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The Nasiha of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani

Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani Rady Allahu ‘Anhu taught Muslims and preached to non-Muslims in Baghdad. His nasiha (advices) and mawa’iza (sermons, discourses) were written down by scribes as he delivered them and they have been compiled and handed down through centuries as classics of Muslim spirituality. One of the beauties of his discourses is that you feel he is addressing you directly.

His major spiritual works, that is, the kutub (books) he wrote, as well as collections of his discourses are:

  1. Al-Ghunya Li Talibi Tariqi’l Haqq (Sufficient Provision for Seekers of the Path of Truth)

    This kitab (book) is a comprehensive explanation of Arkan al-Iman (Pillars of Faith), Arkan al-Islam (Pillars of Islam), and Ihsan (Spiritual Excellence). It is a kitab (book) on Hanbali fiqh (jurisprudence) with special emphasis on salah (obligatory five times daily prayer). It is indispensable for those who want to do tabligh (propagate Islam) as it deals with amr bil ma’ruf wa nahi anil munkar (enjoining good and forbidding evil).

  2. Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen), a collection of 78 discourses.

  3. Al-Fath ur Rabbani (The Endowment of Divine Grace).

    This a collection of 72 discourses, the main message of which is to raise yourself up to such spiritual heights as to devote your whole life in worshipful service of Allah, purely to earn His Rida (Pleasure) and His Qurb (Nearness) without hoping for any other reward in the Hereafter. In these discourses, he admonishes the munafiqin (hypocrites) who forget their religion and who cringe before kings and princes for worldly gain.

  4. Jila al-Khatir (Purification of the Mind), a collection of 45 discourses.

  5. Sirr al-Asrar (The Secret of Secrets).

    This kitab (book) explains matters related to shari’a (sacred law), tariqa (spiritual path), haqiqi ma’rifa (knowledge of spiritual realities) and tasawwuf (spiritual culture).

  6. Malfuzat (Talks and Sayings).

  7. Khamsata Ashara Maktuban (Fifteen Letters).

These were written in Persian and translated into Arabic by Ali ibn Husam ud-Din al-Muttaqi, Rahmatullahi ‘alayh (passed away 977 A.H/1569 C.E).

Besides the Qur'an Karim and Hadith Sharif, these can be considered to be required minimum reading for someone who aspires to be an ‘aalim (scholar).

To catch a glimpse of his nasiha (advice), perhaps the best place to begin is to see how he advises his own son Shaykh Abdur Razzaq, Rahmatullahi ‘alayh. He advised him to acquire eight character traits that are basic to tasawwuf (spiritual culture). These are:

  1. Sakha (generosity) of Nabi (Prophet) Ibrahim, ‘alayhissalam (peace be upon him)

  2. Rida (joyful contentment with whatever Allah ordains) of Nabi Is-haq, ‘alayhissalam

  3. Sabr (patience) of Nabi Ayyub, ‘alayhissalam

  4. Ishara (symbolic instruction) of Nabi Zakariyya, ‘alayhissalam

  5. Ghurba (life as a stranger in far-off lands) of Nabi Yusuf, ‘alayhissalam

  6. Lubs us suf (the wearing of Sufi clothes) of Nabi Yahya, ‘alayhissalam

  7. Siyaha (wandering travel) of Nabi Isa, ‘alayhissalam

  8. Faqr (worldly poverty with spiritual riches) of Nabiyyuna wa Habibuna wa Shafi’una Muhammad Mustafa, Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam.

(cited by Al-Hajj Ismail ibn as-Sayyid Muhammad Said al-Qadiri, in al-Fuyudaat ur Rabbaniyya, Emanations of Lordly Grace, p. 40).

His mawa’iza (exhortations, discourses) deal with various subjects. For example, the first few discourses in Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen) are on “The essential tasks of every believer”, “Sharing good advice”, “Being tried and tested”, “Spiritual death”, “The nature of this world, detachment from which is strongly advised”, “Passing beyond the creation”, “Removing the cares of the heart”, “Drawing near to Allah”, “Disclosure and contemplation”, “The self and its states”, and “Controlling carnal desire”.

The theme of each discourse is supported with verses of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith Sharif. For example, in the First Discourse of Al-Fath ur Rabbani (The Endowment of Divine Grace), he quotes the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:

Surely, Allah is with those who are patient. (2:153)

And in the Sixth Discourse of Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen, p. 17-18), he quotes this Hadith Qudsi which is dear to the heart of every Muslim (translation is by Shaykh Muhtar Holland).

In a sacred tradition (hadith qudsi) the blessed Prophet related that Allah (Exalted is He) says, “My servant constantly approaches Me through supererogatory acts of worship until I love him, and when I love him, I become his eyes with which he sees, his hands with which he holds, and his legs with which he walks.” In another version, the wording is: “So through Me he hears, through Me he sees, and through Me he understands.”

This Hadith Qudsi has been narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurayra, Rady Allahu ‘Anhu and reported by Imam Bukhari, Rahmatullahi ‘alayh (194-256 A.H, 810-870 C.E).

The essence of his teaching is to achieve qurb Ilallah (nearness to Allah) in the sense of achieving His love, as He is our Khaliq (Creator) and the Musabbib ul Asbab (the Original Cause of all the causes). The description of someone who has attained nearness to Allah is succinctly summarised in Futuh al-Ghaib (Revelations of the Unseen, p. 12, translation is by Shaykh Muhtar Holland).

“Gone forth from his own self out into his Master’s work, he now sees nothing but that Master and His work, and neither hears nor comprehends from any other source. If he perceives at all, if he does hear and learn, His speech is what he listens to, and His knowledge is what he comes to know. His favour he enjoys, through His nearness he prospers, through His proximity he is graced and honoured, by His promise he is pleased and reassured. With Him he feels at peace, and in His discourse he takes delight, while from all others he recoils and shrinks away. In remembrance of Him he finds refuge and support. In Him, the Almighty and Glorious, he puts his faith and in Him he places his trust. By the light of His awareness he is guided as he wraps and clothes himself therein. Strange marvels of His science he discovers, and of the secrets of His power he is apprised. To Him he listens and from Him he learns, then for all this he offers praise, gives thanks, and turns to prayer.”

The next step to take is perhaps to open another of the compilations of his mawa’iza (discourses). This is a suggested interpretation of the opening of his first discourse in Al-Fath ur Rabbani (The Endowment of Divine Grace).

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
O Allah! O You Who know my inability to praise You,
I ask of You – for the sake of the most perfect of all those who praise You,
(that is, Sayyidina Muhammad),
to whom You unveiled the realities of Your Names and Your Attributes,
and the subtleties of the emanations of Your Essence,
so that he came to know You in a manner befitting Your Perfection,
and whom You thereupon inspired with Your praises
as You inspired none other than him,
as You will inspire him many times more
on the Day when his uniqueness will be manifested,
(that is, on the Day of Judgement),
when his glorious character will be manifested in all its glory,
(I ask of You, O Allah!)
to bestow upon him,
who is more precious than any other being,
such blessings and salutations that befit Your most Sanctified Perfection,
and let the noble blessings and peace You confer upon him,
encompass the whole of his physical being as well as his essence,
as well as everything that pertains to him
in the world of creation and in the world of the Divine Command,
so that, O our Lord, You leave out none of
Your Prophets, Your Messengers, Your Angels and Your righteous servants,
but include them all
within the compass of Your Tremendous Grace.

Sallu ‘alar Rasul
Allahumma Salli wa Sallim ‘alayh.

We find that Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani Rady Allahu ‘Anhu begins his discourse with an exalted, inspiring and comprehensive salaat (invocation of blessings on Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) in which he manifests his deep love for him. In one breath he tells us that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, praised Allah as no one else did, that he knew Allah as no one else did and that he was inspired by Allah as no one else was. He reminds us that the grandeur of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has already been manifested in this world and is yet to be revealed in all its glory on the Day of Judgement.

The salaat begins with the Name of Allah and uses the wasila (means) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. In the same breath, it breathes in the Asma and Sifat of Allah, the Most Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah, Wahdahu laa sharika lahu. The salaat is on the reality and essence of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as well as everything that pertains to him or is connected with him in the world of creation and in the world of Allah’s Commad. And all the Prophets, as well as the Messengers of Allah, the angels and the pious people are connected with him. So the salaat is on all of them as well. In one sweep, both the reality and the essence of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, have been linked to the two worlds of Allah’s creation and Allah’s Command. When you have completed reciting this salaat, you know for sure that you are in the presence of a shaykh, a man of Allah, and you want to establish ta’alluq (connection) with him, as you know that following his teaching and obtaining his baraka (blessings), coming as they do from the pure fount of his blessed ancestor, will lead you to salvation. Aameen.

As we read his masterpieces, we are struck by the fact that his style of expression is different from that of any other shaykh, ‘aalim or wali. He is so much saturated with the spiritual power of Tawhid (monotheism) that his exposition and its flow has a spiritually confident personality all its own so that anyone who reads his nasiha spontaneously admits that he is the Qutb-al-aqtaab (the centre of all spiritual pillars), the Shaykh-ul-Mashaayikh (the spiritual master of all spiritual masters), the Gawth al A'zam (the greatest helper) and much more.... a Shaykh who epitomised mujaddidiyyah (faith revival) and wilayah (sainthood), QaddasAllahu sirrahul ‘aziz (may Allah sanctify his sublime innermost being)

Yaa Hayyu Yaa Hayyu Yaa Qayyum
Yaa Hayyu Yaa Hayyu Yaa Qayyum

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