Abdul Qadir Gilani: The Rose of Baghdad

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Abdul Qader Gilani

The prolific name of Abdul Qadir Gilani is very much well known in among the pious Muslims. His admirers call him Muḥyī l-Dīn Abū Muḥammad b. Abū Sāliḥ ʿAbdul-Qadir al-Gīlānī al-Ḥasanī wa’l-Ḥusaynī. He was a Hanbali Sufi saint and theologian. He established the famous Qadiriyya tariqa of Sufism.

The early life of Abdul Qadir Gilani

This famous mystic saint was born on 29 Shaban of the 470 AH in the small town of Naif in Iran. His family ancestors belonged to the Sayyid lineage. This traced back to Hasan Ibn Ali, the great-grandson of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). Gilani’s father, Abu Saleh was a respected mystic saint and was known as Jangi dost!

It is said that Abu Saleh had a dream of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), who said to him:

“O my dear Abu Saleh, Allah, Most High has given you a kid who is my beloved son and also the beloved of Allah. His ranking among the Awliya is akin to my rank among the Prophets.”

From his childhood, Abdul Qadir Gilani followed his father’s footsteps to be a great saint. And he became a Muhiyudin, which means the reviver of religion.

The education of the great saint

Gilani was guided by two indisputable Sufi saints of that time, named Shaikh Abu Saeed Mubarak Makhzoomi and Abu’l-Khair Hammad ibn Muslim al-Dabbas. He learned everything from them. Then came his time to join the servitude by the bond of the oath of allegiance. Thus, after learning for eight years and purifying his mind for 25 years, Abdul Qadir Gilani went to the court of Shaikh Abu Saeed to enter the circle of his followers. Everything was happening in Allah’s will. He broke bread with Abu Saeed and ate food from his hands.

Later, he described that incident as enlightening. He said, “ Every morsel which I ate from my spiritual guide’s hand enlightened my soul.”

Then Abu Saeed conferred him the symbol of sainthood and said, “O Abdul Qadir Jilani! This symbol was given to Ali ibn Abi Talib by Prophet Mohammad who gave it to Hasan of Basra and ultimately it reached me after passing from one spiritual leader to the other.”

Thus the spiritual journey of this benevolent mystic started.

His return to Baghdad

In 521 AH, this mystic theologian returned to Baghdad and started preaching to the public. At that time, there was a chaotic condition in the Islamic world. So, at first, people were apprehensive listening to him. But slowly, he won their hearts with simple yet peaceful words.

Previously in Baghdad, he took admission to Madrasa Nizamiya to learn about Islam more. Under the guidance of some best teachers, he reached an excellent level of understanding of our peaceful religion. He studied Fiqah, Tafseer, Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW), Hadith, and Arab Works of literature. He also studied the Hanbali Fiqah under the teaching of Al- Mukharrami.

But this time, he was over 50 years old and he was a saint. His previous teacher, Shaikh Abu Saeed Al-Mukharrami appointed him as Principal of the Madrasa Babul Ajaz, a post which he held for over 30 years.

The Rose of Baghdad

When Gilani came back to Baghdad, it was a crucial and testing time for Muslims all over the world. The Crusade has begun. The Holy Quran was being considered by some as fiction. Gilani single-handedly defeated those miscreants or kafirs.

It is said, many Islamic elites of Baghdad were not happy about his return. They decided to send him a clear message that they don’t want him. They sent a large vessel full of water to represent that Baghdad does not need a new scholar. But, intelligent and philosophical Gilani just plucked a rose and placed it on top of the water. The other scholars were impressed. Thus, they named him “The Rose of Baghdad”.

His lectures were full of knowledge and wisdom. On several occasions, even non-Muslims used to come to listen to his speeches. It is said, Rijaal-ul-Ghalib and Jinns also visited his blessed gatherings.

His voice was very deep and well resonated. The miracle of his Majlis was that each and every person sitting there can hear him equally. The Majlises were so famous that people came to Baghdad from the remotest places also.

The unfortunate demise of Abdul Qadir Gilani

Abdul Qadir Gilani died on 1 Rabi’ al-Thani 561 AH at the age of 92. He was buried in a shrine within his Madrasa in Baghdad. This day is known as Garwin Sharif in Pakistan and India. It is said, just before his death, he continued saying “And may there be peace, blessings and Allah’s Mercy upon you. May Allah forgive us all and may He bestow His Mercy upon us.” It is said, this was his reply to the angels who came to receive Abdul Qadir Gilani on the other side of the world.