Life of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gailani

Parentage Early Life

Syedina Ghous-ul-Azam is not only known as the greatest of all helpers, but was also a great preacher, a great educationalist, a great moralist and a great doctor of Muslim law. He was the glory of the learned and the light of Islam; the Spokesman of theologians, the Interpreter of men of spiritual knowledge, the unique Leader of Leaders; the Leader of nations; the Chief of the chiefs; the Succourer of men and the Jinn; the Reviver of Religion; possessed of very high and perfect spiritual knowledge; and hailed as the Honour of Religion.

In Persia, in a place called Naif in the district of Jilan, in the South of the Caspian Sea, there lived a pious and God fearing man. He was Hazrat Abu Saleh Jangi Dost. He used to spend most of his time in the contemplation and love of Allah (God).

Once he was sitting on the bank of a river in deep contemplation, when upon opening of his eyes, he saw an apple floating down the river. The apple, which reached him near the bank, was taken up and eaten by him. Soon after, his conscince questioned the propriety whether the apple eaten by him was lawful. He got up and walked along the bank of the river towards the sides from where the apple had come, in order to find out the owner of the garden where from the apple had fallen into the river. Hazrat intended to pay him the price for the apple in order to make the energy derived from that apple lawful, since he had eaten it, without his permission.

After a long journey, he reached a spot where appeared a large garden on the bank of the river, which convinced him that the apple eaten by him had fallen from that garden. Upon inquiry he learnt that the garden belonged to Hazrat Abdullah Sawmai. Hazrat Abu Saleh approached him and begged his pardon for eating the apple of his garden without his prior permission. Such approach made Hazrat Abdullah Sawmai to perceive that Hazrat Abu Saleh was a pious and a noble man. He therefore, asked him to pay the price of the apple before his request for pardon was considered. The price was to serve under him as long as he desired. Hazrat Abu Saleh agreed to serve Hazrat Abdullah Sawmai for as long a period as his service was considered necessary.

After a few years service, Hazrat Abu Saleh asked the owner of the garden to grant him pardon and release him. Hazrat Abdullah Sawmai, before pardoning and allowing him to leave, asked Hazrat Abu Saleh to agree to marry his daughter who, he was told, was blind, deaf, lame and paralytic of hands. After marriage he was also to stay with them until a child was born to them. These were the qualifying conditions of his release.

In order to obtain his pardon, Hazrat Abu Saleh Jangi Dost agreed to the proposal and the marriage was accordingly fixed up. When he entered the chamber of the bride, he saw instead a beautiful and healthy lady. He turned his eyes from he assuming that he had entered a wrong chamber because the lady before him did not tally with the description given to him.

By his Kashf (Clairvoyance) Hazrat Abdullah Sawmai understood the predicament of Hazrat Abu Saleh about his bride. He called him and explained to him that he had stated that his daughter was blind, because her eyes never fell upon any outsider other than members of their family; she was said to be deaf, because she had never heard untruthful statements; she was supposedly lame, because she never undertook and stepped on towards committing acts, alien to the laws of Islam.

Such a description of his wife enlightened Hazrat Abu Saleh with a new light and he began to live happily with his wife whose name was Umul Khair Fatima. She was the pious daughter of Hazrat Abdullah Sawmai, who was himself a great Sufi and Saint of his time and was a direct descendent of Hazrat Sayidina Imam Hussain (R.A)

In this Saiyed family of Saints, Hazrat Umul Khair Fatima gave birth to a son in 470 Hijri during the month of Rabi-ul-Akhir. The child was named Abu Muhammad Abdul Qadir. Abu Muhammad was his Kuniet that is the name by which he was familiarly called by relatives and neighbours.

Some of the Saints of the time of foresaw the birth of his Imam-ul-Auliya Saiyidina Abdul Qadir Jilani. Hazrat Abu Bakar Bin Hawara once told some of his disciples that in the near future a great Wali (Saint) would be born in Ajam a non-Arab country ‘ who would be God fearing and highly respected by the people of his time and thereafter. His foot will be on the neck of all Walis (Saints) and Walis of his time would testify to the truth of his claim. Another Saint, Hazrat Ahmed Abdullah Bin Ahmed stated about 468 AH, that shortly a child would be born in Ajam whose miracles would be numerous and whose rank among Walis (Saints) would be very high.

From the above details, it will appear that Saiyidina Abdul Qadir Jilani was a direct descendent of Hazrat Imam Hassan Ilaihe-salam (R.A) on his father’s side. From his mother’s side he descended from Saiyidina Imam Zainul Abedin Ilaihe-salam son of Hazrat Imam Hussain Ilaihe-salam. He was therefore both a Hassani and Hussaini Saiyed tracing his lineage thereby to the two grandsons of Nabi Muhammad Mustafa (Sallalahu Alaihi Wa Sallam).

All the writers agree that the age of Hazrat’s mother was much above the normal age of child bearing, when this great Saint of Jilan was born to her. Despite having taken birth in such an advanced age of his mother, he was nevertheless, possessed of all the good faculties normally expected of a healthy child. The child was a born Wali (Saint). From the very birth, he was endowed with germs of Psychic powers. His Wilayat was obviously felt from his infancy.

His first Karamat was witnessed, when as an infant child during the month of Ramzan, he would take his mother’s milk only at night and not during daytime. This fact has been proved on the evidence of his mother.

Once the new moon of the month of fasting was not visible in the evening on account of clouds. In the morning people came to his mother to inquire whether the day was the first of Ramzan. She replied that her child did not take her milk during daytime, which indicated that the day was the first of Ramzan.

As a child, Saiyidina Hazrat Abdul Qadir would not play with other children. The Psychic powers, which were exhibited by him in his infancy, naturally developed as he grew up, and were visible in all the stages of his holy life. Once the children of the vicinity, where Saiyidina Abdul Qadir with his mother was living, invited him to play. He led the game and asked all the children to say IL-LAL-LAH, when he would recite LA-ILAHA. This play of the children reciting LA-ILAHA-ILLALLAH (There is no God but God) could very well show the inclination and pursuits of the Leader.

He was quiet and sober from his early childhood and was generally disposed towards contemplation. His mother and his maternal grandfather, who themselves were, Walis (aulia karaam) naturally gave him the training that was necessary for a Wali. It may be said, that he was brought up in the cradle of Sufism.

Whenever he thought of playing, he will hear a voice questioning him where he was going. At this, he would be frightened and would run back to take shelter in his mother’s lap.

At the age of ten, however, he attended school. The teacher would ask his fellow students to make room for the Wali of Allah to sit in the class. He lived in Jilan up to the age of 18 years. In one day Hazrat would learn by heart as much of his lessons as others would take a week to master. One day, he was going to the fields for an excursion. A plough bullock was ahead of him. The animal suddenly turned round and seemed to tell him that he was not born for the purpose of utilising his time on excursions. Frightened at this incident, he turned back to his house and climbed its roof. With his spiritual vision, he saw vast assembly standing on Jabl-ul Arafat.

He then requested his mother to dedicate him to ALLAH (GOD) and also allows him to proceed to Baghdad, which was then famous in the Muslim World as a great seat of learning for the acquisition of knowledge. The desire to acquire knowledge was intensely burning in the Hazrat’s heart and he overcame the love his mother, his hearth and home, for the sake of ALLAH. He was not deterred by the prospect of hardships of a long and dangerous journey, and residence in a remote city without friends or relatives.

When his mother heard the proposal, she shed silent tears as she perceived that on account of her old age, she was not destined to see her dear son again, whom she had brought up so carefully and tenderly, after the death of her husband long age. But the Saintly Lady would not stand in the way of his devotion of ALLAH.

She sewed forth dinars (Gold Coins) into his garment, so that they might not easily be lost. It was his half share of the money left by his father. The other half was kept for his brother. He soon joined a small caravan, which was going to Baghdad.

From the time of his childhood, he had never uttered falsehood, but despite this trait of his character, his mother at the time of parting, took a vow from him that he should not tell even one lie under any circumstances. They then parted with heavy hearts. The separation between the son and the mother was pathetic and sublime. It was no less similar to that of the leading of Hazrat Ismail by his father, Saiyidina Hazrat Ibrahim for sacrifice under divine orders, as the separation in either case was not for wealth, rank or fame, but for the sake of ALLAH.

The caravan passed quite safely as far as Hamadan, but beyond that place, a gang of sixty robbers fell upon the caravan and plundered it, but none laid violent hands upon Hazrat, taking him to be a penniless, religious youth. One robber however, questioned him whether he had anything with him. He readily said he had forty dinars sewed into his garment. The man took it as a joke and went away. Another robber also asked the same question from Hazrat, and on receiving the same reply, moved off. They reported the incident to the leader of the gang, who ordered the production of they youth before him. Accordingly, when he was taken before the gang leader, he said the same thing, which he had stated before. The garment was then cut open and the forty dinars were found.

On seeing the “dinars” the leader was astounded and asked Hazrat what had made him to tell the truth when he knew that he too would be robbed. He replied that he had promised his mother not to tell a lie under any circumstances. Hazrat added that if he had told a lie on the very first stage of his journey undertaken for the sake of acquiring knowledge of religion, he would obviously have no chance of acquiring any real knowledge of religion at subsequent stages of his career. Upon this, the robber realizing the felonous life he and his companions lad led, burst into tears and said that he had been breaking the commands of God throughout his life, while a youth was so conscientiously fulfilling his vow made to his mother.

By placing his hands upon the hands of Hazrat, the leader of the robbers solemnly vowed to give up robbery. The other robbers also followed their leader and repented. The robbed belongings were returned to their owners. The conversion of the gang of robbers was not only due to Hazrat’s strict adherence to truth but to his psychic powers also. Most of the authorities are of the opinion that this incident showed the greatness of Syedina, in the making. Had his nature not been truthful in origin, such a courageous and unwavering stand for truth, even in the face of such heavy odds, would not have been possible for him.

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In Baghdad, Hazrat studied several subjects, under many famous Savants of Islam. He studied Fiqah under Qazi Abu Saeed Mubarak bin Mokarrimi, Abu Ofa Ali Bin Aqil and very many other learned teachers. He learned Hadith and his teachers included the famous Abu Ghalib Ahmed and Abu Qasim Ali. He acquired proficiency in Arabic literature under the learned Abu Zakaria Yahya Tabrizi, who was at that time the principal of Madrasa Nizami.

During his stay in Baghdad, he established, by his conduct, that he was truthful and extremely charitable. During his stay, although he had to endure great hardships, by dint of the natural talents and devotion, he very soon became the Master of Quran, Fiqh, Hadith and Arabic literature, with all its connected branches.

He was once teaching Quran and a verse was erad. Several interpretations of the verse citing previous interpretations were quoted. In addition to these interpretations, so many other aspects and meanings of the verse were explained in detail, that Sheikh Jamal-din bin Jowzi, who was amongst the audience and was himself a renowned author of his time, admitted to a companion of his, that he knew of only eleven out of the forty different explanations of the verse given by Hazrat Ghosul Azam.

In 521 Hijri, Hazrat Abu Saeed Mubarik Bin Mokarrimi made over his Madrasa to Saiydina Abdul Qadir, In the beginning, there were only very few students; but soon his fame for learning, piety, inner illumination, veracity, and strict adherence to Shariat spread far and wide and people from all over the world began to flock round him to reap the benefits of his lectures and sermons. Gradually the existing building proved too small for the ever-increasing students, and in 528 AH, adjacent houses had to be acquired. For thirty-three years between 528 and 561, he devoted himself to the cause of Education. He himself taught Muslim Law, commentaries on the Quran, Hadith, Syntax (grammar) and other Islamic subjects. Students from every part of Iraq and all over the Muslim world came to his Madrasa, where they received free education with boarding and lodging provided.

After completing their course of studies, these students either returned to their own countries or went to some other lands in order to spread the knowledge and virtues acquired from the Hazrat. Education thus spread throughout Iraq and other Muslim Countries to achieve Saiyidina’s sole object of the revival of Islam. Most of his students later became famous Saints and Savants of Islam. Among them were Sheikh Ali bin Hiti-a- Qutub of his time ‘ Sheikh Baqir bin Batu, the head of the Autad, Sheikh Shahabuddin Umar Suharwardy the author of the well known book on Sufism, ‘Awarif-ul-Maarif’ and Head of the Suharwardy Order, Sheikh Abdul Hassan the famous preacher of Egypt and very many others.

As a student, when he was engaged in his studies he did not neglect his efforts to attain spiritual perfection. He therefore, often resorted to fasting and would not ask for food from any one, even if he had to go without any meal for days together.

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Spiritual Advancement

He sought the company of holy men and was intimate with them. After completion of his studies, he became more severe on his ownself. He began to deny himself the many cravings of life, except the barest minimum merely to sustain life.

When his devotion towards “Mujahida” increased, he left Baghdad and went to a place called Sauster. Hazrat has said ‘Do not expect to be included in the company of spiritual people, unless you have become an enemy of your whole-self and have become absolutely separated from all the organs of your body and all your limbs, and have cut off all connections with your existence, your movements, your speaking your hearing and seeing, with your efforts and your intelligence, and with every thing that proceeds from you, before your spiritual existence come into bring in you’.

He explained “All that will be found in you, after spiritual existence is breathed into you, because all these things constitute a screen between you and your Lord. You should consider your whole being and your parts as idols together with the rest of the creation and you should not obey any of them. Then you will learn the secrets of divine knowledge and acquire extraordinary powers”.

“Then you will truly become a manifestation of the powers of God; you will hear, see, speak, and understand through God, and will have comfort and rest through Him. Thus you will be blind and deaf to any thing besides Allah, so that you will not find anything existing besides Him”.

For one year, he lived mainly on vegetables. In the next year, he mainly lived on liquid. In the third year, he barely ate drank or slept. Gravings were thus brought to the very minimum. This ‘Mujahida’ was undertaken to assume the attributes of Allah, who neither eats nor drinks nor sleeps. Hazrat wandered in the jungles of Iraq in a state that neither he knew anything about the people nor anybody knew anything about him. People thus took him for a dumb and insane person. He lived for many years in the ruins of Madain in Jazab. He moved about alone for about twenty-five years amidst the ruins of Iraq.

Thought insane and taken for treatment, his condition would worsen and outwardly to those around him he would appear to be dead. When the people prepared to wash his body prior to burial, he would suddenly regain consciousness and movements. Such was his physical state.

For about forty years he performed morning prayers with the ablution (wuzoo) taken for the previous night prayers. After night prayers, he would stand holding a post to avoid sleep and recite the Quran till the time for morning prayers. Hazrat Sheikh said, ‘whoever preferred sleep to wakeful prayers at night would lose alertness, towards approach to Allah, who nor his angels needed sleep. Thus merit lies in keeping awake for prayers at night, denying slumber’.

For eleven years he lived in a tower, which on account of his long stay, was known as Burje-Ajami. Once in this tower he vowed to God that he would not eat nor drink unless food was put into his mouth. He began to fast. After completion of forty days of fast, some one came and kept near him some food. Since it was not put into his mouth, he did not eat it, although the animal desire in him was eager to devour it. He spiritually heard loud cries of “Hunger”. “Hunger” at this time Hazrat Abu Said Mokkarimi happened to pass by the place and inquired what the matter was. Hazrat Sheikh replied that his ‘nafs’ was greedy but his soul was serene in the contemplation of God. Hazrat Abu Said asked him to join him in Baghdad. But Hazrat Sheikh did not leave for Baghdad until Hazrat Khizer had gone and requested him to go to Hazrat Abu Said who was waiting for him. He then left and upon reaching there, was fed by Hazrat Abu Said. Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir took a ‘khirqa’ from Hazrat Abu Said and the latter also requested Saiyidena Abdul Qadir to put a “khirqa” on him.

Satan disturbed the Hazrat but with the grace of Allah he resisted. Once he was in a jungle without food or water being available. After a few days, Hazrat felt extremely thirsty. Then a cloud appeared over his head and burst into rain and the Sheikh quenched his thirst with it. A luminous figure appeared on the horizon and said, ‘I am your God. I now make all unlawful things, lawful to you.’ At this the Sheikh recited the words ‘I seek the protection of God from Satan the accursed.’ On hearing this, the figure changed into a cloud and it was heard saying, ‘By your knowledge and by the grace of God you have been saved from my deception.’ Then Satan asked the Sheikh how he had recognized him so quickly. The Sheikh replied that his announcement of making unlawful things lawful betrayed him, because such an announcement could not have been from God.

There is also another version that one day, Satan appeared before him introducing himself as angel Jebreel and with him appeared to be ‘Buraq’ which was associated with the spiritual ascension (Mihraj) of the Holy Prophet and inviting the Hazrat to make a similar ascension and said that he had brought ‘Buraq’ from Allah. To this he promptly replied that the speaker could be none other than Satan himself, because neither Hazrat Jibreel nor ‘Buraq’ could come on to the world for any person other than the Holy Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). Satan however was provoked to say ‘Well Abdul Qadir, you have saved yourself by dint of your knowledge’ ‘Be off Satan.’ The Sheikh retorted ‘do not tempt me any further, it is not through my knowledge but through the Grace of Allah, that I have escaped from your trap.

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