Life and achievements of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jillani RA
On the eve of 2nd Ramadan 470 AH, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani was born. It was the arrival of the Sultan al-Awliya of that era. He served Islam as the Reviver (Mujadid) of 11th century.
Muhiyudin Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jillani RA served Islam infinitely as the Reviver (Mujadid) of the 11th Century. He was one of the greatest Islamic Saint, Scholar, and Jurist. The honorific Muhiyudin denotes his status with many Sufis as a “reviver of religion”. Jilani refers to his place of birth. He also carried the epithet Baghdadi.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani was born on the eve of the 2nd of Ramadan 470 AH. His birth was a great blessing for the Ummah. It was the arrival of the Sultan al-Awliya (King of the Awliya) of that era, which had been foretold for centuries before his birth.
When Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jillani was asked by someone what brought him to his high spiritual level, he said, “The truthfulness which I promised to my mother.” He related the following story:
“One day, on the eve of Eid al-Adhā, I went to my mother, who was then a widow and requested her, ‘Send me to the path of Truth, give me permission to go to Baghdad to acquire knowledge, to be with the wise and those who are close to Allah. She cried, but she brought out 80 pieces of gold, which was all that my father had left as inheritance.
She put aside forty pieces for my brother. Other forty she sewed into the armpit of my coat. Then she permitted me to leave, but before she let me go she made me promise her that I would tell the truth and be truthful, whatever happened. She sent me off with these words:
‘May Allah protect and guide you, my son. I separate myself from that which is dearest to me for Allah’s sake. I know that I will not be able to see you until the day of Last Judgment’
I (AbdulQadir) joined a small caravan going to Baghdad. As we left behind the city of Hamadān, a band of 60 horsemen attacked us. They took everything that everyone had.
One of these came to me and asked, ‘Young man, what possessions do you have?’ I told him that I had 40 pieces of gold. He said, ‘Where?’ I told him, ‘Under my armpit’.
He laughed and left me alone. Another bandit came and asked the same, and I told him the truth. He also left me alone. They must have repeated the incident to their leader, because he called me to the place where they were dividing the booty. He asked if I had any valuables.
I told him that I had forty pieces of gold sewn in my coat under my arm. He took my coat, tore the armpit, and found the gold.
Then he asked me in amazement, When your money was safe, what compelled you to insist on telling us that you had it and where it was hidden?’
I answered, ‘I must tell the truth under any circumstances, as I promised to my mother’. When the chief of the bandits heard this he wept and said, ‘I reneged on my promise to the One Who created me. I stole and killed. What will happen to me?’
And the others, seeing him, said, ‘You have been our leader all these years in sinning. Now be also our leader in repenting!’
All 60 of them held my hand and repented and changed their ways. Those sixty are the first who took my hand & found forgiveness for their sins.
(Source: Al Sirr Al Asrar (Secrets of the Secrets) by Abdul Qadir Jillani)
When the venerable ‘Abdul-Qādir came to Baghdad, he was eighteen years old.
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 who was a direct descendant of Imam e Hassan Mojtaba (RA). Hazrat Jilani was also blessed with direct lineage to Prophet SAW through his mother Sayyida Bibi Ummul Khair Fatima who was a direct descendant of Imam Hussein (RA).
In his teaching and his service to mankind, Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jillani applied qualities which he inherited from the highest. He said,
“A spiritual teacher is not a true teacher unless he possesses 12 qualities. Two of these qualities are from the attributes of Allah.
They are to hide the faults of man and the rest of creation, not only from others, but even from themselves and to have compassion and forgiveness for even the worst of sins. Two qualities are inherited from the Prophet Muhammad PBUH – love and gentleness.
From Hadrat Abū Bakr, the first of the four Caliphs, truthfulness, honesty and sincerity, as well as devotion and generosity. From Hadrat ‘Uthmän, humility, and staying awake and praying while the rest of mankind are asleep. From Hadrat ‘Alī, knowledge and courage.
At the hands of Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jillani, more than five thousand Jews and Christians became Muslims. More than a hundred thousand ruffians, outlaws, thieves, bandits repented and became devout Muslims and gentle dervishes. He explains how he reached that blessed state:
For twenty five years I wandered in deserts of Iraq. I slept in ruins. In a place at Shustar, a ruined castle in the middle of the desert twelve days’ journey from Baghdad, I stayed in seclusion for eleven years. I promised my Lord that I would neither eat nor drink until I reached spiritual perfection. On the fortieth day a man came with a loaf of bread and some food and placed them in front of me and disappeared.
My flesh screamed, ‘I am hungry, I am hungry!’ My ego whispered, ‘Your promise is fulfilled. Why don’t you eat?’
But I did not break my vow to Allah. By chance the scholar Abū Sa’id al-Muḥarramī happened to be passing by. He heard the screams of hunger of my flesh, though I was deaf to them. He came and saw my emaciated state and said to me, ‘What is this I see and hear, OʻAbdul- Qādir?”
‘Don’t mind it, my friend,’ I said. ‘It is only voice of the disobedient, unruly ego, while, I tell you, the soul is bowed in front of its Lord and is hopeful and peaceful and joyful.’
‘Please come to my school at Bāb al-‘Azj,’ he asked. I did not answer, but inwardly I said, ‘I will not leave this place without divine order.’ Not long after Khidr came to me and told me, “Go and join Abu Sa’īd’. When I received the order, I went to Baghdad, to the school of Abu Sa’id, and found him waiting for me at the gate. ‘I begged you to come!’ he said.
Then he invested me with the cloak of the dervish. From that time on, I never left him. For forty years I did worship at nights. I made my morning prayer with the ablution I had taken to make my night prayer. I read the Qur’aān every night so that sleep should not overtake me.
I stood on one foot and leaned against the wall with one hand. I did not change this position until I had read the whole Qur’ān”
Sheikh was as devoted as a father to all his tens of thousands of followers. He knew them by name, and cared for their worldly and spiritual affairs.
Another unpopular fact is that Ibn Arabi the great Sufi Mystic which was recently highlighted in Ertuğrul show was born from the dua of Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jillani who instructed the father of Ibn Arabi to name him Muhyiddin upon the name of Sayyidna Abdul Qadir Jillani himself.
Moreover, Sultan Salah ud Din Ayubi the liberator of Al-Aqsa was also a follower of Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jillani and had the honor of meeting him in his childhood. Majority of the soldiers of the army of Sultan Salah ud Din were also of the Qadiri Tariqa.
Some of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani’s well-known works include:
1. Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen) – 78 discourses, fairly short but very powerful.
2. Al-Fath ar-Rabbani (The Sublime Revelation) – 62 discourses given in Ribaat and Madrasa in Baghdad AH 545-546.
3. Jala’ al-Khawatir (The Removal of Cares) – 45 discourses, also in the same locations, given in the year AH 546.
4. Kitab Sirr al-Asrar wa Mazhar al-Anwar (The Book of the Secret of Secrets and the Manifestation of Lights)
5. Malfuzat (Utterances) – This is a collection of various sayings of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra).
6. 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.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) passed away in 561 AH (1166 AD), at the age of ninety-one.
It has also been reported that his son Sheikh Abdul Jabbar (ra) asked him during last illness: “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).’
The thread would be incomplete without mentioning Peer Naseeruddin Naseer’s Kalam in praise of Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani and rendered in the most beautiful way by the voice of faith – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
آستان ہے یہ کس شاہے ذیشان کا مرحبا مرحبا۔۔۔
His wisdom continues to inspire millions across the world. His mausoleum is resonating with zikr all the time.
بد دست یقیں اے دل بدست شاہ جیلانیؒ
کہ دست او بود اندر حقیقت دست یزدانی
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani said:
“It is useless to have a learned tongue but an ignorant heart.”
I’m very fortunate that my parents named me after him. Let us all remember his endless service to Islam and commemorate his Urs (death anniversary) by reciting Al-Fatiha.