In the Name of God, the Merciful, the
Shaikh Muhyiddeen Abdul-Qădir Gilăni t (1077-1166), God bless his soul, was the luminary of Baghdăd whose enormous spiritual attainments and contributions to Islămic spiritual science are well renowned .
Since the divine revelations were completed in the Holy Qur'ăn and the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, each era has produced luminaries who testified to the message and gave explanations and guidance to thirsty seekers of knowledge. Among such luminaries came Shaikh Muhyiddeen Abdul-Qădir Gilăni, whose attainments triumph above all as they collectively attest to his exalted station and spiritual role.
Among his recorded and most renowned exhortations are his "Al-Fathu Rabbăni" (i.e., The Endowment of Divine Grace), which is a collection of sixty-eight sermons delivered in the year 1151-1152 in Baghdăd. This volume represents the first thirty -five discourses, and what better way to introduce them than with the Shaikh's own words taken from a letter:
Your heart is a polished mirror. You must wipe it clean of the veils of dust which have gathered upon it, because it is destined to reflect the light of divine secrets... which will fall upon it if you wish for Him, from Him, and with Him... If only the lamp of divine secrets is kindled within your inner self, the rest will come, either all at once or little by little... Then you will see the sun of inner knowledge rising from the horizon of divine reason..."
"Some you already know, some we will tell you here. Read, listen and try to understand."
In an age of self-help books, this compilation of spoken talks addresses the questions of life and existence in clear, practical terms that are both timely and timeless. The concise explanations reverberate like the single, sweet note of a reed flute penetrating the noise and confusion of today's world.
To the reader who is not familiar with Islămic traditions, this book brings a clear explanation of the essence of faith and how to deal with our human existence.
During the 12th century, sufi orders spread throughout the Muslim world, and many people claimed to have reached the state of ultimate truth (haqďqa) and illumination, to have been in communion with their Lord, and claimed that the divine laws of sharď'a and its precepts (fară'idh) were no longer applicable to them. Refuting their claims, Shaikh Abdul-Qădir stated in one of his discourses:
"Omitting any of the prescribed duties of worship (fară'idh) is atheism, and to commit wrongdoing is a sin, because the prescribed laws of worship (sharď'a) are never abrogated in any person's case or under any circumstances." (Al-Fathu Rabbanď, Chapter 11)
Chaos, confusion and innovation spread throughout some of the sufi orders. To such people, Shaikh Abdul-Qădir's words were miraculously effective in transforming the hearts of the of people who heard them, and those who later read them.
The eleventh and the twelfth centuries of Islămic history were known for their extensive research and studies in religious knowledge and science. Theology, religious law, prophetic traditions, and Qur'ănic commentaries were some of the major branches of studies at the universities of Baghdăd. Some of the renowned masters were Imăm Al-Ghazăli (d. 1112), Ibn 'Aqďl (d. 1120), Qădi 'Iyadh Al-Măliki (d. 1115), Abdul-Qădir Girjanď (d. 1178), Jăr-Allăh Zamakhshari (d. 1145), Abu Zakariya Tabrďzi (d. 1109) and many more who became the men of letters and doctors of religious interpretation in the Muslim world for generations to come.
When the essence and true meaning of the Islămic caliphate was lost, many deputies of God's Messenger, upon whom be peace, and preachers of the truth stood to renew the call to the people. They reminded them of their covenant with God Almighty and His Messenger, upon whom be peace, drawing the beauty and sweetness of Islăm into the hearts of the believers, calling them to devotion and obedience to God's command, and spreading the message and encouraging them to preserve their faith. Among these blessed servants of God Almighty were Al-Hassan Al-Basri, Al-Fadhil Bin 'Iyăd, Ma'rouf Al-Karkhi and others, may God Almighty be pleased with them forever.
Shaikh Abu Muhammad Muhyiddeen Abdul-Qădir Gilăni was born in the city of Jilăn, in the northwestern part of Persia, in the year 1077. Guided by the hand of providence, he entered the city of Baghdad in 1095 at the age of eighteen to seek knowledge. Incidentally, this was the year in which Imăm Al-Ghazăli left Baghdad in his quest for greater spiritual knowledge.
To satisfy his thirst for knowledge, Shaikh Abdul-Qădir went to nearly every renowned shaikh of the time including, Shaikh Abul Wafă' Ibn 'Aqďl, Shaikh Muhammad Bin Al-Hassan Al-Baqlăni and Abu Zakariya Tabrďzi. He learned the tariqa at the hands of Shaikh Hammad Bin Muslim Al-Dabbas, then completed his initiation at the hands of Shaikh Qădi Abi Sa'ďd Al-Mukhrami (d. 1127), a renowned shaikh who was the headmaster and teacher of seekers on the path, under whom many of the renowned shaikhs of Baghdăd had studied. Also known as Shaikh Al-Mubarak Sa'ďd bin Al-Hassan, he was the one who handed down the order's traditional cloak (sijjăda) to Shaikh Abdul-Qădir Gilăni who was then over fifty years old. Shaikh Sa'ďd also commissioned him to head his then modest fellowship and school in Baghdad. Shaikh Abi Sa'ďd once said: "Shaikh Abdul Qadir received the cloak at my hand, but in fact, I also received my cloak at his hand." The school became known as the fellowship, also known as the Madrasa of Shaikh Muhyiddeen Abdul Qadir Gilăni.
He once related: "At the beginning only two or three people came to hear me, then others heard about me and the place was soon crowded. After that, I used to sit in the mosque at băb al-hilba, which became too small to handle the large crowds of people who would to come even at night, carrying candles and torches to see their way. My chair then was carried to the main street, then to the outskirts of the city, which became the new gathering place. People would come on foot, on horses, mules, mares, and camels. You could see them standing in a huge circle numbering nearly seventy thousand at some meetings."
His regular meetings gathered more than four hundred scribes. Shaikh Al-Sha'răni described Shaikh Abdul Qădir's fellowship (tarďqa) as follows: "His practice was based on the foundation of God Almighty's Oneness (tawhďd) in description, jurisdiction, and performance." He used to address his companions saying: "Follow and do not invent; obey and do not pervert." (Futüh Al-Ghaib, Chapter 1 ). "If you find in yourself a failure to comply with an obligatory precept of the sharď'a, then you should realize that satan has played a trick on you and allured you." (Al-Tabaqăt Al-Kubră, page 129). He firmly stated: "Any 'truth' (haqďqa) which is not supported by the active testimony of the divine laws (sharď'a) is atheism" (Al-Fathu Rabbăni, p. 152).
Shaikh Abdul-Qădir spoke in thirteen different religious sciences, including Qur'ănic commentaries, prophetic traditions, theology, religious laws, the science of hadďth, sďra (the leading example and history of the Prophet's life), grammar and philology, among other branches of religious science. In the afternoons, he would read the Holy Qur'ăn in the seven different recitation forms. He also would deliver legal opinions in religious matters (fatwă) including interpretation of the Shăfi'i and Hanbali schools of thought. He himself followed the school of Imăm Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.
Describing his tarďqa, Ibn Rajab once related: "He strictly followed the precepts of the Prophetic sunnah in any commentaries concerning the divine attributes (sifăt), the divine decree (qadar) and other related subjects, and he was vehement in responding to those who followed other interpretations."
In his greatness, he stood humbly with children and servants and spoke kindly to them. He frequently sat in the company of poor people and befriended them, stroking their shoulders. He never knocked at the door of any minister or sultan. When the Caliph or his ministers visited him, he would leave the room before their arrival, then afterwards reenter to avoid standing up for them.
In his book Qală'idul Jawăhir, Harăda described him as follows: "I have never seen anyone of better character, more magnanimous, more generous, kinder at heart, more trustworthy or loyal to his promise and friendships than our master, Shaikh Abdul-Qădir. Despite his revered status, profound knowledge and exalted station, he would stand and converse with the common people, honor the elders, initiate greetings, sit with the meek and humble himself to the poor."
Imăm Al-Hăfiz Abu Abdullăh Al-Birzălď described him as follows: "His prayers were always answered. He was easily inclined to shed tears, contemplative, and continually invoking God's remembrance. He was cheerful, generous, and magnanimous. He possessed vast knowledge, honorable character, and maintained an ever increasing devotion and steadfastness in his studies."
The grand mufti of Baghdăd, Abu Abdullăh Al-Baghdădi, described him saying: "He was the furthest person from wrongdoing and the closest to righteousness. He was the bravest in standing for the truth in regard to God's rights on us. He never got angry for himself and never took the side of anyone except his Lord."
Ibn Kathďr described the admonitions of Shaikh Abdul-Qădir saying: "He enjoined the people to do what is good and to abstain from what is evil. His admonitions addressed caliphs, ministers, people in authority, judges, companions and the masses. Standing in the pulpits of the mosques, he reprimanded them in the presence of witnesses, as well as during his public addresses. He disavowed the civil appointment of any unjust person, chose God's blessings over anyone else's wrath, and was not affected by any reproach."
In the book Qală'idul Jawăhir, it is related: "When the Caliph Al-Muqtadď li-Amrillăh appointed Judge Abil-Wafă', Yahyă Bin Sa'ďd Al-Muzaffar, who was known to be an unjust person to fill the position of chief justice, Shaikh Abdul-Qădir stood on the pulpit of the grand mosque in Baghdăd during his Friday sermon (khutba), and addressed the Caliph saying:
"You have appointed the worst of the unjust ones to judge over the Muslims! What will be your answer tomorrow before the Lord of the universes, the most merciful of the merciful ones?" The Caliph shook in fear at hearing that, cried, and immediately dismissed the aforementioned judge.
As the Shaikh of Baghdăd, then the capital of the caliphate, he was distressed by the degenerating moral behavior of society. He fought in every way to vanquish hypocrisy and wickedness and called upon the people to return to the judgment of the Book and the leading example of the Prophet, upon whom be peace. He was an Imăm who was able to bind the Muslim society back together and help it to cleanse itself from evil. In fact, it was God Almighty's design, work and mercy that made it all possible, for what comes from God will remain and what comes from anyone else will vanish. As the teachings of Shaikh Abdul-Qădir spred over the land, he taught and appointed many deputies to carry the work from the East to the West.
He reopened the door for the renewal of one's covenant with God Almighty, and Muslims came forward in crowds to repent, agreeing not to associate partners with God Almighty, not to deny God's favors, not to reject the faith, not to create divisiveness, not to invent new ways of life, not to introduce new ideas into God's perfect religion, not to be unjust, not to neglect what God Almighty enjoined upon them, not to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the world, and not to forget the hereafter.
His students were among the poor and the rich, the ruler and the subject, and after their repentance and renewing their faith, they followed his teachings with great love, sincerity and devotion, and thus regained their dignity and integrity as human beings. For over half a century, Shaikh Abdul-Qădir was able by God's leave to revive an entire generation, and the repercussions of such work are still being felt.
Shaikh Abdul-Qădirtcalled upon the people to correct themselves, to cleanse their hearts, to dispel the love of the world from their hearts and instead to fill them with the love of God Almighty. He exhort them to follow the Messenger, upon whom be peace, to abstain from affectation, to dispel arrogance, hatred, jealousy, envy, perfidy, hypocrisy and falsehood. He called upon them to break their attachments to the world and dependence on its patrons, and instead turn to God Almighty for all their needs, for He is the Sustainer and Cherisher of the universes.
Shaikh Abdul-Qădir stated in one of his talks: "The walls of the religion of Muhammad, upon whom be peace, are falling and its foundation is cracking. Let us come together, O people of the earth, and rebuild what was ruined, reestablish what fell! This is not acceptable! O Sun! O Moon! O Day! All of you come! O ye people! Islăm is crying for help, holding its hands over its head in distress from these profligates and insolent ones, from those inventors, perverts and heedless ones, the unjust ones, the tyrants, those who wear forged garments of theologians and claim to have knowledge which they do not possess!"
O Man! How hardened is your heart! Even a dog serves his master! He guards him, accompanies him in the fields and hunts for him, guards his herd and looks up to him with loyalty and hope that his master may give him a couple of bites from his dinner or put something aside for later. Ponder on that and compare it with your fate.
He objected strongly to people who did not care to work to earn their livelihood, who lived dependent on others' donations, and encouraged people
to earn their livelihood with their own sweat.
In his book Zail Tabaqãt Al-Hanãbila, Ibn Rajab quoted
Shaykh Muwaffaq Al-Deen, author of the book Al-Maghni, saying: "I have
never heard of anyone having as many noble deeds and miraculous blessings
(karãmãt) as those attributed to Shaykh Abdul Qãdir."
This book will bring about a clear understanding of true Islãm
for Muslims, the average reader, as well as for scholars in the domain
of comparative religious studies. It will open the reader's eyes to a higher
vision and explain in clear terms the path of success on this spiritual
al-faqir Shaykh Muhammad Al-Akili
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