Qala'id Al-Jawahir - 2

Necklaces of Gems

Part 2


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]."


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