Two Poems by Rehman Baba

Posted on January 24, 2008
Filed Under >Aadil Shah, People, Poetry
Total Views: 59181


Aadil Shah

Abdur-Rehman (1650 – 1715 A.D) widely known as Rehman Baba was a great Pushtu Sufi poet who is regarded as the most read and quoted Pushtu poet of the larger belt of Afghanistan and the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan. There isn’t much known about his life due to the lack of eyewitness accounts yet a few legends portray him to be a reclusive poet, singing his poems near the Bara River while strumming a Rubab.

His poetry shows him to be a poet who had full command on fiqah (jurisprudence) and tasawwuf (Sufism). A powerful Sufi touch in his poetry notwithstanding, he was not inclined to a particular order of Sufism and it is more likely that Rehman Baba was a free soul, with an individualistic practice of Sufism similar to that of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in Sindh. Thus he says:

“On the path which I travel to see my love, make holy Khizer and Ilyas my guides”

His tomb is at Hazarkhwani, in the suburbs of Peshawar.

Why I’m not dying
Why I’m not dying,
Of the sorrow of separation,
Why I’m not dying,
Of this mourning intense.
Why I’m not dying,
Of the cruelty of this age,
Which snatches a lover from the lover.
Why I’m not dying
Of witnessing these mornings,
Which laugh at my sobs every rising day.
Why I’m not dying
Without my lover,
For it is a death, not to stare in the lover’s eyes.
Why I’m not dying,
To see these unfaithful drops of dew,
That leave the flower upon seeing a slight warmth.
Why I’m not dying,
Of this deadly miserable life,
That I’m carrying with myself,
O’Rehman from so long.


Such have your sorrows overpowered me,
That I’ve lost every place in and out.My sobs have rendered people restless,
Like fire of a burning dry wood engulfing the moistured.In your pain, I’m weeping like a candle,
But you are smiling at me like a bright morn.

My heart’s hanging in your path,
Like your black hair dangling in front of your face.

Tis’ a norm for all the sorrows to be crushed under your feet,
When you are burdened with that single grief.

They come towards you, leaving me behind,
All those who advisingly forbade me from your path.

Such is the effect of yours over the face of Rehman,
Like a flame of fire over a thinly dry stalk.

Credits: This article was earlier posted at Pak Tea House.

22 Comments on “Two Poems by Rehman Baba”

  1. Ali says:
    January 24th, 2008 4:42 pm

    Thank you for a very informative post.I have always heard of Rahman Baba but never had the opportunity to read his poetry.

    Is the translation yours?

    I must say that reading the first poem it seemed like it was a commentary on everything happening in Pakistan today.

  2. Tina says:
    January 24th, 2008 6:23 pm

    Thanks so much for the poems translated into English, but some of our readership might be able to enjoy them in Pushto also. Is this available for you to post? Thanks.

  3. sidhas says:
    January 24th, 2008 7:25 pm

    Thank you for enlightening us with Rahman Baba’s poems. It is great to read about legendary icon.

  4. Aadil says:
    January 24th, 2008 11:30 pm

    Thanx a lot The for publishing my post on the great pushto sufi poet. I would also like to thank Raza Rumi who’s encouragement brought these translations out of me.
    So very thanx Ali, for liking the poems and yes, such is the variety of Rehman baba’s poetry that you’ll find something relevent every now and then.
    Tina, the original poems in pushto can be found on my blog in a few days time.
    Thank you Sidhas, for your appreciation..

  5. Daktar says:
    January 25th, 2008 12:38 am

    I think the wisdom contained in the poetry of giants like Rahman Baba, Bulleh Shah, Bhitai and others is a treasure that we must all cherish and learn form. Thank you for recording it here.

  6. January 25th, 2008 12:47 am

    We need more such informative posts on ATP. Nice to see GOP issue a commemorative stamp to honor his memory.

  7. khan says:
    January 25th, 2008 2:25 am

    Yes sounds pretty much like todays pakistan .. which shows we r not going through some special crisis now a days, so chill guys …. world has been like this from the start.

  8. Tangier says:
    January 25th, 2008 3:28 am

    Thank you for a very informative post. But I think Rehman Baba is Pushto sooofi poet but never had the opportunity to read his poetry. And his poetry is very different to others poets. His poetry is massage to all people’s whose are muslims and thanks again for your’s ” the poems translated into English”.
    I must say that reading the first poem it seemed like it was a commentary on everything happening in Pakistan today.

  9. ahsan says:
    January 25th, 2008 6:33 am

    we need to find out why people commented less on literary posts. We see 60, 70 or even 100 comments against politics and social issues but what is wrong with literature? Or is there something wrong with us. We don’t love books and literature as much as we like other activities. Look above only 6 comments. Is the poem by the great poet not interesting enough? We need to find out reasons behind it. Owais Mughal can tell us about the trend to comment on literary posts. Is my observation right or wrong, dear editor? If wrong, then I am happy. If right, then we need to go back to libraries, book shops and book stalls to make Pakistan a literate Pakistan.

  10. Raza Rumi says:
    January 25th, 2008 6:49 am

    Extremely well said. Your diagnosis is absolutely correct -
    it is a shame ..

  11. Anwar says:
    January 25th, 2008 9:25 am

    First of all I want to commend ATP for the attention given to Rahman Baba – it was very common to hear his poetry recited and danced with by professional male dancers who resided in Debgari area of the old city. These professionals during the current MMA lead government, by the way, have attracted the wrath of local Talibans and are likely to become history. And most probably they have.

    I am recalling the times when we were growing up in Peshawar and Hazarkhawani during the night time was considered a very dangerous place – more like the wild wild West. I do not know how much it has changed but the names of places and the poet brought some very good memories.

    As to why there were so few comments on this post (Ahsan), there is an additional reason and that is how many of our fellow citizen (outside NWFP) even consider Rahman Baba as a credible sufi poet? Had it not been for Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mohsin Ahsan, and Ahmed Faraz, to name a few, to express their talents in Urdu – they too would have been licking the dust of obscurity. So there are some intrinsic problems as well.

    Nevertheless – it was good to read this post. Pushto Academy at Peshawar University has great archives that need to be translated and presented to the nation.

    I hope Khushal Khan Khattak’s work is also available – he was more than a poet. He was a nationalist as well.

  12. Daktar says:
    January 25th, 2008 12:16 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful topic and post. Your older post on Bulleh Shah at ATP is still one of my favorites.

    I think you see more comments on some other posts not because there is more interest on those issues but because those issues are political and controversial opinions are thrown around. Also, having been here a very long time, I know that usually a few people start spamming posts with one message after the other saying the same thing again and again and then those responding reply with same thing again and again. That is how the numbers pile up but more comments does not mean more interest.

  13. MQ says:
    January 25th, 2008 1:01 pm

    Recently I had written a post on Heer Warsh Shah in which I mentioned how eloquently Waris Shah describes Heer

  14. Zak says:
    January 26th, 2008 8:53 am
  15. January 27th, 2008 8:34 am

    a great poem by a great sufi poet. I wish you youngsters in pakistan do not allow these greats die due to negligence and anonymity.

  16. January 28th, 2008 2:14 am

    thank u 4r sending me such a nice mail.i m very happy that all things pakistan send me usefull information.i m really v happy after reading about ABDUL REHMAN BABA

  17. February 6th, 2008 7:36 am

    I have read REhman baba’s poetry. He was a great sufi poet.

  18. February 9th, 2008 1:52 am

    Do visit it that…

  19. mohammad says:
    February 28th, 2008 11:13 am

    thanks u for bring our respective leaders to us we are very happy to know about our great rehman baba

  20. Shadab qureshi says:
    October 12th, 2008 4:38 pm

    Rehman baba is a great sufi

  21. Jalal HB says:
    March 6th, 2009 3:33 am

    Thank you for bringing to forth the beautiful litereary work of otherwise obscured Rehman Baba – this is my first exposure to his work (how naive of me) and I felt saddended for not having known his work before. I will add a section on Rehman Baba in my site on Pakistan soon ( to pay tribute to this great poet.

    I also felt saddened for the damage to his tomb by the militants – who know nothing except destruction and unrest in the country.

  22. January 19th, 2010 11:54 am

    hats off for the writer who has taken down some lines about one of the greatest poet of pashtu language. he was ,is and will be great.may the God Almighty give us the virtue to toe the line shown by Rehman baba

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