THE EARLY LIFE OF SULTANUL AWLIYA HAZRAT SHAIKH SAYYID ABDUL QADIR JILANI
The birth of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam was a great blessing to the Ummah. It was the arrival of Sultanul Awliya (King of the Awliya), which had been foretold for centuries before his birth. He was born on the eve of the 1st of Ramadaan 470 Hijri in the city of Jilan and was blessed to his mother at an age when women are usually unable to have children. Sayyida Ummul Khair Fathima was sixty years old when Sarkaar-e-Ghaus-e-Azam was born. This alone was one of the astonishing incidents related to the birth of the great saint.
He is a descendant of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (Peace and Blessing be upon Him) from both his mother"s and father"s side. He is Hassani from his father and Hussaini from his mother. His father"s name was Sayyid Abu Saleh Moosa and his mother"s name was Sayyida Ummul Khair Fathima.
MIRACULOUS EVENTS SURROUNDING HIS BLESSED BIRTH:
There were various miraculous events which occurred at the birth of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam. Hazrat Sayyiduna Shahabudeen Suharwardi quoted the following five miracles in his distinguished book, Manaqib-e-Ghausia:
(1) On the eve of the birth of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam, his father, Sayyid Abu Saleh, saw in his dream, the Beloved Rasool (Peace and Blessing be upon Him) who gave him the following glad tiding, “O Abu Saleh, Almighty Allah has blessed you with a pious son. He is my beloved and the beloved of Almighty Allah and he is the most exalted amongst the Awliya and Aqtaab.”
(2) When he was born, he had the impression of the footprint of Rasoolullah (Peace and Blessing be upon Him) on his shoulder. This alone was the proof of his Wilaayat (Sainthood).
(3) Almighty Allah gave glad tidings to his parents in their dream that their son would be the Sultanul Awliyah and those who oppose him would be mislead (Gumrah).
(4) On the eve of his birth eleven hundred males were born in Jilan and every one of them became a Wali of Allah.
(5) He was born on the eve of Ramadaan. During the entire month of Ramadaan he never drank milk after the time of Sehri and before the time of Iftar i.e. he kept fast from the day he was born. His blessed mother says that he would never cry for milk the entire day and would only take milk at the time of Iftar.
VOICE FROM THE UNSEEN:
Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam was not like other children who spent their time playing and fooling around. From a tender age, he spent his time in the remembrance of Almighty Allah. If he at any time intended to join the other children, then from the unseen a voice would be heard saying, “Come towards Me O blessed one.” At first, on hearing this voice, he would become afraid and go to his mother and sit on her lap. As the time passed, he became accustomed to this voice, and instead of going to his mother, he would abandon the thought of playing and occupy himself in the remembrance of Allah.
ANGELS AT THE MADRASSAH:
When Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam was four and a half years old, his mother enrolled him into a local Madrassah in Jilan. He remained in this Madrassah until the age of ten and during this period an amazing event occurred. Whenever Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam would enter the Madrassah he would see angels walking ahead of him saying, “Give way to the friend of Allah, give way to the friend of Allah.” It was then that he realized that he had been blessed with Wilaayat.
DEMISE OF HIS GRANDFATHER:
The father of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam had passed away when he was very small and he was taken under the care of his illustrious grandfather Hazrat Abdullah Sauma’ee. After the demise of his grandfather, the responsibility of his education fell to his blessed mother. With patience, sincerity and dedication, she fulfilled this responsibility that she had been blessed with. Once, while Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam was about eighteen years old, he went out of his house for a stroll. He walked in the streets of Jilan and found an ox in front of him. He walked behind it for some time, then the animal turned around, and in the language of humans said, “You have not been created for this and you have not been commanded to do this.” On hearing this, he immediately returned home and explained this incident to his mother. He then requested permission to journey to Baghdad in order to complete his academic studies and seek more spiritual knowledge. His mother, who was now seventy-eight years old, without a second thought acceded to this noble request.
HIS MOTHER"S ADVICE:
In those days, people used to travel either by foot or by camel etc. and the roads passed through dense jungles and forests. There was always a danger of travellers being robbed and killed. Knowing all this, she still supported his request and wished him well with her Duas. She then said, “Your marhoom father left eighty dinars, from which I am giving forty dinars to you for your journey and forty dinars I will keep for your younger brother Sayyid Abu Ahmad Abdullah.”She took the forty dinars and sewed them under the arm of his coat. She once again made dua for him and on bidding him farewell gave him the following advice, “O my beloved son, let this advice which I am about to give you be an important part of your life. Always speak the truth and do not even think of lies.” Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam promised to follow this advice and then bid farewell to his blessed mother.
He then joined a caravan which was on its way to Baghdad. In those days, people travelled in groups for the sake of safety. However, their journey took them into a vast forest where they were attacked by sixty robbers. The leader of this band was a very notorious bandit called Ahmad Badawi. The travellers did not have the means to defend themselves against the robbers and were forced to surrender their belongings and valuables to them.
After looting the travellers, the robbers gathered all the loot and began to distribute it amongst themselves. While all this was happening, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam was standing very calmly amongst the travellers. Regarding him as just a young boy, none of the robbers approached him, until one of them decided to do so. He went up to Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam and asked if he had anything valuable. Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam replied by saying that he had in his possession forty dinars. On hearing this, the robber laughed and walked away, thinking that he was lying. After some time another of the robbers asked him the same question and received the same answer. He too dismissed this statement of Ghaus-e-Paak as a joke. When the robbers had gathered, then both these robbers began to joke about the young boy who thought he had forty dinars. On hearing their discussion, their leader Ahmed Badawi asked them to bring this boy to him.
When the great saint was brought before Ahmed Badawi, the latter asked whether he had any valuables in his possession, and the saint replied in the same way as before. When Ahmed Badawi heard this, he asked for the forty dinars. Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam calmly showed him where the dinars were hidden. On tearing open the coat of Ghaus-e-Paak, they found that there were really forty dinars sewn under the arm of the coat. On seeing this, Ahmed Badawi and his accomplices were taken aback. Ahmed Badawi then asked, “O young man, none of us knew that you had any money. Knowing we are bandits, why did you still tell us where the money was hidden?” The young Ghaus-e-Azam replied by saying, “When I had left on this journey, I had promised my elderly and pious mother that I would never lie. How then could I break this promise just for the sake of forty dinars?”
On hearing this, Ahmed Badawi felt great shame and in tears he said, “O young boy, you are so loyal in your promise to your mother, shame on me, that for years I have been disloyal to my promise with my Creator Almighty Allah.” After saying these words, the bandit cried bitterly and then fell to the feet of Sarkaar-e-Ghaus-e-Azam and repented for his sins. When his accomplices saw this, then they too did likewise and repented sincerely from all their sins. They then returned all the belongings of the travellers and escorted them out of the jungle. It has been stated that the tauba (repentance) of these bandits was so sincere, that they were blessed with Wilaayat, through the sadqa of Sarkaar-e-Ghaus-e-Azam.
ARRIVAL AT BAGHDAD:
By the time Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam arrived at Baghdad Shareef, he had already spent the forty dinars given to him by his mother. He therefore began to spend his days in hunger and poverty. After a few days in Baghdad Shareef he enrolled for academic studies at the Jamia Nizamia.
HARDSHIPS FACED DURING STUDIES:
Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam faced many extreme hardships during his studies and he said, “When the hardships and difficulties would become unbearable, then I would lie on the road and continuously recite the verse from the Holy Quran, “Therefore, surely there is ease with hardship. Undoubtedly there is ease with hardship [94:5,6].” With the continuous recitation of this verse I used to find great tranquillity and peace.” After adjourning from classes, he used to wander into the jungles and forests of Baghdad where he used to spend the entire night in the Zikr of Almighty Allah. He did this regardless of the weather conditions or season. If he became tired and weak, he would rest for a while making the ground his bed and a boulder his pillow. During these nights of Zikr, he would wear a small turban and a thin cloak. If he became hungry, he used to go towards the river Euphrates and eat whatever vegetables he could find beside the river. He always said that he gained much pleasure in this way of life and it caused him to gain closeness to Almighty Allah.
PATIENCE DURING A SEVERE DROUGHT:
Once, while he was studying, the city of Baghdad experienced a severe drought. The conditions in Baghdad became so desperate that people became dependant on every grain that they could find. When there was no more grain, people began to eat plants and leaves from trees. During this time, Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani used to also go out in search for food. But when he saw others in search of food, he would return to the city empty-handed, as he did not feel it appropriate to impose by disturbing others whom he thought needed food more than he did. Many days had passed by without him eating.
Due to intense hunger, he was compelled to go out in search of food towards a market in Baghdad. As he entered the market, his hunger had made him so weak and tired, that be could not stand anymore.He saw a Masjid nearby and slowly dragged himself towards it. He entered the Masjid and sat against one of the walls of the Masjid to support his now tired and weak body. He sat there for a while. Then he saw a person enter the Masjid. The person sat in one corner and opened a parcel in which there was fried meat and bread, which he then began to eat. Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani says, “The intensity of my hunger was so great that every time the person lifted a morsel of food to his mouth, my mouth would open uncontrollably with his and would wish that I also had something to eat.”
When this continued happening, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam turned to his nafs and said, “Do not be impatient. Have trust and faith in Almighty Allah.” After saying these words he did not feel this way anymore. After a little while, this person came to Huzoor Ghaus-e-Paak uninvited and offered him some food. He kindly declined, but the person insisted. Upon such insistence, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam joined him in his meal.
Whilst eating, the person asked Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam about himself. He explained to the person that he was from Jilan and that he was in Baghdad to attain knowledge. The person then said that he was also from Jilan and asked if he knew a person by the name of Abdul Qadir Jilani? Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam answered by saying, “My name is Abdul Qadir Jilani.”
When the man heard this, with tears in his eyes, he stood before Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam and said, “Please forgive me for I have misused that which was given to me in trust.” He then said, “When I was leaving Jilan, I met an old woman, who gave me eight dirhams in trust that I should give it to her son, Abdul Qadir, who is studying in Baghdad. O Abdul Qadir! The food that I was eating was from the eight dirhams that your mother had given for you. I had been searching for you but could not find you and due to this, my stay in Baghdad was extended. This caused my money to run out and out of extreme hunger I used some of your money to purchase this food that we ate. O Abdul Qadir! It is not I that fed you, but it is you that fed me. Please forgive me for abusing that which was given to me in trust.” Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam with great gentleness and affection held the stranger to his heart and praised him for his honesty and his sincerity. He then gave the remainder of the food and a portion of the eight dirhams to the stranger and bid him farewell. This incident indicates in clear terms that Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam was concerned more with the needs of others than with those of his own. Notwithstanding his dire need in the circumstances, he remained sensitive to the plight of this stranger. This act of selflessness alone is a lesson in the behaviour that one should adopt.
After all the hardships, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam qualified from Jamia Nizamia, excelling in every subject that he studied. During this period, there was no Aalim present on the earth who was more knowledgeable and pious than Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam.
THE SPIRITUAL STRIVING OF HAZRAT SHAIKH SAYYID ABDUL QADIR JILANI
ATTAINMENT OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE:
After completion of academic studies, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam did not cease in his quest for in-depth spiritual knowledge. To quench this spiritual thirst, Almighty Allah presented him with the opportunity of coming under the guidance of Shaikh Hammaad bin Muslim Ad Dabbaas who was amongst the superior Mashaa’ikh of Baghdad. Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam states, that there came a time in Baghdad when there was abundance of fitna and fasaad (fighting and trouble). Since he did not want any part of this, he decided to leave Baghdad for a more peaceful environment. Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam says, “I made my intention to leave Baghdad due to the unsuitable conditions and was on my way out of Baghdad, when from the unseen, some great strength pushed me so hard, that I fell to the ground. Then from the unseen I heard a voice say, “Do not leave here. The creation of Allah will gain benefit via you.” On hearing this I said, “What do I have to do with the people? All I want is to protect my Deen (Imaan).” The voice then said, “No, it is of utmost importance for you to remain here. No harm will come to your Imaan.” I then immediately changed my mind and for the pleasure of Allah, I remained in Baghdad. The very next day as I was passing through a street, a man opened the door of his house and called to me. He said, “O Abdul Qadir, what did you ask from your Creator yesterday?” With these words and in great Jalaal, he closed the door of his house. I walked for some time and then realised that I had made a grave error, this person was a Wali, if not, he would have not known of what had happened the previous day. I went in search of his door, but was unsuccessful. After this, I would look for him wherever I went, until one day I saw him in a Majlis and from then on I stayed in his company. This personality was Sayyid Hammaad bin Muslim Ad Dabbaas.”
ENDURANCE IN THE PATH OF ALLAH:
By the year 496 A.H., Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam completed his academic and spiritual studies. Thereafter he engaged in Mujahida and Riyaazat (spiritual exercises and endeavours in the path of Allah) from 496 A.H. until 592 A.H., a period of 25 years.
During these 25 years, he engrossed himself in such intense spiritual exercises that just by reading about them one can only but marvel at the dedication of this Great Saint. His sincerity and dedication in controlling his nafs took him swiftly to the levels of “Fana fir Rasool” and “Fana Fillah”. He was now totally drowned in the sea of love of Allah and His Beloved Rasool (Peace and Blessing be upon Him). He turned himself into a strong mountain of patience and firmness that could not be moved. The notable events that took place during this part of his life are numerous. If they are recorded, then this alone would fill volumes. To give us some appreciation of his spiritual condition during these 25 years, a few incidents are quoted hereunder.
SUPPRESSING HIS NAFS:
Once while delivering a lecture, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam said, “For 25 years, I roamed the jungles of Iraq. For 40 years, I performed my Fajr Salaah with the Wudhu of Esha and for 15 years I used to stand on one foot until Fajr and complete (recitation of) the entire Qur’an. During this time, I sometimes spent between three and 40 days without eating even a morsel.” Shaikh Abul Mas’ood bin Abu Bakr Hareemi reports that Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam once said to him, “Year after year, I spent struggling with my nafs by putting myself through various strenuous and intense tests. For one year, I ate only vegetables and drank no water. The following year I only drank water and ate nothing and the year after that, I did not eat and drink for the entire year. There were times when I did not sleep a wink.
During this time I used to put myself through various spiritual exercises. There were times when I would be so drowned in struggling against my nafs, that I used to roll on thorns until my entire body would be severely bruised and cut, and I would become unconscious. People would pick me up and take me to the Haakim. He would certify me dead. Thinking that I was dead, they would prepare for my ghusal and kaffan. When they used to place me on the bathing board to give me ghusl, I used to awake from this spiritual condition and walk away.”
Once Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam stated, “During the early stages of my Mujahida I used to, on many occasions, be unaware of my own condition. I never used to even know where I was and how I got there. Once, in a village close to Baghdad, I entered into such a spiritual condition, which caused me to be totally unaware of my physical self. In this condition, I began to run. When I regained my normal senses, then only did I realize that I had been running for 12 days without stopping. I was amazed at what had happened to me. Then a woman passed by me and said, “You are Shaikh Abdul Qadir. You should not be astonished when something like this happens to you.”
ENCOUNTERS WITH SHAITAAN:
Sayyiduna Ghaus-e-Azam states that during his life he had encountered various attacks from Shaitaan and his partners. Through the assistance of Almighty Allah he was always victorious over Shaitaan. Almighty Allah always protected him from this even when his nafs would try and force him into certain desires. When the Shayateen would attempt with vigour to sway the great Ghaus, he would hear a voice saying, “O Abdul Qadir! Stand firm and challenge them, Our help is with you.” Huzoor Ghaus-e-Paak states that when he used to hear this, then he would stand firmly and challenge the Shayateen and become victorious over them. He says that at times the Shayateen would take daring and frightening forms and come towards him, and he would say in Jalaal, “La Howla walaa Quwatta Ilaa billaahil Aliyil Azeem” and firmly strike the face of the Shaytaan, who would then disappear.Once, Shaitaan came to him in a very ugly form, with a foul odour emanating from its cursed presence. Shaitaan said, “I am Iblees. You have exhausted my students and me in our attempts to mislead you. I would now like to become your servant.” On hearing this, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam said, “O Cursed One! Leave here at once!” After this command Shaytaan still refused to leave. A hand came from the unseen and hit Shaitaan on his head with such force that it caused him to sink into the ground. Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam states, “Once Shaytaan came to me and in his hand he had balls of fire, which he threw towards me. While this was happening, a veiled person on a white horse appeared and gave a sword in my hand. The moment I took the sword in my hand, Shaytaan turned and ran away.”
He further states, “Once, I saw Shaitaan again, but this time in a very sad state. I saw him sitting on the ground putting sand on his head. When he saw me he said, “O Abdul Qadir, you have made me very sad and disillusioned.” I then said, “O Cursed One! Go away! I am always asking for protection from you (in Allah).” On hearing this, he said, “These words hurt me even more.” He then spread enormous amounts of traps around me. I asked what this was and he said, “These are the traps and nets of this world in which we trap people like you.” After this, for one year, I gave thought to these traps of the world until I broke every one of them.”
STEADFASTNESS ON SHARIAH:
After gaining in-depth academic and spiritual knowledge, Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani was not only the most pious and knowledgeable personality, but he was a guiding light to the misguided and a firm mountain when it came to speaking against that which was incorrect. He always said that even until Qiyaamah, none can change the Shariah. Any person who goes against the command of the Shariah is an evil person. His son, Shaikh Ziauddeen Abu Nasr Moosa states the following: “My father, Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani once told me that he was one day making Mujahida in the jungle when he began to feel very thirsty. Suddenly, a cloud appeared above him and drops of cold rainwater fell over him. He drank and quenched his thirst, as this was the Mercy of Allah. He said that after some time another cloud appeared over him giving out light so powerful that the ends of the sky became lit up with its brightness. He said that he then saw a figure in the cloud which said, “O Abdul Qadir! I am your Creator. I have made everything Halaal for you.”
He said that when he heard this, he read the Ta’awooz and the light disappeared immediately and turned into darkness. A voice then said, “O Abdul Qadir! You have been saved because of your knowledge and piety otherwise I have misled many Mystics, with this trap.” Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam answered by saying, “Verily, it is the Grace of my Creator, which is with me and which has saved me from you.” I then asked my father how he had known that this was Shaitaan, and he replied, “His saying that he has made that which is Haraam, Halaal upon me, because Allah Ta’ala does not command wrong.”
FIRMNESS ON HIS WORD: After this incident with Shaitaan, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam continued his striving in the path of Allah with even more faith and piety. He would sit in an old tower on the outskirts of Baghdad where he would make Ibaadat and engross himself in the Zikr of Almighty Allah. Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam himself narrates this incident. He says, “While sitting in the tower outside Baghdad, I once entered into a deep spiritual condition in which I made a vow with Almighty Allah that I will not eat or drink anything unless somebody puts a morsel of food or a drop of water into my mouth with their own hands. After taking this oath, forty days had passed without me eating or drinking anything. After forty days, a stranger arrived with some curry and bread. He placed it in front of me and left. Due to intense hunger, my nafs wanted to have the food, but my soul stopped me and reminded me of my vow with Allah. Then, I heard a huge noise inside me saying, “I am hungry, I am hungry.” I paid no attention towards this as it was my nafs, and I continued making the Zikr of Almighty Allah.
It was during this time that Shaikh Abu Sa’eed Makhzoomi was passing by me. With his spiritual strength, he heard the noise from inside my stomach. He came close to me and said, “O Abdul Qadir! What is this noise?” I replied, “This is the impatience of the nafs, otherwise the soul is satisfied.” He then said, “Come to my house,” and left. In my mind, I said that I would not go until I am made to do so. Just then Hazrat Khidr (Alaihis Salaam) arrived and said, “Stand up and go to the house of Abu Saeed Makhzoomi.” Thus, I stood up and went to the house of Shaikh Abu Sa’eed Makhzoomi and found him standing at the door of his house. On seeing me he said, “O Abdul Qadir! Was my saying not sufficient for you that Hazrat Khidr had to command you to come to my house?” Saying this, he then took me into his house and fed me with his own hands until I had eaten and drank enough.”
May Allah grant us even an atom of the spiritual strength of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam to fight against our nafs and to attain the Pleasure of Almighty Allah.
THE EARLY LIFE OF SULTANUL AWLIYA HAZRAT SHAIKH SAYYID ABDUL QADIR JILANI