Remembering Shah-i-Jeelan (R.A)

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The embodiment of Knowledge and Piety

By: Sartaj Ahmad Sofi

Throughout the historical consciousness, we come across numerous epoch-making personalities who rise on the clime of earth and shine the world. Behind their greatness is the legacy of Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) excellence, knowledge and action. Generally, historians arrived at a consensus that while Muslims encountered some political upheavals in certain periods of human history temporarily, the spirituality remains always dominant. All these spiritually sound personalities called Auliya Allah were, indeed, the embodiment of piety, divine light, inspired knowledge, and gnosis.

Glancing over history of spirituality what is nowadays called Sufism or sometimes mysticism, we come across the most celebrated Sufis; shining cosmic personalities who emerged just after the departure of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw). Among them, the holy being of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani popularly known by the famous epithet of ‘Shah-i-Jilan’ in Indian subcontinent is one who is regarded as the chief of all Sufi brotherhoods having no match, no like in the annals of Islamic mysticism.

Abu Muhammad Abdul Qadir Jilani, son of Abu Salih Musa Jangi Dost was born in Jilan in 470-71 A.H/1077-78 C.E.  He was a Sunni theologian, erudite scholar, prolific writer, a Sufi and an influential preacher of Islam. He studied diverse disciplines of knowledge including, Quran, Hadith, Law and Tasawuf from a galaxy of reputed scholars’ of his time. Some of his teachers are Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Muzaffar ibn sausan al-Tammar, Abu Ghalib al-Baqillani, Abu’l Qasim ibn Bayan al-Razzaz, Abu Muhammad Ja‘far al-Sarraj, Abu Said ibn Hashish, Abu Talib ibn Yusuf etc. Such high calibre scholars and Sufi mentors of Abdul Qadir succeeded to nurture the very personality of Abdul Qadir. In fact, besides great bless of Allah, it was their efforts that made Abdul Qadir the imam of his time, the Qutb of his age and the teacher of teachers of his time.

All those who have seen or read Abdul Qadir have paid a glowing tribute to his moral excellence, large heartedness, hospitality, modesty and generosity. One of the contemporary scholars of Jilani, Hafiz Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Barzali reports as; “His prayers were readily granted. Being extremely tender hearted, he would burst into tears (if anything sorrowful or touching was mentioned to him). More often he was to be found immersed in meditation. He was soft hearted, courteous, cheerful, generous and compassionate. Being the offspring of a noble family, he was also highly reputed for his profound knowledge and piety (Qala‘id-ul-Jawahir).

Such profound knowledge of the religious love and meticulous observance of the traditions of the holy prophet, aided by the grace of Allah, unveiled the mysteries of celestial world to Abdul Qadir. He had acquired the certitude of knowledge that the shariah of the last Prophet was perfect and that any claim made contrary to the divine edict was simply a satanic suggestion. It was the result of the spiritual state that he achieved by practicing the knowledge of Islam and the piety which he was an embodiment, that created magnetic attraction and heart touching effect to his sermons. He used to deliver sermons mostly in the grand Mosque of Baghdad which impacted and transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Shaikh Amr al-Kashani reports that there was hardly a sermon delivered by Abdul Qadir after which a number of Jews and Christians did not embrace Islam, marauders and robbers did not repent for their sins, and heretics and apostates did not renounce their mistaken beliefs (Qala‘id-ul-Jawahir). His sermons that consisted the works like Futuh-ul-Ghaib, Al-Fath-ul-Rabbani and Jila‘ila Khatir still holds a high place to transform the lives of people and infuse in them the love of Allah.

Abdul Qadir Jilani infused that knowledge and piety to his novices. He always preached and propagated the message of Islam; knowledge and piety. With his profound knowledge and piety, he always yearned and advised his novices to receive knowledge that will benefit here and hereafter and will lead you to the highest degree of gnosis. For that, he while analyzing the sight of a Sufi said, “the (true) believer has three eyes, the eye of the head with which he looks at this world, the eye of the heart with which looks at the hereafter, and the eye of the innermost being which remains with the truce (Allah) in this world and in the Hereafter because it is focused on Him in this world and in the hereafter” (Jila‘ali Khatir). Similarly, He regards taqwa as the only noble pedigree. He asks his novices to approach him on the basis of taqwa and not that of mere pedigree. He holds, “O you who have such a noble pedigree is the fear of Allah…do not come to me on the feet of your pedigree but rather come to me on the feet of your fear of Allah. Be sensible that which Allah has, would not fall into your hand only virtue of your ancestral pedigree, but rather until you deserve the pedigree by the fear of Allah” (Jila‘ali Khatir).

The sacred month of Rabi-ul-Sani reminds both to those who consider themselves the lovers of Jilani and for those who always oppose him. For the lovers, in his personality, there is a message of piety that his personality depicts in utmost perfection. For the opponents, the high level of Islamic knowledge and deep understanding of Jilani constraints those to acknowledge his personality as had been acknowledged by the predecessor opponents’ viz. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Qaym al-Jawzi.

The Author is a Research Scholar at Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, and can be reached at [email protected]


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