Abdul Qadir Gilani (Arabic: عبد القادر الجيلاني, Persian: عبدالقادر گیلانی) was a Hanbali scholar, preacher, and Sufi leader who was the eponym of the Qadiriyya, one of the oldest Sufi orders.[1]

Abdul Qadir Gilani
Imaginary depiction of Abdul Qadir Gilani. Created in Mughal India in c. 1680
Born1077 or 1078 (1 Ramadan 470 AH)
Died1166 CE (11 Rabi' al-Thani 561 AH)
Resting placeBaghdad, Iraq
ReligionSunni Islam
ChildrenAbdul Razzaq Jilani
Main interest(s)Fiqh, Sufism
TariqaQadiriyya (founder)
Senior posting
Disciple ofAbu Saeed Mubarak Makhzoomi

He was born in 1077 or 1078 in the town of Na'if, Rezvanshahr in Gilan, Persia, and died in 1166 in Baghdad.[2][3]


The honorific Muhiyudin denotes his status with many Sufis as a "reviver of religion".[4] Gilani (Arabic al-Jilani) refers to his place of birth, Gilan.[5][6] However, Gilani also carried the epithet Baghdadi, referring to his residence and burial in Baghdad. He was also known as Gauth Al-Azam.[7][8]

Family background

Gilani was born in 1077 or 1078. Despite his popularity, his background is uncertain.[1] His father (or perhaps grandfather) had the Iranian name of Jangi Dust,[1][9] which indicates that Gilani was of Persian stock.[9] His nisba means "from Gilan", an Iranian region located on the southwestern coast of the Caspian Sea.[1]

During his stay in the city of Baghdad, Gilani was called ajami (non-Arab), which according to Bruce Lawrence may be because he spoke Persian alongside Arabic.[9] According to the al-Nujūm al-ẓāhira by the 15th-century historian Ibn Taghribirdi (died 1470), Gilani was born in Jil in Iraq, but this account is questioned by French historian Jacqueline Chabbi.[1] Modern historians (including Lawrence) consider Gilani to have been born in Gilan.[9][10][11] The region was then politically semi-independent and divided between local chieftains from different clans.[12]

Gilani is claimed to have been a descendant of Muhammad's grandson Hasan ibn Ali; this claim is generally considered genuine by the Muslim community, including the Qadiriyya.[1] Lawrence finds this claim inconsistent with Gilani's apparent Persian background, and considers it to have been "traced by overzealous hagiographers."[9]


Gilani spent his early life in Gilan, the province of his birth. In 1095, he went to Baghdad. There, he pursued the study of Hanbali law under Abu Saeed Mubarak Makhzoomi and ibn Aqil.[13][14] He studied hadith with Abu Muhammad Ja'far al-Sarraj.[14] His Sufi spiritual instructor was Abu'l-Khair Hammad ibn Muslim al-Dabbas.[15] After completing his education, Gilani left Baghdad. He spent twenty-five years wandering in the deserts of Iraq.[16]

School of law

Gilani belonged to the Shafi'i and Hanbali schools of law. He placed Shafi'i jurisprudence (fiqh) on an equal footing with the Hanbali school (madhhab), and used to give fatwa according to both of them simultaneously. This is why al-Nawawi praised him in his book entitled Bustan al-'Arifin (Garden of the Spiritual Masters), saying:

We have never known anyone more dignified than Baghdad's Sheikh Muhyi al-Din 'Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani, may Allah be pleased with him, the Sheikh of Shafi'is and Hanbalis in Baghdad.[17]

Later life

In 1127, Gilani returned to Baghdad and began to preach to the public.[3] He joined the teaching staff of the school belonging to his teacher, al-Mazkhzoomi, and was popular with students. In the morning he taught hadith and tafsir, and in the afternoon he discoursed on the science of the heart and the virtues of the Quran. He was said to have been a convincing preacher who converted numerous Jews and Christians and who integrated Sufi mysticism with Islamic Law.[3]

Death and burial

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani Mosque in Baghdad in 1925

Al-Gilani died in 1166 and was buried in Baghdad. His urs (death anniversary of a Sufi saint) is traditionally celebrated on 11 Rabi' al-Thani.[9]

During the reign of the Safavid Shah Ismail I, Gilani's shrine was destroyed.[18] However, in 1535, the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent had a dome built over the shrine.[19]


Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani converted thousands of people to Islam through his compassionate and inclusive approach to Inner purification and devotion towards Allah. His emphasis on inner purification, divine love, and ethical living resonated deeply with many, attracting followers from diverse backgrounds.[20] One of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani's most significant contributions was the establishment of the Madrasah al-Qadiriyya in Baghdad. This institution became a center for Islamic learning and spirituality, attracting students from various regions. The curriculum included the study of the Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and Tasawwuf (Sufism), providing a comprehensive religious education.[21] The influence of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani extended to political and military leaders of his time. His teachings inspired rulers to adopt more just and ethical governance. Prominent figures such as Nur ad-Din Zangi and Salahuddin Ayyubi were known to respect and follow the principles advocated by the Shaykh, which contributed to their own reforms and successes.[22]


The Vision of Muhyi al-Din ibn al-Gilani. Miniature from the Ottoman (1595) manuscript of "Nafahat al-uns" (Breaths of Fellowship) of Jami. Chester Beatty Library
  • Kitab Sirr al-Asrar wa Mazhar al-Anwar (The Book of the Secret of Secrets and the Manifestation of Light)
  • Futuh al ghaib (Secrets of the Unseen)
  • Jila' al-Khatir (The Purification of heart)
  • Ghunyat al-Talibeen (also spelled as : Ghunya- tut-talibeen) (Treasure for Seekers) [23] غنیہ الطالیبین
  • Al-Fuyudat al-Rabbaniya (Emanations of Lordly Grace)
  • Fifteen Letters: Khamsata 'Ashara Maktuban
  • Kibriyat e Ahmar
  • A Concise Description of Jannah & Jahannam[24]
  • The Sublime Revelation (al-Fatḥ ar-Rabbānī)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Chabbi 2009.
  2. ^ W. Braune, Abd al-Kadir al-Djilani, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. I, ed. H.A.R Gibb, J.H.Kramers, E. Levi-Provencal, J. Schacht, (Brill, 1986), 69; "authorities are unanimous in stating that he was a Persian from Nayf (Nif) in Djilan, south of the Caspian Sea."
  3. ^ a b c 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ Mihr-e-munīr: biography of Hadrat Syed Pīr Meher Alī Shāh pg 21, Muhammad Fādil Khān, Faid Ahmad. Sajjadah Nashinan of Golra Sharif, Islamabad (1998).
  5. ^ Encyclopaedia of religion and ethics: volume 1. (A – Art). Part 1. (A – Algonquins) pg 10. Hastings, James and Selbie, John A. Adamant Media corporation. (2001), "and he was probably of Persian origin."
  6. ^ The Sufi orders in Islam, 2nd edition, pg 32. Triingham, J. Spencer and Voll, John O. Oxford University Press US, (1998), "The Hanafi Qadirriya is also included since 'Abd al-Qadir, of Persian origin was contemporary of the other two."
  7. ^ Devotional Islam and politics in British India: [Ahmad Riza Khan] Barelwi and his movement, 1870–1920, pg 144, Sanyal, Usha Oxford University Press US, 19 August 1999. ISBN 0-19-564862-5 ISBN 978-0-19-564862-1.
  8. ^ Indo-iranica pg 7. The Iran Society, Calcutta, India. (1985).
  9. ^ a b c d e f Lawrence 1982, pp. 132–133.
  10. ^ Anwar 2009.
  11. ^ Jonathan & Karamustafa 2014.
  12. ^ Madelung 2001, pp. 634–635.
  13. ^ Campo, Juan Eduardo (2009). "Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani". Encyclopedia of Islam. Infobase Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 9781438126968.
  14. ^ a b Gibb, H.A.R.; Kramers, J.H.; Levi-Provencal, E.; Schacht, J. (1986). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. I (A-B) (New ed.). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. p. 69. ISBN 978-9004081147.
  15. ^ Malise Ruthven, Islam in the World, p 243. ISBN 0195305035
  16. ^ Esposito J. L. The Oxford dictionary of Islam. p160. ISBN 0199757267
  17. ^ 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (20 January 2019). Jamal al-Din Faleh al-Kilani [in Arabic] (ed.). Futuh al-Ghayb ("Revelations of the Unseen") (in Arabic).
  18. ^ A.A. Duri, Baghdad, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. I, 903.
  19. ^ W. Braune, Abd al-Kadir al-Djilani, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. I, 70.
  20. ^ Renard, John (2004). Knowledge of God in Classical Sufism: Foundations of Islamic Mystical Theology. Paulist Press (published July 1, 2004). pp. 202–205. ISBN 978-0809140305.
  21. ^ Algar, Hamid (1999). Sufism: Principles & Practice. Islamic Pubns Intl (published January 1, 1999). pp. 103–106. ISBN 978-1889999029.
  22. ^ W. Ernst, Carl (1997). The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. Shambhala (published September 23, 1997). pp. 124–126. ISBN 978-1570621802.
  23. ^ Al-Qahtani, Sheik Saeed bin Misfer (1997). Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani and his Belief and Sufi views (in Arabic). Library of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah. p. 133.
  24. ^ "A concise description of Jannah & Jahannam, the garden of paradise and the fire of hell: excerpted from 'Sufficient provision for seekers of the Path of Truth (Al-Ghunya li-Tālibi al-Ḥaqq)". WorldCat.org. Retrieved 2022-11-03.