The Qadiriyya (Arabic: القادرية) are members of the Sunni Qadiri tariqa (Sufi order). The tariqa got its name from Abdul Qadir Gilani (1077–1166, also transliterated Jilani), who was a Hanbali scholar from Gilan, Iran. The order relies strongly upon adherence to the fundamentals of Sunni Islamic law.
With its many offshoots, the order is widespread, particularly in the non-Arabic-speaking world, and can also be found in Turkey, Indonesia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Balkans, Russia, Palestine, China, and East and West Africa.
The Founder Of The Qadiriyya:
Abdul Qādir Gīlānī, (Persian: عبدالقادر گیلانی, Arabic: عبدالقادر الجيلاني, Romanized: ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī) known by admirers as Muḥyī l-Dīn Abū Muḥammad b. Abū Sāliḥ ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī al-Ḥasanī wa’l-Ḥusaynī, was a Sunni Muslim preacher, ascetic, mystic, jurist, and theologian, known for being the eponymous founder of the Qadiriyya tariqa (Sufi order) of Sufism.
He was born on 11 Rabi’ al-Thani 470 AH (March 23, 1078) in the town of Na’if in Gilan, Iran, and died on Monday, February 21, 1166 (11 Rabi’ al-Thani 561 AH), in Baghdad. He was a Persian Hanbali Sunni jurist and Sufi based in Baghdad. The Qadiriyya tariqa is named after him.
Abdul Qadir Gilani was a scholar and preacher. Having been a pupil at the madrasa of Abu Sa’id al-Mubarak, he became the leader of this school after al-Mubarak’s death in 1119. Being the new sheikh, he and his large family lived in the madrasa until he died in 1166, when his son, Abdul Razzaq, succeeded his father as sheikh. Abdul Razzaq published a hagiography of his father, emphasizing his reputation as the founder of a distinct and prestigious Sufi order.
The History Of The Qadiriyya:
The Qadiriyya flourished, surviving the Mongolian conquest of Baghdad in 1258, and remained an influential Sunni institution. After the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate, the legend of Gilani was further spread by a text entitled The Joy of the Secrets in Abdul-Qadir’s Mysterious Deeds (Bahjat al-asrar fi ba’d manaqib ‘Abd al-Qadir) attributed to Nur al-Din ‘Ali al-Shattanufi, who depicted Gilani as the ultimate channel of divine grace and helped the Qadiri order to spread far beyond the region of Baghdad.
By the end of the fifteenth century, the Qadiriyya had distinct branches and had spread to Morocco, Spain, Turkey, India, Ethiopia, Somalia, and present-day Mali. Established Sufi sheikhs often adopted the Qadiriyya tradition without abandoning the leadership of their local communities.
During the Safavid dynasty’s rule of Baghdad from 1508 to 1534, the sheikh of the Qadiriyya has appointed the chief Sufi of Baghdad and the surrounding lands. Shortly after the Ottoman Empire conquered Baghdad in 1534, Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned a dome to be built on the mausoleum of Abdul-Qadir Gilani, establishing the Qadiriyya as his main allies in Iraq.
Khawaja Abdul-Allah, a sheikh of the Qadiriyya and a descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, is reported to have entered China in 1674 and traveled the country preaching until his death in 1689. One of Abdullah’s students, Qi Jingyi Hilal al-Din, is said to have permanently rooted Qadiri Sufism in China.
He was buried in Linxia City, which became the center of the Qadiriyya in China. By the seventeenth century, the Qadiriyya had reached Ottoman-occupied areas of Europe.
Sultan Bahu contributed to the spread of Qadiriyya in western India. His method of spreading the teachings of the Sufi doctrine of Faqr was through his Punjabi couplets and other writings, which numbered more than 140. He granted the method of dhikr and stressed that the way to reach divinity was not through asceticism or excessive or lengthy prayers but selfless love carved out of annihilation in God, which he called fana.
Sheikh Sidi Ahmad al-Bakka’i (Arabic: الشيخ سيدي أحمد البكاي بودمعة of the Kunta family, born in the region of the Noun river, d. 1504 in Akka) established a Qadiri zawiya (Sufi residence) in Walata. In the sixteenth century, the family spread across the Sahara to Timbuktu, Agades, Bornu, Hausaland, and other places, and in the eighteenth century, large numbers of Kunta moved to the region of the middle Niger where they established the village of Mabruk. Sidi Al-Mukhtar al-Kunti (1728–1811) united the Kunta factions by successful negotiation and established an extensive confederation. Under his influence, the Maliki school of Islamic law was reinvigorated and the Qadiriyyah order spread throughout Mauritania, the middle Niger region, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Futa Toro, and Futa Jallon. Kunta colonies in the Senegambian region became centers of Muslim teaching.
Sheikh Usman dan Fodio (1754-1817) from Gobir popularized the Qadiri teachings in Nigeria. He was well-educated in classical Islamic science, philosophy, and theology. He also became a revered religious thinker. In 1789 a vision led him to believe he had the power to work miracles and to teach his own mystical wird, or litany.
His litanies are still widely practiced and distributed in the Islamic world. Dan Fodio later had visions of Abdul Qadir Gilani, the founder of the Qadiri tariqah, an ascension to heaven, where he was initiated into the Qadiriyya and the spiritual lineage of Muhammad. His theological writings dealt with concepts of the Mujaddid “renewer” and the role of the Ulama in teaching history, and other works in Arabic and the Fula language.