The marvelous exploits [manaqib] of our master, the Cardinal Pole of Cardinal Poles [Qutb al-aqtab], 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.
He is Abu Salih, my master, 'Abd al-Qadir ibn Musa ibn 'Abdi'llah ibn Yahya az-Zahid ibn Muhammad ibn Dawud ibn Musa al-Jawn ibn 'Abdi'llah al-Haddi ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Muthanna ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah the Exalted be well pleased with them all).
He was born (may Allah the Exalted be well pleased with him) in the year [A.H.] 470, and he died in [A.H.] 561. He was buried (may Allah be well pleased with him) in Baghdad.
People have singled him out as the subject of literary composition, and we shall mention, if Allah (Exalted is He) so wills, a small selection from his marvelous exploits [manaqib], containing instruction and benefit for the listener.
Let us therefore acknowledge that we depend for success on Allah's enabling grace [tawfiq], and let me introduce myself as the pauper in need of the mercy of Allah the Almighty, Habib Muhammad, son of the learned Shaikh Sidq Muhammad Ibrahim, al-Qahiri [the Cairene] by place of birth, al-Qadiri al-Ash'ari by spiritual disposition [mashrab] and theological doctrine [mu'taqad].
In the work entitled Bahjat al-Asrar [The Splendor of the Mysteries], the author cites a reliable chain of transmission [isnad], by which the following report is traced to that exemplary guide, Shaikh Shihab ad-Din Abu 'l-Hafs Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abdi'llah as-Suhrawardi, who said:
'I once heard Shaikh Muhyi 'd-Din 'Abd al-Qadir say, speaking from the lectern in his schoolhouse: 'Every saint [wali] is on the footprint of a Prophet [Nabi], and I am on the footprint of my ancestor, Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). Whenever the Chosen One [al-Mustafa] (Allah bless him and give him peace) raises a foot, I place my feet in the spot from which he has raised his foot-unless it is one of the footprints of Prophethood [Nubuwwa], in which case there can be no means of access to it for anyone other than a Prophet.''
In the same work, Shaikh Abu 'Amr 'Uthman ibn Marzuq is reported as having said:
'No one participated with him-that is to say, with Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani (may Allah be well pleased with him)-in his spiritual states, his station and his secrets, apart from the Prophets (blessing and peace be upon them). Nor was anyone endowed with superior grace in this spiritual path, apart from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and His Messenger Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace).'
In the work entitled Lata'if al-Minan [Subtleties of Gracious Favors], by Ibn 'Ata'u'llah as-Sikandari ash-Shadhili, it is reported that Abu 's-Sa'ud ibn ash-Shibli (may Allah be well pleased with him) once said, referring to the Greatest Shaikh [Ibn al-'Arabi]:
'I am in the service of the Shaikh who did not leave his special grace to anyone else....'
In the work entitled Qala'id al-Jawahir [Necklaces of Gems], we are told:
'It must be understood that gracious favor is in the Hand of Allah, and that He bestows it upon whomever He will, for Allah is the Owner of Splendid Grace [wa 'llahu Dhu 'l-fadli 'l-'azim]. Nevertheless, it is true to say that in none of the Shaikhs and masters of spiritual states, after the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them), has there been such a combination of charismatic exploits [manaqib] and praiseworthy qualities, as those combined in our master and our Shaikh, Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him), in respect of practice and knowledge ['amal wa 'ilm], noble descent and lineage [hasab wa nasab], talents and blessings....'
In the work entitled Zain al-Majalis [Beauty of the Sessions], we read:
'Suppose it should be asked: 'How do you account for the response of Shaikh 'Abd al-Wahhab ash-Sha'rani to the saying of Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him): 'This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah'? Why did he restrict its application to the people of his own generation?' The answer to this must be: 'When the Shaikh restricted its application, he was considering the greatest of the saints [awliya'], those who were superior even to him [Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir], meaning the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them), not those of lower rank in any generation whatsoever, even if they were also saints. Compare the reservation of Shaikh al-Imam Jalal ad-Din al-Muhalla, in connection with the story of Moses (peace be upon him) and concerning the words of Allah (Exalted is He):
O Moses! I have preferred you above [all] the people.
ya Musa inni 'stafaitu-ka 'ala 'n-nasi. (7:144)
''This he interpreted as referring only to the people of his [Moses'] own time, in consideration of those [later] Prophets (blessing and peace be upon them) who would be superior to Moses.''
In the work entitled Bahjat al-Asrar [The Splendor of the Mysteries], toward the end of the report attributed to Shaikh Abu 'l-Qasim ibn Bakr Ahmad, it is stated that:
'The Lord of Truth (Exalted is He) said to him [Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir], in the language of the Unseen: 'Today you are in Our presence, established, secure,' and He seated him in the company of the spirits of the Prophets [arwah an-Nabiyyin], on a platform between this world and the Hereafter, between the creation and the Creator, between the outer [zahir] and the inner [batin], between what is within reach and that which is out of reach. He also gave him four faces: (1) a face with which he can look toward this lower world, (2) a face with which he can look toward the Hereafter, (3) a face with which he can look toward the creation [khalq], and (4) a face with which he can look toward the Creator [Khaliq]....'
In his book entitled Khulasat al-Mafakhir [Synopsis of Glorious Deeds and Qualities], Shaikh 'Abdu'llah al-Yafi'i has declared:
'Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him) is the highest in spiritual station, after the Companions, of all the saints [awliya'].'
According to the experts in Reality [muhaqqiqun], the spiritual station of Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani is 'the highest of all the fundamental sources [usul].'
By advancing irrefutable evidence, the compiler of Zain al-Majalis [Beauty of the Sessions] has refuted the statement of the Greatest Shaikh [ash-Shaikh al-Akbar], concerning the superior elevation of the station of Ibn ash-Shibli (may Allah be well pleased with him) above the station of Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani. It is possible, of course, that the statement attributed to the Greatest Shaikh [ash-Shaikh al-Akbar], concerning the superior elevation of the station of Ibn ash-Shibli, was falsely ascribed to him, because he [Ibn ash-Shibli] once said: 'I am in the service of the Shaikh who did not leave his special grace to anyone else.' Allah knows best.
It was the Cardinal Pole and Renewer [of the Faith] [al-Qutb al-Mujaddid], the highly erudite Shaikh Sadaqatu'llah, the son of the saint [wali] Shaikh Sulaiman al-Qahiri, who said:
All of the parties are agreed in unanimity,
of one accord concerning your perfection in your exaltation.
kullu 't-tawa'ifi bi'l-ijma'i muttafiqah
'ala kamali-ka fi 'ulya-ka muttasiqah
Even the Kharijites, the people of deviation, and the atheists [agree that] you are the pivotal point for every Reviver of the Faith.
hatta 'l-Khawariji ahli 'z-zaighi wa 'z-Zandaqah
anta 'l-madaru li-kulli Muhyi 'd-Din.
All of this leads us, on the basis of the decisive proofs that have been cited, and the unambiguous reports that are so well known, to the conclusion that there can be none higher, none superior, and none more noble in spiritual station, in deeds, and in quality of innermost being, among the earlier and the later saints [awliya'], until the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama], than our master 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him). So said 'Abd al-Karim al-Jili (may Allah be well pleased with him).