Companions of Allah’s Messenger, Tabi’s and later spiritual scholars were appointed to protect and circulate Islamic Sharia in the length and breadth of the world after the demise of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The lifetime of Allah’s Messenger was regarded as a milestone in the records of Islamic history for the brightness of faith spread highly, shining with flying colours all along the world. With the passing of Khairul-Qurun(better centuries) which included the Khulafa’u Rashideen and other Imamsmams, the radiant Islamic glory began to fade little by little.
It was at that time, Sheikh Jeelani who is still alive in the minds of thousands came to the world at Allah’s beck and call on the mission of transplanting the germinating seeds of ignorances and anarchies from the crust of the world for ages and sowing the seeds of virtues at every nook and corner of the world when the conditions and situations of Jahiliyya(ignorance) began to spread its rays in 400AH. According to an authentic narration, Sheikh Jeelani, guiding light of the spiritual world was born in a place called Neef near Jeelan in 470 AH. He was the son of Abu Salih- Fathima couple, and one of his many titles is ‘Al-Hasani wal Husseini’ because he was blessed with a direct lineage to the Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) through his father Sheikh Abu Saleh Moosa (Allah be pleased with him) who was a direct descendant of Hassan (Allah be pleased with him). He was a very pious and humble person as well as a master in the tactics of Jihad and it was due to this that he was given the title of “Jangi Dost”. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) was also blessed with a direct lineage to Allah’s Messenger through his mother Sayyida Bibi Ummul Khair Fatima (Allah be pleased with her) who was a direct descendant of Imam Hussein (Allah be pleased with him). She was also a very pious person. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) was not like other children who spent their time in play and amusement. From a tender age, he spent his time in remembrance of Almighty Allah. If he at any time ever intended to join the other children, then a Voice from the Unseen would be heard to say, “Come towards Me, O blessed one.” At first, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) would become afraid when he heard this voice. He would go to his mother and sit on her lap. As time passed, he became accustomed to this voice. Instead of going to his mother, he would abandon the thought of playing and occupy himself in the remembrance of Almighty Allah.
Almighty Allah gave glad tidings to his parents in their dream that she would give birth to a child whose reputations would be spread all over the world and he would be Sulthanul-Awliya. Even from his childhood, a plethora of extraordinary incidents was taken place. During the holy month of Ramadan, news had spread that the infant refused to take milk from dawn until sunset, thereby implying that the newborn child was observing the fast. During the following year, when the moon could not be sighted due to heavy clouds, the people decided to observe Ramadan based on whether Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) had accepted milk during the Ramzan. If we turn the records of historical events, several miracles in connection with his birth and later life can be found. Actually, On the eve of his birth, approximately eleven hundred infants were given birth in Jilan and every one of them reached the peak of spirituality and later on became Wali of Allah.
Sheikh Jeelani, who set out to imbibe the sweetness of knowledge at the early age of 18, learnt the science of jurisprudence and its basic form renowned great scholars such as Abu Sandal Muharram, Ibn Akhil, Abul Khattab, Abul Husain Farra’ and Abubakkari Thibrees etc. At that time, he conquered the different levels of literature and amassed a large collection of verses of Hadiths from various credible Muhaddiths. After completing his education, Jilani left Baghdad. He spent twenty-five years wandering in the deserts of Iraq. While studying in Baghdad, he faced many hardships and was tested severely by the life of Baghdad. Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) himself used to say:
“The hardship and difficulties that I faced in Baghdad during my studies were so severe that if they had to be placed on a mountain, then even the mountain would split in two.”
His contributions, as well as devotions in the service of propagation of Islam, still shine the light of faith in the minds of people of different walks of life. Although modernity keeps people in much rush, it’s certain that, as far as a true believer is concerned, he will be willing to devote his time to it. It’s because he is such a glorious and important personality in the long history of Islam. With each passing stage of life, Sheikh Jeelani continued on his way to the realm of the spiritual world. The decay and crack of time did not affect his spiritual life at all. Sowing the seeds of virtues and uprooting the foundation of evil prevalent in those days, he paved a new way of spirituality which one can experience to his heart’s content.
From an early age, Sheikh Jeelani flew high to the zenith of spirituality and soon after the preliminary study of all Islamic practices and creeds, he returned to live in the direction of attaining the pearls of the ocean of knowledge on the shore of great Verse of Allah. To focus only on Qur’an with the utmost caution, he put aside all other works and studies. Abstaining from the momentarily material luxurious as well as its pleasures, at length he reached close quarters of well-known spiritual scholars who were flying in the spiritual world. The strong roots of faith in Allah were sinking into the depth of the inner part of his heart. His faith was such that even Colossus couldn’t pull down it and it was so strong that it couldn’t be destroyed by time, calamity or other factors. By his ability, within the shortest period, he explored through the depth of the ocean of knowledge in the verse of Allah. He was appreciated and valued as a great saint by the folks of his time. He sought Sufi guidance from Abu’l-Khair Hammad ibn Muslim al-Dabbas (Allah be pleased with him). He tells us to listen to our heart and shun our ego for it prompts us to claim hopeless proclamations and avowals to find the splendour and beauty of this world. There is a need for the understanding of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani’s (Allah be pleased with him) moral way of life for he is not only the person who advocated moral values but practised them in letter and spirit by way of his sternness in practising Islam and its pillars and canons. He is one of the top Sufi saints of all times to come. His notions are closer to the Sunnah, and by and large, are based on the Qur’an with a special reference to endeavours of the heart or religiousness. He directs us to ask our creator for a doctor who can treat the diseases, infections, and bugs of our hearts. Consequently, the crux of his religious philosophy is the purity of heart. And if we succeed in purifying our heart we may succeed here and hereafter. Therefore, there should be a paradigm shift from material purity to inner purity. This approach is necessary for becoming a pious Muslim.
According to him, he was appointed as a ruler of the spiritual world of a time. Sheikh Jilani, the Sultan of the spiritual world, ruled over the minds of his rank and file while all other rulers but he ruled over based on material power. His advice was not to their ears but the innermost of their heart and each of their movement was according to his direction. This method of his ruling by penetrating deep into their minds caused the over-flow of the people to the beautiful boundary of Islam. Thereby, he could activate the dormant Islam, lend those who stand on the brinks of devastation a helping hand and shed the light of truth on those who live at the bottom of utter immorality and superstition. In the long run, he could earn the title of Muhyudheen which means one who revived Islam the moment when it’s light was fading gradually, as well as customs, were dying out from the surface of the world once and for all. Sheikh Abdul Khadir Jeelani (Allah well pleased with him) was so renowned among the world due to his mesmeric mystic language which influences every section, disregarding the economic, social and religious inequalities. In a single day, nearly 70,000 students attended his class. Nearly a hundred thousand people sought forgiveness from God by hearing his speech. In each year three thousand people expelled themselves from him as the propagators of Islam. More than a hundred thousand people explored as the propagators of Islam. It is well known that the lectures of Al-Ghawth Al-A’zam (Allah be pleased with him) attracted scores of scholars to Baghdad from all over the world. Once, a hundred Jurists formed a group and each one chose a difficult question. They all decided to present themselves in the gathering of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) and each would ask his question during the lecture in an attempt to cause Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) to be confused. The one hundred Jurists chose what they thought to be the most difficult question and travelled to Baghdad. They sat in the gathering of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Allah be pleased with him) waiting for the appropriate time to ask their questions. It was during this gathering that a bright ray of light emerged from the blessed chest of Al-Ghawth Al-A’zam (Allah be pleased with him) and travelled into the heart of each of the one hundred Jurists. This light could only be seen by them and to those whom Almighty Allah desired to see. As this light entered their hearts, each one of them entered a state of spiritual ecstasy. Each one of them fell at the feet of Al-Ghawth Al-A’zam (Allah be pleased with him) and repented from their improper intentions. The great Saint, with great compassion, embraced each one of them, filling their hearts with Noor, and at the same time answering every one of their questions, even though they had not asked.
He contributed major writings such as Yavaqeethul Hikm, Maratheebul Vujood, Thuhfa, Arrissalathul-Gousiyya and Al- Gunnyath etc. It surely convinces the depth of his knowledge if we go over each of his writing. That is why he was eligible to give a legal opinion (Fathwa) in Shafi and Hanafi Madhabs. Moreover, he could interpret a single verse of the Holy Quran with distinguished forty explanations. Sheikh Jeelani (Allah be pleased with him)passed away in 561 AH at the age of ninety-one. His funeral prayer was led by Sayyid Saifudheen Abbas(Allah be pleased with him) and was attended by countless people. It has been reported that the public coming from different walks of life was given a chance to perform Janaza Namaz near his grave. He was buried on the porch of Madrassa in Bagdad’s Babul Azaj and that place always remains crowded with the over-flow of people of different sections of society day in and day out in quest of his benedictions.
Fahad AP is an independent researcher at WIRAS, India. He is currently pursuing a BA and LLB. His major area of study follows Modern Law and Literature in English.