Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jelani was a noted Hanbali preacher, Sufi sheikh and the eponymous founder of the Qadiri Sufi order (selsela). He was born in Ramadan AH 470 (about AD 1077) in the Persian province of Gilan (Iran) south of the Caspian sea. His contribution and renown in the sciences of Sufism and Sharia was so immense that he became known as the spiritual pole of his time, al-Gauth al Azam (the "Supreme Helper" or the "Mightiest Succor"). His writings were similar to those of al-Ghazali in that they dealt with both the fundamentals of Islam and the mystical experience of Sufism.
Parents and Early Life
Abdul Qadir Jilani was a Sufi master and Syed (descendant of the Prophet Muhammad) from both his father and mother. His father Abu Saleh Jangidost, was an illustrious and God-fearing man. Once while engrossed in meditation by the bank of a river he saw an apple floating down the river. He picked it up and ate it. It struck to him that he ate the apple without paying for it so he set out in search of the owner, on the bank of the river and at last reached the owner of the apple orchard "Abdullah Somai" whom he requested to tell him the price of the apple, Abdullah Somai replied that it was an expensive thing. Syed Abu Saleh replied that he had not much by way of worldly material but he, could serve him for compensation. Abdullah Somai then asked him to work for a year in the orchard. In course of time the duration was extended several times. In the end Abdullah Somai admitted that he had served him in excess of the price and desired to reward him. Abu Saleh hesitated in accepting it but when Abdullah Somai persisted, he relented. He said he had a daughter, blind of eyes, handicapped of hands and feet and wanted to give her in marriage to him. In this way Abu Saleh was married to Abdullah Somai's daughter, Syeda Fatimah. To his astonishment found her wondrously beautiful and wholesome. He complained to his father-in-law that he found her exactly the opposite to what he had described her. Abdullah Somai insisted on the truthfulness of his statement. She was blind because she had not seen any Ghair Mehram (a man who could marry her). She was mute because she had not uttered a word repugnant to the Shariah (Islamic law). She was deaf because she had not heard anything inconsistent with the Shariah. She was handicapped of hand and feet because she had never moved in the direction of evil.
Abdul Qadir Jilani's father died soon after and the young orphan was reared up by his mother and his grandfather, Abdullah Somai.
At the age of 18 he went to Baghdad on AH 488 (1095 AD), where he pursued the study of Hanbalite law under several teachers. His mother sewed 40 gold coins in his quilt so that he might spend them when needed. The dacoits struck the caravan on the way, and looted all the travelers of their belongings. They asked him what he had. He replied that he had 40 gold coins. The dacoits took his reply for a joke and took him to their chief, who asked him the same question and he again replied that he had 40 gold coins. He demanded him to show, upon whom he tore away, the quilt and produced the gold coins. He was surprised and asked him why he had given the hidden gold coins when he could have kept them hidden. Young Abdul Qadir Jilani replied that he was travelling to Baghdad to receive education and his mother had instructed him to speak the truth. This left a deep effect on the chief of the dacoits and he gave up looting.
Abdul Qadir received lessons on Islamic Jurisprudence from Abu Said Ali al-Mukharrimi, Hadith from Abu-Bakra-bin-Muzaffar, and commentary (tafseer) from the renowned commentator, Abu Muhammad Jafar.
In Sufism, his spiritual instructor was Shaikh Abu'l-Khair Hammad. From him, he received his basic training, and with his help he set out on the spiritual journey. Abu Shuja' was also a disciple of Shaikh Hammad, once he said: "Shaikh Abdul Qadir was in the company of Shaikh Hammad, so he came and sat in front of him, observing the best of good manners, until he stood up and took his leave. I heard Shaikh Hammad say, as soon as Shaikh Abdul Qadir had left: 'This non-Arab has a foot that will be raised, when the proper time comes, and placed upon the necks of the saints of that time. He will surely be commanded to say: This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah. He will surely say it, and the necks of all the saints of his age will surely be bent at his disposal.'" Hazrat Junayd Baghdadi (died AD 910), who died about 167 years before the birth of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, predicted about him on one occasion, when he was performing meditation & during that he said: "His foot will be over all Saints' necks." After finishing meditation, his disciples asked him about his words, he replied: "One Sufi would be born in the future, who would be greater than all saints." Thus, Shaikh Hammad proved the words of Hazrat Junayd as right. The historians says that, later Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani also repeated the same words on many occasion by himself.