Rahman Baba

Abdul Rahman Baba (1650–1715) (Pashto: عبدالرحمان بابا; popularly Rahman Baba, Pashto: رحمان بابا), was a Pashtun poet from Peshawar in the Mughal Empire (modern-day Pakistan). He remains the most popular poet among the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His poetry expresses a peaceful mystical side of local culture which is becoming increasingly threatened by less tolerant interpretations of Islam.

Rahman's lineage

Rahman was a member of the Khalil Mohmand (Bahader Kalay) sub-tribe of the Pashtuns, a group which originally migrated from Kandahar to the Peshawar valley, from the 13th to the 16th century. He grew up in a small pocket of Mohmand settlers on the outskirts of Peshawar. Rahman apparently lived peacefully in the area, and never mentions his involvement in the fierce inter-tribal conflicts of his day. Opinion is divided about Rahman's family background. Several commentators are convinced that his family were village Maliks (chieftains). However, Rahman Baba was more likely to have been a simple, though learned man. As he himself claimed: "Though the wealthy drink water from a golden cup, I prefer this clay bowl of mine." Abdur Rahman Baba died in 1715 CE, and his tomb is housed in a large domed shrine, or mazar, on the southern outskirts of Peshawar (Ring Road Hazar Khwani). The site of his grave is a popular place for poets and mystics to collect to recite his popular poetry. In April each year, there is a larger gathering to celebrate his anniversary.