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The Qasaaid of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani

In his qasaaid (religious poems), Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani Rady Allahu ‘Anhu talks mainly about the spiritual station of being intoxicated with the love of Allah. Nine of his qasaaid are given in Al-Fuyudaat u’r Rabbaniyya (Emanations of Lordly Grace). Of these, Qasida Gawthiyya, his nazm (didactic poem) on the Asma ul Husna, and his mathnawi perhaps call for more comment.

Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted, says in the Holy Qur’an:

Allah’s are the Most Beautiful Names, so invoke Him by them. (7:180)

In fulfilment of this Command, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani has invoked Him in both prose and in verse, using the wasila (means) of the Asma Allah ul Husna. His emphasis in immersing yourself in the Asma Allah ul Husna until they run through your veins is breathtaking. He has composed a nazm (didactic poem) in which the Asma ul Husna appear in the same sequence as they do in the Hadith Sharif. His nazm is a laamiyya: all its 63 verses end and rhyme in the letters “laam-alif “. Each verse invokes Allah with one or more of His Names in such a way that the true meanings of these Names of Allah are also conveyed and understood. The opening verses of this nazm are:

Shara’tu bi Tawhidil Ilaahi mubasmilaa
Sa akhtimu bi-dh-dhikril Hamidi Mujammilaa

Wa Ash-hadu Annallaha laa Rabba Ghayruhu
Tanazzaha ‘an hasril ‘uquli Takammulaa

I begin to expound on monotheism with the Name of Allah
I will end with the Praiseworthy and beautiful remembrance of Allah

And I bear witness that there is no Lord but He
Transcendant is He, completely beyond human understanding

Next, we come to Qasida Gawthiyya which is universally popular. It is an exposition on some of the spiritual powers that Allah has granted him so that people may be educated about spiritual matters and Muslims may gain confidence in themselves. It is chanted from Rabat to Lahore and from Mombasa to Toronto, that is world-wide. Some of the kutub (books) which contain this qasida are:

  1. Hadaaiqi Bakhshish (The Gardens of Gifts), with a poetic translation in Urdu by Imam Ahmad Raza Khan, Rahmatullahi ‘alayh.

  2. Al-Fuyudaat u’r Rabbaniyya (Emanations of Lordly Grace), translated by Shaykh Muhtar Holland.

  3. Abdul Qadir Fee Iydaah-it-Tasawwuf (Shaykh Abdul Qadir in Clarifying the Subject of Spiritual
    ), of Nur-ud-Din ibn ash-Shaykh Husayn Mahmud al-Ghasani.

  4. Majmuah Mushtamila (A Compendium of Writings), of Shaykh Abdur Rahman ibn Ahmad al-Qadiri az-Zaylai, Rahmatullahi ‘alayh of Somalia.

  5. Majmuah Wazaaif (A Compendium of Regular Voluntary Invocations), compiled by Women Islamic Mission, Karachi, with an Urdu translation.

  6. Majmuah Wazaaif, compiled by Qari Ridaa al-Mustafa Azami, with an Urdu translation.

  7. Qadiri Ridwi Majmuah Wazaaif (A Compendium of Regular Voluntary Invocations of the Qadiriyya), compiled by Iqbal Ahmad Nuri and Anis Ahmad Nuri, with an Urdu translation by Allamah Shams Brelwi.

  8. Khatam Sharif Sarwari Gawthi Qadiri (The Completion of the Noble Zikr Among The Sarwari Qadiriyya).

There are various refrains or congregational responses when this qasida is recited. A popular response in Arabic is:

Mawaali yaa mawaali yaa mawaali
Wa Muhyiddin-i Sultan ur rijaali

O freedmen emancipated from (the) slavery (of your passions)
The reviver of the faith (Shaykh Jilani) is the Sultan of men

A well-known refrain in Urdu is:

As-salaam ay Nur-e chashmay Anbiya
As-salaam ay Baadshah-e Awliya

Salaams to you, O fountain of the lights of the Prophets
Salaams to you, O Sultan of the saints

One of the qasaaid of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani is a mathnawi. A mathnawi is a poem in which the two hemistich (half verses) of a verse rhyme, and the rhyme keeps on changing from one verse to the next. Shaykh Abdul Ghani Nabulsi Rahmatullahi ‘alayh (1641-1731 C.E) has composed a takhmis of this qasida. A takhmis is the augmentation of a couplet to a quintent, in other words the quintification of a couplet!

So far, we have talked about his qasaaid from Al-Fuyudaat ur Rabbaniyya which are very popular. Now we come to an appreciation of much shorter pieces of a few verses each from Qalaid al-Jawahir (Necklaces of Gems).

It is a tradition among the mashaayikh (spiritual masters) to explain about matters pertaining to the religion of Islam in both prose and poetry. For example, when Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani Rady Allahu ‘Anh was asked to explain the meaning of the word faqir (poor, needy before Allah), he said that the word faqir is formed with four letters, “faa”, “qaaf, yaa”, and “raa”, as cited in Qalaid al Jawahir (Necklaces of Gems). Then he explained the significance of each of these letters in four verses to convey the meaning and the essence of the word faqir.

faa-ul faqiri fanaa-u-hu fee Dhaatihi
wa faraaghu-hu min na’tihi wa sifaatih
wal qaafu quwwatu qalbihi bi-Habibihi
wa qiyaamuhu Lillahi fee Mardaatih
wal yaayu yarju bihi wa yakhaafuhu
wa yaqumu bit taqwa bi-haqqi tuqaatih
war raau riqqatu qalbihi wa safaauhu
wa ruju’uhu ‘an shahawaatih

The letter faa in the word faqir stands for his annihilation for the sake of Allah
and getting rid of his own description and attributes

The qaaf stands for the strength of his heart that is with his Beloved Allah
and his standing up for the sake of Allah is purely for His Good Pleasure

The yaa stands for his hope in Him and his reverential awe of Him
and he performs his duty as true devotion demands

The raa stands for the softness of his heart and its purity
and its return to Allah from its carnal desires.

Allahu Akbar!

We notice that when he talks about the letter “faa”, the Shaykh uses two words that begin with the letter “faa”. These are fanaa and faraagh. Similarly, when he comes to the letter “qaaf”, he uses three words – quwwah, qalb and qiyaam – that begin with the letter “qaaf” . The words associated with the letter “yaa” are yarju, yakhaafu and yaqumu while those that go with the letter “raa” are riqqah and ruju’. Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani Rady Allahu ‘Anhu was for sure not only a master of the religion of Islam but a master of the Arabic language as well.

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

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