Shaykh Syed Abdul Qadir Al- Jeelani
Shaykh Syed Abdul Qadir Al- Jeelani (r.a) is the most popular Sufi saint in the Islamic world. Founder of Qadria Sufi order, an evangelistic preacher, and scholar, Al-Jeelani was born on Ist Ramadan (470 A.H/ 1077A.D) in Jeelan(or Geelan), a district in Iran – giving his name a suffix Al- Jeelani or Geelani. Abdul Qadir Jeelani’s family was far-famed and pious with his father Abu Saleh Musa Jangi Dost, the decedent of Imam Hussein (A.s) and his mother Bibi Fatima, the decedent of Imam Hassan (A.s). For this reason, Abdul Qadir Jeelani is known as Hasani Hussaini Syed. Reverently, he is known by many names like; Mehboob-e-Subhani, Gous-u-Saqalain, Gous-ul-Aezam etc. Al-Jeelani evinced the signs of being a friend of Allah (wali- ullah) right from birth. Within a few weeks after his birth, news spread that the infant refuses to suck milk from pre-dawn until sunset, implying that a newborn child is observing the fast, as it was holy month of Ramadan. In the following year, due to heavy clouds, the moon could not be sighted, and people could not judge whether the month of Ramadan started or not. To confirm, people went to the house of Abu Saleh Musa Jangi Dost and decided to observe the fast on the basis whether Al-jeelani has accepted milk or not.
From boyhood, Al-Jeelani was very calm, modest, considerate, and a keen seeker of Knowledge. He received formal education at a local madrasa in Jeelan. After completing education, one day on the eve of ‘youm-e-arfah’, to catch hold of Ox, Al-Jeelani ran after it. To his utter surprise, the ox turned around and said; ‘you (Al-Jeelani) have not been created for this job’. In the state of utmost bewilderment, he ran back to the house and climbed thereof. He was further confused to see ‘Mount Arfat’ (holy place in Mecca) right before his eyes. Perplexed, he went directly into arms of her mother, stated the happening, and sought her permission for moving to Bagdad for further studies. During his peregrination to Baghdad, Al-Jeelani set a precedent of honesty, taught the world a lesson about how to abide by promise and adhere to parental advice. While traveling to Bagdad, bandits attacked his caravan. They asked all travelers to surrender their belongings and Al-Jeelani showed them forty gold coins that his mother had concealed in his undergarments. Thieves were amused by his innocence and took him to their leader. Bandit leader asked him ‘why you told truth when you could have deceived use asily’. He replied, ‘my mother has advised me, ‘never tell a lie’ and I have promised her to speak the truth, come what may’. Hearing this, the callous heart of bandit leader literally softened. He along with other bandits had a pang of conscience. They sincerely repented and accepted Islam.
After completing studies, he practiced spiritual life for 25 years and traveled alone in the ruins and deserts of Iraq. However, at the age of 51, he settled in Bagdad and appeared in public as teacher and preacher. Initially, his seminary witnessed meager students but later on thousands would attend his lectures. His lectures would encompass teaching of Quran, Sunnah, followed by an emphasis on true Sufism. His depth of knowledge was so profound that Allama Sheyrani, Abdul Haq Mohdis Dehalwi, and Allama Muhammad Bin Yahya writes the Al-Jeelani once interpreted a verse of Quran in forty different ways. His eloquence would hold listeners spellbound. And owing to his spiritual discourses, his gatherings would see funerals of listeners at regular intervals. Such potent was the influence of his sermons that non-Muslims would embrace Islam after hearkening to him. Soon, the name ‘Abdul Qadir Jeelani’ was on the tongues of all the people of Bagdad and people would converse over his discourses. Eventually, thousands of people became his disciples and attained spiritual sublimity in his hallowed company. Moorish scholar and philosopher, Ibn-i-Arabi entitled him as Qutb (the focal point of Islam), for his striking scholarship in Islam.
Abdul Qadir Jeelani faced the rule of Abbasid caliphate - the period when Muslims were almost reluctant to follow religious teachings. Their attachment to the religion was continually weakening. Moral bankruptcy was on the rise. People were indulging into pleasures of life and irreligious activities and they were turning face from the religion. Against this background, Al-Jeelani played a vital role to set the things right. He went to great lengths to bring the people out of the quagmire of unscrupulousness and instilled faith in the dead hearts of Muslims. On this account, people gave him the title ‘Muhi-u-ddin’ –The Reviver of Islam.
Abdul Qadir Jeelani’s spiritual stature was sublime. Except him no one else could declare that; ‘my foot is on the neck of every saint’. Abdul Mugees Al-Baghdadi reports that Al-Jeelani while addressing the gathering asserted that ‘my foot is on the neck of all saints’. One of the holy men Shaykh Ali bin Haiti (r.a) went close to the podium, held the feet of Al-Jeelani, and placed them on his neck. All other participants bowed their necks in submission. This grandness has added to attributes of Al-Jilani, thus hold the title ‘Sultan-ul-Awliya’- leader of Saints.
He served the religion through writings as well. Al-Jeelani is said to have written about forty books, however; only a few are available at present, which includes Sirr al-Asrar written for a disciple; Al-Ghunya li-Talibin, five volumes written by the Al-Jeelani at the request of another disciple on all aspects of Islam. A collection of some of his correspondences namely Khamsata ‘Ashara Maktuban (Fifteen Letters) is also extant.
He lived the materialistic life splendidly but austerely. He was having four wives and was blessed with 27 sons and 22 daughters. His married life was calm and peaceful. His life presents the examples of humanity, as he actively would take part in human service. No beggar or destitute would exit from his house empty-handed. He used to have dinner with indigents around him etcetera. Finally, at the age of 91, Al-Jeelani left this world in Rabi-us-Sani 561A.H/1166A.D, leaving behind his teachings that would continue to guide the people towards the right path.
His mausoleum at Bagdad is the site of pilgrimage, which witnesses the persistent influx of devotees throughout the year and bears central significance for seekers of the path of truth.
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