The earliest Sufi Order was founded by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him) who died 1166 C.E. in Baghdad, Iraq. The Sufis of the Qadiriyah Order laid great stress on the purification of the self. According to this philosophy, purification of the mirror of the heart from rust of the carnal, animal and satanic qualities is the essential part of one’s spiritual journey. The Sufis maintained that the human soul came from the world of command and is capable of reflecting the Divine Light, but due to impurities of the self, it does not do so.
If a mirror becomes rusty it cannot reflect any form placed before it, but when the rust is removed, it begins to reflect clearly. Thus if the mirror of the heart is clean, the beauty of the Beloved (Allah) reflects in it and one can see this in the personality of the seeker, inwardly and outwardly.
Hazrat Ghaus-e-Azam (may Allah be well pleased with him) is a ‘Najeeb-ut-Tarfayn’ Sayyid, that is, his father traces his lineage to Imam Hasan (may Allah be well pleaded with him) and his mother traces he lineage to Imam Husayn (may Allah be well pleaded with him).
The venerable Muhyiddin Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, may his soul be sanctified, is al-ghawth al-azam [the manifestaion of Allah’s attribute ‘the All-Powerful’], who hears the cry for help and saves the ones in need, and al-qutb al-azam – the pole, the center, the summit of spiritual evolution, the spiritual ruler of the world, the source of wisdom, container of all knowledge, the example of faith in Islam; a true inheritor of the perfection of the Prophet Mustafa; a perfect man; and the founder of the Qadiriyah, the mystical order that has spread far and wide and preserved the true meaning of Islamic Sufism throughout these centuries until our time.
Even the famous 18th century theologian Shah Wali Allah [d.1762] of Delhi, whose primary Sufi affiliation is the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidiyya, praises and respects Abdul Qadir Jilani to such a great extent and declares that the most complete Sufi [in terms of having a connection to the Prophet] is Hazrat Shaikh Sayyiduna Shah Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him). Therefore it is said that the spiritual power (tasarruf) at his blessed tomb is as if he were alive.
Shah Wali Allah further comments that the Qadiriya is near the Uwaisiyya [Uwaysi] and other paths involving disembodied spirits. There is nothing to compare to the Qadiriya when one learns from an embodied Pir with a connection and access to the spiritual energy of disembodied Pir’s benefiting the aspirant. The deceased Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani is among the highest angels (al-mala al-ala) and he leaves an impression existence, which is felt, throughout the entire world. It is this, from the aspect of the soul (ruh) that one acquires in his spiritual path. Sayyiduna Abdul Qadir has a divine connection, meaning that he is desired by Almighty Allah (murad) and absolutely loved by Almighty Allah [Invincible and Exalted is He]…. making him one of the perfected souls and one of the highest angels. This is why Hazrat Ghaus-ul-Azam [Ghawth-i Azam] is praised to such a high degree. Islam tell us that after death the soul lives in the Alam-i-Arwah [the soul world] which is also known as the Barzakh or the buffer-zone lying between this world and the next.
Clearly the Indo-Muslim elite, both Qadiri and non-Qadiri accorded a very high status to Shaikh Sayyiduna Shah Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him) from the 15th century. [Source: The Indo-Pak Qadiriyya, Prof. Authur Buehler (Harvard University) from the ‘Journal of the History of Sufism’, Special Issue, the Qadiriyya Order]
May Almighty Allah [Exalted is He] be pleased with the Cardinal Pole [Qutb], the Spiritual Helper [Ghauwth], Muhyiddin Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani and may He sanctify the innermost beings of all His saints and servants. May Almighty Allah bless our beloved Master, the beloved Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), his family, and his Companions, and may He grant them peace. Praise be to Almighty Allah [Exalted is He], the Lord of All the Worlds
” Let’s talk about sayyiduna shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, the Hanbali Sufi, rahimahullah. Who were his early followers? What is the history behind the transmission of the Qadiri tariqa? What does him being Hanbali entail? And most importantly, is wilaya confined to one school of scholastic theology (kalam)?
In my original post, I stated:
“Later the Qadiriyya (named after the Hanbali scholar ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani) also grew to become immensely popular across much of the Muslim world. However, despite what some may imagine, the success of the Qadiriyya wasn’t an instant one, but a gradual development, and it was by far overshadowed by the more popular Rifa’i order.”
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir (1077–1166) was born in Gilan, near the Caspian Sea, in what is today Northern Iran. It is due to this fact that he in Arabic is known al-Jili, al-Jilani, and al-Kilani. Since Arabs tend to modify names to sound more Arabic (in fact, most cultures adopt localized pronunciations of foreign names), it is often pronounced as al-Jaylani or al-Kaylani.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir moved to Baghdad i 1095, at the age of 18. That was the very year that the great Shafi’i faqih and Ash’ari theologian imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali entered into his self-described whirlwind of a spiritual crisis. He left his post as headmaster of the Niżamiyya, where he was replaced by his brother shaykh Ahmad al-Ghazali (the known Sufi teacher of shaykh Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi, who also studied, and later himself taught at the Niżamiyya).
As far as we can tell, shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir had no interest in studying at the Niżamiyya, rather, he learned the Hanbali madhhab in Baghdad at the school of shaykh Abu Sa’id al-Mubarak al-Mukharrimi (or al-Makhzumi, d. 1119), a Hanbali faqih, and the first shaykh from whom he received the Sufi khirqa. He also studied the Islamic sciences under Ibn ‘Aqil (also a Sufi, who wrote a work in veneration of al-Hallaj), and the son of Qadi Abu Ya’la, among many other teachers, receiving a well-rounded education in the Hanbali madhhab.
He later attended the circles of the Sufi shaykh Abu al-Khayr Hammad al-Dabbas (d. 1131), under whom he received his Sufi training proper. It has been reported that shaykh al-Dabbas was illiterate, unable to both read and write. When he started to attend the gatherings of shaykh al-Dabbas, his disciples disliked the presence of shaykh al-Jilani, due to him being a Hanbali.
The Shaykh spent some 25 years as a wanderer in the desert, and in the year 1127, at the age of 50, he re-emerged as a highly popular preacher, teaching the Islamic sciences at the Hanbali madrasa of his teacher shaykh al-Mukharrimi. In his own lifetime it seems that he was known primarily for being a preacher, teacher, and later headmaster of a Hanbali madrasa, not a Sufi ribat. In this regard he stands in contrast to shaykhs such as Abu al-Najib and Ahmad al-Rifa’i. The shaykh didn’t dressed in the clothes commonly associated with the Sufis, but instead wore the garb of the ‘ulama, and his primary following was from the Hanabila, who were but a minority.
The three works ascribed to him that are generally considered authentic; al-Fath al-Rabbani, Futuh al-Ghayb, and al-Ghunya, were likely put to paper by his sons and students. These works contain distinctively Hanbali teachings, a fact that was was troubling to later Ash’ari-Sufis, who were pressed to claim that the Hanabila had tampered with the texts. The problematic nature of this argument should be apparent, for the only way that the Hanabila could have gotten away with tampering with the texts in the first place was if they were the primary recipients, transcribers, and transmitters of the works. In fact, the Hanbali scholar Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyya was the first to author a commentary on one of shaykh al-Jilani’s works, al-Fath al-Rabbani. To the best of our knowledge, historically speaking, shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani was as Hanbali as it gets. That is not to say that he wasn’t a Sufi, rather that the post-Wahhabi distinction, often linking Sufism to Ash’arism, is historically inaccurate.
Many who today will tolerate no disagreement whataoever in regards to shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani being al-Ghawth al-A’dham and Sultan al-Awliya, having his foot firmly placed on the neck of every wali, are the same people that call misguidance and unbelief the very teachings that shaykh al-Jilani himself most likely taught and believed. While we cannot pinpoint his exact opinion on every single issue, it is clear that he found himself within the general framework of the Hanabila. There is an extremely important lesson here; wilaya is not confined to the rigidity of a narrow school of scholastic theology (kalam).
Shaykh al-Jilani must have had an inspiring personality, and he does seem to have been immensely popular as a preacher. Bahjat al-Asrar, authored by shaykh Nur al-Din al-Shattanawfi (d. 1314), written over a hundred years after shaykh al-Jilani’s demise, is perhaps the most extensive biography of the era. The work describes the shaykh’s life, including his many karamat. Al-Dhahabi (d. 1348) stated that the book contains truth mixed with falsehood. It includes miracle stories of shaykh al-Jilani, such as him flying in the air, and making the lamps and dinnerware dance due to the crowd not being moved by his speech. Shaykh Taqi al-Din al-Wasiti (d. 1343) further called it a book of lies, and sought to establish that the author himself was indeed a known liar. Miracle stories continued to be concocted about the honorable shaykh al-Jilani to the point that it became almost impossible to seperate truth from falsehood in most cases. Shaykh Muhammad Abu al-Huda al-Sayyadi al-Rifa’i (d. 1909) stated that no other shaykh in Islamic history has had so many lies ascribed to him as shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, rahimahullah. What many seem to fail to understand is that the greatest karama is istiqama, which is something that shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir had from what we can tell. Hence, such fabrications add no further credit to him, but instead serve as a thick fog, veiling us from the honorable shaykh al-Jilani, his character as well as the karamat that he did indeed perform.
In his own lifetime, Sufis do not seem to have ascribed to him en masse, rather to shaykhs such as Ahmad al-Ghazali, Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi, and Ahmad al-Rifa’i. And for quite some time, the Qadiri tariqa was generally not mentioned alongside the Suhrawardiyya and the Rifa’iyya, two other Iraqi orders.
In Iraq, the faction associating themselves with the shaykh was centered around his tomb in Baghdad. While few ribats existed within the coming generations after his demise, it took at least two centuries before it became a popular tariqa. Sons of the shaykh, namely ‘Abd al-Razzaq and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (alongside faithful students) do seem to have dedicated themselves to their father’s legacy, such as compiling the above-mentioned books. However, anything remotely resembling a tariqa would have been confined to a smaller group of disciples centered around his sons and tomb, and had little influence outside of Baghdad. The descendants of shaykh al-Jilani received at least sporadic support from the Abbasid caliphate, such as having a ribat built for them. It seems, however, that the Mongol invasion put an end to their prominence.
Ibn Battuta, writing in the 14th century, mentions the many Rifa’i ribats, not only in Iraq, but even in Turkey and the Caucasus. Qadiri ribats, not so. In fact, when he wrote about his visit to Baghdad, he did not even mention the tomb of shaykh al-Jilani, which indicates that it was not a major attraction. The tomb appears to only have (re-)gained prominence during Ottoman rule, the empire being known for supporting Sufism. In areas with a strong Shi’ite presence, it further served as a strategical move to counter the popular Shi’ite shrines, and to promote Sunnism to the Shi’ite population.
In contrast to other tariqas, such as the Suhrawardiyya, Rifa’iyya, Shadhiliyya, and Naqshbandiyya, the different Qadiri branches seem to have lacked common principles and awrad, finding themselves borrowing from other tariqas, and only later composing their own material. Qadiri shaykhs produced little literature of their own, and Awarif al-Ma’arif of shaykh Abu Hafs al-Suhrawardi often served as the standard manual of the tariqa.
In India, the tariqa was established by shaykh Muhammad al-Ghawth (d. 1517), but even then it seems to have been rather isolated, and never gained the popularity of the Suhrawardi and Chishti orders. It was as late as the 17th century that the tariqa took firm root in Anatolia, where shaykh Isma’il al-Rumi (d. 1631/43) is said to have established over 40 Qadiri centers.
It appears that the Qadiri order manifested itself similar to the already existent orders in a given location. It was established based on the reputation of shaykh al-Jilani, not transmitted principles and awrad (or the shaykh’s books for that matter). This is likely why, in contrast to tariqas such as the Suhrawardiyya, Rifa’iyya, Shadhiliyya, and Naqshbandiyya, no two Qadiri branches are even remotely similar. The Qadiri tariqa is hence centered around shaykh al-Jilani’s person (as perceived), and his fame as a wali, rather than on his teachings and methodology.
The spiritual chain (silsila) is listed as follows:
- Hazrat Muhammad(صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم)
- Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Hasan ibn Ali(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Husayn ibn Ali(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Zain-ul-Abideen(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Muhammad al-Baqir(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Ja’far al-Sadiq(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Musa al-Kadhim(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Ali ar-Ridha(عليه السلام)
- Hazrat Maruf Karkhi (رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Sirri Saqti(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Junayd al-Baghdadi(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Abu Bakr Shibli(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Abdul Aziz bin Hars bin Asad Yemeni Tamimi(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Abu Al Fazal Abdul Wahid Yemeni Tamimi(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Mohammad Yousaf Abu al-Farah Tartusi(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Abu al-Hasan Hankari(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Abu Sa’id al-Mubarak Makhzoomi(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
- Hazrat Abdul-Qadir Gilani(رحمتہ اللہ علیہ)
कादिरिया के संस्थापक, hazrat अब्दुल कादिर गिलानी رحمة الله علیه , एक सम्मानित विद्वान और उपदेशक थे। अबू सईद अल-मुबारक के मदरसे में छात्र होने के बाद, वह १११९ में अल-मुबारक की मृत्यु के बाद इस स्कूल के नेता बने। नए शेख होने के नाते, वह और उसका बड़ा परिवार मदरसे में रहता था जब तक कि वह नहीं था। 1166 में मृत्यु, जब उनके बेटे, अब्दुल रज्जाक رحمة الله علیه, अपने पिता को शेख के रूप में सफल हुए। अब्दुल रज्जाकرحمة الله علیه ने एक विशिष्ट और प्रतिष्ठित सूफी आदेश के संस्थापक के रूप में अपनी प्रतिष्ठा पर जोर देते हुए अपने पिता की एक जीवनी प्रकाशित की।
1258 में बगदाद के मंगोलियाई विजय से बचकर कादिरिया फूल गया और एक प्रभावशाली सुन्नी संस्था बना रहा। अब्बासिद खलीफा के पतन के बाद, गिलानी की किंवदंती को द जॉय ऑफ द सीक्रेट इन अब्दुल-कादिर رحمة الله علیه के मिस्टीरियस डीड्स (बहजत अल-असरार फि़द मनकीब – अब्द अल-क़ादिर) के नाम से एक पाठ द्वारा फैलाया गया था, जिसका कारण नूर अल अली था -दिनेश अली अल-शतानुफी, जिन्होंने गिलानी को दैवीय अनुग्रह  के अंतिम चैनल के रूप में चित्रित किया और कादिरी को बगदाद के क्षेत्र से बाहर फैलाने में मदद की। 
पंद्रहवीं शताब्दी के अंत तक, कादिरिया की अलग-अलग शाखाएँ थीं और यह मोरक्को, स्पेन, तुर्की, भारत, इथियोपिया, सोमालिया और वर्तमान माली तक फैल गई थी।  स्थापित सूफी शेखों ने अक्सर अपने स्थानीय समुदायों के नेतृत्व को छोड़े बिना कादिरिया परंपरा को अपनाया। 1508 से 1534 तक बगदाद के सफवीद वंश के शासन के दौरान, कादिरिया के शेख को बगदाद और आसपास की जमीनों का प्रमुख सूफी नियुक्त किया गया था। 1534 में ऑटोमन साम्राज्य द्वारा बगदाद पर विजय प्राप्त करने के कुछ समय बाद, सुलेमान ने शानदार Hazrat अब्दुल-कादिर गिलानी رحمة الله علیهके मकबरे पर एक गुंबद का निर्माण किया, जिसने इराक में मुख्य सहयोगी के रूप में कादिरिया की स्थापना की।
कादिरिया के एक शेख और मुहम्मद के वंशज ख्वाजा अब्दुल-अल्लाह के 1674 में चीन में प्रवेश करने और 1689 में उनकी मृत्यु तक देश का प्रचार करने की खबर है।  अब्दुल-अल्लाह के छात्रों में से एक, क्यूई जिंगी हिलाल अल-दीन के बारे में कहा जाता है कि उसने चीन में कादिरी सूफीवाद को स्थायी रूप से जड़ दिया था। उन्हें लिनेक्सिया शहर में दफनाया गया, जो चीन में कादिरिया का केंद्र बन गया।  सत्रहवीं शताब्दी तक, कादिरिया यूरोप के ओटोमन- व्यस्त क्षेत्रों में पहुँच गया था।
Hazrat सुल्तान बहू رحمة الله علیه ने पश्चिमी भारत में कादिरिया के प्रसार में योगदान दिया। फ़क़र के सूफी सिद्धांत की शिक्षाओं को फैलाने का उनका तरीका उनके पंजाबी दोहों और अन्य लेखों के माध्यम से था, जिनकी संख्या 140 से अधिक थी। उन्होंने dikr की विधि दी और जोर देकर कहा कि देवत्व तक पहुँचने का तरीका तपस्या या भक्ति के माध्यम से नहीं था।
शेख सिदी अहमद अल-बक्का رحمة الله علیه‘(अरबी : الشيي سيدي محمد البكاي بودمعة कुंटा परिवार, नून नदी के क्षेत्र में पैदा हुए, 1504 में) ने वाल्टाटा में एक कादिरी ज़ाविया (सूफी निवास) की स्थापना की। सोलहवीं शताब्दी में यह परिवार सहारा से लेकर टिम्बकटू, अगदेस, बोर्नु, हौसलैंड और अन्य स्थानों में फैल गया और अठारहवीं शताब्दी में बड़ी संख्या में कुंटा मध्य नाइजर के क्षेत्र में चले गए जहां उन्होंने मबरुक गांव की स्थापना की। सिदी अल-मुख्तार अल-कुंती (1728-1811) ने सफल वार्ता द्वारा कुंटा गुटों को एकजुट किया, और एक व्यापक संघ की स्थापना की। उनके प्रभाव के तहत, इस्लामी कानून के मलिकी स्कूल को फिर से मजबूत किया गया और कादिरिय्याह आदेश पूरे मॉरिटानिया, मध्य नाइजर क्षेत्र, गिनी, आइवरी कोस्ट, फूटा टोरो और फूटा जलोन में फैल गया । सेनगाम्बियन क्षेत्र में कुंटा उपनिवेश मुस्लिम शिक्षण के केंद्र बन गए। 
- कादिरी नेतृत्व केंद्रीकृत नहीं है। कादिरी का प्रत्येक विचार अपनी व्याख्याओं और प्रथाओं को अपनाने के लिए स्वतंत्र है।
- परंपरा का प्रतीक गुलाब है। हरे और सफेद कपड़े का एक गुलाब, बीच में एक छह-बिंदु वाले तारे(🌟) के साथ, पारंपरिक रूप से कादिरी दरवेश की टोपी में पहना जाता है। काले महसूस किए गए कपड़े भी प्रथागत हैं। 
- अल्लाह के नामों को दीक्षा (धिक्कार) द्वारा पुनरावृत्ति के लिए मंत्र के रूप में निर्धारित किया जाता है। पूर्व में, कई सौ दोहराव की आवश्यकता थी, और शेख के कार्यालय रखने वालों के लिए अनिवार्य था। 
- अठारह वर्ष से अधिक आयु के किसी भी पुरुष को दीक्षा दी जा सकती है। उन्हें आदेश के कम्यून (खानकाह या टेकके) में रहने और अपने सपनों को अपने शेख को बताने के लिए कहा जा सकता है। 
- संतों की कब्रों पर केंद्रित पूजा के साथ एक तपस्वी प्रसंग के भीतर ब्रह्मचर्य, गरीबी, ध्यान और रहस्यवाद को चीन में हुई के बीच कादिरिया द्वारा बढ़ावा दिया गया था।  चीन में, अन्य मुस्लिम संप्रदायों के विपरीत, कादिरिया सूफी आदेश के नेता (शेख) ब्रह्मचारी हैं।  चीन के अन्य सूफी आदेशों के विपरीत, आदेश के भीतर का नेतृत्व वंशानुगत स्थिति नहीं है; बल्कि, ब्रह्मचारी शेख के शिष्यों में से एक को शेख ने उसे सफल बनाने के लिए चुना है। 92 वर्षीय ब्रह्मचारी शेख यांग शिजुन 1998 तक चीन में कादिरिया आदेश के नेता थे।