Sayyidina Shaykh Muhyi’d-din ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, al-Hasani, al-Husayni, may Allah be well pleased with him!
Born 470 A.H.
Died 561 A.H. [1077 – 1166 C.E.]
1. His nisba or genealogy
Extract from his monumental work Sirr al-Asrar [Secret of Secrets]
This book contains the words of the Supreme Helper, the Lordly Cardinal Pole (Ghawth), the everlasting edifice, the radiantly shining lamp, the Sultan of the saints and the masters of direct knowledge, the proof of the chosen and those who have reached their spiritual destination, Allah’s Gray Falcon, our patron, our master and our exemplary guide to Allah (Exalted is He), the noble highborn patrician, the chieftain, Shaykh Muhyi ‘d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani al-Hasani al-Husaini (may Allah sanctify his splendid innermost being, and may He illuminate his noble mausoleum), son of Imam Sayyid Abu Salih Musa Jangi Dost, son of Imam Sayyid ‘Abdu’llah, son of Imam Sayyid Yahya az-Zahid, son of Imam Sayyid Muhammad, son of Imam Sayyid Dawud, son of Imam Sayyid Musa, son of Imam Sayyid ‘Abdu’llah, son of Imam Sayyid Musa al-Jawn, son of Imam Sayyid ‘Abdu’llah al-Mahd, son of Imam Sayyid al-Hasan al-Muthanna, son of Imam al-Humam Sayyid al-Hasan as-Sibt, son of our chief and our patron, the Commander of the Believers, Abu ‘l-Husain ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be well pleased with them all). On his mother’s side of the family, the line of descent of our revered master and patron, Shaykh Muhyi’d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah the Exalted be well pleased with him), is as follows: He is Sayyid Shaykh Muhyi ‘d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah sanctify his luminous innermost being), son of Sayyida Umm al-Khair Amat al-Jabbar Fatima, daughter of Sayyid ‘Abdu’llah as-Sawma’i az-Zahid, son of Sayyid Abu ‘Abdi’llah Jamal ad-Din Muhammad, son of Sayyid Mahmud, son of Sayyid Abu ‘l-‘Ata’ ‘Abdu’llah, son of Sayyid Kamal ad-Din ‘Isa, son of Sayyid Imam Abu ‘Abdi’llah ‘Ala’ ad-Din Muhammad al-Jawad, son of Sayyid Imam ‘Ali ar-Rida, son of Sayyid Imam Musa al-Kazim, son of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, son of Imam Zain al-‘Abidin ‘Ali, son of Imam al-Humam al-Husain, the Martyr of Karbala’, son of Imam al-Humam, the Commander of the Believers, our master ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be well pleased with him, and with them all).
2. Some of his titles
Beautifully rendered in the prologue of Jala’ al-Khawatir [Removal of Cares]
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds, and may Allah bestow blessings and peace upon our Master Muhammad and his family and his companions.
The following discourses were delivered by the Shaykh, the Imam, the most learned scholar, the pious abstainer, the dutiful worshipper, the Knower by direct experience, the avoider of excess, the Shaykh of Shaykhs, the proof of Islam [hujjat al-Islam], the axis of the human race [qutb al-anam], the upholder of the Sunnah, the suppressor of heretical innovation, the crown of those who know by direct experience, the love of those who tread the spiritual path, the pillar of the Shari’ah [the Law of Islam], the mainstay of the Haqiqa [the Experience of Reality] and the signpost of the Tariqa [the Spiritual Path], the chief of the saints, the leader of the pure, the lantern of those who travel the spiritual way, the guide, the captain of those who are devoted to their duty, the lamp of the people of devotion and purity, Shaykh Muhyi ‘d-Din Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir, son of Abu Salih Musa al-Jili, the grandson of ‘Abdullah the Hermit. May Allah sanctify his spirit and illuminate his mausoleum. May He gather us at the Resurrection as members of his company, and may He grant that we die in the embrace of his affection. May He allow us to enjoy the benefit of his blessed grace and of his spoken words, both in this world and in the hereafter. And may Allah bless our Master Muhammad and his family and his companions, each and every one of them, and may He grant them peace in great abundance. And praise be to Allah, Lord of All the Worlds.
3. Concerning Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani
Brief introduction by translator Muhtar Holland
Names and Titles
A rich store of information about the author (i.e. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani) of Sufficient Provision for Seekers of the Path of Truth is conveniently available, to those familiar with the religious and spiritual tradition of Islam, in his names, his surnames, and the many titles conferred upon him by his devoted followers. It is not unusual for these to take up several lines in an Arabic manuscript, but let us start with the short form of the author’s name as it appears on the cover and title page of this book: Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.
Shaykh: A term applied throughout the Islamic world to respected persons of recognized seniority in learning, experience and wisdom. Its basic meaning in Arabic is “an elder; a man over fifty years of age.” (The spellings Sheikh and Shaikh may also be encountered in English-language publications.)
‘Abd al-Qadir: This is the author’s personal name, meaning “Servant [or Slave] of the All-Powerful.” (The form ‘Abdul Qadir, which the reader may come across elsewhere, is simply an alternative transliteration of the Arabic spelling.) It has always been a common practice, in the Muslim community, to give a male child a name in which ‘Abd is prefixed to one of the Names of Allah.
al-Jilani: A surname ending in “i” will often indicate the bearer’s place of birth. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir was born in the Iranian district of Gilan, south of the Caspian Sea, in A.H. 470/1077-8 C.E. (In some texts, the Persian spelling Gilani is used instead of the arabicized form al-Jilani. The abbreviated form al-Jili, which may also be encountered, should not be confused with the surname of the venerable ‘Abd al-Karâm al-Jili, author of the celebrated work al-Insan al-Kamil, who came from Jil in the district of Baghdad.)
Let us now consider a slightly longer version of the Shaykh’s name, as it occurs near the beginning of Al-Fath ar-Rabbani [The Sublime Revelation]: Sayyidina Shaykh Muhyi’d-Din Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir, radiyAllahu ‘anh.
Sayyidina Shaykh: “Our Master, the Shaykh.” A writer who regards himself as a Qadiri, a devoted follower of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir, will generally refer to the latter as Sayyidina [our Master], or Sayyidi [my Master].
Muhyi’d-Din: “Reviver of the Religion.” It is widely acknowledged by historians, non-Muslim as well as Muslim, that Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir displayed great courage in reaffirming the traditional teachings of Islam, in an era when sectarianism was rife, and when materialistic and rationalistic tendencies were predominant in all sections of society. In matters of Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh] and theology [kalam], he adhered quite strictly to the highly “orthodox” school of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Abu Muhammad: “Father of Muhammad.” In the Arabic system of nomenclature, a man’s surnames usually include the name of his first-born son, with the prefix Abu [Father of–].
RadiyAllahu ‘anh: “May Allah be well pleased with him!” This benediction is the one customarily pronounced, and spelled out in writing, after mentioning the name of a Companion of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The preference for this particular invocation is yet another mark of the extraordinary status held by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir in the eyes of his devoted followers.
Finally, we must note some important elements contained within this even longer version: al-Ghawth al-A’zam Sultan al-Awliya’ Sayyidina Shaykh Muhyi’d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani al-Hasani al-Husaini (Radiya’llahu ‘anh).
al-Ghawth al-A’zam: “The Supreme Helper” (or, “The Mightiest Succor”). Ghawth is an Arabic word meaning: (1) A cry for aid or succor. (2) Aid, help, succor; deliverance from adversity. (3) The chief of the Saints, who is empowered by Allah to bring succor to suffering humanity, in response to His creatures’ cry for help in times of extreme adversity.
Sultan al-Awliya’: “The Sultan of the Saints.” This reinforces the preceding title, emphasizing the supremacy of the Ghawth above all other orders of sanctity.
al-Hasani al-Husaini: “The descendant of both al-Hasan and al-Husain, the grandsons of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).” To quote the Turkish author, Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak Efendi (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him): “The lineage of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir is known as the Chain of Gold, since both his parents were descendants of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). His noble father, ‘Abdullah, traced his descent by way of Imam Hasan, while his revered mother, Umm al-Khair, traced hers through Imam Husain.”
As for the many other surnames, titles and honorific appellations that have been conferred upon Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, it may suffice at this point to mention al-Baz al-Ashhab [The Gray Falcon].
Life in Baghdad
Through the mists of legend surrounding the life of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, it is possible to discern the outlines of the following biographical sketch: In A.H. 488, at the age of eighteen, he left his native province to become a student in the great capital city of Baghdad, the hub of political, commercial and cultural activity, and the center of religious learning in the world of Islam. After studying traditional sciences under such teachers as the prominent Hanbali jurist [faqih], Abu Sa’d ‘Ali al-Mukharrimi, he encountered a more spiritually oriented instructor in the saintly person of Abu’l-Khair Hammad ad-Dabbas. Then, instead of embarking on his own professorial career, he abandoned the city and spent twenty-five years as a wanderer in the desert regions of ‘Iraq. He was over fifty years old by the time he returned to Baghdad, in A.H. 521/1127 C.E., and began to preach in public. His hearers were profoundly affected by the style and content of his lectures, and his reputation grew and spread through all sections of society. He moved into the school [madrasa] belonging to his old teacher al-Mukharrimi, but the premises eventually proved inadequate. In A.H. 528, pious donations were applied to the construction of a residence and guesthouse [ribat], capable of housing the Shaykh and his large family, as well as providing accommodation for his pupils and space for those who came from far and wide to attend his regular sessions [majalis].
He lived to a ripe old age, and continued his work until his very last breath, as we know from the accounts of his final moments recorded in the Addendum to Revelations of the Unseen. In the words of Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak Efendi: “The venerable ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani passed on to the Realm of Divine Beauty in A.H. 561/1166 C.E., and his blessed mausoleum in Baghdad is still a place of pious visitation. He is noted for his extraordinary spiritual experiences and exploits, as well as his memorable sayings and wise teachings. It is rightly said of him that ‘he was born in love, grew in perfection, and met his Lord in the perfection of love.’ May the All-Glorious Lord bring us in contact with his lofty spiritual influence!”
4. The Birth of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir
Extract from Qala’id al-Jawahir [Necklaces of Gems]
According to the two Qur’an-memorizers [hafizayn], adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Rajab, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s father was Abu Salih ‘Abdu’llah, the son of Jangi Dost. Allah knows best! The name Jangi Dost is a Persian expression, meaning “he who loves fighting.” Anyway, Allah (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He) is indeed the One who knows best! His mother was Umm al-Khair [Mother of Goodness] Amat al-Jabbar [Maidservant of the All-Compelling One] Fatima, the daughter of Shaykh ‘Abdu’llah as-Sawma’i al-Husaini az-Zahid. She had an abundant share of goodness and righteousness. It is related of her that she used to say: “When I gave birth to my son, ‘Abd al-Qadir, he would not suck my breast during the daytime of Ramadan. The new moon of Ramadan was hidden by clouds, so people came and asked me about him, and I told them: ‘He has not sipped a breast today.’ It thus became obvious that the day was the first of Ramadan.” The word then spread throughout the towns of Jilan, that a son had been born to the nobles, and that this was a child who refused to be suckled during the daytime in Ramadan. It was also said that his mother had become pregnant with him when she was sixty years of age. It is said that no woman of sixty carries a child, unless she be a woman of Quraish, and no woman of fifty carries a child, unless she be an Arab woman. When she gave birth to him (may Allah be well pleased with him), he was received by the hand of gracious favor, and he was surrounded by enabling guidance, behind him and in front of him. He never ceased to be nurtured (may Allah be well pleased with him) in the lap of noble kindness, nourished with the milk of blessings, guarded in safekeeping, watched over with providential care.
5. The Shaykh’s Death
Extract from Futuh al-Ghaib [Revelations of the Unseen]
The Shaykh’s final advice to his sons (sanctified be their innermost secrets); some valuable remarks he made; his last illness and death (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment).
When the Shaykh (may Allah be content with him and grant him contentment) was in the throes of the illness of which he died, his son ‘Abd al-Wahhab (sanctified be his innermost secret) said to him: “O my master, leave me with some advice to put into practice after you are gone.” To this he replied (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment): “You must observe your duty to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), fear no one but Allah, pin your hopes on no one but Allah, and entrust all your needs to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). Do not rely on anyone but Him, address all your requests to Him (Exalted is He), and put your trust in no one other than Allah (Glory be to Him). Affirm His Oneness. All is contained within the affirmation of His Oneness.”
He also said (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment): “When the heart is as it should be with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), it wants for nothing and contains nothing superfluous.” He said further (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment): “I am a kernel with no shell.”
To his sons, he said (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Keep your distance from me, for I am with you outwardly, but inwardly I am with others.” He also said (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Others have come into my presence, so make room for them and treat them courteously. A very great kindness here. Do not crowd their space.” He kept saying (may Allah be well pleased with him): “On you be peace, and Allah’s mercy and His blessings. May Allah forgive me and you. May Allah relent toward me and toward you. In the Name of Allah, farewell!” He said this for a day and a night.
He said (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Woe unto you! Nothing worries me, not the angel, not even you, O angel of death! He who cares for us has blessed us with something beyond you.” Then he uttered a loud cry. This was on the day in the late evening of which he died (may Allah be well pleased with him).
It is reported by two of his sons, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaq and Shaykh Musa (sanctified be their innermost secrets) that the venerable Ghawth (may Allah be well pleased with him) would raise his hands and stretch them out, while saying: “On you be peace, and Allah’s mercy and His blessings! Repent and get into line when it comes to your turn.” He was sayng (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Wait!” Then came to him the moment of truth and the pang of death.
He said (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Between me and you and all other creatures there is a distance like that between heaven and earth, so do not compare me to anyone, and do not compare us with anyone.” Then his son Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (sanctified be his innermost secret) asked him again about his suffering and how he felt, but he said (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Let no one ask me anything. I am basking in the Knowledge of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).” Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (sanctified be his innermost secret) asked him again about his illness, and he replied (may Allah be well pleased with him): “No one knows the nature of my sickness, and nobody understands it, be he human, jinn, or angel. Allah’s Knowledge is not diminished by Allah’s Decree. The Decree may change, but the Knowledge is unchanging. ‘Allah effaces or confirms whatever He will, and with Him is the Essence of the Book,’ (13:39). ‘He will not be questioned as to what He does, but they will be questioned.’ (21:23).”
The following descriptions have also been reported:
His son Shaykh ‘Abd al-Jabbar (sanctified be his innermost secret) asked him: “Which part of your body gives you pain?” He replied (may Allah be well pleased with him): “All my organs are hurting me except my heart. There is no pain there, for it is with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).” Then death came to him, as he was saying (may Allah be well pleased with him): “I seek help in the words: ‘There is none worthy of worship but Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, the Ever-Living, Who has no fear of passing away. Glory be to Him Who exults in His omnipotence, and subdues His servants with death. There is none worthy of worship but Allah. Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.'”
His son Shaykh Musa (sanctified be his innermost secret) told us that when death approached the presence of the Shaykh (may Allah be well pleased with him, and grant him contentment), he was trying to say the word “ta’azzaza” [“exults”], but could not get the pronunciation right, so he kept on repeating “ta-‘az-za-za,” slowly and emphatically, until his tongue shot it out. Then he said: “Allah, Allah, Allah,” till his voice grew faint and his tongue was cleaving to the roof of his mouth. Then his noble spirit went forth.
The good pleasure of Allah (Exalted is He) be upon him!
[Credits for this article: al-baz.com]