Abdul Qadir Jilani

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Abdul Qadir Jilani
Hazrat Abu Muhammad Muhiyuddin Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani
Tomb of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani.jpg
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani's mausoleum in Baghdad.
Order Qadiri (founder)
Madh'hab Hanbali
Born 1077 AD / 470 AH
Jilan, Iran
Passed away 1166 AD / 561 AH
Baghdad, Iraq
Resting place

Baghdad, Iraq

Map of Burial Place
Title(s)

Al-Ghawth al-A'zam

Al-Hasani wal Husseini

Piran-e-Pir

Sultan al-Awliya

The Rose of Baghdad

Hazrat Abu Muhammad Muhiyuddin Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) (also spelled Jeelani, Gilani, Gillani, Al-Gilani) was a Sufi Sheikh and the founder of the Qadiri Sufi order (Silsila). He was born in the month of Ramadan in 470 AH (1077-78 AD) in the Persian province of Jilan (Iran), south of the Caspian Sea. His contribution to Sufism and Sharia was so immense that he became known as the spiritual pole of his time, al-Ghawth al-A'zam.

Contents

Family & Lineage

One of his many titles is ‘al-Hasani wal Husseini’ because he was blessed with direct lineage to the Holy Prophet ﷺ through his father Sheikh Abu Saleh Moosa (ra) who was a direct descendant of Imam Hassan Ra.gif. He was a very pious and humble person as well as a master in the tactics of Jihad and it was due to this that he was given the title of “Jangi Dost”. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was also blessed with direct lineage to the Holy Prophet ﷺ through his mother Sayyida Bibi Ummul Khair Fatima (ra) who was a direct descendant of Imam Hussein Ra.gif. She was also a very pious person. The circumstances surrounding the blessed marriage of Hazrat Abu Saleh Moosa (ra) and Hazrat Bibi Ummul Khair (ra) were quite miraculous to say the least.

Sayyidi Abdullah Sauma’ee was the maternal grandfather of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). He was a very patient, humble, kind and sincere person. Sayyida Aisha Zaahida (ra) was the paternal aunt of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). She was a very kind and pious woman. Her entire life was spent in the remembrance of Almighty Allah.

Predictions of his Birth

Sheikh-ul-Mashaa’ikh, Sayyiduna Junaid Al-Baghdadi (ra): He lived two hundred years before Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) and foretold his coming in the following manner. Once, while Sheikh Junaid al-Baghdadi (ra) was in a state of spiritual ecstasy, he stated: “His foot is on my shoulders; his foot is on my shoulders.” After he had come out of this spiritual condition, his disciples questioned him concerning these words. He said, “I have been informed that a great Saint will be born towards the end of the fifth century. His name shall be Abdul Qadir and his title will be Muhiyuddin. He will be born in Jilan and he will reside in Baghdad. One day, on the Command of Allah, he will say, ‘My foot is on the shoulders of all the Awliya Allah’. While in my spiritual condition, I saw his excellence and these words were uttered by me without my control.”

Imam Hassan Askari (ra): Sheikh Abu Muhammad (ra) states that before his demise, Imam Hassan Askari (ra) handed over his Jubba (Cloak) to Sayyiduna Imam Ma’roof Karki (ra) and asked him to pass it over to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). Sheikh Imam Ma’roof Karki (ra) passed over this cloak to Sayyiduna Junaid al-Baghdadi (ra), who in turn passed it over to Sheikh Danoori (ra) . From here it was then passed down until it reached Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) in the year 497 A.H. (Makhzanul Qaaderiah)

Sheikh Abu Bakr Bin Haw’waar (ra): He lived before the time of al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) and was amongst the distinguished Mashaa’ikh of Baghdad. Once, while he was sitting in his majlis, he said, “There are seven Aqtaab (High-Ranking Awliya) of Iraq:

  1. Sheikh Ma’roof Karki (ra)
  2. Sheikh Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (ra)
  3. Sheikh Bishr Haafi (ra)
  4. Sheikh Mansoor bin Amaar (ra)
  5. Sayyiduna Junaid al-Baghdadi (ra)
  6. Sheikh Sahl bin Abdullah Tastari (ra)
  7. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra)

When he heard this, Sayyidi Abu Muhammad (ra), who was a mureed of Sheikh Abu Bakr (ra) asked, “We have heard and know six of these names, but the seventh, we have not heard of. O Sheikh! Who is Abdul Qadir Jilani?” Sheikh Abu Bakr (ra) replied by saying: “Abdul Qadir (ra) will be a non-Arab (and a) pious man. He will be born towards the end of the fifth century Hijri and he will reside in Baghdad.” (Bahjatul Asraar)

Sheikh Khaleel Balkhi (ra): He was a great Wali-Allah and had passed away before the time of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). Once while he was seated with his disciples, he said: “A pure servant of Allah will become apparent in Iraq towards the end of the fifth century. The world will gain brightness from his presence. He will be the Ghaus of his time. The creation of Allah will be obedient to him, and he will be the Leader of the Awliya Allah.” (Azkaarul Abraar)

Imam Muhammad Bin Sa’eed Zanjani (ra): He stated as follows in his distinguished work, “Nuzhatul Khawatir”: “From the era of Sheikh Abi Ali Hassan Yasaarajuwi (ra) up to the era of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), every Wali that passed this earth, foretold the coming and the excellence of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra).” (Nuzhatul Khawatir)

Birth

According to authentic narrations, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was born in a place called Neef, which is situated in Jilan (Persia). According to Imam Yaaqoot Hamwi (ra), Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was born in a place called Bashteer. Most historians agree that Neef and Bashteer were different names for the same place. Since he was born in Jilan, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) is known as al-Jilani. Concerning his birth, he personally states the following in his “Qasida-e-Ghausia”: “I am Al Jilani, my name is Muhiyuddin, and my banners fly on mountain tops.”

There are two narrations concerning the date of birth of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). The first narration is that he was born on the 1st of Ramadan 470 AH. The second narration is that he was born on the eve of the 2nd of Ramadan 470 AH. The second narration seems to be the one more favoured amongst the scholars. His birth was a great blessing for the Ummah. It was the arrival of the Sultan al-Awliya (King of the Awliya), which had been foretold for centuries before his birth.

Miracles Surrounding his Birth

  • At the time of his birth his mother was nearly 60 years old, an age when women are usually unable to have children.
  • On the night of the Mi'raaj (Ascension), the Prophet Muhammad's ﷺ blessed foot stepped on the neck of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) to mount al-Buraq. When he was born, the impression of the footprint of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was present on Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). This alone was proof of his Sainthood.
  • On the eve of his birth, approximately eleven hundred males were born in Jilan and every one of them became a Wali of Allah.
  • Hazrat Abu Saleh Moosa (ra), Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra)'s father, had a dream in which he saw our Beloved Prophet ﷺ, who said to him:

O my son Abu Saleh, Allah, Most High has given you a child who is my beloved son and also the beloved of Allah. His ranking among the Awliya is akin to my rank among the Prophets.

  • Almighty Allah gave glad tidings to his parents in their dream that their son would be the Sultan al-Awliya and those who oppose him would be Gumrah (misled).
  • During Ramadan, news had spread that the infant refused to take milk from dawn until sunset, thereby implying that the newborn child was observing the fast. During the following year, when the moon could not be sighted due to heavy clouds, the people decided to observe Ramadan on the basis of whether Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) had accepted milk during the day or not.

Early Life

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was not like other children who spent their time in play and amusement. From a tender age he spent his time in the remembrance of Almighty Allah. If he at any time ever intended to join the other children, then a Voice from the Unseen would be heard to say, “Come towards Me, O blessed one.” At first, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) would become afraid when he heard this voice. He would go to his mother and sit on her lap. As time passed, he became accustomed to this voice. Instead of going to his mother, he would abandon the thought of playing and occupy himself in the remembrance of Almighty Allah.

Passing on of Sheikh Abu Saleh Moosa (ra)

After the passing on of his father, his grandfather, Sheikh Abdullah Sauma’ee (ra) took care of him. It was his grandfather that was responsible for the marriage of the parents of the great Saint. He moulded Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) from childhood into the personality that he was to be. He blessed Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) with gems of spiritualism. He nurtured him with gentleness and showered him with words of wisdom.

Commencement of Academic Studies

When Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was four and a half years old, and according to certain narrations, five years old, his mother enrolled him into a local Madrassa in Jilan. He studied at this Madrassa until the age of ten. During this period, a certain amazing event occurred. Whenever Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) would enter the Madrassa he would see bright figures walking ahead of him saying, “Give way to the Friend of Allah.” His son, Sayyidi Abdur Razzaq (ra), reports that once Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was asked when he first came to know of his Wilayah the great Ghaus (ra) replied: “When I was ten years old, I found Angels walking beside me on my way to the Madrassa. When we reached the Madrassa I would hear them say, ‘Give way to the Wali Allah, Give way to the Wali Allah.’ It was when this continued that I knew that I had been blessed with Wilayah”.

Passing on of Sheikh Abdullah Sauma’ee (ra)

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was still a student at the Madrassa in Baghdad when his grandfather, Sheikh Abdullah Sauma’ee (ra) passed away. After the demise of his grandfather, the responsibility for his education fell upon his mother. She fulfilled this responsibility with great patience, sincerity and dedication. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was about 18 years old when this incident took place.

Extraordinary Incident

One day, he left his home for a walk. As he walked along the streets of Jilan he saw an ox in front of him. He walked behind it for some time. The ox then turned around and spoke to him in the language of humans. It said: “You have not been created for this and you have not been commanded to do this.” He immediately returned home and explained this incident to his mother. He requested permission from his mother to journey to Baghdad in order to complete his academic studies and seek more spiritual knowledge. His mother, who was now 78 years old, acceded to this noble request without a second thought.

Mother’s Advice

It was such a time where parents in their old age usually depend on their children for moral and financial support, but this pious and pure servant of Allah only wanted the pleasure of Almighty Allah and His Rasool ﷺ. Whilst she was very attached to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), she did not let her personal feelings come before the pleasure of Allah. She wanted her son to be a man of knowledge and wisdom. In those days, people used to travel either by foot or by camel or another animal. The roads passed through dense forests and jungles and there was always the danger of travellers being robbed and killed by bandits. Sayyida Ummul Khair Fatima (ra) knew of the dangers but still supported her son’s. She wished him well with her Du’as. She said: “O my dear son! I have now become very old and I do not think I will ever get to see you again, but my Du’as will always be with you. May Almighty Allah grant you success in your quest for academic and spiritual knowledge.”

She then said: “Your deceased father left eighty Dinars from which I am giving you forty Dinars for your journey and forty Dinars I will keep for your younger brother, Sayyid Abu Ahmad Abdullah.” She took the forty Dinars and sewed them under the arm of his coat. She once again made Du’a for him. On bidding him farewell, she gave him the following advice: “O’ my beloved son! Let this advice, which I am about to give you be an important part of your life. Always speak the truth! Do not even think of lies.” The young Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) said, “My dear mother! I promise from my heart that I will always act upon your advice.” Sayyida Fatima (ra) then embraced the apple of her eye with love and motherly gentleness for the last time, and with the words, “Go! May Allah be with you. It is He who is your Helper and Protector”. The journey to Baghdad began.

A famous incident which illustrates his obedience to his mother occurred shortly after him leaving for Baghdad when his caravan (Qafila) was attacked by a sixty man band of highwaymen.

Arrival in Baghdad & Education

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), arrived in Baghdad during the reign of the Abbasid Caliphate in 488 AH (1095 AD) at a time where there was chaos and disunity in the Islamic world. The Muslim rulers had lost all sense of duty and paid no heed to Islamic teachings.

When he arrived in Baghdad, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) already spent the forty Dirhams given to him by his mother. Without any money, he began to spend his days in hunger and poverty. Due to immense poverty, he went towards the Arcade of Chosroes in search of Halaal food. When he reached the Arcade, he found that there were already seventy Awliya Allah in search of Halaal food. Since he did not wish to be in their way, he returned to Baghdad.

On his way back, he met a traveller from Jilan. When he heard that Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was from Jilan, he asked him if he knew a young man by the name of “Abdul Qadir”. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) informed him that he was Abdul Qadir. The traveller then handed a block of gold to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) saying that it had been sent to him by his mother. When Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) heard this, he immediately made the Shukr of Almighty Allah. He then returned to the Arcade of Chosroes where he presented most of the gold to the Awliya Allah who were in search of food. He then took a little for himself and returned to Baghdad.

On his return to Baghdad, he prepared meals and fed the poor and then shared this meal with them. This alone shows the character of the great Ghaus that even though he was without food, he first gave most of his gold to the Awliya Allah, then fed the poor before eating the food himself. Without doubt, this is the sign of a true servant of Allah.

It was in this manner that the life of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) commenced in the holy city of Baghdad.

Attaining Academic Knowledge

In Baghdad, he took admission in Madrassa Nizamiya, which was the most prestigious and world-renowned educational institution of its time. Under the tutelage of some of the best teachers in the Islamic word, he reached an outstanding level of understanding in the following sciences:

  1. Fiqah (Jurisprudence)
  2. Tafsir (Commentary of the Holy Qur’an)
  3. Sunnah of the Holy Prophet
  4. Hadith (Traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw))
  5. Arab Literature

He studied the Hanabli Fiqah in particular under prominent Hanabli jurist Hazrat Abu Saeed al-Mukharrami (referred to as Al-Makhzumi or Al-Makhrimi in some texts). He was taught Tafsir, Sunnah and Hadith by Hazrat Abu Ghalib Ahmad and Hazrat Abu Qasim Ali. He also studied and Arab Literature under Hazrat Abu Zakariya Yahya Tabrizi – the principal of Madrassa Nizamiya.

Hardships Faced During Studies

While studying in Baghdad, he faced many hardships and was tested severely by the life of Baghdad. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) himself used to say: “The hardship and difficulties that I faced in Baghdad during my studies were so severe that if they had to be placed on a mountain, then even the mountain would split in two.”

He also used to say: “When the hardships and difficulties would become unbearable, then I would lie on the road and continuously recite the Ayah of the Holy Quran:

Shakir: Surely with difficulty is ease. With difficulty is surely ease.

By making takraar (repetition) of this Ayah I used to find great tranquility and peace.”

After adjourning from classes, he used to wander into the jungles and forests of Baghdad where he used to spend the entire night in the Zikr of Almighty Allah. He did this regardless of the weather conditions or season. If he become tired and weak, he would rest for a while making the ground his bed and a boulder his pillow. During these nights of Zikr, he would dress in a small turban and a thin cloak. If he became hungry, he used to go towards the river Euphrates and eat whatever vegetables he could find beside the river. He always said that he gained much pleasure in this way of life and it caused him to gain closeness to Almighty Allah.

Patience During a Severe Drought

Once, while he was studying, the city of Baghdad experienced a severe drought. The conditions in Baghdad became so desperate that people became dependant on every grain that they could find. When there was no more grain, people began to eat plants and leaves from trees. During this time, al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) used to also go out in search for food. But when he saw others in search of food, he would return to the city empty-handed, as he did not feel it appropriate to impose by disturbing others whom he thought needed food more than he did. Many days had passed by without him eating.

Due to intense hunger, he was compelled to go out in search of food towards a market in Baghdad known as Sooqur Raihaanain. As he entered the market, his hunger had made him so weak and tired, that be could not stand anymore. He saw a Masjid nearby and slowly dragged himself towards it. He entered the Masjid and sat against one of the walls of the Masjid to support his tired and weak body. He sat there for a while. Then he saw a person enter the Masjid. The person sat in one corner and opened a parcel which contained fried meat and bread. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) reported this incident that the person then began to have this meal. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) says: “The intensity of my hunger was so great that every time the person lifted a morsel of food to his mouth, my mouth would uncontrollably open with his and I wished that I also had something to eat.”

When this continued happening, al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) turned to his nafs and said, “Do not be impatient. Have trust and faith in Almighty Allah.” After uttering these words he did not feel this way anymore. After a little while, this person came to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) uninvited and offered him some food. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) kindly declined, but the person insisted. Upon such insistence, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) joined him in his meal.

Whilst eating, the person asked al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) about himself. He explained to him that he was from Jilan and that he was in Baghdad to attain knowledge. The person then said that he was also from Jilan and asked if he knew any person named Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) answered by saying, ‘My name is Abdul Qadir Jilani.”

When the man heard this, with tears in his eyes, he stood before Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) and said, “Please forgive me for I have misused that which was given to me in trust.” Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) asked the stranger to explain what he meant. The stranger then said:

When I was leaving Jilan, I met an old woman, who gave me eight Dirhams in trust that I should give them to her son, Abdul Qadir, who is studying in Baghdad. O Abdul Qadir! The food that I was eating was from the eight Dirhams that your mother had given for you. I had been searching for you but could not find you and due to this, my stay in Baghdad was extended. This caused my money to run out and out of extreme hunger, I used some of your money to purchase this food that we ate. O Abdul Qadir! It is not I that fed you, but it is you that fed me. Please forgive me for abusing that which was given to me in trust (Amaanah).

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), with great gentleness and affection, held the stranger to his heart and praised him for his honesty and his sincerity. He then gave the remainder of the food and a portion of the eight Dirhams to the stranger and bid him farewell.

This incident indicates in clear terms that Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was concerned more with the needs of others than those of his own. Notwithstanding his dire need in the circumstances, he remained sensitive to the plight of this stranger. This act of selflessness alone is a lesson in the behaviour that one should adopt.

A Lion of Allah

Sheikh Abdullah Salmi (ra) states that he heard the following astonishing incident from Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) The Great Ghawth said:

Once during my studies in Baghdad, I had nothing to eat for many days. One day, in this condition, I was on my way to a small street called ‘Qat’eeya Sharfiya’. Here, there was a Masjid, which used to be empty. I used to sit there by myself and revise my lessons for the next day. On my way to Mohalla Qat’eeya, I met a stranger who gave me a piece of paper and asked me to take it to a certain shop. Very surprised, I did as he asked. When I got to the shop, I gave the piece of paper to the owner, who in turn kept this piece of paper and gave me roti (bread) and halwa (sweets). I took this roti and halwa and went into the Masjid where I used to revise my lessons. I sat down for a while and decided to eat a piece of bread and some halwa when I saw a piece of paper beside the wall.

I picked it up and saw the following words written on it, ‘Almighty Allah has stated in one of the past Books, that the Lions of Allah have no desire for the pleasures of this world. Desires and pleasure (in food) are for the old and weak who depend on this to gain strength for Ibadah. When I read this my entire body began to tremble in the fear of Allah causing all the hair on my body to stand on end. I immediately removed the desire of eating from my mind and read two Rakahs of Salaah and then left the Masjid without eating.

Encounter with a Pious Servant of Allah

It was a common practice during harvesting season in Baghdad Shareef for students to get together at a nearby village called “Baaqooba” and to ask the farmers for some grain from their annual harvest. In those days, the people showed great respect to students and happily gave them grain.

On one occasion, the students, who were in the class of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), insisted that he accompany them to the village of Baaqooba. Since he did not want to disappoint them, he accompanied them to the village. When they reached there, Al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) heard that a pious servant of Allah, by the name of Shareef Baaqoobi lived in this village. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) decided to meet this pious servant to obtain his blessings. When Shareef Baaqoobi saw Al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), he immediately recognised that this was the Qutb-e-Zaman. He told him:

O my son! Those who strive in the path of Allah do not sketch their hands out to anyone but Allah. You seem to be amongst the chosen servants of Allah. For you to ask for grain (from the people of Baaqooba) is contrary to your status.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) states: “From that day onwards, I never accompanied anyone on such trips and I never asked anything from anyone again.”


Assistance from the Unseen

One day, the Great Ghawth (ra) was studying in the jungle when he heard a voice from the Unseen call to him: “O Abdul Qadir! You have not eaten in days and most of your time is being spent in studies. Go to someone and get something on credit. It is the Sunnah of the Ambiya.”

When Al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) heard this, he replied that he could not take anything on credit, as he had no means of repaying this credit. The voice answered: Do not worry about this. Repaying your credit is Our responsibility.”

After receiving this message, he went to a shop and requested the shopkeeper for some food on credit. He said: "I would like for you to give me one and a half rotis (slices of bread) daily on credit, which I will repay when I have the means, and if I die before this, then you should pardon my credit.”

The shopkeeper, being a pious servant of Allah, began to cry when he heard these words of Al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) He replied: “Take anything that you wish to take from my shop and whenever you wish to do so.” From that day onwards, he used to take one and a half rotis (bread) daily. The days passed by rapidly and Al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) began to worry about the money that he owed. One day, he was engrossed in this thought when the same Voice from the Unseen called to him and said: “O Abdul Qadir! Go to a certain place and whatever you find there, give it to the shopkeeper”.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) went to that spot that he was commanded to go to. There, he found a piece of gold. He took this piece of gold and gave it to the shopkeeper thus paying off his credit.

Spiritual Journey

After completing his academic studies, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) did not stop in his quest for in-depth spiritual knowledge. To quench this spiritual thirst, he was presented with the opportunity of gaining spiritual knowledge under the guidance of Sheikh Hammad bin Muslim Ad Dabbaas (ra) who was amongst the greatest Sheikhs of Baghdad.

There came a time in Baghdad when there was abundance of trouble. Since he did not want any part of this, he decided to leave Baghdad for a more peaceful environment. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) said,

I made my intention to leave Baghdad due to the unsuitable conditions and was on my way out of Baghdad, when from the unseen, some great strength pushed me so hard that I fell to the ground. Then from the unseen I heard a voice say, 'Do not leave here. The creation of Allah will gain benefit via you.' On hearing this I said, 'What do I have to do with the people? All I want is to protect my Deen (Imaan).' The voice then said, 'No, it is of utmost importance for you to remain here. No harm will come to your Imaan.

I then immediately changed my mind and for the pleasure of Allah, I remained in Baghdad. The very next day as I was passing through a street, a man opened the door of his house and called to me. He said, 'O Abdul Qadir, what did you ask from your Creator yesterday?' With these words, he closed the door of his house. I walked for some time and then realised that I had made a grave error, this person was a Wali, if not, he would have not known of what had happened the previous day. I went in search of his door, but was unsuccessful. After this, I would look for him wherever I went, until one day I saw him in a gathering and from then on I stayed in his company. This personality was Sayyid Hammad bin Muslim Ad Dabbaas.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) gained deep spiritual knowledge from Sheikh Hammad (ra), who was originally from Syria. He was born in a village near Damascus. He travelled to Baghdad and lived in a place called Muzaffariyyab until his demise in 525 AH. His Mazaar is in the Shawneezia Cemetery in Baghdad Shareef.

Apart from Sayyidi Ham’maad (ra), al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) also gained spiritual education from Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami (ra).

By the year 496 AH, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) had completed his academic and spiritual studies. Between 496 AH and 521 AH, he underwent a period of deep reflection and seclusion during which he distanced himself from all worldly affairs. His twenty-five year long spiritual journey saw him travel across the barren desert and ruins in the area around Baghdad living in complete seclusion where he would experience extreme physical hardships. During this time he would be in constant remembrance of Almighty Allah.

During these 25 years, he engrossed himself in such intense spiritual exercises that just by reading about them one can only but marvel at the dedication of this Great Saint. His sincerity and dedication in controlling his nafs took him swiftly to the levels of “Fana-fi Rasool” and “Fana Fi Allah”. He was now totally drowned in the sea of love of Allah and His Rasool {s}. He turned himself into a strong mountain of patience and firmness that could not be moved. The notable events that took place during this part of his life are numerous. If they are recorded, then this alone would fill volumes. To give us some appreciation of his spiritual condition during these 25 years, a few incidents are quoted.

Suppressing his Nafs

Once while delivering a lecture, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) said,

For 25 years, I roamed the jungles of Iraq. For 40 years, I performed my Fajr Salaah with the Wudhu of Esha and for 15 years I used to stand on one foot until Fajr and complete (recitation of) the entire Quran. During this time, I sometimes spent between three and 40 days without eating even a morsel.

Sheikh Abul Mas’ood bin Abu Bakr Hareemi reports that Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) once said to him,

Year after year, I spent struggling with my nafs by putting myself through various strenuous and intense tests. For one year, I ate only vegetables and drank no water. The following year I only drank water and ate nothing and the year after that, I did not eat and drink for the entire year. There were times when I did not sleep a wink. During this time I used to put myself through various spiritual exercises.

There were times when I would be so drowned in struggling against my nafs that I used to roll on thorns until my entire body would be severely bruised and cut and I would become unconscious. People would pick me up and take me to the physician. He would certify me dead. Thinking that I was dead, they would prepare for my ghusal and kaffan. When they used to place me on the bathing board to give me ghusl, I used to awake from this spiritual condition and walk away.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) states regarding his experiences:

During the early stages of my Mujahida I used to, on many occasions, be unaware of my own condition. I never used to even know where I was and how I got there. Once, in a village close to Baghdad, I entered into such a spiritual condition, which caused me to be totally unaware of my physical self. In this condition, I began to run. When I regained my normal senses, then only did I realize that I had been running for 12 days without stopping. I was amazed at what had happened to me. Then a woman passed by me and said, “You are Sheikh Abdul Qadir. You should not be astonished when something like this happens to you.

Meeting with Hazrat Khidr (as)

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) states that when he had just commenced his spiritual exercises in the jungles of Baghdad, he met a person who was very handsome and had a pious and bright face. The person asked him if he would like to stay with him. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) said that he would. The person then said that this could only be done if Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) promised to be obedient to his commands, and to never question his sayings or actions. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) immediately agreed to this.

This person then commanded Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) to sit at a prescribed spot and not to move until he returned. The person left and only returned after one year to find Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) still seated at the prescribed spot. He spent a few moments with him and then asked him to sit there and wait for him to return once more. This person left and returned after another year. He once again spent some time with the great Saint and then left again giving him the same command as he had done twice before. He returned after another year, this time bringing with him milk and roti (bread). He then said, “I am Hazrat Khidr (as) and I have been asked to share this meal with you.” They sat together and ate this blessed meal. Hazrat Khidr (Alaihis Salaam) then asked, “O Abdul Qadir! What did you eat for the three years while sitting in one spot?” He replied, “Whatever the people had thrown away.”

Hajj

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) performed his first Hajj in the prime of his youth. It is recorded in the distinguished book “Azkaarul Abraar” that al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) stated:

I performed my first Hajj in the prime of my youth. On my journey for Hajj, I came to the ‘Tower of Quroon’, where I met Sheikh Adi bin Musaafir (ra). He was also very young during this time. He asked me if he could accompany me on my journey. I happily agreed. Thus, we both began to travel together.

After some time, I saw an Abyssinian woman in a veil standing in front of me and looking at me very attentively. She then asked my name and origin. I replied by giving her my name and old her that I was from Jilan. She then said, ‘O Young man! You have made me tired searching for you. I was in Abyssinia when I was spiritually informed that Almighty Allah has filled your heart with His Noor (Light) and has blessed you with such excellence that no other Wali Allah has ever received. After I was informed of this, I left in search of you. Now that I have seen you, my heart desires that I should travel with you today and make Iftaar with you. When evening came, I saw that a tray descend from the skies. On this tray were six rotis, gravy and vegetables.

When the Abyssinian woman saw this she said, ‘O Allah! You have protected my respect. Usually You send two rotis for me every night, but today You sent enough for all three of us. After we had eaten, the tray ascended into the skies, and another tray descended with three containers of water. This water was sweet and delicious and I have never before nor since tasted such water. After this, the lady left. Sheikh Musaafir and myself continued our journey till we reached Makkah al-Mukarramah.

Once, while making Tawaaf in the Haram, the Noor of Allah descended on Adi bin Musaafir causing him to fall unconscious. By looking at him, it seemed as if he had passed away. I was still going towards him when I saw the same pious Abyssinian woman beside him. She shook him and said, ‘That Allah Who caused you to die, is the same Allah Who will bring you back to life; that Allah before Whose Noor, none is equal. The world would have not come into existence and cannot exist without His Command. All this never was before He created it. Now, the Light and Power of Allah has filled the hearts and minds of the People of Intelligence and knowledge and this has caused their eyes to close’.

Just as she said these words, Sheikh Adi came back to his senses and stood up. “Then, while making Tawaaf Almighty Allah sent his blessed rays of light on me and I heard a voice from the Unseen which said, ‘O Abdul Qadir, forget the physical world and remember your Creator. We will show you signs from amongst Our wonders. Do not join your worldly thoughts with Our thoughts. Remain steadfast. Do not look for the pleasure of none other than that of Mine. Be prepared to be of benefit to the creation of Allah, since they are certain chosen servants of Mine who will reach Me through your Wasila’.

When this happened, I heard the voice of the Abyssinian woman saying, ‘O Abdul Qadir! You have been blessed with a great gift today. I see an umbrella of light above your head and I see Angels all around you. Today, all the Awliya Allah are looking towards you’. After saying these words, she disappeared and was never to be seen again.”

Encounters with Shaytaan

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) states that during his life he had encountered various attacks from Shaytaan and his partners. Through the assistance of Almighty Allah he was always victorious over Shaytaan. Almighty Allah always protected him from this even when his nafs would try and force him into certain desires. When the Shayateen would attempt with vigour to sway the great al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra), he would hear a voice saying, “O Abdul Qadir! Stand firm and challenge them. Our help is with you.”

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) states that when he used to hear this, then he would stand firmly and challenge the Shayateen and become victorious over them. He says that at times the Shayateen would take daring and frightening forms and come towards him, and he would say in Jalaal, “La Howla walaa Quwatta Ilaa bil laahil Aliyil Azeem” and firmly strike the face of the Shaytaan, who would then disappear.

His First Encounter with Shaytaan

He says that once Shaytaan came to him in a very ugly form and with a foul odour emanating from that cursed presence. Shaytaan said, “I am Iblees. You have exhausted my students and me in our attempts to mislead you. I would now like to become your servant”. On hearing this, the great Ghawth said, “O Cursed One! Leave here at once.” After this command of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) Shaytaan still refused to leave. A Hand came from the Unseen and hit Shaytaan on his head with such force that it caused him to sink into the ground.

His Second Encounter with Shaytaan

Sheikh Ghaus-e¬A'zam (ra) states. “Once Shaytaan came to me and in his hand he had balls of fire, which he threw towards me. While this was happening, a veiled person on a white horse appeared and gave a sword in my hand. The moment I took the sword in my hand, Shaytaan turned and began to run.”

His Third Encounter with Shaytaan

The great Saint (ra) states: “Once again I saw Shaytaan, but this time in a very sad state. I saw him sitting on the ground putting sand on his head. When he saw me he said, ‘O Abdul Qadir, you have made me very sad and disillusioned.’ I then said, ‘O Cursed One! Go away. I am always asking protection from you (in Allah).’ On hearing this, he said, ‘These words hurt me even more.’ He then spread enormous amounts of traps around me. I asked what this was and he said, ‘These are the traps and nets of this world in which we trap people like you.’ After this, for one year, I gave thought to these traps of the world until I broke every one of them”.

His Steadfastness on Shari’ah

After gaining in-depth academic and spiritual knowledge, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was not only the most pious and knowledgeable personality, but he was a guiding light to the misguided and a firm mountain when it came to speaking against that which was incorrect. He always said that even until Qiyamah, none can change the Shari’ah. Any person who goes against the command of the Shari’ah is an evil person (Shaytaan). His son, Sheikh Ziauddeen Abu Nasr Moosa (ra) states the following regarding his father’s encounter with Shaytaan during his time in seclusion:

My father, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) once told me that he was one day making Mujahida in the jungle when he began to feel very thirsty. Suddenly, a cloud appeared above him and drops of cold rainwater fell over him. He drank and quenched his thirst, as this was the Mercy of Allah. He said that after some time another cloud appeared over him giving out light so powerful that the ends of the sky became lit up with its brightness. He said that he then saw a figure in the cloud which said, “O Abdul Qadir! I am your Creator. I have made everything Halaal for you.” He said that when he heard this, he read the Ta’awooz and the light disappeared immediately and turned into darkness. A voice then said, “O Abdul Qadir! You have been saved because of your knowledge and piety otherwise I have misled many Mystics, with this trap.”

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) answered by saying, “Verily, it is the Grace of my Creator, which is with me and which has saved me from you.”

I then asked my father how he had known that this was Shaytaan, and he replied, “His saying that he has made that which is Haraam, Halaal upon me, because Allah Ta’ala does not command wrong.”

Places Visited During Journey

Karkh

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) usually visited the secluded fields of Karkh which were located on one side of Baghdad. This was an ideal place for prayers and devotional practices.

Shushtar

For eleven years Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) lived in Shushtar, a place twelve days journey from Baghdad. Here, the Sheikh spent his time in prayer and devotional exercises. It was here that Shaytaan attempted to fool the Sheikh, but to no avail.

Burj-Ajami

After this incident with Shaytaan, Al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) continued his striving in the path of Allah with even more faith and piety. He would sit in an old tower called Burj-Ajami in the outskirts of Baghdad where he would make Ibadah and engross himself in the Zikr of Almighty Allah. Once while seated here, he entered into a deep spiritual condition in which the following incident took place. The Sheikh narrates:

While sitting in the tower outside Baghdad, I once entered into a deep spiritual condition in which I made a vow with Almighty Allah that I will not eat or drink anything unless somebody puts a morsel of food or a drop of water into my mouth with their own hands. After taking this oath, forty days had passed without me eating or drinking anything. After forty days, a stranger arrived with some curry and bread. He placed it in front of me and left. Due to intense hunger, my nafs wanted to have the food, but my soul stopped me and reminded me of my vow to Allah. Then, I heard a huge noise inside me saying, “I am hungry, I am hungry.” I paid no attention towards this as it was my nafs, and I continued making the Zikr of Almighty Allah.

It was during this time that Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami was passing by me. With his spiritual strength, he heard the noise from inside my stomach. He came close to me and said, “O Abdul Qadir! What is this noise?” I replied, “This is the impatience of the nafs, otherwise the soul is satisfied.” He then said, “Come to my house,” and left. In my mind, I said that I would not go until I am made to do so. Just then Hazrat Khidr (Alaihis Salaam) arrived and said, “Stand up and go to the house of Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami.” Thus, I stood up and went to the house of Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami and found him standing at the door of his house. On seeing me he said, “O Abdul Qadir! Was my saying not sufficient for you that Hazrat Khidr (Alaihis Salaam) had to command you to come to my house?” Saying this, he then took me into his house and fed me with his own hands until I had eaten and drank enough.”

Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami bestowed Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) with a Khirqa (Sufi robe), blessed him with the highest spiritual status and the rank of Khalifa.

Aiwan Kasra

Sheikh Abu Muhammad Talha bin Muzaffer (ra) narrates:

Once the Sheikh, talking about the days of his spiritual exercise, revealed: “I once had nothing to eat for 20 days. During this period, I proceeded to the ruins of the palace of Aiwan Kasra in search of fruit or something permitted. There I found 70 saints already searching for some food."

Having seen this, I returned to Baghdad. On my way I met a person who gave me some money and revealed that it was sent by my mother. I took the money and went straight to those 70 saints whom I had previously seen. I kept a little with me and distributed the rest among them. With the rest of the money that I had kept, I purchased some food and shared it with the poor and hungry.”

Al-Mada’in

The Sheikh also lived and spent his time in devotion in the ruins of Al-Mada’in.

Initiation into the Spiritual Order

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) gained his spiritual training in Baghdad from two of the greatest Mystics of their time - Sheikh Hammad bin Muslim Ad Dabbaas (ra) and Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami (ra). Although he had gained many blessings from both these personalities, he had not yet pledged his spiritual allegiance to a spiritual guide (Peer-o-Murshid).

Finally, the time had come and according to the Will of Almighty Allah, he presented himself in the court of Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami (ra) and became his disciple (Mureed) thus joining his Halqa and spiritual order. Sheikh Abu Saeed (ra) showed much love and attention to this unique disciple and blessed him with gems of spiritualism and mysticism.

Once while Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) and others were seated in front of the Sheikh, he asked Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) to fetch something. While he was gone, Sheikh Al-Mukharrami (ra) addressing those present said, “One day, the foot of that young man will be on the shoulders of all the Awliya Allah and all the Awliya of his time will humble themselves before him”.

After Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami (ra) admitted Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) into the spiritual order, he fed him a meal with his own hands. Concerning this, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) says, “For every morsel of food that my Sheikh-e-Tareeqat put into my mouth, my heart began to fill with the light of Marifah.”

Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami (ra) then dressed Al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) in the Garb of Sainthood (Khirqa) and said: “This Khirqa was given to Sayyiduna Ali-e-Murtaza Ra.gif by the Holy Prophet ﷺ. He in turn gave it to Khwaja Hassan Basri (ra) and from him through generations it reached me”. Once Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) had been dressed in this Garb, the rays of Noor could be seen descending upon him. The Khirqa (Saintly Garb) that was bestowed upon the great Saint had been handed down from generation to generation. A tree depicting how the Khirqa Mubarak reached Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) is shown below:

Spiritual Chain

His silsila (spiritual chain) is traced back to the Beloved Prophet ﷺ as follows:

  • Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Abu’l Hasan Ali bin Muhammad Al-Quraishi (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Abu’l Farah Tartoosi (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Abu’l Fazal Abdul Wahid Tamimi (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Abu Bakr Abdullah Shibli (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Junaid Al-Baghdadi (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Abu’l Hasan Sari al-Saqati (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Maruf al-Karkhi (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Dawood Taa'ee (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Habib al-Ajami (ra), disciple of
  • Sheikh Hasan al-Basri (ra), disciple of
  • Sayyadina Ali ibn Abi Talib Ra.gif, Khalifa of
  • Sayyidina Muhammad ibn Abdillah ﷺ

Return to Baghdad

Before his return, he saw in a vision that he was walking along a street in Baghdad, where a sick and emaciated man lying on the roadside greeted him. When the Sheikh answered the salutation, the man asked him to help him to sit up. On the Saint's giving him the help asked for, the man sat up and began to grow miraculously big in stature. Seeing the Saint frightened at the phenomenon, the stranger allayed his fear saying, "I am the religion of your grandfather. I became diseased and miserable, but God has revived me through your help. This event fore-shadowed the future career of the Sheikh in terms of reviving the religion of Islam.

Falsehood and cults were beginning to spread at an alarming rate. The respect for knowledge and for the people of knowledge was wearing thin in the hearts of the people of Baghdad. It was a time of great deterioration in the following of the Sunnah. It was a time when there was a dire need for a Reformer of the ways of the people and a Reviver of the true Faith. This Reformer and Reviver was none other than Imam-ul-Awliya Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). He entered the arena at this time of corruption and conflict and within a short space of time; he once again turned the blessed city of Baghdad into the center of learning and spiritualism.

He was over fifty years old by the time he returned to Baghdad, in 521 AH/ 1127 AD, where he began to preach in public. Sheikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami (ra) appointed Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) his successor as Principal of the School of Hanbalite Law (Madrassa Babul Ajaz), a post which he held for over thirty years.

The Rose of Baghdad

On returning to Baghdad from his spiritual journey Sheikh Abdul Qadir (ra) faced a tribulation which was overcome with majestic wisdom. Many of the Islamic elite of Baghdad were perturbed by the return of Sheikh Abdul Qadir (ra) who, due to his great reputation and spiritual status, had amassed a large following of disciples. The scholars gathered and devised a way by which they could send a clear message to Sheikh Abdul Qadir indicating their displeasure at his presence in Baghdad.

They ordered a large vessel be filled to the brim and sent it to the quarters of Sheikh Abdul Qadir (ra). The container represented Baghdad and the water represented the scholars in Baghdad. This indicated that Baghdad hadn’t any more room for a new Sheikh.

With an ingenious stroke of wisdom and demonstrating his extraordinary powers, the Sheikh plucked a rose which he placed on top of the water. He then ordered the vessel be taken back to the senders who on seeing it, immediately acknowledged the great spiritual wisdom of the Sheikh and assigned him the title ‘The Rose of Baghdad’.

As it has been stated earlier, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) had come to Baghdad when it was a city full of corruption and misled persons. It was also during this time that the misled sought to “debate” their contention that the Holy Quran was allegedly “a creation”. It was a very testing time for Muslims all over the world, since the Crusades had begun, where the entire Christian world was bent on destroying the Muslim Empire. The passage of time during which al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) had completed his studies and undertaken twenty-five years of spiritual exercises, had resulted in the condition in Baghdad becoming even worse.

Lectures

During the month of Shawwal, 521 AH, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) saw Allah’s Messenger ﷺ in his dream advising him to make a speech in order to impart his knowledge to others.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) asked to be blessed with the eloquence of an Arab, as he was an Ajmi (non-Arab). Allah’s Messenger ﷺ recited the following verse seven times and blew on the face of the Sheikh:

Yusuf Ali: Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.

The same day after Zuhr prayer, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) mounted the pulpit and addressed the people with a sermon. The audience was entranced by his words. When Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) spoke he was prompted by the Grace of Allah causing the miraculous and revolutionary impact of his words.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) usually delivered lectures thrice a week - on Wednesday evenings, Fridays and on Sunday mornings. This blessed practice continued for forty years, from 521 AH. to 561 AH. At first, he began delivering lectures and teaching people in the Madrassa.

The people of Baghdad and neighbouring cities began flocking to the lectures of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) in such great numbers that the Madrassa became too small for these gatherings. There would often be no place inside the Madrassa, forcing people to sit out on the streets to listen to his lectures and advice. In 568 AH a few houses around the Madrassa were purchased and incorporated to make the Madrassa bigger. After some time, even this proved to be too small. The Mimbar of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) was then carried and placed in a massive open area (Eid Gaah) where more than 70,000 people would present themselves in each of his lectures. In each of his gatherings, there would be four people recording his lectures in writing and two Qaaris, who recited the Holy Quran. His lectures became so famous in a very short space of time that it attracted people from all parts of the world, thus making Baghdad Shareef the centre of learning and spiritualism once again.

His lectures were full of knowledge and wisdom. They were so influential and powerful that listeners would go into spiritual ecstasy. Some of them would tear their clothes. Others would fall unconscious. On some occasions, certain listeners would become so lost in the gems of love for Allah and His Rasool ﷺ that the great Saint presented in his lectures, that they would even pass away in this condition. On various occasions, even non-Muslims came to his lectures. After listening to his lectures they would find that they could not refute anything he said and they would willingly accept Islam. In addition to the ordinary members of the public, Rijaal-ul-Ghaib and Jinns also frequented his blessed gatherings. Akaabireen and Mashaa’ikh also frequented his gatherings. It was a training school for the young, a place to repent for the sinful, a place of guidance for the misguided, and a bank of spiritualism for the spiritually bankrupt.

His voice was very stern and sharp. One of the miracles of his Majlis was that each and every person sitting there heard him alike, even though in those times, there was no means of voice amplification, such as microphones and the like. Al-Ghawth al-A’zam’s (ra) close student, Sayyidi Abdullah Jabaa’ee (ra), states that during this era of his lectures, more than 100,000 sinners repented at the blessed hands of al-Ghawth al-A’zam (ra) and thousands of Jews and Christians accepted Islam at his hands.

All the great scholars agree that during that era the majority of the people in Baghdad repented from their wrongs at the hands of the great Saint and also became his disciples. Once, thirteen Christians accepted Islam in the Majlis of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). When they were requested to explain their acceptance of Islam, they said that they heard of the religion of Islam and that their hearts were pleased with this Deen but they had been in search of a true servant of Allah who would, by looking at them, dispel the darkness of their hearts. While they were in search of this true servant of Allah, they heard a Voice from the Unseen saying, “Go to Sheikh Abdul Qadir in Baghdad and bring Islam on his hands, for it is he who will cleanse your hearts and fill it with light of Imaan (Faith)”. When the thirteen Christians received this message from the Unseen, they travelled to Baghdad and accepted Islam on the hands of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra)

On one occasion, a monk named “Sanaan” presented himself in the gathering of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) and accepted Islam on the hands of the great Saint. After bringing Imaan, he stood up in the gathering and said: “O people! I am a citizen of Yemen and for many years I lived in seclusion as a Christian Monk. For some time now, I have realised the truth of Islam, but after looking at the ways of the present Muslims, I delayed my acceptance of Islam and made a vow that I will accept Islam on the hands of a person who is the most pious amongst people. After making this vow, one night, I dreamt of Sayyiduna Esa (as) who said, ‘O Sanaan! Go to Baqhdad and accept Islam on his hands. At the present moment, there is none on this earth that is more pious and firm on religion than he is, and there is none more exalted than him in this time.’ After this dream, I came here today and accepted Islam and I have found him to be as I have heard.

Al-Ghawth al-A’zam’s (ra) lectures were inspiring to all who frequented his Majlis. His words were kind but firm. He was not swayed by the power or status of anyone. If they were wrong, he did not hesitate to correct them in his Majlis or anywhere else. He feared none but Allah and made those who were in his Majlis aware of this. Once, one of the close ministers of the Khalifa Azeezud’deen came to the Majlis of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). When he saw him, the great Saint said, “The condition of those like you is such, that one man is lost in the slaveship of another. Who then is the true slave of Allah?” He then addressed Azeezud’deen directly and said, “Stand up! Keep your hand on my hand so that you may distance yourself from this mundane world and run towards your Creator.” Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) delivered thousands of lectures in his lifetime on various topics. His gatherings were frequented by thousands of ordinary people, learned scholars and great Saints. It has been stated in authentic sources that during his lectures there would be approximately four hundred scribes who recorded his lectures in writing. Two such lectures, which were then recorded, are being presented below for your perusal.

  1. First Lecture - Friday 15th Shawaal 545 AH
  2. Second Lecture - Evening of Tuesday 19th Shawwal 545 AH

Besides giving sermons, every day in the morning and afternoon the Sheikh gave lessons in Quran Tafsir, Hadith, principles of Islamic law and other allied subjects. After midday prayers he was seen issuing fatwas or verdicts on legal questions presented to him from all parts of the world. Every evening before Maghrib prayers, he would distribute bread among the poor. After the evening prayers it was his habit to sit for dinner because usually he fasted during the day throughout the year. Before every such meal it was his practice to have it proclaimed that anybody who needed food in the neighbourhood could come and join him. After Isha prayers, in the manner of all saintly persons, he would retire to his chamber and spend the greater part of the night in the worship of God, a practice recommended by the Holy Quran for all who would claim to be in close spiritual relationship with the Holy Prophet ﷺ. As a true follower of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, he used to serve humanity during the day and serve his Creator during the greater part of the night.

Miracles

Among the Awliya-Allah, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) performed the greatest number of miracles.

Wives & Children

Up until 521 AH, at age of fifty-one, he never thought of marriage. He even regarded it as a sort of impediment in the path of spiritual efforts. But as he came to establish contact with the people, in obedience to the commandment of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and in deference to his example, he married four wives, all of whom were models of virtue and devoted to him:

  • Sayyida Bibi Madina (ra)
  • Sayyida Bibi Sadiqa (ra)
  • Sayyida Bibi Mu'minah (ra)
  • Sayyida Bibi Mahboobah (ra)

Once someone asked Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) why he had made Nikah in his unique and elevated spiritual condition. The great Ghawth (ra) replied:

I would not have married but my beloved forefather, Nabi Muhammad {s} has commanded me to marry. It is on this basis that I have made Nikah. I was, in reality, afraid of making Nikah, for this reason that my time may be lost in other things rather than in the love of my Creator, but when the time came, then My Creator blessed me with four wives, and each one of them loved me dearly.”

Due to his true and pure intention of Nikah, he never found any time lost from his Ibadah and from his services to the Deen even after marriage. Sheikh Sayyidi Abdul Jabbar (ra), one of the sons of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra), states concerning his mother,

When my mother would enter a dark place, it would immediately become bright. Once my father Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) entered one such place where my mother was, and on his entrance, the light caused by her presence disappeared. On seeing this, my blessed father said, ‘This light is not enough. It has disappeared in my light. Let me make it more powerful’. From this day onwards, when my mother entered a dark place, then her light was like that of the full moon.

He had forty-nine children; twenty-seven sons and twenty-two daughters. Many of his sons became famous for their education and learning, and they and their descendants spread Islam in other parts of the world:

Final Advice and Passing On

Advice to his Children

When the Sheikh was suffering from illness, his son Abdul Wahab asked him: "Give me a parting admonition on which I should act after you have left this world." The Sheikh replied:

Fear Almighty Allah. Fear none but Allah. Always turn towards Him. Ask all your wishes from Allah. Do not turn to any besides Allah. Do not have faith in any but in Allah. Remain firm on Tauheed (belief in One Allah). There is no salvation without Tauheed. When the heart becomes linked with Allah then nothing else seems to look good to him. I have reached the level of True Love. It is a domain where worldly love has no place.

Presence of Other Beings

Just before his demise, he turned to the rest of his sons and said,

Move away from me. Right now, you seem to be before me, but in reality you are not the only ones here. With the exception of yourselves, there are other creations of Allah here as well. Give enough space for them. Show respect to them. Give way. This is now a place of exalted pardon and forgiveness. Do not crowd this place.

After saying these words, he would continue saying, “And may there be peace, blessings and Allah’s Mercy upon you. May Allah forgive us all and may He bestow His Mercy upon us.” This was his reply to the greetings of the Angels that had presented themselves before him. It is stated that he replied to their greetings for a full twenty-four hours.

Allegiance to Ahle Sunnat

Sheikh Abdur Razzaq (ra) and Sheikh Moosa (ra), both sons of al-Ghawth al-A'zam (ra) state:

Sheikh lifted both his hands towards the sky and said, ‘May there be peace, blessings and Allah’s Mercy upon you. Repent sincerely from your hearts and join the Sawaad-e-A’zam (Huge Jamaat or Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat). It was for this reason that I was sent. In other words, I was sent to command you to follow and be obedient to our Beloved Nabi Muhammad ﷺ. Always be gentle. He then said, ‘The distance between you, I and all the creation is like the distance between the skies and the earth. Thus, you should not think of anyone equal to me, or think of me equal to any other.

His Illness

It is further reported that his son, Sheikh Abdul Aziz (ra) asked him about his disease. On this he said:

Surely no one, neither any man nor any jinn, nor any angel knows or understands my disease. The knowledge of God is not diminished by the command of God. The command changes but the knowledge does not change. The command may be abrogated but not knowledge. God causes to pass away and establishes what He pleases, and with Him is the basis of the Book:

Yusuf Ali: He cannot be questioned for His acts, but they will be questioned (for theirs).

It has also been reported that his son Sheikh Abdul Jabbar (ra) asked him: "Which part of your body gives you pain?" He replied :

All my organs are hurting me except my heart. There is no pain there, for it is with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).

His Last Moments

Then death came to him, as he was saying:

Seek help in the words: There is none worthy of worship but Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, the Ever-Living, Who has no fear of passing away. Glory be to Him Who exults in His omnipotence, and subdues His servants with death. There is none worthy of worship but Allah. Muhammad ﷺ is Allah's Messenger.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) passed away in 561 AH (1166 AD), at the age of ninety-one (or ninety-two according to another narrative). It has been reported that such a large number of people had gathered for his funeral procession that his family members had to bury him during the night.

The day was the 11th of Rabi' al-Thani. This date is commemorated by his admirers up to this day and is known as Giarwin Sharif in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent.

Works

Some of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra)'s well known works include:

  • Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen) - 78 discourses, fairly short and to the point but very powerful.
  • Al-Fath ar-Rabbani (The Sublime Revelation) - 62 discourses definitely longer, given in the Ribaat and Madrasa in Baghdad AH 545-546.
  • Jala' al-Khawatir (The Removal of Cares) - 45 discourses, also in the same locations, given in the year AH 546.
  • Kitab Sirr al-Asrar wa Mazhar al-Anwar (The Book of the Secret of Secrets and the Manifestation of Lights)
  • Malfuzat (Utterances) - This is a collection of various sayings of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra). Generally it is found at the end of the hand copied Arabic manuscripts of Fath ar-Rabbani.
  • Al-Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq (Sufficient Provision for Seekers of the Path of Truth) - also known in the Indian sub-continent as Al-Ghunya li-Talibin. These five volumes, written by the Sheikh, at the request of one of his murids, is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of Islam, both the inward and the outward.
  • Khamsata 'Ashara Maktuban (Fifteen Letters) - These are 15 letters originally written in Persian by Sheikh Abdul Qadir to one of his murids.
  • Al-Fuyudat al-Rabbaniyya (Emanations of Lordly Grace)
  • Bashair al-Khairat (Glad Tidings of Good Things) - A Salawat by Sheikh Abdul Qadir by way of inspiration from Allah.
  • Answers to Various Important Questions - Contains many concise answers to very important questions regarding a variety of topics.
  • Special Prayers - Contains many special invocations taught to us by the Sheikh for their special blessings.
  • Gate of Poverty - Contains the story excerpted from Necklaces of Gems of the Sheikh’s struggle with the Devil Armies, Iblis himself, and his lower self (nafs).

Selected Quotes

O Peaceful Nafs turn to God being satisfied and giving satisfaction.
Be careful before meeting death.
When the heart is perfected all your conditions become perfect.
Good men abstain themselves from the world and conquer it by fear of God and piety.
My satisfaction with Taqdir (fate) has led me to God.
Make piety your weapon and make Tawhid (Unification of God) contemplation. Piety and sincerity in seclusion and beseeching God's help your army.
When you get the ability assign this world to your Nafs, the Nafs, the next world to your heart and the Lord to your soul.
Be constant in fear of God and his worship. Do not fear anyone else nor expect anything from any one. Save yourself - Fear God, fear God and fear God.
Three things are indispensable for a believer in all conditions of life. He should keep those commandments of God: he should abstain from the forbidden things; and he should be pleased with the decree of Providence.
Then He will give you death in your will and desires, and when you are dead in your will and desires it will be said to you: "May God have mercy on you" and He will restore you to (a new) life.
When you are in a particular condition do not wish for another condition either higher or lower. Thus, when you arc at the palace gate of the King do not wish for an entrance into the palace unless you are made to enter it by compulsion and not of your own accord.
Wealth is your servant and you are the servant of the Lord.
Then know that God is every day in a new state of glory, in chancing and altering and raising and lowering (people).
Trials and calamities strengthen the heart and certainty and establish the faith and patience and weaken the animal-self and its desires.
Be aware of sin in all its form in all your organs of body and in your heart.
Do not run away from God for He will overtake you.
Do you not know that for every occurrence of event there is an appointed time and for every calamity there is a point of consummation?
Make your life after death your capital money and your wordily life its profit. Spend your time first of all in acquiring your life after death.
There is no spiritual stale nor any spiritual station but has fear and hope attached to it. These two are like two wings of a bird but for which no flight can be perfect. And this is true of every state and station. With this much of difference that every state has its corresponding fear and hope.
The worldly life is a cultivation ground of the life hereafter; and the good deeds of the Prophets and Awliya after the performance of commandments and prohibitions consist in patience and pleasure and reconcilement in the midst of trial.
In everything there is an attribute from the attributes of God and every name is a sign one of his names. So surely you are between His names and His attributes and works, inwardly through His power and outwardly through His wisdom. He is manifest in His attributes and concealed in His person. His person is concealed in His attributes and His attributes are concealed in His works And He has revealed His knowledge through His will and He has expressed His will in movements. And He has concealed His skill and His workmanship through His wilt. So He is hidden in His invisibility and He is manifest in His wisdom and power. There is nothing like even a likeness of Him and He is hearing and seeing.
Tasawwuf is based on eight qualities:
  1. Generosity like that of Prophet Abraham (as),
  2. Cheerful submission like that of Prophet Ishaque (as),
  3. Patience like that of Yaqoob (as),
  4. Prayer like that of Prophet Zachariah (as),
  5. Poverty like that of Prophet Yahya (as),
  6. Wearing of woollen dress like that of Prophet Musa (as),
  7. Travelling about like that of Prophet Issa and (as),
  8. Religious poverty like that of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
And a dervish is he who is indifferent to everything besides God.
All the parts of my body are ailing excepting my heart which has no pain in it and it is sound with God.
Human consciousness is divided into three conditions raising upward in the scale of evolution:
  1. Nafs al-Ammara i.e, unruly animal self.
  2. Nafs al-Lawwama, i.e. struggling moral self.
  3. Nafs al-Mutma'inna, i.e. composed God realized self.
Do not will anything which is not the will of God.

Mausoleum

Because of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra)’s reputation and holiness, there is a great interest in his tomb, which is visited by thousands of people. The tomb was in a small room of the school but part of the building was transformed into a mosque that has been expanding over the years. A marvellous dome was built on the winter prayer room. The biggest dome in Iraq built in 941 AH/ 1534 AD is white and has impressive dimensions and splendid architecture and decorations which can be seen from afar. It has been repainted from time to time. In 1970, it was extensively restored; the blue dome was renewed and other domes, decorated with Qashani, were built close to the white dome.

This mausoleum is considered one of the largest holy places in Iraq, with its numerous internal and external additions. It has a big esplanade and a "musalla" (place of prayer) capable of welcoming 1,100 persons. It is surrounded by a building on two levels consisting of 66 modern, furnished rooms, serving as residences for the sheikhs. There are also other rooms for Zikr, that is usually held on Friday evenings, or on some religious occasions, such as the Mawlid (birthday of the Prophet ﷺ), or at the time of the burial of the sheikhs and eminent personalities.

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