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Rabius Sani, The Month of

Ghaus-ul-Azam
THE GREATEST SAINT OF ALL TIME

If Rabiul Awal is the month of the greatest Prophet of Allah then Rabius Sani, is the
month of the greatest Saint of Allah. If the Prophet drew the veil on this world to
meet his Creator on the 12th of the month, the Saint departed on the 11th of the next
month, as if as a mark of distinction from the Almighty Himself. The name of this
greatest of the great Saints is Hazrat Syed Shah Abu Mohammad Muhyuddin Abdul
Quader Jilani Al-Hassani wal Hossaini ShaenenLillah (Alaihis Salam). Many are the
honoured titles of this great saint, Muhyiuddin (the Reviver of the Faith), Peer-an-e-
Peer (the Spiritual Teacher of Spiritual Teachers), Mahbub-e-Subhani (the Beloved
of the Supreme), Ghaus-us-Sakalaen (the Ghaus of both worlds), and Kutb-e-
Rabbani (the Cardinal Star of the Lord) and many others, but the most well known
and respected being Ghaus-ul-Azam (the Supreme Spiritual Helper). In the Indian
sub-continent he is also known as Boro Peer Sahib (the Great Spiritual Helper and
Guide). It is told that ‘his feet is on the shoulder of all Saints of Allah’.

In the Quran, the story is told of the meeting of Moses (AS), one of the greatest
Prophets of Allah, with Khizir (AS), one of the greatest Saints of Allah. God had
commanded Moses (AS) to seek the knowledge and guidance of one who was
endowed with knowledge. Moses (AS) through many wanderings through the earth
came upon the company of Khizir (AS). Upon meeting him he submitted to Khizir
(AS) his desire to gain knowledge and guidance from him. Khizir (AS) was hesitant
at first and cautioned Moses (AS) about the need to bear patience with him in a
matter of knowledge about which Moses’ (AS) knowledge was incomplete. On
being assured by Moses (AS), Khizir (AS) relented and took him on his journey.
During the course of the journey Khizir (AS) performed some bizzare acts for which
Moses (AS) could not bear patience with Khizir (AS). He kept on asking questions
prodded on by his impatience and incomplete knowledge and for which he
ultimately had to leave the company of Khizir (AS). At the end of the sojourn,
Khizir (AS) explained to Moses (AS) the various reasons and inner wisdom of his
outward bizarre behavior which were nothing but the bringing to fruition of the
wishes of the Creator himself through the doings of the Saint of Allah, in this case
Khizir (AS). This episode in the Quran exemplifies the level of esteem and honour
with which Allah holds his Saints. For, why would a Prophet of Allah be asked to
seek knowledge from a Saint of Allah ? Obviously in this case the Saint of Allah
was more knowledgeable than the Prophet of Allah.
‘Ghaus-ul-Azam’ or ‘ Gaus Pak’, as he is popularly known throughout the Muslim
world is, through common consensus among scholars and Saints of Islam, both prior
and subsequent to his birth, is the greatest Saint of Allah. He was born on the 1st day
of Ramadan in the year 470 H (1077 AD) in a place called Gilan (pronounced Jilan
in Arabic). His mother tongue was Farsi but he was well versed in Arabic even in
childhood. Even in infancy he used to fast in Ramadan and did not suckle milk
during the day time. His father’s name was Hazrat Syed Shah Abu Saleh As-Syed
Mosa Jangidost (AS) and his mother’s name was Hazrat Bibi Umm-ul-Khair Fatima
(AS). From his father’s side he descended from Hazrat Imam Hassan Mujtaba (AS),
and from his mother’s side he descended from Hazrat Imam Hussain Shaheed-e-
Karbala (AS). Gaus-ul-Azam became an orphan in early childhood and he and his
brother was raised by his mother and grand-father.

He went to Baghdad when he was 18 to further his education. The story of his
caravan being attacked by robbers on his way to Baghdad is quite famous and gives
an insight into the qualities of this great Saint at an early age. Under an oath to his
mother to tell the truth at all times, akin to the character of the Prophet in his youth
which earned him the title of ‘Al-Amin’, the Saint was carrying 40 precious pieces
of gold carefully sewn by his mother and hidden away inside his clothing. When
asked by the robbers if he was carrying anything precious with him he replied boldly
that he was carrying the 40 pieces of gold. Unbelieving, the robbers produced the
youth in front of their leader who asked him the same question to which his reply
was the same. On being demanded that he show the gold pieces he tore open the
clothing and produced the gold. Astonished at his sense of truthfulness without
which the gold would never have been discovered, the robber leader wanted to know
the reason for this, to which he replied of his pledge to his mother, always, to tell the
truth. The robbers perceiving genuine and true greatness immediately offered
spiritual fidelity to the Saint and became his followers or mureeds.

In Baghdad the Saint received instructions in many branches of knowledge in


Islamic Shariat, the sciences, the religious branches of fiqr, Islamic jurisprudence,
and other areas from various teachers. His spiritual instructor in the early years was
Sheikh Abu Sa'id al-Mubarak Mukharrami (AS) but he received spiritual guidance
later from Hazrat Shyakh Hammad bin Muslim al-Dabbas (AS). He belonged to the
Hammbali mazhab but he followed the Shafiie mazhab also in later life.

He continued on with his studies in Baghdad up to the age of 25 after which he


abandoned the normal way of life and became a wanderer in the deserts around
Baghdad. He started to feel the inner intense urges of spirituality and these required
him to negate the needs of the flesh and the nafs (lower self). These were extremely
hard times for the Saint. For many months and years he ate only grass. For many
days he lived only on water. Denial and negation of the self is the way of the Sufi
and he endured this for long 25 years. Allah alone knows in what ways and
methods he removed himself from the needs and wants of this world and how much
pain he endured. These are tasks and practices, which cannot be undertaken by
normal human beings but only by those on whom descend the blessings of Allah,
the Sustainer.

After this period of spiritual purification the Saint finally came back to Baghdad at
the age of 50 and started to preach in public. It is told that he never intended to
return to the so-called civilized society but he did so on the request of the Almighty
and His absolute assurance to him that the blessings of the Almighty would be on
any and all, on whom the Saint wished. Such rare honour earned him the title of
Ghaus-ul-Azam. His lectures were so engaging and so attractive that people from far
and near, and from all religions would come to hear him. He would teach the Hadis
and Tafseer of the Quran and at other times he would expound discourses in
mysticism and the virtues of tasauaff (the path of mysticism). He eventually
established the Madrasah-e-Quaderia in Baghdad in the year 528 H. In his illustrious
life he visited many foreign lands and he even came to the Indian sub-continent
having reached Multan in the year 523 H (1128 AD). He organised many
expeditions for the spread of Islam in many parts of the world through which many
people converted to Islam. He wrote many ground breaking books on Islamic
mystism and tassauaff and on other issues. Names of some of his books are Sirr al-
Asrar (The Secret of Secrets), Futh-al-Ghaeb (Revelations of the Unseen),
Ghuneatal-Talibeen (Wealth for Seekers), Al-Fat'hur Rabbani (The Endowment of
Divine Grace). He had 4 wives and fathered 49 children.

The finest mysteries about the Creator and His creation can be understood through
the understanding of the lives and work of the great Prophets and the Saints of
Allah. Allah says in the Quran that the souls who die in the way of Allah do not die
(Quran, 2:154, 3 : 69) and therefore the Shaheeds and the Saints of Allah never die.
Allah has always expounded His will and designs for His creation through the
Prophets, in succession, each fortifying and purifying the word of his predecessor.
Since the Lord chose to communicate with his Prophets directly, they may also be
regarded as Saints of Allah, the only difference between a Prophet and a Saint being
that the Prophet is required by Allah to propagate His will among the general people
in written or unwritten form, and the Saint being absolved of this responsibility.
Allah has only very rarely communicated directly with man. It is therefore
imperative to study the lives of the Prophets to understand the will of the Creator to
earn his favour. Similarly, after the casting of the veil of the last Prophet ie.
Muhammad (AS) this communication with the Almighty has been left only through
the Saints of Allah. Oh, how far does a person stray if he does not have the good
fortune to be the follower of an accomplished Spiritual Master or Saint. The analogy
of a person who wants to directly seek the Glory of his Creator is the person who
tries to see the sun directly with the open eyes under the open sky. One can only go
blind through this kind of foolish effort. To see the sun one must see it through the
reflection of a clear and pure piece of glass. Alternatively, one surely cannot allow a
layman to attempt to fly a plane at one go. He is expected to go through a rigorous
regime of training in order to fly a plane. This training is imparted to him by a
trainer. The Sufi Master is this trainer for the seeker.

A foundational pillar of western philosophy is Descartes’ statement, ‘I think, so I


am’. From this statement springs much of the age of reason, science, and modern
day technology. Descartes’ statement ascribes achievement to thinking. This view
can be compared to a child drinking milk from its mother who gives it in total
kindness. The child has complete confidence in itself not knowing that the kindness
will fade away and the milk will dry out. To think that man is the ultimate master
of his destiny is to deny the larger forces of Allah that are always acting on him. In
immaturity he thinks that he is responsible for all that he does. However experience
teaches him otherwise. Nations and great armies succeed because the will of each
member of the group is merged with the leadership and not because each member
exercises his own will.

The concept of ‘destiny’ is important in the understanding of tasauaff. But ‘destiny’


is outside the purview of the Cartesian (adjective from Descartes) thought process.
Muslims are required to believe in destiny pre-determined by God. However, this
does not mean that man is denied the opportunity to determine his own fate. Since
what is in his destiny is unknown to him, whatever he does, good or bad is also in
his destiny, his destiny being exposed to him after he has done it. Tasauaff includes
both concepts, as contained in Descartes’ statement, and as ‘destiny’ embodied in
Islamic principles, for the understanding of the higher truths of creation.

Submission to the will of Allah is one of the most fundamental basis of Islam and
the path to eternal bliss. The will of Allah has been revealed most manifestly and
comprehensively through the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet, which eventually
became the Shariat of Islam. To follow the Shariat is to follow the ‘will’ of Allah
and hence to be a Muslim. If one says one believes in Allah but does not merge his
will with the will of Allah i.e. the Shariat, then he is a hypocrite. To the extent that
one believes in Allah, to that extent he merges his will with Allah. To follow the
will of Allah requires the negation of one’s own will and negation of the manifest
self, and embracing faith or hope of unfolding of the hidden and higher reality of the
enhanced state of the soul. Submission to the will of the Sufi Master, and through
him, submittal to the higher echelons of the Sufi order, and through them, ultimately
submitting to the will of Allah, is fundamental to the attainment of the higher truth
and enlightenment which is the goal of all Sufis. To be able to do this, the initiated
must become the mureed or disciple of a Sufi Master or the accomplished Peer. If
the way to the attainment of the glory of higher spiritual knowledge can be thought
of as the journey to the peak of a mountain, then the Sufi Master is the guide to that
mountain. Without him the seeker may fall into great distress and may never return.

Today, a concept known as Wahabism pervades many aspects of Islamic life. This
concept holds that man can connect directly with his Creator with no need for
intercession. This is a product of modern day arrogance coupled with the obsession
with rationality that originates from Descartes’ concept referred to earlier. Today,
man wants to understand the Creator and His creation through arrogance and
reasoning and not through submission to His Will. Profound Ayats of the Quran are
unwisely interpreted as license to approach the Creator directly thereby falling into
the abyss of self conceit and foolhardiness. And this is the reason of his spiritual
emptiness.

Another important aspect of tasauaff is the understanding of the concept of the goal
and the method. Every goal has a method, and every method has a goal. If Allah is
the goal of a Muslim then Islam is the method. A method without a goal is not worth
more than a straw. One main problem within the Islamic ummah today is the
denunciation of individuals who have achieved nearness to Allah who can act as
‘beckons’ to the way to Allah. Without ‘beckons’, Muslims loose direction and get
lost in the ocean. To achieve some sense of direction in a chaotic world, and to have
a sense of purpose, at the end, the method which is easily accessible becomes the
goal and the actual goal gets forgotten. Without these ‘beacons’ villages and
societies become the breeding ground for fanatics, terrorists and wayward talibans.
The ‘beckons’ are the Saints of Allah who act as representatives of the prophets and
without whose guidance the ummah is bound to wander.
Another concept on the subject of goal and method is the transience of the two terms
depending on the position on the journey. When a goal is selected a method must be
followed to reach that goal. When that goal is reached, the method is no longer of
any use and a new goal must be selected. This continues through a long succession
of goals and methods. Each time a seeker arrives at a station for a temporary sojourn
he sees another goal and this follows until the final attainment of the goal which is
in store for him through destiny.

Once the seeker starts learning from the Sufi Master, he starts to attain nearness to
Allah. In this situation Allah may reveal and enlighten him with his ‘ hidden and
more profound will’, which may be something of a higher nature and a special gift
different from what has been laid down for others in the Shariat, as is exemplified in
the story in the Quran about Moses (AS) and Khizir (AS). To expose these special
‘desires and will’ of the Almighty to the general uninitiated populace, which is not
easy to comply with and difficult to incorporate in one’s life, would cause chaos
among the populace. This is the reason for the nearly universal reticence of Saints.
However, this was not in the case of the Greatest Saint. He was given the rare
authority by the Almighty to expose a portion of these very special ‘revelations and
will’ of the Almighty which forms one of the reasons for his title of ‘Ghaus-ul-
Azam’. He performed unexcelled miracles, gave mesmerizing lectures and wrote
brilliant books which even today stand out as unparalleled acts of Mercy of the
Almighty towards his servants through his Beloved. Through his works and his
methods he set up what is known today as the Quaderia Tariqa which is the special
mystical path of this Great Saint. This tariqa is founded entirely upon the principles
of the Shariat of the Prophet of Allah. The only thing more, that it incorporates, is
that, it includes the practices and methods of self purification through tassauaff that
is the most integral part of Islam but that has been lost almost totally in the general
practice of religion today through a myopic understanding of Islam.

It is a pity that now-a-days we practice Islam in its outward form but we stray far
away from its true purpose and its true beauty. If love is the best and final magic of
the Creator then what enchanting love the Saints can lead us to ! Oh, what sense of
perfection that one can achieve if one receives the true touch of faith through the
Saints. One micro-second moment of glory from the Glory of the Almighty can
make a man mad in spiritual ecstasy for the rest of his life. He can achieve success
in both worlds, here on this earth, and in the hereafter. This can only be achieved
through the intercession of the spiritual Sufi Master, through accomplished Saints,
and, definitely, even today, through Ghaus-ul-Azam, who is living, albeit behind the
curtain and can be approached through the humble heart. Saints go through various
stations in their journey towards union with the Almighty. These stations are known
as vilayets, or territories or temporary resting places. The station of a Saint depends
on his vilayet and the one of Ghaus-ul-Azam is the highest that can be achieved.

Ghaus-ul-Azam drew the veil over himself on 11th Rabius Sani in 561 H (1166 AD)
at the age of 91. His Mazar Sharif is in Baghdad, which is even today the place of
adoration for his disciples, lovers and followers all over the world. It is looked after
by his direct descendants who are a source of inspiration and affection to all who
visit the great Mazar Sharif there.

In the Subcontient, the Quaderia Tariqa is being carried on by the direct descendants
of Ghaus-ul-Azam. There are Khanka Paks where Egarawee Sharif is held on the
11th day of each Arabic month. In Sufi philosophy, it is said that it is possible to
light one candle from another candle, and once the candles are lit it is impossible to
tell one from the other. May the blessings of Ghaus Pak and his descendent Peers be
upon all Muslims.

Syed Mujtaba Quader


A servant of Ghaus-ul-Azam
Dhaka, Bangladesh