There exists a small piece of Punjab right inside of the Old city of Jerusalem. A piece of Punjab that was established by the Punjabi Sufi Baba Farid Ganjshakar around the year 1200 CE after the city was liberated by Salahuddin.
Of the Piece of Punjab in Jerusalem.
Baba Farid was a Muslim Punjabi mystic and poet who one of the founders and refiners of the Chishti order of Sufis. He was born near the city of Multan in modern Pakistan in 1175 CE and studied for the greater part in the marvelous medieval city of Multan. Receiving education and training in what was one of the most important and flourishing towns of Medieval South Asia. As a highly revered figure in Punjab, Baba Farid is remembered both for his Sufi order and religiosity but also for his excellent poetry. He was amongst the first to use the Punjabi language as a vehicle for literary works. Though what’s interesting is his link to the faraway holy city of Jerusalem.
After the historic liberation of Jerusalem by Salahuddin Ayubi in 1187, the holy city attracted many men of learning and piety from the entire Islamic world, each wanting to spend some time in what is one of the 3 principal cities of Islam. Amongst these, it is believed that Baba Farid visited and stayed in Jerusalem around the year 1200. Here Baba Farid in need of a place to stay, established a small serai in the old city of Jerusalem right inside ‘Bab-Az-Zahra’ or its Christian name ‘Herod’s Gate’.This sanctuary was given the name ‘Zawiya Al-Faridia’ – The Lodge of Farid. It is said that during his stay in this lodge in Jerusalem, he used to hold fasts for 40 days on end. He would also be often spotted sweeping and cleaning the beautiful stone floors of Masjid Al-Aqsa or fasting inside silent caves of the city walls. He imparted a beautiful new taste of Sufi Mysticism to the old city of Jerusalem.
It is not known how many years he stayed in Jerusalem and although he died in 1266, the lodge and that piece of Punjab stayed alive and still live on in Old Jerusalem!
Till date, if one ever finds oneself wandering near the Bab-Az-Zahra or Herod’s gate in old Jerusalem, one would only need to walk through the colorful markets of the gate to take a sharp right to arrive to a set of steps. A set of steps leading to the famous lodge of Farid. One would be welcomed by 2 pillars in between which would be a green door above which would be an inscription declaring a new name “Zawiya Al-Hindiya”. During the British occupation the lodge was handed over to a muslim family of Indian descent and is ever since been looked after by them.
Gateways to the Divine: Transformative Pathways of Prayer from the Holy City of Jerusalem – A. D. Mayes.