By Mubashir Ahmed Kitaba
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (RA) was born in Gilan, west of Iran, in 1077 CE to two well known saints. He is a descendent of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from both of his parents’ sides. His father, Sayyid Abdullah Az-Zahid, was son of Sayyid Yahya, son of Sayyid Muhammad, son of Sayyid Dawud, son of Sayyid Musa, son of Sayyid Abdullah, son of Sayyid musa Aj Jun, son of Sayyid Abdullah Al Mahdh, son of Sayyid Al Hasan Al Muthanna, Son of imam Al Hasan, son of Imam Ali Bin Talib, cousin of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and Sayyida Fatima Az-Zahara, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani’s mother was Um Al-Khayer Fatima, daughter of Sayyid Abdullah As-Sawmai Az-Zahid, son of Sayyid Jamal Ad-Din Muhammad, son of Sayyid Mahmud, son of Sayyid Abi Al-Ata Abdullah, son of Sayyid Kamal Ad-Din Isa, son of Imam Abi Ala Ad-Din Muhammad Aj-Jawad, son of Imam Ali Ar-Ridha, son of Imam Musa Al-Kadhim, son of Imam Jafar As Sadiq, son of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir, son of Imam Ali Zayn Al-Abidin, son of Imam Al-Hussein, son of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib and Sayyida Fatima Az-Zahra (RA).
Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir’s(RA) parents lived a pious life, and in complete obedience to Allah. This is how they are described in the words of their saintly son: “My father renounced this world despite his ability to earn a lot in it, and my mother agreed with him on that and was pleased with his action. They were among the people of righteousness, religion, and compassion for the creatures”.
Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani(RA) started to show miraculous wonders soon after his birth. When he was an infant he would not suckle his mother during the day in the fasting month of Ramadhan. When the overcast sky prevented people from watching the crescent for the first day of Ramadhan, they asked his mother about him and she told them that he did not take milk on that morning. It turned out later that this was indeed the first day of Ramadhan.
After the departure of his father from this world, Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani(RA) stayed with his mother until the age of eight when, after having a vision, he asked for her permission to move to Baghdad, the capital of Sufism and knowledge. In Baghdad, he accompanied Shaikh Hammad Ad-Dabbas, a well known Sufi Saint of the time, predicted that Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) would attain such a high spiritual station to declare: “My foot is on the neck of every saint”.
For almost twenty five years, Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) travelled the deserts and ruins of Iraq, and for several years he did not eat more than what was essential to keep him alive. For about forty he never slept at night in order to worship Allah, and as a result he performed the prayers of dawn with the ablution of the evening prayer.
One of the major miraculous wonders that shed light on the exceptional spiritual status of Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) and the role that Allah had assigned to him in promoting Islam took place on a Friday in 1117 CE. While on his way to Baghdad, Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir (RA) came across a frail and sick man who saluted him saying: “Peace be on you.” As Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) returned the greeting, the man asked him for help to sit up. When Shaikh Abd AL-Qadir(RA) gave the requested help, the sick man started to become young. The person then asked Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) if he knew him, but Sheikh Abd Al-Qadir answered in the negative. So the man explained to: “I am the religion of your grandfather. I have become sick and miserable but Allah has revived me with your help.” After this strange encounter Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) continued on his way to the mosque to perform the Friday prayer. At the Mosque, a man approached him and gave him a pair of shoes and addressed him with the title of Muhyi ad-Din which means “the reviver of religion”.
Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) then accompanied the Sufi sheikh Abu Said Al-Makhzumi who, in 1127 CE, put Abd Al-Qadir(RA) in charge of his well known school in Baghdad. Sheikh Abd Al-Qadir (RA) first did not preach. In that same year, one day before the prayer of midday, Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) saw in a visionary dream in which Prophet Muhammad (SAW) asked him why he was not preaching to the people. Shaikh (RA) replied that he could not speak in the presence of the orators of Baghdad as his mother tongue was not Arabic. The Prophet (SAW) then ejected his saliva seven times in his mouth and asked him to start preaching to people by both words and works. After the prayer, Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir (RA) sat to preach and people gathered around him.
This miracle provided Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir with a great deal of spiritual knowledge and the ability to preach to the people with eloquence and perfect command of the language. Thus the school of Shaikh Abd Al-Qadir, where he used to lecture three days a week, became the destination of the seekers of truth and divine knowledge. He lectured at his school for about forty years since it was handed over to him in 1127 CE until his departure from this world in 1166 CE.
Sheikh Abd Al-Qadir(RA) attained spiritual states and stations that no other Sufi Master after him reached. He was raised to such a status in the world of sainthood that when people heard the words, “My foot is on the neck of every saint”, all saints of the time, bent their necks in compliance with this divine order. This is how he(RA)came to be known as Sultan Al-Awliya (the Sultan of Saints).
—The author is a PhD Research Scholar. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org