The Spiritual Striving of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani Radiallahu Anh
After completion of academic studies, Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) who was amongst the superior Mashaa’ikh of Baghdad. Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh).”
ENDURANCE IN THE PATH OF ALLAH: By the year 496 A.H., Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) reports that Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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.””
MEETING WITH HAZRAT KHIDR (Alaihis Salaam): Sayyiduna Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) states that when he had just commenced his spiritual exercises in the jungles of Baghdad, he met a person who was very handsome and had a pious and bright face. The person asked him if he would like to stay with him. Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said that he would. The person then said that this could only be done if Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) promised to be obedient to his commands, and to never question his sayings or actions. Sayyiduna Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) immediately agreed to this.
This person then commanded Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) to sit at a prescribed spot and not to move until he returned. The person left and only returned after one year to find Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) still seated at the prescribed spot. He spent a few moments with him and then asked him to sit there and wait for him to return once more. This person left and returned after another year. He once again spent some time with the great Saint and then left again giving him the same command as he had done twice before. He returned after another year, this time bringing with him milk and roti (bread). He then said, “I am Hazrat Khidr (Alaihis Salaam) and I have been asked to share this meal with you.” They sat together and ate this blessed meal. Hazrat Khidr (Alaihis Salaam) then asked, “O Abdul Qadir! What did you eat for the three years while sitting in one spot?” He replied, “Whatever the people had thrown away.”
ENCOUNTERS WITH SHAITAAN: Sayyiduna Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh), he would hear a voice saying, “O Abdul Qadir! Stand firm and challenge them, Our help is with you.”
Huzoor Ghaus-e-Paak (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 Shaitaan, 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) states, “Once Shaitaan 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, Shaitaan 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) states the following:
“My father, Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 Sa’eed Makhzoomi (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh).”
Thus, I stood up and went to the house of Shaikh Abu Sa’eed Makhzoomi (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) 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 (Alaihis Salaam) 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.” Subhaanallah!
May Allah Ta’ala grant us even an atom of the spiritual strength of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) to fight against our nafs and to attain the Pleasure of Almighty Allah, Ameen.