Article

`Abd al-Qadir al Jilani (Gilani)

Jonathan Allen and Ahmet T. Karamustafa

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2014 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0100
`Abd al-Qadir al Jilani (Gilani)

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ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Jilani (b. 470/1077, d. 561/1166), also known as Gilani, is one of the more enigmatic figures in the history of Islam, as well as one of the most chronologically and geographically ubiquituous. In brief, while originally a native of the Persian-speaking region of Gilan, his preaching and teaching career was spent in Baghdad, where he became an extremely popular preacher and, by some accounts, an important and powerful master of the Sufi path. After his death he would soon become known as a powerful saint, with an eponymous tariqa—the Qadiriyya—coalescing around his memory. Within a century of his death he was being venerated as a wonderworker par excellence, and indeed as the cosmic qutb of his time. From Baghdad his cultus would become truly global, from the Atlas Mountains of North Africa to the islands of the Indonesian archipelago. As a result, locating him in the usual conceptual schemes of Islamic history is ultimately impossible: he does not entirely “fit” in the category of Sufism, of “popular” piety, of the culture of the ulama, or within the station of sainthood; nor is his person or history easily confined to one chronological period or geographic region. Rather, the Hanbali preacher of Baghdad-cum-saint of saints exists within and across these categories and constraints, both as a historical figure and, perhaps yet more significantly, a figure possessed of inestimable sanctity and universally powerful intercession. Who exactly he was as a historical person remains open to debate. His significance as a figure of memory and veneration in succeeding centuries, however, is absolutely certain. Works of a strictly scholarly nature on ʿAbd al-Qdir and his historical legacy are few and far between, and monograph-length scholarly works devoted to either ʿAbd al-Qadir or the Qadiriyya are all but nonexistent. As a result, this bibliography includes a sizeable proportion of primary source texts both in Arabic and in translation, though it is still very selective in scope. We have also included some Western-language material that is not of a strictly scholarly nature, but these still have value, particularly as testimony to the ongoing importance of ʿAbd al-Qadir in contemporary Islam. Works dealing with the Qadiriyya are also rather sparse in number, particularly given the brotherhood’s diversity and geographical spread; we have included material that treats the brotherhood directly and as a subsidiary component of broader studies.

Article.  3953 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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