Philosophy & Theology

al-Haythami and Abd al-Qadir Jilani’s Ghunya

Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haythami_

Interpolations into the Ghunya of Imam `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani 

The great faqih of the Shafi`i madhhab and master of hadith Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haythami al-Makki makes the following stern remarks in his compendium of legal verdicts (fatawa):

وإياك أن تغتر أيضاً بما وقع في [ الغُنْية ] لإمام العارفين وقطب الإسلام والمسلمين الأستاذ عبد القادر الجيلاني، فإنه دسَّه عليه فيها مَنْ سينتقم اللَّهُ منه وإلا فهو برىء من ذلك. وكيف تُروَّج عليه هذه المسألة الواهية مع تضَّلُعه من الكتاب والسنة وفقه الشافعية والحنابلة حتى كان يفتي على المذهبين، هذا مع ما انضْم لذلك من أن الله منّ عليه من المعارف والخوارق الظاهرة والباطنة وما أنبأ عنه ما ظهر عليه وتواتر من أحواله، ومنه ما حكاه اليافعي رحمه الله وقال : مما علمناه بالسند الصحيح المتصل أن الشيخ عبد القادر الجيلاني أكل دجاجة ثم لما لم يبق غير العظم توجه إلى الله في إحيائها فأحياها الله إليه وقامت تجري بين يديه كما كانت قبل ذبحها وطبخها، فمن امتَّن الله عليه بمثل هذه الكرامات الباهرة يتصور أو يتوهم أنه قائل بتلك القبائح التي لا يصدر مثلها إلا عن اليهود وأمثالهم ممن استحكم فيه الجهل بالله وصفاته وما يجب له وما يجوز وما يستحيل : } سُبْحَانَكَ هَاذَا بُهْتَانٌ عَظِيمٌ {[ النور : 17 ، 18 ] .

ومما يقطع به كل عاقل أن الشيخ عبد القادر لم يكن غافلاً عما في ( رسالة القشيري ) التي سارت بها الركبان واشتهرت بين سائر المسلمين سيما أهل التحقيق والعِرْفان، وإذا لم يجهل ذلك فكيف يتوَّهم فيه هذه القبيحة الشنيعة، وفيها عن بعض رجالها أئمة القوم السالمين عن كل محذور ولوم أنه قال : كان في نفسي شيء من حديث الجهة فلما زال ذلك عني كتبتُ إلى أصحابنا إني قد أسلمت الآن، فتأمل ذلك واعتن به لعلك توفق للحق إن شاء الله تعالى وتجري على سنن الاستقامة، ولم نعلم أحداً من فقهاء الشافعية ابتلى بهذا الإعتقاد الفاسد القبيح الذي ربما أدى إلى الكفر والعياذ بالله إلا ما نقل على العمراني صاحب البيان ولعله كُذِب عليه، أو أنه تاب منه قبل موته بدليل أن الله تعالى نفع بكتبه شرقاً وغرباً، ومَنْ على ذلك الإعتقاد لا ينفع الله بشيء من آثاره غالباً .

“Beware too of being misguided by what has occurred regarding the book al-Ghunya [li-Talibi `ala Tariq Ahl al-Haqq] of the Imam, knower of Allah, the pole of this faith and its adherents, the esteemed teacher `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.[1] It has been interpolated [by people] and Allah will bring about revenge for it for [the Imam] is innocent from all this. How is that he circulate such a baseless opinion while being fully versed in the Qur’an and Sunna as well as that of Shafi`i and Hanafi fiqh such that he issued legal rulings according to both schools […]

It is evident to any rational [and sane person] that Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir was not unaware of The Epistle of al-Qushayri[2] such that he was famed amongst all Muslims for his knowledge of it – especially amongst the elite knowers of Allah and the spiritually exacting scholars [of the science].[3] If he knew the book, then how can he think such a baseless and despicable view? […]”[4]

Notes:

  • Imam `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani was alleged to have said: 1. Allah established himself over the Throne (al-`arsh) “in person” (bi-dhatihi), i.e. literally[5] and 2. Made general ex-communicatory pronouncements over the Hanafis as disbelievers, i.e. making takfir on them.
  • Imam Ibn Hajar refutes such allegations and absolves the Shaykh from accusations of calumny and heresy.
  • Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani is attributed with miracles (al-karamat) and one is quoted here by al-Haythami the reasoning being: if Allah has given such miracles to an individual and endowed such divine grace, it becomes impossible for him to hold unorthodox positions in theology.
  • A possible source of interpolators – Imam Ibn Hajar argues – are the Jews or any other religious denomination that has muddled its theology regarding Divine attributes and what is possible, impossible and impermissible for Allah.
  • There may be explanations for the `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani’s purported literalist tendencies that constitute such a view:
  1. Interpolation of the phrase bi-dhatihi and hence a spurious attribution doctrinally. > one evidence for this is a quote from al-Dhahabi which does not mention the phrase bi-dhatihi:

“The shaykh al-Islam, master of the preachers, Abu Muhammad `Abd al-Qadir b. Abi Salih b. Junuki al-Jili al-Hanbali and the venerable teacher of Iraq said in his book al-Ghunya that in short, knowledge of the Creator through signs and proofs [in creation] is to know and have utter conviction that Allah is One and Only One […]

Moreover, [`Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani] said: ‘He is established (mustawin) on the Throne which comprises His dominion and His knowledge encompasses all things […]. It is not permitted to describe [Allah] as being in all places; rather one ought to say that He is in the sky established on the throne just as [He said]: (The Most Merciful is established upon the Throne).[6] This must be stated in general and absolute terms without exhorting to any interpretation. As for the fact of The Most High being established upon the Throne, it is mentioned in all the books ever revealed to any Prophet that was ever sent without modality’…”[7]

قال شيخ الإسلام سيد الوعاظ أبو محمد عبد القادر بن أبي صالح بن جنكي دوست الجيلي الحنبلي شيخ العراق في كتاب الغنية له وهو مجلد أما معرفة الصانع بالآيات والدلائل على وجه الإختصار فهو أن يعرف ويتيقن أن الله واحد أحد.

إلى أن قال وهو مستو على العرش محتو على الملك محيط علمه بالأشياء إليه يصعد الكلم الطيب والعمل الصالح يرفعه ولا يجوز وصفه بأنه في كل مكان بل يقال إنه في السماء على العرش كما قال الرحمن على العرش استوى وينبغي إطلاق ذلك من غير تأويل وكونه تعالى على العرش فمذكور في كل كتاب أنزل على كل نبي أرسل بلا كيف سمعت الحافظ أبا الحسين يقول سمعت الشيخ عز الدين بن عبد السلام بمصر يقول ما نعرف أحدا كراماته متواترة كالشيخ عبد القادر رحمه الله. توفي في سنة إحدى وستين وخمسمائة.

 

 

  1. The phrase bi-dhatihi is sound because they are attested to in various manuscripts but the intent and use is not literally interpreted as misunderstood by many later scholars (especially Wahhabi/Salafi followers).
  2. The phrase bi-dhatihi is accurate and of the intent and use that indicates a form of literalism indicative of the Hanbali school.
  • Below is a creed attributed to Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani:

The Creed [‘aqida] of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani
(may Allah sanctify his innermost secret)

Extracted from Al-Futuh Al-Ghayb

******************************

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful:

Praise be to Allah, the One who modeled the mode [kayyafa’l kaif], though He is completely free from modality [kaifiyya];

And has localized locality [ayyana ‘l-ain], though He utterly transcends location [ainiyya];

And exists [wujida] in every place, though He is far removed from circumstantiality [zarfiyya];

And makes Himself present with [hadara ‘inda] everything, though He is far exalted above “withness” [‘indiyya].

He is the First of everything, and there is no posteriority [akhiriyya] applicable to Him.

If you say “where [aina]? ”, you are imposing location [ainiyya] on Him.

If you say: “how [kaifa]?”, you seek Him through modality [kaifiyya].

If you say: “when [mataa]?”, you are besetting Him with temporality [waqtiyya].

If you say “He is not [laisa],” you are excluding Him from being [kawniyya].

If you say “if [law]”, you are confronting Him with deficiency [naqsiyya].

If you say “why [lima]?” – you are disputing with Him over sovereignty [malakutiyya].

Glory be to Him and Exalted is He!

He is not preceded by precedence [qabliyya]. He is not superseded by subsequence [ba’diyya]. He cannot be compared by likeness [mithliyya]. He cannot be matched by comparability [shakliyya]. He is not flawed by matrimonial conjugality [zawjiyya]. He is not known by corporeality [jismiyya].

Glory be to Him and Exalted is He!

If He were a tangible object [shakhs], He would be known in terms of quantity [kammiyya].

If He were a physical body (jism), He would consist of elements combined in structure [binya], but He is Singular [Wahid], in refutation of structurality [banawiyya].

He is Eternal [Samad], in refutation of idolatry [wathaniyya].

There is nothing similar to Him, in rejection of [the anthropomorphism] of the Hashwiyya.

There is nothing comparable to Him, in refutation of those who maintain the heresy of characterization [wasfiyya].

No mover moves, in good or evil, in private or in public, on land or at sea, except by His Will, in refutation of the Qadariyya.

His Power [Qudra] admits no comparison, and His Wisdom [Hikma] has no final limit, in denial of the Hudhaliyya.

His rights are those that are obligatory [huququ-hu ‘l wajiba], and His proof is that which is effective [hujjatu-hu ‘l baligha]. No one is entitled to claim any right over Him, contrary to the precept of the Nazzamiyya.

He is Just [‘Adil] and does no injustice in His judgments. He is Truthful [Sadiq] and does no injustice in His judgments. He is Truthful [Sadiq] and does not go back on what He makes known.

He is a speaker [Mutakallim] who utters a speech that is infinitely pre-existent, sempiternal [kalam qadim azali], not as one who creates his speech.

He has sent down the Qur’an and He has made it impossible for the eloquent linguists to rearrange it, thereby disproving the arguments of the Muradiyya.

Our Lord condones faults and forgives sins, for those who repent. Even if a man returns to his sin, that which is past will absolutely not return to the human being.

Our Lord is completely free from falsity [zaif] and far removed from tyranny [haif].

We also believe that He has reconciled the hearts of the believers and that He has caused the unbelievers to go astray, in refutation of the Hishamiyya.

We also believe that the sinners [fussaq] of this Community [Umma] are better than the Jews, the Christians and the Magians, in refutation of the Ja’fariyya. 

We affirm that He sees Himself, and sees what is other than Himself and that He is One who hears [Sami’] every call, One who sees [Basir] every secrecy, in refutation of the Ka’biyya.

He has created His creatures in a most excellent natural constitution [fitra], and, after He has returned them through extinction in the darkness of the grave, He will restore them to the condition He first produced them, in refutation of the Dahriyya.

Then, when He has gathered them for the Day of His Reckoning, He will manifest Himself to His dear friends, so they will witness Him directly with the faculty of sight. He will be visible like the        moon, and He will be veiled from none but those who deny the vision [of Him], such as the Mu’tazila. How could He be veiled from His dear friends, or make them stop before His screen, when His sempiternal, infinitely pre-existent promises have already been set forth?

O self now at peace

Ya ayyathu’n-nafsu’l-mutma’inna

Return unto your Lord, well pleased, well pleasing!

Irji’i ila Rabbi-ki radiyatan mardiyya. (Q. 89:28-29).

Can you see yourself content with the roses of the Gardens of Paradise, or satisfied with the silken garments of the Orchard? How could Majnun be happy with anything less than Layla in full bloom? How could the lovers relax in comfort, without the fragrant scents of ambergris?

Bodies have been melted in the realization of worshipful servitude. How could they not rejoice in the seats of togetherness [‘indiyya]. Eyes have stayed sleepless through the gloomy nights. How could they not delight in the witnessing of intimate friendship? Hearts have been tormented by amorous yearnings. How could they fail to drink from the pure juicy wine? Spirits have been imprisoned in sensory forms. How could they not roam freely in the sacred meadows, graze in their lofty pastures, drink from their refreshing springs, and put an end to any lingering trace of longing for relief from that cause of complaint? The judge of the ardent lovers will make a public appearance, and settle that case.

When they are addressed at the meeting with their Master [Mawla], He will begin by offering them the greeting [tahiyya], then He will instruct them to enter the Gardens of Eden, but they will reject them with disdain. They will swear that they looked for nothing apart from Him, that they had no intention of seeking anything apart from Him, and that they would not be content with anything existing in the universe. They will swear that their objectives were not inferior, so they had not forsaken the pleasure of life except to advance therefrom, through the link that is utterly superior.

The wine-director will offer them a cup, chosen from his very best, containing a salutary drink. As it passed around among the intimate companions, it will be welcomed in the early morning hours and in the evening. It will add to their comfort and their ardent longing for the radiant lights of His magnificent appearance. 

By your Truth, if you do not allow and eye to see Your Beauty [Jamal], that is a miserable eye.

The ardent lovers have come to experience, through Your goodness, on account of longing for You, a gentle kindness for the common people. Hearts melt in yearning for You, and no trace of passionate desire remains therein.

If I decide, but You do not fulfil my purpose, I am subject to direction from Your love. I shall not be despairing at the meeting, O my God, that Your good graces will erase the sinful error. 

How could there be denial, O my brethren, when, in the early morning hours, there are Lordly moments [awqat Rabbaniyya], heavenly indications, and angelic breezes? The proof of the truthfulness of this matter is that the birds in the trees are intoning the Davidian psalms [alhan Dawudiyya], the divergent streams are splashing in the fertile meadows, and the branches are dancing in fine suits of silk brocade from the Garden of Paradise. All of that is done in submissive obedience, and as an acknowledgement of His Uniqueness [Wahdaniyya]. 

Yes indeed, O people of love, the Lord of Truth reveals Himself in the time before dawn, and He issues the invitation: “Is there anyone ready to repent, that I may relent toward him with a satisfactory acceptance? Is there anyone seeking forgiveness, that I may forgive him his sinful errors entirely? Is there anyone begging for charity, that I may grant him blessings and gifts in abundance?”

Yes indeed, once the spirits are pure, they will be in splendor, radiant and shining. They will be equally balanced in their spiritual states and all disaster will be meaningless to them. Without a doubt, the scent of their tears will be fragrant on all the horizons.

Through their patient endurance of some separation, they have earned the right of attainment to the exalted ranks. The authenticity of their sayings [ahadith], concerning the degrees of the lovers, is established by reliable transmission [musnada marwiyya]. They pass without question, and their needs are fully met.

The gift of love had come to be crystal clear. How well it deserves to be celebrated in brilliant rhymes [qawafi], and in a splendid creed [‘aqida], based on the principles of the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools [usul madhahib al-Hanafiyya wa’sh-Shafi’iyya wa’l-Malikyya wa’l-Hanbaliyya]!

May Allah (Exalted is He) protect me, and all of you, from those who split apart and go astray, as arrows stray from their target. May He include me, and all of you, among those for whom there are lofty halls, with lofty halls built above them.

May Allah bless our master Muhammad, the noblest of humankind, and his family and his Companions. May He single them out for the most noble salutation, and may He grant them abundant peace, constantly renewed in endless succession, every morning and evening.

Amin, and again Amin.[8]


[2] The al-Risala al-Qushayriyya Fi `Ilm al-Tasawwuf (‘The Epistle of al-Qushayri in the Science of Sufism’).

[3] i.e. that of tasawwuf (‘Sufism’).

[4] See al-Haythami, al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyya, vol.1, pp.144-145.

[5] Although more generally a “direction” (al-jiha) for Allah.

[6] Q. 20:5.

[7] See al-Dhahabi, Kitab al-`Uluw, vol.1, p.266.

One thought on “al-Haythami and Abd al-Qadir Jilani’s Ghunya

  1. Pingback: Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (d. 561 AH) vs Ashari creed | Shaykh Dr. Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed Al-Muftari

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