Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Necklaces of Gems – Part 8

Posted on: September 1, 2009


Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir thumbs through a book on philosophy, and it turns into a well-known work on the Qur’an.

We owe this next report to Shaikh al-Muzaffar Mansur ibn al-Mubarak al-Wasiti, commonly known by the nickname al-Judada [Fruit of the Palm Tree]. He said:

“Once, while I was still a young man, I entered the presence of Shaikh Muhyi ‘d-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), together with a large group. I had with me a book that dealt with questions of abstract philosophy [falsafa] and the speculative sciences of spirituality [‘ulum ar-ruhaniyyat]. As soon as we entered his presence, the Shaikh spoke to me–to me personally, not to the group as a whole-and before he had examined the book, or asked me about its contents, he said: ‘That book of yours is a bad companion. You had better go and give it a thorough wash!” I reacted to this by deciding to leave his presence, drop the book into some receptacle or other, and then refrain from carrying it with me after that, for fear of offending the Shaikh. My lower self [nafs] could not accept the idea of giving it a wash, because I had developed quite a fondness for it, and some of its theories and principles had stimulated my intellectual curiosity. I was about to get up and leave, intending to carry out this plan of action, but the Shaikh gave me such a stare, like someone regarding me with incredulous amazement, that I simply could not get up.

“I felt trapped in a state of paralysis, but then he said to me: ‘Hand me that book of yours!’ So I opened it, and lo and behold, there was nothing inside it but blank paper, with not a single letter written on it! I gave it to the Shaikh, and he thumbed through its pages, then he said: ‘This is the Book of the Excellent Merits of the Qur’an [Kitab Fada’il al-Qur’an], by Ibn ad-Zaris Muhammad.’ When he handed it back to me, I saw that it was indeed the Book of the Excellent Merits of the Qur’an [Kitab Fada’il al-Qur’an], by Ibn ad-Zaris Muhammad, written in a most handsome calligraphic script!

“The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) then said to me: ‘Are you ready to turn in repentance from saying with your tongue what is not in your heart?’ I said: ‘Yes, O my master,’ so he told me to stand up. I obediently rose to my feet, and I had forgotten all about philosophy and the principles of spirituality! They had been totally erased from my inner being [batin], as if they had never captured my interest.”

A braggart benefits from Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s intercesssion.

Shaikh al-Muzaffar al-Judada also said: “I once saw Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) reclining on a cushion. While he was in that position, someone said to him: ‘So-and-so’-the speaker actually mentioned the name of a man who was quite famous, at that time, for charismatic talents [karamat], worship in secluded retreats, pious abstinence, and acts of obedient service–’is reported as having said: “I have already surpassed the spiritual station of Jonah, the son of Amittai [Yunus ibn Mattai], the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him).”‘ When the Shaikh heard this, an angry expression appeared on his face, then he sat upright, grasped the cushion with his hand, and tossed it in front of him. ‘That has given him a heart attack!’ he exclaimed.

“Some of us got up at once, and rushed off to see how the man was. We found that he had suffered a fatal stroke at that moment, although he had previously been perfectly fit and well, with no kind of health problem whatsoever. Then I saw him again in a dream, and his condition was fine, so I said to him: ‘How has Allah treated you?’ To this he replied: ‘He has forgiven me, and I have obtained pardon from His Prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai [Yunus ibn Mattai], for what I said about him. It was my master, ‘Abd al-Qadir, who acted as my intercessor [shafi’] with Allah, and also with Jonah, the son of Amittai [Yunus ibn Mattai], and I have received much benefit through the blessed grace of the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him).'”

Profound impressions left by Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, as described by some of those who met him.

It was Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abi ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali al-Bata’ihi ar-Rifa’i who said: “I made my way to Baghdad, and spent time there in the company of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah’s peace be upon him). I was truly astonished by what I observed of his spiritual state, the freedom of his heart from all attachment, and the sheer clarity of his innermost being [sirr]. When I returned home to Umm ‘Ubaida, I told my maternal uncle, Shaikh Ahmad, about that, and he said: ‘O my son, who can match the aptitude of ‘Abd al-Qadir, and what he is about, and that to which he has attained?'”

As we are told by Abu Muhammad al-Hasan: “I once heard Shaikh ‘Ali al-Qurashi tell a man: ‘If you had seen Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, you would have seen a man whose personal strength had vanished on his path to his Lord. The strengths of the people of the Spiritual Path [Tariqa] are intense commitment and persistence, and his path was the way of the affirmation of Divine Oneness [tawhid], in character, in principle, and in actual condition. His pursuit of the Truth was in accordance with the Sacred Law [Shar’], both outwardly [zahiran] and inwardly [batinan]. His attributes were a heart free from all attachment, a state of absence [from the world of creatures], and the direct contemplation of a Present Lord, with an inner content [sarira] undisturbed by doubts, an innermost being [sirr] uncontested by rivals [to Allah], and a heart undivided by remnants [of worldly interest]. The Greatest Sovereignty [al-Malakut al-Akbar] was set behind him, and the Supreme Kingdom [al-Mulk al-A’zam] beneath his foot. May Allah be well pleased with him!'”

An earlier Shaikh predicts that Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir will be one of the eight mainstays [awtad] of ‘Iraq.

It was Shaikh Muhammad ash-Shanbaki who said: “I once heard our Shaikh Abu Bakr ibn Hawara say: ‘The mainstays [awtad] of ‘Iraq are eight in number, namely: (1) Ma’ruf al-Karkhi; (2) Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal; (3) Bishr al-Hafi; (4) Mansur ibn ‘Ammar; (5) al-Junaid; (6) as-Sari [as-Saqati]; (7) Sahl ibn ‘Abdi’llah at-Tustari; and (8) ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.’

“‘When I asked him: “And who is ‘Abd al-Qadir?” he replied: “A noble Persian [‘Ajami] who will settle in Baghdad. His appearance on the scene will occur in the fifth century [of the Hijra]. He will be one of the champions of the Truth [siddiqin], the mainstays [awtad], the unique individuals [afrad], the outstanding figures [a’yan] of this world, and the cardinal poles [aqtab] of the age.'”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) comes riding through the air. along with Moses (peace be upon him), and confers a robe of honor upon Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir.

Our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him), once said: “I saw Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) in Baghdad, while I was at the lectern. He was mounted on a riding beast, and Moses (peace be upon him) was riding by his side. ‘O Moses,’ he said, ‘Is there, in your community [umma], any man such as this one here?’ The answer was ‘No!’ so he said to me: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, [did you hear that?]!’ He was airborne, so he embraced me, lifted me up, and conferred upon me a robe of honor [khil’a] that he had been wearing. He said: ‘This is the robe of honor that marks the rank of Cardinal Poleship [Qutbiyya] over the men of valor and the spiritual deputies [ar-rijal wa ‘l-abdal].’ Then he spat in my mouth three times, before returning me to the pulpit. I thereupon intoned these verses of poetry:

I shall sip that drink in every chapel and synagogue, and demonstrate my religion and my doctrine to the lovers. For the sake of its goblets, I shall beat the tambourine on the rooftop, in plain view, not hiding away in the corners.

[sa-ashrabu-ha fi kulli dairin wa bi’atin wa uzhiru li’l-‘ushshaqi dini wa madhhabi wa adribu fawqa ‘l-sathi bi’d-duffi jilwatan li-kasati-ha la fi ‘z-zawayati mukhtabi.]

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is extolled by a Shaikh whose name means “Twig of the Fragrant Ben-tree.”

It was al-Khadir al-Husaini al-Mawsili who said: “I once noticed that Shaikh Qadib al-Ban [‘Twig of the Fragrant Ben-tree’] al-Mawsili (may Allah be well pleased with him) was behaving with abject humility and self-belittlement, and I heard him say: ‘Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) is the leader of the caravan of the lovers [of the Lord] [muhibbin], the exemplary guide of the spiritual wayfarers [salikin], the Imam of the champions of the Truth [siddiqin], the living proof of those who know by direct experience [‘arifin], and the bosom of those who are brought near [muqarrabin], in this day and age, and of the generation that will succeed them. May Allah be well pleased with him!'”

Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir declares, in the presence of most of the Shaikhs of ‘Iraq: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.”

We owe this next report to al-Hafiz Abu ‘l-‘Izz ‘Abd al-Mughith ibn Harb al-Baghdadi, among others, who said:

“We were present at the regular session [majlis] held by Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili, at his guesthouse [ribat] in the Racetrack district [al-Halba] of Baghdad. Most of the Shaikhs of ‘Iraq were in attendance at his session on that particular day, including all those in the following list:

*Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Haiti *Shaikh Baqa ibn ibn Batu *Shaikh Abu Sa’id al-Qilawi *Shaikh Musa ibn Mahin (some say: Mahan) *Shaikh Abu ‘n-Najib as-Suhrawardi *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Karam *Shaikh Abu ‘Umar wa ‘Uthman al-Qurashi *Shaikh Mukarim al-Akbar [the Senior] *Shaikh Matir *Shaikh Jagir *Shaikh Khalifa *Shaikh Sadaqa *Shaikh Yahya al-Murta’ish *Shaikh ad-Ziya Ibrahim al-Jawni *Shaikh Abu ‘Abdi’llah Muhammad al-Qazwini *Shaikh Abu ‘Umar wa ‘Uthman al-Bata’ihi *Shaikh Qadib al-Ban *Shaikh Abu ‘l-‘Abbas Ahmad al-Yamani *Shaikh Abu ‘l-‘Abbas ash-Shawki (said to be one of those remarkable men who travel by invisible means of transport) *Shaikh Sultan al-Muzayyin *Shaikh Abu Bakr ash-Shaibani *Shaikh Abu ‘l-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Ustadh *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Kawsaj *Shaikh Mubarak al-Humairi *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Barakat *Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Baghdadi *Shaikh Abu ‘s-Sa’ud al-‘Attar *Shaikh Abu ‘Abdi’llah al-Awani *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Bazzar *Shaikh Shihab ‘Umar as-Suhrawardi *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Baqa al-Baqqal *Shaikh Abu Hafs al-Ghazali *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Farisi *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Ya’qubi *Shaikh Abu Hafs al-Kimani *Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Muzayyin *Shaikh Jamil Sahib al-Khatwa wa ‘z-Za’qa [‘Owner of the Stride and the Scream’] *Shaikh Abu ‘Amr as-Sirafini *Shaikh Abu ‘l-Hasan al-Jawsaqi *Shaikh Abu Muhammad al-Huraimi *Shaikh al-Qadi [the Judge] Abu Ya’la al-Farra’.

“Many others were also in attendance, along with those mentioned above. When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir addressed them, his heart was present in full awareness, as he declared: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah [qadami hadhihi ‘ala raqabati kulli waliyyin li’llah].’

“Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti sprang to his feet at once, then climbed the steps up to the lectern, where he grasped the Shaikh’s foot and set in upon his neck, as he placed his head beneath the hem of the Shaikh’s robe. All of those present extended their necks in this same manner.”

Questions and answers concerning the true nature and significance of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s declaration: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.”

It was Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Abi ‘l-Barakat Sakhr ibn Sakhr ibn Musafir who said: “My father Sakhr told me: ‘I said to my paternal uncle, Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir (may Allah be well pleased with him): “Of all the preeminent Shaikhs, do you know of any other, apart from Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, who has ever said: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah’?” He told me that he knew of no other, so I asked him: “What is the meaning of it?” He said: “It represents an explicit declaration concerning the station of uniqueness [fardiyya], which he occupied in his era.” I then went on to ask: “Does each era have its own unique individual [fard]?” “Yes, it does,” said he, “but no one has been commanded to utter this declaration, apart from Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him).” “Do you mean to say,” I asked, “that he was commanded to make the pronouncement?” “Yes,” my uncle replied, “he received a command [from the Lord], and they all lowered their heads to the place of the command. As you must surely know, when the angels (peace be upon them) bowed down in prostration to Adam, they only did so because they received the command [from their Lord] precisely to that effect.”‘”

It was Shaikh Baqa ibn Batu an-Nahrumulki who said: “When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir declared: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,’ Shaikh Ibrahim al-‘Azab, the son of Shaikh Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali ar-Rifa’i al-Bata’ihi (may Allah be well pleased with him), said:

“‘My father said to my maternal uncle, Shaikh Ahmad ar-Rifa’i: “Did Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) say: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah (Exalted is He)’ in obedience to a command [from his Lord], or without having received a command ?” To this my uncle replied: “Of course he said it in obedience to a command! May Allah be well pleased with him!”‘”

From a report transmitted by a reliable chain of authorities [isnad], we learn that Abu Bakr ibn Hawara (may Allah grant us the benefit of his spiritual influence) said one day, during the session he was holding with his companions:

“Someone very special is going to appear in ‘Iraq, at some time in the future. A man from among the Persians, he will be endowed with high status in the sight of Allah, as well as in the sight of his fellow human beings. His name will be ‘Abd al-Qadir, and his residence will be in Baghdad. He will declare: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah,’ and all the saints [awliya’] in his generation will pay allegiance to that unique individual, in his own day and age.”

The Shaikh al-Islam, Shihab ad-Din Ahmad ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (may Allah cover him with His mercy) was once asked to explain the meaning of the pronouncement uttered by our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him): ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.’ He responded (may Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him) by delivering a speech, the whole text of which would take up many pages, but the gist of it is contained in the following passage:

“The occurrence of supernatural events [khawariq] can indeed be experienced by the human being. That is a fact, and a fact that only the stubbornly pigheaded would attempt to refute. Our leading authorities have propounded a standard criterion, applicable to supernatural experiences, whereby the distinction can be drawn between that which is genuine and that which is spurious. They have stated that, if the experience happens to-or emerges from-the person concerned, in the correct and straightforward manner, it constitutes a charismatic gift [karama], as in the case of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir.”

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