The Qadiriyah Sufi Order


The Qadiriyah Sufi Order, so named after Shaykh Abd al-Qadir Jīlanī (470/ 1077-561/ 1166), occupies a preeminent place in the spiritual history of Islam. Although its organizational structure came into prominence several decades after the death of the saint, its teachings had a profound influence on the thought and behavior of many Muslims during the lifetime of the Shaykh, who came to be looked upon as an ideal of spiritual excellence and achievement. Later generations, however, developed all sorts of legends surrounding his personality, and the real nature of his spiritual activity became shrouded in innumerable miracle stories woven around him by his followers and circulated by his biographers, such as 'Alī ibn Yūsuf al-Shaṭṭanawfī (d. 713/ 1314). 1


Expansion of the Order

Organization of the Order

 Life of the Founder

Supreme Pole of Saints

 His Works

Mystical Teachings

 Mans Thoughts

Determinism + Free Will

 Trails in life

Posthumous States

Social Attitude and Ideals


Shaykh 'Abd al-Qādir (may Allah be pleaded with him) was endowed with a remarkable power of persuasion and eloquence, and he used these gifts to extricate people from excessive engrossment in material pursuits by awakening their spiritual sensibilities. In inculcating a respect for moral and spiritual values, he found the supreme talisman of human happiness, and

to it he dedicated his whole life. His intensely religious way of life and sincerity of purpose impressed his contemporaries,

who thronged around him. Himself punctilious in obedience to every minute detail of Islamic Law (Sharī’ah), he demanded

from his follower’s strict adherence to it. He looked upon the Sharī-'ah as a sine qua non for all spiritual advancement and culture. This approach not only bridged the gulf between the jurists (faqīhs) and the mystics (Sufis) but also created a balance between varying degrees of emphasis laid on the spirit and the letter of Islamic Law.

The saint's association with the Ḥanbalī School of Islamic jurisprudence shaped his attitude in many matters of religious significance. He often cites in his works and sermons Imam Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (d. 241/ 855) and draws ideological sustenance from him. His adherence to Ḥanbalī law, to which later reformists like Ibn Taymiyyah (635/ 1263-728/ 1328) and Muḥammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab (1115/ 1703-1201/ 1787) also adhered, saved him from much of the criticism to which other mystic teachers were subjected by the externalist scholars. In fact he made fiqh (jurisprudence) and tasawwuf (mysticism) supplement each other and created an identity of approach among the jurists and the mystics.

While propounding his mystical ideas, he never lost sight of their juristic implications, and in explaining juristic principles he underlined their spiritual value.

The Shaykh looked upon "showing people the way to God" not only as the leitmotif of all mystic effort but as a legacy of the Prophetic mission, which it was incumbent upon all Muslims to continue under all circumstances.

He tackled the problem of imbuing people with spirituality from the point of view of both knowledge and faith and used the media of madrasah (college) and ribāṭ (hospice) for this purpose. A careful study of his sermons as contained in al-Fatḥ al-rabbānī ("Divine Victory"), some of which were delivered in the madrasah and some in the ribāṭ, would illustrate the subtle difference of orientation and emphasis. Like most religious figures of medieval Islam who became centers of a revival movement, Shaykh 'Abd al-Qādir believed that he was divinely inspired and ordained to guide people on the path of spirituality. This consciousness of his mission gave not only a depth but also a sense of divine purposiveness to his efforts.

He considered himself an agent of God for the moral and spiritual resuscitation of society.



He is the author of Bahjat al-asrār (Cairo, 1304).




A. Mez, The Renaissance of Islam, trans. Salahuddin Khuda Bakhsh and D. S. Margoliouth (London: Luzac, 1937).




K. A. Nizami, Some Aspects of Religion and Politics in India during the 13th Century (Aligarh: S. Nural Hasan, 1961) 48-49.




That is why a number of works on invocations and litanies are attributed to him. Evradi Sherifeh (Constantinople, 1869) is one such collection.




E. Mercier, Histoire de l'Afrique septentrionale (Paris: E. Leroux, 1881-91) 3:14.




A. Le Chatelier, Les confreries musulmanes du Hedjaz (Paris: E. Leroux, 1887) 35.




I'tiām, I, 348ff. (Reprint of the 1914 Cairo edition by Dār al-Manār).




Yāqūt Ḥamawī, however, says that he was born at Bashtir ( Mu'jam al-buldān, II, 187). 'Abd al-Maḥāsin names a village between Baghdad and Wasit as his birthplace (Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf ibn Taghribirdī, "al-Nujūm al-zāhirah", ed. Popper, Annals [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1909]).




For a biographical notice, see Jāmī, Nafaḥāt al-uns (Lucknow, 1915) 456-58.




A very distinguished saint of the time who influenced many founders of spiritual orders. For a biographical notice, see Nafaḥāt al-uns, 337-39.




If this figure is correct, the surviving record of his speeches is infinitesimally small. One whose speeches were preserved by so many people must leave a fairly large number of records.




Hujwīrī, Kashf al-maḥjūb, trans. R. A. Nicholson (London: Luzac, 1911) 214.




Ibn 'Arabī, al-Futūḥāt al-makkiyyah (Beirut: Dār Ṣādir, n.d.) I, 262.




NafaḤāt al-uns, 457-58. See also 'Abd al-Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dihlawī, Akhbār alakhyār (Delhi: Maṭba' Mujtabā'ī, 1331 A.H.) 10.




Cairo, 1322/ 1905.




Cairo, 1302/ 1884.




Text on the margin of Bahjat al-asrār ( Cairo, 1304/ 1886), trans. W. Braune (Leipzig: W. de Gruyter, 1933).




C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur (Weimar: E. Felber, 1898) 1:435.




For Miyān Mīr, see Dārā Shikoh, Sakīnat al-awliyā, ed. S. M. R. Jalālī Nā 'īnī and D. Tarachand (Tehran: 'Ilmī Press, 1965).




Except where noted, citations of this work are from the English translation by Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad (Lahore: Sh. M. Ashraf, 1958).




For Muḥammad ibn Karrām and the Karrāmiyyah doctrines, see Abu'l Fatḥ al- Shahrastānī , Book of Religions and Philosophical Sects (Kitāb al-milal wa'l-niḥal) ( London: Society for the Publication of Oriental Texts, 1846) 85-96.




Delhi, 1979.




This and the following citations of this work are from the translation by Amanullah Arman.




This and the following citations of this work are from the translation by 'Ashiq Ilahi.




His Ghunyat breathes a spirit of deep humanism and concern for the welfare of society.




'Abd al-Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dihlawī, Akhbār al-akhyār, 17.




Ibid., 198.




The litanies ascribed to Shaykh 'Abd al-Qādir in al-Fuyūḍāt al-rabbāniyyab are cited on the authority of 'Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad al-'Ajamī, who lived some 185 years after the saint.




J. P. Brown, The Dervishes: Or Oriental Spiritualism (London: Oxford University Press, 1927) 98.




G. Salmon, Archives marocaine (1905) 2:108.




Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1:69.




For details, see Walī Allāh Dihlawū, Intibāh fī salāsil-i awliyā Allāh ( Delhi, 1311 A.H.) 21-17; z Qawl al-jamu +012Bl (Kanpur, 1291 A.H.) 34-45.




Shaykh 'Abd al-Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dihlawī, Tanbīh al-'ārif bi mā waqa' fi'l'awārif, MS, Rampur Library; see K. A. Nizami, I + hayāt-i Shaykh 'Abd al-Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dihlawī (Delhi: 1953) 180-81.


Shaykh Shihāb al-Dīn Suhrawardī holds this view.

Courtesy: Khaliq Ahmad Nizami