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QADIRIYAH. Among the better-known names in Islamic mysticism is that of `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani (or Jilani or Jili), who is associated with the beginnings of the Qadri brotherhood or tariqah either as founder or as patron and sponsor. `Abd al-Qadir’s birthdate is usually given as All 470/1077-1078 CE and his date of death as 561/1165-1166. According to the biographer Muhammad Ibn Shakir al-Kutubi, `Abd al-Qadir came from the Persian province of Gilan, southwest of the Caspian Sea; his father was called Abfi Salih ibn Jangidust. Coming as a young student to Baghdad, `Abd al-Qadir studied under a number of different masters but always remained a Hanbali. These studies included traditions and Hanbali law, at first under Abfi Sa’d al-Mukharrimi, then under Shaykh Ahmad (or Hammad) al-Dabbas, and later under a number of others. After a long period, including a time of wandering through Iraq, `Abd al-Qadir returned to Baghdad, where he began to win fame as a preacher (wa’iz) at funerals and other public occasions.

At this time in his life `Abd al-Qadir was better known for his sermons and eulogies than for his asceticism or Sufi activities; apparently his interest in mysticism came toward the end of his career. Ibn Shakir says that `Abd al-Qadir took the “Sfifi way” (tariq) from alDabbas. Soon he acquired a great reputation as a holy person and as the “Imam of his Time and the Qutb [leading authority] of his Period,” and he was considered incontestably the “Shaykh of Shaykhs.” Ibn Shakir claims that “by 521/1127, `Abd al-Qadir had a majlis and was acclaimed by the people.” Seven years later `Abd al-Qadir had succeeded his old master al-Mukharrimi at his madrasah or religious school, “where he taught and gave fatwas.” Ibn Shakir closes his report by noting that `Abd al-Qadir had forty-nine children, twenty sons and twenty-nine daughters. Aged about eighty-eight, `Abd al-Qadir died in 561/1165-1166.

Although this short account from the Fawat al-wafayat of Ibn Shakir was written about 18o years after `Abd al-Qadir’s death, the author gives a restrained description of this learned man. Unlike many later accounts, it is unencumbered with imaginary details and yields a sober portrait. Moreover, it emerges from the researches of Jacqueline Chabbi (1973) that `Abd alQadir was merely a Hanbali jurist, a part-time mufti (jurisconsult), and a public preacher. Although there are signs that he was increasingly friendly at the end of his life toward Sufism-which at the end of the twelfth century was rising along an ascending curve-`Abd alQadir did not found or promote any sort of Sufi organization. However, one of his authentic writings, Al-ghunyah li-talibi tariq al-haqq, has a section at its end about the relations of Sfifi students (murids) and their shaykhs or murshids.

After his death, however, interested people raised him to the rank of patron or original sponsor of the Qadiriyah, which assumed his name about 1200; very soon

`Abd al-Qadir became the “founder” of the brotherhood. Chabbi shows in detail the remarkable differences between contemporary notices and comments written about `Abd al-Qadir during his public career, when he had many enemies (some of this hostility arising from his forty-year occupancy of a “chair” at the Mukharrimi madrasah), and the eulogies that circulated once he was dead. The latter are typified by their length, their fulsomeness, and the imaginative episodes they contain. These notices were soon amplified by his kardmdt, stories about his startling ability to cure the sick, and tales of how he helped Sfifi students and adepts (Chabbi, 1973, p. 84). Somewhat later `Abd al-Qadir was credited with writing a Qur’anic commentary, and many of his conversations and aphorisms (malfuzat) were recorded. With the passing of time many of these stories became even more vivid and sensational: A. A. Rizvi notes that `Abd al-Qadir supposedly “crushed mountains, dried up oceans, and raised the dead to life” (1978-1981, vol. I, p. 85).

The Qadiriyah doubtless had real organizational difficulties on `Abd al-Qadir’s death, but it was assisted by two of his sons, `Abd al-`Aziz and `Abd al-Razzaq, and slightly later by his grandson Shams al-Din. One might guess that its numbers were still very small, but that it benefited from its alleged founder’s burgeoning reputation. By the end of this obscure period it is likely that a ribat or zdwiyah (hospice) for the group had been constructed, perhaps near the tomb of `Abd al-Qadir. This tomb would have been a simple monument, not the large and magnificent structure erected for `Abd alQadir by the Ottoman sultan Suleyman I in 1535 the earlier structure may well have been damaged in the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. Yet there is thin evidence that by 1300, small groups of `Abd al-Qadir’s followers existed in Syria and Egypt and perhaps also in Yemen.

`Abd al-Qadir had left no system, no instructions, and no “Sfifi way” of his own. Nevertheless, these gaps were soon filled by his sons, followers, and relatives, who elaborated a Sfifi order in his name. The arrangement was a loose one, yet it embodied charitable and philanthropic aspects wherever it spread-very quickly in some places. As a result, it would not be wrong to say that `Abd al-Qadir eventually became the most popular saint in Islam. The director of each local unit of the Qadiriyah, often called the khalifah, could use dhikrs (ritual repetitions), prayers, and other liturgies (including ahzab and awrad, specialized prayers and invocations) as he liked. Sama` (listening to music) was another widely used Sufi technique. As for the saint himself, some groups saw him as a universal holy man, nearly divine, whereas others only manifested great reverence toward him. Probably by 800/1397 there was a Qadiri zdwiyah in Damascus, called the Da’udiyah, and another Qadiri group could be found at al-Azhar in Cairo, holding their sessions in mosques or madrasahs, buildings originally designed for different purposes.

Not long after the demise of `Abd al-Qadir, it seems probable that Indian influences began to enter Sufism, including the Qadiriyah. Exactly when this occurred is still uncertain, but it is likely that around 1200, various breathing techniques and perhaps body movements were imported into Arabia, Central Asia, Iran, and Iraq, and then traveled farther west. In his Manhal al-rawi alrd’iq, Muhammad `All al-Sanusi (1785-1859) gives an example of a Qadiri dhikr. He probably borrowed the details from an older book by Abu al-Baqa’ Hasan alUjaymi (d. 1702), perhaps his Risalah, but the details given are much older.

. . . As for the Qadiri brotherhood . . . its basis is the verbal dhikr in a congregational circle .. along with a gradual diminution of eating, and flight from human beings. . . . It should be accompanied at the start by the prayer Jalal Allah wa `azamatihi [“the glory of God and His majesty”]. For through that, the breath is suppressed and purified, and . . . the loosening by the Jalal prayer is the quickest way to extricate one’s self from frivolity.

One sits crosslegged, grasping with the toes of the right foot . . . the large artery which lies behind the left knee joint. One puts one’s hands open on the knees, so that they take the form of the word Allah. Then one speaks the name of God, prolonging it for a time, and extending it with an emphatic pronunciation (tafkhim) until the breath is cut off, making the words `Azamat al-Hagq [“the majesty of the True”] while exhausting the breath. . . . One continues that way until the heart is relaxed and the Divine Lights are revealed. Then one goes on with . . . the dhikr of absorption (fand’) and remaining (baqa’) in God, ascribed to Shaykh Sid! `Abd al-Qadir. It consists of sitting as described and turning the face toward the right shoulder and saying Ha, turning the face to the left, saying Hu, then lowering the head and expelling the breath while saying Hayy, and repeating this without stopping.

Whether the diffusion of the Qadiriyah can be credited more to their own proselytizing efforts or to the scattering effects of the Mongol attack on Baghdad, it is clear that by 1350, they possessed all the contemporary

Sufi techniques and practices: dhikr on a regular basis, local leaders, khalffahs, and shaykhs.

As the Qadiriyah spread from Baghdad and other Middle Eastern centers, India was the early destination of many Qadiris. In one of the first instances, the founder of another Sufi group, Shah Ni’mat Allah Waft of Mahan in Iran, sent his nephew Mir Nur Allah to India about 1425. The nephew, a Qadiri, settled at the court of the Bahmanid sultan Ahmad I at Bidar in the Deccan, where the Qadiris had considerable support and success. A similar success is recorded in Multan, where the founder of a local branch (a ninth-generation descendant of `Abd al-Qadir) called himself al-Husayni, claiming the status of a sayyid (descendant of the Prophet), which no doubt helped in gaining adherents. The order also spread into the Punjab and Sind, which was proselytized by members of the same family that had been in Multan earlier. This family order of the Qadiriyah then progressed to Agra and Delhi and to other local capitals, being taken up at the Mughal court on several occasions. Other branches of developing family groups of the Jilani clan arrived in Gujarat and Malwa from Iraq via Iran and Afghanistan in the sixteenth century, founding khdnqahs, attracting large numbers of followers, and to a large extent becoming the local scholars, intellectuals, and clerics.

In the course of time, the Qadiriyah included some famous names, such as Shaykh `Abd al-Hagq (15511642), a muhaddith (expert in hadith) and a translator of `Abd al-Qadiris Arabic writings into Persian as well as a distinguished theologian. Another famous Qadiri was the ascetic Miyan Mir (1531-1635), renowned for his austerities and also largely for avoiding kings and other worldly notables, in true Sufi fashion. In the mid-seventeenth century another Qadiri figure, Mulla Shah Badakhsh!, initiated the Mughal prince Dara Shukuh into the order; Dara Shikuh was executed by his brother Awrangz!b for heresy in 1659. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Indian Qadiriyah continued to to flourish on the subcontinent, and it exists in both India and Pakistan today.

In the Islamic West, oral tradition has the grandsons or other descendants of `Abd al-Qadir entering Spain from the East. Under pressure during the period of the Reconquista, Qadiris fled Spain for North Africa around 146o. Some of these Qadiris penetrated through Morocco into the Saqiyat al-Hamra’ (Mauretania). One name often mentioned is that of Ahmad al-Bakka’i alKunt! (d. 1504), who won many adherents. [See the biography of Bakka’i al-Kunti.] Another allied to this group is Muhammad al-MaghiliI (also d. 1504), a Qadiri who had influence in Hausaland and adjoining regions; he was also involved in the persecutions of Jews. In the eighteenth century the Kunta branch of the Qadiriyah was rejuvenated by al-Mukhtar ibn Ahmad al-Kunt! (d. 1811), a prolific author and master of many kardmdt. AlMukhtar ibn Ahmad had direct influence on Usuman Dan Fodio (d. 1817), the leader of the Fulani Jihad in northern Nigeria, who was also a Qadiri. For a time in the early nineteenth century, the Mukhtariyah Qadiriyah was very influential. In the mid-nineteenth century there was a bloody Qadiri-Tijani contest in Mali, Guinea, and Senegal, involving the famous Tijani jihadist al-Hajj `Umar Tal (d. 1864). One of the most recent offshoots of this West African cluster of branches (including the Fadiliyah) is the Muridiyah, led by Ahmadu Bamba (d. 1927). The MuCds, now less active than previously, were famous for their peanut growing and their subservience to French colonial control. [See Tijaniyah; Muridiyah; and the biographies of Dan Fodio and `Umar Tal.]

In parts of North Africa, particularly Algeria and Tunisia, there are numerous Qadiri groups. In the nineteenth century one of the better known was the zdwiyah of the Algerian register Amir `Abd al-Qadir at Mascara. From here and elsewhere in western Algeria the amlr led a successful war against France until 1847, when the local resistance was crushed. The Tunisian Qadiris included the eighteenth-century Manzallyah at Jerba, Safaqis, and Qabes. At Al-Kef there was a zdwiyah of the Manuniyah, founded in the nineteenth century by Muhammad al-Mazuni and related through its silsilah (chain of authority) to the Manzaliyah. The Moroccan Qadiri group called the Jilalah originated in Spain in the middle or late fifteenth century: according to J. S. Trimingham, a Qadiri zawiyah was established at Fez in 1693 (1971, p. 272). A number of other smaller groups in Fez and elsewhere are mentioned by Mehmed Ali Ayni (1967, P. 252).

In the eastern Sudan, the fire of `Abd al-Qadir was lit by Taj al-Din al-Baharl about 1550. He stayed for a time in the Jazirah, leaving behind a number of khali-fahs or deputies who spread the order. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it gained many adherents and became popular, as it remains today.

In `Abd al-Qadiris homeland of Iran, the order spread widely between the time of his death and the appearance of the Safavid regime in 1501, when many Sufi orders were expelled from the country-the Safaviyah and two or three other Shi`i orders being exceptions. According to I. P. Petrushevsky (1985, P. 296), Qadirls were especially numerous, but they were forced to depart from Iran because “`Abd al-Qadir was a Sunni Hanbalite and fiercely antagonistic to the Shi’ites.” Petrushevsky also claims that the color green was the symbol of this Sufi organization, that the Qadiris were “pantheistic,” and that `Abd al-Qadir “was deified in secret” (P. 296).

In neighboring Afghanistan Qadiris apparently reappeared after the downfall of Safavid Shiism in 1722. About 1828, for example, one of the numerous descendants of `Abd al-Qadir, Sa’d Allah Gilani, moved from Baghdad to Herat. Like others in his family, he was skilled in Qur’anic commentary and prophetic traditions, attracting many students as a result. He managed to marry a descendant of the former Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali (or Durrani). Eventually he and his descendants acquired a khanqah in a village about 14 kilometers south of Herat called Siyawshan. This suborder of the Qadiriyah, the Razzaqiyah, functioned for a long time during the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. (Sayyid Mahmud Gilani, 1989, p. 131).

The order became established in Ottoman Turkey when a Qadiri called Pir Isma`il Rumi or Piri San! (d. 1631), from Kastamuni, founded a “Qadir! house” (kadirihana) at Istanbul, followed by some forty others throughout Anatolia. He invented a special Qadir! cap made of white cloth in eight parts in a cylindrical shape; he also created a dhikr in which the participants, standing upright, grasped each others’ arms, swaying back and forth in rhythmic fashion and balancing themselves first right, then left, shouting loudly as they did so-to the scandal of the conservative `ulama’. This Rumiyah suborder was only one of many, including the Hindiyah, Khulfisiyah, Nabulusiyah, and Waslatlyah. These Qadir! institutions) like many others, were shut down in 1924 by Kemal Ataturk, and the orders were outlawed. Nevertheless it seems likely that the Qadiriyah continued a clandestine existence despite these prohibitions, and that it still exists in Turkey, although with a diminished membership.

Qadiris are also to be found in China, Central Asia, Kurdistan, Indonesia, Bosnia and Macedonia, Somalia and the Horn of Africa, the East African coast, Palestine, and elsewhere. Much useful information on them is provided by A. Popovic and G. Veinstein (1986).

[See also Sainthood; Sufism; Sufism and Politics; Zawiyah; the biography of `Abd al-Qadir; and entries on specific countries. ]


`Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani. Al -ghunyah li-tdlibi tariq al-haqq, 2 vols. in 1. Cairo, 1956.

Ayni, Mehmed Ali (Mehmet Ali Aini). Un grand saint de l’Islam, `Abd al-Qddir Guildni, 1077-1166. Paris, 1967. Photographic reproduction of the 1938 edition.

Chabbi, Jacqueline. “`Abd al-Kadir al-Djilani, personnage historique.” Studia Islamica 38 (1973): 75-106.

Gilani, Sayyid Mahmud. Tajalli -yi `irfan-i Qadiriyah. Islamabad, 1989.

Kutubi, Muhammad ibn Shakir al-. Fawdt al-wafaydt. Vol. 2. Cairo, 1951.

Petrushevsky, I. P. Islam in Iran. Albany, N.Y., 1985.

Popovic, Alexandre, and Gilles Veinstein, eds. Les ordres mystiques dans l’Islam, Cheminements et situation actuelle. Paris, 1986.

Rizvi, S. A. A. A History of Sufism in India. 2 vols. New Delhi, 1978-1983.

Sanusi, Muhammad ibn `Ali al-. Kitab al-manhal al-rawi al-rd’iq ft asanid al-`ulum wa-usul al-tard’iq. In Majmu’ah al-mukhtdrah. Beirut, 1968.

Trimingham, J. Spencer. The Sufi Orders in Islam. Oxford, 1971.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/qadiriyah/

  • writerPosted On: July 6, 2017
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