Zeeshan Rasool Khan
Mohi-ud-din Abu Muhammad Abu Saleh Abdul Qadir al-Jeelani (Al-Jeelani) was an illustrious ascetic and mystic who became famous for being the eponymous founder of the Qadriyah order of Sunni Sufism. He was Najeeb-u-Tarafaen Syed, that is, Descendent of Prophet (SAW) from both his parents. Al-Jeelani was born in a place called Neef, situated in Gilaan or Jeelan (Persia) and for this reason; he is remembered as Al-Jilani or Geelani. There are two narrations pertaining to his date of birth. According to first, he was born on the Ist Ramadan 470A H and the second narration states that it was the 2nd of Ramadan. However, there is consensus on the second narration. From a tender age, Al-Jeelani spent time in remembrance of Allah and attained a place that he is considered head of all Awliyas (saints, pious friends of Allah) which he also expresses in Qaseedah Gousia himself: I am Hassani and my abode is my cell, and my feet are on the neck of each Saint.
Besides a spiritual personage, he was great scholar and jurist who learnt at Jamia Nizammia (in Baghdad), the world-renowned prestigious institute of its time. Al-Jeelani spent entire life in religious preaching and authored several books which continue to serve as guidelines for humans. His conversation was always engaging, effective to yield positive change in character and an elixir to enliven the dead hearts. Sheikh Umar Kaisani writes that there was not a single meeting of Al-Jeelani, which did not witness non-Muslims embracing Islam, criminals making repentance and the misguided finding guidance. About his depth of knowledge, the well-known jurist of the Hanbali school of thought Ibn e Qudamah says: “I did not see anyone more respected than him. Kings and ministers considered it their honor to attend his lectures, not to mention the scholars and jurists. A minimum of 400 inkpots was used to record his discourses. Though he had a humble personality, yet he was a savant with profound knowledge, wisdom and deep insight”.
Al-Jeelani attributes all his grandness to knowledge and says; I acquired knowledge till I became a polar star and attained good luck through greatest lord”. Polar star refers to guiding star used in celestial navigation, admitting himself as the guide for the ummah to bring them close to Almighty Allah.
However, a question arises which constitutes the theme of my writing is that in contemporary times we all acquire knowledge but hardly anyone of us reaches this stature. Interestingly, Al-Jeelani answers this question beforehand and states that for achieving height(or stature) there are twelve qualities that a person needs to develop besides gaining knowledge. Two qualities from each Allah and his messenger, the Prophet (SAW), four companions of thelatter Abu Bakr Al sideeq (First Caliph), Umar ibn Khitab (Second Caliph), Usman e Ghani (Third Caliph) and Ali ibn Abi Talib (Fourth Caliph) (May Allah be pleased with them all).
Let’s have a quick overview of these qualities that Al-Jeelani wants us to evolve with. By the two qualities of Allah, he refers to “Al- Ghafaar and Al-Sataar”. A person must produce attribute of Allah, repeatedly forgiving and concealing of other’s flaws. The name Ghafir is from Quran, present in many of its verses like; “And your lord is al-Gafoor (the oft-forgiving), the owner of mercy (18: 58)”, While as the name “Al-Sataar” finds mention in the Hadith of Abu Dawud (4012), in which the Prophet(SAW) says: Allah is characterized by modesty (al-Hayee) and Concealment (As-Sitteer). Al-Jeelani enjoins his followers to be Qutb (the universal man). These two attributes of Allah have to be created within. According to Al-Jeelani; the two characters of Prophet (SAW) that can lead a person to perfection are; “Compassion and Companionship”. Allah describes the compassionate/Kind demeanor of Prophet(SAW) in the Quran as: “There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among you. Grievous to him is what you suffer, for he is concerned for you and to the believers, he is kind and merciful”(2:143).
With regard to friendship( genteelness) of the Prophet(SAW), the Quran says; “Thus it is due to mercy from God that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would have dispersed from around you”(3:159). And, at another place Allah says; “And truly you (Muhammad) possess great morals”(68:4). Al-Jeelani says following these atrributes will raise a person’s stature higher before Almighty Allah. Likewise, Al-Jeelani offers a suggestion to aspirants of spiritual development, to produce the character of the four companions of Prophet SAW, for which they are known, that is, Truthfulness and Acknowledger of Truth: the identifying characteristic of Abu Bakr Al-Sideeq (AS). Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is reprehensible (Crux of Umar-Ibn-Khatab). Worship, submission, and devotion to God and generosity like Uthman ibn Affan and last two are; Knowledge and Bravery, peculiar to Ali Ibn Abi Talib. But, it is noteworthy that here bravery doesn’t mean suppressing others rather it entails to stand against falsehood, injustice for the sake of almighty Allah.
All the saints had a mission of purifying masses spiritually to raise them to the level wherein words of Iqbal, Allah would ascertain: ‘What is your wish?’ Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani pioneered this assignment and changed the lives of innumerable people. His teachings are before us that we ought to adopt before making claims of being his disciples. Rightly, if the message of Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani and his ilk is imbibed and embraced, radical changes in the world can be visualized. Those changes will off-course invigorate love, peace, and harmony.
May Allah guide us towards the right-path, calling towards which is also the mission of his close friends, the Saints.
—Writes on current issues. He can be reached at: [email protected]