Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Necklaces of Gems – Part 9

Posted on: September 1, 2009


Further commentaries on Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s famous declaration.

It was the Provost of the Scholars [Sultan al-‘Ulama’] and Shaikh al-Islam, ‘Izz ad-Din ibn ‘Abd as-Salam, who said: “Of no one’s charismatic talents [karamat] have we received so many reports-one after another in constant succession-as those we have received concerning the charismatic talents of the Sultan of the saints, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him). It is clear that Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir was consciously alert, and that he meticulously observed the rules of the Sacred Law [Shari’a], while calling upon others to observe them, shunning any contravention of them, and engaging the people’s interest in them. He was equally meticulous in his dedication to worshipful service [‘ibada] and the spiritual struggle [mujahada].

“What is even more remarkable, is that he managed to combine all this with active involvement in concerns, such as wives and children, that are usually too distracting to permit such total dedication. If someone is able to follow such a path, he must indeed be closer than others to perfection, especially since it reflects the character of [the Prophet], the Master of the Sacred Law [Sahib ash-Shari’a] (Allah bless him and give him peace).

“This explains why the Shaikh said: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah’-because no one else in his generation is known to have matched him in combining these perfections. The purpose was to emphasize the tremendous importance of his business, and there can be no doubt that such aggrandizement was fully justified. ‘Allah guides whomever He will to a path that is straight.'”

There are some who maintain: “The word ‘foot’ is used figuratively or metaphorically [majazi] in this context, and should not be taken literally [haqiqi], because this metaphorical sense is compatible with good manners, and makes its general application possible. The word ‘foot [qadam]’ is often used as a synonym for ‘path [tariqa],’ as in an expression like: ‘So-and-so is on a praiseworthy foot [qadam hamid],’ that is to say, ‘a praiseworthy path [tariqa hamida]’ or, ‘a splendid performance of worshipful service’ or, ‘a beautiful mode of conduct,’ and so on. [In the case of the Shaikh’s pronouncement] it signifies that his path, his nearness [to the Lord], and his opening [to the bestowal of Divine grace] are at the highest level of any path, nearness and opening, and have reached the ultimate stage of development.

“As for the foot in the literal sense [qadam haqiqi], Allah knows best, but this could hardly be what the Shaikh intended, because of its lack of propriety. It would be improper from several standpoints, including the traditional respect for good manners [adab], on which the Spiritual Path [Tariq] is built, as indicated by al-Junaid and others (may Allah be well pleased with them all). For instance, what is in keeping with the spiritual station of this knower-by-direct-experience [‘arif], this saint [wali] of noble dignity, is that his way of speaking should be as eloquent and as unambiguous as possible. The best interpretation, therefore, is that [metaphorical understanding] explained at the outset.”

According to some, the Shaikh said: “My forehead [qadimi]…,” rather than: “My foot [qadami]…” As for this, and various other suggestions that have been put forward, we can only say that Allah knows best [wa ‘llahu A’lam]. We may discuss what is outwardly apparent, but when it comes to the hidden secrets, Allah knows more than we can ever know. May Allah be well pleased with the Shaikh, and may He grant him contentment.

Shaikh Abu ‘l-Baqa explains why he hesitated at first, before admitting the young Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir into his presence.

Shaikh Matir has told us: “One day, I was in the company of our Shaikh, Abu ‘l-Baqa, at his convent [zawiya] in Qalaminiya, when he said: ‘O Matir, lock the door! There is a young fellow outside, a Persian [A’jami], who is trying to gain admission to my presence, so you must prevent him from doing so!’ I promptly got up to do as I was told, and there, at the door, I saw Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir. He was still at young man at that time, and he was indeed seeking admission to Shaikh Abu ‘l-Baqa’s presence. He requested permission to enter, but our Shaikh denied his request. I noticed that our Shaikh was pacing to and fro inside the convent, like someone in a state of confusion, but then he finally granted permission to the visitor. As soon as he saw him, he took several steps toward him, and the two of them embraced in a long-lasting hug.

“‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir,” our Shaikh said to him, “by the Might and Glory of the One to whom all Might and Glory belong, when I prevented you from entering the first time, it was not because of any rejection of your right and proper due, but rather because of a sense of anxiety about you. But then, as soon as I realized that you would both receive something from me and give something to me, I felt able to relate to you with a strong sense of security.'”

May Allah be well pleased with each of the three Shaikhs mentioned, and may He grant them contentment!

Even while Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir is still a very young man, there are some who clearly foresee his future role.

It was Shaikh ‘Abd ar-Rahman at-Tafsunji who said: “Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir used to come, while he was still a young man, to visit our own Shaikh, Taj al-‘Arifin Abu ‘l-Wafa. As soon as he saw him, our Shaikh would get up from his seat, and say to those present in his company: ‘Stand up, all of you, in honor of the saintly friend [wali] of Allah!’ He would sometimes take several steps toward him, in order to greet him directly. On another occasion, he would say: ‘If anyone has not stood up, let him stand up now, in honor of the saintly friend of Allah!’

“Since this was a recurring pattern of behavior, one of our Shaikh’s companions felt moved to comment on its significance. He said: ‘This young man has arrived on the scene at a time when he is sorely needed, both by the special elite [khass] and by the common people [‘amm]. I seem to have a preview of him, speaking to large audiences in Baghdad. He will be fully justified in saying: “This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.” The necks of all the saints [awliya’] in his day and age will therefore be placed at his disposal, for he will be their Cardinal Pole [Qutb]. Service to him will be incumbent upon every one of them who is still alive when that moment comes.'”

Shaikh Maslama ibn Ni’mat as-Suruji [the Saddler] (may Allah be well pleased with him) gave the following reply to someone who asked him, one day, about the Cardinal Pole [Qutb]. “Who is he?” the questioner wanted to know, so the Shaikh said: “He is presently in Mecca, in a state of concealment, so that none but the righteous [salihun] can recognize him. He will eventually make his public appearance over here.” (The speaker pointed in the direction of ‘Iraq.) “He is a young Persian [A’jami] of noble ancestry, called ‘Abd al-Qadir. He is splendidly endowed with supernatural charismatic talents [karamat khariqat]. He is destined to be the Cardinal Pole [Qutb] of his time, and the Spiritual Helper [Ghawth] of his age. He will eventually speak to large audiences, and he will be fully justified in saying: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.’ All the saints [awliya’] of his era will certainly bow down beneath that foot of his, through which Allah will bestow great benefit upon them. They will also benefit from his charismatic talents [karamat], as will those ordinary people who believe them to be real.” May Allah be well pleased with them both [Shaikh Maslama ibn Ni’mat as-Suruji and Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir].

It was Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti who said: “Our own Shaikh, Abu ‘l-Wafa, was once speaking to the people from up on the lectern, when Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir came in to attend his session [majlis]. Our Shaikh immediately interrupted his speech, and ordered Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir to leave. The visitor went out, and our Shaikh resumed his speech. Then Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir came back to rejoin the session, and again our Shaikh interrupted his speech, and told him to leave. So again he went out, and again our Shaikh resumed his speech. Then Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir came in a third time, but this time Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa descended from the lectern, embraced him, and kissed him between the eyes. He turned to his audience and said: ‘Stand up, all of you, in honor of the saintly friend [wali] of Allah (Exalted is He)!’

“He then went on to explain: ‘O people of Baghdad, when I ordered him to leave, it was not with the intention of insulting him, but rather to ensure that you would take notice of him. For, by the Might and Glory of the One to Whom all worship is due [al-Ma’bud], there are banners hoisted over his head, and their scope extends beyond the East and the West.’ Then he said to him: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, the time belongs to us at present, but it will soon come to be yours. O ‘Abd al-Qadir, they have given you ‘Iraq, and every rooster will sometimes crow and sometimes fall silent, with the sole exception of your rooster, for it will go on crowing till the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama].’ He also presented him with his prayer rug [sajjada], his shirt, his string of prayer-beads [misbaha], his bowl, and his staff. This was a way of saying: ‘Accept him with a solemn commitment!’

“Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa also said: ‘His forehead is marked with the brand of al-Mukharrimi.’ Then, when the session had drawn to a close, Shaikh Taj al-‘Arifin Abu ‘l-Wafa stepped down from the lectern, sat on the lowest stair, gripped the hand of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, and said to him, in the midst of the people crowding around: ‘O ‘Abd al-Qadir, there is a time assigned to you, and when it comes, remember this old graybeard! As he said this, he squeezed his noble hand tightly. May Allah be well pleased with them both!”

Concerning some of the articles which Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa presented to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, ‘Umar al-Bazzaz informs us:

“As for the string of prayer-beads [misbaha] which Shaikh Abu ‘l-Wafa presented to our master, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir, whenever he set it down on the ground, it would rotate by itself, one bead at a time. After he had died, it passed into the possession of Shaikh ‘Ali ibn al-Hiti. As for the bowl which he gave him, whenever someone touched it, that person’s whole arm would shake and tremble, from his hand right up to his shoulders.

It was Shaikh as-Salih Abu Muhammad Yusuf al-‘Aquli who said: “I once made a journey to visit Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir, and as soon as I arrived, he asked me: ‘Where have you come from?’ When I told him: ‘From Baghdad, from among the companions of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir,’ he exclaimed: ‘Bravo, bravo [bakh, bakh] ! That ‘Abd al-Qadir is the Cardinal Pole [Qutb] of the earth, to whom three hundred saints of Allah bowed their necks, as well as seven hundred invisible beings, some of them seated on the earth and some of them flying through the air-all at that one point in time, when he said: ‘This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah.’ That made a profound impression on me.

“Then, after some time had elapsed, I paid a visit to Shaikh Ahmad ar-Rifa’i. I mentioned to him what I had heard on that subject from Shaikh ‘Adi ibn Musafir, and he said: ‘Shaikh ‘Adi told you the truth.'” May Allah be well pleased with all the Shaikhs concerned.

The righteous among the jinn are also said to have responded to Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s declaration.

It was Shaikh Majid al-Kurdi who said: “When Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir uttered this pronouncement, there was not one single saint of Allah on the entire earth, at that moment in time, who did not bend his neck in humble recognition of him, and in acknowledgement of his special status. Nor was there one single circle, of all the circles of the righteous among the jinn, assembled at that moment in time, in which mention of it was not made. Delegations of those righteous jinn set forth to visit him, from all the horizons. Saluting him with the greeting of peace, and repenting at his hand, they gathered in a throng at his door.” Shaikh Matir is in agreement with Shaikh Majid al-Kurdi concerning the validity of this report.

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