By Sadia Dehlvi
Mar 16, 2012
According to the Islamic calendar, this is the fourth month of Rabi al-Thani. It marks the death anniversary of the greatest of Sufi masters, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani. A direct descendant of Prophet Mohammad, he is universally acclaimed as the Master of all Masters, and called Pir Dastgir and Ghaus-ul-Azam for his ecstatic utterance, “My foot is on the neck of every Sufi,” which established his rank as the foremost amongst all Sufis.
The first major Sufi order to be formalised was the Qadri order that was established by Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani in the 12th century. The Qadri order spread to Syria, Turkey, Damascus, Africa, Mauritius, Chechnya and many countries in Asia, including India
After studying theology in Baghdad, the Sufi master from Jilan spent 25 years as a wandering dervish, though the last 12 were spent in seclusion. Countless miracles attributed to Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani include the crushing of mountains, drying of oceans and raising the dead to life. The 12th century was a period of strife between the exponents of Islamic jurisprudence and Sufism, and Shaykh Abdul Qadir struck a balance between them.
At the age of 50, he began to preach in Baghdad where his fame reached incredible heights and thousands attended his sermons. Shaykh Abdul Qadir taught that jihad fought against the self is more important than jihad fought against oppression with the sword.
An often-told story of Shaykh Abdul Qadir is one from his youth when he left Jilan in Persia for Baghdad to pursue his education. His widowed mother sewed 40 gold coins inside his coat for his travels. His caravan had barely reached Hamadan when it was attacked by dacoits. They asked him if he had any money and he truthfully told them of the gold coins hidden in his coat. They ripped his clothes, discovered the coins, and asked why he revealed what they had not found. The teenage mystic told them that before he left home, his mother had instructed him to always be truthful. Moved, the dacoits repented their sins and were amongst his first followers.
The Sufi master is also remembered for his extraordinary spiritual experiences and his memorable sayings and wise teachings. It is said that “he was born in love, grew in perfection and met his Lord in the perfection of love.”
The compilations of his discourses include Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelation of the Unseen), Futuh al-Rabbani (The Sublime Revelation) and Jala al-Khatir (The Removal of Care). They remain important Sufi manuals emphasising that Sufism is all about generosity, cheerfulness, submission, patience, prayers, solitude, poverty, humility, sincerity and truthfulness.
Shaykh Abdul Qadir died at the age of 91 and is buried in Baghdad. His Dargah is visited by millions of people from across the world.
Sadia Dehlvi is author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam
Source: The Asian Age, New Delhi