Shah Farhad was born in Delhi but grew up in Burhanpur in central India where his father was a governor. As a child, he got attached to the sufi mystic Dost Mohammed who initiated him in the Abul Ulai order, an offshoot of the Chishti order. The young Farhad became involved in the remembrance of God, and to the despair of his father, he gradually let go of his worldly existence. He stopped paying attention to clothes and food. He reached the state of baqa, continuance in God, and gained a reputation of purifying the souls of people by his glance alone. Shah Farhad later settled in Delhi where he acquired a large following among Delhiwallas, both Muslims and Hindus.
He died on 25 Jumada ath Thani 1135 Hijri; in 1723 CE. In Sufism, the death of a saint is celebrated as the occasion when his soul gets freedom from the body and is united with that of his beloved, the God. Urs means ‘wedding’ in Arabic.
Every morning before opening their stores, the traders in the neighbourhood come to the dargah to get their shop keys blessed by Shah Farhad. Childless women come asking for children. Students come to get their books blessed. “This shrine has a lot of benevolence,” says Sadia Dehlvi, author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. “Your wishes are granted here.”
Shah Farhad’s shrine is also a place where you come to get rid of djinns, the mysterious beings who, according to Islamic beliefs, are made of smokeless fire. These supernatural creatures are everywhere but remain invisible. Sometimes they trap vulnerable people in their spell and make their life miserable. These possessed men and women then visit shrinks and shrines to become normal again. Some come to the dargah of Shah Farhad, also known as Sheikh ul Djinn, the master of djinns. Clinging to the grills, the tormented scream and shiver in agony, asking the djinns to leave them. If they become free, they become life long followers of the saint. There must be many such people in this multitude tonight. Who knows there may also be djinns.