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Necklaces of Gems (Qada’id Al-jawahir): A Biography of Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani

Necklaces of Gems

Some Excerpts from Necklaces of Gems:

by Shaikh Muhammad ibn Yahya at-Tadifi al-Hanbalion the Marvelous Exploits of the Crown of the Saints, the Treasure-trove of the Pure, the Sultan of the Saints, the Sublime Pivot, Shaikh Muhyi’d-din ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him).

Prologue

As for the friends of Allah,  surely no fear shall be upon them, nor shall they grieve. (10:62)
[a-la inna awliya’a ‘llahi la khawfun ‘alai-him, wa la hum yahzanun.]

In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

The following are the words of Muhammad ibn Yahya at-Tadifi, the poor servant [of the Lord], who acknowledges his sin and his shortcoming, and hopes for a hidden pardon from His tender grace. May Allah forgive his sins, and replace his sins with blessings.

Praise be to Allah, who has opened for His saintly friends [awliya’] the paths of right guidance, and has caused all kinds of good things to come about at their hands, and has delivered them from ruin. Those who follow their example will therefore be successful and guided aright, but those who swerve from their path will fail and be ruined. Those who seek their protection will prosper and travel safely, but if anyone shuns them with rejection, he will be cut off and destroyed. I praise Him with the praise of one who knows that there is no refuge from Him except toward Him. I thank Him with the thanks of one who is firmly convinced that favors [ni’am] and afflictions [niqam] alike are entirely at His disposal. I invoke blessing and peace upon our Master, Muhammad, and upon his family. May they enjoy the countless benefits and gracious favors of Allah.

As for the subject of the present work, my interest was aroused when I studied “History To Rely On for Accounts of the Bygone” [at-Ta’rikh al-mu’tabar fi anba’ man ghabar], the compilation of the Chief Justice [Qadi ‘l-qudah], Mujir ad-Din ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-‘Ulaimi al-‘Umari al-Maqdisi al-Hanbali (may Allah encompass him with His mercy). I discovered that the author had given no more than summary treatment to the biography of our Master, our Patron, our Shaikh and our Guide to Allah (Exalted is He), Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili al-Hanbali (may Allah be well pleased with him), and that he had made only the slightest reference to his charismatic qualities and exploits [manaqib]. I found this quite astonishing, and I said to myself: “Perhaps he considered him a widely known celebrity (may Allah be well pleased with him), and therefore confined himself to this brief account. In deciding to keep it short, he may also have been influenced by the example of that most erudite scholar, Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him).”

I then felt moved, by the wish to obtain good fortune, to gather together everything that I could find about the exploits of the Shaikh (may Allah sanctify his innermost being, and may He illuminate his mausoleum), in various books, from what I heard from trustworthy sources, and from what I held in my personal recollection. I resolved to follow this information, after having mentioned his noble genealogy, with accounts of his physical constitution [khalq] and his moral character [khulq], his work [‘amal] and his knowledge [‘ilm], his methods and his spiritual counsel, his speech and his action, the children whom Allah bestowed upon him, and his exaltation by the saints [awliya’] in recognition of his proper due. I also decided to make some mention of the charismatic qualities and exploits of these saints, as well as the exploits of those who trace their spiritual affiliation to his excellency.

It is necessary to persevere in standing at the threshold of his door, for the elevated nature of the act of following is determined by the nobility of the one who is followed, just as the copious extent of the rivers’ flow depends on the magnitude of the spring that is their source.

I also mention his birth and the completion of his earthly life, and I conclude that with something concerning his charismatic qualities and exploits, and what has been said about him, keeping that fairly concise, for fear of causing boredom and ennui. I have entitled the book:

Necklaces of Gems: Concerning the Charismatic Qualities and Exploits of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir [Qala’id al-Jawahir fi Manaqib ash-Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir]

The Shaikh’s Genealogy

I turn to Allah for help, for He is all I need, and how excellent is the Helper! Then I go on to say [concerning the subject of this book]:

He is our Master, the Shaikh of Islam, the exemplar of the splendid saints [awliya’], the signpost to right guidance. Those who trace their spiritual affiliation to him are among the blissfully fortunate. He is the Lordly Cardinal Pole [al-Qutb ar-Rabbani], the incomparable, the universal, the everlasting, the pure foundation, Muhyi ‘d-din Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir, the son of Abu Salih Jangi Dost (some say Janga Dost) Musa, the son of Abu ‘Abdi’llah, the son of Yahya az-Zahid, the son of Muhammad, the son of Dawud, the son of Musa, the son of ‘Abdu’llah, the son of Musa al-Jawn, the son of ‘Abdu’llah al-Mahd (also known by the epithet al-Mujall [the Venerable], derived from the term ijlal [veneration]), the son of al-Hasan al-Muthanna, the son of the Commander of the Believers [Amir al-Mu’minin], Abu Muhammad al-Hasan, the son of the Commander of the Believers, ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him), the son of Abu Talib, the son of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the son of Hashim, the son of ‘abd Manaf, the son of Qusayy, the son of Kilab, the son of Murra, the son of Ka’b, the son of Lu’ayy, the son of Ghalib, the son of Qahr, the son of Malik, the son of an-Nadr. the son of Kinana, the son of Khuzaima, the son of Mudrika, the son of Ilyas, the son of Mudar, the son of Nadhdhar, the son of Ma’d, the son of ‘Adnan. [His surnames are] al-Qurashi al-Hashimi al-‘Alawi al-Hasani al-Jili al-Hanbali.

He is the grandson [on his mother’s side] of our master, the famous ‘Abdu’llah as-Sawma’i az-Zahid [the Ascetic Hermit], who was one of the Shaikhs of Jilan and one of their leading ascetics. Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah was endowed with lofty spiritual states [ahwal] and conspicuous charismatic talents [karamat]. He met with a group of the the outstanding Shaikhs of the Persians [al-‘Ajam] (may Allah be well pleased with them). It was Shaikh Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad al-Qazwini who said: “Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah as-Sawma’i was one whose supplication was always answered. When he was angry [with someone], Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) was Swift in exacting retaliation, and when some business was to his liking, Allah (Exalted is He) would carry it out as he preferred. In spite of his physical weakness and his advanced age, he performed many acts of supererogatory devotion [nawafil], and constantly practiced remembrance [dhikr]. He was noticeably humble, and patient in preserving his spiritual state, while paying careful attention to his moments of opportunity. He used to give notice of something before it occurred, and it would happen just as he had said it would.”

Shaikh Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad al-Qazwini went on to say: “One of our companions told us how they once set out as traders in a caravan, and were attacked by horsemen in the desert of Samarqand. He said: ‘So we cried out to Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah as-Sawma’i, and there he was, standing in our midst. He uttered the call: “All-Glorious, All-Holy [Subbuh Quddus] is our Lord, Allah! Be gone from us, O you horsemen!” He thereby scattered them up onto the mountains peaks and down into the valleys, making us safe from their assault. But when we looked for the Shaikh amongst us, we could not find him, and we did not see where he had gone. Then, when we returned to Jilan and told the people there about it, they said: “By Allah, the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) has never been away from here!”‘”

The Birth of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir

According to the two Qur’an-memorizers [hafizan], adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Rajab, Shaikh ‘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 Shaikh ‘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.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir leaves home and sets out for Baghdad

His upbringing continued thus, until he set out for Baghdad, in the year when at-Tamimi died. That was the year [A.H.] 488, when he had reached the age of eighteen. At that time, the Caliph in Baghdad was al-Mustazhir bi’llah Abu ‘l-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Muqtadi bi-Amri ‘llah Abu ‘l-Qasim ‘Abdu’llah, the ‘Abbasid (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him).

According to Shaikh Imam Taqiyyu ‘d-din Muhammad al-Wa’iz al-Lubnani [the Lebanese] (may Allah bestow His pardon upon him), in his book entitled “The Garden of the Pious and the Virtues of the Excellent” [Rawdat al-Abrar wa Mahasin al-Akhyar], this is what happened then: When he [Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir] was about to enter Baghdad, he was stopped by al-Khidr (peace be upon him), who prevented him from entering the city, and told him: “I have no instruction to allow you to enter for the next seven years.” He therefore settled on the bank [of the River Tigris] for seven years, gathering vegetables of the kind permissible to eat, to the point where his neck was becoming tinged with the color green. Then he got up one night and heard a voice addressing him with the words: “O ‘Abd al-Qadir, enter Baghdad!”

He thereupon entered the city. The night was rainy and cold, so he approached the convent [zawiya] of Shaikh Hammad ibn Muslim ad-Dabbas, but the Shaikh said: “Lock the door of the convent, and put out the light!” Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir just sat down by the door, and Allah (Exalted is He) cast sleep upon him, so he fell asleep. When he awoke, he was in a state of major ritual impurity [due to the emission of semen], so he performed a total ablution. Then Allah (Exalted is He) cast sleep upon him again, and again he lost his state of ritual purity. This same experience was repeated seventeen times, and he performed a complete ablution in the wake of each occurrence. Finally, when the dawn was at hand, the door was opened and Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir stepped inside.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir meets Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas.

Shaikh Hammad came forward to welcome him, embraced him and gave him a hug. There were tears in his eyes as he said to him: “O my son, ‘Abd al-Qadir, today it is our turn to be in charge here, but tomorrow it will be your turn. So, when you have taken charge, deal fairly with this old head of gray hair!”

(This concludes the excerpt from “The Garden of the Pious and the Virtues of the Excellent” [Rawdat al-Abrar wa Mahasin al-Akhyar].)

The following is a quotation from “The Splendor of the Mysteries” [Bahjat al-Asrar], by Shaikh Imam al-Awhad Nur ad-Din Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Jarir ibn Mi’dad ibn Fadl ash-Shafi’i al-Lakhmi:

All hail to a newcomer, upon whose arrival the first showers of blissful good fortune began to arrive, for a land in whose towns he alighted, and where the clouds of mercy came in succession, to the general benefit of its modern and its ancient districts, and right guidance was multiplied therein, so that light was shed by its spiritual deputies [abdal] and its mainstays [awtad], and the delegations of good tidings arrived there on one another’s heels, so that all its propitious times and festivals [a’yad] dawned brightly, and the heart of ‘Iraq began to glow with the light of his love, ecstatic with joy, while the tongue of its frontier access-road responded to the advent of his countenance by uttering encomiums in praise of Allah.

[In the words of a poet]:

Upon his arrival the clouds gave forth refreshing rain, and green grass covered the whole of ‘Iraq.

Sinful transgression passed away, and the right direction was made quite clear.

Its palm trees flourished, its desert became a haven, its pebbles turned into pearls, and its lights shone plain to see.

Because of him, the bosom of ‘Iraq swelled with an ardent longing, and in the heart of Najd his virtues were the cause of ecstasy.

In the East the sparks of his light were seen as lightning flashes, and in the West the mention of his splendor was heard as the clap of thunder.

(This concludes the excerpt from “The Splendor of the Mysteries” [Bahjat al-Asrar], quoted here in abridged form.)

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir embarks on the quest for knowledge.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) had come to understand that the pursuit of knowledge [‘ilm] is an obligatory religious duty [farida], incumbent on every Muslim, and that it is the cure for sick souls, since it is the most explicit route to true devotion, the most effective evidence thereof, the clearest guidance thereto, the highest of all the ladders of certainty, the loftiest of all the degrees of conviction, the most magnificent of all the ranks of religion, and the most splendid of all the stations held by those who are rightly guided. Because he undertood this well, he rolled up the sleeve of earnestness and serious endeavor in the effort to acquire it, and wasted no time in the pursuit of its branches and its roots. He sought out the leading Shaikhs, the signposts of right guidance, the scholars of the Islamic community [‘ulma’ al-umma]. He embarked on the study of Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh], after reading the Glorious Qur’an until he was thoroughly familiar with it.

In studying both the inner content and the obvious meaning of Islamic legal doctine, he derived benefit from the wise instruction of Abu ‘l-Wafa ‘Ali ibn ‘Uqail al-Hanbali, Abu ‘l-Khattab Mahfuz al-Kaludhani al-Hanbali, Abu ‘l-Hasan Muhammad ibn al-Qadi Abu Ya’li Muhammad ibn ibn al-Husain ibn Muhammad al-Farra’ al-Hanbali, the Qadi [Judge] Abu Sa’id, and also, according to some accounts, Abu Sa’id al-Mubarak ibn ‘Ali al-Mukharrimi al-Hanbali. He learned to recognize the established doctrine of a school of law [madhhab], as well as areas where expert opinions differ, and he mastered both the branches and the roots of the subject.

He studied customary good manners [adab] under Abu Zakariyya’ Yahya ibn ‘Ali at-Tabrizi, and heard the Prophetic Tradition [Hadith] from a number of experts, including Abu Ghalib Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Baqilani, Abu Sa’id Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karim ibn Khashisha, Abu ‘l-Ghana’im Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Maimun al-Farsi, Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Muzaffar, Abu Ja’far ibn Ahmad ibn al-Husain al-Qari as-Sarraj, Abu ‘l-Qasim ‘Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Bannan al-Karkhi, Abu Talib ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf, his paternal cousin ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Ahmad, Abu ‘l-Barakat Hibatu’llah ibn al-Mubarak, Abu ‘l-‘Izz Muhammad ibn al-Mukhtar, Abu Nasr Muhammad, Abu Ghalib Ahmad and Abu ‘Abdi’llah Yahya ([these last three being] the sons of al-Banna’), Abu ‘l-Hasan ibn Mubarak ibn at-Tuyuri, Abu Mansur ‘abd ar-Rahman al-Qazzaz, Abu ‘l-Barakat Talha al-‘Aquli, and yet others besides.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir embarks on the Spiritual Path [Tariqa].

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) became the pupil of Abu ‘l-Khair Hammad ibn Muslim ibn Duruh ad-Dabbas, and from him he acquired knowledge of the Spiritual Path [Tariqa]. From him he received his basic training, and with his help he set out on the spiritual journey. May Allah be well pleased with them both.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) took to wearing the noble patched cloak [khirqa], which he received from al-Qadi [the Judge] Abu Sa’id al-Mubarak al-Mukharrimi, to whom mention has previously been made. Al-Mukharrimi had worn it after receiving it from Shaikh Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Qurashi, and al-Qurashi had acquired it from Abu ‘l-Faraj at-Tarsusi, to whom it was handed down by Abu ‘l-Fadl ‘Abd al-Wahid at-Tamimi, who had received it from the hand of his own Shaikh, Shaikh Abu Bakr ash-Shibli. Ash-Shibli had acquired it from Shaikh Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Junaid, and al-Junaid had received it from his maternal uncle, as-Sari as-Saqati, who upon whom it had been bestowed by Shaikh Ma’ruf al-Karkhi. Al-Karkhi had received it from Dawud at-Ta’i, who had obtained it from my master, Habib al-‘Ajami. It had been given to Habib al-‘Ajami by Shaikh al-Hasan al-Basri, and al-Basri had received it from our patron, the Commander of the Believers [Amir al-Mu’minin], ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah ennoble his countenance and be well pleased with him), who had received it from the Chieftain of the Messengers, the Beloved of the Lord of All the Worlds, Muhammad (on him be the most excellent blessing, and the most perfect greeting of peace). As for Muhammad himself (Allah bless him and give him peace), he had received it from Gabriel (peace be upon him), and Gabriel had received it from the Lord of Truth (Magnificent is His Majesty, and Sanctified be His Names).

Someone asked my master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir what he had received from the Lord of Truth (Glorious and Exalted is He), and he replied: “Knowledge [‘ilm] and good manners [adab].”

With regard to the patched cloak [khirqa], its transmission is also traced by another route, going back to ‘Ali ibn Musa ar-Radi. (In the case of the patched cloak, it should be explained, transmission is not verified by reference to an isnad [chain of reliable verbal reports], as required in the case of Prophetic Tradition [Hadith]. The only factor to be considered is the existence of companionship [suhba] between the Shaikhs concerned.)

 

 

Abu Sa’id al-Mukharrimi and his schoolhouse [madrasa].

As for al-Mukharrimi, this is the proper spelling of his name, which indicates his connection with the quarter of Baghdad called al-Mukharrim. Some of the sons of Yazid ibn al-Mukharrim settled there, and that is how that quarter of the city acquired its name.

It was al-Qadi [the Judge] Abu Sa’id al-Mukharrimi, referred to above, who said: “‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili wore a patched cloak [khirqa] that he received from me, and I wore a patched cloak that I received from him, so each of us obtained blessing by means of the other.”

As related by that highly erudite scholar, Ibrahim ad-Dairi ash-Shafi’i, author of the compendium entitled “The Beautiful Garden” [ar-Rawd az-Zahir], Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir received his introduction to spiritual culture [tasawwuf] from Shaikh Abu Ya’qub Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Yusuf ibn al-Husain ibn Wahra al-Hamadani az-Zahid [the Ascetic], of whom we shall have more to say in due course. This was when he (may Allah be well pleased with him) first arrived in Baghdad, and met a number of the eminent ascetics of the time.

Abu Sa’id al-Mukharrimi had a well-kept little schoolhouse by the Portico Gate [Bab al-Azaj]. This building was placed at the disposal of our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and in it he gave talks to the people, whom he addressed in the language of religious exhortation [wa’z] and spiritual reminding [tadhkir]. It soon became apparent that he was endowed with charismatic talents [karamat], his reputation grew, and he met with wide acceptance. The schoolhouse [madrasa] soon became too cramped, with so many people thronging to attend his regular discourse-session [majlis]. To cope with the overcrowding and the lack of space, he used to address the people while sitting by the wall, leaning on the door of the guesthouse, which opened onto the street.

Enlargement of the schoolhouse, in the year [A.H.] 528, to accommodate Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s ever-growing audiences.

The accommodation was eventually enlarged, by the addition of neighboring houses and various places in the surrounding area. The rich folk made generous donations from their assets, to pay for the structural development, while the poor folk contributed their personal labor.

An impoverished woman once came to the Shaikh with her husband, who was a member of the working class, and said to him: “This is my husband, and he still owes me my marriage-dower [mahr] of twenty dinars in gold coin. I have given him half of it, but on one condition: he must put in work at your schoolhouse, to the value of the remaining half.” The husband had accepted this offer, so the woman produced the written agreement and handed it over to the Shaikh. While employing the man in the schoolhouse, the Shaikh gave him his wage every other day–recognizing that he was poor and needy, and had not a thing in his possession–until his work had earned him five dinars. Then the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) brought out the written contract and placed it in his hand, saying: “You are hereby free of any further obligation.”

The reconstructed schoolhouse was completed in the year [A.H.] 528. It came to be known as Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s College, and he presided over its use for purposes of educational instruction, the formulation of legal opinion [fatwa], and religious exhortation, along with the exercise of independent judgment [ijtihad] in matters of knowledge and practice. There he received visits and pledges of material support from all the towns and countries, near and far. A congregation of the scholars and the righteous gathered in his presence there, from all the distant horizons. They relieved him of practical burdens, and listened to what he had to say. The situation developed to the point where he was in charge of the training of all the spiritual seekers [muridin] in ‘Iraq.

Tongues were exercised in various ways, in the effort to describe the marvels of his attributes. Some described him as “Master of the Two Explanations [Dhu ‘l-Bayanain],” while others characterized him as “Noble through Two Grandfathers, and thus on Both Sides of the Family” [Karim al-Jaddain wa ‘t-Tarafain].” Someone gave him the title “Holder of the Two Proofs and the Two Mandates [Sahib al-Burhanain wa ‘s-Sultanain],” while another called him “The Imam of the Two Parties and the Two Paths [Imam al-Fariqain wa ‘t-Tariqain].” He was also named “Master of the Two Lamps and the Two Routes [Dhu ‘s-Sirajain wa ‘l-Minhajain].”

Scholarly Shaikhs who became affiliated with Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir.

As a result of all this, a large band of religious scholars [‘ulama’] became actively affiliated with him, and no one could ever count the number of people who enrolled as his students. Here is a list of some of the Shaikhs who established an affiliation with him, and who received instruction from him in the various branches of knowledge:

*Shaikh al-Imam al-Qudwa [the Exemplar] Abu ‘Amr ‘Uthman ibn Marzuq ibn Hamid ibn Salama al-Qurashi, who was a settler in Egypt.

Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Razzaq once said: “When my father (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) made the Pilgrimage [Hajj], in the year when I accompanied him, he got together at ‘Arafat with the two Shaikhs, Ibn Marzuq and Abu Madin. Each of these two received from my father the blessed gift of a patched cloak [khirqa]. They sat in his presence and listened to some of the stories he had to tell.”

It was Shaikh Sa’d, the son of the above-mentioned ‘Uthman ibn Marzuq, who said: “My father (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) would often tell us: ‘Our Shaikh, ‘Abd al-Qadir, said such-and such, and such-and such. I once saw our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, doing such-and such, together with that learned Imam and Judge [Qadi], Abu Ya’li Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Farra’ al-Hanbali.’” It was ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn al-Akhdar who said: “I once heard Abu Ya’li say: “I often sat in the company of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and I was a proponent of what he sought to communicate.”

*Shaikh al-Faqih [the Jurist] Abu ‘l-Fath Nasr al-Manni. *Shaikh Abu Muhammad Mahmud ibn ‘Uthman al-Baqqal. *Shaikh al-Imam Abu Hafs ‘Umar ibn Abu Nasr ibn ‘Ali al-Ghazali. *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Farisi [the Persian]. *Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah ibn Ahmad al-Khashshab. *Shaikh al-Imam ‘Amr ‘Uthman, who was given honorific surname “The Shafi’i of His Age.” *Shaikh Muhammad ibn al-Kizan. *Shaikh al-Faqih [the Jurist] Raslan ibn ‘Abdi’llah ibn Sha’ban. *Shaikh Muhammad ibn Qa’id al-Awani. *Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah ibn Sinan ar-Rudaini. *Shaikh al-Hasan ibn ‘Abdi’llah ibn Rafi’ al-Ansari. *Shaikh Talha ibn Muzaffar ibn Ghanim al-‘Athami. *Shaikh Ahmad ibn Sa’d ibn Wahb ibn ‘Ali al-Harawi. *Shaikh Muhammad ibn al-Azhar as-Sairafi. *Shaikh Yahya ibn al-Baraka Mahfuz ad-Dibaqi. *Shaikh ‘Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Wahb al-Azjami. *Shaikh Qadi ‘l-Qudah [the Chief justice] ‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Isa ibn Hirbas al-Mara’i, and his brother ‘Uthman, and his son ‘Abd ar-Rahman.

*Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah ibn Nasr ibn Hamza al-Bakri. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Abi ‘l-Fadl al-Qafasi. *Shaikh ‘Ali ibn Abi Zahir al-Ansari. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Ghani ibn ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Maqdisi al-Hafiz [the Qur’an-memorizer]. *Shaikh al-Imam Muwaffaqu ‘d-din ‘Abdu’llah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad Qudama al-Maqdisi al-Hanbali. *Shaikh Ibrahim ibn ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Maqdisi al-Hanbali.

It was Shaikh Shamsu ‘d-din ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Umar al-Maqdisi who said: “I once heard my paternal uncle, Shaikh Muwaffaqu ‘d-din, say: ‘I and al-Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani received the patched cloak [khirqa] from the hand of the Shaikh al-Islam, ‘Abd al-Qadir, both of us at the very same time. We studied jurisprudence [fiqh] under him, listened to his wise advice, and derived great benefit from his fellowship, although we only knew him for the last fifty nights of his life.

*Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Bakhtiyar. *Shaikh Abu Muhammad ‘Abdu’llah ibn Abi ‘l-Hasan al-Jibani. *Shaikh Khalaf ibn ‘Abbas al-Misri. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Mun’im ibn ‘Ali al-Harrani. *Shaikh Ibrahim al-Haddad al-Yamani. *Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah al-Asadi al-Yamani. *Shaikh ‘Atif ibn Ziyad al-Yamani. *Shaikh ‘Umar ibn Ahmad al-Yamani al-Hajari. *Shaikh Mudafi’ ibn Ahmad. *Shaikh Ibrahim ibn Bisharat al-‘Adl. *Shaikh ‘Umar ibn Mas’ud al-Bazzar, and his teacher, Mir ibn Muhammad al-Jilani. *Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah al-Bata’ihi, the settler in Baalbek [Ba’labakk]. *Shaikh Makki ibn Abi ‘Uthman as-Sa’di, and his sons ‘Abd ar-Rahman and Salih. *Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah ibn al-Hasan ibn al-‘Akbari. *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Qasim ibn Abi Bakr Ahmad, and his brothers Ahmad and ‘Atiq. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Abi Nasr al-Junayidi. *Shaikh Muhammad ibn Abi ‘l-Makarim al-Hujja al-Ya’qubi. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Dayyal, and his son Abu ‘l-Faraj. *Shaikh Abu Ahmad al-Fadila. *Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Najm al-Khazraji. *Shaikh Yahya at-Takrini. *Shaikh Hilal ibn Umayya al-‘Adani. *Shaikh Yusuf Muzaffar al-‘Aquli. *Shaikh Ahmad ibn Isma’il ibn Hamza. *Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah ibn Ahmad ibn al-Mansuri Sadunat as-Sirifini. *Shaikh ‘Uthman al-Basiri. *Shaikh Muhammad al-Wa’iz al-Khayyat. *Shaikh Taju ‘d-din ibn Batta. *Shaikh ‘Umar ibn al-Madayini. *Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Baqa. *Shaikh Muhammad an-Nakhkhal. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Kalaf. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Karim ibn Muhammad al-Misri. *Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Walid. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Muhsin ibn ad-Duwaira. *Shaikh Muhammad ibn Abi ‘l-Husain. *Shaikh Dalif al-Huraimi. *Shaikh Ahmad ibn ad-Dibaqi. *Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Mu’adhdhin [the Muezzin]. *Shaikh Yusuf ibn Hibatu ‘llah ad-Dimashqi. *Shaikh Ahmad ibn Muti’. *Shaikh ‘Ali ibn an-Nafis al-Ma’muni. *Shaikh Muhammad ibn al-Laith ad-Zarir. *Shaikh ash-Sharif Ahmad ibn Mansur. *Shaikh ‘Ali ibn Abi Bakr ibn Idris. *Shaikh Muhammad ibn Nasra. *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Latif ibn Muhammad al-Harrani.

There are many more besides these, but we cannot possibly mention them all by name in this summary account, for fear of prolonging it to the point of causing irritation and discomfort.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s physical build and bearing.

It was Shaikh Muwaffaq ad-din ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) who said:

“Our Shaikh Muhyi ‘d-din ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) was of slender build, of medium height, and broad in the chest. He had a full beard, which was brown throughout its length, and his eyebrows were joined, though almost imperceptibly. He was endowed with a clearly audible voice, a dignified bearing, a noble character, and a total comprehension. May Allah be well pleased with him.”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s preeminent position in Baghdad.

In his book the Bahja, that highly erudite scholar, Shaikh al-Imam Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali al-Muqri ash-Shattanawfi al-Misri, provides many reports concerning our own master and Shaikh, the Reviver of the Sunna and the Religion [Muhyi ‘s-Sunna wa ‘d-Din], Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili, including accounts of his marvelous exploits and his charismatic talents (may Allah be well pleased with him). He attributes the following report to Qadi ‘l-Qudah [Chief Justice] Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad, the son of Shaikh al-‘Imad Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Maqdisi:

“I heard our Shaikh, Muwaffaq ad-din ibn Qudama, say: ‘We entered Baghdad in the year [A.H.] 561, and we found that leadership there had accrued to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, in the domains of religious knowledge and practice, spirituality [hal], and legal consultation [istifta’], to such a degree that no seeker of knowledge would need to go looking for anyone other than him. This was due to his mastery of a vast array of the sciences, his inexhaustible patience with serious students, and the breadth of the feeling within his breast. He was the source of complete satisfaction, and Allah had made him the repository of beautiful qualities and precious states of being. I have never seen the like of him again.”

Another reporter said: “His silence was more typical of the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) than his talking. When he did speak, it was to give utterance to spontaneously received ideas [‘ala ‘l-khawatir]. He was totally accessible, for he never left his schoolhouse, except to attend the Friday prayer in the congregational mosque [jami’], or to spend some time in his guesthouse [ribat].

“The bulk of the people of Baghdad repented their sins at his hands, and the majority of the Jews and Christians embraced Islam. He used to proclaim the Truth from the pulpit, without reservation, and he would not soften his reproachful criticism of those who were on friendly terms with tyrannical wrongdoers. When al-Muqtafi bi-Amri’llah, the Commander of the Believers [Amir al-Mu’minin], appointed Abu ‘l-Wafa Yahya ibn Sa’id ibn al-Muzaffar, commonly known as Ibn al-Mizham az-Zalim [Son of Push-and-Shove, the Tyrant], to the office of judge, the Shaikh addressed him from the pulpit, saying: ‘You have set in authority over the Muslims the most tyrannical of tyrants. What explanation will you give tomorrow [on the Day of Resurrection], in the presence of the Lord of All the Worlds, the Most Merciful of the merciful?’ On hearing this, the Caliph shook and trembled, then burst into tears. He promptly dismissed the judge concerned.”

In his Ta’rikh [History], al-Hafiz Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Uthman adh-Dhahabi tells the reader: “It was Abu Bakr ibn Tarkhan who informed us that Shaikh al-Muwaffaq once told him, in response to a question about Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘We came in contact with him during the latter part of his life, so he invited us to make ourselves at home in his schoolhouse, where he took good care of us. He sometimes sent his son, Yahya, to see to the lighting of our lamp, and he sometimes sent us food from his own kitchen. He used to join us in performing the obligatory ritual prayer [farida], acting as prayer leader [imam]. In the morning, I used to recite to him, relying on my memory, from “The Book of the Patched Cloaks” [Kitab al-Khiraq], and al-Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani would recite to him from “The Book of Guidance concerning The Book [of Allah]” [Kitab al-Hidaya fi ‘l-Kitab]. No one read to him at that time, apart from the two of us. We stayed with him for a month and nine days, then he died, and we performed the funeral prayer for him at night, in his schoolhouse.’

“I never heard more accounts of anyone’s charismatic talents [karamat], than those related about him. I never saw anyone else receive more veneration from the people, for the sake of the religion. Yet we have heard only a few bits and pieces about him.”

In Ta’rikh al-Islam [The History of Islam], we read: “Shaikh Abu Muhammad Muhyi ‘s-Sunna wa ‘d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Abi Salih ‘Abdi’llah ibn Janga Dost al-Hanbali az-Zahid [the Ascetic] was the rightful owner of charismatic talents and spiritual stations. He was the Shaikh of the Islamic jurists [fuqaha’] and of the paupers [fuqara’]. He was the Leader [Imam] of his age, the Cardinal Pole [Qutb] of his era, and the Shaikh of the Shaikhs of his time, beyond any contention.”

At the end of the section devoted to his biography [tarjuma], the author says: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) was a chieftain in knowledge and practice, and indeed in all respects. His charismatic talents were repeatedly manifested in abundance, and there has been no one like him to take his place after him.”

In Sirat an-Nubala’ [Biography of the Nobles], the author refers to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir as follows:

“The Shaikh, the Leader [al-Imam], the Scholar [al-‘Alim], the Ascetic [az-Zahid], the Knower by Direct Experience [al-‘Arif], the Exemplary Model [al-Qudwa], the Shaikh of Islam, the Signpost of the Saints [‘Alam al-Awliya’], the Crown of the Chosen [Taj al-Asfiya’], the Reviver of the Sunna [Muhyi ‘s-Sunna], the Killer of Heretical Innovation [Mumit al-Bid’a], the Stronghold of Knowledge [Ma’qil al-‘Ilm], the Noble Chieftain [as-Sayyid ash-Sharif], the Highly Esteemed Patrician [al-Hasib an-Nasib], the Memorizer of the Traditions [Hafiz al-Ahadith]-whose ancestor was the Chieftain of the Messengers [Sayyid al-Mursalin], Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace)-Shaikh Muhyi ‘d-Din Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Salih al-Jili al-Hanbali, the Shaikh of Baghdad and other cities. May Allah be well pleased with him.” (This concludes the abridged quotation.)

In al-‘Ibar [Noteworthy Examples], the author describes him as:

“Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Abi Salih ‘Abdu’llah ibn Jangi Dost al-Jili, the Shaikh of Baghdad, the Ascetic, the Shaikh of the Era, the Exemplary Model of Those who Know by Direct Experience [Qudwat al-‘Arifin], the Rightful Owner of Spiritual Stations and Charismatic Talents [Sahib al-Maqamat wa ‘l-Karamat], Professor of the Jurists of the Hanbali School [Mudarris al-Hanabila], the Reviver of the Religion [Muhyi ‘d-Din]. Preeminence eventually accrued to him in the domain of religious and spiritual exhortation [wa’z], and in the expression of spontaneously received ideas [kalam ‘ala ‘l-khawatir]. May Allah be well pleased with him.”

The following quotation is from the Ta’rikh [History] of al-Hafiz Abu Sa’id al-Karim ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur as-Sam’ani:

“Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir was from the people of Jilan. He became the Leader of the Jurists of the Hanbali School [Imam al-Hanabila] and their Shaikh in his era. He was a righteous legal expert [faqih] and a good servant of the religion. He was devoted to the frequent practice of remembrance [dhikr], constantly engaged in contemplation, and easily moved to tears.” (Here ends the passage I have excerpted.)

In another Ta’rikh [History], this one by Muhibbu ‘d-Din Muhammad ibn an-Najjar, the author states:

“‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Abi Salih ‘Abdu’llah ibn Janga Dost az-Zahid was from the people of Jilan. He was one of the leaders of those Muslims who put their knowledge into active practice, and he was manifestly endowed with charismatic talents [karamat]. He is said to have entered Baghdad in the year [A.H.] 488, when he was eighteen years of age. He studied Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh], mastering the roots and branches of the subject, as well as the differences of opinion among the experts. He attended classes on the Prophetic Tradition [Hadith]. He also made a serious study of religious exhortation [wa’z], to the point where he excelled therein.

“He then felt the need to withdraw, in order to practice seclusion [khalwa], spiritual training [riyada], traveling [siyaha], intense concentration on the inner struggle [mujahada], the experiencing of difficult states and conditions, the tackling of tough problems in opposition to the lower self [nafs], the constant endurance of sleeplessness and hunger, and learning how to survive in the wasteland and the deserts.

“He became the pupil of Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas az-Zahid [the Ascetic], from whom he acquired knowledge of the Spiritual Path [Tariqa]. Then Allah presented him to the people, his fellow creatures, and caused him to experience a magnificent reception from both the elite and the general mass.” (End of quote.)

In the Tabaqat [Generations] of al-Hafiz Zaidu ‘d-Din ibn Rajab, we read: “‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Abi Salih ‘Abdu’llah ibn Janga Dost ibn Abi ‘Abdi’llah al-Jili (al-Baghdadi at a later stage) az-Zahid [the Ascetic] was the Shaikh of the Age, the Erudite Scholar of the Era [‘Allamat al-Hin], the Exemplary Model of Those who Know by Direct Experience [Qudwat al-‘Arifin], the Sultan of the Shaikhs, the Chieftain of the People of the Spiritual Path [Sayyid Ahl at-Tariqa], the Reviver of the Religion [Muhyi ‘d-Din], Abu Muhammad…”

Further along in this biographical account [tarjuma], the author tells us:

“He finally became available to the people, and was accorded a complete acceptance. The advocates of the noble Sunna were greatly helped by his appearance in the public arena, while it spelled grave disappointment for the proponents of heretical innovations and sectarian tendencies [ahl al-bida’ wa ‘l-ahwa’].

“He became famous for his spiritual states [ahwal], his sayings and talks [aqwal], his charismatic talents [karamat] and his illuminating disclosures [mukashafat]. Requests for legal pronouncements [fatawi] came to him from all the countries and districts, and he was viewed with awe and dread by the Caliphs, the government ministers, the kings, and their subordinates.” (Here ends this abridged excerpt from the work cited above.)

This next quotation is from the Ta’rikh [History] of Qadi ‘l-Qudah [Chief Justice] Muhibbu ‘d-Din al-‘Ulaimi:

“Our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) was the Leader of the Jurists of the Hanbali School [Imam al-Hanabila] and their Shaikh in his era. His the author of a book entitled ‘Sufficient Provision for Seekers of the Path of Truth’ [al-Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq], and of another book called ‘Revelations of the Unseen’ [Futuh al-Ghaib].”

In the book entitled “The Baghdadi Shaikhdom” [al-Mashyakhat al-Baghdadiyya], by ar-Rashid ibn Maslama, the following statement is attributed to al-Imam al-Hafiz Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Muhammad al-Barzali al-Ishbili (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him):

“‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani was the expert jurist of the Hanbali and Shafi’i schools [faqih al-Hanabila wa ‘sh-Shafi’iyya] in Baghdad, and the Shaikh of both those communities. He was accorded complete acceptance by the jurists [fuqaha’], the spiritual paupers [fuqara’], and all the common people. He was one of the supporting pillars of Islam, and the source of benefit to both the elite and the ordinary folk. He was someone whose prayer was sure to be answered, readily moved to tears, constant in the practice of remembrance [dhikr], frequently engaged in contemplation, tenderhearted, always of good cheer, kindly by disposition, generous of hand, remarkable for knowledge, noble in traits of character, and noble by lines of descent, as well as having a firm foothold in worshipful service [‘ibada] and the exercise of independent judgment [ijtihad].”

 

 

It was Ibrahim ibn Sa’d ad-Dari who said: “Our Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) used to dress in the clothing of the scholars [‘ulama’], wearing a hood and gown. He used to ride a mule, with the pommel of the saddle pointing up in front of him. He used to speak on a high lectern, and his speech was both rapid and highly audible. His word had only to be heard to be obeyed, and whenever he gave a command, it would meet with immediate compliance. Whenever a hard heart beheld him, it would be reduced to humility.”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s outspokenness in enjoining what is right and fair, and forbidding what is wrong and unfair [al-amr bi’l-ma’ruf wa ‘n-nahy ‘ani ‘l-munkar].

According to al-Hafiz ‘Imadu ‘d-Din ibn Kathir, in his Ta’rikh [History]:

“Shaikh Muhyi ‘s-Sunna wa ‘d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Abi Salih Abu Muhammad al-Jili entered Baghdad, where he attended lectures on the Prophetic Tradition [Hadith], and concentrated on the subject until he became extremely proficient in it.”

Further along in the same work, we read:

“He occupied a commanding position in the fields of Prophetic Tradition [Hadith], Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh], and religious exhortation [wa’z], and in the sciences concerned with the facts of real experience [‘ulum al-haqa’iq]. He had an excellent bearing [samt], and he normally maintained a dignified silence [samt], except when it came to enjoining what is right and fair, and forbidding what is wrong and unfair [al-amr bi’l-ma’ruf wa ‘n-nahy ‘ani ‘l-munkar]. He never restrained his tongue from enjoining what is right and fair, and forbidding what is wrong and unfair, whether his targets were the Caliphs, the Viziers, the Sultans, the judges, the privileged few, or the people at large. He used to address them openly and frankly on such matters, in public situations, from the pulpits [of the mosques], and at special gatherings and receptions. He would rebuke anyone who made friends with tyrannical oppressors, and, since he was acting entirely for the sake of Allah, he was unaffected by the censure of any critic.

“He was noted for a considerable degree of pious abstinence [zuhd], and he was endowed with supernatural spiritual states [ahwal khariqat al-‘adat] and revelatory disclosures [mukashafat]. All in all, he was one of the leaders of the great Shaikhs. May Allah sanctify his innermost being, and may He illuminate his mausoleum!” (This concludes the abridged excerpt from the work cited above.)

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s generous hospitality and his remarkable patience.

Every night, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) would order the spreading of the table mat. He would eat with guests, and sit in the company of the handicapped. He was very patient with seekers of knowledge, so that no one who sat with him could imagine himself being treated more generously by anyone else. He would miss any friends who were absent, and would make enquiries about their situation, preserving his affection for them, and pardoning their bad deeds. If someone made him a solemn assurance, on oath, he would take him at his word, while concealing what he actually knew about him.

He had a supply of wheat, cultivated as lawful food [halal] by one of his companions from the rural outskirts, who planted it for him every year. Another friend of his used to grind it and bake it for him, producing four or five flat loaves of bread, which he would bring to him at the end of each day. The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) would then distribute some of the bread among those present in his company, piece by piece. Then he would store the rest for his own purposes. His manservant, Muzaffar, would stand at the door of his house, holding the bread on a tray in his hand, and calling out: “Who would like some bread? Who would like to eat supper? Who would like a place to shelter for the night?” If the Shaikh received a gift, he would distribute it, or part of it, among those present in his company, and he would find some way to compensate the giver. He would also accept a votive offering, and eat some of it himself. May Allah be well pleased with him.

In his Ta’rikh [History], the highly erudite scholar Ibn Najjar informs us that it was al-Jubba’i who said:

“Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir once told me: ‘I made a thorough scrutiny of all human actions, and I did not find any deed amongst them more meritorious than the providing of food, nor anything more noble than good moral character. I would love to hold this world in my hand, so that I could feed it to the hungry!’ He also said to me: ‘All I need is a sieve that keeps nothing from passing through. If a thousand dinars [gold coins] came my way, they would not even spend the whole night in my company.’”

It was Ahmad ibn al-Mubarak ar-Marfa’ani who said: “Among those who took tuition in Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh] from Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, there was a Persian called Ubayy. He was totally absentminded, devoid of intellectual capacity, and he could hardly understand a thing, except after wearisome trouble and toil. He was there in our class one day, reading aloud to the Shaikh, when in came Ibn as-Samhal, who had just arrived to pay the Shaikh a visit. The visitor was amazed at the Shaikh’s patience with his student, and as soon as Ubayy had got up and left the room, Ibn as-Samhal turned to the Shaikh and said: ‘I am truly astonished by your patience with this would-be jurist [mutafaqqih]!’ To this the Shaikh replied: ‘My tiresome labor with him will be soon be over. Before the week is out, he will have passed on to Allah (Exalted is He).’ We were so surprised to hear him say such a thing, that we took to counting the days, one by one, until Ubayy died, on the last day of the week. Ibn as-Samhal was in attendance that day, in order to join his funeral prayer, and he expressed his amazement at the Shaikh’s announcement of his death, before the arrival of his appointed term. May Allah bestow His mercy upon him, and may He be well pleased with our Shaikh!”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s paternal aunt, ‘A’isha Umm Muhammad bint ‘Abdi’llah is asked to pray for relief from the drought afflicting Jilan.

We owe this next report to the two Shaikhs, Abu ‘l-‘Abbas Ahmad and Abu Salih al-Mutbaqi, who said:

“The land of Jilan was once suffering from drought, and its inhabitants offered a prayer for rain. They received no answer to their prayer, however, and obtained no relief from the drought, so they went to call upon the maternal aunt of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him). She was a righteous woman, endowed with obvious charismatic talents [karamat]. Her personal name was ‘A’isha, and her surname [kunya] was Umm Muhammad bint ‘Abdi’llah (may Allah be well pleased with her). They asked her to offer a prayer for relief from drought [istisqa’] on their behalf, so she went into the courtyard of her house, swept the ground, and said: ‘O my Lord, I have done the sweeping, so now it is Your turn to do the sprinkling!’ They did not have long to wait, before the sky poured forth rain like the mouths of waterskins. As they made their way back to their homes, the people found themselves wading through water. May Allah be well pleased with that lady!”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir bids his mother farewell, after promising to commit himself to truthfulness [sidq].

It was Shaikh Muhammad ibn Qa’id al-Awani (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) who said: “I was once in the company of my master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), so I asked him a number of questions, one of them being: ‘Upon what foundation have you built this business of yours?’ To this he replied: ‘On the basis of truthfulness [sidq].’ I have never told a lie, not even when I was at the elementary school.’ Then he went on to say: ‘While I was still a youngster in our home country [of Jilan], I went out to the rural area on the edge of town, on the Day of ‘Arafa, and I followed a cow as it was plowing the fields. Another cow turned to me, and it said: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir it is not for this that you have been created!’ I promptly ran back to our house, feeling utterly terrified, and climbed up onto the roof of the house.

“‘From up there on the roof, I could actually see the people performing the Pilgrim rite of standing at ‘Arafat [thousands of miles away, in the neighborhood of Mecca]. So I went to find my mother, and I said to her: “Give me as a present to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and grant me your permission to make the journey to Baghdad, where I shall strive to acquire knowledge, and where I shall visit with the righteous.” Needless to say, she asked me to explain the reason for this request, so I told her my story. She burst into tears, then went and fetched eighty dinars [gold coins], which my father had left her as an inheritance. She set forty dinars aside for my brother, then stitched the other forty dinars inside the lining of my coat, and gave me permission to travel abroad. She also made me promise to commit myself to truthfulness [sidq], in whatever circumstances and conditions I might find myself. When she stepped out of doors to bid me farewell, she said: “O my son, away you go, for I have detached myself from you for the sake of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), knowing that I shall not see this face of yours again, until the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama].”

How seasoned highway robbers were moved to repentance at the hands of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir.

“‘I traveled with a small caravan, bound for Baghdad. When we had reached the vicinity of Hamadhan, and found ourselves in a stretch of rugged terrain, sixty men on horseback suddenly attacked us from an ambush, and seized the caravan. None of them took the slightest notice of me personally, until one of the brigands turned to me in passing, and said: “Hey there, poor beggar, what do you have with you?” So I told him: “Forty dinars,” and he said: “Where are they?” “Stitched in the lining of my coat,” I replied, “underneath my armpit.” He assumed that I was testing his sense of humor, so he left me alone and moved elsewhere. Then a second brigand passed by me, and when he asked me the same question, exactly as the first had asked it, I repeated the answer I had given the first time, and so he also left me alone.

“‘Then the pair of them got together in the presence of their leader, and they told him what they had heard from me. “Bring him here to me,” said the leader, so they brought me to him. They were up on a hill, sharing out the goods they had robbed from the caravan. “What do you have with you?” he asked me, so I said: “Forty dinars.” He then asked: “Where are they?” and I told him: “Stitched in the lining of my coat, underneath my armpit.” So he commandeered my coat, ripped the stitching apart, and discovered that it did indeed have forty dinars inside the lining. “Whatever prompted you to make this confession?” he wanted to know, so I told him: “My mother made me promise to commit myself to truthfulness, and I would never betray my binding covenant with her.”

“‘As soon as he heard these words, the chief brigand began to weep, and he said through his tears: “You did not betray your mother’s covenant, whereas I, for so many years up to this present day, have been betraying the covenant of my Lord!” He thereupon repented at my hands, and his fellow brigands said to him: “You have been our leader in highway robbery [qat’ at-tariq], and now you shall be our leader in repentance [tawba].” So they all repented at my hands, and they restored to the caravan whatever items they had seized from the travelers. They were thus the very first of all those sinners who have by now repented at my hands.”‘

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s answer to the question: “When did you first become aware that you were the saintly friend of Allah (Exalted is He)?”

“Another question put to the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) was this: ‘When did you first become aware that you were the saintly friend [wali] of Allah (Exalted is He)?’ To this he responded by saying: ‘I was just a ten-year-old boy at the time, still in our home country [of Jilan]. I used to leave our house to go to the elementary school, and I could see the angels (peace be upon them) walking along all around me. Then, when I arrived at the school, I heard the angels say: “Clear a space for the saintly friend [wali] of Allah, so that he can sit himself down!” One day, a man passed by us on the road, someone I did not recognize on that occasion, and I heard the angels saying something of that sort to him. The man asked one of them: “Who is this boy?” So one of them told him: “This is a member of the House of the Nobles,” and he said: “A role of tremendous importance lies in store for this young fellow. This is someone who will give and not withhold, who will enable and not raise obstacles, who will be close [to the Truth] and not prone to being cheated or deceived.” Not till forty years later did I finally recognize that man, and then I realized that he was one of the spiritual deputies [abdal] of that historical time.’

“The Shaikh also said (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘I was a youngster in my family, and whenever I went outside, intending to play with the other boys in the neighborhood, I would hear a voice telling me: “[Come] toward Me, O blessed one [ilayya ya mubarak] !” I would run away in a panic from that sound, and hurl myself into my mother’s lap. How should I not hear this now, in my moments of private retreat?’”

As a young man newly arrived in Baghdad, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir faces a hard struggle for bare survival.

To quote the words of Shaikh Talha ibn Muzaffar al-‘Althami: “Our Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) once said: ‘I stayed in Baghdad for twenty days, but I could not find the means to sustain my survival. I could not find permissible food to eat, so I went out to the Great Porch of Chosroes [Iwan Kisra], searching for permissible subsistence. There I encountered seventy men from among the saints [awliya’], all of them searching for the same thing. I said to myself: “It is not in keeping with chivalry [muru’a], for me to compete with them.” I therefore returned to Baghdad, where I met a man whom I did not recognize, though he was an inhabitant of my own hometown. He gave me some clippings and filings of precious metal, and he told me: “Your mother sent these to you, with me as the carrier.” I paused long enough to take out a portion, and set it aside for myself, then I hurried off to the wasteland around the Great Porch, where I distributed the rest among those seventy. “What is this?” they asked, so I explained: “This just came to me as a present from my mother, and I did not see fit to keep it all for myself, instead of sharing it with you.” Then I went back to Baghdad, and used the portion I still had with me to buy some food. I invited the poor folk to join me, and we ate together.’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is on the brink of death from starvation, when he meets another young man from Jilan…

It was Abu Bakr at-Taimi who said: “I once heard our master, Shaikh Muhyi ‘d-Din [‘Abd al-Qadir] (may Allah be well pleased with him), say:

“‘I found myself in a truly critical predicament, due to the extremely high cost of living in Baghdad. I spent several days there without having any food to eat. As a matter of fact, I resorted to scavenging for bits of food that had been thrown away. On one particular day, since my hunger was terribly acute, I went out of town to the river bank, in the hope of finding some lettuce-leaves and herbs, and maybe some other footstuffs dumped out there, on which I could nourish myself. I soon arrived at a likely spot, but only to find that others had beaten me to it. If I came across something worth picking up, I immediately found myself rubbing shoulders with a bunch of paupers, and I did not feel good about competing with them for the item concerned. I therefore retreated, walking through the center of the city, but I failed to notice any site where food had been dumped, apart from the one to which other folk had beaten me.

“‘By the time I arrived at a mosque [masjid] in the perfume-sellers’ bazaar, my hunger had reduced me to complete exhaustion, and I was simply too weak to stay on my feet any longer, so I entered the mosque and sat down to one side of it. Just when I was at the point of shaking hands with death, in came a young fellow, clearly a non-Arab, who brought with him a stick of bread and a helping of grilled meat. He sat down and started to eat, and each time he raised a morsel with his hand, I almost opened my mouth, my hunger being so intense. I managed to check myself, however, saying: “What is this? What have we here, except Allah and whatever He has decreed in the way of death?” At that very moment, the young foreigner turned toward me, and noticed my presence. “In the Name of Allah, O my brother,” he said [meaning, “Please share my meal with me!”], but I showed him no immediate reaction. He became insistent, however, so my appetite responded to his invitation, and I ate a few bites.

“‘He then started asking me questions, like: “What is your occupation? Where are you from? With whom are you well acquainted?” I answered by telling him: “As for my occupation, I am an aspiring jurist [mutafaqqih]. As for where I am from, I am from Jilan.” “Well I never,” he exclaimed, “I am also from Jilan! Do you happen to know a young man, a fellow Jilani, by the name of ‘Abd al-Qadir?” “Yes indeed,” said I, “for I am he!”

“‘This left him utterly dumbfounded, and his complexion became completely altered. “By Allah, O my brother!” he gasped, as he began to tell me his tale: “When I arrived here in Baghdad, I still had some funds left over from my travel expenses, so I made enquiries about you. I met no one who could direct me to your whereabouts, and I eventually ran out of funds. For three days after reaching that point, I could not find the price of my basic sustenance, apart from something belonging to you, which I still had with me. When this day came, the third of the three, I finally said: ‘I will soon have spent three whole days without eating any food, and that will mean that the Lawgiver [Shari’] has given me permission to eat carrion [maita].’ I then took from your deposit the price of this bread and grilled meat. So eat and enjoy, for it actually belongs to you, while I am your guest, although it would appear to be mine, and you would seem to be my guest!”

“‘”What on earth are you talking about?” I asked him, so he explained: “Your mother entrusted me with eight gold dinars, for delivery to you, so I took enough out of them to pay for this meal. I am now referring to it as your own, as a way of apologizing for my having betrayed you, for I admit to feeling guilty, even if the Sacred Law [Shar’] does exonerate me, at least to a certain extent!”

“‘I made him feel comfortable, and set his mind at rest. He really enjoyed the rest of our meal, which I gave him to him as a present. I also offered him part of the gold, so he accepted it and then went on his way.’”

A hungry Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir finds himself on a strange paper trail.

As we are told by Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah as-Silmi: “I once heard our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir say: ‘I had spent several days there [in Baghdad] without finding any food to eat. Then, while I was in the quarter known as the Aristocratic Fiefdom [al-Qati’at ash-Sharifa], I was suddenly approached by a man who thrust a bound sheaf of paper into my hand, before making an equally sudden departure. I kept the paper with me for awhile, as I strolled on through the streets, then I handed it over to one of the local grocers, in exchange for a cake of semolina, or maybe a mixture of dates and clarified butter. Then I went to an out-of-the-way mosque, in which I used to seek seclusion, in order to go over my lessons. I set the cake down in front of me, in the niche marking the Qibla [direction of the Ka’ba in Mecca], while I pondered the question: “Shall I eat it, or not?”

“‘It was then that I noticed a rolled-up sheet of paper, in the shadow of the wall, so I picked it up and examined it. Lo and behold, it had these words written upon it: “In one of His earlier Books of Scripture, Allah said:

What have the strong to do with passionate appetites? I have only assigned passionate appetites to the weak among the believers, so that they may use the energy they provide for acts of worshipful obedience.”

“‘I promptly picked up the handkerchief [in which the cake was wrapped], and left its contents in the niche marking the Qibla. I performed two cycles of ritual prayer [rak’atain], and then off I went.’

“May Allah be well pleased with him!”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir finds relief from almost unbearable pressures, by repeating two verses from the Qur’an.

It was Shaikh Abu ‘Abd’illah an-Najjar who said: “Our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir once told me: ‘I would sometimes feel the weight of many burdens, heavy enough to make the mountains disintegrate, if they had been laid upon them. So, when those pressures multiplied upon me, I would set my forehead on the ground, and say [in the words of the Qur’an]:

So truly with hardship comes ease: Truly with hardship comes ease.  (94:5,6)
[fa-inna ma’a ‘l-‘usri yusra, inna ma’a ‘l-‘usri yusra.]

“‘Then I would raise my head, and to my great relief, I would always find that those heavy pressures had been chased away from me.’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir experiences a spiritual crisis.

Shaikh Abu ‘Abd’illah an-Najjar went on to say: “He once told me: ‘During the time when I was engaged in the study of Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh], attending the classes held by the Shaikhs, I would go out into the desert, instead of lodging in Baghdad. I would sit in the wasteland by night and by day. I used to wear a jubba made of wool [suf], to cover my body, and on my head I wore a cap like a miniature patched cloak [khuraiqa]. I used to stroll barefoot among the thorns and other hazards. For nourishment, I used to eat carob beans, plucked from the thornbushes, as well as vegetable waste and lettuce leaves, collected from the side of the stream and the bank of the river. If anything scared me at all, I would venture into it. I would subject my lower self [nafs] to strict discipline, until an unseen visitor [tariq] came from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) to visit me, and I would experience such visitations by night and by day. I would go into the desert, utter loud screams, and feel a glowing sensation on my face. My condition could only be diagnosed as a form of dumbness [takharus] and insanity [junun]. I was carried off to the hospital [bimaristan], where I experienced strange states of being, until I died. Then they came to me with the shroud and the ritual washer of corpses, and set me on the washing bench to give me my final ablution. Then the visitation went away and left me.’”

 

 

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir meets al-Khidr, though without knowing who he is, and then spends several years amid the ancient ruins of ‘Iraq, intensely engaged in the struggle with his lower self [nafs].

It was Abu ‘s-Sa’ud al-Huraimi who said: “I once heard our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), say:

“‘I stayed in the deserts and ruined areas of ‘Iraq for twenty-five years, as a solitary wanderer. I did not get to know my fellow creatures, and they did not get to know me. My only visitors were groups of the men belonging to invisible realm [ghaib], as well as some of the jinn. I used to show them the way to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).

“‘I was also escorted by al-Khidr (peace be upon him), when I entered ‘Iraq for the very first time, though I did not then know who he was, and he stipulated that I must never contradict him. When we reached a certain spot, he said to me: “Sit down and stay here,” so I sat down and stayed where he told me to stay, for three whole years. He would come to see me once each year, and he would tell me: “Stay here in your place, until I come to you again! ” “‘The charms of this world, its ornaments, and its desires kept coming to me, in all their shapes and forms, but Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) would always shield me from being influenced by their attraction. The devils [shayatin] would also come to me in various disturbing guises, and they would engage me in combat, but Allah would always strengthen me against them. My own lower self [nafs] would adopt a certain attitude toward me: at one time it would humbly beseech me to let it have what it wanted, then at another time it would engage in a fight with me, but Allah would always help me to keep it under control. I took my lower self sternly to task, and whenever a particular method [tariq] of spiritual discipline proved effective for this purpose, at an early stage, I would embrace it, grasp it firmly with both my hands, and continue to apply it on a regular basis.

“‘I stayed for a long period of time in the ruined areas of the big cities, taking my lower self sternly to task by applying the method [tariq] of spiritual discipline. Thus I spent one year eating food from the dumps, without drinking any water, and one year drinking water. Then I spent a whole year drinking water, but without eating food from the dumps, and another year without eating, drinking, or sleeping. I did fall asleep once, in the Great Porch of Chosroes [Iwan Kisra], on a bitterly cold night. I experienced a seminal emission in my sleep, so I got up and went to the bank of the river, where I performed a major ritual ablution. In the course of that night, I experienced forty seminal emissions, and I performed the major ritual ablution forty times on the bank of the river. Then I climbed back up to the Porch, afraid of falling asleep yet again. I also stayed for two years in the ruins of al-Karkh [an ancient suburb of Baghdad], where my only source of nourishment was the papyrus plant [bardi]. At the beginning of each year, a man would come to me with a jubba made of wool.

“‘I entered into a thousand different states of being [alf fann], in order to obtain relief from this world of yours, and my condition could only be diagnosed as dumbness [takharus], craziness [balam] and insanity [junun]. I used to walk barefoot amid the thorns and other hazards. If anything scared me, I would venture straight into it. Never did my lower [nafs] prevail upon me, in the effort to get what it wanted, nor did anything ever seduce me with its worldly charm.’

“May Allah be well pleased with him!”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir covers an enormous distance, quite unaware that he is running at high speed.

Shaikh ‘Umar said: “I once heard our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), say: ‘Spiritual states [ahwal] used to come upon me unexpectedly, in the early stage of my wandering, so I would adapt to them, take possession of them, and disappear into them, away from my ordinary existence. I would run at high speed, though quite unaware that I was doing so, and then, when the unusual condition left me, I would find myself in a place far removed from the place where I had been at the outset.

“‘On one such occasion, the spiritual state [hal] came upon me while I was in the ruined area of Baghdad. I ran for the space of an hour, quite unaware that I was running. When I recovered my normal consciousness, I found myself in the region of Shashtar, where the distance between me and Baghdad was that of a twelve-day journey. As I stood there, reflecting on my situation, a woman came up to me and said: “Does this really strike you as something surprising, when you are none other than Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir?”‘ “May Allah be well pleased with him!”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir struggles with devil armies, with Iblis himself, and with his own lower self [nafs].

It was Shaikh ‘Uthman as-Sirafini who said: “I once heard our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), say:

“‘I used to sit in the ruined areas by night and by day, and I did not take a lodging in Baghdad. The devils used to come to me in ranks, in the guise of men bearing weapons of various kinds, and assuming the most alarming shapes and forms. They would engage me in combat, pelting me with fire. Yet even in the face of these terrifying assaults, I would find within my heart an inexpressible sense of reassurance. I would hear a voice saying, from somewhere deep inside: “Stand up and attack them, O ‘Abd al-Qadir, for We have already reinforced your strength, and We have come to your support with Our invincible assistance!” Sure enough, as soon as I launched a resolute attack against them, they would flee away to right and left, returning to wherever they had come from.

“‘Then a single devil [shaitan] would come to me from amongst them, all by himself, and he would say to me: “Go away from here, or else I shall do this, and I shall do that.” He would warn me of many dreadful consequences, so I would slap him with my hand, and he would flee away from me. I would then say: “There is no might and no strength, except with Allah, the All-High, the All-Glorious [la hawla wa la quwwata illa bi’llahi ‘l-‘Alyyi ‘l-‘Azim],” and he would be consumed by fire, as I watched him burn.

“‘On one occasion, I was approached by figure whose appearance was utterly repugnant, and who had a disgusting stench about him. “I am Iblis,” said he, “and I have come to you in order to act as your servant, for you have thwarted all my efforts, and you have thwarted all the efforts of my followers.” I said to him: “Go away, for I do not trust you.” At that very moment, a hand came down from above him and struck him on the skull, with such force that he plunged right into the ground.

“‘Then he came to me a second time, holding in his hand a dart of fire, with which he attacked me. Just in the nick of time, a man wearing a veil rode up to me on a gray mare, and handed me a sword. Iblis immediately beat a quick retreat.

“‘When I saw him a third time, he was sitting at some distance from me, shedding tears and heaping dust on his head, as he said: “I have totally despaired of you, O ‘Abd al-Qadir!” I responded to this by telling him: “Be off with you, O accursed one, for I shall never cease to be on my guard against you!” He said: “This is far more agonizing than the grappling irons [maqami’] of the torment of Hell!”

“‘I was then made witness to the disclosure of many snares, traps and illusions, so I said: “What are these?” and I was told: “These are the snares of this world, which Iblis sets to catch the likes of you.” So I chased him off with angry words, and he turned away in flight.

“‘I devoted one whole year to addressing the problems posed by those snares and traps, until I had found solutions to them all. Then I was then made witness to the disclosure of many influences, affecting me from every direction, so I said: “What are these?” and I was told: “These are the influences exerted on you by your fellow creatures, and you are affected by them.” I therefore devoted another year to tackling the problems posed by those influences, until I had found solutions to them all, and achieved detachment from them.

“‘Next, I was made witness to the disclosure of my own inner content [batin], and I saw that my heart was dependent on many attachments. “What are these?” I enquired, and I was told: “These are your self-will [irada] and your personal preferences [ikhtiyarat].” I therefore devoted another year to tackling the problems posed by those factors, until I had found solutions to them all, and my heart was safely delivered from them.

“‘Then I was made witness to yet another disclosure, this one concerning my lower self [nafs]. I could see that its sicknesses were still thriving, its passionate desire was still alive, and its devil was still rebellious, so I devoted another year to tackling that state of affairs. The sicknesses of my lower self were thereby cured, the passion died, the devil surrendered, and the whole affair became the business of Allah (Exalted is He). I was left in a state of isolation, with all existence [wujud] behind me, and I had not yet arrived at my goal.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir passes by many attractive but overcrowded gates, until he finally enters the gate of poverty [faqr].

“‘I was therefore attracted to the gate of absolute trust in the Lord [tawakkul], through which I might enter to reach my goal. As soon as I came to that gate, I found a huge crowd milling around it, so I moved on past it. Then I was attracted to the gate of thankfulness [shukr], through which I might enter to reach my goal. At this gate too, I encountered a huge crowd, so I moved on past it. I was then attracted to the gate of affluence [ghina], through which I might enter to reach my goal. Here again, I encountered a huge crowd, so I moved on past it. I was then attracted to the gate of nearness [qurb], through which I might enter to reach my goal. As before, I encountered a huge crowd, so I moved on past it. Then I was attracted to the gate of direct vision [mushahada], through which I might enter to reach my goal. That gate was likewise surrounded by a huge crowd, so I moved on past it.

“‘I was next attracted to the gate of poverty [faqr], and lo and behold, it was quite empty! When I entered inside it, I rediscovered everything that I had left behind. The greatest treasure was laid open to me there, and I came upon the mightiest splendor, wealth everlasting, and pure freedom. All relics of the past were obliterated, all previous attributes were annulled, and the second ecstasy [wajd] arrived.’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir hears unseen speaker urging him to apply for a loan.

It was Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Jubba’i who said: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir once told me: ‘I was sitting one day on a spot in the desert, going over my lessons in Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh]. I found it difficult to concentrate on my studies at that time, since I was suffering great hardship due to poverty. Suddenly, I heard someone speaking to me, though I could not see his physical form. He said: “You should borrow enough to help you in the study of jurisprudence,” or maybe he used the expression, “the pursuit of knowledge.” To this I responded by saying: “How can I expect to get a loan, when I am a pauper, and have no means of paying it back?” He then said: “You just do the borrowing, and we shall accept responsibility for settling the debt incurred.” I thereupon went to a man who sold groceries, and I said to him: “I must ask you to do business with me on the following terms: Whenever Allah makes things easy for me, I shall give you [what I owe you], and if I die, you will consider me clear of any obligation. Each day, you will give me one whole loaf of bread, as well as some garden cress [rashad] in another half-loaf.”

“‘As soon as he heard my proposal, the grocer burst into tears, and he said: “O my master, I am entirely at your disposal, whatever you may wish!” He insisted on treating me as if he was my servant, so I used to receive from him, each and every day, one whole loaf of bread and some garden cress in another half-loaf. I kept this up for a certain period of time, but a day came when I felt a pain in my breast, because of my inability to give him anything. At that point I heard myself told: “Go to such-and-such place, and whatever you happen to see there, lying on the pile of rubble, take it and hand it over to the grocer,” or the invisible speaker may have used the expression, “settle your debt with it.” When I went to that place as instructed, I noticed a big chunk of gold on the pile of rubble, so I picked it up and gave it to the grocer.’”

At harvest time in a rural area on the outskirts of Baghdad, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir meets a righteous man called ash-Sharif al-Ba’qubi.

“Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir also told me: ‘A group from the people of Baghdad were among those engaged in the study of Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh]. When the days of crop-harvesting came around, they used to go out into the rural area near the city, with a view to gathering some part of the harvest. They said to me one day: “Come out with us to Ba’quba, so that we can collect something from there.” I was still a young man, so I went out with them.

“‘In Ba’quba there was a righteous man, called ash-Sharif al-Ba’qubi, so I went to pay him a visit. He said to me: “Those who are seekers of the Truth, and the righteous, do not beg for anything from the people,” and he forbade me to beg from the people. After that, I never went out to any such place again.’

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir experiences a spiritual state, and scares the local vagabonds out of their wits.

“Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir also said: ‘A spiritual state [hal] came upon me one night, quite unexpectedly, so I uttered a really loud scream. The local vagabonds [‘ayyarun] heard me, and they were scared out of their wits, fearing the presence of armed guards [masaliha], so they came and stood over me, as I lay sprawled out on the ground. They recognized me, and said: “This is ‘Abd al-Qadir, the lunatic [majnun]. Hey there, you gave us a terrible fright. May Allah not remember you kindly!”‘”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir decides to leave Baghdad, but an unseen speaker stops him at the Racetrack Gate, and orders him to return.

Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Jubba’i also said: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) once told me: ‘It occurred to me that I should leave the city of Baghdad, because it contained so many trials and temptations, so I took my copy of the Qur’an [mashaf] and hung it over my shoulder. Then I walked to the Racetrack Gate [Bab al-Halba], intending to go out through it into the desert. Just as I was about to do so, however, I heard someone saying to me: “Where are you strolling off to?” The speaker gave me a shove, so hard that I toppled to the ground. I suppose he was standing there over my back, as I heard him say: “You must return at once, for the people derive benefit from your presence in their city.” To this I responded by saying: “What obligation do I bear toward my fellow creatures? I am only seeking to ensure the integrity of my religion [salama dini].” He said: “Go back, and the integrity of your religion will be ensured for you.” I never saw the physical form of the speaker.

As if in answer to a prayer, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is greeted by a stranger, who turns out to be none other than Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas.

“‘Then, not long after that, I experienced the visitation by night of spiritual states [ahwal], which I found difficult to understand, so I wished that Allah would provide me with someone who could disclose their meaning to me. When the next day came, I passed through the quarter known as al-Muzaffariyya, where a man opened the door of his house, and said to me: “O ‘Abd al-Qadir, come over here!” So I went and stood in front of him, and he said: “What were you looking for yesterday?” Or maybe the words he used were: “What did you ask of Allah during the night?” I kept silent, not knowing what I should say, so he became exasperated with me. He slammed the door in my face, with a truly mighty slam, so that the dust from the edges of the door flew straight into my face.

“‘Then, when I had walked on a little way, I remembered what I had asked of Allah, and it occurred to me that he might well be one of the righteous [salihin] (or the Shaikh may have said: ‘one of the saints [awliya’]’), so I went back and tried to find the door. I could not identify it anywhere, so I felt a painful tightness in my breast. I did eventually recognize the door, and that man turned out to be none other than Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas. I became his pupil, and he unveiled for me the significance of what I had found so hard to understand.

“‘When I was absent from him for some time, in the pursuit of knowledge, and then returned to him, he would say to me: “What has you brought back here to us? You are an expert jurist [faqih], so go off and join your fellow jurists [fuqaha’] !” I would keep silent, while he spoke to me in a seriously hurtful and offensive manner, and lashed me with his tongue. On another occasion, when I was absent from him in the pursuit of knowledge, and then came to see him again, he might say: “Today we received a large delivery of bread and honey-cake [faludhaj], and we ate our fill, but we did not keep anything at all for you.”

“‘His companions were keen to see me arrive, because they noticed how often he offended me, and they would get a thrill out of saying things like: “You are supposed to be a jurist [faqih], so what are you doing here?” or, “Whatever brings you here to us?” But then, as soon as he saw them trying to hurt me, Shaikh Hammad would spring zealously to my defense, and he would say to them: “O you dogs, you must not hurt his feelings! By Allah, there is not a single one like him amongst you. When I try to offend him, I only do so in order to test his mettle, for I see him as a mountain that cannot be shaken. May Allah be well pleased with him!”

 

 

In order to accommodate the ever-growing numbers in attendance, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is obliged to move his session [majlis] from one site to another.

It was also Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Jubba’i who said: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) once told me:

“‘I used to utter commands and prohibitions, in my sleep as well as when I was awake. Speech would arise in me spontaneously, with overwhelming urgency, and it would exert a great pressure on my heart. If I did not speak out, I would almost choke to death, and I simply could not keep silent. Two or three men used to sit in my company, listening to my speech, then the word got around among the people, and my fellow creatures began to crowd around me.

“‘I used to sit in the place reserved for prayer [masalla] by the Racetrack Gate [Bab al-Halba], but then that space became too cramped to accommodate the throngs of people, so they removed the lectern, and installed it inside the sandy plots of land between the clay-lined pits used as baking ovens. The people used to come there in the nighttime, finding places for themselves by the light of candles and torches. Then, when that space also became too constricted to accommodate all the people, the lectern was transported to a place outside the city, where it was installed in the area set aside for prayer. The people would ride out there on horses, mules, donkeys and camels, then they would use their beasts as elevated couches, while they attended to whatever transpired in the session [majlis]. The number of those present at the session was usually in the region of seventy thousand.’

“May Allah be well pleased with him!”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) appears to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and spits seven times into his mouth, then ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) does likewise, but he spits only six times.

[According to Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Jubba’i]: “Our teacher [ustadh], Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) also said: ‘I once saw Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) before the time of the midday prayer [zuhr], and he said to me: “O my dear son, why do you not speak out?” So I replied: “O dear father, I am a non-Arab man. How can I speak fluently in the classical Arabic language of Baghdad?” He then told me: “Just open your mouth!” So I opened it wide, and he spat into it seven times. Then he told me: “You must speak to the people, and summon them to the way of your Lord, with wisdom and good counsel.” I then performed the midday prayer [zuhr], and remained seated after it. Many people gathered in my company, but I was at a loss for words.

“‘I was then that I caught sight of ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him), and he said: “Open your mouth!” So I opened it wide, and he spat into it six times. “Why do you not complete the full seven spits?” I asked him, and he explained: “As a matter of good manners, in relation to the Messenger of Allah.” Then he vanished from my sight. I said to myself: “The diver of the mind dives deep into the ocean of the heart, to gather the pearls of those insights that can only be obtained by direct experience [durar al-ma’arif]. Then, when he has brought them out onto the shore of the breast, a commercial agent [simsar] summons the tongue’s translator [tarjuman] to interpret their worth, and so they come to be traded for extremely precious and costly items. How excellent is worshipful obedience in houses which Allah has allowed to be constructed!”‘ He also recited the poetic verse:

For the like of Layla, a man could kill himself, and to him the bitter pills of death would taste delightfully sweet.”

In some of the manuscript texts at my disposal, I have noticed that the Shaikh is quoted as saying:

“In the depth of my innermost being [sirr], I received the instruction: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, you must enter Baghdad and speak to the people there!’ I therefore entered Baghdad, where I saw the people in a condition that did not appeal to me at all, so I went back out from amongst them. Again I heard the call: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, you must enter the city and speak to the people there, for they will derive great benefit from your presence!’ This time I responded by saying: ‘What have I to do with the people? The integrity of my religion [din] is what is really important to me.’ I was then told: ‘Go back there, and the integrity of your religion will be guaranteed.’

“I received seventy firm assurances from my Lord, to the effect that He would not subject me to cunning devices, and that no pupil [murid] of mine would die, except in a state of repentance. I then returned to Baghdad, where I delivered speeches to the people. I saw lights ablaze, and they were moving toward me, so I said: ‘What spiritual state is this, and what is the story behind it?’ I was given the explanation: ‘Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is coming toward you, for the purpose of congratulating you on that which Allah has bestowed upon you.’ Then the lights become more numerous and shone even brighter, and the spiritual state came upon me, so I staggered and swayed to and fro in a rapture of sheer delight.

A somewhat different version of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s meeting with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him).

“I caught sight of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), in front of the pulpit, up in the air. ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir!’ he said to me, so I took seven steps through the air, rejoicing in the presence of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). He spat seven times into my mouth, then ‘Ali appeared to me after him, and spat into my mouth three times. When I asked ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘Why did you not spit as many times as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)?’ he explained: ‘As a matter of good manners in his company.’ Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) then conferred upon me a robe of honor, so I said: ‘What is this?’ and he told me: ‘This is the robe of honor marking your sainthood [wilaya], and indicating specifically the status of Cardinality [Qutbiyya] in relation to the saints [awliya’].’ My true role was thus disclosed to me, so I made it my business to speak to the people.

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is examined by al-Khidr (peace be upon him), to whom he gives a surprising response.

“Abu ‘l-‘Abbas al-Khidr (peace be upon him) came to put me through an examination, as he had examined the saints [awliya’] before me. He disclosed to me the secret content [sarira] of his being, as he provided me with insights into the subjects I raised with him. Then I said to him, while he bowed his head in silence: ‘O Khidr, if it is true that you used to say to Moses: “You will never be able to have patience with me,” I can tell you, O Khidr, that you will never be able to have patience with me! You are an Israelite [Isra’ili], whereas I am a Muhammadan [Muhammadi]. Here we are, you and I, and this is the polo-ball, and this is the arena. This is Muhammad, and this is the All-Merciful [ar-Rahman]. This is my horse, all saddled and bridled. My bow is strung tight, and my sword is unsheathed.’

“May Allah be well pleased with him!”

In the course of delivering a public lecture, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir suddenly strides through the air.

It was al-Khattab, the personal servant of our master, Shaikh Muhyi ‘d-Din’Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) would said: “One day, while the Shaikh was giving a talk to the people, he suddenly took several steps through the air, and he exclaimed: ‘O Israelite [ya Isra’ili], stop and listen to the speech of the Muhammadan [Muhammadi] !’ Then he returned to his place. When asked to explain what had happened, he said: ‘Abu ‘l-‘Abbas al-Khidr (peace be upon him) was up there, about to pass us by, so I stepped up toward him, and said to him what you heard me say, and he came to a halt.’

“May Allah be well pleased with him!

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir describes twelve special qualities that must become firmly established in the character of a Shaikh.

“Our master and our exemplary guide toward Allah (Exalted is He), Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili, once said: ‘It is not permissible for the Shaikh to sit on the prayer rug [sajjada] of the ultimate stage of spiritual development, nor to gird himself with the sword of total reliance on providential care [‘inaya], until twelve special qualities have ripened in him to complete perfection. Two of these qualities are from Allah (Exalted is He), two of them are from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), two are from Abu Bakr (may Allah be well pleased with him), two are from ‘Umar (may Allah be well pleased with him), two are from ‘Uthman (may Allah be well pleased with him), and the other two are from ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him).

*As for the two qualities that are from Allah (Exalted is He), a person who is endowed with them will always be ready to pardon [sattar], always ready to forgive [ghaffar]. *As for the two that are from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), a person who is endowed with them will be sympathetic [shafiq] and kind [rafiq]. *As for the two that are from Abu Bakr (may Allah be well pleased with him), a person who is endowed with them will be both truthful [sadiq] and charitable [mutasaddiq]. *As for the two that are from ‘Umar (may Allah be well pleased with him), a person who is endowed with them will be active in commanding [what is right and fair] [ammar] and active in forbidding [what is wrong and unfair] [nahha’]. *As for the two that are from ‘Uthman (may Allah be well pleased with him), a person who is endowed with them will be an active provider of food [mit’am], and one who is devoted to praying [musalli] at night, when the rest of the people are sound asleep. *As for the two that are from ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him), a person who is endowed with them will be both learned [‘alim] and courageous [shuja’].’”

Some verses of poetry attributed to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, followed by other sayings concerning the qualifications of a Shaikh.

“Here are a few of the poetic verses [abyat] that have been attributed to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him):

There must be five virtues inherent in the Shaikh, or else he is a mere imposter, leading only to stupidity. He must be outwardly well versed in the rules of the Sacred Law, while deeply rooted in the study of the science of Reality. He must be humble in word and deed when relating to the needy, and always greet newcomers with a welcome and hospitality. Such is the Shaikh whose worth is outstanding. He is well versed in the rules of unlawfulness and permissibility. He trains the seekers of the Path, as one who has himself been trained, complete in his noble generosity

“The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) also said: ‘In order to be a worthy guide to spiritual progress [suluk], a person must possess the following qualifications: He must be thoroughly familiar with the legal and medical sciences [al-‘ulum ash-shar’iyya wa ‘t-tibbiyya], and approved by the Sufi masters. There can be no dispensing with that.’”

“‘The leader of the spiritual community [sayyid at-ta’ifa] and its Shaikh, al-Junaid (may Allah be well pleased with him), once said: “Our knowledge [‘ilm] is strictly in accordance with the Book and the Sunna. If someone does not memorize the Prophetic Tradition [Hadith], and also record it in writing; if he does not memorize the Mighty and Glorious Book; if he does not master the jurisprudence of religion [yatafaqqah fi ‘d-din], and the terminology of spiritual culture [mustalah as-sufiyya]-that person is not worthy to be followed as a guide. May Allah be well pleased with those whose guidance is worthy of being followed!”

“‘Speaking for myself, I would say that what is required of the Shaikh, in the process of training the seeker [murid], is that he must first of all accept him [as his pupil] for the sake of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), not for his own sake, and not for any ulterior motive. Then he must relate to him on the basis of sincere advice [nasiha], and regard him with the eye of tender loving care.

“‘He must treat his pupil with gentle kindness, when he finds it hard to cope with rigorous exercise [riyada], for he must train him as a mother trains her child, and as a gentle, wise and understanding father trains his son and his servant. He must therefore set him fairly easy tasks, and not burden him beyond his capacity.

“‘Then, before setting him more difficult tests, the Shaikh must exact from him the solemn commitment to forsake all acts of sinful disobedience, and to remain steadfast in worshipful obedience to Allah (Exalted is He). This commitment is a basic essential, for, as reported in the noble Traditions [Ahadith], it was demanded by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) when he accepted the oath of allegiance from the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them all). There is no need for anything to be specifically quoted from these reports, however, nor for the Shaikh to instruct him to remember the chain of transmission [silsila].

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir tells how the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be well pleased with him) the basic lesson concerning the remembrance [dhikr] of Allah (Exalted is He).

“”Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be well pleased with him) once asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace): “Which of the methods [turuq] is nearest to Allah, easiest for His servants, and most meritorious in His sight?” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied: “O ‘Ali, you must make it your constant practice to remember Allah (Exalted is He) in private moments and places.” ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) then went on to say: “Can such be the merit of remembrance [dhikr], when all the people are remembering all the time [since they frequently exclaim ‘Allah!’]?” “This is no light matter, O ‘Ali,” said the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “for the Final Hour will not arise, so long as there is still someone, somewhere on the face of the earth, who is saying: ‘Allah, Allah!’”

“‘This prompted ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) to ask: “How should I practice remembrance?” So the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told him: “Listen to what I say three times, then you say it three times, while I do the listening.” Then he said (Allah bless him and give him peace): “La ilaha illa ‘llah [There is no god but Allah]”-three times, closing his eyes and raising his voice-while ‘Ali listened. Then ‘Ali (may Allah be well pleased with him) said: “La ilaha illa ‘llah [There is no god but Allah]”-three times, closing his eyes and raising his voice-while the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) listened in turn.

“‘This is therefore the basic lesson concerning the remembrance of Allah (Exalted is He), namely: the statement expressing the affirmation of Divine Oneness [kalimat at-Tawhid]. We beg Allah (Exalted is He) to enable us to perform it.’”

“Our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) once said: ‘If a person has not learned the noble remembrance [dhikr], which consists of the affirmation of Divine Oneness [tawhid], from a Shaikh who is a qualified instructor [murshid], connected by spiritual lineage to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), that person is unlikely to invoke it when the need for it arises, at the time when death is about to strike.’ This explains why the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) would often recite the poetic verse:

How sweet is the flavor of that repetition and reaffirmation! May it not desert me when this world bids me farewell!

“I also heard him recite these verses (may Allah be well pleased with him):

If a man attempts to develop himself by using his own will, he is building a structure on something other than its true foundation.

If a someone is not reared by the men [of the spiritual path], and is not given to drink that milk of theirs, which flows from the udder of sanctity-

That person is a foundling, lacking the bonds of family relationship, and he will never outdistance any but the sons of his own kind.

If a man does not take to wearing a garment of pure devotion, at the hand of a teacher who knows his own self full well-

The follies and wiles of the lower selves will see him as a target, and even that which is screened from him will easily detect him by sense.

He will never experience ecstasy at the hand of an exemplary guide, nor will the favors of grace protect him, since he does not wear that gown.

No mystery will be revealed to him from the secret recess of his being, nor will the cups be displayed to him in the intimate state of communion.

He will not improve in form and moral character and competence, nor will his estate bear fruit through the ripening of his plantation.

That, by my life, is someone deprived of good fortune, a failure, someone who seeks a path, but only to head in the opposite direction.

May the principles of our people make this but a rare occurrence, and if someone comes with false intent, let him go with his own kind!

“The Shaikhs were constantly coming to visit him. They held him in the highest esteem, and they always behaved with the best of good manners in his company, while attending his session [majlis]. May Allah be well pleased with him!

The blessed state of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s pupils [muridun], and of his pupils’ pupils, through seven stages of succession.

“As for his pupils [muridun], they are too many to be counted. They are the blissfully happy ones in this world and the Hereafter. Not one of them will die without being in a state of repentance [tawba]. His pupils’ pupils, through seven stages of succession, will enter the Garden of Paradise.”

It was Shaikh ‘Ali al-Gharthani (may Allah be well pleased with him) who said: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) once told me: ‘I asked Malik, the custodian of the Fire of Hell: “Do you have any single one of my companions in your custody?” Malik said: “No, by Allah’s Might and Glory!”‘ The Shaikh went on to say: ‘My hand over my pupils is like the sky over the earth. If one of my pupils is not perfectly fine, whereas I am perfectly fine-by the Might and Glory of my Lord!-my feet will not move from standing in the presence of my Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He), until He transports me, and all of you, to the Garden of Paradise!’”

“Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) was once asked: ‘What view would you take of a man who called himself a Qadiri, though without receiving instruction from you, and without wearing a tattered robe [khirqa] conferred by you? Would he actually be counted as one of your companions?’ To this the Shaikh replied: ‘If someone adopts my name [by calling himself a Qadiri], or otherwise professes his affiliation to me, Allah (Exalted is He) will accept him, even if he happens to be on a reprehensible course, for he is a member of the troop of my companions.’

Merciful relief from torment after death, for any Muslim who ever crossed the threshold of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s schoolhouse door.

“Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) also said: ‘For any Muslim who steps across the threshold of my schoolhouse door, the torment of the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama] will be alleviated.’

“A man from among the people of Baghdad once came and said to him: ‘O my master, my father is dead and gone, but I saw him last night in my dream, and he mentioned to me that he was suffering dreadful torment in his grave. “O my dear son,” he said to me, “you must go to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir and ask him to offer a prayer of supplication [du’a’] on my behalf.”‘ On hearing this, the Shaikh said to the man: ‘Did your father ever cross the threshold of my schoolhouse door?’ The answer was yes, and nothing more was said. Then the man paid him a second visit, the very next day, and told him: ‘O my master, I saw my father again last night, but this time he was laughing merrily, and he was dressed in a fine green outfit. He said to me: “The agonizing torment has been lifted from me, through the blessed grace of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and, as you can see, I now have a fine suit of clothes to wear! So, my son, you must make sure that you stay very close to him from now on.”‘

“The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) then said: ‘My Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) has promised me that He will alleviate the torment for everyone, from among the Muslims, who has ever stepped across the threshold of my schoolhouse door.’

“He was told that the shrieks and screams of a dead man could be heard from a grave, in the burial ground by the Portico Gate [Bab al-Azaj], so he said: ‘Did he ever wear a tattered robe [khirqa], conferred on him by me?’ The answer was: ‘We do not know,’ so he went on to ask: ‘Did he ever attend my session [majlis]?’ Again they said: ‘That we do not know,’ so he said: ‘Did he ever perform the ritual prayer behind me?’ Yet again, they told him: ‘We do not know,’ so he said: ‘The negligent is more deserving of loss!’ He bowed his head in silence for a while, for a sense of awe had alighted upon him, and a feeling of gravity had overwhelmed him. Then he raised his head, and declared: ‘The angels (peace be upon them all) have just told me: “[That man in the grave] did once see your face, and he formed a good opinion of you, and Allah (Exalted is He) has bestowed His mercy upon him because of you” (or, “because of that”).’ No more shrieking and screaming was heard from him after that, through the blessed grace of the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him).”

The companions of Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas are puzzled by the droning sound he makes during the night, so they ask Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir to seek an explanation from him.

It was Shaikh Abu ‘n-Najib ‘Abd al-Qahir as-Suhrawardi (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) who said: “A droning sound, like the droning of bees, could be heard every night, in the vicinity of Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas. His companions said to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, one day in the year [A.H.] 580, when he was present in his company: ‘Ask him about that!’ So he asked him, and Shaikh Hammad told him: ‘I have twelve thousand pupils, and I mention them all by their names every night. I beg Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) to attend to the need of each and every one of them. If a pupil of mine is smitten so hard by a sin, that the appetite for it will not become exhausted, I ask Him to relent toward him, and to tolerate with compassion his persistence in that condition.’

“On hearing this, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir said: ‘If Allah (Exalted is He) grants me a station of honor in His sight, I shall obtain from my Lord (Blessed and Exalted is He) a covenant on behalf of my pupils, binding until the Day of Resurrection, to the effect that not one of them will die without being in a state of repentance, and that I must be a guarantor for them in that regard.’ Shaikh Hammad then said: ‘I bear witness that Allah will surely grant him that commitment, and that he will spread the shade of his noble dignity over them. May Allah be well pleased with them all.’”

Hundreds of saintly Shaikhs in distant countries regard Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir as their exemplary guide.

‘Abdu’llah al-Jubba’i once said: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir had a pupil called ‘Umar al-Halawi. He left Baghdad and stayed away for several years. When he eventually returned to Baghdad, I said to him: ‘Where have you been all this time?’ He said: ‘I made the rounds of the cities and towns of Syria, Egypt, and the West (I think he also mentioned the cities and towns of Persia), and I met three hundred and sixty Shaikhs, all of them saints [awliya’]. There was not a single one amongst them who did not often say: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is our own Shaikh, and our exemplary guide toward Allah (Exalted is He).”‘”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir and his companions play their part in the construction of the wall around Baghdad.

In the early pages of his Ta’rikh [History], Ibn an-Najjar tells the reader: “I read in the Ta’rikh of Abu Shuja’ ibn ad-Dahhan, in his own handwriting: ‘It was in the year [A.H.] 526 that work began on construction of the wall around Baghdad. There was not a single scholar or preacher left inside the city, since every one of them went out with his particular group of associates, and joined in the work on the wall. One day, which happened to be the work-shift of the inhabitants of the Portico Gate [Bab al-Azaj], who were companions of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, I caught sight of a man on a riding beast, and I noticed that he had a couple of adobe bricks stacked on his head.’ (Here ends this quotation.) Speaking for myself, I would say that this indicates that, in the whole of Baghdad at that time, there was no one more utterly superb than Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him).

Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas foresees the day when Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir will be commanded to say: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.”

“[Abu Shuja’ goes on to say]: ‘Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir was in the company of Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas, so he came and sat in front of him, observing the best of good manners, until he stood up and took his leave. I heard Shaikh Hammad say, as soon as Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir had left: “This non-Arab ‘barbarian’ [‘Ajami] has a foot that will be raised, when the proper time comes, and placed upon the necks of the saints [awliya’] of that time. He will surely be commanded to say: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.’ He will surely say it, and the necks of all the saints of his age will surely be bent at his disposal.”‘

“‘Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas (may Allah be well pleased with him) had previously said, when Shaikh Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, who was still a young man at the time, was mentioned in his presence: ‘I saw two standards on his head, erected between the lowest bestiality [bahamut] and the highest Sovereignty [Malakut], and I heard the Imperial herald [shawish] calling out to him loud and clear, on the highest horizon. May Allah be well pleased with him!’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir explains the difference between common talk [hadith] and earnest speech [kalam].

It was Mahmud an-Na”al who said: “I once heard my father say: ‘I was in the company of Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas, when Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir arrived on the scene. He was just a young man at that time, but Shaikh Hammad stood up to greet him, and said: “Welcome to the firmly rooted mountain, and to the towering rock that cannot be shaken!” He seated his young guest by his side, and said to him: “What is the difference between common talk [hadith] and earnest speech [kalam]?” To this he replied: “Common talk is something to which you feel prompted to give a response, whereas earnest speech is something that knocks you clean out of chatter and emotional excitement, summoning you to conscious awareness more effectively than all the actions of men and jinn [a’mal ath-thaqalain].”

“‘Shaikh Hammad then said: “You are the master of the ‘arifin [those who know by direct experience] in your own day and age. Your banner [sanjaq] is bound to be unfurled from the regions of the East to the regions of the West. The necks of the people of your time will be bent at your disposal. You will be elevated in spiritual rank above all your contemporaries, and your drink will come to you directly from the Source.” May Allah be well pleased with both [Shaikh Hammad and Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir]!’”

 

 

 

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir invites Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas to read what is inscribed on the palm of his hand.

It was Abu ‘n-Najib as-Suhrawardi (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) who said: “I was in the company of Shaikh Hammad ad-Dabbas (may Allah be well pleased with him) in Baghdad, in the year [A.H.] 523. Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) was also in his company at that time, and he had a truly magnificent way of speaking. Shaikh Hammad said to him: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, you speak with remarkable confidence. Are you not afraid that Allah may deal with you craftily?’ Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir responded to this by placing the palm of his hand upon Shaikh Hammad’s breast, as he said to him: ‘Look with the eye of your heart at what is written on the palm of my hand!’ His attention turned inward for a moment, then Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir removed his hand from Shaikh Hammad’s breast.

“Shaikh Hammad said: ‘I read on his palm that he has received seventy firm assurances from Allah (Exalted is He), to the effect that He will never treat him craftily.’ Shaikh Hammad then went on to say: ‘There can be no problem after that! There can be no problem after that, for:

Such is the bounty of Allah which He bestows on whom He will.  Allah is the Lord of infinite bounty.  (62:4)
[dhalika fadlu ‘llahi yu’ti-hi man yasha’: wa’llahu Dhu ‘l-fadli ‘l-‘azim.]

May Allah be well pleased with them all!

More reports concerning the blessed state of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s pupils [muridun], and of his pupils’ pupils, through seven stages of succession.

We owe the following report to the three Shaikhs Abu ‘s-Sa’ud ‘Abdu’llah, Muhammad al-Awani, and ‘Umar al-Barraz (may Allah be well pleased with them all):

“Our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir has guaranteed to his pupils, until the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama], that not a single one of them will die without being in a state of repentance. He has also given the assurance that his pupils, and his pupils’ pupils through seven stages of succession, will enter the Garden of Paradise. He said: ‘I am a surety for my pupils’ pupils through seven stages. If a defect became apparent in a pupil of mine in the West, while I was in the East, I would cause it to be concealed. We must make it our business to direct our endeavors, to the fullest possible extent, toward safeguarding the welfare of our companions. Fortunate indeed is he who has seen me, and how sorry I feel for him who has not seen me!’

“May Allah be well pleased with him, and may He also be well pleased with us, because of him!”

Shaikh ‘Ali al-Qurashi has told us: “Our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) once said: ‘I was handed a scroll [sijill] that stretches as far as the eye can see, containing a list of the names of my companions and my pupils till the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama], and I was told: “They have all been granted to you.”‘”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir walks on the water of the River Tigris, then an enormous prayer rug [sajjada] appears in the sky above.

It was Sahl ibn ‘Abdi’llah at-Tustari (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) who said: “On one occasion, the people of Baghdad were puzzled by the absence of my master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him). They could not find him anywhere, until someone told them: ‘He was last seen heading toward the River Tigris [ad-Dijla],’ so they set off in that direction, looking out for him along the way. Then, lo and behold, he came walking toward us on the water! The fishes were swimming toward him, shoal upon shoal, offering him the greeting of peace. While we were watching him, and observing how the fishes were kissing his hands, the prescribed time arrived for the midday ritual prayer [salat az-zuhr]. At that very moment, what should suddenly appear but an enormous prayer rug [sajjada]. It was green in color, studded with gold and silver, and embroidered upon it were two lines of script. The first read:

As for the friends of Allah, surely no fear shall be upon them, nor shall they grieve. (10:62)
[a-la inna awliya’a ‘llahi la khawfun ‘alai-him, wa la hum yahzanun.]

-while the second line read:

The mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, O people of the house! He is Praiseworthy, Glorious!  (11:73)
[rahmatu ‘llahi  wa barakatu-hu ‘alai-kum ahla ‘l-bait: inna-hu Hamidun Majid.]

“This huge prayer rug was spread out between the sky and the earth, above the River Tigris, as if it were the flying carpet of Solomon [bisat Sulaiman] (peace be upon him). A troop of knights arrived on the scene, as if they were a pack of lions. They were led by a knight possessing a dignified bearing, an awe-inspiring appearance, and a sense of profound tranquillity [sakina]. He advanced until he and his comrades came to a halt, and stood facing the prayer rug. They stood with their heads bowed, weeping, and remained quite motionless, as if they were held in check by the rein of Divine Power [Qudra].

“Then, when the ritual prayer [salat] was about to begin, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) stepped forward, wrapped himself in the garment of reverential awe, and performed the prayer on the rug. The knights and their leader, and the people of Baghdad, all prayed behind the Shaikh. Whenever he proclaimed the Supreme Greatness of Allah, the angelic bearers of the Heavenly Throne [hamalat al-‘Arsh] declared “Allahu Akbar!” together with him. Whenever he proclaimed the Glory of Allah, the angels of the seven heavens also proclaimed His Glory. Whenever he praised Allah, a ray of green light beamed from his mouth, till it reached the clouds high up in the sky.

“When he had concluded the performance of the ritual prayer [salat], he raised his hands, and we heard him say, as he offered his prayer of supplication [du’a’] : ‘O Allah, for the sake of my ancestor, Muhammad, Your beloved friend and Your choice out of all Your creatures, and for the sake of all my forefathers, I beg You not to snatch away the spirit [ruh] from any male or female seeker of my fresh butter [murid aw murida li-idhwabi], unless he or she is in a state of repentance!’ Then we heard the chorus of the angels, as they said ‘Amin’ to his prayer of supplication [du’a], so we joined in harmony with the angels, as we added our own ‘Amin’ to the supplication. It was then that we heard the call from on high: ‘Rejoice in the good news, for I have answered your plea!”

(Here ends this brief excerpt from what he [Sahl ibn ‘Abdi’llah at-Tustari] has to tell us. May Allah be well pleased with him!)

What price the egg, and what price the chicken?

We owe this next report to those leading elders, al-Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani, Shaikh Muwaffaq ad-Din ibn Qudama, and ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Dayyal (may Allah bestow His mercy upon them all):

“We were listening to our Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) while he spoke from the lectern, and we heard him say, when he was asked about the worth of those who affiliate themselves to him: ‘The egg is worth a thousand, while the chicken is simply priceless!’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir has potent influence in every sphere.

It was Shaikh Abu ‘l-Hasan al-Jawsaqi who said: “Present in the company of our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah’s peace be upon him), on one occasion, were Shaikh ‘Ali al-Haiti and Shaikh Baqa ibn Batu. They heard Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir say: ‘From every stable, I own a stallion that cannot be matched in strength. In every land, I own horses that cannot be beaten in the race. In every armed force, I have a commander who cannot be disobeyed, and in every administrative office, I have a deputy who cannot be dismissed.’ Shaikh ‘Ali al-Haiti promptly assured him: ‘O my master, I and all my companions are your loyal servants!’ May Allah be well pleased with them all.”

Like Shaikh Ma’ruf al-Karkhi before him, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir believes that problems are best referred to Allah (Exalted is he).

Shaikh Dawud al-Baghdadi has told us: “One night in my dream, in the year [A.H.] 548, I saw Shaikh Ma’ruf al-Karkhi (may Allah be well pleased with him), and he said to me: ‘O Dawud, go ahead and tell me your problem, and I shall refer it to Allah (Exalted is He).’ ‘But what about my Shaikh?’ said I, meaning Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, ‘Have they dismissed him?’ So he said: ‘No, by Allah, they have not dismissed him, nor will they ever dismiss him!’ At that point I woke up.

“Then, in the hour before dawn, I went to the schoolhouse of the Shaikh, and sat by the door of his private apartment, waiting for the opportunity to tell him my experience. But he called out to me from inside his apartment, before I had the chance to see him and talk to him: ‘O Dawud, as far as your Shaikh is concerned, they have not dismissed him, nor will they ever dismiss him. Go ahead and tell me your problem, and I shall refer it to Allah (Exalted is He). For, by His Might and Glory, I would not present a problem to my own companions, let alone to anyone else, only to have my question about it come echoing back at me!’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir has much to say about the case of Husain al-Hallaj.

In his Ta’rikh [History], al-Hafiz Muhammad ibn Rafi’ relates: “It was on the eighteenth of Dhu ‘l-Qa’da, in the year [A.H.] 639, in the Academy of Prophetic Tradition [Dar al-Hadith] in Cairo, that I heard Ibrahim ibn Sa’d ibn Muhammad ibn Ghanim ibn ‘Abdi’llah ath-Tha’labi ar-Rumi say: “‘I once heard Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili say, in response to a question about al-Hallaj: “His claim extended too far, so the scissors of the Sacred Law [Shari’a] were empowered to clip it.’”

It was Shaikh ‘Umar al-Bazzar who said: “I once heard Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir say: ‘Husain al-Hallaj committed serious blunders, so no one in his own time would take him by the hand. But if I had been alive in his time, I would have taken him by the hand. For any one of my companions, my pupils, and my loving friends, who may ride on a mount that stumbles, between now and the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama], I shall be there to take him by the hand.’”

Our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, had very much to say concerning the affair of Husain al-Hallaj, as mentioned in the book entitled Durar al-Jawahir [Pearls of Gems], which was compiled by al-Hafiz Abu ‘l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi from the sayings of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and also in the book entitled al-Bahja [Resplendence], which was composed by Shaikh al-Imam Nur ad-Din Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali al-Lakhmi [ash-Shattanawfi], on the subject of the charismatic qualities and exploits [manaqib] of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir and of other saints [awliya’] in his category. In case any readers are interested in further study, we can recommend the two books just mentioned.

Reports concerning the special benefits enjoyed by Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’ pupils.

Shaikh Abu ‘l-Fath al-Harawi said: “I once heard Shaikh ‘Ali al-Haiti say: ‘No pupils are happier with their Shaikh than the pupils of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him).’”

He also said: “I once heard Shaikh Abu Sa’id al-Qailawi (some give his name as Abu Sa’d, rather than Abu Sa’id) say: ‘Whenever our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir returns to the Highest Realm, all those who cling to the hem of his cloak will be saved.’”

It was Shaikh Baqa ibn Batu who said: “I saw the companions of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, all of them, merged in the legion of the blissfully happy ones (may Allah be well pleased with them all).”

One of the Shaikhs once said: “Someone said to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘Among your pupils there are those who are piously dutiful and those who are wantonly dissolute.’ To this he replied: ‘The piously dutiful are there for my sake, and I am there for the sake of the wantonly dissolute!’”

It was Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Abi ‘l-Barakat Sakhr ibn Sakhr ibn Musafir who said: “I once heard my father say: ‘It was in the year [A.H.] 554 that I heard my paternal uncle, Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir (may Allah be well pleased with him), say, in his convent [zawiya] on the hill: “If the companions of any of the other Shaikhs ask me to confer a tattered robe [khirqa] upon them, I do so, except in the case of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, for his companions are already immersed in merciful compassion. Why should anyone leave the ocean, and come to the trickling stream?”‘” May Allah be well pleased with them all.

 

It was Shaikh ‘Ali ibn Idris al-Ya’qubi who said: “Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Haiti took me by the hand and brought me to our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him). This was in the year [A.H.] 550. He said to him: ‘This is my loyal servant, ‘Ali.’ So he took off a garment he had on him, and gave it to me to wear. ‘O ‘Ali,’ he told me, ‘you have now clothed yourself with the shirt of well-being!’ In all the sixty-five years that have elapsed since I first wore it, no painful suffering has ever befallen me.

“Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Haiti also brought me to him in the year [A.H.] 560. On that occasion, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir bowed his head in silence for quite a long while, then I noticed that a gleam of light had begun to emanate from him, and that it became connected with me. At the moment when this happened, I saw the occupants of the graves and tombs, and I witnessed their states and conditions. I saw the angels and their stations, and I heard their glorification of the Lord [tasbih] in a variety of languages. I read what was inscribed on the forehead of every human being, and matters of great importance were clearly disclosed to me. Then Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) told me: ‘Just take it all in, and do not be afraid!’

“It was then that Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Haiti said to him: ‘O my master, I am truly afraid that he may lose his mind!’ So he thumped on my chest with his hand, and I felt something inside my inner being [batin], in the shape of an anvil, and I was not at all alarmed by anything I saw. I heard the glorification uttered by the angels (peace be upon them), and even now, I am still illumined in the paths of the Heavenly Kingdom [Malakut] by the radiance of that gleam of light.”

Shaikh ‘Ali ibn Idris al-Ya’qubi also said: “When I first arrived in Baghdad, I was not yet acquainted with anyone in the city, nor did I know of any place to stay. I therefore sought shelter in the schoolhouse of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him). At that particular moment, there was nobody there but I. Nevertheless, I heard a voice saying, from inside his private apartment: ‘O ‘Abd ar-Razzaq, go and see who it is out there, who has come to visit us.’ So ‘Abd ar-Razzaq came out, and then went back inside, saying: ‘There is no one out there who has come to visit us, apart from a young country bumpkin [sabi sawadi], but there is something very special about this young fellow.’ Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) thereupon emerged to greet me, bringing with him some bread and a dish of food. I had never seen him before, so I stood up to pay him my respect. ‘Here you are, ‘Ali,’ said he, as he set that meal down in front of me. Then, after saying three times: ‘May it do you good!’ he added: ‘There will come a time when you are needed, and you will really become an exalted one [‘ali].’ I am therefore always at the beck and call of my master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him).”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Wahhab describes how his father, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, conducted his public speaking.

It was our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Wahhab (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him), who said: “My father [Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir] used to give lectures three times a week: twice at the schoolhouse [madrasa]-early in the morning on Friday, and in the evening on Tuesday-and once in the guesthouse [rabita], early in the morning on Sunday. His lectures were regularly attended by the religious scholars [‘ulama’], the jurists [fuqaha’] and the Shaikhs, as well as many others. His public speaking was maintained for a period of forty years, starting in the year [A.H.] 521, and ending in the year [A.H.] 561. As for the period during which he also engaged in academic teaching [tadris] and the issuing of legal opinions [fatwa], that lasted for thirty-three years, starting in the year [A.H.] 528, and ending in the year [A.H.] 561. “In the course of his regular public session [majlis], some of the brethren used to perform Qur’anic recitation [qira’a], in a plain and simple style, without the modulations of chanting [alhan]. Qur’anic recitation was also performed at his session by ash-Sharif Mas’ud al-Hashimi.

“It was often the case that two or three men would die during his session.

“Four hundred inkwells were used, by learned men and others, to write down what he was saying in his discourse.

“He would often walk through the air, at some point during his session, taking several steps over the heads of his audience, then returning to the lectern. May Allah be well pleased with him!”

Jews and Christians embrace Islam at the hand of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, in the course of his public sessions.

It was Shaikh ‘Umar al-Kimani who said: “The public sessions [majalis] of our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), were not devoid of Jews and Christians who came to embrace Islam; nor of repentant criminals, such as former highway robbers, murderers, and perpetrators of other forms of wickedness; nor of converts from some heretical doctrine. A Christian monk [rahib] once came to him and accepted Islam at his hands, in the course of his public session. He then turned to the people in the audience, and said: ‘I am a man from the people of Yemen. The seed of Islam became planted in my soul, and I developed a strong determination to declare myself a Muslim, but only at the hands of the person I considered the best of the people of Yemen. I sat on the ground, thinking this over. Then sleep overwhelmed me, and I saw a vision of Jesus, the son of Mary, saying to me: ‘O Sinan, you must go to Baghdad, and embrace Islam at the hand of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, for he is the best of all the people on earth at this time!’

“On another occasion, thirteen men from the Christian community came to him and embraced Islam at his hands, in the course of his discourse of exhortation. They said: ‘We are from the community of Arab Christians [Nasara ‘l-‘Arab]. We wished to embrace Islam, but we hesitated for some time, wondering whom we should approach in order to declare ourselves Muslims at his hands. Then a mysterious voice [hatif] called out to us. We could hear the speaker’s words, but we could not see his physical form. He was telling us: “O riders in the caravan bound for salvation! You must go to Baghdad, and embrace Islam at the hand of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, for the faith [iman] that will be lodged in your hearts, in his presence and through his blessed grace, will be unlike any that could be lodged in them, in the presence of any other person, at this historical time. May Allah be well pleased with him!”‘

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir tells how he came to spend his nights reciting the Qur’an, while standing perched on one leg.

“While speaking from the lectern in Baghdad, in the year [A.H.] 558, our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), told us: ‘I spent fifteen long years in complete isolation, wandering about in the deserts and wastelands of ‘Iraq. Throughout all of forty years, I would perform the dawn prayer [subh] with the ritual ablution [wudu’] of the late evening prayer [‘isha’]. Then [after the late evening prayer], I would recite the Qur’an from the opening Sura-standing perched on one leg, and with my hand in a socket knocked into the wall, for fear of falling asleep-until I came to the end of the Qur’an, around the approach of daybreak [sahar].

“‘One night, as I was climbing a steep flight of stairs, my lower self [nafs] said to me: “Why not catch an hour’s sleep?” So I held myself erect, and came to a halt at the very spot where this had occurred to me. Then I balanced myself on one foot, and recited the entire Qur’an from start to finish, while still in this rather awkward situation.’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir accepts an invitation from Abu Sa’id al-Mukharrimi, at the urging of al-Khidr (peace be upon him).

“He also said (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘For eleven years, I made myself at home in the [ruined] fortress that is now called the Persian Tower [al-Burj al-‘Ajami]. As a matter of fact, it was precisely because of my prolonged stay within its walls, [I being a native of the Persian province of Jilan], that it came to be called the “Persian” Tower. While I was a lodger in it, I made a solemn compact with Allah (Exalted is He) to the effect that I would not eat until I was provided with food, and that I would not drink until I was given the means to quench my thirst. I then stayed there for a period of forty days, without eating anything at all. At the end of the forty days, along came a man with a loaf of bread and a dish of food. He set this meal down in front of me, then promptly departed and left me all alone.

“‘My lower self [nafs] immediately reasserted its instinctive urge to pounce upon the food, so I exclaimed: “By Allah, it is not absolved of the pledge I gave to Allah!” Then, from my inner being [batin], I heard a loud voice yelling: “Hunger!” But I refused to indulge it.’

“He went on to say (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘It so happened that Abu Sa’id al-Mukharrimi was passing by at that moment, and he heard the sound, so he entered into me presence. When he asked me: “What is this all about, O ‘Abd al-Qadir?” I told him: “This is nothing but the antics of the lower self [nafs]. As far as the spirit [ruh] is concerned, it is perfectly calm and quiet, reposing undisturbed in the presence of its Master [Mawla] (Almighty and Glorious is He).” “Come to the Portico Gate [Bab al-Azaj],” he said to me, then he went off and left me there in my peculiar state. I said to myself: “I shall not leave this situation without a command [from the Lord].”

“He continued (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘It was then that al-Khidr (peace be upon him) came up to me and told me: ‘Get up at once, and go to Abu Sa’id [al-Mukharrimi]!” So off I went, and there I found him, standing by the door of his house, expecting my arrival. “O ‘Abd al-Qadir,” he said to me, “was it not enough for you, to have me say: ‘Come visit me!’?” It was then that he conferred upon me the tattered robe [khirqa], with his own hand. From that time on, I remained constant in my dedication to him, as his diligent student.’ May Allah be well pleased with him!”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir misses the loneliness of the desert, but he admits that Allah (Exalted is He) has put him to good use.

It was [Shaikh Abu Muhammad] al-Jubba’i who said: “Our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, once said to me: ‘I dearly wish that I could be in the deserts and wastelands again, as I was in those early days, so that I would not see my fellow creatures, and they would not see me!’

“Then he went on to say: ‘Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) must have intended to use me as a source of benefit for His creatures, since more than five thousand Jews and Christians have embraced Islam at my hand, and more than one hundred thousand vagabonds [‘ayyarun] and armed gangsters [masaliha] have repented at my hand, and this adds up to a great deal of good.’ May Allah be well pleased with him!”

When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir sneezes, one Friday, the reigning Caliph is terror-stricken by the popular response.

Ibrahim ad-Dari once said: “Every Friday, when our own Shaikh, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), was passing by on his way to the congregational mosque [jami’], the people in the markets used to pause from doing business, in order to beg Allah to satisfy their needs for his sake. He possessed a great prestige [sit] and a great voice [sawt], a dignified bearing [samt] and an impressive silence [samt]. When he happened to sneeze, one Friday, the people commiserated with him so loudly that a tumultuous clamor was heard, as those in the congregational mosque joined the chorus of voices crying: ‘May Allah bestow His mercy upon you, and may He make you the instrument of His mercy! The reigning Caliph, al-Mustanjid-bi’llah, was in a special compartment [maqsura] in the mosque, and when he asked: ‘What is all this din and clamor?’ he was told: ‘Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir happened to sneeze.’ This had a terrifying impact on the Caliph!”

Some examples of the extraordinary deference accorded to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir.

It was Ibn Nuqta as-Sirafini who said: “Shaikh Baqa, Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Haiti and Shaikh al-Qailawi used to come together to the schoolhouse of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir. Once they had arrived there, they would sweep the doorway and sprinkle water to dampen the dust. They would not enter the Shaikh’s presence without first receiving permission. When they did enter his presence, he would say to them: ‘Sit down!’ and they would say: ‘And are we granted safekeeping?’ So he would say: ‘You are granted safekeeping!’ Then they would sit down, feeling satisfied that they had behaved correctly.

“Among those present when the Shaikh went out to mount his riding beast, there were some who would pick up the saddle-cover, hold it in front of him, and walk a few steps with it. He used to forbid them to do that, however, so they would say: ‘With the like of this [royal treatment] he will draw near to Allah (Exalted is He)!’” He also said: “In observing the elders of ‘Iraq, contemporaries of the Shaikh, as they enter his schoolhouse [madrasa] or his guesthouse [ribat], I have noticed that many of them are in the habit of kissing the threshold.”

Expressing himself in poetry, the same reporter said:

Around his doorway throng the crowns of kings, and then, at greeting-time, they jostle all the more. When they spy him from afar, their crowns come off, or else, if they do not, their heads roll on the floor!

It was Shaikh Baqiyyat as-Salaf Abu ‘l-Ghana’im Miqdam al-Bata’ihi who said: “A man from among the companions of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir once came to visit Shaikh ‘Uthman ibn Marwaza al-Bata”ihi, who said to him: ‘O my son, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is the best of all the inhabitants of the earth at this time. May Allah be well pleased with him!’”

Shaikh al-Mu’ammar al-Jarrad once said: “These two eyes of mine have never set sight on anyone of better moral character, nor of broader inner feeling, nor of nobler personality, nor of kinder heart, nor of greater loyalty and affection, than Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir. Without regard for the majesty of his stature, the exalted nature of his rank, and the vast extent of his knowledge, he would support the lowly and challenge the great. He would always be the first to offer the greeting of peace [salam]. He would entertain the weak, and treat the poor with humble respect, though he would not stand up for any of the high-and-mighty and the notables, nor would he go knocking at the door of any minister [wazir] or ruler [sultan].”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir entertains the chieftains of Mount Qaf.

Shaikh al-Bata’ihi also said: “When I entered the presence of our master and our very own Shaikh, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), one day in his private apartment, I discovered in his company four individuals whom I had never seen before that moment. I therefore stood in my place, until they got up and took their leave of him, at which point the Shaikh said: ‘Go and catch up with them, and ask them to offer a prayer of supplication [du’a’] on your behalf!’ So I caught up with them in the courtyard of the schoolhouse, and asked them to offer a prayer of supplication on my behalf. One of them said to me: ‘You deserve our most hearty congratulations! You are the loyal servant of a man by whose blessed grace Allah preserves the earth intact, with its level fields and its rugged terrain, its continents and its oceans. In response to his prayer, Allah bestows His mercy on all creatures, be they pious or dissolute. We, and all the other saints [awliya’], are within the safekeeping of the breaths he breathes, under the protection of his foot, and within the orbit of his command.’ Then they departed, though I did not see where they went, so I returned to the Shaikh in a state of bewilderment. Before I had told him anything, he said to me: ‘O ‘Abdu’llah [Servant of Allah], you must not let anyone know what they said to you, so long as I am still alive.’ ‘O my master,’ said I, ‘who are those men?’ and he replied: ‘They are the chieftains of Mount Qaf, and they must be back in their own places by now. May Allah be well pleased with them!’”

The Caliph voices a complaint about Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir

As related by Muhammad ibn al-Khadir, his father once said: “I served my master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, for thirteen years, and in all of that time I never saw him blow his nose, nor did I ever see him hawk and spit. Not a single fly ever settled upon him. He did not stand up for any of the high-and-mighty. He did not go knocking at the door of the holder of worldly power [dhi ‘s-sultan], and he neither sat on his carpet, nor ate any of his food, except on one occasion. He used to regard sitting on the mats of kings, and of their followers, as one of the punishments inflicted in advance [here in this world, before the Resurrection].

“When he heard that the king and the vizier and other dignitaries were coming to visit him, while he was holding a session, he would get up and slip into his private apartment. Then, when they had already taken their seats, the Shaikh would come back out from his private apartment. He thereby avoided having to stand up in their honor. He would use coarse language when speaking to them, and deliver his admonition to them in exaggerated terms, while they would kiss his hand, and sit in his presence with an affected air of modest humility and self-belittlement.

“When he engaged in correspondence with the Caliph, he would write to him: ”Abd al-Qadir commands you to do such-and-such. As you must surely know, his command is imperative upon you, and obedience to him is obligatory for you, since he is your exemplary guide, and a competent authority over you.’ Then, having read his sheet of paper, the Caliph would kiss it, saying: ‘The Shaikh has told the truth!’”

Shaikh Abu ‘l-Hasan the Jurist [al-Faqih] once said that the Chief Minister [Wazir], Ibn Hubaira, had told him: “The Caliph, al-Muqtafi-li-Amri’llah Muhammad, voiced a complaint about Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, saying: ‘He treats me with scornful disdain. Having mentioned me by name, he says to the palm tree at his guesthouse: “O palm tree, do not act unjustly, or I shall cut off your head!” He is definitely aiming this remark at me. You must go to him at once, and tell him, in a private situation: “It is absolutely improper for you to set yourself in opposition to the Leader [Imam], when you acknowledge the duty of service to the Caliphate!”‘”

“The Chief Minister continued: ‘I therefore went to see the Shaikh, and found a group of people congregated in his presence, so I sat and waited for an opportunity to speak with him in private. In the meantime, I listened to him talking, and I heard him say, in the course of his speech: “Yes, I shall cut off its head.” I realized that this remark was intended for me, so I got up and left.’

“The Chief Minister went on to tell me: ‘I presented myself [to the Caliph] and related to him what had transpired.’ The Chief Minister burst into tears, as he said: ‘There is no doubt about the righteousness of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir!’ Then he had himself transported to join his company, and he sat there in front of him, observing the best of good manners. The Shaikh admonished him, and kept on admonishing him, until he reduced him to tears, then he changed his tone and treated him with gentle kindness. May Allah be well pleased with him!”

The Grand Mufti of ‘Iraq provides a vivid description of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s character.

We owe this next report to the Grand Mufti of ‘Iraq, Muhyi ‘d-Din Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad ibn Hamid al-Baghdadi (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him), who said:

“Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) was quick to shed tears, intensely affected by fear [of the Lord], and imbued with a great sense of awe. He was someone whose prayer was sure to be answered. His entire bearing was aglow with reverence. He was honorable in his traits of character, and noble in his lines of descent. He was the furthest of all people from immoral behavior, and the nearest of all people to the Truth. He was extremely stern in his response, whenever the sanctuaries of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) are violated. He was never angry on his own account, and he never supported the cause of anyone other than his Lord. He never turned the beggar away emptyhanded, even if all he had to give him was one of his only pair of shirts.

“Enabling grace [tawfiq] was his guiding principle, and readiness to help was his mainstay. Knowledge [‘ilm] was his instructor, and nearness [to the Lord] was his educator. Mutual conversation [muhadara] was his treasure, and direct experience [ma’rifa] was his stronghold. Preaching was his counselor, and observation was his ambassador. Intimate friendship [uns] was his confidant, and entertainment was his breath of fresh air. Truthfulness was his banner, openness was his stock-in-trade, and tolerance was his professional occupation. Remembrance [dhikr] was his chief minister, and reflection [fikr] was his entertaining companion. Spiritual disclosure [mukashafa] was his nourishment, and direct witnessing [mushahada] was his medicine. The good manners of the Sacred Law [adab ash-Shari’a] were his outward form [zahir], and the attributes of Reality [awsaf al-Haqiqa] were his innermost contents [sara’ir].”

Expressing himself in poetry, he also had this to say about the Shaikh:

For Allah’s sake you have earned a rank of dignity, and you are noble by pure ancestry and origin. Your splendid stature towers so high, that the rainbow forms a stirrup for the soles of your feet. You have built a house in the heights above, and the planets are like flowers on the trellis around it. O robe of this world, by the splendor of whose glory old age has turned into the freshness of youth! The virgins on high sought after you, the star of guidance, and they are ones who baffle the seeker! When they saw you at last, those beauties proposed to you but only to have their proposal rejected. Then there came to you, as the mark of leadership, exploits that even a master could hardly perform.

Shaikh Musa tells how his father, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, outwitted a cunning devil.

It was my master Shaikh Musa, the son of our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with them both), who said:

“I once heard my father say: ‘I went out into the desert, in the course of my wandering, and spent several days there without finding any water. My thirst grew very intense, but then a cloud cast its cooling shadow upon me, and from it there descended upon me something resembling moisture. With this I was able to quench my thirst. Then I saw a light, by which the whole horizon was made luminous. A mysterious figure suddenly appeared, and from it came the sound of a voice, calling: “O ‘Abd al-Qadir, I am your Lord, and I have made lawful to you things that are normally unlawful!” (Or the voice may have said: “…that which I have made unlawful to other people…”)

“‘I promptly exclaimed: “I take refuge with Allah from Satan the damned [a’udhu bi’llahi mina ‘sh-shaitani ‘r-rajim]. Be off with you, O accursed one!” That light immediately turned dark, and that mysterious figure became a puff of smoke. Then it spoke to me again, only this time it said: “O ‘Abd al-Qadir, you have given me the slip by means of your knowledge, the decree of your Lord, and your clever understanding of the states of your spiritual stages. By playing some similar version of this trick, I have already succeeded in misleading seventy of the people of the Spiritual Path [ahl at-Tariq].” I thereupon expressed my relief by saying: “To my Lord belongs all credit for the gracious favor and the blessing!”

“When someone asked my father: ‘How could you tell that it was a devil [shaitan]?’ he explained: ‘By the fact that it said: “I have made lawful to you things that are normally unlawful,” for I knew that Allah would not command immoral conduct [fahsha].’”

Some questions and answers concerning the nature of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s spiritual path [tariq].

It was Shaikh ‘Ali ibn Idris al-Ya’qubi who said: “Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Haiti was once asked a question, while I was listening, about the spiritual path [tariq] of our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him). He said in reply: ‘His first step was the delegation [of all authority to the Lord] [tafwid], and compliance [with His decree] [muwafaqa], in the complete renunciation of all claim to personal power and strength. His procedure consisted in the shedding of attachments [tajrid], the affirmation of Divine Oneness [tawhid], and total concentration on singular devotion [tafrid], combined with presence at the time of worshipful servitude [‘ubudiyya], standing with an innermost being [sirr] in the position of servanthood [‘abdiyya], not because of anything, nor for the sake of anything [other than Allah]. His worshipful servitude [‘ubudiyya] was derived from the sheer perfection of Lordship [Rububiyya], for he was a servant [‘abd] who had transcended the companionship of differentiation [musahabat at-tafriqa] and risen to the celestial spheres of unification [matali’ al-jam’], in full conformity with the rules of the Sacred Law [ahkam ash-Shar’].’”

As we are told by Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Abi ‘l-Barakat Sakhr ibn Sakhr ibn Musafir: “I heard my father say: ‘Someone once said to my paternal uncle, Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir, while I was listening: “What is the spiritual path [tariq] of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir?” To this my uncle replied: “It means withering away beneath the currents of the Divine decrees [aqdar], with the harmonious compliance of the heart and the spirit [ruh], the unification of the inner and the outer being [ittihad al-batin wa ‘z-zahir], and being stripped of the attributes of the lower self [nafs], as well as complete detachment from all concern with benefit and harm, nearness and remoteness.”‘” May Allah be well pleased with all the Shaikhs referred to here!

It was Khalil ibn Ahmad as-Sarsari who said: “I once heard Shaikh Baqa ibn Batu say: ‘As for the spiritual path [tariq] of our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), it consists in the unification of word and deed, the unification of the self [nafs] and the moment, the embracing of sincere devotion [ikhlas] and submissive resignation [taslim], harmonious compliance with the Book and the Sunna in every thought, every glance, every breath, every experience, and every spiritual state, as well as steadfast constancy in relation to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).’”

To quote the words of Shaikh Abu Sa’id al-Qilawi: “The example set by our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), is that of being with Allah [ma’a ‘llah], in Allah [fi ‘llah], and because of Allah [bi’llah]. Great chiefs have lacked the strength and energy to follow his example, and he has overtaken many of the front-runners by clinging to a path [tariqa] in which there is no interruption. Allah (Exalted is He) has raised him to a splendid station, on account of his meticulous dedication [tadqiq] to his insistent pursuit of the Truth [tahqiq].”

 

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir thumbs through a book on philosophy, and it turns into a well-known work on the Qur’an.

We owe this next report to Shaikh al-Muzaffar Mansur ibn al-Mubarak al-Wasiti, commonly known by the nickname al-Judada [Fruit of the Palm Tree]. He said:

“Once, while I was still a young man, I entered the presence of Shaikh Muhyi ‘d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), together with a large group. I had with me a book that dealt with questions of abstract philosophy [falsafa] and the speculative sciences of spirituality [‘ulum ar-ruhaniyyat]. As soon as we entered his presence, the Shaikh spoke to me–to me personally, not to the group as a whole-and before he had examined the book, or asked me about its contents, he said: ‘That book of yours is a bad companion. You had better go and give it a thorough wash!” I reacted to this by deciding to leave his presence, drop the book into some receptacle or other, and then refrain from carrying it with me after that, for fear of offending the Shaikh. My lower self [nafs] could not accept the idea of giving it a wash, because I had developed quite a fondness for it, and some of its theories and principles had stimulated my intellectual curiosity. I was about to get up and leave, intending to carry out this plan of action, but the Shaikh gave me such a stare, like someone regarding me with incredulous amazement, that I simply could not get up.

“I felt trapped in a state of paralysis, but then he said to me: ‘Hand me that book of yours!’ So I opened it, and lo and behold, there was nothing inside it but blank paper, with not a single letter written on it! I gave it to the Shaikh, and he thumbed through its pages, then he said: ‘This is the Book of the Excellent Merits of the Qur’an [Kitab Fada’il al-Qur’an], by Ibn ad-Zaris Muhammad.’ When he handed it back to me, I saw that it was indeed the Book of the Excellent Merits of the Qur’an [Kitab Fada’il al-Qur’an], by Ibn ad-Zaris Muhammad, written in a most handsome calligraphic script!

“The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) then said to me: ‘Are you ready to turn in repentance from saying with your tongue what is not in your heart?’ I said: ‘Yes, O my master,’ so he told me to stand up. I obediently rose to my feet, and I had forgotten all about philosophy and the principles of spirituality! They had been totally erased from my inner being [batin], as if they had never captured my interest.”

A braggart benefits from Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s intercesssion.

Shaikh al-Muzaffar al-Judada also said: “I once saw Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) reclining on a cushion. While he was in that position, someone said to him: ‘So-and-so’-the speaker actually mentioned the name of a man who was quite famous, at that time, for charismatic talents [karamat], worship in secluded retreats, pious abstinence, and acts of obedient service–’is reported as having said: “I have already surpassed the spiritual station of Jonah, the son of Amittai [Yunus ibn Mattai], the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him).”‘ When the Shaikh heard this, an angry expression appeared on his face, then he sat upright, grasped the cushion with his hand, and tossed it in front of him. ‘That has given him a heart attack!’ he exclaimed.

“Some of us got up at once, and rushed off to see how the man was. We found that he had suffered a fatal stroke at that moment, although he had previously been perfectly fit and well, with no kind of health problem whatsoever. Then I saw him again in a dream, and his condition was fine, so I said to him: ‘How has Allah treated you?’ To this he replied: ‘He has forgiven me, and I have obtained pardon from His Prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai [Yunus ibn Mattai], for what I said about him. It was my master, ‘Abd al-Qadir, who acted as my intercessor [shafi’] with Allah, and also with Jonah, the son of Amittai [Yunus ibn Mattai], and I have received much benefit through the blessed grace of the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him).’”

Profound impressions left by Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, as described by some of those who met him.

It was Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abi ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali al-Bata’ihi ar-Rifa’i who said: “I made my way to Baghdad, and spent time there in the company of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah’s peace be upon him). I was truly astonished by what I observed of his spiritual state, the freedom of his heart from all attachment, and the sheer clarity of his innermost being [sirr]. When I returned home to Umm ‘Ubaida, I told my maternal uncle, Shaikh Ahmad, about that, and he said: ‘O my son, who can match the aptitude of ‘Abd al-Qadir, and what he is about, and that to which he has attained?’”

As we are told by Abu Muhammad al-Hasan: “I once heard Shaikh ‘Ali al-Qurashi tell a man: ‘If you had seen Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, you would have seen a man whose personal strength had vanished on his path to his Lord. The strengths of the people of the Spiritual Path [Tariqa] are intense commitment and persistence, and his path was the way of the affirmation of Divine Oneness [tawhid], in character, in principle, and in actual condition. His pursuit of the Truth was in accordance with the Sacred Law [Shar’], both outwardly [zahiran] and inwardly [batinan]. His attributes were a heart free from all attachment, a state of absence [from the world of creatures], and the direct contemplation of a Present Lord, with an inner content [sarira] undisturbed by doubts, an innermost being [sirr] uncontested by rivals [to Allah], and a heart undivided by remnants [of worldly interest]. The Greatest Sovereignty [al-Malakut al-Akbar] was set behind him, and the Supreme Kingdom [al-Mulk al-A’zam] beneath his foot. May Allah be well pleased with him!’”

An earlier Shaikh predicts that Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir will be one of the eight mainstays [awtad] of ‘Iraq.

It was Shaikh Muhammad ash-Shanbaki who said: “I once heard our Shaikh Abu Bakr ibn Hawara say: ‘The mainstays [awtad] of ‘Iraq are eight in number, namely: (1) Ma’ruf al-Karkhi; (2) Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal; (3) Bishr al-Hafi; (4) Mansur ibn ‘Ammar; (5) al-Junaid; (6) as-Sari [as-Saqati]; (7) Sahl ibn ‘Abdi’llah at-Tustari; and (8) ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.’

“‘When I asked him: “And who is ‘Abd al-Qadir?” he replied: “A noble Persian [‘Ajami] who will settle in Baghdad. His appearance on the scene will occur in the fifth century [of the Hijra]. He will be one of the champions of the Truth [siddiqin], the mainstays [awtad], the unique individuals [afrad], the outstanding figures [a’yan] of this world, and the cardinal poles [aqtab] of the age.’”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) comes riding through the air. along with Moses (peace be upon him), and confers a robe of honor upon Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir.

Our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), once said: “I saw Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) in Baghdad, while I was at the lectern. He was mounted on a riding beast, and Moses (peace be upon him) was riding by his side. ‘O Moses,’ he said, ‘Is there, in your community [umma], any man such as this one here?’ The answer was ‘No!’ so he said to me: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, [did you hear that?]!’ He was airborne, so he embraced me, lifted me up, and conferred upon me a robe of honor [khil’a] that he had been wearing. He said: ‘This is the robe of honor that marks the rank of Cardinal Poleship [Qutbiyya] over the men of valor and the spiritual deputies [ar-rijal wa ‘l-abdal].’ Then he spat in my mouth three times, before returning me to the pulpit. I thereupon intoned these verses of poetry:

I shall sip that drink in every chapel and synagogue, and demonstrate my religion and my doctrine to the lovers. For the sake of its goblets, I shall beat the tambourine on the rooftop, in plain view, not hiding away in the corners.

[sa-ashrabu-ha fi kulli dairin wa bi’atin wa uzhiru li’l-‘ushshaqi dini wa madhhabi wa adribu fawqa ‘l-sathi bi’d-duffi jilwatan li-kasati-ha la fi ‘z-zawayati mukhtabi.]

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is extolled by a Shaikh whose name means “Twig of the Fragrant Ben-tree.”

It was al-Khadir al-Husaini al-Mawsili who said: “I once noticed that Shaikh Qadib al-Ban [‘Twig of the Fragrant Ben-tree’] al-Mawsili (may Allah be well pleased with him) was behaving with abject humility and self-belittlement, and I heard him say: ‘Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) is the leader of the caravan of the lovers [of the Lord] [muhibbin], the exemplary guide of the spiritual wayfarers [salikin], the Imam of the champions of the Truth [siddiqin], the living proof of those who know by direct experience [‘arifin], and the bosom of those who are brought near [muqarrabin], in this day and age, and of the generation that will succeed them. May Allah be well pleased with him!’”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir declares, in the presence of most of the Shaikhs of ‘Iraq: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.”

We owe this next report to al-Hafiz Abu ‘l-‘Izz ‘Abd al-Mughith ibn Harb al-Baghdadi, among others, who said:

“We were present at the regular session [majlis] held by Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili, at his guesthouse [ribat] in the Racetrack district [al-Halba] of Baghdad. Most of the Shaikhs of ‘Iraq were in attendance at his session on that particular day, including all those in the following list:

*Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Haiti *Shaikh Baqa ibn ibn Batu *Shaikh Abu Sa’id al-Qilawi *Shaikh Musa ibn Mahin (some say: Mahan) *Shaikh Abu ‘n-Najib as-Suhrawardi *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Karam *Shaikh Abu ‘Umar wa ‘Uthman al-Qurashi *Shaikh Mukarim al-Akbar [the Senior] *Shaikh Matir *Shaikh Jagir *Shaikh Khalifa *Shaikh Sadaqa *Shaikh Yahya al-Murta’ish *Shaikh ad-Ziya Ibrahim al-Jawni *Shaikh Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad al-Qazwini *Shaikh Abu ‘Umar wa ‘Uthman al-Bata’ihi *Shaikh Qadib al-Ban *Shaikh Abu ‘l-‘Abbas Ahmad al-Yamani *Shaikh Abu ‘l-‘Abbas ash-Shawki (said to be one of those remarkable men who travel by invisible means of transport) *Shaikh Sultan al-Muzayyin *Shaikh Abu Bakr ash-Shaibani *Shaikh Abu ‘l-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Ustadh *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Kawsaj *Shaikh Mubarak al-Humairi *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Barakat *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Baghdadi *Shaikh Abu ‘s-Sa’ud al-‘Attar *Shaikh Abu ‘Abdi’llah al-Awani *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Bazzar *Shaikh Shihab ‘Umar as-Suhrawardi *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Baqa al-Baqqal *Shaikh Abu Hafs al-Ghazali *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Farisi *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Ya’qubi *Shaikh Abu Hafs al-Kimani *Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Muzayyin *Shaikh Jamil Sahib al-Khatwa wa ‘z-Za’qa [‘Owner of the Stride and the Scream’] *Shaikh Abu ‘Amr as-Sirafini *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Hasan al-Jawsaqi *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Huraimi *Shaikh al-Qadi [the Judge] Abu Ya’la al-Farra’.

“Many others were also in attendance, along with those mentioned above. When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir addressed them, his heart was present in full awareness, as he declared: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah [qadami hadhihi ‘ala raqabati kulli waliyyin li’llah].’

“Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti sprang to his feet at once, then climbed the steps up to the lectern, where he grasped the Shaikh’s foot and set in upon his neck, as he placed his head beneath the hem of the Shaikh’s robe. All of those present extended their necks in this same manner.”

Questions and answers concerning the true nature and significance of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s declaration: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.”

It was Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Abi ‘l-Barakat Sakhr ibn Sakhr ibn Musafir who said: “My father Sakhr told me: ‘I said to my paternal uncle, Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Of all the preeminent Shaikhs, do you know of any other, apart from Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, who has ever said: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah’?” He told me that he knew of no other, so I asked him: “What is the meaning of it?” He said: “It represents an explicit declaration concerning the station of uniqueness [fardiyya], which he occupied in his era.” I then went on to ask: “Does each era have its own unique individual [fard]?” “Yes, it does,” said he, “but no one has been commanded to utter this declaration, apart from Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him).” “Do you mean to say,” I asked, “that he was commanded to make the pronouncement?” “Yes,” my uncle replied, “he received a command [from the Lord], and they all lowered their heads to the place of the command. As you must surely know, when the angels (peace be upon them) bowed down in prostration to Adam, they only did so because they received the command [from their Lord] precisely to that effect.”‘”

It was Shaikh Baqa ibn Batu an-Nahrumulki who said: “When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir declared: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,’ Shaikh Ibrahim al-‘Azab, the son of Shaikh Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali ar-Rifa’i al-Bata’ihi (may Allah be well pleased with him), said:

“‘My father said to my maternal uncle, Shaikh Ahmad ar-Rifa’i: “Did Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) say: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah (Exalted is He)’ in obedience to a command [from his Lord], or without having received a command ?” To this my uncle replied: “Of course he said it in obedience to a command! May Allah be well pleased with him!”‘”

From a report transmitted by a reliable chain of authorities [isnad], we learn that Abu Bakr ibn Hawara (may Allah grant us the benefit of his spiritual influence) said one day, during the session he was holding with his companions:

“Someone very special is going to appear in ‘Iraq, at some time in the future. A man from among the Persians, he will be endowed with high status in the sight of Allah, as well as in the sight of his fellow human beings. His name will be ‘Abd al-Qadir, and his residence will be in Baghdad. He will declare: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,’ and all the saints [awliya’] in his generation will pay allegiance to that unique individual, in his own day and age.”

The Shaikh al-Islam, Shihab ad-Din Ahmad ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (may Allah cover him with His mercy) was once asked to explain the meaning of the pronouncement uttered by our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.’ He responded (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) by delivering a speech, the whole text of which would take up many pages, but the gist of it is contained in the following passage:

“The occurrence of supernatural events [khawariq] can indeed be experienced by the human being. That is a fact, and a fact that only the stubbornly pigheaded would attempt to refute. Our leading authorities have propounded a standard criterion, applicable to supernatural experiences, whereby the distinction can be drawn between that which is genuine and that which is spurious. They have stated that, if the experience happens to-or emerges from-the person concerned, in the correct and straightforward manner, it constitutes a charismatic gift [karama], as in the case of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir.”

 

Further commentaries on Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s famous declaration.

It was the Provost of the Scholars [Sultan al-‘Ulama’] and Shaikh al-Islam, ‘Izz ad-Din ibn ‘Abd as-Salam, who said: “Of no one’s charismatic talents [karamat] have we received so many reports-one after another in constant succession-as those we have received concerning the charismatic talents of the Sultan of the saints, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him). It is clear that Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir was consciously alert, and that he meticulously observed the rules of the Sacred Law [Shari’a], while calling upon others to observe them, shunning any contravention of them, and engaging the people’s interest in them. He was equally meticulous in his dedication to worshipful service [‘ibada] and the spiritual struggle [mujahada].

“What is even more remarkable, is that he managed to combine all this with active involvement in concerns, such as wives and children, that are usually too distracting to permit such total dedication. If someone is able to follow such a path, he must indeed be closer than others to perfection, especially since it reflects the character of [the Prophet], the Master of the Sacred Law [Sahib ash-Shari’a] (Allah bless him and give him peace).

“This explains why the Shaikh said: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah’-because no one else in his generation is known to have matched him in combining these perfections. The purpose was to emphasize the tremendous importance of his business, and there can be no doubt that such aggrandizement was fully justified. ‘Allah guides whomever He will to a path that is straight.’”

There are some who maintain: “The word ‘foot’ is used figuratively or metaphorically [majazi] in this context, and should not be taken literally [haqiqi], because this metaphorical sense is compatible with good manners, and makes its general application possible. The word ‘foot [qadam]’ is often used as a synonym for ‘path [tariqa],’ as in an expression like: ‘So-and-so is on a praiseworthy foot [qadam hamid],’ that is to say, ‘a praiseworthy path [tariqa hamida]’ or, ‘a splendid performance of worshipful service’ or, ‘a beautiful mode of conduct,’ and so on. [In the case of the Shaikh’s pronouncement] it signifies that his path, his nearness [to the Lord], and his opening [to the bestowal of Divine grace] are at the highest level of any path, nearness and opening, and have reached the ultimate stage of development.

“As for the foot in the literal sense [qadam haqiqi], Allah knows best, but this could hardly be what the Shaikh intended, because of its lack of propriety. It would be improper from several standpoints, including the traditional respect for good manners [adab], on which the Spiritual Path [Tariq] is built, as indicated by al-Junaid and others (may Allah be well pleased with them all). For instance, what is in keeping with the spiritual station of this knower-by-direct-experience [‘arif], this saint [wali] of noble dignity, is that his way of speaking should be as eloquent and as unambiguous as possible. The best interpretation, therefore, is that [metaphorical understanding] explained at the outset.”

According to some, the Shaikh said: “My forehead [qadimi]…,” rather than: “My foot [qadami]…” As for this, and various other suggestions that have been put forward, we can only say that Allah knows best [wa ‘llahu A’lam]. We may discuss what is outwardly apparent, but when it comes to the hidden secrets, Allah knows more than we can ever know. May Allah be well pleased with the Shaikh, and may He grant him contentment.

Shaikh Abu ‘l-Baqa explains why he hesitated at first, before admitting the young Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir into his presence.

Shaikh Matir has told us: “One day, I was in the company of our Shaikh, Abu ‘l-Baqa, at his convent [zawiya] in Qalaminiya, when he said: ‘O Matir, lock the door! There is a young fellow outside, a Persian [A’jami], who is trying to gain admission to my presence, so you must prevent him from doing so!’ I promptly got up to do as I was told, and there, at the door, I saw Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir. He was still at young man at that time, and he was indeed seeking admission to Shaikh Abu ‘l-Baqa’s presence. He requested permission to enter, but our Shaikh denied his request. I noticed that our Shaikh was pacing to and fro inside the convent, like someone in a state of confusion, but then he finally granted permission to the visitor. As soon as he saw him, he took several steps toward him, and the two of them embraced in a long-lasting hug.

“‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir,” our Shaikh said to him, “by the Might and Glory of the One to whom all Might and Glory belong, when I prevented you from entering the first time, it was not because of any rejection of your right and proper due, but rather because of a sense of anxiety about you. But then, as soon as I realized that you would both receive something from me and give something to me, I felt able to relate to you with a strong sense of security.’”

May Allah be well pleased with each of the three Shaikhs mentioned, and may He grant them contentment!

Even while Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is still a very young man, there are some who clearly foresee his future role.

It was Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman at-Tafsunji who said: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir used to come, while he was still a young man, to visit our own Shaikh, Taj al-‘Arifin Abu ‘l-Wafa. As soon as he saw him, our Shaikh would get up from his seat, and say to those present in his company: ‘Stand up, all of you, in honor of the saintly friend [wali] of Allah!’ He would sometimes take several steps toward him, in order to greet him directly. On another occasion, he would say: ‘If anyone has not stood up, let him stand up now, in honor of the saintly friend of Allah!’

“Since this was a recurring pattern of behavior, one of our Shaikh’s companions felt moved to comment on its significance. He said: ‘This young man has arrived on the scene at a time when he is sorely needed, both by the special elite [khass] and by the common people [‘amm]. I seem to have a preview of him, speaking to large audiences in Baghdad. He will be fully justified in saying: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.” The necks of all the saints [awliya’] in his day and age will therefore be placed at his disposal, for he will be their Cardinal Pole [Qutb]. Service to him will be incumbent upon every one of them who is still alive when that moment comes.’”

Shaikh Maslama ibn Ni’mat as-Suruji [the Saddler] (may Allah be well pleased with him) gave the following reply to someone who asked him, one day, about the Cardinal Pole [Qutb]. “Who is he?” the questioner wanted to know, so the Shaikh said: “He is presently in Mecca, in a state of concealment, so that none but the righteous [salihun] can recognize him. He will eventually make his public appearance over here.” (The speaker pointed in the direction of ‘Iraq.) “He is a young Persian [A’jami] of noble ancestry, called ‘Abd al-Qadir. He is splendidly endowed with supernatural charismatic talents [karamat khariqat]. He is destined to be the Cardinal Pole [Qutb] of his time, and the Spiritual Helper [Ghawth] of his age. He will eventually speak to large audiences, and he will be fully justified in saying: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.’ All the saints [awliya’] of his era will certainly bow down beneath that foot of his, through which Allah will bestow great benefit upon them. They will also benefit from his charismatic talents [karamat], as will those ordinary people who believe them to be real.” May Allah be well pleased with them both [Shaikh Maslama ibn Ni’mat as-Suruji and Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir].

It was Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti who said: “Our own Shaikh, Abu ‘l-Wafa, was once speaking to the people from up on the lectern, when Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir came in to attend his session [majlis]. Our Shaikh immediately interrupted his speech, and ordered Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir to leave. The visitor went out, and our Shaikh resumed his speech. Then Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir came back to rejoin the session, and again our Shaikh interrupted his speech, and told him to leave. So again he went out, and again our Shaikh resumed his speech. Then Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir came in a third time, but this time Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa descended from the lectern, embraced him, and kissed him between the eyes. He turned to his audience and said: ‘Stand up, all of you, in honor of the saintly friend [wali] of Allah (Exalted is He)!’

“He then went on to explain: ‘O people of Baghdad, when I ordered him to leave, it was not with the intention of insulting him, but rather to ensure that you would take notice of him. For, by the Might and Glory of the One to Whom all worship is due [al-Ma’bud], there are banners hoisted over his head, and their scope extends beyond the East and the West.’ Then he said to him: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, the time belongs to us at present, but it will soon come to be yours. O ‘Abd al-Qadir, they have given you ‘Iraq, and every rooster will sometimes crow and sometimes fall silent, with the sole exception of your rooster, for it will go on crowing till the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama].’ He also presented him with his prayer rug [sajjada], his shirt, his string of prayer-beads [misbaha], his bowl, and his staff. This was a way of saying: ‘Accept him with a solemn commitment!’

“Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa also said: ‘His forehead is marked with the brand of al-Mukharrimi.’ Then, when the session had drawn to a close, Shaikh Taj al-‘Arifin Abu ‘l-Wafa stepped down from the lectern, sat on the lowest stair, gripped the hand of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and said to him, in the midst of the people crowding around: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, there is a time assigned to you, and when it comes, remember this old graybeard! As he said this, he squeezed his noble hand tightly. May Allah be well pleased with them both!”

Concerning some of the articles which Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa presented to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, ‘Umar al-Bazzaz informs us:

“As for the string of prayer-beads [misbaha] which Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa presented to our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, whenever he set it down on the ground, it would rotate by itself, one bead at a time. After he had died, it passed into the possession of Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti. As for the bowl which he gave him, whenever someone touched it, that person’s whole arm would shake and tremble, from his hand right up to his shoulders.

It was Shaikh as-Salih Abu Muhammad Yusuf al-‘Aquli who said: “I once made a journey to visit Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir, and as soon as I arrived, he asked me: ‘Where have you come from?’ When I told him: ‘From Baghdad, from among the companions of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir,’ he exclaimed: ‘Bravo, bravo [bakh, bakh] ! That ‘Abd al-Qadir is the Cardinal Pole [Qutb] of the earth, to whom three hundred saints of Allah bowed their necks, as well as seven hundred invisible beings, some of them seated on the earth and some of them flying through the air-all at that one point in time, when he said: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.’ That made a profound impression on me.

“Then, after some time had elapsed, I paid a visit to Shaikh Ahmad ar-Rifa’i. I mentioned to him what I had heard on that subject from Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir, and he said: ‘Shaikh ‘Adi told you the truth.’” May Allah be well pleased with all the Shaikhs concerned.

The righteous among the jinn are also said to have responded to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s declaration.

It was Shaikh Majid al-Kurdi who said: “When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir uttered this pronouncement, there was not one single saint of Allah on the entire earth, at that moment in time, who did not bend his neck in humble recognition of him, and in acknowledgement of his special status. Nor was there one single circle, of all the circles of the righteous among the jinn, assembled at that moment in time, in which mention of it was not made. Delegations of those righteous jinn set forth to visit him, from all the horizons. Saluting him with the greeting of peace, and repenting at his hand, they gathered in a throng at his door.” Shaikh Matir is in agreement with Shaikh Majid al-Kurdi concerning the validity of this report.

 

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s son, Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah, was present when his father made his famous declaration.

[Shaikh Majid al-Kurdi added]: “When I asked Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah, the son of our master Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘Were you present at the session [majlis] at which your father said: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,”‘ he replied: ‘Yes I was, and those in attendance at that session included approximately fifty Shaikhs, from among those most highly distinguished.’”

“He also said: ‘When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir left the session and entered his own apartment, the only Shaikhs remaining were Shaikh Mukarim, Shaikh Muhammad al-Khass and Shaikh Ahmad al-‘Arini, so we sat together and talked.

“‘It was Shaikh Mukarim who said: “Allah showed me, on that day, that there was not one single exception-out of all those with whom He had contracted the bond of saintship [wala’ al-wilaya] in the nearest and farthest regions of the earth-who did not witness the banner of Cardinal Poleship [Qutbiyya] paraded in front of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and the crown of Helpership [Ghawthiyya] placed upon his head. There was not one who did not see upon him the robe of honor of complete managerial disposition [tasrif] in the realm of existence and its people, with the authority to appoint and dismiss, and this robe was marked with the embroidered insignia of the Sacred Law [Shari’a] and Reality [Haqiqa].

“‘I heard him say: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,” and each and every one of them bowed his head and humbled his heart toward him, at one and the same moment, including the ten spiritual deputies [abdal], the E9lite of the kingdom, the Sultans of the age.’ When I asked him who they were, he replied: ‘Baqa ibn Batu, Abu Sa’id al-Qailawi, ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti, ‘Adi ibn Musafir, Musa az-Zuwali, Ahmad ibn ar-Rifa’i, ‘Abd ar-Rahman at-Tafsunji, Abu Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Basri, Hayat ibn Qais al-Harrani, and Abu Madin al-Maghribi.’

“‘Muhammad al-Khass and Shaikh Ahmad al-‘Arini said to Shaikh Mukarim: “You have told the truth,” and two brothers of mine, Shaikh ‘Abdu’llah al-Jabbar and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, were also in full agreement with him in that respect.’” May Allah be well pleased with them all!

It was Shaikh al-Qudwa [the Exemplary Guide] Abu Sa’id al-Qailawi who said: “When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) declared: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,’ the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) made Himself manifest upon his heart, and a robe of honor was conveyed to him from Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), through the agency of a party of the angels who are brought near [to the Lord].

“He donned this robe in the presence of all the saints [awliya’], those of former times and those more recent, those still alive in their physical bodies and those [physically] dead [but alive] in their spirits. The angels and the men of the Unseen [rijal al-Ghaib] were circling around his session, stationed in the air in ranks, so that the horizon was obstructed by them. There was not a single saint [wali] anywhere on the earth, who did not bend his neck toward him. May Allah be well pleased with him!”

More reports concerning Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s declaration, and how the saints responded to it, including those who were in distant lands at the time.

Shaikh Khalifat al-Akbar [the Senior] has told us: “I once saw Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) in a dream, so I said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir has declared: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.”‘ ‘Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir has spoken the truth,’ he told me, ‘and how could he not do so, when he is the Cardinal Pole [Qutb] and I keep him under my wing?’”

A man came to visit Shaikh al-Qudwa [the Exemplary Guide] Hayat ibn Qais al-Harrani (may Allah be well pleased with him) on Friday, the third of Ramadan, in the year [A.H.] 599, in the congregational mosque [jami’] of Harran. He asked the Shaikh to accept him as a a committed disciple, but the Shaikh said to him: “You seem to bear the stamp of someone other than myself.” “Yes,” he replied, “I did invoke the name of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), but I did not receive a tattered robe [khirqa] from him, nor from anyone else.”

Shaikh Hayat then said: “We lived for a long time in the protective shade of the life of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), and we have drunk salubrious goblets from the fountains of his spiritual insight [‘irfan]. The breath of truthfulness emanated from him, and the rays of his light blazed on all the horizons. Those who experienced spiritual states [ashab al-ahwal] were thereby enabled to glean secrets from him, in accordance with their levels of development. Then, when he received the commandment to declare: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,’ Allah (Exalted is He) provided all the saints with even more light in their hearts, with even more blessed grace in their stores of knowledge, and with even higher advancement in their spiritual states, through the blessed grace of their lowering of their heads.

“Now he has passed on to Allah (Exalted is He), attired in the splendid garb of his predecessors, among the Prophets [Nabiyyin], the champions of the Truth [siddiqin], the martyrs [shuhada’] and the righteous [salihin]. May Allah be well pleased with them, each and every one!”

Shaikh Lu’lu’ al-Armani [the Armenian] used to speak while having to gasp for breath. He once said: “When Shaikh Abu ‘l-Khair ‘Ata’ al-Misri noticed the intense effort I was making, he said to himself: ‘To which of the Shaikhs is he affiliated, I wonder?’ I knew what he was thinking, so I told him: ‘O ‘Ata’, my own Shaikh is Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, the one who declared: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,” and to whom three hundred and thirteen saints of Allah bowed their heads, on all the horizons of the earth. At that very moment, seventeen of them were at the two Noble Sanctuaries [Haramain], while sixty were in ‘Iraq, forty in Persia, thirty in Syria, twenty in Egypt, twenty-seven in the Far West, eleven in Ethiopia, seven at the Dam of Gog and Magog [Sadd Juj wa Majuj], seven in the Valley of Sri Lanka [Wadi Sarandib], forty-seven on Mount Qaf, and twenty-four on the islands of the great encircling ocean.

“‘More than one of them asserted that Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir did not utter this declaration without having received a command [from the Lord] to do so. Among those who made this assertion are:

*Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir *Shaikh Abu Sa’id al-Qailawi *Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti *Shaikh Ahmad ibn ar-Rifa’i *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Basri *Shaikh Hayat al-Harrani. “‘They also maintained that he was given permission to dismiss [from their position of sainthood] any of the saints [awliya’] who might find fault with him for making his declaration.’”

According to another report, Shaikh Lu’lu’ al-Armani said: “I saw the saints in the East and the West, all bowing their heads in profound humility, with the solitary exception of a man in Persia. He did not do it, so his spiritual state evaporated and deserted him. Among those Shaikhs who did bend their necks at that moment, we should mention:

*Shaikh Baqa ibn Batu *Shaikh Abu Sa’id al-Qailawi *Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti *Shaikh Ahmad ibn ar-Rifa’i, who stretched out his nape and exclaimed: ‘[That foot is] upon my neck!’ When someone asked him what he was doing, he explained: ‘Just now, in Baghdad, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir has declared: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.”‘ *Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman at-Tafsunji *Shaikh Abu ‘n-Najib as-Suhrawardi, who tilted his head so low that it almost touched the ground, as he exclaimed: ‘[That foot is] upon my head!’ *Shaikh Musa az-Zuwali *Shaikh Hayat al-Harrani *Shaikh Abu Muhammad ibn ‘Abd *Shaikh Abu ‘Umar wa ‘Uthman ibn Marzuq *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Karam *Shaikh Majid al-Kurdi *Shaikh Suwaid an-Najjari *Shaikh Raslan ad-Dimashqi, who bent his neck in Damascus, and told his companions about what had happened. Then he said: ‘To Allah be attributed the excellence of one who drinks from the oceans of holiness [quds], who sits on the carpet of intimate knowledge [ma’rifa], and who witnesses the mystery of the magnification of Lordship [Rububiyya] and the glorification of Uniqueness [Wahdaniyya], so that his personal nature is annihilated in the beholding of Grandeur [Kibriya’], and his personal existence becomes extinct in the direct experience of reverential awe. For upon him is conferred the garment of intimate friendship [uns], and he ascends through the degrees of providence [‘inaya], until he reaches the station of the permanent abode [maqam al-qarar], and is wafted to the spot made fragrant by the breezes of the Spirit of Eternity [Ruh al-Azaliyya]. Then he utters words of wisdom from the sources of radiant lights, and, in the deepest folds of his innermost being [sirr], he mingles with the hidden mysteries. He is in the state of present awareness as long as he is conscious, and in the state of consciousness even when his ordinary faculties are obliterated. He maintains an attitude of modesty, rejoices in well-mannered behavior, and speaks with humility. He acts boldly when the need arises, and approaches every individual with specific care and attention. He receives his guests with respectful hospitality, for his Lord has endowed him with the most excellent greeting and salutation.’ When someone asked Shaikh Raslan: ‘Are there any in existence who match this description?’ he replied: ‘Yes indeed, and Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) is their leader!’

*Shaikh Abu Madin al-Maghribi, who inclined his neck to the West [Maghrib] and said: ‘Yes, and I am one of them. O Allah, I call upon You to bear witness, and I call upon the angels to bear witness, that I have heard and obeyed!’ *Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Maghribi *Shaikh Abu ‘Umar wa ‘Uthman ibn Marwaza al-Bata’ihi *Shaikh Mukarim *Shaikh Khalifa *Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir. “It is also worth noting that, at the time of the Shaikh’s pronouncement, a company of saintly beings became visible on all the horizons, flying toward him at the command of al-Khidr (peace be upon him), in order to be present for that special occasion.

“From that time on, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir was addressed by the saints [awliya’], after the initial greeting of felicitation, with salutations like:

*O King of the Age! *O Commander of the Realm! *O Viceroy by the Command of the All-Merciful [ar-Rahman]! *O Inheritor of the Book of Allah, and Deputy of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace)! *O he for whom the heaven and the earth are spread as his table [ma’ida]! *O he for whom all the people of his time are his own household! *O he for whom the rain descends in answer to his prayer, and the udders flow with milk through his blessed grace!

“They never presented themselves in his company without bowing their heads. As for the invisible contingent [ghaibiyya], its members stood in front of him in rows, with seventy men to each row. He bore an inscription on the palm of his hand, stating that he had received a firm assurance from Allah, to the effect that He would never treat him craftily. The angels were constantly walking around him, when he was only ten years of age, hailing him with the good tidings of sainthood [wilaya].” (Here ends this report.)

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir uses his staff to check the rising level of the River Tigris.

The level of the River Tigris [ad-Dijla] kept rising for several years in succession, until it threatened to flood the city of Baghdad. The townspeople were thoroughly convinced that disaster was close at hand, so they came to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), appealing to him for help and seeking refuge with him. He responded by picking up his staff, and heading for the bank of the river, where he planted the staff at the water’s edge. “Up to this point, but no higher!” said he. The water-level diminished from that moment on. May Allah be well pleased with him!

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir uses his staff to satisfy a pupil’s curiosity.

It was ‘Abdu’llah adh-Dhayyal who said: “I was standing beside the schoolhouse of Shaikh Muhyi ‘d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), one day in the year [A.H.] 560, when he emerged from his private apartment with a staff in his hand. It occurred to me that he might show me some charismatic power [karama] contained within this staff. ‘Watch this!’ he said to me, with a smile on his face. Then he planted it in the ground, and-lo and behold!-it turned into a light, gleaming ever brighter as it beamed toward the sky, and the whole atmosphere was soon aglow with it. There it remained for a fairly short space of time, then he picked it up, and it returned at once to its previous condition. He turned to me and said: ‘O Dhayyal, was that what you wanted to see?’ May Allah be well pleased with him!”

According to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, there was only one saint of Allah, in his day and age, who belonged to the Hanafi school [madhhab] of Islamic doctrine.

It was Shaikh Abu ‘t-Taqi Muhammad ibn al-Azhar as-Sirafini who said: “I spent one whole year asking Allah (Exalted is He) to let me see one of the men of the Unseen [rijal al-Ghaib]. Then, one night in my dream, I saw myself paying a visit to the tomb of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah be well pleased with him). I noticed a man beside the tomb, and it occurred to me that he might be one of the men of the Unseen. I woke up at that point, and then I conceived the hope of seeing him again in my waking state, so I set out at once and went to the tomb of the Imam. There I saw that very same man, the one I had seen in my dream, so I made haste to perform my visit, in order to catch him before he left. He did leave ahead of me, however, so I followed him until he reached the Tigris. The two edges of the river rolled together for his convenience, until they were no further than a step apart, so he stepped over the narrow gap and passed across to the other side.

“Uttering a solemn oath, I entreated him to pause and speak to me, so he stopped in his tracks, and I said to him: ‘What is your school of Islamic legal doctrine [madhhab]?’ To this he replied: “I am a man of pure faith [hanif], one who has surrendered [to Allah] [muslim], and I am not one of those who attribute partners [to Allah] [mushrikin].’ It occurred to me, as I moved away, that he must belong to the Hanafi school of Islamic doctrine. Then I said to myself: ‘Let me go and visit Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), and tell him about all that I have seen.’ I went at once to his schoolhouse, and stood by his door. He did not open the door, but I heard him calling to me from inside his private apartment: ‘O Muhammad, nowhere on earth, from the East to the West in this day and age, is there any saint of Allah (Exalted is He) who belongs to the Hanafi school of Islamic doctrine-apart from the one you encountered (may Allah be well pleased with him).’”

Here ends the excerpt from “Necklaces of Gems”, which has been presented in 10 parts.  It comprises about one third of the biography of the Shaikh.May Allah be pleased with him! I would recommend everyone to purchase the book you can make purchase By clicking here

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