen. Baba Farid went to Delhi again and was received with a hospitable reception.
Emperor Nasir-ud-Din Balban introduced him to his family. Hazabra, the Emperor's daughter, was married to Baba Sheikh Farid, but only after Emperor Balban promised not to give any costly gifts. Baba ji distributed all her jewels, etc. to the poor.
Once seven hundred holy men were sitting together. An inquirer put them four questions to which Baba Farid ji replied:
- Q.1 Who is the wisest of men?
- A.1 He who refraineth from Sin.
- Q.2 Who is the most intelligent?
- A.1 He who is not disconcerted at anything.
- Q.3 Who is most independent?
- A.3 He who practises contentment.
- Q.4 Who is the most needy?
- A.4 He who practise the it not.
A Student asked Baba Farid if singing was lawful and proper. He replied that, according to Islam, it was certainly unlawful, but its propriety was still a matter of discussion. Nizam-ud-Dauliya told Nasir-ud-din, a disciple of his, that one day when he went to visit Baba Farid he stood at his door, and saw him dancing as he sang the following :
I wish ever to live in Thy love, O God. If I become the dust under Thy feet, I shall live I thy slave desire none but Thee in both worlds; For Thee I will live and for Thee I will die.
The following couplet was a favorite of Baba Farid’s:
Not every heart is capable of finding the secret of God’s love. There are not pearls in every sea; there is not gold in every mine.