Shaykh Syed Abdul Qadir Jillani "Shah-e-Baghdad"
471 A.H - 561 A.H (1078 A.D - 1166 A.D)

"O Allah, Inspire us to remember you,
to be grateful to You and to worship You well."

Abdul Qadir Jilani

Hazrat Sheikh Syed Muhiyyudin Abdul Qadir Jillani is the descendant of Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa s.w. The Great Ghous or Ghous al Azam as he is called [literally meaning the great helper] was the son of Abu Salih Jangi Dost, a descendant in the direct line of Imam hassan the grandson of the Holy Prophet s.w. His mother Syedah Fatimah Ummulkhair, was the descendant of Imam Hussain. This way, Syed Abdul Qadir Jillani was the unalloyed descendant of the Prophet s.w. 

It is narrated that the night of his birth, his father Abu Salih, saw the Holy Prophet s.w in his dream, who had come to his house and said "O Abu Salih! Allah has bestowed a son to you who is my son,my beloved and the beloved of God. His rank amidst the saints is like that of mine amidst the messengers. Ghous al Azam was born in the month of Ramadan in the city of Jilan [Persia]. It is reported that he refused to take suckle during the fasting hours.This came to be known as such a sure-shot act of Divinely guided piety, that the people of Jilan, whenever in doubt of the moon-sighting for Ramadan, would run to ask the mother of Abdul Qadir, whether he had suckled or not. 

Even prior to the birth of Abdul Qadir Jillani, many sufi-saints had foretold his advent and commented upon his great station. Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi d 910 A.D, one day while sermonizing said "his foot will be on my neck". The people inquired as to the nature of the statement. Junaid Baghdadi said that it had been revealed to him that at the end of the 5th century A.H, a greatly venerable person would be born to the descendants of the Holy Prophet s.w., whose name would be Abdul Qadir and appellation Muhiyyudin. His birth place would be Jilan and abode Baghdad, and his foot would be on the neck of all former and latter day saints. This prediction came true when years later Sheikh Abdul Qadir from the of the mosque, said "My foot is on the neck of all the saints". "Qadami haazihi ala raqabati kulli waliallah." Expounding the meaning of the proclamation, Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah, in Mehre-Munir says "Everyone accepts this proclamation of Ghous Pak as this was uttered under Divine command, and certainly not for personal gratification.Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya Multani said about him "All the saints of the first and the last placed their heads under his feet by the command of the Lord of the universe." In praising his sublime status Hazrat Sultan Bahu said "Sag-e-dargahe-miran sho choo khwahi qurbi rabbani / ki ber sheraan sharfi dared sag-e-dargahi Jillani", translated as "Become a dog at the door-court of Miran {Abdul Qadir} if you seek Divine nearness / for the dog of his door-court is known to prevail upon lions." 

This Sultan al Auliya was born in the city of Jilan [Persia] in 1078 A.D [471 A.H]. Since childhood he exhibited traits of a unique personality. He did not play around casually with other children his age. Whenever he was tempted to join in with the other children gamboling in the streets, he would hear a Heavenly Voice calling out to him, "O’ Divinely Blessed, come to Me, I created you for My sake and not for play." Frightened by the call from the unseen, he would run to the security of his mother’s lap. He was a shy and quiet lad, given to meditation and reflection. Having lost his father very early in childhood, he was looked after by his maternal grandfather. By the age of five he was left alone with his mother as his sole guardian. Ghous al Azam’s mother being a woman of exceptional piety herself, sowed the seeds of spiritual longing in her son’s heart. He completed his primary and further education in Jilan by the age of eighteen. One day on the eve of Eid al Adha, he went to the fields to till the farmland. While he was driving the oxen, one turned around and said "you are not created for this". Terrified he ran back to the house and climbed the roof. Standing there in disturbed perplexity, he witnessed the gathering of the pilgrims in the plain of Arafat right before his eyes. From that moment, an uncontrollable fire raged in his heart and soul to travel to Baghdad [a great centre for spiritual learning at the time] for seeking further knowledge. The mother who was quite old by now, judging that she would not see her son again once he left, nevertheless, permitted him to continue as she did not want to hinder his search for God. Her parting words to the beloved son cautioned him to always speak the truth, to be diligent in the observance of Divine Commands, keep away from the unlawful and be content with the Divine Decree. Taking the forty dinars that his mother gifted him, Abdul Qadir left for Baghdad.

His journey to Baghdad is famous for the incident that led to the conversion of a band of robbers to the way of Islam. The brigands attacked and looted the caravan. Abdul Qadir, whose appearance amply reflected his modesty, was matter of factly asked whether he was carrying anything valuable. Much to the surprise of the robbers he replied that he had forty dinars on him that were stitched into the inner part of his sleeve. Out of curiosity, the chief ordered the boy to give proof of his frankness. The garment was cut open and the forty dinars retrieved. When the chief questioned Abdul Qadir as to why he divulged the truth about his hidden treasure whereas he could have easily kept it hidden, he replied that it was in keeping with the parting promise he had made to his mother that he could not lie. This confession moved the chief to tears and saying that "you cannot disobey your mother, and I have been disobeying the Lord all my life", he repented and strengthened his spiritual resolve at the hands of Ghous al Azam. Such was the charismatic power and spiritual benediction of Abdul Qadir even at this young age.

He reached Baghdad in the year 1098 A.D. The city was the capital of the Abbasid caliphate at the time and a great centre of learning. He began his religious education at the Jamia and made do with the meager amount he had. He remained steadfast in the face of all tribulations that came his way. During the day he studied Fiqh and at night he would withdraw to the jungle for periods of spiritual training. During this period of educational training, Abdul Qadir faced many hardships and trials of hunger and destitution. Owing to the nobility of his spirit, he never resorted to beggary. Unmatched perseverance, contentment and trust in the Almighty were the strengths that pulled him through his phase of unbearable hardship. In Baghdad, Abdul Qadir shared the company of the saints and holy men of the time. Soon he started experiencing strange and agonizing spiritual states which oppressed him. He prayed to Allah for a guide, someone who could explain these states to him. Next day a person came to his door and inquired of him what he had solicited of God the day before. This was Hazrat Hammad al Dabbas, who had identified the worth of Abdul Qadir’s esoteric state. From here began the formal spiritual training of Abdul Qadir. Along with acquiring esoteric knowledge, he devoted himself to the study of exoteric Islam as well. Being admitted to the jamia of Hazrat Sheikh Abu Saeed Mubarik bin Ali Makhzoomi, a Hanbalite School of Fiqh, he studied Islamic law, Tafseer, Hadeeth, and Arabic literature. His teachers remarked of him "You Abdul Qadir! Will infuse new life into Deen-i-Muhammadi and all the creatures of the world will benefit from you" It took Ghous al Azam eight years from 488 A.H to 496 A.H at the Jamia to conclude his higher education. Being twenty-six years of age then, instead of taking up a post in the Jamia or some government office, he retired to a life of seclusion. According to biographers, he spent fifteen years in jungles and dreary places following the call of his ascetic mission, subjecting his soul to hardship and mortification for it’s purification. During the formative phase of his mystical life, he was given to varied states. He would at times become absent from himself and wander about and at times lose consciousness. During this period Satan and his allies appeared to him in various forms in order to scare him away from his devotional engagement. Abdul Qadir would however, find the resolve to fight against them and remain steadfast owing to the Divine Help that gave him unlimited courage.

Ghous al Azam has described his travails regarding Satan as once appearing in front of him saying that being humiliated and defeated he and his companions wanted to serve him. Ghous al Azam however rejected his plea saying that he felt no peace with him. He would return repeatedly and every time the Sheikh would take refuge with Allah and make him turn to his heels, rebuking him for his hypocrisy and cunningness. But then Satan began to spread a number of traps around him. These were the traps of worldly temptations. For one year Abdul Qadir dealt with the worldly enticements. Then the worldly means were revealed to him. These were the causes of creation connected with him. For another year he addressed the causes, disconnecting them from himself and identifying the Causer. Then his innermost was unveiled to him. He saw his heart caught up in worldly relationships. He looked into the nature of these and discovered them as resolves and powers. He then rid himself of these attractions bringing peace to his heart. After this the lower soul with it’s many ailments manifested itself. It took another year to eliminate all the ailments of the lower self. It was then that all the desires were annihilated and the Satan of the soul turned Muslim. He had separated from the ego-self and reached the door of Trust. Through this he entered the door of contentment, then contemplation and finally arrived at the door of spiritual poverty. Here is where he found the great spiritual treasure and found subsistence in the True Self. By 511 A.H his spiritual journey had been completed. He forsook his hermit’s life and returned to the Jamia in Baghdad. His spiritual preceptor and teacher Sheikh Abu Saeed Makhzoomi now endowed heavy academic responsibility for running the Jamia on Sheikh Abdul Qadir. Here he remained active as a mufti and teacher of religious and mystical sciences. His spiritual and mystical power found predominant fame. His lectures and discourses changed the destinies of many people. The popularity of his teachings spread far and wide. He served the cause of the Jamia till 561 A.H. It was only after the death of his preceptor in 513 A.H that Sheikh Abdul Qadir started his own initiation work. All the disciples of Sheikh Abu Saeed renewed their novitiateship at the hands of Ghous al Azam. His sermons evidently describe him as an educationist, a keen lover of knowledge and a staunch supporter of mass literacy. In those days Baghdad had a great reputation for the art of oratory. Abdul Qadir being a non-Arab was aware of the disadvantage of not being as fluent and eloquent in his Arabic speech as his contemporary orators. It is narrated that in 521 A.H he was blessed with the vision of the Holy Prophet s.w. who urged him to preach. Ghous Pak humbly admitted that being an Ajami he did not have enough command over the Arabic language so to sermonize publicly. The Holy Prophet then blessed him by putting his blessed saliva in the mouth of Abdul Qadir seven times repeating the verse of the Quran "Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation and reason with them in the better way." After this Sheikh Abdul Qadir mounted the pulpit and delivered his sermon in impeccable Arabic oratory that stirred the audience beyond comparison. His sermons became so popular that people would come in droves, men of different faiths, divergent views and status. Muslims, Christians, Jews all flocked to hear the miracle of his words and at the end of the Khutba there would be a long line of people wanting to take Bayt at his hands, resolving to give up their previous lives of sinful living. There would be nearly 70,000 people attending his sermon at one given time. During his time the Muslim world was infested with confrontations and power struggles, particularly amongst the Seljuks. The atmosphere carried the miasma of sycophancy and material hypocrisy. The saint of Jilan observed the state of affairs very patiently and was fearless in speaking up against such social evils, making no distinction between a prince or a commoner. He was disinterested in worldly gains and never compromised on justice. The caliph of the time Muktafi Al Amar Allah also became his devotee.

About his station he himself said "Every saint is at the foot of a prophet and I am at the foot of my grandfather the Apostle Muhammad s.w. Whatever steps my grandfather took I put my step over there, but I could not get to the way of prophethood for only Prophets have access there." God Most High on account of his mystical state, bestowed a sublime authoritative rank on him. He being on the footsteps of the Prophet s.w. is also understood in the context of the hierarchical construction of the hidden spiritual council. According to Ibn Arabi there are twelve Qutbs or poles in all equaling the number of the twelve constellations. All of them are under the command of the twelve prophets respectively, Hazrat Nuh, Hazrat Ibrahim, Hazrat Musa, Hazrat Isa, Hazrat Daud, Hazrat Suleman, Hazrat Ayub, Hazrat Ilyas, Hazrat Lut, Hazrat Hud, Hazrat Salih and Hazrat Shuayb. They are the analogues in the absent domain of the twelve constellations that rule over the witnessed domain. The Qutbs are upon the hearts or footsteps of all the corresponding Prophets according to the twelve earthly divisions that they are given to supervise. This means that they are the inheritors of the knowledge, stations and states of these specific Prophets. The Qutb al Aqtab is at the head of all these Qutbs  and is the inheritor of the Muhammadan Knowledge. The whole council functions with mutual consultation and agreement, the final command coming from the Holy Prophet s.w.  Ghous as Saqlain, Ghous al Azam meaning the helper of man and jinn, the great helper was given command over the communities of man and jinn. The rank of Ghausiyyat-i-Uzma that was conferred on him is free from the constraints of time and space. He was made the sultan of the saints among all the walis who came before and after him, apart from the descendants Imams of the Prophet’s lineage. The invisible hierarchy of Auliya Allah has at it’s head the Prophet s.w under whom is the viceregency of Hazrat Ali. Then there is the office of Ghous al Azam, He holds sway over the whole spiritual administration below him. All appointments, promotions and demotions are done by his recommendation, and he in turn takes the command from the Prophet s.w. The Qutb al Aqtab is the pivot or highest spiritual authority under him. He is chief of the temporal world in regard to it’s governance, whereas the Ghous al Azam is the chief in the spiritual realm. The Qutb is surrounded by three nuqba [ watchers], four awtad [ pillars ], seven abrar [ pious ones ], forty abdaal [substitutes ], three hundred akhyaar [ good ones ], and four thousand hidden saints whose saintship is not even known to themselves.

Abdul Qadir Jillani’s spiritual philosophy hinged on the same guidelines as that of Ghazali’s thought. The twelfth century is marked with the influence of these two great spiritual thinkers. Sheikh Abdul Qadir shared Ghazali’s mission of reconciliating orthodox Islam with it’s mystical aspect.

The Sultan of Baghdad showered his benediction on all his followers during his lifetime here in this world and continues to do so from the celestial realm. According to belief, there are different stages of the life of the soul after death. The first is life in the grave which is entered upon the passing away of the individual. The soul is aware in the grave as the Holy Prophet s.w. said " when a servant is laid in the grave and his companions return, he even hears the footsteps leaving his grave." Subsequent to the examination by Munkar and Nakir in the grave, the deceased is transitioned either to the world of the grave or the Barzakh. In the world of the grave the person experiences a new dimension of life similar to the one he experiences during sleep. He either knows it as heaven or hell-fire in the grave according to what his deeds have merited him, and he remains in that state upto the day of resurrection. The world of Barzakh, however, is reserved for the martyrs, Anbiya, Rasuls and Auliya Allah who have been known to have died before death actually came to them. They move, travel and communicate freely according to their status. They are free from the limitations of the grave. This is the executive hierarchy that administers control from the invisible realm with the command of Allah.

Out of these the auliya who reached the spiritual state of "Fatih" [the access to direct spiritual experience] in their lifetime, can communicate with the living in the world. Thus the saints continue to bless and guide their followers and spiritual seekers from the world of Barzakh. The tombs of men of God are alive with their sublime energy.

Naila Amat-un-Nur

The Sayings of Shaykh Abdul Qadir al Jilani