In Defence of the noble Imam “Abdul Qaadir Jeelani (rahimahullaah)”
Ahlul Bid’ah wal Ahwaa (People of innovations and desires) have attributed all sorts of heretical and innovative beliefs to Imaam Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee rahimahullaah, especially by the Soofees and the Bareilwees (one of the extreme sub-sects of Soofism). Some of these individuals have distorted and misinterpreted the teachings of the Imaam so much so that they portray him to be from amongst the foremost propagators of Soofiyyah (صوفية), Wahdatul Wujood (وحدة الوجود), Fanaa (فناء), Baqaa, Wahdatul Shuhood and other heretical beliefs. These individuals include the infamous Zaytuna Institute (now Zaytuna College) in California, USA run by the notorious Soofees Humzah Yoosuf Haanson, Zayd Shaakir and also include Nooh Haa Meem Keller (NHM Keller), the leading Bareilwee Soofees from the Indian sub-continent such as Shaykh al-Fitaan Dr Taahir al-Qaadree and their supporters and followers.
His Name, Lineage & Life (Summarized):
He was Aboo Muhammad Muheeyuddeen Abdul Qaadir ibn Abee Saalih ibn Abdillaah al-Jeelani al-Baghdaadee. Aboo Muhammad was his kunyah and he was given the alqaab (titles) Muheeyuddeen (Reviver of the Religion), Imaam al-Hanaabilah (Imaam of the Hanbalees) and Shaykh al-Islaam (Grand Scholar of Islaam), amongst others.
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/439) of adh-Dhahabee, al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (12/252) of Ibn Katheer, Fawaat al-Wafyaat (2/373) of al-Katabee, Shadhraat adh-Dhahab (4/198) of Ibnul ‘Imaad, adh-Dhayl ‘alaa Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (1/291) of Ibn Rajab]
Some of the biographical Scholars traced the Imaam’s lineage to Alee ibn Abee Taalib (radiyAllaahu anhu) via his sons al-Hasan and al-Husayn (radiyAllaahu anhumaa), but such tracings cannot be verified with certainty. He was born in the year 471 AH (1078 CE) and according to some in the year 470 AH (1077 CE), in the small town of Jeelaan in Iran; hence being known as al-Jeelani. During his childhood, Imaam al-Jeelani travelled to Baghdaad in Iraq and lived and died there; hence being known as al-Baghdaadee.
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/439) of adh-Dhahabee]
After pursuing knowledge, the Shaykh began to admonish and cultivate the people with sincerity. As a result Allaah aided him and put much blessings in his work and his circles, and his admonishments became very famous, to the extent that the Rulers as well as major People of Knowledge of his time would also participate in his circles. The influence of the Imaam’s advice and admonishment was so strong that many people repented from their sins and mistakes.
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/441) of adh-Dhahabee]
Imaam Ibn Katheer said, “After he (Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir) came to Baghdaad, he started seeking knowledge of Hadeeth and Fiqh from Aboo Sa’eed al-Makhramee al-Hanbalee. Aboo Sa’eed had a small institution, which he handed over to Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir. In this institution, the Shaykh would deliver lectures of knowledge and would admonish the people; many people benefited from him”
[Ref: al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (12/252) of Ibn Katheer]
The Shaykh passed away in 561 AH (1166 CE) at the age of 90 (or 89) in Baghdaad, may Allaah have mercy on him.
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/450) of adh-Dhahabee]
His Teachers and Students:
Imaam adh-Dhahabee mentioned the following as the teachers of Imaam al-Jeelaanee:
Qaadhee Aboo Sa’eed al-Makhramee, Aboo Ghaalib Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Baaqillaanee, Aboo Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Muzaffar, Abul Qaasim ibn Bayaan, Aboo Ja’far ibn Ahmad as-Siraaj, Aboo Sa’ad Muhammad ibn Khasheesh, Aboo Taalib ‘Abdul Qaadir ibn Muhammad ibn Yoosuf, ‘Abdur Rahmaan ibn Ahmad and others.
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/440) of adh-Dhahabee]
From his students, Imaam adh-Dhahabee mentioned:
Aboo Sa’ad as-Sama’aanee, Umar ibn Alee al-Qurashee, Aboo Muhammad Abdullaah ibn Qudaamah (another Imaam of the Hanbalees), Abdur Razzaaq ibn Abdil Qaadir (son of the Shaykh), Moosaa ibn Abdil Qaadir (son of the Shaykh), Alee ibn Idrees, Ahmad ibn Mu’tee Aboo Hurayrah, Muhammad ibn al-Layth al-Wastaanee, Akmal ibn Mas’ood al-Haashimee, Aboo Taalib ‘Abdul Lateef ibn Muhammad ibn Qabeetee and others.
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/440) of adh-Dhahabee]
The Imaam authored a number of books (which will be quoted from later); however many books are also attributed to him which he himself did not write and it is these books which Ahlul Bidah have utilized in disparaging the Shaykh and his Aqeedah.
al-Ghuniyyah at-Taalibeen Tareeq al-Haqq :
This is the Shaykh’s most famous work and his beliefs, ways and ideologies are mentioned in this book. The translation of the name of the book is: Sufficient Provision for Seekers of the Path of Truth. It is shortly referred to as “al-Ghuniyyah at-Taalibeen” or just “al-Ghuniyyah”. However some latter people (from the Soofiyyah) have denounced this book and denied it to be a work of the Shaykh on the account of its contents.
So in order to repel this fallacy, al-Haajee Khaleefah (died 1067 AH) said:
“al-Ghuniyyah at-Taalibeen Tareeq al-Haqq is the work of ‘Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee who died in 561 [AH.” Ref: Kashf adh-Dhunoon (2/121) of al-Haajee Khaleefah]
Imaam Ibn Katheer and Imaam Ibnu Taymiyyah also mentioned this to be the book of Imaam Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee. Ref: al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (12/252) of Ibn Katheer, Majmoo al-Fataawaa (5/15) of Ibn Taymiyyah.
Imaam Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee rahimahullaah also wrote Fatooh al-Ghayb (فتوح الغيب), al-Fath ar-Rabbaanee wal-Faydh ar-Rahmaanee (الفتح الرباني والفيض الرحماني) and a number of other works.
His Beliefs and Teachings:
From the works of the Imaam, his beliefs and teachings were the same as Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah. He said:
“My beliefs are the beliefs which were upheld by the Companions and the Pious Predecessors (Salafus Saalih)” [Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/442) of adh-Dhahabee]
Similarly, he would also instruct and advise others to adhere to this madhhab and the belief of the companions and Salafus Saalih. The Imaam would say:
“Upon you is Ittibaa’ (following and obeying) and not innovation, and upon you is the madhhab of the Salafus Saalih (pious predecessor) and this is the Straight Path you should firmly adhere to.” Ref: al-Fath ar-Rabbaanee (p. 35) of al-Jeelaanee.
He also said:
“It is upon the Believer to follow and obey the Sunnah and those upon the Sunnah, the Jama’ah. The Sunnah is what the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him, declared to be Sunnah and the Jama’ah is that, which the Companions are agreed upon.”
[Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/165) of al-Jeelaanee]
There are differences in the issue of Eemaan between Ahlus Sunnah and the deviated sects. Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir explained Eemaan just as Ahlus Sunnah described it. He said:
“We believe Eemaan is the statement of the tongue, the affirmation of the heart and action of the limbs, it increases with obedience and decreases with disobedience. It is strengthened with knowledge and weakened with ignorance …”
[Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/135) of al-Jeelaanee]
The Imaam said concerning Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Divine Lordship) and Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah (Oneness of the Divine Nature or Worship):
“The soul is inclined to obey its Creator because the Rabb is his Creator and Master and it (the soul) is dependent in worshipping its Rabb.”
[Ref: Fatooh al-Ghayb (p. 21) of al-Jeelaanee]
He also said:
“The person who wishes to enter into Islaam, it is obligatory upon him that he must first say the Shahaadah that ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah and Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is His Messenger. He must also dissociate himself from all the other religions other than Islaam and believe in the Oneness of Allaah with his heart.”
[Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/13) of al-Jeelaanee]
Concerning al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (Oneness of the Divine Names and Attributes):
The Imaam said:
“In regard to this, we do not leave the Book and the Sunnah. We recite the Verses and the narrations and have faith in them and we leave the kayfiyyah (howness) of these Attributes to Allaah.”
[Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/125) of al-Jeelaanee]
Concerning the Istawaa of Allaah, the Shaykh said:
“No place is beyond the scope of His Knowledge (‘ilm). It is not permissible, however, to describe Him as being in every place. The correct statement to make is that He is over the Heavens (fis samawaat) upon the Throne (‘alal ‘arsh).” [Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/121-124) of al-Jeelaanee]
The Shaykh has refuted the deviated sects on their beliefs of the Attributes of Allaah in detail in his book ‘al-Ghuniyyah’ (1/125-140), so please refer to it.
Concerning the Quraan:
Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir said:
“Our belief is that the Quraan is the Speech of Allaah, the holy book and it is revelation which was revealed upon the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) by Gabriel.”
[Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/125-140) of al-Jeelaanee]
In Refutation of Shirk and Innovations:
The Imaam was a firm propagator of Tawheed and a destroyer of Shirk and Innovations (Bid’ah) as was evident from his statements. Some of them include:
1. “Man should supplicate to Allaah, praise and glorify Him, then send salutations upon the Messenger of Allaah and then finally ask Allaah for his needs.” [Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/92)]
2. “It is unlawful to swear by anyone other than Allaah so if someone wishes to swear then let him do so by Allaah only or otherwise let him remain silent.” [Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/92)]
3. “When you visit the graves then do not put your hands on them or kiss them as this is the habit of the Jews, nor sit on the graves or rest against them. Then ask Allaah for your needs.” [Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/91)]
4. “Follow and obey and do not innovate. Agree with the religion and do not differ, obey and do not disobey, have sincerity and do not committ Shirk. Accept Allaah as One and do not turn away from Him. Ask Allaah and do not ask others. Ask Him for help and do not ask anyone else for help. Have reliance and trust in Him and do not have reliance in anyone else.” [Ref: al-Fath ar-Rabbaanee (p. 151)]
5. “The whole creation is dependent upon Him and helpless without Him. Nobody can benefit or harm you …” [Ref: al-Fath ar-Rabbaanee (p. 89)]
Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah on Imaam Abdul Qaadir:
The Imaam was an upholder of the Salafee Aqeedah, as he, in his book ‘al-Ghuniyyah’, refuted and censured all the deviant sects like the Rawaafidh, the Murjiah, the Qadariyyah, the Jahmiyyah, the Karamiyyah, the Mu’tazilah and others. The only one left are the Ashaabul Hadeeth or Ahlus Sunnah and it is this group of people the Shaykh informed the people to adhere to.
Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, in his refutation of the deviant sects, and he has a recognized status in this, used the statements of Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir as supports and witnesses.
[Ref: Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa (5/85), (10/455, 524, 548), (11/604) of Ibn Taymiyyah]
So if there were any problems with the ‘Aqeedah of Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir then Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah would have indicated or clarified them. Rather, the contrary to this is seen as Ibn Taymiyyah refers and addresses Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee as: the Major Shaykh, ash-Shaykh, al-Imaam, One of the Imaams and so on.
[Ref: Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa (5/85), (11/604) of Ibn Taymiyyah]
Zuhd (Asceticism) and Tasawwuf:
It should be known that concepts such as Hulool (Divine Indwelling), Wahdatul Wujood (Unity of Creation), Wahdatul Shuhood (Unity of Perception) and others were found amongst the extreme Soofees like Aboo ‘Abdillaah Muhammad ibn ‘Arabee and ‘Abdul Kareem Jailee, the later Soofees and in individuals such as Mansoor al-Hallaaj. This is the reason why earlier books of ‘so-called Soofees’ had correct ‘Aqeedah in them, but they also fell short in aspects of purifying their souls.
The term Soofiyyah was not found amongst the earlier generations, especially during the first period. However in the second and third periods, the words Zuhd, ‘Aabid and Saalih would be used for highly pious people and later the word ‘Soofee’ was used for some of these people.
[Ref: Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa (6/11) of Ibn Taymiyyah]
Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir has a detailed discussion in his ‘al-Ghuniyyah’ (2/269-336) which is nothing but concerning Zuhd and Taqwaa (piety), trust, hope, love and truthfulness in Allaah. The Imaam was himself a Zaahid (Ascetic) and a person of great piety. However, Imaam Maalik ibn Anas rahimahullaah spoke the truth when he said, “Everyone’s statement can be accepted or rejected except the Companion of this grave” and he pointed at the grave of RasoolAllaah, peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him.
There are some minor mistakes and errors in the books of Imaam al-Jeelaanee, and some innovations which are relatively insignificant when compared with his achievements. To find out more about them, along with an explanation of where he went wrong, please read “ash-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee wa Aaraauhu al-I’tiqaadiyyah wal Soofiyyah”, by Shaykh Dr. Saeed ibn Musfir al-Qahtaanee (p. 440-476).
The Imaam himself refuted Wahdatul Wajood when he said:”
No place is beyond the scope of His Knowledge (‘ilm). It is not permissible, however, to describe Him as being in every place. The correct statement to make is that He is over the Heavens (fis samawaat) upon the Throne (‘alal ‘arsh) and this is what Allaah has mentioned in the Quraan, “The Most Merciful has established Himself upon the Throne”, Soorah Taa Haa (20:5)”
[Ref: al-Ghuniyyah (1/121-124) of al-Jeelaanee]
Karaamah (General Miracle) and Mu’ajizah (Prophetic Miracle):
The difference between Karaamaat and Muajizaa is that a Muajiza is performed at the hands of Prophets, like the splitting of the moon by RasoolAllaah sallallaahu (alayhi wa sallam) and the cooling of the fire for Ibraaheem ‘alayhis salaam. A Karaamah, on the other hand, is something amazing performed at the hands of a Walee (someone who attained great piety). Hence the following need to be understood:
1. A muajiza is performed at the hands of a Prophet and a karaamah at the hands of a Walee.
2. Just as a Walee’s status cannot reach the status of a Prophet, a Walee’s karaamah cannot be considered to be synonymous with a Prophet’s mu’ajizah.
Ref: Dalaail an-Nubuwwah (p. 109-112) of al-Bayhaqee.
3. The Prophets or Awliyaa do not have any authority in performing the mu’ajizaat or karaamaat; their occurrence is due to the Command of Allaah.
4. It is not permissible for a Muslim to deny a miracle of a Prophet; however a Walee’s karaamah can be accepted OR rejected.
[Ref: Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa (11/208) of Ibn Taymiyyah]
There is no doubt Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee was a pious and righteous individual and it is possible some of the karaamaat attributed to him are correct. However so many have been attributed to him by extreme Soofees, who pass the limits and enter the realms of Ghuloo (extremism) in doing so, and most of these are without evidence or authentic chains. So the affair is that many of the karaamaat attributed to him are not true but mere blind love of the Soofees who forged them and attributed them to him.
Imaam adh-Dhahabee said:
“I say there is not a Shaykh from the major Scholars whose karaamaat are more well known than the karaamaat of Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir; however most of them are not correct and some of them are from the things which are impossible.”
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/450) of adh-Dhahabee]
Imaam Ibn Katheer also said something very similar. Ref: al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (12/252) of Ibn Katheer.
Some of the people who had extreme love for Shaykh Abdul Qaadir compiled his karaamaat in a book. One such person was Abul Hasan Alee ibn Yoosuf ash-Shatnoofee who died 150 years after the death of Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir in approximately 713 AH.
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (5/188) of adh-Dhahabee, Kashf adh-Dhunoon (1/257) of al-Haajee Khaleefah]
ash-Shatnoofee mentioned the karaamaat of Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir in such a manner as if he was from the Shaykh’s time and the reader is fooled into thinking this. ash-Shatnoofee also attempted to mention these karaamaat with his own chains and most of these are weak due to the narrators in the chain. This is the reason why the research Scholars reprimanded ash-Shatnoofee strongly.
Hence Imaam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaanee mentioned from Shaykh al-Kamaal Ja’far:
“ash-Shatnoofee has mentioned very strange and odd things in this book and the people have criticized most of the incidences he has mentioned and their chains.”
[Ref: ad-Durur al-Kaaminah (3/142) of Ibn Hajar]
Ibn al-Wardee mentioned in his Taareekh :
“Bahjat al-Israar (the name of ash-Shatnoofee’s book which means ‘Splendour of the Mysteries’) contains such things which cannot be accepted and such exaggerated things have been mentioned about Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir that are not possible for anyone except Allaah.”
[Ref: Kashf adh-Dhunoon (1/257) of al-Haajee Khaleefah]
Imaam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee said:
“ash-Shatnoofee has written a three volume book on Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir and in it he has compiled a mountain of lies . Whereas it is sufficient for a person to be declared a liar if he narrates everything he hears. I have seen some of the quotes in the book but my soul was not content in believing them because firstly the narrations have been taken from unknown people. Secondly, not only are there mountains of lies and allegations on Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir, but it is also contrary to the status of the Shaykh, if attributed to him. The statement of Shaykh al-Kamaal has also passed by me where he says that the things ash-Shanoofee has mentioned in his book Bahjatul Israar have caused him (ash-Shatnoofee) to be accused (of lying).”
[Ref: adh-Dhayl ‘alaa Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (1/293) of Ibn Rajab]
Although Imaam ‘Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee rahimahullaah had mistakes like every son of Adam,Imaam adh-Dhahabee , the student of Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, described al-Jeelaanee as:
“The summary is Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir was a man of great respect; however some of his statements still need looking into and weighed up, which we leave to Allaah, and from some of them are lies which have been attributed to him.”
[Ref: Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa (20/451) of adh-Dhahabee]
Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah remarked about errors and mistakes that occurred from the Salaf:
“Such statements and actions have been mentioned from some of the Mujtahidoon from the Salaf as-Saaliheen which are included as innovations. However the People of Knowledge did not take them as innovations; rather they took them on the basis of weak narrations, thinking the narration was authentic. Similarly, they extrapolated from Verses (of al-Quraan) and these extrapolations were not correct and they were unable to find specific texts in some of these issues. When someone has fear of Allaah in his heart then he falls under the saying of Allaah, “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fell into error” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:286). And the Saheeh mentions, “Allaah says I accept”.”
[Ref: Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa (19/191) of Ibn Taymiyyah]